Eight Possible Explanations — Many Bad, Some Good — for SDNY’s Delay in Turning Over Cohen Files

As Adam Klasfeld and others reported yesterday, Trump is asking to delay his New York trial on charges that he engaged in fraud to cover up the hush payments he made to get elected in 2016. Trump is asking for the delay because the Southern District of New York just provided stacks and stacks of discovery he subpoenaed in January. Alvin Bragg has consented to a 30-day delay, but Trump is asking for a 90-day delay of the trial that was supposed to start on March 25.

In their letter explaining the situation, NYDA attorneys described that last year, they asked SDNY for the “full grand jury record” associated with Michael Cohen’s campaign finance conviction. Instead, SDNY provided “a subset.”

The People diligently sought the full grand jury record related to Cohen’s campaign finance convictions from the USAO last year, including exculpatory material and (1) grand jury minutes and tapes; (2) witness lists and other documents identifying the names or identities of grand jury witnesses; (3) any grand jury subpoenas and documents returned pursuant to those subpoenas; (4) exhibits presented to the grand jury; (5) to the extent within the scope of Rule 6(e), summaries of witness interviews occurring outside the grand jury; and (6) to the extent within the scope of Rule 6(e), search warrant affidavits or other applications that contain evidence from the grand jury, and evidence seized pursuant to those warrants. In response, the USAO produced a subset of the materials we requested, which we timely and fully disclosed to defendant on June 8, 2023, more than nine months ago. [my emphasis]

On January 18 of this year, Trump subpoenaed additional materials, and consented to several delays. On March 4, SDNY provided the initial tranche, which was 73,000 pages, of which less than 200 pages pertained to the case. Last week, SDNY provided a second tranche. And they say they’ll provide a third next week.

Regarding the 73,000 pages of records produced by the USAO as of the date of defendant’s motion, the People’s initial review indicated that those materials were largely irrelevant to the subject matter of this case, with the exception of approximately 172 pages of witness statements that defendant would have adequate time to review and address before trial. Yesterday afternoon, however, the USAO produced approximately 31,000 pages of additional records to both the People and the defense in response to defendant’s subpoena, and also indicated that an additional production would follow by next week. [my emphasis]

Those 31,000 pages provided last week includes stuff from Cohen’s grand jury file that NYDA had asked for last year.

Based on our initial review of yesterday’s production, those records appear to contain materials related to the subject matter of this case, including materials that the People requested from the USAO more than a year ago and that the USAO previously declined to provide.

NYDA say they’re ready to go on the 25th, but would consent to a 30-day delay. Surely, though, they’ve seen enough that they want to be prepared to rebut anything Trump found in the documents.

Update: NYDA has submitted a follow-up. The total universe of this production amounts to 119,000 pages of discovery. Of that, just a subset of 31,000 pages covers stuff related to the case, and of that subset, some of it was already provided to Trump. Trump is disputing that, but at this point, he and his lawyers have been crying wolf for a year. 

It’s not yet clear what’s in the 100,000-page plus discovery or why SDNY refused to turn it over, besides their unshakeable arrogance.

But there are a number of possible explanations, most terrible, at least three defensible. They include:

  1. Covering up Bill Barr’s fuckery
  2. Covering up Ed O’Callaghan’s fuckery
  3. Hiding details regarding the retraction of Robert Mueller’s scope
  4. Hiding details of Cohen’s tax crimes
  5. Hiding details of Barr’s further fuckery
  6. Protecting a Bill Barr investigation
  7. Protecting a Viktor Vekselberg investigation
  8. Protecting a Trump tax investigation

Much of these would serve to shield (or, ultimately, delay) SDNY or DOJ embarrassment generally. Some, though, would serve to protect real investigations that we know happened.

Covering up Bill Barr’s fuckery

What Trump undoubtedly was seeking when he subpoenaed SDNY was evidence of known Bill Barr fuckery, which would help the former President argue that he never committed a federal campaign finance crime and would hurt the theory of the case. Geoffrey Berman described much of this in his book.

In February 2019, days after being confirmed, Bill Barr tried to unprosecute Cohen.

While Cohen had pleaded guilty, our office continued to pursue investigations related to other possible campaign finance violations. When Barr took over in February 2019, he not only tried to kill the ongoing investigations but—incredibly—suggested that Cohen’s conviction on campaign finance charges be reversed. Barr summoned Rob Khuzami in late February to challenge the basis of Cohen’s plea as well as the reasoning behind pursuing similar campaign finance charges against other individuals. Khuzami was told to cease all investigative work on the campaign finance allegations until the Office of Legal Counsel, an important part of Main Justice, determined there was a legal basis for the campaign finance charges to which Cohen pleaded guilty—and until Barr determined there was a sufficient federal interest in pursuing charges against others.

Barr headed the Office of Legal Counsel in 1989 through the middle of 1990. He knew its powers, and as Trump’s attorney general he knew how to use it as a cudgel to accomplish his goals.

The directive Barr gave Khuzami, which was amplified that same day by a follow-up call from O’Callaghan, was explicit: not a single investigative step could be taken, not a single document in our possession could be reviewed, until the issue was resolved.

And if Main Justice decided there was no legal basis for the charges? The attorney general of the United States would direct us to dismiss the campaign finance guilty pleas of Michael Cohen, the man who implicated the AG’s boss, the president.

Barr attempted to put Richard Donoghue in charge of the matters — the Cohen case — that Berman was recused from. (Remember that Barr would also put Donoghue in charge of what should have been follow-on investigations of Rudy Giuliani’s dalliance with Russian spies.)

One way for Barr to accomplish that would have been to put the Cohen case in the hands of someone to whom he felt closer. About a week after our office tussled with Barr and Engel, Barr attempted to do just that. Word was passed to me from one of Barr’s deputies that he wanted Richard Donoghue, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York (who would later transfer to Main Justice to work under Barr), to take over supervision of anything I was recused from.

By Berman’s description, none of those efforts succeeded.

But according to the NYT, Barr did get OLC to write a memo questioning the basis for prosecuting someone for covering up public details (this doesn’t show up in Berman’s book).

At one point during the discussions, Mr. Barr instructed Justice Department officials in Washington to draft a memo outlining legal arguments that could have raised questions about Mr. Cohen’s conviction and undercut similar prosecutions in the future, according to the people briefed on the matter.


The New York Times reported previously that Mr. Barr had questioned the legal theory of the campaign finance charges against Mr. Cohen, but it was not known that the attorney general went so far as to ask for the draft memo or had raised his concerns more than once.

The memo, written by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, addressed the Southern District’s somewhat novel use of campaign finance laws to charge Mr. Cohen. Before Mr. Cohen’s guilty plea, the only person known to face criminal charges for payments meant to keep negative information buried during a political campaign was the former senator and Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, who was not convicted.

Mr. Barr argued, among other things, that such cases might be better suited to civil resolutions by the Federal Election Commission than to criminal prosecutions, according to people with knowledge of the discussions.


There is no indication that the Justice Department planned to issue a formal opinion on the campaign finances charges. Such a step, if taken, might have raised questions about the validity of the case against Mr. Cohen and affected any future effort to investigate Mr. Trump or others in his circle for similar conduct.

This memo is undoubtedly what Trump wants. He would use it to suggest that he was never in danger of prosecution for the hush payments, and therefore his fraud to cover them up cannot be a felony.

Covering up Ed O’Callaghan’s fuckery

Trump is also, undoubtedly, seeking details of then PADAG Ed O’Callaghan’s fuckery.

Once SDNY did charge Cohen, O’Callaghan intervened to demand that SDNY take language out of Cohen’s statement of offense making it clear that Individual-1 was part of the crime.

Consistent with DOJ guidelines, we first submitted the information to the Public Integrity Section at Main Justice. They signed off.

We then sent a copy to Rod Rosenstein, informing him that a plea was imminent. The next day, Khuzami, who was overseeing the case, received a call from O’Callaghan, Rosenstein’s principal deputy.

O’Callaghan was aggressive.

Why the length, he wanted to know. He argued that now that Cohen is pleading guilty we don’t need all this description.

Khuzami responded, What exactly are you concerned about?

O’Callaghan proceeded to identify specific allegations that he wanted removed, almost all referencing Individual-1. It quickly became apparent to Khuzami that, contrary to what O’Callaghan professed, it wasn’t the overall length or detail of the document that concerned him; it was any mention of Individual-1. Khuzami and O’Callaghan went through a handful of these allegations, some of which Khuzami agreed to strike; others, to ensure a coherent description of the crime, he did not.

Berman’s prosecutors stayed up all night cutting the Information from 40 pages to 21.

The team was tasked with the rewrite and stayed up most of the night. The revised information, now twenty-one pages, kept all of the charges but removed certain allegations, including allegations that Individual-1 acted “in concert with” and “coordinated with” Cohen on the illegal campaign contributions. The information now alleged that Cohen acted in concert and coordinated with “one or more members of the campaign.” But in the end, everything that truly needed to be in the information was still there.

Cohen included those details in his verbal allocution anyway.

The most consequential details that O’Callaghan wanted removed still wound up in the public record, simply because Cohen acknowledged them in open court. He testified that Trump not only knew about the six-figure payoffs designed to keep Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal from going public but had orchestrated them.

With regard to McDougal, Cohen said that he and “the candidate worked together to keep an individual with information that would be harmful to the candidate and to the campaign from publicly disclosing this information. After a number of discussions, we eventually accomplished the goal by the media company entering into a contract with the individual under which she received compensation of $150,000.”

As for Stormy Daniels, Cohen admitted that he had, “in coordination with, and at the direction direction of, the same candidate, [arranged] to make a payment to a second individual with information that would be harmful to the candidate and to the campaign to keep the individual from disclosing the information. To accomplish this, I used a company that was under my control to make a payment in the sum of $130,000.”

Any paperwork describing this dispute will not help Trump as much as an OLC memo saying his hush payments weren’t a federal crime. But he will use them to suggest that Rod Rosenstein didn’t think Trump was a part of it.

Hiding details regarding the retraction of Robert Mueller’s scope

Another thing that Cohen’s case file would disclose that might embarrass DOJ is how Rod Rosenstein constrained Mueller’s scope after initially permitting him to prosecute crimes he could use to flip people.

Remember that Mueller was permitted to prosecute both Paul Manafort’s tax crimes and Mike Flynn’s Turkey FARA crimes; he used those other crimes to (attempt to) flip Trump’s aides. But around the same time as Rosenstein issued his second scope memo (November 2017), he seems to have changed this approach.

In his book, Berman explained that by the time Mueller was investigating Cohen, Rosenstein was only permitting Mueller to investigate the Russian-related conduct. So when Mueller found Cohen’s taxi medallion and other crimes, they had to find a way to hand it off while still hoping to use those crimes to flip people.

At first, Mueller prosecutor Andrew Goldstein asked Berman to partner on the case, which would allow Mueller to be involved in an attempt to flip Cohen.

Goldstein informed Martins and Capone that Mueller was investigating Michael Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer, for bank fraud relating to his taxi medallion business. Mueller wanted to pursue the Cohen investigation—but in conjunction with a US attorney’s office—because it fell outside his mandate. The idea was that we would be the partner to Mueller’s team.

Berman refused that request, because he didn’t want to sacrifice SDNY’s cherished independence. In the end, Mueller only got a request that a Mueller prosecutor could be involved in any discussion of cooperation.

The next day Goldstein got back to us. He backed off the requirement of a joint investigation and agreed that the Southern District would conduct the investigation as we saw fit. He asked for just one thing: if SDNY and the FBI had discussions with Cohen or his lawyer about cooperation, we would inform Goldstein and allow someone from the Mueller team to be present. I did not believe that such an accommodation would impinge on our independence or link our reputation to Mueller’s.

These disclosures, if they’re included in the documents turned over, wouldn’t help Trump all that much (and therefore might not be made public). But they’re another instance showing how Rod Rosenstein intervened to protect Trump.

Hiding details of Cohen’s tax crimes

Something else that SDNY might not want to turn over would pertain to the viability of the crimes to which Cohen ultimately pled guilty.

Remember: Every time he gets asked about why he pled guilty, he claims he pled guilty to more than what he had done, and he did so because of SDNY’s threats that they would include Cohen’s spouse if he didn’t plead.

SDNY would absolutely attempt to withhold details that addressed this issue, particularly if they confirmed Cohen’s claims.

They would only help Trump if they confirmed SDNY’s side of the story (and to be sure, there is abundant SDNY documentation documenting their belief that they believe Cohen’s lies extended before and after his guilty plea).

Hiding details of Barr’s further fuckery

After first trying to make Cohen’s prosecution go away, Barr later tried to make it worse, by sending Cohen back to prison from his COVID furlough because he started writing a book about what a crook Trump was. As Cohen claimed in an emergency motion to get out of jail, Cohen described that he was issued a gag order he would have to sign if he remained out on furlough, and when he refused, he was sent back to prison.

Michael Cohen is currently imprisoned in solitary confinement because he is drafting a book manuscript that is critical of the President of the United States—and because he recently made public that he intends to publish this book shortly before the upcoming election.


While he was on furlough, Mr. Cohen publicly announced that he was putting the finishing touches on a tell-all book about his decade-long experience with President Trump. Just one week later, on July 9, 2020, BOP officers under the direction of Respondents presented Mr. Cohen with an unconstitutional demand: As a condition of his release—a release BOP already had determined was necessary for his health and safety—Mr. Cohen had to agree to a complete bar on speaking to or through any media of any sort.

Mr. Cohen expressed that this condition would bar him from making any progress on his book draft, making a pre-election publication date unlikely. But, because he was fearful for his life should he be remanded to prison, he did not refuse. Instead, he and his lawyer sought both to clarify the meaning of the condition, and to tailor it more narrowly to the BOP’s stated reason for including it; namely, to avoid glamorizing or bringing attention to his upcoming home confinement status. BOP officials refused those requests. Instead, they remanded him into solitary confinement in Respondents’ custody, where he remains.

Judge Alvin Hellerstein found Cohen’s claims persuasive. When he released Cohen shortly thereafter, Hellerstein ruled that the purpose of Cohen’s jailing was retaliatory (here’s the transcript, which shows BOP and SDNY’s rebuttals).

“I make the finding that the purpose of transferring Mr. Cohen from furlough and home confinement to jail is retaliatory, and it’s retaliatory because of his desire to exercise his First Amendment rights to publish a book and to discuss anything about the book or anything else he wants on social media and with others,” U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein said during a teleconference Thursday morning.

Cohen secured an emergency temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction, ordering the government to immediately release him and be allowed to resume his home confinement.

“How can I take any other inference other than it was retaliatory?” Hellerstein mused, summarizing the terms of the government’s home-confinement agreement as telling Cohen: “You toe the line about giving up your First Amendment rights or we’ll send you to jail.”

“I’ve never seen such a clause in 21 years of being a judge,” the Clinton appointee added.

“In 21 years of being a judge, and sentencing people, and looking at the terms and conditions of supervised release, I have never seen such a clause.”

There’s undoubtedly paperwork related to this in Cohen’s case file, including paperwork that might match SDNY’s claims that this was not retaliation. But there could well be paperwork that shows — as was also alleged in the decision to free Paul Manafort from a prison not experiencing a COVID outbreak — involvement from Barr.

Protecting a Bill Barr investigation

You probably won’t believe me. But DOJ actually investigated some of Bill Barr’s fuckery. One such investigation was publicly reported: a DOJ IG investigation into Roger Stone’s sentencing.

There was at least one other aspect of Bill Barr fuckery that DOJ investigated which is not public.

Both investigations were active in the year since NYDA asked for materials on this case.

I have no idea whether Barr’s fuckery on the Michael Cohen case was part of either investigation into his fuckery. But if it was, then any delay in releasing materials would be justified to protect an ongoing investigation.

Protecting a Viktor Vekselberg investigation

You cannot separate the investigation into Trump’s 2016 hush payments from payments that Viktor Vekselberg’s Columbus Nova made to Michael Cohen. That’s because, after Cohen’s bank issued a Suspicious Activity Report on the payment to Stormy Daniels, they looked at how the other things Cohen did with his Essential Consultants account, which he had claimed was for domestic real estate purposes, deviated from his claims about the account.

And one thing he did with that account was to receive $400,000 from a company owned by Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg.

22. According to records obtained from Bank 1 through June 1,2017, in the first fìve months of 2017, the Essential Consultants bank account received five deposits, each in the amount of $83,333 (for a running total of $416,665). The funds for all five deposits-four of which were wire transfers and one by check-came from an account at another bank held in the name of Columbus Nova, LLC.

23. Public records show that Columbus Nova, LLC is an investment management firm controlled by Renova Group (“Renova”), an industrial holding company based in Zurich, Switzerland. According to public news accounts, Renova is controlled by Viktor Vekselberg, a wealthy Russian national. Public news accounts also report that Vekselberg is an oligarch with various connections to Russian President Vladimir Putin and publicly met with Putin as recently as in or around March 2017.

7 According to the news articles, Vekselberg and Renova currently are involved in various infrastructure projects in Russia, such as the building of an airport in Rostov in advance of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which is to be held in Russia. Vekselberg has been involved in various symbolic acts seen to be in the Russian national interest, such as the purchase and repatriation of historic Faberge eggs.8

Mueller investigated these payments to determine whether they explained why Trump tried to back out of sanctions on Russia, etcetera etcetera. From the first warrant, then, the Stormy Daniel investigation implicated any investigation into Vekselberg’s efforts to pay for access in the US.

We know that, since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, DOJ has ratcheted up sanctions-related investigations into Vekselberg’s associates. In January 2023, DOJ unsealed details of arrests pertaining to Vekselberg’s yacht; those prosecutions are active and are being run out of DC.

And in February 2023 — around the time when NYDA asked for the Cohen file — SDNY rolled out money laundering charges against Vekselberg’s US-based fixer, Vladimir Voronchenko, whom they claimed was a fugitive.

Voronchenko may be a fugitive, but the docket in his case has the look of a docket with a whole bunch of interesting things going on, albeit all sealed.

I don’t know what explains the skips in docket numbers, from 3 to 18, from 18 to 27, and from 27 to 32. But as of December, they SDNY was still stuffing the vault with … something.

If the investigation into Vekselberg would in any way be compromised by the release of Cohen’s case file, it would explain — and easily justify — delaying their release. Particularly if the investigation into Vekselberg’s associates implicated people close to Trump or other prominent Republicans.

Protecting a Trump tax investigation

During both the tax and fraud trials of Trump Organization, there were hints that SDNY had — finally — picked up some of the financial allegations NYS dug up and turned them into federal investigations, including obtaining testimony from some of the same witnesses.

If that happened, it could explain a justifiable delay of providing those files to Trump.

Obviously, most possible explanations for a delay in turning over these files involve someone’s embarrassment, whether SDNY itself, or DOJ more generally. I grant that it’s extremely likely that an attempt to avoid embarrassment explains the delay.

But there are several confirmed and one suspected investigation that also might explain, and entirely justify, a delay. We just don’t know yet.

Update: Judge Merchan has delated the trial start for 30 days from today and scheduled a hearing about the claimed discovery violation.

32 replies
  1. boloboffin says:

    Well, damn, I just posted about this off topic in the last post. If I had been patient a few more minutes… :D

    Thank you!

  2. dakine01 says:

    OT, seeing an NBC newsbreak that Georgia judge has ruled that Fani Willis can either remove herself/staff from the case OR remove her (I guess now ex) boyfriend then continue

  3. jecojeco says:

    trump’s federal taxes have always been the elephant in the next room. If Wiselbergs NYS taxes were enough to get him jailed his and trump’s fed taxes are much more significant. trump tax audits are unending and I recall reading about a large disputed amount. It sounds like the $48M undocumented, forgiven mortgage out of Chicago could be a thing. Seeing everything else I just can’t believe he’d do his fed taxes in a non-fraudulent manner. And he seemed to be very “hands-on” in Comey & McCabe’s one in a million audits. Also remember his modest self description as the world’s foremost tax expert.

  4. David F. Snyder says:

    Thanks for the deets. (How does she do it?). That would be sweet if Barr’s karma catches up with him.

  5. wetzel-rhymes-with says:

    “Berman refused that request, because he didn’t want to sacrifice SDNY’s cherished independence.”

    This reads a little like an unjustified attribution, unless it is meant as a very subtle irony, which is not usually a Marcy Wheeler thing for a factual claim, unless there were yet another level to reading you, so I am proposing maybe there were other impetuses or effects of the refusal for Berman, how he manufactured the self-efficacy to refuse a request from a high profile investigation and a titan like Mueller, how a person cognitively asseses all their competing goals and avoidances to give them the direction they go within an an individual and sociological framework. Bandura’s psychology gives me ground to speculate nonstop.

    One goal might have been to prevent Mueller from being able to flip Cohen, I suppose, a political goal, so maybe he considered that? Maybe Berman just saw the whole thing as the biggest goddamn mess like a missile of shit to taint and mangle the professional reputation of every single employee of the DOJ who is within its kill radius, which is what it has turned out to be except for Wolf, I suppose, and whoever the current Attorney General is.

    • emptywheel says:

      Honestly, he goes on at great length about his belief the independence was important. It’s normal for SDNY.

      I think it possible that at that point in his tenure he didn’t wan to be yoked to Mueller. But it wasn’t about preventing Cohen from flipping. Mueller did it w/o him.

      You don’t need anything more than normal SDNY snobbery.

  6. giorgino says:

    Small typo on home page, should be “delayed”

    “There are at least eight possible reasons why SDNY may have delated turning over files relating to”

  7. Yogarhythms says:

    Criminal conduct for 1000$? Alas Alex is no longer around to ask. “Mr. Barr instructed Justice Department officials in Washington to draft a memo outlining legal arguments that could have raised questions about Mr. Cohen’s conviction and undercut similar prosecutions in the future, according to the people briefed on the matter.” This quote of yours has the appearance of impropriety, ( not unlike recent events in GA) specifically related to an important witness’s testimony against defendant Trump. The bonus points for delay are the Jimmy sprinkles on Trump’s desert. Here’s to St Paddy’s day celebrations leading to a Monday celebration of good legal news in all the venues Trump is a defendant now and soon to be in the future.

  8. Rugger_9 says:

    What this does for me is confirm just how much of a snake pit SDNY is and therefore a complete housecleaning of any holdover leadership is in order there. These burrowers are demonstrating that they will leverage any angle to protect GOP types and especially Defendant-1. It is similar in concept to the GSA head Emily Murphy claiming that she couldn’t be sure if Biden won in 2020 and so delayed the turnover, and that is a key process piece for J6.

    It will depend on how much delay the judge allows. I would also suspect that the judge will point out that the defense follows the prosecution in its arguments and that will be time enough for reviews. IANAL, but this also might become a ticket for a claim under the Supremacy Clause to shut down Bragg and push it over to federal court (with more delays, of course).

    • emptywheel says:

      How in goddess’ name does it do that?

      The point about this post is we have no fucking idea, and 3 of the known possibilities would be things we should celebrate them protecting!

      SDNY does good work. They’re high on themselves, but sometimes that’s necessary.

      • John Paul Jones says:

        It’s kind of like surgeons. If you have an operation coming up, you want an arrogant bastard/bitch who takes joy in cutting in order to heal. They’re high on themselves, but that’s the point. You don’t want a timid, hesitant surgeon. Okay, I admit, wobbly comparison, but still valid, I think,

        • Harry Eagar says:

          The Rosenbergs were prosecuted in the Southern District.

          OK, that was a long time ago, but still, I am managing to restrain my enthusiasm for that office.

        • Just Some Guy says:

          More recently SDNY was the legal career launching pad for one Rudolph William Louis Giuliani.

        • Rugger_9 says:

          Fortunately I haven’t dealt with too many surgeons but have had to deal with aviators who are every bit as arrogant and entitled. We snipes loathed them.

      • Rugger_9 says:

        The leadership, not the line attorneys. The leadership would have clear appointment trails back to the last two GOP administrations. After all, it was a Bushie policy to seed the executive branch with these ‘burrowers’. The leadership can also be asked to resign. As part of the leadership role, one is held accountable for the antics of subordinates whether or not direct knowledge is proven. In the present situation, this was an execrable action that interfered with multiple cases. It should not be rewarded or become the ‘new norm’.

        We’re not talking about of a lot of staff, and FWIW, USAs are routinely replaced at the advent of a new administration. It’s also got GOP precedent, such as when the NM USA David Inglesias (IIRC) was cut loose because of ‘absenteeism’ (he was on his reservist tour, a protected activity) when the real reason was that he wouldn’t baselessly prosecute Ds for political purposes (like Bradley Schlozman did).

        In my opinion it is pretty clear based on the extensive public record that being a Bushie or MAGA is a viewpoint not conducive to the impartial administration of justice and these types need to be extirpated from DoJ. The analogous military concept is ‘demonstrated unreliability’.

        As Voltaire said this would provide an example for the others, but the difference here is that unlike Admiral Byng these holdovers are guilty as sin (IMHO).

      • Maureen A Donnelly says:

        Getting high on their own supply . . . It still rankles that guys like Trump and Stone and Manafort and Bannon and Alex Jones and all their pals continue to evade “justice.” Thanks for your efforts. I am regularly astounded by the depth of your investigations and your skill in keep things organized.

  9. Joberly1954 says:

    Geoffrey Berman’s *Holding the Line,* cited in this post by EW, continues to be a valuable source for understanding the actions of the Justice Department during the Trump Administration. Berman said that the demands from Justice upon SDNY for investigations and prosecutions of the president’s perceived enemies (e.g., John Kerry and Greg Craig) increased in the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections, and continued after Barr was sworn in as Attorney General in Feb, 2019.

  10. Old Rapier says:

    I can understand Barr’s motivation to protect the creme de la creme of the Deep State/GOP division, in the Iran Contra mess. Upstanding and outstanding gentlemen of unimpeachable personal conduct. Serious men who always wear business suits. Jailing them was simply unimaginable and as a Roman Catholic boy fascist freeing them was his God given duty.

    I was a little surprised when he took up Trump’s cause and plunged into the sewer to defend the indefensible. While there has been a long but now rapidly shrinking line of nominally outstanding gentlemen who have genuflected to Trump since, it was Barr’s move to defend the flotsam and jetsam floating in Trump’s wake. Fruitcakes, Flynn, and rat fuckers, Stone, that was to me the last straw.

    • Buleriando says:

      Bill Barr has a long-standing project to implement the unitary executive. He believed Trump offered a unique opportunity to advance that. Barr despises Trump and he had no interest in protecting him other than as a tool.

  11. OnKilter says:

    A polite request for an explanation to either Damian Williams or his immediate superior might be in order.

  12. Henry the Horse says:

    I am just a simple country horse, but I would bet all of my oats, apples, sugar cubes AND my blanket on fuckery.

    What kind of fuckery you ask?

    All of it

  13. Tarrforme says:

    Dollars to doughnuts there is some Cohen evidence, which the likes have-never-been-seen before, that will f-up Bragg’s case too.

  14. Beverley54 says:

    I was just channel surfing and was passing CNN when I see them interviewing someone about the different Trump cases and did not recognize him so I stopped until his name came up and low and behold it was Ed O’Callaghan himself, giving his opinions on the different Trump cases. I just caught the tail end of what he was saying about Bragg’s case so didn’t get much. I wonder what his agenda is doing the tv interview circuit now? Is he trying to get ahead of something or to hide something? Never heard of this guy before until EW and now he is on CNN.

  15. Steve in Manhattan says:

    Here’s my two cents as a contract attorney who is steeped in this stuff.

    1) the presence of the SDNY here is a hugely complicating factor;
    2) in a ‘normal’ case with two ‘sides’ the late, offending party would have been sanctioned and worse;
    3) Trump’s side is guilty of a lack of urgency in getting everything they wanted (imagine that);
    4) all that said, this is something that a team of 20 contract attorneys could plow through in 2 or 3 business days. Allow a day to load the stuff onto Relativity or whatever platform. The software can dedupe it all, and I’m guessing the hit rate for something someone actually needed to see (much less something that was dispositive or could otherwise be useful) would be less than 5 percent. So there would be maybe 300-500 documents to flip through (my guess).

  16. Thread Theorist says:

    The rulings by Judge Merchan today (March 18) were a significant setback to Trump’s defense at the NY state criminal trial, I believe. As pretty much expected, the judge will allow testimony by Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels, and Karen McDougal. What seems more serious is that the judge will not allow the defense to use statements from the federal prosecutors in Cohen’s 2018 case that he was an unreliable witness. Trump lawyers have said that federal prosecutors did not want to rely on Cohen’s testimony to build a case against Trump. Furthermore, the judge ruled that Trump’s lawyers may not use the fact that the federal government did not charge Trump as evidence that Trump did not commit any related crimes in 2016-2017. My own belief is that Bill Barr when he became AG in February 2019 had no intention of investigating Trump further and had the case dropped. The judge said that Trump’s lawyers had not so far presented evidence that Cohen was committing perjury in the present case.

    • Rayne says:

      Thank you for your comment and welcome to emptywheel.

      Suggestion: to improve readability, please break up long blocks of text with paragraph breaks. At 170 words, your comment will appear rather breathless on a smaller mobile device display.

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