February 6, 2023 / by 

 

The Money Trail Stuck in an Appendix of the January 6 Report

Several weeks before the January 6 Committee released its report, CNN published a somewhat overlooked report describing the investigation that Jack Smith has inherited. Among other things, it revealed that (as Merrick Garland had promised) DOJ was following the money.

Another top prosecutor, JP Cooney, the former head of public corruption in the DC US Attorney’s Office, is overseeing a significant financial probe that Smith will take on. The probe includes examining the possible misuse of political contributions, according to some of the sources. The DC US Attorney’s Office, before the special counsel’s arrival, had examined potential financial crimes related to the January 6 riot, including possible money laundering and the support of rioters’ hotel stays and bus trips to Washington ahead of January 6.

In recent months, however, the financial investigation has sought information about Trump’s post-election Save America PAC and other funding of people who assisted Trump, according to subpoenas viewed by CNN. The financial investigation picked up steam as DOJ investigators enlisted cooperators months after the 2021 riot, one of the sources said.

Given the report that DOJ already has a robust investigation into the money trail, was a bit surprised that the January 6 Committee not only didn’t refer Trump for financial crimes — an easier way to look smart than referring him for inciting insurrection when DOJ has charged no one with insurrection — but relegated the financial part of the report to an appendix. I thought that choice was especially odd given that the false claims Trump made about the Big Lie were repurposed in campaign ads. But among other things, because Alex Cannon (he of the good Maggie Haberman press on the stolen document case) happened to be assigned both to debunking claims of voter fraud generally and he was part of the ad approval process (but as someone who had been doing vendor relations for Trump golf courses until shortly before he moved to the campaign,  he was totally unprepared to deal with campaign finance law), you have a witness otherwise exposed in DOJ investigations who recognized the fundraising claims could not be substantiated.

Q Okay. Did you have discussions with anyone within the campaign about the inflammatory tone of the post-election emails?

A Yeah. mean, I did mention it to Justin Clark.

Q What did you say to him?

A That, you know, I just didn’t love the messaging, something along those lines.

Q What was the issue you had with the messaging?

A I think it’s just some of it seemed a little over the top to me.

Q Because you had just spent weeks researching and looking and trying to figure out what was verifiable and what wasn’t right?

A Yes, maam.

Q You had had face-to-face conversations with Mark Meadows, with Peter Navarro, with the Vice President. You’d been told to your face you’d been accused of) being an agent of the deep state in response to telling people the truth about what you were seeing in terms of election fraud that was verifiable or would be admissible in court, hadn’t you?

A Yes

Q And, in response to all of the truth that you were propounding to people, you watched for weeks as the ton of these email got stronger and more inflammatory, raising millions — hundreds of million dollars off of theories that you had spent weeks debunking and denying because you had found that they were not verifiable, right?

A I can see how you would draw that conclusion.

As one of the J6C hearings had noted — and as the appendix lays out in more depth — Trump continued to fundraise until the riot kicked off on January 6.

Within the campaign, there was a really junior staffer who got fired, seemingly because he refused to make false claims in ads.

In that meeting, as Coby addressed the staff and expressed that the digital team would continue to work, Ethan Katz, an RNC staffer in his early twenties, rose to ask a question: 130 How were staffers supposed to tell voters that the Trump Campaign wanted to keep countingvotes in Arizona but stop counting votes in other States (like Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Michigan)? 131

Katz said that Coby provided an answer without substance, which caused Katz to reiterate his question. His question made clear that the Campaign’s position was wildly inconsistent.132 Allred and Boedigheimer corroborated that Katz confronted leadership.133

Katz also recalled that, shortly after the election, Allred directed him to write an email declaring that President Trump had won the State of Pennsylvania before anyone had called Pennsylvania for either party.134 Katz believed the Trump Campaign wanted to send this email out to preempt apotential call that was likely to be in former Vice President Biden’s favor.135 He refused to write the email. Allred was stunned, and instead assigned it toanother copywriter.136 Allred confirmed that Katz expressed discomfort at writing such an email and that she relied on another copywriter.137 On November 4, 2020, the Trump Campaign sent out an email preemptively and falsely declaring that President Trump won Pennsylvania.138 Katz was fired approximately three weeks after the election.139 In aninterview with the Select Committee, when Allred was asked why Katz, her direct report, was fired, she explained that she was not sure why because TMAGAC was raising more money than ever after the election, but that the decision was not hers to make.140

The RNC simply stopped echoing all the claims Trump was making.

Allred and Katz both received direction from the RNC’s lawyers shortly after the election to not say “steal the election” and instead were told to use “try to steal the election.”94 Allred also recalled that, at some point, theRNC legal team directed the copywriters not to use the term “rigged.”95

After the media called the election for former Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday, November 7, 2020, the RNC began to quietly pull back from definitive language about President Trump having won the election and instead used language of insinuation. For example, on November 10, 2020, Justin Reimer, RNC’s then-chief counsel, revised a fundraising email sent to the Approvals Group to remove the sentence that “Joe Biden should not wrongfully claim the office of the President.”96 Instead, Reimer indicated the email should read, “Joe Biden does not get to decide when this election ends. Only LEGAL ballots must be counted and verified.”97 Both Alex Cannon and Zach Parkinson signed off on Reimer’s edits.98

On November 11, 2020, Reimer again revised a fundraising email sent to the Approvals Group. This time, he revised a claim that “President Trump won this election by a lot” to instead state that “President Trump got 71 MILLION LEGAL votes.”99 Once again Cannon and Parkinson signed off on Reimer’s edits.100 Also on November 11, 2020, Jenna Kirsch, associate counsel at the RNC, revised a fundraising email sent to the Approvals Group to, among other things, remove the request “to step up and contribute to our critical Election Defense Fund so that we can DEFEND the Election and secure FOUR MORE YEARS.”101 Instead of “secure FOUR MORE YEARS,” Kirsch’s revised version stated a contribution would “finish the fight.”102 Once again Cannon and Parkinson signed off on these edits for the Trump Campaign.103 Regarding the change to finish the fight, Zambrano conceded, “I would say this a substantive change from the legal department.”104 Kirsch made numerous edits like this, in which she removed assertions about “four more years.”105 Such edits continued into late November 2020.

Even so, the fundraising emails from both the campaign and the RNC got more and more incendiary in the weeks after the election, so much so that the direct mail services for both, Iterable and Salesforce, rejected some ads for Terms of Service violations, and actually shut down RNC ads for a brief period after the attack.

The Select Committee interviewed an individual (“J. Doe”) who worked at Salesforce during the post-election period during which TMAGAC was sending out the fundraising emails concerning false election fraud claims.147 Doe worked for Salesforce’s privacy and abuse management team, colloquially known as the abuse desk.148 An abuse desk is responsible for preventing fraud and abuse emanating from the provider’s user or subscriber network.

Doe indicated to the Select Committee that, as soon as early 2020, they recalled issues arising with the RNC’s use of Salesforce’s services and that a“deluge of abuse would’ve started in June-ish.”149 Doe noted that Salesforce received a high number of complaints regarding the RNC’s actions, which would have been primarily the fundraising efforts of TMAGAC.150 In the latter half of 2020, Doe noticed that the emails coming from the RNC’s account included more and more violent and inflammatory rhetoric in violation of Salesforce’s Master Service Agreement (“MSA”) with the RNC, which prohibited the use of violent content.151 Doe stated that, near the time of the election, they contacted senior individuals at Salesforce to highlight the “increasingly concerning” emails coming from the RNC’s account.152 Doe explained that senior individuals at Salesforce effectively ignored their emails about TMAGAC’s inflammatory emails 153 and Salesforce ignored the terms of the MSA and permitted the RNC to continue touse its account in this problematic manner.154 Doe said, “Salesforce very obviously didn’t care about anti-abuse.”155

[snip]

Further, J. Doe, the Salesforce employee interviewed by the Select Committee, provided insight into the action that Salesforce took after the attack. Doe explained that after they became aware of the ongoing attack, they (Doe) took unilateral action to block the RNC’s ability to send emails through Salesforce’s platform.227 Doe noted that the shutdown lasted until January 11, 2021, when senior Salesforce leadership directed Doe to remove the block from RNC’s Salesforce account.228 Doe stated that Salesforce leadership told Doe that Salesforce would now begin reviewing RNC’s email campaigns to “make sure this doesn’t happen again.”229

Remember: The RNC successfully fought a subpoena from the J6C, which kept Salesforce information out of the hands of the Committee. They would have no such opportunity with a d-order from DOJ, though, and those records would show the same kind of awareness at Salesforce as Twitter and Facebook had that permitting Trump’s team to abuse the platform contributed to the violence.

After raising all this money, Trump reportedly then used it for purposes not permitted under campaign finance laws.

There was even a hilarious exchange from a Cannon deposition about how, as a lawyer working for the campaign, he could claim privilege over a discussion with Jared Kushner about setting up a PAC that could not coordinate with the campaign.

The appendix in the report has more details about where the funds eventually ended up — for example, in Dan Scavino’s pocket, or that of Melania’s dress-maker, or legal defense in investigations of these very crimes.

For example, from July 2021 to the present, Save America has been paying approximately $9,700 per month to Dan Scavino,171 a political adviser who served in the Trump administration as White House Deputy Chief of Staff.172 Save America was also paying $20,000 per month to an entity called Hudson Digital LLC. Hudson Digital LLC was registered in Delaware twenty days after the attack on the Capitol, on January 26, 2021,173 and began receiving payments from Save America on the day it was registered.174 Hudson Digital LLC has received payments totaling over $420,000, all described as “Digital consulting.”175 No website or any other information or mention of Hudson Digital LLC could be found online.176 Though Hudson Digital LLC is registered as a Delaware company, the FEC ScheduleB listing traces back to an address belonging to Dan and Catherine Scavino.177

[snip]

Through October 2022, Save America has paid nearly $100,000 in “strategy consulting” payments to Herve Pierre Braillard,195 a fashion designer who has been dressing Melania Trump for years.196

[snip]

From January 2021 to June 2022, Save America has also reported over $2.1 million in “legal consulting.” Many firms perform different kinds of practice, but more than 67% of those funds went to law firms that are representing witnesses involved in the Select Committee’s investigation whowere subpoenaed or invited to testify.

CNN’s report notes that on the financial side of the investigation, DOJ has acquired some cooperating witnesses (the Report hints at who those might include — and Cannon seems to have exposure on the obstruction side of the investigation even while getting good press for refusing to certify Trump’s production to NARA on the stolen document side).

On top of being an entirely different kind of crime, the financial trail may be one area where it is easier to show pushback on Trump’s false claims.

But J6C didn’t include that in its referrals, perhaps in part because Trump relied on the advice of one of the main GOP campaign finance firms, Jones Day, for some of the later financial decisions.

In any case, it turns out (as with many parts of the investigation) DOJ has quietly been investigating this for some time. Which may make the financial side of the Trump’s claims a key part of proof available about his campaign’s awareness that he was lying.


“Dumb & silent we may be led, like sheep, to the Slaughter:” Elvis Chan, Hacks, the Klan, and the Twitter Files

In one of many false claims Michael Shellenberger made (see this thread for another) in his Twitter Files thread purporting to address Twitter’s handling of the “Hunter Biden” “laptop” (but which focused a lot on non-Twitter material on the “laptop”), he made this claim about the deposition of FBI Assistant Agent in Charge Elvis Chan.

Chan was interviewed as part of the lawsuit filed by Eric Schmitt before Schmitt was elected to the Senate. The suit alleges that the government has violated the First Amendment rights of Americans by pressuring social media companies to take down misinformation. The bolded language below, from an address by George Washington, appears in the first paragraph of Schmitt’s complaint.

if Men are to be precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences, that can invite the consideration of Mankind; reason is of no use to us—the freedom of Speech may be taken away—and, dumb & silent we may be led, like sheep, to the Slaughter. [my emphasis]

Shellenberger’s tweet is part of an argument that the FBI warned the social media companies specifically about Hunter Biden. Indeed, his tweet is premised on the claim that the FBI gave “warnings of a hack-and-leak operation relating to Hunter Biden.” [my emphasis]

In fact, though Hunter Biden came up in this deposition 36 times, Chan’s testimony was that Hunter Biden came up in just one briefing with social media companies, one in which someone from FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force, Laura Dehmlow, refused to comment in response to a question from Facebook about the already-published NY Post story.

Q. BY MR. SAUER: Do you know that in 20– so you remember sometime in 2020 a Facebook analyst asked the FBI to comment on the status of the Hunter Biden investigation?

A. That’s correct.

Q. And you believe that this occurred after there had been, you know, a New York Post article about the contents of the laptop that you referred to — I think you referred to earlier you finding out about it that way, right?

A. Yeah, I only found out through news media. I have no internal knowledge of that investigation, and yeah, I believe that it was brought up after the news story had broke.

Q. And so the — what did the Facebook analyst ask Ms. Dehmlow? Did they ask, you know, “Hey, we have the story. Can you confirm it,” or what did they ask?

A. Yeah, they just — I can’t remember the exact question, but I believe the investigator asked if the FBI could provide any information about the Hunter Biden investigation.

Q. Did they refer to the laptop in particular that had been the subject of the news stories?

A. I can’t recall.

Q. And what did Ms. Dehmlow respond?

A. She said no comment. She said something to the effect that the FBI has no comment on this.

Q. Did she indicate why the FBI declined to comment?

A. Yes. It was because — at the time I do not believe that we had confirmed that it was an active — we had — at the time we had not confirmed that the FBI was actually investigating Hunter Biden. So she did not have the authority to say anything or to comment about it.

Q. Did she know at the time that the FBI had the laptop and that the contents had not been hacked?

MR. SUR: Objection; calls for speculation and gets into law enforcement privilege.

Q. BY MR. SAUER: To your knowledge?

A. I have no idea. I never asked her, and she never told me.

Q. Did Hunter Biden come up with any other social media platforms during 2020?

A. Not to my knowledge.

Q. Do you recall any mention of Hunter Biden at any meetings with any social media platforms?

A. No. It stood out because that Facebook meeting was the only one where an individual from one of the companies even asked about it.

Q. You’re confident that Hunter Biden did not come up at any other meetings between federal government officials and social media platforms in 2020?

A. I was confident that I was not a party to any meeting with social media companies where Hunter Biden was discussed outside of the one incident that I told you about.

Q. That was the one where it was a FITF Facebook meeting where the analyst asked Ms. Dehmlow and she refused to comment, correct?

A. That is correct. That is correct.

Note that Twitter Files propagandists often refer to Dehmlow’s actions in 2020 and describe that she was in charge of the entire FITF effort, but at the time she was only in charge of the China unit. That has the effect of falsely suggesting she and all the other FITF warnings were focused primarily on Russia (Iran is similarly neglected from the focus of the Twitter Files propagandists).

In his deposition, Chan takes issue with former Twitter head of Trust and Safety Yoel Roth’s use, in a declaration explaining why Twitter took down links to the NY Post article, of the word, “expectation,” to describe FBI’s warnings to be on the lookout for hack-and-leak operations and notes that the FBI would have been the only federal law enforcement agency who offered such warnings; CISA, which organized other meetings with the FBI, is not a law enforcement agency (though the Twitter File propagandists have at times claimed it is). He also has to correct Schmitt’s lawyer when he treats Roth’s reference to the Infosec community’s response to the NY Post story to include the FBI, as opposed to the private sector Infosec community.

But Chen’s testimony — whether it accords with Twitter’s own records or not — is quite clear: while the FBI (and CISA and ODNI) were absolutely warning that there might be hack-and-leak operations in 2016, those warnings did not mention Hunter Biden. Rather than admitting that, Shellenberger instead states as fact that these warnings were “relating to Hunter Biden.”

And then he does something funnier. To prove that these warnings “relating to Hunter Biden” that weren’t related to Hunter Biden weren’t based on any new information, he points to Chan’s repeated comments that the FBI had not seen any intrusions like the 2016 ones.

Q. You said that there might be a Russian hack-and-dump operation?

A. So what I said was although we have not seen any computer intrusions into national-level political committees or election officials or presidential candidates at this time, we ask you to remain vigilant about the potential for hack-and-dump operations, or something to that effect.

Q. Did you specifically refer to the 2016 hack-and-dump operation that targeted the DCCC and the DNC?

A. I believe I did.

Q. Did you provide any basis to the social media platforms for thinking that such an operation 20 might be coming?

A. The basis was — my basis was it had happened once, and it could happen again.

Q. Did you have any other specific information other than it had happened four years earlier?

[snip]

THE WITNESS: Through our investigations, we did not see any similar competing intrusions to what had happened in 2016. So although from our standpoint we had not seen anything, we specifically, in an abundance of caution, warned the companies in case they saw something that we did not.

Q. BY MR. SAUER: So did you ask the companies if they had seen any attempts at intrusions or unauthorized access?

A. This is something that we — that I regularly ask the companies in the course of our meetings. 

Q. Did you ask them in these meetings?

A. Not at every meeting, but I believe I asked them at some meetings.

Q. And did you repeatedly warn them at these meetings that you anticipated there might be hack-and-dump operations, Russian-initiated hack-and-dump operations?

[snip]

THE WITNESS: So repeatedly I would say — can you — can you ask your question like — what do you mean by “repeatedly”? Like times, five times?

Q. BY MR. SAUER: Well, did you do it more than once?

A. I did it more — yes. I warned the companies about a potential for hack-and-dump operations from the Russians and the Iranians on more than one occasion, although I cannot recollect how many times. [my emphasis]

But note that Chan specifically referenced hacks of “national-level political committees or election officials or presidential candidates.”

Hunter Biden is not and was not a national-level political committee.

Hunter Biden is not and was not an election official.

Hunter Biden is not and was not a presidential candidate.

Having misrepresented what Chan said about the extent of any discussions of Hunter Biden (whether it is accurate or not), Shellenberger then pointed to testimony about hacks of political candidates to disclaim the FBI had any information about hacks of someone who is not a political candidate.

And while it doesn’t show up in this deposition because Eric Schmitt doesn’t much care about Russian hacking, Chan’s reference to Russia and Iran is significant: because according to former CISA Director Chis Krebs’ January 6 Committee deposition, both did hack “election-adjacent systems” in 2020.

Q Are you able to form any conclusions as to whether there was a cyber intrusion in connection with the 2020 election?

A Yes. In fact, we released alerts on these things throughout. There were both Russian and Iranian actors that were able to gain access to election-adjacent systems. The Iranians, in one case, I think, had access to a voter registration database. But we’re not aware of any instance where they were in a system that would’ve been directly connected or, you know, involved in casting, counting, certifying of votes.

Indeed, Iran conducted the most notable information operation in 2020, emails to Democrats in Florida purporting to be Proud Boys providing disinformation about the election. So a good deal of the wailing about last minute warnings to social media companies in 2020 had to do, in part, with foreigners maligning far right militia members, not Hunter Biden. We haven’t heard anything about the FBI’s efforts to protect the reputation of the Proud Boys from Elmo’s propagandists, though.

Several more points about Chan’s responses on hack-and-leak campaigns are worth nothing. First, Chan said he kept raising the potential of a hack-and-leak campaign, “in case [the tech companies] saw something that we did not.” Russian denialists like Matt Taibbi — who espoused the Single Server fallacy until at least 2019 — don’t understand this, but when GRU engaged in a hack-and-leak campaign in 2016, tech companies were seeing the operation and attributing it to Russia in real time (though not Twitter, that I am aware of). Tech companies saw some parts of the attack before the FBI did. Yet in his deposition, Chan had to repeatedly explain to Schmitt’s lawyer that most of his interactions with social media companies involve hacks, not disinformation.

THE WITNESS: Yeah. The majority of my interaction with Facebook is not in the disinformation or malign-foreign-influence realm. It is actually for things related to my — to the Cyber Branch, which are specifically cyber investigations.

One time Chan even had to explain that “malign foreign influence” sometimes involves hacking (the Iranian campaign targeting the Proud Boys appears to have, for example). And Chan described several times that his team not only investigated part of the 2016 hack, but still had an active investigation into those actors. That’s important not only because he would have firsthand knowledge of the kinds of attribution social media companies (and Google and Microsoft) had in 2016, but for another reason: On October 19, 2020, DOJ indicted a bunch of GRU hackers, including one charged in the 2016 hack-and-leak campaign, for a variety of additional hacks, including the hack-and-leak targeting Emmanuel Macron. The Macron campaign, specifically, included both Google and Twitter components. So in the very same weeks when — right wingers complain — Elvis Chan was in close contact with Twitter about the ongoing election, he or his subordinates were likely working with prosecutors in Pittsburgh on an indictment implicating both Google and Twitter.

Emmanuel Macron is not mentioned in the Chan deposition.

Something else not mentioned in the Chan deposition — not once among the 36 mentions of Hunter Biden!!! — is Burisma Holdings. Mind you, it was not FBI that had attributed a 2019 hack of Burisma to the GRU, the very same actors under discussion, earlier in 2020, it was a Bay Area Infosec company, that same Infosec community that Yoel Roth had attributed some of his concerns about Hunter Biden to. We have no idea whether the FBI — whether a team under Chan’s direction, possibly! — similarly discovered that GRU had hacked Burisma in 2019. Chan was never asked. It’s one of the questions you’d have to ask, though, if you wanted to know whether the FBI had any knowledge that might lead them to believe that Hunter Biden — as distinct from “national-level political committees or election officials or presidential candidates” — had been targeted with a GRU info op during the 2020 presidential cycle.

So there are several things that you would want to ask Elvis Chan about whether he knew of things in 2020 that might have raised concerns that the NYPost article was part of a hack-and-leak campaign, including what hacks Russian and other foreign countries did do, his interactions with Bay Area companies Google and Twitter in those very same weeks in advance another indictment of the GRU, as well as his knowledge of the Bay Area attribution of a GRU campaign targeting Burisma. Eric Schmitt’s lawyer didn’t ask. Which is to say that nothing in this deposition addresses Shellenberger’s specific claims, which unsurprisingly didn’t stop him from claiming it did.

But at least we know he knows of the deposition, though from the looks of his screen cap, he may have mostly just searched it for isolated language that would confirm his priors.

Lee Fang, whose single entry in Twitter Files is the least dishonest, has also read it. He posted a screen cap reporting as “news” that the FBI weighs in on legislation that affects the FBI (which is tantamount to confessing that Fang knows next to nothing about how DC works; Fang did not retract his wildly erroneous article that was significantly debunked by Chan’s deposition).

In other words, two people associated with the Twitter Files have at least claimed familiarity with this deposition.

And yet, as recently as Friday, #MattyDickPics has continued to make grossly false claims about what FBI was doing.

Over and over again, Matty has complained that the FBI sent Twitter URLs for tweets, including tweets written by Americans.

Some of the moderation decisions he reviewed in his first Twitter File thread focus on Tweets about the means and method of voting. He calls Tweets advertising an incorrect day for election day “silly numbers.”

In short, Matt Taibbi has gone from being furious that Twitter removed non-consensually posted dick pics, some of which were the product of inauthentic campaign launched by Steve Bannon buddy Guo Wengui, to being outraged that the FBI shared Tweets advertising the wrong day for election day.

He has done so in spite of the fact that Chan’s deposition explains why the FBI was doing that: because sending false information that might lead someone to lose their opportunity to vote is a crime.

Q. But you received reports, I take it, from all over the country about disinformation about time, place and manner of voting, right?

A. That is — we received them from multiple field offices, and I can’t remember. But I remember many field offices, probably around ten to 12 field offices, relayed this type of information to us. And because DOJ had informed us that this type of information was criminal in nature, that it did not matter where the — who was the source of the information, but that it was criminal in nature and that it should be flagged to the social media companies. And then the respective field offices were expected to follow up with a legal process to get additional information on the origin and nature of these communications.

Q. So the Department of Justice advised you that it’s criminal and there’s no First Amendment right to post false information about time, place and manner of voting?

[snip]

A. That was my understanding.

Q. And did you, in fact, relay — let me ask you this. You say manner of voting. Were some of these reports related to voting by mail, which was a hot topic back then?

A. From my recollection, some of them did include voting by mail. Specifically what I can remember is erroneous information about when mail-in ballots could be postmarked because it is different in different jurisdictions. So I would be relying on the local field office to know what were the election laws in their territory and to only flag information for us. Actually, let me provide additional context. DOJ public integrity attorneys were at the FBI’s election command post and headquarters. So I believe that all of those were reviewed before they got sent to FBI San Francisco.

Q. So those reports would come to FBI San Francisco when you were the day commander at this command post, and then FBI San Francisco would relay them to the various social media platforms where the problematic posts had been made, right?

A. That is correct.

Q. And then the point there was to alert the social media platforms and see if they could be taken down, right?

A. It was to alert the social media companies to see if they violated their terms of service. [my emphasis]

I’ve got a request into the FBI but have not gotten a response about what crime this violated, but I believe the crime DOJ was relying on — Bill Barr’s DOJ! — was the Ku Klux Klan Act, which was passed in 1871 to prevent racists from conspiring to deprive former slaves from voting. This is the same crime that Douglass Mackey was charged with for allegedly conducting a more systematic campaign to misinform black voters about when to vote in 2016 (Mackey has pled not guilty and is vigorously contesting the constitutionality of the statute).

In other words, after complaining that Twitter chose to take down revenge porn targeting Joe Biden’s son, Taibbi is now complaining that DOJ enforced a law designed to protect Black people’s right to vote.

And his fellow Twitter File propagandists, at least two of whom claim familiarity with Elvis Chan’s deposition that explains this, are letting him continue to grossly misrepresent an effort to protect the right to vote.


The J6C Transcripts: Patrick Byrne’s Conduit, Garrett Ziegler

The other day, I noted that while I agree with Rayne that the January 6 Committee could use referrals to make important symbolic statements, the Committee’s referral, in practice, was weaker than it should have been to make that symbolic impact. That made bmaz’ earlier gripes about such a referral look more justified.

Similarly, the release of the first set of January 6 Committee transcripts last night show how right he has been that the Committee was remiss in not turning these over to DOJ sooner. Most of these transcripts are people who pled the Fifth and most you’re hearing about are the big name people like Mike Flynn and Roger Stone. But the first I read, from a Peter Navarro aide, Garrett Ziegler, hinted at just how valuable the J6C interviews will be, even of those who (like Ziegler) refused to cooperate.

Ziegler is most famous as the guy who let Sidney Powell, Mike Flynn, and Patrick Byrne into the White House for a famously confrontational meeting on December 18, 2020, which preceded Trump’s announcement of the January 6 riot. But Ziegler’s non-answers to J6C staffers serve as roadmap of the larger operation. He refused to answer questions about the following:

Ziegler was — is — a kid, totally unqualified for the role he had at the White House, which it sounds like he didn’t do anyway, instead at least partly working for Trump’s reelection on the taxpayer dime. But he was also totally wired into most aspects of the coup attempt.

His role in all this is interesting for several more reasons. First, it appears that Ziegler did not turn over the “path to victory” email in response to his January 6 subpoena, which means for all the times he invoked the Fifth, he might still have exposure to obstruction charges.

He is represented by John Kiyonaga — a lawyer who has represented key assault defendants in January 6, including former Special Forces guy Jeffrey McKellop. In fact, prosecutors are considering charging McKellop in January for violating the protective order covering evidence on January 6 by sending evidence from jail to others.

And Ziegler published a copy of both the “Hunter Biden” “laptop” and the diary stolen from Ashley Biden.


The Fourth Account: The Grand Jury Investigation into Jeffrey Clark and Others

Last Friday, Beryl Howell unsealed two opinions regarding privilege team reviews in the grand jury investigation into attempts to overturn the 2020 election. The first order, dated June 27, 2022, pertains to 37 emails involving Scott Perry seized from two Gmail, one Microsoft, and John Eastman’s Chapman U email accounts involving:

  • A non-lawyer whose name remains redacted (probably 8 documents total)
  • Jeffrey Clark (19 documents total)
  • Ken Klukowski (7 documents total)
  • John Eastman 3 documents total)

The second order, dated September 27, 2022, pertains to a filter review of an outline for an auto-biography Clark was writing on October 11 and 14, 2021, which was auto-saved 331 times in Google Notes. Because Clark attempts to invoke both work product and attorney-client privilege over a document he initially labeled as not privileged, Howell calls Clark’s claims in that dispute “throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks.”

The orders reveal bare outlines of the investigation.

It shows, first of all, what I laid out here: That the FBI obtains warrants for materials stored in the cloud that are accessible covertly before it gets warrants for things — like phones and homes — that it must seize overtly. In Clark’s case, the FBI first obtained his Outlook account and only later his Gmail account.

By May 26, the FBI had warrants for the cloud accounts of four people. But it took just a month to get a warrant for Jeffrey Clark and John Eastman’s phone.  Amazingly, it seems that the FBI used Scott Perry’s involvement in the investigation as a way to initially isolate information that should not be privileged. Most of the emails in the first order sound investigatively uninteresting, including things like nine copies of Clark sending Perry two versions of his resume or requests from Perry to give him a call; that provides a glimpse of the difficulties of an investigation, like this one, in which most of the suspected co-conspirators are lawyers.

The material covered by the second order sounds more interesting, as it gives Clark’s version of the January 3 confrontation where most of DOJ’s top officials and Trump’s top White House Counsel threatened to quit.

The second order explains that after an overt search takes place on a subject, then their own attorneys are brought into the filter process (as Clark’s attorney was in the second order).

The filter protocol was later amended with respect to Clark and others to provide for detailed procedures for disclosing certain material to any potential privilege holder after separate search warrant on Clark and others, and Clark’s residence were executed, alerting these persons to the government’s investigation.

This detail suggests there likely was an overt warrant served on Klukowski (otherwise the existence of the cloud warrant targeting him would not be unsealed). It suggests the fourth person, a non-lawyer, has not yet been formally alerted into the investigation into him or her.

It also likely provides background to what happened with Scott Perry. DOJ was already accessing his [email protected] email, at least those seized from the lawyers. He likely learned the full extent of prior warrants served on him in August, after DOJ seized his phone. And a more recent dispute over text messages reported by CNN may operate under a similar protocol, with his lawyer contesting access directly.

 

Timeline

May 26, 2022: Three separate hearings on filter protocol; Howell approves filter protocol for four email accounts

June 17, 2022: Filter team begins reviewing 130,000 documents

June 23, 2022: Jeffrey Clark home searched and phone seized; John Eastman phone seized

June 24, 2022: Warrant approved for Clark Gmail account

June 27, 2022: Howell authorizes sharing of Scott Perry emails; Warrant executed for Clark Gmail

July 12, 2022: Filter protocol covering devices seized from Clark’s residence

July 21, 2022: Howell approves filter protocol for Clark Gmail account

August 9, 2022: Scott Perry phone seized

August 17, 2022: Filter team notifies Clark of auto-biography dispute

August 25, 2022: Clark attorney Charles Burnham objects to sharing of auto-biography, claiming attorney work product

August 29, 2022: Filter team provides more substantive reply; Burnham responds, “We object”

September 8, 2022: Filter team moves to share a copy of motion with Clark’s lawyer and a memoir with investigative team

September 21, 2022: Supplemental response to Beryl Howell query

September 27, 2022: Howell approves sharing of memoir

September 28, 2022: Clark provided September 27 order

November 16: Howell issues minute order about unsealing opinions

December 15: Howell unseals two redacted orders


The Day after I Blew Off Josh Schulte He Started Deleting “Suspicious Emails”

On the evening of August 13, 2018, Joshua Schulte activated a Samsung phone he had just gotten in a swap with another detainee at Metropolitan Correctional Center.

On August 14, according to a page of his prison notebook introduced at trial, he wrote up the beginnings of his plan for an “information war” conceived — Schulte claimed at trial — after doing some kind of drugs on August 8.

The way is clear. I will setup a wordpress of joshschulte.wordpress.com and presumption of innocence.wordpress.com. From here, I will stage my information war.

“Give me a phone and a blog and I will change the world,” he wrote in the margin of the same page where he planned out how to manage the limited charge time on his phone: “1 charge per day//use from 3-death.”

On August 21, according to another of the pages introduced at trial, Schulte made plans to cover his tracks.

In between those two days, August 14 and August 21, 2018, Schulte, his cellmate, Omar Amanat, and/or Amanat’s brother, Irfan, pitched me via email that Schulte could, “prove to be the most valuable source of information you have ever had.” The day after I declined that offer, Schulte started “delet[ing] suspicious emails.”

At 6:52PM ET on August 14, I received this email from the [email protected] account. (I’ve replaced the bitly links with direct links indicating the bitly code, but have not fixed typos.)

Hello Marcy : Confidential Intelligence Source

Dear Marcy,

I am writing on behalf of a senior ex NSA/CIA Intellgence officer who spearheaded many of the CIA’s technology hacking and counter-hacking intelligence efforts against state sponsored hackers overseas between 2010-November, 2016. He is currently imprisoned inside MCC (aka Manhattan’s Guantanamo) next to El Chapo and the Chelsea Bomber. He is charged with the largest leak in the history of the CIA: the Vault 7 release to Wikileaks.

The Government does not allow him to electronically communicate with anyone outside the prison via its monitored electronic communication system because he is designated as a “danger to the facility.” Please keep this source confidential as if all goes well you will be able to speak to him and even meet with him in person to corroborate everything I am writing as an approved visitor. We know you disclosed that you revealed another source to the FBI before and that we are therefore taking a huge risk in contacting you. However in your writings and NPR interview we have gleaned that you are a truly thoughtful independent thinker and patriot unafraid to communicate with others if you deem their underlying intentions to be worthy. That is the case with this source, whom you will find to have a pristine moral clarity and intellect -despite the lurid false and totally unsubstantiated accusations against him.

If you protect his confidentiality he will prove to be the most valuable source of information you have ever had.

He has a lot of material information —- never before revealed to the public —-including, but not limited to, Trump principals and agents acquiescence in what’s going on under cover of night with Putin backed Russian Oligarchs —revealing their true agenda. Trumo had a 2 hour dinner at Nobu in Moscow in 2013 with 12 Oligarchs which laid all of this out in advance. These covert efforts are ill understood by media and political hacks but they are actually the single largest threat posed by Putin-backed Russian Cyberhackers on behalf of the Oligarchy : their successful attempts to target second tier—-but highly strategic—- economic assets using an innovative Russian incubated “disruptive business model innovation” they are now exporting to the West called Reiderstvo. See www.reiderstvo.org It is the mechanism that enabled 12 men to end up with 51% of the wealth of one of the wealthiest countries in the world. If it continues unabated it will end with them perpetrating the largest transfer of power and wealth in the history of the world. —via state sponsored legalized theft —-not new value creation and if followed to its logical conclusion the evolution of this virulent “Malware of the Mind” could possibly usher in the decline of western civilization as we know it by rendering the west’s judicial infrastructure and Federal Rules of Evidence completely comprised and ineffectual.

These reids are highly sophisticated legal campaigns that began in 2016 targeting wealthy Clinton backers and they are using President Trump’s own personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz —-who represents Putin’s own bank the largest bank in Russia -Sberbank. [bitly link 2P3oVSd to this NYT story]. Using a Kasowitz division called Intelligence Options which on its website [bitly link 2BafcX6 to Intelligence Options page] brags about its ability to take out business rival targets in highly coordinated efforts involving law enforcement authorities. He can confirm that the Kasowitz firm has been paid “mid 8 figures” by Russian oligarchs close to Putin to implement Reiderstvo targeting American and European citizens who are falsely arrested and their assets seized by the Oligarchs losing billions in the process using (and distorting) the American justice system. And they are just getting started. The Despite the furor over Peter Strzok the FBI itself is compromised by many recent ex Field Agents loyal to Trump working for Kasowitz Intelligence Options division including many who served as personal security guards for him and his family. We have their names.

Inception Hacks
Our ex CIA tech wiz can confirm that they have already used ‘near misses’ in these disinformation campaigns to convince prosecutors, judges and juries that “real info is fake” and have distorted justice in the process. They have developed a lethal technology that is the “nuclear bomb of hacking” that no other state actor has discovered : “Inception Hacking”: is the planting of fabricated emails onto ISP’s without leaving a trace behind. Imagine planting child pornography on an adversary’s computer without him ever knowing or anyone being able to prove it wasn’t his. No network intrusion. No trace.

$6-9 billion of value has already been stolen from American citizens and another $150 billion is currently in the targets sights with $1Trillion in transfered assets by 2022 as their stretch goal. The targets of these campaign includes one in jail with the ex NSA/CIA intelligence officer who he met at MCC and whose case study you will find fascinating and disturbing.

Is there a phone number I can call you to discuss? I tried sending to your encrypted email but it doesn’t seem to work from protonmail.

Thanks

Jake

I declined the offer to connect with “the most valuable source of information you have ever had.”

Aside from an email I sent on October 29 after the contraband phones were revealed in a court filing (which went unanswered), our last contact was at at 3:49PM on August 21, the same day Schulte wrote a list of things to do to hide his tracks.

I wasn’t sure whether this pitch came from Schulte and/or someone working with him until the first trial. I’m still not sure who, specifically, sent the email. But evidence submitted at Schulte’s two trials revealed that the pitch used common content and the same email as were used in later efforts using contraband phones. It was Schulte or someone else involved in his efforts to communicate from jail.

Most notably, the email address — [email protected] — is the same one mentioned in a Signal text sent to Shane Harris about seven weeks later, after Schulte was thrown in SHU on October 1. The text probably reflects Schulte cellmate Omar Amanat’s effort, using Schulte’s Samsung after Amanat’s own iPhone had been seized, to get Harris to move to an account he still had access to.

In what follows, I will use the pronoun, “they,” to reflect that the email was, for the reasons I lay out here, probably a collective effort. At least in the case of a very similar email sent to Shane Harris months later, Schulte, Omar, and Irfan Amanat all worked on a common Google Doc, chatting on the side via encrypted texts, to put together the content of the email. Given the similarity between the documents and the use of the common protonmail account, I think it likely that the same happened with the email sent to me.

I’m sharing this now for several reasons. Most notably, I’m intervening in the case in an attempt to liberate a discussion during a sealed CIPA hearing about DOJ’s application of the Espionage Act, and I don’t want DOJ to have any lingering suspicions that I ever pursued a secret back channel with Schulte. I’ve long wanted to be transparent about this, given how closely I have covered the case. But I wanted to wait until after the guilty verdict to avoid contributing in any way to Schulte’s prosecution (I had hoped to wait until his post-trial motions were adjudicated, which is why I didn’t do it during the summer, when I started drafting this post). And for a variety of reasons, the WikiLeaks crowd has belatedly decided to spin Schulte as a hero, so I wanted to explain why I’m so certain he’s a fraud.

I’m sharing it (but not subsequent emails) because I did not agree to confidentiality before they sent it and I’m certain this email and follow-ups are riddled with lies. For example, the claim that this email was sent from a Schulte cousin and their representations about communications in jail almost certainly served to hide the use of a contraband mobile phone to send it. While Schulte’s cousin was involved in contacting other journalists, according to a 2020 FBI interview he did, he only ever used a [email protected] account to do so, and Schulte demonstrably lied to Shane Harris later in the summer about the same cousin.

Court filings give reason to believe Schulte was a liar even before I got this email, but this correspondence is one reason I’m certain he is.

I’m sharing this email, too, because I think the way they pitched this may be of interest for others trying to understand what Schulte was up to. For example, whereas Schulte got WaPo’s Harris to make a series of agreements before sending this Reiderstvo pitch on September 22, 2018, they just gave it to me as the initial dangle. Boom. Here’s the purported good stuff! I regarded it then, as now, as a dangle, an attempt to package up what they imagined I most wanted to hear as a way to get me on the phone. Maybe they tried to raise the value of it with Harris by making it harder to get?

The content of the email sent to me, too, may be of interest. It’s unclear whether and if so how the “Reiderstvo” pitch evolved by the time they prepared to send it to Harris. But as it appears here, it seems, at least in part, a bid to create an alternative narrative that might undermine the viability of the evidence against both Schulte and Amanat. The idea laid out in the “Inception Hacking” passage of the email incorporates alibis that both Schulte and Amanat were offering in their own defense in 2018 (and still, in Schulte’s case): a claim that the FBI fabricated Yahoo emails in Amanat’s case, and a claim that the FBI planted Child Sexual Abuse Material on Schulte’s computer in his case.

The form of the claim capitalized on Schulte’s own hacking expertise.

Here’s how Schulte described that expertise in another document he wrote in jail.

Do you know what my speciality was at the CIA? Do you know what I did for fun? Data hiding and crypto. I designed and wrote software to conceal data in a custom-designed filesystem contained within the drive slackspace or hidden partitions. I disguised data. I split data across files and filesystems to conceal the crypto — analysis tools would NEVER detect random or pseudo-random data indicative of potential crypto.

This was part of the National Defense Information that Schulte was charged and convicted of leaking from jail. So there must be truth to it (to be clear, I have no reason to believe the things in the email to me are true, much less classified).

Significantly, the email sent to me also calls “Inception Hacking,” “Malware of the Mind,” which is the name Schulte gave to that larger document in which he described “disguis[ing] data.”

According to this pitch, the evidence of Schulte and/or Amanat’s guilt was instead proof they were victims of the kind of hack Schulte bragged he could do for the CIA, but here the culprit (in an email to someone they seemed to think would respond enthusiastically) was Russia, not CIA.

Equating Malware of the Mind with Inception in the email sent to me invokes another spy movie, like the Jason Bourne identity Schulte (predictably) adopted as his own, days after this email was sent.

Finally, I’m posting this because of the timing. While I can’t prove this email came from Schulte, as opposed to one of the Amanats or someone else tied to them, during the entirety of the first week Schulte had that Samsung phone, someone was trying to get me on the phone with him, promising that I could speak to him without jailhouse monitors knowing (a claim I found absurd at the time, but which made more sense once I learned of the contraband phones). The day I said, “no,” August 21, Schulte made a list of things to start deleting. The next day, August 22, he renewed his outreach to Harris.

I didn’t then and don’t now know what to make of this. On the one hand, Schulte attempted to speak to a number of journalists who cover this beat; at least five others have been identified in trial exhibits and court filings. In that, there’s nothing special about outreach to me.

Plus, there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for why they pitched some journalist at the time. At least according to jail house informant Carlos Betances, Schulte wanted the Samsung because, after someone that Betances believed to be Schulte’s cousin got raided by the FBI, Schulte grew paranoid that the FBI could be monitoring the phones Schulte and his buddies already had.

Q. Mr. Betances, what did the defendant say about why he didn’t want to use iPhones anymore?

A. Because of a conversation in Chino’s cell, he was very scared because his cousin — or, I don’t know who it was. The FBI had gone to that person’s house. They had taken his computer, and since then, he was very scared. So he wanted to replace all phones. He wanted to get all new phone chips, and because of something like that that had happened; he didn’t know what.

[snip]

Q. OK. But that has nothing to do with the FBI or my cousin, right?

A. It does have something to do, because we had that conversation, and you were there.

Q. OK. So when you described me as very scared, what is that based on?

A. Because you said we had to change the phones, we had to change everything. You were freaking out. You were freaked out, in panic mode.

Q. OK. So your description’s not based on the demeanor but based on what you say are requested actions from me, right?

A. I didn’t understand your question. Could you repeat it?

Q. Yes. It wasn’t my outward appearance but what we were discussing that led you to believe I was very scared, right?

MR. LOCKARD: Objection. Form.

THE INTERPRETER: I’m sorry, sir. Did you say something? The interpreter just wants — did you say something at the very end?

MR. SCHULTE: I think there was an objection.

THE COURT: The objection’s overruled.

A. It’s not that you made me believe. It’s the way that you were acting, your outward appearance. You were freaking out.

Q. OK. And what was I scared of?

A. The fact that we had to change our phones, you were pacing back and forth, because the FBI might be listening in on the calls; they might do something. And then, so I asked you why. You know, did you talk to somebody on the phones that we were all using? And that’s when you didn’t answer me. You didn’t say yes or no.

It may not have been his cousin, Shane Presnall, but instead his parents that Schulte was worried about.

DOJ had been ratcheting up pressure on Schulte’s attempts to leak from jail for months by August 2018, when I got this email. In response to journalists publishing information on Schulte’s affidavits in May, DOJ admonished Schulte for violating his protective order. In an attempt to learn how the affidavits had gotten shared, the FBI first interviewed, then served a subpoena on Presnall to appear before the Grand Jury on June 13.

On June 28, Schulte posted a pro se bail application that the CIA claimed included classified information, which led the FBI to ask his parents and attorney in Texas for any classified information, something he repeatedly called a “raid” during the trial.

Then, in early August, Presnall turned over to DOJ another of Schulte’s narratives, which by description may be the one his parents wouldn’t post for him.

On or about August 6, 2018, Presnall, through counsel, produced documents responsive to the subpoena and an index. The index described Articles 1 through 7 by Joshua Schulte, which corresponded to the articles published on the John Galt’s Legal Defense Fund Facebook page in April 2018; as well as an “Article 8 by Joshua Schulte” and the Schulte Article described as “Article entitled ‘. . .unalienable Rights, that among these are Life. Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’ by Joshua Schulte.” ” (Ex. 4; id. at JAS_021890-JAS_021902). The latter two articles had not yet been published on Facebook. The Schulte Article has four chapter headings, including “Chapter 1: The confrontation,” “Chapter 2: my last experience at the CIA and my reason(s) for resigning,” “Chapter 3: Hell,” and “Chapter 4: The Red Pill.” As with his other articles, the primary thesis of Schulte Article is that the defendant is innocent and he is the victim of lawless, dishonest agents and a criminal justice system uninterested in civil liberties or truth.

As I have noted, this article not only referred to his colleagues whose identities were classified by name, which if published would have exposed their identities, but also described the benefit to Russia that advance access to CIA’s source code would provide. It was a really damning document.

Inexplicably, DOJ did not use it in either of the two trials against Schulte.

The government’s discovery of the materials from Presnall may explain the panic that shows up in Schulte’s notebook in this period, with two notes Schulte wrote reflecting concern that the government had compromised the IMEI numbers for “all 3” phones.

 

The reference to three phones is probably a reference to the contraband jail phones, but Schulte used three different phones in 2017, after FBI seized a first one, that he would have received discovery on. In any case, DOJ’s increased efforts to crack down on his leaking from jail would have come just as reviewing his own discovery may have led Schulte to belatedly realize the import of the basic investigative tools, such as subpoenas for subscriber records, which the FBI uses to track suspects. That is, at precisely the time he was pursuing a variety of means to leak from jail, Schulte discovered that he hadn’t covered his tracks anywhere nearly as well as he arrogantly believed he had.

So he got a new phone and tried to encrypt everything.

So it would be unsurprising for Schulte, believing his past communications with journalists to have been exposed, to try someone new — me. Then the day after I said no, Schulte turned to reestablish ties with Harris via a new channel and new false identity.

But let’s be honest: it was fucking insane for these guys to do a cold outreach to someone who (as they note!) had only recently publicly confessed to sharing information with the FBI. I’ve never spoken to the FBI about this, but if they did find evidence that Schulte had reached out to me, the outreach would be adjacent enough to the things I did share, it would set off alarms bells all over DOJ. Indeed, there are several non-public details –details that DOJ knows about — that make me uncertain, even today, whether Schulte wasn’t trying something more, and one of those details may have led DOJ to suspect the same.

Plus, Schulte had no reason to believe I’d be receptive to his story. Already, in my coverage of Vault 7, I had made observations — such as that someone may have used CIA’s own hacking tools against it or that Schulte violated release conditions to get back on Tor in the wake of an Assange tweet seeming to use the stolen CIA documents for leverage against Don Jr — that may have been of particular interest to Schulte. But my coverage of Schulte wasn’t particularly sympathetic at all. Even in 2018, Schulte was unlikely to convince me of his lies, and that should have been clear from what I had written.

It’s pretty likely that DOJ did discover traces of this outreach, which is another reason I’m not withholding it. Schulte laid out a plan to delete his Google Docs (given the length of the email and the hotlinks in this email, I assume it was drafted in Google Docs, as the documents later shared with Harris were) the same day I declined this offer, so DOJ may not have the banal content of this email. But even assuming he deleted drafts of this email written collectively on Google Docs, given all the references to other journalists submitted in exhibits and other court filings, I assume references to me would show up in the same places that their names did: in searches conducted using the other phones, in text threads conducted on WhatsApp before Schulte installed Signal, in Schulte’s notebook, in pictures that jailhouse informant Betances took of the phones he tended (by Betances’ description, the email to me was sent before Schulte changed the password to the Samsung). DOJ has a great deal of evidence about Schulte’s actions they didn’t share at trial, and given the timing, much of it would be precisely where any mention of my name would appear.

For example, my name doesn’t show up in unredacted form in what were described as the “Internet searches” done on the Samsung (this is the version introduced at the first trial), though those only start on August 13, by which point whoever sent the email presumably had already gotten contact information for me. But it’s likely it shows up on another phone — perhaps the iPhone that Amanat had been using, or in Google searches (at the first trial the jury got all of Schulte’s Google searches, but the exhibit was not released publicly). Someone went to my website to get both the email addresses I had listed at the time.

Nor does my name appear in the prison notebooks introduced at trial. But there are twenty pages in Schulte’s prison notebooks between the beginning of the August 14 entry and the beginning of the August 21 one, just one of which was included in the trial exhibit. So even assuming the FBI never got into the psalms100 ProtonMail account (something I think is unlikely), they probably learned of the existence of this email via the notebook and searches, and may have gotten the content from Google Docs. So the final reason I’m sharing this is to clarify for anyone at DOJ who might still wonder about this that I said “no” to this outreach. There’s probably nothing in the email Schulte sent me that they didn’t find in other places.

And, yes, whoever sent this really did use “Confidential Intelligence Source” in the subject line of an email sent to a Gmail email, and they really did mention Vault 7 in the first paragraph.

So Schulte and his buddies were not just liars and bad suck-ups, but also stupid.

Again, I had and have no idea what to make of this — though over the course of two trials, how it fits into Schulte’s efforts to work the press in 2018 makes more sense. But at the very least, it hints that there are a lot more things in evidence seized from Schulte’s jail cell that were likely of interest to investigators, but not evidence of a crime.


Follow the Money: Merrick Garland Told You So

My favorite thing about this CNN story providing new details on the Trump investigations that Jack Smith will oversee is the quote from TV lawyer Elie Honing, commenting about how much evidence Smith already had.

“Mueller was starting virtually from scratch, whereas Jack Smith is seemingly integrating on the fly into an active, fast-moving investigation,” said Elie Honig, a former federal prosecutor and senior CNN legal analyst.

Honig, of course, was long one of the worst kind of TV lawyers, who kept insisting there was no investigation into Trump because he hadn’t seen evidence of it (and he also because he hadn’t looked).

Effectively, this CNN article amounts to Honig admitting that he was wrong.

Among the details CNN provides are that there’s not just one prosecutor — Thomas Windom — on the Trump team, there are twenty.

A team of 20 prosecutors investigating January 6 and the effort to overturn the 2020 election are in the process of moving to work under Smith, according to multiple people familiar with the team.

Prosecutors on the Trump side of the January 6 investigation have had the green light to go after Trump for a year, not after Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony as some liked to suggest.

[T]he other investigative team, looking at efforts to block the transfer of power from Trump to President Joe Biden after the 2020 election, had even a year ago been given the greenlight by the Justice Department to take a case all the way up to Trump, if the evidence leads them there, according to the sources.

CNN reveals an investigation into the finances of the attack, led by JP Cooney, that has also been going on at least a year.

Another top prosecutor, JP Cooney, the former head of public corruption in the DC US Attorney’s Office, is overseeing a significant financial probe that Smith will take on. The probe includes examining the possible misuse of political contributions, according to some of the sources. The DC US Attorney’s Office, before the special counsel’s arrival, had examined potential financial crimes related to the January 6 riot, including possible money laundering and the support of rioters’ hotel stays and bus trips to Washington ahead of January 6.

In recent months, however, the financial investigation has sought information about Trump’s post-election Save America PAC and other funding of people who assisted Trump, according to subpoenas viewed by CNN. The financial investigation picked up steam as DOJ investigators enlisted cooperators months after the 2021 riot, one of the sources said.

The thing is, we long had reason to know that there was a financial component to the investigation. Merrick Garland implied to Sheldon Whitehouse as much on October 28, 2021.

Garland: Senator, I’m very limited as to what I can say–

Whitehouse: I understand that.

Garland: –Because I have a criminal investigation going forward.

Whitehouse: Please tell me it has not been constrained only to be people in the Capitol.

Garland: The investigation is being conducted by the prosecutors in the US Attorney’s Office and by the FBI field office. We have not constrained them in any way.

Whitehouse: Great. And the old doctrine of “follow the money,” which is a well-established principle of prosecution, is alive and well?

Garland: It’s fair to say that all investigative techniques of which you’re familiar and some, maybe, that you’re not familiar with because they post-date your time are all being pursued in this matter.

He said so even more explicitly on January 5.

In circumstances like those of January 6th, a full accounting does not suddenly materialize. To ensure that all those criminally responsible are held accountable, we must collect the evidence.

We follow the physical evidence. We follow the digital evidence. We follow the money.

And now CNN reveals something else that TV lawyers were sure they’d know if it happened: “DOJ investigators enlisted cooperators months after the 2021 riot.”

Update: I’ve started to have some discussion about financial questions of interest, so thought I’d lay out some that likely have come up:

  • Nick Fuentes got a huge cryptocurrency donation just before the attack; did the donor (who killed himself) know that it’d be used to bring Nazis to the Capitol?
  • Patrick Byrne paid to fly some of the participants in the Big Lie and the December 12 rally from place to place; how closely was this tied to the overall plan to steal the election?
  • Alex Jones had a role in arranging Publix heir Julie Jenkins Fancelli’s funding for much of the rally. Did he do this with knowledge of plans to assault the Capitol?
  • A financial investigation into Sidney Powell has long been public. Even after that, she funded the defense of key witnesses. What were the legal circumstances of this money flow?
  • As the January 6 Committee made clear, Trump was raising money on promises of voting integrity long after he knew he had lost the election. Was that fraud, and did any money raised fraudulently go to pay for the attack on the Capitol?


Elon Musk’s Self-Described “Crime Scene”

On Saturday, Elon Musk tweeted that the social media site he owns is a crime scene.

I’m pretty sure his confession to owning and running a crime scene was not intended as an invitation for the Securities and Exchange Commission to mine the site for evidence that Elmo engaged in one or several securities-related violations in conjunction with his purchase of it. (As I’ll get to, Elmo’s claim that his own property is a crime scene may, counterintuitively, be an attempt to stave off that kind of investigative scrutiny.)

Similarly, he probably wasn’t boasting that the Federal Trade Commission and a bunch of European regulators are investigating how Elmo’s recklessness has violated his users’ privacy. He cares so little about that, his newly installed head of Twitter Safety, Ella Irwin, confirmed she was spending her time in charge of a woefully gutted department sharing private user data with one of the mouthpieces Elmo has gotten to rifle through Twitter documents. Worry not, though: Irwin deemed sharing the moderation history of three far right activists — and the control panel used for moderation — not to be a security or privacy risk.

Likewise, I’m virtually certain Elmo didn’t mean to boast that San Francisco has started cataloguing the beds he had installed at Twitter headquarters so he can flog his (often H1B-captive) engineers to work round the clock.

Given what has come out of the “Twitter Files” project so far, not to mention the number of coup-conspirators Elmo has welcomed back on the platform, I assume he doesn’t mean to emphasize that Twitter is one of the key sources of evidence about the failed January 6 coup attempt, even against — especially against — the coup instigator. On the contrary, Elmo has invited a bunch of pundits to write long breathless threads about the ban of Trump’s account that entirely leave out what happened on January 6. Here too, then, Elmo may be trying to undercut a known criminal investigation by labeling his social media site a crime scene.

No.

When Elmo says Twitter is a crime scene, he’s not imagining federal investigators swarming his joint to collect evidence that would be introduced in a legal proceeding according to the Rules of Criminal or Civil Procedure.

Indeed, a central part of the breathless Twitter Files project involves insinuating, at every turn, malice on the part of either law enforcement (often the FBI) or other federal organizations mislabeled as law enforcement (like the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, CISA, which is part of DHS), even while presenting evidence that disproves the allegations being floated. That’s what Matt Taibbi — whom I will henceforth refer to as #MattyDickPics for his wails that the DNC succeeded in getting removed nonconsensually posted dick pics — some of which were part of an inauthentic campaign that Steve Bannon chum Guo Wengui pushed out. (Side note: my Tweet linking to MotherJones’ story on the Guo Wengui tie, which shows that these tweets were doubly violations of Twitter’s Terms of Service, got flagged by Twitter as “sensitive content.”)

In one attempt to prove that former head of Twitter Safety Yoel Roth was too close to law enforcement, for example, MattyDickPics showed that Roth didn’t have weekly meetings pre-scheduled, and therefore could get blown off in favor of the Aspen Institute or Apple.

In another, Matty showed Roth writing to what appears to be an internal Slack, but claiming it was a “report to FBI/DHS/DNI,” about Twitter’s Hunter Biden response. Taibbi has discovered something genuinely newsworthy: Per Roth, when he asked about the “Hunter Biden” “laptop,” the government declined to say anything useful.

Weekly sync with FBI/DHS/DNI re: election security. The meeting happened about 15 minutes after the aforementioned Hacked Materials implosion; the government declined to share anything useful when asked. [my emphasis]

This entire campaign largely arose out of suspicion that the FBI was ordering Twitter to take action to harm Trump (or undermine the Hunter Biden laptop story). Matty here reveals that not only did that not happen, but when Twitter affirmatively asked for information, “the government declined to share anything useful.”

This is one of those instances where the conclusion should have been, “BREAKING: We were wrong. FBI did not order Twitter to kill the Hunter Biden laptop story.” Instead, Matty labels this a “report to” the government, not a “report about” a meeting with the government. And he says absolutely nothing about the evidence debunking the theory he and the frothy right came in with.

Instead, Matty makes a big deal out of the fact that, “Roth not only met weekly with the FBI and DHS, but with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI).” Reminder: At the time, DHS was led (unlawfully) by Chad Wolf. ODNI was led by John Ratcliffe. And one of Ratcliffe’s top aides was Trump’s most consistent firewall, Kash Patel. Roth may have been meeting with spooks, but he was meeting with Trump’s hand-picked spooks.

In another fizzled pistol, Matty shows Twitter responding to two reported Tweets from the FBI (without describing the basis on which FBI reported them) and in each case, debunking any claim that the Tweets were disinformation.

Matty complains that Twitter applied a label reassuring people that voting is secure. This is either just gross cynicism about efforts to support democracy, or a complaint that Twitter refused to institutionally embrace conspiracy theories. Whichever it is, it amounts to a complaint that Twitter tried to protect the election.

Perhaps my favorite example is where Matty, who is supposed to be showing us what happened between the Hunter Biden laptop moment and when, after Trump attempts a coup, Twitter bans him, instead shows us Slacks that post-date January 6. He provides no date or any other context. He shares these, he says, because they are an example of a Twitter exec “getting a kick out of intensified relationships with federal agencies.” They show Roth joking about how he should document his meetings.

Matty provides no basis for his judgment that this shows Twitter execs “getting a kick out of intensified relationships with federal agencies.” It’s even possible that Roth was claiming this was an FBI meeting the same way people name their wifi “FBI surveillance van,” as a joke. This is the kind of projection of motive that, elsewhere, Matty complains about Twitter doing (I mean, I guess he counts as Twitter now!), but with literally no basis to make this particular interpretation.

Honestly, I wish Matty had committed an act of journalism here — had at least provided the date of these texts! — because these texts are genuinely interesting.

It’s highly unlikely, though, that Roth is worried about documenting that he had meetings with the FBI, and Matty has already shown us why that’d obviously be the case. As Matty has shown, Roth had weekly meetings with the FBI on election integrity and monthly meetings on criminal investigations. He listed those meetings with the FBI as meetings with the FBI.

Yoel Roth was not afraid to document that he had meetings with the FBI, and Matty, more than anyone, has seen proof of that, because this breathless thread is based on Roth documenting those meetings with the FBI.

One distinct possibility that Matty apparently didn’t even consider is that, in the wake of the coup attempt, Roth had meetings with law enforcement, including the FBI, that were qualitatively different from those that went before because … well, because Twitter had become a crime scene! Consider the possibility, for example, that FBI would need to know how Trump’s tweets were disseminated, including among already arrested violent attackers. It was evident from very early in the investigation, for example, that Trump’s December 19 Tweet led directly to people planning, among militia members and totally random people on the Internet, to arm themselves and travel to DC. Or consider the report in the podcast, Finding Q, that only after January 6 did the FBI investigate certain aspects of QAnon that probably could have been investigated earlier: Twitter data on that particular conspiracy would likely be of interest in such an investigation. Consider the known details about how convicted seditionists used Trump’s tweets in the wake of the failed coup attempt in discussions of planning a far more violent follow-up attack.

Matty, for one, simply doesn’t consider whether Elmo’s observation explains all of this: that Twitter had become a crime scene, that the FBI would treat it differently as Twitter became a key piece of evidence in investigations of over 1,200 people.

None of this shows the “collusion” with the Deep State that Matty is looking for. Thus far, it shows the opposite.

Which may be why, close to the beginning of this particular screed, Matty explained (as he did about several other topics), that he was making grand pronouncements about Twitter’s relationship with law enforcement (and non-LE government entities like CISA) even though, “we’re still at the start of reviewing” the records.

Seven Tweets before he made that admission — “we’re still at the start of reviewing” these files — Matty insinuates, in spite of what his thread would show turned out to be evidence to the contrary — that Twitter struggled as Trump increasingly attacked democracy “perhaps under pressure from federal agencies.”

He and his fellow-Elmo mouthpieces have reached their conclusion — that Twitter did what it did “perhaps under pressure from” the Feds, even though they’ve only started evaluating the evidence and what evidence they’ve shown shows the opposite.

This is, nakedly, an attempt to attack the Deep State, to invent claims before actually evaluating the evidence, even when finding evidence to the contrary.

I mean, Matty is perfectly entitled to fabricate attacks against the Deep State if he wants and Elmo has chosen to give Matty preferential access to non-public data from which to fabricate those attacks. But it certainly puts Elmo’s claim that his site is a crime scene in different light.

Elmo has chosen a handful of people, including Matty and several others with records of making shit up, to confirm their priors using Twitter’s internal files. He’s doing so even as he threatens to crack down on anyone with actual knowledge of what went down speaking publicly. That is, Elmo is trying to create allegations of criminality based off breathlessly shared files — a replay of the GRU/WikiLeaks/Trump play in 2016 — by ensuring the opposite of transparency, ensuring only people like Matty, who has already provided proof that he’s willing to make shit up to confirm his priors, can speak about this evidence.

That’s Elmo’s crime scene.

Elmo has targeted Anthony Fauci.

He fired former FBI General Counsel, Jim Baker, because Jim Baker was acting as a lawyer — and because Jonathan Turley launched an attack on Baker.

He has fabricated an anti-semitic attack on Roth, suggesting the guy who made the decision to throttle the NYPost story on “Hunter Biden’s” “laptop” is a pedophile.

These are scapegoats. Elmo is inviting House Republicans to drag them through the mud; incoming Oversight Chair James Comer has already responded with a demand from testimony for Jim Baker and Yoel Roth. Elmo has not invited law enforcement into his self-described crime scene. The mouthpieces Elmo has invited in to tamper with any evidence have, instead, speculated (in spite of evidence to the contrary) that pressure from law enforcement led people like Jim Baker and Yoel Roth to make the decisions they did.

That’s Elmo’s crime scene.

A week before Elmo announced that he hosted a crime scene, he posted this, “Anything anyone says will be used against you in a court of law,” then within a minute edited it, “Anything anyone says will be used against me in a court of law.”

Elmo’s response to buying a crime scene, used to incite an attack on American democracy, is to flip the script, turn those who failed to do enough to prevent that attack on democracy into the villains of the story. It’s a continuation of the tactic Trump used, to turn an investigation into Trump’s efforts to maximize a Russian attack on democracy into an investigation, instead, into an investigation that created FBI villains, just as Matty invented pressure from law enforcement while displaying evidence of none.

And Elmo’s doing so even while using the fascism machine he bought, which Trump used to launch his coup attempt, to incite more violence against select targets.


The Rules Against Keeping Classified Documents in an Unsecure RV Parked alongside Jeremy Brown’s Home

Several days into the trial of Oath Keeper Jeremy Brown, it continues to provide useful lessons for the case of that other disgruntled former Federal employee who took classified documents home to Florida with him.

In a motion in limine submitted yesterday, the government sought to preclude Brown from taking the stand and explaining why he took one of the classified documents he is accused of storing in his RV.

Count 10 charges the Defendant with violating 18 U.S.C. § 793(e) in connection with his willful retention of the Classified Trip Report. The parties have agreed that in order to prove the Defendant guilty of this offense, the government must establish that (1) the Defendant possessed the Classified Trip Report without authorization, (2) the Classified Trip Report relates to the national defense, and (3) the Defendant willfully retained the Classified Trip Report and failed to deliver it to an officer of the United States entitled to receive it. See Dkt. 230-1 at 19 (joint jury instruction setting forth elements of 18 U.S.C. § 793(e)).

Notably absent from these elements is any requirement that the Defendant intended to harm the United States. Nor does the government need to prove that the Defendant even knew or had reason to know that his conduct would harm the United States. Consequently, evidence of the Defendant’s motive, rationale, or justification for possessing the Classified Trip Report is irrelevant to the elements of this offense—unless he is contending that he was authorized to possess the Report (which he has never and cannot credibly argue).

Such evidence is also not relevant to establishing that the Defendant “willfully” retained the Classified Trip Report. The Defendant either acted willfully—i.e., he knew that his conduct was generally unlawful—or he did not. His reasons or motive for so acting are irrelevant. Here, the Defendant knew that the Trip Report was classified and he knew that it was against the rules to keep classified [sic] in an unsecure RV parked alongside his home. Indeed, he placed the classified markings on the document himself, and chose to include particularly sensitive information in the Report that could jeopardize U.S. national security. The Defendant’s subjective preference that some of the information in the document should have been at a different classification level – as pointed out to the jury during cross-examination of Special Agent Koundarakis – is similarly irrelevant. On these facts, the Defendant acted willfully. The Defendant’s subjective belief that he had good intentions, or his preferred classification level for the information in the document, is entirely immaterial to that analysis.

This is the kind of motive argument that many people accused of 18 USC 793(e) want to argue. Trump (or Kash Patel) himself has argued a form of it by arguing that he should have been able to take the documents about the Russian investigation to prove he was unfairly targeted.

In this case, the government is arguing that doing so (Brown already did so in opening arguments) amounts to jury nullification.

“[T]he potential for jury nullification is no basis for admitting otherwise irrelevant evidence.” Funchesi, 135 F.3d at 1409. The defendant does not have a due process right to present evidence “the only relevance of which is to inspire a jury to exercise its power of nullification.” Id. at 1408. Rather, “[j]ury nullification verdicts are lawless, a denial of due process and constitute an exercise of erroneously seized power.” Id. at 1409.

If and when Brown’s fellow Floridian is ever charged with 793(e), I expect to see a much more extended version of this argument: That’s it’s okay to bring home classified documents and store them in your RV or leatherbound box of trophies because you had a good motive.

But there will be a whole bunch of precedent ruling such arguments about — possibly even from Brown’s own case! And since the 11th Circuit ruled that Trump isn’t special, I don’t expect any attempt to argue motive will work


Special Counsel Jack Smith Taught DOJ How to Alphabetize by Last Name! A Tale of Two Subpoenas, and Other Self-Mockery

In the wake of the appointment of Jack Smith, journalists (including yours truly) and TV lawyers everywhere are overreading everything that happens in Prettyman Courthouse, when the reality is that the visible signs of investigation into Donald Trump are largely logical next steps from prior known steps before Smith was appointed. What we’re seeing, thus far, is almost certainly in reality the expected flurry of activity after the election pause ended.

So to make fun of myself and others, let me overread.

BREAKING: Jack Smith has taught DOJ how to alphabetize by last name!

I base that claim on two subpoenas from the same investigation: This subpoena, to some Arizona Republicans, first reported by WaPo in July. And this subpoena, to Milwaukee County Clerk, also reported by the WaPo, today.

Both are from grand jury 22-5, which earlier this year was focusing on the fake elector plot. Both include the same FBI agent, Daniel Mehochko, as the recipient.

But the first subpoena was sent in June, under Matthew Graves (it was signed by AUSA Thomas Windom). The second subpoena was sent on stationary naming Jack Smith (it was signed by AUSA Matthew Burke).

So, in my self-mocking overreading, the difference between the two closely related subpoenas must reflect the passage in time and new rules we’ll ascribe, with no basis, to Jack Smith (but which are almost certainly due to some other thing).

On that logic, one key difference is that in the new subpoena — the one sent under stationary with Smith’s name on it — is that a fairly standard list of names of top Trump associates is alphabetized by last name, whereas the same list in June was alphabetized by first name. (The number after the names in the left column reflect where they showed up in that earlier list.)

There are other differences, too. The newer subpoena covers an earlier but shorter timeframe, from June 1, 2020 to January 20, 2021 than the older one, which covers October 1, 2020 to then present, June 2022. The older subpoena asks for communications with “any member, employee, or agent” of the Executive or Legislative branches, but only asks for comms with agents of Donald J. Trump. The newer one doesn’t ask for comms with Congress (though that may be because members of Congress weren’t involved as they were with the fake electors). But it does ask for comms involving Donald J. Trump, the man, not just the campaign.

Perhaps the most interesting difference — one that may reflect a change of real rather than self-mocking import — is that Joshua Findlay (background here) and Mike Roman (background here) are not on the newer list. Roman had his phone seized in September.

Here are some other events that have happened since Jack Smith was appointed that are probably just the steps that prosecutors already had planned, including some who are probably not on Smith’s team:

  • November 18: A DC prosecutor who has focused on important assault cases, Robert Juman, issued a subpoena to Alex Holder, the documentary film maker who tracked Trump and his family. That was first reported by Politico.
  • November 29 and December 6: Stephen Miller makes two appearances before the grand jury.
  • December 1: Dan Scavino, William Russell, and William Harrison testify before the grand jury.
  • December 2: The two Pats — Cipollone and Philbin — testify for a combined ten hours to the grand jury.

Update: As noted in the comments, the earlier list was also alpha order, just by first name. I’ve attempted to mock myself some more above accordingly.


The J6 Committee Proves Themselves To Be Suspect Media Whores

Well, here it is. J6 Chairman Bennie Thompson, clearly fueled by Liz Cheney, is going to do one of the dumbest things ever.

A “criminal referral” from this Committee means absolutely nothing. The DOJ will prosecute individuals and/or entities on their own. “Referrals” from Thompson, Cheney and the J6 Committee mean less than nothing legally.

It is noise. It is garbage. And worthless except for preening J6 members. They are proving themselves to be the infomercial jokes they are.

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Originally Posted @ https://www.emptywheel.net/emptywheel/page/2/