The French President May Be Contained Inside the Roger Stone Clemency

These are pictures the FBI took during their March 2017 search of Josh Schulte’s apartment for evidence that he violated 18 USC 793, one of the same crimes for which Trump is being investigated. (I’ve not included links and included just fragments of the images to minimize privacy impact.)

I thought they’d be useful background to the search of Trump’s golf resort and the receipts included on the publicly released warrant. As I understand it, the FBI takes these pictures for several reasons:

  • To document the condition of a search location before they start their search in case of an attempt to suppress the seizure
  • To record the original location and condition of each item that will be seized
  • To assist the inventory process

In Schulte’s case, the FBI put a post-it bearing a letter A-G in the framing picture they took of every room in his apartment (I’ve shown B, the closet, and D, his living room), then used additional post-its to identify the items they would seize from those rooms. The pictures make it easy to show (for example) that the FBI took item B1, probably a server, from the closet where it had been stored next to the Kingsford Charcoal bag and under the vacuum cleaner.

FBI’s use of this kind of process is one of the reasons that I think the grant of executive clemency for Roger Stone described in the inventory of the search of Mar-a-Lago is probably neither the commutation nor the pardon that we already know about: Stone’s get out of jail free card for lying to cover-up whatever real back-channel he had to Russia’s hack-and-leak effort.

It appears to show that the “Info re: President of France” was contained inside the “Executive Grant of Clemency re: Roger Jason Stone Jr.”

While we can’t be sure, it appears that the FBI used a similar labeling system as used in the search of Schulte to identify all the boxes the found when they arrived at Mar-a-Lago, A-1 through at least A-73, then went through, room by room, to determine whether those boxes were covered by the scope of the warrant. Ultimately, the FBI seized 27 boxes out of what appears to be at least 73 they inspected.

The warrant permitted the FBI to seize anything that was obviously evidence of two of the three crimes under investigation:

  • Presidential or Governmental Records created during Trump’s term, which because they weren’t turned over under the Presidential or Federal Records Act, might be evidence that someone removed records from a public office and therefore a potential violation of 18 USC 2071
  • Any evidence of the knowing alteration, destruction, or concealment of Government and/or Presidential Records, or of any documents with classification markings, which in addition to being a potential violation of 18 USC 2071, might also be evidence that Trump obstructed the Archives’ efforts to fulfill its duties under 18 USC 1519

The way in which the warrant authorized the collection of evidence for the third crime, 18 USC 793, was two-fold. First, the FBI could collect any document about the storage of classified information. Responsive records might include a post-it note saying, “Sekrit, Keep Out,” the email from Jay Bratt telling Trump’s lawyers his storage facilities didn’t comply with regulations setting standards for storing classified documents, or cover sheets for classified documents that were discarded (the FBI found some of those in Schulte’s shredder and used those as evidence at trial to prove he knew he had CIA documents). The FBI would use such things to show that Trump or his staff knew how they were supposed to keep classified documents.

In addition, the FBI was allowed to seize documents with classification markings, stuff in the same box as such documents, and stuff in the same storage location as such boxes.

Any physical documents with classification markings, along with any containers/boxes (including any other contents) in which such documents are located, as well as any other containers/boxes that are collectively stored or found together with the aforementioned documents and containers/boxes;

As I showed in my nifty graphic the other day, that might might explain how the FBI seized three of Trump’s passports. If they were in a box with classified documents — here shown by Trump’s diplomatic passport in the leatherbound box where he allegedly also had TS/SCI documents — or in a box in the same closet as boxes that stored classified documents — shown here as a box with no classified documents but stored in the same closet where he had boxes with Top Secret and Secret documents — then FBI would be permitted to seize them, but would (and did) return them once they confirmed they were out of scope.

This proximal search protocol may be part of the reason why the FBI seems to have used sub-entries to describe the contents of 11 boxes.

Items 1 through 7 or 8 may have come from either Trump’s office or residence (wherever he stored the leatherbound box that, according to a Guardian story, only his family knew about).

If so, under the proximal protocol, all could be seized if they were stored in the same place as Item 2, a leatherbound box, in which there were documents marked TS/SCI. (Of course, they could also be seized if they fit one of the two other search criteria, a possible Presidential Record — as item 3 is described — or proof of obstruction.)

There are no classified documents identified in boxes A-12, A-13, A-14, or A-17, but they were likely stored in close proximity to boxes A-15, A-16, and A-18, which are described to contain documents with classification marks. There are no classified documents identified in boxes A-22, A-24, or A-26, but boxes A-23, A-27, and A-28 are listed as containing documents classified at various levels. Boxes A-71 and A-73 may have been stored in an entirely different place at Mar-a-Lago, but the former could have been seized under the proximal search protocol if it were stored in the same place as box A-73, which is listed as containing Top Secret documents.

If this is right, then these labels on boxes (and their inclusion in the inventory) would serve several purposes. It would signal which boxes had to be treated with greater care in seizing them and taking them to the FBI inventory. It would make it easy for those doing intake to identify where the most sensitive documents were and which documents needed to be sent for classification review. It would reveal to the public that the FBI found precisely what it expected to find: stolen classified documents. And it would at least hint that the FBI did follow this proximal protocol, taking just 27 out of at least 73 boxes it reviewed, almost all of which appear to have been in close proximity to other classified documents.

The single solitary exception to what appears to be a practice of listing the contents of boxes in this entire inventory is the Roger Stone clemency.

It’s possible 1A, the information on the French President, wasn’t part of the clemency. Maybe Trump has a folder full of blackmail on people, and his blackmail on Emmanuel Macron was paper-clipped to his pardon for Stone. Maybe his filing system is just even more chaotic than reported, and Stone and Macron simply ended up in the same box, swimming through Trump’s mementos for all eternity together.

But the most likely explanation of this, given the rest of the inventory, is that the information about a President of France is information included inside the Stone clemency.

If that’s right, the reasons the FBI might have recorded the content of what would be a previously unknown Executive Grant of Clemency could be similar to the reasons listing the classified documents Trump had stored away. If this document is not a Presidential Record, a classified document, or proof of obstruction via evidence impairment (using a pardon to obstruct justice would not qualify under 18 USC 1519, unless the FBI were seizing it under a Plain View claim), then the FBI had no business taking it unless by dint of proximity to the leatherbound box containing TS/SCI documents. If this apparent grant of clemency weren’t on official letterhead, for example, it’s not clear that it would be a real grant of clemency, and so not a Presidential Record. Maybe Trump and his rat-fucker just engage in pardon cosplay together to relive the old times, and they have a game to think up the most outlandish pardon? That may be one of the purposes of including the reference to a French President, if it’s really part of the clemency. For example, the reference may appear potentially classified, perhaps non-public information obtained via intelligence intercepts, which would be another proper reason to seize the document under the warrant.

Of course, the FBI also might have recorded that tidbit for the same reason I keep coming back to it, because the agent looked at it and said WTF, and wanted to make sure someone else chased down what this is about.

Again, this is not definitive. But given the convention that seems to be used elsewhere in the warrant receipt, there is more evidence this is not the known commutation and pardon for Stone than that it is, because it appears to include something — some tie to a President of France — that neither of those do.

In a follow-up, I’ll explain why this is not as outlandish as it seems.

Update: Here’s a bureaucratic manual on FBI evidence collection. It’s not really helpful but it’s a guide to all the forms that are being filed to catalog stuff seized from Trump’s home.

emptywheel Trump Espionage coverage

Trump’s Timid (Non-Legal) Complaints about Attorney-Client Privilege

18 USC 793e in the Time of Shadow Brokers and Donald Trump

[from Rayne] Other Possible Classified Materials in Trump’s Safe

Trump’s Stolen Documents

John Solomon and Kash Patel May Be Implicated in the FBI’s Trump-Related Espionage Act Investigation

[from Peterr] Merrick Garland Preaches to an Overseas Audience

Three Ways Merrick Garland and DOJ Spoke of Trump as if He Might Be Indicted

The Legal and Political Significance of Nuclear Document[s] Trump Is Suspected to Have Stolen

Merrick Garland Calls Trump’s Bluff

Trump Keeps Using the Word “Cooperate.” I Do Not Think That Word Means What Trump Wants the Press To Think It Means

[from Rayne] Expected Response is Expected: Trump and Right-Wing DARVO

DOJ’s June Mar-a-Lago Trip Helps Prove 18 USC 793e

The Likely Content of a Trump Search Affidavit

All Republican Gang of Eight Members Condone Large-Scale Theft of Classified Information, Press Yawns

Some Likely Exacerbating Factors that Would Contribute to a Trump Search

FBI Executes a Search Warrant at 1100 S Ocean Blvd, Palm Beach, FL 33480

The ABCs (and Provisions e, f, and g) of the Espionage Act

Trump’s Latest Tirade Proves Any Temporary Restraining Order May Come Too Late

How Trump’s Search Worked, with Nifty Graphic

Pat Philbin Knows Why the Bodies Are Buried

Rule of Law: DOJ Obtained Trump’s Privilege-Waived Documents in May

The French President May Be Contained Inside the Roger Stone Clemency

108 replies
  1. flounder says:

    Good explainer.
    I’m still sticking with my semi-serious theory that the info on a French President is naked pictures of former French First Lady Carla Bruni, who Trump has obsessed over since he was lying about dating her in the 1990’s.

    • bmaz says:

      I find that extremely hard to believe. Heck, you can get that all over the internet. It is not about Carla Bruni.

      • flounder says:

        Hence the semi-seriousness of my theory. But I chuckle thinking Trump got something about Bruni that wasn’t just out there in public, feeling very special about that, then deciding it had to go in his very special leather box.
        In reality it’s probably something like a pocket pardon for acting as a pass through between Russian Intelligence and Jack Prosobiec for Macron’s stolen emails.

  2. Yogarhythms says:

    Due to COVID-19 I’ve not been in the water/ocean swimming lately. Images of rat-fr and Macron documents swimming made me jealous. I want to toast a swim stroke referred to as the side-stroke, non competitive recovery stroke, no longer in use but historically significant. All of which comments on two of the parties (both out of service) regarding this ephemeral act of clemency. Thank you and your team for countless hours of company and inspiration.

    • notjonathon says:

      When I was at summer camp (I was nine, I think), I had a counselor who was a PE major and somewhat of a swimming style historian. He not only taught me the sidestroke (actually useful for lifesaving) but also the Trudgen stroke, as something to keep me amused.

      • nord dakota says:

        I grew up in NE Minnesota, where everyone swims (annual town water carnival with water skiing stunts by local high schoolers), but me? I’d walk with my hands on the bottom and kick my legs and pretend I was swimming. In spite of swimming lessons every year and every day in summer at the beach, it wasn’t until 7th grade swim class (PE) where I finally learned a side stroke. Which I think was the swimming equivalent of the baseball field position (I think it’s somewhere in the right field, and I think there’s a song about languishing in the right field, where the worst player gets sent to) I always got sent to, where I would daydream until a ball plopped near me and I said “wups”.

        I did eventually figure out swimming on my own.

      • Raven Eye says:

        At Scout swim meets sidestroke was raced. My mother had taught me over-arm sidestroke (you bring the upper arm up out of the water and forward), which was faster. So I used it. And won. And there were protests. It was declared legal.

        • bmaz says:

          There were protests? Wow. Adjust and get better, isn’t that what sports is supposed to be? Great story. And I apologize for also chuckling a little too. Jeebus.

      • punaise says:

        I recall learning the side stroke at swim lessons in my youth – the teacher likened the arm movement as reaching up into a tree to pick cherries then bringing them down to put them in a basket.

    • Chuck M. says:

      A subject at emptywheel I’m qualified to speak to and not just ask stoopid questions about.
      In my past I’ve been Red Cross certified as:
      Basic Lifesaving
      Advanced Lifesaving
      Water Safety Instructor
      Water Safety Instructor Trainer
      So there.

      No one’s mentioned the Inverted Breast Stroke, nor for that matter the stroke we all know by instinct: The Dog Paddle.

      (All that was ~40 years ago, but based on the number of pools and lakes not opening their waterfronts lately due to a shortage of lifeguards, I may be reviving those soon. The pay’s certainly better now)

  3. Oxcart says:

    Great work, Marcy. I’m curious about the leather bound box. Was it a dedicated document container, or a fancy box that was repurposed? I’m wondering if it might have originally held a gift from someone, like, say, one of many foreign hosts (and guests) who gave Trump presents. It’s just a thought now; I’m rifling my visual memory bank for images of him receiving gifts from VIPs, because something is tickling me. Maybe certain things were hidden in the leather box because the box itself was, somehow, meaningful? Just wondering.

    • Roger Mexico says:

      I think the more interesting thought is that it was meant to be displayed as on a desk or credenza. It means that those TS/SCI files were at his fingertips. The potential eyes on them could be everyone who has been through or had access to that office. He may have brandished those not for the content, but for the dominance display. Yes this is rank speculation.

      • P J Evans says:

        Having seen photos of his business office in NYC, he has so many *things* displayed that it’s hazardous.

        • Roger Mexico says:

          Like I said – pure conjecture.

          A leather bound box is for display not storage. I have trouble imagining a useful reason that one would keep TS/SCI files on top of one’s desk. They are either there because the information in them is consulted regularly, because it allowed for personal oversight on access, or because they are there like a prop to stress your importance. And I don’t think TFG is big on actual work or details like access.

      • posaune says:

        I thought it was supposed to be DJT’s version of the Elizabeth R’s ministerial red leather box — he wanted one of those for himself.

  4. christopher rocco says:

    I am still perplexed by the notion that DOJ would notify Trump’s lawyers that the storage room had inadequate security precautions when the documents shouldn’t have been there in the first place. It’s like an implicit admission that their presence at MAL was legal. I have read about that issue two or three times now and it doesn’t make sense.

    • Spank Flaps says:

      Trump repeatedly refused to return the docs. So the next best thing the authorities could do is insist they be kept securely until they got all their ducks in a row to retrieve them – knowing that any Tom Dick and Harry could root through them at Mar-a-Lago.

    • Andrew says:

      I read that as they (DoJ) warned trump that he was not complying with federal law in the way the docs were being stored. That he shouldn’t have them at all was already made clear. The improper storage could simply add to possible charges.

      [Bye, “Andrew,” who has failed more than five times to change usernames as requested. /~Rayne]

    • BobCon says:

      MW has noted that a lot of the characterization of what has happened is based on Trump team reports. I think it has been said the most likely account is Trump’s side is cherry picking the government’s demands to suggest they consisted of isolated elements in sequence that Trump’s people were complying with as they came up. The reality is they were getting fuller demands for compliance and the lock was just a small piece.

    • Ravenclaw says:

      It sounds like what they said was not “put a lock on it” but more like “these documents we want back are not even properly stored under lock and key.” Besides, better a lock than it. At least access would be limited to TFG’s personal grift crew.

    • gulageten says:

      Maybe it was [unintentionally] strategic — the padlock is emblematic of the docs’ keepers saying, yeah you’re right, these are sensitive and need to be secured. That demonstrates a certain cognizance of the value and sensitivity of those items. As I understand it, that awareness doesn’t necessarily need to be proven — depending what the documents turn out to be — but is still relevant.

      • bmaz says:

        “That demonstrates a certain cognizance of the value and sensitivity of those items.”

        Lol, no, it really does not.

      • Brumel says:

        I may be wrong but when the DOJ requires someone to put a padlock on something, I would assume it’s the DOJ who provides the padlock, like “We want you to put *this* padlock on it.” I couldn’t make sense of it otherwise.

        • Rayne says:

          There’s a specification for locks appropriate for use by US government for classified material; my notes say a GSA-approved lock meeting Federal Specification FF-L-2740.

          The problem is bigger than a padlock, though. The materials Trump had should have been in a locked system according to Executive Order 13526 (December 29, 2009):

          — Top Secret material in a vault to Federal Standard 832

          Classified material in/under:
          — GSA-approved security container
          — Continuous protection by cleared guard or duty personnel
          — Inspection of the security container every two hours by cleared guard or duty personnel
          — Intrusion Detection System (IDS) with the personnel responding to the alarm arriving within 15 minutes of the alarm annunciation
          — Lock meeting Federal Specification FF-L-2740

          The lock meeting a specific federal spec was the minimum expectation for classified material Trump refused to return to NARA and originating government entities. It doesn’t matter if the DOJ offered lock/s or not, 32 CFR § 2001.43 required a certain level of physical security to be provided by the documents’ possessor — and I’m betting Trump and Mar-a-Lago couldn’t assure 32 CFR § 2001.43 was met.

    • Operandi says:

      The description of that meeting put out by the Trump camp makes it sound like a social call. “Hi, I’m the director of counterintelligence flying down to tour your wonderful hotel. I’m only taking a few papers. Everything seems fine, except maybe add a padlock”

      But in reality, reading between the lines, it was probably played out more like this over the course of early June:

      Bratt: “You shouldn’t have these.”
      Team Trump: “We disagree
      Bratt: “I have a subpoena”
      Team Trump: “We’ll be as narrowly responsive as possible”
      Bratt: “You really should return the rest of these to NARA. They’re not even being store properly as per regs”
      Team Trump: “k. We put a better padlock on it”
      Bratt: “I want an affidavit you’ve at least turned over everything marked classified, and I’ve got a new subpoena for your security footage”

  5. M Smith says:

    Thanks for the great explainer Dr. Wheeler. There’s a small typo. “taking just 27 out of at least 73 documents it reviewed”, It should say boxes. In the paragraph beginning with “If this is right”.

  6. rattlemullet says:

    With the Palm Beach hearing today, the likely hood of unsealing the affidavit being released is near absolute zero, I think, in part due to Trump refusing to “turn down the heat” by doing a massive email campaign to raise money on railing against the FBI. Will the judge recognize the true threat of the MAGA mob to cause violence to any of the potential witnesses or moles that he himself has been subjugated too with threats from the same? Trump is using the same Mob speak to rile his core base of violent individuals as he did on January 6th. Does potential violence carry any weight in this hearing vs the desire of the medias need to know?

  7. Andrew says:

    My guess is that Stone was the intermediary between trump and Putin in the release of those emails damaging to Macron before the French election. Maybe asking Stone to take care of that convinced trump to give him a pardon.

  8. PeterS says:

    I’m still unclear why the 1,1A numbering implies anything beyond location. If only two items within the terms of the search were found in one specific place (e.g. a safe or drawer), would they be numbered n and n+1, or n and nA? Item 7, handwritten note, I assume was found by itself (I mean the only relevant item there) in a drawer or something. 

    • Drew says:

      All the other uses of the 1, 1A type designation appear to pretty clearly have the “A” designator as a bullet point, or sub-category of the box with the number. It’s not impossible that this label “Roger Stone Clemency” was the label of a folder or box about said topic, but within it was this information about the President of France. I’ve seen weirder combinations & labels in people’s archives in their original state.

  9. Cosmo Le Cat says:

    On a news aggregating site at this moment the top listed headline is a new article about Kash Patel by Just Security’s Ryan Goodman: “Trump Associate’s Stated Plan to Publicly Release “Declassified” Documents.”

    The 2nd headlined article is EmptyWheel: “Rule of Law: DOJ Obtained Tump’s Privilege-waived Documents in May.” Both articles are excellent.

    • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

      I’m new here but can I say shit?

      Patel is full of shit when he says in almost every utterance that, ‘We have proof about the whole Russiagate/HRC/Ukraine Impeachment/DJT Impeachments/Area 51/JFK Assassination.”

      If they HAD anything they had four years to deliver it.

      So, just like, “But her e-mails,” they’ve got bupkis.

      • Troutwaxer says:

        I don’t doubt you’re right. If Kash Patel had one bit of honesty or decency Trump would have demoted him to covfefe boy long ago.

    • Yorkville Kangaroo says:


      June 21, 2022 – “I can tell you now that I am now officially a representative for Donald Trump at the National Archives.”

      August 15, 2022 – “Well, I’ve never seen them or handled [the documents at Mar-a-Lago] . . . I don’t know what was in them…”

  10. Cosmo Le Cat says:

    Trump posted a link to a memo entitled: “Memorandum on Declassification of Certain Materials Related to the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane Investigation.” IMHO, this actually hurts his case unless he can point to similar memoranda or written orders relating specifically to other documents marked classified that were unrelated to that specific investigation that were found at Mar-a-Lago by the FBI. This memo shows that Trump actually followed an orderly, documented process to declassify material.

  11. rosalind says:

    placing a side bet that there is some reference to the age difference between Macron and his wife in the “macron file”. trump seemed slightly obsessed with Macron being married to a woman 24 years older. (and yes, melania is 24 years younger than hubby.)

    • Rugger9 says:

      I’m not so sure since the age difference has been flogged in the French press for years and unlike here many of the publications are openly aligned with political parties so there wouldn’t be much restraint. Perhaps it has to do with Mrs. Macron’s previous life before Emanuel (IIRC she was his school teacher at one point) which might have outside jobs. Again, the opposition press has probably dug up anything that was there so I’m not clear on what Roger Stone could have found even as a half-truth.

      OT, one wonders how comfortable Snowden is given the revelations about Russia and Putin posturing. I would not be surprised to find out that Snowden was a source regarding what the Russians needed to look for and who would have access to that data. If that theory is correct, Snowden is about to outlive his usefulness and needs to stay away from windows.

    • Sue 'em Queequeg says:

      And then had the gall (de Gaulle? — sorry everyone) to tell her, when they met, that she was pretty grabbable for an old lady. (Paraphrasing just a bit there.)

    • Rayne says:

      I might do the same. I see repeated references by right-wing trolls to his age when he first became involved with his spouse, along with references to France’s age of consent which has been a thorny subject.

  12. Riktol says:

    I think Josh Schulte has the same computer case I do, that’s a bit of a weird feeling.

    The thing that confuses me is; why don’t the non-box items have labels? There are 2 “binder of photos”, from the receipt there isn’t any way to tell one from the other and you’d think that would be at least marginally important. Entry 4 (which is glaringly out of order) and entry 7 are so generic you’d never be able to tell what it was later without a better description or label. So it seems likely that the FBI has a separate document with more details, and this is just the minimum to satisfy the people at the crime scene.

    So maybe the A numbers are pre-existing, maybe from Trump’s movers? And possibly the more important numbers are the prefix numbers, eg 4 has clearly been moved from page 1 of the SA receipt to the SSA receipt.

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Press reports made a big deal about Allen Weisselberg, former CFO for the Trump Org, not being willing to flip on Donald Trump. Now, though, he seems prepared to flip on the Trump Org. The problem for Donald is that many observers have long noted that Donald Trump is the Trump Org, and a micro-manager, to boot. Donald also likes to short-circuit procedural steps, and hates to do and pay for the procedural aspects of keeping his hundreds of holdings properly organized as discrete business. (Look what happened to the Trump Foundation.)

    The plea deal involves a fifteen-year tax fraud scheme. The penalties for that are relatively light for the Trump Org. But Weisselberg’s cooperation – he’s worked for the company for five decades – might disclose more serious crimes. (Prosecutors must expect it, given Weisselberg’s sentence.)

    As CFO during his fifteen-year scheme to defraud taxpayers, Weisselberg had authority to act for the Trump Org, which implemented this and possibly other schemes. If Donald disputes Weisselberg’s knowledge of what his long-time CFO was doing, that would not ordinarily shield the business. And Trump’s record as a micro-manager might be used to impeach his claims of ignorance. Heads he loses, tails he loses. This process puts in jeopardy everyone who works for the Trump Org, everyone who does business with it, everyone who’s lent money to it. That, too, might loosen some lips about other possible wrongdoing.

    Corporations guilty of criminal acts can’t be put in jail, but they can have their incorporation and license to do business revoked. (That would lead to reincorporation’s and expensive refinancings, and possibly to expensive taxable events.) Its rare, because convicting a business is harder than convicting an executive. Typically, prosecutors settle for fines without an admission of guilt. Weisselberg’s plea solves that problem, and puts Donald on the hook.

    If Weisselberg gets cold feet and refuses to fully cooperate – Donald can have that effect on people – his plea deal goes poof and his five-month sentence might turn into a fifteen-year sentence. That’s life for the seventy-five year-old Weisselberg.

    • Drew says:

      I wonder if the prospect of Weisselberg testifying might prompt the Trump Org to try to plead guilty? A close questioning of him under oath would certainly put Trump in a very narrow corner, even if it didn’t establish his personal guilt.

      The WORST case scenario for Trump is if he does (as would be his inclination) call Weisselberg to try to “get his story straight” or “do him a favor” and gets caught in witness tampering.

      • Peterr says:

        Trump does *not* plead guilty. He always has and forever will try to bluff his legal opponent into backing down, or otherwise deal his way out of court.

        In this case, rather than pleading guilty, he’ll go to trial, lose, declare himself a victim and a martyr, and raise a boatload of money sufficient to pay whatever judgement is made against Trump Org.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Trump has a history of settling before deposition in civil cases. Trump is unlikely to volunteer testimony in a criminal case, and, unless immunized (unlikely), he can’t be compelled to give it. It’s also unlikely a competent defense lawyer would let him take the stand.

      • Drew says:

        No. I mean WEISSELBERG’s testimony at the criminal trial of the Trump Org would put Donald into a very tight corner-establishing facts and explanations that would be hard to wiggle out of. (also any defense witnesses could dig the hole bigger for the Donald). So it’s seems like a fairly good be that the Org will try to plead somehow.

        • bmaz says:

          How do you know that? What is he going to say? How is the foundation going to be laid? Where in the sequence of witnesses will he be slotted to testify? How are all the requisite documents going to get admitted as foundation prior to that?

          • Drew says:

            None of us knows the details, but we do know that W. pled guilty to all 15 counts and is required to testify to what happened in the Org to what would establish the organization’s involvement. That doesn’t guarantee incriminating statements against Trump itself, but it gets lots more on the record. If Trump’s hands are completely clean and his subordinates plotted this all in order to avoid his moral censure, then he’s home free, but otherwise it limits what he can say down the line to dodge further responsibility.

    • nord dakota says:

      I’m confused. CNN headline says he’s to be a witness, article says he’s not expected to cooperate. How does that work?

      • Drew says:

        It probably means that he’s not formally cooperating, giving proffers, interviews etc. but he will testify truthfully etc at the trial. It could be that he is protecting Trump and stonewalling as much as he can, or it could mean that he wants Trump to believe that and that’s the story being told to the press.

  14. Ddub says:

    This is a foreign policy decision to release the connection to the leader of France. I find it hard to believe that the DoJ would have the final say in whether to involve the leader of an ally in perhaps the most consequential investigation in our history. And there must have been a compelling reason.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Good question. Trump has weaponized doing unprecedented things, for which there are no easy to ascertain legal consequences.

    • bmaz says:

      And therein is the question. Pardons are not worth much except as a defense to court attack. Why would a court blithely admit and honor something so stupid?

      • Peterr says:

        “You know, counselors, it’s been a slow week and I could use a laugh. And from the looks of it, so could you. So let’s just invite the former president up here — say, on Monday? — and hear him try to explain this . . . how to put it? . . . novel legal document.”

        • bmaz says:

          “And I’m not going to seriously consider admission without that foundation. Adjourned for now”.

      • Rugger9 says:

        As a practical requirement, how would it be proved by Individual-1 that the pardon was issued before noon on 20 JAN 2021? C-14 dating? Who has the burden of proof for such a document’s timeline? I’m sure Individual-1 knows all about backdating and log manipulation.

        Is there a serialized validated master document list somewhere?

        • bmaz says:

          Not that I am aware of. But, if it was challenged in an actual court, presumably by DOJ, would have to have some evidence. But how could there be any compelling evidence without Trump in court and under oath? He would probably take the 5th if so called.

          • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

            And the bench’s argument would be that there being no written or oral confirmation of such he (or she) would throw out any argument about the existance of the unverified document no?

        • ApacheTrout says:

          I was wondering the same. It would seem to me a pardon would have to be documented somewhere and witnessed by someone as having been issued while the President still had powers of the office. Otherwise, it’s a piece of pulp fiction, and I can’t see how the recipient would be okay with this.

          • Troutwaxer says:

            OK. So there’s a secret pardon, (hypothetically.) Like you said, it has to be witnessed, (notarized?) recorded, subjected to legal vetting, etc. Copies must be made and distributed, and also put into the right places, including the hands of the pardonee, who might need it one day. A script has to be developed for how the judge will be approached should the pardon be required to keep someone out of court… On one hand, this makes the whole idea of a secret pardon seem more fantastical the more it’s considered. On the other hand, it seems like something a Three Letter Agency might already have pioneered.

            After thinking about this a little, I think such a thing is outside of Trump’s organizational ability, unless it already exists.

  15. Sela says:

    I’m not sure the French president can be contained inside the Roger Stone clemency. I don’t think he’s that small.

    • punaise says:

      must be a translation mistake: the French presidency actually once contained Clemenceau (as Prime Minister).

  16. Cosmo Le Cat says:

    I’m looking forward to an EmptyWheel article entitled: “The Likely Content of a REDACTED Trump Search Affidavit” as an update of her similarly titled article dated August 10th.

    • bmaz says:

      On the other hand, this is exactly why the affi should not be released in any form. It is not all about Trump; it is just bad for every other target everywhere.

      • Rugger9 says:

        Agreed, this is a classic fishing expedition to find out what the DoJ knows to plot how to respond as well as to hide anything DoJ doesn’tt know about yet. If I were the DoJ, it would be highly redacted like much of Valerie Plame’s book.

        • Drew says:

          Somebody on Twitter remarked that the unredacted portion will read: “I am an FBI agent. By my training and experience…[remainder redacted]”

  17. grennan says:

    “President of France” does not, strictly speaking, exist. The correct title is “President of the French Republic”, and would be the way our State Dept. would address the person in that position (or Président de la République Française). White House typists, at least in competent administrations, should be aware of that.

    So, for a ridiculous example, if our president were to send an offer to buy Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, it wouldn’t go to the President of France. Nor would invitations, place cards and so on. Peterr might have come across the bulletin the State Dept. issues about correct terminology; diplomats take this really seriously.

    Similarly, Roger Stone was born Roger Joseph Stone, Jr., the name he appears to have used until around the time of the clemency grant. If he changed his middle name to Jason he wouldn’t be Roger Jason Stone, Jr., unless his pop changed his as well; it would be just Roger Jason Stone. He may have started using Jason (if he did) just to conform to the clemency thing.

    So, could the grant have been returned for correction or reissue? Commutation certificate or paperwork would be kind of moot after he got out of prison.

    Maybe that part of the collection is things with dumb mistakes that wound up in a pile of souvenir errors.

    • punaise says:

      I’ve scanned a few of the major French newspapers across the political spectrum (Le Monde, Le Figaro, Libération, L’Humanité) and none seem to feature any current discussion of the Stone/French presidency matter. Nor in the regional newspapers here in Brittany. The satirical weekly Le Canard Enchainé might have had some fun with it, but it’s paywalled. It was mentioned in the press when the news first came out but didn’t seem to make waves.

  18. EagerReader says:

    Perhaps “President of France” should not be read as literally – could it be code or a nickname for someone or something else? Or refers to something with this name (ie. in the way a ship might be named). This is based on pure speculation, but maybe another way of trying to make sense of it.

  19. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump is reportedly having trouble lining up lawyers who are not Bimbo talking heads, and who are actually competent in the legal issues that put him most in jeopardy. No surprise. Trump has spent five decades pissing on the law, the legal profession, and lawyers who weren’t Roy Cohn. More practically, his reputation is that he doesn’t cooperate, refuses to shut up, and never pays his bills. He also throws people under the bus as often as he looks in the mirror.

    As bmaz has been saying, the keys to this particular jailhouse are in Trump’s pocket. If he would STFU and pay up front the millions required to mount a proper, multi-front defense, he’d have plenty of lawyers to choose from. But the Don would rather be a victim, in part, because it’s easier to extract a million a day from the rubes. No lawyer wants that for a client.

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