David Weiss Is Smoking Roger Stone’s Witness-Tampering Gun

On Friday, David Weiss submitted most of his responses to Hunter Biden’s Motions to Dismiss in the Los Angeles tax case (he should submit a response to Hunter’s claim that the disgruntled IRS agents’ media tour amounted to a gross violation of his due process today; see links for everything here).

Expect a few posts going through them in the next few days.

Start with another embarrassingly false claim Weiss made in response to Hunter Biden’s vindictive prosecution claim that is worse, in some ways, than claiming that Keith Ablow’s picture of sawdust was instead a picture Hunter Biden had taken of cocaine.

It has to do with Roger Stone.

In an effort to claim that Hunter Biden deserves to be criminally prosecuted for tax crimes when Roger Stone was permitted a civil settlement, David Weiss falsely claimed something distinguishes Hunter — that he wrote a memoir about his alleged crime and Stone did not — when in fact, the memoir Stone did reissue during the period he was defrauding the IRS was more closely connected to Stone’s other, more damaging crimes, than Hunter’s memoir was.

If a memoir justifies a tax indictment, then Stone, not Hunter, should be the one facing prison right now.

David Weiss waives response about the import of threats to his family

There are two ways the Los Angeles vindictive prosecution discussion in Weiss’ twin prosecutions of Hunter Biden differs from the one in Delaware, at least so far. Most obviously, it’s a tax case, not a gun case, so Hunter’s attorney Abbe Lowell is making a different argument about how unusual it is for DOJ to charge someone who, like Hunter, late filed his tax returns before he knew of a criminal investigation and then, later, paid those taxes, with penalties.

That’s one difference.

A more subtle one is that Lowell, in his motion to dismiss, made explicit something he had not before: at the time David Weiss reneged on a signed diversion and plea deal, the Special Counsel feared for the safety of his family.

As a result, Mr. Weiss reported he and others in his office faced death threats and feared for the “safety” of his team and family.22

In his response, Weiss didn’t acknowledge, at all, that his own fears for the safety of his family have been made a part of the official record.

Instead, he continued to claim there’s no logical explanation for how the pressure ginned up by Trump and Republicans in Congress led him to renege on a signed plea deal. Weiss continued to claim that any connection is fictional.

[T]o state an obvious fact that the defendant continues to ignore, former President Trump is not the President of the United States. The defendant fails to explain how President Biden or the Attorney General, to whom the Special Counsel reports, or the Special Counsel himself, or his team of prosecutors, are acting at the direction of former President Trump or Congressional Republicans, or how this current Executive Branch approved allegedly discriminatory charges against the President’s son at the direction of former President Trump and Congressional Republicans. The defendant’s fictious narrative cannot overcome these two inescapable facts.


Second, to state the obvious, former President Trump is not the President. The defendant’s father is the President. The defendant fails to establish how President Biden or the Attorney General, to whom the Special Counsel reports, or the Special Counsel himself, or his team of prosecutors, are being improperly pressured by former President Trump or Congressional Republicans, such that the Executive Branch approved allegedly selective and vindictive charges to be brought against the President’s son in violation of the law. [my emphasis]

The centrality of Weiss’ claims that President Biden has a role in all this — leftover from the period when the Alexander Smirnov prong of the investigation remained secret — is all the more ridiculous now that it’s public that, after Weiss reneged on the plea deal, he chased Russian disinformation framing Joe Biden.

But is also utterly false that Lowell offered no explanation for how pressure from Trump led Weiss to renege on that plea deal. Once you include Weiss’ own stated fear for his family in the face of threats ginned up by Trump and Congress, what Weiss himself called intimidation, Lowell has established how pressure from Trump and Congress might have led Weiss to capitulate to that pressure. The fear of stochastic terrorism is all you need.

Which brings us to Roger Stone.

Abbe Lowell raises Roger Stone as a tax cheat who got a civil resolution

As noted, the Los Angeles indictment against Hunter is a tax case. And in a selective and vindictive prosecution claim, you need to explain the norm to be able to prove you’re being treated differently. To be sure, this filing is even less focused on selective prosecution, as opposed to vindictive prosecution, than the gun case, meaning such arguments are a small part of the argument. But Weiss has been unduly focused on selective prosecution from even before Hunter first made the claim, presumably because it’s easier to prove that the Hunter Biden case is different than anything DOJ has seen before than to rebut the evidence that Donald Trump and Bill Barr tried to frame Hunter and David Weiss is a witness to that effort.

So the selective prosecution argument, in which defendants have to argue that people just like them have not been charged before, was a minor part of this filing.

But it explains why Roger Stone ended up in a footnote of the filing — as Chris Clark promised they would do over a year ago.

56 The government does not generally bring criminal charges for failing to file or pay taxes, especially if the individual paid the taxes, interest, and penalty afterwards, as Mr. Biden did in October 2021. According to the IRS Data Book for 2021, 2,600,000 taxpayer returns were not timely filed. Many, if not the vast majority, of those cases were resolved with civil resolutions, even in the most high-profile cases. For example, in United States v. Shaughnessy, a DC law partner and his wife failed to file and pay their taxes for 11 years with nearly $7.2 million owed. DOJ ultimately resolved this civilly with tax, penalties and interest only. See Joint Motion for Entry of Consent Judgment, No. 22-cv-02811-CRC (D.D.C. 2023), DE 9. In United States v. Stone, where former Trump adviser Roger Stone and his wife owed nearly $2 million in unpaid taxes for 4 years, DOJ again resolved the matter civilly. No. 21-cv-60825-RAR (S.D. Fla. 2022), DE 64.

Here’s how Weiss, treating this as the guts of Lowell’s selective prosecution claim and therefore distracting from the rest of it, responded to that footnote:

The defendant compares himself to only two individuals: Robert Shaughnessy and Roger Stone, both of whom resolved their tax cases civilly for failing to pay taxes. Shaughnessy failed to file and pay his taxes, but he was not alleged to have committed tax evasion. By contrast, the defendant chose to file false returns years later, failed to pay when those returns were filed, and lied to his accountants repeatedly, claiming personal expenses as business expenses. Stone failed to pay his taxes but did timely file his returns, unlike the defendant. Neither Shaughnessy nor Stone illegally purchased a firearm and lied on background check paperwork. And neither of them wrote a memoir in which they made countless statements proving their crimes and drawing further attention to their criminal conduct. These two individuals are not suitable comparators, and since the defendant fails to identify anyone else, his claim fails. 5

Roger Stone’s tax fraud is different from Hunter Biden’s and that’s why Hunter’s selective and vindictive prosecution claim must fail, David Weiss says.

Weiss distinguishes Donald Trump’s rat-fucker from Joe Biden’s kid in three ways (note, Weiss doesn’t address that DOJ claimed Stone hid his business income, just as Hunter allegedly did):

  • Stone didn’t pay his taxes, but did file timely returns
  • Stone didn’t buy a gun while addicted (as far as we know — though there are pictures of Stone with guns and some of his associates have alleged that Stone had addiction problems in this period)
  • Stone didn’t — Weiss claims — write a memoir “proving [his] crimes and drawing further attention to [his] criminal conduct”

It’s that last bullet that is garbage bullshit, sawdust-as-cocaine levels of stupid.

But let’s take them in order.

David Weiss uses gimmicks to limit extent that addiction can undermine the tax case

Regarding the first bullet, using the failure to file taxes in the LA case to distinguish Hunter from Stone is problematic for several reasons. First, Lowell is arguing that what changed between the plea agreement, which charged only failure to pay, and the tax indictment, which charged a mix of failure to file and failure to pay, was political pressure (and, now, threats that made Weiss worry about his family’s safety).

Notably, Weiss avoids claiming that Stone didn’t evade taxes, probably because the complaint against him alleges that Stone hid his income from the IRS in an alter ego, Drake Ventures, a kind of tax evasion for which Weiss has charged Hunter Biden, but for which Stone was not criminally charged. “By depositing and transferring” over $1 million paid to Stone in 2018 and 2019, “into the Drake Ventures’ accounts instead of their personal accounts, the Stones evaded and frustrated the IRS’s collection efforts,” the complaint alleges (my emphasis). Right there, in the complaint, DOJ claimed that Stone evaded IRS collection efforts, but Stone was not criminally charged.

To get to claiming that Hunter willfully failed to file his taxes charges during the years of his addiction, Weiss relies on a bunch of gimmicks that are at the core of his indictment against Hunter Biden. In Weiss’ responses to Lowell’s technical complaints about the indictment — which I wrote up here — he explained each of those technical complaints away using a gimmick designed to allow him to ratchet up the charges on Hunter while also mitigating the risk that Hunter’s addiction will make it harder to prove the tax case to a jury.

For example, in addition to claiming he could charge Hunter for the 2016 tax year because the President’s son signed tolling agreements with two entities — the Delaware US Attorney’s Office and DOJ Tax Division — that are not involved in this prosecution, Special Counsel Weiss claims that Hunter’s failure to pay his 2016 taxes occurred in 2020, when Hunter was sober, rather than 2016, when he misplaced a finalized tax submission.

Similarly, it’s not so much that Weiss charged Hunter twice for failing to pay his 2017 and 2018 taxes, which Lowell argued made the charges duplicitous, Weiss claims; it’s that Weiss intends to give the jury a choice for which year they want to convict Hunter on those charges — whether he failed to pay when he missed filing deadlines in 2018 and 2019 or he failed to do so when he ultimately filed in 2020, when he was sober.

It doesn’t matter that Hunter didn’t live in California for some of the tax years for which Weiss charged him in California, Weiss says, because Hunter lived in CA when he ultimately did file his taxes in 2020, without paying them. Weiss has used gimmick after gimmick to eliminate problems posed by both Hunter’s addiction and the fact that he filed his taxes before he learned of the criminal investigation into him, on top of the gimmick that he claims Hunter could afford to pay his tax burden in 2020 because Kevin Morris paid for some of his other expenses.

Effectively, to get around the willfulness problem posed by Hunter’s addiction, Weiss has shifted the date of Hunter’s crimes to 2020. But once you’ve done that, Hunter and Stone did the same thing: fail to pay taxes and also hide their income from 2018 (and 2019, in Stone’s case).

The gimmicks are just the kind of normal prosecutorial dickishness we’ve come accustomed to from this Baltimore crowd. But once you understand the effect of the gimmicks — to displace Hunter’s alleged crimes to 2020, when he submitted tax returns for four years at once — then Hunter and Stone are similarly situated, albeit with Stone accused of “evading” taxes in two calendar years, not one.

Weiss says a gun that was never fired is a worse related crime than witness tampering that was

But Weiss has a bigger problem with his effort to dismiss Stone as a comparator. He pulls two things out of his arse to present as distinguishers between Hunter Biden and Stone without (apparently) first doing the least little due diligence to check whether those things he pulled out of his arse have any basis in reality, much less to make sure they don’t actually prove him wrong.

David Weiss says that Hunter Biden is different from Roger Stone because he unlawfully owned a gun for 11 days in 2018. But the gun charge has no tie to the tax charge. Not even Weiss makes that claim!

Indeed, it’s the reverse: investigators decided not to charge gun crimes in 2018, before the tax investigation started. Prosecutors only reconsidered that because of the tax investigation — and (Lowell has alleged with no response from Weiss) because Republican politicians made Weiss afraid for the safety of his family. The only tie between the gun charges and the tax charges would be exculpatory in the tax case — Hunter’s addiction. Weiss’ prosecutors admitted the inverse relationship in Hunter’s initial appearance in Los Angeles. ‘[A]rguably,” Leo Wise said to Judge Mark Scarsi on January 11, “information in that case that is inculpatory in this case, may be arguably, exculpatory in that case.” The things prosecutors will use to prove Hunter was an addict in 2018 undermine prosecutors’ case that Hunter’s failure to file tax returns for 2017 and 2018 was willful.

By contrast, the government did claim that Roger Stone’s tax avoidance tied directly to his other crimes, crimes for which a jury had already found him guilty when DOJ filed the tax complaint in 2021.

The complaint against Stone described how he engaged in fraud to shelter his money because he was indicted.

40. In May 2017, the Stones entered into an installment agreement with the IRS that required them to pay $19,485 each month toward their unpaid taxes. They made these payments each month from a Drake Ventures’ Wells Fargo account.

41. Roger Stone was indicted on January 24, 2019, and the indictment was unsealed on January 25, 2019.

42. After Roger Stone’s indictment, the Stones created the Bertran Trust and used funds that they owned via their alter ego, Drake Ventures, to purchase the Stone Residence in the name of the Bertran Trust.


52. The Stones intended to defraud the United States by maintaining their assets in Drake Ventures’ accounts, which they completely controlled, and using these assets to purchase the Stone Residence in the name of the Bertran Trust.

53. The Stones’ purchase of the Stone Residence using funds they held in the Drake Ventures’ Wells Fargo account is marked by numerous badges of fraud. They include:

a. The Stones were in substantial debt to the United States at the time of the transfer, rendering them insolvent at the time of the transfer and unable to pay their debt to the United States;

b. The Stones faced the threat of litigation. Roger Stone had just been indicted;

c. The Stones anticipated that the United States would resort to enforced collection of their unpaid tax liabilities once they defaulted on their monthly installment payments to the IRS; [my emphasis]

It seems DOJ believed that Stone sought to shelter his wealth in a Florida residence that would be beyond the reach of any criminal forfeiture, just like his buddy Paul Manafort did.

And this is why it matters that David Weiss continues to bury his confession to Congress that, when he reneged on the plea deal, he was afraid for the safety of his family.

The crimes for which Stone was indicted — the prosecution which DOJ explicitly tied to Roger Stone’s efforts to defraud the government — involved real threats, not the hypothetical threat of an addict owning a gun.

Roger Stone was convicted for trying to intimidate Randy Credico against testifying to Congress and Robert Mueller. Credico has described that his first contact with the FBI in 2018 was actually a Duty to Warn meeting associated with the plotting of Stone’s militia buddies, not a witness interview.

And Judge Amy Berman Jackson applied a sentencing enhancement for the threat Stone — again, with his militia buddies — made against her personally.

The defendant engaged in threatening and intimidating conduct towards the Court, and later, participants in the National Security and Office of Special Counsel investigations that could and did impede the administration of justice.

Before the Proud Boys launched an attack on the Capitol to prevent the peaceful transfer of power, before Stone allegedly threatened to assassinate one or another Democratic Congressman as well as Leo Wise and Derek Hines’ colleague and Stone prosecutor, Aaron Zelinsky, Enrique Tarrio helped Stone threaten his judge.

That’s the weapon Roger Stone was found guilty of wielding: stochastic terrorism that posed a risk to justice. Just like Donald Trump attacked David Weiss before Weiss got threats that led him to worry about the safety of his family.

And yet, having systematically ignored the threats that Donald Trump and other Republicans ginned up against his family, David Weiss is arguing that Hunter Biden owning a gun unrelated to failing to pay taxes is more incriminating than DOJ’s claims in the tax complaint that Stone’s adjudged witness intimidation tied directly to Stone’s efforts to defraud the IRS.

One is connected to the charged crime. One is not. One led to threats against a key witness and a judge. One did not.

But David Weiss, still refusing to acknowledge his testimony that he feared for the safety of his family, claims the one unconnected to the alleged tax crimes explains his decision to charge the tax crimes. Weiss’ claims about Stone don’t help his case, they show that a criminal case against Stone had more merit than this one.

David Weiss claims Hunter’s memoir is great evidence and then proves it is not

Crazier still, David Weiss is claiming that Hunter Biden wrote a memoir “proving [his] crimes and drawing further attention to [his] criminal conduct” of being an addict (neither the gun for which he is charged nor his failure to pay his taxes appear in the memoir) but Roger Stone did not.

To raise the stakes of this (embarrassingly false) claim, Weiss dedicates three paragraphs laying out how Hunter’s memoir helps to prove the gun case that, prosecutors have admitted, is inversely related to the tax case.

Then, after announcing his awareness of a federal investigation in late 2020, the following year (2021) he chose to author, sell, and promote his memoir, Beautiful Things, and to release an audiobook in a lucrative deal that heightened his prominence and drew further attention to his crimes. 1

1 As outlined in the Indictment, the defendant made statements and admissions in the book relevant to the charges against him.

B. The Defendant Also Chose to Commit Serious Gun Crimes

The defendant’s crimes were not limited to tax violations. In 2018, he chose to purchase a gun, he chose to lie on background check paperwork by stating he was not addicted to drugs, and he certified that his answers on the paperwork were true, when in fact, he had lied about his addiction. See generally United States v. Robert Hunter Biden, Indictment, Dkt. 40 (D. Del). When he later chose to publish his memoir, he included countless admissions about his drug use in 2018 when he possessed the gun.

Again, prosecutors have described that these cases are inversely related. If you prove that Hunter was an addict, as Weiss says the memoir helps him do, you also make it harder to prove that the failure to file for 2017 and 2018 was willful.

Here’s how Weiss treats Hunter’s memoir in the equivalent filing in the gun crimes case.

After the defendant publicly announced his awareness of a federal investigation of him in late 2020, see ECF 63 at 5, the following year (2021) he chose to author, sell and promote his memoir, Beautiful Things, and to release an audiobook in a lucrative book deal. Relevant to the charges in this matter, the defendant made expansive admissions about his extensive and persistent drug use, including throughout the year 2018 when he purchased the gun. For example, the defendant admitted that he was experiencing “full blown addiction” to crack cocaine and by the fall of 2018 he had gotten to the point that:

It was me and a crack pipe in a Super 8, not knowing which the fuck way was up. All my energy revolved around smoking drugs and making arrangements to buy drugs—feeding the beast. To facilitate it, I resurrected the same sleep schedule I’d kept in L.A.: never. There was hardly any mistaking me now for a so-called respectable citizen. Crack is a great leveler.

Hunter Biden, Beautiful Things (2021) at 203, 208

In the Delaware case, Weiss is arguing something different than he is in the LA case, that is about how much evidence (Weiss claims) there is to prove the gun case. As I noted, that’s actually counterproductive in the selective prosecution response, because it proves that the evidence Weiss claims to think is so damning was available in 2021, before he decided to divert the gun crime in 2023, before he came to fear for the safety of his family and then reneged on that diversion agreement.

Oh. And also? Weiss again botches the evidence. The passage cited above about a crack pipe in a Super 8 on page 208 describes the aftermath, in February 2019, of the Ketamine treatment Hunter got from Roger Stone buddy Keith Ablow that — Hunter’s memoir describes — made things worse.

The therapy’s results were disastrous. I was in no way ready to process the feelings it unloosed or prompted by reliving past physical and emotional traumas. So I backslid. I did exactly what I’d come to Massachusetts to stop doing. I’d stay clean for a week, break away from the center to meet a connection I found in Rhode Island, smoke up, then return.


Finally, the therapist in Newburyport said there was little point in our continuing.

“Hunter,” he told me, with all the exasperated, empathetic sincerity he could muster, “this is not working.”

I headed back toward Delaware, in no shape to face anyone or anything. To ensure that I wouldn’t have to do either, I took an exit at New Haven. For the next three or four weeks, I lived in a series of low-budget, low-expectations motels up and down Interstate 95, between New Haven and Bridgeport.

I exchanged L.A.’s $400-a-night bungalows and their endless parade of blingy degenerates for the underbelly of Connecticut’s $59-a-night motel rooms and the dealers, hookers, and hard-core addicts—like me—who favored them. I no longer had one foot in polite society and one foot out. I avoided polite society altogether. I hardly went anywhere now, except to buy. It was me and a crack pipe in a Super 8, not knowing which the fuck way was up. [my emphasis]

This is in no way a description of the state of Hunter’s addiction in “fall of 2018,” when he bought a gun. It’s a description of the state of Hunter’s addiction in February 2019, after treatment from Ablow exacerbated the addiction. To make things worse, Hunter gets the timing of the 2019 follow-up treatment wrong in the book, saying it happened in February when it started in January. This passage is utterly worthless to prove the gun crime, and instead helps to prove that memoirs, especially those written by recovering addicts, are prone to narrative embellishment and error.

To sum up how dumb it is to use the memoir to rebut a selective prosecution claim at all: First, the existence of a 2021 memoir doesn’t help Weiss’ selective prosecution rebuttal in either case, because that evidence was available before Weiss decided to resolve both cases without jail time in June 2023 and so only raises more questions about why he reneged on that deal. The memoir actually isn’t all that helpful to prove the status of Hunter’s addiction in October 2018, because Hunter doesn’t provide as much detail of that as he did of his exploits in Los Angeles, from earlier in the year. Worse still, relying on a passage describing events in February 2019, after Ketamine treatment led Hunter to backslide, and claiming it describes the status of Hunter’s addiction in fall 2018 is only going to prove you never bothered to check your evidence before you indicted on gun crimes. And, finally, Weiss’ prosecutors have admitted there’s an inverse relationship between these two cases! Proving that Hunter was addicted in this period will only make it harder to prove that his non-payment in 2017 and 2018 was willful and may even provide basis to argue that Hunter didn’t willfully lie to his accountant in 2020, but rather couldn’t remember what happened in 2018. The fact that Hunter gets dates wrong in the memoir will actually help that case.

It’s all such a nutty argument, using this memoir as a distinguisher in the tax case.

Roger Stone’s memoir was far more closely connected to his crimes and tax evasion than Hunter’s was

Nuttier still, given the fact — fact! — that Roger Stone did too write a memoir about his crimes!

The claim that Stone didn’t write a memoir about his crimes is as transparently, embarrassingly false as David Weiss’ claim that a photo of a photo of sawdust was instead a picture of Hunter Biden’s cocaine.

Not only did Stone write a memoir about his claimed actions in the 2016 election, he reissued it in paperback, with a lengthy introduction in which he codified the cover story that would prove to be false at trial later that year. As noted in this post, that introduction made a number of claims that were part of Stone’s cover story, including:

  • Describes learning he was under investigation on January 20, 2017
  • Discounts his May 2016 interactions with “Henry Greenberg” — a Russian offering dirt on Hillary Clinton — by claiming Greenberg was acting as an FBI informant
  • Attributes any foreknowledge of WikiLeaks’ release to Randy Credico and not Jerome Corsi or their yet unidentified far more damning source while disclaiming any real foreknowledge
  • Gives Manafort pollster, Tony Fabrizio, credit for the decision to focus on Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania in the last days of the election
  • Blames Jeff Sessions for recusing from the Russian investigation
  • Harps on the Steele dossier
  • Dubiously claims that in January 2017, he didn’t know how central Mueller’s focus would be on him
  • Suggests any charges would be illegitimate
  • Complains about his financial plight
  • Falsely claims the many stories about his associates’ testimony comes from Mueller and not he himself
  • Repeats his Randy Credico cover story and discounts his lies to HPSCI by claiming his lawyers only found his texts to Credico after the fact
  • Suggests Hillary had ties to Russia
  • Notes that Trump became a subject of the investigation after he fired Jim Comey [my emphasis]

Those two bolded bits are the core of the case that would be charged in January 2019 and convicted in November 2019. This introduction is part of the same cover-up, one that attempts to profit off his cover-up and protection of Donald Trump.

He reissued it, in part, for financial reasons, including an effort to pay collaborators in the 2016 story that were likely also trial witnesses. That paperback came out in precisely the period in 2019 during which, the tax claim against Stone alleged, he was shifting money to defraud the government because he had been indicted. Stone planned a media blitz that clashed with the gag imposed on him — imposed on him, again, because he and his militia buddies were posting pictures of Judge ABJ with a crosshairs on it.

We know all this because Roger Stone almost went to jail for it. This post describes that conflict.

On February 21, 2019, Amy Berman Jackson gagged Stone in response to the Instagram post targeting her, describing that his incitement might lead “others with extreme views and violent inclinations” to take action.

Let me be clear, at the time of his post he was permitted to criticize the special counsel, the designation of the cases related, and the previous decisions of the judge to whom the case had been assigned. But I am not reassured by the defense suggestion that Mr. Stone is just all talk and no action and this was just a big mistake.

What concerns me is the fact that he chose to use his public platform, and chose to express himself in a manner that can incite others who may feel less constrained. The approach he chose posed a very real risk that others with extreme views and violent inclinations would be inflamed. You don’t have to read the paper beyond today to know that that’s a possibility.

And these were, let there be no mistake, deliberate choices. I do not find any of the evolving and contradictory explanations credible. Mr. Stone could not even keep his story straight on the stand, much less from one day to another. There is some inconsistency in his telling me on the one hand that these public communications are an existential endeavor, essential not only to his income but his very identity, and then, on the other hand, telling us, It wasn’t me.

On March 1, Stone’s attorneys filed a “notice” arguing that the book should not be covered by her gag. On March 4, they submitted a filing saying, oops! it is too late. On March 5, ABJ denied Stone’s request that the book be excluded from the gag and ordered more briefing. On March 11, Stone submitted a bunch of documentation showing (among other things) that at least one of his attorneys was centrally involved in the book publication.

The Bertran Trust was not only an effort to keep money away from the IRS.

It was an attempt to keep the proceeds of a book that violated the gag order imposed to avoid more incitement. It was an attempt to profit off continuing to protect Donald Trump.

And David Weiss, after relying on a Hunter Biden memoir that might help prove the gun case but actually hurts his tax case, claims that memoir doesn’t exist.

And that’s before you consider the book introduction that Stone wrote for Keith Ablow, the guy whose therapy — Hunter’s memoir describes — made his addiction worse, the guy in whose cottage Hunter was staying when his life was packaged up to be sent to David Weiss to use in prosecution.

After looking at Keith Ablow’s sawdust picture and claiming it was Hunter’s cocaine, Weiss has now looked at Ablow buddy Roger Stone and claimed that a memoir that is more closely connected with his tax dodging and dangerous crimes and instead claimed that memoir simply doesn’t exist.

And that is the basis Weiss gives for charging Hunter Biden with tax crimes.


October 30, 2018: ABC reports that Stone hired Bruce Rogow in September, a First Amendment specialist who has done extensive work with Trump Organization.

October 31, 2018: Date Corsi stops making any pretense of cooperating with Mueller inquiry.

November 6, 2018: Democrats win the House in mid-term elections.

November 7, 2018: Trump fires Jeff Sessions, appoints Big Dick Toilet Salesman Matt Whitaker Acting Attorney General.

November 8, 2018: Prosecutors first tell Manafort they’ll find he breached plea deal.

November 12, 2018: Date Corsi starts blowing up his “cooperation” publicly.

November 14, 2018: Date of plea deal offered by Mueller to Corsi.

November 15, 2018: Mike Campbell pitches Stone on a paperback — in part to ‘retake the narrative — including a draft of the new introduction.

November 18, 2018: Jerome Corsi writes up his cover story for how he figured out John Podesta’s emails would be released.

November 20, 2018: After much equivocation, Trump finally turns in his written responses to Mueller.

November 21, 2018: Dean Notte reaches out to Grant Smith suggesting a resolution to all the back and forth on their joint venture, settling the past relationship in conjunction with a new paperback.

November 22, 2018: Corsi writes up collapse of his claim to cooperate.

November 23, 2018: Date Mueller offers Corsi a plea deal.

November 26, 2018: Jerome Corsi publicly rejects plea deal from Mueller and leaks the draft statement of offense providing new details on his communications with Stone.

November 26, 2018: Mueller deems Paul Manafort to be in breach of his plea agreement because he lied to the FBI and prosecutors while ostensibly cooperating.

November 27, 2018: Initial reports on contents of Jerome Corsi’s book, including allegations that Stone delayed release of John Podesta emails to blunt the impact of the Access Hollywood video.

November 29, 2018: Michael Cohen pleads guilty in Mueller related cooperation deal.

December 2, 2018: Roger Stone claims in ABC appearance he’d never testify against Trump and that he has not asked for a pardon.

December 3, 2018: Trump hails Stone’s promise not to cooperate against him.

December 9, 2018: Stone replies to Campbell saying that because he never made money on Making of the President, he has no interest.

December 13, 2018: Tony Lyons and Grant Smith negotiate a deal under which Sky Horse would buy Stone out of his hardcover deal with short turnaround, then expect to finalize a paperbook by mid January. This is how Stone gets removed from the joint venture — in an effort to minimize his risk.

December 14, 2018: Mueller formally requests Roger Stone’s transcript from House Intelligence Committee.

December 17, 2018: Smith, saying he and Stone have discussed the deal at length, sends back a proposal for how it could work. This is where he asks for payment the next day, to pay someone off for work on the original book.

For some reason, in the ensuing back-and-forth, Smith presses to delay decision on the title until January.

December 19, 2018: It takes two days to get an agreement signed and Stone’s payment wired.

December 20, 2018: HPSCI votes to release Stone’s transcript to Mueller.

January 1, 2019: Stone includes Keith Ablow on his annual best dressed list.

January 8, 2019: Paul Manafort’s redaction fail alerts co-conspirators that Mueller knows he shared polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik.

January 13, 2019: Stone drafts new introduction, which he notes is “substantially longer and better than the draft sent to me by your folks.” He asks about the title again.

January 14, 2019: Stone sends the draft to Smith and Lyons. It is 3386 words long. Lyons responds, suggesting as title, “The Myth of Collusion; The Inside Story of How I REALLY Helped Trump Win.” Lyons also notes Stone can share the book with Senators.

Stone responds suggesting that he could live with, “The Myth of Collusion; The Inside Story of How Donald Trump really won,” noting, “I really can’t be seen taking credit for HIS victory.”

By end of day, Skyhorse’s Mike Campbell responds with his edits.

January 15, 2019: The next morning, Smith responds with his edits, reminding that Stone has to give final approval. Stone does so before lunch. Skyhorse moves to working on the cover. Late that day Campbell sends book jacket copy emphasizing Mueller’s “witch hunt.”

January 16, 2019: Tony Lyons starts planning for the promotional tour, asking Stone whether he can be in NYC for a March 5 release. They email back and forth about which cover to use.

January 18, 2019: By end of day Friday, Skyhorse is wiring Stone payment for the new introduction.

January 24, 2019: Mike Campbell tells Stone the paperback “is printing soon,” and asks what address he should send Stone’s copies to. WaPo reports that Mueller is investigating whether Jerome Corsi’s “severance payments” from InfoWars were an effort to have him sustain Stone’s story. It also reports that Corsi’s stepson, Andrew Stettner, appeared before the grand jury. That same day, the grand jury indicts Stone, but not Corsi.

January 25, 2019, 6:00 AM: Arrest of Roger Stone.

January 25, 2019, 2:10 PM: Starting the afternoon after Stone got arrested, Tony Lyons starts working with Smith on some limited post-arrest publicity. He says Hannity is interested in having Stone Monday, January 28 “Will he do it?” Smith replies hours later on the same day his client was arrested warning, “I need to talk to them before.”

January 26, 2019: Lyons asks Smith if Stone is willing to do a CNN appearance Monday morning, teasing, “I guess he could put them on the spot about how they really go to this house with the FBI.”

January 27, 2019: Smith responds to the CNN invitation, “Roger is fully booked.” When Lyons asks for a list of those “fully booked” bookings, Smith only refers to the Hannity appearance on the 28th, and notes that Kristin Davis is handling the schedule. Davis notes he’s also doing Laura Ingraham.

January 28, 2019: The Stones pay $19,485 to IRS.

January 28, 2019: The plans for Hannity continue on Monday, with Smith again asking for the Hannity folks to speak to him “to confirm the details.” In that thread, Davis and Lyons talk about how amazing it would be to support “another New York Times Bestseller” for Stone.

February 15, 2019: After two weeks — during which Stone was indicted, made several appearances before judges, and had his attorneys submit their first argument against a gag — Stone responded to Campbell’s January 24 email providing his address, and then asking “what is the plan for launch?” (a topic which had already been broached with Lyons on January 16). Campbell describes the 300-400 media outlets who got a review copy, then describes the 8 journalists who expressed an interest in it. Stone warns Campbell, “recognize that the judge may issue a gag order any day now” and admits “I also have to be wary of media outlets I want to interview me but don’t really want to talk about the book.”

February 18, 2019: Release of ebook version of Stone’s reissued book.

February 21, 2019: After Stone released an Instagram post implicitly threatening her, Amy Berman Jackson imposes a gag on Stone based on public safety considerations.

February 25, 2019: The Stones transfer $70,000 from Drake to Attorney account.

February 28, 2019: The Stones transfer $70,000 from Drake to Attorney account. The Stones pay $19,485 to IRS.

March 1, 2019: Ostensible official release date of paperback of Stone’s book. Stone submits “clarification” claiming that the book publication does not violate the gag.

March 4, 2019: Stone submits filing saying it is too late to hold the book.

March 5, 2019: The Stones establish Bertran Trust.

March 5, 2019: ABJ denies Stone’s request to exclude the book from the gag and orders further briefing.

March 11, 2019: Stone response to ABJ order, including exhibits showing that at least one of his attorneys knew of the imminent book release at the gag hearing.

March 22, 2019: The Stones purchase condo using $140,000 transfered from Drake Ventures account.

March 27, 2019: The Certificate of Trust recorded in Broward.

March 28, 2019: The Stones fail to make IRS payment, leading to default.

May 24, 2019: The Stones open three bank accounts in name of Bertran Trust.

June 2, 2020: Roger Stone writes forward to Keith Ablow book celebrating Trump.

Before Rand Paul Went to Moscow, He Was in a White House Meeting Discussing Lisa Page, Peter Strzok, and Andrew McCabe

Peter Strzok filed what is billed as a motion for clarification of Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s order last week requiring that Strzok’s deposition of FBI Director Chris Wray take place before Strzok’s deposition of Trump.

In part, it is a fact check, laying out all the ways that DOJ seems to have panicked after (and because) Strzok scheduled a deposition with the former President on May 24.

In part, it seems to be an effort to pre-empt DOJ’s threat to file for a writ of mandamus against ABJ because she permitted these depositions. For example, Strzok’s lawyers describe how much easier it was to schedule time with the unemployed former President than with the FBI Director. Under the Apex doctrine that DOJ claims to be adhering to, that should mean that Wray’s deposition should come after Trump’s (and indeed, that’s effectively what DOJ seemed to argue last year).

More interesting, though, are notes Strzok included to establish a need to depose Trump regardless of what Wray says, both taken by John Kelly when he was Chief of Staff.

According to Kelly’s own transcription, this February 21, 2018 note reads:

Potus, AG, Don McGahn

  • Deep state issues
  • Investigations
  • Firing love birds


  • Trust?

This note establishes that pressure to fire Strzok and Page may have bypassed Wray. McCabe was fired weeks later.

More curious still, however, is this note:

Kelly transcribed the July 23, 2018 note this way:

Potus, Rand Paul +2

Security clearances

*add Page, McCabe, Stroch (sic)

For some reason, a week after Trump submitted to Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on July 16 and 15 days before Paul would carry a letter from Trump to Putin expressing an interest in remaining besties, Paul was in a meeting discussing the FBI officials Trump had a vendetta against (who also happen to be Russian experts).

Days after Paul returned from Moscow, the FBI fired Strzok.

Update: Per Rand’s Twitter account, he met with Trump to discuss revoking John Brennan’s security clearance that day.

DOJ Attempts to Stave Off May 24 Trump Deposition in Peter Strzok Lawsuit

Many of the details of the how and the why of DOJ’s bid to get Judge Amy Berman Jackson to reverse her decision allowing Peter Strzok’s lawyers to depose Christopher Wray and Donald Trump in whichever order they choose are redacted.

But several things are clear.

First, Strzok currently has a Trump deposition scheduled for May 24.

Following the Court’s ruling, Defendants requested that Plaintiffs depose Director Wray before taking a deposition of the former President. See Exhibit A to Declaration of Christopher M. Lynch (“Lynch Decl.”). Plaintiffs refused that request, and instead scheduled a deposition of the former President to take place on May 24, before any deposition of Mr. Wray had been scheduled.

And, today, Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar gave DOJ approval to pursue several means of forestalling the deposition, including filing for a writ of mandamus as well as a more conventional appeal.

DOJ has something called the apex doctrine, which says that in a suit you have to depose more junior and non-governmental people first, in case it’s possible the lower level depositions will obviate the need for more senior ones.

In this case, DOJ hopes that Chris Wray will say he didn’t pass on any of the political pressure he was getting from Trump to fire Strzok to David Bowdich, who did the firing. If he does, DOJ claims, then there’s no need to depose Trump, who will say he was demanding that Strzok be fired.

There is no dispute that former FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich made the decision to remove Mr. Strzok from the FBI. Mr. Strzok argued that he should be permitted to take the former President’s deposition “about whether he met with and directly pressured FBI and DOJ officials to fire Plaintiff . . . and whether he directed any White House staff to engage in similar efforts.” Opp’n Mot. Quash Trump Subpoena at 10, In re Subpoena Served on Donald J. Trump, No. 1:22- mc-27-ABJ (D.D.C. Mar. 9, 2022), ECF No. 11. But this line of inquiry is potentially relevant only if any such meeting or pressure (a) included Mr. Bowdich or (b) was reported to Mr. Bowdich by Director Wray, who also had authority to discipline Mr. Strzok. Mr. Bowdich has already testified that he made the decision himself, without any input from former President Trump. See Bowdich Dep. 360:4-362:1 (Sept. 9, 2022); id. at 149:9-11; see also Defs.’ Suppl. Filing of Sept. 29, 2022, at 1, Strzok v. Garland, No. 1:19-cv-2367 (D.D.C.), ECF No. 90. And he has also testified that he “absolutely” did not recall Director Wray ever telling him about any meeting with President Trump in which “the President[] pressed the Director to fire Peter Strzok and Lisa Page[,]” and that he was “trying to keep [Director Wray] removed from th[e] particular adjudication” of Mr. Strzok’s misconduct. Bowdich Dep. at 200:17-204:2, 332:4-6; see also Defs.’ Suppl. Filing of Sept. 29, 2022, at 1. If Director Wray’s deposition establishes that Director Wray either did not receive the alleged pressure from the former President or did not convey any such pressure to Deputy Director Bowdich, the recipients of any alleged “pressure” to discipline Mr. Strzok would have been limited to those who did not take any action to discipline Mr. Strzok.

Thus far, Trump has not done things he could have done to insulate himself from this lawsuit, including invoking Executive Privilege.

But he did consent to DOJ’s attempt to stall his May 24 deposition.

1 Pursuant to Local Civil Rule 7(m) the undersigned conferred on the substance of this motion with counsel for Mr. Strzok and former President Trump. Counsel for Mr. Strzok advised the undersigned that Mr. Strzok opposes this motion. Counsel for former President Trump advised that former President Trump consents to this motion.

Maybe the E Jean Carroll verdict helped him realize how damaging his surly depositions can be in civil suits.

Meanwhile, ABJ just assumed senior status on May 1. She’ll remain a diligent judge, but she’s got far less reason to care that DOJ wants to tell her she has been shirking her job.

Update: The backup that DOJ submitted reveals that DOJ had already floated moving for a writ of mandamus on March 30 — but may not have done so until Trump’s deposition was locked in.

Update: Judge ABJ has issued an order scolding both sides, noting that based on the Apex doctrine arguments DOJ made last year, Chris Wray’s deposition should go last, but nevertheless ordering that it go before Trump’s.

MINUTE ORDER denying as moot [110] Motion for Reconsideration and Motion to Stay. On August 10, 2022, the Court ruled, pursuant to the apex doctrine, that any request to depose FBI Director Christopher Wray or former President Donald J. Trump must await the completion of the depositions of former FBI Deputy Director Bowdich and former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Thereafter, on February 23, 2023, after full briefing by the parties as to what had transpired in those proceedings, the Court issued a lengthy oral ruling on the question of whether the depositions of Director Wray and former President Trump could proceed. It ordered in its discretion and in accordance with the applicable law that they could both go forward under very strict restrictions as to time and subject matter. The Court is somewhat surprised to learn that since then, the parties have done nothing more than wrangle over the order of the two depositions. The government seems chagrined that the Court did not order that the deposition of the FBI Director be completed first, but it may recall that it was the Court’s view that it was Director Wray, the only current high-ranking public official in the group of proposed deponents, whose ongoing essential duties fell most squarely under the protection of the doctrine in question. The defendants’ instant motion repeats arguments that were made and fully considered before, and it does not set forth grounds warranting reconsideration. The Court’s ruling was appropriate in light of all of the facts, including the former President’s own public statements concerning his role in the firing of the plaintiff. However, in order to get the parties — who apparently still cannot agree on anything — over this impasse, it is hereby ORDERED that the deposition of Christopher Wray proceed first, rendering the instant motion moot.

The Long List of Reasons Why Potential Intimidation of Proud Boy Jurors Must Be Taken Seriously

Enrique Tarrio has already been investigated by a grand jury in Prettyman Courthouse for any role he had in threats to undermine a criminal prosecution.

That’s important background to Brandi’s report, at the end of her update on the Proud Boys trial, of how much of last week the trial was halted for a series of sealed hearings.

Apart from routine objections launched by the defense to even the most mundane of issues and separate from the unending series of motions for mistrial, last week featured a new and unwelcome variable: the sealed hearing.

A sealed hearing, or a hearing closed to the public and press, is typically held when sensitive or classified matters are being discussed by the parties. Trial days were stopped and started three times last week for sealed hearings that stretched for more than an hour. A press coalition moved to unseal proceedings on at least one of those days but was promptly denied by Judge Kelly for reasons he failed to describe on the record.

Though the exact reason was not disclosed by the court (nor would one expect it to be at this point), CNN reported that multiple sources said the sealed hearing was prompted after a juror raised concerns that she was being followed. Another juror has said they were “accosted” but no further details were available.

As CNN reported, a juror had become worried that someone was following her.

A juror told the court an individual came up to her outside of a Washington, DC, metro station and asked if she was a juror, multiple sources told CNN. The juror told court staff she had seen the same individual on several occasions and thought they might be following her.

Some jurors appear to be split on their views of the incidents, people familiar said. One juror told the judge he thought it was possible the interactions were random and it might have been someone experiencing homelessness in the area.


When other jurors found out about the incident, they also began to look out for the individual and had taken at least one picture of the person, according to someone familiar with the matter.

Other jurors also told the court in sealed hearings this week that they had been “accosted,” one source told CNN, though it’s unclear to what extent.

But that report and some of the discussions I’ve seen elsewhere didn’t describe the list of reasons why such threats should be taken seriously.

First, there’s the fact that defendant Enrique Tarrio has already been investigated in this courthouse for his potential role in a threat against a judge. In 2019, Amy Berman Jackson put Roger Stone under oath and asked how he came to post an Instagram post of her with crosshairs on it. He blamed the “volunteers” who had made the meme — one of whom, he named, was Tarrio.

Amy Berman Jackson. How was the image conveyed to you by the person who selected it?

Stone. It was emailed to me or text-messaged to me. I’m not certain.

Q. Who sent the email?

A. I would have to go back and look. I don’t recognize. I don’t know. Somebody else uses my —

THE COURT: How big is your staff, Mr. Stone?

THE DEFENDANT: I don’t have a staff, Your Honor. I have a few volunteers. I also — others use my phone, so I’m not the only one texting, because it is my account and, therefore, it’s registered to me. So I’m uncertain how I got the image. I think it is conceivable that it was selected on my phone. I believe that is the case, but I’m uncertain.

THE COURT: So individuals, whom you cannot identify, provide you with material to be posted on your personal Instagram account and you post it, even if you don’t know who it came from?

THE DEFENDANT: Everybody who works for me is a volunteer. My phone is used by numerous people because it can only be posted to the person to whom it is registered.


[AUSA] Jonathan Kravis. What are the names of the five or six volunteers that you’re referring to?

Stone. I would — Jacob Engles, Enrique Tarrio. I would have to go back and look

As CNN itself later reported, those whom Stone named were subpoenaed to testify about whether Stone had paid them to make threatening memes targeting his judge.

Tarrio, the leader of the Proud Boys, had been helping him ​with his social media, Stone said under oath, as had the Proud Boys’ Florida chapter founder Tyler Ziolkowski, who went by Tyler Whyte at the time; Jacob Engels, a Proud Boys associate who is close to Stone and identifies himself as a journalist in Florida; and another Florida man named Rey Perez, whose name is spelled Raymond Peres in the court transcript​.

A few days later, federal authorities tracked down the men and gave them subpoenas to testify to a grand jury, according to Ziolkowski, who was one of the witnesses.

Ziolkowski and the others flew to DC in the weeks afterwards to testify.

“They asked me about if I had anything to do about posting that. They were asking me if Stone has ever paid me, what he’s ever paid me for,” Ziolkowski told CNN this week. When he first received the subpoena, the authorities wouldn’t tell Ziolkowski what was being investigated, but a prosecutor later told him “they were investigating the picture and if he had paid anybody,” Ziolkowski said. He says he told the grand jury Stone never paid him, and that he hadn’t posted the photo.

So four years ago, in this very courthouse, Tarrio or his associates were questioned about the circumstances of any participation they had in threatening a judge.

That wasn’t the only role the Proud Boys had in Stone’s witness tampering in that case. The first contact that Randy Credico had with FBI agents investigating 2016 was not the highly publicized grand jury testimony to which he brought his comfort dog Bianca. It was a Duty to Warn contact earlier that summer after the FBI had identified credible threats against him. Those credible threats came from the gangs, including the Proud Boys, that Stone hung out with.

In entirely unrelated news, Credico posted pictures showing him in Moscow last week.

It didn’t end with Stone’s guilty verdict, either. After the verdict, Stone associates got leaked copies of the jury questionnaires. Mike Cernovich started hunting down details on the jurors to retroactively cast doubt on the judgment, and Trump joined in the effort to create a mob. In the wake of those efforts, the jurors expressed fear and some regret at having served.

ALL 12 OF the jurors in the Roger Stone case have expressed fear in court filings on Wednesday. They worry they will continue to be harassed and they fear for the safety of themselves and their families if their identities are revealed.

According to The National Law Journal, jurors cited tweets from President Trump and remarks from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones as the reason “the threats to the jurors’ safety and privacy persist” after the trial ended in November.

One juror wrote, “I try to stay away from danger, but now it seems like the danger is coming to me.”

The jurors are looking to thwart the legal efforts of right-wing conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich, who is attempting to make public the pretrial questionnaires the jurors filled out. Those questionnaires include jurors’ private information and employment history. The supposed aim of the petition to release the questionnaires is to vet them for bias in hopes of getting a new trial for Stone.

Another juror wrote, “Given the current climate of polarization and harassment, I do not want to draw any attention to myself, my family, or my employer in any way, shape, or form. It is intimidating when the president of the United States attacks the foreperson of a jury by name.”

“I am frightened that someone could harm my family simply because I was summoned and then chosen to serve on the jury,” another juror wrote.

The efforts to intimidate have continued to this case. During a period when Zach Rehl was reportedly considering a plea, Tarrio sent messages to other Proud Boys about remaining loyal.

“The bigger problem with that is the guys that are in prison right now are holding on to hope that everybody is f—ing staying put because they didn’t do anything wrong,” Tarrio said. “The moment that they think one of the guys flipped, it throws everything off and it makes everybody turn on each other, and that’s what we are trying to f—ing avoid.”

Asked about the audio message, Tarrio told Reuters he was simply trying to stop members from speculating that anyone had decided to help prosecutors who are examining the deadly insurrection. “What I was trying to avoid is them turning against each other because of media stories,” he said.

Trial testimony showed that witnesses for the defense — in this case Fernando Alonzo — made threatening comments about Eddie Block for posting the video of the Proud Boys he shot on January 6. [Warning: he used an ableist slur against Block, who relies on a mobility scooter.]

Witnesses for other January 6 defendant have been harassed, as when one January 6 participant confronted Sergeant Aquilino Gonell during the trial of Kyle Fitzsimons on assault charges.

[January 6 participant Tommy] Tatum also tried to confront another officer, this one with the Capitol Police, in a courthouse elevator on Wednesday. He recorded and posted clips of both exchanges with the officers and identified himself outside the courthouse.

U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, who is also testifying in the trial, said that Tatum told him that he should be ashamed of himself in an exchange near the bathroom inside the courthouse on Wednesday. Shortly after, Tatum got into an expletive-laden confrontation with David Laufman, an attorney for Gonell, after he tried to get into an elevator with Gonell, Laufman and an NBC News reporter.

NBC News separately heard Tatum make negative comments inside the courthouse about how he believed Gonell was acting. Outside the courthouse, Tatum recorded himself accusing Gonell of committing perjury.

The confrontations with Gonell came before the conclusion of his testimony in the case against Fitzsimons, who is accused of assaulting Gonell inside the tunnel. Gonell’s cross-examination by Fitzsimons’ federal public defender will continue on Thursday morning.

“For Sgt. Gonell to be accosted like that, within the courthouse and while he remains a live witness at trial, was outrageous and amounts to witness intimidation that promptly should be addressed by the court as well as the FBI and the Department of Justice,” Laufman, who is representing Gonell pro bono, told NBC News on Wednesday night.

Finally, there are other key players in January 6 — most notably former Green Beret, Ivan Raiklin, who played a key role in Operation Pence Card, the effort to pressure Pence to overturn the election — who lurk around all events associated with January 6. Fellow Proud Boy Gabriel Garcia, in a recent bid to avoid pre-trial release sanctions for going to CPAC after he told Judge Amy Berman Jackson he was coming to DC to observe — among other things — the Proud Boys trial, claimed that he hung out with Raiklin at CPAC to formulate his defense.

While at CPAC, Mr. Garcia was working on his defense to these charges. Indeed, he asked Congressman M. Gaetz, who is from Mr. Garcia’s home state, how and when could his defense team access the 40,000 hours of unreleased video Capitol Police have. Also, he and his counsel met, and conferred extensively with, attorney Ivan Raiklin, whom they may retain for assistance and trial preparation. Mr. Raiklin had spoken to Mr. Garcia on March 2 at CPAC, and he told Mr. Garcia to return the next day with his counsel to discuss at length defense strategies, which they did.

Former Army Captain Garcia is one of the Proud Boys who, in exhibits submitted at trial (here, Gabriel PB), was issuing the most chilling threats in advance of January 6.

None of this makes things easier for Tim Kelly, as he tries to sustain this jury long enough to get through deliberations. It’s not yet clear whether the jurors, watching testimony about the extent to which Proud Boys using intimidation to protect their organization, are seeing shadows, or whether there’s a real attempt to intimidate jurors before they start deliberating.

But given the history of individuals directly associated with the defendants, the threat is not an idle one.

The Roger Stone Convergence at the Winter Palace

There was a status hearing in the Owen Shroyer case last week that was so short it was over by the time I had entered the dial-in code. Shroyer, you’ll recall, is the Alex Jones sidekick who was charged for violating his specific prohibition on being an asshole at the Capitol. His lawyer, Norm Pattis, happens to be the lawyer who sent a large swath of Alex Jones’ data to the Texas Sandy Hook plaintiffs, and then presided over the $1 billion judgement in the Connecticut Sandy Hook lawsuit. On June 14, Pattis noticed his appearance on Joe Biggs’ legal team, effectively giving him visibility on how badly the discovery in the Proud Boy case implicates Shroyer and Jones and Ali Alexander. Shroyer appears to be stalling on his decision about whether he wants to enter a plea agreement — one that would presumably require some cooperation — or whether he wants to stick around and be charged in a superseding indictment along with everyone else.

Shroyer has until November 29 to make that decision, around which time I expect a Roger Stone convergence to become more clear.

The Roger Stone convergence has been coming for some time (I’ve been pointing to it for at 14 months). Yesterday, NYT reported that one means by which it is coming is in the dissemination of the We the People document laying out plans to occupy buildings — under the code “Winter Palace” — which the FBI found on the Enrique Tarrio phone it took over a year to exploit.

As I laid out here, the document is important because it shows Tarrio’s motive on January 6 in his assertion that “every waking moment consists of” planning for revolution.

41. Between December 30 and December 31, 2020, TARRIO communicated multiple times with an individual whose identity is known to the grand jury. On December 30, 2020, this individual sent TARRIO a nine-page document tiled, “1776 Returns.” The document set forth a plan to occupy a few “crucial buildings” in Washington, D.C., on January 6, including House and Senate office buildings around the Capitol, with as “many people as possible” to “show our politicians We the People are in charge.” After sending the document, the individual stated, “The revolution is important than anything.” TARRIO responded, “That’s what every waking moment consists of… I’m not playing games.”

And an exchange he had with now-cooperating witness Jeremy Bertino that they had succeeded in implementing the Winter Palace plan shows that Tarrio recognized that occupying buildings was part of his plan.

107. At 7:39 pm, PERSON-1 sent two text messages to TARRIO that read, “Brother. ‘You know we made this happen,” and “I’m so proud of my country today.” TARRIO responded, “I know” At 7:44 pm. the conversation continued, with PERSON-1 texting, “1776 motherfuckers.” TARRIO responded, “The Winter Palace.” PERSON-1 texted, “Dude. Did we just influence history?” TARRIO responded, “Let’s first see how this plays out.” PERSON-1 stated, “They HAVE to certify today! Or it’s invalid.” These messages were exchanged before the Senate returned to its chamber at approximately 8:00 p.m. to resume certifying the Electoral College vote.

The NYT story reveals that Eryka Gemma is the person who sent the document to Tarrio, but she was not its author.

As a part of the investigation, prosecutors are seeking to understand whether Mr. Engels has ties to a little-known Miami-based cryptocurrency promoter who may have played a role in the Capitol attack.

A week before the building was stormed, the promoter, Eryka Gemma, gave Mr. Tarrio a document titled “1776 Returns,” according to several people familiar with the matter. The document laid out a detailed plan to surveil and storm government buildings around the Capitol on Jan. 6 in a pressure campaign to demand a new election.


The federal indictment of Mr. Tarrio says that the person who provided him with “1776 Returns” told him, shortly after it was sent, “The revolution is more important than anything.” That person was Ms. Gemma, according to several people familiar with the matter.

But Ms. Gemma was not the author of “1776 Returns,” which was written by others, first as a shared document on Google, the people said.

It remains unclear who the original authors were.

It may be unclear or detrimental to the sources for this story who originally wrote the document; it’s probably not to investigators who can simply send a warrant to Google.

And whether because investigators know who wrote the document or for some other reason (such as that they have just a few more weeks of pre-sentencing cooperation with Joel Greenberg), they’re trying to understand whether this document, laying out a plan to occupy buildings, had an analogue in the Florida-based riots that key Roger Stone associate, Jacob Engels, staged in 2018 in an attempt to thwart any delays in certification for Rick Scott (and Ron DeSantis, who gets a positive shout out by name in the Winter Palace document).

On Nov. 9, [2018] a group of about 100 angry protesters, including members of the Proud Boys, descended on the Broward County elections office, carrying pro-Scott and pro-Trump signs and protesting the recount.

The event drew support from several far-right activists in Florida linked to Mr. Stone — among them, Ali Alexander, who later organized Stop the Steal events around the 2020 election, and Joseph Biggs, a leader of the Proud Boys who has since been charged alongside Mr. Tarrio in the Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy case.

The NYT describes this line of inquiry as happening via two different sets of prosecutors, which is a sign of either convergence or simply the networked structure that DOJ’s approach, using parallel and (through Stone) intersecting, conspiracy indictments clearly facilitated (Shroyer’s prosecution team, incidentally, features an Oath Keeper prosecutor and a key assault prosecutor).

In recent months, prosecutors overseeing the seditious conspiracy case of five members of the Proud Boys have expanded their investigation to examine the role that Jacob Engels — a Florida Proud Boy who accompanied Mr. Stone to Washington for Jan. 6 — played in the 2018 protests, according to a person briefed on the matter.

The prosecutors want to know whether Mr. Engels received any payments or drew up any plans for the Florida demonstration, and whether he has ties to other people connected to the Proud Boys’ activities in the run-up to the storming of the Capitol.

Different prosecutors connected to the Jan. 6 investigation have also been asking questions about efforts by Mr. Stone — a longtime adviser to Mr. Trump — to stave off a recount in the 2018 Senate race in Florida, according to other people familiar with the matter.

While the NYT describes (breaking news!) that Engels was one of the people who in 2019, along with Tarrio, crafted an attack on the judge presiding over Roger Stone’s case, Amy Berman Jackson, it does not note that the Stop the Steal effort dates back two years earlier than the 2018 riot, to voter intimidation efforts that Stone pursued that look similar to the current drop box intimidation effort being disseminated via Trump’s shitty social media website (NYT does mention the Brooks Brothers riots in 2000 and notes the participants “apparently work[ed] with Mr. Stone” — more breaking news).

Nor does it describe the backstory to how Biggs showed up in Florida in 2018, fresh off his ouster from InfoWars after playing a key role in both the PizzaGate and Seth Rich hoaxes, both part of a Russian info-op that Stone played a key role in. But it’s part of the prehistory of the Proud Boys that prosecutors are now tracing.

I have no idea whether the very clear 2016 precedent is part of this. DOJ wouldn’t need to do (much) fresh investigation of it because Mueller and DC USAO did quite a bit of investigation before Bill Barr torched the investigation all to hell and then Trump pardoned Stone to avoid being implicated himself. But if it was part of this, no one who would share those details with NYT would know about it unless and until it was indicted. That’s even true of the 2019 incident; DOJ did at least some investigative work into the funding of that, the same questions being asked now about how Engels organized the 2018 riot.

But whether this investigative prong extends no further back than 2018 or whether it includes the Stone Stop the Steal activity that demonstrably paralleled a Russian effort, it does seem that DOJ is investigating how the prior history of the Proud Boys parallels these efforts to undermine democracy and did so in the place — Miami — where the Proud Boys, schooled by the master rat-fucker, are increasingly taking on an official role.

That may not be an investigation about Engels’ actions, directly (though he has long been in the thick of things). Rather, it may be an investigation into resources that were consistent throughout these developments.

Don’t Analyze Trump Legal Filings Based on the Law, Analyze Them Based on Power

I think people are making a grave mistake of applying principles of law to Trump’s legal maneuvering.

Trump’s lawyers are not making arguments about law.

If there were lawyers concerned about principles of justice participating in his defense, they’d be stridently advising him to work on a plea deal admitting guilt to 18 USC 2071, removing government documents, maybe even agreeing to the probably unconstitutional part of the law that would prohibit him from running for President again, in exchange for removing the more serious 18 USC 793 and 1519 charges from consideration. Such a plea deal is never going to happen. Win or lose, Trump is pursuing power, not adjudication under the law, not even recognition of the law.

One way you can be certain about that is because Evan Corcoran, who got his and Steve Bannon’s asses handed to them in Carl Nichols’ courtroom making legally ridiculous arguments that treat Executive Privilege as a theory of impunity applicable to everyone who is loyal to Trump, has taken from that setback not that his claims about Executive Privilege are ignorant and wrong. Instead, he has doubled down on that approach with Eric Herschmann (and probably the Two Pats, Cipollone and Philbin), undoubtedly believing that so long as he can delay the time until Bannon reports to prison and Trump’s former White House Counsels testify about what really went down on January 6, his people can reclaim Executive authority and make all this go away.

He’s definitely not wrong that he can delay the time until Bannon is jailed, and he may not be wrong about the rest of it.

Four years ago last week, Paul Manafort entered into a plea agreement with Mueller’s team and then promptly started lying about matters to which he had already confessed to get the plea deal in the first place. Manafort managed to sustain the appearance of cooperation through the mid-term election, after which Trump took action that would have been politically problematic before it — firing Jeff Sessions and hiring Billy Barr. Amy Berman Jackson ruled that Manafort had lied during his plea deal. But it didn’t matter. Trump and Barr spent the next two years erasing every legal judgment against him and the Trump flunkies that had remained loyal, erasing Manafort’s conviction and even his forfeiture. They erased a good deal of evidence that he conspired with Russia to get elected in the process. In the end, everyone who played a part in this process ended up better off — in significant part because the process, especially Barr’s part in it, has never been fully reported for what it was. Trump even used the ensuing process of discrediting the Russian investigation as a means to train Republicans — along with likely Fox viewers like Aileen Cannon — to believe he was mistreated in the Russian investigation, when the opposite is the case.

Along the way, Trump did grave damage to rule of law and undermined trust in US institutions. For him, that was a side benefit of the process, but a very important and lasting benefit, indeed.

He’s undoubtedly trying to play the same trick again: Stall the investigation past the election, and then (seemingly confident that Republicans will win at least one house of Congress, by democracy or by deceit) flip the entire investigation into yet another example where Trump has not flouted the law, but instead the law has failed to recognize Trump’s impunity from it.

Consider the analysis of Trump’s objections to Judge Raymond Dearie’s draft Special Master plan. As noted, Trump wailed about two things: that Dearie asked whether Judge Aileen Cannon’s inclusion of any Rule 41(g) claims (which is basically a legal way to demand property back before an indictment) in her order accorded with law and asked Trump to provide a list of the documents he claims to have declassified.

[W]e are concerned that it contemplates resolving issues that were not raised by Judge Cannon in her order, her order denying the stay, or oral argument. Specifically, Judge Cannon was aware of the likelihood of eventual Rule 41(g) litigation and established a process by which the Special Master would evaluate any such claims before reporting and recommending to the Court. While the Plaintiff is, of course, willing to brief anything ordered by the Court under the auspices of the Special Master, we are concerned that the Draft Plan directs the Plaintiff to address whether Rule 41(g) litigation should be litigated under Case No. 9:22-MJ-08332-BER. The Plaintiff respectfully sees no indication the District Court planned to carve out related litigation for a merits determination by the issuing magistrate for the warrant in question. Most importantly, none of the District Court’s Orders have ever indicated that this was even a consideration.

Similarly, the Draft Plan requires that the Plaintiff disclose specific information regarding declassification to the Court and to the Government. We respectfully submit that the time and place for affidavits or declarations would be in connection with a Rule 41 motion that specifically alleges declassification as a component of its argument for return of property. Otherwise, the Special Master process will have forced the Plaintiff to fully and specifically disclose a defense to the merits of any subsequent indictment without such a requirement being evident in the District Court’s order.

Virtually everyone has suggested that the reason that Trump is balking at the order to tell Dearie which documents he declassified is because his lawyers want to avoid lying and they know Trump hasn’t declassified any of these documents. Such observations apparently apply even to Evan Corcoran, who (according to the NYT) suckered Christina Bobb into signing a declaration he wrote about a search he had done that claimed a diligent search was done that has since been proven not to be a diligent search.

Suffice it to say I’m skeptical that these lawyers — at least some of them — would be averse to filing a declaration saying, “Our client tells us he declassified it all,” if it would serve Trump’s purposes. All the more so given that none of them were in a position to know whether Trump declassified them all or not, and Trump not only doesn’t care whether he lies to his lawyers, he’s probably constitutionally incapable of doing anything but.

That’s not the reason why they’re balking about Dearie’s request for a list of documents Trump declassified.

Consider the schedule Trump proposed.

This schedule ensures that key decisions come to a head in mid-November, after the election.

Trump’s goal here is not any final determinations from Dearie (absent a determination that the FBI was mean to Trump just like they were to Carter Page). Cannon’s order fairly obviously invites Trump to contest Dearie’s ultimate decisions so she can de novo decide the issues. Trump’s goal is undoubtedly (because it always is) to create conflict, to sow an invented narrative that DOJ is out to get him. And Trump’s optimal outcome is not necessarily even that Cannon will say Trump declassified all these documents, including some of the Intelligence Community’s crown jewels. Such a proposition might even piss off a few of the Republicans who’ve not entirely lost their mind, until such time as Trump convinces them through the process of repetition and demonization that the IC should never have been spying on (say) Russia in the first place.

Trump’s goal here is to sustain the conflict until such time as Jim Jordan can save him, and the two of them can resume their frontal assault on rule of law again.

All Cannon needs to do to serve that end is at some point, after the election, declare that Trump’s claims about classification, even if incorrect and foolish, are reasonable for a former President. That’s all it would take to make it prohibitively difficult for future prosecutors to indict the 793 charges. This is the same way Barr made it prohibitively difficult for prosecutors to charge outstanding Mueller charges, notwithstanding the number of self-imagined liberals who blame Merrick Garland for that damage.

A more obvious tell comes earlier in Trump’s proposed schedule.

He wants the classified documents shared with his team — none of whom currently has the requisite clearance — this week. Only after that does he want to create the privilege log for the 64 documents his lawyers have had for four days; he wants another two weeks (so 18 days out of a 75 day process, total) before he makes such privilege determinations.

To be fair, that may be what Judge Cannon intended, too. She, meanwhile, will have to review at least one protective order this week, and may use that as further opportunity to muck in the process, to reinforce her demand that DOJ start the process of sharing classified documents even before the 11th Circuit weighs in.

There are probably two very good reasons why Trump wants classified documents in hand before they make any privilege claim. First because (as I have repeatedly pointed out), Cannon used those potentially privileged documents as the harm she hung her authority to wade in on. If Dearie rules that — as DOJ has repeatedly claimed — these documents were pulled out not because they really are privileged, but only because they set the bar for potential privilege so low as to ensure nothing was reviewed, then it takes one of the three harms that Cannon has manufactured off the table. Every time a claimed harm is taken off the table, another basis for Cannon’s power grab, and another basis from which to claim conflict, is eliminated.

Trump needs to forestall that from happening until such time as he has created more conflict, more claimed injury.

The other reason, I suspect, that Trump wants the classified documents in hand before the potentially privileged documents is because he knows that some of the classified documents he stole involve either his White House Counsel (which would be the case if documents pertaining to his Perfect Phone Call with Volodymyr Zelenskyy were in the stash) or his Attorney General (which might be the case with the clemency for Roger Stone). DOJ has always limited its comments about attorney-client privilege to those involving Trump’s personal lawyers, and that approach has continued since then, even in their motion for a stay before the 11th Circuit. They’re not wrong on the law: classified documents involving White House or DOJ lawyers are obviously government documents. But that wouldn’t prevent Trump from claiming they are privileged (or Cannon agreeing with him on that point).

Thus the delay. Trump needs to delay the potentially privileged review until such time as he has those classified documents in hand and can claim that DOJ didn’t include all the potentially privileged ones because they assumed that government lawyers work for taxpayers, not for Trump.

It doesn’t have to be true or legally sound. It needs to be a conflict that can be sustained long enough to let Cannon decide, and decide in such a way that Trump keeps claiming he’s the victim.

Like I said, Corcoran may not be wrong that this will work. A lot depends on what the 11th Circuit decides. But a lot, too, depends on commentators continuing to treat this as a good faith legal dispute when instead it’s just more manufactured conflict.

How To Be a Handmaiden to Corruption, Barr Memo Press Coverage Edition

Much of the coverage of the Barr Memowritten over a weekend after a 7-hour review of the Mueller Report to justify a public statement to Congress exonerating the former President — continues to magnify the corruption of Barr’s act, rather than expose it.

The memo makes numerous factual errors (errors that can be easily documented thanks to a public record liberated by Jason Leopold). One Judge — Amy Berman Jackson — issued a ruling saying that the memo doesn’t do what it claimed it did (deliberate about whether Trump could be charged). She even included a timeline to show her work. Three more Circuit Judges agreed with ABJ’s opinion that DOJ misrepresented what they claimed they had done — by saying they were making a prosecutorial decision rather than a public messaging decision — in an attempt to keep the memo under wraps.

You’d think that after four judges had called out DOJ for shenanigans with this memo, anyone remotely interested in performing the function of journalism would explain why those judges found the project so suspect, and the import of that to the actual claims made in the memo. CREW spent years doing the hard work of liberating the memo to make it easy for journalists!

Instead, numerous outlets simply parroted the language of the memo that four judges had ruled to be a messaging project, thereby treating the memo as a valid exercise of legal analysis and not a performance of corruption.

I’d like to pay tribute to some of the outlets that chose to be a handmaiden to corruption rather than journalists.

I should say, while I bitched about it the day of the release, the NYT improved their story by adding the work of Charlie Savage. (early version; later version) It still treats the focus on Don McGahn as real rather than tactical and chooses to primarily quote experts explaining the problems with the memo rather than lay that out directly. But it notes (as I did) that the memo doesn’t explain something that was at the core of Mueller’s obstruction analysis — pardons. It provides actual reporting explaining that Merrick Garland’s DOJ wasn’t hiding the substance of this when they fought to keep it sealed last year, they were making a “narrower legal” argument — presumably trying to preserve the exemption it had been sealed under (the b5A deliberative privilege).

After losing in court on Friday, the Justice Department had the option to appeal the case. But the department’s senior leadership decided to release the document, according to a senior official in federal law enforcement. The leadership never opposed airing its contents, but had contested its release on narrower legal grounds, the person added.

Compare that with some of the stenography that remains untouched.

Eric Tucker, Memo sheds light on decision to clear Trump in Russia probe (AP)

Unsurprisingly, Eric Tucker ignores the opinions from four judges who called out this memo and spends three paragraphs ignoring the evidence that this was a hash job instead describing it as a record of “how two of the department’s senior-most leaders arrived at that conclusion,” something the judicial record says it’s not. He then spends seven paragraphs rehashing part of Steven Engel and Ed O’Callaghan’s argument, never calling out factual errors and ignoring their even more problematic treatment of witness tampering. Only after that does Tucker explain that two courts (he only mentions the Circuit) deemed that it had been improperly withheld, without explaining why. Finally, in the last two paragraphs, he quotes from CREW about the substance of the memo, as if he doesn’t have the competence to assess it himself.

Ryan Lucas, DOJ releases a Mueller-era memo to Barr on the decision not to prosecute Trump (NPR)

Unlike the AP, NPR didn’t claim, in its headline, that this memo actually did represent the decision-making process. But Ryan Lucas dedicated much of his story on the memo — paragraphs three and four, and then nine through eleven — parroting the claimed rationale of the lawyers. It describes the rebukes from the judges this way: “A district court judge and a panel of circuit court judges disagreed and ordered its release.” That leaves him free to pitch the question of Barr’s exoneration of Trump (which he calls “declin[ing] to prosecute Trump”) as a he-said, she-said affair, pitting CREW and 1,000 former prosecutors against Trump and his supporters. Lucas ends the piece by describing the current investigation into whether Trump violated the Espionage Act and obstructed an investigation by refusing to return classified documents an investigation into “storing presidential documents at his Mar-a-Lago residence.”

Robert Legare, Government lawyers advised Barr not to bring obstruction charges against Trump after Mueller report, newly-released memo reveals (CBS)

Of 28 paragraphs in this story, twelve report the claimed analysis of the memo unfiltered, as if it really was a predecisional declination memo, as if it really did analyze the entirety of the report, as if it was factually accurate. It dedicates four paragraphs to more recent efforts of Barr and the others involved to justify their decisions or separate themselves from Trump. Rather than describing the years-long fight featuring judges repeatedly calling out both the project of the memo itself and the means by which it was hidden, Legare described only that it, “was ordered unsealed by an Appeals Court after a FOIA request and subsequent lawsuit were filed seeking its release.” Ultimately, then, this article treats the memo as something the judges say it’s not — a view that would be reinforced by an assessment of the actual claims made against the now-public record of the investigation itself.

Ryan J. Reilly and Dareh Gregorian, DOJ releases unredacted memo to Barr on Trump, obstruction in Mueller probe (NBC)

Reilly interrupted breaking a story about an important January 6 militia arrest the other day to cover this live and did a pretty good job on the air. But in the write-up with Dareh Gregorian, they spend paragraphs three through eight quoting at length from the memo. Along the way, they claim the memo “dismiss[ed] Mueller’s concerns about Trump’s … dangling of pardons to some witnesses,” rather than calling it out for ignoring pardons entirely. While the piece noted that Barr “announced that the Justice Department would not prosecute the case the same day the memo was sent to him” and described ABJ’s ruling that, “Barr’s mind had already been made up before the memo was written,” thereby hinting that the memo was just a messaging project, they don’t consider the import of that sequence for the analysis itself. And rather than identifying the problems of the memo themselves, they describe that, “many people strongly disagreed with the analysis laid out in the memo,” and explicitly identify CREW as ” left-leaning,” treating the actual substance as something inaccessible to them and so just a matter for ongoing political dispute.

Alexander Mallin, DOJ releases memo behind Barr’s decision not to prosecute Trump for obstruction (ABC)

To his credit, in the five paragraphs describing what led to the release of the memo with which Alexander Malin starts his coverage, he describes the judges concluding that, “Barr and other DOJ officials were not candid in their statements about the role the memo played in their decision to not charge Trump.” Which makes it all the more mystifying why he dedicates eleven paragraphs of his story quoting the memo at length, with no fact-checking or push-back, as if it the memo really was real analysis that led to Barr’s decision to make an announcement that he wouldn’t have charged Trump if he could have.

I get it. This memo came out amid a flood of news, especially for those of us on the DOJ beat. I get that people rushed to do quick analyses so they could go back to watching dockets in Florida, Georgia, and DC.

But what happened with this memo — four judges overriding a b5 exemption based on their assessment that DOJ misrepresented the function of the memo — is virtually unprecedented. That, by itself, should lead reporters to scrutinize the memo (or at least the process) for the kind of dishonesty the judges judged it was, rather than treating it as a transparent record of legal analysis that ABJ already showed it’s not. All the more so when, as is the case here, thousands of pages recording the underlying evidence (evidence that the authors of the memo explicitly say they’re not going to cite) are publicly available.

If you’re reporting on a document that DOJ made false claims in an attempt to keep secret, parroting what it says at length, with no discussion of why DOJ made misrepresentations to keep it secret, with no effort on your own to test whether what it says is any more true than what was said to keep it hidden, you’re doing readers a disservice.

Four judges and CREW (plus Leopold, with his earlier Mueller Report FOIA) have given you an easy way to reassess what Bill Barr did to pre-empt the results of the Mueller Report in 2019. To instead simply repeat his past claims or those whom he ordered (and worked with) to justify a pre-ordained result is not journalism.

Bill Barr Performed the Corruption He Was Trying To Deny

Perhaps I have a perverse sense of humor.

But between bouts of yelling about the Barr Memo, I’ve been laughing my ass off.

There are a number of reasons I’m laughing, some that I won’t share because I don’t want to spoil what I expect to be the punchline. But one reason I can’t stop laughing is that Robert Mueller managed to get Barr to perform — and put down in writing!! — precisely the corruption Mueller was trying to document: corrupt interference in a criminal prosecution.

I can’t imagine that Robert Mueller intended to elicit this response from Billy Barr and the lawyers who had been overseeing Mueller’s work for almost two years. But because they made the corrupt decision to override Mueller’s studied refusal to made a final conclusion about whether Trump committed obstruction (in my opinion, Mueller viewed Volume II of the Report as an impeachment referral and so did this for separation of powers reasons), they ended up putting together a shoddy memo justifying their decision.

One reason it worked out that way was because Barr and his flunkies were working quickly: a rushed effort over the course of the weekend to substantiate false claims to share with Congress.

According to Barr’s book, he remembers getting the Mueller Report around 1:30PM on March 22, 2019.

As Amy Berman Jackson laid out in a timeline accompanying her decision ordering the release of the memo, starting with a draft of the letter to Congress by Steven Engel at 8:36PM on March 22, 2019 and working through the weekend, five men including Engel (according to some emails quoted by ABJ, Barr was present as well) drafted both the letter to Congress and the declination memo in parallel.

As ABJ pointed out (this was a second basis on which she ruled that DOJ had to release the memo, one the DC Circuit said it didn’t need to consider given all the other reasons it had laid out to uphold her decision), the drafting of the letter to Congress — which she showed in the left column — actually preceded the memo — in the right column — advising Barr that because one goal under the Justice Manual is to,

promot[e] confidence on the part of the public and individual defendants that important prosecutorial decisions will be made rationally and objectively on the merits of each case,

Barr should,

examine the Report to determine whether prosecution would be appropriate given the evidence recounted in the Special Counsel’s Report, the underlying law, and traditional principles of federal prosecution.

The public record, then, shows Barr telling Congress about his prosecution declination before he decided to read the Report or even accept the recommendation of people who claimed to have read the Report. It was all completed over a weekend in which the people supposedly advising him were at the same time being directed by him, everyone together in the Attorney General’s conference room for the weekend.

The men finished their letter to Congress announcing that Trump had not committed any crime just after 4:30PM on Sunday and then finalized the declination memo first thing Monday morning.

These men weren’t reading the 400-page Report to figure out what it said (and there’s evidence that neither Rod Rosenstein nor Barr ever read it closely). They were instead trying to figure out how to debunk a Report they had skimmed over the course of seven hours.

And that haste showed up in several places in the memo.

There’s the admission that their recommendations were largely the part of earlier discussions, including from before Barr was hired (as Barr described it, one of the lawyers, Henry Whitaker got pulled in for the first time over the weekend), and therefore only partly about the Report itself.

Over the course of the Special Counsel’s investigation, we have previously discussed these issues within the Department among ourselves, with the Deputy Attorney General, and with you since your appointment, as well as with the Special Counsel and his staff. Our conclusions are the product of those discussions, as well as our review of the Report.

They repeat that admission to explain why they dedicate fully a third of the single page discussing legal precedents to a discussion that happened on July 3, 2018, before the evidence about the Stone interactions with Russia, Paul Manafort’s ties with Konstantin Kilimnik, and Michael Cohen’s interactions with the Kremlin were fully developed.

In our prior discussions, the Special Counsel has acknowledged that “we have not uncovered reported cases that involve precisely analogous conduct.” See Special Counsel’s Office Memorandum to the 600.4 File, Preliminary Assessment of Obstruction Evidence, at 12 (July 3, 2018).

And there’s the footnote explaining that they just weren’t going to cite any facts.

  1. Given the length and detail of the Special Counsel’s Report, we do not recount the relevant facts here. Our discussion and analysis assumes familiarity with the Report as well as much of the background surrounding the Special Counsel’s investigation.

The other reason this memo embodies corruption is that corruption lays at the core of the statute Mueller rested his obstruction analysis on: 18 USC 1512(c)(2) — the same statute DOJ is using in the January 6 prosecutions. So Barr’s 9-page memo had to find a way to claim those actions weren’t corrupt, without entirely parroting the analysis he did in the audition memo he used to get the job, and without acknowledging Barr’s three statements — made under oath during his confirmation hearing — that trading pardons for false testimony would be obstruction (the word “pardon” does not appear in this memo).

Predictably, that discussion was really shoddy. In a key passage, for example, they adopt just one possible measure of corrupt intent, personal embarrassment, something that is only mentioned four times in the Report, always in conjunction with a discussion of at least marginal criminal exposure. Then they use that as a straw man central to their dismissal of Mueller’s lengthy analysis and their decision not to actually engage with Mueller’s analysis.

The Report thus suggests that the President’s exercise of executive discretion for any improper reason, including the prevention of personal embarrassment, could constitute obstruction of justice if it impeded a pending investigation. As we have discussed with you, we do not subscribe to such a reading of the obstruction-of-justice statutes. No reported case comes close to upholding a conviction of such breadth, and a line of Supreme Court precedent, including Arthur Anderson, weighs heavily in favor of objectivity and certainty in the federal criminal law. In order to reach the conclusions in this memorandum, however, we do not believe it necessary to address this disagreement further, because in our view, Volume II of the Report does not establish offenses that would warrant prosecution, even under such a broad legal framework.

Much of their subsequent analysis, dismissing the ten possible examples of obstruction in the Report, was simply factually inaccurate (and in once case, conflicted with something Barr’s own DOJ said a year later). It was not just the then-ongoing Roger Stone conspiracy investigation that refuted the claims Barr had rubber-stamped in secret, and it was not just the ongoing Roger Stone investigation that Barr later took unprecedented steps to thwart so as to protect his basis for exonerating the President. They made claim after claim that wasn’t even an accurate representation of the Report. Just as one measure, as noted, the memo doesn’t use the word pardon at all; the Mueller Report uses it 67 times.

It was only the expectation that all this would remain secret that let Barr and his flunkies entertain the fantasy that any of this could, “promot[e] confidence on the part of the public and individual defendants that important prosecutorial decisions will be made rationally and objectively on the merits of each case.” So they had to keep it secret.

And so, after it was written, a snowball of additional corruption followed, with DOJ making false claims about what was in the memo, and DOJ making more false claims, and Barr taking extraordinary steps to try to ensure that later facts didn’t prove him wrong.

But you don’t have to go further than these nine pages to see that this intervention just dripped with the corruption they were trying to deny.

Demands for Sua Sponte Do-Overs and Billy Barr’s Thought Experiment about Trump’s Criminality

In a post last year about what was then a still heavily-redacted Amy Berman Jackson opinion ordering DOJ to release a Barr memo covering up the Mueller investigation, I wrote that this might finally be the case where DOJ would be held accountable for bullshit claims made in service of protecting secrets in FOIA cases.

Will Amy Berman Jackson Finally Break the Spell of OLC Feeding Bullshit FOIA Claims to DC District Judges?

Yesterday, Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that the government must turn over a memo written — ostensibly by Office of Legal Counsel head Steve Engel — to justify Billy Barr’s decision not to file charges against Donald Trump for obstructing the Mueller Investigation. The Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington FOIAed the memo and sued for its release. The memo itself is worth reading. But I want to consider whether, by making a nested set of false claims to hide what OLC was really up to, this opinion may pierce past efforts to use OLC to rubber stamp problematic Executive Branch decisions.

A key part of ABJ’s decision pivoted on the claims made by Paul Colburn, who’s the lawyer from OLC whose job it is (in part) to tell courts that DOJ can’t release pre-decisional OLC memos because that would breach both deliberative and attorney-client process, Vanessa Brinkmann, whose job it is (in part) to tell courts that DOJ has appropriately applied one or another of the exemptions permitted under FOIA, and Senior Trial Attorney Julie Straus Harris, who was stuck arguing against release of this document relying on those declarations. ABJ ruled that all three had made misrepresentations (and in the case of Straus Harris, outright invention) to falsely claim the memo was predecisional and therefore appropriate to withhold under FOIA’s b5 exemption.

Yesterday, the DC Circuit decided that (unless DOJ appeals again) yes, this will be that case. It ordered DOJ to release the rest of the Barr memo and it did so for precisely the reasons ABJ laid out: DOJ had played games with its claims about what was in the memo.

The opinion, written by Sri Srinivasan and joined by Judith Rogers and David Tatel, agreed with ABJ that the Department’s Declarations evolved but yet never actually described the predecisional advice at hand — which ABJ and the Circuit agree pertained to what Barr should say to Congress about Mueller’s results.

The Department’s submissions during the course of this litigation have at various times suggested three decisional processes to which the March 2019 memorandum might have pertained. The first two, as the Department acknowledges, cannot support its reliance on the deliberative-process privilege. As for the third, although that one might well have justified the Department’s invocation of the privilege, the Department never relied on—or even mentioned—that decisional process in the district court until the Department had already noticed its appeal to this court. And the district court was not required to grant judgment to the Department on a theory the Department never presented before taking an appeal.


The first of the three decisional processes suggested in the Department’s submissions to the district court concerned whether to charge President Trump with a crime. Although the Department has since clarified that it was never in fact considering a prosecution, the Department’s submissions to the district court appeared to indicate in various ways that the March 2019 memorandum made recommendations about an actual charging decision.



If the Department’s analysis of whether the evidence in the Mueller Report would support an obstruction-of-justice charge did not in fact relate to a decision about whether to initiate or decline a prosecution, then why engage in that analysis? The Department’s submissions to the district court perhaps could be interpreted to indicate that the memorandum’s analysis of that question, if not related to an actual charging decision, was instead part of an abstract thought experiment. On that conception, the memorandum formed part of an academic exercise to determine whether President Trump’s conduct met the statutory definition of obstruction, solely for Attorney General Barr’s information, without any connection to any ensuing action by Barr or the Department.


3. Because there was never an actual charging decision to be made in this case, and because the Department does not rely on a mere thought experiment about whether the evidence would support a charge as the relevant decisional process, the question naturally arises: what is the decisional process that the Department believes justifies its withholding of the March 2019 memorandum? The Department’s answer, per its briefing in our court, is that the memorandum “was intended to assist the Attorney General in deciding what, if anything, to communicate to Congress and the public about whether the evidence recounted in the Special Counsel’s report was sufficient under the Principles of Federal Prosecution to support a prosecution.” Dep’t Br. 25–26. That is, the deliberations about whether the evidence in the Report amounted to a crime went to deciding whether to say something to the public on that issue, not deciding whether to initiate a prosecution (which was never on the table).


And here, it is now apparent that the March 2019 memorandum recommended reaching a conclusion on the evidentiary viability of an obstruction-of-justice charge as a means of preempting a potential public reaction to the Mueller Report. In that light, if the Department’s submissions to the district court had connected the memorandum to a decision about making a public statement, then the district court might well have concluded that the memorandum was privileged. But that is not how the Department elected to justify its invocation of the privilege in the district court.

And because DOJ claimed that the memo pertained to one kind of predecisional advice (whether to charge a President who could not be charged) rather than the real predecisional advice (to tell Congress that he couldn’t have been charged based on the evidence), the Circuit holds, DOJ must release the full memo.

In short, while the decisional process on which the Department now relies involved a determination as to whether the Attorney General should make a public statement, none of the Department’s submissions to the district court suggested that the March 2019 memorandum related to such a decision. In its briefing to us, the Department expresses regret that its submissions to the district court could have left the misimpression that an actual charging decision was under consideration, and it assures us that any misimpression it may have caused to that effect was inadvertent and not the result of any bad faith. Still, the Department at no point indicated to the district court that the memorandum gave advice on the making of a public statement. The Department thus failed to carry its burden to establish the relevant decisional process.

This section of the opinion, if it is not appealed, would lay important new groundwork for FOIA litigation. It effectively holds that if the government provides bullshit excuses about the reasons it wants to protect something from FOIA release (as they did here), even if there was a different reason that would have been legal but embarrassing that they did not make, their failure to provide the real reason in their declarations effectively waives their opportunity to make it.

Holding an agency to its burden in that regard serves important purposes. “The significance of agency affidavits in a FOIA case cannot be underestimated.” King v. DOJ, 830 F.2d 210, 218 (D.C. Cir. 1987). In a standard FOIA case, the government agency knows the full contents of any withheld records, while the requester confronting black redaction boxes is (literally) left in the dark. The requester’s lack of knowledge “seriously distorts the traditional adversary nature of our legal system’s form of dispute resolution.” Vaughn v. Rosen, 484 F.2d 820, 824 (D.C. Cir. 1973). An agency’s declarations supporting its withholdings “must therefore strive to correct, however[] imperfectly, the asymmetrical distribution of knowledge that characterizes FOIA litigation.” King, 830 F.2d at 218.

This case is illustrative. In its district court briefs, CREW focused its arguments on why the Department could not have been considering obstruction charges against the sitting President. That was understandable, because CREW had no reason to suspect that the memorandum might have related to a distinct decisional process about making a public statement. We cannot sustain the withholding of the memorandum on a rationale that the Department never presented to the district court and that CREW therefore never had an opportunity to challenge.

The Department responds with an argument that would effectively shift the burden from the Department to the court. According to the Department, even if it failed to establish that the March 2019 memorandum related to a decision about making a public statement, the district court should have reached that conclusion of its own accord based on its in camera review of the memorandum. The Department thus now seeks to prevail based on the district court’s in camera review even though the Department had initially objected to that review. We cannot accept the Department’s argument.

In a FOIA case, the government bears the burden of showing that requested records are exempt from disclosure. The government is a party in every FOIA case, is well versed in the conduct of FOIA litigation, and is fully capable of protecting its own interests in that arena. A district court can rely on the government to do so and can assume that the government has reasons for its choices and an understanding of their implications. It would put too much on the district court—and would relieve the government of its summary judgment burden—to expect a judge reviewing records in camera to come up with unasserted legal theories for why a document might be exempt from disclosure. To hold otherwise would “seriously distort[] the traditional adversary nature of our legal system’s form of dispute resolution.” Vaughn, 484 F.2d at 824.

Here, the Department failed to satisfy its burden, and the district court, as the court itself explained, was “under no obligation to assess the applicability of a privilege on a ground the agency declined to assert.” CREW, 538 F. Supp. 3d at 140 n.11.

And the opinion rejects the government’s argument it should have gotten a do-over, because it did not ask for reconsideration.

The Department contends that, even if the district court was not required to grant judgment in its favor, the court at least should have given the Department an opportunity to make supplemental submissions. We are unpersuaded by the Department’s assertion that the district court needed to sua sponte grant it a do-over.

The Department was given a number of opportunities to justify its withholding of the March 2019 memorandum. After initially attaching two declarations to its motion for summary judgment, the Department attached an additional declaration to its reply brief. Those three declarations, coupled with the Department’s two briefs, gave ample opportunity to identify Attorney General Barr’s messaging to the public as the relevant decisional process. But the Department never did so. Nor did the Department ask for an additional chance to clarify its position after seeing the district court’s summary-judgment decision, which pointed out that the Department’s submissions up to that point had created a misimpression about the nature of the decisional process. The Department did not move for reconsideration, instead seeking only a stay pending appeal. We cannot fault the district court for not giving the Department another chance when the Department never requested one.

The government can appeal this decision.

And by my read, DOJ still (says it) disagrees with CREW and the judges about the predecisional advice was. In DOJ’s briefing, it maintains the decision was ultimately about the sufficiency of evidence against Trump — which the Circuit calls a thought experiment — not about a PR stunt. That is, it’s saying that its briefing was close to accurate, and ABJ should have understood that once she read the memo itself.

Perhaps whatever Steven Engel and Ed O’Callaghan had to say in the sealed part of the memo really is something DOJ will go to the mat to (or assume a Trump majority on SCOTUS will) hide. Perhaps that’ll incent DOJ to try again or go to Trump’s protectors at SCOTUS to keep this sealed.

But some of the other things DOJ did — such as not asking for reconsideration — may make this an uphill climb in any case.

In any case, the Circuit did — as ABJ did herself — sharply limit the application of this decision. This decision does not affect the hated b5 exemption.

Our decision is narrow. We do not call into question any of our precedents permitting agencies to withhold draft documents related to public messaging. Indeed, if the Department had identified the March 2019 memorandum’s connection to public messaging, the district court might well have sustained the Department’s reliance on the deliberativeprocess privilege. And of course nothing in our decision should be read to suggest that deliberative documents related to actual charging decisions fall outside the deliberativeprocess privilege. We hold only that, in the unique circumstances of this case, in which a charging decision concededly was off the table and the agency failed to invoke an alternative rationale that might well have justified its invocation of the privilege, the district court did not err in granting judgment against the agency.

It only affects the consequences of providing bullshit excuses for trying to keep something secret.

We won’t know for some days yet whether DOJ will appeal. For now, though, the Circuit is holding DOJ accountable for misrepresentations in service of Barr’s cover-up.

Related links

May 3, 2021: Initial redacted ABJ opinion

May 5, 2021: Will Amy Berman Jackson Finally Break the Spell of OLC Feeding Bullshit FOIA Claims to DC District Judges?

May 24, 2021: DOJ motion for a stay pending appeal

May 24, 2021: Unredacted ABJ opinion

May 24, 2021: Partly redacted memo

May 25, 2021: On the Barr Memo: Julie Straus Harris Says Julie Straus Harris’ Unexplained “Flourish” Wasn’t a Lie

May 25, 2021: Frankenstein’s OLC: DOJ Says DOJ Can’t Do What DOJ Did in the Barr Memo

May 26, 2021: Bill Barr Issued Prosecution Declinations for Three Crimes in Progress

June 5, 2021: Bill Barr Is Not Dick Cheney

June 14, 2021: ABJ order granting stay

Amy Berman Jackson Gets a Two-Page Footnote in for the Appeal of Carl Nichols

DOJ announced its long-awaited appeal of Carl Nichols’ ruling rejecting DOJ’s application of 18 USC 1512(c)(2) to January 6 today (he has granted three motions to dismiss the charge, and DOJ is appealing all three). (Initial ruling; Denial of reconsideration)

Just in time, Amy Berman Jackson joined fifteen of her colleagues in upholding DOJ’s application of obstruction to January 6. Here’s the footnote she included, responding to Nichols’ opinion.

13 One court in this district has come to the opposite conclusion, and it dismissed the 1512(c)(2) count in a January 6 indictment. In United States v. Miller, the court found that “there are two plausible interpretations of [18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2)]: either § 1512(c)(1) merely includes examples of conduct that violates § 1512(c)(2), or § 1512(c)(1) limits the scope of § 1512(c)(2).” 2022 WL 823070, at *15. The more plausible interpretation, the court reasoned, is the latter, and therefore it found that the indictment failed to allege a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2). Id.; see also Fischer, 2022 WL 782413, at *4 (“The Court recently concluded [in Miller] that the word ‘otherwise’ links subsection (c)(1) with subsection (c)(2) in that subsection (c)(2) is best read as a catchall for the prohibitions delineated in subsection (c)(1).”).

The Miller court relied heavily on Begay v. United States, 553 U.S. 137 (2008), abrogated on other grounds by Johnson, 576 U.S. 591 (2015), and Yates v. United States, 574 U.S. 528 (2015) (plurality opinion). In Begay, the Supreme Court considered whether drunk driving was a “violent felony” for the purposes of the sentencing provision imposing a mandatory minimum term on an offender with three prior convictions “for a violent felony,” as that term was defined in 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B)(ii) (“the term ‘violent felony’ means any crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year . . . that– . . . is burglary, arson, or extortion, involves use of explosives, or otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another”). The Court concluded that the examples listed before “otherwise” limited the scope of the residual clause to similar crimes, and that drunk driving fell “outside the scope” of the ACCA. Begay, 553 U.S. at 142–48.

The Miller court reasoned that, because “the Begay majority opinion rejected the government’s argument ‘that the word ‘otherwise’ is sufficient to demonstrate that the examples [preceding ‘otherwise’] do not limit the scope of the clause [following ‘otherwise’],’” Miller, 2022 WL 823070, at *9 (alterations and emphasis in original), section 1512(c)(1) most likely also limits the scope of section 1512(c)(2). Id. at *9–11.

This Court is not basing its determination on a finding that the mere appearance of the word “otherwise” is sufficient to answer the question and establish that the first clause, section 1512(c)(1), was not meant to serve as a limit on the second clause, section 1512(c)(2). Rather, the Court considered the language and structure of the statute, and it agrees with the reasoning in the other decisions in this district denying motions to dismiss section 1512(c)(2) counts and rejecting the Miller court’s application of Begay. See McHugh II, 2022 WL 1302880, at *5–6; Bingert, 2022 WL 1659163, at *8.

For one thing, the structure of section 1512(c)(2) does not parallel the structure of the ACCA, and “otherwise” in section 1512(c)(2) does not immediately follow a list of examples. And sections 1512(c)(1) and (c)(2) – which prohibit different types of conduct – do not overlap in the same way that the ACCA clauses overlapped, rendering a conclusion that what follows the term “otherwise” is an extension of the prior provision less likely. Compare 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c), with 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B). Indeed, the Supreme Court noted in Begay that “the word ‘otherwise’ can (we do not say must . . .) refer to a crime that is similar to the listed examples in some respects but different in others . . . .” Begay, 553 U.S. at 144 (emphasis in original). As the court observed in McHugh II, the way Congress drafted the two provisions indicates that they were intended to target different conduct:

Rather than a continuous list with a general term at the end, § 1512(c) contains two separately numbered paragraphs, with a semicolon and a line break separating the “otherwise” clause in paragraph (c)(2) from the preceding terms in paragraph (c)(1). Furthermore, paragraph (c)(2) is grammatically distinct from paragraph (c)(1). Although the two provisions share a subject and adverb (“whoever corruptly”), paragraph (c)(2) contains an independent list of verbs that take a different object (“any official proceeding”) from the verbs in paragraph (c)(1) (which take the object “a document, record, or other object”). . . . In short, rather than “A, B, C, or otherwise D,” section 1512(c) follows the form “(1) A, B, C, or D; or (2) otherwise E, F, or G.”

2022 WL 1302880, at *5.

As for Miller’s finding that “[r]eading § 1512(c)(2) alone is linguistically awkward,” 2022 WL 823070, at *6, this is not the case if “otherwise” is read to “‘signal[] a shift in emphasis’ . . . from actions directed at evidence to actions directed at the official proceeding itself.” Montgomery, 2021 WL 6134591, at *12, quoting Tex. Dep’t of Hous. & Cmty. Affs. v. Inclusive Cmtys. Project, Inc., 576 U.S. 519, 520 (2015). This is also not the case if “otherwise” is taken to mean “in a different way.” See McHugh II, 2022 WL 1302880, at *4. Under either interpretation, the meaning of the statute is clear: a person can violate section 1512(c)(2) through means that differ from document destruction, and the term “otherwise” does not limit the prohibition in section 1512(c)(2) to conduct described in section 1512(c)(1).

On a quick read, there’s nothing otherwise exceptional in this opinion. She did address Williams’ complaint that others haven’t been charged with obstruction.

  1. Dabney Friedrich, December 10, 2021, Sandlin*
  2. Amit Mehta, December 20, 2021, Caldwell*
  3. James Boasberg, December 21, 2021, Mostofsky
  4. Tim Kelly, December 28, 2021, NordeanMay 9, 2022, Hughes (by minute order), rejecting Miller
  5. Randolph Moss, December 28, 2021, Montgomery
  6. Beryl Howell, January 21, 2022, DeCarlo
  7. John Bates, February 1, 2022, McHughMay 2, 2022 [on reconsideration]
  8. Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, February 9, 2022, Grider
  9. Richard Leon (by minute order), February 24, 2022, CostianesMay 26, 2022, Fitzsimons (post-Miller)
  10. Christopher Cooper, February 25, 2022, Robertson
  11. Rudolph Contreras, announced March 8, released March 14, Andries
  12. Paul Friedman, March 19, Puma
  13. Thomas Hogan, March 30, Sargent (opinion forthcoming)
  14. Trevor McFadden, May 6, Hale-Cusanelli
  15. Royce Lamberth, May 25, Bingert
  16. Amy Berman Jackson, June 22, Williams