In His 302, William Barnett Admitted to Saving Trump [While Ignoring at Least Four Pieces of Evidence Implicating Him]

I didn’t even unpack all the glaring inconsistencies in William Barnett’s 302 in this post. But given that his statement does contradict both itself and the public record, I want to examine the story that it tells from a different view.

His 302 shows that an FBI Agent was retained on the investigation even after DOJ IG investigated Mueller team texts that — I’ve been told — should have shown he sent pro-Trump texts from his FBI phone (DOJ IG has declined to comment about this). It shows that he remained on the case even after claiming on at least three occasions to want off the case. He remained on, he explains, to prevent “group think” about Mike Flynn’s guilt (even though his own 302 professes to be unaware of several key pieces of evidence, and the 302 redacts at least one other piece of evidence he dismissed). And by remaining on the case, his testimony reveals but does not admit explicitly, he prevented the Mueller team from reaching a conclusion that might have supported a quid pro quo charge.

It has always been inexplicable why Mike Flynn got the sweet plea deal he did, a False Statements charge letting him off for secretly working for a foreign government while getting classified briefings with the candidate, particularly given that — unlike Rick Gates — it was always clear Flynn didn’t want to fully cooperate (and did not fully cooperate, professing not to remember key repeated contacts regarding a back channel with Russia that the White House tried to cover up in other ways).

And now William Barnett is taking credit for all that.

Barnett remained on the Mike Flynn case after trying four times to stay off it

Not explained in Barnett’s 302 is how he ended up investigating Mike Flynn through to prosecution when he repeatedly expressed a disinterest in doing so.

Barnett started, in August 2016, tasked to investigate both Paul Manafort and Mike Flynn. He describes any actions he took early on in the Flynn investigation to be an effort to clear the investigation (and he spoke of it, at all times, in terms of criminal activity, not threats to national security, in spite of his own closing memo admitting that the investigation also investigated the latter). A possible interview in the post-election period, the interview that happened on January 24, the review of call records that would disclose further lies from Flynn, and other evidence that remained redacted — all that was, in Barnett’s mind, just box-checking in advance of closing the investigation. At numerous times in his 302, he seems to suggest he would have been happy to continue on the Manafort investigation, but wanted off the Flynn one.

His 302 describes how, in early 2017 (when false allegations about Andrew McCabe were beginning to be floated, but before an FBI Investigation Division into them started), he asked to be taken off the case.

In or about early February 2017, BARNETT discussed his wish to be removed from the RAZOR investigation with FBI Unit Chief [Unit Chief] and [Special Agent]. [Unit Chief and Special Agent] asked why BARNETT wished to be removed from the investigation. BARNETT said the Inspector General (IG) was looking at the Clinton Case and BARNETT believed the RAZOR investigation was problematic and could result in an IG investigation. FBI policy does not allow for an agent to pick and choose his/her cases. An agent can request to be removed from a case. If an agent is not removed but wanted to leave, they could do a “sit down strike,” meaning the agent asks for approval to do everything and creates enough problems to have them removed from the case.

In spite of providing an explanation of how Barnett could have gotten off the case if he really wanted to, he did not do so (even though it’s possible that the delay in obtaining call records reflects such a sit down strike).

Then, again in April, Barnett exchanged notes with an analyst who wanted off the case. In his testimony, he described that he believed the “collusion” theory that the call records would have supported, “did not make sense.”

BARNETT was asked about a Lync message on 04/06/2017 from [Analyst 1] to BARNETT regarding [Analyst 1] being removed from the RAZOR investigation. BARNETT said [Analyst 1] was very skeptical of the FLYNN collusion [sic] investigation. BARNETT also thought it was a “dumb theory” that did not make sense.

Then, apparently after the appointment of Mueller in May, Barnett tried to undermine any investigation into Flynn by not briefing on it, at a briefing specifically called to review Flynn. This is the passage taken by credulous readers as damning to Jeannie Rhee, when it in fact shows that Barnett was insubordinate and rude.

BARNETT was told to give a brief on FLYNN to a group including SCO attorney Jean Rhee (RHEE), [four other people], and possibly [a fifth] BARNETT said he briefly went over the RAZOR investigation, including the assessment that there was no evidence of a crime, and then started to discuss [redacted — probably Manafort] which BARNETT thought was the more significant investigation. RHEE stopped BARNETT’s briefing [redacted] and asked questions concerning the RAZOR investigation. RHEE wanted to “drill down” on the fees FLYNN was paid for a speech FLYNN gave in Russia. BARNETT explained logical reasons for the amount of the fee, but RHEE seemed to dismiss BARNETT’s assessment. BARNETT thought RHEE was obsessed with FLYNN and Russia and she had an agenda. RHEE told BARNETT she was looking forward to working together. BARNETT told RHEE they would not be working together.

After this briefing, Barnett told someone — almost certainly Brandon Van Grack — that he didn’t like Rhee and didn’t want to be on the Flynn investigation.

BARNETT expressed his concern about RHEE to [SCO Atty 1, probably Van Grack]. BARNETT told [probably Van Grack] that he wanted nothing to do with the RAZOR investigation.

In spite of saying, repeatedly, that he didn’t want to work on the Flynn case, Barnett affirmatively chose to continue on it, to prevent others from “group think.”

On the day following the brief that BARNETT provided to RHEE, BARNETT was contacted by STRZOK. STRZOK said he (STRZOK) really wanted BARNETT to work with the SCO. STRZOK said he (STRZOK) knew BARNETT had a problem with RHEE. BARNETT told STRZOK that he (BARNETT) wanted to work [redacted–probably Manafort] and did not wish to pursue the collusion investigation as it was “not there.” STRZOK said he (STRZOK) would run interference between BARNETT and RHEE. [Probably Van Grack] and STRZOK told BARNETT he (STRZOK) could work on things other than what RHEE was looking into. BARNETT decided to work at the SCO hoping his perspective would keep them from “group think.”

So: Barnett expresses a wish to get off the Flynn case in February, he expresses a wish to get off the Flynn case in April, in May, he says he wants nothing to do with the Flynn case while refusing to brief on it, and then he affirmatively chose to stay on the Flynn case, in hopes of preventing others from “group think.”

There’s some real proof that Robert Mueller (and Peter Strzok!!) sought out people who had it in for Trump!

I actually think it was a good thing that Mueller included skeptics. But Barnett is not just a skeptic; in his 302 he misstated what the evidence showed.

Barnett ignores or dismisses at least four pieces of evidence implicating Flynn

Barnett’s 302 records him claiming that there was “no” evidence showing Trump directed Flynn, even calling such a suspicion “astro projection.”

BARNETT said numerous attempts were made to obtain evidence that TRUMP directed FLYNN concerning [redacted] with no such evidence being obtained. BARNETT said it was just an assumption, just “astro projection,” and the “ground just kept being retreaded.”

Ultimately, Barnett offered a different reason why Flynn (and KT McFarland) told what he admits were clear lies: they were just trying to keep — or get — a job.

Regarding FLYNN, some individuals in the SCO assumed FLYNN was lying to cover up collusion [sic] between the TRUMP campaign and Russia. BARNETT believed FLYNN lied in the interview to save his job, as that was the most plausible explanation and there was no evidence to contradict it.

Barnett’s stated opinion is, like most things pertaining to Flynn, precisely the conclusion drawn institutionally by the Mueller team, best expressed in Flynn’s sentencing memo: Flynn started telling lies in response to the Ignatius report, and then just kept lying.

Except Barnett repeatedly dismisses evidence that makes it clear that’s not true.

Barnett describes FBI responding to the David Ignatius article revealing Flynn’s calls with Sergey Kislyak, and not Flynn’s public lies about them. Every single other witness asked about this investigation and abundant contemporaneous evidence has said the lies, not the article, were the motivating factor behind FBI’s increased attention. Barnett’s testimony doesn’t even admit they exist.

Then Barnett was asked about — something — that remains redacted.

Clearly, whatever this was, other witnesses seem to have believed it cause cause for concern. Barnett doesn’t agree.

Then Barnett describes what might have been call records showing that Mike Flynn’s lies had served to cover up his coordination with Mar-a-Lago in advance of his calls to Sergey Kislyak, disclosing another lie (and probably the point of his other lies) to the FBI.

BARNETT said the information gathered was what was expected to be found and there was, in BARNETT’s opinion, no evidence of criminal activity and no information that would start a new investigative direction.

Later, he says that the NSL returns, which would have disclosed call records that show further lies on Flynn’s part were not evidence that Flynn was working with the Russian government.

The information obtained through the NSLs did not change BARNETT’s mind that FLYNN was not working with the Russian government.

This answer is a tell, both about Barnett and those interviewing him. When the FBI obtained call records that showed that Mike Flynn’s lies served to cover up his consultation with Mar-a-Lago before calling Kislyak, it would have raised questions about the White House. That is, those call records made it clear that there might be another suspect reason for Flynn’s activities, because he was directed by Trump to pay off a quid pro quo (which is the reason a Main DOJ-approved sentencing memo argued might have been the explanation).

Then, not mentioned here at all, is the Flynn testimony that he and KT McFarland wrote a cover email to hide that he had spoken about sanctions with Kislyak.

After the briefing, Flynn and McFarland spoke over the phone. 1258 Flynn reported on the substance of his call with Kislyak, including their discussion of the sanctions. 1259 According to McFarland, Flynn mentioned that the Russian response to the sanctions was not going to be escalatory because they wanted a good relationship with the incoming Administration.1260 McFarland also gave Flynn a summary of her recent briefing with President-Elect Trump. 1261

The next day, December 30, 2016, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov remarked that Russia would respond in kind to the sanctions. 1262 Putin superseded that comment two hours later, releasing a statement that Russia would not take retaliatory measures in response to the sanctions at that time. 1263 Hours later President-Elect Trump tweeted, “Great move on delay (by V. Putin).” 1264 Shortly thereafter, Flynn sent a text message to McFarland summarizing his call with Kislyak from the day before, which she emailed to Kushner, Bannon, Priebus, and other Transition Team members. 1265 The text message and email did not include sanctions as one of the topics discussed with Kislyak. 1266 Flynn told the Office that he did not document his discussion of sanctions because it could be perceived as getting in the way of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy.1267 [my emphasis]

Nor does Barnett mention that — at a time when the only known communications to Trump were through McFarland — Flynn told Kislyak that Trump was aware of their conversation.

FLYNN: and, you know, we are not going to agree on everything, you know that, but, but I think that we have a lot of things in common. A lot. And we have to figure out how, how to achieve those things, you know and, and be smart about it and, uh, uh, keep the temperature down globally, as well as not just, you know, here, here in the United States and also over in, in Russia.

KISLYAK: yeah.

FLYNN: But globally l want to keep the temperature down and we can do this ifwe are smart about it.

KISLYAK: You’re absolutely right.

FLYNN: I haven’t gotten, I haven’t gotten a, uh, confirmation on the, on the, uh, secure VTC yet, but the, but the boss is aware and so please convey that. [my emphasis]

While that’s not proof that Trump ordered Flynn to undermine sanctions, it is clear Flynn told Russia that Trump had been apprised about the content of their calls before the last call with Kislyak.

Of the evidence that is public, then, Barnett claims the following does not exist:

  1. Flynn publicly lied in response to the Ignatius story, creating a counterintelligence risk
  2. Call records showed that, on top of all his other lies about the substance of his calls with Sergey Kislyak, Flynn lied about coordinating with Mar-a-Lago before making those calls
  3. Flynn testified that he wrote an email summarizing his call so as to hide that he and Kislyak had discussed sanctions
  4. Flynn told Kislyak — at a time when his only known communications with Trump went through McFarland — that Trump was aware of the calls by December 31

In fact, Barnett doesn’t even mention a fifth piece of evidence: Steve Bannon’s testimony.

While the testimony of Steve Bannon described in the Mueller Report (which may post-date Barnett’s involvement on the Mueller team) disclaims knowledge of any discussions of sanctions in advance, in the the HPSCI transcripts, Bannon revealed that the White House had scripted him to provide a bunch of no answers to HPSCI.

MR. SCHIFF: Mr. Bannon, who wrote these questions?

[Discussion off the record.]

MR. BANNON: My understanding, Mr. Schiff, is that these came from the transcript.

MR. SCHIFF: No, no, no. The questions that Mr. Conaway just asked you the questions. I asked you earlier if you had been authorized by the White House to answer all in the negative. Who wrote these questions?

MR. BANNON: Same answer.

MR. SCHIFF: What’s the same answer? Who wrote the questions?

MR. BANNON: My understanding is they came from the transcript.

MR. SCHIFF: What transcript are you talking about?

MR. BANNON: This transcript of my first interview.


MR. SCHIFF: Well, how were they produced? How do you know that the White House has authorized you to answer them? [Discussion off the record.]

MR. BANNON: My counsel informed me that these were the questions the White House authorized me to answer.

MR. SCHIFF: But you didn’t write these questions?


MR. SCHIFF: And your counsel didn’t write these questions?


MR. SCHIFF: So these questions were supplied to you by the White House?

[Discussion off the record.]

MR. BANNON: As far as I know.

One of the questions that Bannon described — shortly before his first interview by the Mueller team — being scripted by the White House to answer no to was any discussion about sanctions after inauguration.

MR. CONAWAY: Once you were part of the administration, were you a part of any discussions about how to approach the Russian, vis-à-vis the sanctions, whether to do away with them or in any way minimize the effects of the sanctions?


The scripted answer pointedly did not ask whether Bannon discussed them beforehand, one he may not have been able to answer in the same way.

Barnett describes undermining the quid pro quo case against Donald Trump

Particularly given that Barnett may not have been around anymore when Bannon started testifying, much less started testifying honestly (which didn’t start until much later), the KT McFarland testimony is particularly important to this narrative.

Barnett describes that he was the only one who believed that KT McFarland was telling the truth when she said that she did not remember Trump directing Flynn’s efforts to undermine sanctions. Significantly, he describes this question as — in Mueller’s view — “key to everything.”

Many at the SCO had the opinion that MCFARLAND had knowledge TRUMP was directing [sanction discussions] between FLYNN and the Russian Ambassador. When MCFARLAND did not provide the information sought, it was assumed she was lying. When BARNETT suggested it was very possible MCFARLAND was providing truthful information, one of the SCO attorneys participating in the interview said BARNETT was the only person who believed MCFARLAND was not holding back the information about TRUMP’s knowledge of [the sanction discussions]. MUELLER described MCFARLAND as the “key to everything” because MCFARLAND was the link between TRUMP, who was at Mar-a-Lago with MCFARLAND, and FLYNN, who was in the Dominican Republic on vacation, when [the calls] were made.

Again, it is stunning that Barnett was permitted to give this answer without being asked about the call records, which showed Flynn lied about consulting with Mar-a-Lago, to say nothing about the way that McFarland’s forgetfulness matched Flynn’s and then her unforgetting similarly matched Flynn’s. It’s not a credible answer, but Jeffrey Jensen doesn’t need credible answers.

Then, having made it clear that he believed that Mueller treated McFarland as the “key to everything,” BARNETT described how he single-handedly managed to prevent the entire team from concluding that Trump was in the loop.

BARNETT was told at one point he was being taken off the MCFARLAND proffer interview because SCO attorneys thought would be easier for MCFARLAND to talk without BARNETT there, due to her attitude toward BARNETT during past interviews.

McFarland has complained publicly about being caught in a perjury trap by the FBI agents who first interviewed her (and the 302s show a continuity among the FBI agents), so Fox viewers have actually seen evidence that McFarland had a gripe with Barnett.

BARNETT insisted he be on the interview. When BARNETT was told he would not be allowed on the interview, BARNETT suggested he might take the matter to the Inspectors General or to “11.” BARNETT believed some at SCO were trying to get MCFARLAND to change her story to fit the TRUMP collusion [sic] theory. [Probably Van Grack] later contacted BARNETT and said BARNETT would be part of the MCFARLAND interview.

During the proffer interview with MCFARLAND, the “obstruction team” was leading the interview. BARNETT described the “obstruction team’s” questions as general. They did not ask follow-up or clarifying questions. BARNETT was perplexed by their lack of asking follow-up questions. BARNETT began asking MCFARLAND follow-up questions and direct questions. BARNETT was trying to “cut to the chase” and obtain the facts. BARNETT asked questions such as “Do you know that as a fact or are you speculating?” and “Did you pass information from TRUMP to FLYNN?” Andrew Goldstein (GOLDSTEIN), a SCO Attorney, called “time-out” and cautioned BARNETT by saying, “If you keep asking these questions, we will be here all day.”

It’s unclear whether Barnett’s depiction is correct or not. The 302 of that interview is heavily redacted, but doesn’t show a “time out” in it. What matters for the purposes of this post is that Barnett is claiming he singlehandedly prevented McFarland from implicating the President. And the conclusions of the Report on this point adopt Barnett’s view, so he may be right.

Some evidence suggests that the President knew about the existence and content of Flynn’s calls when they occurred, but the evidence is inconclusive and could not be relied upon to establish the President’s knowledge.


Our investigation accordingly did not produce evidence that established that the President knew about Flynn’s discussions of sanctions before the Department of Justice notified the White House of those discussions in late January 2017.

What this 302 does, then, is show that:

  • Barnett joined Mueller’s team solely to avoid concluding that Mike Flynn was involved in “collusion”
  • He claims to be unaware of at least four pieces of evidence showing the contrary
  • Having disclaimed knowledge of evidence that is public, he takes credit for the conclusion that there was no quid pro quo

For what its worth, Jerome Corsi — in language that is hilariously close to Barnett’s — claimed to have prevented Mueller from obtaining “the key” piece of evidence, an explanation of how Stone got foreknowledge of the WikiLeaks releases. And Andrew Weissmann’s book apparently describes the sharing of poll data as another such “key” piece of evidence. So it’s not the case that Barnett singlehandedly prevented Mueller from showing a quid pro quo or some other kind of conspiracy. But he did prevent two key witnesses from being more aggressively questioned about it.

Barnett’s shit-show 302 may have been really poorly timed

This 302 — and the witness that gave it — would not do well under competent cross-examination. There are just too many internal contradictions, too many instances where Barnett professes to be unaware of public evidence, too many times that Barnett’s current claims conflict with his past actions taken as an FBI Agent, too many times his claims conflict with the public record.

Which is why it’s interesting that (as Adam Goldman has pointed out), Barnett is not among those witnesses demanded in an investigation at Senate Judiciary Committee led by Flynn associate Barbara Ledeen. Lindsey Graham’s subpoena request asks for documents and testimony from virtually everyone else in this investigation, but not Barnett.

Trisha Anderson, Brian Auten, James Baker, William Barr, Dana Boente, Jennifer Boone, John Brennan, James Clapper, Kevin Clinesmith, James Comey, Patrick Conlon, Michael Dempsey, Stuart Evans, Tashina Gauhar, Carl Ghattas, Curtis Heide, Kathleen Kavalec, David Laufman, Stephen Laycock, Jacob Lew, Loretta Lynch, Andrew McCabe, Mary McCord, Denis McDonough, Arthur McGlynn, Jonathan Moffa, Sally Moyer, Mike Neufield, Sean Newell, Victoria Nuland, Bruce Ohr, Nellie Ohr, Stephanie L. O’Sullivan, Lisa Page, Joseph Pientka, John Podesta, Samantha Power, E.W. “Bill” Priestap, Sarah Raskin, Steve Ricchetti, Susan Rice, Rod Rosenstein, Gabriel Sanz-Rexach, Nathan Sheets, Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, Glenn Simpson, Steve Somma, Peter Strzok, Michael Sussman, Adam Szubin, Jonathan Winer, Christopher Wray, and Sally Yates

After the WaPo released an unbelievably credulous article on Barnett’s testimony the other day, SJC tweeted it out as a Committee press release.

Apparently, Lindsey and Barbara Ledeen (who served as a channel in efforts to discredit the investigation) don’t think Barnett could withstand competent cross-examination on these issues, either.

As it happens, though, the interview was done before — but released after — two key decisions, which will give Lisa Page, Peter Strzok, and Andrew McCabe discovery into the events that led to the public disclosure of their texts (in the first two cases) or their firing (in the latter two).

While not originally included in the discovery requests in this case, against the background of the claims he made in his 302, Barnett’s testimony would be relevant to numerous inquiries pertinent to one or several of these lawsuits, including:

  • Why Barnett wasn’t removed from the Mueller team when his texts exhibited (as I’ve been told they would have) pro-Trump bias
  • If Barnett’s texts indeed exhibited a pro-Trump bias, why his texts weren’t also made public when Page and Strzok’s were
  • Whether Barnett was the source behind two claims sourced by right wing propagandists who first floated the claims to Agents involved in the Mike Flynn case, but always debunked by actual firsthand witnesses, that Andrew McCabe had it in for Mike Flynn

The latter is a particularly important point. The McCabe IG investigation that ultimately led to his firing stemmed from attempts to understand who sourced that right wing propaganda about McCabe, claims that started by May 2017, not long after the time Barnett claims he knew there would be an IG Investigation of the Flynn investigation, claims that continued through the time that Barnett threatened to launch the IG investigation that he once claimed he wanted no part of.

Barnett is now on the record with testimony that conflicts with the public record, including with regards to McCabe’s micro-management of the investigation. Particularly given the hints that he has an ongoing relationship with staffers in Congress who floated these claims, it seems at least plausible he was the source for one or both of those investigations, investigations he seemingly predicted before anyone else did.

At the very least, Barnett’s easily falsifiable claims — including about McCabe’s actions themselves — in this 302 would seem to give McCabe reason to ask for Barnett’s phone records and witness testimony to DOJ IG, if not a deposition.

So while SJC doesn’t seem to think Barnett could withstand cross-examination on these claims, by releasing this 302 in advance of potential discovery (which will take forever), DOJ may have made that more likely.

Update: Fixed the description about the “boss” comment.

130 replies
  1. klynn says:

    Do you think he wanted off the Flynn case to back channel to a source where the Flynn case stood in order to create damage? And then on the fourth instance, decided to stay to create more chaos? Would like to find out if there is a Lindsey-Ledeen-Barnett connection because by process of elimination, it appears there could be one.

    • emptywheel says:

      Goldman has been raising questions about why he wasn’t called as a witness since June. The most obvious conclusion is he was in contact with them at least that soon. But I do wonder if he was tipping Ledeen to things he thought would help Flynn along the way.

  2. klynn says:

    Meant to add this to my above comment:
    “When Trump’s former national security, Michael Flynn, admitted in court last week that he lied to FBI agents about his contacts with the Russian government, prosecutors in that case were accompanied by FBI agent William Barnett.

    Little is publicly known about Barnett.”

    I just reread this article through different eyes. It’s interesting all this happens about a week after Trump tweeted that he fired Flynn because Flynn lied to Pence:

    “Dec. 2, 2017: Trump says he fired Flynn because he lied to Pence and the FBI

    Mr. Trump takes to Twitter, saying he fired Flynn because he lied to Pence and the FBI, raising questions about whether Mr. Trump did indeed know Flynn lied to the FBI at the time Flynn was ousted. If he did know Flynn lied to the FBI at the time, then his reported request to Comey on Feb. 14, one day after Flynn’s firing, to drop the Flynn matter becomes increasingly interesting for Mueller.

    ‘I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!’ Mr. Trump tweeted.”

    Thanks for this post EW – you’ve added some new questions to the Flynn timeline.

  3. Tom says:

    Re: the question of ‘was the boss aware’ and did Trump give Flynn the go-ahead to discuss sanctions with Kislyak, FWIW I recall Michael Cohen once saying that Trump is a micromanager–at least about things of interest and concern to him–and that he alone makes all the decisions.

    There is also an online article from The Moscow Project dated July 27, 2018 titled “Trump Ran the Trump Campaign: “For Donald Trump it’s Always About Control””. The article contains numerous examples and quotes from Trump’s associates over the years testifying to his hands-on, detail oriented, micromanagement style and his need to know what’s going all the time. I find it very difficult to imagine Flynn discussing sanctions with Kislyak without first getting the go-ahead from Trump. Without Trump’s prior knowledge and approval, would not the whole discussion have been a waste of time, as both Flynn and Kislyak would have known?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Pretty much. As you say, Putin and, therefore, Kislyak, would have known whether Flynn – an intermediary – was acting as a rogue agent or for Trump. If it were anything but the latter, contacts with Flynn would have been worthless or harmful to them. They would have shunned him or found a way to expose him to Trump.

      Barnett sure seems like a mole. Or is it that the FBI had no agents not favorable to Trump?

      • emptywheel says:

        I have no problem with him pushing other prosecutors to prove their case, which he clearly did. Trump was never going to be charged in that report for the quid pro quo, and we might yet get the evidence of it later, if he ever leaves office.

        I do have a problem if he was the one who was feeding right wing propagandists, or even just feeding Congress stuff from inside the investigation to blow it up.

  4. Rugger9 says:

    There are a couple of questions worth asking here. The first is whether Jensen and Barnett are burrowed in Bushies in the DOJ, since both were engaged in serious investigational contortions to avoid seeing what was in front of them, and to quote the famous aphorism, a man will not see what he’s paid not to see. Their CV’s might tell us.

    The second is how these releases that the WH apparently considered safe enough after redactions would affect McCabe’s and Strzok’s cases pending against the DOJ’s shabby treatment of them. Isn’t something like this a gift for discovery motions?

    I would think that the lengthy redactions refer directly to DJT or Junior who was most active in this negotiation and release now could peel off a few more voters.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    As you point out, the characterization that Rhee was obsessively against Flynn is not the first one I would come to. Much earlier would be that Barnett was obsessively covering for him, and willing to piss off an SCO lawyer to do it.

    • John Paul Jones says:

      I think the answer to the animus is much simpler: she’s a girl, she’s Asian, and she’s smart. From the point of view of some old-school law enforcement types, that would be three strikes against her, and icing on the cake would be her attempt to be conciliatory, to try to work together.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Regarding McFarland’s memory lapse, it seems so improbable, it would have elicited follow-up investigation. But Barnett came to the opposite conclusion.

    The scenario is preinauguration. Everybody has been recently hired to work for a president-elect. He is proudly experienced in government and foreign affairs, is feral, but lacks intelligence, and doesn’t read, listen, or learn. He is much given to punishment and public humiliation for minor infractions.

    A senior aide then proceeds to forget acting as an intermediary for the president and his proposed NSA about talks with Russia that involved a major change to US policy? As Rumpole would say, highly risible.

      • rip says:

        Thanks, EoH! I spent at least 20ms parsing that sentence and decided that you were doing a fantastic back-of-hand irony. Still reads well both ways.

  7. klynn says:

    Let me add, your May 11the post stands the test of time. More facts keep getting added to their roles (Ledeens) to disrupt the investigation. And re: that email Barbara L wrote that you share in the post, the significance of everything happening on that date, Dec. 13th, 2018 , should not be overlooked.

  8. mospeck says:

    OT, but like the gentleman says, it’s a 6 alarm fire. It’s Article III’s time to shine. State and Fed Judges and Appeals Courts have to be v accurate, transparent and lightning fast. Since all indications are that 30 odd days from now putin, trump, cotton and their minions intend to game out the US court system, string out and cast doubt upon our election and effectively wreck the US Constitution. You lawyers gotta bring it. It’s your time to shine.

    • jerryy says:

      A lot has been pontificated about expanding the court in order to nullify the right-leaning tilt, but shrinking the court has the same effect, especially considering that several justices are at an age when they might be thinking about spending more time with their families. Yes, it is essentially gerrymandering just like what happens to voting districts after a new party takes power in a state, but we are there now anyway.

        • jerryy says:

          Expanding it could be the same. Why assume that left-leaning folks will be approved?

          It really sounds like we are deeper into having the courts packed to buttress the ruling party than we have ever been in the past.

          p.s. The ruling party does not need attrition as an excuse.

          • Rugger9 says:

            While in theory that idea could work, the practicality fails since the older folks on the court remain mostly liberal and that’s who would be losing ground.

            • jerryy says:

              Why go with seniority? If Congress cuts the seats from nine down to, oh say, five, they would also be affirming which folks fill out the seats. Folks with known track records.

              And that is the same problem presented by expanding the courts. The ruling party gerrymanders the settings to ensure they remain in power, the myth that rule by just laws is, well …

              • Rugger9 says:

                Because these are lifetime appointments, the seat has to be open to be pared down. Either a justice resigns (like Kennedy) or dies (Scalia) to open a seat in most cases (but see below). The older ones on the court are part of the liberal wing.

                Congress cannot step in to kick someone out without impeaching by the House (which has been done) and the justice is removed upon conviction by the Senate which is another way to open a seat.

                Once a seat is opened, Congress can then pass legislation to eliminate the seat. All of these processes have hoops to jump through which can be derailed by the GOP. So, that’s why bmaz said no.

                  • jerryy says:

                    The point is that expanding the court is just as bad as shrinking it when the idea is to balance a tilt towards a direction that favors the party in power.

                    A better thing to do is fix the cause of the rot that allowed this to happen in the first place, in small steps.

                    We did not get here overnight and quick fixes are usually not conducive to great results. Start with legislative terms limits. (No that will not be popular). Say three terms for senators and nine terms for representatives with a hard limit of 24 years total in serving on the legislative branches, — for those that serve for a while in one legislative branch then jump to the other. If a party wants to stay on top of the heap then it needs to keep the favor of the electorate by showing it can bring in fresh talent. Let the currently elected that are over the limit serve out their terms. Fixing lobbying would also be a good thing, but first things first.

                  • bmaz says:

                    That’s interesting. What if the party in power, and with the power of public opinion behind it, has no voice? How do you square that shit with what happened to Merrick Garland?

                    • jerryy says:

                      1984 +18 = 2002.
                      Can terms limits stop a person from gathering power? No. But it can stop how long they directly exercise it. That keeps the public from being entirely removed. It makes it harder for another catastrophe like what happened to Justice Garland to occur. Term limits will not stop one party from trying to control the other branches, it limits how long they are able to do so. Especially when term limits are combined with other reforms such as making the Attorney General subject to approval of 60% of the Senate. Or fixing lobbying.

                      Those numbers? Mitch McConnell was first elected to the Senate in 1984.

                    • Rayne says:

                      Term limits will not stop one party from trying to control the other branches, it limits how long they are able to do so.

                      LOL no. I’ll point to the persistent grip of the GOP on state house and senate seats in my backyard. Term limits were introduced at state level, IOW senators could only serve two consecutive terms. Not only did the GOP still win the seat after the incumbent was replaced, the house legislator from the same district took the senate seat. Worse yet, because the entire state legislature lost a body of knowledge with complete replacement of elected officials, there was an insufficiency of depth to keep the GOP from leaving the state in the lurch during budget negotiations. The entire GOP left the state including schools unfunded while they went to their annual political powwow up north in August. In the past the oldsters who had been around a long time knew to bar any legislator from leaving, locking the doors, bringing in cots and takeout meals, forcing the legislators to stay and work out the budget. But there were no longer any oldsters who served more than eight years and through enough budget negotiations to know to do this. Term-limited legislators spent more time campaigning for their next gig than they did legislating.

                      This is what the DeVos family helped fund — starving school systems into submission through their bought-and-owned GOP legislators who saw term limits as always good, their party gathering and politicking as more important than the state’s budget and students’ uninterrupted education.

                      WRT Kentucky and the stickiness of McConnell’s senate seat: the state is the 12th whitest in the nation. Race plays an outsize role in who gets elected and who stays elected in KY.

                    • jerryy says:

                      Well Rayne,

                      I would point out that your example is a little off the mark, Three terms as a US senator is 18 years of service, as is nine terms as a representative. That leaves experienced oldsters around. Also, a state is different than the country, parties in one state are unable to control very much of what goes on in the same party in another state, Florida’s Democratic party is a good example of this.

                      If you wish to bring race as a component, I am not seeing that play much of a factor in re-electing Senator McConnell. Until Charles Booker ran in this past primary against Amy McGrath, no minorities have ran for national office. At the state level, Kentucky is a little low on minority representation vs population demographics, but not overly so unless you compare it to say South Carolina, which somehow has been electing Senator Lindsay Graham in spite of having a stable of qualified folks that can serve.


                    • Rayne says:

                      Three terms as a US senator is 18 years of service, as is nine terms as a representative. That leaves experienced oldsters around.

                      Sure — and yet we can see what’s lost because an oldster like Harry Reid or Ted Kennedy (RIP) is no longer in office.

                      Until Charles Booker ran in this past primary against Amy McGrath, no minorities have ran for national office.

                      Sit with that. Ask yourself whether you are absolutely certain no minority in KY had interest in running for Congress, or if there were impediments to running a minority KY citizen couldn’t overcome. Ask yourself if some of the impediments have existed in states like SC and prevented candidates like Jaime Harrison from running until now.

                      BTW, SC is the 44th whitest state and the 7th in Black identifying population. Its state senate is majority Republican, and all those Republicans are white. I’ll save myself some time and assume the state house is similar.

                    • jerryy says:

                      Senator Reid retired rather abruptly. He ran into a very serious conflict of interest trying to pressure the DHS into approving details in a land deal in Nevada that was quite sketchy. Actually, had he been term-limited, he would not have been in a position to do so.

                      Whether through death or retirement, we do lose somethings, sure. And some folks like Senator Strom Thurmond. But we also gain others like the squad —

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The Comey Rule is available now on cable. The first episode I found underwhelming. I suspect that Jeff Daniels is probably more likeable than James Comey, but he convincingly portrays him as a sanctimonious prick, who is unaware that he is either. Others can comment on how accurate its history is.

    • harpie says:

      Yeah, I’m with bmaz…could NOT stomach it. I did read this Garrett Graff review of Devlin Barrett’s October Surprise: How the FBI Tried to Save Itself and Crashed an Election

      For Comey, time has not healed a major wound [tiny violin emoji here]
      September 25, 2020

      The day after the 2016 presidential election, members of the FBI team that conducted the Hillary Clinton email investigation were in a state of shock about the role the agency may have played in the outcome. “Among themselves,” Devlin Barrett writes in his new book, “October Surprise: How the FBI Tried to Save Itself and Crashed an Election,” “they debated whether the FBI had made Trump the next president of the United States.” […]

        • harpie says:

          2] Bush v. Gore precedent cracked the door for Trump’s talk about SCOTUS deciding the upcoming election.

          and The antiRBGmatter who will help decide SO MANY BIG ISSUES in the next 40 years or so, also has no time for precedent:

          In Barrett, we can expect a justice who will decide cases from a conservative worldview, while being even less bound to precedent than her former boss and mentor. [Scalia] She has written that Scalia’s adherence to precedent at the expense of originalism “in a crunch,” simply proved that he was “human”

          Amy Coney Barrett Is Even More Extreme Than Antonin Scalia Barbara McQuade 9/26/20

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Lest anyone miss it, Barrett’s view that Antonin Scalia was “human” means he was fallible. Barrett, a zealot, might tolerate that in a mentor, but it is a failing she would work mightily to avoid.

            “Originalism,” of course, is a nothing burger. It is an invented approach to constitutional interpretation. Contemporary culture can barely imagine the worldview of the justices in the 1930s, who agreed with FDR’s regulatory agenda, let alone that of the Four Horsemen of the Court who opposed it.

            It has no conception of the world views of each of the wealthy white men in the 1780s who wrote, passed, and adopted it, and all of their analogs who did the same regarding each of its amendments. Nor is it necessary that we have one, in order to understand and apply an often-amended framework to today’s America.

            “Originalism” – like all of the law for Amy Coney Barrett – is a rhetorical tool to advance a specific contemporary reactionary agenda.

            • bmaz says:

              Originalism, textualism, whatever. It is all a bunch of malleable bullshit that masks doing whatever they want to do.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Cynthia Kouril makes an important observation about the small, very conservative, male-dominated religious group to which Amy Coney Barrett belongs:

          People of Praise is not recognized by the Vatican. In fact, the Pope has preached against this kind of organization. She is a heretic and subject to excommunication. No one is assaulting Catholicism [by asking how her commitment to it might affect her judgments].

          Kouril is refuting Marcio Rubio, who is laying the groundwork for the GOP’s preferred framing. That is, that the Dems – the party of JFK and a host of senior congressional Catholic politicians – oppose Barrett because she is Catholic. That’s precious, given how many in the GOP’s fundamentalist base question whether Catholics are even Christians.

          But Republicans don’t win with any other framing. Barrett is conservative even by Phylis Schlafly’s, white male reactionary 1950s standards. She has said that the law is only a tool. In her case, it is for building the kingdom of God on earth.

          I’m not sure God would agree with Barrett’s constipated view of what Her kingdom on earth should look like. Barrett will vote to strike down the entire ACA. She will vote against laws that protect civil rights, workers, women, and people of color. She questions the validity of the 14th and 15th amendments. She will demand that Roe v. Wade and probably Griswold be overturned.

          If Democrats needed any other encouragement to oppose Barrett’s nomination to and service on the Court, Charles Koch loves her. He loves her so much, he is spending millions intimidating Senators into backing or not opposing her. On the Supreme Court he wants to build, Barrett would be its most liberal member.

          • harpie says:

            I was wondering about that…thanks for the info.

            Here’s more about People of Praise from someone who says she’s BEEN THERE:

            11:08 AM · Sep 27, 2020

            It is very clear how Trump is using a race strategy in this election.

            What is less discussed is his gender strategy. [THREAD]

            Maybe when Trump says “Suburban Women” he means “Stepford Wives”.

            I wonder who writes ACB’s “opinions”.

          • MB says:

            I was a bit startled to hear that, until recently, the women in the PoP community were referred to as “handmaids”. They changed that nomenclature due to the popularity of The Handmaids Tale streaming series (which started in 2017). And they didn’t want to be associated with the negative use handmaids were put to in Margaret Atwood’s dystopian fiction…

          • P J Evans says:

            ISTR that Biden is a good Catholic. Did they somehow lose track of that? (He was at mass this morning, while Trmp was out cheating on his own golf course while charging us high prices for it.)

            • Rugger9 says:

              IIRC Biden had been denied communion by one of the Opus Dei bishops (or at least threatened with it) for his stance on abortion.

              I do find it interesting that the Vatican considered ACB’s group to be outside (i.e. borderline heretical) their norms. That needs to be highlighted to show just how extreme she is, but I’m sure the Opus Dei team loves her ideas.

              • bmaz says:

                Yes. Although continued focus on Opus Dei, and not the far more fundamental problem, the Federalist Society, which encompasses Opus Dei, is dangerous and stupid.

                • Rugger9 says:

                  I’ll agree that the FedSoc is more dangerous, but the question was about the Roman Catholic Church -> Opus Dei.

                  However, other churches like the Episcopal Church are also catholic (i.e. we have bishops and a spiritual heirarchy with the laying on of hands), just not Roman. The Orthodox branch has Patriarchs as well.

                  • bmaz says:

                    The FedSoc is extreme as to religion. It is not solely Catholicism, though that is pretty much front and center along with general evangelism.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The actor portraying George Papadopolous is too muscular and mature, and insufficiently hapless. Peter Coyote as Bob Mueller is too exhausted and high-strung. The Russian bad guys, seen in the last few minutes of episode one, make Rocky & Bullwinkle’s Boris and Natasha seem like method actors.

      Apart from some one-liners that Jeff Daniels delivers in his trademarked style, the script seems to give the most honest lines to women, who don’t have the position power to make their observations policy.

      At one meeting, the FBI’s deputy general counsel remarks that making an announcement about reopening the Clinton e-mail investigation shortly before the election – but NOT announcing that Trump’s campaign and associates were being investigated for criminal ties to Russia – was “selective honesty.” She argues against making either announcement. She’s ignored.

      Jennifer Ehle, whose work I admire, plays Mrs. Comey. She makes heartfelt pleas against an announcement, to similar effect. The script undercuts her, by making it seem she is worried only about her daughters and Clinton’s election. But her character is more street smart than her husband, and aware that what he proposes is wrong on may levels.

      The net effect is to treat smart women the way Law & Order treated defense attorneys and civil rights: impediments to getting at and punishing the bad guys.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      An old accounting joke asks what’s the difference between “tax planning” and “tax avoidance?” Five to ten in the federal pen was the answer. Sadly, today, it’s often the difference between whether a tax accountant or lawyer makes partner.

      Trump’s situation is likely to reveal half a century of massive, intentional, and illegal tax avoidance. Imagine the arguments at the Secret Service about who’s next on the roster to spend time in the cell next to him.

  10. Ginevra diBenci says:

    I don’t trust anyone who’d write “astro projection” when they meant astral projection. I can’t get the images of cartoon dogs and expansion-team baseball players off my mind’s screen.

    • MB says:

      It doesn’t even make sense if you substitute “astral” for “astro”. Near as I can tell he’s equating the term “astro projection” with “assumption”. In which case, regular old projection would work just fine as a term of art. The “astro” part seems like a gratuitous reach.

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    On the NYT’s new story on Trump’s tax avoidance, Trump repeated today that he will disclose his returns as soon as his IRS audit is done. His oft-repeated claim remains bullshit, more Lucy and her football.

    The minor point is that Trump appears not to be under audit, except perhaps for his most recently filed return. The major point – as David Cay Johnston has often said – is that a taxpayer is free to disclose her return at any time, whether or not she is under audit.

    As better MSM sources have also pointed out, this is a story and a data dump on only part of Trump’s tax and financial history. Trump treats everything he owns, including his more than 500 companies, as an extension of himself. He ignores the routine requirements for creating and maintaining those companies, which was illustrated in the Trump Foundation debacle. His accountants have said before that his and his companies’ accounts are NOT audited or reviewed. The accounts are sometimes just made up from untested information Trump gives them, in the way he tells his White House Physician his height and weight.

    A full picture of Trump’s financial and tax history would need to look at each of those 500 plus companies, and have full access to his accountants. It would also need access to unrelated parties, including banks and charities, because Trump routinely has other people send money they owe or want to give him to third parties, but for Trump’s benefit. Depending on how that’s booked – if at all – it can easily be a form of tax avoidance. And that doesn’t touch non-cash, in-kind transfers. Nor does any of that yet touch the national security implications of having a president with this chaotic and fraudulent a financial history. As Stephanie Ruhle asks, who does he owe and why?

    The story is just beginning. If I were Trump, I’d tell my tailor to buy more fabric for those silken orange jump suits. The only way he won’t need them is if he pardons himself, or Mike Pence does it in his fifteen minutes of acting as a substitute president.

    • Ken Muldrew says:

      A full picture of Trump’s financial and tax history would need to look at each of those 500 plus companies, and have full access to his accountants.

      I propose the the entire collection in the Trump presidential library consist of those returns and commentary on them. Indictments and judgements arising from the collection could form an annexe.

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump’s base probably likes that Trump cheats the Revenuers. They’d all like to do that – if they could get away with it. The investigations and reporting need to continue.

    Politically, the Dems need to focus on a boiled down version that can be conveyed to an exhausted electorate. Obvious suggestions include Trump’s habitual lying, his crimes, and how his massive debts make him and America vulnerable. Where did Trump get the hundreds of millions per year he has spent for nearly a decade? Under what terms? Who does he owe that money to and what do they expect in return?

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    What the NYT story lays out is a house of cards. Trump is a con man: each con pays for the last one, plus a little extra – if he’s lucky. Covid has put a big dent in his luck. And when he’s not lucky, the vig accumulates.

    Trump needs every dime he can raise, every payment to every hotel and golf club, every dollar he can redirect from his campaign, every tax dodge and deduction he can invent. He has a lot of debt and no obvious way to pay it back. A serious audit would cut into his cons. Steve Mnuchin has shut down the IRS, but NY state is another matter. So would too much notoriety. Trump’s notoriety is global. Out of office, he loses most of what he has to trade. He cuts his revenue, but not his burn rate.

    Unless he can cure that fast, then, like the House of Usher, the House of Trump cracks in two.

    • P J Evans says:

      And since it appears he was paying at least one of his kids as a “consultant”, while they were working for the business, the kids are also likely to be in tax trouble.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I imagine they are all fully implicated, as Trump’s brothers and sisters probably were (except for Fred Jr.). If you’re not in on the con, you’re a potential government witness.

  14. BobCon says:

    That’s only the tax side. It’s to his advantage to make himself appear on the verge of collapse at all times. It’s likely he also tells insurers his assets have the lowest value possible.

    The flip side is the books he keeps which he shows to potential investors and lenders, which suggest the highest possible value of his properties.

    The difference between those two books is where his biggest legal jeopardy lies, and NY has hinted that is where their case is.

    Forbes reporter Dan Alexander has looked into Trump’s businesses for years, going so far as to rent space in his San Francisco building to get a look at what Kuwait was doing there. He seems pretty confident Trump has a decent amount in assets, but he also hints that there is a lot of monkey business hiding behind his shell corporations.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Being on the verge of collapse is what he does, he can’t help it. How he uses it is opportunistic. He can sell it to tax authorities, to reduce his liability. He can deny it to lenders, customers and investors, to con them. I should think he would want to look healthy to insurers, so that he’s over-insured in case he ever needs to collect on the insurance.

      The problem with a serious investigation is that it would collapse the walls he’s built around his conflicting versions of reality. It would also reveal criminal conduct necessary to his cons.

      Money he’s hidden, he presumably hasn’t declared. So, he may have it but be unable to get it. Middle men take a cut and might be dissuaded from working with him. Unlike a former African dictator, he can’t swan off to Switzerland to access it and live in a billion dollar alpine bubble. And some of the people he may owe serious money to probably won’t care where he is.

      • BobCon says:

        I think money to real estate guys like him is ultimately an illusion — Alexander made the point that most of the similarly wealthy guys he has investigated don’t know and don’t really care how much they’re worth. But Trump desperately needs it to be real in some sense.

        He can’t survive hard scrutiny, of course. I think a big problem is that non-fraudulent accounting assumes consistency both in terms of what is declared at any one time and across time. You can’t put the same asset up as collateral twice in the same time period, even if you eventually repay your debts. You can make yourself look poor or rich, but you can’t do both at the same time.

        He got away with it once with Vance when he made Don Jr. and Ivanka fake high occupancy rates to potential condo buyers, but I think the political climate in New York won’t tolerate any more favors from prosecutors like the ones they usually extend to tycoons.

    • P J Evans says:

      I think there’s three sets of books: one with losses for tax purposes, one with profits for loan purposes, and the set with the actual numbers, which are locked up somewhere else.

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    It seems Trump is being audited for 2010-2013, a longstanding dispute involving the IRS and a congressional oversight committee, whose resolution keeps being deferred. One reason is that it relates to a massive $700 million write-off that the NYT suggests could relate to walking away from his last Atlantic City casino. (It does not prohibit him, however, from disclosing his returns.)

    What’s in dispute relates partly to whether Trump qualified for that write-off. Also not clear is how much data about such a whopping loss the IRS actually has, or whether getting it is part of the long-running dispute. It’s a hot potato because if the ultimate decision is adverse to Trump, he would face a whopping tax bill, over $100 million.

    Separately, on the Russian front (as Col. Klink might say), according to the NYT, the Agalarovs invested a total of US$12 million in the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow, but recouped only $2 million. The pageant overall generated $31.6 million in revenue and a profit of $4.7 million, which Trump split with co-owners NBC.

    It seems likely that Putin and his associates would want to ensure that a major public event in Moscow was a success. I wonder if that means the Agalarovs were made whole some other way, and whether they were paid in cash or in-kind.

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    This is typical of Trump’s view of the world. In the years investigated by the NYT, Trump appears to have taken about $130 million in charitable deductions. But about $119 million of that was paid to Trump-related entities. That is, he paid money to parties related to him and from which he received a benefit, and took a tax deduction for it. The practice mocks the higher total figure – reducing it to an empty PR gesture – and the idea of charitable giving itself: “It’s for losers and chumps.”

  17. CD54 says:

    Re Trump Taxes: Anybody surprised, raise hand.

    “Now, go sit little room and feel shame.”

    P.S. My vote is from Intelligence Community.

  18. CD54 says:

    Oh man, I forgot to add:

    Any Reporter: Mr. Trump, why can’t any American voter see your Tax Returns and
    decide for themselves whether you are a criminal tax cheat?

  19. harpie says:


    8:04 PM · Sep 27, 2020

    This is about more than one man’s personal tax scams. Donald Trump is a liar, a cheater, and a crooked businessman, yes. But he’s also taking advantage of a broken, corrupt, and unequal system that’s built for people like him to do what he did.

    5:53 PM · Sep 27, 2020

    There are people in Florida who can’t vote in this election because they owe more in *court fees* for *one case* than Donald Trump paid in federal income taxes in an entire year.

    We need to stop funding government functions on the backs of poor people while letting stuff like this slide. Sheesh. #debtfreejustice [link to info]

  20. harpie says:

    5:59 PM · Sep 27, 2020

    To me, the most alarming tidbit in the @nytimes’ story isn’t the $750 bill or the dubious refund; it’s that a President running for re-election would be on the hook for upwards of $421 million in loans during his second term.
    It’s not hard to imagine the incentives that’d create.

    It sure would be nice to know to whom the President of the United States owes upwards of $421 million…
    6:32 PM · Sep 27, 2020

    Excessive debt is viewed as a national security vulnerability and generally means no security clearance allowed.

    Why? Not only because a debt ridden person is desperate, but because the entity loaning has undue influence over the person. #TrumpTaxReturns

    As Justin Hendrix says:

    Remember when we read like a week ago that Robert Mueller just didn’t want to “go there”? Jesus.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Exactly. Excessive debt, based on your assets or income – or simply not paying it in a timely way, in the ordinary course of business – is regarded as a potential security risk. It is deemed to make the debtor vulnerable to undue influence, which could affect the objectivity of their decision-making. An entry-level staffer would be denied a clearance over it.

      Trump, of course, nearly always has a mountain of debt or a looming one – because his burn rate is always higher than his income. He calls that enthusiasm. Experienced people call it incompetence and having no impulse control. They would not lend him a dime or trust him with their secrets and well-being. American voters should do the same.

      • P J Evans says:

        I have clinical depression, and one of the manifestations is wanting to do/buy something *new*. I’ve learned to watch my impulses.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          Like you, PJ, I have depression and shop compulsively. Over the past two days I’ve seen my error: I should have been ordering golf courses, not earrings. And I should never have worried about the debt–just paid myself a consulting fee to cover it.

      • soothsayer says:

        Per Andrew Weissman, who posted the following as context:

        “As you read the NYT Trump tax story, remember the Eric Trump statement in 2014: “We don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.”

        Now ask to whom does Trump owe the hundreds of millions of dollars coming due soon?”

    • harpie says:

      [Paging RAYNE]
      8:25 AM · Sep 28, 2020

      Some clear implications from the Trump Tax story:

      – He blew through other people’s money. His dad’s. Then Mark Burnett’s. Plus loans.
      – he starts blowing through the most money in 2011, when the known sources disappear. […]

      [Mammadov, Agalarov, Georgians and Kazakhs with ties to Putin]

      – All of these groups are—between 2011 and 2016—known to be laundering money through golf courses. 3/

      […] [Scotland]

      The math seems clear: *somebody* was giving him 100s of millions to spend. 4/
      Until we know who, we don’t know who this man owes and what they know about him.

      • Rayne says:

        I’ve been stewing on the golf courses since the NYT story came out. Extremely problematic that so many smart people are using the wrong framing to describe what Trump has done with money. He’s a failed business owner only if he is perceived as a legitimate business person.

        He’s a very successful money launderer.

        And that’s more or less the nut graf of my next post.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Looking forward to your next post. I agree with your previous ones on the subject. Trump’s large cash purchases and equally large cash investments in his golf courses don’t make sense for a guy who is normally cash poor, with virtually no access to bank credit.

          Trump has put more cash into the Doral, for example, than his original purchase price. According to the NYT, that’s a total of over $300 million in less than ten years – for a guy who had to borrow money from his lawyer to pay about a quarter million in hush money to two former sex partners.

          Ditto with his Scottish and Irish courses. Where’s the money from and where does it go?

          • Rugger9 says:

            Also add the Scottish Parliament’s Unexplained Wealth Order (IIRC) investigation instigated by Patrick Harvie of the Greens. That’s another process that DJT has limited options to derail and has high risk of adverse publicity.

          • Molly Pitcher says:

            Were the Real Estate Deals of Unusual Size to Russians, such as the house in Florida, personal deals or were they included in the NYT story? I read it and I don’t remember mention of the house.

            I would guess that the apartments that he gouged the Russians over were part of Trump inc.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          I co-wrote a book with a PGA teaching pro who has seen work dry up over the past ten or fifteen years. Anyone inside golf knows the game was losing its profit potential long before DJT started plowing big money into courses. Even Trump had to realize he would see losses, and no legit bank would loan in that context (except maybe Deutsche, but we can surmise what their funding means). If you wanted to launder millions of US$, golf courses might be your bone-headedly obvious means–with the bonus of attracting the type of white male power dinosaurs who still ‘walk’ the greens.

          • Rayne says:

            2008 crash did in the golf industry. It had been overbuilt and it, like the GOP, had failed to do adequate outreach to develop new players and fans among non-whites. But golf is what Trump loves and it’s the easiest opportunity he had to build a money laundering facility without looking obvious.

    • Hika says:

      ‘ Mueller just didn’t want to “go there” ‘
      Wasn’t it the case that Rod Rosenstein steered Mueller away from Trump’s financials and was also responsible for killing the FBI’s (McCabe as Acting Director) separately started look at Trump’s Russian connections?

      Would pay-per-view to see Rosenstein answering serious questions about his decision making process around those choices.

    • P J Evans says:

      If he wasn’t white and wealthy, he’d have been in jail decades ago. (And his father would have been, also.)

  21. harpie says:

    I just got off the phone for the FIFTH time today with my 87 year old mother…
    I’m praying [and I’m NOT religious] she doesn’t have a heart attack today.

      • harpie says:

        Thank you! She was just apoplectic about this Trump tax stuff this morning [she’s been dutifully paying her taxes for a very long time] … and, at first I was not much of a help to her…but we were able to talk each other down. :-)

  22. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I like how Trump hides behind a generic, “I paid tax,” argument. For that statement to be true, he need only have purchased a McDonald’s happy meal and paid sales tax on it.

    Later in his defense, he claims that he also paid “a lot” of state taxes. That statement, too, could be made true by his purchase of a single happy meal – given his belief that “a lot” of money is not the same as paying “a lot” of tax.

  23. Rugger9 says:

    The NYT story certainly puts the connections together for Putin – DB – DJT. Putin and his cronies needed to launder money (Panama Papers, anyone?) and Deutsche Bank had already been busted by the EU for doing so. DB for their part inexplicably loaned vast sums of money to DJT who had just gotten though suing DB over another large 9-figure loan and had burned all of the other financial bridges. IIRC, the DB person who approved this also had ties to Barr or another Trumpworld figure but it’s clear DB did it because Vlad wanted it done.

    The cash payouts for Turnberry and other courses are a routine laundering play, through DJT directly which then compromises him vis-a-vis Putin. As noted before by many of us, this is classic KGB entrapment and Vlad has been leveraging it the entire term. One hopes the CIA bugged the Oval Office for Kislyak’s visit.

    Late night TV will be very entertaining. The best line I heard today was that DJT paid a hooker 10x his taxes, improving his bang for the buck. Not sorry.

  24. vvv says:

    I don’t feel so good.

    I mean, *I* don’t owe any of this money but, reading about it, I’m feelin’ like puking.

    At this point, is this guy really worth anything? To anybody?

    • P J Evans says:

      I don’t think so. Sticking a fork in him would be kind. So would sending the entire lot out to pasture in November.

Comments are closed.