Trump Prepares to Pardon Massive Tax Cheat Paul Manafort While Claiming that Suspected Midscale Tax Cheat Hunter Biden Disqualifies Joe

Poor Glenn Greenwald. After news broke that Hunter Biden was under investigation for things that have nothing to do with the allegations Rudy Giuliani was pressing from a laptop purportedly left at a repair office, Glenn wrote a post (purportedly unlocked, though it’s not) claiming that everyone who had said Rudy’s attempts to float claims from the Biden laptop was Russian disinformation had been proven wrong.

Since then, Donald Trump himself connected the investigation to his call to Volodymyr Zelenskyy, part of Rudy’s work with a bunch of Russian-backed Ukrainians — at least one of whom has since been sanctioned by the Trump Treasury Department as a Russian agent — to dig up dirt on Hunter Biden.

And the NYT published a story that revealed that the Pittsburgh US Attorney’s office — set up to vet the crap coming from Rudy because of his and therefore its ties to Russian agents — got the laptop.

Even worse for Glenn, the story revealed that those agents being run by a hyper-political US Attorney examined the laptop and found nothing.

The F.B.I. viewed the investigative steps into Mr. Biden that Mr. Brady sought as unwarranted because the Delaware inquiry involving money laundering had fizzled out and because they were skeptical of Mr. Giuliani’s material. For example, they had already examined a laptop owned by Mr. Biden and an external hard drive that had been abandoned at a computer store in Wilmington and found nothing to advance the inquiry.

In other words, people with subpoena power, under pressure to find something incriminating against Hunter Biden in the laptop that Glenn demanded the press drop everything to focus on, had nothing of real investigative interest on it. The DE investigation purportedly comes from normal channels, like Suspicious Activity Reports and divorce proceedings. Importantly, every report thus far say the investigation doesn’t implicate the President-Elect, the key thing those waggling the laptop tried to claim.

Which was part of the point of it being disinformation: Stupid people could and did take things out of context and insinuate something nefarious was going on without evidence that it was, all because some of the emails on the laptop were “authentic.”

Meanwhile, the DE US Attorney’s office has actually been investigating Hunter Biden for longer than the entire Mueller investigation, at least two full years. They have reportedly ruled out a money laundering case but are now scrutinizing the younger Biden for tax crimes.

In 2018, the F.B.I. and the U.S. attorney’s office in Wilmington, Del., quietly began investigating whether Hunter Biden had violated money laundering laws, according to people with knowledge of the inquiry.

Investigators eventually determined that the money laundering aspect of the Hunter Biden inquiry was not going to lead to charges. But they had discovered potential tax law violations and felt they had the makings of a strong tax case against him, according to several people familiar with the matter. The inquiry came to involve I.R.S. agents.

Donald Trump is taking the report that the original US Attorney’s office investigating the President-Elect’s son, in Delaware, has focused on tax crimes after ruling out money laundering as proof that the entire Biden Administration will be brought down by the legal troubles of someone who will not be given a nepotism appointment in the White House.

Donald Trump almost certainly will, sometime over the next 38 days, pardon his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, for crimes involving both money laundering and tax crimes. Paulie’s crimes were at least one order of magnitude bigger than the ones for which Hunter Biden is being investigated (and Biden seems to believe he told his tax advisors honestly what he had earned, which Paulie was shown not to have at trial).

In other words, over the next several weeks, Trump will pardon Paulie for a crime far larger than the ones that — he claims — are of a magnitude that should disqualify someone not named Hunter Biden.

That’s worth keeping in mind in the days ahead.

49 replies
  1. Bay State Librul says:

    I heard “Crazy in the Coconut” Joe Epstein resents your new handle. I just cancelled my subscription to the WSJ

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      A retired writing instructor at Northwestern would feel that way about a PhD in comparative lit. from Michigan. In Epstein’s case, the problem is the chip on his shoulder the size of Bill Buckley.

      • Jenny says:

        Joseph Epstein mansplaining what Dr. Jill Biden should or should do. Speaks volumes of an insecure man bullying, mocking and disrespecting women.

          • Chris.EL says:

            There are a few things (on the internet) that make me just **laugh out loud** … one was the four puppies-butts-a-waggin’ … another was this … in regard to Dr. Jill Biden *having the AUDACITY to add an honorific to her own name* !!!!!!!! to wit:
            [sorry — I forget where I saw this]
            …” finally: If he wants to get technical about it, Biden did deliver a child, out of her own uterus.” …

            WOWEE — that pretty much says it all.

            • Jenny says:

              No press regarding Melania’s salacious nudes for years; however insulting Dr. Jill Biden, an educated woman is fair game. Ugh!

    • Ralph H white says:

      Wow. Just saw that Cuomo and the NY legislature passed a law that removes double jeopardy for those pardoned for federal crimes. It allows for the state to prosecute the same crimes. Will stand up? It would be a gamechanger.

      • Rugger9 says:

        I really cannot see how it could if the charges refer to the same crime and essentially the same evidence, but IANAL. One would think that given how many lawyers there are in the NY legislature they might have crafted this to avoid the double jeopardy clause of the US Constitution (which supersedes anything the NY legislature could do).

        It is at least a clear warning to DJT that pardoning his kids might prove to be ineffective.

        • bmaz says:

          No. There is a difference between the jurisdictions, but hard to see how this can work retroactively for criminal offenses.

  2. Rugger9 says:

    Given the standard DJT has set for pardons, it is rather odd Manafort hasn’t been pardoned yet. Perhaps Paul is better kept behind bars, but still he hasn’t turned state’s evidence and loyalty is a prime DJT litmus test. It’s not like DJT has any scruples here, or anything left to lose with respect to public opinion.

    Even a commutation would help, and preserves the 5th Amendment constraint on what can be asked. There is a reason that DJT hasn’t intervened here yet, and I’d follow the money. Perhaps Vlad, et al, want Paul exactly where he is (or may wax him if he does get out of supervision).

    • MattyG says:

      …interesting, hadn’t considered that possibility – Paul may be where Vlad et al wants him and that’s fine by DT. It meshes with speculation at the time that the real reason Paul didn’t turn evidence had less to do with loyalty to DT (probably zero) than direct threat of physical violence from the other side.

      But if this is the case then what interest would DT have in pardoning Paul at this point? Curious to see how this one pans out.

      • Spencer Dawkins says:

        Recent press reporting is that The Donald is interrupting random phone calls to ask the person on the line if they want a pardon, so I’m not sure he has much thought behind who he pardons except owning the libs. But just continuing Rugger9/MattyG’s comments, when was the last time that Manafort was reported as ASKING for a pardon?

        He might have told Trump “no, thanks, I’m good, until things settle down”.

        And I wouldn’t reject the theory that he’s found ways to make money (legally or not) without being pardoned.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Trump’s view of pardons (and everything else) is transactional and opportunistic. They mean what they mean for his personal safety or enrichment.

          Here, Agatha Christies’s The ABC Murders might be a guide. Apart from fucking up the system, Trump’s issuing of a historic number of pardons might make it harder to identify which ones he considers essential to his well-being.

          • Kim Kaufman says:

            Why hasn’t Manafort’s pardon happened already? He pardoned Stone so he didn’t serve any time. And of course Flynn.

            • bmaz says:

              Trump commuted Stone, he did not full pardon him. There are different degrees of clemency, and it is important to distinguish among them.

              • Rugger9 says:

                DJT also hasn’t commuted Manafort’s sentence, and given how loyal Paul has been that is very strange for the reason I noted before.

                Why is Paul Manafort different here?

            • Chris.EL says:

              IMVHO Trump puts money and preservation of capital ABOVE ALL — ABOVE ALL.

              Hear it, learn it, believe it.

              To me, again my little humble opinion, Trump has Manafort where he wants him — suppose Trump is designated as a payable on death beneficiary? Total speculation of course, but it could be the plan.

              Breaking News:
              From Twitter:
              …”Robert J. DeNault

              Major story here. Foreign government has hacked Treasury; Trump removed the entire leadership at the Cyber and Infrastructure Agency weeks ago and there is a bevy of inexperienced folks having emergency meeting to respond.

              Chris Bing

              EXCLUSIVE: U.S. Treasury breached by hackers backed by foreign government – sources “…

    • Jenny says:

      Manafort is not behind bars. He is serving time at home for a 7 year sentence.

      Crystal Mason, Texas mother is serving 5 years for voting illegally in 2016 election. She is behind bars.

      • solo says:

        Thank you, Jenny, for that painfully true reminder. Just the pairing of names is plenty for me. Oliver North – free. Leonard Peltier – behind bars. Scooter Libby – free. Mumia Abu-Jamal – behind bars.

      • bmaz says:

        And Jenny, you understand that federal BOP protocols, and Texas state protocols, both for original sentencing purposes, and what is effectively compassionate release purposes, are entirely different and not comparable in any regard? If you don’t know that, you should. Those cases have absolutely nothing to do with each other, and are not comparable in the least

        • Hika says:

          Bmaz, you have explained the mechanism by which the disparity arises, but it doesn’t negate that the two punishments, in light of the underlying offenses, are comparatively unfair. Put another way, it’s comparing apples and oranges, but that doesn’t change that one is just stale while the other is rotten with worms.

        • Jenny says:

          Thank you bmaz for pointing out the different cases are not comparable.
          I was pointing out the inequality of the justice system for the haves and the have nots.

          • bmaz says:

            Using a false paradigm does not advance that argument in any fashion whatsoever. It is just an extremely false paradigm.

            • solo says:

              For me, this is not about apples and oranges or bananas or false paradigms. This is about real people and injustice: the contrast between Paul Manafort, a white male, and Crystal Mason, a black female. I’ll let the image of Jenny’s original observation stand, untouched and undisturbed. More power in that simplicity.

              • bmaz says:

                Fine, then you just keep that completely bogus comparison in your head. They are not remotely similar, but whatever.

    • vvv says:

      I note that he’s currently physically out from behind bars due to the pandemic, which might or might not be why there’s no apparent public pressure coming from he/his attys.

  3. rewer says:

    All this is diversionary bullshit. While trump pleads ‘support’ cash to pay his enormous debts he still tries to focus the attention of the idiots that support him. HE IS A LOSER and the quicker the stupid supporters recognise that the sooner the USA will be great again…..

  4. Bay State Librul says:

    Using litigation and the pardon power as weapons must be torpedoed.
    The “New AG” must embrace accountability as goal #1

    • Chris.EL says:

      … speaking of torpedoes, here’s documentation of the Russkies conducting war games in the Pacific!!
      From Twitter:
      “Lucas Tomlinson
      Dec 12, 2020
      Russian submarine from the Pacific Fleet launches 4 ballistic missiles in live-fire exercise

      Минобороны России] ”

      apologies for the Cyrillic

  5. Zinsky says:

    From the reporting that I have seen, no one has corrected the glaring mischaracterizations and outright lies that have been published about financial transactions concerning Hunter Biden. He and his partners, including the Heinz kid, ran private investment funds (think of mutual funds except for rich people). So, when they reported that the former Mayor of Moscow’s wife had wired a large sum of money, it was reported as if the money was wired directly to Hunter Biden. It actually went into the mutual fund! That would be like me sending a check for $1000 to buy into a Schwab mutual fund and the media reported that I had sent Charles Schwab $1000 personally. Totally inaccurate and misleading! The same is true of the Chinese investment fund that Hunter Biden was a partner in. Fox News and other right-wing outlets reported that Biden got millions personally from Chinese investors. It really went into the mutual fund. Of course, as Mark Twain famously said, “A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on”.

  6. Rugger9 says:

    It depends upon where they launched them (the video didn’t say AFAIK). The Sea of Okhotsk is a Russian lake, and the Kamchatka Peninsula is chock full of military installations like Petropavlovsk.

    Live fire exercises are also sometimes intended as a message, but since DJT is on his way out I’m not sure what that message would be for Biden.

    • Molly Pitcher says:

      That message would be ‘we have hacked Treasury and the rest of the government. We have hacked Fireeye. We are shooting live rounds near the financial printing press of the US, the West Coast. Ease up on the sanctions or we will do more than flex our muscles in the mirror.’

    • Chris.EL says:

      No no no! We’ve lost so many from the *greatest generation* — sadly, all we can do is **REMEMBER** and **CARRY ON**! Correction: Carré On!

      We will Carré memory in our hearts, someone on EW recently raised query about “eagle;” here is some wise input:

      From Wikipedia:

      “In 2017, le Carré stated, “I think of all things that were happening across Europe in the 1930s, in Spain, in Japan, obviously in Germany. To me, these are absolutely comparable signs of the rise of fascism and it’s contagious, it’s infectious. Fascism is up and running in Poland and Hungary. There’s an encouragement about”.[33] ” …

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        From the NYT, a compendium for those less familiar with le Carre’s work. He was a great novelist. His themes were deception and its consequences, bureaucratic and familial.

        Ian Fleming’s Bond lived in a two-dimensional whirl of wealth, assurance, and toxic masculinity. He never lost, but those close to him often lost everything. Le Carre’s characters – whether green or grizzled, ambitious or tapped out – live in fear, not knowing what lie, broken promise, or double cross might upend their lives.

        In le Carre’s world, though, there could be hope. That is, if you learned to trust yourself or the right someone, regardless of consequences. Even then, you needed to learn fast not to take the word of a banker, a drugs company, or a government; not to board a private plane with assurances of a safe flight to a new home; and not to cross a wooded London park at nightfall, hoping to meet an old colleague and not a shy couple under an umbrella.

        Alec Leamas, the Spy Who Came in from the Cold, made le Carre famous. George Smiley – his brilliant, tattered alter-ego – made le Carre’s literary fortune. He returned to Smiley and his people often, even after he exposed Bill Haydon and defeated Karla. Le Carre moved on to the sunlit uplands of imperfect spies, bureaucratic knife-throwers, and corporate corrupters. That world was closer to home, and more threatening for it.

        David Cornwell wishes he were home in Cornwall. Le Carre, though, paces the library at Smiley’s club, working on another first draft. Smiley sits listlessly in the club dining room – half-listening to Oliver Lacon whinge about his wife leaving him for her pesky riding instructor – wondering who Ann is with tonight. Peter Guillam sits impatiently, his XK rumbling at idle, having been sent for Smiley once more. Toby Esterhase keeps watch.

        • vvv says:

          I credit Le Carre with my spy novel addiction, my international politics interest, and my love of noir, RIP.

          As did so many, I started with *The Spy Who Came in from the Cold*, in my case when when I was in junior high. He, Len Deighton, Heinlein, Asimov, John D. MacDonald, Bill Grainger, Trevanian, and Buckley, Jr. and Dell Shannon … there are now many others.

          I do believe I may go back and re-read him, as I did James Lee Burke a few years ago.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Bill Granger is a keeper. The films of his work were, as usual, pale imitations. He, too, focused on a government often as corrupt and self-dealing as its enemies. An orphaned street kid from the South Side, Peter Devereaux, brilliant and an unexpected linguist, was his guide through the mean streets of Chicago, Switzerland, and Washington, DC.

  7. skua says:

    The wonderful Mr Charles Dickens would, if writing the fictional story of the Trump Aministration, at this point strike Donald down with a stroke that left him comatose until 21 Jan 2021. This would defuse the rising tide of violence threatened by Trump’s base and illustrate the futility of the plans of mice and a very small, corrupt man.

  8. Rapier says:

    Jill Biden could take a lesson from Melania Trump who never played up her Doctorate in Bimbology D.Bim. from the Milan Fashion Institute.

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