John Durham’s Last Word: An Outright Lie about the Mueller Conclusions

There were aspects of Igor Danchenko attorney Stuart Sears’ closing argument yesterday that could have been stronger.

He could have more strongly emphasized that Danchenko had nothing to do with the words that appear in the dossier, and so when John Durham claims that the words in the dossier — alleging a conspiracy between Trump and Russia — are what Danchenko told the FBI he told Steele, he’s lying. Or maybe too stupid to understand that? That said, Sears did emphasize that Danchenko told the FBI the anonymous caller had said there was nothing bad about the ties between Russia and Trump.

It’s entirely possible it wasn’t Sergei Millian, but even if it was, the caller only said there was coordination between the campaign and Russia and that there was nothing bad about it. Agent Helson told you that. That’s not anti-Trump, and we do know from the government’s own evidence that Millian was at least telling people he was going to meet with Trump campaign people the week before the phone call, the anonymous phone call.

Still, this case is about reported speech, and Durham is prosecuting Danchenko for what the record shows is Christopher Steele’s speech, not for what the record shows is Danchenko’s speech.

Sears’ materiality argument could have been more forceful (though he correctly noted, jurors should never even have to get that far). Durham claims the alleged lies about Millian were material because they caused the surveillance against Carter Page; that is literally impossible for two of the alleged lies (which were told after surveillance stopped), including the October 24 alleged lie that, for the reasons I’ve laid out here, the jury may have more reason to believe Danchenko lied. And whether Danchenko told the FBI what Durham believes to be the truth — that no call with Millian happened — or Danchenko told them what he did — that the call that happened was so sketchy it shouldn’t have been relied on, and it did not include any claim of conspiracy — the decision the FBI should have taken would have been the same, to stop relying on that allegation in the FISA application. Importantly, Danchenko raised questions about the reliability of the call with no knowledge of the FISA application or the import of the conspiracy of cooperation language to the FISA application, but nevertheless told FBI everything they would need to remove the allegation from the FISA application.

And I think Sears could have hit the significance of the mobile apps harder. He did remind jurors about how Durham attempted to elicit false testimony about whether Danchenko had said this could be a mobile app.

The government set out to prove — Mr. Keilty told you in his opening statement he was going to prove Mr. Danchenko never received an anonymous call. Now, this is where — if you recall during the trial, special counsel got a little tricky here. Remember, they asked Agent Auten to refresh his recollection by reviewing a document, a report he had written, that Mr. Danchenko claimed to have received a cellular call from an anonymous caller. That was all they had him review. Just read that part, and what does it say? A cellular call, a cellular phone.

Then Mr. Onorato got up on cross-examination and literally said: Review the same report but read the rest of the sentence onto the next page.

And the full sentence that Agent Auten actually read out loud read: The call was either a cellular phone, or it was a communication through a phone app.

It was a good try, but it didn’t work. And it was a try because they know they have no evidence at all from which you could conclude there was not a call through a messaging app. They don’t have it. It’s their burden. They don’t have it. He doesn’t have to prove he received a call on a messaging app. They have to prove he didn’t.

Sears had more evidence here, though. There was the evidence that Millian was communicating via mobile apps using his iPad in the period he was in South Korea (though Durham worked hard to withhold it from the jury), and because he was overseas, Millian would be far more likely to use mobile apps than telephony. It might have been useful to explain why Ryan James’ effort to rule out a mobile app call by looking at only telephony calls didn’t even attempt steps that could have clarified the issue. The steps Durham’s hand-picked FBI agent failed to take prove, definitively, that Durham never attempted to fill what Sears called “a giant hole” in Durham’s case.

And if they have not convinced you beyond a reasonable doubt that he did not receive an anonymous call through a phone app, that’s the end of the case. They had to prove that.

They told you they would, but did they? Are you convinced beyond a reasonable doubt, as you sit here today, that Millian or perhaps someone else didn’t reach out to him anonymously over a messaging app in July 2016? What evidence do you have to make that conclusion? What evidence do you have to make that conclusion beyond a reasonable doubt? There’s none. It’s a giant hole in the case, and they can’t fill it with conjecture, speculation, and argument. Where is the evidence?

All that said, Sears laid out all the other compelling proof against Durham: that Durham’s own witnesses, Brian Auten and Kevin Helson, said Danchenko didn’t lie, and that all the details that Durham collected believing they would disprove Danchenko’s story in fact corroborated the claims Danchenko had made about the call and aftermath.

We’ll learn soon enough what the jury thinks about it. They deliberated for about three and a half hours yesterday and will resume deliberations at 9:30 this morning.

I’d like to address the underlying dynamic about the closing arguments, though.

Michael Keilty, the least corrupt member of the Durham team, had the initial close, which often is the longer of prosecutors’ two presentations, the one in which prosecutors explain to the jury which the most important pieces of evidence are and where to find them. At least by transcript pages, that wasn’t the case here: Keilty’s close spanned 21 pages, whereas Durham’s rebuttal spanned 22. Still, that’s totally within the norm, and how the prosecution splits their time is their own decision.

But that time differential is not what Judge Anthony Trenga expected. Even before Durham started, he remarked on how short Keilty’s close was and asked Durham in a bench conference how long he expected to take.

THE COURT: I thought the government’s closing was going to be a lot longer than it was. How long were you intending for rebuttal?

MR. DURHAM: I would say half an hour, 40 minutes.

THE COURT: Well, I’ll give you half an hour. All right.

MR. DURHAM: Yes, Your Honor.

I think Trenga suspected — as did I after Keilty’s close — that the entire plan from the start was to sandbag Danchenko’s team, effectively present the bulk of the close after Sears could no longer respond (this is what Durham did with Special Agent Kevin Helson’s testimony, raising the most damning testimony of the trial for the first time in a second redirect).

Sears anticipated that would happen. Based on all the times Durham pointed to evidence he didn’t have because he himself didn’t bother to try to collect it, Sears warned the jury about the Special Prosecutor’s efforts to shift the burden on Danchenko, repeatedly demanding that Danchenko affirmatively prove his claims, rather than just disprove Durham’s.

So now is the part where I have to sit down in a minute, and it’s the hardest part of the case for a defense attorney because they get the last word. And so we just have to sit there and listen and think about the things we meant to say when we were up here and forgot or the things that we think they’re getting wrong and that we feel like we can correct, like I was just able to do now, and we can’t.

And it’s particularly concerning in this case and difficult in this case because the burden shifting I heard in the government’s closing about where is the evidence that Mr. Danchenko did this or did that. He didn’t have any burden. You’re not going to see an instruction back there that says he has a burden to do anything. It’s the government’s burden to prove their case. It’s not his burden to disprove it.

The special counsel at times through its questions and arguments, they’ve not given you the full picture. They haven’t told you the whole story. Just like when they were showing the agents and had the agents testifying, well, if you knew this or if you knew that, what would you think? Oh, yeah, that would affect my views of that, or I would think that was important. They only showed them the stuff that they think helped their case.

[snip]

So I’m worried more so than usual when I go back to sit down about what you’re going to hear now and what I can’t respond to. And while I can’t do that, you can. You can pay attention to what’s said now, and you can discover those inaccuracies or misstatements, if there are any, when you go back to deliberate and consider the actual evidence in this case.

Before he did this, though, Sears talked about how Bill Barr started this investigation, burned Danchenko as a source, and how as part of the investigation Barr set up, Durham has not investigated what happened, but instead set out to prove guilt.

Agent Helson also told you that Mr. Danchenko’s information was vital to national security and led to the opening of more than two dozen active influence cases. He became a trusted source of information for our government that even led to the creation of a new team at the FBI as a result of the information he provided, the guy they are saying is a liar.

But as you’ve also heard at trial, the political winds in this country changed once then-President Trump appointed a new attorney general, William Barr. Barr not only essentially revealed Mr. Danchenko’s identity by releasing a redacted version of his January 2017 interview to the Senate Judiciary Committee, but that committee released that report within an hour of receiving it to the public.

Attorney General Barr also ordered an investigation into the investigation of the Trump campaign and its connections to Russia. So a new special counsel was appointed, this special counsel, to lead that investigation.

I submit to you that if this trial has proven anything, it’s that the special counsel’s investigation was focused on proving crimes at any cost as opposed to investigating whether any occurred.

I submit to you that a fair and reasonable look at the evidence in this case shows that the special counsel — they started out with the presumption of guilt, that Mr. Danchenko had lied, and they read guilt into every piece of evidence they came across and at every detail they saw. They ignored — and we’re going to show you. They ignored how their own evidence showed he was not guilty, that he was innocent.

This narrative is all true. Even within the trial, there was abundant evidence presented that Durham sought out to find someone to charge, not to find out what happened (neither of which is an appropriate use of prosecutorial resources, absent evidence of a crime).

For any critique I have about things Sears could have done tactically, the strategic decision to make Durham defend his own investigation clearly had an effect. I think Sear’s comments got to Durham, and made him defensive.

In his close, in the middle of spending much of his close focusing on a single 2020 LinkedIn message in which Danchenko admitted he was the source for 80% of the raw intelligence in the dossier, John Durham took the time to rebut the accusation about Bill Barr deliberately exposing Danchenko by blaming Danchenko for speaking to the press.

But what do you also know about that? And don’t forget what the evidence is. Mr. Sears wants to put this on Bill Barr. He wants to put it on politicians or whatever. You heard testimony from Mr. Helson that Mr. Danchenko himself, when he was interviewed by the press — all right. I think it was couched in the terms of your recollection controls, of course, but I think it’s couched in terms of, well, he had to do what he had to do to protect himself. He went and talked to the press.

And then later in his close, he returned to it again, not presenting the proof that Sears said was absent, but instead defending Bill Barr.

That’s when Durham decided to explain to the jury what he believes the results of the Mueller investigation were.

Now, I think that counsel’s suggestion is, oh, it’s Bill Barr. Bill Barr did this for political reasons. But reflect on how this came about. The Mueller report had come out, and there’s no collusion that was established. It’s not an illogical question to ask, well, then how did this all get started? Now, you can call that political. You can suggest, I guess, inferentially that somehow people who have spent a considerable period of time away from their families and whatnot did this for political reasons or what have you. If that’s your mind-set, I suppose that’s your mind-set.

But to look into the question of how did this all happen — Director Mueller, a patriotic American, the former director of the FBI, concludes there’s no evidence of collusion here or conspiracy. Is it the wrong question to ask, well, then how did this get started? Respectfully, that’s not the case. [my emphasis]

That’s the first time when Judge Trenga interrupted and told Durham to wrap it up.

THE COURT: You should finish up, Mr. Durham.

MR. DURHAM: Yes, Your Honor.

Only after Trenga told him to stop and only after defending Billy Barr twice did Durham turn to the crucial issue before him, attempting to disprove a mobile app call.

You know that the defendant didn’t receive an anonymous call here on an app from Millian or anyone else for at least three reasons:

First, there’s absolutely no evidence in the record of such a call, none.

Second, the statements the defendant made to the FBI are not in any way consistent with how someone would describe an anonymous call. They’re consistent with how somebody would describe a call that they made up.

Even though Danchenko was a trained business intelligence analyst whose entire task from orders from Christopher Steele was to find evidence of collusion between Trump and the Russians — if he had received an anonymous call, whether he thought it was Millian or it was somebody else, that would be the very evidence of collusion that he was looking for so eagerly. As a trained researcher, he clearly would have noted every detail possible: What’s the incoming call number? What’s the area code number? What other details are there? What do you know about the person’s speech pattern? None of that information is recorded or provided. It’s simply an anonymous caller.

He would have known to remember the cell phone application if it was a cell phone application that was involved. Look, that’s what a good research analyst does, looks into the details, records those details, and reports on those details. Mr. Danchenko did none of that. He didn’t provide any of that information to Steele, and he didn’t provide any of that information to the FBI.

Third, the most conclusive evidence that such a call never occurred, if you look at Government’s Exhibit 207T, the defendant’s August 18 email to Mr. Millian where the defendant states in his own words — I mean, he can’t get away from his own words. His words state that he wrote to Millian several weeks earlier and that they were contacts on LinkedIn but says nothing about the call that he told the FBI he thought was probably Millian. What possible reason could explain why the defendant wouldn’t at least ask Millian if he had called?

Because he had spent his time doing other things, including defending Bill Barr twice, in the middle of walking the jury through what Durham believes is his smoking gun evidence, he made a bid for more time.

I want you to look at Government’s Exhibit 115T, the August 24 email — Can I have five more minutes, Your Honor?

THE COURT: One minute.

MR. DURHAM: One minute.

The point being, I think (and Trenga may have thought) that Durham attempted to sandbag Danchenko, delaying the entirety of his substantive close until after Sears had finished.

And indeed, Durham’s presentation of what they believe is their smoking gun evidence didn’t come until Durham’s own close, not Keilty’s.

An attempted sandbag.

Though it only came after Durham spent his time trying to defend Barr’s actions, not just in exposing an FBI source, but in launching this investigation in the first place.

Which is why it matters that Durham lied about the conclusion of the Mueller investigation when he claimed, “Director Mueller, a patriotic American, the former director of the FBI, concludes there’s no evidence of collusion here or conspiracy.”

Mueller didn’t charge conspiracy and it is true that he said the available evidence did not prove it (in at least two cases, notably, because people had destroyed mobile app communications). But even ignoring the then-ongoing investigation into whether Roger Stone conspired to hack with Russia, Mueller explicitly stated that, “A statement that the investigation did not establish particular facts” — such as the finding that, “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities” — “does not mean there was no evidence of those facts.”

Mueller pointedly said his statement explaining that he didn’t charge conspiracy doesn’t mean there is no evidence of conspiracy, but John Durham got up before a jury and asserted that anyway. To defend his actions spending almost twice as long hunting for guilt as Mueller did investigating Trump aides for their potential role in a crime, Durham affirmatively claimed what Mueller said one could not claim.

All the more so given that (as Onorato had already established), three of the first four subjects of the investigation were convicted, and five of those convicted — Mike Flynn, George Papadopoulos, Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, and Roger Stone — were either convicted or (in the case of Manafort) found by a judge to have lied to cover up their interactions with agents of Russia in 2016.

Indeed, Brittain Shaw even explicitly used the standard on which the FBI first opened the investigation — to figure out whether claims like the ones George Papadopoulos made to Australia were true or not — in her attempt to prove the materiality of the literally true alleged lie Durham prosecuted Danchenko for.

With respect to knowing whether someone passed false information that contained allegations — not the Lewandowski part but somebody made up that they were an insider or had inside information, in the course of looking at Russian interference, as you did in the Special Counsel’s investigation, would that have been important to you?

In their bid to win this case, Durham and his prosecutors have argued not only that one can investigate whether someone is telling the truth when he claims to have inside access to Trump (as evidence in this trial showed Millian was doing), much less to Russia, as Papadopoulos was doing. Indeed, in his attacks on the FBI, Durham claimed one would be negligent not to investigate such things. Durham even argued that Mueller didn’t investigate Sergei Millian thoroughly enough.

And yet, when it came time to prove his own case, to explain why he hadn’t taken basic steps to disprove a mobile app call, Durham instead squandered his time inventing false claims about the results of the Mueller investigation.

We’ll see what the jury has to say about Durham’s defense of his prosecution. But there is no more fitting way for Durham to end this fiasco than to lie about how and why it all got started in the first place.

Update: Changed how long the jury has deliberated to include their lunch.

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36 replies
  1. Zinsky123 says:

    Thank you again, Ms. Wheeler for your expert coverage of the Durham so-called investigation. No one else on the Web, that I am aware of, has covered this farcical, quixotic investigation in as much breadth and detail as you have. You deserve a journalistic award for your work. It seems to me that Sear’s guidance to the jury in closing, about the “burden-shifting” that Durham and team were trying to do on to Danchenko, was very smart lawyering. If I try to imagine myself as a member of the jury, I would look with a great deal of cynicism on Durham’s case after hearing that analysis. I hope an acquittal is delivered this morning. Thanks again for your outstanding work!

  2. TimB says:

    Terrific series of reports on the Danchenko witch hunt, thank you.

    There is a lot of collateral damage here even if the jury sees through Durham’s nonsense and acquits Danchenko (just takes one determined juror, right?) Trumpism has opened this spreading attack — first on the institutions of democracy, then on the courts, now on the FBI. The newest one, the one pushed forward by Durham, is an assault on the FBI. A den of woke liberals! Incompetent and lawless! Now Durham goes back to Russiagate to double down on that lie. He uses a classic authoritarian trope, inverting the language of democracy and the rule of law. Prosecutors should not undertake political prosecutions. So you should find this man guilty. There should be evidence to convict, like their wasn’t in Russiagate but there is here. Wow.

    The frothers (thank you for that useful language) are having a field day with this. I searched for “Igor Danchenko” in twitter, to learn that everything is inverted. Russiagate was a hoax. The FBI is an incompetent leftist organization. Investigations of right wing figures are politically motivated.

    I do not claim that anything I am saying is new to people who read emptywheel.net closely, only that it is real and that it is scary.

  3. Peterr says:

    Which is why it matters that Durham lied about the conclusion of the Mueller investigation when he claimed, “Director Mueller, a patriotic American, the former director of the FBI, concludes there’s no evidence of collusion here or conspiracy.”

    It matters indeed, but who will hold Durham accountable for this lie? Even if Danchenko is acquitted, Durham needs to face some consequences. If Danchenko is convicted, this lie will no doubt receive a fair amount of attention in the appellate brief, and an honest appeals court could come down mercilessly on a Special Counsel who lies in the rebuttal closing. Still, mere mockery is not enough. IANAL, and I don’t know what it takes to charge a prosecutor with obstruction of justice, but misrepresenting material facts at a time when the defense has no opportunity to challenge them ought to be able to clear that bar.

    Of course, given how Barr told the same lie when he “summarized” Mueller’s report, however, I am not hopeful.

    • Silly but True says:

      The immediate consequence of all of this will be that Durham will retire and start drawing Social Security Benefits, his Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) Basic Plan benefits based on the average of his highest three months of basic pay, and enjoy his Thrift Savings Plan Benefits withdrawals roughly equivalent to private sector 401K — all on order of his 45 years of government service and a net worth in ballpark of $1.5m, all largely established from federal taxpayer funds.

    • [email protected] says:

      …on holding Durham accountable: if the jury itself is not able to detect through all the noise and saber-rattling that facts are insufficient to convict (which, even the most diligent and well-meaning jury could do in a case as complex as this, where the defense had to spend so much time on “little” details like asking a witness to turn to the next page and continue to read what prosecutors left out)…
      1) Jurors are fact finders, but Trenga is in charge of ruling on the law in this case. Getting the burden of proof correct is a ‘law’ matter. Trenga could still find Danchecko not guilty even after the jury says the opposite, by ruling in his favor on a JMOL (Judgment as a Matter of Law). I would fully expect the defense to move for JMOL mmediately after the jury comes back with its decision, if the jury does not say ‘not guilty’ on all 4 counts.
      2) Sussman and Danchenko could pursue a civil lawsuit (for the Tort of) Malicious Prosecution, although this would mean they don’t mind going through all this mess again, but in civil court, this time with Durham defending his criminal prosecution of these two men. In Danchenko’s MTD there are a few one-liners in there that Marcy noted the rarity of (“…this would be a first”) that might offer clues into further action that — at least Danchenko — might consider.
      3) Congress. But that depends on the outcome of midterm elections and, at this moment, does not appear likely.

      It’s not meaningful to many, but the fact that the defense offered no defense says a lot to the legal community about the weakness of the prosecution’s case (if that were not immediately clear from reading the MTD) …and, in a reasonable world, the likelihood that Durham will ever be invited by a firm or government to ‘prosecute’ anything in the future.

  4. OldTulsaDude says:

    This trial to me is the essence of conundrum: corruption is not a crime; I wish it were; but I’m glad that it is not.

  5. Blaze Trailer says:

    Thank you for the outstanding coverage.
    Props to Judge Trenga – “One minute.” A microcosm of this corrupt, ill fated junket: Give me more time and I promise I’ll prove something, not sure what. Naw you’re done Mr. Moustache.

  6. Desider says:

    Overall I’m often amazed by the complex words & arguments attorneys expect jurors to grasp. At least to me, Durham seems much more muddy.
    But Sears’ warning seems pretty brilliant, if it struck home – Durham’s “why didn’t Danchenko note the WhatsApp phone number or ask Millian” is a step further – not just try to make Danchenko prove the negative, but come up with bunches of rife speculation to then ask Danchenko to rhetorically disprove post-testimony.
    Not thrilled it’s taking 4+ hours to decide, but fingers crossed.

    • Ravenclaw says:

      It’s very disturbing that the jury is deliberating so long. That suggests that you have a strong faction wanting to convict & trying to persuade holdouts, refusing to accept a final vote that would lead to acquittal. As you say, fingers crossed. The RWM is going to town with claims that Durham has done the job they wanted despite his well-documented (by Marcy) incompetence and lack of a real case.

      • Dmbeaster says:

        You really cannot make these inferences. There are so many different ways in which jurors do their jobs, and there is no consistent pattern. For example, it is common for jurors to believe that it is their duty to talk through the whole thing, even if they have a strong belief about their conclusions. Also, juries are a social process of 12 people reaching consensus. And many use the process to firm up their thinking. Many also go into a jury room needing to sort out the muddle of proof and evidence.

        Realize that most readers here are vastly more familiar with the details than the jurors, who receive a torrent of contradictory evidence with, by definition, no prior knowledge. Jurors have to sort it all as a group, and move at the speed of the slowest juror.

          • Desider says:

            For the record, they deliberated about 9 hours. You’d have a much better idea (i have none) whether that’s par for the course, considering complexity, publicity, etc. or even whether it varies so much that predicting is futile.

          • Dmbeaster says:

            From emptywheel’s post on the acquittal, as quoted from the WaPo:

            The jury in Danchenko’s case deliberated for about nine hours over two days. Juror Joel Greene said in an interview that there were no holdouts in the deliberations and that the decision was “pretty unanimous.”

            “We looked at everything really closely,” said Greene, who declined to comment on the politics of the case. “The conclusion we reached was the conclusion we all were able to reach.”

            This reflects my point about how jurors commonly talk through the whole thing even though they end up in agreement, and did not have serious disagreements. It’s a good thing that they do this, even though the time consumed creates uncertainty about what they are doing.

        • vvv says:

          Plus, and I kid you not, I have heard in minor civil trials, “lunch”.

          Seriously, but hopefully likely was not here …

        • theartistvvv says:

          Plus, and I kid you not, I have heard in minor civil trials, “lunch”.

          Seriously, but hopefully likely was not here …

          (I hope new handle is OK?)

          [Thanks for updating your username to meet the 8 letter minimum. /~Rayne]

      • Troutwaxer says:

        I believe the jury, anxious to do a good job where national security is concerned, is looking for the beef. They’ve tried looking in the fridge, the pantry, and the trashcan, just in case Durham accidentally threw it away, but it’s not in any of those places. Once they find the beef, or at least figure out where it wentor whether it did, in fact, exist, they’ll compare the beef to standards for guilt and/or innocence. But first they have to find the beef. (Big hint – there’s no beef anywhere in Durham’s case, so they ain’t gonna find it.)

  7. Doctor My Eyes says:

    One hopes that the jury, like me, is spending their time debating wtf is wrong with Durham. I mean, I assume the man is patriotic in his way. The Mueller investigation was not so much about domestic politics as about national security. And by continuing the Barr lie of “no collusion”, Durham does harm to the national security of the US. At least this lie about the Mueller investigation clarifies for me one thing: rather than being a true believer, Durham is consciously lying. Or so it seems to me. Other than being compromised fair and square for some vice or other, I cannot imagine the mindset of people who work against the interests of the country they have served, whatever their political views. After a while, I guess, corruption comes to just seem like politics as usual. I keep thinking of Sidney Powell’s “no one in their right mind would have believed a word I said” [paraphrased]. Clearly, a core component of the Republican constituency is people who are not in their right minds. Here’s hoping the jurors are thinking clearly.

    • Alan Charbonneau says:

      Speaking of Sidney Powell, her (non-jury) disbarment trial was supposed to be held yesterday, but it has been moved to next April.
      04/24/2023 @ 9:00 A.M.
      Case#: DC-22-02562

    • Doctor My Eyes says:

      Apologies if this OT discussion is unwelcome.

      I know precisely nothing about how these things work, but I read a lawyer expressing surprise that such a poorly prepared filing would make it past the clerk to the judge. Something like that. I’m surprised that article neglected to mention that aspect.

      • njbill says:

        I am surprised as well. It sounds like the reporters did not try to interview the person at the “helpdesk,“ or at least were unable to locate such a person. It would be interesting to see whether the helpdesk person corroborated what Trump’s lawyer said. But the article should have said something about trying to contact the helpdesk.

        One possibility is that the “technical issue“ Trump’s lawyer had resulted from the fact that they tried to file a “motion“ in the electronic filing system which was rejected, as one would expect. I wouldn’t call that a “technical issue,“ but a sleazy lawyer probably might think she had some wiggle room there.

        Regardless, the federal rules require a judge, not the helpdesk, to authorize an in person filing by a party represented by counsel. There should be an order, a docket entry, or the like memorializing when and why a federal judge approved the non-electronic filing.

        I noticed that Trump’s lawyer left the “related case“ section of the case information statement blank. Seems to me that they did that on purpose so that if ever asked about it, they could simply say they overlooked that portion of the statement.

        This is the first time I have heard the action was filed in Fort Lauderdale as opposed to Fort Pierce. To me, that only furthers the mystery.

        Lastly, I can’t imagine that any self-respecting clerk would accept a “motion” as the initial pleading in a federal civil lawsuit at least without a court order. I would’ve liked for the reporters to have asked the clerks to whom they spoke about that.

  8. Kalkaino says:

    A great deal of harm here can be attributed to Mueller who had a duty to stand up and give the lie to Barr, but he prissily refused to do, essentially endorsing the lie with his silence. Qui tacet consentiret definitely applied in this case. Cowardice, dereliction, betrayal.

  9. Spencer Dawkins says:

    I’m amazed at the details Dr. Wheeler juggles in most posts, but most especially in posts on Durham’s laughable attempts at whatever he was trying to do.

    I don’t want to take anything for granted, but I can’t believe how relaxed and calm I am today, compared to any day that Barr was the attorney general. I hope those days never come back (and I’m registered to vote, so not just “hoping”).

  10. narp says:

    A good conclusion by Sears, “Agent Helson also told you …” and a good verdict by the jury.

    “Durham’s hand-picked FBI agent”, “Michael Keilty, the least corrupt member of the Durham team”, this doesn’t look good and lends credence to the far right’s narrative.

    >What possible reason could explain why the defendant wouldn’t at least ask Millian if he had called?

    An understanding of security and safety?

    >The steps Durham’s hand-picked FBI agent failed to take prove, definitively, that Durham never attempted to fill what Sears called “a giant hole” in Durham’s case.

    I understand these double negatives are necessary to mesh with the legal wording but I find them most confusing (here I’d have put the only comma after “take”).

    Similarly, expecting a “but” after “not only” … “much less” …

    Could you do a summary of all this Danchenko, Millian, Dolan, Steele, in simple language, including who was telling the truth and who was lying and about what?

    [Welcome to emptywheel. Please use a more differentiated username when you comment next, selecting a unique username with a minimum of 8 letters. Thanks. /~Rayne]

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