Trump’s Federated Conspiracies and Racketeering: How Georgia and the Federal Charges May Interact

The Georgia indictment and Trump’s federal indictment tell the same story. But those stories have some key differences, that will create an interesting prisoner’s dilemma for those involved. The different exposure of Sidney Powell in both and the different treatment of Ruby Freeman show how they’re different.

Sidney Powell’s lawsuits and alleged hacking

The last overt act described in the federal indictment against Donald Trump describes how, at 3:41AM, Mike Pence certified the election for Joe Biden.

123. At 3:41 a.m. on January 7, as President of the Senate, the Vice President announced the certified results of the 2020 presidential election in favor of Biden.

But two of the charged conspiracies — the 18 USC 371 conspiracy to defraud the US and the 18 USC 241 conspiracy against rights — go through January 20. Since they are charged as conspiracies, anything Trump’s co-conspirators said and did after January 6 can also be used to prove the case against Trump.

That’s particularly notable for Trump’s Crazy Kraken Conspirator, Sidney Powell. As noted, the only overt act of hers described in Trump’s federal indictment has to do with her lawsuits targeting Dominion.

Those lawsuits don’t figure in the Georgia indictment at all — not even the November 25 one against Georgia explicitly described in the federal indictment. Instead, Powell’s primary criminal exposure in the Georgia indictment has to do with her conspiracy to get access to Dominion data from Coffee County, a conspiracy that — the Georgia indictment alleges — started on December 1, continued through their access of the data on January 7, after which the data continued to be exploited until at least April. Powell’s larger effort to exploit Dominion data, even that obtained in Michigan, plays a part in the RICO conspiracy.

In the federal case, Powell’s lawsuits serve both to justify backstopping of the electoral certification (meaning, you had to have lawsuits to justify having fake electors) and to prove that Trump was magnifying fraud claims from someone — Powell — everyone openly labeled as batshit. If and when Jack Smith ever adds charges — against Powell, Trump, or his PAC — for fraudulent fundraising, his embrace of claims sourced to Powell will be important to prove he knew he was lying in his fundraising.

In the Georgia case, by contrast, she is charged with outright conspiracy to illegally access computers and election fraud associated with accessing the Dominion data.

The overall arc of the conspiracies is the same; the criminal exposure is radically different.

Death threats and interstate entrapment efforts

Paragraph 26 of the federal indictment describes how Rudy Giuliani lied in a Georgia hearing, including but not limited to about Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, which resulted in death threats.

26. On December 10, four days before Biden’s validly ascertained electors were scheduled to cast votes and send them to Congress, Co-Conspirator 1 appeared at a hearing before the Georgia House of Representatives’ Government Affairs Committee. Co-Conspirator 1 played the State Farm Arena video again, and falsely claimed that it showed “voter fraud right in front of people’s eyes” and was “the tip of the iceberg.” Then, he cited two election workers by name, baselessly accused them of “quite obviously surreptitiously passing around USB ports as if they are vials of heroin or cocaine,” and suggested that they were criminals whose “places of work, their homes, should have been searched for evidence of ballots, for evidence of USB ports, for evidence of voter fraud.” Thereafter, the two election workers received numerous death threats.

Prosecutors are well aware of the import of Trump’s bullying — they made it part of their bid for a protective order. But, probably in an effort to stave off any real claim about charging First Amendment protected speech, such bullying is not charged, not even Trump’s targeting of Mike Pence.

The Georgia indictment, as Rick Hasen also notes, focuses much more on crimes targeting Freeman and Moss.

Rudy is charged for the lies he told on December 10 in Count 7. He and Ray Stallings are charged with soliciting Georgia Representatives to violate their oaths in Count 6.

But in addition to that, Lutheran minister Steve Lee is charged with two counts for trying to trick Freeman, once on December 14 and again on December 15, into confessing to voter fraud that didn’t happen. And he is charged along with Kanye’s publicist, Trevian Kutti, and Black Votes for Trump official Harrison Floyd with another attempt to get her to confess to voter fraud on January 4 and an attempt to get her to lie to the state.

These are alleged crimes that arise from Freeman’s status as a Fulton County election worker and as such are properly the concern of Fani Willis, not Jack Smith.

All of which is to say that even though both the RICO charge and Trump’s conspiracies map the same conduct, they tie to different crimes, with different kinds of exposure for different people.

Prisoner’s Dilemma: Already Charged Co-Conspirators versus Not-Yet Charged Co-Conspirators

One way the Georgia and federal indictments will interact is in the relative pressure between already being charged, in a state with strict pardon rules, and being not-yet charged, in a venue where Trump has pardoned his way out of criminal trouble in the past.

Five people are named as co-conspirators in both: Rudy (CC1 in the federal indictment), John Eastman (CC2), Powell (CC3), Jeffrey Clark (CC4) and Ken Chesebro (CC5).

Some of these people, like Sidney Powell, Trump might not consider pardoning in any case. Plus, Trump’s closest associates have spent the last week or so throwing her under the bus. But thus far at least, Powell’s personal legal risk is far greater in Georgia than federally.

Others, though, may think seriously about how much harder it would be to get a pardon for Georgia than a Federal indictment, where the next Republican President, possibly including Donald Trump, would be able to pardon them.

In other words, if people who are likely to be indicted by Jack Smith think the charges in Georgia are at all serious, they may flip sooner rather than later, which will likely lead them to cooperate in the DC case as well.

There’s a reason why prisoner’s dilemma is the basis for so much game theory. The way these two competing indictments intersect may rewrite that doctrine, something called Trump defendant dilemma.

Then consider the timing. Later this month — potentially on August 28, three days after all Willis defendants have to turn themselves in — Jack Smith’s prosecutors will fight for a January 2 trial date, which is ambitious. Last night, Fani Willis said she wanted to bring all 19 defendants to trial within 6 months, which would be late February or March.

Even if one or both of those dates would hold, it might require Alvin Bragg be willing to reschedule his own trial on the hush payment cover-up.

But if even just one of these trials goes forward on such an ambitious schedule, it would mean that this Trump defendant dilemma will be playing out even as GOP primary voters go to the polls.

The Bubble Three

One of the most interesting other ways the Georgia indictment and the federal one will interact is in how the three men on the bubble — Mike Roman, Boris Epshteyn, and Mark Meadows — respond. While we’re not yet sure whether Boris or Roman is CC6 in the federal indictment, there’s more support right now for it being Boris. Both men had their phones seized by DOJ in September. Both men sat (or said they’d sit) for proffers with Jack Smith’s team; neither has been (publicly) charged by DOJ yet.

Roman is charged in the Georgia indictment, both with the RICO charge and the Trump side of each of the fake elector charges. He’s the guy who was interacting directly with people in Georgia (and with CC4, Robert Sinners, who cooperated even with the January 6 Committee). If Roman actually did start cooperating with Jack Smith’s team, there’d be no down-side to doing so with Willis’ team, either.

Boris, by contrast, is almost certainly CC3; Act 109, describing a Chesebro email to Eastman and CC3 matches this passage from the January 6 Report.

By that point, Chesebro and Eastman were coordinating their arguments about the fake-elector votes and how they should be used. On January 1, 2021, Chesebro sent an email to Eastman and Epshteyn that recommended that Vice President Pence derail the joint session of Congress. In it, he raised the idea of Vice President Pence declaring “that thereare two competing slates of electoral votes” in several States, and taking the position that only he, or possibly Congress, could “resolve any disputes concerning them.”122

So Boris is not facing the charges that can’t be pardoned but may he facing the charges that can be.

Finally, there is Meadows. The slim exposure for Meadows in this indictment — he is charged in the RICO charge and the solicitation charge tied to the Raffensperger call — may explain why he was not listed as a co-conspirator, yet, for the Jack Smith indictment. The most damning acts attributed to him in the indictment were:

  • Sometime in December: Meeting with Johnny McEntee and asking him for a plan to throw out half the electoral votes in some states
  • December 22: Unsuccessfully attempting to enter the audit site in Georgia
  • December 27: Offering Trump campaign funds if it would help get signature verification done by January 6

Other than that, Meadows’ actions entail setting up phone calls on which Trump lied and solicited unlawful acts. Meadows has a superb lawyer and might try his luck with these charges.

If any of these men cooperated — if any already is (though I really think Meadows is not) — then it would provide both prosecutors a pivotal person in the conspiracies (and, in Boris’ case, the stolen documents conspiracy as well).

As I said above, the interaction of these two indictments, along with the uncertainty as Jack Smith continues to investigate, creates a fierce game of prisoner’s dilemma. And that’s before Smith charges any financial crimes tied to fraudulent fundraising.

Update: Meadows has moved to remove the charges against him to federal court — a move he may have more success doing than Trump.

203 replies
  1. Peterr says:

    There’s a reason why prisoner’s dilemma is the basis for so much game theory. The way these two competing indictments intersect may rewrite that doctrine, something called Trump defendant dilemma.

    This case is an example of what is called Multi-Person Prisoners Dilemma, or N-Person Prisoners Dilemma. The simple 2 prisoners-2 choices model lays out the general tension between holding firm and hoping your partner in crime does the same vs selling out your partner and hoping your partner remains loyal. In a two person model, the math is relatively simple and straightforward.

    In a multi-person game, however, it gets much more complicated. To give just one example, can one defector bring down the whole enterprise, or only part of it? Labor economists have tried to use the Prisoners Dilemma to model union-employer negotiations in which the number of players (workers) are in the thousands or millions.

    Here, the math is more manageable. The key, though, is that if the conspiracy requires *everyone* to remain loyal, the math shows that the incentive to be the first to defect grows much more quickly, the larger the conspiracy is, because the likelihood of *everyone* remaining silent decreases – perhaps exponentially, depending on the payoff assumptions and expectations of defections.

    As Poor Richard once noted, “Three can keep a secret if two of them are dead.”

    With all these defendants, the lawyers for each (if they are honestly representing their clients and not Trump) will be talking with their clients about this very thing. “I need to advise you that if everyone keeps quiet about what happened, we might beat the charge against you. But if any one of your co-defendants decides to cooperate, you are in deep trouble. With all these co-defendants, how likely is it that everyone stays loyal to the conspiracy? There is a lot of incentive to cooperate, and if you don’t cooperate, you could end up on the short end of the stick pretty fast. On the other hand, if you do cooperate, we could plead this down pretty far. And keep in mind that every one of the lawyers for the other defendants is having this very same conversation with their client . . .”

    • MattyGMattyG says:

      It’s not simply the sheer number of prisoners complicating the math here. As Marcy points out many of them are charged in multiple co-related cases with differing degrees of exposure, and critically, different “seeding” with respect potential Get Out Out Jail Pardon cards in each multi-case scenario.

    • Ken Muldrew says:

      It’s important to keep in mind that the game theory Prisoner’s Dilemma is between strangers. People who plan a crime together in advance usually have some ability to predict the behavior of their partners and they may even make plans that anticipate the various scenarios that may arise if they are unsuccessful in their criminal activity; not to mention the presence of defense attorneys in the mix. Adding mental models to the game would increase the complexity beyond reason (and yet, the simplified game still illuminates some aspects of human behavior).

    • Fraud Guy says:

      Thus, the campaign paying for the attorneys representing his co-conspirators in other cases. How far will the money stretch? Especially considering an alteration to this quote:
      “With [these] co-defendants, how likely is it that everyone stays loyal to the conspiracy?”

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        Jenna Ellis has already been underbussed because she threw her hat in with Ronald (and perhaps was too dim to recognize her exposure when doing that). Rudy is already spending more on lawyers than on booze, which is something. The fake electors and other lower-tier RICOers are probably going to be on their own because the bigger players will feel like they’re (mostly) insulated.

        (It’s not especially great that the cost of representation in the US often makes the difference between cooperation / pleading out / testing a decent defense, but that’s how it is.)

        The Coffee County exploit feels like the place where Willis can apply most pressure for cooperation; Powell is up to her neck in that, including perjury. Once you’ve perjured yourself there’s no easy way back.

        • pseudonymous in nc says:

          ETA: I got it wrong: Powell’s not charged with perjury — her false statements were to the J6 committee, and Willis leaves it as an overt act — but it potentially tees up something on the federal side.

          I guess SullivanStrickler cooperated pretty thoroughly to avoid being in deep shit.

    • Capemaydave says:

      It behooves each Defendants’ counsel to get first in line on discovery to make a more informed choice in the dilemma.

      Any benefit to surrendering first on that front in Georgia?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Nice discussion. I would add that Trump is addicted to throwing people under the bus, whom his paranoid mind even suspects of disloyalty. His limited intellect now has a shit storm of peril to keep straight, something he’s not good at. His tendency will be to oversimplify, and act fast and whimsically.

      • gruntfuttock says:

        Weeeell, I believe the donald is having a press conference on Monday.

        How many laws or court orders can he break in one fell swoop?

        Apparently we can now detect Pink Floyd songs in people’s brains. What wouldn’t you give to know what’s going through the donald’s brain right now (actually, I think I would rather not know) ;-)

    • Rwood0808 says:

      Does either prosecutor even need someone to flip?

      From what I’ve read so far I’m starting to ask that question more often.

      Imagine you’re Mark Meadows and you volunteer to flip, only for Smith to say “Thats okay Mark, we’re good with what we have.”

    • NerdyCanuck says:

      Whereas truly independentcounselors, will have to add something along the lines of “BTW, n/19 number of defendants are being represented by Trump lawyers, which is a [majority/minority/neutral] number of them, soooooo we have to keep that in mind because they’re surely the least likely to cooperate. But ALSO, key witness(es) [to your criminal exposure] A,F, and J are being represented by Trump lawyers, whereas key witness(es) [to your criminal exposure] D,G, and S are not being represented by Trump lawyers. Soooooo…. how much do you trust all those people?” (aka, you feel lucky today, punk?)

      And anyone have any guess how many of the 19 will end up being defended by Stanley Woodward?

      (that faint buzzing in the distance, is the sound of Trump screaming at his PAC to hurry up and ‘just find it’s, it being enough $$$ to pay lawyers for as many of them as possible, while also screaming at his ratfuckers to start digging ASAP to confirm whether/how loyal each one is…)

      • NerdyCanuck says:

        darn this was only part of my comment, it didn’t paste fully from my notepad app for some reason. Ah well, it was the better half! And still makes sense, with the help of the other commenters who covered the first part anyways haha :)

      • Savage Librarian says:

        Gary Michael Brown is represented by Stan Woodward. GMB also was deputy/assistant to Mike Roman who is an indicted co-conspirator. Gary Michael Brown also goes by the name Mike. When Christina Bobb claimed that there was someone she met at the WH during the time of the GA phone call, she said she could only remember that his name was Mike. That makes me wonder if it was Gary Michael Brown.

      • CoffaeBreak says:

        When Trump starts to focus on one of these poor souls more than others, he is most likely suspicious and may send his attack dogs after them. Trump has a mindset like a mobster, and the stakes are high.

    • WolverineEngineer says:

      Finally! — an exercise for ChatGPT/AI that I’d actually be interested in: “Hey ChatGPT, what is the probablility that all N prisoners remain loyal in an N-Person Prisoners’ Dilemma scenario, where N=19?”

        • WolverineEngineer says:

          Hmmm…. point taken!

          (But… listen to “This American Life,” episode 803, “Greetings, People of Earth,” aired 6.23.23.)

      • EuroTark says:

        You are aware that ChatGPT doesn’t actually do any of the actual work? The underlying model has no idea what the prisoner dilemma is, just how the words in that sentence interact with other words.

        Whatever answer you get is about as reliable as shaking a magic eight-ball.

        • WolverineEngineer says:

          I, too, was skeptical of AI (as an engineering PhD), but I’d refer you to the ‘This American Life’ episode referenced above, as well as a recent paper by 14 Microsoft AI researchers (“Sparks of Artificial General Intelligence: Early experiments with GPT-4”, Bubeck, et al, arXiv:2303.12712). Quoting them: “…GPT-4 can solve novel and difficult tasks that span mathematics… medicine, law… without special prompting [and with a] performance that is strikingly close to human-level performance…” (I should probably amend my original post to refer specifically to ‘GPT-4’.)

        • gruntfuttock says:

          ‘Whatever answer you get is about as reliable as shaking a magic eight-ball.’

          And there you have Trump’s entire defence in a nutshell.

    • Stephen Calhoun says:

      Thanks Peterr. Cellular Prisoner’s Dilemma, anyone!?

      I assume, naively and perhaps incorrectly, that all future plotting of individuals in the Georgia indicted group is required to be isolated and not coordinated between the large group(s) of lawyers working on behalf of their clients.

      It seems to me at the same time all sorts of tacit coordination can unfold simply by virtue of public and/or social media messaging, priming, cueing.

      How likely is it that Trump takes the witness tampering prohibition seriously? He’s already made a soft run at the Georgia Lt.Gov.

      The dynamics will unfold, surprise, shock and provide quite a ‘ride;’ hopefully toward accountability and justice.

  2. WilliamOckham says:

    This indictment should strike fear in the hearts of many people not mentioned in either indictment. As best I (as a non-lawyer) can tell, the feds can use conspiracy charges in much the same way as Willis used the Georgia RICO statute. If you look at the non-charged overt acts listed in the Georgia indictment and think about all the Republican politicians and operatives who did the same things in public in late 2020, you’ll see that there are dozens (maybe hundreds) of people who were active participants in Trump’s federal KKK Act conspiracy. A whole lot of those people ought to be asking themselves if they’ll get the Sidney Powell treatment from Trump and his cronies.

      • William Fahey says:

        Popehat says RICO! And he never says RICO except to say it’s never RICO.

        [Welcome back to emptywheel. SECOND REQUEST: Please use the same username and email address each time you comment so that community members get to know you. “William Fahey” is your third user name; you’ve commented (4) times as “Coolxenu” and (6) times as “Cool Xenu.” Pick a name and stick with it going forward. Thanks. /~Rayne]

        • Baltimark says:

          Popehat to my knowledge simply said, in effect (paraphrasing), “hey, those thousand times I said no RICO, I meant no _federal_ RICO. But state level, who knows.” I like Ken a lot but that almost post hoc clarification felt like special pleading.

          • HikaakiH says:

            I’m no lawyer but am aware that state level RICO laws will have differences to the federal RICO law, so Popehat distinguishing between the two is OK by me. (Distinguishing between situations/cases is what lawyers do.)
            Here is the one and only video ever uploaded to Popehat’s YT account:
            https://www. youtube .com/watch?v=aiVkyD1yzJg [link broken with spaces]
            “Fine! It’s RICO. Are you happy now?”

            • bmaz says:

              For the love of everything, please do not break trustworthy links, like to our friend Ken at YouTube we know well. I do not ever want to go search for links that could have been easily supplied.

            • bmaz says:

              I tried to go look for this from a friend, Ken White. But, because HikaakiH decided to break up a perfectly okay YouTube link, I have spent nearly half an hour looking for it.

              PLEASE do not do this. I still have no idea what HikaakiH was even talking about. and, apparently, never will. If you have garbage from some right wing site, fine, cut it up. Otherwise, please do not make this site stupid.

              • Rayne says:

                She may have added a blank space to keep the link from getting hung up in moderation.

                I have encouraged folks to add blank spaces in URLs for this very reason — keeps the Pending moderation bin from getting overfull.


                ADDER: You’ll note Jeff Kavanaugh’s “corrected” link was hung up in the bin for 45 min because it was an active link, not having a blank space in it.

                • HikaakiH says:

                  That is indeed why. It’s become mere habit. And I’m a ‘he’, but you can call me anything you like.

                  • bmaz says:

                    If you want to insure that nobody ever is able to view your link to perfectly fine sites like NYT, WaPo, WSJ and YouTube, sure, break them up to where they are completely unusable. Not kidding, I went down that rabbit hole for way too long yesterday. I could have called Ken and found out what he had said faster. That means the broken link was absolutely useless for any purpose intended.

                  • Rayne says:

                    Very sorry, reflexively pronoun-d you. I have a female friend whose nickname is Hika; I think of her every time I see your username.

                    I really should do better with neutral pronouns, thanks for calling me out on this.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      This might be a nice reversal of Trump’s usual penchant for – and success at – intimidating others into silence. These indictments might intimidate a few of his would be supporters from engaging in similar bad acts in 2024, both during the election and in managing its aftermath. Because while GOP strategists will have gamed what succeeded in 2020, so has federal law enforcement.

      • Shadowalker says:

        “ Because while GOP strategists will have gamed what succeeded in 2020, so has federal law enforcement.”

        Congress also made some changes to the ECA towards the end of last year. They increased the requirement to challenge from a single member from each house to a minimum 20% of each body, they also removed language that gave state legislatures the ability to select a slate afterwards in cases of a failed election.

        That’s one of the beauties of using a statute as the rules, they don’t have to go through the process of amending the Constitution every time someone figures out a loophole.

    • Rayne says:

      Agreed — the GA conspiracy charges in the indictment are aimed at discrete acts like document forgery, but not the overall conspiracy to defraud the voters of Georgia or conspiracy to deny GA voters their rights under GA law. GA RICO does that.

      IANAL but to my mind Michigan’s indictment of false electors which included at least two persons who shepherded the other electors looks different because of MI code 750.157a. Explanatory excerpt from the indictment:

      7. MCL 750.157a provides that any person who conspires together with 1 or more persons to commit an offense prohibited by law, or to commit a legal act in an illegal manner, is guilty of the crime of conspiracy. An agreement to gather and sign a fraudulent “Certificate of Votes,” in violation of the statutes listed in paragraphs 4, 5, and 6, is probable cause that a conspiracy to commit the underlying crime existed.

      I need to look at the indictment of Matt DePerno, Daire Rendon et al to see how conspiracy re voting machines was handled. Have yet to see a copy of the charging document.

      • bie phiephus says:

        Interesting comparison between Georgia and Michigan.

        Next question is what about Arizona and Pennsylvania? Wonder if any AGs/DAs have something in the works there?

        • 0Alexander Platt0 says:

          PA here. We barely have an AG at the moment. The office is currently held by an unelected recent party-switcher who took the job as a short-term seat-warmer. They’re certainly not about to make waves.

  3. Wajimsays says:

    Well, perhaps, hopefull, Ms. Powell will be able to unleash the Kraken in her cell and it will quickly eat her. (Wait, is that witness tampering? Oopsies!)

    • David Brooks says:

      Nope. The Kraken is mostly harmless (unless you are a huge sea worm):

      “Then once by man and angels to be seen,
      In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.”

      • gruntfuttock says:

        the kraken’s a pussy, it turns up here every morning wanting a few tattie scones and some soda scones for later and I tickle it behind the ears and off it goes. don’t believe all you read in the press ;-)

  4. montysep says:

    Conveniently… the all new Re-election Campaign website just went live and you can now support Fani Willis’ ongoing efforts to hold criminals accountable locally.

    Note: Hi Rayne I recognize the deviation from user name convention above but felt it was required for the totality of the /snark. Bless you.

    [DON’T DO THIS SHIT. I don’t have time for this cutesy username “Pissant Prosecutor montysep” crap. You have no idea how much work I have to do right now to screen comments. Do it again and I’ll blacklist you. /~Rayne]

    • Peterr says:

      What Rayne said.

      The comment-related shit you don’t see around here — and it is *beyond* ugly and flows in like a heavy surf — is another reason to give thanks for Rayne and all her work. Please don’t add to what she already is dealing with.

      • Baltimark says:

        Back in the olden times of BBSs and USENET (where, admittedly, the masses were NOT), it was so much more a gicen that different boards or topic areas had specific cultures. You joined, you lurked, you learned, you eventually tried to speak the language.

        Obviously, there are still massive differences between the cultures of, say, 8kun, Reddit, Wikipedia, and so on. But Facebook, web comments, and Twitter are a slurry of presumption that anything goes. Newbs, please note: anything DOES NOT go. Thankfully.

        It is indeed a gift to us all here that there is such ongoing investment of time and energy by Rayne et al. to make this place _different._ I’m rehashing a commonly expressed sentiment here which is, admittedly, mildly _against_ the culture in its redundancy, but hopefully brevity mitigates that. : )

  5. Savage Librarian says:

    I’ve edited a list of names I mentioned on a previous post of some people notably absent (so far as we know) from the verified lists of indicted co-conspirators. They might be potential unindicted co-conspirators who could face the “Trump defendant dilemma.”

    Christina Bobb
    Patrick Byrne
    Joe DiGenova
    Boris Epshteyn
    Michael Flynn
    Bernie Kerik
    Cleta Mitchell
    Victoria Toensing
    Lin Wood

    • Drew in Bronx says:

      The December 18 meeting mentions one unindicted co-conspirator. Byrne and Flynn were both there. I’m not up to doing the detailed research at this point, but it does seem like it would be possible to pin down who was co-conspiring enough to be described as such and the array of possibilities why they aren’t charged and who is allowed to sink into the background. Was Byrne or Flynn more active in overt acts directly relating to Georgia? Byrne is less careful about keeping secrets, but my feeling is that, having Dodged sentencing by Emmett Sullivan via a pardon mediated & executed by people at that meeting, may have lost his stomach for playing chicken with the legal system. He’s not as tough as he talks.

      I’m thinking something similar about Cleta.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        Yeah, I’m guessing Flynn is unindicted CC20 in the 12/18/20 Oval Office meeting with the crazies. This refreshed my memory:

        “Remember When Donald Trump Discussed Seizing Voting Machines and Invoking Martial Law? Special Counsel Jack Smith Sure Does” | Vanity Fair, 7/7/23

        “As we know from contemporaneous reporting, topics discussed during the Oval Office meeting included not just using the military to seize voting machines and invoking martial law*—the latter of which Flynn had pushed for on TV, saying they should “rerun” the election—but making Powell a special counsel to investigate voter fraud.”

    • Savage Librarian says:

      Other potential unindicted co-conspirators?

      Gary Michael Brown (represented by Stan Woodward)
      Katherine Friess
      Mike Lindell
      Joanna Miller
      Peter Navarro

      • Molly Pitcher says:

        I think you need to add Peter Byrne, the former CEO of Overstock. He was at the crazy White House meeting, Pat Cippolini mentioned him as being one of the first people he saw when he got to the WH late.

        In the J6 Committee interviews, he is shown asking Byrne “Who the hell are you ?”

    • Peterr says:

      Also in the meeting was White House Staff Secretary Derek Lyons. The job of the WH Staff Secretary is to manage the flow of documents into and out of the Oval Office.

      As Axios described the meeting (from J6 committee testimony):

      The usually mild-mannered Lyons blasted the Powell set: “You’ve brought 60 cases. And you’ve lost every case you’ve had!”

      Trump came back into the Oval Office from the dining room to rejoin the meeting. Lyons pointed out to Powell that their incompetence went beyond their lawsuits being thrown out for standing. “You somehow managed to misspell the word ‘District’ three different ways in your suits,” he said pointedly.

      In a Georgia case, the Powell team had misidentified the court on the first page of their filing as “THE UNITED STATES DISTRICCT COURT, NORTHERN DISTRCOICT OF GEORGIA.” And they had identified the Michigan court as the “EASTERN DISTRCT OF MICHIGAN.”

      These were sloppy spelling errors. But given that these lawsuits aimed to overturn a presidential election, the court nomenclature should have been pristine.

      Powell, Flynn and Byrne began attacking Lyons as they renewed their argument to Trump: There they go again, they want to focus on the insignificant details instead of fighting for you.

      Four days before this meeting happened, Bloomberg reported on Dec 14th that Lyons would be leaving “before the end of the year”. After this meeting, Lyons was gone. This was his last day on the job at the White House.

      Sounds like someone who might have some incentive to help send these folks away for quite a while.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        If you can’t get the names of the court right – a simple spellcheck should pick up these gaffs – what else are you screwing up by paying not attention? Like, say, the logic of your argument or the legal support for it.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    At least one consequence of Willis’s sprawling indictment affects the odds of the prisoner’s dilemma, which depend on the rationality of the players. Trump has a remarkable ability to persuade underlings to act irrationally, to fall on their sword, to protect him. That ability, however, may not be as effective here, given the number of players and the distance they have from him. The counter to that, though, is the ability of often unified GOP actors to enforce the same sort of irrationality.

    • Ruthie2the says:

      I haven’t seen anyone mention yet that there are quite a few lawyers among the defendants, which I would think gives them an edge in the prisoner’s dilemma. Then again, there’s that irrationality you mention…

      • xxbronxx says:

        Whatever comes of the Prisoner’s Dilemma faced by those indicted yesterday IRL, I am just happy that in regards to the dilemma faced by the Georgia 19 we can’t help but keep referring to them as “prisoners”.

        • bmaz says:

          They are not only not prisoners, they have not even been arrested. What in the living hell is wrong with commenters here? Have you ever been in a real criminal court? Ever rendered a real verdict? Or are you just blowing internet shit out of your ass?

          I have been there. What I see currently on this comment section makes me want to vomit. Get your heads out of your asses.

          • Ithaqua0 says:

            “Prisoner’s Dilemma” is the name of a classic game theory problem, and does not imply that the people involved are prisoners at all. A classic example, from RAND in the 1950s, is possession of nuclear weapons; everyone (including the USSR) recognized that everyone would be better off with no nuclear weapons and therefore no chance of worldwide disaster, but if one side had them and the other didn’t, the other would be at such a huge disadvantage that it would be forced to build them. Consequently, the equilibrium is that both sides have nuclear weapons while simultaneously realizing that “it would be better” if neither side had them. The canonical statement of the problem does involve prisoners ratting each other out, however, hence the name – and the obvious applicability to this situation – but the structure of the problem is found all over the place in the real world in situations that have nothing to do with the law.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        You haven’t? The profusion of lawyers is all anyone talks about on MSNBC. Or rather, all that the *lawyers* talk about.

    • Peterr says:

      It’s worse than that for Trump.

      If I’m a rational conspirator and see a bunch of my co-conspirators acting irrationally, that’s only going to increase my incentive to flip. I get the deal, and don’t have to worry that they are going to screw me over and flip too, which would result in all of us getting screwed together.

      Of course, that assumes that *any* of them are rational (in the game theory sense), which as you say, Trump is good at undermining in his minions.

      • HikaakiH says:

        This is ‘Prisoner’s Dilemma’ in the real world as opposed to an academic exercise where a term in prison is the only negative consequence in the ‘game’. As a rational actor, you will appreciate that your co-conspirators are not the only crazy people who will be upset that you decided to be the one to spill the beans.

    • Badger Robert says:

      I think some of the participants have already shown a rational preference for limiting their liability. I think of Ms. Hutchinson, and some of the WH attorneys as examples. I think the ability of the lower level agents to anticipate Trump protecting himself and they end up holding the bag is demonstrable.
      As noted above, the economic pressure on the lower level conspirators will be a significant factor.

      • paulka123 says:

        Yeeeeeaaaaahhhhh but, the 2 codefendants in the documents case seem to undermine this conclusion. Neither has independent resources to defend themselves, yet are remaining loyal, so far.

        • IainUlysses says:

          I think there is a big difference between the professionals he roped in and his employees. The latter rely on his largesse much more than the others.

        • 2Cats2Furious says:

          That issue is exactly the point of the DOJ requesting a Garcia hearing in the SDFL documents case, to ensure that Nauta fully understands his lawyer’s conflicts and knowingly waives them.

          The IT guy was in a similar situation, and was appointed separate counsel re: potential conflicts, after which he decided to start cooperating with the DOJ.

      • Peterr says:

        Tim Parlatore, Rudy’s lawyer, gave an interview at CNBC, in which he described some of the post-election machinations around Trumpworld. Rudy and the other lawyers had worked hard for Trump and his campaign, as CNBC retells the story spun by Parlatore . . .

        [The lawyers’] lawsuits and false claims of election interference helped the Trump campaign and allied committees raise $250 million in the weeks following the November vote.

        Among them was Trump’s closest ally, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. Trump and Giuliani had a handshake agreement that Giuliani and his team would get paid by the Trump political operation for their post-election work, according to Timothy Parlatore, an attorney for longtime Giuliani ally Bernard Kerik.

        You know where this is going, right?

        cough cough cough

        You can try to keep hold it in, but you know that you’re going to burst out laughing, right?


        Got your popcorn handy? Of course you do. Back to our story . . .

        But the Trump campaign and their affiliated committees ultimately did not honor that pledge, according to campaign finance records. The failure to pay Giuliani and his team came up last week in a private interview between prosecutors on Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team and Bernard Kerik, a member of Giuliani’s team in late 2020, according to Parlatore.

        See, this is the point at which the screws really start to tighten on the players in the N-person Prisoners Dilemma.

        Imagine Trump, asleep in bed, when he slips into a dream and hears two of his old pals talking . . .

        Rudy to Bernie, “You know, he screwed us before on the money. What’s to say he isn’t going to keep screwing us?”

        Bernie to Rudy, “We aren’t going to ever see a dime of that money, and he’ll hang us out to dry with these criminal charges if it buys him a sentence that’s a single day shorter.”


        Rudy (beginning to smile) to Bernie “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

        Bernie (replying with a full grin) to Rudy: “I am absofkinglutley thinking what you’re thinking.”

        Now imagine Trump waking up in a cold sweat. “Did I dream that, or did that conversation really happen?” he asks Melania over breakfast.

        Says Melania to Trump: “Why not both, darling? Because you *know* that’s how they probably feel about you stiffing them for their work, and they know how you operate when it comes to saving your own skin.”

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          Among Trump’s dumbest moves. Paying Rudy and his team would have been one of the few uses of that money that fit its stated purpose. And it would arguably have made Rudy et. al. less tempted to cooperate, as you imagine above, Peterr.

          • 2Cats2Furious says:

            Personally, I think Rudy is too far gone to make any rational decisions. Heck, he may decline to cooperate and then take the stand in his own defense, at which point he will probably admit to all the crimes against both himself and his co-conspirators.

  7. Tetman Callis says:

    Something that comes to mind as I’m reading the Georgia Indictment — I’m only just over halfway through — are possible charges the defendants and the unindicted co-conspirators may find themselves facing with respect to wire fraud and mail fraud. Many telephone calls and email transmissions are cited to in the indictment, as well as several instances of mailing fraudulent electors’ certificates via the US Mail, all characterized as “overt acts in furtherance of the conspiracy.”

    • Drew in Bronx says:

      Wire fraud & mail fraud typically are federal charges & are used when the feds want to intervene. Georgia doesn’t need it here. Over half the indictment is still in charge one, the overall RICO conspiracy–it’s a listing of overt acts in furtherance of the conspiracy, and not all of them are chargeable as crimes in themselves.

  8. Molly Pitcher says:

    OT, but I was afraid it would get lost in the tidal wave of the Georgia indictments: “Christopher Clark, the senior lawyer representing Hunter Biden, is seeking to withdraw from the case involving the U.S. president’s son on the grounds he might be called to testify, according to a court filing on Tuesday.”
    “”It appears that the negotiation and drafting of the plea agreement and diversion agreement will be contested, and Mr. Clark is a percipient witness to those issues,” said the filing with U.S. District Court in Delaware.

    “It is inadvisable for Mr. Clark to continue as counsel in this case,” continued the joint filing from Berger Harris and Clark Smith Villazor, Clark’s firm.”

  9. John Paul Jones says:

    Anna Bower has a great piece just up on Lawfare. I won’t link, but the title is: “What the Heck Happened in Coffee County, Georgia?” It is incredibly detailed, based on court documents, J6C depositions, other litigation depositions, and interviews with some participants. A major job of work, evidently months in the making, and the story is excellently told.

    This was one of the choicest bits, imo, about Cathy Latham, Chair of the Coffee County GOP:

    In other words, while Latham has not admitted that she came to Washington and stayed at the Willard Hotel on Kerik’s dime to offer information about Coffee County election machines to the campaign, and while she hasn’t admitted that she was the “whistleblower” of Kerik’s account, she did come to Washington. She did stay at the Willard. She did claim whistleblower status at a hearing chaired by the legislator whom Kerik claimed brought a “whistleblower” to the Willard. And she was represented at that hearing by the same lawyer who allegedly attended the meeting at the Willard with a “whistleblower.”

      • bmaz says:

        And, why in the hell is it a concern of the local Fulton County DA? I have asked Bower on Twitter and Lawfare, but she won’t respond. I honestly do not think Bower has any answer other than “RICO”.Bower is not much more than a Fulton County cheerleader.

        • Greg Hunter says:

          We were a nation formed on the idea that power came from the governed and you voted for your neighbor to represent you.

          Living in Wyoming, I have thought a great deal about how the State is powerless to enforce the laws it passes unless the County Attorney and the Sheriff are willing to enforce them. County Clerks also individually run the elections. There is no Federal or State equivalent of the election process, it is all County level, so why shouldn’t this case be brought here?

          The checks and balances of a Constitutional Republic formed before the age of rapid communication is one of the wonders of our democracy.

          • bmaz says:

            Because it is total self promotional shit. NO other local county attorney has ever done this. That’s why.

        • 2Cats2Furious says:

          Per the GA indictment, Sydney Powell was the “mastermind” of tampering with the Coffee County voting machines. To do so, she engaged the forensic data firm of SullivanStrickler, LLC, located in Fulton County, and is alleged to have a signed a contract with and provided payment to them in Fulton County, among other acts.

          These allegations are not just part of Count 1 (the RICO Act), but also part of Counts 32-37 of the indictment.

          I’m not saying that I agree; just explaining the relevance of Fulton County as alleged in the indictment.

  10. TimothyB says:

    The prisoner’s dilemma, though a small corner of game theory, is well studied. Some results from economic experiments and from empirical work on price-setting cartels (where “cheating” is lowering price toward the competitive level.) I will use “cheat” to mean “cheat on the cartel / the other prisoners” throughout.
    1. Communication among “prisoners” decreases “cheating” (i.e., confessing/flipping)
    2. Repeated play — same or similar games many times, like the multiple cases here — decreases cheating. (But see 4.)
    3. Uncertainty about payoffs increases cheating — I don’t know if you are a rat, or how good the terms offered to you will be.
    4. Repeated play with payoff linkage depends on the links. e.g., if I flip here it might be evidence against me in the next case will decrease cheating.
    5. Leniency programs — only the first rat gets a soft deal from prosecutor — are more complicated than you might think but it appears that they induce cheating on the cartel empirically. Here the evidence comes from the USDOJ cartel enforcement leniency program (started in 1993).
    If there is interest I will post academic cites after work tonight.

    • Ewan Woodsend says:

      Not sure mathematical game theory or optimisation help here. Two of the indictments are from Jack Smith’s team, and could be negotiated together by defendants’ lawyers as explained in an earlier post. The New York one is unrelated, and in Georgia, the rules of the game are very different. Perhaps it is best to stick with the informal use of the term game theory, as it is done in the posts, to describe the dilemmas faced by the defendants.

    • RealAlexi says:

      Thank you for posting that. No longer viewing twitter means being able to find J.J. elsewhere is helpful!

    • bmaz says:

      Who in the living fuck posted that shit??????

      Please, nobody, ever, post lists of grand jurors on this website. Have you all gone mad?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        If I’m not mistaken, the published indictment includes the names of 26 grand jurors, with three struck out, on page nine.

        • P’villain says:

          Yeah, that surprised me last night, and I wondered if it was an error. However, media reports indicate it’s required by Georgia law. There must be an interesting story behind the enactment of that statute, because it seems like a terrible policy.

          • bmaz says:

            If Georgia is going to publish your name, no Georgian should ever agree to serve as a grand juror. That, like about everything to do with this “case”, is insane. And, please, because it “is Georgia law” does not make it right.

          • Ginevra diBenci says:

            harpie, you’re right. Having heard that Georgia does this but also the suggestion that Willis *might* be able to alter the practice, it was the first thing I looked for. Reading those 26 names (including the strikeouts, easy to read through) filled me with pride in my fellow citizens followed quickly by apprehension tinged with terror.

            Trump, being a terrorist, will use their public service (like Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss’s) to focus his followers’ ire on them–and by extension anyone who should follow their “loser” path of answering their government’s call.

            This more than anything else is the test of democracy. Can we support and protect those who’ve put themselves in the path of heedless, immoral autocracy?

            This one’s on Fani Willis. It’s the responsibility of her office to mitigate these risks.

            • P’villain says:

              I did some research.

              Universal Citation: GA Code § 15-12-62.1 (2022)
              The clerk shall choose a sufficient number of persons to serve as grand jurors from the county master jury list in the same manner as trial jurors are chosen. The clerk, not less than 20 days before the commencement of each term of court at which a regular grand jury is impaneled, shall issue summonses by mail to the persons chosen for grand jury service.

              And, Universal Citation: GA Code § 15-12-74 (2022)

              (b) If a true bill is returned by the grand jury on any count of an indictment or special presentment, the indictment or special presentment shall be published in open court.

        • 2Cats2Furious says:

          I noticed that as well, and was pretty shocked. It would be nice if someone could upload a version of the indictment with that page removed, or at least with the grand jurors’ names redacted.

  11. vigetnovus says:

    Hmmm… Dr. Wheeler, you really don’t think Meadows cooperated with the Feds? I think he must have to some degree, but didn’t cooperate in GA (perhaps because it would be harder to disguise and that he felt he had a defendable case there?).

    What I’m envisioning is that Meadows made a whole lot of proffers to J6 prosecutors (both before and after Smith was appointed) sub rosa, but never agreed to (or was never asked to) testify to the GJ, to avoid his being fingered as a potential cooperating witness. In exchange, he got use immunity on the most obvious crimes he could be charged with in DC.

    I feel like he may have sort of cooperated, but I bet there is still more jeopardy on the federal side for him that either prosecutors are still investigating or maybe for whatever reason cannot charge. Maybe we will see.

  12. ewreader_15AUG2023_1721h says:

    RE: Steve Lee. I grew up Lutheran. Just here to add some detail. Religion reporter Jack Jenkins looked into Steve Lee’s religious affiliation and found he is associated with the Missouri Synod branch of American Lutherans:

    American Lutherans have a painful, devisive split (that goes back to the 80’s) similar to and as wide as the political split in our country in general. Missouri Synod and Wisconsin Synod congreagations tend to be hard right, take a literal view of the Bible.

    ELCA congregations tend to the left/progressive/liberal. See the Bible much more in historical context. Accepting of all humans regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, including in ministry and leadership positions. ELCA stands for Evangelical Lutheran Church in America but they are not “Evangelicals” the way the term is used to describe a voting block these days.

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    • Peterr says:

      Well described, though the split had its roots in the 60s and burst into full bloom and actual division in the 70s.

    • Drew in Bronx says:

      As Peterr said it is well described. I remember the 1974 split WITHIN the Missouri Synod quite well–a friend at college came from a prominent Missouri Synod family which was moderate (& he more liberal than his parents) and he felt homeless, became Episcopalian. (The chief MoSynod seminary fired its faculty who formed a new seminary down the road) A decade later, I came to be the Episcopal pastor in a small Missouri town where the Lutheran Church was Missouri Synod. The pastor, though conservative in my terms was a moderate in sympathy with the faculty who were fired-had employed Seminex interns etc. but kept his church in the synod. He once preached at an ecumenical service on Good Friday-the most lutheran possible exposition of Romans!! A local newspaper photographer thought it was good local news. He was vilified and harrassed by conservatives the rest of the time I was there.

      The split goes back much earlier–to the founding of the Missouri Synod, since its founders left Germany as a theological protest about compromises made by the church in Germany as unification was beginning. It was always more concerned with theological purity than the other Lutheran denominations.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        When your schismatic denomination (e.g. the Presbyterian Church of America, the Missouri Synod) veers too far to the right, there’s always the Episcopal Church waiting to welcome you!

        Except now there’s the Anglican Church of America too. The splits never end. And Jesus wept.

  13. morganism says:

    So, i didn’t realize that the offenders did actually prevent the adoption of the electors on J6.
    That is constitutional or statutory?
    Seems pretty easy to convict on that…

    “123. At 3:41 a.m. on January 7, as President of the Senate, the Vice President announced the certified results of the 2020 presidential election in favor of Biden.”

  14. Molly Pitcher says:

    According to MSNBC, Mark Meadows has filed to move his indictment to Federal Court, because he was acting in his capacity as a Federal office holder.

    • GeeSizzle says:

      With all this talk of a nightmarish game of Prisoner’s Dilemma (and unpardonable state crimes) literally no one could see this move coming!

    • vigetnovus says:

      Figures… I just knew he was going to take the “I was just following orders” defense.

      But then again.. if this was somehow pre-planned, again it could have been a feint on his cooperation ( a sort of “non-cooperating” cooperator). He’s been cooperating the whole time, but now he can enter a formal cooperation agreement without compromising the investigation. By moving the charges to DC (which I assume would be venue here given “federal officer”), he can now plead them down to false statements or something like that and enter into a formal cooperation agreement and testify to the GJ there.

      That would be pretty damning for Trump, both on the documents front and the J6 case.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The White House Chief of Staff is a member of the Cabinet and officer of the United States. The officeholder is appointed by the President, but no Senate confirmation is required.

      Federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over suits against officers of the United States – who were acting “in the performance of their official duties.” Good luck establishing that Meadows was acting in an official capacity in trying to subvert the vote in Georgia.

      Having filed to move his case to federal court withing hours, Meadows was quite prepared. Trump seems likely to try the same argument.

      • vigetnovus says:

        Unfortunately, there’s a loophole in the Hatch Act if Meadows wasn’t physically on the WH grounds during normal business hours.

      • Rayne says:

        Meadows was a federal employee. The question is whether he was a restricted federal employee, and/or if his efforts on behalf of Trump as candidate were during off-duty or off-site hours.

        See Congressional Research Service’s primer which just happened to have been published in April 2020:

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          With George Terwilliger arguing his case, Meadows’ gambit is probably going to work. His argument is a lot stronger than Trump’s, in the sense that his argument exists in reality.

  15. Carlllll says:

    I love the quiet allusion to Three Men on the Bummel! Thanks for sneaking in your literary background, Marcy.

  16. Unabogie says:

    TPM has some background info on the plot against Ruby Freeman. This just hits me in a different way, somehow. The GOPers who got strongarmed by Trump were already in the public eye. Freeman was just a normal citizen who decided to help during a pandemic, and Trump made her afraid for her life. According to this interview:

    []…there was already a plan of action, there was already a location where we were going to move her.

    What in the actual fuck?

  17. klynn says:

    “Update: Meadows has moved to remove the charges against him to federal court — a move he may have more success doing than Trump.”

    IANAL. Am I to read this as an attempt to qualify for a pardon?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Possibly. A more basic issue is that federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over suits against an officer of the US. Trump tried to use the same law in the E. Jean Carroll suit in NYC. But it’s predicated on that officer having acted in furtherance of his official duties. Not clear how Meadows establishes that here. If he can’t, he can’t remove the case to federal court.

      • bloopie2 says:

        Meadows’ filing says that Meadows was merely doing things such as “setting up a phone call for the President”. “One would expect a Chief of Staff to the President of the United States to do these sorts of things.” Well, yes and no. As but one (admittedly extreme) example, setting up a phone call to arrange a hit might not qualify … .

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          White House Chiefs of Staff don’t arrange phone calls any more than they polish shoes. They do arrange connections, and for that, they have to know who can deal and about what.

          • Ewan Woodsend says:

            Are you sure that in Trump’s WH, none of his Chief of Staff was ever made to polish his shoes? Dunno.

        • timbozone says:

          And flying down to Georgia to attempt to get into an official vote counting effort he was not legally entitled to gain entry to? Looking forward to the explanation of that one in Federal court…

          • bmaz says:

            “Timbo” do NOT pull this garbage tonight or tomorrow morning as you are oh so want to serially do. Take a day off Timbo.

            • timbozone says:

              Bad night as moderator? I’ll try to keep my posts to a minimum.

              Heck, I’m still less than halfway through the Georgia indictments document as it is…plenty of reading to do. If you haven’t already, I hope you find the time to wade through it too…calmly, and without prejudice. At the very least, that document allegedly provides more information on the time line of what does appear to be a criminal conspiracy to disenfranchise voters in Georgia and other states by Trump and his supporters. Whether it’s all admissible at all is another question, of course.

              (Meadows going down to Georgia and failing to get into a signature verification is, at best, a bad scene from West Wing. Bonus if Jeff Clark suggested it—I mean, JC was Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights division at the time…although how far along JC’s attempt to be appointed Acting Attorney General of the United States was by 12/22/20 is not so clear…)

        • Sherrie H says:

          And wouldn’t the phone call/visit have been on behalf of Trump’s reelection campaign rather than an official duty for the office of the president?

      • SteveBev says:

        Re ‘possibly looking for a pardon’

        I had gained the understanding (from a recent discussion on the Lawfare podcast) that removal to federal court affects the Judge, jury panel, procedural rules and rules of evidence, but otherwise the applicable substantive law would remain State law. And any conviction would be subject to sentence and incarceration and pardon etc according to State law.

        Have I been misinformed/misunderstood.

        I also understood that removal to federal court meant that the Avenue of Appeal is via the federal system which therefore means a more direct route to the US Supreme Court- which no doubt Trump et al would view as an advantage.

        Apologies if I have been barking up the wrong tree here.

    • Andy_15AUG2023_1906h says:

      I was wondering the same thing OR if he wants it moved federally to fall under any possible federal cooperation deal.

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    • Robot-seventeen says:

      My understanding is that the only change that happens is the forum -court, judge etc. Willis still prosecutes the state crimes with state penalties etc. The state of Georgia requires that a person applying for a pardon be 5 years removed from the end of their sentence. Sorry Mark et al.

          • Robot-seventeen says:

            The Federal District Court / Northern District of Georgia versus the Fulton County District court. The way I understand it is they have a similar jury pool.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Jurors for the Superior court in Fulton County, GA, which handles felonies, are drawn from the county.

            The federal Northern District of Georgia has four divisions: Atlanta, Gainesville, Newnan, and Rome. The “Atlanta” division includes – and its jurors are drawn from – all or part of the following ten counties: Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Newton and Rockdale.


            • Just Some Guy says:

              For those scoring at home (ahem), I’m counting 4 Trump appointees among the 15 current judges presiding in the Northern District of Georgia.

              Also of note for trivia’s sake is that one of the current judges presiding in that district is Amy Totenberg, one of NPR Nina Totenberg’s younger sisters (and not a Trump appointee).

      • hollywood says:

        Reportedly the Georgia RICO statute is ambiguous. It seems to say the sentence is mandatory, yet it says the trial judge can impose probation/home confinement.

        • bmaz says:

          Oh, it is FAR beyond ambiguous. It is stupidly overbroad. And the way Willis has used it, is bonkers. Because a prosecutor can, does not mean a prosecutor should. Willis served up something unnecessary. And, yes, I think it could be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, not just of Georgia, but of the United States, on that basis. And it should so be.

    • emptywheel says:

      If the motion succeeds, Willis will still prosecute it, but in a federal court. Terwilliger’s first goal will be to get it dismissed, tho.

      If found guilty in a fed court, Meadows would still be subject to GA’s laws on pardon, not federal ones.

      • Robot-seventeen says:

        Sure but I’d imagine she’s had enough time to consider that and is familiar with the federal court there. Under the circumstances twidling her thumbs while waiting for Merrick or the next USAG to pick up the ball isn’t in the interests of either law and order or the victims she represents. She can defer later but is limited in the future as to pursuing charges.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Agreed. While rendered in federal court, it would be a conviction under state law, and subject to state, not federal, pardon rules. Presumably, any incarceration would also be in and under the rules of Georgia’s state system.

  18. WilliamOckham says:

    I had expected Clark to be the first one to try to remove to federal court. To my non-lawyer eyes, he has the best case for it. Personally, I think his inclusion in this indictment is an example of the overreach that the Georgia RICO statute allows. To be clear, my opinion is that there is more than probable cause suggesting that Clark broke federal law.

    Of course, one of the differences between Meadows and Clark is that Meadows has more very effective, and obviously well-prepared legal representation. I personally have no idea whether Meadows’ gambit will work. I know if I was facing the possibility of doing time, I would certainly prefer the federal system over any state system in the South.

      • punaise says:

        Thanks, folks. The air tag in my left in my luggage would have been useful here!

        More of an annoyance than anything. It’s just an old Kia, but low mileage, and worth more to us than the insurance buyout. We’re hoping it turns up somewhere in East Oakland, not totally trashed…

        It will take more than this to turn me into a grumpy old conservative!

        • matt fischer says:

          Some folks pulled a number on my old but reliable Prius a few years back, stealing the catalytic converter etc. here in SF. Repairs were going to cost more than the car was worth so I donated it to KQED. I’ve been carless since, and found that it has generally improved my quality of life.

        • timbozone says:

          Ugh. Hopefully they do with it what they did to my car…and not what happened to my brother’s car right before he was going to move to the North Coast… :(

    • Savage Librarian says:

      Geez, punaise, I’m sorry about your car. It can feel like losing part of the family, especially if you’ve had it for some time.

      • punaise says:

        Merci, y’all. It’s just a car after all, but we were rather fond of it. And it was paid for….
        We’re a few years shy of potentially being a a one-car household. EV on the horizon (or more likely, a plug-in hybrid to go with our solar).

        • Molly Pitcher says:

          Malchance !!

          A family friend had his rather unique old car stolen and three months later, saw it while driving on the Bay Bridge. He discreetly followed the guy to his house, called the cops and eventually got his car back. So there is hope punaise !!

  19. punaise says:

    Experts: Trump gambit to move Fulton case to federal court may actually work — but there’s a catch

    he “removal statute” refers to a legal provision that allows any “officer of the United States” to remove a case from a state court to a federal court if the case arises from their official responsibilities.

    This typically happens when the case involves federal law or when parties from different states are involved, and the defendant believes they would have a fairer trial in a federal court.

    In order to move the case, Trump would have to satisfy specific conditions. He would have to be considered a “federal officer,” who was performing his “official duties” and took actions within “the color of his office.”

    • Savage Librarian says:

      As I’ve mentioned on several previous occasions, my civil case was moved from state to federal court. It was easy peezy for the defendants to do it. And, maybe naively (or maybe not,) I readily agreed to it. I believed it would shorten the process, and consequently, cost less.

      What I fail to understand is what the relevance is to whether or not the defendants’ challenged actions were legal or not. Isn’t that the whole point of going to court? The plaintiff or prosecution is trying to establish that the defendants’ actions were/are unlawful.

      So, I’m still of the mind that the GA case could be moved to federal court for several reasons. I won’t be entirely surprised if it is not. That’s because I’ve seen some unexpected twists and turns in my lifetime. But I definitely will not be surprised if it is moved.

      Still, I’m grateful to have learned more about the people in the GA case. And I’m seriously impressed at how hard working and brave Fani Willis is. I believe she is honestly concerned about democracy and the rule of law. No doubt she is also ambitious. Whether or not that is an impediment remains to be seen.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Federal rules for removal of a civil proceeding are different than its rules for removal of a criminal case. That’s why the former might have been easy peasy.

        Meadows’s lawyers are arguing that his conduct was not per se illegal. Fani Willis will argue that that’s not relevant, if he acted in furtherance of a criminal conspiracy under state law.

        They are also arguing that he acted in his capacity as a federal officer, and performed routine duties for that office. Willis will argue that the President had no official interest in the conduct of state-run elections and that his interest was personal or campaign related, which would put Meadows’s conduct outside the scope of his official duties.

        She might also argue that Trump famously blurs any distinction between what he wants personally and what he might be entitled to as the function of his office.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      This will (I’m praying) be a whole lot harder for Trump than it will be for Meadows. I don’t see how Clark gets there, but who am I to say what the “color of [his] office” includes? Staging a coup from within DOJ, where he just happens to be employed as an environmental lawyer?

      punaise, I’m so sorry about your Kia. We have a lot of those in my family and we’re fiercely loyal to them. When my sister’s Soul got totaled in a bad accident last year she was able to find and fund an exact replicant from Florida; she lives in Chicago and it was driven up north. I hope you have similar or better luck.

      • punaise says:

        Thanks, GdB. Ours is / was (?) a Sportage (pronounced “Spor- Taaaaazh” a la francaise of course) – good little car.

  20. hollywood says:

    Talk of the interaction between January 6 case and the Georgia case and the Prisoner’s Dilemma is vaguely calling to mind the Ticket to Ride board game. In our game, Trump is trying to reach his destination (reelection before verdict) while preventing the other players from getting to their destinations (conviction before the election).
    With so many defendants and facing so many time-consuming procedural motions, Ms. Willis seems to face the most challenges to victory. She has to get some big flips quickly or she will be stalled out before getting her case to trial, much less verdict.
    By thus far streamlining his case, Smith seems to have the better chance to reach his goal of an early trial before Trump can get returned to his throne in DC. Still, we can expect Trump to throw the kitchen sink, the garbage disposal and the backed up golden commode in Smith’s path. But if he concentrates solely on TFG, Smith has favorable odds of reaching his destination first. And if he gets some folks along the way to flip, that should make his route smoother.
    Popcorn please.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Inquiring minds still want to know how in hell she plans to try 19 defendants at the same trial.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The odds are low that she will. The local defendants are likely to plead out. They know how harsh Georgia’s criminal laws and procedures are and why, not to mention how famously low are the standards for its jails and prisons. A few others may, too, or their cases may be severed or removed to federal court.

  21. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Another comment seems to have been lost in translation, from a couple of hours ago, I think. Apologies if there’s a long list of issues to deal with ahead of clearing mods. Thanks.

    [Moderator’s note: I just released one which had a typo in the email address. *side eyeing you* /~Rayne]

  22. The Old Redneck says:

    On the face of it, Meadows’ removal to federal court may stick. But I wouldn’t assume that this greatly improves his chances of walking out of this.
    There may be some advantage to being there for him, and I can understand why his lawyers did it. Ultimately, however, a jury comprised of people from Georgia will hear the same evidence they would have heard in state court. Plus, there could even be some downsides for Meadows in being in a federal forum. Federal judges tolerate less shenanigans from lawyers, research their decisions more thoroughly, and may individually hand out harsher sentences (at least within the range established by guidelines).
    So it’s premature to conclude that removal would be a blow to the prosecution. Depending on a lot of things we don’t know yet, it may not matter that much.

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