Steve Bannon’s Phantom Executive Privilege

In a reply motion demanding to know why DOJ subpoenaed the toll records for him, the lawyer Steve Bannon shares with Rudy Giuliani, Robert Costello, claims DOJ obtained the email information, including hundreds of pages from Google, for different Robert Costellos, not him.

The hundreds of pages of email information they obtained from Google, including email addresses (and IP addresses) of the sender and recipient, date and time of the emails, metadata, social media and meeting (Google Hangouts) data, information as to whether each email was read, remained unread, was deleted, or what filing box the recipient put it in, and more [See e.g., 0011510001249; 001339-1732] were all for another completely uninvolved citizen apparently named Robert Costello or Robert M. Costello. In fact, not one of the email accounts the Government sought access to in this case, intending to get defense counsel’s emails, actually was defense counsel’s email account.

He even issued a declaration stating, among other things, that,

I have no association whatsoever with email accounts with the addresses “[email protected],” or “[email protected],” or “[email protected],” or “[email protected]

We shall see how the government explains this claimed mix-up, assuming Judge Carl Nichols permits them to file a surreply (Costello claims he only just discovered these weren’t his emails after reviewing them for months).

That said, Costello did not deny association with email accounts with the addresses of, [email protected], [email protected], or [email protected], which appear to be included in the friends and family accounts of the main Gmail account in question. And though Costello claims to provide the exhibits to back his claims, he doesn’t provide the Comcast return and doesn’t provide back-up for the bulk of the returns he is complaining about (US 001339-001732 below).

What Costello has also shown is that, in a memo to DOJ, he claimed to quote from a letter from Justin Clark, who would have been acting as Trump’s lawyer, invoking privilege on Trump’s behalf.

“President Trump vigorously objects to the overbreadth and scope of these requests and believes they are a threat to the institution of the Presidency and the independence of the Executive Branch.” Mr. Clark added that:

“Through the Subpoenas, the Select Committee seeks records and testimony purportedly related to the events of January 6th, 2021, including but not limited to information which is potentially protected from disclosure by the executive and other privileges, including among others, the presidential communications, deliberative process, and attorney-client privileges. President Trump is prepared to defend these fundamental privileges in court.

As I’ve previously noted, at a meeting on November 3 at which Costello was supposed to be presenting that memo, Costello alternately claimed:

  • He had had no communications with Trump lawyers prior to October 18
  • Clark refused to reach out to the January 6 Committee on behalf of Costello or Bannon
  • Costello could not recall who brought up Executive Privilege first, him or Clark
  • Costello did not ask Clark to attend the hearing because he wouldn’t contact the committee on his behalf (even though his later complaint was that the Committee refused to have a Trump lawyer present)

In that November 3 meeting, Costello said he’d provide all the backup to support his claims.

But when JP Cooney asked for all the documents Costello claimed to be relying on in the memo and an interview with DOJ and the FBI on November 3, 2021, Costello said, “as soon as I locate the letter I received from Justin Clark, acting as counsel for President Trump, I will forward that under separate cover.” Cooney responded, making sure, “please review and let us know if this constitutes your entire production.”

There’s no evidence in this filing that Costello ever provided it.

Which may be why, in a follow-up interview on November 8 — after searching and (at least as this record shows) not finding any letter from Clark — Costello told DOJ:

There are additional discrepancies disclosed by the materials Costello has included.

In his declaration, Costello (who, remember, was investigated as part of the Mueller investigation for helping to dangle pardons) complained that this meeting to stave off an indictment didn’t work like all the previous times he had had such meetings.

[I]t is clear to me that the representatives of the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia never had any intention of engaging in a lawyer like discussion of the legal merits of a prosecution of Mr. Bannon for criminal contempt of Congress. This position was and is shocking to me because of the many prior instances when this same Office declined to prosecute others, including sitting United States Attorney Generals based upon a referral from Congress.

There’s more: For example, Costello misrepresents when he joined Bannon’s defense team for this.

But the key detail is that Costello claimed to have a letter from Trump invoking Executive Privilege. And when DC USAO asked to see it, Costello changed his story.

Update, April 19: I’ve updated the timeline below with two documents DOJ submitted on April 15. They raise further inconsistencies in Costello’s statements to the FBI and DOJ in his interviews.


BATES STAMP RANGE: US 001093-001883

US 001093: Grand jury subpoena

US 001145-001768: 623-page return from Internet provider showing IP activity, status (read or unread, inbox, etc.) and other details concerning emails and other activity offered by the carrier obtained with a Section 2703(d) Order on November 11, 2021 [US 001733] that includes a case number [US 001732-001735] and returned on December 7, 2021.  Returns include:

US 001769-001789: Costello’s 302s

US 001808: Yahoo return

US 001833-001878: Subpoenas for home, direct office, and cell phone from September 1 to October 20, 2021

US 001834: Case number

US 001842: Case number

US 001863: Subscriber record showing payment method for Costello’s cell phone

US 001866: Costello’s data usage

US 001872; Grand jury subpoena

US 001874-001875:  SMS (text messaging) information, including the numbers to which texts were sent and from which they were received

TIMELINE

March 5: Beginning date for Costello records request (last event involving Bannon and Costello in Kolfage)

September 22: First contact between J6 and Bannon

September 23: Bannon subpoena

September 24: Costello accepts service

October 5: Media reports on subpoenas to Mark Meadows and others; call from Justin Clark

October 6: Clark instructs Costello to invoke whatever privileges he can, including executive, deliberative, and attorney-client

October 6: Costello claims Clark invoked privilege; Costello’s memo quotes Clark invoking privilege; undated call with Tonolli (actually on October 12)

October 7, 10AM: Original deadline for document production

October 7, 5:05PM: Costello letter claiming Trump invoked privilege

October 8: Thompson letter to Bannon rejecting non-compliance

October 12: Call with Tonolli re representation from Trump

October 13: Costello and Clark speak

October 13: Second Costello letter, demanding accommodation with Trump

October 14: Clark corrects Costello that he had simply reiterated his October 6 letter

October 14, 10AM: Original date for Bannon testimony

October 15: Thompson letter noticing failure to comply with subpoena, warning of contempt meeting, setting response deadline for October 18, 6PM

October 16: Clark emails Costello stating clearly that he had not told him he had immunity from testifying

October 18: Thompson letter to Bannon with deadline; Trump sues Thompson and the Archives on privilege issues; Costello claims he sent a note to Thompson;

October 18, 6:50 PM: White House says no privilege after 2017

October 19: Bannon claims they intended to respond; Amerling letter to Costello; J6 business meeting to hold Bannon in contempt; Thompson letter to “change course”?

October 20: Rules committee meeting to hold Bannon in contempt

October 21 Bannon held in contempt

October 25: Costello email exchange with Cooney (and Phillips); Costello asks for meeting after October 27

October 28: Matthew Graves confirmed as US Attorney

October 29: Cooney suggests November 3

November 1: Costello emails memo arguing against prosecution, dated October 29

November 2: Kristin Amerling interview

November 3: Costello informs he’ll be joined by Katz; First interview with Robert Costello; Cooney follows up asking for documents

November 4: Cooney asks Costello to confirm full production

November 5: Matthew Graves sworn in as US Attorney

November 8: Second interview with Robert Costello

November 11: Subpoena to Internet provider

November 12: End date for Costello records request

November 12: Indictment

November 15: Bannon arrest; David Schoen and Evan Corcoran file notices of appearance

November 18: At status conference, government says there are just 200 documents of discovery

December 2: Costello moves to appear PHV; Government asks if Bannon intends to rely on advice of counsel defense

December 7: Returns on Internet provider (623 pages)

December 7 to 16: Bannon refuses to submit joint status report

January 4: DOJ turns over 790 pages of records from Costello

January 6: Bannon request for more information on Costello

January 7: Government response to Bannon request

January 14: Bannon discovery request letter; Bannon motion to compel regarding Costello

January 28: Government response to discovery demand

February 4: In guise of Motion to Compel, Bannon complains about “spying” on Robert Costello

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86 replies
  1. Rugger9 says:

    When will there be a ruling on executive privilege regarding all of these non-WH lawyers (and ‘sea lawyers’) that will remind all of them about the limits and who can invoke it. It seems every Trumpworld figure claims it but to paraphrase Inigo Montoya: “that claim does not mean what you think it does”.

    Just like Reffitt’s verdict and the well documented flipping of key players (well documented by the EW team, principally Marcy), a ruling about this topic might convince some of the weaker wills to stampede for deals. I know the lawyers here are unanimous that the EP claim is bull and why (for several reasons) but perhaps I missed the rulings that reinforced those limits.

    • matt fischer says:

      While EP may ultimately be ineffective at concealing evidence of wrongdoing, its rampant invocation has proven highly effective as a delay tactic.

  2. My Uncle Fred says:

    For those of us without a JD, this is just one more example of how lawyers are allowed to spew lies in court with impunity.

    Several somewhat related points:
    – ATMO this is one of the ways that Americans become less trusting of government. This is especially so as this behavior seems to often be associated with the rich and powerful.
    – Has anyone considered that Billy-Boy Barr is still carrying water for Donny-Boy Trump? All of his commentary about Trump being deranged seems like setting the stage for an insanity defense (if necessary). Naturally, this raises questions about Billy-Boy, such as: what was he doing as a cabinet member to protect the country from a deranged President?; and why would he prefer to vote for a deranged individual in a future election?

    As always, these problems fall not only on the legal system but also on our feeble American press.

    • bmaz says:

      “For those of us without a JD, this is just one more example of how lawyers are allowed to spew lies in court with impunity.”

      Yeah, that is complete bullshit.

      • viget says:

        OT, but the Trump plane story is getting weird.

        WaPo had a very detailed article claiming that the plane which was flying Trump home to MaL from NOLA was a Dassault Falcon 900, a small executive jet. It apparently suffered engine failure and had to turn around and land after flying 75 mi over the Gulf.

        The plane was supposedly owned by an unnamed Trump donor through a Utah shell corp that is infamous in catering to foreigners who are prohibited from owning US registered aircraft by the FAA.

        HOWEVER, according to the BI and politico stories that Marcy linked on her TL, they’re reporting that it was Trump’s own 757 which suffered engine failure, though curiously it hasn’t flown since Inauguration day 2017…

        What’s going on? Was Trump trying to make a run for it?

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Trump borrows nearly as many aircraft as cell phones, so it might be hard to keep straight which one the press is reporting on. (He hates to pay for anything himself.)

          The story I read about the Trump-painted aircraft was the 757 he apparently owned, but which he chose not to keep airworthy for several years. It was apparently being flown to a specialist maintenance vendor when it had to make an emergency landing. Pretty much describes all of Trump world just now.

          It also highlights what a shambles are FAA rules about keeping track of and disclosing beneficial ownership of aircraft. US rules on ownership are about as opaque as UK rules on real estate.

        • bmaz says:

          I thought it was Trump’s plane, but then a “donor” gave him a plane to get home on. But who knows? Trump’s personal 757 was long mothballed because it was deemed not airworthy. Needed hundreds of thousands in repairs and updates. If it was flying again, it may be off any tracking.

          • Leoghann says:

            As Carole noted, this morning, Trump’s fund-grifting committee hit the ‘net with a fundraising program to build a new Trump Force One. “My team and I are building a wonderful new plane . . . we haven’t told anyone about it until today.” They’re asking for donations of up to $2,500, recurring monthly.

        • Geoguy says:

          I haven’t followed the story yet but I think the 757 is still on the ground at NY Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, NY. You can see it in Google Earth, last image 7/2021. Supposedly he now uses a twin engine Cessna 750 Citation X. The Dassault Falcon 900 has 3 engines.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          You were right the first time: The Guardian also reports that TFG, his SS detail, and staff were on a Dassault Falcon 900, owned by a Trump donor. They were returning from the Big Easy to Mar-a-Bagel when it had to make an emergency landing. Note that after the interrupted flight, TFG continued on to southern Florida in another donor’s aircraft.

          I hope all those in-kind gifts are accounted for on somebody’s tax returns.

          https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/mar/09/donald-trump-plane-emergency-landing

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              The owner would normally have to make a gift tax or some other filing, as well as account for it internally via whatever entity owns/leases the aircraft.

              More importantly politically, TFG or one of his more than 500 entities has to make a filing to account for the receipt of something of value. The fmv of even a few flight hours on a Falcon 900 has to be many tens of thousands of dollars.

                • madwand says:

                  If you’re talking about the Falcon 900 I would say that is dated as my company used $5,000.00 back in the 90s. As far as the 757 goes if he left it in on the tarmac at Stewart for a number of years, there would be a number of inspections, possible Airworthiness directives, updates to software and Flight Management Systems, and since it was outside they would have to check for little critters getting inside and eating the wiring. All in all a pilot would have no problem turning down the ferry.

              • madwand says:

                The thing of value is called the Standard Industry Fair Level which is about 5% of the hourly and in my experience is very low, both for Trump and executives of corporations who must report it on their tax returns. This is why corporations have flight departments and dispatchers and flight software which generate all sorts of things to include passenger tax info. The SIFL is lower compared to going commercial which is normally much higher using the same departure and destination locations.

              • blueedredcounty says:

                I have the impression Rayne has done business/financial process consulting, and if so, can speak more to the accuracy of this. But I believe this would become a tax break on both ends of the transaction.

                The donor with the airplane is definitely recording all these costs – but I expect it is considered and written off as a business expense. Comes right off the corporate taxable income. Granted, it has to fall into the category of an approved business expense, but those rules and approvals are generous when it comes to upper-level executives (and company owners).

                On Trump’s end, the same rules are at work. If the contract for him to appear as a speaker was written so that Trump’s expenses for the trip were to borne by the business that was paying for his appearance, the only reporting requirements on Trump’s end would be if he was submitting expense reimbursement requests. If the donor company paid everything directly, Trump would never see the receipts and never be required to report anything.

                Assuming there was some type of lump-sum payment that included Trump’s speaking fees plus all of the expenses, and the donor’s company was submitting all of the payments in itemized format to Trump, again, those transport costs would come off the top of the earnings of the Trump shell company as an expense. If Trump had paid these transport costs out of pocket (sorry for anyone who chokes while reading those words), he would be filing for the expense reimbursement from the company. But that would be considered a business expense of the shell corporation, and again, reduce corporate taxable earnings. From the perspective of Trump’s personal taxes, it’s not reported because it is not taxable income.

                I know the rules are far more complex if he is a declared candidate and subject to campaign finance laws, but the heart of his current scam is to continue to fund-raise from his marks like he is a candidate without actually declaring. It would also be different if he held some type of current government job, because of the various rules prohibiting government employees from accepting gifts. But this is all perfectly legal corporate welfare and has been for years.

                • Rayne says:

                  If Trump was “hitchhiking” a ride on a plane which was already carrying other individuals/payload to/from business locations, his trip might not even be reported for income purposes anywhere.

          • viget says:

            I guess my question is then why is Politico and others reporting this incorrectly? The implications of a “donor” flying Trump somewhere on a plane which is owned by some company that specializes in obfuscating foreign ownership makes one wonder who this “donor” is. Is it an oligarch? Was Trump trying to flee the country? Or was the engine “failure” a message? So many questions, and multiple news accounts of the same story significantly varying in key details doesn’t help with the eyebrow raise factor.

            • madwand says:

              Engine failure was certainly a wakeup call to the PIC. They would have been over water because that is the fastest route to PBI.

            • Molly Pitcher says:

              Be very careful of Politico now. They were purchased and taken over by very conservative people.

      • Bill Crowder says:

        There is enough truth in this that it deserves more than a “complete bullshit” response.

        I was a trial lawyer for 45 years. I observed that silk stocking/ big law firms could lie (even to the Court) without any penalty even though caught in the lie.

        I do think that the broad claim that “lawyers are allowed to spew lies in court with impunity” is a good example of the anti-lawyer propaganda that floats around while passed off as common wisdom. The kind of comment you get from the guy at the end of the bar.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              Oh, they’re quite capable of it, and many have egos the size of houses. But lawyers who survive long in practice tend to document things well (aside from the John Pierces), which ups the odds and cost of being caught out.

              Deception comes in all guises, some legit. But lying to a court tends to have waves of ill consequences.

      • My Uncle Fred says:

        Pithy response. Is it BS? Costello appears to change his story with the wind. Are you suggesting that this is just a matter of him learning new information, that changes a previously sincerely held position? I think not. And your response does nothing that adds to understanding by any of us.

        While I have respect for much that you say about law and it’s operation, you’re often an unmitigated crank. If you have evidence to show that lawyers don’t spew nonsense in court, and get away with it, put it on the table so we can all learn. Otherwise, think before you flame. After all, you’re a moderator. And you could educate us who are without a JD. And that’s according to my opinion.

        • bmaz says:

          Lol, no, not going to waste time proving the negative per your demand. I find that the people who bellow the most about courts and lawyers could not find a court with a GPS unit, map and a flashlight.

        • Jimmy Anderson says:

          Has your point possibly been proved, with the repercussions seemingly in process for Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell and their ilk?

          • bmaz says:

            Or maybe his “point” was uneducated garbage to start with. Again with the mouthy idiots that know absolutely nothing about courts other than blowing bunk from their rear ends on the internet.

            • Duke says:

              Why are pictures worth a 1000 words? Seems like a phrasing, “blowing bunk from their rear ends on the internet” is the fewest amount of words to cause a 1000 people to poke their mind’s eye out.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Tell that to your defense attorney when you’d really, really like to get out on bail, and see how far it gets you.

    • PJB says:

      To pick up on your other incorrect point: no, Barr isn’t trying to set up the affirmative defense of insanity for Trump. Trump the stable genius would never in a million years raise such a defense. Barr is trying to set up Trump’s lack of specific intent which is an element of the crime the DOJ must be considering. The smart JDs (and PhDs) who you denigrate here have called it the Costanza Defense: it’s not a lie if you believe it.

      Much like that Don Jr. was too stupid to know his enthusiastic acceptance of campaign assistance from Russia in June 2016 put the evidence of his criminal intent into enough prosecutorial concern for Mueller to decline charging him. We’d like to think this idiotic defense won’t work, but we’ve seen it work in the past.

  3. Purple Martin says:

    Speaking of Election Fraud Fraud (from my old Colorado stomping grounds):

    Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters indicted on felony charges
    https://coloradosun.com/2022/03/09/tina-peters-indicted-grand-jury/

    Peters is charged with:

    • one count of criminal impersonation, a Class 6 felony;
    • one count of conspiracy to commit criminal impersonation, a Class 6 felony;
    • one count of attempting to influence a public servant, a Class 5 felony;
    • three counts of attempting to influence a public servant, a Class 4 felony;
    • one count of identify theft, a Class 4 felony; and
    • one count of first-degree official misconduct, a Class 2 misdemeanor, and three additional misdemeanors.
    (Deputy County Clerk Belinda Knisley was also indicted on three felony counts of attempting to influence a public servant and three misdemeanors.)

    If you don’t recall, Peters is the one who seems to have adopted by Mike Lindell. It’s a more entertaining story than most:

    The indictment says that before the software update, Peters contacted a man named Gerald Wood and told him that she may need him to do some “contract work” on Mesa County’s [Dominion] election system…Wood says he told Peters he had no familiarity with the machines but that she started the process of getting him a Mesa County access badge.

    Wood obtained a county access badge on May 19, but returned the badge on the same day and “was never hired by Mesa County in any capacity.” … On May 23…Wood’s access badge was used to access secure Mesa County election offices, along with the badges assigned to Peters and Knisley. Security cameras in the area were disabled at the request of Knisley.

    The indictment does not make clear who the man purporting to be Gerald Wood was. “Mr. Wood testified that he did not go to the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder’s Office in Grand Junction on May 23 or May 25 and did not use the access badge that he had previously turned over to Ms. Knisley on May 19” the indictment says. “The grand jury was presented with evidence which corroborated Mr. Wood’s sworn testimony regarding his whereabouts on both May 23 and May 25.”

    • xy xy says:

      With so many crimes and charges for each crime, how are EW, DOJ and J6Committee getting anything done?

    • Leoghann says:

      My mother and a number of her close friends retired to Delta, Montrose, and Ouray Counties after they were through making money in the oilfield. Those who are still around to communicate with me have been following Tina’s escapades with great amusement. “Gerald Wood” may be a pseudonym or a DBA, but apparently the state prosecutors know who he is. You’re probably aware of Colorado’s odd DBA statutes, and how much latitude they grant someone who has one registered.

  4. christopher rocco says:

    So, the government subpoenas the records of the wrong Robert Costello and the right Robert Costello reviews quite a number of them before concluding that they are not his. Strange.

    • P J Evans says:

      The guy *claims* they aren’t his. Evidence backing that so far seems to be thin on the ground.

      • Leoghann says:

        Especially since several of them are known to be associated with the “correct account.”

      • timbo says:

        The “These aren’t my children, your Honor!” defense…”Although they do look a lot like me…”

        • puzzled scottish person says:

          Is he willing to take a DNA test on that?

          By the by, re the lying in court thing mentioned above: to my knowledge, lying in court is bad whoever you might be (at least if you get caught) but in the UK House of Commons if you accuse someone of lying you get told to leave rather than the lying liar.who lied.

          That’s pretty f**ked up (rather the opposite of noblesse oblige) and goes a long way to explain why Boris is where he is today.

  5. Matt Corr says:

    OT: Since IANAL, I have a question regarding the International Criminal Court that, surprisingly enough, my google search didn’t quite answer. I’m wondering if cyber-crime by a state actor would meet the qualifications of the aggression statute “Finally, the fourth crime falling within the ICC’s jurisdiction is the crime of aggression. It is the use of armed force by a State against the sovereignty, integrity or independence of another State.” (https://www.icc-cpi.int/about/how-the-court-works)?

    Specifically, if it could be proved that Putin was responsible for interfering in the 2016 election could the ICC charge him? And if so, could Trump think he could serve up Putin and walk away with limited exposure (maybe a short prison term, while Tish James empties his bank accounts)? Does Putin think it’s possible?

    • Ken Muldrew says:

      Russia, like the U.S., signed but did not ratify the Rome Statute. Both nations have informed the U.N. that they are not parties to the ICC. That moots your question legally; practically, it was never in play anyway. You will notice that Tony Blair is not locked up in The Hague.

      • bmaz says:

        That is not correct. As long as the crimes in question have been committed on the territory of either a state party or a state that (like Ukraine) has accepted the jurisdiction of the ICC on an ad hoc basis, it doesn’t matter whether the perpetrators are nationals of a non-member state (like Russia). The only exception is for aggression, which does not apply to nationals of non-member-states even if aggression is committed against a state party or state that has accepted jurisdiction.

        Now, that said, it is not worth much without being able to attach the body of the putative defendant, in this case Putin. And that will not happen, but it is not a moot point legally as war crimes and crimes against humanity would still be in play.

          • bmaz says:

            Heh, for all practical purposes, you were exactly right that it isn’t happening. But technically it “could”, even if not for aggression, which a lot of people have focused on.

        • joel fisher says:

          There is one–perhaps unlikely–scenario where Putin becomes a guest of the ICC. But first one must recall how power transfers occur in Russia: the guy dies or is deposed. No one really knows as yet how painful the sanctions will be to the Russians, but it is, at least conceivable, that they are so painful that a change of the head of state will occur. If so, the new guys–scum, probably–will want to blame Putin for everything and will ship him out. OTOH, they might just shoot him.

          • bmaz says:

            My bet is still “fat chance in hell”, but it is theoretically possible. Heck, they are still trying to attach al-Bashir, so you never know.

              • bmaz says:

                Nope, don’t think so. It is not just the mounting facts, it is the ability to attach the person of Putin. That has not changed one bit yet.

          • WilliamOckham says:

            Autocrats are rarely deposed by their kleptocratic cronies. In Putin’s case, I suspect his real threat is from the military. Assuming that the current assessment (that Putin’s plan to invade was very closely held) is correct, the Russian military leadership must be very pissed. Putin has utterly failed to meet his goals; he’s wasting a lot of the Russian military’s assets (over 50% of Russia’s ground forces are committed) with no end game in sight; and the military is the only scapegoat available.
            However, if they do make a move, it won’t be to turn him over to the ICC. I’d put money on the “assassinated and assassin killed immediately by bodyguards” scenario. Followed promptly by a military junta and a face-saving peace deal with Ukraine.

            • joel fisher says:

              There’s also the suicide in prison option. Here’s an irony: if things turn further to shit in the Ukraine and, as you say, the military is pissed, the safest place for Putin is in the friendly confines of the ICC’s lock-up. I know, I know, pure craziness.

              • WilliamOckham says:

                I really don’t like speculating on someone’s death, even if it is Putin. However, I like speculating about nuclear war even less.

                My main point above is that the Russian military needs Putin gone without publicly condemning him. After all, they carried out the orders. I don’t see Putin being amenable to “retirement”. Autocracy (in a major power) definitely doesn’t come with a retirement plan. Statistically, more autocrats end up dismembered than retired in a third country.

                • earlofhuntingdon says:

                  Agree. Putin, like Trump, could not tolerate voluntarily leaving office. Out of office, like every authoritarian demagogue, he would be trying relentlessly to get back in. In his world, there is only beast or prey.

        • Rugger9 says:

          Russia is also subject to the Geneva Conventions which they did sign as the USSR (IIRC). The conduct we’ve seen violates those as well.

    • Glen Dudek says:

      Since Costello is being consistent about his claims for both of these email addresses, “[email protected]” and “[email protected]” (case does not matter either), specifically that he has “no association whatsoever with [these] email accounts” this part does not seem strange. Many people are unaware that the dots are ignored. Note that everything at/after a ‘+’ is also ignored by Gmail, e.g. “[email protected]” would be delivered to the same email account as “[email protected]

  6. Bay State Librul says:

    How come when I read about all the laws, information, disinformation, legal rulings, propaganda, appeals, mens-rea, criminal intent, evil mind, and executive privilege, I hear the background chorus from I am a Walrus – “Everything is fucked up”, “Everything is fucked up”?

  7. Peterr says:

    I am awaiting Costello’s next filing, in which he expresses shock that the letter he received from Trump claiming executive privilege has been purloined.

  8. Savage Librarian says:

    Abbott of Costello

    I’m just glad about Putin
    A Putin’s glad about me
    I’m-a just glad about Putin
    He’s just glad about me

    I’m the Abbott of Costello
    (Quite rightly)
    I’m the Abbott of Costello
    (Quite rightly)
    The Abbott of Costello

    Deflectable persona
    Is gonna be a sudden craze
    Deflectable persona
    Is bound to be the very next phase

    https://youtu.be//BbxJmEduMFc

    “Donovan – Mellow Yellow (Live Royal Variety Performance 1981) Rare Footage”

  9. Valley girl says:

    OT
    Exclusive: UK ignored warnings over contractor behind Ukraine visa ‘chaos’
    TLSContact had ‘sole focus’ of making money while ‘human aspect’ was ‘not at all valued’, Home Office watchdog was told last year

    Priti Patel ignored warnings that the Home Office contractor which told desperate Ukrainian refugees to wait weeks for visa appointments had the “sole focus” of making a profit and a history of squeezing cash out of applicants, openDemocracy can reveal.

    https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/ukraine-visa-chaos-contractor-tlscontact-priti-patel/

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I suspect they were also telling Priti Patel and her Tory patrons exactly what they wanted to hear. The Home Office’s cruelty and gross mismanagement are entirely intentional.

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