SDNY Closes Ukraine Influence Peddling Investigation into Rudy

SDNY just submitted a short note asking Judge Oetken to terminate the appointment of Special Master Barbara Jones because the investigation into Ukrainian influence peddling has been closed.

The Government writes to notify the Court that the grand jury investigation that led to the issuance of the above-referenced warrants has concluded, and that based on information currently available to the Government, criminal charges are not forthcoming. Accordingly, the Government respectfully requests that the Court terminate the appointment of the Special Master, the Hon. Barbara S. Jones.

Robert Costello had sourced stories last spring saying this was the case.

The news came minutes before New York State announced that Jones was being appointed Independent Monitor of the Trump Organization during the state proceedings against it.

20 replies
  1. Rugger_9 says:

    It might be too soon to say, was this a ‘not enough evidence’ call? Or, was it too much trouble to replace Jones at this point and the results wouldn’t justify the expense? Someone like Rudy hasn’t been on the level since he started working for Individual-1 so I would suspect there were things to find.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      It seems probable that Jones decided to leave and take up the work for James only after the decision not to proceed further against Rudy had already been made.

      • emptywheel says:

        Still thinking it through, but today is probably a good day to post what Geoffrey Berman said abt the Rudy investigation.

        My guess is they were holding off on such an announcement but to take the Monitor position she needed to clear that off her plate.

    • Tannenzaepfle says:

      My assumption is there was just enough successful obstruction to make a conviction less than a slam-dunk, so SDNY figured they can better use Jones on something more fruitful. I assume the evidence from Rudy’s phones has applicability elsewhere.

      • DaveC2022 says:

        Archive / record keeping / privacy question. What is the fate of the information seized via subpoena / warrant for a grand jury investigation? Can the government keep it forever? Is it ever subject to FOIA or discovery production in other litigation?

        • Yokville Kangaroo says:

          It’s evidence. Originals would be returned to the (rightful) owner. Copies shall live in boxes in storage to be accessed at a later time should the need arise.

  2. Koshenya says:

    I’ve been an avid emptywheel reader for years now, but I’ve been too intimidated to get into the comments section with the high standards expected(not complaining, this is one of the few places online where I can learn as much from the comments sections as from the investigative pieces). I’m so confused and bothered by this though that I really want to ask what exactly is up here? I have been following the coverage here about Rudy+ the phones, along with the information about his role as a channel to Trump for Russian disinfo and distortion about Ukraine through the first impeachment. Was this dropped because the earlier machinations under Barr to separate this from related cases had already weakened or polluted this enough to make it not worth charging? I know I might be missing something here, but I don’t understand why this was dropped. I’m sorry if this was explained before or there’s something obvious I’m not getting, but I’ve become really frustrated that nobody has been held accountable for high level Russian influence peddling in the last administration.

    • Dave_MB says:

      I have no idea what the answer is. My guess would be that the dismissal might be based in part on Tom Barack jury verdict.

      It’s possible there was evidence of lots and lots of meddling on Rudy’s part, but limited, contradicting or muddled evidence that he was doing it on behalf of Ukraine and that they weren’t certain of getting a conviction.

      Does anyone have anything more concrete?

    • timbozone says:

      It is disconcerting for sure. Does this mean that doing the same thing again would result in zero charges next time? Basically, it means that other US political operatives will be encouraged to go overseas to see if they can help smear domestic politicians and our own foreign service personnel, etc, with the help of foreign governments, oligarchs, etc. UGH!

      Yeah, the failure of the Barrack prosecution was not a good sign for indicting someone like Rudy, particularly if the weight of evidence against Rudy was even more tenuous than that against Barrack.

      I’m looking forward to analysis by folks like Fiona Hill, etc, on what this means for American foreign policy and domestic influence peddling by US political operatives overseas going forward. This can’t be a good feeling in the gut for many of our foreign service folks at all.

    • emptywheel says:

      The immediate reason he wasn’t charged, per the earlier NYT piece, is they found no smoking guns on his phone when after they seized them, 2 years after the events in question, and Lev Parnas wouldn’t flip. Igor Fruman did almost no jail time for reasons that are unclear.

      I suspect there are larger reasons. I’m still thinking it through but may write it up today.

    • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

      You have to understand NYC politics and look at it through that lens.

      NYC politics is riven with corruption and has been for decades. It’s especially notorious in the real estate and building world (The Donald’s natural milieu). Any politician of either stripe needs to be very cozy with either the mob, unions, big business or all of the above.

      It’s well known that The Donald has been unable to get cash from any legitimate sources. The likelihood is that he’s tapped into the Russian/Kazakh mob for decades as a result. Giuliani would be no exception.

      However, The Donald is too obtuse to actually coordinate anything so it’s likely the Bleeding Hair Guy just said to The Donald, “I’ll fix it,” just before giving his boots a good licking.

      My guess is that SDNY decided Rudy’s involvement was simply that; Rudy’s and not linked to Trump directly so not likely to gain a conviction.

      If you want a decent primer on how NYC real estate and poltics are so utterly enmeshed read this two-part series from 1979:

  3. ThomasJ7777 says:

    As long as a criminal is rich enough, and well connected enough, he can delay justice, run out the clock and outspend the government until the government drops the case.

    Just a small history lesson: the rule of law is what prevents the people from chopping the heads off of rich criminals.

    • Savage Librarian says:

      Because I’m a Michael Caine fan, I watched the film Flawless recently. It did the trick for me by providing some therapeutic revenge fantasy. And it had some clever twists.

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