February 18, 2020 / by 

 

Joshua Schulte’s Human Graymail Campaign Targets Mike Pompeo

“Graymail” is a term used to describe when a defendant attempts to make a prosecution involving classified information too difficult for the government to pursue by demanding reams of classified evidence that the government either has to water down to make admissible at trial or argue is not helpful to the defense.

As an example, Scooter Libby employed a defense that he didn’t lie to the grand jury about his efforts to expose Valerie Plame, but rather forgot about those efforts, because he was so distracted by everything scary he reviewed in daily Presidential Daily Briefs. He forced the government to substitute a great deal of information from PDBs and almost upended the trial as a result.

It has been clear for some time that accused Vault 7 leaker Joshua Schulte was employing such a strategy, but with a twist. He obviously has been trying to release as much classified information from the CIA as possible, both through legitimate means and via leaking it. But starting last fall, there was a dispute about how Schulte could serve trial subpoenas on CIA witnesses and whether he had to work through prosecutors to do so; Schulte argued the government was trying to learn his defensive strategy by vetting his subpoenas.

The dispute just surfaced again in the form of a government motion in limine to exclude 3 CIA witnesses and require Schulte to provide justifications for a slew of other CIA witnesses he has subpoenaed. At least 63 CIA witnesses have informed the CIA that he has subpoenaed them, and that’s just the ones who have informed the agency.

The Government understands that the defendant has served at least 69 current or former CIA employees with subpoenas in this case. This includes subpoenas for 23 individuals identified in a preliminary witness list the Government provided to the defense as a courtesy on August 16, 2019, which the Court authorized in an Order dated November 26, 2019 (Dkt. 200), and at least 46 additional subpoenas since then. That number reflects those recipients who have informed the CIA’s Office of General Counsel of the latest subpoenas, as required by CIA regulations.1

1 The Government does not know the precise number of subpoenas that the defendant has issued because the Government is only aware of the subpoenas issued to individuals who have reported receiving them to the CIA’s Office of General Counsel.

With respect to this slew of witnesses, the government asks just that Schulte be required to show that they have firsthand knowledge that is relevant to the trial that would not be cumulative.

But with respect to three, the government offers specific objections. The government’s objections to two — a covert field officer and the Center for Cyber Intelligence’s Chief Counsel — seem utterly reasonable. But the government’s objection to a third — Mike Pompeo, who was CIA Director when WikiLeaks published the leaks — is more dubious.

To the extent it’s discernible given redactions in the government’s motion, here are the objections to those three witnesses.

Lisa: Schulte has subpoenaed a woman pseudonymed “Lisa,” a “high up” customer of CIA’s hacking tools. Schulte argues that because CIA officers did not “warn” her about Schulte, it’s proof of his innocence. The government argues that Schulte is trying to call “Lisa” to testify in part to admit into evidence statements that he made to her, which would be hearsay designed to avoid taking the stand himself.

Erin: Schulte wants to call the Chief Counsel of CCI to testify about things she said in an FBI interview about other potential leads to find the culprit behind the theft. Apparently, she raised an off-site event that took place between March 8-10, 2016 that might play a role. According to the original theory of the case, Schulte used an opportunity when everyone else was gone from the office, possibly during that event, to steal these files. But, as the government points out, Schulte didn’t ask “Jeremy Weber” anything about this event when he was on the stand, even though Weber attended it personally. They note Schulte instead wants to ask someone who wasn’t there — Erin — about it. Plus, as the government notes, Erin is the counsel for the victim of this crime, and as such is protected by attorney-client privilege.

Mike Pompeo: Finally, Schulte wants to call Mike Pompeo. The government wants to exclude Pompeo because, during the period when he was a CIA employee as its Director, he had no direct knowledge of the theft.

While Sec. Pompeo was undoubtedly kept informed about the consequences of the defendant’s crimes and the CIA’s response to secure its systems going forward, he–like virtually all similarly situated high-ranking government officials–received that information through briefings and summaries provided by others, which is quintessential inadmissible hearsay, rather than first-hand knowledge of the facts.

Except that’s probably not why Schulte wants to call him. In fact, I predicted Schulte would call Pompeo back in November.

Notably, the government motion invokes the Senate’s recognition that WikiLeaks resembles “a non-state hostile intelligence service.” That may well backfire in spectacular fashion. That statement didn’t come until over a year after Schulte is alleged to have stolen the files. And the statement was a follow-up to Mike Pompeo’s similar claim, which was a direct response to Schulte’s leak. If I were Schulte, I’d be preparing a subpoena to call Pompeo to testify about why, after the date when Schulte allegedly stole the CIA files, on July 24, 2016, he was still hailing the purported value of WikiLeaks’ releases.

Because of the way the government has argued that Schulte’s choice to leak to WikiLeaks is proof he intended to harm the US, it makes then House Intelligence Chair Mike Pompeo’s celebration of WikiLeaks’ publication of the stolen DNC emails — a celebration that took place months after Schulte is alleged to have sent the emails to WikiLeaks — a pertinent issue.

Given what the government has argued, Pompeo might be required to take the stand and admit that he was just being an asshole who was happy to damage the US if it meant his party would benefit when he celebrated the WikiLeaks publication of stolen DNC emails in July 2016. Of course, that’s the last thing he wants to do — and if he did, his boss, who got elected by cheering such damage, might well fire him. Pompeo’s view of WikiLeaks in July 2016 is all the more relevant given that the government appears to be planning to make … something of the Schulte’s response to these very same leaks.

Schulte is clearly engaged in human graymail with this larger request, and I expect Judge Paul Crotty will agree to the government’s demand that Schulte show some particularized value to each of these CIA witnesses.

But given their efforts to treat WikiLeaks as a particularly damaging kind of leak recipient, I think Schulte may be able to make a compelling argument that Pompeo should have to explain his past enthusiasm for WikiLeaks’ publications.


The Geostrategic and Historic Implications of Crypto

If you haven’t already, you should read the superb WaPo story on Crypto, the Swiss encryption company that German and US intelligence agencies secretly owned, allowing them to degrade the encryption used by governments all over the world. The story relies on classified CIA and BND histories obtained by the paper and a German partner.

The decades-long arrangement, among the most closely guarded secrets of the Cold War, is laid bare in a classified, comprehensive CIA history of the operation obtained by The Washington Post and ZDF, a German public broadcaster, in a joint reporting project.

[snip]

The Post was able to read all of the documents, but the source of the material insisted that only excerpts be published.

The CIA and the BND declined to comment, though U.S. and German officials did not dispute the authenticity of the documents. The first is a 96-page account of the operation completed in 2004 by the CIA’s Center for the Study of Intelligence, an internal historical branch. The second is an oral history compiled by German intelligence officials in 2008.

From the 1970s until the early 2000s, the company ensured its encryption had weaknesses that knowing intelligence partners — largely the NSA — exploited. CIA retained control of the company until 2018.

The WaPo correctly puts Crypto in a lineage that includes later spying and politicized fights over which corporations run the global telecommunications system. But it curiously suggests that the US “developed an insatiable appetite for global surveillance” from the project, as if that’s a uniquely American hunger.

Even so, the Crypto operation is relevant to modern espionage. Its reach and duration helps to explain how the United States developed an insatiable appetite for global surveillance that was exposed in 2013 by Edward Snowden. There are also echoes of Crypto in the suspicions swirling around modern companies with alleged links to foreign governments, including the Russian anti-virus firm Kaspersky, a texting app tied to the United Arab Emirates and the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.

Any nation-state or powerful non-state actor is going to want access to as much information as it can obtain. Russia, the Gulf states, and China, as well as the unmentioned Israel, are no different.

The story is better understood, in my opinion, as a lesson in how the US, Cold War partner Germany, and several key individuals and companies who could be motivated by Cold War ideology accomplished its spying. It absolutely provides important background to current US efforts to prevent rivals from achieving hegemony over communication structures. But if you didn’t know the US is so worried about Huawei’s dominance because it gives China a way to supplant the US spying footprint, you’re not paying attention.

Some particular features:

  • Crytpo was a Swiss company. That gave it some plausible deniability.
  • The operation struggled to find cryptologists who were good, but not too good. People who could identify weaknesses in the algorithms Crypto used either had to be fired or bought off.
  • The entire scheme worked off a corruption of market forces. The predecessor to Crypto sold shitty encryption to disfavored countries, but the US made up for the lost profits. Then, as integrated circuits presented a challenge for the business, the US leveraged that to get ongoing cooperation. Then CIA and BND bought out the company via a shell company set up in Lichtenstein. To sustain its customer base, Crypto would smear competitors and bribe customers with gifts and prostitutes.
  • The US leveraged its power in the US-German partnership at the core of the operation, forcing the Germans to sell degraded products to allied governments.
  • The ideology of the Cold War proved a powerful motive for some of the key participants, leading them to work for what ultimately was the CIA for no additional funds.

Those features are worth noting as you consider where this capability moved to as Crypto became less valuable:

  • AT&T and other US backbone providers
  • Silicon Valley companies compelled under Section 702 of FISA
  • Various products supported by CIA’s investment arm, In-Q-Tel
  • SWIFT

702 is the big outlier — in that the US government leveraged existing market dominance and actually didn’t hide what was going on to those who paid attention. But that’s changing. The US government is increasingly demanding that its 702 partners — notably both Apple and Facebook — make choices dictated not by a market interest in security but by their demands.

The WaPo story cites some “successes:” nearly complete visibility on Iran, a critical advantage for the UK in the Falklands war, and visibility on Manuel Noriega as he started to outgrow his client role. One wonders what would have happened if the US or its allies had lost visibility on all those key strategic points.

WaPo focuses its challenge to this spying, however, on what the US had to have known about but overlooked: assassination, ethnic cleansing, and atrocities.

The papers largely avoid more unsettling questions, including what the United States knew — and what it did or didn’t do — about countries that used Crypto machines while engaged in assassination plots, ethnic cleansing campaigns and human rights abuses.

The revelations in the documents may provide reason to revisit whether the United States was in position to intervene in, or at least expose, international atrocities, and whether it opted against doing so at times to preserve its access to valuable streams of intelligence.

Nor do the files deal with obvious ethical dilemmas at the core of the operation: the deception and exploitation of adversaries, allies and hundreds of unwitting Crypto employees. Many traveled the world selling or servicing rigged systems with no clue that they were doing so at risk to their own safety.

I’m actually more interested in the latter case, though (though after all, the US was overlooking atrocities in Iran, Panama, and Argentina, in any case).

These atrocities were known in real time, but ideology — largely, the same Cold War ideology that convinced some of the engineers to play along quietly — served to downplay them. The ideology that excuses much of our current spying, terrorism, likewise leads many to excuse Americans and allies overlooking atrocities by our allies (but that, too, is evident without proving they’re reading the SIGINT proving it).

But the solutions to this problem have as much to do with fixing ideology and market forces behind the power structures of the world as it does with protecting the encryption that people around the world can access.


Bill Barr Usurped the Power of a Judge Who Was Threatened Herself to Decide the Import of Violent Threats

Presentence Investigation Reports — the report the Probation Office gives to the government and defendants before they write their sentencing memos –are not public. But thanks to Roger Stone, we know that the 7-9 year sentence originally proposed by the government is precisely what the Probation Office recommended for Stone.

Probation and the Government, however, incorrectly maintain that the following offense level increases are applicable:

Specific Offense Characteristics U.S.S.G. §2J1.2(b)(1)(B) 8 level increase ¶76 1

Specific Offense Characteristics U.S.S.G. §2J1.2(b)(1)(2) 3 level increase ¶77

Obstruction of Justice U.S.S.G. §3C1.1 2 level increase ¶80

Obstruction of Justice 2 U.S.S.G. §2J1.2(b)(3)(C) 2 level increase ¶77

1 Paragraph references are to the Presentence Investigation Report, dated January 16, 2020, (“PSR”). [Dkt. #272].

2 Government’s Objection to Presentence Investigation Report, dated January 30, 2020.

That means that the Attorney General lied to the Senate Judiciary Chair, Lindsey Graham, when — according to Graham — he told him that “that the guidelines call for 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 [yrs] for an offense like this.”

What Barr has done, effectively, is to unilaterally eliminate any punishment for Stone’s threats against Randy Credico (see PDF 243 for where that enhancement is laid out in the sentencing guidelines). He has done so even though prosecutors noted that while Credico doesn’t think Stone would hurt him or his dog Bianca, he does think that Stone’s ghoulish buddies might do something.

But Credico testified that Stone’s threats concerned him because he was worried that Stone’s words, if repeated in public, might make “other people get ideas.”

And Barr made that unilateral decision — to discount the import of threats of violence — in a case where Stone threatened the judge, Amy Berman Jackson, herself, in response to which even Stone’s lawyers agreed that the threats might incite others to act. ABJ imposed a gag in this case, very specifically, because Stone had already made public statements that she believed might incite others to take action.

What concerns me is the fact that he chose to use his public platform, and chose to express himself in a manner that can incite others who may feel less constrained. The approach he chose posed a very real risk that others with extreme views and violent inclinations would be inflamed.

[snip]

As a man who, according to his own account, has made communication his forté, his raison d’être, his life’s work, Roger Stone fully understands the power of words and the power of symbols. And there’s nothing ambiguous about crosshairs.

Bill Barr lied to Lindsey Graham, and did so in such a way to ensure that the President’s rat-fucker would face no repercussions for the violent threats he made against Credico and has made against others, including ABJ.

And if he cared at all about his oversight role, Lindsey Graham would call Barr on his lies, not parrot them.

Mind you, ABJ could still sentence Stone to the full 9 years (which I doubt she would have done in the first place). If she does, you can be sure she’ll be the target of a lot of violent threats that Bill Barr will continue to ignore.


Tea Leaves: Brandon Van Grack Remains on the Mike Flynn Case

When the government moved Sunday to have Emmet Sullivan recognize that Mike Flynn had waived attorney-client privilege so Flynn’s former attorneys could testify about how he lied to them, Brandon Van Grack was not on the filing. In the wake of yesterday’s resignations from the Roger Stone team, however, Van Grack is on the filing the government submitted today in Flynn’s case, their response to Flynn’s second attempt to have the entire prosecution thrown out.

That suggests that, as seemed likely at the time, the government is prepared to put Van Grack on the stand if Sullivan does have a hearing with sworn witnesses.

Meanwhile, today’s filing reads like this:

Flynn’s complaints have nothing to do with the crime he pled guilty to, lying to the FBI on January 24, 2017.

Flynn’s complaints have nothing to do with the crime he pled guilty to, lying to the FBI on January 24, 2017.

Flynn’s complaints have nothing to do with the crime he pled guilty to, lying to the FBI on January 24, 2017.

Flynn’s complaints have nothing to do with the crime he pled guilty to, lying to the FBI on January 24, 2017.

Flynn’s complaints have nothing to do with the crime he pled guilty to, lying to the FBI on January 24, 2017.

Flynn’s complaints have nothing to do with the crime he pled guilty to, lying to the FBI on January 24, 2017.

Flynn’s complaints have nothing to do with the crime he pled guilty to, lying to the FBI on January 24, 2017.

Flynn’s complaints have nothing to do with the crime he pled guilty to, lying to the FBI on January 24, 2017.

Flynn’s complaints have nothing to do with the crime he pled guilty to, lying to the FBI on January 24, 2017.

Flynn’s complaints have nothing to do with the crime he pled guilty to, lying to the FBI on January 24, 2017.

Across 11 pages, prosecutors really did mention the irrelevance of Sidney Powell’s latest complaints to the charges against her client ten different times. Just one other thing broke up the monotony of that and repeated descriptions of how FBI misconduct pertaining to FISA applications targeting Carter Page don’t affect Flynn. That’s when the government noted that Powell’s accusation that the government committed a Brady violation for not turning over 302s from the interviews of Flynn’s lawyers in advance of the Bijan Kian trial would require a time machine.

Moreover, the government could not have disclosed those interview reports to the defendant before he pleaded guilty because they occurred six months later.

I still think Judge Emmet Sullivan might ask prosecutors for an ex parte version of the Electronic Communication that came out of the August 17, 2016 briefing.

But otherwise, he’s likely to agree with prosecutors: Powell continues to raise shit that has nothing to do with the case at hand.


Steve Bannon Employee Lee Stranahan Purportedly Convinced Roger Stone to Love Guccifer 2.0

As I’ve been laying out, there are discrepancies between what Steve Bannon told the FBI in his second interview on February 14, 2018 and the fragments of his grand jury appearance on January 18, 2019 revealed during his testimony at the Roger Stone trial on November 8, 2019. (His first interview on February 12, 2018 contains similar convenient forgetfulness, and his second on October 26, 2018 remains unavailable; he reportedly had a trial prep interview where he backtracked on some of what he had said under penalty of perjury in early 2019.)

Bannon and the campaign were more interested in WikiLeaks than he initially let on.

Bannon tried to hide his role and knowledge of Stone’s back channel to WikiLeaks

While the 302s currently redact Stone’s name, in his first interview, Bannon claimed — after a discussion of the email about WikiLeaks that Don Jr forwarded to others on the campaign — that he didn’t remember anyone else in contact with WikiLeaks, and didn’t remember anyone reaching out to Stone.

Bannon did not remember anyone else in contact with WikiLeaks or trying to get in contact with WikiLeaks. There was discussion during the campaign on how WikiLeaks would impact the race. Bannon did not think anyone had any ideas on where WikiLeaks had got their information. Bannon did not remember anyone reaching out to [redaction, probably Stone], WikiLeaks, or any other intermediary to see what information might be coming.

In the grand jury testimony that prosecutors made him hew to during the trial, however, Bannon admitted that the campaign understood that Stone was the access point, if one were pursued, to WikiLeaks.

Q. Now, I want you to turn to page 14, line 4. I’m going to read line 4 through 8 on page 14. And you’re asked, “And just within the campaign, who was the access point to WikiLeaks?”

And you responded, “I think it was generally believed that the access point or potential access point to WikiLeaks and to Julian Assange would be Roger Stone.”

Did I read that correctly?

A. That’s correct.

Q. And did you, at that time, did you personally believe or you personally view Roger Stone as the access point between Trump campaign and WikiLeaks?

A. Yes.

Bannon likely first began to admit this in October 2018, when prosecutors showed him the email reflecting Bannon emailing Stone (via his non-campaign email) on October 4, 2016 to ask why WikiLeaks hadn’t dumped anything on that day, as predicted. Bannon seemed less squirmy about admitting that at Stone’s trial.

Q. Why then, why did you send this email then, that date on October 4th, 2016, to Mr. Stone?

A. I don’t believe — I think the press conference was about another topic or it wasn’t about the topic that everybody had hyped it about.

Q. Was one of the reasons why you sent this email to Mr. Stone because he was the access point to WikiLeaks and Julian Assange in the campaign?

A. Yes, he had a relationship or told me he had a relationship with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, so it would be natural that I would reach out to him.

Q. So were you sending this email to try to find out why there wasn’t any announcement that day?

A. I think it’s twofold. One is to find out why there’s no announcement, and the other was a little bit of a heckle.

But at the trial, Bannon was also squirmy about admitting the timing of his knowledge that Stone claimed to have a back channel to WikiLeaks.

Q. So you were asked at page 7, line 15, “And when you had private conversations with him about his connection to Julian Assange, approximately how far in advance of your joining the campaign did that conversation take place?”

And you responded, “Oh, I think the first time it was months before, but I think it all the way led up to right before I joined the campaign. It was something he would, I think, frequently mention or talk about when we talked about other things.”

Did I read that correctly?

A. That’s correct.

Q. All right. Now, in any of your conversations with Mr. Stone, did he ever brag to you about his connections to Assange?

A. I wouldn’t call it bragging, but maybe boasting, I guess the difference between bragging and boasting, but he would mention it.

Q. What do you mean by “boast”?

A. That he had a relationship with WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.

On its face, that’s damning because it puts Stone’s claimed awareness of WikiLeaks’ plans back to around June 2016, when (according to trial evidence) Stone was calling Trump just as Guccifer 2.0 started dropping emails on June 14, 2016 and also calling Rick Gates to get Jared Kushner’s email so they could strategize the release.

Q. Did you know why Mr. Stone was asking you for Mr. Kushner’s contact information at that time?

A. Mr. Stone indicated that he wanted to reach out to Mr. Kushner and Mr. Murphy to debrief them on the developments of the DNC announcement.

I’ve come to realize that that line from Bannon — “it all the way led up to right before I joined the campaign” — is actually more damning. That’s because of the role of Lee Stranahan in this story. I also suspect Bannon is a key player in what I suspect is Roger Stone’s use of stolen emails in his social media campaigns sowing racial division.

When I’ve thought of the dumps of stolen emails in the past, I’ve thought of the DNC emails, the DCCC emails about state races, and the Podesta emails.

Then Breitbart reporter Lee Stranahan’s outreach to Guccifer 2.0 coincided with Stone’s efforts to learn what WikiLeaks had coming

But as the GRU indictment reminds (in a paragraph that immediately precedes the one discussing Roger Stone’s interactions with Guccifer 2.0), the persona also gave then Breitbart journalist Lee Stranahan access to some documents on Black Lives Matter over a week before releasing them publicly.

On or about August 22, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, sent a reporter stolen documents pertaining to the Black Lives Matter movement. The reporter responded by discussing when to release the documents and offering to write an article about their release.

What is believed to be the entirety of Stranahan’s exchanges with Guccifer 2.0 appear here. The first of those DMs is one from August 2, 2016, where Stranahan introduces himself.

In the wake of the Roger Stone trial, the date is more interesting. Days earlier, Stone had ratcheted up his efforts to learn — and possibly get — the emails that would soon be dumped, with key emails with Jerome Corsi on July 25 and 31, and Corsi’s response hours earlier on August 2 to Stone promising Podesta emails. There are also calls from Stone to Gates (on July 31). Stone wrote Manafort on July 29 promising “Good shit happening.” In the wake of Corsi’s email about Podesta emails, Stone had calls with Trump on on August 2, and a text to Gates reporting as much. Then the next day, after Stranahan had introduced himself to get no response, Stone wrote Manafort boasting he had “an idea to save Trump’s ass.”

The Breitbart column that led Stone to interact with Guccifer 2.0

Days later (and after Stone claimed to Sam Nunberg that he had dined with Julian Assange on August 3), Stone wrote a column in Breitbart — still under the direction of Steve Bannon — claiming that Guccifer 2.0 was the lone culprit behind the DNC hack, not Russia.

I have some news for Hillary and Democrats—I think I’ve got the real culprit. It doesn’t seem to be the Russians that hacked the DNC, but instead a hacker who goes by the name of Guccifer 2.0. The original Guccifer famously hacked Hillary’s home email server, you might remember.

[snpi]

Then Guccifer 2.0 even did an interview going into detail about how they had done the hacking and tried to get some media traction but the media wasn’t biting. Someone from The Hill did a piece, but that was about it. For some strange reason, the establishment press didn’t want to take on the establishment Democrat machine.

[snip]

Inspiration stuck: ignore Guccifer 2.0. The DNC being hacked by one person didn’t look sinister enough. Time for the victim card! Blame the Russians! Blame Putin! Blame Trump!

No, it didn’t make any sense. Yes, the evidence about Guccifer 2.0 was already out there. But it’s good to the be the Queen.

Now, common sense would inform most sane people that if Russia were dong what Hillary says they were doing they simply would have gone straight to Wikileaks. However, common sense didn’t fit Hillary’s narrative and so the press went all in with her fable.

Bannon now admits, when pressed to adhere to his sworn grand jury testimony, that in precisely this period he and Stone remained in discussions about his back channel to WikiLeaks.

The Breitbart column became the public impetus for Stone and Guccifer 2.0’s own exchanges over the weekend of August 12. At 10:23PM, Guccifer 2.0 tweeted publicly to Stone, “Thanks that u believe in the real #Guccifer2,” a reference to that Breitbart post. At 11:40 ET (I believe Stranahan was in Idaho at the time, but these DMs appear to be printed out on ET), Stranahan DMed Guccifer 2.0 taking credit for convincing Stone that Guccifer 2.0 was not Russian.

But Guccifer 2.0 didn’t respond to Stranahan right away. Instead, over the weekend, Stone  Tweeted that “Gruccifer is a HERO.” The next day, Stone complained that Guccifer 2.0 had been banned by Twitter (technically he did so after Guccifer had been reinstated, if indeed he was actually banned). Then, sometime that same day, Stone DMed Guccifer 2.0 and told the persona he was “Delighted you are reinstated.”

At 1:33AM on August 15, Stone tweeted about John Podesta for the first time ever. “@JohnPodesta makes @PaulManafort look like St. Thomas Aquinas Where is the @NewYorkTimes ?” Sometime on August 15, Guccifer 2.0 DMed Stone, “thank u for writing back, and thank u for an article about me!!  . . . do u find anyting interesting in the docs I posted?” Stone responded, asking Guccifer to RT a story on how the election could be hacked. Guccifer followed up with more platitudes on August 17.

All the while, Stone kept bragging publicly that he had a back channel to WikiLeaks.

Steve Bannon consults with the Mercers before joining the Trump campaign

Even as that was happening, Steve Bannon was consulting with his bosses about whether he should go save the Trump campaign. Before he joined the campaign, someone he consulted (given the reference to an anti-Hillary Super PAC and the timing of the June meeting, this is almost certainly the Mercers, then the owners of both Breitbart and part owners of Cambridge Analytica) worried about Breitbart being blamed if Trump lost.

Bannon had read a NYTimes article describing the Trump campaign being in disarray, so he started to make a few phone calls. At the time, Trump was 12-16 points down, there was talk of the Republican National Committee (RNC) cutting Trump loose, and the Republicans were distancing themselves from Trump for fear of losing control of the House of Representatives. Bannon called [redacted] and there was worries that if Bannon became involved in the Trump campaign, Breitbart could be blamed if Trump lost. Bannon had previously talked to [redacted] back in June 2016 in an effort for them to make peace with Trump.

Ultimately, he joined the campaign at a time — he says over and over again in his interviews that have been made public — the campaign was badly underwater in the polls and broke.

Bannon was hired on August 14, but it became public on August 17, then Paul Manafort resigned on August 19.

Who did what with social media on August 18?

At 1:02 AM on the morning of August 18, Stone wrote Bannon at his arc-ent email.

Trump can still win –but time is running out.

Early voting begins in six weeks.

I do know how to win this but it ain’t pretty.

Campaign has never been good at playing the new media.

Lots to do–let me know when u can talk.

R

Bannon replied at 6:14 AM: “Let’s talk ASAP.”

In my opinion, this is the most puzzling public email from the entire Mueller investigation. That’s because the date and content seems to be the subject of a different DOJ investigation, about which Manafort at first provided details, seemingly implicating Kushner, and then reneged, seemingly blaming it all on Stone. The email to Bannon makes it clear this is about “new media” — the social media we’ve heard so much about, where the Trump campaign hired Cambridge Analytica which led to a social media strategy that purportedly found new Republican voters and suppressed black turnout. It’s possible that’s what the other DOJ investigation was into, as references to Cambridge Analytica in Bannon’s 302 are redacted under an ongoing investigation redaction.

Indeed, when Bannon was first asked about such things (indeed, about joining the campaign), Bannon said Kushner — the guy that Manafort implicated — was “in charge of the digital campaign.”

In August 2016, Kushner was in charge of the digital campaign and fundraising. Bannon was the CFO of the campaign with Jeff DeWitt. The campaign had almost no cash and they were receiving only a small amount from cash contributions. The campaign was losing cash at the time and they were down by a double digit lead with the 1st debate coming. They needed $50 million from Trump, which eventually became $10 million.

The reference within the 302 was out of context, but it seems that Bannon offered up that at a time when the campaign was broke and underwater, the candidate’s son-in-law embraced a strategy that turned things around.

Remarkably, prosecutors at Stone’s trial didn’t get Bannon to explain precisely what this email meant — aside from suggesting that he agreed there was a tie to WikiLeaks and used a bunch of nice words to explain this had to do with Stone’s rat-fucking.

Q. When Mr. Stone wrote to you, “I do know how to win but it ain’t pretty,” what in your mind did you understand that to mean?

A. Well, roger is an agent provocateur, he’s an expert in opposition research. He’s an expert in the tougher side of politics. And when you’re this far behind, you have to use every tool in the toolbox.

Q. What do you mean by that?

A. Well, opposition research, dirty tricks, the types of things that campaigns use when they have got to make up some ground.

Q. Did you view that as sort of value added that Mr. Stone could add to the campaign?

A. Potentially value added, yes.

Q. Was one of the ways that Mr. Stone could add value to the campaign his relationship with WikiLeaks or Julian Assange?

A. I don’t know if I thought it at the time, but he could — you know, I was led to believe that he had a relationship withWikiLeaks and Julian Assange.

Rather than getting Bannon to explain what this email was about in more detail, they instead moved to talk about the October 4 email where Bannon asked about why WikiLeaks had not yet dropped the promised October surprise.

Likewise, prosecutors did not ask Bannon what Stone meant by the end of that October 4 email, where Stone demanded Bannon get Bannon to give him money for his own digital campaign.

I know your surrogates are dumb but try to get them to understand the Danney Williams case

chick mangled it on CNN this am

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3819671/Man-claiming-Bill-Clinton-s-illegitimate-son-prostitute-continues-campaign-former-president-recognize-him.html

I’ve raise  $150L for the targeted black digital campaign thru a C-4

Tell Rebecca to send us some $$$

On August 18, Stone complained about the campaign’s paltry new media campaign. On October 4, Stone demanded Bannon help him raise money for a digital campaign. It’s unclear what the modifier “black” refers to, but in the context of Stone’s focus on Danney Williams — a black man that Stone was focusing on to suggest Bill Clinton had a secret child of a prostitute — suggests the digital campaign was about sowing division based on race (not coincidentally, the same strategy the IRA’s trolls were using).

In fact, Stone had started that campaign at least as earlier as October 16, 2015 (when he first tweeted about Williams), and he continued it persistently through the campaign. At times, he tied it to an effort to source the Black Lives Matter movement on Hillary, which Stone also used Hillary’s record in Haiti and Libya to do.

Incidentally, that demand for money from the chair of the campaign probably amounts to illegal coordination, as would Stone’s repeated demand from Rick Gates for voter lists, which was also revealed at the trial.

Stranahan obtains files pertinent to Stone’s social media focus

On 9:24 AM on August 21, Stone tweeted the “time in the barrel” tweet that first raised questions about his foreknowledge that WikiLeaks would release the John Podesta emails. Almost 12 hours alter, Guccifer 2.0 finally responded to Stranahan’s DMs. Guccifer offers Stranahan “exclusive files,” as the persona had for journalists and a Republican Florida lobbyist.

They DM back and forth for an hour and a half, after which Guccifer says he’s sending “some exclusive files” to Stranahan’s Gmail. Guccifer makes sure to get Stranahan to confirm he has received them. Stranahan almost immediately focuses on a Black Lives Matter “thing,” something that Breitbart had been stoking just as long as Stone had been stoking the Danney Williams thing.

The next day, Guccifer gets Stranahan to confirm that the Black Lives Matter documents are important. The go back and forth about what the optimal timing for their release is. On August 30 at 10:41AM, Guccifer asks Stranahan, “how about doing it today?”

An hour and a half later, at 12:17 PM, Stone tweets, “BLACK LIVES MATTER- unless you are in Libya in which case @HillaryClinton bombs you,” a lead up to his efforts to get stolen emails on Libby from WikiLeaks via Credico in the following weeks. Sometime that afternoon, Stone emails Corsi asking him to call; Stone would ask Corsi to create a cover story for their discussions of Podesta earlier that month, which he did in one day.

At 4:03, Guccifer DMs Stranahan and offers to release the Black Lives Matter file at any particular time. But ultimately, Guccifer publishes the file — purporting that it came from Pelosi’s computer — on August 31, without getting Stranahan’s advance okay.

There’s no reason to believe Stone was in the loop with Stranahan on this, particularly given their dramatically different response to the next exchange. On September 9, the same day Guccifer floats the DCCC turnout models to Florida that Stone judges are “Pretty standard” to Guccifer, Stranahan says that “it’s great” but adds he’s “having trouble with my company right now so let me figure out the right way to break this.”

Stranahan would go on to quit Breitbart — in part because they wouldn’t let him attend White House press briefings to pester Sean Spicer about Crowdstrike hoaxes — and move to his own radio show at Sputnik.

But it was not just Stranahan at Breitbart that remained in the loop of Stone’s focus on WikiLeaks. Before Bannon emailed Stone about WikiLeaks on October 4, Breitbart’s Matthew Boyle exchanged emails with Stone. He asked Stone what Assange had, Stone implied he knew and complained that “Bannon … doesn’t call me back.” Boyle forwarded the email to Bannon and told him he “should call Roger.” Which Bannon tried to brush off by saying he had “important stuff to worry about.”

Yet he did write Stone (the context of that earlier exchange did not come up at Stone’s trial). And Stone came right back and asked for money for his “black digital campaign.”

I don’t know what to make of all this. But Stone’s actions with respect to Guccifer 2.0 look far more damning when viewed in parallel with Stranahan’s actions.

Curiously, even in spite of his mention in the GRU indictment, that incident doesn’t appear to be mentioned even in the redacted passages of the Mueller Report, as Stranahan doesn’t appear in the glossary at all.

Which may suggest his import had more to do with the August 2 column, written with Stone for Bannon, than his ongoing exchanges with Guccifer 2.0.


The Slow Firing of Robert Mueller[‘s Replacement]

On December 5, I suggested that Speaker Pelosi delay the full House vote on impeachment until early February. I intimated there were public reasons — the possibility of a ruling on the Don McGahn subpoena and superseding charges for Lev Parnas — I thought so and private ones. One of the ones I did not share was the Stone sentencing, which at that point was scheduled for February 6. Had Pelosi listened to me (!!!) and had events proceeded as scheduled, Stone would have been sentenced before the final vote on Trump’s impeachment.

But things didn’t work out that way. Not only didn’t Pelosi heed my suggestion (unsurprisingly), but two things happened in the interim.

First, Stone invented a bullshit reason for delay on December 19, the day after the full House voted on impeachment. The prosecutors who all resigned from the case yesterday objected to the delay, to no avail, which is how sentencing got scheduled for February 20 rather than the day after the Senate voted to acquit.

Then, on January 6, Trump nominated Jessie Liu, then the US Attorney for DC, to be Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Crimes, basically the person who oversees the process of tracking criminal flows of finance. She won’t get that position — her nomination was pulled yesterday in advance of a Thursday confirmation hearing. But her nomination gave Barr the excuse to install a trusted aide, Timothy Shea, at US Attorney for DC last Thursday, the day after the impeachment vote and in advance of the now-delayed Stone sentencing.

Liu, who is very conservative and a true Trump supporter, had been nominated for a more obvious promotion before. On March 5, Trump nominated her to be Associate Attorney General, the number 3 ranking person at DOJ. But then she pulled her nomination on March 28 because Senators objected to her views on choice.

But let’s go back, to late August 2018. Michael Cohen and Sam Patten had just pled guilty, and Cohen was trying to find a way to sort of cooperate. Rudy Giuliani was talking about how Robert Mueller would need to shut down his investigation starting on September 1, because of the election. I wrote a post noting that, while Randy Credico’s imminent grand jury appearance suggested Mueller might be close to finishing an indictment of Stone, they still had to wait for Andrew Miller’s testimony.

Even as a I wrote it, Jay Sekulow was reaching out to Jerome Corsi to include him in the Joint Defense Agreement.

During the entire election season, both Paul Manafort and Jerome Corsi were stalling, lying to prosecutors while reporting back to Trump what they were doing.

Then, the day after the election, Trump fired Jeff Sessions and installed Matt Whitaker. Whitaker, not Rosenstein, became the nominal supervisor of the Mueller investigation. Not long after, both Manafort and Corsi made their game clear. They hadn’t been cooperating, they had been stalling to get past the time when Trump could start the process of ending the Mueller investigation.

But Whitaker only reactively kept Mueller in check. After Michael Cohen’s December sentencing made it clear that Trump was an unindicted co-conspirator in a plot to cheat to win, Whitaker started policing any statement that implicated Trump. By the time Roger Stone was indicted on January 24, 2019 — after Trump’s plan to replace Whitaker with the expert in cover ups, Bill Barr — Mueller no longer noted when Trump was personally involved, as he was in Stone’s efforts to optimize the WikiLeaks releases.

But then, when Barr came in, everything started to shut down. Mueller moved ongoing prosecutions to other offices, largely to DC, under Jessie Liu’s supervision. As Barr came to understand where the investigation might head, he tried to promote Liu out of that position, only to have GOP ideology prevent it.

Barr successfully dampened the impeach of the Mueller Report, pretending that it didn’t provide clear basis for impeaching the President. It was immediately clear, when he did that, that Barr was spinning the Stone charges to minimize the damage on Trump. But Barr did not remove Mueller right away, and the Special Counsel remained up until literally the moment when he secured Andrew Miller’s testimony on May 29.

The next day, I noted the import of raising the stakes for Trump on any Roger Stone pardon, because Stone implicated him personally. That was more important, I argued, than impeaching Trump for past actions to try to fire Mueller, which Democrats were focused on with their attempt to obtain Don McGahn’s testimony.

Still, those ongoing investigations continued under Jessie Liu, and Stone inched along towards trial, even as Trump leveraged taxpayer dollars to try to establish an excuse to pardon Manafort (and, possibly, to pay off the debts Manafort incurred during the 2016 election). As Stone’s trial laid out evidence that the President was personally involved in optimizing the release of emails Russia had stolen from Trump’s opponent, attention was instead focused on impeachment, his more recent effort to cheat.

In Stone’s trial, he invented a new lie: both Randy Credico and Jerome Corsi had falsely led him to believe they had a tie to WikiLeaks. That didn’t help Stone avoid conviction: Stone was found guilty on all counts. But it gave Stone yet another cover story to avoid revealing what his ties to WikiLeaks actually were and what he did — probably with Trump’s assent — to get it. For some reason, prosecutors decided not to reveal what they were otherwise prepared to: what Stone had really done.

Immediately after his conviction, Stone spent the weekend lobbying for a pardon. His wife appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show and someone got inside White House gates to make the case.

But, as impeachment proceeded, nothing happened, as the Probation Office started collecting information to argue that Stone should go to prison for a long while. The day Democrats finished their case against Donald Trump, though, Bill Barr made his move, replacing Liu before she was confirmed, removing a very conservative Senate confirmed US Attorney to install his flunkie, Timothy Shea. But even that wasn’t enough. Prosecutors successfully convinced Shea that they should stick to the probation office guidelines recommending a stiff sentence. When Timothy Shea didn’t do what Barr expected him to, Barr intervened and very publicly ordered up the cover up he had promised.

Effectively, Bill Barr is micro-managing the DC US Attorney’s office now, overseeing the sentencing of the man who could explain just how involved Trump was in the effort to maximize the advantage Trump got from Russia’s interference in 2016, as well as all the other prosecutions that we don’t know about.

Trump has, finally, succeeded in firing the person who oversaw the investigations into his role in the Russian operation in 2016. Just as Stone was about to have reason to explain what that role was.

Timeline

August 21, 2018: Michael Cohen pleads guilty

August 31, 2018: Sam Patten pleads guilty

September 5, 2018: Jay Sekulow reaches out to Corsi lawyer to enter into Joint Defense Agreement

September 6, 2018: In first Mueller interview, Corsi lies

September 17, 2018: In second interview, Corsi invents story about how he learned of Podesta emails

September 21, 2018: In third interview, Corsi confesses to establishing a cover story about Podesta’s emails with Roger Stone starting on August 30, 2016; NYT publishes irresponsible story that almost leads to Rod Rosenstein’s firing

October 25, 2018: Rick Gates interviewed about the campaign knowledge of Podesta emails

October 26, 2018: Steve Bannon admits he spoke with Stone about WikiLeaks

October 31, 2018: Prosecutors probably show Corsi evidence proving he lied about source of knowledge on Podesta emails

November 1 and 2, 2018: Corsi continues to spew bullshit in interviews

November 6, 2018: Election day

November 7, 2018: Jeff Sessions is fired; Matt Whitaker named Acting Attorney General

November 9, 2018: Corsi appears before grand jury but gives a false story about how he learned of Podesta emails; Mueller threatens to charge him with perjury

November 15, 2018: Trump tweets bullshit about Corsi’s testimony being coerced

November 23, 2018: Corsi tells the world he is in plea negotiations

November 26, 2018: Corsi rejects plea

December 7, 2018: Trump nominates Bill Barr Attorney General

January 18, 2019: Steve Bannon testifies to the grand jury (and for the first time enters into a proffer)

January 24, 2019: Roger Stone indicted for covering up what really happened with WikiLeaks

February 14, 2019: Bill Barr confirmed as Attorney General

March 5, 2019: Jessie Liu nominated to AAG; Bill Barr briefed on Mueller investigation

March 22, 2019: Mueller announces the end of his investigation

March 24, 2019: Bill Barr releases totally misleading version of Mueller results, downplaying Stone role

March 28, 2019: Liu pulls her nomination from AAG

April 19, 2019: Mueller Report released with Stone details redacted

May 29, 2019: As Mueller gives final press conference, Andrew Miller testifies before grand jury

November 12, 2019: Prosecutors apparently change Stone trial strategy, withhold details of Stone’s actual back channel

November 15, 2019: Roger Stone convicted on all counts

January 6, 2020: Jessie Liu nominated to Treasury

January 16, 2020: Probation Office issues Presentence Report calling for 7-9 years

January 30, 2020: Bill Barr replaces Liu with Timothy Barr, effective February 3; DOJ submits objection to Presentence Report

February 3, 2020: Timothy Shea becomes acting US Attorney

February 5, 2020 : Senate votes to acquit Trump

February 6, 2020: Initial sentencing date for Roger Stone

February 10, 2020: Stone sentencing memoranda submitted

February 11, 2020: DOJ overrules DC on Stone sentencing memorandum, all four prosecutors resign from case

February 20, 2020: Current sentencing date for Roger Stone


Bill Barr’s DOJ Says Trump Is Too Old for Another 4 Year Term

The supplemental sentencing memo DOJ submitted for Roger Stone after all the people who had prosecuted him withdrew from the case is a pained document. It starts with a highfalutin appeal to “sovereignty” of a prosecutor seeking “justice shall be done.” But ultimately, it doesn’t say what the sentence should be.

It is well established that the prosecutor “is the representative not of an ordinary party to a controversy, but of a sovereignty whose obligation to govern impartially is as compelling as its obligation to govern at all; and whose interest, therefore, in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done.” Berger v. United States, 295 U.S. 78, 88 (1935). This axiom does not simply apply to the process of bringing charges or securing a conviction—it also “must necessarily extend” to the point where a prosecutor advocates for a particular sentence. See United States v. Shanahan, 574 F.2d 1228, 1231 (5th Cir. 1978) (reviewing sentencing conduct of prosecutor). Applying that principle here, to the specific facts of this case, the government respectfully submits that a sentence of incarceration far less than 87 to 108 months’ imprisonment would be reasonable under the circumstances. The government ultimately defers to the Court as to the specific sentence to be imposed.

I could make a more compelling argument about what the sentence should be. But, aside from arguing the witness tampering was too serious (something that’s reasonable), that’s not really done here.

Ultimately, having laid out reasons why Stone should still be sentenced to about 4-5 years, the government then argues he should get a deal because he’s old, and in ill-health, and not that much of a rat-fucker.

Finally, the Court also should consider the defendant’s advanced age, health, personal circumstances, and lack of criminal history in fashioning an appropriate sentence.

Roger Stone is 67. If Roger Stone is too old the go to prison until he’s 74, then the guy on whose behalf DOJ is arguing, Donald Trump, probably is too old — at 73 — to run for a term that will last until he’s 78.

It’s not me arguing that 73 is too old for a four year term. It’s Bill Barr’s DOJ.


Bill Barr Needs to Soften Roger Stone’s Sentence to Prevent Him from Talking

As noted, after DOJ recommended what Roger Stone’s own memo makes clear is a a guidelines sentence yesterday, top DOJ officials almost certainly named Bill Barr have objected and announced they’re going to lower the recommendation.

I believe the brazenness of this fight may be a reflection of the damaging information Roger Stone may have about Trump’s own conduct.

The trial itself provided ample evidence of what Mark Meadows considers “collusion” involving Donald Trump personally. It showed the campaign — and probably Trump personally — were working through Stone to optimize the WikiLeaks releases from the very day they came out on June 14, 2016. It showed that Stone was informing Trump personally about his efforts to optimize the releases. After some arm-twisting to adhere to his grand jury testimony, Steve Bannon testified he knew of all this, contrary to some of what he had said in earlier testimony that Trump would learn about. Erik Prince was in the loop. Gates testified that Stone was strategizing with Jared Kushner on all this. And it appears that Paul Manafort was in the loop, too.

But all that really damning evidence came out in a trial that only had to prove that Stone had lied to cover up the actions he took to optimize the release of the WikiLeaks emails. The trial did not need to explain what Stone’s actual back channel was, what he had to do to obtain it, and how involved Trump was in that process. And the trial did not explain it.

Indeed, there’s evidence I’ll lay out at more length in a follow-up that the government chose not to lay out all it knew. That is, it appears the government came to trial prepared to present evidence about the underlying “collusion,” but ultimately decided to hold it back for now.

At multiple times during the trial, however, the prosecution pointed to suspiciously timed phone calls, right before or after Stone discussed WikiLeaks with Gates, Manafort, or Jerome Corsi. Only Stone or Trump can tell us what happened between the two men, what Trump’s actual role in maximizing the degree to which his campaign benefitted from Russia’s theft of his opponent’s email.

Immediately after the trial, Stone made an intense effort to get Trump to pardon him, with his wife Nydia appearing on Tucker Carlson’s show to ask directly and a man with a vuvuzela inside the White House calling for a pardon gates.

Since that time, Stone was silent, until the time that the Probation Office provided the sentencing range for the crimes that was built in to the way that Mueller charged this just over a year ago. That is, by charging Stone with witness tampering, Mueller built in the possibility that Stone would be facing the steep sentence recommended yesterday. And that steep sentence may have been envisioned not as the sum of what Stone’s actual actions entailed — certainly every single warrant save the last four showed probable cause that Stone had done far more — but rather as leverage to get Stone to tell what he knows about Trump’s involvement in all this.

Bill Barr was brought in as AG to bury abundant evidence that Trump was personally involved in efforts to maximize the Russian operation, to deny all the ways that Trump did cheat to win. From his initial misleading claims in the wake of the report’s release, he was always suppressing the centrality of Roger Stone in all this.

So it’s fairly safe to conclude that DOJ’s reversal today is not just an effort to prevent a rich white man, Roger Stone, from facing the full consequences of his actions, but to prevent voters from learning what another rich white man did to cheat to get elected.

Yes, ultimately Trump will commute what is left of Roger Stone’s sentence, probably on November 4, just like he fired Jeff Sessions the day after the 2018 election. But I suspect that Roger Stone, rightly, isn’t going to leave anything to chance. And so neither can Bill Barr.

Update: Aaron Zelinsky just quit his position as Special Assistant USA, providing notice to ABJ he’s withdrawing from the case immediately. This likely gives her the opportunity to hear from him, but also frees him up to testify before HJC. And these several steps — the harsh sentence in witness tampering and the possibility that Zelinsky would quit, creating the opportunity for transparency about the case in one or another place, probably has been built in from Barr’s first efforts to shut down this investigation.

Update: Now all four prosecutors are off the Stone team, with Acting DC Criminal Division Chief John Crabb Jr (who replaced the existing CD Chief yesterday) signing a memo that makes a flaccid case that Stone’s guidelines were totally out of whack. Of the four, it appears that Jonathan Kravis left DOJ entirely.


Bill Barr Commits the Bruce Ohr “Crime”

Far be it for me to ever underestimate the possibility of Bill Barr nefariousness (and I’ll almost certainly have to eat these words), but I’m far less concerned about what Barr said the other day about a process to ingest Ukrainian bullshit from Rudy Giuliani than virtually everyone else. That’s because in his comments from the other day, he emphasized the import of vetting information from Ukraine, whether it comes from Rudy Giuliani or anyone else.

We have to be very careful with respect to any information coming from the [sic] Ukraine. There are a lot of agendas in the [sic] Ukraine, there are a lot of cross-currents, and we can’t take anything we receive from the [sic] Ukraine at face value. And for that reason we had established an intake process in the field so that any information coming in about Ukraine could be carefully scrutinized by the department and its intelligence community partners so that we could assess its provenance and its credibility. That is true for all information that comes to the Department relating to the [sic] Ukraine including anything Mr. Giuliani might provide.

This sounds like the kind of thing you’d do to placate your boss even while ensuring DOJ doesn’t accept a bunch of disinformation manufactured by mobbed up oligarchs to mess with America.

The WaPo’s report that Barr is sending all this to the US Attorney in Pittsburgh suggests Barr neither wants this stuff in Main DOJ but also is not sending it to either of the two places — John Durham’s inquiry or the SDNY prosecution of the Ukrainian grifters — where it might be used in an ongoing investigation.

A Justice Department official said Giuliani had “recently” shared information with federal law enforcement officials through the process described by Barr. Two people familiar with the matter said the information is being routed to the U.S. attorney’s office in Pittsburgh.

[snip]

It is not clear whether Scott W. Brady, the U.S. attorney in Pittsburgh, will play a similar role, or why his office was chosen. A spokeswoman for Brady’s office declined to comment.

So while I hope (again, probably over-optimistically) that this is just a convenient way to deal with a difficult boss and his criminal subject attorney, I also worry that it’s not being shared with the people investigating such information sharing as illegal foreign influence peddling.

Plus, it strikes me as a unbelievably hypocritical for Bill Barr to continue to ingest dodgy information probably sourced to corrupt oligarchs after the entire frothy right has demonized Bruce Ohr for continuing to accept information — some but not all of it sourced to Oleg Deripaska — from Christopher Steele.

Admittedly, no one can complain about the basis for which DOJ’s Inspector General relied on to make a completely irresponsible attack on Ohr — that he didn’t inform his superiors (even though they had, in fact, been informed). Barr is the boss! He has chosen who should deal with this information, in a way that Sally Yates and Rod Rosenstein did not.

But Barr is, nevertheless, doing what the frothy right complains that Ohr did: continue to accept problematic information — deemed partisan (inaccurately in the case of Ohr, because his information sharing with Steele long preceded the DNC project and much of what he shared during and after that involved entirely unrelated topics) — after it had been discredited.

Perhaps, along with issuing orders that suggest Trump can commit any crime he wants between now and November 2020, Barr should issue an order explaining how DOJ should accept such information — including manufactured dirt from Steve Bannon — as a rule, so we can stop working under different rules for different parties.


The Frothy Right’s Redaction-Ray Glasses in Defense of Roger Stone

Update: As Fox first reported and WaPo has written up, the highers up at DOJ have now announced they’re going to change the sentencing guidelines submitted last night. This means they’re arguing that Stone should not have the guidelines sentence submitted by the Probation Office.

As noted yesterday, I think prosecutors larded on upward enhancements in their sentencing memo for Roger Stone — though as Stone’s own sentencing memo makes clear, those enhancements came from the Probation Office.

But in Stone’s argument — and that of his acolyte, Chuck Ross — against those enhancements, they just make shit up, including but not limited to the Mueller Report.

Stone invests much, for example, in a claim that Mueller had access to both Jerome Corsi and Randy Credico (but doesn’t mention that he has repeatedly said he would not cooperate with any investigation, which is precisely the point, and probably one reason prosecutors are asking for a harsh sentence).

As discussed above, the Office of the Special Counsel had access to both Jerome Corsi and Randy Credico, as well as to the communications between Stone and each of them, and found no evidence of any connection to Russia. Stone’s convictions for obstruction of justice and witness tampering should similarly be viewed in the broader context of the investigation. In other words, Stone stands convicted for having sought to conceal information ultimately determined to be of no investigative value. Neither Corsi, nor Credico, nor any of their communications provided any useful information in the investigation into election interference.

Stone’s buddy, Chuck Ross, goes further, utterly misstating the results of various investigations.

Despite Democrats’ and the special counsel’s initial suspicions that Stone conspired with Russia or WikiLeaks, investigators found no evidence that the Trump associate had direct contact with anyone involved in stealing or disseminating Democrats’ emails.

The special counsel’s report said that investigators found no evidence that any Trump associates worked with Russia or WikiLeaks to release Democrats’ emails.

Both are absolutely, brazenly lying about the record.

I guess both stances were necessary to justify Trump’s wails of injustice.

In both the GRU indictment and the Mueller Report, Mueller showed that Stone did have direct contact with someone involved in the dissemination of Democrats’ emails, Guccifer 2.0. And even the unredacted parts of report show that witnesses said Stone had knowledge of emails before they were released and the ultimate transfer of the ones he knew of, the Podesta emails, remained undetermined back in March 2019.

Plus, neither Stone nor Ross have the basis to make such claims, unless they have x-ray vision (and unless Stone violated his protective order by sharing with Ross).

There are significant sections (this is page 57) — which remains redacted for us but which Stone got in unredacted fashion and Judge Amy Berman Jackson reviewed closely in response to Stone’s effort to get the entire report in unredacted fashion — that likely lays out how important it would be to have truthful testimony from Stone.

And there are sections that Stone has not seen in unredacted fashion at all, such the entirety of page 177 (or the ongoing and referred prosecutions, three of which pertain to Stone’s trial).

More amusing still, further claims that Stone makes actually undermine his point. He compares two Senate Intelligence Reports on entirely different subjects to claim his false testimony didn’t harm the House Intelligence Committee’s ability to find the truth.

It is speculation that HPSCI’s Report on Russian Active Measures, released March 22, 2018, is “erroneous.” To the contrary, the “Report of the Select Committee on Intelligence United States Senate on Russian Active Measures Campaigns and Interference in the 2016 U.S. Election,” Volumes 1 and 2, and the Special Counsel’s “Report on the Investigation Into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election,” Volumes I and II, made findings consistent with those found in the publicly available, redacted HPSCI Report. In other words, even had Stone testified differently and even had Credico testified before HPSCI, the conclusions drawn in its report would not have been materially different.

Thus, Probation’s claim that the HPSCI Report “lacked valuable information which would have been provided by witnesses who chose not to testify” (PSR ¶77) grossly overstates the importance and significance of Roger Stone (and Randy Credico).

Not only has SSCI not released their report on Trump’s possible coordination with WikiLeaks yet (and it is likely to be shown to have shortcomings when it is finally released), but a report released last week (in time to be cited in this memo) suggests there’s far more we don’t know about both WikiLeaks and Guccifer 2.0.

From there, Stone makes much of where Credico’s testimony shows up in the Mueller Report, without mentioning the significant passages where Corsi’s (still redacted to us) testimony makes clear the big questions remaining about Stone’s role.

In the end, Credico was mentioned on five pages of the Special Counsel’s Report, not mentioned in either volume of the Senate Intelligence Report, and not mentioned at all in the HPSCI Majority Report. He was mentioned on two pages of the HPSCI Minority Report, where they noted that Stone identified Credico to the Committee.

Ultimately, though, as has been true in the past, the specific forms of Stone’s denials are as interesting that he’s making them.

In the end, the investigations yielded no evidence of the involvement of any American with the Russian government or any agent operating on its behalf to interfere in the 2016 election. It is also undisputed that Roger Stone had nothing to do with obtaining the compromised emails or providing them to WikiLeaks.

Just on its face and based off unredacted passages, the first is questionable, as the Mueller investigation provided ample evidence that WikiLeaks served as an agent of Russia, and Stone has obstructed the true nature of his ties to WikiLeaks. Given the uncertainty regarding how the Podesta emails got to WikiLeaks — and Craig Murray’s claims to have been involved in that process with someone telling similar bogus stories to the ones Stone is still telling — it is far from undisputed that Stone had nothing to do with the process. Plus, this trial was not about whether he provided them to WikiLeaks; it was about whether he optimized their release via some cutout.

Copyright © 2018 emptywheel. All rights reserved.
Originally Posted @ https://www.emptywheel.net/author/emptywheel/page/2/