Bullshit and Also, Aileen Cannon, Post

I know you all probably want a thread where you can talk about Aileen Cannon’s 3-page order denying Trump’s motion to dismiss based on bullshit claims about the Presidential Records Act.

For these reasons, accepting the allegations of the Superseding Indictment as true, the Presidential Records Act does not provide a pre-trial basis to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(3)(B)(v)—either as to Counts 1 through 32 or as to the remaining counts, all of which state cognizable offenses.

Separately, to the extent the Special Counsel demands an anticipatory finalization of jury instructions prior to trial, prior to a charge conference, and prior to the presentation of trial defenses and evidence, the Court declines that demand as unprecedented and unjust [see ECF No. 428]. The Court’s Order soliciting preliminary draft instructions on certain counts should not be misconstrued as declaring a final definition on any essential element or asserted defense in this case. Nor should it be interpreted as anything other than what it was: a genuine attempt, in the context of the upcoming trial, to better understand the parties’ competing positions and the questions to be submitted to the jury in this complex case of first impression [ECF No. 407]. As always, any party remains free to avail itself of whatever appellate options it sees fit to invoke, as permitted by law.

Fine, fine, have at it. She claims Jack Smith is the one making nutty requests, not herself.

Lee Kovarsky, who generally has a great read about the appellate posture of such things, warns that it’s unlikely Smith will ask for a writ of mandamus, but might ask for her recusal, which probably won’t work.

But really, I’m more immediately interested in this superb quote Will Oremus included in a WaPo article describing disgruntled new owners of a Xitter blue check, which may be my best ever quote in a mainstream publication.

Marcy Wheeler, an independent journalist covering national security who greeted her blue verification badge Wednesday by posting an expletive, said she remains on X mostly to monitor right-wing narratives and disinformation so she can push back on them. She said she believes the verification changes are part of an effort to restore X’s status as a “public square” so that Musk can use it to “mainstream far-right ideas.”

On Thursday, Musk amplified various posts from verified X users defending a Jan. 6, 2021, suspect, decrying a rise in the “foreign-born” population under President Biden, highlighting crimes by Syrian migrants, mocking diversity and inclusion programs, and suggesting that leftists want to disarm American citizens “because they intend to do things that American citizens would want to shoot them for.”

In between, he agreed with a post that said that “a blue checkmark is a stamp of authenticity.”

As I said, have at it!

NYT’s Limited Understanding of Trump’s “Tactics for Avoiding a Crisis Like the One He Now Faces”

There’s a funny passage in the 2,800-word NYT piece contrasting how Trump has managed Michael Cohen and Allen Weisselberg.

Initially sympathetic, Mr. Trump called Mr. Cohen a “good man” and the search “a disgraceful situation.” He also called Mr. Cohen with a message — stay strong — and the Trump Organization paid for Mr. Cohen’s main lawyer.

But Mr. Trump’s advisers were concerned about witness tampering accusations and he stopped reaching out. Their relationship soon soured.

NYT claims — apparently intending this to be a serious explanation — that Trump stopped trying to buy Cohen’s silence with a pardon and payments for a lawyer because of concerns about witness tampering.

I mean, I’m sure some of NYT’s sources claimed that. But given the amount of witness tampering Trump continued to engage in — publicly and privately — after leaving Cohen to fend for himself, the explanation is not remotely credible.

A far, far more likely explanation — one that is also more consistent with other aspects of NYT’s story — is that Trump and his attorneys intervened in the privilege review of phone content seized from Michael Cohen to conduct a risk assessment. (NYT says it relied on court records to tell this story, but they don’t mention that Trump abandoned Cohen only after getting access to what had been seized and why.) What Trump’s team saw before them in both the seized materials and the warrants used to seize Cohen’s devices may have led Trump to conclude, first, that Cohen had already showed signs of betrayal, by secretly recording the phone call over which they planned the hush payments to Karen McDougal.

Mr. Cohen’s lawyers discovered the recording as part of their review of the seized materials and shared it with Mr. Trump’s lawyers, according to the three people briefed on the matter.

“Obviously, there is an ongoing investigation, and we are sensitive to that,” Mr. Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny J. Davis, said in a statement. “But suffice it to say that when the recording is heard, it will not hurt Mr. Cohen. Any attempt at spin cannot change what is on the tape.”

NYT (including Maggie Haberman, who was also part of this story) was the first to break that story, and did so in the days after Cohen hired Lanny Davis, but it is not mentioned here.

Perhaps more importantly, Trump would have gotten a misleading sense from reviewing seized materials that Cohen was only being actively investigated for the taxi medallions and the hush payment.

That warrant may have led Trump to sincerely believe that prosecutors were only looking at the hush payment and business-related crimes, as he claimed on Fox News.

When Mr. Trump called into one of his favorite television shows, “Fox & Friends,” a few weeks after the search, he distanced himself from Mr. Cohen, who he said had handled just “a tiny, tiny little fraction” of his legal work, adding: “From what I understand, they’re looking at his businesses.”

“I’m not involved,” Mr. Trump added three times.

The warrants against Cohen built on each other and so built on the Mueller investigation, as I laid out here and here. But the warrant overtly tied to the April 2018 seizure didn’t mention other aspects of the investigation that might have made Trump more cautious about hanging Cohen out to dry, had he seen them.

Trump would not have known that Robert Mueller had succeeded in doing something SDNY does not seem to have done: accessed Cohen’s Trump Organization emails from Microsoft, thereby discovering documents regarding Trump’s ties to Russia that Trump Org had withheld from subpoena responses. Trump would not have known, then, that Mueller had established that Cohen told Congress a false story to cover up Trump’s own lies about Russia. That led to the first damning testimony from Cohen about Trump: That on his behalf, Cohen had contacted the Kremlin during the 2016 election and then lied to cover it up.

Plus, if Trump used the privilege review as a means to assess risk, it was based on a faulty assumption, an assumption mirrored in the NYT story.

NYT ties Cohen’s import as a witness to the crimes for which Cohen was investigated personally, even focusing exclusively on the hush payment and ignoring the lies about Russia. In a description of the damage Cohen’s congressional testimony did to Trump, NYT suggests that damage was limited to the hush payment, the thing that Trump allegedly engaged in financial fraud to cover up (predictably, NYT doesn’t mention the financial fraud alleged in the cover-up, just the cover-up).

When he pleaded guilty to federal charges that August, Mr. Cohen pointed the finger at Mr. Trump, saying he had paid the hush money “at the direction of” his former boss — an accusation he is expected to repeat on the witness stand in the Manhattan trial. A spokeswoman for Alvin L. Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, declined to comment.

Before going to prison, Mr. Cohen also appeared before Congress, where he was asked who else had worked on the hush-money deal. His answer: Mr. Weisselberg.

The far more damaging thing Cohen did in that congressional testimony, though, was to tee up the way Trump adjusted his own business valuations he used for his business to maximize his profits. That was the basis for the fraud trial against Trump Org, and if the verdict sticks, it may cost Trump a half billion dollars and, unless he finds a way to cash in on Truth Social, may create follow-on financial problems.

In other words, Trump seems to have imagined Cohen would not find another way of avenging being hung out like he was, and NYT doesn’t include that other way — predicating investigations that threaten Trump Org itself and led to Weisselberg’s twin prosecutions — in their story.

Ultimately, NYT is still telling this story as if the newsworthy bit is Trump’s continued success at cheating the law, what they describe as, “the power and peril of Mr. Trump’s tactics for avoiding a crisis like the one he now faces.”

This “power and peril” pitch makes Trump the hero of the story and Cohen and Weisselberg contestants in a reality show, with Cohen inflating that contest with his wildly premature boast that “the biggest mistake” Trump ever made was not paying for Cohen’s defense and his claim, “I was the first lamb led to the slaughterhouse.”

If NYT weren’t making this a reality show, it might take away different lessons:

  • Trump has invested a great deal in using associates and co-conspirators to learn of the criminal investigation into him, with a Joint Defense Agreement incorporating 37 people during the Mueller investigation and $50 million of Republican campaign funds invested instead in paying attorneys who will at a minimum report back on investigative developments. Even with that $50 million investment (and the potential damage it’ll do to GOP fortunes in November), Trump has fewer tools to discover the status of ongoing investigations than he had when Republicans on both Intelligence Communities were using the committee to spy on investigations for him. Yet even with far more access to information than he currently has about ongoing investigations (the two federal cases against Trump are different, because Jack Smith has overproduced discovery), Trump miscalculated with Cohen.
  • The risk Cohen posed was not just — as NYT portrays — that he’ll testify against Trump at trial, at this trial. It was that he would disclose information that implicated Trump (and Weisselberg) in new investigations, as he did. As such, one lesson to take away from this, at least for those who don’t have an incentive to make Trump the protagonist of all stories, is that those spurned by Trump know a whole lot of shit about him, and that shit could turn into investigations that implicate the fraud that lies at the core of his persona. John Bolton, Mike Esper, and Mike Pence are all people whom Trump accused of disloyalty who thus far have only shared shit about Trump when prosecutors came asking. That could change.
  • As noted, NYT didn’t mention that Trump only turned on Cohen after discovering that prosecutors had obtained a damning recording from his phone. But he’s not the only Trump associate whose own blackmail on Trump was implicated in a criminal investigation. Mueller’s prosecutors were seeking Stone’s notes of all the calls he had with Trump during the 2016 election when they searched his homes (it’s not clear whether they ever found it), the existence to which Steve Bannon was also a witness. Both Stone and Bannon got their pardons, perhaps because they were better able at leveraging dirt on Trump for legal impunity than Cohen was.
  • NYT describes the injury to Trump here as, “his long-held fear that prosecutors would flip trusted aides into dangerous witnesses.” That’s just weird. It’s as if NYT hasn’t considered that the real danger is that he’ll do prison time for his crimes. The focus on loyalty rather than truthful testimony is especially odd in a piece that describes that Hope Hicks is likely to testify in Alvin Bragg’s case, who’ll testify with less of the circus and more credibility than Cohen. After all, even Jason Miller, still a top campaign manager for Trump, would be a key witness against Trump in a January 6 trial if he repeated the true description of how the campaign started refusing to support the Big Lie after a period in 2020. Bannon provided damaging testimony in the Roger Stone trial by being held to his prior grand jury testimony, and he remains a MAGAt in good standing.

Sometimes, it’s not disloyalty that can sustain a conviction, it’s truth, even truth from still-loyal associates.

Not for NYT, I guess. In a piece trying to extend this analogy to Walt Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira (the latter of whom, who really does have a colorable claim he didn’t know he was obstructing an investigation, is not similarly situated in my opinion), NYT describes that they were charged for their loyalty, not claims that sound pretty obviously false in the indictment.

Like Mr. Weisselberg, Mr. Nauta and Mr. De Oliveira remained loyal, and they are now paying the price: Mr. Smith charged both men not only with obstruction of justice, but also with lying to investigators.

Nauta and De Oliveira got charged, in part, because prosecutors believe they lied to protect Trump because that is a crime, just like it was a crime when Cohen and Stone and Mike Flynn and George Papadopoulos and Paul Manafort did it (Manafort was punished but not charged for those lies). But Nauta, especially, almost certainly got charged because prosecutors still haven’t been able to account for how much Trump intended to steal classified documents when he left the White House and still haven’t been able to account for the stolen classified documents that got flown to Bedminster in 2022. Nauta probably figures it’s a good bet to hope that Trump wins the presidency, ends his prosecution (or pardons him) and rewards him with a sinecure. That’s how having dirt on Trump works! But the prosecution is not over yet, and especially given the likelihood that this won’t go to trial before the election, he may change his mind.

Trump has absolutely succeeded in bolloxing all his criminal cases and may well succeed in delaying all the rest until he can pardon his way out of most of them. But if that effort fails, basic rules of gravity are likely to kick in and Trump will no more be a protagonist than all the other suspected criminals investigated by state and federal authorities.

David Weiss Is Withholding the Proof Leo Wise Claims Doesn’t Exist

Leo Wise continues to engage in a kind of arbitrage to win his argument that politics didn’t lead David Weiss to renege on Hunter Biden’s plea agreement, making claims that may be true for him and Derek Hines, but are patently false for David Weiss, the only prosecutor still on the team who was involved in the plea deal itself.

According to the Daily Mail, Wise insisted in the hearing the Hunter Biden prosecution last week that there’s no proof the claims of disgruntled IRS agents Joseph Ziegler and Gary Shapley affected the case.

‘These two agents started the dominos,’ Lowell said. ‘When was the last time a chair of a congressional committee sought intervention to stop a plea deal?’

Wise hit back that the claim he was influenced by former IRS agents was ‘patently absurd’, adding ‘I couldn’t pick them out of a lineup’.

‘The defense’s problem is… they offer no proof,’ Wise said. ‘Other than insulting us, where is the proof?’

The proof exists in official testimony that DOJ witnessed and surely has in its possession.

On September 7 of last year — just days before the first indictment — Special Agent in Charge Thomas Sobocinski (who also remained on the case before and after the reneged plea deal) described that after Gary Shapley went public in late May, he and David Weiss spoke about how Shapley’s comments would affect the case.

The way it affected the case, Sobocinski explained, was that family members of investigative team members were getting stalked.

Q After it became public that Gary Shapley was going to come to Congress and he gave, I think, an interview on CBS in the at the end of May before his congressional testimony, who did you discuss that with?

A My team within Baltimore, probably folks within the Criminal Investigative Division. Definitely David Weiss.

Q And what was the nature of your conversation with David Weiss?

A I need to go off the record for a minute.

Mr. [Steve] Castor. Okay.

[Discussion held off the record.]

Mr. Sobocinski. Yeah. In general, it was concerns about how this was going to affect the ongoing case and were there issues we needed to take into at least from the FBI side to move forward.

BY MR. CASTOR:

Q After Shapley’s testimony became public in June, did you have any conversations with David Weiss about that?

A We acknowledged it, but it wasn’t I mean, we didn’t sit there with the transcript going back and forth. We both acknowledged that it was there and that it would have had it had an impact on our case.

Q Okay. Did any of your conversations with David Weiss, you know, have anything to do with like, can you believe what Shapley’s saying, this is totally 100 percent untrue?

A I don’t remember that level of it.

Q If it was

A I was more concerned about how this is affecting my employees. I now have FBI employees that names are out there. I have FBI employees and former FBI retired agents who’ve served for 20plus years whose parents are getting phone calls, whose photos with their girlfriends, who their children who are being followed. That is not something that we were prepared for, and I was concerned about having that continue or expand to other one of my employees. [my emphasis]

Obviously, both Sobocinski and David Weiss (who attended the hearing) know about the discussions they themselves had about how Shapley’s media tour led family members of the investigative team to be stalked. FBI’s Assistant General Counsel Megan Greer and DOJ’s Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Legal Affairs Sara Zdeb attended the deposition as well and so know of this testimony. It is my understanding that DOJ has reviewed these transcripts for accuracy, and so must have copies of them.

The proof is there, almost certainly in DOJ custody. It’s just that David Weiss is withholding it from Hunter Biden.

I will cycle back to this issue once a transcript becomes available. I’ve seen no mention of the uncontested assertion by Abbe Lowell that David Weiss came to fear for the safety of his family. Judge Mark Scarsi reportedly asserted that the only evidence Lowell presesnted is stuff on the Internet — but of course, there’s a DC Circuit opinion that found that Trump’s threats “have real-world consequences.”

It’s not enough for Leo Wise to claim that Shapley’s actions had no impact on his own behavior. He needs to address whether it had an impact on Weiss’ actions.

And according to the FBI supervisor overseeing this case, Shapley’s actions “had an impact on our case,” because they led everyone to start worrying about the safety of their families.

Leo Wise may claim that because it wasn’t his family being stalked, the media tour didn’t have an impact on his decisions. But he would never have been added to the team if not for the campaign by the disgruntled IRS agents.

The US Attorney for Delaware Treats Contract Law as a Hypertechnicality

Before I lay out how David Weiss responded to Judge Mark Scarsi’s invitation to address two legal issues with four of the charges against Hunter Biden, let me emphasize: these two arguments are a sideshow. Even if Abbe Lowell’s argument that the statute of limitations expired for Count 1 and his argument that venue is improper for Counts 1-4 of the indictment succeeded, the guts of the indictment, three felony counts for the way in which Hunter paid his 2018 taxes, would remain, along with one misdemeanor each for 2018 and 2019. Lowell also challenged how Weiss charged one of the felonies and the 2019 misdemeanor, but still, the core felony conduct remains unchallenged with these technical challenges (as distinct from the more substantive motions to dismiss).

I’m interested in them, though, for what they might say about Weiss’ conception of his transition from US Attorney to Special Counsel. I’m interested in them for what they might say about a potentially more serious problem with the way Weiss is approaching discovery. I’m interested in them because of the way that Leo Wise and Derek Hines have persistently dodged the unrebutted evidence that David Weiss really did renege on assurances given to Hunter’s attorneys last June that there was no ongoing investigation into the President’s son when he signed the plea deal.

I laid out all the “technical” motions to dismiss here. I wrote about Judge Scarsi’s order for sur-reply briefing here. Links to all these filings are on this page.

I expected Weiss’ sur-reply to address the new legal questions Lowell raised: Did the tolling agreement Hunter signed with Delaware US Attorney David Weiss carry over after Weiss became Special Counsel? Does judicial estoppel prevent Weiss from claiming Hunter was a resident of California in 2018 when he asserted that Hunter was a resident of DC in 2018 in the tax information filed in Delaware?

Sadly, Weiss engaged with neither of those interesting legal questions. Instead, to both questions, he responded with an evidentiary claim, a legal dodge, and an attack (Leo Wise and Derek Hines seem to love such manufactured attacks).

Here’s how it looked in the tolling sur-reply:

  • Charging 2016 as a crime that occurred in 2020 was not a way to get around statutes of limitation; it was, instead, an allegation that willfulness pertaining to Hunter’s 2016 taxes only happened in 2020.
  • Weiss only raised the tolling agreement to demonstrate he wasn’t operating in bad faith by charging the 2016 year.
  • How dare Hunter Biden neglect to mention the tolling agreements that Hunter Biden believes are legally irrelevant for this indictment!

Here’s how it looked in the judicial estoppel sur-reply.

  • Hunter presented no evidence that the prosecution knew he only moved to California in 2019 and the grand jury found that Hunter was a resident of California in 2018, so there.
  • There’s no legal authority for dismissing an indictment based on a judicial estoppel claim.
  • How dare Hunter Biden neglect to mention that “the government” told Judge Noreika that “venue for these offenses and any other related tax offenses lies either in the Central District of California or in the District of Columbia,” which is irrelevant anyway because that statement would have incorporated the felony counts for which venue is California! [my emphasis]

In both retorts, though, Weiss evinced precisely the kind of legal slovenliness I suspect is behind any discovery problems and the refusal to deal with the unrebutted evidence about what Weiss said last June.

Start with the argument that Weiss is estopped from arguing that Hunter was a resident of California in 2018. Weiss relegates that claim — the entire purpose for this sur-reply — to a footnote. The footnote doesn’t address whether Weiss is estopped from making this claim. Rather, he says it’s not a basis to dismiss an indictment.

1 The defendant also argues that the doctrine of judicial estoppel bars the prosecution “from taking inconsistent positions before different courts,” although he cites no authority for the proposition that an indictment returned by a grand jury can be dismissed on that basis. Dkt. 53 at 5.

Is Weiss now arguing that a grand jury presentation is not a court proceeding? Because if he is estopped from making the argument, then how can he make it to a grand jury? Will this give Hunter opportunity to demand grand jury presentation records? And if he is estopped, how does he plan on making the argument at trial?

Plus, by focusing on his evidentiary claims rather than the legal question, Weiss has created a new problem for himself. He asserts that Hunter never moved back to the East Coast in 2018, even though Weiss has charged him for owning a gun starting on October 12, 2018, meaning Weiss is well aware Hunter had left California before his October 15, 2018 extension date for tax filing.

The defendant moved to California in the first week of April 2018 and expressed his intention to stay in California in a text message that he sent from California to his sister-in-law on April 12, 2018, writing, “I’m staying here indefinitely.” While he may have visited the east coast for brief periods later in 2018, he returned back to California, where he continues to live today. It is worth noting that defendant does not proffer any facts to support his claim that he lived in the District of Columbia through the summer of 2019.

This citation to something Hunter wrote to his “sister-in-law” is new; it’s not in the response. Hunter would be within his right to ask to file a sur-sur-reply on this point. And it might be worth doing.

That’s because, in his Delaware response to Hunter’s selective prosecution claim, Weiss relies heavily on this passage of Hunter’s memoir, almost the only thing Hunter said in his book about events from October 2018:

I had returned that fall of 2018, after my most recent relapse in California, with the hope of getting clean through a new therapy and reconciling with Hallie.

Neither happened. [my emphasis]

Only, Weiss replaced the bolded bit — which explains why Hunter returned, to attempt to salvage a romantic relationship with his sister-in-law — with an ellipsis.

Over and over again, Weiss has made the memoir the centerpiece of his reason for charging. Over and over again, Weiss has treated the memoir as transparent truth. Yet the memoir makes it clear that when Hunter moved back in fall 2018, he had the intent of staying, staying with Hallie (as reflected by Weiss’ obnoxious description of Hallie as Hunter’s “girlfriend” in this period), apparently the same person on whose communications with Hunter he relies to claim that Hunter moved permanently to California in 2018.

Weiss may well be able to establish that Hunter was in California for enough days to amount to residency. But he hasn’t addressed the legal question of whether he’ll be legally permitted to argue that.

His response to the tolling question is even nuttier.

Weiss argues that because the US Attorney for Delaware and DOJ’s Tax Division could have charged Hunter for an April 2017 violation, it’s proof that “the government” could have charged him.

The United States’ Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware and the Tax Division are parties to the tolling agreement. Dkt. 29 at 1. Assuming for the sake of argument that the defendant is correct that the Office of Special Counsel would be time barred from bringing failure to pay charges for the 2016 tax year in April 2017 because it was not a party to the agreement, those two entities would not be. The Tax Division can file criminal tax charges in any judicial district in the United States with or without the participation of a United States Attorney’s Office. See 28 C.F.R. §§ 0.70. Further, even before he was made Special Counsel, David C. Weiss, as United States Attorney for the District of Delaware, had full authority to bring criminal tax charges in this case. While Mr. Weiss was appointed Special Counsel on August 11, 2023, he is still the United States Attorney for the District of Delaware and either that office or the Tax Division could have brought the charge in Count 1 and any of the other tax charges contained in the indictment. Nothing about Mr. Weiss’s appointment as Special Counsel precludes that. Thus, the argument that the government had to charge failure to pay for tax year 2016 in June 2020 because it couldn’t charge it in April 2017 is clearly incorrect.

Weiss uses “the government” ten times in the body of this filing, all but one in the section on the tolling agreements.

This is a version of an argument Weiss made aggressively in his Delaware response to Hunter’s Special Counsel challenge (and less aggressively in his Los Angeles response). Insisting that US Attorneys do what they’re permitted to do and Special Counsels do what they’re permitted to do is a “hypertechnicality,” Weiss argued in January.

[E]ven assuming the Attorney General’s delegation of authority under §§ 509, 510, 515, and 533 is unavailable, defendant’s argument boils down to a quibble that the indictment reads “Special Counsel” beneath David Weiss’s name and not “U.S. Attorney.” ECF No. 40, at 4. Such hypertechnicalities have no impact on the indictment’s validity or to the prosecutor’s statutory authority to conduct this litigation on behalf of the United States. Dismissal is thus wholly inappropriate.

Remember: That was a response to an argument that Weiss can’t be Special Counsel because DOJ regulations envision someone who can’t just flip back and forth between one title and another.

The argument is even worse here. The point is, though, that DOJ Tax didn’t charge Hunter with failure to pay his taxes in 2017.

And after that, David Weiss made some non-public argument to Merrick Garland that he legally required the independence granted by Special Counsel status, yet he keeps arguing that (perhaps now that he has discovered Alexander Smirnov was lying when he attempted to frame Joe Biden) he could flip back to US Attorney status with no legal bar. He’s making that argument even though public records indicate that DOJ Tax had real problems with even the charges Weiss was considering in 2022, much less the jerry-rigged charges as presented in Los Angeles. He’s making that argument even though, as Special Counsel, David Weiss appears to have withheld from discovery fairly damning details of the investigation conducted under US Attorney David Weiss. He’s making that argument even though he has never addressed the legal assurances the US Attorney’s Office in Delaware gave to Hunter’s lawyers.

In the diversion motions to dismiss, Hunter is arguing that Weiss breached a contract. Here, the US Attorney for Delaware, where so much of US contract law goes through, is arguing that even someone who is not party to a tolling agreement — which Hunter argues is a contract — can invoke it to deprive someone of his freedom.

Again, I don’t expect Judge Scarsi to be all that sympathetic to Hunter’s arguments and Scarsi could well just adopt Weiss’ argument that both are evidentiary issues for the jury to decide. But I also don’t imagine he’ll appreciate the way this sur-reply dodges both legal questions that Lowell raised.

SDNY Rules: A Tale of Three Fraudsters

I was thinking, as I was watching last week’s Hunter Biden impeachment hearing that there ought to be a pause where someone could explain how Southern District of New York works (or doesn’t) with cooperators.

After all, two of three witnesses in the hearing, Jason Galanis and Lev Parnas, had been convicted of fraud by SDNY.

Galanis claimed (after 2:01 and his opening statement) that he tried to implicate Hunter in his crimes, only to have those inquiries be “quashed” on order of SDNY.

Parnas claimed, both in his opening statement and then in an exchange with Ro Khanna (after 2:28), that he was arrested to shut him up.

Parnas specifically said that he and his attorney tried to reach out to Scott Brady.

Parnas did not mention SDNY, though both pretrial and during sentencing, SDNY described that Parnas attempted to proffer testimony but SDNY was unimpressed with Parnas’ candor.

As SDNY wrote in one of those filings, “public spectacles, leaks, and social media postings could undermine his credibility and diminish his value as a potential cooperating witness.” They also disputed whether Parnas was telling the full truth.

I have questions myself, as Parnas (in his hearing statedment) claimed he had been “smeared” by allegations that he tried to get Marie Yovanovitch fired.

I was initially accused of being involved in a plot to remove Marie Yovanovitch, the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine whom Trump had fired in April 2019. I was smeared by this false information.

It wasn’t false! Here’s how Parnas, in his book, describes telling Trump that Yovanovitch had to go in 2018.

She was unpopular with Ukraine’s wealthy and those who planned to be. They were well aware that any serious investigations would easily expose them and their alignment, if not outright fealty, to the power brokers in Russia, not their own country (including more than a few elected politicians). With my many connections in various fields, there was a consensus about Yovanovitch — she had to go.

[snip]

In fact, more of the Ukrainians I knew were complaining about her than they were about Putin or the war. When I pressed them on what really made Yovanovitch a problem, they told me that she had been saying terrible things about Trump.

So, at the table, I started to tell him about her. Where we start is … we gotta get rid of the ambassador, I tell him.

At times, in his book, Parnas is quite oblique about whom he was dealing with in Ukraine who might have said such things (though elsewhere the memoir is quite clear he was working with mobsters and oligarchs). And given that Parnas alleged in the hearing that Pete Sessions, whose letter calling for Yovanovitch’s ouster Parnas personally delivered to Trump, was involved in his actions, he was tacitly admitting that Yovanovitch’s firing was a part of it. Effectively Parnas appears to be packaging this as all derivative of Trump’s efforts, starting later in 2018, to get dirt on Hunter Biden. And the reason Parnas was ultimately not charged with FARA for those efforts likely has as much to do with Rudy Giuliani’s corrupted phones and Victoria Toensing’s JD as anything else.

SDNY has rules about what it demands from cooperators. That requires coming clean on all criminal exposure.

And that’s important background to efforts to hold Trump accountable.

SDNY laid some of this out in its Michael Cohen sentencing memo, years ago.

With respect to Cohen’s provision of information to this Office, in its two meetings with
him, this Office assessed Cohen to be forthright and credible, and the information he provided was
largely consistent with other evidence gathered. Had Cohen actually cooperated, it could have
been fruitful: He did provide what could have been useful information about matters relating to
ongoing investigations being carried out by this Office. But as Cohen partially acknowledges, it
was his decision not to pursue full cooperation, and his professed willingness to continue to provide information at some later unspecified time is of limited value to this Office, both because he is under no obligation to do so, and because the Office’s inability to fully vet his criminal history and reliability impact his utility as a witness.

Indeed, his proffer sessions with the SCO aside, Cohen only met with the Office about the
participation of others in the campaign finance crimes to which Cohen had already pleaded guilty.
Cohen specifically declined to be debriefed on other uncharged criminal conduct, if any, in his
past.4 Cohen further declined to meet with the Office about other areas of investigative interest.
As the Court is undoubtedly aware, in order to successfully cooperate with this Office, witnesses
must undergo full debriefings that encompass their entire criminal history, as well as any and all
information they possess about crimes committed by both themselves and others. This process
permits the Office to fully assess the candor, culpability, and complications attendant to any
potential cooperator, and results in cooperating witnesses who, having accepted full responsibility
for any and all misconduct, are credible to law enforcement and, hopefully, to judges and juries.
Cohen affirmatively chose not to pursue this process. Cohen’s efforts thus fell well short of
cooperation, as that term is properly used in this District.5

For this reason, Cohen is not being offered a cooperation agreement or a 5K1.1 letter. Within the confines of the SCO investigation itself, the Office does not dispute that Cohen’s
assistance to the SCO was significant. But because Cohen elected not to pursue more fulsome
cooperation with this Office, including on other subjects and on his own history, the Office cannot
assess the overall level of Cohen’s cooperation to be significant. Therefore, the Office submits
that, in fashioning a sentence on its case, the Court afford Cohen credit for his efforts with the
SCO, but credit that accounts for only a modest variance from the Guidelines range and does not
approach the credit typically given to actual cooperating witnesses in this District.

4 At the time that Cohen met twice with this Office, through his attorneys, he had expressed that he was considering – but not committing to – full cooperation. Cohen subsequently determined not to fully cooperate.

5 Cohen’s provision of information to the Office of the New York Attorney General (“NY AG”) warrants little to no consideration as a mitigating factor. This Office’s understanding is that the information Cohen provided was useful only to the extent that he corroborated information already known to the NYAG. More importantly, Cohen provided information to the NY AG not as a cooperating witness who was exposing himself to potential criminal or civil liability but instead as a witness who could have been compelled to provide that testimony. Fulfilling that basic legal responsibility voluntarily does not warrant a reduced sentence – particularly when one waits until he is charged with federal crimes before doing so.

Similarly, this Office’s understanding is that the New York State Department of Taxation and Financial Services (“NYSDTF”) subpoenaed Cohen for information about the payment of his own state taxes, and any claimed “cooperation” with NYSDTF appears to consist solely of providing that entity information that they would otherwise have obtained via subpoena.

Cohen’s failed SDNY cooperation may become an issue in today’s NYDA hearing on Trump’s fraud to cover up the Stormy Daniels hush payments. Judge Juan Merchan will review the dispute regarding NYDA’s efforts to get the Cohen file from SDNY, which Christopher Conroy laid out in this declaration. The short version is that NYDA provided Cohen’s SDNY related materials, but not the tax records otherwise collected from SDNY or Mueller-related 302s that SDNY did not yet have.

But in both cases, with Cohen and Parnas, any cooperation came amid Bill Barr’s efforts to shelter Trump from implication in their crimes. And while I do think Parnas is engaged in some repackaging of his past actions, I also think there’s increasing evidence that Barr was worried about his own implication in Parnas’ crimes.

As we may see in Alvin Bragg’s case, this adds difficulty to using a witness like Cohen, whose candor might be questioned (but who, like Parnas, has receipts). Because Barr had a habit of making such things worse.

Alexander Smirnov Shared an Already-Debunked Fox News Hoax with His FBI Handler

There’s a mistake that many people covering the Alexander Smirnov case make. This is one example, but similar examples appear everywhere (including in claims made by Democrats in Congress yesterday).

Parnas noted the recent indictment of former FBI informant Alexander Smirnov, who is accused of providing false intelligence about the president and his son during the 2020 presidential campaign. Prosecutors said the information Smirnov shared about the Bidens came from “officials associated with Russian intelligence” and that he was peddling “new lies that impact U.S. elections after meeting with Russian intelligence officials in November.”

The error is in claiming that prosecutors have said that the false claims Smirnov made in 2020 came from Russian intelligence.

Prosecutors have said that Smirnov attributed claims made last September in his FBI interview to Russian spies. That’s the claim that the Russians recorded calls that Hunter Biden made from a hotel in Kyiv.

51. The Defendant also shared a new story with investigators. He wanted them to look into whether Businessperson 1 was recorded in a hotel in Kiev called the Premier Palace. The Defendant told investigators that the entire Premier Palace Hotel is “wired” and under the control of the Russians. The Defendant claimed that Businessperson 1 went to the hotel many times and that he had seen video footage of Businessperson 1 entering the Premier Palace Hotel.

52. The Defendant suggested that investigators check to see if Businessperson 1 made telephone calls from the Premier Palace Hotel since those calls would have been recorded by the Russians. The Defendant claimed to have obtained this information a month earlier by calling a high-level official in a foreign country. The Defendant also claimed to have learned this information from four different Russian officials. [my emphasis]

The reference in the detention memo to Russian spooks, relied on by NBC to substantiate the claim, appears to be a reference to this story, one Smirnov told in 2023. David Weiss appears to be sure that Russian spooks really did tell Smirnov this; he used it to justify detention.

Thus, Smirnov’s efforts to spread misinformation about a candidate of one of the two
major parties in the United States continues. The Court should consider this conduct as well
when evaluating his personal history and characteristics. What this shows is that the
misinformation he is spreading is not confined to 2020. He is actively peddling new lies that
could impact U.S. elections after meeting with Russian intelligence officials in November.

I’m not entirely convinced Smirnov’s Russian spook buddies did tell him this.

After all, prosecutors laid out why it cannot be true that Russia really got recordings of Hunter in the hotel. Hunter has never been to Kyiv, much less this hotel.

If Russian spies actually told Smirnov this, it would either be false, intended to deceive Smirnov, or based on a deep fake.

But I also think it’s possible that, during the September interview, Smirnov started to realize that the FBI had caught him lying, and so invented the story — based on what I understand to be a widely-understood assumption about the Premier Palace — to appear to be useful to the FBI. When you’re a snitch, you’re generally safe doing whatever so long as you remain useful. So Smirnov may have just tried to protect himself by inventing something useful.

As I tried to show here, there’s actually some reason to believe he subsequently created a reporting trail retroactively on this, as if he hadn’t ever made this claim to his handler before his FBI interview and so had to report it prospectively to the handler to cover the claim he made to the FBI. The timeline shows that Smirnov attributed something to four Russian spies in September 2023, but then told his handler he learned it as if it were new in December 2023.

I don’t believe any court filings have yet attributed Smirnov’s false claim in 2020 to Russian spooks.

Indeed, he didn’t have the ties to Russian spies in 2020 he claims to have now. While Smirnov appears to have had ties to Russian Official 5 in 2020 — the guy he flipped for a different, probably Israeli, intelligence service in 2002 but didn’t tell his handler about until 2019 — and through him, Russian Official 6, many of his more senior ties to Russian spooks appear to post-date 2020.

A far more relevant tie in 2020 is his professed tie to Viktor Shokin, going back to 2016.

50. The Defendant told investigators that he had asked the then-Ukrainian President to arrange a meeting between himself and the then-Ukrainian Prosecutor General to talk about Burisma. The Defendant told investigators that this meeting occurred before the then-Ukrainian Prosecutor General resigned, which was early 2016. The Defendant also told investigators this meeting occurred before his meeting with Burisma Official 1 in the coffee shop in a German speaking country. The Defendant told investigators that after he met with the thenUkrainian Prosecutor General, he met with the then-Ukrainian President. The Defendant did not provide any of this information to the Handler in 2020.

Still, one way or another, I don’t believe any court filing tells us who got Smirnov to lie in 2020. It’s one reason I keep insisting that learning how Scott Brady came to look for him may be the most important investigative question, not least because David Weiss has an enormous disincentive to chase that down.

All the more so given the backstory to this photo, which appears in the indictment. After Smirnov promised his handler that he would prove Joe Biden had received a bribe, Smirnov told his handler this picture showed Joe and Hunter Biden with Mykola Zlochevsky.

 

Nancy Mace used the same photo in yesterday’s hearing in an attempt to corroborate serial fraudster Jason Galanis‘ story.

It’s actually not, at all, clear where the picture came from — I’m not even aware that it came from “the laptop.”

But it was first published by Tucker Carlson, then adopted by Fox News, as part of Rudy’s propaganda campaign in 2019, as impeachment began to roll out.

Don Jr posted it.

Then Trump referenced it on Xitter.

The claim was debunked repeatedly: by PolitiFact on October 8, by CNN, and then by USAT after it went even more viral after the release of “the laptop” in 2020 (and therefore after Smirnov’s claims).

And yet, even though this photo had gone viral in 2019, in conjunction with Trump’s impeachment rebuttal, Smirnov made the same claim again in May 2020.

And his handler either didn’t realize or didn’t care that Smirnov was recycling a widely debunked lie, nor is there any evidence the handler pointed out to Scott Brady that it discredited Smirnov’s other claims.

Sedition Hunters will tell you that the FBI is nowhere near as good at using facial recognition as they are (which may not be a bad thing). But the notion that an informant would share such a widely disseminated photo and no one at the FBI would figure out it had been used by Trump and his backers as part of a false propaganda campaign the year before?!?!

Really???

I’ll repeat again: the investigation into this attempt to frame Joe Biden needs to be removed from David Weiss’ purview and put in the hands of someone who’ll review how the FBI let itself get fooled by a widely disseminated piece of propaganda, and why the Attorney General ensured that such embarrassing propaganda got funneled to an ongoing investigation into Joe Biden’s kid.

Because this is just embarrassing.

Alexander Smirnov may have gotten the false claim he made in 2020 from Russian spies. He may have gotten it from Viktor Shokin.

Or maybe he just got it by watching Fox News.

Update: Noted that the USAT rebuttal came after Smirnov’s claims; the others came before.

Judge Mark Scarsi Orders Briefing on Whether David Weiss Is David Weiss

I don’t think Judge Mark Scarsi is going to be very sympathetic to Hunter Biden’s arguments.

But I will give him this: The judge works quickly and attentively.

Just days after Hunter Biden submitted his reply briefs, Judge Scarsi noticed that Hunter’s attorney Abbe Lowell raised two issues in his replies to two technical motions to dismiss that Lowell had not raised in his original motions. Scarsi issued an order offering David Weiss the opportunity to file 5-page sur-replies to each and also ordered Lowell to submit three exhibits he mentioned if he wanted those to be considered as part of the record.

One new issue pertains to whether Weiss is estopped (pages 4-6) from arguing that Hunter was a resident in California in 2017 and 2018 after asserting he was a resident of DC in the DE tax information (I’m not convinced the record on that point backs Lowell).

A more interesting — but related one, one I have raised — has to do with whether two tolling agreements that Hunter signed with the US Attorney for Delaware and DOJ Tax Division apply in the case of an indictment obtained by Special Counsel David Weiss.

I. THE TOLLING AGREEMENTS DO NOT TOLL THE SOL BECAUSE THE SC IS NOT A PARTY TO THOSE AGREEMENTS

The SC’s reliance upon two tolling agreements with Biden is misplaced because the SC is not a party to those agreements. Those agreements are between Biden and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware and the Tax Division at Main Justice (which acts through specific U.S. Attorney’s Offices). At the time Biden entered into these tolling agreements, he knew he was being investigated for tax violations by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware, District of Columbia, and the Central District of California, but he entered tolling agreements only with Delaware. Venue and statute of limitations considerations would be unique as to each District.

Similarly, Biden did not enter into any tolling agreements with the SC, as no SC had even been appointed to investigate him when these tolling agreements were signed. The fact that the U.S. Attorney for Delaware David Weiss was subsequently appointed as SC—as opposed to someone else—does not mean the SC’s Office suddenly became a party to those prior agreements. The agreement is with the office, not the man (who did not sign these agreements in any event; AUSA Leslie Wolf signed on behalf of the Office and she is not a member of the Special Counsel’s Office). Weiss’s U.S. Attorney team is separate from his SC team, complete with distinct websites, email addresses (which they insist be used in place of their USAO addresses), stationary, and, more importantly, different responsibilities. Surely, the Delaware Office would not claim that such agreements become void whenever the U.S. Attorney leaves the office. Nor could anyone claim the State of Delaware would be a party to such an agreement if Weiss had become Attorney General of the state instead. Similarly, if John Doe had been named SC, instead of Weiss, there would be no basis for Doe to claim he inherited the tolling agreements entered into by Weiss or any other U.S. Attorney.

Tolling agreements are contracts, and the entry into those agreements by one U.S. Attorney’s Office does not typically bind other government entities absent language saying so. See, e.g., United States v. Viola, 562 Fed. App’x 559 (9th Cir. 2014) (Probation not bound by U.S. Attorney’s plea agreement); see also SOS Co. v. E-Collar Techs., 2017 WL 5714716, at *5 (C.D. Cal. Oct. 17, 2017) (tolling agreement did not apply to non-party that was not the alter ego of a party); Osman v. Young Healthcare, 2023 WL 2021703, at *7 (E.D. Va. Feb. 15, 2023) (tolling agreement with Department of Labor with respect to certain named plaintiffs’ claims did not extent to unnamed plaintiffs); United States v. FedEx Corp., 2016 WL 1070653, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 8, 2016) (finding tolling agreement with one company did not apply to a related company, even where government believed the agreement covered all related entities); Morning Star Packing v. Crown Cork and Seal, 2004 WL 7339592, at *7 (E.D. Cal. Aug. 3, 2004) (tolling agreements cannot be extended to new parties). The general rule is that agreements entered into by one U.S. Attorney’s Office binds only that office, unless stated otherwise. United States v. Annabi, 771 F.2d 670, 672 (2d Cir. 1985) (“A plea agreement binds only the office of the United States Attorney for the district in which the plea is entered unless it affirmatively appears that the agreement contemplates a broader restriction.”).2 Federal prosecutors in one office, for example, may prosecute a defendant who is immunized by an agreement with another office. See, e.g., Sertich, 649 F.3d 545, at *1 (ND Ind. Prosecution not barred by CDCA plea agreement); United States v. Laskow, 688 F. Supp. 851, 853 (E.D.N.Y. 1988) (finding EDNY prosecution not barred by CDCA plea agreement).3 What is good for the goose is good for the gander. The same rules that hold one U.S. Attorney’s Office not bound by plea agreements reached with other Offices mean that one Office cannot seek the benefits of tolling agreements reached by other Offices. Prosecutors should not be allowed to elect whether they are or are not bound by agreements between other Offices and defendants, depending on what suits them. Moreover, as with plea agreements and diversion agreements, any ambiguities in tolling agreements are construed in the defendant’s favor. See, e.g., United States v. Spector, 55 F.3d 22, 26 (1st Cir. 1995); United States v. Goyal, 2007 WL 1031102, *3 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 3, 2007).

2 The Diversion Agreement made with respect to Biden illustrates the difference. It provides: “This Diversion Agreement (the ‘Agreement’) is entered into between the United States of America, by and through the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware, and Robert Hunter Biden (“Biden”), collectively referred to herein as ‘Parties,’ by and through their authorized representatives.” (DA ¶1.) Thus, in the Diversion Agreement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is executing the agreement on behalf of the United States. By contrast, the tolling agreements indicate that the party is the U.S. Attorney’s Office, but not the United States as a whole. Compare United States v. Sertich, 649 F.3d 545, at *1 (9th Cir. Oct. 24, 1995) (unpublished) (explaining an agreement that is confined to a particular U.S. Attorney’s Office binds only that office, as opposed to a more general agreement that binds the United States as a whole), with Thomas v. INS, 35 F.3d 1332, 1335 n.1 (9th Cir. 1994) (explaining an agreement made on behalf of the United States government, as opposed to a sub-part, applies to the government as a whole); United States v. Harvey, 791 F.2d 294, 301−03 (4th Cir. 1986) (explaining that an agreement entered into on behalf of the United States, as opposed to just a particular U.S. Attorney’s Office, binds the United States as a whole); see also Morgan v. Gonzales, 495 F.3d 1084, 1091 (9th Cir. 2007) (“As a general matter of fundamental fairness, promises made by the government to induce either a plea bargain or a cooperation agreement must be fulfilled. . . . A United States Attorney is authorized to enter into cooperation agreements and, in so doing, to make promises that are binding on other Federal agencies.”) (citations omitted).

3 By analogy, Andrea Gacki recently transitioned from her role as Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control to being Director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. It is difficult to imagine that anyone would think the agreements reached by OFAC under her watch no longer bind OFAC or that FinCEN is now bound by those OFAC agreements.

As I may follow-up, David Weiss is engaged in a number of such shell games, picking and choosing where his legal persons carry over and do not, and where his biological person can avoid accountability.

A far more urgent one than these tolling agreement pertains to discovery: Weiss seems to imagine that by becoming Special Counsel, he avoids discovery into materials held by or known to US Attorney David Weiss, including his conversations with (most pertinently) Los Angeles US Attorney Martin Estrada (who, after reviewing the merits of the case, decided not to join it), DC US Attorney Matthew Graves, and DOJ Tax Division (the last of which is a party to the tolling agreement). This is actually the opposite of how Jack Smith has operated and how the Crossfire Hurricane to Robert Mueller to Jeffrey Jensen inquiry operated with discovery, which carried over as one legal entity became another. I asked Weiss’ office some time ago whether they were adhering to the standard used by other Special Counsels but got no response.

It’s an interesting legal question, so I do look forward to Weiss’ legal commitment to a shell game.

Lowell did submit the three exhibits, which show Weiss withdrawing the plea offer, Chris Clark asking for time to consider it, and Derek Hines emailing the docket entry showing the request to withdraw the plea offer.

Update: I changed my mind, above. Lowell is absolutely right on the estoppel claim. The tax information filed in Delaware describes that Hunter’s residency was in DC in 2017 and 2018. It was signed by Leo Wise, so he can’t very well claim that he, personally, has not made that assertion before.

David Weiss Does Not Contest He Reneged on Hunter Biden’s Plea Agreement to Chase Russian Lies

David Weiss has now had five opportunities to contest former Hunter Biden attorney Chris Clark’s declaration that on June 6, Weiss personally discussed language to provide Hunter immunity from further prosecution, and after that language was incorporated into the plea deal, on June 19, Weiss’ First AUSA told Clark that there was no ongoing investigation into the President’s son.

I requested to speak directly with U.S. Attorney Weiss, whom I was told was the person deciding the issues of the Agreement. Later that afternoon, on June 6, 2023, I spoke directly with U.S. Attorney Weiss. During that call, I conveyed to U.S. Attorney Weiss that the Agreement’s immunity provision must ensure Mr. Biden that there would be finality and closure of this investigation, as I had conveyed repeatedly to AUSA Wolf during our negotiations. I further conveyed to U.S. Attorney Weiss that this provision was a deal-breaker. I noted that U.S. Attorney Weiss had changed the deal several times heretofore, and that I simply could not have this issue be yet another one which Mr. Biden had to compromise. The U.S. Attorney asked me what the problem was with the proposed language, and I explained that the immunity provision must protect Mr. Biden from any future prosecution by a new U.S. Attorney in a different administration. The U.S. Attorney considered the proposal and stated that he would get back to me promptly.

Later that same evening on June 6, 2023, at or around 5:47 PM EST, AUSA Wolf emailed me proposed language for the immunity provision that read: “How about this- The United States agrees not to criminally prosecute Biden, outside of the terms of this Agreement, for any federal crimes encompassed by the attached Statement of Facts (Attachment A) and the Statement of Facts attached as Exhibit 1 to the Memorandum of Plea Agreement filed this same day.” (Emphasis in original.)

[snip]

Shortly after that email, I had another phone call with AUSA Hanson, during which AUSA Hanson requested that the language of Mr. Biden’s press statement be slightly revised. She proposed saying that the investigation would be “resolved” rather than “concluded.” I then asked her directly whether there was any other open or pending investigation of Mr. Biden overseen by the Delaware U.S. Attorney’s Office, and she responded there was not another open or pending investigation.

David Weiss is silent about proof that he reneged on immunity agreement made in June

Weiss has filed five responses to Hunter Biden claims that address how Weiss reneged on this agreement to immunize the President’s son from any further prosecution:

None of them contest those two claims from Chris Clark: That David Weiss was personally involved on June 6 before Lesley Wolf sent language immunizing Hunter for everything “encompassed” by the plea and diversion, and that Shannon Hanson assured Clark on June 19 there were no ongoing investigations.

Instead, these filings simply shift focus temporally. The responses to the selective and vindictive claim focus on earlier negotiations to falsely suggest that David Weiss did not personally buy off on language sent out on June 6.

For example, in an email to defense counsel dated May 18, 2023, about “a potential nontrial resolution,” Document 60-6 at p. 2, the AUSA stated, “As I said during our call, the below list is preliminary in nature and subject to change. We have not discussed or obtained approval for these terms, but are presenting them in an attempt to advance our discussions about a potential non-trial resolution . . .” The following week, in an email to defense counsel dated May 23, 2023, Document 60-9 at p. 3, the AUSA stated, “As we indicated in our emails and discussions we did not have approval for a pre-trial diversion agreement. As you know, that authority rests with the US Attorney who ultimately did not approve continued discussions for diversion related to the tax charges.” In response to this email, defense counsel wrote, “Ok. My client has asked that I speak to you further. Are you able to speak? I may have some slight flexibility.” Far from an agreement or an agency determination that these charges should not be brought, as the defense suggests in their briefing, these discussions merely indicate the parties were engaged in plea discussions at the line prosecutor level and the AUSA repeatedly disclosed that such discussions were subject to review and approval by the U.S. Attorney. [emphasis original]

The response to the IRS agent claim argues that because Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler had “ceased to have any role in the investigation” when the actual charging decisions were made in September and December, their media campaign could not have caused the earlier decision to renege on the plea deal and endorse precisely their charging decisions.

Here, the defendant does not argue that Shapley and Ziegler used any law enforcement technique that resulted in the charges currently before the court. In fact, the conduct he complains of occurred after Shapley and Ziegler ceased to have any role in the investigation.

Never mind that the claim conflicts with a Joseph Ziegler affidavit, which claims that, “As seen in these emails, we have continued to assist and turnover the Hunter Biden casefile to the new team,” and the related emails showing him still handing off documents on September 1 (though given document metadata, Ziegler continued to access and release to Congress records after that). What matters are not the charging decisions made in September and December but the earlier decision to renege on the plea deal.

What matters is that when Leo Wise stated, on July 26, that prosecutors could bring FARA charges against Hunter Biden, he was reneging on the terms of the signed plea deal.

What matters is that when David Weiss told Lindsey Graham on July 11 that Alexander Smirnov’s FD-1023 was part of an ongoing investigation, he signaled that he had decided to renege on the plea deal even before the plea hearing to chase the claim that the President of the United States had received a bribe, and that decision had nothing to do with Maryellen Noreika’s concerns about the structure of the diversion agreement.

Indeed, Abbe Lowell submitted proof that that was the intent all along, to renege on the plea deal. Weiss had submitted a heavily redacted copy of a letter Chris Clark wrote in response to Weiss’ proposed way to address Judge Noreika’s concerns, claiming that it showed that prosecutors did not, as Lowell had claimed, immediately demand a felony plea. Weiss was right, to a point. At that point Weiss was not demanding felony pleas. In his selective and vindictive reply, a declaration, and a timeline submitted yesterday, Lowell explained that Weiss started demanding felony pleas later than that, on August 29.

After the exchange cited by DOJ where Biden rejected its counterproposals, DOJ informed Biden the deal was off and made clear it would accept or charge felonies during a meeting with Biden’s counsel on August 29, 2023.

But those same papers and the unredacted copy of Clark’s response letter in question showed what happened instead: David Weiss’ first response to the concerns Judge Noreika expressed at the plea colloquy — partly how the diversion agreement worked with the plea, but also Wise’s claim that he could charge Hunter with FARA even though Hanson had said that would not happen a month earlier — was to eliminate any judicial protection and remove the immunity language entirely.

Second, the Government has proposed, without explanation, completely deleting the immunity provision in Paragraph 15 of the Diversion Agreement. We decline to amend the parties’ existing agreement on immunity. We will rely on this provision, as contained in the bilateral agreement that was signed and entered into between the parties.

The same letter showed that Hunter’s team believed the diversion remained in effect.

[W]e are fully prepared to continue proceeding with the terms of the Diversion Agreement, as executed. If the Court should determine that the breach provision in Paragraph 14 of the Diversion Agreement should be amended, then we would be fine with that, and at such time we would entertain making formal, written modifications pursuant to Paragraph 19. Otherwise the parties remain bound to the terms of the agreement that was signed and entered into.

This “offer” Weiss made, then, amounted to torching the signed plea deal and diversion agreement entirely.

This is the background to — as Lowell described — Weiss’ demand that Hunter either accept that useless deal immediately, before — minutes later — Weiss rolled out his Special Counsel authority.

8/9/23: DOJ responds to Biden’s counsel’s August 7 letter, and argues that neither the PA nor DA are in effect, and neither side is bound. In that letter, DOJ withdraws the PA and the DA it offered Biden on July 31, 2023, and withdraws the PA and the DA presented to the Court on July 26, 2023.

DOJ notifies Biden’s counsel that it intends to move to dismiss the tax information without prejudice and pursue charges in another district where venue lies, and requests Biden’s counsel’s position by no later than August 11, 2023.

8/10/23: Biden’s counsel emails AUSA Wise to inform him they are discussing DOJ’s August 9 letter and the options with Mr. Biden. Biden’s counsel asks if they may respond to DOJ’s requested position by Monday (August 14) instead of by Friday (August 11). Alternatively, Biden’s counsel proposes having a conference with the Court.

8/11/23: At Noon (12:00 pm), AUSA Wise replies to Mr. Clark’s email that the United States declines to extend the time in which it asked for Biden’s position on the motions identified in its August 9 letter, and further declines to have a conference with the Court.

Approximately five minutes later, at 12:05 pm EST, before Biden’s counsel could even respond to DOJ or discuss it with Mr. Biden, DOJ moves to dismiss the criminal tax Information without prejudice against Biden, so that tax charges can be brought in another district.

David Weiss replaced Lesley Wolf, and by doing so, has tried to get away with letting Leo Wise and Derek Hines to renege on the terms of a plea deal he himself signed, as if his signature wasn’t on the deal.

And he did so, it is now clear, to chase a Russian information operation. David Weiss got his ass handed to him by Russian spies and to hide his embarrassment, he’s trying to claim that he didn’t renege on a signed plea.

Neither Weiss nor Lowell has yet addressed Smirnov directly

For reasons I don’t understand, Lowell has not filed any motion specifically addressing the role of Alexander Smirnov in all this, in either Delaware or Los Angeles. As a result, the sum total of discussion about the role of the Smirnov claim in Hunter’s prosecution consists of the following:

First, in Lowell’s Reply Motion to Compel in Delaware, he noted that he had asked for things pertinent to the Scott Brady side channel, and the treatment of the Smirnov allegations made that discovery all the more important.

The fact that Special Counsel Weiss, beginning in July 2023, then elected to chase the goose making these unsubstantiated claims— after several DOJ and FBI officials agreed the matter should be closed—is all the more justification for granting Mr. Biden’s request for these DOJ materials.

In response, Weiss tried to anticipate mention of Smirnov in Lowell’s Reply. imagining that because Weiss is prosecuting Smirnov, it debunks the claim Hunter made in his deposition that Congressional Republicans were duped by a Russian disinformation campaign.

He claimed, “Smirnov, who has made you dupes in carrying out a Russian disinformation campaign waged against my father, has been indicted for his lies.”12 While the defendant testified to Congress that the Special Counsel had undermined the impeachment inquiry conducted by House Republicans, to this Court he argues instead that the Special Counsel is working at the behest of House Republicans. Motion at 13. Which is it? Indeed, the defendant has no evidence to support his shapeshifting claims because the Special Counsel continues to pursue the fair, evenhanded administration of the federal criminal laws.

That same day, in Delaware, Lowell cited the newly-released Scott Brady transcript to argue that Weiss, by continuing to prosecute Hunter, is doing just what Russia wanted with the Smirnov operation: to gin up a prosecution of Hunter.

From the filings in Smirnov and other disclosures, it turns out that a Russian intelligence operation has the same goal of spreading disinformation to influence the U.S. presidential election in Russia’s favor.

[snip]

Mr. Wise explained that Smirnov’s “disinformation story” is part of a Russian intelligence operation “aimed at denigrating President Biden” and “supporting former President Trump.”

[snip]

This case illustrates the very continuing harm identified by the Special Counsel. The Special Counsel tells us Russian intelligence sought to influence the U.S. presidential election by using allegations against Hunter Biden to hurt President Biden’s reelection. 3 And what did the now-Special Counsel do? The Office abandoned the Agreement it signed and filed felony gun and tax charges against Mr. Biden in two jurisdictions, which public records and DOJ policy indicate are not brought against people with similar facts as Mr. Biden. In these actions, the Special Counsel has done exactly what the Russian intelligence operation desired by initiating prosecutions against Mr. Biden.

In yesterday’s filing in Los Angeles, however, Lowell was still pretty circumspect about Smirnov.

In the section describing how Weiss had reneged on a signed deal, he attributed Weiss’ decision to renege on the deal to his pursuit of the Smirnov allegations. Then, in the section on Congress’ usurpation of prosecutorial function, Lowell laid out how stupid it is for Weiss to claim the charges against Smirnov, over three years after Weiss first got this referral, is proof that Weiss didn’t bow to pressure from Congress.

DOJ also chooses this part of its brief to argue its indictment of Alexander Smirnov suggests it is not a puppet of the GOP (perhaps DOJ’s whole inspiration for bringing that indictment). (Id.) Biden never suggested DOJ is a puppet of the GOP, but that DOJ has caved to political pressure several times in ways that specifically violate Biden’s rights. And DOJ indicting someone who falsely accused Biden of serious crimes does not prove it is treating him fairly. Instead, it calls into question why DOJ reopened long debunked allegations by Smirnov in July 2023 (as it was reneging on its agreements with Biden) when, having gone down that rabbit hole, DOJ was then forced to defend its actions by charging Smirnov with offenses it could have bought years earlier.

Lowell doesn’t make several details of the timeline explicit.

First, on the same day that Weiss sent Lindsey Graham that letter stating that the FD-1023 was part of an ongoing investigation, July 11, Shannon Hanson described that “the team,” on which she did not include herself at that point, was in a secure location. As I’ve noted, there was no reason for “the team” to be in a SCIF in preparation for the plea deal. There’s nothing classified about it. It’s evidence that, before Wise reneged on the scope of the plea deal on July 26, “the team” had already decided to chase the Smirnov allegation.

My hunch is that we’ll learn that whatever Weiss told Merrick Garland about needing Special Counsel status (note, he bypassed Brad Weinsheimer to get it), he did not represent the plea negotiations as the current record suggests they happened. My hunch is that Weiss may have claimed Hunter was being a good deal more intransigent then simply demanding that a plea be worth the toilet paper it was written on in the first place.

But to get Special Counsel status, Weiss likely claimed he was going to investigate Joe Biden.

While it’s true that Garland assured Weiss he could get Special Counsel status whenever he asked, investigating the President is the only thing that presents the kind of conflict that would require full Special Counsel status. And, as I’ve noted, Weiss grounds his authority to prosecute Smirnov in the language in the Special Counsel appointment permitting him to investigate anything that comes out of the investigation authorized with the appointment itself, which must, then, have included Joe Biden as well as his son.

Lowell made this point in his Notice of Authority submitted in Delaware.

The connection between the reopening of the Smirnov allegations and the then-U.S. Attorney’s Office’s total rejection of the Agreement it made has, at the least, the appearance of catering to the shouts of extremist Republicans to scuttle the deal and keep an investigation into Mr. Biden alive.

But he has not done so in Los Angeles.

On August 29, prosecutors expressed overconfidence about their investigation

Lowell has declined to do so even though the timeline he lays out — how, on August 29, prosecutors demanded felony pleas — intersects closely with the Smirnov one. Lowell’s declaration describes that at 11AM on August 29 — in what appears the first meeting after Weiss got Special Counsel status and after Judge Noreika dismissed the tax indictment — Leo Wise fully retracted all offers that had been discussed to that point.

3. On August 29, 2023 at approximately 11:00 AM, I (along with my law partner, Christopher Man) met with Assistant United States Attorneys Leo Wise and Derek Hines at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Wilmington, Delaware. The meeting lasted approximately one hour. Our position was that the Diversion Agreement was in effect, and we sought to work with the government to effectuate the substance of the proposed Plea Agreement by addressing the procedural concerns the Delaware court raised on July 26, 2023.

4. During that meeting, Mr. Wise stated, in sum and substance, that DOJ was no longer willing at this point in time to (i) carry out the misdemeanor tax agreement it had made; (ii) commit to a “no jail” recommendation for Mr. Biden that it also had made; and (iii) maintain the parties’ agreed-to immunity provision. While Mr. Wise said he was only in a “listening mode,” the only type of charge even mentioned at the meeting were felonies, which are exactly what the Office filed about two weeks later in the District of Delaware.

At that same meeting, Lowell requested that he get an exact copy of the laptop.

The defendant’s counsel met with government counsel in Wilmington on August 29, 2023, and made a specific request for an exact forensic copy of the laptop and external hard drive. His defense counsel reiterated this request in an email dated September 25, 2023, in which defense counsel stated “we want to ensure the data we receive is an identical copy as you have it and that the data will retain its native forensic properties (e.g., time and date stamps, file paths, operative system characteristics, user profile information, etc.)” and that the “data loaded on the hard drive is complete and identical in every shape and manner to that obtained by the FBI when it acquired possession” of the laptop and hard drive. The government accommodated this request.

And prosecutors also claimed (erroneously, it now appears) that they had clean sources for everything otherwise found on the laptop.

As to the meeting between Mr. Biden’s counsel and prosecutors in Wilmington on August 29, 2023 (Opp. at 19), Mr. Biden notes that prosecutors indicated, during that meeting, that they possess “independent sources” for any material on the laptop device that would be helpful to the prosecution’s case, presumably referring to material subpoenaed from third parties, such as Apple, Inc. or various cellphone carriers. For this reason, it was curious to Mr. Biden’s counsel when reviewing the prosecution’s response that it elected to cite to and quote from messages and photos contained on the device it possessed (lacking any Bates stamps) rather than from those “independent sources” included in the discovery produced to the defense.

That same day prosecutors mistakenly claimed they wouldn’t have to rely on the laptop to prosecute Hunter Biden, also on August 29, Smirnov’s handler described that he and Smirnov reviewed the allegations against President Biden after the FD-1023 leaked and Smirnov stood by his claims.

43. On August 29, 2023, FBI investigators spoke with the Handler in reference to the 2020 1023. During that conversation, the Handler indicated that he and the Defendant had reviewed the 2020 1023 following its public release by members of Congress in July 2023, and the Defendant reaffirmed the accuracy of the statements contained in it.

Did representations from Smirnov’s handler contribute to prosecutors’ hubris in imagining they had all the evidence they needed against the President’s son? Did they initially pursue particularly draconian charges against Hunter in hopes they could get him to flip against his father?

At some point — the indictment doesn’t reveal whether the handler only came clean about Smirnov’s lies in the following weeks — Smirnov’s handler provided the messages and travel records that made it clear Smirnov was lying.

44. The Handler provided investigators with messages he had with the Defendant, including the ones described above. Additionally, the Handler identified and reviewed with the Defendant travel records associated with both Associate 2 and the Defendant. The travel records were inconsistent with what the Defendant had previously told the Handler that was memorialized in the 2020 1023. The Defendant also provided email communications with both Associate 2 and Burisma personnel beginning in 2017 to the Handler, which the Handler reviewed with the Defendant and shared with FBI investigators.

On the day Weiss discovered Smirnov was lying, he should have called up Merrick Garland, told him he had to recuse from both the Smirnov investigation and — because of the apparent role of the Smirnov 1023 in his decision to renege on the plea agreement — even the Hunter Biden one. On that day, Weiss became a witness to a potential criminal conspiracy.

Weiss’ false claims about discovery into the side channel

Weiss did not do that.

Instead, at least in the months before the Smirnov indictment, he prevaricated over discovery.

On November 7, over a month after the FBI interviewed Smirnov and confirmed his lies, David Weiss told the House Judiciary Committee Chief Counsel Steve Castor that the side channel would only show up in his eventual report.

Q Brady told us that he had such trouble getting ahold of you and your office, that he had to go through the PADAG, and basically the PADAG had to intervene and instruct your office to take a meeting with him.

A Is that a question?

Q Yes. Why wouldn’t you meet with Mr. Brady?

A I’m not at liberty to discuss that at this time. I look forward to the opportunity to addressing this in the special counsel’s report at the appropriate time.

Weiss committed that Brady’s role in this would only appear in the final report after a number of details of Brady’s claims to have vetted the Smirnov claim — which Jerry Nadler referred to both Michael Horowitz and Merrick Garland for potentially criminal investigation — had been publicly aired.

Then, on November 15, Lowell asked for discovery that would cover the side channel and also permission to subpoena those, like Bill Barr, who continued to engage in discussions of the side channel as private citizens, without protection of prosecutorial immunity.

The response to the latter, written in December by then newly promoted “Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel” Leo Wise, repeats Weiss’ silence about his decision to renege on the plea deal. Given the accumulating evidence that Weiss reneged on the plea deal in order to chase the Smirnov allegation, such silence is deafening.

It blows off the request for a subpoena to Bill Barr — who made public representations about the side channel the day after Weiss agreed to immunize Hunter against further investigation, the agreement on which Weiss reneged — by emphasizing that as former Attorney General, Barr could have no influence on Weiss’ actions.

Defendant asks the Court to enter an order directing subpoenas, which seek broadly worded categories of documents across seven years, to former President Donald J. Trump, former Attorney General William P. Barr, and two other former officials in the U.S. Department of Justice. Defendant contends that the requested material “goes to the heart of his pre-trial and trial defense that this is, possibly, a vindictive or selective prosecution that arose out of an incessant pressure campaign that began in the last administration, in violation of Mr. Biden’s constitutional rights.” ECF 58, at 14. It is worth noting from the outset that defendant misunderstands the difference between pretrial arguments to dismiss an indictment and trial defenses. It is black-letter law that claims of vindictive and selective prosecution are not trial defenses and may only be brought and litigated pretrial. They are not defenses and, therefore, are never argued to trial juries.

In any event, both vindictive- and selective-prosecution claims turn on the actual intent of the specific decisionmaker in a defendant’s case: here, the Special Counsel. But not only does defendant’s motion fail to identify any actual evidence of bias, vindictiveness, or discriminatory intent on the Special Counsel’s part, his arguments ignore an inconvenient truth: No charges were brought against defendant during the prior administration when the subpoena recipients actually held office in the Executive Branch.

And in response to the request for a subpoena to Richard Donoghue, the response noted that Donoghue ordered that, “the Delaware investigation receive the information from the Pittsburgh team, which was being closed out.”

Against this backdrop, the gaps in defendant’s motion become glaring: absent is any credible argument that (a) one of the subpoena recipients, rather than the Special Counsel, made the decision to prosecute the defendant and that the Special Counsel merely followed an order, or (b) that the Special Counsel himself has treated similarly situated individuals differently or decided to prosecute for discriminatory purposes. In fact, throughout the defendant’s entire constructed narrative, he barely refers to the actions or motives of the then-U.S. Attorney, nowSpecial Counsel, much less makes Armstrong’s “credible showing” of disparate treatment, discriminatory intent, or retaliatory motive on his part. Nor has defendant addressed the impact of the sitting Attorney General’s subsequent determination that, “to ensure a full and thorough investigation” of these matters, it was necessary to confer the additional jurisdiction and independence outlined in 28 C.F.R. § 600.04–600.10. See Order No. 5730-2023.

Defendant’s attempts to manufacture discriminatory treatment or intent on behalf of the U.S. Attorney fall apart under the most minimal scrutiny. First, defendant obliquely references that “IRS files reveal that [Richard Donoghue] further coordinated with the Pittsburgh Office and with the prosecution team in Delaware, including issuing certain guidance steps regarding overt steps in the investigation.” ECF 58, at 2-3 & n.3. Looking behind the defendant’s ambiguously phrased allegation reveals the actual “overt steps” involved: (1) the U.S. Attorney making an independent assessment of the probable cause underlying a warrant and (2) a direction by Mr. Donoghue that the Delaware investigation receive the information from the Pittsburgh team, which was being closed out. See ECF 58, at 3 n.3 (citing memorandum of conference call). Assessing the validity of a warrant and merely receiving information from other investigating entities does nothing to show any disparate treatment or animus. Next, defendant alleges that “certain investigative decisions were made as a result of guidance provided by, among others, the Deputy Attorney General’s office.” ECF 58, at 3 n.4. In fact, the source cited revealed that the guidance was simply not to conduct any “proactive interviews” yet. Likewise, defendant’s last attempt to create a link involved guidance not to make any “external requests (outside of government),” which followed the long-standing Department of Justice policy to avoid overt investigative steps that might interfere with ongoing elections. See ECF 58, at 3 n.5; cf., e.g., Federal Prosecution of Election Offenses 40 (2d ed. 1980). In other words, the most defendant claims is that the Deputy Attorney General’s office was aware of and involved in some specific investigatory decisions in the most banal fashion possible—by waiting to take specific investigative steps at certain times out of caution.

None of these contacts or events provides any evidence involving either the disparate treatment of similarly situated individuals or a discriminatory intent behind the U.S. Attorney’s prosecutorial decision. [my emphasis]

The existence of the side channel alone is testament to disparate treatment of Hunter Biden. Importantly, Donoghue is a fact witness about what Weiss did in 2020.

The response to Lowell’s request for discovery on the side channel, a request that explicitly applied to the diversion agreement as well, was even more non-responsive. It simply ignores Bill Barr’s role entirely.

It’s the response to the subpoena that looks particularly damning, though.

As I’ve noted, there are some key gaps in the Smirnov indictment. First, in describing who set up the side channel in the first place, Weiss claimed Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen set it up, when Brady testified that Barr was personally involved (as Barr’s public comments make clear).

22. In June 2020, the Handler reached out to the Defendant concerning the 2017 1023. This was done at the request of the FBI’s Pittsburgh Field Office (hereafter “FBI Pittsburgh”). In the first half of 2020, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania (hereafter “USAO WDPA”) had been tasked by the Deputy Attorney General of the United States to assist in the “receipt, processing, and preliminary analysis of new information provided by the public that may be relevant to matters relating to Ukraine.” As part of that process, FBI Pittsburgh opened an assessment, 58A-PG-3250958, and in the course of that assessment identified the 2017 1023 in FBI holdings and shared it with USAO WDPA. USAO WDPA then asked FBI Pittsburgh to reach out to the Handler to ask for any further information about the reference in his 2017 1023 that stated, “During this call, there was a brief, non-relevant discussion about former [Public Official 1]’s son, [Businessperson 1], who is currently on the Board of Directors for Burisma Holdings [No Further Information]”

The silence about Barr’s role is particularly telling given persistent misrepresentations of Hunter Biden’s discovery asks about Barr.

More tellingly, the indictment doesn’t confess that Donoghue ordered Weiss to look at the FD-1023 in 2020, days after Trump called up Bill Barr and screamed at him for not investigating Hunter Biden more aggressively.

40. By August 2020, FBI Pittsburgh concluded that all reasonable steps had been completed regarding the Defendant’s allegations and that their assessment, 58A-PG-3250958, should be closed. On August 12, 2020, FBI Pittsburgh was informed that the then-FBI Deputy Director and then-Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General of the United States concurred that it should be closed.

Leo Wise’s description of this process at Smirnov’s first detention hearing was even more dishonest.

[T]he FBI in Pittsburgh took some limited investigative steps, but their steps were limited by the fact that they were only conducting an assessment, which under FBI policies is not an investigation. And it prevents, for instance, the use of compulsory process like grand jury subpoenas or the compulsion of testimony. So based on that limited review, the FBI closed its assessment in August.

Weiss has a problem.

He was ordered to investigate this in 2020, and did nothing, possibly because Lesley Wolf knew the entire side channel project was corrupt. But if that’s why Weiss did nothing in 2020, it makes his decision to renege on a plea deal to go chase this lead inexcusable.

He ignores his earlier receipt of this tip in the indictment to create the illusion that he investigated the FD-1023 for the first time starting in July.

But in the opposition for subpoenas in December, Leo Wise acknowledged that Donoghue issued that order in 2020.

Weiss is saying one thing in the Smirnov prosecution and saying something else in an effort to hide Smirnov discovery from Hunter Biden.

And he’s saying those conflicting things after telling Congress that Brady’s role in this would show up only in his closing report, and not in follow-up indictments for false claims to Congress.

Realistically, the investigation into how Smirnov allegedly framed Joe Biden should go in at least three directions: First, into Russia and Ukraine (and possiblyIsrael)’s specific role in his alleged lies, such as whether Andrii Derkach had ties to Smirnov in 2020. As part of that, the FBI will need to investigate why Smirnov didn’t disclose his earlier ties to Russian Official 5 to his handler, whom he flipped for a third country in 2002, until 2019.

The investigation needs to figure out how Scott Brady came to look for Smirnov’s earlier FD-1023 in the first place, because his claimed explanation makes no sense. It’s possible that arose from some mutual tie between Smirnov and Rudy Giuliani and could implicate Rudy personally. At the first Smirnov detention hearing, Wise at least mentioned Rudy Giuliani’s role in all this, suggesting Weiss’ team might fancy they’re pursuing that angle, at least. But they have no business doing so, because that implicates Weiss’ contacts with Brady. Again, he is a direct witness.

But just as importantly, the investigation needs to examine why Brady claimed the tip had been vetted in 2020, and why Brady created the impression with Congress that Smirnov’s travel records matched his claims, rather than debunked them. The investigation needs to examine whether Barr, or the indictment, is telling the truth about what Weiss was supposed to do with the lead in 2020. Neither Brady nor Barr are immunized as prosecutors anymore. And there’s no reason their attempts to influence the criminal investigation into Joe Biden’s son in advance of an election should evade scrutiny.

That goes right to the heart of why Weiss reneged on the plea deal. It goes to all the discovery and subpoenas that Weiss has already refused, claiming that it had no bearing on diversion or a vindictive prosecution claim. It goes to Weiss’ wildly unsound decision to remain on the case after he became a witness in it.

As it turns out, it has everything to do with Hunter’s diversion and vindictive prosecution claims.

Hunter Biden’s Replies to His Motion to Dismiss

I was laughing that David Weiss’ prosecutors would get sloppy with Roger Stone references in a case I was covering closely. It got me two citations in Hunter’s reply on selective prosecution.

8 Stone, No. 21-cv-60825, DE 1 ¶¶ 40-53 (accusing Stone of seeking to shelter his wealth from criminal forfeiture); Bill Barr Repeatedly Lied, Under Oath, About Judge Amy Berman Jackson, https://www.emptywheel.net/; United States v. Stone, Case 1:19-cr- 00018-ABJ DE 260 (Verdict Form). It is particularly ironic that DOJ would try to use Biden’s gun charge under a statute expressly reserved to protect public safety—to justify criminal tax charges when only Stone was charged with endangering anyone.

9 DOJ acts like, rather than honestly describe his struggles, Biden published his memoir to brag about his crimes, which is particularly absurd considering the memoir mentions neither the gun he is accused of purchasing nor his failure to pay his taxes.

10 See Marcy Wheeler, David Weiss is Smoking Roger Stone’s Witness-Tampering Gun, Emptywheel (Mar. 11, 2024), https://www.emptywheel.net/2024/03/11/david-weiss-is- smoking-roger-stones-witness-tampering-gun/. This included an introduction repeating the false claims at the core of his 2019 convictions for threats and intimidation, and Stone even litigated whether his memoir was covered by the gag order the judge issued in response to his threats. See Stone, No. 1:19-cr-00018, DE61 (S.D. Fl.).

As I’ll lay out later, it’s now crystal clear that David Weiss reneged on the plea deal in order to chase Alexander Smirnov’s lies.

Here are the reply motions:

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