The Phone Contacts between the “Total Moron” and the PAC Head

According to Person 16 — who has the potty mouth and performed candor we’ve come to expect from Eric Herschmann — Person 5 is a “total moron” — an opinion about Boris Epshteyn that Herschmann has expressed elsewhere.

“I certainly am not relying on any legal analysis from either of you or Boris who — to be clear — I think is an idiot,” Mr. Herschmann wrote in a different email. “When I questioned Boris’s legal experience to work on challenging a presidential election since he appeared to have none — challenges that resulted in multiple court failures — he boasted that he was ‘just having fun,’ while also taking selfies and posting pictures online of his escapades.”

Mr. Corcoran at one point sought to get on the phone with Mr. Herschmann to discuss his testimony, instead of simply sending the written directions, which alarmed Mr. Herschmann, given that Mr. Herschmann was a witness, the emails show.

In language that mirrored the federal statute against witness tampering, Mr. Herschmann told Mr. Corcoran that Mr. Epshteyn, himself under subpoena in Georgia, “should not in any way be involved in trying to influence, delay or prevent my testimony.”

“He is not in a position or qualified to opine on any of these issues,” Mr. Herschmann said.

At that same November 2, 2022 interview, Person 16 went on to tell Jack Smith’s investigators how Person 5 ingratiated himself to Trump after the former President left the White House.

Post January 2021, [Person 5] constantly sent FPOTUS what [he] had uncovered on the election fraud and maneuvered [his] way into FPOTUS’ circle. [Person 16] was unaware of an actual [redacted] for [Person 5], stating it was [Person 5] who would instruct media to report [on him] as [redacted].

I long laughed at the the way that journalist after journalist credited Ephsteyn with playing a role in Trump’s legal defense even while Ephsteyn was billing Trump’s PAC for strategy consulting, not law.

For the entirety of the time that Epshteyn was quarterbacking Trump’s response to the stolen documents probe, someone in his immediate vicinity has been telling reporters that he was playing a legal function, all the while billing Trump for the same old strategic consulting his firm, Georgetown Advisory, normally provides (though the two payments the campaign made to Epshteyn after Trump formalized his candidacy, totalling $30,000, were filed under “communications and legal consulting”).

NYT has, in various stories including Maggie in the byline, described Epshteyn’s role in the stolen documents case as “an in-house counsel who helps coordinate Mr. Trump’s legal efforts,” “in-house counsel for the former president who has become one of his most trusted advisers,” and “who has played a central role in coordinating lawyers on several of the investigations involving Mr. Trump.” Another even describes that Epshteyn “act[ed] as [a] lawyer [] for the Trump campaign.” The other day, Maggie described his role instead as “broader strategic consulting.”

All the time that NYT was describing Epshteyn as playing a legal role — and NYT is in no way alone in this — he was telling the Feds he wasn’t playing a legal function, he was instead playing a strategic consulting one. Many if not most of these stories also post-date the time, in September, when the FBI seized Epshteyn’s phone, which would give him a really good reason to try to claim to be a lawyer and not a political consultant.

According to Person 16, he “believed [Person 5] was now trying to create [redacted] to cover [him] for previous activities. [Person 16] believed [Person 49’s] records may reflect recent [redacted] that did not reflect what actually transpired.”

It was around the time of this interview, in November 2022, when Ephsteyn did start billing for legal services, even while the press was credulously reporting that he had always been serving in a legal role. That happened in the aftermath of Ephsteyn’s phone being seized, in September 2022.

Person 16 also thought that “total moron” Person 5 might have shifted the concern about witness tampering from the January 6 investigation[s] to the stolen document one.

[Person 16] could not recall where the information that the concern about witness tampering was related to the document investigation and not the January 6th Committee. [Person 16] commented that sounded like something [Person 5] would do.

That interview was in November 2022.

In January 2023, according to an exhibit submitted in support of a discovery request for records on all correspondence and/or communications regarding counsel, Jack Smith’s office asked the FBI to pull together the toll records between Person 49 — who may be Susie Wiles, the head of America First PAC — and both Person 5 and Stanley Woodward.

The contacts between Person 49 and Woodward are not that interesting — just four phone calls in fall 2022, when Woodward started representing Kash Patel.

The contacts between Person 5 (whom I suspect is Ephsteyn) and Person 49 (whom I suspect is Wiles) are more interesting.

The contacts started on April 20, 2021, when Person 5 called Person 49, with sustained contact for a few months and then a lapse.

The contacts resumed in September and October 2021 (when the January 6 Committee was ratcheting up).

There were four phone calls in one week in November 2021, and two longer calls in December 2021.

And then nothing, until when Ephsteyn started ingratiating himself in Trump’s orbit after the documents issue went public in February 2022. From that point forward they were “in contact almost daily.”

Of course, these SMS texts might not be that useful. The paragraph of the superseding stolen documents indictment that describes Wiles vetting Carlos De Oliveira’s loyalty before arranging legal representation of him describes that Nauta confirmed his now co-defendant’s loyalty on a Signal chat, not an SMS text.

Just over two weeks after the FBI discovered classified documents in the Storage Room and TRUMP’s office, on August 26, 2022, NAUTA called Trump Employee 5 and said words to the effect of, “someone just wants to make sure Carlos is good.” In response, Trump Employee 5 told NAUTA that DE OLIVEIRA was loyal and that DE OLIVEIRA would not do anything to affect his relationship with TRUMP. That same day, at NAUTA’s request, Trump Employee 5 confirmed in a Signal chat group with NAUTA and the PAC Representative that DE OLIVEIRA was loyal. That same day, TRUMP called DE OLIVEIRA and told DE OLIVEIRA that TRUMP would get DE OLIVEIRA an attorney. [my emphasis]

Among the exhibits included in this request for discovery is a fragment of an interview with Person 49 denying unequivocally that she had done such vetting (as well as an earlier interview in which she said Person 16 was at the forefront of finding lawyers). If this is Wiles, she denied conducting loyalty checks before agreeing to find legal representation for people.

Mind you, that’s not the only place Wiles shows up in the superseding indictment.

In August or September 2021, when he was no longer president, TRUMP met in his office at the Bedminster Club with a representative of his political action committee (the “PAC Representative”). During the meeting, TRUMP commented that an ongoing military operation in Country B was not going well. TRUMP showed the PAC Representative a classified map of Country B and told the PAC Representative that he should not be showing the map to the PAC Representative and to not get too close. The PAC Representative did not have a security clearance or any need-t0-know classified information about the military operation.

That was around the time when Person 49 resumed phone contact with Person 5 again.

This ABC piece talks about what a big deal it is that Wiles might have to testify at trial in the height of a campaign she’s leading (though Aileen Cannon seems dead set on preventing that from happening).

And this post describes how Wiles likely showed up in another Trump-related indictment as the Florida campaign official who interacted — unwittingly — with Yevgeniy Prigozhin’s trolls.

35 replies
  1. says:

    I went through Exhibit D after your Meadows post (and before I saw this one), and made inferences based on descriptors, functions, or paragraphic cross-references, building from your 16-Herschmann and 27- Meadows assumptions, which I 100% agree with. I independently concluded 49 was Susie Wiles and 5 was Ephsteyn, but I’m curious if my other inferences match your (?):
    1- Liz Harrington-type (or Mollie Michael-type) employee, but someone Herschmann did not meet until after the Nov. 2020 election
    5-Boris Ephsteyn
    12-Christina Bobb
    13-Peter Navarro
    14-Derek Lyons
    15-Hope Hicks-type– Young WH staffer mentored by Herschmann who had significant influence with Trump, but who did not work for his full term (or quit working in post-term prior to Nov. 2022).
    17-Person who played similar role to 15(?), and gained more influence over Trump when #15 left. Johnny McEntee might fit here, as well.
    18-Evan Corcoran
    24-Kash Patel
    26-Mollie Michaels-type employee but perhaps newer in time(?). Confirmed “she.”
    30- ????? Ivana (mother) Trump. Someone whose dress-syle was mimicable and who was likely over 40 — or at least old enough that another person could claim “they are the younger version” of
    31-“former valet” (not Walt Nauta)
    34-Alex Cannon
    37 and 38 -One is Pat Philbin; the other is also a staffer at WH Office of General Council, and was one of four people Herschmann thought Trump appointed to be his PRA reps.
    36-maybe also younger WH staffer mentored by Hirschman (see ¶21), along with mentees 15 & 34
    44-John Bolton or Robert O’Brien (or possibly Bill Barr?)
    47-Pat Cipillone
    49-Susie Wiles
    52-Tom Fitton

    I don’t argue the “evidence” here, but certainly could provide, if interested. I think also appearing in Exhibit D, but without assigned numbers: Ivanka (daughter) Trump and possibly Jared Kushner in ¶s 25, 26, and Alina Habba(?) in ¶40.

    I feel most confident about the attorneys and less about the others, though. I’ve not yet gone through any other exhibits, fyi.

    • coalesced says:

      My list looks very similar to yours. My initial reflex reaction to Person 30 was “oh that’s Habba trying to mimic Melania” but I didn’t research any further on 30 specifically.

  2. Savage Librarian says:

    My interest is piqued, but I don’t have anything to add, other than Trump must appreciate Wiles’ deny, deny, deny behavior. Peas in a pod.

    I had a feeling I’d learn something odd today after I abruptly woke from a puzzling dream this morning. I looked at the clock and it was 4:24. Then I realized the date was 4/24/24. Both of them palindromes. Maybe a portent, maybe not. But something out of the ordinary did happen here today. Not bad, though. At least as far as I can tell.

    Thanks for sharing this, Marcy.

    • Knowatall says:

      Speaking of palindromes: A slut nixes sex in Tulsa.
      It remains to be seen if the same can be said of Trump in New York.

    • BRUCE F COLE says:

      Suzie was a wily one
      With fingers in all pies
      And Boris had penchant
      For amplifying lies

      Together they succeeded
      In abetting felonies,
      But now their hands are folded,
      Supplicating on their knees.

      • BRUCE F COLE says:

        Second stanza redo:

        Together they succeeded
        In abetting many crimes
        And so they’re kindly treated
        By scribes o’ the New York Times

    • Molly Pitcher says:

      Charged were 11 false electors plus, Meadows, Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, John Eastman, Christina Bobb, Boris Epshteyn, and Mike Roman.

      • CaptainCondorcet says:

        With Trump identified as first among a handful of unindicted coconspirators. I couldn’t tell in my review of the indictment whether it was a political decision to leave Trump off or whether they felt he just wasn’t closely connected enough.

    • Konny_2022 says:

      Looks pretty on topic to me, at least with regard to the last paragraph:

      Also indicted were Boris Epshteyn, who remains one of Mr. Trump’s most senior lawyers; Mike Roman, a Trump campaign operative in 2020, and John Eastman, an architect of the fake electors plan. Two other lawyers who advised Mr. Trump and his 2020 campaign were also indicted, Jenna Ellis and Christina Bobb. [my emphasis]

      So the NYT gave Epshteyn even a promotion?

    • Alan_OrbitalMechanic says:

      How the hell is Giuliani going to defend himself in this one? Hasn’t he been pretty much stripped to his shorts by now?

      AZ is a long way from where he lives anyway. If he decides to just not show up, what would we expect to happen then?

      • Just Some Guy says:

        Good questions. I’m also wondering what Rudy’s thinking re: the all-black suit and red tie ensemble from the NYT article. Not sure that the Anton Szander LaVey look will go over well with a jury!

    • Savage Librarian says:

      On the list of the five longest conversations between Person 5 and Person 49, one was on 7/30/22. That’s just a couple of days before the Orban meeting at Bedminster. Susie is shown in a photo at that meeting with Trump and Orban. The photo was posted on 8/2/22.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    [AZ Republican Party chair Kelly Ward] sent messages to each of the Republican members [of the Maricopa Co. Board of Supervisors,] suggesting serious election fraud and malfeasance had occurred…. WARD {001) urged the supervisors to delay certifying Maricopa County’s results, and she urged the Republican supervisors to contact lawyers associated with the Trump Campaign about the alleged election fraud.

    If Kelly Ward were concerned about investigating voter fraud in Maricopa County – and not just in fraudulently appointing Donald Trump as president – why would she recommend that the board contact Trump’s lawyers, who would know SFA about Arizona’s election laws, instead of qualified election lawyers in Arizona, who were independent of either campaign?

      • harpie says:

        [Politico also links to the doc at the article.]

        […] The names of seven of the defendants, including Meadows, Giuliani and Epshteyn, are redacted, but the document makes clear who they are by describing their roles. Others include attorneys John Eastman, Jenna Ellis and Christina Bobb, as well as Trump 2020 campaign operative Mike Roman.

        Ken Chesebro, an attorney who helped devise Trump’s post-election strategy, is described as “unindicted coconspirator 4.” The other three unindicted co-conspirators are state Sen. Kelly Townsend, former state Rep. Mark Finchem, and former Arizona GOP lawyer Jack Wilenchik.

        The only defendants whose names are visible in the version of the indictment released by the Arizona attorney general’s office Wednesday evening are the 11 Republicans who falsely posed as the state’s presidential electors despite Joe Biden’s narrow victory there. Among them: former Arizona GOP Chairwoman Kelli Ward, state senators Jake Hoffman and Anthony Kern, and Arizona’s RNC committeeman Tyler Bowyer. […]

        • bmaz says:

          Good grief. Good thing this blog never had a person on the ground in Arizona that knows the people and issues involved. But, sure, rely on analysis from a continent away.

        • misnomer bjet says:

          My family moved to Tucson (& Flagstaff area) -despite the politics, in part for relief from brutal upstate NY winters, but recently moved straight back -despite 20 year older achy bones, because it just got too damn hot. Remember that 120 degree day planes were grounded because that made the physics of flight iffy? Other than that (anthropogenic climate change result of miscreant Republican policies), I see these terrorist (anti-birth control, gun, voting lines & disenfranchisement etc) laws & behavior as hoping to shoo just enough of us out of ‘purpling’ states to gain a death grip on the Senate (& executive branch). Shaving the margin. We’re already half-cooked by opposition ‘too good’ for the social proximity & deprivation of the front lines. I very much appreciate how you’re not. My mother is 84 and losing her eyesight so she gets a pass, but most of us don’t.

        • Sussex Trafalgar says:

          I was living in AZ in June 1990 when the temperature was 122 degrees and Sky Harbor Airport had to close because the planes were having tire problems with the pavement.

          Today, Phoenix and surrounding environs resemble the Mission Viejo, Orange County, CA area.

        • Frank Probst says:

          Please tell me that you’re working on a post for this indictment. It’s gotten to the point where I can’t keep track of them all, and I can’t tell which ones are legit, which ones are likely to result in plea deals or trials that lead to guilty verdicts, and which ones are likely to lead to real prison time for some of the people involved.

          There are also several people in the mix here that are being charged in multiple jurisdictions and will probably have to make plea deals because they can’t afford to pay all of the legal fees that are piling up. I may think some of those people are horrible human beings, but I’ve always thought that there were Constitutional issues there in terms of the right to a competent attorney. Threatening to bankrupt someone’s family with crushing legal fees unless they cop a plea is not justice, IMHO.

        • Sloth Sloman says:

          Maybe that person just had nothing insightful to say except for superficial arguments supported by insults.

  4. Fancy Chicken says:

    Boris Epshteyn reminds me of a guy in my hometown who graduated at the bottom of his law school class with a friend of mine (how I found this out). The bottom of the class guy is now one of the wealthiest attorneys in town from plastering billboards all over town with his face on it promoting his ambulance chasing practice. The guy actually resembles Epshteyn physically.

    Of course Epshteyn isn’t actually lawyering for Trump in court, he’s seen the way those relationships go. Much more lucrative to tell the emperor he has no clothes.

    • Just Some Guy says:

      Uh, isn’t the point of the “Emperor has no clothes” story that his lackeys are telling him his finery is excellent and of the best quality while, in fact, he is naked? And a child points this out, speaking truth to power?

  5. Savage Librarian says:

    Here are some descriptive excerpts from a lengthy article about Susie Wiles:

    “The Most Feared and Least Known Political Operative in America” – Michael Kruse, 4/26/24

    “Susie Wiles helped dismantle Ron DeSantis and salvaged Donald Trump’s campaign. Is she a MAGA hero or an enemy of democracy?”
    “She is very good at manipulating the media,” said Littlepage, the retired columnist from Jacksonville. “Having been manipulated by her, I know.”
    “If you don’t shape the narrative, it shapes you,” one Wiles associate told me….“

    “There’s knowledge that not many people had that is certainly not protected in any ethical or legal way,” said a second Wiles associate. “All we did was accelerate the magnification.”
    He [Susie’s father, Pat Summerall says in his memoir] became “a practiced liar and a seasoned cover-up man,” he said. He “walked away from my marriage and alienated my three kids,” he said. “
    “They [Trump and Summerall] would on paper seem dissimilar,” she [Susie] told me. “But they’re just not that dissimilar.”
    “From Michael Deaver, the key Reagan aide and “image-maker,” she learned “that you stick to the message until it sinks in. Say it and say it and say it, and reinforce it with actions, until it sticks.”
    “Susie’s primary qualification for handling Donald Trump is her training in handling her father. She is an expert in unstable, dysfunctional, famous men….the longtime Tallahassee operative Mac Stipanovich told me.”

    “She wraps herself so inextricably to her principal that she’s invaluable to them,” said a person who knows Wiles well, “and as a result of being invaluable to them, they are invaluable to her.”
    “The Donald Trump that I have come to know,” she said, “I would feel 101 percent confident in his ability to do the right thing.”

    Jan. 6 — “clearly,” I said here now outside the Starbucks, “not a breaking point for you …”

    “Well,” Wiles said, “I didn’t think he caused it.”

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