Georgia Grand Jury Subpoenas Include False State Farm Arena Claims

As multiple outlets have reported, Fulton County DA Fani Willis has obtained subpoenas for Rudy Giuliani, Kenneth Cheesebro, John Eastman, Jenna Ellis, Jacki Pick Deason, Cleta Mitchell, and Lindsey Graham. (Thanks to Georgia Public Radio for releasing all the documents.)

The subpoenas reveal that the scope of the investigation is broader than originally understood (which previously was limited to Trump’s call to Brad Raffensperger to ask him for almost 12,000 votes).

For example, a number of the subpoenas have language similar to this, from Rudy’s subpoena.

As part of those efforts, on December 3, 2020, the Witness and other individuals known to be associated with both him and the Trump Campaign appeared publicly before the Georgia State Senate at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia. At that hearing, the Witness provided testimony, additional witnesses, and documentary evidence purporting to demonstrate the existence of election fraud in multiple Georgia counties during the administration of the November 2020 election. Among the evidence offered by the Witness was a video recording of election workers at State Farm Arena in Atlanta that purported to show election workers producing “suitcases” of unlawful ballots from unknown sources, outside the view of election poll watchers. Within 24 hours of the December 3, 2020, legislative hearing, the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office debunked the State Farm video and explained that its investigation revealed no voter fraud of any kind had taken place at State Farm Arena. Despite this, the Witness made additional statements, both to the public and in subsequent legislative hearings, claiming widespread voter fraud in Georgia during the November 2020 election and using the now-debunked State Farm video in support of those statements. There is evidence that the Witness’s appearance and testimony at the hearing was part of a multi-state, coordinated plan by the Trump Campaign to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.

That is, the investigation appears to have expanded to include the false claims made about the counting at State Farm Arena, including the vicious attacks on Shaye Moss and her mother.

Which means the investigation may incorporate threats not just against senior officials like Raffensperger, but also line workers like Moss who were terrorized by Rudy’s false claims.

183 replies
  1. Makeitso says:

    Interesting. Will the people ordered to appear obey? And if not, does Georgia go after them? Georgia seems pretty intent on this issue,

    • Terrapin says:

      I was thinking exactly the same thing. If they try this move I hope the courts won’t let them drag the grand jury progress down to a crawl.

    • Little g says:

      I wondered the same thing, if trump avoided showing up in a Georgia court it might make it difficult for him to campaign in the state were he to run again! Bad optics getting arrested at your own rally, right?

      • J R in WV says:

        How would a serious political candidate get around this big nation without ever landing at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport? What if your direct flight from your New Jersey golf resort had to declare an emergency and land in Georgia, with an active arrest warrant out for your arrest? Talking about bad press!!

    • Charles Wolf says:

      IMHO when their attempts to quash the subpoenas fail, and that shouldn’t take long, they will comply.

    • Alan Charbonneau says:

      Despite her name, she was one sour piece of candy — a real jawbreaker if you know what I mean.

        • Alan Charbonneau says:

          True, I thought that a Big Hunk like me would get to Abba-Zabba her. I guess she was looking for Mr. Goodbar.

          • obsessed says:

            If they hadn’t subpoenaed HerShey would surely have Snickered and Skittledaddled out of town, but with the Mounds of new evidence coming out every day, I’m sure even she Sees the need for her testimony – even a Reese’s monkey would see that. She’ll need to make sure her story matches the one told by the cracker Graham though. But with Dominic PEZzola behind bars she should be a little safer from witness intimidation. Still we should Brachs ourselves for Trump’s usual Bragg of tricks.

    • punaise says:

      Actually, in a rare moment of seriousness, I wish I could rescind the comment that spawned this thread. It was flippantly borne of cynical old white guy privilege, casually leveraging the painful experience of GA election worker Shaye Moss and her mother, Ruby Freeman. (The alleged ‘flash drive” she handed to her mother was just candy: ginger mints). The pain and sadness encapsulated in that precise moment of her J6 testimony didn’t deserve this treatment. Shame on me.

      • Molly Pitcher says:

        You know, the world is such a painful place at the moment, I see this as a welcome, lighthearted emotional salve. No one would ever accuse you of being callous to what Shaye Moss and Ruby Freeman experienced.

        Shakespeare had comic relief in his tragedies. I think we are allowed to share a moment of relief as well.

      • mospeck says:

        yea, it’s just not right or proper to joke about the end of our Republic .. meanwhile depressed but got duty to report ISL theory, because if the SC goes for it then the Supremes won’t be on our Wheaties boxes no more
        Also disconcerting was there were zero stories about Ukraine or Russia on the foxnews American top 40 today. But compared to the powers that be, vlad and his donbot and his minions and billions, and he even has his own personal archangel, Peter the Great — so who are we palookas? More hopeful is what are little girls made of

      • Tracy Lynn says:

        Thank you for acknowledging your entitlement and apologizing for your (funny) comment. Shay and Lady Ruby went through the terror of a potential lynching and the terror of knowing that people stormed Shay’s grandmother’s home — for all I know, this is ongoing. I’m reasonably sure they don’t have much protection and are even now the targets of a whole bunch of hatred.

        Most white people can’t even begin to understand what that means. Even if they want to think of themselves as allies.

  2. Alan Charbonneau says:

    Despite her name, she was one sour piece of candy and a real jawbreaker if you know what I mean.

  3. Peterr says:

    There is evidence that the Witness’s appearance and testimony at the hearing was part of a multi-state, coordinated plan by the Trump Campaign to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.

    Language like “coordinated plan” is the kind of thing that no lawyer likes to see applied to one of their clients. Especially when it is preceded by “There is evidence . . .”.

    • harpie says:

      The day before GIULIANI’s “appearance and testimony at the hearing” in Georgia,
      there was MICHIGAN:

      12/2/20 Rudy Giuliani appeared before Michigan’s state house oversight committee in a hearing about the conduct of the November general election; Giuliani maintained Trump won the election. Neither state senate or house oversight committees “have the power or authority to mandate a recount, audit or review of vote processes anywhere in the state.”

      “We sit before you today on behalf of the president of the United States,” [Jenna] ELLIS said at the time.

      [MESHAWN MADDOCK [12/2022]: [“[Matt Maddock] fought for investigations into every part of the election we could. He fought for a team of people to come and testify in front of the committee. We fought to seat the electors. Um, the
      Trump campaign asked us to do that — under a lot of scrutiny for that today]
      [> ]

  4. grennan says:

    Does adding Eastman here mean as much as some are saying?

    Esquire’s Charlie Pierce:

    “It looks like we now have a series of concentric circles, all of which are shrinking around everyone involved in the abuse of the political process following the 2020 presidential election. Not all of these people can possibly stand up under the pressure coming from three or four directions at once. The harmony of the singing is getting much tighter.”

    • emptywheel says:

      No, IMO. Eastman is who most people see bc most people only see the J6C, and therefore he’s a shiny object. Even here there are people not named, like Mike Flynn, Sidney, and Ivan Raiklin.

      • bg says:

        I will note that Eastman is a resident/voter in NM, and it does seem that he was likely the ringleader of the fake electors in NM. It has always been curious to me that they needed 5 more electoral votes for the scheme, which NM conveniently has. Though our SOS is bullish on voting and has a reputation for doing everything legal to make sure as many people as possible can vote here, NM was in no way a “swing state” nor were there ever any questions raised about the voting here in 2020. Of course, we do have Couy Griffin who has been a hot mess since before J6 and remains so. And while Steve Pearce has been on the Trump team, it appears, from my source, that it was Eastman who coordinated the fake electors in NM.

      • viget says:

        The fact that Raiklin’s name has yet to make an appearance tells me we are still very much at the tip of the iceberg stage.

        My own personal theory is that Eastman was just a cutout for Raiklin’s operation.

  5. Mister Sterling says:

    I interpret this is seriously bad news for Giuliani and Powell. They traveled into Georgia between the election and January 6, correct? Same with Pennsylvania (Four Seasons Landscaping). And while I don’t expect Graham to be in trouble, he did break the law by calling a state official in a state not called South Carolina. He swung his dick around for Trump.

  6. hollywood says:

    As Baretta said, “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.” If Willis is serious about enforcing the subpoenas, some of these characters have two options: either go to jail or sing like a bird. Time will tell who the singers are.

  7. Mipiti3 says:

    Note these typos- minor things, I know:
    – in “Fulton County DA Fanni Willis…” -> her name is Fani Willis.
    – in the next to last sentence of Rudy’s subpoena: “… claiming widespread voter fraud in Georgia during the November 2020 election and sing the now-debunked State Farm video in support of those statements. ” -> should say “… using the now-debunked State Farm…”
    Looking forward to seeing if those subpoenaed comply and where this leads.

    • Adam Selene says:

      I think some of the typos are created by spelling checkers. My Android phone constantly ‘corrects’ my wording, screwing up my messages, like the above example, replacing ‘using’ with ‘sing’.

      My worst forced typo was when the phone insisted on changing ‘urologist’ to ‘ufologist’! Are all the programmers for Android a bunch of Trekkies?


      • Raven Eye says:

        Sitting on an airplane I had a Friday afternoon text from my veterinarian about deciding on a prescription before things closed for the weekend. A hasty text as the crew was getting ready to close the doors almost resulted in auto-text substituting “transsexual” for “transdermal”. I caught it just as the door ker-chunked closed.

        And working at the university, I learned from a Public Policy post-doc that in that discipline you always run a search for any occurrence of the word “public” that might be missing one letter.

      • grennan says:

        MS Word for Windows 6, early 90s, would sub ‘kidnaper’ for ‘childcare’.

        However, humans do worse: late one night at the college daily’s slot desk, I slugged a story about visiting pontificator:

        (expert) on Ireland: unification could present problems

        and went home. The ‘last look’ person didn’t bother reading the story, changed one letter, resulting in:

        ….: unification could prevent problems

  8. Pietrodegrunt says:

    Fani Willis used RICO statute against teachers and a rapper. She hired a RICO lawyer expert to assist her in this case. Would this be heading to a RICO prosecution?

    • bmaz says:

      Just for grins, how much do “RICO lawyers” get paid per hour? I might be interested in that.

    • Manwen says:

      To help clarify this, Willis applied the RICO statute in the sprawling Atlanta Test Cheating scandal involving teachers and administrators in the Atlanta Public Schools; against a rapper engaged in organized criminal activity; and in a significant sex trafficking case. Long before the Trump Grand Jury was seated, she hired an outside prosecutor, described as experienced in RICO prosecutions to assist in preparation for this case.
      She has a reputation as a thorough, persistent prosecutor during her time as an assistant D.A. in Fulton County. The above mentioned cases are often cited as examples of these traits. I followed the test cheating case closely, but I do not recall Fani Willis’ name. She kept a low-profile and doggedly pursued the case. She also unseated a long-sitting D.A. in Fulton County in the 2020 cycle, Paul Howard her boss in the DA’s office at the time. My early impressions are that she is indeed thorough, persistent, and undeterred by the glare of controversy. So far, she appears the right person for the task.
      As an aside, Paul Howard botched a high profile murder charge during a Super Bowl hosted in Atlanta. The murder involved associates of Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. Ray Lewis pled guilty to obstructing justice, but the murder case Lewis had tried to cover up was later dismissed because of prosecutorial errors. Howard also tried to grab the spotlight during summer of 2020 in prematurely announcing prosecutions of officers in a shooting of a fleeing black man before the investigation was complete. The latter incident, seen as pure publicity stunt, probably paved the way for Willis’ victory. (Paul Howard also happens to be the uncle of Dwight Howard, former? NBA star.)

      • bmaz says:

        Well, Willis’ reputation now is as a ladder climbing national political aspirant noisily using her perch as a prosecutor to climb the ladder. The only thing she is thorough at so far is publicity.

        • Rayne says:

          I’m not seeing in either the Atlanta Journal-Constitution or Georgia Public Broadcasting any indication that Willis had a press conference to announce the subpoenas or made a show of issuing copies to the media.

          Had NO idea that simply filing subpoenas with the court was on par with “noisily using her perch.”

          Good morning, Arizona’s prickliest pear. LOL

          • bmaz says:

            And, yet, it is right here on this fine blog. The only way GJ things like that get out the way they have out of Fulton County is if the lead prosecutor, and Willis is making bank on that being her, wants it out. This is a show.

            • Doctor My Eyes says:

              Whatever the source, I hope she’s highly motivated. I long ago gave up wishing for selfless motives out of so-called public servants. If she’s trying to impress people who hate Trump, that’s good enough for me, assuming competence, of course.

            • Rayne says:

              So you’re saying reporters hanging around Fulton County courthouse waiting for filings never happens. LOL

              • Ginevra diBenci says:

                Thanks, Rayne. My thought when they came out was I wonder who–likely at AJC–got this first. That’s why we reporters cultivate everyone who works at the courthouse! And why you all need to support your local press, since they’re the ones doing all that sweaty and unglamorous hanging out.

                • Rayne says:

                  Georgia Public Broadcasting acknowledged it was Tamar Hallerman at AJC. If this is her beat she’s probably haunting the Fulton County court’s eFiling system.

                  • Alan Charbonneau says:

                    I don’t know if it means anything, but the pdf of the Giuliani subpoena was provided to AJC by Mandi Albright, also of the AJC.

                    • Alan Charbonneau says:

                      I found this: “Mandi Albright is an audience specialist with the AJC’s Digital Presentation team.”

                      So, it’s her job to get stuff like the subpoena, but it doesn’t give a clue as to where she got it. If, as bmaz says, it came from Willis, then it is “craven opportunism” as he stated below. If it came from diligent reporting, I’m okay with it.

                      To another of your points, it might’ve come from one of the subpoena recipients. Graham, in particular, seems like the kind of guy who would publicize the subpoena and his heroic efforts to fight it in court.

                    • bmaz says:

                      I have rarely, if ever, seen a more noisy and self promoting county attorney than Fani Willis. She makes me want to puke, not cheer her on.

          • timbo says:

            Indeed. While this may be a high profile case, it’ll be a higher profile case still if it gets concrete convictions. If the Georgia RICO codes are applied then I, for one, may be happy.

            That having been said, I’m not sure what to make of the cheating cases per se. It’s really sad when so many folks end up having their lives and careers turned upside down…particularly teaching professionals.

            • bmaz says:

              Jesus fucking christ on a bicycle. People are still braying about RICO? Get yer heads out of your asses.

        • Manwen says:

          Possibly. But, it seems hasty to conclude that “the only thing she is thorough at is publicity” based on the reveal of these subpoenas. She began this work shortly after assuming the job, and has been steadily moving forward, waiting to convene the Grand Jury until over a year’s worth of groundwork. Contrary evidence indicates no past history of grandstanding. And, she waited until after the primary season to convene the Grand Jury in order to not interfere with the election season by hauling Raffensberger and Kemp before a GJ.
          I appreciate skepticism and even cynicism, but we should give her an opportunity to take this case forward before concluding it is just for show. If she is that vain glorious, it seems inconsistent with my humble read of her prior work. You may be right, but I certainly hope you are incorrect.

          • bmaz says:

            No. This is craven opportunism. It is funny how people cheer for the “rule of law” and then cheer on this horse manure.

            • Max404 says:

              Would you be so kind to explain what exactly is horse manuristic about what she is doing?

            • Alan Charbonneau says:

              If the leak came from Willis, I agree that it is “craven opportunism” and we shouldn’t be cheering for the “rule of law” and also cheer on leaks from a DA’s office simply because we dislike the people subpoenaed.

              But I am not convinced Willis is the source. It may have come from a reporter with good sources or from one of the recipients.

              As Kristen and Rayne point out below, it could have been a recipient of the subpoena. Also, as I point out above, Lindsey Graham would want to get it out in public. He’d want to demonstrate how he is refusing to comply because this is “all politics”. He even says the grand jury “engaged in a fishing expedition and working in concert with the January 6 Committee in Washington”. Revealing the subpoena and publicly damning it demonstrates his loyalty to Trump as well as assisting in his own survival. I think it also works to signal others without texting or calling.

              I’m willing to be convinced that Willis was the source, but right now, I’m withholding judgement.

              • bmaz says:

                Doubt it is her personally, but that means nothing. Have you seen her on any number of national TV appearances? You think that is appropriate? Seriously? Do you think that is a competent, as opposed to personally ladder climbing “prosecutor”? Seriously?

                • Alan Charbonneau says:

                  I’m not convinced her office is the source of the leak, I’m more inclined to the idea that a recipient leaked it.

                  As to high-profile prosecutors, I lived in LA county when Ira Reiner was DA (the McMartin fiasco). I remember when libertarian Bill Bradford said Rudy Giuliani liked to prosecute people he suspected of being famous. So I do think being high-profile is problematic, notwithstanding the possibility her office had nothing to do with the leak.

                • timbo says:

                  I think it’s appropriate for law enforcement officials to try to reassure the public of two things. 1. That breaking the law, particularly election laws, are being taken seriously and 2. to make public statements that will rein in further law breaking. Is what is happening here outside that? Further, to assume that elected officials will not try to stay in contact with the public and/or will not be interested in seeking higher office is a fools errand. If you have gripes with how DAs are elected to office, how do you think they should be appointed instead?

          • Krisy Gosney says:

            Another possibility- the group that got subpoenaed could be the source of the leak. They are a coordinated group. And being lawyers themselves they would know people would point fingers at the DA as the source of the leak which would then reinforce their narrative that their being investigated is an opportunistic show (by evil liberals) and not a sober seeking of the truth. This possibility fits right in with the way these people think and operate.

            • Rayne says:

              Also a bat signal to the coordinated group and its sponsors that more money and lawyers licensed in Georgia are needed, without any inconvenient communications exchanged between alleged co-conspirators relying on shared resources.

              But I’m sure that’s what Willis had in mind by “noisily using her perch.” /snark LOL

  9. Rugger9 says:

    The subpoena targets will not comply, but their excuses for dodging will be useful for assessing cooperation at sentencing. Also remember that Rudy and Sidney are being sued by Dominion regarding the false claims for Dominion’s voting system in the B$ range. So, of they did comply with the subpoena, the testimony from the grand jury would get to Dominion eventually whether through the court record or by a leak (GJ proceedings are secret). Civil litigation operates on a much lower standard for prevailing and no doubt Dominion would be able to meet the threshold with Willis’ help.

    Therefore, IMHO DA Willis has to charge them first or get the GJ indictment. While no one that’s rational doubts the threats and other BS surrounding GA, is there currently enough in the public record to convict these three? DA Willis may have some doubts, or was hoping someone will crack.

  10. Zinsky says:

    This is delicious news. It will be wonderful to watch the Trump toadies squirm while under real legal peril in Georgia. Even if the criminal proceedings fail, there is likely going to be more than enough evidence uncovered to support multiple tort actions. The truth vindicates itself.

  11. Jenny says:

    Good for Fulton County, GA. Trump and Giuliani targeted an election worker and her mother endangering their lives as well as the grandmother. Trump called Shaye Moss and her mother, Lady Rudy “professional vote scammers and hustlers.”

    Two immature, insecure men looking for a fight bonded in the drug of hate. They are the scammers and hustlers, talking about themselves.

    “When people are lame, they love to blame.”
    Robert Kiyosaki

  12. Savage Librarian says:

    Lip Sync

    Well, John, he had a theory
    and Jenna had one too,
    Rudy’s was too bleary
    but he’d see what he could do.

    He was always good for his 2 cents,
    but more could find him short,
    and when he lacked the evidence,
    he contrived a thumb drive port.

    But he left behind his fingerprint
    alongside his unhinged rants,
    and then we learned a ginger mint
    unmasked his song and dance.

    There’s no grace in this charade,
    Few marks left to hoodwink,
    Before too long the fraud brigade
    may lose sight of their lip sync.

    • rip says:

      I was rhyming along until
      “But he left behind his fingerprint
      alongside his unhinged rants,”

      My feeble mind had already completed that line as
      “But he left behind his fingerprint
      inside his unzipped pants,”

      What are we going to do without the Donnie and Rudy show? Cartoonists are going to have to go back to being funny.

  13. Bobby Gladd says:

    So, Lindsey Graham says his position as Judiciary Committee Chair exempts him from the GA subpoena? That contacting GA election officials and pols is within his normal federal scope of duties?

    I guess we shall see.

    • Rugger9 says:

      It shouldn’t since this is not really a Speech and Debate issue (but IANAL, does Lindsey have a prayer here?). S&D has no crime fraud exception like attorney client privilege does as far as I know.

      I was also interested that Cleta Mitchell was on the subpoena list, and FWIW Ginni Thomas should be too. Neither can claim any sort of immunity nor are they currently the subject of litigation like Sidney and Rudy are. None of the subpoena list will go to GA, and I have my doubts whether extraditions for a subpoena will be enforced.

      As for RICO (raised above), it isn’t RICO until Popehat says it is. It is a criminal conspiracy that will carry plenty of jail time upon conviction.

    • P J Evans says:

      Then he should be aware that elections are run under STATE laws by STATE officials, and it was well outside his jurisdiction. (Also outside his *state*.) They aren’t going to be asking him about his personal life, but about that phone call, why he made it, and what he thought he’d gain from it.

    • Jenny says:

      Let’s go down memory lane with Graham and what he said about Trump Dec 2015 on CNN:

      “He’s a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot. He doesn’t represent my party. He doesn’t represents the values that the men and women who wear the uniform are fighting for. … He’s the ISIL man of the year.”


      “You know how you make America great again? Tell Donald Trump to go to hell.”
      “If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed…….and we will deserve it.”


      Graham from the Senate floor Jan 6, 2021:

      “Trump and I, we’ve had a hell of a journey, I hate it being this way. Oh my god, I hate it. All I can say is count me out. Enough is enough.”
      “Maybe I, above all others in this body need to say this, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are lawfully elected and will become the president and the vice president of the United States on January the 20th.”

      • Adam Selene says:

        What he really means…

        “Maybe I, above all others in this body need to say this [to cover my ass in case my complicit role in the election fraud is discovered].”

        And the Devil went to Georgia…

  14. obsessed says:

    As for RICO (raised above), it isn’t RICO until Popehat says it is.

    LOL. Chisel that one into the stone, right under “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.”

    My old goal in life was to live long enough for SF to win the World Series; now it’s for Popehat to say something is actually RICO.

    • cmarlowe says:

      Funny – mine was to live long enough to see the Cubs win the WS. My father did not succeed in that (though my grandfather was here for the previous one in 1908, but was never a fan). Then less than a week later the orange man won and brought my high crashing to earth. For that alone I would like to see him spend the rest of his days in Federal confinement.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        Mine was for my parents to live to see the Cubs win the WS. Both did, my mom barely. But like you said, cmarlowe, the Lord also taketh away. After Game 7 my sister described the scene exploding in Chicago over the phone while I felt a boom lowering over the quiet New England night. Does this mean we have to pay with Trump? I wondered aloud. We both tried to shake it off.

        Superstitious Cubs fans. It’s in the breed. Sorry if we caused it.

      • obsessed says:

        Yup – the snakebitten fan favorites have triumphed, one by one – the Cubs, the Curse of the Bambino, SF … who’s left? Cleveland? San Diego?

    • Tracy Lynn says:

      Yeah, I hoped to see the SFG win a WS in my lifetime as well. (Wasn’t sure they would on the Best Coast.) Spent lots of time at cold, cold Candlestick back in the day.

  15. Badger Robert says:

    Lots of headlines, no indictments. bmaz has the brief that writes itself on this issue.

    • Tracy Lynn says:

      Yeah, I hoped to see the SFG win a WS in my lifetime as well. (Wasn’t sure they would on the Best Coast.) Spent lots of time at cold, cold Candlestick back in the day.

      • obsessed says:

        ’82 was the killer. The year that Jack Clark and Reggie Smith hit late inning, come from way behind, back to back home runs against Nolan Ryan and various others on multiple occasions and they barely lost to Atlanta and Joe Morgan knocked the Dodgers out on the last day with the home run to right. That team had heart like no other.

        But the Giants and now even the Warriors have had their mini-dynasties and here I am, still kicking. There’s only one thing left: for one god damn frikkin’ Emptywheel scandal to turn out right. Is that too much to ask? The bad guys have been frikkin’ guilty as hell in every one of these things and they never get nailed. Damn it. Now that the local teams have all had their glory, maybe I’ll just throw myself into Firedoglake and end it all. Nah … with my luck, Trump would get indicted the next day.

  16. Peterr says:

    Kinda OT, but at least adjacent to the topic at hand . . .

    The IRS runs a special program to do really deep in-depth audits of a small number of taxpayers a year, that the NYT describes like this, quoting from IRS letters to the taxpayers selected:

    Among tax lawyers, the most invasive type of random audit carried out by the I.R.S. is known, only partly jokingly, as “an autopsy without the benefit of death.”

    The odds of being selected for that audit in any given year are tiny — out of nearly 153 million individual returns filed for 2017, for example, the I.R.S. targeted about 5,000, or roughly one out of 30,600.


    “We must examine randomly selected tax returns to better understand tax compliance and improve fairness of the tax system. We’ll give you the opportunity to explain any errors we may find during the examination.”

    In many instances, the agency catches taxpayers who undergo the audits understating their incomes and overstating their deductions, forcing them to pay penalties and interest. Even if a person has done nothing wrong, the process can take months and cost thousands of dollars in accountant fees.

    Unlike a typical audit that asks individuals to explain a specific part of their taxes, these audits comb through the full return, forcing taxpayers in some cases to go to great lengths to essentially recreate their finances for the year in question.

    Those being audited are often forced to produce bank records, copies of checks, receipts and letters documenting donations to determine whether they are properly reporting income and expenses and are not hiding assets.

    Sounds rough for the folks who get these letters. You know, folks like James Comey, who got selected for this in 2019, covering his 2017 tax returns, or folks like Andrew McCabe, who got selected for this in 2021, covering his 2019 tax returns.

    The odds of that are one in 936,360,000. Sure, those are long odds, but someone has to win the lottery, right?

    I’m sure this is just a coincidence.

    I’m also sure that it is merely a coincidence that the IRS was being led by a Trump appointee when these audits took place, who is still in place, as the Times says Biden has him allowed to continue serving out his term which ends in November.

    • bmaz says:

      So, is this the same Biden guy that cannot nominate enough judges? The same one that cannot do anything about the USPS? That guy?

      Really hard to see how the young and minorities are not currently thrilled.

      • Peterr says:

        With respect to judges, it’s more on the Senate Dems than on Biden. He doesn’t want to nominate someone that would have trouble being confirmed, and has done well with getting judges in states with Democratic senators seated. But so long as the Dems won’t pull the plug on the “blue slip” tradition that was created to keep judges in favor of civil rights from being nominated in Southern states, Mitch McConnell is quite happy to delay delay delay nominations for district judges in states with GOP senators.

        Biden needs to tell Durbin to fish or cut bait. If Durbin won’t tank the blue slips, Biden should nominate 100 judges without waiting for the Senate to bow and scrape to the GOP, and let Durbin deal with the fallout.

      • P J Evans says:

        He’s replaced the people on the USPS board that he could replace. But there’s one member who backs the former guy, and he’s in a controlling position. Biden can’t fire him directly. (Blame the privatizers of the 70s.)

    • I Never Lie and am Always Right says:

      I’ve previously commented on my perception of the current IRS Commissioner’s integrity, based on knowing him for many, many years. Rettig is not the type of person who would participate in or in any way countenance a scheme to manipulate the selection of returns for this type of an IRS audit to wreak havoc on political enemies of the President. While unlikely, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that Trump caused strings to be pulled at a level far below the level of Commissioner, however. Similarly, although unlikely, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that a MAGA IRS employee influenced the selection of their returns for audit without any directions from anyone.

      These types of audits are the IRS’s method of statistical sampling. The audit results are used by IRS to decide what returns to audit and what issues to audit.

      • bmaz says:

        Yeah. You have a far better grip on this than I. Two things “seem” correct: 1) It was not random. 2) They seemed to come out fine. Which is not a freebie, answering all that is oppressive and hard.

        If so inclined, please feel free to explain how much this is so. This is exactly what you know, and I’d love to hear that.

        • I Never Lie and am Always Right says:

          First point. We don’t know what the tax returns of these two individuals that were audited looked like. Their returns could literally have “begged” to be included in the small pool of returns subjected to these intrusive “statistical sampling” audits. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told that “I’m getting audited because …… a) I’m a Republican, b) I’m a Democrat, c) I’m an advocate for xxxx cause, d) I’m part of a particular ethic or religious group……….etc. only to discover that the tax returns cried out to be audited or that the audit was otherwise prompted by reasons that are entirely logical from the standpoint of the IRS.

          Second point, the agents who conduct this special type of audit are not always ball-busters. Yes, these audits are a giant pain. But in the handful of audits of this type with which I’ve been involved over the years, the outcome has generally not been painful. Just the process was painful. If you are going to try to use the IRS to mess with your political enemies (a la Nixon and LBJ), the best way to do that is to have the auditor focus on the weak spots on the return like a dog on a bone, not to have the auditor ask you to provide the birth certificates for all of your dependents, etc.

          Finally, there is always more to the story that is not public. One example that does not involve individual taxpayers. Almost 40 years ago Jack Anderson ran a column on how the IRS was wasting money by sending its attorneys to training sessions at exclusive resorts. What provoked that column? A week long training session held at a place with which you are familiar, the Pointe at Squaw Peak (not sure if the name has changed). The training session was held in August. in Phoenix. Dirt cheap because no one wants to be in Phoenix in August. After that column came out, the next week long training session was held at some God-forsaken military base in the middle of nowhere where the cockroaches were bigger, and more plentiful, than the door nobs. (I was at both training sessions). Just for fun I looked into whether the session at the military base cost the government more money than the training session in Phoenix. You already know the answer: the actual cost of the military base training session to the IRS was more than the cost of the the Phoenix training session.

          It is possible that this was not a coincidence. I would not wager a large sum of money that it was not coincidence, though.

          • Peterr says:

            The IRS letters at the links are clear that these kinds of audits are *not* due to anything in the actual return that looked funny, but a strict random selection. Now, that could mean a random selection of returns that have an AGI above a certain threshold, who have various kinds of non-wage income or specific kinds of deductions, and who filed certain additional forms and schedules. But the bottom line from the IRS was that beyond setting parameters, these audits were not triggered by what was claimed by the filers.

            As for the audits not being painful, it’s hard to square that with the colloquial language (presumably from the IRS folks) that these are an “autopsy without the benefit of death.” Add in the $5000 in accountant fees (as Comey had to pay) is not nothing.

            The article also includes this about Rettig:

            The I.R.S. commissioner, Charles P. Rettig, who was appointed to the post by Mr. Trump in 2018, declined to be interviewed about the audits, discussions he may have had with Mr. Trump or his political appointees, or how compliance research examinations work. But in a written statement, the agency said he had no role in selecting candidates for audit.

            “Commissioner Rettig is not involved in individual audits or taxpayer cases; those are handled by career civil servants,” the statement said. “As I.R.S. commissioner, he has never been in contact with the White House — in either administration — on I.R.S. enforcement or individual taxpayer matters. He has been committed to running the I.R.S. in an impartial, unbiased manner from top to bottom.”

            If I were Rettig, I’d be calling the IG asking for an investigation as soon as this became public.

          • Out of Nowhere says:

            I know Chuck as well, although I’m certain not as well as I Never Lie and am Always Rights. And I concur that he is a man of integrity. That’s why I was disturbed when I read this a few years ago:

            [quote] When Trump nominated Rettig to lead the IRS in February 2018, Rettig initially failed to disclose that the Hawaii real estate he owned was at a Trump-branded property. He bought a 50 percent interest in two units at Trump International Waikiki in 2006 ahead of the building’s completion in 2009. It is likely that Trump profited off of his future-IRS commissioner’s purchase; although the Trump Organization does not own the Waikiki property, its branding deal gave it a 10 percent share of total pre-sales.

            Records indicate Rettig is definitely making money from this purchase: on his financial disclosure, he reported an income between $100,000 and $1 million in rent and/or royalties from the units. The two one-bedroom condos are valued around $1.2 million each, according to Hawaii property records. President Trump also made a promotional appearance at the property in 2017 ahead of a diplomatic trip.

            Rettig’s financial interest at Trump-branded property raises serious ethics questions as the president continues to fight to keep his tax returns secret. The public has a strong interest in seeing the president’s tax returns to understand whether he is using the White House to further his own bottom line. The fact that Trump’s IRS Commissioner is entangled in the president’s business interests means we have to ask whether Rettig’s decision on releasing the president’s tax returns is based on the public interest or his own financial interests. [\quote]

            Because of Chuck’s reputation, that stayed with me. Given today’s news, an IG must open a case file on the audits to avoid the perception that the IRS was used for political means.

            • John Colvin says:

              I am surprised by how many members of the EW commentariat know Chuck. (I have known him for 20+ years, first meeting him through the ABA Tax Section.) It seems statistically very unlikely.

            • joel fisher says:

              I read that the chances of this happening are about 1 in 20,000. But it’s possible that a Trumpy mid-level minion is responsible. Maybe, someone who wants a better job in the 2nd Trump administration.

              • Peterr says:

                In the NYT story I quoted above, they cited IRS figures that come to 1 in 30,600 for any one individual in a single year.

                For it to randomly happen to two specific individuals in two different years, the odds are 1/30,600 times 1/30,600, or roughly 1 in 936,360,000.

                • timbo says:

                  Statistically, its incredibly unlikely to be chance. It also begs the question of who else got these “random” deep audits under the Twitler regime…

                • John Colvin says:

                  The IRS conducts several thousand research audits every year, looking into every cranny of a person’s or entity’s financial affairs in order to refine its ability to risk assess the remainder of the population for audit potential. While these audits are in theory random, this does not necessarily mean random across the population, as the NYT estimate of statistical likelihood assumes. In some instances, certain types of return are chosen for intense study for a year or two. About 15 years ago, I had a client living in Canada who had filed a Form 1040-NR for the commission-based service business performed for US companies. The IRS selected several hundred of these individuals for research audit so it could better understand Form 1040-NR filings. While I cannot completely discount the possibility that persons within the IRS manipulated the system to ensure that a research audit was performed on one or both, it is indeed possible that this is total coincidence. For example, the IRS might be doing research audits on filers who reported significant legal expenses (relative to income) on their respective Schedule Cs, or who have some other commonality that we don’t know about.

                  • Epicurus says:

                    I agree with you, John. The odds of winning the Mega Million lottery are 302.5 million to one. Sometimes there are multiple winners. Rettig apparently sent a request to the IG which would seem appropriate.

                    It shouldn’t take the IG office long as the IRS most likely has its own internal political sensitivity protocol for such occurrences as audits of Comey and McCabe. (In that respect I am surprised Rettig didn’t know of their audits.) Someone would have had to have signed off on the audits in general but especially for such people as Comey and McCabe considering the potential blowback against the IRS as is happening here. The someone that signed off would most likely have needed some evidence predetermined by the IRS itself of unbiased individual selection to show it was not politically generated to protect her/himself and the agency.

                    Someone could certainly be a loose cannon so we shall see what the IG determines.

            • Rugger9 says:

              Add Michael Cohen, former fixer to the list, which reinforces the perception of political payback. It’s always about the projection for the GQP and Individual-1 in particular. If the names are public record, it might be worth cross-referencing to the ‘coffee boy’ list to see if a pattern develops.

              • skua says:

                You’d want to check my maths but that takes the odds to something like 28 trillion to 1.
                28 trillion is a rather large number – roughly how many seconds there are in a million years.

  17. Pigeon in a Library says:

    Off topic, but…
    Pat Cipollone to testify to Jan. 6 Committee

    I’ve always thought Pat Cipollone looks like the blue haired lawyer who works for Mr. Burns. Last time I saw him on TV it was during Impeachment 1 and I could barely hear him over my own screams. Curious now to hear if he sounds like the Blue Haired Lawyer. And what a curious world where I’m now so excited to hear his testimony that I’m salivating like one of Mr. Burns’ dogs.

  18. Riktol says:

    Senator Graham apparently plans to challenge his subpoena (which popehat notes does not articulate a valid basis for doing so).
    In his announcement, he says that the information given to the Georgia grand jury would be “immediately” shared with the Jan 6th committee.
    I thought grand juries operated secretly.
    Is the Senator talking crap (shock! horror!), or is there some mechanism by which the Jan 6th committee could get hold of his interview transcript and/or any documents he submits?

        • bmaz says:

          Yes. Ken is a friend and as good of a legal expert on RICO and the First Amendment as you will find. And, unlike all the law prawfs you see cited so often in the press, Ken actually practices.

          • J R in WV says:

            I followed Ken way back when he was a traveling circuit defense lawyer over in Virginia, because his posts were both interesting and sometimes really funny. Rural VA is as strange as rural WV!!

            His career has taken a lot of good twists since then, and he got a really funny ‘nym — Popehat… could you get more ridiculous? Nope!

      • Adam Selene says:

        Yes, I had to search for that one myself. Ken White is an interesting character, as is his judicial watchdog blog (I’m vastly oversimplifying it).

        That’s why I love this blog — I learn a lot and enjoy the snark attacks.

        Knock knock. Who’s there?

        {Bless Dan Aykroyd.}

  19. Ddub says:

    OT Word of the SC hearing the Moore v. Harper case is spreading. This case, by many indications is an existential threat to democracy.
    Is the Democratic leadership going come up with a coherent plan to stop a judicial coup?
    If they don’t, then members of the caucus need to step up and demand action.
    The SC needs to know that there are lines in the sand that if crossed would trigger actions in response.
    This can’t be wait and see.

    • bmaz says:

      “Is the Democratic leadership going come up with a coherent plan to stop a judicial coup?”

      Lol, no, of course not.

    • cmarlowe says:

      >> The SC needs to know that there are lines in the sand that if crossed would trigger actions in response.
      This can’t be wait and see.

      Agree on the danger, but what actions do you suggest?

      • Ddub says:

        No idea. A multi-State coalition that declares this SC invalid if “Independent State Legislatures” are recognized?
        Dissolution of the Union is only threat that carries weight. Seems ridiculous at this point, except the stories of people fleeing red States, and others asking what triggers would force a move for them.

  20. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Thank goodness Boris Johnson has resigned. He may still try to unwind his resignation – his ego is as big as a house, which means that it’s really smaller than a mouse – through his last second cabinet reshuffle, bent transition arrangements or a snap election. But it will be bloody hard after several dozen ministers resigned in protest. That the latter did not revolt long ago will be an indelible stain on all of them.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      When Johnson actually stops squatting in No. 10 and leaves government is still an open question. As with Trump, the job is the ultimate ego boost and immunization from liability, so Johnson will think up as many lies as need be to stay on. That he stays even one more day is a damning indictment of the Conservative Party and its leadersheep.

      • Rayne says:

        It’s not just a damning indictment. Johnson’s refusal to allow a caretaker government is an opportunity for his regime to wrap up whatever illicit bullshit they’ve been doing without oversight by outsiders. It’s a sign to his handlers they’re managing a rollup.

          • Peterr says:

            Ian Blackford (leader of the SNP) had a comment during PMQs yesterday that absolutely nailed it:

            “A few week ago, I compared the Prime Minister to Monty Python’s Black Knight. Actually, it turns out I was wrong. (pause) He’s actually the Dead Parrot. (laughter) Whether he knows it or not, he’s now an Ex-Prime Minister.”

            (Click through to listen starting at 2:20 – the delivery and the reaction in the House really makes it great.)

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              BoJo’s “resignation” has all the reliability and sincerity of a Trump promise.

            • Rayne says:

              That’s excellent, thanks for sharing that link. I follow a lot of Britons through another account and none of them had shared this.

              Dead parrot, indeed.

    • P J Evans says:

      I’d say the answer is $$$, but I don’t know who’s really paying for this campaign.

    • Legonaut says:

      Mark Leibovich at The Atlantic asks a similar question about Lindsey Graham, Kevin McCarthy, and all the others who did/continue to/will support TFG:

      The thesis seems to be the oh-so-seductive quest for “relevance”. Similarly, Walker’s the meal ticket and shot at relevance for all of these people. What are they gonna do, abandon that for principles?!? Pfft. (They’d never get another GQP campaign job again. Might have to go back to selling used cars or something.) So they clean and they scrub and they spin as hard as they can.

      “‘Flawed vessel’ for God’s work,” my ass.

      (BTW, exchanging D for R in this proposition does not change its truth value – only its prevalence in the current climate.)

  21. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Joe Biden’s WH medal ceremony today was a paean for a mythical era of comity and good fellowship in national politics. A move to and a longing for an equally mythical center – one that would require comity and reciprocity, which are notably absent, owing largely to the right’s violent radicalism. But that’s a reality Joe won’t listen to, without or without sunglasses, on his 8-track tape player.

      • punaise says:

        Paul Waldman @ WaPo:

        Is Joe Biden the wrong president at the wrong time?

        ….But today, he seems surprised by the new radicalism of the Republican Party and unable to craft a response to it, nor to the extraordinary aggressiveness of the Supreme Court. Since he is by nature an institutionalist, his first impulse when asked about the filibuster or reforming the court is to resist fundamental change, which to his supporters sounds like naivete and defeatism

        • cmarlowe says:

          I am pay-walled from the full article, so I may be missing something. Other than sounding really angry (not a bad thing) and doing the federal judge nominations, what is the solution to the filibuster or SC reform when you don’t have enough votes?

          • punaise says:

            No real solutions proposed. A few more snippets, hopefully within the bounds of fair use:

            Let’s grant that it’s likely that no president would be popular at a moment like this one. We tend to overestimate the president’s ability to turn any situation to his advantage with well-chosen words and a steely gaze.

            We should also not be fooled into thinking Biden could say or do some particular thing that would instantly transform his political fortunes. As my colleague Dana Milbank points out, those demanding Biden be more pugnacious in confronting Republicans are overlooking the many times he has taken precisely the tone they want him to.

            These moments are overlooked for a reason, though. Biden is great at offering empathy and reassurance, but at a time when we’re confronting so many problems, his party and the rest of the country would probably rather have a more dynamic president who inspires loyalty and communicates passion, rather than one who says, “Hey folks, it’s tough out there, not a joke, but we’ll get through it.”

    • punaise says:

      If everyone was rowing in the right direction this would still be a comity of air oars.

    • Peterr says:

      I don’t know, Earl. Look at the specific people to whom Biden awarded the PMF

      Simone Biles was given the PMF for her work in helping to bring an athletic coach to justice, bring down a corrupt gymnastics organization, and forcing the sports world generally to look at what they do (or do not do) to protect athletes both physically and mentally. Contrast that with one of Trump’s last PMF awardees . . . Jim Jordan, who claims to have been both blind and deaf while a wrestling coach in a program rampant with abuse.

      Then there’s Megan Rapinoe, a married lesbian feminist activist who forced US Soccer to treat women and men equally. Contrast that with Trump’s made-for-TV presentation of the PMF to Rush “Death to Feminazis” Limbaugh.

      Then there’s Sister Simone Campbell, one of the leaders of the Nuns on the Bus, a group of politically active Roman Catholic sisters who raise up the poor in the minds of politicians. Contrast that with Trump’s presentation to Arthur “The Napkin Artist” Laffer.

      Diane Nash, Fred Gray, and Raul Yzaguirre, all civil rights icons. The trio make a nice counter to Trump’s fawning award to Antonin Scalia.

      Gabbie Giffords, who forcefully stands up to the gun lobby, is a strong improvement over Devin Nunes, who sues cows on Twitter.

      Contrast longtime labor union leader Richard Trumpka with Ed Meese, who helped Reagan break the air traffic controllers union PATCO.

      Alan Simpson might look like a polite nod to a Republican elder of a bygone era, but he is still active in Wyoming . . . where he endorsed Liz Cheney, and he appears in a campaign ad released just a little over a week ago.

      And of course, there are the obvious ones to poke Trump in the eye: Khzir Khan and John McCain.

      Some of these I am sure that Biden picked out personally, and others may have been presented to him as possible recipients and he approved them. But there is nothing here that is a paean to comity: this was a 17 gun salvo, aimed squarely at Mar-A-Lago.

      And he did not miss.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I agree that some of the recipients were praiseworthy. But why now? And why McCain, with all the crap that hid behind his public persona? And elder Republicans who would be drummed out of the current Republican Party? Where’s the leverage, besides the dubious leverage of “poking” at Trump.

        Ceremonies are the easy part: absent votes to pass legislation, there are specific and general policies, decisions he could take, but seems shy or loathe to do. At least now, over a month after the leaked Dobbs decision and weeks after the real one, Biden seems to be rolling out limited support for abortion today. Is he waiting for October to do something about student debt, or is he just waiting? Clarity and leading from the front do not seem to be in Biden’s quiver.

        • Peterr says:

          I agree with you about the actions Biden seems to be dragging his feet on.

          But I don’t see these PMF awards as any kind of paean to comity, and that’s what I was trying to point out.

  22. Doctor My Eyes says:

    I wonder if others are thinking, like me, that there is actually a layer of fairly detailed, possibly demonstrable, organization behind Trump’s attempt to install himself as ruler. I had thought it all went out in code to the PB et al, but the more I hear comments like Giuliani’s to Hutchinson, “Are you excited about the 6th?” and other such, the more I realize there was a clear vision in place of scenario(s) which would keep Trump in power. We seem to never really find out where the dirty money comes from and high-level plotters are seldom allowed to be exposed. But this time may be different. If the DOJ does honorably pursue the case successfully, and we learn a lot of details about who coordinated what (hello, Roger Stone), it will be interesting to see how close things get to Trump. I wouldn’t be shocked if he kept himself frustratingly clean, impetuous though he be. He didn’t plot with the secret service to take him to the Capitol, he just tried to bully in real time. There is a modus to that operandi–there’s not a lot of paper trail. Lacking written language isn’t the only way in which Trump is paleolithic.

    • Franktoo says:

      T’is worth remembering that Trump’s rally ran an hour late, finishing about the same time (1:00 pm) as Pence was opening the joint session that would certify Joe Biden as the next President. If the rally had finishing on time, there would have been no safety reason for the Secret Service to have kept Trump away from the Capitol. The Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and others didn’t attend the rally and were hanging out around the Capitol, but their attack didn’t begin until the session was scheduled to begin. So, it is my hypothesis that Trump intended to personally lead the effort to prevent Congress from certifying the election of Biden – aided a mob of 100,000? fortified with militia and his Secret Service detail. The alternative hypothesis – that Trump intended to sit around in the White House twiddling his thumbs watching on TV as the election was stolen from him – may be the more absurd possibility. For Trump, the crime was the stealing of his re-election, not his efforts to prevent that theft.

  23. P J Evans says:

    OT, but Shinzo Abe has been shot. Two shotgun blasts, in his back, from less than 10 meters. Airlifted to hospital, but report is no vital signs. (He had blood on his left chest.) Not officially dead yet, but he isn’t alive.

  24. grennan says:

    Coverage back when Willis’s effort started said she would call two grand juries — one to determine which, if any, crimes had taken place, and the second one to determine who should be prosecuted.

    Is that a big deal and or does it make these subpoenas less of a big deal?

    • bmaz says:

      Not a big deal, just stupid (assuming that report is accurate). There is nothing about Willis’ noisy effort that makes much sense.

      It is a phone call. There is a tape of it, and nobody has challenged the validity of said tape. There are not that many adjacent issues. Indict on it, don’t indict on it, whatever. But Fani Willis needs to get on with it, either direction, and quit milking it for her Cecil B. DeMille closeup moment.

      • Peterr says:

        The “special grand jury” does not have the legal authority to make an indictment under GA law. They make a report back to the prosecutor, who then must take it to a regular grand jury to get any indictments that might be warranted. The AJC described it like this a couple of days ago when these subpoenas were made:

        The special grand jury has permission to meet until May 2023, though Willis said she’s expecting the group’s work to wrap up long before then. Jurors are expected to draft a report at the end of their service recommending whether Willis should press charges against Trump or his allies, though the final decision ultimately rests with the DA, a Democrat elected in 2020.

        But it’s not just *a* phone call by Donald Trump to the Secretary of State. There were others on the call from Team Trump – to what extent might they be liable for what Trump said? There are Lindsey Graham’s efforts to do the same thing Trump did. There were calls to the governor and the AG. There may not be many adjacent issues, but there are plenty of adjacent people.

        And as a defense attorney, I’m surprised that you think that the tape issue is apparently cut and dried. Seems to me that Trump’s defense would offer the obvious “he was speaking inelegantly about how close the race was, and was merely asking for a closer examination of things on the belief that he would prevail in an accurate count.” To beat that, Willis needs to be able to show that Trump knew the count was actually accurate and thus knew that he was asking for improper acts from the SOS.

        Finally, Willis doesn’t want to be the prosecutor who went after a former president and lost. She’s going to double check everything and prepare for everything that might be raised at trial, because she damn sure doesn’t want to lose. I don’t get where your Cecil B DeMille language comes from either. She has given very very few interviews over the course of this investigation.

        • bmaz says:

          Lol, Fani Willis is a joke at this point. She “doesn’t want to be the prosecutor who went after a former president and lost.”? How about the joke interlocutor who just made cheap bank?

  25. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump hires only the best lawyers:

    Never forget that Jenna Ellis was a traffic court lawyer so bad at her job that her bosses argued TWICE with the Colorado Department of Labor that she shouldn’t be allowed to collect unemployment insurance after being fired.

    Traffic courts generally deal with low-level criminal violations. It is not complex or legally challenging: it’s where you send newbies to learn the law and think on their feet in front of a judge and with a client. (That’s distinct from the ubiquitous police abuse of traffic stops to exact violence against people of color, which is not the sort of work Ellis did, and which end up in different courts.)

  26. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Some days, the richest man in the world is as dumb as a post. Elon Musk wants to walk away from his deal to buy Twtr. But he doesn’t want to pay the billion dollar “walk away” fee he agreed to, a routine type of cost in the M&A trade. To do that, he has to think up a barrage of reasons why Twtr breached the deal. So far, so good, but that’s a distraction from a much bigger problem.

    Walk away fees are generally regarded as inadequate to compensate a target company. That’s because the target may have disrupted its operations; lost business, senior and other staff, and market opportunities, etc.; and could be further harmed if the deal falls through.

    That risk is dealt with by another provision standard in M&A contracts: specific performance. It empowers a court to compel Elon to go through with the deal – at the agreed price: $54/share vs. the current price of about $30/share. That’s a big hit, and leaves Elon the problem of actually managing Twtr, or selling it off, presumably at a loss.

    The state court that has jurisdiction over this contract has flexibility in how it might enforce specific performance. It might, for example, craft an agreed alternative that would be fair to the parties, create stability, and avoid forcing two companies to marry who no longer want to live together.

    The court might, for example, bump up the walk away fee to something that more closely approximates Twtr’s costs. A lot of negotiation would go into that figure, but one way to get at it would be the difference between the current fmv of Twtr’s shares and the deal price of $54/share. That’s roughly $19 billion, on top of the walk away fee. So, Elon has more to worry about than fathering twins with one of his employees.

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