Mueller Found Probable Cause, but Did Not Charge, Don Jr for Misdemeanor Hacking

I didn’t move quickly enough yesterday to see what correct reading of newly released Mueller Report materials Byron York deleted. But Byron got literally everything wrong with this tweet, purportedly a correction.

Sadly, Byron is not the only one making this error. Daily Beast did so, as well. Even BuzzFeed’s coverage of this is misleading.

Parts of the Mueller Report that BuzzFeed have liberated — both this most recent unsealing and a prior one in November 2020 — now show that:

  • Mueller had sufficient evidence to charge Don Jr with a misdemeanor CFAA charge, but once he ruled out a felony charge, did not charge Jr, because he correctly determined that would be an asinine prosecutorial decision
  • Mueller had outstanding questions about whether Roger Stone conspired with Russia, and so declined to charge him in July 2018 but did refer those questions for ongoing investigation (an investigation which, if claimed exemptions are any guide, was still ongoing in November 2020)

Mueller didn’t charge Jr because his likely crime amounted only to a misdemeanor

As newly unsealed language explains,

The Office also considered whether Donald Trump Jr. intentionally accessed a protected computer without authorization, in violation of [CFAA … by] us[ing] a password, supplied to him by WikiLeaks … to access the website “putintrump.org” in September 2016.

Mueller found that Don Jr’s conduct met each element — (1) access without authorization and (2) obtain information from (3) a protected computer (4) intentionally — of a misdemeanor CFAA violation (meaning, there was probable cause he had committed the crime):

  1. Trump Jr. received the password from WikiLeaks and then wrote to others that “it worked” when he tried it; that evidence would support a conclusion that he “accesse[d] a computer without authorization.”
  2. Trump Jr’s statement in an email that he had seen the website’s contents likely sufficed to demonstrate that he “obtained information” from the computer, since the word “obtain” in this provision “includes mere observation of the data.”
  3. The computer accessed with the password likely qualifies as “protected” under the statute, which reaches “effectively all computers with Internet access.”
  4. The same course of conduct, and Trump Jr’s email admissions afterwards, also suggested that Trump Jr acted “intentionally.”

That language establishes that, contra Byron, Don Jr did probably commit a crime, something that one of the leading experts on CFAA, Orin Kerr, laid out in 2018.

But Mueller didn’t charge it. Legalistically, Mueller didn’t charge it because prosecutors couldn’t prove that Jr’s conduct was serious enough to merit a felony charge because he didn’t get $5,000 of value from the information or try to commit another crime with the information.

In this instance, Trump Jr. accessed the website shortly before it went public using a “guessed” password that, although it was sent to him individually, had also been posted by WikiLeaks to its public Twitter account, such that anyone following WikiLeaks could have gotten the same purview of the website that Trump Jr. did. That fact, among others, would make it difficult to prove that Trump Jr. acted to further any crime or tort or that he obtained information valued at more than $5,000–which are the kind of circumstances that can trigger felony punishment under the statute.

Colloquially, this language means that Mueller determined the conduct was so minor that it would be asinine to charge. That was undoubtedly the correct decision.

Incidentally, this is a perfect example of what I discussed in my Ratfucker Rashomon series about ways the genre of the Mueller Report — a report on prosecutorial decisions — obscures the real significance of the investigative findings. This conduct was interesting for Mueller not because it was ever going to be charged as a crime (though it was one of the things cited to get the contents of Assange’s Twitter account in 2017), but because WikiLeaks and Assange fairly obviously repeatedly cultivated Jr, including:

  • In October 2016 when they tried to conduct outreach to the campaign via him rather than Roger Stone
  • The day after the election, when they pitched Don Jr on ways to contest a Hillary win
  • In December 2016, when they again tried to shift the pardon discussions ongoing with Stone to Jr
  • In July 2017, when Assange encouraged Don Jr to release his own June 9 meeting emails and to reach out to the go-between Stone was using, Margaret Kunstler
  • In November 2017, when Assange implicitly threatened Don Jr with release of more CIA source code

All this is important for understanding how WikiLeaks was pressuring Trump and likely played a huge role in Trump’s pivot on an Assange pardon after he realized Mueller was investigating it. But much of it is not criminal (and it’s not clear whether Jr encouraged it at all). So none of it appears in the Mueller Report, which is limited to prosecutorial decisions.

This misdemeanor CFAA declination, then, hides far more interesting investigative threads Mueller pursued that would never show up in a declinations report.

Mueller didn’t charge Stone because DOJ was still investigating

Because the four pages released yesterday include two of a number of discussions of the prosecutorial decisions regarding Stone, multiple people (including Byron) are stating that Mueller found that Stone did not conspire with Russia’s hack-and-leak campaign. That’s based on this language:

Separately, Russian intelligence officers who carried out the hacking into Democratic Party computers and the personal email accounts of individuals affiliated with the Clinton Campaign conspired to violate, among other federal laws, the federal computer-intrusion statute, and they have been so charged. See United States v. Netyksho, et al., No. 18-cr-215 (D.D.C.). The evidence was not sufficient to charge that former Trump Campaign member Roger Stone joined or participated in the hacking conspiracy.

[snip]

Therefore, the Office did not seek charges against WikiLeaks, Assange, or Stone for participating in the computer-intrusion conspiracy alleged in Count One of the Netyksho indictment.

Both these references discuss a prosecutorial decision made in July 2018.

But a footnote to the CFAA declination released in the material BuzzFeed liberated in November 2020 reveals that Mueller made multiple referrals regarding this issue to DC’s US Attorney Office.

The Office determined that it could not pursue a Section 1030 conspiracy charge against Stone for some of the same legal reasons. The most fundamental hurdles, though, are factual ones.1279

1279 Some of the factual uncertainties are the subject of ongoing investigations that have been referred by this Office to the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office.

A warrant targeting Stone after the Netysko indictment in 2018 explained that, “It does not appear that Stone is currently aware of the full nature and scope of the ongoing FBI investigation.” Warrants from this same period (some of which were originally withheld from Stone) make clear the investigation pertained to his foreknowledge of Guccifer 2.0’s operation, not WikiLeaks. The efforts to hide parts of the investigation from Stone appears to have worked, as he appears to have believed that the charges against him for lying, obstruction, and witness tampering pertaining to WikiLeaks was the end point of the investigation, which may have been why Andrew Miller ended his challenge to a Mueller subpoena after the Report was released.

In fact, a number of other declination decisions don’t include all of Stone’s exposure. The most substantive Stone-related declination in the report addresses contacts with WikiLeaks (but not Guccifer 2.0) and addresses campaign finance crimes.

The individual declinations of a conspiracy don’t address the section of the report that addresses Stone’s conduct:

That particular section is silent about declining a conspiracy related to Volume I Section III, which is where everything Stone-related appears, even his contacts with Henry Greenberg, which was effectively another outreach from a Russian, which otherwise should appear in Section IV.

In other places, too, the report discusses “Trump Campaign officials” or members, rather than discussing people associated with it or a former campaign official as it does elsewhere, a distinction with Stone (who left the campaign in 2015) that Mueller sustained.

Further, the evidence was not sufficient to charge that any member of the Trump Campaign conspired with representatives of the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election.

[snip]

As a result, the Office did not charge Gordon or any other Trump Campaign official with violating FARA or Section 951, or attempting or conspiring to do so, based on contacts with the Russian government or a Russian principal.

All of which is to say that Mueller did not charge Roger Stone in July 2018 when he indicted the Russian hackers. Likewise, he did not charge Stone for receiving an illegal campaign donation by optimizing the WikiLeaks releases. But the other declinations in the report stop short of addressing Stone’s conduct, and a footnote (as well as referrals that were explicitly labeled as Stone-related in the second release of the report) makes clear that the investigation into Stone continued past the end of the Mueller investigation.

That doesn’t mean DC prosecutors ultimately found that Stone committed a crime. He has not been charged (at least not publicly). But at the time the report was written in March 2019, the investigation into whether Stone conspired with Russia remained ongoing.

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86 replies
  1. Paulka says:

    Perhaps, you, or someone, could expand on the decision to not prosecute the misdemeanor charge against Jr. You state it would be an asinine decision. Certainly, from a political standpoint it wouldn’t-look at the mileage the right has gotten from Hunter Biden’s laptop bs. I get that the DoJ’s job is not to make decisions on charges based on politics (announcing Hillary investigation right before the 2016 election aside), but an apparent slam dunk conviction seems warranted.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Perhaps we’re also past the statue of limitations as well and since Mueller was aware of DJTJr’s conduct a “discovery” claim by the government to extend the SoL would appear to be out. With that said, DJTJr has been proving my First Law of Dirtballs by continuing to make statements to the press and the MAGA mob which could be potentially criminal (incitement, etc.) and he’s still tied in with the various TrumpOrg litigations/investigations since he’s CEO (officially) IIRC as well as a campaign official.

      I’m sure it still just kills DJTJr that Ivanka was in the WH on J6 and he was not invited.

    • bmaz says:

      There are no such things as “slam dunk prosecutions”, and certainly not on a CFAA charge, even a misdemeanor one. It would have been a hideous waste of prosecutorial resources, court resources and money in general. Not to mention it would almost certainly contaminate other, much larger, cases including that of Assange. Prosecuting that piddly little case would have been absurd. The Trumps, even Jr have the resources to make prosecuting that case a living hell. These are relative decisions prosecutors all across the country properly make every day.

      Now Stone is arguably different as to his ability to defend, but the same concerns about bleeding into other cases still hold, and properly so. And they already had Stone on far bigger things.

      People need to chill out on any further prosecutions related to the Mueller set of investigations, there will be none, and nor should there be at this point. That ship has sailed, and the mere mention of the “Mueller Investigation” is now toxic. That is wrong, but it is a fact. Frankly I do not think it would even be possible to get a conviction at this point on anything related to Mueller. So, please people, quit yammering about the “Mueller slam dunks”. Just stop.

      • Marinela says:

        About Assange investigations. Does it mean that now Assange is getting charged, or that investigation is still on-going?

        • bmaz says:

          Yes. As to both. Assange has already been indicted, and that initial indictment superseded by a more complete indictment. Quite frankly, there may well be a second superseding indictment charging additional crimes.

      • Playdeau says:

        You nailed it, Mr. Bmaz. A black man would be prosecuted for selling cigarettes on a street corner and fined up $5000 because he doesn’t possess the wherewithal or affluence of a Trump to scare off prosecutors. Thanks for describing how Justice works in America.

        • bmaz says:

          No, that is not at all what I said. That is a ridiculous analogy, because one is under local law in New York City, and the other is a complex case under federal law. I see these kind of comparisons all the time, and they are completely bogus. And it is not just resources that “scare off prosecutors”, while that may be one factor, there are many more, detailed by both Marcy, and me in response to our new troll. Jr was a straight up prosecutorial discretion decision, and, again, a truly correct one.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Indeed. The costs related to overcoming a typical Trump defense would not have been appropriate for a misdemeanor. Any release of information in connection with it could have fouled up more serious related investigations. The certain propaganda campaign from Trump and the right would have undercut the idea of investigations, regardless of how worthwhile they were in fact. And it would have had to contend with the defensive machinations of Bill Barr.

        • Rugger9 says:

          The Bill Barr aspect is very important, since no doubt Mueller would have had no question after Barr’s “summary” of his report that Barr would kibosh any prosecutions of the inner circle. I would also observe that Barr’s intervention with Flynn confirmed that theory. I would speculate given the long time these two were together in DoJ that Barr’s reputation would be well known to Mueller so he set his report up principally as a roadmap plus a few successful prosecutions and plea deals that provided a net profit to the government. Durham, not so much.

        • timbo says:

          Sigh.

          Is it amazing and disheartening to only me how many folks are ready to go along with not prosecuting rich people with good lawyers while prosecuting poor people with bad lawyers for the same crimes (and levels of evidence of fact)? There’s a reason that there’s an Equal Protection Clause in the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. It’s not there to be ignored…but it certainly seems to have pertinence based on all the unfair application of the law that seems to permeate the discussion and statements here by folks who should know better. I understand the wish to justify moving on in this particular instance but detest how so many assume that it’s just a good policy in general to let rich folks get away with things that the rest of us would end up being thrown in jail. A lack of backbone on the part of prosecutors more interested in getting along with upper class tradition and collegiality rather than enforcing the laws fairly is not something to just accept or assume is the only result, particularly when the actual law of the land, the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment, demands a higher standard and fairer application of the law than many (well connected/wealthy) individuals (and the political climbers that enable their law breaking) are willing to accept (or apply).

      • Jimmy Anderson says:

        “and the mere mention of the “Mueller Investigation” is now toxic.”
        Agreed.
        Objectively, I have to take the long view and admire the Conservative/Republican combined Mueller resistance in poisoning and shutting this ‘store window’ investigation…. from start to finish.
        I imagine Boris Johnson can only admire from afar the concerted effort.

        • bmaz says:

          Exactly. It is neither a good nor appropriate thing, and it is not, but it has been made so toxic that it is not going to happen at this point.

    • timbo says:

      It certainly would beg the question of exactly how many others should be prosecuted for the same supposed crime of accessing a website in violation of the law should Mueller/DOJ decided to prosecute this particular presumed misdemeanor violation of statute. “It ain’t worth it” isn’t always a cop-out when it comes to law enforcement and this is very likely a good example of it. Wikileaks (ie agents thereof) made sure to make it very hard to charge every person who might take the password and access that website by publicly publishing the password. While I’m confident that Jr’s reason for visiting that site was likely done for malicious reasons, indirectly or directly, and thus more subject to prosecution for this misdemeanor than the average citizen, I’m also forced to agree with Mueller’s decision in this instance, given that there likely were many average people who did access the website out of plain curiosity.

    • Leoghann says:

      As we’ve seen with various Magaturist prosecutions, federal misdemeanors are primarily used to be pled down to, rather than used as original charges. Additionally, the nature of the charge would only have served to amplify the claims from the Trumpists that the whole thing was a “witch hunt(!!!). Charging someone with hacking into a political website run by the opposition, when the only motive appeared to have been reading the dirt, would have seemed extraordinarily petty. Mueller was certainly not about pettiness.

  2. Paulka says:

    “The Trumps, even Jr have the resources to make prosecuting that case a living hell. These are relative decisions prosecutors all across the country properly make every day.”

    The long sobs of autumn’s violins wound my heart with a monotonous languor.

    • bmaz says:

      Screw your “sobs”. You asked a question, I answered it, and here you are back saying stupid bunk. You do not know your ass from a hole in the ground about any of this, and prove it every time you open up a comment box.

      You are nothing but a relentless troll, and our time is more valuable than to be wasted on your repetitive BS. If you continue, you will be treated as such instead of having germane responses made to you. Act accordingly.

          • Playdeau says:

            An angry white man called to task responses amusingly annoyed. Ye has little patience’s with opinions from us inferior underlings.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              The lack of patience is with your flawed logic – and your arrogance that apples are oranges because it suits your needs.

            • bmaz says:

              This kind of bullshit is really tiring. You made a completely bogus analogy, and then proceeded to victory lap. I pointed out how you were wrong, and now you feign being butthurt. Sorry pal. Parachute in with the stupid, and you get corrected.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Not even worth buying popcorn for this one. Injustice everywhere is not injustice in any specific case. On the facts made public, the risk-reward analysis for the prosecutorial discretion exercised by Mueller in this misdemeanor case was correctly decided.

      • Jimmy Anderson says:

        “You do not know your ass from a hole in the ground about any of this, and prove it every time you open up a comment box.”

        Blimey.
        That’s probably most of us admonished here.

        Perhaps I could take this opportunity to remind you that this is the message posted here “inviting” replies?

        *LEAVE A REPLY*
        Want to join the discussion?
        Feel free to contribute!

        [Consider this a friendly hint: don’t poke the moderator. Note the last graf at our Community Guidelines. /~Rayne]

        • Jimmy Anderson says:

          My sincere apologies Rayne.

          I’ve just read through the Community Guidelines link….. I think you’ve got just about everything covered there.
          :-)

          • bmaz says:

            What load of complete garbage. You have commented here 22 times, over a period of two weeks.

            And you think you get to yank the chain of people that have put their time and life into this blog endeavor for nearly fifteen years? Over earlier comments of others that were patently trollish and/or stupid? Thanks for your support.

      • Paulka says:

        Not sure why this has to be explained but you can ignore the D-Day use of the poem and consider the poem’s meaning itself. i.e. rich people being able to abuse the system compared to poor people is both repetitive to the point of monotony and resulting in inertia, while the long sobs of autumn refer to the depressing nature of said abuse

      • Leoghann says:

        Trolls feed on attention. If you deny it any attention, it will shrivel up and die. I’ve found it best to tell myself “oh, there’s another garbage comment,” and scroll on.

        Although your rejoinder was sharp.

  3. WilliamOckham says:

    As someone who makes his living with computers, I want to applaud Mueller’s decision. That particular misdemeanor is good for nothing other than prosecutorial abuse (hell, most of the felony charges I’ve seen were too stupid for words). I think the statute makes computer security harder than it would be otherwise. I’ve been faced with the following scenario literally dozens of times. For context, as someone who’s been writing software for over 30 years and made lots of dumb mistakes, I have a highly developed sense for patterns that indicate probable security flaws. When I notice one on a public website or private server on a client’s site, I’m faced with a decision, do I test this (and violate the CFAA) so I can submit a bug report and possibly help reduce somebody’s system vulnerability or do I just ignore it?

    In my view, what Don Jr. did shouldn’t even be a crime. That misdemeanor is never going to be used to charge a real hacker. It’s used to harass people and let corporations cover up their security holes.

    • bmaz says:

      It is funny, Marcy, the ultimate fact person, you, a well established computer expert, me, who has spent an equal amount of time in criminal law defending prosecutions, and probably the best CFAA expert on the planet, Professor Orin Kerr, all agree. But it is hard to fight the uninformed and trollish types.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        Hi, bmaz. I just wanted to take a moment to thank you and Marcy for opening my eyes to the importance of process and procedure. Realizing the need to familiarize myself with state statutes, I actually went to a library in a neighboring county to research them prior to my own case.

        But now, because of you and Marcy, I know that it would have been very helpful to also look at rules of practice & procedure. I’ve provided a cite below. I trust that you will correct me and point me in the right direction if that is wrong.

        I’d also like to point out that your response to comments seems better since Trump left office. They seem more in line with how you used to answer before he took office. I could be wrong about that, of course, and I’m sure you’ll let me know. Maybe I’m just basing that on shifts in my own behavior and reactions.

        But the point is, a great big thanks to you and Marcy!

        “Current Rules of Practice & Procedure”

        https://www.uscourts.gov/rules-policies/current-rules-practice-procedure

        • bmaz says:

          Oh no, those are the ones in the federal context! Each state will also have their own corresponding set for all the state law and procedure issues. I’ll say this, there are a lot at both the federal and state level, and trying to suss through it on the electronic versions can get tedious sometimes. As to the Rules and Procedures, I still have book versions that I have to update regularly. That is too expensive for most people, but I need it and write it off. But, other than annotations, it is all there online.

          • observiter says:

            Savage, thank you for the link.

            bmaz, just trying to understand what you wrote…I understand state court local rules (I’m in California), but (ouch, am I an idiot asking this!) are there also federal court local rules? (Not an attorney here. Sorry if it’s an annoying question!)

            • bmaz says:

              Yep, the answer is yes. The major difference is between state/local and, then, federal. But, also, there are individual local rules in federal court (and in state courts), and sometimes individual judges have their own rules within those parameters. Trust me, it is not necessarily easy to navigate, even when that is what you do.

          • Savage Librarian says:

            bmaz, I should have said that I researched the state statutes before I got an attorney so I could be sure to exhaust any administrative remedies in a local civil service hearing. The case eventually ended up in federal court. And the judge did seem to have his own rules, as you mention. It was all quite daunting.

            But now I think I might be better able to
            understand some things because of Marcy, you, the other moderators and the commenters. For me, this experience is far superior to any MSM. And it definitely gives me a better understanding of what is going on in the various investigations involving the Trump administration.

          • CD54 says:

            “As to the Rules and Procedures, I still have book versions that I have to update regularly.”

            Reminds me of paternal ancestor. Repped case law publisher in the 1940’s and 1950’s — huge territory.

            The initial sale guaranteed almost a yearly sale for the updates which were published as folded loose-leaf and kept in a pocket built inside the book’s cover.

            • bmaz says:

              Yes! And that still occurs to some regard, even if electronically. We used to pay for, and get, regular “pocket parts”. To some extent, that was better than just getting electronic notifications, because it came in the mail and got plopped on your desk. So, at a minimum, you scanned through it, and almost always found a couple of things useful.

              • vvv says:

                My law school had an issue with me bartending full time while taking classes and so provided me with employment at the law school as a research assistant to an assistant dean, and as a library assistant. In the latter job about half of my time (say 5-6 hours a week) was stuffing pocket parts and putting updates into ring binders. With the 10 hours or so researching (I recall doing research on state ethics laws and 4A. bullet searches) I cut my bartending down to under 30 hrs. which they said was required by some arcane, never published to me, schools of law rule.

                I confess I enjoyed bartending more, and to this day recall dry fingers, paper cuts and eye strain from the pocket parts.

                • bmaz says:

                  Yes! I was that guy at our firm. I inserted them, but it also made me read them, which turns out was very valuable. Kind of miss that in a way

                • Savage Librarian says:

                  LOL, I remember getting those paper cuts, too. Before that little beam from the time/space continuum transported me to Florida, I was working full time as a clerk in a law school library in Ohio. I was also attending law school full time (hard to imagine, even for me!) And I had a very active social life.

                  So, it felt like a minor miracle to be rescued by a new offer (and professional position where I could actually use my library degree) in the sunshine state. For the 3 months I was in law school, I was a terrible student. My heart was just not in it. Nor was my mind, I guess. I still think I made the right move. But it would be fun if the time/space continuum could pop in with another equally unexpected surprise again…

          • timbo says:

            Slightly OT: (I’m having a hard time formulating this question in my mind succinctly but…) Is there a difference in application in Federal courts of the EPC and mandated application of EPC in state legal enforcement from past SCOTUS rulings?

            I ask because there seems to be some possibility of a conflict between enforcing law’s equally at the state level and equal protection enforcement generally…and I can envision that there may be precedents set in various Federal circuits that have not yet actually been reconciled with opposite or different practice in a different Federal circuit. (I don’t have any specific case of instance in mind—just curious if anyone is aware of any unresolved and/or wonky applications or possible misapplications of EPC that have not been fully resolves as yet at the Circuit level.)

      • WilliamOckham says:

        Absolute disaster. It will do literally nothing about child porn (CSAM). It just ends privacy on the internet by eliminating end-to-end-encryption. And right-wing state AGs get a new tool to extort social media companies.
        Facebook carries 100% (rounded to the nearest 1/100th of a percent) of child porn on the internet and 0% (again rounded to the nearest 1/100th of a percent) is end-to-end encrypted. That’s how you know that this isn’t about child porn.

  4. OldTulsaDude says:

    Concerning Don Jr., I understand the charging decision but could someone at least bitch slap him for being such an incredible asshole?

    • Rayne says:

      Donnie Jr.’s doing a pretty good job of self-owning. Just watch this video — mute the sound first. He’s wacked out of his gourd whenever he’s videoed lately, which to me suggests someone on the verge of losing his shit.


      There’s video out there somewhere of the Meidas brothers interviewing Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen in which Cohen relates how much Trump bashes on Don Jr. — so Junior is getting slapped up already. Don’t get me wrong; I have zero pity for Junior, but he’s definitely getting bashed on the regular.

      • Leoghann says:

        That clip and a few other recent ones offer visual proof that his babbling and grandstanding have gone over the top. Typically, when there are many, many rumors of regular use of astronomical amounts of cocaine, over a couple of years, it’s because they’re true. The behavior backs that up.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    A real prosecutor has to contend with staffing, budget, and management constraints. How many felony cases – whose prosecution would establish important standards and precedents – would not go forward because she chose to prosecute a misdemeanor case against a spoiled stupid rich kid. How many victims would have to forego justice, how many probable felons would go unpunished because she was trying to make the wrong point?

  6. BobCon says:

    I can understand the decision not to move on the Don Jr. misdemeanor case, but I’m curious about whether the redaction decision was valid. The Buzzfeed article says it was made on privacy grounds.

    I could understand a redaction if it was concerning probable cause that a random person committed a misdemeanor related to some Russian troll event in Florida involving 12 people and 187 dollars.

    This seems more significant, though, and the ruling that the information was releasable under FOIA suggests to me that it should have been public when the report was first released. It also seems like this information crosses a higher bar than a decision not to name someone that Mueller said did not merit charging.

    I’m not under any illusions that it would have been a game changer, but it seems like a piece that should have been public a long time ago. Was this even held back from Congress? Again, I don’t imagine it would have swayed any votes on impeachment, but it seems like it would have been relevant to work on Russian propaganda efforts.

    • emptywheel says:

      It should have been public.

      BuzzFeed won the liberation of both the Don Jr language and that pertaining to JD Gordon by pointing out that the conduct described appeared in unredacted form elsewhere. This was all about protect Jr.

      • BobCon says:

        Thanks. I’m sure Barr remains in good graces as a background source for major outlets, and will probably become even more of a go-to person as 1/6 heats up. But I wish reporters would keep in mind what an untrustworthy source he is, and how dead serious he is about undermining them.

        • timbo says:

          Since Mueller decided not to prosecute or refer this particular issue, Barr can’t be charged with obstruction in this particular Don Jr. misdemeanor declination. It’ll be interesting though to see (if we ever learn) exactly which prosecutions were put on hold until after Twitler was out of power in DC. Certainly Barr created an environment at DOJ that made if incredibly difficult to move ahead with prosecuting anyone close to Twitler while he and Twitler were both holding sway in DC. So, I would guess that Barr is likely not giving them good info on anything where his hand-prints are too ‘printy’…

    • WilliamOckham says:

      This is like, John Durham level bull. The true, albeit totally boring, version of that map would show that cheese is the favorite topic everywhere.

      • P J Evans says:

        I had a delicious vegetable pizza some years back: artichoke hearts and mushrooms and I don’t remember what else. White sauce, mild white cheese.

        • ducktree says:

          One of three crafted meals I enjoyed while watching a movie at the Alamo Draft House in DTLA (in the Before Times) was a thin crust pizza with gorgonzola, dates and prosciutto. Abondanza!! Along with half a bottle of Sauvignon blanc.

          The movie was Uncut Gems.

          • Eureka says:

            Some of my cultural references are so out of date I thought you meant the other Before Times (the movie title lends to that, too).

        • Eureka says:

          Those are fine pizza veg.

          But PJ honest to goddess have you ever in life heard of _corn_ or _carrots_ on pizza?

          I was yelling about the corn for so long.


          Oh, and tuna? come on. I can see that as a making-do option for those who swing that way but I’d sooner take plain cheese and have the tuna separately.

          I have never seen these items on a pizza menu.

          • P J Evans says:

            I could maybe see corn kernels (roasted, preferably) on a Southwest-style pizza, or shredded carrots, but haven’t yet seen those. I *have* met pineapple (with ham or sausage), and it was good, but no tomato with that, please!

            (I used to do mushroom, mozzarella, and greens pizza. Pretty good.)

            • Eureka says:

              Yeah I like ham & pineapple, and ham & mushrooms is an old reliable (besides just mixed mushrooms — nice on a white or olive oil pizza — or mushrooms with just about any/everything).

              • P J Evans says:

                I used to buy mushrooms when they were on sale. Get a pound container, cook them, drain the juice and freeze it and the mushrooms separately. (Mushroom juice for flavoring gravy or something similar.)

          • Savage Librarian says:

            Once a restaurant owner in NM mentioned to me that he was opening a new site in DC. So I visited it when I went there. For dessert I had one scoop each of corn (tasty) and wheat (not so good) ice cream. Novelty items that don’t seem to have found success.

            Maybe someone should contact the Gazpacho police to investigate the origins (oranges?) of that pizza map.

          • Rayne says:

            My family used to make pizza with tuna on top for Fridays in Lent. I haven’t had that in years, might have to try it again since I’m much more practiced at making crust and sauce. I make a blond puttanesca sauce for pasta which would probably be great on pizza.

            I wonder if the tuna-on-pizza reflects the immigrant population in Minnesota which isn’t the same as in other states.

            • nord dakota says:

              Well, St Paul has a long established business importing dried salt cod, which is used for making lutefisk (for the uninformed, the dried cod is soaked in lye for several days to soften it up (people no longer do their own lye soaking at home, it is done commercially), then rinsed a lot, then boiled. It’s nasty smelling and glutinous but lutefisk suppers around Christmas are still a thing and for awhile someone was selling frozen lutefisk dinners). Lutefisk consumption has declined a lot in recent decades. But eastern African countries learned to use it when missionaries (I think from Denmark? Holland?) would have it shipped and give it to people, so now immigrants from East African countries have become a thriving customer base for those hard slabs of salted dried cod. Idk if they have put it on pizza, though. There is still a strong German Catholic presence around the St. Cloud area, and Catholicism is strong on the Iron Range (hence tuna and noodles for school lunch every Friday when I was growing up) but still I never heard of tuna on pizza.

            • Eureka says:

              We all knew you were special, Rayne.

              [Here, so far, singular in tuna pizza experience. But I will be asking around (esp. about the corn, like in a crowded place) and maybe I’ll run into another. Tuna is the most plausible of the oddball toppings.]

              LMK when you make it for _noodles_ and I’ll be over. ;)

              Mom used to make a dough every Fri. and was not shy about combining whatever foods she wished but the tuna only showed up in casserole form.

              Thanks nord dakota of MN for the additional background.

            • Leoghann says:

              I’m famous among family and friends for my puttanesca sauce. That white puttanesca look wonderful, and I can’t wait to try it. It seems a logical extension for green sauce, which I love. Thanks for sharing!

              • Rayne says:

                The linked recipe calls for arugula and suggests alternatives like chard or spinach, but I use blanched kale as I often keep some on hand. Buon apetito!

              • vvv says:

                As a divorced, single father with sole custody I sometimes made dinner quickly in the halcyon days of grade school sports and theirs and my homework.

                I’d throw it together and it was good, my version of puttanesca (tho’ no anchovies for the kids).

                Then came the day my then 7 year old asked what “puttanesca” means …

        • Eureka says:

          ahh, the pec romano. Now you’re singing my song. Add the parm reggiano and we’ve got a hit. But to be clear, those are *layering* note cheeses unless we’re talking something plain like pasta.

          • OldTulsaDude says:

            You have not eaten pizza until you’ve done so in Naples – a religious rather than gustatory experience

          • vvv says:

            I reco feta for *layering*. And, veggie-wise, add some pepperoncini. Eggplant can also be great, particularly if breaded.

    • Leoghann says:

      “Hello, Sal’s? I’d like to order a Velveeta pizza, with tuna, corn, carrots, and peas; and a trashcan. Thanks.”

      (If you’re going to have tuna, you have to have peas.)

  7. greenbird says:

    i have endeavored to keep all reports to enable adding comments from marcy’s posts.
    versions of Vol I, Vol II, and jason leopold’s 302s.
    this makes me slow way down and really absorb marcy’s points to the originals.
    it doesn’t make me a very good commenter, but i can boast not having been lost. so far.
    now i will read your all’s comments. (oh for a bit o jameson for me coffee!)

  8. Riktol says:

    I am not a lawyer, but I am confused with respect to the case against Don Jr.
    He was sent a password by wikileaks to a website. Wouldn’t it be possible (or even probable) for him to believe that in doing so wikileaks was authorising his access to that site? This could be because wikileaks controlled the site, or because wikileaks had in turn been authorised to share the password publicly or with specific people. As the password was posted publicly as well, doesn’t that suggest that the public were authorised to access the site? (Unless wikileaks admitted to improperly obtaining the password when it sent the password to Don Jr or when it posted it publicly, but that isn’t mentioned in the report in the bit I read).
    Assuming my analysis is correct (and I’m betting I’ve missed something), wouldn’t it make the 1st and/or 4th elements of the crime shaky, and therefore the uncertainty of success in getting a conviction weigh against prosecution?

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