While TV Lawyers Wailed Impotently, DOJ Was Acquiring the Communications of Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani, and (Probably) Mark Meadows

Because TV lawyers continue to wail that DOJ isn’t doing enough to investigate Donald Trump, I want to dumb down this post.

While TV lawyers have been wailing impotently that DOJ has been doing nothing to investigate Donald Trump, DOJ and the National Archives have been acquiring the communications behind some of the most damning events leading up to January 6. DOJ has been doing so even as the TV lawyers guaranteed us they would know if DOJ were doing such things, yet insisting that DOJ was not.

Consider just the events leading up to the December 18, 2020 series of meetings at the White House, involving Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani, and Mark Meadows, which some of the same reporters that reported it in real time are reporting as if it were new news.

Sidney Powell

According to the WaPo story on the grand jury investigation into Sidney Powell, a subpoena in that investigation issued in September asked for “communications and other records related to fundraising and accounting” related to Powell’s grift.

Federal prosecutors have demanded the financial records of multiple fundraising organizations launched by attorney Sidney Powell after the 2020 election as part of a criminal investigation, according to a subpoena reviewed by The Washington Post.

The grand jury subpoena, issued in September by the U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Columbia, sought communications and other records related to fundraising and accounting by groups including Defending the Republic, a Texas-based organization claiming 501(c) 4 nonprofit status, and a PAC by the same name, according to the documents and a person familiar with the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details of the probe.

As part of the investigation, which has not been previously reported, prosecutors are seeking records going back to Nov. 1, 2020.

The subpoena reviewed by The Post was signed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Molly Gaston, who is also handling politically charged matters related to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, including contempt of Congress charges brought against former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon for refusing to testify in front of the House committee investigating the pro-Trump riot. [my emphasis]

While the predication of that investigation seems to be based on Powell’s fundraising — soliciting money from dupes who believe her false claims of a stolen election — because proving that she knew those claims were false would require collecting everything about her efforts to manufacture false claims, it would get the communications explaining how to exploit those false claims as well. Plus, this September subpoena reveals just what DOJ did after moving to an overt phase. Prior to that, DOJ presumably obtained — first — preservation orders and — then — warrants on the emails that, according to Patrick Byrne, Powell claims she sent Rudy about her schemes.

On January 21 (a week before Trump started dangling pardons again), Sidney Powell’s lawyer revealed she is “cooperating” in that investigation, though in contemplating “cooperation” with the January 6 committee, she is reserving privilege claims about “advice” to Donald Trump.

A lawyer for Sidney Powell, a well-known, Trump-connected attorney, acknowledged that her organization’s fundraising connected to the 2020 election is subject to an ongoing federal criminal investigation.

Powell’s lawyer, Howard Kleinhendler, told CNN that his client “is cooperating” with the investigation into her organization, Defending the Republic, by the US Attorney’s Office in the District of Columbia. That cooperation includes “rolling productions” of documents.


Still, when the committee asks Powell about communications she had with Trump, that is “going to get a little hairy,” Kleinhendler told CNN.

He said Powell believes that the times Trump called her to ask for legal advice may be covered by attorney-client privilege — even if he never paid her to be his or his campaign’s lawyer. Powell never worked as a lawyer for the former President personally or for the Trump campaign, Kleinhendler said.

“We’ll have to deal with that, and we’ll have to try to discuss with the committee to see how” to handle privilege issues, Kleinhendler said.

Any emails obtained with a non-public warrant would be sent to a taint team that would review Sidney Powell’s privilege claims independently. Of particular interest, after Trump claimed Powell represented him on November 15, 2020, Rudy stated as clearly as he can manage on November 22 that, “Sidney Powell is practicing law on her own. She is not a member of the Trump Legal Team. She is also not a lawyer for the President in his personal capacity.”

With that statement, Rudy effectively waived privilege for any communications implicating both of them from that date forward, long in advance of that December 18 meeting at which Powell purportedly told him about all the communications she sent him in the interim.

Similarly, most of these events post-date the time, November 25, when Powell can credibly claim to be representing Mike Flynn in an effort to nullify the consequences of his lies and foreign agent work, because that’s when Trump pardoned Flynn. So she may want to claim privilege, but after November 25, all visible basis for that claim was affirmatively gone, and for anything seized from her email provider, she’s likely not going to be involved in making that claim anyway.

As I previously noted, the prosecutor in charge of that investigation dropped off three other January 6 prosecutions by March 29 of last year (though there is at least one other investigation, the obstruction investigation into Capitol Police Officer Michael Riley, on which she was also working in the interim).

Gaston originally pulled three January 6 cases in the investigation’s early days, those of Robert Packer, Robert Gieswein, and Derrick Evans, just the latter of which, involving a then-West Virginia state politician, had any possible public corruption component. But, at a time of immense staffing shortages at DC’s US Attorney’s Office, she dropped off those cases on February 18 (in the case of Packer) and March 29 (in the case of Gieswein and Evans). I’ve long wondered what, in the weeks after Merrick Garland came in, became a higher priority for the DC US Attorney’s leading public corruption prosecutor. We now know one thing she picked up in the interim was the prosecution of Michael Riley, the Capitol Police Officer who advised rioter Jacob Hiles to delete Facebook posts about his role in the riot. And by September, Gaston’s grand jury investigation into Sidney Powell’s grift had started taking overt steps like subpoenaing Powell’s nonprofit.

There continue to be some curious moves that suggest DOJ is shifting prosecutorial resources to unseen investigations in fairly urgent fashion.

Rudy Giuliani

Meanwhile, on January 21 (the same day that CNN reported that Powell was “cooperating” in the DOJ investigation, and so also a week before Trump started dangling pardons again), Special Master Barbara Jones reported on the progress of the privilege review of 16 devices seized from Rudy Giuliani on April 28, 2021.

Here’s a summary of what that review and the earlier known seizures of Rudy’s communications in the Ukraine-related investigation into Rudy:

Because of the temporal scope Judge Paul Oetken approved last year, Jones has completed a privilege review of all communications that date between January 1, 2018 through April 28, 2021 on 8 of the devices seized from Rudy (April 28 was the day the devices were seized). We can’t know what dates during which Rudy was using those 8 devices. It could well be that they were older phones with nothing recent.

But we know that of the communications on the phone with the most texts and chats — the phone designated 1B05 — the government received 99.8% of any communications dated between January 1, 2018 and April 28, 2021 and they received those communications no later than January 21.

Of particular note, Rudy at first tried to claim privilege over 56 items from phone 1B05. He thought better of those claims in 19 cases. And then, after Jones deemed 37 of them not to be privileged, he backed off that claim as well. During a period when Jones and Rudy’s team would have been discussing those 37 items, Judge Oetken issued a ruling saying that the basis for any privilege claims (but not the substance of the communications) would have to be public. After precisely the same kind of ruling in the Michael Cohen Special Master review, Trump backed off his claim of privilege for Cohen’s recording about the hush payments. That may be what persuaded Rudy to withdraw his claim of privilege over those materials here, as well.

And whether or not DOJ has already accessed the communications Rudy conducted during 2020 and 2021 on any of the 16 devices seized from him, we know all the phones Rudy was using in April 2021 are in DOJ’s possession and that Judge Oetken has already approved a privilege review to cover those communications.

Mark Meadows

On December 15, the House voted to send the Mark Meadows contempt referral to DOJ for prosecution. Much to the chagrin of the TV lawyers, DOJ has not taken overt action against Meadows on the criminal contempt of Congress referral.

But as I’ve repeatedly argued, that referral is better considered — and would be more useful to the pursuit of justice — as a referral of Mark Meadows for a violation of the Presidential Records Act and obstruction of the DOJ criminal investigation that he knew to be ongoing.

Among the things included in the referral are:

  • A link to this Politico report quoting “a source close to former President Donald Trump’s ex-chief of staff,” insisting that, “all necessary and appropriate steps either were or are being taken” to ensure that Meadows is not deemed to have violated the Presidential Records Act by failing to share Presidential communications he conducted on his personal email and phone
  • Repeated references to Jonathan Swan’s coverage of the December 18 meeting at which Powell and others discussed seizing the voting machines
  • Indication that Meadows received notice on his personal phone (and so among the records withheld in violation of the PRA) the rally might get violent
  • A citation of a message that Meadows turned over to the committee (but presumably not, originally, to the Archives) in which Alyssa Farah urged, “You guys have to say something. Even if the president’s not willing to put out a statement, you should go to the [cameras] and say, ‘We condemn this. Please stand down.’ If you don’t, people are going to die”
  • Citation of several communications Meadows had with state politicians involved in the fake elector scheme (which Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco has confirmed they are investigating), including one where Meadows said, “I love it” and another where he said, “Have a team working on it;” Monaco’s confirmation puts Meadows on notice that his actions are the subject of a federal criminal investigation
  • A claim of election fraud sent to Meadows on his private email (and so among the materials he violated the PRA by withholding)
  • Citation of a tweet Meadows sent on December 21 reporting “‘Several members of Congress just finished a meeting in the Oval Office with President @realDonaldTrump, preparing to fight back against mounting evidence of voter fraud. Stay tuned”
  • Citation of this story describing that Meadows’ late December trip to Georgia to pressure election officials to find more votes could get him in legal trouble; when Fulton County DA Fannie Willis asked for increased protection in the wake of Trump’s calls for riots, she stated explicitly that she was criminally investigating, “former President Donald J. Trump and his associates,” putting Mark Meadows on notice that he’s under criminal investigation there, too

This entire process led Meadows and his attorney to make efforts to comply with the PRA, meaning they’ve been working to provide the communications cited here, as well as those Meadows intended to claim privilege over, to the Archives.

If they can’t comply — and some of the texts in question were sent via Signal, which is really hard to archive, and so may not have been preserved when Meadows sent his own phone back to his provider to be wiped and replaced — then Meadows will not just be in violation of the PRA (which is basically toothless) but also of obstructing the criminal investigation he knew was ongoing when he replaced his phone. Obstruction carries a far stiffer penalty than contempt of Congress does, and it serves as good evidence of involvement in a larger conspiracy.

As Carl Nichols, the Trump appointee presiding over the Steve Bannon criminal contempt case (and therefore likely to preside over one against Meadows if it were ever charged), criminal contempt is for someone from whom you’ve given up getting cooperation, not someone who still might offer useful cooperation.

Meanwhile if Meadows and his lawyer do belatedly comply with Meadows’ obligations under the PRA, it’s quite possible (particularly in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling denying Trump’s attempt to override Joe Biden’s privilege waiver) that DOJ has to do no more to obtain these records than to send a warrant to the Archives. If not, Meadows is now on notice that he is the subject of several criminal investigations (the fake elector one and the Fulton County one), and he may think twice before trying to withhold communications that are already in possession of the Archives.

So whether or not DOJ has these documents in their possession right now, they have the means to get them very easily.

In other words, while TV lawyers have been wailing that DOJ has been doing nothing, DOJ has been acquiring the communications from at least two of the key participants in that December 18 meeting, and the Archives have been acquiring the communications of a third.

203 replies
  1. Art25 says:

    I don’t think it’s the inactivity that TV lawyers are wailing about, it’s the lack of concrete results, i.e. indictments and arrests. Investigations, subpoenas are all well and good, but where are the conclusions and consequences ? I know it takes time to build a watertight case judicially, but politically, only investigating without indicting only pushes the growing fascism in the GOP.

    • rdpayne says:

      Nothing kills momentum like a spectacular failure, please give them time to get it right. TV “journalists” sell drama when they can’t get news, if they can’t find drama they manufacture it.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Exactly. Lawyers who make a living appearing on television are booked by shows that succeed or fail based on ratings. Repetition and unrelieved drama are essential to them. Fortunately, Marcy works to a different standard altogether.

      • Ken Haylock says:

        This statement contains the implicit assumption that the failure to arrest & indict Trump or any of his inner circle of past or present minions for a single bleeping thing despite them criming in plain sight since 2016 & currently organising variously the end of US democracy, a civil war, wielding a mob to obstruct justice & the end of the rule of law on national TV in plain ‘you can see it with the naked eye from 3 galaxies over’ fashion _isn’t_ sufficiently ‘spectacular’ to count as a catastrophic failure you’d want to do everything in your power to avoid.

        I wonder, as a foreign observer, how self-serving OLC opinions retrospectively describing new things that the executive branch or the President can do without breaking the law ever get tested by the US courts. Bill Barr writes an op-ed that says Presidents cannot obstruct justice, later parroted by the OLC, & the OLC then writes an opinion saying nepotism laws don’t apply to presidents or that presidents cannot be indicted [the latter related to Nixon not Trump, but it sure was convenient], & then the DoJ is supposedly bound by it. And then… what? The DoJ cannot indict a sitting president for shooting somebody on 5th avenue, so no court will ever get the opportunity to either affirm or reject that… the President can fire & persecute every law enforcement official that tries to hold them or their minions to account to sabotage or block an investigation, & no court will ever be asked to permit or dismiss a prosecution of a sitting president for doing so…

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Criming in plain sight? Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable, nicely illustrated in Rashomon. Convincing a jury to unanimously agree on conviction for specific crimes usually takes more – a documentary trail, for example, or an 18 1/2 minute gap in a taped conversation – all of which has to be thoroughly vetted.

          Most of us can fuck up and wash egg off our faces and move on, usually without much lasting cost. Not so the DoJ in a case as important as prosecuting a former president and/or his direct reports.

          Outcomes are built on process. Bad process can more easily be derailed. A flawed process can produce a single bad O-ring, dooming a space shuttle. Al Capone can bribe a judge or jury. A MAGA mole on a jury could escape detection, or a cocksure prosecutor could abuse a witness, alienating a jury. The difference is like that between the meticulous research and writing Marcy does vs. the offhand spiels from TV lawyers. The former takes time, but produces more reliable results.

          Finally, criminal prosecution is not a substitute for a community’s political will to seek and demand better performance from its elected representatives. So far, Republicans are getting a free ride for leading an overtly racist, misogynistic, insurrectionist party. That has to change, regardless of who is prosecuted or when.

          • Ken Haylock says:

            Are you saying that Trump & his minions have not committed a single easily proved crime in the last 6 years that you could indict them for?

            • Rayne says:

              Have you been paying attention at all? Did you not understand Cohen’s testimony back in early 2019 when he explained how Trump works?

              Beyond cases like his fraudulent Trump U. class action suit and his fraudulent nonprofit, multiple states and municipalities haven’t nailed him yet along with the feds because he’s used SLAPP-like suits and corrupt practices (looking at Cy Vance and some campaign contributions) to ensure he hasn’t been caught, along with mafioso-type tools.

              This is beginning to change, though, if you’re watching the NYAG, Manhattan DA, Fulton County GA DA, as well as the DOJ. His past weasel works are failing him.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              I’m saying reliable process takes time and resources commensurate with those available to the people being investigated and prosecuted.

              For most of us, that’s not a problem. For the Tom Barracks and Donald Trumps, or the Kochs, DeVoses and Mercers, it’s a big hurdle.

              To Rayne’s important point, Trump is not good at many things, but he is a master manipulator of the damaged people he allows into his inner circle.

                • earthworm says:

                  please have compassion:
                  sad to say, typical Americans are dopes, who’ve been deprived of the basic education to enable them to read multi-syllable words, lengthy sentences, with sub paragraphs, or legal language.
                  (my husband, who isn’t a dope, nevertheless adamantly refuses to read here at this site: “I’m a big picture guy, just give me the conclusions.”)
                  emptywheel deserves a medal for educating those who have arrived here. and yes, for refining our thoughts.
                  a lot of us who come here were dopes, and after exposure to the MO of this site, are led to savvier and better informed POVs, thanks to collective expertise and intellectual patience of management. most of us now know not to mention _ _ _ _!

        • Scott Johnson says:

          Uttered right before revealing he had been corrupted by Sauron, and was seeking the One Ring for himself.

      • Mutaman says:

        We gave Mueller time to get it right-how did that work out? Tell these boy scouts to light the candle already.

    • PieIsDamnGood says:

      Because they are saying things like, “we would hear from people interviewed by a grand jury” and “we would see DOJ going after phone records” and then claiming these things aren’t happening. Marcy is pointing out they aren’t looking in the right places and/or don’t understand the cases DOJ is bringing.

      I too am frustrated, but am trusting Marcy knows what she’s talking about. Her track record is pretty damn good about this stuff.

      • Theodora30 says:

        Jill Wein Banks has talked about how Garland and the DOJ are doing what prosecutors are supposed to do — not allowing their work to leak to the media (unlike the way Ken Starr ran his investigations of Clinton). However just the other day I heard her say the she thinks there is a risk of losing public confidence and that she thinks its time to get a grand jury and start presenting evidence. The public won’t know what is being done but will know that there is a grand jury hearing evidence.
        I think she is right that public trust should not be ignored but that Garland is right to keep quiet about the investigations.

    • Alan K says:

      Even if they don’t go to prison, it’s not a cakewalk for those being investigated. Imagine how your life would be if the FBI and DOJ start asking you for your phone and email records and seize your computer? Or if your name appears in WaPo headlines or EW posts?

      This is why due process is so important. Your life can be ruined. Go talk to someone still in jail for drug “crimes”. Or, more appropriately, talk to someone who was investigated and “cleared”.

    • Desidero says:

      It took Bill Barr about 5 minutes to defang the whole Mueller investigation by spinning the supposed results before he released the reports. Media types will just as likely follow the cue of conservatives for other blatant deception over Trump’s malfeasance rather than dig 20 secons for the actual truth. That’s where we are now.
      In short, investigation + prosecution + PR have to be done careful, or it’ll all whimper out, or else like Iran-Contra, taint the evidence needed through unwise immunity agreements or other gaffes.

  2. Bay State Librul says:

    So, how does one respond to Rob Reiner “Every day that goes by in which Trump remains un-indicted brings US one day closer to the end of our democracy”?

    Hyperbole or “Wow, just…wow!”

      • emptywheel says:

        Sure but Reiner’s complaint–which is excusable in part bc he’s not a lawyer who should know better–is not based on a realistic accounting of how long indicting Trump would or should take.

        • Bay State Librul says:

          How long should it take?
          He should be treated no differently than a fucking, run of the mill, lying sack of shit, felon.
          The law does not say, except for ex-Presidents.

          • Krisy Gosney says:

            I, personally, would rather see Trump (or anyone involved in the planning/execution of stealing the election) be tried and found guilty some time next year than to see Trump be found not guilty this summer.

            • Sandor says:

              If a conflagration is what we should be hoping for — is what we need — to ensure a democracy, then surely it is worth waiting for.

        • Ken Haylock says:

          Thanks to a random YouTube recommendation, I now know that Baltimore DA Marilyn Mosby would like a word. From reading what she did [I don’t think that’s disputed, only whether it’s illegal or not], which amounts to basically ‘did she qualify to make an investment she made with her own tax free retirement money under the CARES act or didn’t she’, the great blind justice system in the US [in the person of the political opponent she beat to get elected no less] has indicted her in treble quick time for doing it, 5 months before her election to remain in office, & she _claims_ that it’s a straight up political hit job because she was just using a close reading of the [so far fairly untested] law in question to her personal advantage, which is what rich people do every day. Is she guilty? No idea, but she faces 20 years max in jail if convicted.

          I mention this because it proves that when law enforcement & the DoJ are properly motivated by something they care about, like an elected prosecutor they all hate who keeps trying to prosecute them for wrongdoing, they can investigate and indict somebody from a standing start in months. What she’s accused of is at worst lfar ess than any one of the vast torrent of financial crime allegations against Trump being investigated in New York.

          Who here would be surprised if the first public official to go to jail for financial crimes under Garland was a black women before the investigation of Trump leads anywhere…

    • Paulka says:

      Why hasn’t Garland moved on the clear obstruction charges from the Mueller report if waiting for a water tight case is the supposed reasoning?

      • bmaz says:

        Come on, that question has been answered here a hundred times. It is not that easy, it is unlikely a unanimous jury would ever convict (which means you do not charge under DOJ policy) and there are far bigger concerns from 1/6.

        • Paulka says:

          Respectfully, you do realize that you are making the case that Trump will never be indicted for anything, right?

          To paraphrase a sociopath: “I could shoot a child in the back on Broadway on the 5 O’clock news and never be indicted”

          • bmaz says:

            No, I am making the case that you are full of shit. When you say “With all due respect to the actual lawyers”, you are saying with all due respect to the rule of law and appropriate DOJ guidelines. This is not the right forum for such unmitigated garbage. You are relatively new here, we are not. Don’t pull that on this community.

            • paulka says:

              Well, isnt that a friendly response to a newcomer. For the record I am very impressed by Ms. Wheeler’s work summarizing this complex situation and I have all the respect in the world for all of the DoJ lawyers building a case against Trump and his gang.

              That being said your previous post points to the problem. Face it, Trump could never be convicted, despite any overwhelming evidence. You could have him say, “I want to illegally overturn the election with a violent coup” and people will not convict him. That is a fact. ~70million Americans voted for him despite him being the worst and most corrupt president we have ever seen. Insult me for pointing out that fact, whatever.
              There was an opportunity after 1/6 to take the fight to Trump-his second impeachment. All of this stuff coming out now should have been his impeachment trial, make him actually defend his lies about voter fraud. The republicans were in disarray in that moment.
              Of course what the DoJ and the 1/6 Commission are doing is important and if they successfully prevent Trump from regaining office in 2024 I will be thrilled.
              I do not believe they will be. The republicans are no longer in disarray, they are organizing and putting into place the necessary voter suppression infrastructure to “legally” elect Trump and failing that the infrastructure to “illegally” elect him in spite of the voter’s intent.
              I too love the thought that the magats are eating each other, but I believe that when push comes to shove come late 2023 when primary season begins and into 2024 when the nominee is chosen, they will fall into line. Republicans do that, they have no shame.

              • Rayne says:

                Thanks for the 285-word tantrum.

                Really tired of nonstop variations on “I WANT CONVICTIONS AND I WANT THEM NOW!!!”

                This is not the place for your demands to be fulfilled. You want the government to deliver? Contact your representative and senators. Recruit other people in your district/state to do the same. Work on getting somebody elected who’ll provide more/better oversight.

              • cmarlowe says:

                ” “I want to illegally overturn the election with a violent coup” and people will not convict him. That is a fact. ~70million Americans voted for him despite him being the worst and most corrupt president we have ever seen.”

                Doesn’t this depend on how a federal jury (in DC I think) would be selected? If what you say is true why wouldn’t all the 1/6 defendants opt for trial instead of pleading guilty? A few that have plead guilty so far will spend several years in federal prison. Federal court conviction rates are quite high I think.

              • Desidero says:

                Newcomers can listen & learn before jumping in with both feet and mouth wide open. This ain’t Twitter.

          • emptywheel says:

            The obstruction charges in the Mueller Report were possible charges, not indictments. Think of them as a basis for impeachment, not indictment.

            It’s possible that SINCE the pardons he delivered on, and WITH the seized materials from Rudy’s phones, they’ll still make that charge. Who knows? But neither the obstruction AS THEY EXISTED when Mueller finished nor the hush payments charge were rock solid.

            • timbo says:

              Can someone with clear knowledge of this sort of thing tell us what would have made such charges of obstruction (by Trump during the Mueller investigation for instance) rock solid then? It’s beyond annoying to be told that something must be rock solid and have no example of what rock solid is exactly… in this particular case, what would have convinced a US attorney that there could be a jury conviction of a President for obstruction? Anything? I mean, they aren’t even allowed to charge him openly charge him under the OLC opinion, correct?

              • Charles Wolf says:

                The plumbers told Nixon it would cost about a million dollars to keep the waterburglars quiet. Nixon said no problem or words to that effect, on the WH audio tape kept by Butterfield. I think he had more than that much in cash in an office safe.
                That was rocksolid evidence.

                • timbo says:

                  How would you get comparable that information today without charging political operatives in the GOP or from within the Trump administration itself? Also, the assumption that one must have a tape or a video before someone can be convicted of a crime seems to mostly only apply to the politically connected in this country—plenty of regular people in this country are charged and convicted of crimes without such heavy evidence present. Basically, it’s clear that Trump was ginning up what happened long before the election of 2020 actually happened in Nov 2020. Then there seems to be some sort of wishful thinking that somehow there isn’t any good evidence Trump and his inner circle…including the other day the GOP censuring Cheney for “aiding Democrats” and then even inserting into the censure the statement that Jan 6 was proper “political discourse”… seems like if we keep assuming there must be concrete evidence of criminal behavior here >well beyond< the obvious and public strong weight of evidence then the Republic is not going to survive much longer with this much corruption and law-breaking at the highest levels of the Republic's political institutions.

  3. skua says:

    The same hour came forth fingers of a human hand, and wrote over against the golden bedlamp upon the velvet embossed wallpaper of Trump’s bedchamber: and Trump saw the part of the hand that wrote, “… some curious moves that suggest DOJ is shifting prosecutorial resources to unseen investigations in fairly urgent fashion.”

    See Daniel 5:6 for what follows.

  4. bawiggans says:

    In view of the airing of current, multiple criminal investigations of his conduct while strutting and fretting in his dream role, it will be interesting to see the outcome of the “moral” calculation Meadows must be making as to whether he should maintain the loyalty Trump bought and paid for last July or save his own skin. My bet is that the million bucks has been grievously devalued by the inflationary effects of immanent prison time on the price of loyalty.

  5. Al Ostello says:

    Brilliant article, thank you Marcy Wheeler!

    I submit this alternative headline, “Dear TV LAWYERS, Get schooled before you flap your lips in front of a camera (do a little homework or simply read this blog to up your game)”


  6. Badger Robert says:

    Trump hollered. Both the states and feds are getting close.
    Meadows, Powell and the others have a huge exposure and don’t have the grift access that Trump still maintains.
    The TV attorneys are not thinking strategically, and they are not thinking about evidence.
    The other lawyers can correct me, but real lawyers think about procedure, pre trial disclosures, and evidence, much more than about TV.
    And finally, Ms Wheeler’s mention of Asst AG Monaco is significant. That’s where the emphasis lies. And attorney Monaco did make a limited, but authorized disclosure.
    The truth is usually written, and the spoken word is always incomplete.

    • Al Ostello says:

      Correct. And, most importantly TV lawyers usually don’t tell the public this basic fact…stated clearly on the DOJ website:

      “In general, the Department of Justice does not publicly announce investigations or investigative findings. There are several reasons for this policy. Announcing an investigation of some civil or criminal violations could make it more difficult to obtain witness cooperation or gather evidence.”

        • Al Ostello says:

          I will be honest. I know these careful investigations can take 2+ years (example: dozens of Nixon’s Watergate crooks.)

          Some nights I go to bed in distress because of Tangerine Palpatine’s latest absurdities. Nightmares are not fun. A living nightmare since 2016 is difficult. To date his only real punishment has been his twitter account was shut down.

          I know he is likely to feel a lot of pain this year. But I fear everyone is afraid to be the first to indict him. Come on Georgia AG, please do it now.

          I wonder if citizens can sue this face painted, out in the open criminal for years of pain and distress?

          • bmaz says:

            What is “Tangerine Palpatine”? Does it give you jollies to blurt that out? And, no, citizens cannot up and sue Trump for their “pain and distress”.

            • Al Ostello says:

              “Tangerine Palpatine” is something from Steven Colbert. It’s one of my most fav descriptions of Trump. ty

                • Scott Johnson says:

                  In Star Wars fandom, there is a (joke) theory that Sheev Palpatine, far from being the powerful Sith Lord he is portrayed as, and primary antagonist of the Star Wars universe, is in fact a front for the real power behind the throne…

                  …that being Jar Jar Binks.

                  In the case of Trump, that seems appropriate.

            • Frank Anon says:

              Aren’t the 7 police officers suing trump claiming pain and suffering in paragraph 10 of their complaint?

            • punaise says:

              Beg to differ on the monikers at this point. I came around to your reasoned position of eschewing silly and derogative names for The Former Guy while he was still the current guy – less out of respect for the office be was sullying, more to take the high road in a serious* (and fairly widely read?) forum. I get that your mileage varies.

              *(present company excepted)

              • Ginevra diBenci says:

                Agreed. The problem with such nicknames is that they serve only to call attention to the writer’s wit, thereby undermining whatever point was being made, as well as the premise that what we are doing here is interacting–not performing.

                • Ginevra diBenci says:

                  I understand why my comment is under moderation. It is humorless and didactic. I failed to mention that there are wonderful occasions when our discussions here become play–wordplay especially–and participants (those who dare) try to turn the screw on their own wit to bring it to the highest level.

                  That is still, however, interactive. By its very nature.

                  [No idea why your comment went into moderation, sorry. Something in it tripped the security algorithm. You’ll note it’s been freed. /~Rayne]

            • Terry Mroczek says:

              Maybe fraud for soliciting donations based on the big lie? Or the mountains of others lies he has used to get people to give him money?

          • Paulka says:

            The one insurmountable problem is that it will take one secret magat on the jury and voila no conviction. Everyone should be prepared for Trump to never be indicted.

            • Scott Johnson says:

              One interesting question on the DoJ’s “charging threshold” concerning the requirement that prosecutors have essentially a slam-dunk case before seeking an indictment:

              Does this only consider the strength of the evidentiary record, or does it take into account the resources and stature of the defendant? A longstanding complaint with the DOJ is that Rich White Men Get Away With It. Does a suspect’s ability to retain top-flight defense counsel, to intimidate witnesses, to corrupt the jury pool (let alone one who has tens of millions of armed supporters who might be riled up) play a role in a charging decision?

            • Leoghann says:

              Their decision to indict is based on evidence and, thus, the strength of the case against the miscreant. Juror malfeasance and jury selection incompetence are not taken into account for obvious reasons.

              But hey, you’ve done a great job of creating your own personal Catch 22. Does that mean you’ll declare your irredeemable bitching a lost cause, and keep it to yourself?

              • Scott Johnson says:

                [response deleted; for some reason thought the above comment was addressed to me[

                [I’m removing this comment in 5 minutes to reduce clutter in this thread. /~Rayne]

              • paulka says:

                I guess that was addressed to me. Ok, when I do get to tell you I told you so? May 2022? January 2023? January 2024? November 2024? January 2025? I can wait, I have all the time in the world!

                • JohnForde says:

                  Paulka, why do you eschew probabilistic assessments? You are declaring TDFG will never be indicted. I would put the probability of at least one indictment at over 90%. If TDFG is never indicted he hit my unlucky 10%. If he is indicted you are pants- less.
                  And conviction. People who read and post on this blog are well aware that one MAGA juror could spoil a prosecution. Professional prosecutors know this too and have counter strategies to screen in an impartial jury. Do you have expertise in this field you would care to contribute?

  7. JohnForde says:

    “There continue to be some curious moves that suggest DOJ is shifting prosecutorial resources to unseen investigations in fairly urgent fashion.”

    This is the tastiest line I have read in 2022.

    • Peterr says:

      Somewhere, that line strikes fear into someone’s heart. Or, more likely, several someones.

      Be afraid, fellas. Be very afraid.

  8. BobCon says:

    “Citation of several communications Meadows had with state politicians involved in the fake elector scheme”

    Since email/texts in one person’s account can be a very incomplete record of a multiparty discussion, is there a strong reason to think obtaining messages from Meadows implies a parallel move toward the accounts of people on the other sides of his conversations?

    I’m very much unaware of how these things progress — if the net is quickly cast wider, or if there is a lengthy process involving warrants or other forms of approval that would tend to limit expansive following of leads.

    • timbo says:

      It’s very interesting the intersection between Hatch Act and PRA violations we seem to have going on here.

  9. Doctor My Eyes says:

    I scanned through this post for exciting tidbits. I didn’t notice any “gotcha” moments or “knockouts”. It all seems very complicated with a lot of boring details and a lot of names to remember. What I wonder is why, when everyone knows they committed crimes, they don’t just put them in prison.

    • Rayne says:

      Jesus Christ on a pogo stick, thanks so much for letting us know you’re right there with TV lawyers in your impatience and lack of attention.

        • JohnForde says:

          Yes DME, I did a double take at your name and that comment. I don’t recall you saying stupid shit previously.
          Comedy is hard.
          “Jesus Christ on a pogo stick”, however, is first rate comedic imagery.

          • Doctor My Eyes says:

            Thanks. I should be old enough to have learned, but I always think people will get it. And now my kids do it to me, say something shocking, then “I was just kidding, Dad.”

            I always think that when idiotic things are spelled out plainly, it will be obvious to everyone how idiotic they are. I’ve seen enough examples in my life that I should know better.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Nor I. Especially for those reading this on a mobile device, please use a phrase or word or emoji that makes your use of sarcasm more explicit. That way, we can avoid a dozen comments about a peripheral topic. ;-)

        • Rayne says:

          No, actually, we get a lot of remarks like the one you left but yours cleared moderation because it wasn’t quite fruit batty or swear-y enough to hit the perma-bin.

          • Doctor My Eyes says:

            Heh, ducked in just below the fruit batty bar, did I?

            Sorry for the blood pressure rush. I don’t envy you the job.

            • James Sterling says:

              Your first comment just generated a hearty guffaw on my part. I guess I’m not in a serious enough mood today. But, thanks for the laugh.

        • blueedredcounty says:

          I think this might be considered sarchasm – the gap between wit and people comprehending it.

      • JohnForde says:

        1. Under the rule of law we can’t “just put them in prison”. They have to be prosecuted and convicted.
        2. Once in prison, we want them to stay there.

        • Paulka says:

          One unspoken issue is that the longer this drags out the more untouchable Trump becomes. With all due respect to the actual lawyers, this is a unique situation in the history of our country, a true existential threat-maybe only matched by the Civil War in it’s dangerous potential. People don’t seem to realize that. And I’m sorry, but the answer may not be in the courts or even congress despite all their good works. While lawyers are chasing secrets the coup continues unabated setting up the structure for Trump to win reelection “legally” through voter suppression or “illegally” by a more effective 2020 scheme.

          I have contemplated that the answer may lie in the military’s code of military justice. Trump was C-in-C and IMO could be tried by a military tribunal for treason or insurrection. Quick, swift assured justice is what the nation needs.

    • PieIsDamnGood says:

      I’ve translated your post so the sarcasm is clear.

      i sCANNed thrOuGH thIs PoSt for excitinG tIdBitS. I dIDN’t NotiCE AnY “GOtCHa” MoMeNTs OR “KNockouTS”. It aLL sEeMS vErY COmpLiCAted with a lOT of BOriNG detAiLS AND A Lot oF NaMES tO REMEMBER. what I wonDER is whY, WHen EveRyOne knoWs tHey CoMmitTeD cRiMEs, theY dON’t JuST puT them IN PRiSon.


      (/s works as well)

      • Doctor My Eyes says:

        My apologies for taking up so much space with a bit of silliness, but since it has received attention, I want to say that I was making a point. Like science, the law is complex and, as with science, superficial readings and gut level intuitions are useless. Our country runs on the fuel of stimulation, constantly renewed. Legal discovery is a boring business demanding careful reading, attention to detail, and—most challenging of all—willingness to know for certain only what has been proved. These things will not be found on tv, nor in much popular press. If they are, many will treat them as described in my comment. (The word “knockout” is a reference to a pet peeve: analysis of political debates based on the shallow notion of whether anyone scored a knockout.)

        Sorry to have been opaque.

          • Norskeflamethrower says:

            I likewise got it as sarcasm.

            [Hey Norske — do us all a favor by double checking your username and email address when you comment next. I’ve edited it but your username showed up as “Norskeflamethrower” and your email address was missing a letter. The system may treat you like a sockpuppet if not caught. Thanks. /~Rayne]

        • vvv says:

          As said, “/s” at the end helps, altho’ [blowing on my fingernails] *I* was *pretty* sure of the sarcasm. /s.

    • FL Resister says:

      Your sarcasm could also be dirt in the eyes of the moderators who have to read the shit they spare the rest of us.

  10. Jimmy Anderson says:

    Thank you very much for ‘dumbing down’ your previous post Ms Wheeler.
    I for one, very much appreciate this – and all the work you are doing.

  11. Rugger9 says:

    We also have the reports that Pence’s staff are so incensed by the manipulations and insults by Individual-1 that they are talking as well to the J6SC and other investigators. The ranks of MAGA world are not cohesive, even if the GQP congressional delegation marches in lockstep. Someone is going to rat out the others, it’s a matter of time and pressure.

    This pressure is being ratcheted up by DoJ and the J6SC. When one goes after Individual-1, it needs to be when no one can or will help him and one had better not miss. That takes time and homework.

  12. Doctor My Eyes says:

    I have no way of knowing how much of the following thinking is pure paranoia, but one concern I have is what pressures, perhaps more immediately frightening than life in prison, are being applied from hidden sources, Russian criminals, say, to take one random example. Right or wrong, my overview of the current battles is of US institutions vs. foreign attempts to destroy them. Constitutional, legal criminal investigations develop more delicately than criminal coercion. Which is to say, I am sympathetic with the feelings of impatience but not with childish demands for results obtained carelessly.

    • rip says:

      Lots of forces that want to wreak havoc on the US. Some are the fox/limbaugh-trained nuts and, of course the foreign enemies; but some are likely the very benefactors of the “US Way Of Life” – the multi-millionaires/billionaires that think they are so smart that they can re-engineer a country/world with their brilliance – come what may. They won’t stick around to help bury the dead.

  13. Overshire says:

    Nice write-up in Politico yesterday about FBI chief Wray’s speech at the Reagan Library. https://www.politico.com/news/2022/02/01/wray-fbi-jan-6-protests-00004119
    When asked about the allegations that DOJ is being softer on BLM rioters than the 1/6 crowd, his response was delicious:
    “In the Jan. 6 instance, it happened in broad daylight and was … photographed extensively, people’s faces eminently visible, and involved a fairly unmistakable breach and entry into the Congress while they were in the middle of conducting one of their most sacred responsibilities. Contrast that from a lot of what we saw over the summer was happening under cover of darkness, with people’s faces concealed, often attacking buildings that might not be federal property, in some cases a courthouse, but not while people were in operation.”
    Basically, the MAGAnauts are getting worse outcomes because they were dumb enough to boastfully live-blog their crimes on Facebook, a point that’s been made here more than once. Thought y’all might appreciate knowing the Director of the FBI is on the same page.

    • Rayne says:

      Not impressed by that response at all. Wray’s implication is that BLM protesters who exercised their First Amendment rights are one and the same with persons who rioted and caused damage after dark while masked.

      I mean, tell me you’re white without telling me you’re white when you can’t see this conflation.

      • cmarlowe says:

        “…mean, tell me you’re white without telling me you’re white when you can’t see this conflation.”

        Call me whatever color you want, but no I don’t see the conflation here. Wray specifically referred to people who “attacked buildings…”, etc., not the fairly widespread peaceful BLM protesting.

        • Rayne says:

          Yeah, I noticed you completely missed your own conflation when you wrote, “When asked about the allegations that DOJ is being softer on BLM rioters than the 1/6 crowd, his response was delicious” because you went right over it without any hesitation.

          Which tells me you have no skin in this, you’ll be just fine no matter what the FBI/DOJ do to anybody they deem BLM — agents provocateur dressed like black bloc or citizens protesting police abuse.

          • cmarlowe says:

            “Yeah, I noticed you completely missed your own conflation when you wrote, “When asked about the allegations that DOJ is being softer on BLM rioters than the 1/6 crowd, his response was delicious” because you went right over it without any hesitation”

            What are you talking about?? – I never wrote that – LOL, you are conflating me with Overshire. Your take on my politics is more than bizarre.

            • Rayne says:

              Sorry for the confusion, but you’re as blind as Overshire to the problem.

              ADDER: It’s really easy for white people to miss when the conflation is made between BLM and “rioters” when law enforcement makes NO effort to distinguish them. It was obvious to anybody who understood what was at stake for BIPOC Americans who it was doing the damage and why.

              Example A: https://www.startribune.com/police-umbrella-man-was-a-white-supremacist-trying-to-incite-floyd-rioting/571932272/

              Example B: https://abcnews.go.com/US/turning-point-black-lives-matter-organizers-wing-backlash/story?id=72863444

              Further, it’s really goddamned convenient the Russian influence operation which ratcheted racial tension by way of agents provocateur masquerading as BLM and anti-BLM has now been completely and utterly forgotten when FBI’s Wray is asked about violent protests and their genesis.

              • Vinnie Gambone says:

                Don’t doubt for a second RU agent procatuers insert themselves, but it is something I want to believe is true. Is there anyway we know it’ is true?

              • cmarlowe says:

                Thanks for the explanation. So you are saying that whenever a public official addresses, for example, the arson, looting, etc. that occurred in Portland they should emphasize that a much larger component of the George Floyd related protests have been lawful, that false flag incitement may be a factor where violence has occurred, and also add a reminder as to why these protests are occurring. Yes?

                • Rayne says:

                  Gee, I can’t imagine why a law enforcement agency would want to point out that the George Floyd/BLM protests were related to systemic abuses by law enforcement targeting BIPOC.

                  But yes. Beginning with DOJ and FBI, this country will never resolve its racism and inherent racialized abuse of citizens until it openly owns it and clearly characterizes citizens’ expression of their civil rights as legal, normal from criminal behavior.

                • Scott Johnson says:

                  It should be noted that the violent elements of Portland protests were a small band of mostly-white anarchists, not the city’s African-American community.

                  Of course, said anarchists often touted police mistreatment of Blacks as a key causi belli, even though much of their conduct was more geared to opposing capitalism or whatnot (often by doing things such as smashing storefront windows). This was justified by the outrageous-but-you-gotta-admit-true claim that as white guys, they could battle the Portland cops in the street and live to tell about it.

                  But “BLM attacked a federal courthouse in Portland, that’s no different than 1/6” has been a go-to whine for the Right for the past year, and Director Wray does point out the flaw in that argument, even if his own words blur the line between peaceful protest, rowdy protest, and violence/rioting.

                  • Rayne says:

                    There’s ample video out there of the feds in Portland provoking protesters and anarchists including spraying an unknown chemical agent at the crowd.

                    The question should be what purpose did it serve during unlawfully appointed Chad Wolf’s tenure for DHS personnel to agitate protesters and anarchists in Portland. Was the intent to plant the idea that “antifa” was problematic everywhere so that Trump could invoke the Insurrection Act and use federal resources to shut down the Capitol on January 6? If so, the plan to overturn the election went as far back as May/June 2020.

                    And after all this damned time in office, Wray shouldn’t be blurring lines as he has.

                    • Scott Johnson says:

                      My assumption is that Trump was basically trying for a repeat of 2016 (and 1968)–stoke urban violence, frighten suburban whites into voting for the law-and-order candidate, and that this wasn’t about 1/6. Trump seems to fly by the seat of his pants too much, and 1/6 seems a hasty reaction to losing the election, not a well-rehearsed contingency plan.

                      The trouble with Trump’s strategy was a) he was the incumbent; blaming his opponent for the lawlessness on his own watch is kind of a hard sell; and b) Joe Biden, to his credit, didn’t take the bait and throw his base under the bus in an attempt to appeal to the sort of suburban whites who might be frightened by such stuff.

                      I do expect, in the summer of 2024, to see a lot more urban unrest of course, much of it provoked by the usual suspects. With Biden as the incumbent, it might work better.

                      And getting back to 1/6… with the ridiculous shows of force guarding things like the Lincoln Memorial in the summer of 2020, the stunning lack of security in and around the Capitol looks even more suspicious.

                    • P J Evans says:

                      Plus the unmarked officers in unmarked vans grabbing people off the street and holding them overnight without charges or anything else required by law.

                • Rayne says:

                  Soledad O’Brien tweeted the relationship Zucker had was an open secret. Why wasn’t he forced out sooner?

                  But that’s the least of his sins. He owns Trump’s squatting in the White House as much as Fox News does.

                  • BobCon says:

                    Katie Couric wrote about Zucker and Gollust in her book last year, and how he pressured her to hire Gollust years ago.

                    There is more to this story, but it’s already pretty disturbing how none of this was covered by other outlets when it was obvious Zucker was carrying water for Trump and then the Cuomos. Reporters not even addressing the possibility of a network chief messing with news due to blackmail is malpractice.

                    • Rayne says:

                      It’s right there under our noses now, how Zucker could be ‘persuaded’ to not only make Trump look like a success (which he wasn’t) with The Apprentice, but CNN’s years of unreported donation-in-kind with excessively generous, uncritical coverage.

                      Zucker was compromised by his relationship with Gollust.

          • Overshire says:

            White? Guilty, as charged. I’m old, too, if you’d like another stereotype to swing. But I know words mean things, and I usually try to be careful about how I use them. Could I have phrased that more precisely? Absolutely. But I was still on my first coffee, this audience (mostly) knows the script, and I was still laughing at the enormity of that ellipsis in the Wray quote. Imagining the thought bubble over his head as he paused, I was enjoying the idea of the Administration and patrons of the Reagan Library being told to their faces that 1/6 rioters are drawing more convictions not because they’re Republicans, or Trumpists, or white, or the FBI’s biased. It’s because they purposely gift-wrapped all the necessary evidence for their convictions, complete with time-stamped video, and posted it to Facebook. In other words, they’re going to jail because they’re FUCKING STUPID!

            I am not oblivious to the right wing’s dishonest framing of the BLM protests, but I didn’t expect to need to point it out to anyone here, either. You have that ground thoroughly and convincingly covered, and thank you. I wasn’t trying to describe the big picture, just giggling at a detail in the corner. I’ll do better.

        • cmarlowe says:

          I believe Rayne was referring to conflation of peaceful vs. non-peaceful BLM protests, not conflation of the objectives of BLM and the objectives of the 1/6 insurrectionists. I don’t think there is any difference of opinion here on that.

      • Badger Robert says:

        On the summer riots, the FBI doesn’t even know if the so called rioters represented any political cause, instead of just being hooligans on their own hook. They could have been crisis actors.

        • Dopey-o says:

          IIRC, 94% of BLM protests were not associated with violence. (Sorry, no source.)
          OTOH, 100% of Jan 6 protests involved violence, illegal entry, property destruction and attacks on police.

        • Rugger9 says:

          Several of the rioters (as opposed to protestors) were identified as off-duty police officers including by video. In addition, the fixation of then-AG Barr was clearly on what was known as “Antifa” and the dirty bleeping hippies of the left. There was a complete blind eye to the ‘militias’ including whether there was a problem with military and police membership.

          These connections played a key role in the protests because of the frequently documented collaboration and kid-glove treatment of armed RW types by the police. I will be impressed when the ones that conducted the summary execution are prosecuted for Reinoehl’s murder in Portland.

          • Scott Johnson says:

            Reinoehl was gunned down by the cops in suburban Tacoma WA, not Portland; but according to multiple witnesses they made no serious attempt to detain him.

            • Rugger9 says:

              He was the one blamed for violence in PDX, so thanks for the correction. And, as you noted, there was no attempt to detain him for trial, and FWIW, Individual-1 relished in the bloodshed.

              • Scott Johnson says:

                There’s little doubt he pulled the trigger, killing a Proud Boy, in an incident which is kind of the mirror image of Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha.

                But whereas KR got treated essentially like a “deputy” by the Kenosha cops, and then acquitted in a farce of a trial, the police in the Northwest made quite sure that Reinoehl would never face a jury.

        • Krisy Gosney says:

          Why is there not an Oscar category for best crisis actor, male and female (and best supporting crisis actor, and best crisis actor in a reoccurring guest role, etc? Best supporting crisis actor in a comedy or musical?) If the CT’s are true then these are some phenomenally talented actors.

  14. Riktol says:

    In the article by Bryne you linked in the previous post, he states that Trump made Powel a Special Counsel and gave her Top Secret security clearance. Assuming (and given that he appears to be a frothy nutjob I consider this highly unlikely) his account is correct, or at least vaguely correct, could Powel use that appointment to claim Attorney Client privilege over communications with Trump? Isn’t the client of a Special Counsel the US government?

    Trump sighed, and wearily said to Cipollone, “You know Pat? A few minutes ago you said that I can do it just by saying it. Well…. OK. I have decided, now I’m saying it. ‘Sidney Powell is hereby appointed as White House Special Counsel’. There, that’s it.”


    Sadly and defiantly, President Trump looked at his three lawyers and said, “I hereby grant Sidney Powell a Top Secret security clearance.”

    • WilliamOckham says:

      Byrne may be the quintessential unreliable narrator. He manages to play picaro, madman, clown,
      and naïf, all in one narrative about that meeting.

        • drouse says:

          I got the same impression. But what struck me as really polishing Trump’s apple was this:

          “As we parted he said, “You know, in 200 years there probably has not been a meeting in this room like what just happened…”. As he was leaving he brushed past me, stopped, and speaking low and quiet, said something quite kind and meaningful, showing me that he knew a lot more about me than I had guessed.”

          I could probably come up up with something less likely for Trump to say but I would have to really work at it.

          • Leoghann says:

            Kind and meaningful had to be the Bizarro Trump. Although Byrne’s whole load of crap reads like something by Ayn Rand, with the fawning, heroic descriptions.

  15. Ed Walker says:

    I’m pretty sure the TV Lawyers will need a further dumbing-down; this one has a lot of words and links and quotes and stuff.

    • Rayne says:

      Really might need information mapping techniques to get through to them — limit information into discrete chunks, 7-10 words a sentence, add graphics.

      Literally draw them pictures at this point:

      [Image-1: photo of Sidney Powell] This is Sidney.
      [Image-2: collage of texts and emails] These are her documents.
      [Image-3: dark-suited agents carrying boxes to dark sedans] THE FEDS HAVE THEM.

      • blueedredcounty says:

        I’m thinking it’s going to take BAM! and WHAMMO! graphics from the 60’s Batman TV series to get it down to their current level.

      • Leoghann says:

        Dick and Jane Face the Insurrection (ages 5-8):

        Look, Jane, look!
        There is a man with a red hat and a funny yellow flag!

        Oh my, Dick! Oh my, my!
        Look at the men in orange!
        They are such good fiends.
        Now they are marching!
        Dick, why do the men march like that?
        Those men have their hands on each other’s shoulders!

        Oh, Jane! There is a fat man with a red face!
        He has a bull horn.
        He talks loud! He is angry!

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      A related topic that the authoritarian right has been working on since the 1950s, when a more liberal S.Ct. denied public funds to parochial, largely Catholic, schools. Today’s movement is more directly designed to create a fascist, authoritarian society:

      [S]chools are being targeted as part of a plan to delegitimize the secular democratic public sphere. That’s why Pompeo and so many others want an exodus from public schools. It’s part of right-wing authoritarianism.


      • Rugger9 says:

        I don’t mind the exodus so much as their insistence that my tax dollars have to foot all of their bills for nothing in return. It’s similar to the fundamental issue with the charters being generally unaccountable to any standards, educational or otherwise.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Charters should never receive tax dollars. Period. Nor parochial schools. But we no longer have the S.Ct. we had before Republican appointees gutted its standards.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            I should revise that. UC Berkeley Law’s Dean, Erwin Chemerinsky, among others, has pointed out how bad the S.Ct. has frequently been for democracy and civil rights.

            But for a brief period that matches the lived experience of baby boomers, but not many of their children and grandchildren – post-WWII until the Reagan era – we had a progressive court. Simultaneously, we had progressive educational and economic policies that made life more secure for average Americans. We’ve lost both.

            • bmaz says:

              Erwin is incredible. And some of his thoughts and words have been here for a very long time. Tonight, he did some kind of thing with our friend Cynthia Kouril, aka LooseHeadProp for the old timers, for a New York Federal Bar thing. I tried to digitally loop in, but was unsuccessful. Maybe it will be available as a link later.

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                For PJ, Cynthia Kouril, like Marcy, is a former rugby player. Her moniker refers to a position in the scrum.

                “The props “prop up” the hooker in the scrum…. They form part of the front row of the scrum and push against the opposition’s props. The loosehead prop is positioned to the left of the hooker and their head will be on the outside of the scrum when it engages. The tighthead is to the right of the hooker with their head positioned between the opposition hooker and the opposition loosehead prop.”

                More than most positions in rugby, it is not for the faint of heart [emph. added].


                • Rugger9 says:

                  Some of my best rugby friends were props. I mostly played scrum half but also hooked and did loose forward duty in the pack. It was the wing’s responsibility to get dates for the props though…

  16. Retired guy says:

    It is an interesting contrast of world views among us who want to see justice for the perpetrators of the horrible J6 event.

    In the month after the breach, I suffered rage and anxiety, but, given the scale of the challenge, revived my dormant career skills of wading into massive uncertain datasets, and, with stoic discipline, build and try to communicate a model of is likely happening. When I found the DoJ publishes documents about each arrest and indictment, and wonderful researchers like Dr, Wheeler shared results of their PACER diggings that include defense filings, I relaxed, having found a compact , consistent set of information (not necessarily facts, but disciplined legal filings), and slowly waded in. I spend too much time on it, “doing my own research” but it works a little like zen meditation, keeping me from the rage. It gives me a basis for evaluating media analysis and commentary, and for interacting with my spouse and social media friend’s impatient rage. I see meaningful progress each week.

    It is possible I have shifted a few supporters of the former president, among my friends, to “oh some bad people actually did some very dangerous things, and they need to pay.” Indictments of the next level (creeps that nobody acrually respects) maybe another workable shift. Success is not a lot of guilty verdicts, but a solid majority of citizens repudiating the former president, as a dangerous criminal. It took a while, but my dad finally,,firmly renounced Nixon, and for a few years, the Republican Party.

    While I’m being optimistic, the J6 Select Committee is making remarkable progress. The next public hearings are likely to be powerful instruments in this necessary “opinion of Nixon” shift. Also, we appear to have a perfect constitution of this committee; I have a theory McConnell knew a fully “bipartisan” effort could not be effective in bringing the former president down, with all the obstruction by members on his side of the aisle. McConnell may have personally scuttled the hoped for “bipartisan” approach in favor of a more effective effort, with some credible Republican support. Kevin McCarthy appears to have misread his opportunity to muck it up from the inside. It is interesting that a lot of Republican insiders have given depositions to Cheney, Kinzinger and investigators who were previously Republican appointed US Attorneys. Those who refuse, may say they don’t respect the witch hunt, but a few of them appear to be hiding criminal acts. McConnell did not act to bring down the former president, but will happily note when a lot of the former president’s voters repudiate TFG. This may take a while, but it is necessary and appears inevitable. We need to welcome the people who figure out they were duped, gently back into the real world.

    What a grand puzzle. Thank you, Dr. Wheeler for the many lessons and source material.

    • Fran of the North says:

      McConnell is the ultimate power politician.

      Why bloody your own knife when you can pull the levers of power and have others do the dirty work for you?

      If McConnell visibly works against Trump, MAGAs everywhere rise against him. If he just lets the investigation roll, some of the wackos in his party get taken down a notch, or in a best case scenario, get indicted.

      Any of those work against and weaken Trump and provide support for a “We need to move on for the good of the party” moment.

  17. Tom R. says:

    Not everyone considers the Presidential Records Act to be “basically toothless”.

    Presidential records and federal records belong to the United States government.


    The bottom line here is simple. Destroying or stealing documents belonging to the United States government is a crime. Destroying or stealing documents to cover up another crime, or activity that may be under investigation, is also a crime. Lying about what happened to missing documents is yet another crime. A departing federal official may take personal property from the office but no more. That includes perhaps some family photos – and of course that red cap. But everything else stays where it is. Anyone who doesn’t understand that could end up staying with the government a lot longer than anticipated or desired.

    That passage is quoted from Richard Painter, formerly chief ethics lawyer in the White House Counsel’s office.

    Once upon a time, we expected presidents to hold themselves to a higher standard than ordinary folks. In contrast, it is widely reported that TFG violated the PRA on an epic scale, brazenly, and almost everybody just shrugs it off. This seems like a very bad sign.

    It makes an interesting contrast with the way they went after Hillary Clinton, Andrew McCabe, Gregory Craig, and Michael Sussman.

    • BobCon says:

      That article includes a quote from a DOJ document that explains why prosecutions are rare, though.

      “There are several important aspects to this offense. First, it is a specific intent crime. This means that the defendant must act intentionally with knowledge that he is violating the law.”

      The reality is that proving intent regarding this is hard. It’s possible someone was dumb and has a panicky text exchange preserved somewhere plotting out which data they need to destroy, but in practice prosecuting someone under this act who throws a phone in an incinerator is extremely hard.

      This also gives a sense of how hard it is to get a court to require a White House to follow the PRA.


      • Jimmy Anderson says:

        And possibly why Mark Meadows is currently scrabbling around for previously (deliberately?) unsubmitted records – as Ms Wheeler points out.

      • Tom R. says:

        It might help to consider a more challenging example.

        Suppose it isn’t a moment of panic, but longstanding habit. Suppose it isn’t an extemporaneous ill-considered text, but an official document. Suppose it isn’t as simple as trashing a phone, but ripping a document to confetti, throwing it on the floor, and walking on it.

        Is that a hard case? What makes it hard? How did Richard Painter get this wrong?

  18. obsessed says:

    And that’s not the half of it! Football season doesn’t even start till September, and those silly pessimistic TV lawyers have already begun whinging that Lucy will pull the pigskin away just as Charlie Brown is finally about to boot one right between the old uprights.

  19. Spencer Dawkins says:

    I think I understand why Trump never paying Powell to be his lawyer is problematic, but what really confuses me is what to do with this :

    “Of particular interest, after Trump claimed Powell represented him on November 15, 2020, Rudy stated as clearly as he can manage on November 22 that, “Sidney Powell is practicing law on her own. She is not a member of the Trump Legal Team. She is also not a lawyer for the President in his personal capacity.””

    So if Rudy’s statement is supposed to mean something about who is on Trump’s legal team, and if Trump (as reported in the press) isn’t paying Rudy, what are we supposed to do with that statement, in the context of deciding whether Powell is actually an attorney for Trump? Was RUDY a Trump attorney???

    I’m more pleased at the ability to read these posts every. Single. Day.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I’d be more worried about the probable absence of any kind of engagement letter, covering scope of work, compensation, use of funds, etc.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Verbal engagement arrangements must wreak havoc with malpractice insurance, not to mention clients, because when things go pear-shaped, clients forget what they’ve agreed to.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      It’s more Russian-style chaos. Rudy is, at best, an agent of Trump – though not necessarily his lawyer. Trump is the principal. Normally only the principal can determine who he’s hired as his agent.

      Rudy’s disavowal that Powell was Trump’s agent may not be the final word. If there’s no detrimental reliance on Rudy’s statement, Trump’s failure to correct it – if false – may not preclude him from disavowing Rudy’s statement that Powell was not Trump’s agent.

      As usual with Trump, he relies on chaos and inconsistency to enable him to bob and weave, either to opportunistically admit or avoid the truth.

  20. Eureka says:

    Hrm, did he choose “Rehab”?:

    Deadline Hollywood: “EXCLUSIVE: Rudy Giuliani was last week unmasked as an exiting costumed contestant in the taping of the first episode of #TheMaskedSinger. We hears that as soon as they saw Giuliani, judges Ken Jeong & Robin Thicke quickly left the stage in protest https://t.co/6b1rGi3k2Z
    7:10 PM · Feb 2, 2022

    “When there’s not enough time to do Dancing With The Stars”…

  21. Bay State Librul says:

    “All it takes is faith and trust… Oh! And something I forgot: Dust. Just a little bit of pixie dust.”
    ―Peter Pan

    I am out of pixie dust until Garland indicts Trump.
    The 1/6 Commission has been the only bright light since Garland is no Bobby Kennedy.
    We need a strong Attorney General, not one looking for perfection.
    He seems like a person who grew up with a dot matrix printer.
    He should buy a HP OfficeJet Pro 9015e Wireless Color All-in-One Printer with bonus 6 months Instant ink. and send this memo to the citizens.
    Today, I have empaneled a “Return to Democracy Grand Jury”

  22. Frank says:

    Oh duh, I just realized why Fani explicitly stated Trump was under criminal investigation. So that it’s clear that any acts of obstruction of justice perpetrated from then on, could more easily be prosecuted because now Trump can’t deny he knew he was under investigation. I wonder if anyone’s smart enough to tell Trump to STFU?

  23. Ginevra diBenci says:

    Yes, for the record, it is Fani Willis, not Fannie or Fanni. I made myself look it up to resolve my own confusion.

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