Ockham’s Cut: How the Andrew McCabe Notes Were Doctored

Some weeks ago, I asked for help understanding the irregularities of the Andrew McCabe notes. Among other observations, two people showed that the notes had been created in layers, with the redaction of the protective order footnote seemingly added twice. Since then, longtime friend of the site “William Ockham” has done more analysis (he was the tech expert identified in the second post), and determined that the file must have been made as part of a multi-step process. I share his analysis here. The italics, including the bracket, are mine, the bold is his.

Here’s what I can say about the McCabe notes. The easiest way to explain this is to think about the ancestral tree of the images that are embedded in the documents we have. It all starts with the original page from McCabe’s notes (Generation 0).

Someone scanned that page to create an unredacted image file (Gen 1).

That image was printed (Gen 2). {From a technical point of view, this is what happens when a page is copied on a modern copy machine. Based on the evidence I have, I’m fairly sure that a digital image of the original page must exist. If not, it sucks to be the FBI.)

An analog redaction (probably with a black Sharpie or similar instrument) was applied. I strongly suspect that the date was added to the same physical page before it was rescanned. It’s possible, although I consider it very unlikely, that the date was added after the physical page was rescanned. These original redactions aren’t totally black the way they would be if done with the DoJ’s redaction software. In any event, this rescanned image is Gen 3.

That physical page with the date was scanned to an image file (Gen 4).

At this point, a PDF file  that will become 170510-mccabe-notes-jensen-200924.pdf is created by embedding the Gen 4 image and saving the file as a PDF. Then, a separate process adds the words “SUBJECT TO PROTECTIVE ORDER” and “DOJSCO – 700023502” to the metadata inside the file and draws the words in a font called “Arial Black” at the bottom of that page and the file is saved again. ***I am 100% certain that a PDF was created exactly like I describe here***

Update from Ockham to describe how the redaction shows up in the DOJ footnote:

A PDF file is really a software program that has instructions for rendering one or more pages. An image similar to the one above [Gen 4] was turned into a PDF file which contained one set of instructions:

  1. Store about 1 megabyte of compressed data.
  2. Take that data and render an image by interpreting the data as an 8bit per pixel grayscale image 1710 pixels wide by 2196 pixels high (at normal 96 pixels per inch, 17.81 in by 22.87 in, so obviously scanned at a much higher resolution)
  3. Scale that image so it takes up an entire 8 ½ by 11 page
  4. Render the image

Then, an automated process adds the footer. The part of the instructions for rendering the Bates number are still in the document and look like this:

Operation Description Operands
Dictionary E.g.: /Name << … >> /Artifact<</Contents (DOJSCO – 700023502)/Subtype /BatesN /Type /Pagination >>
BDC (PDF 1.2) Begin marked-content sequence with property list
q Save graphics state
cm Concatenate matrix to current transformation matrix 1001458.234985434.7999268
gs (PDF 1.2) Set parameters from graphics state parameter dictionary /GS0
Tr Set text rendering mode 0
Tf Set text font and size /T1_031.5 [This is a pointer to a font name and size, Arial Black – 18PT]
Do Invoke named XObject /Fm0 [This is a pointer to the actual text and location to render it
Q Restore graphics state
EMC (PDF 1.2) End marked-content sequence

Originally, there would have been a similar set of instructions for the “SUBJECT TO PROTECTIVE ORDER” part as well. They would have looked almost the same except for the “Artifact” operands, the actual text, and the positioning instruction.

Now, here’s the really important part. The DoJ redaction software presents the rendered PDF file to the end user. However, it operates on the actual PDF by rewriting the instructions. When the user drew the rectangle around the words “SUBJECT TO PROTECTIVE ORDER”, the redaction software has to find every instruction in the PDF that made changes to the pixels within the coordinates of the rectangle. The redaction software sees two “layers” of instructions that affect the rectangle, the text writing instructions and the image itself. The redaction software removes all the instructions for writing the text and replaces those instructions with instructions to draw a black box in the same place. Then, it also blacks out the pixels in the image itself. It has to do both of those things to ensure that it has removed all of the redacted information, even though in this case it didn’t really need to do both.

Then someone at the DoJ opens the PDF and redacts the words “SUBJECT TO PROTECTIVE ORDER” from the page. The redaction does all of the following things:

  • It removes the metadata entry with the words “SUBJECT TO PROTECTIVE ORDER”,
  • It removes the commands that draw the words.
  • It replaces those commands with commands that draw a black rectangle the same size as the rendered words.
  • It replaces the pixels in the Gen 4 image that correspond to the area of the image that the words were drawn on top of with solid black pixels.

Those last two steps create two very slightly offset redaction boxes. The slight offset is caused by errors caused by using floating point math to draw the same shape in two different coordinate systems. Step 4 creates an image which I’ll call Gen 5 which can be extracted from 170510-mccabe-notes-jensen-200924.pdf.

When someone notices that this file and the Strzok notes have been altered, Judge Sullivan asks for the unaltered versions.  Jocelyn Ballantine has a problem. There’s no redacted version of McCabe’s notes without the added date. She can’t use the DoJ’s redaction software because that would look even worse (a big black rectangle where the date was added).  What’s a stressed out assistant US Attorney to do? Here’s what she did. She took the unredacted PDF file I mentioned above and converted it to an image. Then she used image editing software to remove the date, which made that rectangle of white pixels. She fires up Microsoft Word on her DoJ work computer and starts creating a new document (likely from a template designed creating exhibit files). The first page just says Exhibit A and on the second page (which has all margins set to 0) she pastes in the image she just created, scaled to fit exactly on the page. Without saving the Word file, she prints the document (using the Adobe Distiller print driver) to PDF and submits the printed file as the supposedly unaltered McCabe notes. [Gen 6]

It seems like these steps look like this:

Gen 0: FBI had or has McCabe’s original notes presumably stored with his other documents.

Gen 1:  Someone took the notes from there and scanned them, presumably to share with other investigators.

Gen 2: Someone printed out Gen 1 and made notes and otherwise altered them. This is the stage at which the government claims someone put a sticky note with a date on the notes, but it appears they just wrote the date on the notes themselves. If everything had been operating normally, however, when Judge Sullivan asked for unaltered copies of the documents, they could have used the Gen 1 copy to resubmit. They didn’t do so, which suggests the chain of custody may have already been suspect. Some possible explanations for that are that Jeffrey Jensen’s team received the document from either DOJ IG or John Durham’s investigation, not directly from the FBI files. That wouldn’t be suspect from the standpoint of DOJ internal workings, but it would be proof that DOJ knew the documents they relied on in their motion to dismiss had already been reviewed by Michael Horowitz or Durham’s teams, and found not to sustain the conspiracies that Billy Barr needed them to sustain to throw out Flynn’s prosecution (or that DOJ claimed they sustained in the motion to dismiss).

Gen 3: I think Ockham is viewing the creation of the image file in two steps. First, a scan of the file with the note written on it is made, which is Gen 3.

Gen 4: Then, probably before the file is handed off to Jocelyn Ballantine to “share” with Mike Flynn’s team (I’m scare-quoting because I suspect there may have been a back channel as well), the redaction is created for where the protective order stamp would go. Here’s what Gen 4 would have looked like:

Gen 5: Gen 4 is then prepared as an exhibit would normally be, by putting it into a PDF and adding the Bates number and protective order stamp, then redacted the latter. Reminder: The protective order footer was also redacted from (at least) the two altered Strzok notes, as I show here.

Gen 6: When Peter Strzok and McCabe tell Sullivan that their notes have had dates added, DOJ re-releases the notes such that the notes are no longer added but the redacted footnote is. As Ockham notes (and as I think everyone who looked closely at this agrees) the date is not removed by taking off a post-it. Instead, it is whited out digitally, leaving a clear mark in the exhibit.

One reason this is so interesting — besides providing more proof that DOJ went to some lengths to make sure a version of these notes did not include the protective order, freeing Sidney Powell to share it with Jenna Ellis and whomever else she wanted, so they could prepare campaign attacks from it — is that DOJ refused to say who added the date to McCabe’s notes. As I noted in my own discussion here, one possible explanation why DOJ kept redacting stuff rather than going back to the original (other than having to submit the file for formal declassification and the post-it hiding other parts of the document) is because the chain of custody itself would undermine the claims DOJ has made in the motion to dismiss, by making it clear that someone had already reviewed this document and found no criminal intent in the document.

The other problem with this multi-generation alteration of Andrew McCabe’s notes is, if anyone asks, it is going to be very difficult for anyone involved to disclaim knowledge that these documents were altered. Mind you, Ballantine already has problems on that front: I emailed her to note that the FBI version of Bill Barnett’s “302” she shared redacted information that was material to Judge Sullivan’s analysis, the positive comments that Barnett had for Brandon Van Grack. So if and when Sullivan asks her why DOJ hid that material information from him, she will not be able to claim she didn’t know. Then there’s her false claim — which both Strzok and McCabe’s lawyers have already disproved — that the lawyers affirmed that no other changes had been made to the notes.

But if this file was prepared as Ockham describes, then both DOJ and FBI will have a tough time claiming they didn’t know they were materially altering documents before submitting them to Judge Sullivan’s court.

Updated with some corrections from Ockham.

87 replies
  1. Rugger9 says:

    It would appear to me that if Judge Sullivan is aware of these machinations he would have pretty clear grounds to reject the motion to dismiss and refer Ballantine to the relevant Bar for disqualification. The question I pose is how does this analysis get to the court? The DOJ won’t do it, Powell won’t do it, which leaves some sort of amicus brief from an expert that may or may not get read.

    DOJ would certainly respond to an amicus like this one, and I would hope that Biden (who will already have too much to do) spends time on Flynn’s legal circus. The whole fiasco touches on all of the things wrong in AG Barr’s DOJ and the tracing would get the names needed to be launched out of government service attached to highly unethical if not outright illegal activity.

    • Coyle says:

      The risk/reward ratio re: Flynn has been off from the beginning. Remember this whole poopshow started with Trump firing Comey, because protecting Flynn was somehow worth the political cost of firing an FBI director.

      • skua says:

        ” protecting Flynn was somehow worth the political cost of firing an FBI director”

        I got the chills when I imagined any other President over the last 50 years having done this. In those imaginings it is a clear signal that something very bad is happening in the Oval Office. And Congress pressured, by the media, would put a stop to it.

        Trump’s Murdoch-enabled gaslighting, lies, offensiveness, blandishments, circus and spectacle has done such a very good job of smoke-screening his destruction of good government.

    • Pete T says:

      Judge Sullivan should use this in an open court Q&A of Ms Ballantine. And if she “I dunno” on the answers direct her to go find out how the document evolved.

      Is it the case, by pushing a Flynn decision closer and closer to Jan 20, 2021, he forces Trump’s pardon of Flynn thus affecting Flynn taking the fifth in the future. If he sentences/convicts Trump then commutation is on the table?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The DoJ does its own internal reviews of alleged attorney misconduct. State bar associations are loathe to second guess them. Given the time constraints, this will be up to Biden’s AG. If Ballantine resigns before then, the question is whether the DoJ can still review her conduct.

      To complete the evidentiary loop, I think Sullivan has to demand the originals, to verify that alterations took place. If they “can’t be found,” or the DoJ dithers too long, he would be entitled to assume they hold information adverse to the DoJ. He could then reject the dismissal and impose sentence on Flynn.

      That would, and some of the interim steps might, be appealed. Before that, though, I assume Trump would have pardoned him, having no alternative that might protect his ass.

    • timbo says:

      Uh… won’t Sullivan just do what he did in the Ted Stevens trial when Sullivan had had enough of DOJ bungling and lying?

  2. Rapier says:

    It strikes me that all these machinations with the McCabe notes were a lot of trouble to go to for such a small payoff. I’d guess the amount of votes that changed because they say that Biden introduced the idea using the Logan act to go after Trumpsters, as clumsily presented by Trump in the debate, is approximately zero. Oh sure it’s a nice bullet point for the frothers but it isn’t like there is a shortage of those. In fact the supply is infinite.

    • Rugger9 says:

      EW will have more on its importance, I’m sure, but the whole point of these alterations is to hide details such as the preservation order and to plant disinformation such as when these notes were made. EW’s Rashomon series is a thorough connect the dots exercise, and while each piece may seem insignificant, the pattern is not.

      The AG Barr DOJ really doesn’t want anyone to know that it looks like they coordinated with a confessed criminal to keep him out of prison in spite of restrictions. What’s the pro quo for that quid?

    • Coyle says:

      The risk/reward ratio re: Flynn has been off from the beginning. Remember this whole poopshow started with Trump firing Comey, because protecting Flynn was somehow worth the political cost of firing an FBI director.

    • emptywheel says:

      I suspect it was intended to play a far more central role, and would have, if Strzok and McCabe’s lawyers hadn’t notified Sullivan.

      • klynn says:

        Is there any non public information Sullivan has access to that would help him to connect the dots on the alterations?

        • Ken Muldrew says:

          He did see the non-public information that led him to ask the prosecutors whether they had considered charging Flynn with treason. So he surely knows how serious the crimes being hidden are. Whether he has any insight into the campaign strategy that was to flow from the altered docs is anyone’s guess.

  3. John Forde says:

    John Gleason? Has his appointment expired? Even if it has expired could he summarize EW & WO and submit an amicus?

  4. PeterS says:

    I’m a little confused about Gen 3 and 4. Ockham says “this rescanned image is Gen 3. That physical page with the date was scanned to an image file (Gen 4).” It makes more sense to me if Gen 3 is the redacted/dated physical page. But I may well have misunderstood.

  5. graham firchlis says:

    Brilliant. Two sharp minds, like a pair of honed scissors.

    IANAL, but McCabe has already successfully addressed an amicus brief on this very matter. He should be able to do so again, should this information somehow come his way.

    • Rugger9 says:

      McCabe and Strzok both challenged DOJ on their claims, but EW and William’s analysis provide proof of how it was done which then sends the ball back to DOJ to prove it didn’t happen that way.

      That means DOJ has to produce the actual originals.

      • graham firchlis says:

        Understand what’s happened here. These are McCabe’s notes. Strozk has no standing. Others may, but McCabe plainly does and the court has recognized him before.

        How to in fact use this information to put the ball back into DOJ’s court is the hanging question. It has to formally come before Sullivan, yes? Not there yet, is it? Who then is the most effective conduit?

  6. Chris.EL says:

    Just reading some emptywheel previous posts and seeing this complete #&+?! malarkey with Sidney Powell and others has been going on for over a year now!!!


    Judge Sullivan has patience in infinite capacity!!!

    It feels like Trump is running out the clock and tying this around Powell’s neck concurrently.

    Bona fide unbelievable mess; doctored documents icing on the cake!

    • Rugger9 says:

      One thing that has struck me about Judge Sullivan in this case and in the USPS case is his willingness to let the government have all the rope they want, no doubt knowing the DOJ will tie itself in knots. Flynn’s likely to get his sentencing (the only question is when it comes down) but if things are delayed too long DJT will not be able to commute Flynn’s sentence and will have to pardon him.

      • MattyG says:

        Had DT won the election as he’d apparently fully believed he would, he’d be under far less pressure right now to make a choice. Dismissal of charges or commutation are the ideal options but that will take more time than he has. Leaving a pardon as his only recourse. Unless he turns his back in pique and tries to just walk away from it all.

        • eyesoars says:

          Given what we know about Trump’s temperament, it seems very unlikely he would pardon anyone else while he might still have to face the music.

  7. Peterr says:

    One reason this is so interesting . . . is that DOJ refused to say who added the date to McCabe’s notes. As I noted in my own discussion here, one possible explanation why DOJ kept redacting stuff rather than going back to the original (other than having to submit the file for formal declassification and the post-it hiding other parts of the document) is because the chain of custody itself would undermine the claims DOJ has made in the motion to dismiss, by making it clear that someone had already reviewed this document and found no criminal intent in the document.

    In the formal rhetoric of the courtroom, prosecutors refer to themselves or are referred to by others as “the state” or “the government” or “the people.” This has the effect of reinforcing the idea that the individual making the argument is but a voice for the larger institutions of society. But there comes a point when names must be named, and as Marcy notes, we have reached that point.

    Oh, what a tangled web we weave,
    when first we practice to deceive.

    The role of the judge in any court is to cut through the webs of deception so that justice may be rendered. William has painted a vivid picture of the deliberate construction process required to move from the Generation 0 document to Generation 5, and each of these steps was taken by flesh-and-blood individuals at DOJ. At the December sentencing hearing, Sullivan noted that he already smelled Flynn’s deceptions, recognized them for what they were, and strongly suggested that Flynn ask for a continuance in order to improve his record of cooperation – otherwise Sullivan was ready to impose sentence and Flynn was likely to be very unhappy once that was done.

    Since then, Flynn changed his legal team and his plea, raising additional aromas of deception, especially when the DOJ turned itself on its head by changing its legal team and its posture toward Flynn. Asking for an amicus to argue against the combined DOJ/Flynn moves to end the case is a sign that Sullivan’s nose is working well.

    One of the difficulties in looking at the DOJ’s switch of its approach is that lawyers can always argue “we took a fresh look at this with fresh eyes, and changed our minds.” But the chain of actions that created Generation 5 strongly suggests this was not about fresh eyes, but about keeping prying eyes from seeing why these changes were being made. It was not in the interest of justice, but in the interest of protecting a friend of the president, and perhaps the president himself.

    Names must be named. Who scanned Gen 0 to create the electronic Gen 1? Who printed out the paper copy that is Gen 2? Who wielded the Sharpie that created Gen 3? . . . And most critically, who ordered this person/these people to take these actions?

    Names must be named.

      • Ken Muldrew says:

        If anyone burns for this, Barr is the least likely. Remember Michael Cohen’s explanation of how Trump operates:

        “Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie. That’s not how he operates. [He would] look me in the eye and [lie] then go out and lie to the American people by saying the same thing. In his way, he was telling me to lie.”

        There’s no point in having power if you’re just going to get down in the muck and do crimes like the help. If you have minions, you use them.

  8. John Lehman says:

    Byzantine? Machiavellian?…help me here…we need a new adjectives to plumb the depths and filth of this systemic decadence.
    Let’s coin a term.

    • DrFunguy says:

      Maybe you have somehing more serious in mind, but there is an archaic term that could apply:
      noun: trumpery; plural noun: trumperies
      attractive articles of little value or use.
      practices or beliefs that are superficially or visually appealing but have little real value or worth.
      “he exposed their ideals as trumpery”
      adjective: trumpery
      showy but worthless.
      “trumpery jewelry

      • John Lehman says:

        “Maybe you have somehing more serious in mind”
        Not really… mostly just venting

        adjective: trumpery
        showy but worthless.
        Really nails it.

    • BobCon says:

      The Byzantines were remarkably competent and ruled over Constantinople for roughly 1,000 years. Machiavelli has a memorial of unironic honor among the Florentines in Santa Croce alongside Michaelangelo, Galileo, Da Vinci and Dante.

      Trump doesn’t deserve to mentioned in the same breath.

      • Peterr says:

        Dante, you say?

        I think he has written a bit about folks like Trump, Pence, Pompeo, Mnuchin, Barr, and the rest of the Trump administration. Per wiki, they belong in the eighth circle of Hell as described in his Inferno, the Hell of the Fraudulent and Malicious. We’re talking about panderers, seducers, those who sell favors of their offices, pseudo-fortunetellers, and corrupt politicians (especially those who file . Further along in the Eighth circle come the Hypocrites, Thieves, Counselors of Fraud, Sowers of Discord, and Falsifiers (which includes imposters, counterfeiters, and perjurers).

        I’m sure there are some great Italian words that could be borrowed to fill this need.

        • Rugger9 says:

          What’s interesting about that story is that it wasn’t the Manhattan tribe they bought the island from, but a group from Long Island that had a fishing camp there on Manhattan island. American Heritage had an article on this a fairly long time ago.

        • John Lehman says:

          Am aware of that story, the people whose homeland it was (the Manhattan’s) were gone on a hunting trip at the time. There might’ve been a misunderstanding by the people who accepted the beads.

          As gift exchanges were common and still are among different tribes and the whole concept of owning and selling land “Mother Earth” was unimaginable.
          Sort of like trying owning or selling the air or the sky.

  9. BobCon says:

    The 3rd paragraph has me wondering —

    “Based on the evidence I have, I’m fairly sure that a digital image of the original page must exist. If not, it sucks to be the FBI.”

    How likely is it someone screwed up and overwrote or deleted the original file?

    I assume they could go and rescan the notes, but those are probably under lock and key and anyone wanting access has to document what they are doing and get approval from supervisors. There is probably a backup too, but getting a version that is defendable in court may be a detailed process too.

    If the original JPG or PDF is gone, would the issue of getting a new copy be the time involved?

    Or is it possible that people would need to be included in the approval process who are trying to keep their hands clean from the whole process and don’t want documentation showing they are in the loop?

    • P J Evans says:

      “How likely is it someone screwed up and overwrote or deleted the original file?”

      It’s certainly possible. I saw it a couple of times at work, and fixed one instance. (We had maps that were two files, one raster and one vector. The raster file was the one that tended to get f*cked up. The damaged part usually ended up replaced by more vector part. In at least one case, the raster prat went bye-bye, and would have to be field-checked.)

  10. WilliamOckham says:

    I would like to add a couple of random comments about some things that aren’t really related to the issue at hand. First, I would like to give a shoutout to the federal court system for taking their ADA Section 508 responsibilities seriously. Every time a document was uploaded to PACER for this case, they automatically performed OCR on the images in an attempt to make the documents more accessible. And, by the same token, the DoJ absolutely sucks at ADA compliance. This suckage predates Billy Barr, although like every other bad thing about the DoJ, he’s made it much worse.

    I would also like to give credit to a couple of open source software tools that I used for this analysis:


  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Recent observations by Barack Obama are regarded as outspoken and correct. He notes that Mitch McConnell is not “buddy-buddy” with anyone, and rejects the notion that he and Biden are friends. They are long-time acquaintances. He defends his efforts to cooperate with Republicans. They failed not for lack of trying, but because of what the Republicans have become.

    The issue was that they found it politically advantageous to demonize me and the Democratic Party. This was amplified by media outlets like Fox News. Their voters believed this, and over time Republicans became so successful in their demonization that it became very difficult for them to compromise, or even be seen being friendly.

    I agree. But all that was fully formed by the time Obama first became president over a decade ago. It was a direct and obvious outcome of Newt Gingrich’s reign as Speaker of the House (1995-1999) over twenty years ago.

    Gingrich took the rot begun under Nixon and Reagan and put it on steroids. He organized his caucus around an intense version of pay-to-play. He isolated newbie congresscritters from their families and Democrats. Breaking with tradition, he encouraged them to leave their families at home, and to live with other newbie congresscritters in dorm-like arrangements in DC. When congresscritters did go home, which was nearly every weekend, it was to schmooze with patrons.

    Gingrich thereby gutted the social networks that enabled bipartisan effort – kids going to the same schools, families meeting in church or at the grocery store. He controlled his young turks through harsh pay-to-play demands. Those took up so much time, congresscritters ignored their constituents and outsourced drafting legislation to corporate bundler-lobbyists. That left no time or incentive to work across the aisle, and enabled Gingrich’s ironclad control over his caucus and the House.

    Today, that analysis is neither new nor original. I’m delighted that Obama should speak out more and actively support Joe Biden and demands for progressive change. But we might set the bar a little higher.


    • timbo says:

      Of note: Gingrich did this in the time that the US was at the zenith of our imperial world dominance. Subsequently, GWB frittered away much goodwill and treasure on the world stage. By the middle of Obama’s tenure, Russia and China were emboldened by obvious lack of internal US stability (eg Crimean invasion and the expansion of Chinese naval operations and bases in the China sea et all) Now all the US has is a loudmouth to go with a the expensive stick that it can’t afford to whack externally due to the rot at home. Hopefully Biden, the DP, and basically a good chunk of the rest of the US can start realizing that there’s a big, big problem with trying to live by the old rhetoric when it no longer applies to the conditions as they are now.

      • Chetnolian says:

        That’s a bit of a US-centred view. I can’t speak for the Russian situation but I can attest, because I was briefly involved, that China was planning its current naval expansion as long ago as the 1970s. And everyone knew but there was little which could have been done. The USA really did not enable it.

  12. Hika says:

    Would it be fair to call this whole effort by DoJ to undo the case against Flynn after he had pleaded guilty (twice) obstruction of justice? Would it be fair to say that this scheme involved multiple actors performing a variety of roles? And would that scheme then be fairly called a conspiracy? Who directed that this thing be done?

    • Chris.EL says:

      Obvious hallmarks of Trump are wanting to avoid accountability: 1. Flynn’s a good guy, could you find your way to letting this go; I need your loyalty…if not, well… 2. Swap out one recused AG with a slightly knowledgeable AG, then with a bootlicker who wrote a treatise to get the job. 3. Swap in another attorney for Flynn to make batty arguments ad nauseum. 4. Tweak the evidence until no one can make any sense of it then say, oh well, I’m sorry, we tried! Golly, look! My presidency is over! We’ll try to help you again soon! I promise! See ya!

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    It’s fine for Joe Biden to be positive and reach across the aisle in hopes of bipartisan support for the national good. That’s his job and he’s good at it. But every feel good principal needs a hard ass assistant principal, who meets schedules, imposes discipline, and deals with recalcitrant staff, sometimes unruly students, and the inescapable adolescent would be felons.

    Joe Biden needs – and hopefully already has – a team of realists which is prepared to deal with the persistent bad faith conduct Republicans are committed to as a foundational strategy. Another team needs to do the hard work of executing on Biden’s agenda, assuming he has only Democratic support. If Moscow Mitch ever smiles and offers a helping hand, it would be foolish to regard it as anything but a Trojan Rabbit.

  14. My Wag says:

    Fantastic work.

    The corruption of the DOJ under Pepe Barr
    is the ultimate expression of tЯumpSWAMP ®

    Thanks for all the great work.

  15. Spencer Dawkins says:

    I’m totally in on why it was worth blowing up Comey to save Flynn – that is truly a mystery. I can make guesses, but I’d love to have even the slightest plausible explanation consistent with evidence.

    • John Paul Jones says:

      A guy I knew spent over 20 years as a parole officer. His first novel was based on his experiences with his “customers.” Its title? “Stupid Crimes.” Okham’s Razor might suggest that as a pretty good first round explanation for a lot of Trump’s actions. It’s not that he’s unintelligent, but that his impulses run to stupid, if that makes sense.

    • Chris.EL says:

      From the ultimate vain man, from his very own spawn of Queens lips: Comey was a “showboat,” competing with Trump — who fancies himself the showboat of all showboats — there is no room in Trump’s universe for two showboats.

      Comey had Trump beat in height, looks, intelligence, character, loyalty of his “troops.”

      Trump couldn’t handle that.

      Interesting exchange in the transcript of the Playboy interview circa early 1990s: during the interview Trump broke to take a call from son Eric. In the space of a few sentences Trump called Eric “babe” and “honey” twice. Don’t know about you, but to me, that’s downright weird. Just sayin’.

  16. Old Antarctic Explorer says:

    “An analog redaction (probably with a black Sharpie or similar instrument) was applied“

    Analog redactions are seldom done anymore because they are hackable. All you need is a program like Photoshop and colorize the redaction. With luck you can see enough text to make out the words. This works because the eye can see millions of levels of color, but only about 256 levels of grey scale.

    Anyone have lightly copied redactions? It works even if only copied once (maybe twice). Copiers are really good these days. Good luck! I’d try, but I don’t have Photoshop and am busy with caregiving 24/7.

    • Chris.EL says:

      Isn’t it true — with anything new — there are unknowns, unforeseen results, consequences, even death.

      I just don’t get it — these people and their objections to mask wearing, foregoing large gatherings, etc.

      What is the big deal about a mask? It is going to protect the wearer and those in proximity! Sure they are ugly and a little uncomfortable. Boo-hoo. Just do it.


      I heard that the creators of the atomic bomb were not sure what would happen on detonation!!!!! They anticipated it could be the end of the world!!

      • P J Evans says:

        I read that there was some question as to whether it might ignite the atmosphere.
        But masks definitely work, and people who refuse to wear them, or wear them incorrectly, don’t deserve the benefit of doubt.

    • Eureka says:

      Great podcast with details that scientists and other fussy listeners will appreciate:

      #137 – Paul Offit, M.D.: An expert perspective on COVID-19 vaccines – Peter Attia

      Posted November 16th, but recorded on the 5th (prior to Pfizer & later Moderna announcements, which I think makes it better: he does discuss those trials/methods but before the cloud of ‘science by press release’). No transcript but there are show notes.

      Gets more COVID-interesting ca. :36. Later in the broadcast — fond as I am of pragmatic proofs — he says:

      Should we mandate the vaccine for hospital workers [insert: or anybody]?

      No, says Paul, here’s why:

      One, for the practical reason that we probably won’t have a lot of vaccines

      Two, I think that with the novel vaccine strategy like mRNA, or these replication-defective viruses, I don’t think you really can fairly mandate that, you might need to wait and see

      “There’s going to be plenty of people who are going to be perfectly willing to take these vaccines, and then we’ll have a few million doses out there, and we’ll have a sense of things.”

      Maurice Hilleman, who Paul considers the father of modern vaccines, said, “I never breathe a sigh of relief until the first 3 million doses are out there.”

      (internal link removed)

      As previously discussed, FDA Vaccine Advisory Board member Offit does not think the first vaccines out of the gate will be the best and last versions we will have (important points near the end on how the placebo controls will probably get vaccinated as a reward, thus losing study info; also how ongoing/future trials need to be placebo controlled, because if vaccines are trialed against each other it would take enormous sample sizes and time and basically be impossible to establish which is better… speaking of fussy details to BOLO).

      He wants to see that his age demographic is adequately represented in current trials before taking it (thinking face as to all of the other demographic pools of interest and how to squeeze them out of 40k+ and 30k+ samples).

      In other words, this highest-advocate of vaccination encourages everyone to get vaccinated, and to trust — as he’s written elsewhere* — this EUA process (despite the theraputics duds); he does not, however, want his health system to mandate vaccination, and as a philosophical matter finds that sigh of relief about 2.9+ million doses away.

      Philly vaccine pioneer: COVID-19 vaccine, soon to be released, will likely be safe and effective | Opinion

  17. klynn says:

    An important part:
    “As I noted in my own discussion here, one possible explanation why DOJ kept redacting stuff rather than going back to the original (other than having to submit the file for formal declassification and the post-it hiding other parts of the document) is because the chain of custody itself would undermine the claims DOJ has made in the motion to dismiss, by making it clear that someone had already reviewed this document and found no criminal intent in the document.”


    Hope that someone has to talk about their finding.

  18. John Langston says:

    OK, I’m having a hard time getting to the bottom line here other than fact the DOJ altered the dates on these documents and tried to pass them off. And that perhaps alternations might have been deliberate or inadvertent?

    What I understand that this is likely an attempt to prevent the judge from examining the originals due to the likelihood the originals had been independently examined with documentation that there was no wrong doing in the interview process. And that the accompanying documentation would undermined the rationale to drop the charges against Flynn?

    Or is there more to this or am I completely wrong in my understanding?

    • Chetnolian says:

      And you may be ignoring the fact of how reactive this has all been. Remember that the purpose of the date was to suggest motives that were both wrong and fairly incredible. So they did it all stupidly. It is easier to be stupid when you are fibbing.. The changes were to hide the fact they were lying all along. They just didn’t expect the Judge to catch them out, which with this judge is itself pretty stupid.

      • Rugger9 says:

        Judge Sullivan might be the worst choice to pull that play on, and giving it some thought I wonder how he might make this the worst day ever for DOJ and Flynn (who I think will face a potential Army dismissal as well after the civilian phase is done). So, let the speculation begin on how Judge Sullivan can throw the book at these miscreants!

        Flynn gets sentenced, Ballantine gets sanctioned seems too quick, so I suspect we will see another continuance to investigate the “modified” documents for who will get hammered. This would also have the extra effect of forcing DJT to pardon Flynn now which might give Sullivan some schadenfreude though he would be too professional to let it show.

  19. pdaly says:

    I echo my appreciation for William Ockham’s and Marcy’s analysis. Never realized how much metadata was generated in a process of redaction.
    Glad to think these extra breadcrumbs will leave a trail back to the person or persons at DoJ trying to tip the scales of justice.

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