Trump’s Greenlight: Asking for Foreign Aid and Assistance via Prime Time TV

[NB: Check the byline, thanks! /~Rayne]

The balls on this guy. It’s no wonder Trump walks like he does, having to drag around abnormal fleshbags of unmitigated gall and corruption everywhere he goes.

By now most of our regular readers have seen Trump interviewed by ABC News’ George Stephanopolous. In case you haven’t:

This is still stunning for its in-your-face indifference to campaign finance law:

Asked by ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in the Oval Office on Wednesday whether his campaign would accept such information from foreigners — such as China or Russia — or hand it over the FBI, Trump said, “I think maybe you do both.”

“I think you might want to listen, there isn’t anything wrong with listening,” Trump continued. “If somebody called from a country, Norway, [and said] ‘we have information on your opponent’ — oh, I think I’d want to hear it.”

“It’s not an interference, they have information — I think I’d take it,” Trump said. “If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI — if I thought there was something wrong. But when somebody comes up with oppo research, right, they come up with oppo research, ‘oh let’s call the FBI.’ The FBI doesn’t have enough agents to take care of it. When you go and talk, honestly, to congressman, they all do it, they always have, and that’s the way it is. It’s called oppo research.” …

There’s a lot packed into this exchange with Stephanopolous, the most obvious being Trump’s blow off of Title 52 USC 30121 which prohibits candidates and campaigns from receiving anything of value from a foreign national. Specifically:

52 U.S. Code § 30121 – Contributions and donations by foreign nationals

(a) Prohibition It shall be unlawful for—
· ·  (1) a foreign national, directly or indirectly, to make—
· · · · (A) a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State, or local election;
· · · · (B) a contribution or donation to a committee of a political party; or
· · · · (C) an expenditure, independent expenditure, or disbursement for an electioneering communication (within the meaning of section 30104(f)(3) of this title); or
· · · · (2) a person to solicit, accept, or receive a contribution or donation described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of paragraph (1) from a foreign national.

(b) “Foreign national” defined As used in this section, the term “foreign national” means—
· ·  (1) a foreign principal, as such term is defined by section 611(b) of title 22, except that the term “foreign national” shall not include any individual who is a citizen of the United States; or
· ·  (2) an individual who is not a citizen of the United States or a national of the United States (as defined in section 1101(a)(22) of title 8) and who is not lawfully admitted for permanent residence, as defined by section 1101(a)(20) of title 8.

Emphasis mine.

“Directly or indirectly” may include the kinds of contributions the National Rifle Association made to candidates’ campaigns with Russian money, especially after guidance from Maria Butina and/or her boss Aleksandr Torshin, and/or her American handler, Paul Erickson.

“Other thing of value” may include polling data or stolen emails or manipulation of the media since any of these items might otherwise require a candidate’s campaign to buy these items. We don’t yet know exactly what Paul Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik exchanged on August 2 — including 75 pages of “gibberish” polling data and likely high-level analysis and specific post-meeting performance — 2016 but if it was important enough to warrant sustained prevarication, it was something valuable.

Trump can no longer claim stupidity and ignorance after the Special Counsel’s Office investigation into Trump-Russia. His blow-off reveals a deliberate mindset, an intent to violate the law if the opportunity presents itself.

Even merely listening to an offer of aid or assistance directly or indirectly from a foreign national is problematic because the offer itself may be valuable.

“There isn’t anything wrong with listening,” Trump said, which is what his son, son-in-law, and campaign manager did in June 2016 during the Trump Tower meeting. Their presence merely to listen was a greenlight advising foreign nationals that Trump’s campaign was willing and approved help from outside the U.S. to influence the U.S. elections.

And that’s what Trump did during his interview with Stephanopolous: he greenlighted more foreign aid and assistance to help his campaign.

He did it from behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office. He never once slowed Stephanopolous to tell him “I can’t talk about campaign efforts while being interviewed as president in the office of the presidency.”

Was he soliciting for his campaign while on camera? For all the hullabaloo today about Kelly Anne Conway’s egregious and repeated Hatch Act violations, Trump’s likely violation campaigning while on our dime got lost.[1]

Not only did he express a willingness to violate campaign finance law and allow himself to be influenced in the process, not only did he commit a Hatch Act violation, fail to separate his work as president from work for his personal re-election campaign,[1]  but he pissed on Republican candidates known and as-yet unknown who may choose to primary him.

He didn’t differentiate for which opposition he was open to receiving an opposition research pitch from foreign entities. He did not say he was interested in hearing solely about Democratic candidates.

Nor did he entertain listening solely for his presidential race. Opponents aren’t just those running against you in a campaign. One could argue that Trump has the entire U.S. intelligence apparatus at his disposal but he can’t be sure they would provide campaign data or offer to perform dirty tricks on behalf of the POTUS. A foreign entity, especially a hostile one? Sure.

Which is exactly what the Russian Internet Research Agency did in 2016 targeting Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz during the Republican primary.

In spite of the 2016 attacks and Trump’s express willingness to entertain foreign assistance, the Republicans have just plain rolled over for Trump. You think the House Democratic leadership is feckless? Bah. Republicans are utter dupes.

Trump telegraphs the defense he’ll use — and the attack he attends to take — when he calls the material he’s soliciting “oppo research.” The aid Trump’s campaign received in 2016 wasn’t opposition research on Hillary Clinton; it was stolen emails leaked to generate negative sentiment about Clinton. It was micro-targeted negative messaging aimed at vulnerable populations to persuade leaners and suppress tentative voters, and a bunch of unauthorized but welcomed advertisements. It was likely more in the form of attempts on voting infrastructure, whether merely to collect data or to manipulate the system.

When Trump called it “oppo research,” he was establishing what he believed was a parallel — what the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) acquired through its law firm, Perkins Coie, which in turn purchased opposition research from Fusion GPS. Fusion GPS obtained the services of former MI6 officer Christopher Steele to continue a dossier originally started on behalf of Washington Free Beacon in late 2015. Trump and other campaign minions like Carter Page have frequently claimed the opposition research dossier was “dodgy” and illegitimate, and yet Trump feels entitled to opposition research without restrictions, as if Clinton and the DNC had not followed campaign finance laws.

Whatever the quality of its contents, the Steele dossier was a campaign expenditure, a compilation of information ultimately paid for by the campaign and the DNC — wholly legal — and the material was contracted by an American entity from another American entity.

What Trump’s campaign received in 2016 — goods and services were given to the campaign directly and indirectly by foreign entities like the Internet Research Agency — were NOT legal.

Trump will do whatever he can to muddy the distinction between wholly legal campaign expenses and contributions or things of value received from foreign nationals in order to protect his chances at re-election and lay the ground work to attack his last campaign opponent.

There’s one more disturbing nit about Trump’s solicitation. What Trump has done in his greenlighting on camera is solicit foreign assistance. This does not rule out solicitation of foreign direction.

At what point is the Department of Justice’s National Security Division engaged when the president greenlights or solicits foreign assistance and direction?

Should the presidential campaign be under counterintelligence investigation right now and forward?

Not that there aren’t already ample reasons for the Trump 2020 campaign to be scrutinized given the number of Chinese nationals hanging out at Mar-a-Lago, with at least one allegedly bundling donations for Trump’s re-election.

Might make one wonder if Trump’s greenlight on ABC is after the fact — and not after the fact about the 2016 election.

______

[1] Edited to reflect the Hatch Act does not apply to the president — however, this is problematic as Trump has shown repeatedly, including in this interview. At what point is he talking about accepting ‘foreign assistance and direction’ from foreign nationals or other nation-states for the purposes of his personal re-election campaign and accepting the same for U.S. interests? His personal interests are not one-for-one the same as the nation’s interests, unless of course he’d like to deed over all his businesses.

I’d also like to point out the phrase ‘foreign assistance and direction’ is the distinction the DOJ uses to differentiate non-domestic from domestic terrorism. That the president was entertaining the idea of using ‘foreign assistance and direction’ to aid his campaign whether spelled out in those specific terms or not surely worries U.S. intelligence community members who recognize the inherent risks.

The Hatch Act should be revisited with Trump and the office of the presidency in mind not only because of his greenlighting foreign pitches of assistance to his campaign. Throughout the last two years Trump has spoken at rallies which have occurred in tandem with special and mid-term elections in order to sway locals to vote for the GOP candidate. His arrival and support at each of these venues comes at the expense of public funds — local, state, federal  — and not the GOP or Trump’s campaign committee. He has also stiffed at least ten cities for additional expenses related to his attendance at rallies, a form of additional tax the citizens didn’t approve in advance. But they’re forced to produce additional security because he’s the president even though he’s there to campaign.

The job of the presidency must be separated from campaigning, and no campaigning should happen without the campaign absorbing the expense. Add this to the Hatch Act: the president should NOT be immune.

Beryl Howell’s Whack-a-Mole Grand Juries

Coverage of the May 29 court hearing that led Roger Stone aide Andrew Miller to testify before a different grand jury describes how his attorney, Paul Kamenar, tried to argue it would be an abuse of the grand jury, because Stone has already been indicted. But after prosecutors (including former Mueller prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky) explained why they needed Miller’s testimony ex parte, Howell upheld the contempt order. (See also CNN and ABC’s coverage.)

Miller, of St. Louis, was on speakerphone Wednesday for the hearing at which U.S. District Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell denied a last-ditch motion by Miller’s attorney, Paul D. Kamenar, to block his client’s grand jury appearance.

Kamenar argued it is an abuse of grand jury process for prosecutors to seek pretrial testimony from a witness about a subject who has already been indicted, also noting that Mueller has issued his final report.

[snip]

Howell said it was long-settled law that prosecutors can properly obtain grand jury testimony to develop additional charges against an indicted target, or to investigate individuals not yet facing charges. Prosecutors can also use evidence against Stone in his pending November trial if it was collected incidentally and not the primary focus of Miller’s questioning, she said.

“The government is not abusing the grand jury process in this case, and the government has need of Mr. Miller’s testimony,” Howell ruled from the bench, upholding her August contempt finding when Miller failed to testify.

“If Mr. Miller does not appear before the grand jury on Friday, he will be in contempt and there will be an arrest warrant issued for him. Do you understand, Mr. Miller?” Howell asked.

“Yes, your honor,” Miller answered over speakerphone.

Prosecutors told the judge in a sealed bench conversation about the ongoing matters in which they seek Miller’s help, but not before Kamenar said that in a May 6 email prosecutors confirmed that one question would regard “what work he did for Stone from 2016 on.”

Presumably, Howell would have known (because she has presided over Mueller’s grand jury from the start) that Miller would testify before a different grand jury.

We now know that Howell had a similar conversation over two months earlier in a hearing (starting at PDF 166) in the Mystery Appellant’s somewhat successful effort to withhold information the government wanted about a state-owned bank. At the hearing, DC Assistant US Attorney Zia Faruqui had replaced Zainab Ahmad as lead prosecutor on the issue (he had started to take over earlier in March, certainly by March 21).

Howell started the hearing by asking why the subpoena was still pending given that Mueller had announced the end of his investigation a week earlier.

Howell: [T]he first question I am going to ask the Government is in the last paragraph of their reply which is: What are we doing here? Why isn’t this whole matter over as of 5 p.m., March 22, when Mr. Mueller delivered his report?

Fauqui: Your Honor, I can say with absolute certainty that the case is robust, ongoing; we are working within our office. The matter was transferred back in fact to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. We have met numerous times with agents. We have reviewed materials, and our plan is to go forward with our investigative steps. We are in constant communication with the special counsel’s office.

It’s very different, I think, to the outside world; but, within the Government, theoretically we are one Government. One AUSA may leave, one prosecutor; but, when there is a case of this import, there is no reason that it would stop because a separate focused matter has been presented with a letter and report.

In response, Howell makes it very clear that this subpoena — for which she would have seen abundant sealed description — was originally presented to her as part of the investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election, which leads her to be really confused about why the government would still need the information.

Howell: Well, correct me if I’m wrong, but this matter was presented to the Court as one part of the investigation into whether there was Russian influence with the 2016 election, presidential election; and that’s been resolved by the — at least the summary of the special counsel’s report. So there are other aspects of that investigation that led in other directions. So I thought this part — this particular subpoena and leg of the investigation was also related precisely to what Mr. Mueller said he resolved in his report delivered at 5 p.m. on March 22.

So are you saying that this is a different aspect of this investigation related to different inquiries than that?

Faruqui: Yes. That’s correct, Your Honor. I am happy to approach. I think it’s —

Howell: Well, there’s been nothing submitted that — in the Government’s opposition papers that provides any detail about how these records have continuing relevancy to something subject to investigation by the grand jury to warrant continued fines to coerce additional compliance, which we’re going to get to in a minute, or whether there is anything all relevant to an ongoing grand jury investigation from these records that the Government’s continuing to seek.

Faruqui then explains that this matter started in the DC US Attorney’s Office, got bumped to Mueller, and has now been passed back to DC.

Faruqui: So if we can have an opportunity now, or we can refer to portions of the ex parte prior affidavits of the special counsel, I think we can either now or file supplemental briefing to Your Honor to try to further elucidate that. Certainly, the special counsel’s remit, I think, allowed them to take this investigation in.

The investigation initially came into our office and was passed to the special counsel at that time because I think there was a question within the realm of their remit. However, I think it’s very clear I think the matter —

Howell: So are you saying that this investigation started with the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office, spent some time within the special counsel’s jurisdiction, so to speak, and is now being given back to the U.S. Attorney’s Office?

Faruqui describes the investigation as being very time consuming and resource-intensive.

Faruqui: That is correct, Your Honor. And it does in fact involve issues that have not or are in any way close to being resolved and very much is a live issue that requires, I think, a great deal of resources, time, and attention by the Government, which is why we believe the subpoena is in fact still a live controversy that requires, I think, a great of [sic] deal resources, time, and attention by the Government, which is why we believe the subpoena is in fact still a live controversy that requires contempt because it goes to the core of the question in this investigation.

Howell: All right. Well, before I got the Government’s opposition, I didn’t know whether the Government’s opposition was going to be, oh, forget the whole thing. I have read all of the ex parte filings, and I am puzzled.

Faurqui: We can supplement —

Howell: What’s still going on here?

Faruqui: We can certainly supplement, Your Honor, with an additional ex parte supplement that will go into greater detail explaining what is being investigated and how it is in no way resolved by what may or may not be in the Mueller report or in AG Barr’s letter to Congress and the public.

These are live issues that require immediate attention from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and from which the grand jury — because the grand jury matter is still alive and being thoroughly investigated, we require the Court to intervene and assist us as we try to force the contemnor to comply fully with our subpoena.

Howell then makes sure the government still is really using a grand jury and Faruqui — in a detail that probably parallels and precedes what happened with Stone’s case — explains that they’re still using the existing grand jury but plan to move onto a new one when the Mueller one expires.

Howell: So you are still presenting evidence to this grand jury that was being used by the special counsel’s office?

Faruqui: We — yesterday, anticipating that the grand jury may or may not — what its life cycle is, it’s a little unclear.

Howell: Well, I am very aware of its life cycle.

Faruqui: We are unaware. I apologize, Your Honor, Yes. It’s your grand jury; you certainly know.

We are trying to sort those issues out with the special counsel. However, we have reopened it yesterday in the grand jury, understanding that the current grand juries that are soon to expire; but with the intention that, when those expire, we will reopen a new one. We do plan to seek additional records, both in — and, potentially, additional testimony as well.

This exchange has significance beyond the Mystery Appellant matter, to Stone and (because the government insists there is are ongoing investigations pertaining to the stuff covered in Paul Manafort’s plea breach hearing) Manafort as well. This case might not even be considered a referral in Mueller’s report, given that it started in DCUSAO. But from Faruqui’s description — and Mystery Appellant’s invocations, at times, to only being bound by Presidential sanctions and turning this into a diplomatic incident — this is a very significant and serious investigation.

Howell, having read multiple secret filings that led her to believe this was about Russian interference in the US election, got really confused after reading Bill Barr’s 4-page memo declaring victory and then learning that something this big, that must, in some way, relate to Russian interference, is still pending.

Aside from being a testament to just how misleading Barr’s memo was, that such confusion was possible for someone privy to the details of the investigation should focus far more attention on the limited scope of Barr’s exonerations. They pertain just to Russian election interference (not, say, graft), and just conspiring with the Russian government (though, if it’s a Russian bank, the Mystery Appellant clearly counts as that). And even the election-related events continue only through the Transition, not afterwards.

The Mueller Investigation is over and Trump has declared victory, but it appears that what Mueller achieved was protecting significant aspects of it long enough to see them metastasize to new grand juries.

As I disclosed last July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

On Once and Future Mueller Grand Juries: The Texts Obtained from Andrew Miller Overlap with Roger Stone’s Voter Suppression

Yesterday, two events provided an indication of how extensive what at one time was the Mueller investigation was.

First, Chief Judge Beryl Howell unsealed enough of the Mystery Appellant challenge to reveal that that part of the investigation started in the DC US Attorney’s Office before Mueller got hired and continues. The Mystery Appellant started turning over stuff voluntarily last December, but prosecutors believe it withheld information. Mystery Appellant very clearly waited Mueller out, and it appears that prosecutors did not expect Mueller to finish when he did (which may suggest Bill Barr did shut Mueller down early). The government seems to have a pretty clear idea of what Mystery Appellant withheld.

One of the prosecutors on the case is one of the ones that picked up Paul Manafort’s case.

I’ll write more about what the Mystery Appellant shows up later.

The other piece of news is that Roger Stone’s associate, Andrew Miller, actually testified before a different grand jury, not the Mueller one, and got a follow-up subpoena requiring him to produce all his texts with Roger Stone from October 2016 to March 2017.

A former aide to political operative Roger Stone has turned over to a grand jury all of his text messages with Stone from October 2016 to March 2017, as well as the written agenda for Stone while he was at the Republican National Convention in 2016.

The aide, Andrew Miller, turned over the documents in response to a federal grand jury subpoena following his two-hour testimony last Friday before the body, according to communications between Miller’s lawyer and the government that were reviewed by POLITICO.

[snip]

Adding to the intrigue is the fact that Miller testified before a new grand jury rather than the one convened by Mueller that Miller was initially fighting, and that he was held in contempt over.

That may explain a few of the things we’ve seen recently.

First, recall that Mueller announced, on short notice, that he was done once Miller agreed to testify, but quit before he did testify (Mueller actually quit minutes before the hearing where Howell forced Miller to testify). I wondered then if there was some jurisdictional reason he did that, and this second grand jury may be the reason: that Mueller used his authority to ensure Miller did testify, but resigned in a way to ensure that the other grand jury had uncontested jurisdiction over this.

Now consider this redaction in the Mueller Report showing what appear to be two issues referred elsewhere.

The redaction btC-3 shows it pertains to either Stone or his case. I had suggested that it might be WikiLeaks (this part of the list is in alpha order). But MelissaN suggested it may be Roger Stone himself. This second grand jury (and a Rod Rosenstein comment that the WikiLeaks investigation never left EDVA) may support that.

Now consider the timeline in this post. It shows that the Stone dark money group that he used to prep claims that Hillary was stealing the vote, Stop the Steal, was active during precisely the period the government asked for Miller’s texts with Stone (this was the second incarnation of this group–Stone used an earlier one to harass Ted Cruz voters in advance of the GOP Convention). Indeed, the group pays Miller $5,000 right at the beginning of it (though he also received a few payments from Stone during the summer).

October 4, 2016: Stone tells Bannon to get Rebekah Mercer to send money for his “the targeted black digital campaign thru a C-4”

Following October 5, 2016: Mariia Butina and Aleksandr Torshin discuss whether she should serve as a US election observer; Torshin suggests “the risk of provocation is too high and the ‘media hype’ which comes after it,” but Butina suggests she would do it “Only incognito! Right now everything has to be quiet and careful.”

October 13, 2016: Stop the Steal pays Andrew Miller $5,000

October 23, 2016: Stone tweets out message saying Clinton supporters can “VOTE the NEW way on Tues. Nov 8th by texting HILLARY to 8888”

October 28, 2016: GRU officer Anatoliy Kovalev and co-conspirators visit websites of counties in GA, IA, and FL to identify vulnerabilities

October 30, 2016: Ohio Democratic Party sues Ohio Republican Party to prevent Stop the Steal voter suppression; Democrats also sue in NV, AZ, and PA

November 3, 2016: Filings in ODP lawsuit describing Stop the Steal (declarationexhibits)

November 4, 2016: Judge James Gwyn issues Temporary Restraining Order against Trump, Stone, and Stop the Steal

November 4, 2016: Guccifer 2.0 post claiming Democrats may rig the elections

November 7, 2016: Sixth Circuit issues a stay in OH TRO

December 14, 2016: Women versus Hillary gives $158.97 to CRAG

December 19, 2016: Stop the Steal pays $5,000 to Alejandro Vidal for “fundraising expenses”

December 19, 2016: Stop the Steal pays $3,500 to C Josi and Co.

December 21, 2016: Stop the Steal pays $1,500 to The Townsend Group

December 27, 2016: Stop the Steal pays $3,500 to Kristen [sic] Davis

December 28, 2016: Stop the Steal gives $94 to CRAG

December 29, 2016: Stop the Steal pays Jerry Steven Gray $4,000 for “fundraising expenses”

December 30, 2016: Stop the Steal pays 2,692 total to unnamed recipients

January 19, 2017: Stop the Steal pays $5,000 for fundraising expenses to Alejandro Vidal

February 8, 2017: Stop the Steal pays Kristen [sic] Davis $3,500 for “fundraising expenses”

February 15, 2017: Stop Steal pays Brad Boeck $862 for sales consultant consulting fee

Remember, too, that Andrew Miller once said he’d invoke the Fifth if asked to testify about his role in these dark money groups.

Miller had asked for “some grant of immunity” regarding financial transactions involving political action committees for which he assisted Stone, according to Alicia Dearn, an attorney for Miller.

On that issue, Miller “would be asserting” his Fifth Amendment right to refuse to answer questions, Dearn said.

And consider that wire fraud variously appeared among the crimes listed on the various warrants targeting Stone (these particular warrants would likely have been the ones issued during the period when Miller was most actively challenging his subpoena).

  • Beryl Howell, CFAA: include “all crimes” (18 U.S.C. § 3 (accessory after the fact); 18 U.S.C. § 4 (misprision of a felony); 18 U.S.C. § 371 (conspiracy); 18 U.S.C. §§ 1505 and 1512 (obstruction of justice); 18 U.S.C. § 1513 (witness tampering); 18 U.S.C. § 1343 (wire fraud); 18 U.S.C. § 1349 (attempt and conspiracy to commit wire fraud), and 52 U.S.C. § 30121 (foreign contribution ban)
  • Beryl Howell, CFAA: includes “all crimes”
  • Beryl Howell, CFAA: includes “all crimes”
  • Beryl Howell, CFAA: ¶¶ 35-40 discuss Stone’s communications with WikiLeaks and Julian Assange: includes “all crimes”
  • Rudolph Contreras, CFAA: ¶ 24 discusses private Twitter message between Stone and Guccifer 2.0: includes “all crimes”
  • James Boasberg, CFAA: includes “all crimes”
  • James Boasberg, CFAA: includes “all crimes”

All of that would be consistent with the possibility that Mueller formally referred (rather than simply passing off) two distinct investigations as he finished up, based on these interim warrants that included wire fraud, one of which focuses on his voter suppression efforts.

Finally, note that by referring this, Mueller may have put it in a place where the decisions Rod Rosenstein made about how aggressively to charge crimes would no longer hold.

As I disclosed last July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

Trump Claimed To Be Angry Flynn Didn’t Make Good on Putin’s January 21 Requested Phone Call

As I noted, newly unsealed parts of Mike Flynn’s January 24, 2017 302 make it clear that he explained away his calls with Sergey Kislyak on December 29, 2016, in part, by claiming that Kislyak asked Flynn to set up a videoconference between Trump and Putin on January 21, 2017, the day after Trump would be inaugurated.

During the call, KISLYAK asked FLYNN to set-up a VTC between President-elect TRUMP and Russian President PUTIN on January 21st.

[snip]

The interviewing agents asked FLYNN if he recalled any []ation with KISLYAK surrounding the expulsion of Russian diplomats or closing of Russian properties in response to Russian hacking activities surrounding the election. FLYNN stated that he did not. FLYNN reiterated his conversation was about the PUTIN/TRUMP VTC…

That’s damning enough: Putin wanted to capitalize on his investment right away.

But it’s still more damning given a detail from the Comey memos. During the January 27, 2017 dinner that Trump invited Comey to that same day to demand loyalty, Trump suggested he believed Flynn was unreliable. The basis for that unreliability is that Flynn didn’t tell Trump that Putin — and not Theresa May — was the first foreign leader to give him a congratulatory call after the inauguration.

He then went on to explain that he has serious reservations about Mike Flynn’s judgement and illustrated with a story from that day in which the President apparently discovered during his toast to Teresa May that [Putin] had called four days ago. Apparently, as the President was toasting PM May, he was explaining that she had been the first to call him after his inauguration and Flynn interrupted to say that [Putin] had called (first, apparently). It was then that the President learned of [Putin’s call] and he confronted Flynn about it (not clear whether that was in the moment or after the lunch with PM May). Flynn said the return call was scheduled for Saturday, which prompted a heated reply from the President that six days was not an appropriate period of time to return a call from the [President] of a country like [Russia]. This isn’t [redacted] we are talking about.”) He said that if he called [redacted] and didn’t get a return call for six days he would be very upset. In telling the story, the President pointed his fingers at his head and said “the guy has serious judgment issues.”

This was, remember, the day that Don McGahn and Sally Yates had their second conversation about the FBI investigation into Flynn for lying about his December 29, 2016 conversation with Kislyak. I’ve had mixed opinions about this passage, originally thinking it was an attempt to distance himself from Flynn, but later noting that it fit the (largely chronologically undated) observations by Trump aides that Trump really was fed up by Flynn by the time he was forced to resign.

Here’s the thing, though. At least according to the White House record of Trump’s toast to May, the claim is a lie. That’s because Trump never claimed that May was the first to call Trump after his inauguration. Rather, he applauded her because she was the first to visit Trump after inauguration.

Thank you very much. I am honored to have Prime Minister Theresa May here for our first official visit from a foreign leader. This is our first visit, so — great honor.

It is true that May called Trump sometime on January 21.

It’s also true that in the first question after their comments on January 27, Trump was asked about the phone call with Putin the following day (and he feigned uncertainty whether it would happen).

STEVE HOLLAND, REUTERS: Thank you. You’re going to be speaking tomorrow with the Russian president. What message would you like to convey to him? How close are you to lifting some of the sanctions imposed on Russia over its Ukraine incursion? What would you expect in return?

And Prime Minister May, do you foresee any changes in British attitudes towards sanctions on Russia?

TRUMP: Well, I hear a call was set up, Steve, and we’ll see what happens. As far as the sanctions, very early to be talking about that. But we look to have a great relationship with all countries, ideally. That won’t necessarily happen, unfortunately probably won’t happen with many countries.

But if we can have, as we do with Prime Minister May and the relationship that we’ve all developed and even in the short relationship that we just developed just by being with each other and have lunch and — we’ve really had some very interesting talks and very productive talks. But if we can have a great relationship with Russia and with China and with all countries, I’m all for that. That would be a tremendous asset.

If nothing else, it means Trump knew of the call before lunch, which was scheduled after the press conference, so could not have been surprised to learn of call timing by then.

But now consider the comment after considering that Trump had at least one conversation with Don McGahn about the substance of Flynn’s lies before this meeting, and — given McGahn’s request to have the underlying materials — may have asked to know specifically what Flynn said.

On January 26, 2017, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates contacted White House Counsel Donald McGahn and informed him that she needed to discuss a sensitive matter with him in person. 142 Later that day, Yates and Mary McCord, a senior national security official at the Department of Justice, met at the White House with McGahn and White House Counsel’s Office attorney James Burnham. 143 Yates said that the public statements made by the Vice President denying that Flynn and Kislyak discussed sanctions were not true and put Flynn in a potentially compromised position because the Russians would know he had lied. 144 Yates disclosed that Flynn had been interviewed by the FBI. 145 She declined to answer a specific question about how Flynn had performed during that interview, 146 but she indicated that Flynn’s statements to the FBI were similar to the statements he had made to Pence and Spicer denying that he had discussed sanctions.147 McGahn came away from the meeting with the impression that the FBI had not pinned Flynn down in lies, 148 but he asked John Eisenberg, who served as legal advisor to the National Security Council, to examine potential legal issues raised by Flynn’s FBI interview and his contacts with Kislyak. 149

That afternoon, McGahn notified the President that Yates had come to the White House to discuss concerns about Flynn.150 McGahn described what Yates had told him, and the President asked him to repeat it, so he did. 151 McGahn recalled that when he described the FBI interview of Flynn, he said that Flynn did not disclose having discussed sanctions with Kislyak, but that there may not have been a clear violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001. 152 The President asked about Section 1001, and McGahn explained the law to him, and also explained the Logan Act. 153 The President instructed McGahn to work with Priebus and Bannon to look into the matter further and directed that they not discuss it with any other officials. 154 Priebus recalled that the President was angry with Flynn in light of what Yates had told the White House and said, “not again, this guy, this stuff.” I 55

[snip]

The next day, January 27, 2017, McGahn and Eisenberg discussed the results of Eisenberg’s initial legal research into Flynn’s conduct, and specifically whether Flynn may have violated the Espionage Act, the Logan Act, or 18 U.S.C. § 1001. 160 Based on his preliminary research, Eisenberg informed McGahn that there was a possibility that Flynn had violated 18 U.S.C. § 1001 and the Logan Act. 16 1 Eisenberg noted that the United States had never successfully prosecuted an individual under the Logan Act and that Flynn could have possible defenses, and told McGahn that he believed it was unlikely that a prosecutor would pursue a Logan Act charge under the circumstances. 162

That same morning, McGahn asked Yates to return to the White House to discuss Flynn again. I63 In that second meeting, McGahn expressed doubts that the Department of Justice would bring a Logan Act prosecution against Flynn, but stated that the White House did not want to take action that would interfere with an ongoing FBI investigation of Flynn. 164 Yates responded that Department ofJustice had notified the White House so that it could take action in response to the infonnation provided.165 McGahn ended the meeting by asking Yates for access to the underlying information the Department of Justice possessed pertaining to Flynn’s discussions with Kislyak. 166

In other words, by the time Trump claimed to the FBI Director that he didn’t know Putin called him on January 21, he already knew that the FBI had interviewed Flynn about a conversation where (he claimed) Kislyak had asked to set up a call on January 21, and he may have had more specificity about whether or not the request for a January 21 call came up.

We can’t tell, given the kind of liars we’re dealing with, what is true. These are some of the possibilities:

  • Kislyak never asked for a January 21 meeting but Flynn used the actual call on January 21 as an excuse
  • In response to Kislyak’s request, Flynn did set up the meeting, but Trump was trying to claim he didn’t listen in that day
  • Kislyak asked for a January 21 meeting and Putin did call, but Flynn somehow intercepted the call and kept it a secret from the President

Whichever it is, the centrality of setting up a January 21 call with Putin — as opposed to the January 28 call we already knew about — really raises the import of Trump’s claimed reason to be pissed at Flynn in a meeting where he was already thinking about how to end an investigation into his ties with Russia.

As I disclosed last July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

Mike Flynn Assumed the FBI Agents Interviewing Him Would Be Trump Supporters

Several times in the interview recounting the early aspects of the Russia investigation, Peter Strzok made it clear that Flynn felt comfortable with FBI Agents. Strzok said Flynn was “unguarded” and “relaxed and jocular.” He “clearly saw the FBI agents as allies.” That’s consistent with a guy who — according to his own sentence memo — “had for many years been accustomed to working in cooperation with the FBI on matters of national security.”

But there’s a part of the newly unsealed 302 that makes clear an assumption Flynn clearly had. In describing what he should be pretty ashamed being caught in — clandestine meetings with foreign leaders — he explains why he and Jared Kushner had a meeting at which Kushner asked for a back channel to the Russians.

Flynn explained that other meetings between the TRUMP team and various foreign leaders took place prior to the inauguration, and were sensitive inasmuch as many countries did not want the then-current administration to know about them. There were no personal relationship between the leaders of many countries and the prior administration. FLYNN stated that he and personnel from the incoming administration met with many countries “to set expectations for them, and the expectations were set very high.”

This is a campaign speech, not an interview with the FBI. In it, he implicitly badmouths the guy whom he had worked for for six years (though who,  of course, fired Flynn).

More tellingly though, he assumed he could give this campaign speech to FBI Agents who were interviewing him about being caught undercutting the prior Administration’s efforts to hold an adversarial government accountable. He appears to have assumed they’d be cool with that.

In short, Flynn assumed he was being interviewed by partisan Republicans.

That’s telling, not just because the current Attorney General is certain that any bias in 2016 went against Trump (when there’s abundant evidence that FBI agents, including those investigating Hillary, were none too fond of her). It’s ironic because it means Mike Flynn regarded Peter Strzok — accused endlessly of anti-Trump bias — of someone who’d sympathize with his snide comments about the Obama Administration.

Update: Finally fixed the prior/incoming problem in my transcription. Thanks for your patience!

As I disclosed last July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

Mike Flynn Believed the US Could Work with GRU’s Director

The government has released an almost totally unredacted version of Mike Flynn’s January 24, 2017 302.

There are two newly unsealed details that hint at what might have been. First, Flynn told the FBI he believed the US could work with his former counterpart at GRU, Igor Sergun.

FLYNN described SERGUN as someone the  U.S. could work with.

Sergun died in mysterious circumstances in Lebanon in early 2016, so that warm relationship with the former head of DIA and GRU didn’t come to pass. Sergun died just months before his agency would start stealing emails from Hillary Clinton and the Democrats to help Trump get elected.

The newly unsealed bits also reveal a claim that Sergey Kislyak asked Flynn to set up a videoconference with Trump for January 21, which would have been the first full day of Trump’s Administration.

I guess Putin didn’t want to wait to capitalize on his investment in tampering in the election.

Two other newly unsealed bits are of interest. Flynn did admit he met with Sergey Kislyak at his residence before going to his Moscow RT Trip. But he said it was just “a courtesy call.” That’s somewhat inconsistent with what the HPSCI Report described.

The meeting was later described by General Flynn’s son in an email to the Russian embassy as “very productive.” The email indicates that the meeting was arranged at the request of General Flynn or his son.

Flynn also claimed not to know who paid for the trip, which is pretty remarkable, not least because he would have had to disclose it.

In addition, Flynn explained away the meeting he attended with Jared Kushner and Kislyak by saying it was “relatively sensitive” because “many countries did not want the then-current administration to know about them.” Flynn, who was in the Obama Administration for six years, complained that, “There were no personal relationships between the leaders of many countries and the prior administration.”

As I disclosed last July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

How to Read the Mueller Report Referrals

A filing in the BuzzFeed/EPIC FOIA lawsuits to liberate an unredacted copy of the Mueller Report provides new insight on how to read the referral section at the back of the report. (Here’s BuzzFeed’s own report on the filing.) The filing provides a more specific breakdown of the exemptions used to withhold parts of the report, especially the b7 redactions.

As it explains, it uses four categories of b7C, which protects, “information ‘compiled for law enforcement purposes’ when disclosure ‘could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.'” These distinguish between four kinds of people: those unwittingly involved, those who were considered for charges but ultimately not charged, those “concerning a subject of the investigation,” and those whose non-criminal activity got described in the report.

  • (b)(6)/(7)(C)-1: names, social media account information, and other contact information of unwitting third parties;
  • (b)(6)/(7)(C)-2: names and personally-identifiable information about individuals not charged by the SCO;
  • (b)(6)/(7)(C)-3: information concerning a subject of the investigation by the SCO; and
  • (b)(6)/(7)(C)-4: names, social media account information, contact information, and other personally-identifiable information of individuals merely mentioned in the Report

The description of the third category claims that all the b7C-3 redactions hide information about Roger Stone or “also … other individuals discussed in connection with the facts related to Mr. Stone’s criminal case.”

72. The third category of privacy-based withholdings protects information pertaining to an individual who was a subject of the investigation by the SCO, and is coded as “(b)(6)/(7)(C)- 3.” Within this category, OIP has protected non-public information pertaining to Roger Stone and/or his pending criminal case in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The redactions in this category include information pertaining to Mr. Stone, but also to other individuals discussed in connection with the facts related to Mr. Stone’s criminal case. 17 The information related to the investigative subject or subjects that has been protected in this category would, if released, clearly invade the individual’s or individuals’ personal privacy and in particular, Mr. Stone’s ability to receive a fair trial and to respond to the charges against him in court without compounding the pre-trial publicity that his case has already received.

73. As noted above, in order to withhold information pursuant to Exemptions 6 and 7(C), a balancing of the privacy interests of the individuals mentioned in the Report against any FOIA public interest in disclosure must weigh in favor of non-disclosure. Given the intense public interest surrounding the SCO’s work as well as the public and media attention surrounding this individual’s ongoing court case, and the significant attention that any new fact made public will receive, disclosure of any additional non-public information about the individual or individuals protected in this category would certainly subject them to unwarranted harassment, stigma, further reputational or even physical harm. Individuals have protectable privacy interests in premature release of investigatory details relevant to criminal law enforcement proceedings against them, beyond what is made public in connection with their criminal justice proceedings. That interest is magnified here, where Mr. Stone’s trial is imminent, and any further public disclosure of details regarding the case against him will impact his ability to amount an effective defense and deprive him of the right to a fair trial.

This would obviously include information on Jerome Corsi and Randy Credico, at least the latter of whom will be a witness at Stone’s trial. But it almost certainly includes WikiLeaks, because the redaction started on page 176 of Volume I describes why publishing stolen information was not prosecuted.

Then there’s category b7C-4, which hides the sensitive information about people who had a role in the operation (including as victims), but were not subjects of Mueller’s investigation. So among other things, this redaction is used to hide the identities of people who were referred for criminal prosecution for things unrelated to the Mueller investigation (like, say, George Nader’s child porn). It covers,

names and related personally-identifiable information of individuals for whom evidence of potential criminal activity was referred by the Special Counsel to appropriate law enforcement authorities. With respect to the latter group of individuals, who are mentioned in Section B (“Referrals”) of Appendix D to the Report, these individuals were not subjects of the SCO investigation. Rather, they are included in an appendix to the Report only because evidence of potential criminal activity periodically surfaced during the course of the SCO’s investigation.19

But as this footnote describes, two of the people in the referrals are “individual or individuals” labeled with the designation limited to Stone’s case. Another appears to be someone whom Mueller decided not to charge for Russian related activities, but whom Mueller referred for something else.

19 Two entries in Section B of Appendix D relate to an individual or individuals whose privacy information has been categorized and coded as (b)(6)/(7)(C)-3, discussed supra in ¶¶ 72-75. Another entry in Section B of Appendix D relates to an individual against whom the SCO contemplated, but did not pursue, charges related to the Special Counsel’s investigation. Although information about this individual is considered a “mere mention” in the context of Appendix D, this individual’s privacy information has separately been categorized and coded as (b)(6)/(7)(C)-2, elsewhere in the Report.

In other words, people or subjects referred to in the referrals section appear to be:

  • b7A: People or subjects (these can be criminal or national security investigations) not mentioned in the report (in the transfers section, this is likely used to hide the names of people like Tony Podesta and Vin Weber who are tied to Manafort’s Ukrainian graft)
  • b7C-3: People who have some tie to the Stone case referred on their own right
  • b7C-4: People who appear in some non-criminal fashion in the Mueller Report, but who got referred for unrelated possible crimes (again, George Nader might be included in this category)

Here’s the updated FOIA version.

This redaction could be of Jerome Corsi for his false statements (though that would mean someone who fit between Cohen and Corsi in the alphabet would be included).

I’ve suspected that this redaction pertains to WikiLeaks (this part of the report is in alphabetical order and this is the last entry).

If all that’s right, it would mean the referrals include:

  • Michael Cohen
  • Greg Craig and related
  • 4 and 14: Two people associated with Stone (possibly Corsi and WikiLeaks)
  • 1, 3, 6-9, 11-12: Eight people who play a non-criminal role in the Mueller Report, but were referred for some other crime
  • 10, 13: People or subjects not mentioned in the report, but referred for prosecution for some other crime or national security investigation

And one of those category b7C-4 people was considered, but not charged, in the Russia investigation but was referred for investigation for something else.

Update: Fixed the referrals for people who play a non-criminal role in the Mueller Report but were referred for some other potential crime. H/t EB.

As I disclosed last July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

Carter Page Shared “Immaterial Non-Public Information” with Rosneft While “Working” for Trump

William McGurn and Brit Hume have decided that Carter Page, who the government convinced a judge might be acting as an Agent of Russia in 2016, is a latter day Martin Luther King Jr, based solely on the fact that Page was not charged as an agent of Russia (though a redacted discussion of the charging decision for him suggests it was a close call and Page is also one of two likely candidates to be the Trump aide who lied to the grand jury but wasn’t charged).

Remember, the FBI sought a warrant on Mr. Page from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court based on the claim that the former Trump campaign associate was “an agent of a foreign power,” namely Russia. Yet Mr. Page is one of the few targets of the investigation to have emerged without ever being charged with anything.

McGurn obscures the difference between the government showing probable cause that someone is an agent of a foreign power and charging them as such.

More interestingly, McGurn doesn’t engage with the new evidence about Page’s behavior revealed in the Mueller Report. For example, the report reveals that after Page was described but not identified in Victor Podobnyy’s complaint, he sought out a Russian official at the UN to tell them he didn’t do anything — something that conflicts with a right wing myth that Page was a cooperating witness with the FBI. He was, however, interviewed about his contacts with Podobnyy, and he told the FBI that, “the more immaterial non-public information I give [Russia], the better for this country,” which may be why FBI got a FISA warrant on Page before 2016.

Which is interesting background given that when, on March 30, 2017, the FBI interviewed him about his two trips to Russia in 2016, he admitted to them that, “he and [Rosneft head of investor relations Andrey] Baranov talked about ‘immaterial non-public’ information,” the same language he used to defend his prior sharing of information with Russian intelligence officers.

Mueller’s conclusion on Page’s July 2016 trip was actually inconclusive.

The Office was unable to obtain additional evidence or testimony about who Page may have met or communicated with in Moscow; thus Page’s activities in Russia–as described in his emails with the Campaign–were not fully explained.

His conclusion on Page’s activities in December 2016 are redacted, though he makes it clear that Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich was pitching business an ongoing relationship — an academic partnership — with Page.

Republicans should be more attentive to this detail, though: Long after Page had been fired from the Trump campaign, at a time when the Transition was ignoring Page’s application for a job in the Administration, just weeks before Steve Bannon called up Page and told him not to appear on MSNBC, he was still wandering around Moscow claiming to be speaking for Trump.

In a December 8, 2016 email intended for Manafort, Kilimnik wrote, “Carter Page is in Moscow today, sending messages he is authorized to talk to Russia on behalf of DT on a range of issues of mutual interest, including Ukraine.”

Most Administrations would be furious that someone who had become a political liability would continue to represent himself as someone who spoke for the Administration. They might even be grateful that the FBI continued to keep its eye on that person, to prevent them from facing any liability for what Page might say in Russia.

Not so today’s Republican party. For them, Carter Page — someone Trump fired and then refused to consider employing — is MLK Jr.

As I disclosed last July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

BREAKING: Roger Stone Insists Russia Hacked the DNC

Last month, Roger Stone argued in his criminal case that the government knows that Russia did not hack the DNC.

Roger Stone is challenging the main underpinning of the search warrant applications supporting the warrants – the Russian government hacked the DNC, DCCC, and one Clinton Campaign official from locations outside where the computer servers were stored. First, Stone will demonstrate that the Government’s proposition is untrue.

[snip]

The government’s agents knew that they could not prove the Russian state hacked the DNC or the other targeted servers, and transferred the data to WikiLeaks when it presented the search warrants to the various magistrates and district court judges.

The government debunked this claim last week.

That’s pretty interesting, given that the very same lawyers just argued in the DNC lawsuit that Russia definitely did hack the DNC.

The factual background and context of Plaintiff’s complaint cannot survive the Report’s significant and substantial findings supporting the Special Counsel’s conclusion that no American conspired with any agent of the Russian state to break in to the DNC’s computers (hack); steal any of its data, transmit any of its data to WikiLeaks, or aid in the public dissemination of that data.2

2 In fact, the Mueller Report explicitly states that the Office of Special Counsel’s investigation “did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interreference In The 2016 Russian Presidential Election, Volume I of II, 1-2 (2019). Furthermore, the Mueller Report makes abundantly clear that in April 2016 it was “units of the Russian Federation’s Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff (GRU) [that] hacked into the computer networks of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the Democratic National Committee (DNC),” not the Defendants. Mueller Report at 36.

Both here and elsewhere, Stone misstates what the Report found in really interesting ways, which I may return to in more depth (as it may indicate where Stone thinks the discovery he has seen suggests the government may be headed).

But for now, I just want to note that after insisting to Judge Amy Berman Jackson that Russia didn’t hack the DNC, Stone lawyers Grant Smith and Robert Buschel are arguing to Judge John Koeltl that Russia did hack the DNC.

I wonder what Donald Trump will say when he discovers his rat-fucker has given up on the hoaxes claiming Russia didn’t do the hack?

As I disclosed last July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

Key Mueller Witness, George Nader, Arrested on Child Pornography Charges

DOJ just arrested George Nader on charges for transporting child pornography found when he re-entered the country on January 17, 2018 and he promptly became Mueller’s star witness on the Seychelles meeting and other events involving the Gulf states.

The affidavit in the case makes it clear they found the child porn while doing a search for what must have been the Mueller investigation.

On January 16, 2018, Search Warrant 1:18-SW-30 was sworn out in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia and signed by U.S. Magistrate Judge Ivan D. Davis. The search warrant pertained to a matter unrelated to child pornography. The attachments to the search warrant specified the items to be searched as “the person of George Nader” and “Any baggage associated with George Nader.. .including but not limited to any check baggage associated with George Nader on flight EF 231 as well as any carry-on baggage, including but not limited to any briefcase, satchel, or duffel bag.” The items to be seized included “Any electronic devices capable of storing, transmitting, or receiving information, including but not limited to: Cellular telephone. Tablet, Laptop…”

On January 17, 2018, NADER departed Dubai, United Arab Emirates on a direct flight aboard Emirates Airlines Flight 231 and arrived the same day at Washington-Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia. Washington-Dulles International Airport is located in the Eastern District of Virginia.

Upon arrival at Washington-Dulles International Airport, NADER declared to an agent from the United States Customs and Border Protection he was in possession of three iPhones. NADER was later voluntarily interviewed by FBI agents regarding a matter unrelated to child pornography. At the conclusion of the interview, NADER was informed of the existence of the search warrant issued by this Court (1:18-SW-30) and the three iPhones were subsequently seized.

[snip]

The three iPhones seized from NADER were then forensically processed pursuant to the search warrant for a matter not involving child pornography. At the completion of the forensic processing, the digital forensic files derived from iPhone 7 with serial number F2LSD2XFHFY4 (“IPHONE 7 FILES”) were made available to the case agent in that other matter for review using a forensic software package specifically designed to allow investigators to review material without risk of changing or altering the evidence.

On February 12, 2018, the case agent for that other matter conducted an initial review of the IPHONE 7 FILES for evidence unrelated to child pornography. During that review, the case agent in that other matter uncovered multiple files which appeared to contain child pornography. The potential child pornography matter was subsequently referred to my office, and the case was assigned to your affiant.

On March 5,2018, the IPHONE 7 FILES were saved to a Seagate Hard Drive Model ST3750640AS with serial Number 5QD502SH. On March 16,2018, Search Warrant 1:18-SW-154 was sworn out in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia and signed by US Magistrate Judge John F. Anderson. The attachments to the search warrant specified the property to be searched as “digital forensic files derived from the iPhone 7 with serial number F2LSD2XFHFY4 seized from George Aref Nader on January 17,2018 currently located on a Seagate Hard Drive Model ST3750640AS with serial Number 5QD502SH that is in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in its Northern Virginia Resident Office, 9325 Discovery Boulevard, Manassas, Virginia 20109.” The items to be seized included, but were not limited to, fruits, evidence, and instrumentalities of “child pornography and child erotica.”

The Mueller Report describes most interviews with Nader as being conducted under a proffer agreement.

Nader provided information to the Office in multiple interviews, all but one of which were conducted under a proffer agreement [grad jury redaction].

Footnotes reflect Nader interviews on January 19, 22, 23 — so all would have taken place before a Mueller agent found the porn on February 12.

But the charge was filed against him last April. I thought it was after that point that he was permitted to close up his apartment in DC and travel back to Dubai, where he has been for months.

Which raises questions about whether he was permitted to travel overseas for some reason.

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