Bill Barr’s Chosen US Attorney Signs Off on Aggressive Response to Mike Flynn

When Bill Barr suddenly replaced DC US Attorney Jessie Liu the day after the Senate acquitted Trump, I grew wary of why he replaced a solid Trump appointee with his own close aide, Timothy Shea.

I fully expect the move was designed to minimize the damage of ongoing investigations into Trump’s flunkies and may well be an effort to prosecute more of Trump’s perceived enemies, like Andrew McCabe.

But in one of the first signals of whether Shea will interfere in sensitive prosecutions, the ongoing sentencing of Mike Flynn, Shea signed off on an aggressive next step.

That’s one of the key takeaways from two filings submitted today, the first asking for an order finding that Flynn has waived all attorney-client privilege with respect to Covington & Burling’s representation of him (including with those who worked on Flynn’s behalf, which might include researchers and tech contractors) in regards to his motion to withdraw his guilty plea, and the second asking for a continuance — possibly a significant one — to work with Covington to obtain information and materials to respond to Mike Flynn’s claims that Covington provided incompetent advice to him.

Bill Barr’s close associate Shea signed off on this, but Brandon Van Grack did not, which likely means that the government is preparing for the possibility (invited by Judge Emmet Sullivan’s suggestion he wants to hold an evidentiary hearing with sworn witnesses) that Van Grack will testify about discussions with Flynn and his lawyers, too.

That is, we may be headed towards a hearing in which we see top Covington lawyers, their contractors (I suspect their tech contractors have an interesting story to tell about how Flynn Intelligence Group materials were made unavailable after the 2016 election, thereby making key documents unavailable for Covington to review before completing the FARA filing), the other lawyer they advised he consult after first making sure he did not have a conflict, and Van Grack testify about how much lying and obstruction Flynn engaged in, with just Flynn and his wife (having probably already waived spousal privilege by submitting a declaration in this matter) arguing to the contrary.

Another takeaway is that Covington wants this opportunity to tell what a shitty client Flynn was.

While Covington has indicated a willingness to comply with this request, it has understandably declined to do so in the absence of a Court order confirming the waiver of attorney-client privilege.

They just want the legal and ethical cover of an order from Judge Sullivan. The government is asking for over a week extension from the existing deadline — currently noon on this Wednesday, February 12 — before they propose to submit a status report at noon on Thursday, February 20. That suggests they imagine, having consulted with Covington, that there may be a good deal to talk about, with regards to what a shitty client Mike Flynn was.

A subtle point about this request: I believe that the government is asking for this, and justifying it, based off Flynn’s complaint not just that his Covington lawyers should have gotten the details about FARA correct, and having not done so had an unwaivable conflict in representing Flynn going forward, but also that they allegedly did not tell Flynn that the FBI agents who originally interviewed him believed that he had a “sure demeanor,” which would have led him not to plead guilty had he been told.

the defendant contends that (1) his attorneys did not disclose to him that the interviewing agents believed he had a “sure demeanor” and that he did not show signs of deception, and he would not have pleaded guilty if his attorneys had disclosed this to him

This is significant because in the Bijan Kian case, Judge Anthony Trenga ruled that Covington’s work on the FARA application was not covered by privilege.

Notwithstanding the near absolute immunity enjoyed by attorney opinion work product, where that work product relates centrally to the actions or conduct of a lawyer at issue in a case, such that consideration of the attorney’s opinion work product, including their recollections and impressions, are essential to a just and fair resolution, opinion work product protections otherwise applicable do not apply. See, e.g., In re John Doe, 662 F.2d 1073, 1080 (4th Cir. 1981) (finding no opinion work product protection where attorney’s prior representation was a target of the grand jury investigation); Sec. Exch. Comm’n v. Nat’l Student Mktg. Corp., 1974 WL 415, *3–4 (D.D.C. June 25, 1974) (finding no opinion work product protection where at issue was what a law firm did and did not know). Here, while there is no contention that Covington or Verderame committed any crime, what they did and why is central to this case as their actions are claimed to have resulted in a crime attributable to Rafiekian. For these reasons, any opinion work product by Covington or Verderame that pertains to the FARA filing is not protected.

I believe that means that the already substantial evidence submitted in the context of that case, including notes and testimony clearly showing that Flynn lied to Covington lawyers as they were preparing the FARA filing, can be entered into this proceeding.

What the government is asking for, then, is that Covington’s attorney-client obligations to Flynn be waived on the case in chief here, his lies about Russia. Indeed, that’s what the bulk of the conflicting sworn Flynn statements laid out in the government filing pertain to.

On December 1, 2017, the defendant entered a plea of guilty to “willfully and knowingly” making material false statements to the FBI on January 24, 2017, regarding his contacts with the Russian Ambassador. See Information; SOF at ¶¶ 3-4.1 In addition, in the Statement of the Offense, the defendant admitted that he “made material false statements and omissions” in multiple documents that he filed on March 7, 2017, with the Department of Justice pursuant to FARA, which pertained to a project for the principal benefit of the Republic of Turkey. See SOF at ¶ 5.

On November 30, 2017, defendant Flynn signed the Statement of the Offense, acknowledging: “I have read every word of this Statement of the Offense, or have had it read to me . . . . I agree and stipulate to this Statement of the Offense, and declare under penalty of perjury that it is true and correct.” See SOF at 6. During his initial plea hearing, defendant Flynn was shown this signature, and he acknowledged under oath that it was his. See Plea Tr. at 13-14, United States v. Flynn, No. 17-cr-232 (D.D.C. Dec. 1, 2017) (“12/01/2017 Plea Tr.”). Thereafter, the government read the Statement of the Offense into the record. See id. at 14-18. The defendant was asked by the Court, “Is that factual summary true and correct?,” and the defendant replied, “It is.” Id. at 18. The Court then asked whether the defendant believed the government could prove those facts at trial, to which the defendant replied “yes.” Id. at 19. Defendant Flynn was also asked at this hearing whether he had sufficient time to consult with his attorneys, to which he replied “yes,” and whether he was satisfied with the services they had provided him, to which he also responded “yes.” Id. at 6.

Defendant Flynn was originally scheduled to be sentenced on December 18, 2018. Prior to that hearing, the government submitted a sentencing memorandum that described defendant Flynn’s knowing and willful material false statements to the FBI, and his material false statements and omissions in multiple FARA filings. See Gov’t Sent’g Memo at 2-5. In his own filing, the defendant reiterated that he “d[id] not take issue” with the government’s description of his conduct. See Def. Sent’g Mem at 7 (citing Gov’t Sent’g Memo at 2-5).

As I noted, Flynn’s sworn statements in this preceding are in unreconcilable conflict, both as regards to FARA and as regards to his claim to have lied to the FBI about his conversations with Sergei Kislyak and his more recent claim that he did not lie. But by getting Covington a waiver to talk about the latter, the government intends to get abundant evidence to prove that’s true of both sets unreconcilable conflicting sworn statements, the ones about his work for Turkey and the ones about lying to the FBI about Russia.

And they make it clear they may charge Flynn with perjury once they do that, because they want Sullivan to approve that use in his order.

The order also should make clear that if the defendant’s Supplemental Motion to Withdraw his Plea of Guilty is granted, the Court may consider additional questions of the limitation on the use of this information in any subsequent trial. This limitation on the use of information should not, however, preclude the government from prosecuting the defendant for perjury if any information that he provided to counsel were proof of perjury in this proceeding.

If Sullivan approves this (and he seems to be thinking along the same lines), it means either Flynn’s motion to withdraw will be refused after Covington provides the court with additional evidence of perjury, or it will be approved after Covington provides the government with additional evidence of perjury, which the government — including the newly appointed US Attorney for DC — would then use to prosecute Flynn for perjury.

Flynn’s lawyers — who, remember, decided to risk their client’s freedom on a claim that Covington lawyers were incompetent — seem uninterested in letting the government prepare for a hearing the judge in this case has made fairly clear he intends to hold.

The government conferred by e-mail with counsel for the defendant. In response to the government’s request to amend the briefing schedule in this case, defense counsel wrote: “Our position is that at the minimum, the Department of Justice should agree to withdrawal of the plea. Accordingly, we oppose any further extension of the briefing schedule.”

But even if Sullivan denies this motion, even if Sullivan doesn’t sign the order giving Covington the cover to explain how much Flynn lied to them, the government still has adequate time to prove their case by the existing deadline on Wednesday.

It was clear going back to the early January submission of the sentencing memorandum that Flynn’s case is being very carefully reviewed by the DOJ hierarchy. That’s unlikely to have changed with the changeover in US Attorney. Which suggests that whatever else Barr’s appointment of Timothy Shea means, it likely also means that DOJ institutionally supports this aggressive response to Flynn’s gamesmanship on his guilty plea.

Update: I’m increasingly baffled by all of this, but I think this may be Sidney Powell blinking. She agrees to the continuance claiming (without explaining that she has consulted with the government) that the basis for the government’s request has changed since they emailed and asked whether they were cool with a week-long delay.

Both the relief requested and the reasons underlying the government’s Motion to Amend have changed since it conferred with the defense earlier last week. Given the government’s Motion to Confirm Waiver, which raises issues the government did not mention previously, Michael T. Flynn (“Mr. Flynn”) does not oppose the Court granting a stay of the briefing schedule with a status report due from the parties by February 20, 2020. However, it is imperative that Mr. Flynn have time to brief the issues raised by the government’s new motion regarding the attorney-client privilege.

This could be because someone got through to Flynn and explained he was facing prison on this charge and perjury charges and implored him to withdraw his request to withdraw his plea. It could be because Shea — or Barr — has decided to weigh in. It could be that, given the government’s softer request for a guidelines sentence, Flynn has cut his losses.

All this time, Sullivan has been unusually quiet.

Update: Maybe I’m missing Flynn’s response. On second thought, I think they’re claiming (who knows if it’s true) that last week the government asked for an extension for one reason, and now they’re asking for another. Which would make the inclusion of Shea on this all the more interesting, if it is true, which it’s probably not.

65 replies
  1. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Powell might be a gifted television performer, but she doesn’t craft legal arguments that have merit. Her conclusions here are so circular, they would give the average legally-trained reader vertigo – or laughing fits:

    [H]is Covington lawyers should have gotten the details about FARA correct, and having not done so had an unwaivable conflict in representing Flynn going forward…[T]hey allegedly did not tell Flynn that the FBI agents who originally interviewed him believed that he had a “sure demeanor,” which would have led him not to plead guilty had he been told.

    Several commentators have said that Powell’s arguments here are like the argument made by the twins, who murdered their parents. They asked the court for mercy because they were orphans. Even if Flynn is making her, as well as Covington, make legal bricks without factual straw, the bricks still won’t hold a load.

    If Covington got the FARA registration wrong, it’s because her client consistently lied to them.

    Sure Demeanor Flynn was a special forces operator with long experience and training. He would be skilled at credibly lying in high-stakes environments that could cost him his life. He would have considered himself a failure had he not persuaded two ordinary FBI interviewers that he had a “sure demeanor,” when lying about material facts.

    That does not support Powell’s conclusion that Flynn would have relied on that to not plead guilty, given two things: the totality of what Flynn thought the government had on him at the time – and what Flynn knew that they might found out.

    • bmaz says:

      Heh, I could go down to a local municipal court and immediately find twenty 2nd year misdemeanor public defenders who could, and would, do a far better job than Powell.

  2. Peterr says:

    Very interesting, Marcy. This seems to leave Flynn with two ways of understanding his situation here. The first is that Barr and the DOJ are throwing Flynn under the bus, and have no interest in helping him out. The second is that while DOJ is being aggressive here, Trump will come through with a commutation and pardon in the end.

    If you were in Flynn’s shoes, you gotta ask yourself, “Do I feel lucky?”

    • viget says:

      Maybe the supposed animus Trump had towards Flynn was actually truly there — but for Flynn’s greed the entire magnitude of Trump’s grift vis-a-vis Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Israel would never have been discovered.

      Perhaps by burying Flynn now, it allows Trump to get back to what the plan was supposed to be — sanctions relief for Russia.

      I still think either Carter Page or Cohen was the loose thread the FBI pulled on that allowed for discovery of the wider geopolitical plot, but it is certainly possible that Flynn’s antics with Turkey somehow opened a lead on convos with Kisylak.

      • emptywheel says:

        There’s zero evidence either is true. None. They opened the investigation bc multiple Trumpsters showed a willingness and possible interest in conspiring with Russia. And in any case would have found Flynn’s lies when they tried to figure out why Russia didn’t retaliate.

    • emptywheel says:

      I think Barr’s unwilling to risk his schtick on Flynn, who is clearly guilty. If Trump wants to pardon him, I’m sure Barr will support that, when the time comes, but he’s busy preventing future prosecutions from happening, not tampering with obviously correct ones in place.
      But that’s just a guess based on this proceeding. We could learn it’s overly optimistic.

      • bmaz says:

        Yeah. Time will tell I guess. But that is my curiosity as to why even seeking a delay of any kind or time. Sentence Flynn and be done with it. There are weird dynamics here though, and not sure any of us really understand them in full yet.

        • Peterr says:

          My non-lawyerly sense of things is that when a high-profile case gets handed off in mid-stream from one judge to the next, the judge who receives the case wants to make damn sure that all the i’s are dotted and t’s crossed. Add in changes in lawyers and changes in pleas, and there is plenty of weirdness to go around. My WAG is that Sullivan does not want to give anyone grounds for appeal, and he’s been letting Flynn take his shots now in front of Sullivan, rather than waiting for Flynn to take shots at Sullivan in the Court of Appeals.

          “You want to trash me – say it to my face.”

          That said, Sullivan is clearly getting tired of the delays as well.

          • bmaz says:

            Well, it was not even close to “mid-stream”. Sullivan has had the case for basically 90%, if not more, of the time. The fact that another judge took the initial insta-plea in the first moments is irrelevant. Sullivan is “up to speed”, and no more i’s need be dotted, nor t’s crossed for him to get on with this. A federal court simply cannot let bad faith bullshit like Powell issues relentlessly to control the process.

            • emptywheel says:

              Sure, but Peterr’s point still holds. Sullivan can send Flynn to prison because he perjured himself, repeatedly, in his court room. Or he can send Flynn to prison based off an out-of-range deviation because he asserted that 3 Stars don’t have to pay for their crimes.

              Which one is going to be rock solid on appeal?

              • bmaz says:

                That is easy, following the existing plea and sentencing guidelines recommendation and throwing the rest back at DOJ.

  3. bmaz says:

    Also, too, Sullivan should deny the continuance and sentence this prick now. The DOJ can still go after him for other crimes he has committed in the process and using any Covington info. This is nuts; sentence the man.

    • emptywheel says:

      Which is probably why they asked today instead of Tuesday. They will still have time to rebut the motion to withdraw (though of course the motion to overturn the prosecution is out there too).
      But my guess is Emmet wants him under oath in his courtroom once more to raise the cost of this bullshit and make any appeal more difficult. So I bet he grants the continuance.

      • bmaz says:

        Heh, Sullivan pretty much has to put him under oath again as far as I can tell. But if he gets sentenced and dries up, Sullivan likely does not make a Hank Schuelke like special counsel referral from the court and Barr can let it scab over pending anything Trump may pull.

        But Flynn is a nutcase, and his lawyer Powell is an even bigger nutcase. So who knows….

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Powell and Flynn have given the DoJ an enviable gift: the ability to put on the record before sentencing evidence that Flynn is a chronic and habitual liar, to the country, the government, the court, the DoJ, his own lawyers, and himself.

    If Barr is allowing this, he must think it helps Trump. That does not bode well for Flynn’s prospects of a pardon or commutation of sentence. The exception might be that a few critical soundbites or a harsher sentence might give Trump better cover for commuting the sentence. But that would be Barr’s strategy, not an indication of Trump’s receptive attitude. Things are looking bleak for Mikey.

  5. John Paul Jones says:

    I think it only helps Trump in the sense that if Flynn is arraigned for perjury, then Trump can point to him and say, see, I put my faith in him and he screwed me over. How was I to know he was such a liar? In other words, the Tsar has bad advisors. Benjamin Wittes over at Lawfare argued the other day that the only way the Senate acquittal makes sense is under the assumption that the GOP senators are operating on faith, not reason. For them then, the assertion that Flynn deceived Trump would work.

    • P J Evans says:

      Which only works if the warnings about Flynn before he was hired for that job were memory-holed. Wasn’t Yates one of those who spoke up about Flynn, and got fired for it?

      • MB says:

        Hell, Obama told Trump not to hire Flynn before inauguration, in December 2016. And then reportedly he told Tim Kaine that Trump was a “fascist”. When somebody tells you who they are …etc. etc.

  6. Vicks says:

    I think Flynn, like most people with the ability to think, may have struggled with the QAnon thing at first, and after enough pressure from his brother, son and the other nutters finally decided WTF and went all in.
    If you are surrounded by people who are telling you that you did no wrong, you are a victim and they have proof the deep state set you up, maybe it would be hard for a lot of people to resist.
    These Q people are also holding fund raisers for Flynn’s legal fees and William Barr was trotting the globe pushing parts of the conspiracy.
    Powell acts like she is still expecting a bombshell to drop any day.
    Perhaps Barr has shifted strategy, moved on and she never got the memo?

  7. pseudonymous in nc says:

    At some point, Powell’s “everybody fucked up except Flynn” strategy was going to run into a certain amount of professional self-respect, whether from the lawyers at DOJ or Covington, the FBI agents or Judge Sullivan.

    As for Barr, I’m waiting to see whether “Manafort was fitted up” gathers domestic steam, especially given that the Q people seem to have come up with a fantasy version of the Maidan massacre.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Sheldon Adelson doesn’t seem to like it when other billionaires muscle into his turf. He’s promised to donate $100 million to Donald Trump and the Republicans, which will only set the bar higher for Trump’s well-heeled supporters.

    That’s more than wanting to protect his tax cuts and would seem to be more than his support for Trump’s outlandish support for Israel. As usual, this sort of donation is a fraction of how much more he would pay in a normal tax system that did not subsidize his extracted wealth. Something else must be afoot.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The Adelmans normally contribute $100 million a year to Republicans, via super-PACs and dark money venues. Last year it was $124 just to publicly-acknowledged conduits. So, their 2020 spending will easily top $200 million.

      As Greg Palast would say, the best democracy money can buy, except, of course, it’s no longer a democracy when it’s funded that way. It becomes one dollar, one vote. Let’s help make sure the Adelmans waste their money.

  9. Frank Probst says:

    Given the timing of all of this, is it possible that Trump has decided that he’s going to punish everyone who’s made a deal with the government against him, or at least cut them loose? At this point, Flynn is a loose thread in an investigation that came before the investigation that got Trump impeached. Trump isn’t known for his loyalty, and Flynn can’t hurt him anymore. The replacement of the US Attorney may have been done so that Trump could start having criminal charges brought against people on his enemies list. It may not have had any direct connection to Flynn. But since Trump has been in a spiteful mood lately, he may let Flynn twist in the wind as an example to others who might be considering any sort of deal with prosecutors, even if the main goal of the deal at the time the deal was made was to protect Trump.

  10. Rugger9 says:

    OT sort of, but in line with the current Palace punishment fetish: it seems Individual-1 wants to execute drug dealers, but we all know that the Place is looking at the low-level people (of color, natch) and not at the ones who sent the millions of pills to a couple of WV pharmacies on flimsy prescriptions, if any. Which one is a more strategic threat?

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The MSM seems only able to cover two candidates at a time – preferably one – and it wants them to kiss and make up, so that there is no competition to report on. Reporters seem more interested in focusing on Trump’s make-up than yet-to-come battle with insurrectionist Democrats.

    So, now only Sanders and Buttigieg are Democratic “front runners” now. Joe B is off the charts, nobody’s heard of the popular Ms. Warren, and Klobuchar is an also ran.

    Now, New Hampshire might be considered considered occasionally liberal, but it’s nothing like Vermont or Massachusetts. Like Iowa, it is as white as Norway.

    So, the popularity of white men should come as no surprise. But Iowa and New Hampshire do not an election make, nor is not coming out on top there the beginning or end of a campaign. Bloomberg knows that, which is one reason he’s ignoring them, as is his having more money than votes or popularity anywhere.

    • Rugger9 says:

      If the Palace and the MSM cared about the troops as anything other than props this would be news indeed. However, only LW radio is touching this, in particular Randi Rhodes (IIRC she’s a vet, and so it would resonate with her) and so it remains buried under the RW noise machine spew.

      In case anyone wonders, the military is pretty strict about “calling in sick” since there is a UCMJ article about “malingering” (Art. 115)that covers the concept. I’ve seen it used on women that got pregnant on repair ships (combat ships were still segregated then) which caused a kerfuffle until the press discovered the “Old Man” was actually an “Old Lady” (i.e. the CO), as well as for not taking malaria pills when going to places like Mombasa and catching malaria there. So for these troops to be treated means it is a real medical issue because there are real consequences if anyone tries to fake it.

        • Raven Eye says:

          At the height of operations in Iraq, there was the capability to deal with some percentage of these injuries in theater. That capability was demobilized, so Landstuhl is where those trauma patients have to go.

          • P J Evans says:

            Reports are that there were about 200 in the housing that was demolished by the missiles, so the numbers will probably go up some more.

    • Fran of the North says:

      Coming soon to a twitter stream near you:

      “Those troops are not war heroes. They are war heroes because they got headaches. I heard they got headaches and a couple other things. I would say and I can report that it isn’t very serious. I like people who don’t get headaches.”

    • Raven Eye says:

      Iran has enough assets on the ground for them to not be surprised at the real extent of the casualties. They certainly have their own internal filters, but nothing compared to the acoustic barriers “protecting” Trump…And which will only get worse. This may explain, to some extent, the degree of acceptance by the Iranians in their de-escalation statements. They had a better idea than Trump what the real situation was.

      Trumps puffing (or perhaps fluffing) ends up adding another bit of behavioral information that all the other nations can take notes on.

  12. Hika says:

    [OT kinda] Just saw an article up on TPM that reported prosecutors seeking 7-9 years for poor, poor Roger Stone.

    • Vicks says:

      I’ve just read the first 8 pages or so of the sentencing doc, I don’t have any experience with these type of documents but after all the redactions and covering up inquiring minds have suffered through, this guy, Timothy Shea seems to be just letting it rip.
      He names Bannon and Gates as Stone’s contacts with team Trump and gives examples that that make it clear they knew exactly what was going on.

      • Vicks says:

        I know I sound like a broken record but Mueller’s wording on Trump’s obstruction was designed for a thinking audience, not the American goobers that don’t realize they are staring right at the results of a successful campaign against justice.
        It’s nice to see the story spelled out in a way that throws their gullibility right in the face of those damn fools

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The MSM recognizes Elizabeth Warren only in extremis: “Elizabeth Warren battles to stay in the Democratic race.”

    In reality, every contender is “battling” to stay in the Democratic race. That race has just begun and hasn’t yet reached large diverse states, where a clear victory would indicate whether one candidate has widespread support.

    By singling out Ms. Warren for this treatment now, the Independent reveals its preference that she lose. It’s a lack of an acknowledged bias shared by many in the MSM.

    • Geoguy says:

      Thank you for noting the poor treatment of Elizabeth Warren. An article posted yesterday on the website WALL STREET ON PARADE titled “10,599 Corporate Lawyers Have Donated to Buttigieg’s Campaign: Here Are the Dirty Little Secrets” helps to explain the animosity toward her. It’s a fascinating take on Buttigieg and Bloomberg.

  14. Mark says:

    I had a very similar experience once. Client took a plea in a federal criminal case, then decided he wanted to withdraw it. I said if he wanted to do that, he should find a new attorney. New attorney, very similar to Powell, decides its a good idea to have the client say a bunch of things about the advice my office gave him. US Attorney moved for the court to find that the guy had waived the privilege. Court agreed. Ordered me to testify. Court found that the guy had been properly advised and that my work was not deficient. Motion to withdraw plea denied.

    Same thing will happen here. Covington’s lawyers will testify as to their own solid work, and the motion to withdraw the plea will be denied. Motions to withdraw a plea are rarely successful, and this one will again result in Powell making her client look like an even bigger chump.

    • bmaz says:

      And that is exactly how it should go. I have been stunned that the court has given Powell and Flynn so much leeway. Deny all the motions and sentence the guy. Get on with it.

      And welcome to Emptywheel Mark. Please join us more often, I think you would like the discussion.

  15. harpie says:

    Can we talk about Billy Barr?
    My thesis: Billy Barr is the most dangerous man in America.
    Here’s a speech he gave yesterday:
    5:27 PM · Feb 10, 2020

    Attorney General William P. Barr Delivers Remarks at the National Sheriffs’ Association Winter Legislative and Technology Conference
    Washington, DC ~ Monday, February 10, 2020

    In this speech, the Attorney General of the United States incites law enforcement officers against *certain* elected officials and District Attorneys.

    • harpie says:

      This happened in NY two days ago:
      A tweet from:
      The Official Twitter page for the Sergeants Benevolent Association, comprised of approx 13,000 active and retired sergeants of the NYPD; President: Ed Mullins
      4:44 PM · Feb 9, 2020

      Mayor DeBlasio, the members of the NYPD are declaring war on you! We do not respect you, DO NOT visit us in hospitals. You sold the NYPD to the vile creatures, the 1% who hate cops but vote for you. NYPD cops have been assassinated because of you. This isn’t over, Game on!

      ??? Definition of insurrection:
      : an act or instance of revolting against civil authority or an established government

    • harpie says:

      From the speech:

      Last but not least, we are meticulously reviewing the actions of certain district attorneys who have adopted policies of charging foreign nationals with lesser offenses for the express purpose of avoiding the federal immigration consequences of those nationals’ criminal conduct. In pursuing their personal ambitions and misguided notions of equal justice, these district attorneys are systematically violating the rule of law and may even be unlawfully discriminating against American citizens.

      What’s Barr’s “notion” of equal justice under the law?

      • bmaz says:

        Barr is off the rails. Getting undocumented aliens off with a throwaway misdemeanor so they don’t get deported when they were arrested on ticky tack felonies like ID fraud (usually fake drivers license, or other ID types) or pot possession etc. is an age old practice. Been going on forever, even here where Joe Arpaio held forth for so long. People who needed to be deported got held and deported, those who did not didn’t. There is absolutely nothing new or sinister about this. Screw Barr.

        • orionATL says:

          bmaz is on the mark. the soft punishment for non-crimes is absolutely the case in my local experience with immigrants (if you can call a $200-700 fine -“soft” for folks who may not make $600 gross in a week). not having a driver’s license or using an “international” or mexican license is a common one. part of the reasoning is pravtical administration: don’t squeeze the folks mercilessly; the police need cooperation from immigrants just like they need it from the rest of us.

          • bmaz says:

            Exactly. And it just makes sense as to judicial efficiency. “We can be done with this nonsense today? Great, case closed!”

      • harpie says:

        Barr alleges the policies he is targeting are DESIGNED, by the PEOPLE he is targeting, to be against the law and expressly NOT about the undocumented people these lawmakers say they are about.

        Let us state the reality upfront and as clearly as possible: When we are talking about sanctuary cities, we are talking about policies that are designed to allow criminal aliens to escape.

        These policies are not about people who came to our country illegally but have otherwise been peaceful and productive members of society. Their express purpose is to shelter aliens whom local law enforcement has already arrested for other crimes. […]

        …but later, he does NOT use the word “criminal”

        […] Further, we are reviewing the practices, policies, and laws of other jurisdictions across the country. This includes assessing whether jurisdictions are complying with our criminal laws, in particular the criminal statute that prohibits the harboring or shielding of aliens [<<< does not say “criminal” here] in the United States. […]

        • orionATL says:

          if you want a recipe for tearing a nation apart beginning at the level of its local areas, this is a great one.

          you have the guns-firsters marching around, e.g., richmond, threatening open conflict with state officials over their “rights”, and you have the immigrant-protecting local officials and citizens (where i live) thinking open conflict with federal officials. to this you add a grossly unfair u.s. senate and electoral college membership distribution, and you could end up with a tinder box situation developing rather suddenly.

          competent leadership is rare these days.

          putin would be pleased to have had us do his work for him.

    • harpie says:

      Earlier in the day, Matt Tait flagged three of the cases Barr talks about in the speech:
      6:11 PM · Feb 10, 2020

      DOJ files 3 cases on states vs federal sovereignty in relation to immigration enforcement:
      1] vs NJ: prohibiting local LE sharing info with ICE
      2] vs KC, WA: prohibiting ICE from using an airport for removals
      3] vs CA: prohibiting operation of private detention facilities by ICE in CA [links to cases]

      There’s actually two California ones; both directed at Assembly Bill 32, which prohibits the use of private detention facilities after 2020,

      It’s enough of a federal land-grab as it is, but extrapolate the arguments out of federal removals and yiiiikes it is a big grab.

    • Jenny says:

      Billy Barr Quotes:

      “Legal Counsel is Legal Counsel, legal Counsel is the lawyer for the Cabinet.”
      William Barr (CNN 2 months ago)

      “If you destroy the presidency and make it an errand boy for Congress, we’re going to be a much weaker and more divided nation.”
      William Barr

      “Presidential powers are not exercised by a body or group. The Constitution vests ‘all executive power’ in one and only one person – the president.”
      William Barr

    • harpie says:
      10:42 PM · Feb 10, 2020

      Bill Barr says the DOJ is “meticulously reviewing” the charging decisions of local DAs, because he suspects they’re undercharging immigrants to avoid making them deportable. Federalism!

      [screenshot of the “last but not least” paragraph copied above]

      What is Barr going to do with results of this “meticulous review?” He doesn’t say. No federal law allows DOJ to interfere with charging decisions of local jurisdictions. So we can only presume Trump Administration plans to punish those jurisdictions in other ways.

      As for “suspects”…that’s not really the case.
      Barr downright ACCUSES the legislators and DA’s of acting illegally.

      • harpie says:

        From the above thread, Sasha Samberg-Champion:

        So we can only presume Trump Administration plans to punish those jurisdictions in other ways.

        BuzzFeed had an article about this yesterday:
        DHS Considered How To Punish States That Deny Access To Driver Records, A Memo Says
        A memo obtained by BuzzFeed News outlines options to put leverage on states that, like New York, deny federal immigration officials access to state driver records.
        Updated on February 10, 2020, at 9:01 p.m.
        Posted on February 10, 2020, at 4:22 p.m.

    • harpie says:

      Vladeck [above]:
      so long as the policies are not preempted by federal law.
      Samberg-Champion [above]
      No federal law allows DOJ to interfere with charging decisions of local jurisdictions.

      From Barr’s speech

      […] These efforts are unlawful. States may not regulate the presence of aliens in the United States in a way that obstructs Congress’s regulation of aliens. Congress has decided that aliens who have no lawful right to be here should be removed, subject to certain processes and hearings. That is particularly true for aliens who have committed crimes in the United States. State and local governments may not stand in the way of that vital federal mission. […]

      Which LAW is Barr referring to?

  16. harpie says:


    7:39 PM · Feb 10, 2020

    USDOJ tonight opposing @nytimes public-records suit for OMB Ukraine-aid emails:
    ‘Even accepting the Times’ argument that the impeachment process is determinative of misconduct, the President was fully acquitted’ / New filing: [link]

    2] Exclusive: New Unredacted Emails Show How Deeply OMB Misled Congress on Ukraine
    Kate Brannen February 11, 2020

    • harpie says:

      Guess I’ll put this here, as well [via Laura Rozen] [my numbers ie:1]]:
      9:09 AM – 11 Feb 2020

      1] Yesterday: DoJ formally recommends 7-9 yrs in prison for Roger Stone.
      2] 1.48AM today: Trump tweets it is “miscarriage of justice”
      3] Today: senior DoJ official tells Fox’s @JakeBGibson that *its own recommendation* is “extreme, excessive and grossly disproportionate” – will change

    • harpie says:

      1] From the Kate Brannen article:

      “Can we call you in 5, DoD is being extraordinarily difficult.”

      It was almost 6 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 12, and Mark Paoletta, the general counsel at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), wanted to talk to his boss, Russell Vought, the acting director of OMB, about President Donald Trump’s hold on military assistance for Ukraine. […]

      So, why was he so frustrated with the Defense Department [on August 12]?

      It had come time for OMB to issue a new apportionment footnote — the technical process being used to withhold the money — and DoD wanted to put it in writing that these delays were now putting the full $250 million for Ukraine at risk. That’s because with each day that passed, it was becoming increasingly difficult for the Pentagon to be able to spend all of the money by September 30, the last day of the fiscal year, should the president change his mind and lift the hold. If DoD didn’t spend all of the money in time, it would be returned to the U.S. Treasury Department, violating the Impoundment Control Act, which mandates the executive branch spend money as Congress appropriates it. […]

      2] Half an hour ago:
      10:35 AM – 11 Feb 2020
      White House expected to drop Pentagon nominee Elaine McCusker amid Ukraine fallout

      “The WH is expected to pull the nomination of Elaine McCusker to be the Pentagon’s comptroller and CFO in the latest staffing fallout from Trump’s impeachment..McCusker resisted the president’s directive to stall about $250 million in military aid to Ukraine”

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