The Frothy Right Gets More Excited about an Eight Year Old Phone than Contemporaneous Metadata

As is her wont, Mike Flynn lawyer Sidney Powell engaged in another little bit of theater yesterday.

She demanded that prosecutors turn over two BlackBerry phones, reportedly used by Joseph Mifsud, that “has only recently come into [the government’s] possession,” (which presumably means the Attorney General fed her these details after he returned from Italy). Powell demanded the phones as Brady evidence, even though she didn’t make any effort to claim the phones had anything to do with the crimes her client pled guilty to, crimes he committed in 2017.

Rather, she claims these phones show something that went down in 2014, presumably relating to his termination from DIA.

This information is material, exculpatory, and relevant to the defense of Mr. Flynn, and specifically to the “OCONUS LURES” and agents that western intelligence tasked against him likely as early as 2014 to arrange—unbeknownst to him—“connections” with certain Russians that they would then use against him in their false claims.

She helpfully provides the SIM and IMEI data for the phones, which would enable skilled InfoSec experts with a tolerance for working in gray areas of the law to pull up any metadata still available.

But she also describes that these phones are a 9900 Bold — a phone that dates to May 2011 — and a Classic SQC100-1 that dates to December 2014. In other words, these are old phones, ancient in terms of modern smart phones. They date to before the only known alleged interaction between Mifsud and Flynn, at the RT dinner where he got paid to sit with Vladimir Putin. And while it’s possible they have comms involving George Papadopoulos, it is virtually certain they have nothing pertaining to the lies Mike Flynn told in 2017.

Which means it is virtually certain they contain no Brady evidence pertaining to this case.

But the filing worked as, I’m sure, she (and the Attorney General?) planned, to work the conspiracist right into a frenzy based on a claim that has no basis in the law.

In addition to being insufficiently curious about Mifsud’s presence at that RT gala, the frothy right still have never shown any awareness of this passage, which shows that Mifsud was in touch with someone who seems to have had ties to both the IRA part of the 2016 Russian operation and the GRU side.

Even if Mifsud has had ties to Western intelligence in 2011, it doesn’t say anything about whether he had closer ties to Russia in 2016, when it matters (even for the Papadopoulos story, much less the Flynn one). That’s what spies do. They recruit people with access to people they want information about.

In short, Sidney Powell and Bill Barr have gotten the frothy right more worked up about an 8 year old phone than they have ever been about metadata contemporaneous to Russia’s efforts to sway the 2016 elections.

Update: A pro-conspiracy Italian asserts that these are Mifsud’s British phones, not his Italian ones, which would show his network in Italy. Of course, neither are his Russian ones, if he has separate phone for each country he frequents, and those would be the ones of interest, allegedly, to Powell.

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76 replies
  1. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Interesting how Powell knows about phones the DoJ only learned about via Barr’s recent visit to Italy. If they’re newly arrived, how does anyone, including the DoJ, already know what’s on them? A departmental leak, perhaps. The DoJ should assign a special counsel to look into it.

    It’s even more interesting that Powell makes a claim for material without connecting that material in writing to the crimes she is defending Flynn against. Hard to see how the court could respond with anything but a no.

    As you say, getting the information would be irrelevant, if she already knows the information is useless to her case. She just wants to make an argument. These expensive theatrics seem weakly linked to obtaining a Trump pardon, and unrelated to a competent defense. They look like mud in the water, which suggests the case against Flynn is pretty tight.

    • BobCon says:

      “These expensive theatrics seem weakly linked to obtaining a Trump pardon”

      I have to assume I’m not the only still puzzled what Flynn is thinking, right? I have to assume the odds are 50-50 at best that Trump comes through with a pardon, and it’s hard to see how that really helps compared to what he would get from following through with his original agreement.

      I realize it’s a mistake to assume Flynn is a rational actor, but still this is approaching Giuliani levels of irrationality.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Makes me think his knowledge of guilt is profound, and about what his judge saw in the record that him wonder whether he had committed a horrible act, “treason” was it?

      • vicks says:

        “but still this is approaching Giuliani levels of irrationality”
        It may be worth considering Flynn, his lawyers and perhaps others may be completely convinced Rudy (and the two goons and the three amigos) are/were on an epic quest to uncover the dirty deeds of the secret society (who somehow knew Trump would get elected) and she is doing her part for god and country by exposing the work of the deep state whenever she can.
        I can’t tell of Trump is a true conspiracy nut, or if he just uses the fact that he knows how to speak their language to trigger them but I think he has created an army of whack-a-doodles, (MAGA-doodles?) some of which are working far too close to the levers of power for any sane American to feel safe at night.

        • dw says:

          It may be worth considering Flynn, his lawyers and perhaps others may be completely convinced Rudy (and the two goons and the three amigos) are/were on an epic quest to uncover the dirty deeds of the secret society

          Far more worrying is that Barr may well share this view.

          • Vicki Greenberg says:

            I have always gotten the sense that Barr is a different brand of crazy, and a much more clever (and more powerful) manipulator of reality then the deep state wingnuts.
            Trump has been identified as the golden ticket, not just to the obviously corrupt, but to those willing to play the long game, the religious warriors who believe they are doing (their) gods work freeing the world from the influence of progressive heathens and creating a single party state in their gods image

        • Sofla says:

          An account from a Romney aide suggests Trump was cynical about birtherism and used it without believing it. That aide reported that when Romney was working for Trump’s endorsement in 2012, Trump told him to advise Romney to work the birther story, because the [derogatory word] (may have been ‘crazies,’ or ‘yahoos’) really eat it up, or words to that effect.

          I see that same of cynicism in much of his comments now, because they are so clearly just lies, without any real CT content to them.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Especially since Mueller made no mention of these, perhaps it was out of scope, but I’m sure he would have been aware of something like this.

      When stuff like this drops out of the sky, it is worth looking at very very closely because of the probability that what is on these is exactly what Vlad wanted to be planted on them. It would be funny if it included some of the rumored tapes from Individual-1’s trip to Moscow for Miss World.

      • emptywheel says:

        It’s certainly possible Italy had them and only recently handed them over. But if they date to 2014, they wouldn’t have been pertinent to any Mueller request.

  2. rosalind says:

    “She helpfully provides the SIM and IMEI data for the phones, which would enable skilled InfoSec experts with a tolerance for working in gray areas of the law to pull up any metadata still available.”

    hello Russia, if you’re listening…part eleventy-billion.

  3. Vince says:

    BRING YOUR CHILDREN INSIDE AND LOCK YOUR DOORS!

    The House of Representatives passed a strong rebuke to Racist Donnie, voting 354-60 to adopt a joint resolution opposing his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.

    When Speaker Pelosi informed Racist Donnie at the White House of the rebuke and that 129 Repubs had joined in the vote, Pelosi said Racist Donnie was “very shaken up” and “couldn’t handle it”.

    Outside the White House, Pelosi told the gaggle of reporters, “Right now we have to pray for his health because this was a very serious melt down.”

    HE’S GONNA BLOW!

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Um, so what happened to those 50 U.S. nukes at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey? Asking for a friend.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Well, Nancy, we could all stop working, put down our Sharpies, and pray for Donald’s mental health. That worked well against the NRA.

    Or – and I’m just spitballing here – you could work with your colleagues instead of fighting them. You could properly staff their investigative committees, enforce their fucking subpoenas, garner a majority, impeach him, and then try to remove him from office. Might be more effective.

    • Vince says:

      ‘Well, Nancy, we could all stop working, put down our Sharpies, and pray for Donald’s mental health.”

      Seems you’ve missed the stage play.

    • BobCon says:

      Trump’s life is an endless stream of shrugging off humiliation after humiliation.

      Dropping impeachment in the near future will mean that he will spend all of 2020 doing a victory dance. He will be mocking the Democratic nominee all through the year how he took their worst and is still standing. There is no reason to throw this away before they even get started. But that’s exactly what Pelosi wants to do.

  6. Marinela says:

    Just watched a Trump news conference today. Reporter asked about the troupes withdrawal in Syria, Trump said he wants to put an end to endless wars, went on a long tirade about what Lindsey G. should be doing, how is not US place to fight other nations wars, etc.
    But Trump is committing troupes in Saudi Arabia as we speak. So this is what I would like to see. The next reporter to ask a question, he/she should ask how is that Trump is committing new troups to SA if he is serious about endless wars?

    Is that too much to ask? It would mean the reporters are paying attention to the fact Trump didn’t answer the question, and follow up on the non answer or the lie. Making an effort to not let him get away with lying would go a long way. Instead reporters move to a separate subject, with the public being left in the dark about Trump motives.

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    On the eve of Sondland’s congressional testimony, EW takes him to task on twtter over several issues, including the unusual, taxpayer funded $1 million “renovation” of his ambassador’s residence in Brussels. It almost exactly matched his $1 million donation to Trump, which paid for his ambassadorship.

    WaPo has the details. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/amid-impeachment-probe-gordon-sondland-is-overseeing-a-renovation-of-his-residence-that-has-cost-1-million-in-taxpayer-money/2019/10/16/d0eece92-ef86-11e9-bb7e-d2026ee0c199_story.html

    Among the expenses, $223,000 for a second kitchen and an $82,000 cost to renovate a bathroom labeled, “backside office.” Nice to know where hoteliers do their business.

    • Vicks says:

      It will be interesting to see if someone like Sondland just makes a common sense decision, no politics, no loyalty, no deep state bullshit and decides to cut his losses, tell the truth and hope he doesn’t get much, if any jail time.and look back
      Whoever approved Sonlands living expenses can goto jail, and then straight to hell.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    EW on twtr https://twitter.com/emptywheel is properly taking to task the NYT for this “disgraceful” headline:

    Someone Had a ‘Meltdown’ at the White House. Pelosi and Trump Just Disagree About Who.

    Bothsiderism and Pelosi-hate among the editors has reached epidemic proportions. Canada News captured that headline, too, from about two hours ago. https://canada.shafaqna.com/EN/AL/1368958

    Since then, the NYT has changed its headline, without comment, to read,
    Inside the Derailed White House Meeting. The NYT is covering its ass again with the passive voice.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/16/us/politics/trump-pelosi-white-house.html

    • P J Evans says:

      Pelosi is using that photo of her standing and telling Trmp off as her Twitter header and her FB page header. It’s pretty telling: you have a general next to Trmp, and the guys to his right, looking down like they’re ashamed. And Trmp is the only one with no papers in front of him: he can’t read well enough to pass as literate in that group.

      • Eureka says:

        PJ, every time I look at that photo, I just stare mesmerized.

        I want to call it a twist on “The Last Supper:” “Democracy’s Break-fast” comes to mind. I hope that’s true. The last time I was staring at it I learned of Elijah Cummings’s death, so I am a bit thrown now. But that picture gave me a different kind of hope. May it become one of those images so universal that framed versions populate garage sales, and folks have to explain it to their grandkids centuries from now.

          • Eureka says:

            Dark times, indeed. That’s why I was choosing a forward-looking optimism (via retrospective kitsch) along the lines of Washington crossing the Delaware (it was framed Revolutionary War prints that I had in mind in portending this photo’s future as garage-sale fodder).

            Regardless, I do like the idea that we are breaking our fast on democracy. I’ll take that sliver of light.

  9. PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

    I hope that enough comes out from sentencing or shortly after to add more to the (already damning and vast, but people have short memories) Flynn public record – or I fear T may feel he has enough cover to eventually pardon or commute eventually.

    What the hell is an “OCULUS PRIME” or whatever? A new transformer whose special ability is filling it’s targets with greed and destroying their moral center?

  10. Eureka says:

    Reporting from Wm. Cohan at Vanity Fair tonight on a topic Rayne has often raised: the possibility of insiders making money off Trump market manipulations. Lucky trader(s)– identity/ies unknown absent investigation– on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange have walked with tens and hundreds of millions, and in other cases, 1.+ billion dollars. A long-time CME trader says he’s seen nothing like this “at least since al-Qaida cashed in before initiating the September 11 attacks. ”

    Most of the examples are Trump-China related; the opener, though, finds that someone got lucky over that bizarre drone strike on the Saudis’ oil assets:

    In the last 10 minutes of trading at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Friday, September 13, someone got very lucky. That’s when he or she, or a group of people, sold short 120,000 “S&P e-minis”—electronically traded futures contracts linked to the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index—when the index was trading around 3010. The time was 3:50 p.m. in New York; it was nearing midnight in Tehran. A few hours later, drones attacked a large swath of Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure, choking off production in the country and sending oil prices soaring. By the time the CME next opened, for pretrading on Sunday night, the S&P index had fallen 30 points, giving that very fortunate trader, or traders, a quick $180 million profit.

    Federal regulators might start here: In the last 10 minutes of trading on Friday, August 23, as the markets were roiling in the face of more bad trade news, someone bought 386,000 September e-minis. Three days later, Trump lied about getting a call from China to restart the trade talks, and the S&P 500 index shot up nearly 80 points. The potential profit on the trade was more than $1.5 billion.

    (Following through the linked tweets, you’ll see comments re SEC chair golfing with Trump)

    Ted Lieu: “There are two possibilities based on the reporting by @WilliamCohan in @VanityFair: 1. Many large trades near in time to statements and actions by @realDonaldTrump that resulted in massive gains were all just coincidences. OR 2. There was insider trading.…”
    https://twitter.com/tedlieu/status/1184656583458021376

    “There Is Definite Hanky-Panky Going On”: The Fantastically Profitable Mystery of the Trump Chaos Trades
    https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/10/the-mystery-of-the-trump-chaos-trades

  11. Molly Pitcher says:

    Elijah Cummings death is such a loss for this country. I hope it motivates the House to pick up his standard and continue to fight for our country with his resolve in their hearts, as should we all.

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump always doubles down, especially when he’s in trouble. The WaPo reports that he’s awarded next year’s G-7 Summit to…his own Trump Doral resort in Miami.

    Has the House nothing to say about the money needed to pay for that, or should Trump’s decision simply be added to the list of Emoluments Clause violations? One thing is for sure: Miami, Dade County, and Florida should bill him in advance for the high cost of extra security. This guy never pays his debts.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-has-awarded-next-years-g-7-summit-of-world-leaders-to-his-miami-area-resort-the-white-house-said/2019/10/17/221b32d6-ef52-11e9-89eb-ec56cd414732_story.html

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Framing it around not over-charging assumes away the problem that holding the summit there is not remotely legitimate.

      • Tom says:

        What’s more, Trump’s Doral facility will provide attendees’ accomodations with complimentary rats and bedbugs, and little peppermint patties on their pillows with friendly notes such as, “This room infested with pride by Joyce!”

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Dave Fahrenthold reports that Trump’s Doral resort, from 2016-2017, showed a 13.8% drop in revenue, total income from all sources, and a 62% drop in “net operating income,” which largely comes from rooms, restaurants, special events, etc.

      The moneyed class must be staying away in droves. The Doral must need all the business Trump can extort for it. Here’s hoping Sondland’s business suffers the same consequence in response to his work for Trump.

      https://twitter.com/Fahrenthold

          • bmaz says:

            Um, no, that is completely idiotic. Jesus, seriously? This is the wrong place to wander into with the stupid.

          • P J Evans says:

            It’s not about the amount, it’s about the principle that the president shouldn’t be using the office for personal gain.

          • Rayne says:

            If he had done what he was supposed to do ethically from the beginning — divest from his businesses — there would have been zero risk to his business.

            What a ridiculous case to make. You can’t be certain that ‘loss’ of business isn’t exactly what he wants to use to argue he shouldn’t pay more property taxes or pay more insurance premiums. Bookings may be down but we have absolutely no idea how legitimate any of the information is that Trump org has reported because his former attorney has testified before Congress that the books were cooked.

      • Donna says:

        The Doral started losing money when the PGA took The Doral Open tournament away in June 2016 and gave the date to a course in Mexico City. The PGA held a tournament annually at Doral for 53 years up until that point. Needless to say, Donald was none too pleased.

        • Rayne says:

          That’s a good point, thanks.

          As an aside: we probably need to check “losing money” — is the Doral simply not bringing in more sales than it has in the past, or is it operating at a loss? Operating loss can be manipulated.

          • Donna says:

            Tournament sites can be a goldmine for the course owners. Every thing from ticket admission sales, parking fees, concessions, fees generated from the amateur golfers who participate in the Pro/Am event which is typically held on Wednesday, the day before the actual tournament starts.

            Remember the Wollman Ice Skating rink in NYC that Trump ‘generously’ offered to refurbish gratis? The Trump Org now has the contract to operate it. The money generated from the various concessions is astonishing. And as to be expected with anything Trump related, there are accounting irregularities.

            https://www.wnyc.org/story/donald-trump-saving-nyc-millions-or-making-millions-taxpayers/

            • P J Evans says:

              That kind of revenue is why a lot of people in L.A. were unhappy with pro football using publicly-owned facilities: the contract would give the team owners all the revenue from parking and concessions, even for non-football events.

            • Donna says:

              One other thing about the Wollman Rink. When it’s not feasible to skate ( spring – summer – fall ) the facility is converted to an amusement park named Victoria Gardens. Operated by Trump. That entity’s income should be astonishing.

            • Donna says:

              One other thing about the Wollman Rink. When it’s not feasible to skate ( spring – summer – fall ) the facility is converted to an amusement park named Victoria Gardens. Operated by Trump. I cannot imagine the income generated.

            • Rayne says:

              Oh heck yeah, I needed that! Thank you! I completely forgot about the extra scamming professional golf tours offer to courses.

              And of course that ‘gratis’ refurb was nothing of the sort. Thanks for the link!

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Whatever Pence, Pompeo, and bully O’Brien negotiated in Turkey just now, it should have been negotiated before Trump gave the go-ahead to Turkey’s incursion into a neighboring state. That’s assuming the policy, if you can call it that, Trump initiated was legitimate.

    These buffoons, who can’t stop selling their fundamentalist christianity with every sentence, are playing catch-up, after a great deal of needless loss and damage has already taken place.

    I notice that these guys talk about what the US and Turkey might do or might have agreed on, but they never mention what Syria has agreed to.

    BTW, I realize that Mike Pompeo is in the running, but apart from Grimma Wormtongue, has their been a liar and sycophant to beat Mike Pence?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      What Pence, Pompeo, and O’Brien appear to have agreed to is to give Erdogan everything he asked for, and to stamp it with the US seal of approval. The Art of the Deal. These guys never tire of winning.

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