DOJ Subpoenaed Over Five Months of Mar-a-Lago Surveillance Video

There’s a detail that may provide important context to new reporting from CNN and NYT about Jack Smith’s pursuit of more information about the surveillance video obtained from Mar-a-Lago. Both pieces report that Smith recently obtained the testimony of Mathew Calamari Jr., the head of security for Trump Org , and Sr., the Chief Operating Officer for Trump’s company (the latter of whom was included in Alvin Bragg’s investigation of the company).

Both outlets describe how that testimony is linked to an investigation into Walt Nauta, whom (per NYT) DOJ chose to investigate rather than seek further cooperation after he gave incomplete testimony last summer and fall. Both describe those subpoenas in the context of a larger effort, absent cooperation from Nauta, to understand the surveillance footage obtained in response to a June 24, 2022 subpoena. From NYT:

[P]rosecutors appear to be trying to fill in some gaps in their knowledge about the movement of the boxes, created in part by their handling of another potentially key witness, Mr. Trump’s valet, Walt Nauta. Prosecutors believe Mr. Nauta has failed to provide them with a full and accurate account of his role in any movement of boxes containing the classified documents.


Prosecutors have also issued several subpoenas to Mr. Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, seeking additional surveillance footage from Mar-a-Lago, his residence and private club in Florida, people with knowledge of the matter said. While the footage could shed light on the movement of the boxes, prosecutors have questioned a number of witnesses about gaps in the footage, one of the people said.

But hoping to understand why some of the footage from the storage camera appears to be missing or unavailable — and whether that was a technological issue or something else — the prosecutors subpoenaed the software company that handles all of the surveillance footage for the Trump Organization, including at Mar-a-Lago.

Remember that Trump originally claimed he was subpoenaed on June 22, only to have Beryl Howell correct that claim. Such inconsistencies — such as whether Jay Bratt sent Evan Corcoran a note asking him to put a lock on the storage room, or informing it that it did not comply with CFR requirements for storing classified materials — have often reflected a stupid Trump cover story.

Among the things under investigation, per CNN, is a text message Nauta sent Calamari Sr. after DOJ first subpoenaed surveillance footage from Trump Organization.

The Calamaris are among several witnesses expected to testify in Smith’s investigation on Thursday, sources said. Prosecutors have previously brought in lower-level Trump employees for questioning about the surveillance footage, including how it may have been handled in response to the subpoena for it and if it could have been tampered with, two sources told CNN this week.

Investigators also have previously asked about a text message from Nauta to Calamari Sr. and subsequent conversations about the surveillance footage, according to two of the sources. The Justice Department questioned Nauta months ago about the handling of the boxes, and he told the FBI about being directed by Trump, CNN previously reported.

[Update] The Guardian reports that Nauta asked Calamari Sr. to call him about the DOJ subpoena.

Both Calamaris testified to the federal grand jury in Washington on Thursday, and were questioned in part on a text message that Trump’s valet, Walt Nauta, had sent them around the time that the justice department last year asked for the surveillance footage, one of the people said.

The text message is understood to involve Nauta asking Matthew Calamari Sr to call him back about the justice department’s request, one of the people said – initially a point of confusion for the justice department, which appears to have thought the text was to Calamari Jr.

DOJ likely would never have learned of this text message if Nauta had fully cooperated last summer. But they learned about it, and partly as a result, men who know Trump’s most cherished secrets had to testify before a grand jury.

Trump was at his Irish property this week, tentatively scheduled to stay overnight last night, but he left Ireland yesterday, around 12:30 ET, falsely claiming he was doing so to testify in his rape trial. Learning details of the testimony from the Calamaris is a more likely explanation than the rape trial, but with as many investigations as there are into Trump, it could be anything.

One thing coverage of the stolen documents investigation doesn’t emphasize enough, though, is that 18 USC 793 has a conspiracy clause. Anyone — like Nauta, and potentially even the Calamaris — who conspires with someone else to hoard classified documents is exposed to the same punishment — ten years per document — as the guy refusing to give those documents back.

Plopped in the middle of the NYT story, with little explanation, is a reference to the Trump Org’s ties to the Saudi LIV golf tournament.

One of the previously unreported subpoenas to the Trump Organization sought records pertaining to Mr. Trump’s dealings with a Saudi-backed professional golf venture known as LIV Golf, which is holding tournaments at some of Mr. Trump’s golf resorts.

It is unclear what bearing Mr. Trump’s relationship with LIV Golf has on the broader investigation, but it suggests that the prosecutors are examining certain elements of Mr. Trump’s family business.

Back to inconsistencies between the DOJ and Trump story: Another discrepancy in the stories DOJ and Trump have told is whether or not Trump greeted Jay Bratt on June 3 at Mar-a-Lago. But no one contests that Trump went from there — that very same day! — to Bedminster, where he was hosting the Saudis, who not only are paying him an undisclosed amount for the golf tournaments, but who have funded a project in Oman and gave Trump’s son-in-law $2 billion to mismanage. When investigators directed by Tim Parlatore searched Bedminster for documents last year, they found none.

When I think about the way Trump went from that subpoena response stunt to Bedminster, I can’t help but think of the way the Biden Administration was blindsided by Saudi involvement in China’s effort to normalize relations between the Kingdom and Iran. That’s the kind of surprise that might reflect some surveillance had gone dark.

Here’s something to remember about the video, though. DOJ asked for over five months of surveillance footage, starting on January 10, 2022.

The subpoena was served on counsel on June 24 2022 directed to the Custodian of Records for the Trump Organization, and sought:

Any and all surveillance records videos images, photographs, and/or CCTV from internal cameras located on ground floor (basement) [redacted second location] on the Mar-a-Lago property located at 1100 S Ocean Blvd. Palm Beach, FL 33480 from the time period of January 10, 2022 to present.

And DOJ seems to have asked for surveillance video from two locations: outside the storage room, and somewhere else.  That second location might explain the redacted parts of the search warrant affidavit that provided explanations for why DOJ thought Trump might have documents stored in his residence or his office.

More importantly, the subpoena starts eight days before NARA took possession of 15 boxes of documents and covers over five months. That is, if Trump Org had fully complied (and not everyone keeps surveillance footage that long), DOJ would have surveillance footage covering at least two curation processes: the one in January that resulted in Trump only returning 15 boxes of documents, and the one in June, deciding which 38 documents to return and which to retain.

But absent gaps, that surveillance footage would also show something else: any other people, besides Walt Nauta and the maintenance guy who helped him move boxes, walking in and out of that storage room.

As both CNN and NYT report, there are gaps.

DOJ got enough information from those videos to know that, sometime after DOJ sent a subpoena on May 11, Nauta moved boxes out of the storage room. They may have video showing him moving the boxes back sometime after June 3. That’s what they used to get the August search warrant in the first place. But as noted, DOJ provided some reason to believe that documents might be found in Trump’s office or residence, which might reflect a second surveillance angle.

All of which leaves open the possibility that DOJ thinks something else may have happened during those surveillance footage gaps, other than Nauta walking in and out of the storage room.

120 replies
    • Kris_09MAY2023_2141h says:

      May 8, 2021 was the day of the footage of boxes being loaded onto the plane headed for NJ

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      • Rayne says:

        FYI – I’ve deleted your comment published 3 minutes before this one as it was both duplicative and you’ve answered it with this observation.

  1. David_05MAY023_1124h says:

    If I understand this correctly, the theory is that based on the timing someone may have gone into the storage room to get something T would have shared with the Saudis later that day. But even if that possibility makes sense timing-wise and we could flowchart that out Homeland-style on the wall, would there be any way to either prove that definitively or leverage the footage to force the relevant document remover to testify to that effect? Or might it be possible to corroborate this with the original source who may have gone dark, as you say? I wouldn’t put anything past T; I’m just trying to understand what possibilities might exist for this to go beyond the circumstantial/theoretical to something provable.

    Thank you for all you do!

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  2. Doctor My Eyes says:

    EW is a national treasure.

    When I think about the way Trump went from that subpoena response stunt to Bedminster, I can’t help but think of the way the Biden Administration was blindsided by Saudi involvement in China’s effort to normalize relations between the Kingdom and Iran. That’s the kind of surprise that might reflect some surveillance had gone dark.

      • Rayne says:

        Golf. Courses. YESSSSS. I have been wanting the damned Trump golf courses cracked open for years now because they’re money pits in which all kinds of compromising payments, money laundering, and fraud can happen, like Fred Trump’s All County Building Supply & Maintenance business on crack.

        Come on, Jack Smith, bring the 1-iron!

        • Rugger_9 says:

          One wonders amid the SNP turmoil in Edinburgh whether the Greens will get some more traction on their Unexplained Wealth Order as a price for continued support.

        • obsessed says:

          Come on, Jack Smith, bring the 1-iron!

          I became obsessed with getting this joke, so I read a couple articles on types of golf clubs. Alas … a 1-iron is rare, hard to use, has a very low loft, and was used by another famous “Jack” for a “one-in-a-million shot”: Yesterday I learned what a pick and roll is. I guess this is what salvation must be like after a while.

          • Rayne says:

            1-iron is great in a narrow range of settings and conditions — long distance, where loft is not important/needed, or when wind conditions might knock down/off a higher lofted ball. Most of the time players will use a driver instead or hit the snot out of their 2-iron.

            Pick and roll is a basketball term. Chip and run is a golf term:

            • Bobby Gladd says:

              Piano player in the last band, I was in (early 1980s, Knoxville) played a lot of golf. He carried a driver, a five iron, and a putter. He claimed that was all you really needed.

              Ok. I wouldn’t know. Not gonna play some expensive game where the object is to do LESS of it. 🤣

              • Rayne says:

                If one had to play with only three clubs, a driver, 5-iron, and putter would do. I’d rather use my 3-wood than driver (mostly because I hate my driver and I haven’t found one better than my 3-wood).

                The object is to have more time to drink beer, Bobby. If you’re busy swinging your club, you’re not lifting your beer. 0_o

                  • Rayne says:

                    You don’t get to the 19th hole any quicker, especially on golf league nights. But you’re more relaxed when you eventually get there.

                • solong tinman says:

                  As a pre-teen I spent two or three sun-smoked summers on a local golf course in Western Minnesota. Saturdays, especially, riding my bike out over the Minnesota River with little golf bag over my back: putter; 3, 5, and 7 iron; 3 wood.

                  Played a round early with friends. Then caddied a couple rounds for local business men, many of whom were good players and fun to watch. Finally, burger and fries at the clubhouse before flying back down the hill.

                  Didn’t stick with those golf skills but internalized early that process of learning.

                • earlofhuntingdon says:

                  Good choice with the three-wood over the driver. You can hit it off the tee and the fairway.

                • Ginevra diBenci says:

                  Expensive “technical” drivers have been advertised as the duffer’s salvation. Hard to handle unless you’re a pro, but they make lots of money.

              • Epicurus says:

                To master the intricacies and capabilities of a given club, Jack Nicklaus would play a full round with that club only.

                My friends and I sometimes play a three hole game (usually a consecutive stretch of holes including a par three, a par four, and a par five) within a round called two club. Pick any two clubs in your bag and they are the only clubs that can be used for the three holes.

            • PJB2point0 says:

              This was a fascinating speculation. I really wondered how the subpoena for LIV golf info fit into this picture.

              As a long-time golfer, i would say anyone who carries a 1 iron in his bag is either scratch or a poser. Even decent golfers rarely carry anything below a 3 and usually use a utility club instead of a driving iron.

        • blueedredcounty says:

          A minister is part of a golf foursome. While they are on a flattened hilltop teeing for the next hole, a vicious thunderstorm blows in with lightning strikes hitting nearby trees and coming uncomfortably close.

          While the other three of the foursome go scrambling off the hilltop and down into a sand trap below, the minister calmly stands on the hilltop holding a golf club up in the air high above his head. The other three watch in amazement as lightning strikes all around but the minister is unscathed.

          After the storm passes, the others run up to the minister and asked about the crazy behavior. The calm reply: “Not even God can hit a 1-iron.”

        • Unabogie says:

          Didn’t the golf courses start investing gobs of money, all in cash, out of nowhere? It seems like a black box of bribery and graft.

        • Building Guy says:

          Spot on!

          And if you think a golf course is a money laundering operation, I’ve got a couple of failed casinos you might be interested in..

          • Rayne says:

            You know why at least one casino likely ‘failed’? Because it required far more compliance with regulation (and likely far more bribery cutting into profits) than a golf course.

            And it could be rolled up as failed operation allowing financial losses to be written off, conveniently before additional scrutiny would come with a run for public office.

            Regulation of golf course businesses is almost nil save for environmental standards and food service — which is why we have yet to see the internals of any of Trump org’s courses.

  3. BobBobCon says:

    FYI there’s a typo in the sentence beginning “Plopped in the middle of the NYT story” where the name of the golf tournament doesn’t match what’s in the next paragraph.

  4. bidrec says:

    Waltine could plead illiteracy. Historically Navy stewards did not have to know how to read.

    • P J Evans says:

      Historically they were minorities, and possibly not even citizens (from the Philippines, before the 1950s).

      • Doctor My Eyes says:

        Still in 1971, every one of the many stewards in the 4,000 capacity Naval Academy dining hall was Filipino. I have no idea what the status is today.

        • bidrec says:

          The internet says they stopped recruiting Filipinos into the US Navy in 1992.

          TPU’s, Transient Personnel Units, were staffed with Filipinos. Their career track was to enlist and serve as stewards or cooks, pass an English proficiency test and then test for Personnel Man (a Navy rating). If they passed then they would switch rates to that. TPU’s were where sailors waited for orders, or to be discharged for being color blind, or re-enlisting after having been discharged.

          “The Last Detail” with Jack Nicholson begins in a TPU.

          Alex Haley was a steward in The Coast Guard.

        • Rugger_9 says:

          Prior to 1992, Filipino citizens were a special case for personnel. They were permitted to enlist in many of the support ratings (SKs, YNs, PNs, etc.) and networked thoroughly within the USN. I suspect it had to do with the Philippines being a US colony before 1946 and part of the bases agreement (i.e. Subic and Clark) afterward. US service was seen as a way to quick success.

          Officers have to be US citizens then and now. Enlisted do not have to be citizens, but they do have to be residents (not sure if permanent residency is required).

          However, to the fundamental point, ignorance of the law is no excuse.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            After long and bloody wars with Spain and the US, the Philippines became a territory of the US, from the end of the Spanish American War until 1945. It was the most important American military outpost in the Far East, before and after independence, which might explain the large number of Filipinos in support roles, especially in the Navy.

          • jecojeco says:

            It will be interesting if the creation of 4 new mil bases in the Phils (“camps” not bases, Camps are temporary bases in mil lingo) will reopen the conduit of job opportunities for Filipinos in US military, this may be a sotto voce aspect to the expanding defense agreement between the US & Phils. These are desirable jobs and a pathway to US citizenship.

            Nauta is a US citizen from Guam and most Guamamanians were brought from the Phils to Guam by the Spanish who killed off most of the local pop. Guam was also part of the Spanish East Indies which included Phils, Guam, part of Taiwan “Formosa” and part of Malaysia and Marianas. US ended up owner/custodian of all these (and Puerto Rico) after the Spanish American war when US desire was always Cuba.

            Having said all this I hope Nauta realizes what a precarious situation he is in and “comes to Jesus” and comes clean about the tapes, docs etc or he will become a memember of the Jan6 Chorus.

          • bidrec says:

            In the mid-70’s there was a Captain Chan (O-6) in charge of a ship. He was the senior naturalized citizen in the US Military. There were also lots of foreign born doctors.

        • StillWorried says:

          On the submarine I was on in the late 70’s our steward was Filipino, as were a couple of the other enlisted men.

          They were all capable of reading and writing English.

        • biff murphy says:

          Early on in the Navy, Philippino’s and Blacks were relegated to certain jobs.
          I joined in 76 and had both in my shop and VP Squadron, but there were still a lot of Phillipino’s working the kitchens at that time as well. Earlier the Stewards had merged with the Commissary Rating creating a new MS (Mess Specialist)designation

  5. Rugger_9 says:

    I saw a report this morning claiming there was a mole for DoJ at M-a-L, but I won’t link until it’s confirmed. Such an asset for DoJ would have alerted them that the document recoveries noted in the post were incomplete for each phase and here we are now with the newly reported subpoenas.

    What this just may create in total speculation is a swoop session by DoJ on all major TrumpOrg properties because of the continual obstruction forcing the legal equivalent of Whack-a-Mole (not sorry). The asset would know that things are being moved around and if we’re lucky may also know where the alternate dump sites are. I’m with Rayne on this, the accounting is wholly overdue.

    • Drew in Bronx says:

      I wouldn’t regard a cooperating witness as the same thing as a mole. Lying to the FBI can put you behind bars, after all and the FBI is questioning just about everybody there. Marcy’s observation that Nauta was assisted by a maintenance guy, made me think that the maintenance guy might be a good candidate for that–you don’t have to be a Trump loyalist to take a job fixing toilets, carrying packages, etc–and there are other jobs to be had if you incur Trump’s ire. AND, at least around my building, the porters are the ones who know all the details of what has been happening. People ignore them and their invisibility makes them privy to everything.

    • emptywheel says:

      From day one there has been a report of a cooperating witness. I’m genuinely not sure what’s new about this report, aside from that they took a picture of the storage room.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        I wonder what meaning that picture could possibly have. Even assuming it’s dated, what’s it going to show?

  6. vigetnovus says:

    Yeah, this sounds about right. There’s lots of laundering going on here: Money laundering with the Saudis, information laundering about the investigation by the NYT stenographers, and then national security laundering with the Chinese and gulf states.

    And China seems to think they’re going to broker a peace deal between Ukraine and Russia too.

    Hmmmm…. I also think there’s some economic terrorism going on in the banking sector with all the short sales of banks that seem to look ok on paper. Wonder who’s behind that?

  7. Savage Librarian says:

    In addition to the info about surveillance tapes in areas of Mar-a-Lago (where documents may have been) and the jarring mention of LIV and Saudi connections, there was a nod to a 3rd concern in the final graf of the NYT article. It didn’t seem to fit in with the prior topics, either. Maybe that’s because 6 reporters contributed to this article and had disparate assignments that were then pulled into one article.

    So, just as the LIV info seems to have much greater significance than the article gives weight to, I wonder what is going on with the final graf. To me, it brings to mind the line of inquiry in Cassidy Hutchinson’s J6C transcripts when Liz Cheney asked her about Susie Wiles.

    NYT – last graf:
    “Another line of inquiry that prosecutors have been pursuing relates to how Mr. Trump’s aides have helped hire and pay for lawyers representing some of the witnesses in investigations related to the former president. They have been trying to assess whether the witnesses were sized up for how much loyalty they might have to Mr. Trump as a condition of providing assistance, according to people briefed on the matter.”

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Yes. That sounded to me like the first graf in what should have been a separate article.

  8. Amicus12 says:

    So, another possible tie to D.C. I certainly don’t know what representations were made concerning the tapes, or how and in what form they were transmitted. But if we have a Rosemary Woods kind of situation, perhaps this forms a basis for arguing that a portion of the obstructive activities transpired in or were transmitted to D.C.

    Don’t get me wrong: the substantive element of all this is intriguing to say the least. But if Smith & Co. want to charge then links to DC appear to matter a great deal.

    • emptywheel says:

      LOL. I’m so glad you commented on this. Ed and I had dinner. I raised the venue issue. Mentioned your comment.

      And here you are, working on solving Jack Smith’s venue conundrum!

      • bmaz says:

        There is not really a venue issue. The document crime spree started in DC with the wrongful removal of the documents. There is no problem with venue being DC. That is where the nexus is. If DOJ screws this up, they are simply pathetic.

        • emptywheel says:

          There’s not, yet, any evidence that Trump wrongfully removed the documents. That’s what makes it so hard to prosecute a POTUS on this. While the law flips at noon on 1/20, there’s still a sorting process and it’s not clear Trump was involved in the post-1/20 one. And what sorting process happened was done in VA, not DC.

          • bmaz says:

            Baloney. If they were put on a truck with his personal effects and sent to FL as opposed to some “sorting process” in VA, that was the start of the crime spree. So, yeah, there are facts. Whether they later constitute evidence is yet to be determined.

            Jurisdiction/venue in DC is absolutely fine. It would be insane for SC/DOJ to concede one inch on this. File it in DC and make Trump try to remove.

            • Amicus12 says:

              The risk is not just removal, it is potentially acquittal. The Supreme Court heard argument in Smith v. United States this term to address the circuit split where some circuits (5th and 8th I believe) find that acquittal is an available remedy for a crime tried in the wrong venue.

              The scotusblog resport indicates that the justices are all over the place on this one, and might not reach the merits, but unless they reject the proposition, the risk is there. Think about Trump giving the Court a way to acquit him based on a claim of wrongful venue. That does not make me all warm and comfortable.

              • bmaz says:

                Yeah? Well then what if the case was filed and tried in another “wrong venue” other than DC? What then? This is what pre-trial motions are for. Or at least always have been. The thought that the government cannot initially pick its venue of choice, with the strongest nexus, is absurd. As are the Smith arguments in the face of double jeopardy.

            • emptywheel says:


              Except that’s not what is known to have happened.

              It’s possible that for some of the stolen documents that happened. But there’s no evidence of it thus far, and plenty of evidence that what I laid out occurred.

              • bmaz says:

                Welp, that is what I have seen reported. If you have reportage otherwise, fine. What “is possible” is of little value. Why anybody would argue against primary venue in DC is very much beyond me. Never concede something like that.

                • Amicus12 says:

                  Smith is presenting to a grand jury in DC. Whatever he charges, he’s charging in DC (perhaps with the exception of some collateral matters).

                  The issue here is how he will navigate existing law. Under existing DC and 11th Circuit law, if all of the conduct constituting obstruction took place in S. Florida, then there is no venue where obstruction can be charged. Compare United States v. Swann, 441 F.2d 1053, 1055 (D.C. Cir. 1971) (venue for obstruction where acts of obstruction occurred) with United States v. Barham, 666 F.2d 521, 524 (11th Cir. 1982)(venue for obstruction where proceeding was obstructed).

                  If he is going to charge willful retention then he is also going to charge obstruction. How do we know a former President willfully retained NDI? Because he committed a separate felony to do so. So, Smith will want to find some activity connected to DC to bring both charges.

                  I’m not sure that the DC sorting theory works. Trump would have been President at that point in time so all of that conduct would appear to be preparatory to the wrongful acts. Preparatory acts don’t solve the problem (assuming they occurred and there is evidence of such).

                  • bmaz says:

                    Eh, no, Trump being President or not is irrelevant. The crime started with the improper removal. People are WAY overthinking this. DC nexus is fine. Make a defendant prove otherwise.

  9. TooLoose LeTruck says:

    “A Stupid Trump Cover Story”

    Good title for a book about this whole sodden mess…

    And you gotta love the help Trump keeps surrounding himself with…

    Matthew Calamari, Jr…. which leads me to believe there must be a Matthew Calamari, Sr out there somewhere…

    And of course, the illustrious Joseph Tacopina…

    What would their mob nicknames be…

    Mattie Squid and Joey Tacopants?

    • ducktree says:

      Cucuzzi (zucchinis) . . . ? That was the name of a family that lived next door to us when I was a child growing up in Redondo Beach, CA.

    • RipNoLonger says:

      Joe (Tapioca) Tacopina – pretty much already in common use
      Matthew (Big Squid) Calamari, Sr.

      Let’s be careful and not offend someone’s sensibilities by using nicknames!

  10. punaise says:

    Calamari… really?

    I’m an Italophile, so no slight intended, but whats with all the mob-like names in Trump’s entourage?

    • BobBobCon says:

      Also lawyers like Cohen and Cohn. I think it’s fair to say Trump looks for lawyers outside the NYC establishment, and you can see how the biases in Ivy League admissions can lead to some hiring patterns for a guy a like Trump who is looking for Michael Claytons instead of a WASP.

        • BobBobCon says:

          He was inside in the way that Truman Capote was.

          Cohn was a curiousity and an asset. And when he was dying they all pretended they never knew him in a way they didn’t scorn even a low level partner at a white shoe firm.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            I think bmaz has the better argument. Cohn was a brilliant product of Columbia college and law school. He graduated with both degrees before he was twenty-one.

            Like many of the titans NYC has produced, he was always focused on manipulating those in power to do his bidding. Like Hoover, he had or could get the dirtiest dirt on anyone in his or his clients’ path. His client list read like a Who’s Who.

            His closest confidants were Hoover and Francis Cardinal Spellman, and the then very Irish Catholic NYC field office. His power began to wain when they did, Spellman in 1967, Hoover in 1972. Both had many things to hide and used Cohn to help hide them, to attack their enemies, and to exchange favors. He was a made man, until he wasn’t.

            • BobBobCon says:

              It was purely transactional with Cohn, and when he became inconvenient even Trump was almost gleeful in showing him to the curb.

              Dirtbags like Dennis Hastert after his conviction still got people rushing to offer letters to the court explaining why he needed, nay, was owed mercy.

              Nobody bothered to buy Roy Cohn a ginger ale from the hospital vending machine when he needed it.

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                A penniless homosexual dying from AIDS in 1986, who denied being gay, was not something “the great and good” – not even Cohn’s friends Ron and Nancy Reagan – wanted to be associated with.

                How Cohn died says little about the power and connections he had before he lost them. It says that he didn’t live according to the nostrum in the Wizard of Oz, that love is measured by how much people love you, not the other way round.

                Yes, nobody liked him. But they still came to him when in trouble, Barbara Walters included. The well-connected Rupert Murdoch isn’t likeable either, he just has and will die with gobs of money, to which the hordes will pay tribute.

          • Ebenezer Scrooge says:

            I’ll go with BobBobCon. Cohn was useful and feared. Nobody liked him. All his relations (except maybe David Schine) were purely transactional. Machiavelli thought it better to be feared than loved, but preferred both, if you could hit it off.
            Yes, much of the Establishment knew him and worked with him, especially the part involved in local politics. But much didn’t–my guess is that the financial titans stayed as far away from him as possible.

  11. Peterr says:

    OT . . . waaaaaaay OT . . .

    Marcy, are you going to liveblog the coronation tomorrow?

    • BobBobCon says:

      Do you want to give her a heart attack? Because it sure seems like you’re trying to give her a heart attack.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      What part of Ireland not being in the British Isles don’t you get? :-)

      • P J Evans says:

        Sorry, but Ireland as a whole *is* part of the British Isles. Ireland the country is not part of the UK, though Northern Ireland is.

  12. WilliamOckham says:

    The sourcing on the NYT article is interesting. Here are all (I think) of the source references:

    multiple people familiar with the inquiry
    people briefed on the matter.
    Two people (subset of above)
    one of the people said.
    a person familiar with the activity
    a person familiar with the matter.
    multiple people familiar with the investigation
    a person briefed on the matter.
    people with knowledge of the subpoenas.
    people briefed on the matter.

    No sourcing is given for:

    The specifics of Evan Corcoran’s grand jury testimony
    the “common belief with Trump’s inner circle” that all the stolen documents were in the storage room.
    The whole “mishandling” of Nauta by prosecutors

    As far as I know (and I hope someone more knowledgeable about the law than I am will correct me if I’m wrong), Evan Corcoran is the only person who could legally and truthfully say what Corcoran testified to before the grand jury. Evan Corcoran would also qualify as “a person briefed on the matter”.

    In the vein of not multiplying entities beyond what is strictly necessary to explain the phenomena, this looks like Evan Corcoran spun this story. If that’s true, we can just count up how many corroborating sources this crack team of reporters got for each part of the story.

    • emptywheel says:

      On the Nauta mistake, when the Guardian tells the story, they compare that “mistake” to Kash Patel, so part of the story comes from Stanley Woodward, who is a prolific source for all things Jan6.

      I think the more interesting thing is that this story features reporters with more specific competence on legal issues.

      That said, Corcoran could share his testimony with people close to Trump, who could then share it. As described, it sounds like it wasn’t all that helpful for Smith, so maybe that’s Corcoran’s best spin story to placate Trump’s other lawyers.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        It does sound like it wasn’t that helpful, which is how I would spin it if I were Corcoran.

  13. punaise says:

    OT (comments are closed on the GA update thread). Just to rile bmaz up late on a Friday:

    “What you talkin’ about, Willis?”

    via CNN:

    At least 8 fake electors have been granted immunity in the Georgia Trump investigation

    • bmaz says:

      Oh, I have seen the reports. Just amazing.

      Willis remains as probably the most disgraceful major county DA I have ever seen in my life. Her “investigation” remains ginned up politically motivated garbage. Trump needs to be prosecuted, but not by two bit state political climbers like Willis and Bragg. If the Raffensberger call was a crime (and it may well have been), it is properly for the federal government/Smith, not a hack like Willis.

      • punaise says:

        I’m well aware of your take on Willis. If it should have been a federal item, can you surmise why it didn’t get pursued? I’m ignorant of the jurisdictional mechanics, but did the state investigation somehow … what’s that word .. trump a federal effort?

        • bmaz says:

          Who says it was NOT being pursued?? I have heard no word of that as to Garland and, now, Jack Smith.

          Willis effectively ran on inserting herself into federal issues and immediately started doing so upon taking office. Willis is the last kind of person you want in a critical prosecutorial office like Fulton County. We had a dope like that here, and he and his chief deputy ended up disbarred. I am so far from a “rightest” or “MAGAphile” both of which I have been accused of recently, it is laughable. But I do not approve of bullshit by politically motivated local prosecutors.

          • timbozone says:

            Again, at what point are county DAs allowed to investigate out of state conspiracies to manipulate votes in their own counties. This scandal also involves folks inside Georgia. The DA in Fulton County has every right to investigate this. Or are you arguing against any local jurisdictions being able to police their own vote tampering scandals if there’s a wiff of some of the players involved being from out of state?

            • Peterr says:

              Also, the GA state law enforcement was unable to address this, because the governor and state AG were witnesses to some of the stuff, creating a conflict of interest. As someone noted at the time, if the county prosecutor didn’t take up the case, no one in the state would have the ability to do so.

              • bmaz says:

                Oh noes! The GBI could not address this because the governor and state AG were, maybe, potential witnesses? So a local political hack like Willis needed to charge in to the rescue for a federal election crime? What a load of bunk.

                • emptywheel says:


                  We get it. A champion of local prosecutions is certain that IN THIS CASE it is wrong. And the private citizens who spent a year investigating are also wrong, then.

              • bmaz says:

                By the way, there are 159 counties in Georgia. As the allegations are of a crime committed against the “State of Georgia”, not Fulton County, how many of the 159 potential accusers would you feel comfortable with prosecuting an, at base, federal election crime? Then how can you be comfortable with a hack like Willis?

                • Peterr says:

                  The initial actions which caught the legal attention of everyone were the phone calls to the governor and other officials in Atlanta. Willis didn’t latch onto this because she was the first of 159 prosecutors to jump, but because the alleged crimes took place within her jurisdiction.

                  You can hate on her media presence all you want, but why have you apparently given up on analyzing the law when it comes to her behavior?

                  • bmaz says:

                    Lol, complete horse manure. But you clutch on to that. Perhaps you do not grok that as “crimes against the state of Florida” they are within the purview of all of the State, not just Fulton county. But I guess a Willis apologist would not want to admit that.

                    • emptywheel says:

                      No one is “apologizing” for Willis.

                      Just pointing out factual details you’ve spun wildly clear of.

                      Crimes were committed in her jurisdiction. You think they shouldn’t be prosecuted because you don’t like the person voters elected. We get that. You keep saying that.

                    • bmaz says:

                      Yes, people here are apologizing for Willis’ ridiculously inappropriate conduct. What is being “wildly spun” is the nature of my objection to it. But thanks kindly! I do not care in the least about Willis personally or that the “voters elected her”, and the allegation that I do is total bullshit.

                      Fake electors and phone calls happened as to AZ too. If the local County Attorney tried this nonsense as to federal election law, I would say exactly the same thing. And, no, I do not want local officials with this kind of power over federal election issues, it is a recipe for disaster the apologists will likely live to regret.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              Your question provides the answer: because events out of state had the primary objective of corrupting an election in her state/county.

        • Savage Librarian says:

          After a number of preliminary motions (please forgive my terminology which may not be quite accurate,) even my case involving local employment issues was moved from state court to federal court. My understanding was that was because of federal funding the library received. But it could have been about Constitutional issues as well. At my urging, the U.S. Dept. of Education was also investigating my concerns, although that was not part of my case.

          So, to me it seems logical that DOJ and SC Jack Smith would have proper jurisdiction over anything that happened in a federal election. In fact, early on Jack Smith subpoenaed state election officials. What confuses me, though, is why DOJ and/or Smith could not have worked things out with Willis. But if I understand what bmaz is saying, it is problematic because she made it a campaign issue. I’m counting on bmaz to step in to correct what I may misunderstand.

  14. Steve in Manhattan says:

    For those of you playing at home (and old enough) keep an eye out for an 18 minute gap in the footage that will be blamed on a secretary.

  15. Georgia Girl says:

    IANAL, but I am a longtime Georgia resident and voter. I’m sorry you don’t like Fani Willis, bmaz, but she is doing her job even if you don’t like the way she does it. I know a lot of Georgians are grateful that Willis didn’t wait around for DOJ to get started. Trump attempted to affect the outcome of an election that was run by the State of Georgia according to Georgia state law and in doing so, Trump violated Georgia state law. The Georgia legislature, Secretary of State, and Governor’s offices are all located in Fulton County. Trump’s call to Raffensberger was received in Fulton County. Fulton County is also the most populous county in Georgia, so Trump’s attempts to fiddle the results were an attack on the voting rights of Fulton County residents. (Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss were Fulton County election workers.) I can assure you that Brad Raffensberger’s display of integrity was uncharacteristic for Republicans in Georgia. And you saw what Trump did with Georgia’s US Attorneys. The state of Georgia’s government and politics is such that Willis’s investigation couldn’t happen outside of Fulton County. And for all your complaints, bmaz, you have failed to demonstrate that Willis’s investigation is unnecessary, even if to your mind, it’s unsightly. As is often noted at emptywheel, the DOJ is not infallible.

    • bmaz says:

      Willis is not “doing her job”, she is doing the exact antithesis of it. But, hey, thanks. Welcome to Emptywheel. Please also learn the value of paragraph breaks.

      • Georgia Girl says:

        Thanks for the paragraph tip. Nevertheless, you have spent more time expressing irritation at Willis than actually explaining what is wrong with her investigation under Georgia law. Ad hominem and ad feminam attacks and expressions of irritation do not an explanation make.

        • bmaz says:

          What a load of bunk. I have stated my concerns openly and often. From the start. Perhaps you did not read or comprehend.

          Ad feminam? If Willis was a man, I would have exactly the same problem. You might want to review what I have said about Alvin Bragg.

          But, hey, thanks for wandering in here without having really ever read anything, Ms. One Comment Georgia Girl.

  16. FL Resister says:

    Fulton District Attorney Fani Willis is an elected official, a public official, and a prosecutor. Perhaps the political aspect of her job is what drives Bmaz crazy. She’s acting like part prosecutor and part politician but that’s her job description. Willis has constituents, a whole county of them, targeted with voter suppression and outright attempts to deny their legally cast ballots.

    I get Bmaz’s beef about the purity of the legal process and how things are supposed to go, Live by the law, die by the law.
    Like Georgia Girl said, Fulton County is one of few in Georgia that has the power to take discrimination problems and this sort of illegalityon.
    Fani Willis has got a case. In this fight we must take on every assault on our right to vote because as Norm Eisen just said on ‘Words Matter,’ “The Confederacy is winning.”

    • bmaz says:

      Or perhaps Willis is just a two bit unprofessional hack and is full of shit, taking a “case”, that is properly federal, for personal political gain.

    • bmaz says:

      By the way, I do not like it when Feds bigfoot on what are properly state law crimes, and I do not like it when the reverse happens like Willis trying to bogusly bigfoot on federal matters. What she is doing is garbage. And what Norm Eisen says means nothing. Tell me the last time Norm tried a criminal case (or for that matter, any case). I’ll be waiting.

    • bidrec says:

      Perhaps Fani should purchase billboards around Atlanta and share her concerns that way much as Lester Maddox did in Long County, GA.

      There were songs written about it.

      Maddox paid for billboards that said, “Don’t get fleeced in a clip joint”, north and south of Ludowici because he couldn’t do anything else even though he was governor.

  17. Doctor My Eyes says:

    Well, since this trash talk is still here, I’ll take this as an open thread. There’s something I’ve been wanting to post somewhere. The following depicts an alternative reality to murdering a desperate person in the subway. I hope the good people here will indulge me. I’m trying to re-create this story from memory.

    A well-known Buddhist teacher told this account from when he was studying martial arts in Japan. (I don’t remember who it was.) He had reached a point of proficiency in his training and found himself alert to opportunities to right wrongs with his ability to beat people physically. He was aware that this mindset conflicted with the teachings of his trainer, who always emphasized that the purpose of learning these skills was to minimize violence, not contribute to it.

    One day he was going home on the subway when a drunken man stumbled into the car and started threatening passengers, screaming and getting up into people’s faces. To our young student, this seemed just the opportunity he had been looking for. But before he could act, an elderly man began addressing the man. He asked him to come sit next to him. He started speaking calmly about how he enjoyed sitting in the garden with his wife in the evenings and other good things about life. Before long, the belligerent man’s anger had dissipated and he was crying, confessing his many troubles to the kindly man.

    This story is much more poignant (and accurate) in the original, but I hope the point comes through. This story has really stayed with me as a touchstone for skilled behavior under stress. There are alternatives to violence; in the face of fear, it is difficult to believe in the infectious power of simple caring. Sadly, much of the noise in society reinforces the notion that raw power always wins and only the naive embrace non-violence.

    • Rayne says:

      After the murder of Jordan Neely this month in NYC’s F-train while having a breakdown, this koan is on the nose. We’ve trained far too many people to respond to challenges with violence instead of responding with gentleness.

      • Doctor My Eyes says:

        Thanks for the context, Rayne. The parallels between the two stories border on the uncanny.

        (It took me a while to find this response, because I meant to put this comment in Bmaz’s trash talk post.

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