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David Weiss Is a Direct Witness to the Crimes on Which He Indicted Alexander Smirnov

On the day that Bill Barr aggressively intervened in the parallel impeachment inquiry and Hunter Biden prosecutions last summer, David Weiss’ office sent out a final deal that would resolve Hunter’s case with no jail time and no further investigation. Within weeks, amid an uproar about claims in an FD-1023 that David Weiss now says were false, Weiss reneged on that deal. With the indictment yesterday of Alexander Smirnov, the source of those false claims, Weiss confesses he is a direct witness in an attempt to frame Joe Biden, even as he attempts to bury it.

On June 7, 2023, Bill Barr went on the record to refute several things that Jamie Raskin described learning about Smirnov’s FD-1023. Specifically, the former Attorney General insisted that the investigation into the allegations Smirnov made continued under David Weiss.

It’s not true. It wasn’t closed down,” William Barr told The Federalist on Tuesday in response to Democrat Rep. Jamie Raskin’s claim that the former attorney general and his “handpicked prosecutor” had ended an investigation into a confidential human source’s allegation that Joe Biden had agreed to a $5 million bribe. “On the contrary,” Barr stressed, “it was sent to Delaware for further investigation.”

“It wasn’t closed down,” Bill Barr claimed. As I’ll show below, according to the indictment obtained under David Weiss’ authority yesterday, that’s a lie. “It was sent to [David Weiss] for further investigation,” Bill Barr claimed, not confessing that it was sent to Delaware on October 23, 2020, days after Trump had yelled at him personally about the investigation into Hunter Biden. According to Barr, Weiss was tasked with doing more investigation into the Smirnov claims than Scott Brady had already done.

In the Smirnov indictment, Weiss now says that he only did that investigation last year, and almost immediately discovered the allegations were false.

The same day the Federalist published those Barr claims, June 7, and one day after Hunter Biden attorney Chris Clark spoke personally with David Weiss, Lesley Wolf sent revised language for the diversion agreement that strengthened Hunter Biden’s protection against any further prosecution.

The United States agrees not to criminally prosecute Biden, outside of the terms of this Agreement, for any federal crimes encompassed by the attached Statement of Facts (Attachment A) and the Statement of Facts attached as Exhibit 1 to the Memorandum of Plea Agreement filed this same day.

That language remains in the diversion agreement Leo Wise signed on July 26, 2023.

According to an unrebutted claim from Clark, on June 19, 2023, Weiss’ First AUSA Shannon Hanson assured him there was no ongoing investigation into his client.

36. Shortly after that email, I had another phone call with AUSA Hanson, during which AUSA Hanson requested that the language of Mr. Biden’s press statement be slightly revised. She proposed saying that the investigation would be “resolved” rather than “concluded.” I then asked her directly whether there was any other open or pending investigation of Mr. Biden overseen by the Delaware U.S. Attorney’s Office, and she responded there was not another open or pending investigation.

That day, June 19, was the first day Wise made an appearance on the case.

On July 10, a month after the former Attorney General had publicly claimed that his office sent the Smirnov FD-1023 to Weiss’ office for further investigation in 2020, Weiss responded to pressure from Lindsey Graham explaining why he couldn’t talk about the FD-1023: “Your questions about allegations contained in an FBI FD-1023 Form relate to an ongoing investigation.” The next day, Hanson fielded a request from Clark, noting she was doing so because “the team” was in a secure location unable to do so themselves. “The team” should have had no purpose being in a secure location; they should have been preparing for the unclassified plea deal.

By July 26, the same day Leo Wise signed a diversion agreement that said Hunter wouldn’t be further charged, he made representations that conflicted with the document he had signed, claiming Hunter could still be charged with FARA. That was how, with David Weiss watching, Wise reneged on a signed plea deal and reopened the investigation into Hunter Biden, leading to two indictments charging six felonies and six misdemeanors.

According to the Smirnov indictment, sometime in July (tellingly, Weiss does not reveal whether this preceded his letter to Lindsey Graham, whether it preceded the plea colloquy where Leo Wise reneged on a signed deal), the FBI asked Weiss’ office to help in an investigation regarding the FD-1023.

In July 2023, the FBI requested that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware assist the FBI in an investigation of allegations related to the 2020 1023. At that time, the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware was handling an investigation and prosecution of Businessperson 1.

It is virtually certain that the FBI asked Weiss to pursue whether any leads had been missed in 2020, not whether Joe and Hunter Biden had been unfairly framed. That’s because Weiss cannot — should never have — led an investigation into how the Bidens were framed. He’s a witness in that investigation. 

So it is almost certain that the FBI decided to reopen the investigation into the FD-1023, perhaps based in part on Bill Barr’s false claims. It is almost certain that this investigation, at that point, targeted Joe and Hunter Biden. It is almost certain that this is one thing Weiss used to rationalize asking for Special Counsel authority.

And that’s probably why, when Weiss’ team interviewed Smirnov on September 27, Smirnov felt comfortable adding new false allegations.

51. The Defendant also shared a new story with investigators. He wanted them to look into whether Businessperson 1 was recorded in a hotel in Kiev called the Premier Palace. The Defendant told investigators that the entire Premier Palace Hotel is “wired” and under the control of the Russians. The Defendant claimed that Businessperson 1 went to the hotel many times and that he had seen video footage of Businessperson 1 entering the Premier Palace Hotel.

52. The Defendant suggested that investigators check to see if Businessperson 1 made telephone calls from the Premier Palace Hotel since those calls would have been recorded by the Russians. The Defendant claimed to have obtained this information a month earlier by calling a high-level official in a foreign country. The Defendant also claimed to have learned this information from four different Russian officials.

Smirnov seemingly felt safe telling new, even bigger lies. In his mind, Hunter and Joe were still the target! Again, that is consistent with the investigation into Hunter Biden being reopened based off Bill Barr’s public pressure.

According to the Smirnov indictment, David Weiss’ team found evidence that proves Bill Barr lied and Scott Brady created a false misimpression — the former, to pressure him — Weiss — and the latter, in testimony to Congress that was also part of the pressure campaign against the Bidens.

Compare Bill Barr’s claim made on the day when Weiss agreed that Hunter would face no further charges with what the Smirnov indictment states as fact. The Smirnov indictment says that Scott Brady’s office closed the assessment, with the concurrence of David Bowdich and Richard Donoghue, which is what Jamie Raskin said (though Raskin said Barr himself concurred).

40. By August 2020, FBI Pittsburgh concluded that all reasonable steps had been completed regarding the Defendant’s allegations and that their assessment, 58A-PG-3250958, should be closed. On August 12, 2020, FBI Pittsburgh was informed that the then-FBI Deputy Director and then-Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General of the United States concurred that it should be closed.

But Barr told the Federalist that it was not closed down, it was forwarded — by Richard Donoghue, days after the President yelled at Barr about this investigation (though he didn’t say that) — to David Weiss for more investigation.

It’s not true. It wasn’t closed down,” William Barr told The Federalist on Tuesday in response to Democrat Rep. Jamie Raskin’s claim that the former attorney general and his “handpicked prosecutor” had ended an investigation into a confidential human source’s allegation that Joe Biden had agreed to a $5 million bribe. “On the contrary,” Barr stressed, “it was sent to Delaware for further investigation.”

Had it been forwarded to David Weiss for more investigation, had he taken those additional investigative steps Barr claims he was ordered to do, Weiss would have discovered right away the key things that proved Smirnov was lying, the claims that Scott Brady had claimed to investigate, the things that the Smirnov indictment suggest he newly discovered months ago.

According to Scott Brady’s testimony to Congress, his team asked Smirnov’s handler about things like travel records and claimed that it was consistent.

Mr. Brady. So we attempted to use opensource material to check against what was stated in the 1023. We also interfaced with the CHS’ handler about certain statements relating to travel and meetings to see if they were consistent with his or her understanding.

Q And did you determine if the information was consistent with the handler’s understanding?

A What we were able to identify, we found that it was consistent. And so we felt that there were sufficient indicia of credibility in this 1023 to pass it on to an office that had a predicated grand jury investigation. [my emphasis]

According to the Smirnov indictment, Weiss’ team asked the handler the same question — about travel records. Only, they discovered that Smirnov’s travel records were inconsistent with the claims the handler himself recorded in the FD-1023.

43. On August 29, 2023, FBI investigators spoke with the Handler in reference to the 2020 1023. During that conversation, the Handler indicated that he and the Defendant had reviewed the 2020 1023 following its public release by members of Congress in July 2023, and the Defendant reaffirmed the accuracy of the statements contained in it.

44. The Handler provided investigators with messages he had with the Defendant, including the ones described above. Additionally, the Handler identified and reviewed with the Defendant travel records associated with both Associate 2 and the Defendant. The travel records were inconsistent with what the Defendant had previously told the Handler that was memorialized in the 2020 1023.

Tellingly, when Brady was asked more specific questions about Smirnov’s travel records, his attorney, former Trump-appointed Massachusetts US Attorney Andrew Lelling, advised him, twice, not to answer.

Q And did you determine that the CHS had traveled to the different countries listed in the 1023?

Mr. Lelling. I would decline to answer that.

[snip]

Q The pages aren’t numbered, but if you count from the first page, the fourth page, the first full paragraph states, following the late June 2020 interview with the CHS, the Pittsburgh FBI Office obtained travel records for the CHS, and those records confirmed the CHS had traveled to the locales detailed in the FD1023 during the relevant time period. The trips included a late 2015 or early 2016 visit to Kiev, Ukraine, a trip a couple months later to Vienna, Austria, and travel to London in 2019. Does this kind of match your recollection of what actions the Pittsburgh FBI Office was taking in regards to this.

Mr. Lelling. Don’t answer that. Too specific a level of detail

Q You had mentioned last hour about travel records.

Did your office obtain travel records, or did you have knowledge that the Pittsburgh FBI Office obtained travel records?

Mr. Lelling. That you can answer yes or no.

Mr. Brady. Yes.

If Brady obtained those travel records, he would have discovered what Weiss did: Neither Smirnov’s travel records nor those of his subsource, Alexander Ostapenko, are consistent with the story Smirnov told.

o. Associate 2’s trip to Kiev in September 2017 was the first time he had left North America since 2011. Thus, he could not have attended a meeting in Kiev, as the Defendant claimed, in late 2015 or 2016, during the Obama-Biden Administration. His trip to Ukraine in September 2017 was more than seven months after Public Official 1 had left office and more than a year after the then-Ukrainian Prosecutor General had been fired.

[snip]

34. Further, the Defendant did not travel to Vienna “around the time [Public Official 1] made a public statement about [the thenUkrainian Prosecutor General] being corrupt, and that he should be fired/removed from office,” which occurred in December 2015.

Paragraph after paragraph of the Smirnov indictment describe how the travel records — the very travel records that the handler and Scott Brady claimed corroborated the allegation — proved Smirnov was lying.

The record is quite clear that Bill Barr and Scott Brady made false representations about activities that directly involved David Weiss in 2020.

And yet Weiss has been playing dumb.

Abbe Lowell made a subpoena request and a discovery request relating to these matters on November 15. Lowell not only laid out this scheme in his selective and vindictive prosecution claim, but he cited the Federalist story in which Barr lied. He cited these matters in his discovery request.

Rather than acknowledging that Weiss’ team had discovered evidence that proved the claims of Barr and Brady were misrepresentations, Weiss’ team lied about the extent of Richard Donoghue’s role — documented in a memo shared by Gary Shapley — in forcing Weiss to accept the FD-1023 on October 23, 2022.

Next, defendant alleges that “certain investigative decisions were made as a result of guidance provided by, among others, the Deputy Attorney General’s office.” ECF 58, at 3 n.4. In fact, the source cited revealed that the guidance was simply not to conduct any “proactive interviews” yet.

And now, on the eve of Abbe Lowell submitting a reply on his motion to compel and a selective prosecution and discovery request in California, David Weiss has unveiled a belated indictment proving that Lowell’s allegations were entirely correct. The indictment may well provide excuse to withhold precisely the discovery materials Lowell has been demanding for months, and it may create the illusion that Barr’s pressure led Weiss to renege on a plea deal. But it is a confession that there was an attempt to frame Joe Biden and his son in 2020.

What David Weiss discovered — if he didn’t already know about it — is that he was part of an effort to frame Joe Biden in 2020, an effort that involved the Attorney General of the United States. If Merrick Garland is going to appoint Special Counsels for these kinds of things, one should be appointed here, especially given that Donoghue required the briefing on the FD-1023 days after Trump personally intervened with Bill Barr.

But David Weiss can’t lead that investigation. He’s a witness to that investigation.

Update: Fixed how long it took Weiss to renege on the deal after Bill Barr’s false claim.

See Hunter Biden’s Eight Legal Chessboards for links to all the filings.

Parallel Poisons: Derek Hines’ (Mis)Representations about His Post-Indictment Investigation

As I noted in this post, I confirmed that a warrant that AUSA Derek Hines says he relied on to search Hunter Biden’s iCloud content for evidence of firearms violations was not obtained until December 4, 2023, 81 days after Hines obtained an indictment charging Hunter for those violations.

As I also explained, there’s no reason to doubt that that warrant is lawful. I imagine the affidavit for it simply quotes a bunch of Hunter Biden’s public comments about his addiction to establish probable cause. While it is dickish for a prosecutor to seek evidence that has been readily available for years between charging and trial, so long as he’s not relying on the grand jury that was exclusively focused on investigating that crime, it would be within the bounds of normal dickish prosecutorial behavior.

Where it starts to be a problem is in the way it undermines the argument at hand. In the same filing where he revealed that warrant, for example, Hines leant heavily on representations Chris Clark made, in a letter sent in October 2022, about a call he had in March 2022 (Hines only includes three pages of a 27-page letter; Politico describes the rest to be an extensive description of the political pressure to charge the gun charges), to claim that prosecutors were always going to charge Hunter for gun crimes, even before Jim Jordan demanded those charges.

During the course of discussions between counsel for the defendant and counsel for the government, in a letter dated October 31, 2022, from Mr. Biden’s prior counsel to government counsel, the defense wrote:

Since December 2020, nearly all of our meetings, phone calls, and correspondence with your Office have related to the Government’s investigation of Mr. Biden for possible tax offenses. It was not until a phone call in March 2022—over a year into our cooperative dialogue—that your Office disclosed a potential investigation of Mr. Biden for possible firearms offenses (the “Firearm Investigation”). (footnote)

Exhibit 1 (redacted and includes only relevant pages).

The footnote in the letter stated, “Your Office informed us that the implic ated Title 18 provisions are Sections 922(g)(3), 922(a)(6), and 924(a)(1)(A).” Id. (emphasis added). The defense later released their letter to selected media outlets, 7 but the defendant did not include it in his materials filed with the Court in support of his motion to enforce the diversion agreement. The letter the defense sent in October 2022 shows that the defense was aware that the government was considering all of the charges later returned in the indictment, see Section I.G., as of March 2022. This directly refutes that the charges returned by the grand jury were the product of various statements by out-of-office politicians in 2023, as the defendant claims. [emphasis original]

In October 2022, prosecutors could still and likely were relying on content available on the laptop (including, per Daily Mail, a voice mail from Joe Biden on October 15, 2018 telling Hunter to get help). But in November 2022, John Paul Mac Isaac published a book claiming, among other things, that the FBI was attempting to access the laptop on December 9, 2019, four days before the warrant David Weiss is relying on here, meaning any reliance on the laptop would pose significant problems at trial (even before you consider some forensic problems I’m still trying to nail down).

Here’s the passage from JPMI’s book — it becomes important below:

Agent Wilson eventually shook my hand, saying, “Let us know if anyone comes looking for it. Call us immediately.” “What should I tell them?” I asked, hoping the conversation would never arise.

“Tell them you keep abandoned equipment offsite, like a warehouse location,” Agent DeMeo answered, taking over. “Tell them it will take a day for you to check and they should call back the next day. Then immediately text me at my cell number. From now on, only communicate through my cell number. Not Agent Wilson, just me. We need to avoid communicating through, ah, normal channels. I’m sure you can understand. Text me and we will get the equipment back to you and deal with the situation.”

[snip]

I went home and called my father. I was relaying the facts when an incoming call notification showed up: Agent DeMeo.

“I’ll have to call you back. I have one of the agents calling in,” I told my father before switching calls.

“Hello, this is John Paul,” I said.

“Hi, my name is Matt,” said a voice I didn’t recognize. “I work with Agent DeMeo and Agent Wilson. Do you have a second? I have some questions about accessing the laptop.”

Confused, I responded, “Sure, what’s going on?”

“Did the laptop come with any cables or a charger? How can I connect the drive to a PC? When I plug it in, it wants to format the drive,” Matt said.

“PCs can’t natively read Mac-formatted disks. You will only be able to access the drive from another Mac.”

This is fairly common knowledge among most computer users, and I was surprised that any kind of tech person wouldn’t know it.

“Sadly, Hunter never left the charger or any other cables,” I went on. “I have a charger and everything you need back at the shop. You guys are welcome to it.”

I was feeling really uncomfortable. This Matt guy definitely didn’t seem to have the training or resources to be performing a forensic evaluation of the laptop. Hadn’t the whole reason for taking the laptop been to get it to a lab for proper evaluation and dissemination?

“Tell him we’re OK and we won’t need to go back to his shop,” Agent DeMeo said in the background. “We’ll call you back if we need to,” Matt said before hanging up.

[snip]

“Hi, it’s Matt again. So, we have a power supply and a USB-C cable, but when we boot up, I can’t get the mouse or keyboard to work.”

I couldn’t believe it—they were trying to boot the machine!

“The keyboard and trackpad were disconnected due to liquid damage. If you have a USB-C–to–USB-A adaptor, you should be able to use any USB keyboard or mouse,” I said. He related this to Agent DeMeo and quickly hung up.

Matt called yet again about an hour later.

“So this thing won’t stay on when it’s unplugged. Does the battery work?”

I explained that he needed to plug in the laptop and that once it turned on, the battery would start charging. I could sense his stress and his embarrassment at having to call repeatedly for help. [my emphasis]

So this warrant was likely just parallel construction, an effort to make evidence already in hand admissible at trial. That’s also considered perfectly legal, just another of the dickish prosecutorial tactics considered normal.

But Derek Hines can’t very well tell Judge Maryellen Noreika that the guy who gave the FBI the laptop would testify, if called as a witness, that the FBI was, “trying to boot the machine!” before obtaining a warrant for it. Or at least before obtaining this warrant, the December 13, 2019 warrant that Hines claims to be relying on.

So instead, Hines told her that they first obtained a warrant to search for content on December 4, 2023, 81 days after obtaining an indictment.

The process of parallel constructing that content, if that’s what happened, now helps Abbe Lowell make the case that prosecutors weren’t really considering charging the gun crimes until Jim Jordan demanded they do so, because Hines has implied to Judge Noreika that they didn’t obtain a warrant to search for evidence of that crime until … after they indicted.

Things get worse from there. According to an unrebutted claim Lowell made in his December 11 motion for discovery, ten days before Lowell filed that motion, Hines responded to Lowell’s inquiry about whether he should expect, “any additional productions in the near-term,” by stating he would, “let the discovery stand for itself.”

During a meet and confer phone call on December 1, 2023, Mr. Biden’s counsel even asked Messrs. Wise and Hines for a status update of the prosecution’s discovery, and specifically whether the government intended to make any additional productions in the near-term or respond to our various discovery request letters, to which Mr. Hines responded that the government would “let the discovery stand for itself.”

Hines told Lowell, ten days before Lowell’s motions were due, that the discovery spoke for itself.

And then, three days later, he went and got a new warrant for content he wants to use at trial against Hunter Biden.

Note that, in the passage that discloses these warrants, Hines doesn’t say that he provided Lowell the warrant before his motions deadline? He only claims to have given Lowell the content, “in advance of the deadline to file motions.”

In August 2019, IRS and FBI investigators obtained a search warrant for tax violations for the defendant’s Apple iCloud account. 2 In response to that warrant, in September 2019, Apple produced backups of data from various of the defendant’s electronic devices that he had backed up to his iCloud account. 3 Investigators also later came into possession of the defendant’s Apple MacBook Pro, which he had left at a computer store. A search warrant was also obtained for his laptop and the results of the search were largely duplicative of information investigators had already obtained from Apple. 4 Law enforcement also later obtained a search warrant to search the defendant’s electronic evidence for evidence of federal firearms violations and to seize such data. 5

2 District of Delaware Case No. 19-234M and a follow up search warrant, District of Delaware Case Number 20-165M.

3 The electronic evidence referenced in this section was produced to the defendant in discovery in advance of the deadline to file motions.

4 District of Delaware Case No. 19-309M

5 District of Delaware Case No. 23-507M. [my emphasis]

You need to cross-reference this passage with Hines’ response to Lowell’s discovery request to discover that Hines doesn’t claim to have given Lowell anything after obtaining the December iCloud warrant until January 9, almost a month after the motions deadline.

On October 8, 2023, the defendant made a request for discovery under Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 16.

On October 12, 2023, the government provided to the defendant a production of materials consisting of over 350 pages of documents as well as additional electronic evidence from the defendant’s Apple iCloud account and a copy of data from the defendant’s laptop. This production included search warrants related to evidence the government may use in its case-in-chief in the gun case, statements of the defendant including his admissions that he was addicted to crack cocaine and possessed a firearm in 2018, and law enforcement reports related to the gun investigation.

On November 1, 2023, the government provided a production of materials to the defendant that was over 700,000 pages and largely consisted of documents obtained during an investigation into whether the defendant timely filed and paid his taxes and committed tax evasion. These documents included information of the defendant’s income and payments to drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs in 2018, the same year in which the defendant possessed the firearm while addicted to controlled substances.

On December 7, 2023, a grand jury in the Central District of California returned an indictment (hereafter the “tax indictment”) charging the defendant with the following tax offenses:

[snip]

In advance of his initial appearance on the tax indictment, the government made a production of materials to the defendant on January 9, 2024, which included over 500,000 pages of documents and consisted of additional information related to the tax investigation. [my emphasis]

That is, in his selective and vindictive response, Hines has suggested to Judge Noreika that Lowell had the opportunity to suppress content. But in his discovery response, Hines seems to suggest that he didn’t provide Lowell the warrant that he would need to suppress until after the motions deadline passed, in language that implies the January 9 discovery pertained exclusively to the tax case, and not the gun case.

Before I get into where Hines may really have created a problem for himself, let’s consider how it is possible that Hines could have provided Lowell with “the electronic evidence referenced in this section” before he had obtained a warrant to find it.

See the language I’ve turned red? On October 12, Hines gave Lowell,

  • Additional electronic evidence from the defendant’s Apple iCloud account
  • A copy of data from the defendant’s laptop

The texts he quotes in the filing may well be in both of those, the iCloud account and the laptop. They definitely were on the laptop; that’s where the Daily Mail got them.

It’s the iCloud content where things get interesting (but not yet to where Hines really created a problem for himself — not yet). When the FBI gets a warrant, they get everything, and then can search for the stuff that fits within their scope. So in either 2019 or — more likely — 2020, they got everything in Hunter’s iCloud from 2018. Often, prosecutors will give defendants both a complete and a scoped version of evidence, basically, “here’s everything Apple had on you, and here’s the stuff that complied with our warrant.”  So it could just be that Hines provided Lowell with Hunter’s iCloud and that’s the basis for saying that Lowell had everything before the motions deadline.

But Hines implies that the iCloud content he turned over on October 12 was scoped, pertinent to the gun crime.

If that’s right, it means Hines had a different warrant than the December 4, 2023 one authorizing the search of content for gun crimes. It’s possibly the one, 20-165M, he describes in a footnote but doesn’t explain in the text, the one that would have come after relying on the laptop for seven months without doing much due diligence on it. If so, we’ll learn that when the warrant actually gets unsealed on Monday; something to look forward to! Or, it’s possible there’s one from 2021 or 2022 that Hines doesn’t want to talk about, not to us and not to Judge Noreika.

It’s like that it’s not so much that prosecutors hadn’t already gotten the evidence to charge Hunter with gun crimes, it’s that they had to get a new warrant to make it admissible at trial without giving Lowell cause to subpoena JPMI to describe how the FBI told him they were booting up Hunter Biden’s laptop on December 9, 2019, before they got a warrant.

Or at least before they got this warrant.

If Judge Noreika were to ask about the confusion, Hines might just explain that they got a warrant relying on the laptop obtained in good faith, but have since gotten a new warrant to ensure it’s all kosher. Mind you, along the way, he might have to explain that something Abbe Lowell said on that phone call on December 1 — possibly following up on the discovery request he made on October 8 for any record of communications with John Paul Mac Isaac — led him to run out and get a new warrant that didn’t rely on the laptop.

Any documents and/or information reflecting communications (whether oral or in writing) between anyone in your Office or any member of the investigative team or their supervisors (including FBI and IRS agents) with John Paul Mac Isaac or any member of his family.

Who knows: Maybe Hines discovered, for the first time, that there were three calls made from Agent DeMeo’s phone to JPMI on December 9, 2019, a phone used, according to JPMI’s description of what DeMeo told him because, “We need to avoid communicating through, ah, normal channels.” Maybe Hines discovered corroboration for JPMI’s claim that the FBI was booting up Hunter Biden’s laptop four days before obtaining a warrant. Or at least before obtaining the warrant dated December 13, 2019.

Believe it or not, if they had a warrant — say, one obtained by Bill Barr’s office in advance of the time his Chief of Staff sent him a text on December 14 saying, “Laptop on way to you” — all this still might fly. There is a great deal of dickishness that prosecutors routinely get away with.

Where prosecutors get in trouble is not collecting evidence after indicting and not in parallel constructing evidence and not in relying on dodgy warrants so long as they were obtained in good faith — prosecutors get away with that kind of dickishness all the time!

Where prosecutors get in trouble is in misleading judges. And I have to believe that Judge Noreika might not look too kindly on Hines’ claim, in his discovery filing, that suggested he turned over the warrants “related to evidence the government may use in its case-in-chief in the gun case” on October 12, as if he turned over all the warrants relating to the gun case.

This production included search warrants related to evidence the government may use in its case-in-chief in the gun case,

He obviously couldn’t have turned over all the warrants relating to the gun case on October 12, because he hadn’t obtained the one he claims he is relying on, not for another 53 days yet!

Derek Hines might get away with obtaining evidence after the indictment and parallel construction and good faith reliance on a warrant that relied on the laptop. That’s all normal prosecutorial dickishness. But if Judge Noreika feels like he implied he turned over all the warrants in one filing even while, in another, he was hiding the fact that he didn’t turn over the warrant he is actually relying on until well after the motions deadline, then Hines might get into hot water.

You can get away with a great deal of prosecutorial dickishness, but you can’t mislead a judge.

Mind you, it may not matter. Whatever is going on, by obtaining a warrant 81 days after indicting Hunter Biden, Hines has created the appearance that he didn’t obtain his best evidence until after rushing an indictment that Jim Jordan demanded, making it more likely that this would be that almost unheard of example where a judge rules there’s reason to question the prosecutors’ decisions.

At the very least, Judge Noreika might just grant Abbe Lowell discovery to try to figure out why Derek Hines got a warrant 81 days after the indictment.

Update: Corrected Judge Noreika’s first name.

A Second Trump Term Would Replace Competent Corrupt People with Incompetent Ones

Steve Neukam is one of the Messenger scribes who often chases Dick Pics with little care for the actual evidence.

In the middle of a paragraph quoting an anonymous Republican saying that Republicans don’t even need direct financial ties to Joe Biden to impeach him, for example, Neukam treats the factual explanation that Republicans are trying to impeach Joe Biden based on loans he made to his family while a private citizen as a brush-off.

The source close to Trump also said Comer “set the bar too high” for an impeachable offense, attempting to prove a direct payment to Joe Biden in the probe. The investigation spent weeks rolling out payments to Joe Biden from Hunter Biden and James Biden, the president’s son and brother, which the White House and Biden allies brushed off as loan repayments. Proving a direct payment to the president, the source said, was not necessary. [my emphasis]

But by being a committed Dick Pic Sniffer, Neukam has hit paydirt with a story quoting a slew of MAGAts trying to blame James Comer, and James Comer exclusively, that Republicans haven’t even succeeded in the single thing they tried to do with their House majority last year: Impeach Joe Biden.

Comer has led a”clueless investigation” at best and — at worst — “a disaster.”

“It’s been a parade of embarrassments.”

[snip]

“James Comer continues to embarrass himself and House Republicans. He screws up over and over and over,” the source said. “I don’t know how Republicans actually impeach the president based on his clueless investigation and lack of leadership.”

[snip]

“It seems like they got played by Hunter Biden,” one senior House GOP aide said. “It was a disaster. They looked like buffoons.”

Behind these hilarious quotes, however, is a particular power structure, one that is actually far more telling than the quotes.

The same article that claims that Comer’s problem is that he was picked because of his fundraising prowess…

“This is why we shouldn’t pick our chairman based on how much money they raise,” another member told Moskowitz, according to the congressman.

… Has these two deliciously contradictory claims about Mike Johnson’s impotence, a Speaker picked in spite of his non-existing fundraising record.

The Republican lawmaker who took his complaints of Comer to the speaker’s office was told that Johnson is aware of the problem, agrees with the criticism but can’t really do much other than watch and shake his head, the lawmaker told The Messenger.

[snip]

Top House Republicans stand next to Comer amid the intra-party criticism. Johnson told The Messenger that he is “fully supportive” of the chairman’s work.

“I am grateful for the superb efforts of Chairman Comer,” the speaker said in a statement to The Messenger. “Without his and the other investigators’ work, we wouldn’t have uncovered the millions in foreign funds going to the Biden family, the dozens of exchanges between the President and Hunter Biden’s clients, and the litany of lies the White House has told.”

Meanwhile, at least some of the people griping are people close to Trump venting because the House GOP hasn’t delivered on Trump’s demands.

Twice-impeached Trump himself threatened House Republicans in August to impeach Biden “or fade into OBLIVION.”

[snip]

“You have to start producing,” a Trump ally said. “The base is starting to get more and more frustrated with him because they see all this smoke but they don’t see the movement.”

It is virtually certain that many of the Republicans quoted here (with the possible exception of Jim Jordan’s chief counsel Steve Castor) suffer from the very same problems James Comer has faced in this investigation. They’re incompetent. They exist in a Fox/Newsmax bubble that rewards feral loyalty, incompetence, and lies. When exposed to any real scrutiny, those lies crumble.

You won’t find them reflecting on whether their own false claims have contributed to the hilarity of Comer’s failures. Amid increasing concerns that Republicans will lose the House in November, they’re busy passing the blame, even while they ignore an even bigger underlying problem.

One reason this impeachment has failed, thus far, is because they’re pursuing impeachment for the sake of impeachment. One reason this impeachment has failed, thus far, is because the House GOP has dedicated their entire first year to delivering whatever Trump demanded, when he demanded it, irrespective of whether it served their own interests or was justified by anything but Trump’s petulant demands.

Of course, none of the Republicans quoted here (Neukam also relies on Jared Moskowitz’s second-hand claims about what Republicans have told him) would admit they’re no different than Comer. They could do no better.

The Republicans on these committees have, like Comer, gleefully made false claims about smoking guns for which they had no evidence, for example. These Republicans continue to chase every one of Comer’s new diversions, in hope somewhere there’ll be evidence.

This is the persistent problem with claims — renewed today from the NYT team — that Trump will use DOJ to pursue partisan retribution.

[Maggie] He and his allies have also been clear that a big agenda item is eroding the Justice Department’s independence.

Charlie: Yes, Trump has vowed to use his power over the Justice Department to turn it into an instrument of vengeance against his political adversaries. This would end the post-Watergate norm that the department carries out criminal investigations independently of White House political control, and it would be a big deal for American-style democracy.

He already did this!!! No matter how many times NYT claims this would be a new development, none of it can eliminate the evidence that Trump’s focus on retribution began when he ordered investigations into Hillary and John Kerry under Jeff Sessions and accelerated as Bill Barr tried to find ways to charge Hillary and other Democrats for Trump’s efforts to cozy up to Russia. These efforts continue, with wild success, as Trump’s demands for a Hunter Biden investigation finally bore fruit.

As people consider the dangers of a second Trump term — and make no mistake, it could end American democracy — they need to consider whether incompetent corrupt partisans like James Comer will be any more effective than what Bill Barr already tried. Hell, under Barr, DOJ altered evidence to attempt to implicate Joe Biden in Trump’s corruption. John Durham fabricated a claim to impugn Hillary, but still couldn’t make charges against her attorney stick.

The difference — the one place where Comer, and to a much greater degree, Jim Jordan — have succeeded where Barr did not is not in the quasi-legal outcome. Rather, it is in ginning up threats against — seemingly — every single adverse witness.

The incompetent corrupt people that Trump is relying on while disavowing his past competent agents of retribution are really really good at one thing: Sowing political violence. But it’s not clear they’d be any better at politicizing DOJ than Trump already managed.

How One New Hampshire Voter and One Politico Journalist Refused to Hold “a Pig … a Womanizer … [an] Arrogant Asshole” Accountable

Politico has an interesting profile of a two-time Obama voter, who will today become a three-time Trump voter, New Hampshire voter Ted Johnson.

It demonstrates that Johnson is driven by the very same false beliefs that Scott Perry is, which I laid out here.

Johnson admits that Trump is a pig. He even admits some concern about Trump’s stolen documents — before he parrots the false claims he learned on Fox News about that investigation.

And the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case in Florida? It’s the one that gives Johnson a modicum of pause. “You don’t f— around with classified material. Whoever advised him he could have that — he should have gave that s— up,” he said. “But he was being the stubborn, arrogant person that he is.” And he added, “I didn’t like the way the FBI did it. The raid was ridiculous. And that just emboldened me.”

But nevertheless Johnson will vote for the pig … womanizer … arrogant asshole today because he believes that Trump will bring accountability.

“And trust me, the guy’s a pig, he’s a womanizer — arrogant a—–e,” Johnson said of Trump. “But I need somebody that’s going to go in and lead, and I need somebody that’s going to take care of the average guy.”

“But is taking care of the average guy and breaking the system the same thing?” I said.

“Yes,” he said. “Because they’re all in it for themselves.”

“And if you break the system, what does that look like?”

“Accountability,” he said.

Go read it. It’s precisely the dynamic that I’m preparing to write about: how Trump trained people like Scott Perry and Ted Johnson to hate rule of law while calling that disdain for rule of law “accountability.”

But while you’re reading it, watch journalist Michael Kruse’s own blindspot. For much of the article, Kruse lets Johnson babble on, voicing his false beliefs about Trump’s legal woes.

Kruse largely lets Johnson spout those false beliefs unchallenged. But he pushes back when Johnson raises Hunter Biden.

Sort of.

Johnson started talking about “Russia-gate” and “Biden’s scandals” and Hunter Biden. What, I wondered, did Hunter Biden have to do with Nikki Haley? “She’s not going to hold anybody accountable for what they’ve done,” Johnson told me. “People need to be held accountable. That’s why you’ve got to break the system to fix the system,” he said. “Because it’s a zero-sum game right now. And to be honest with you, the Democrats are genius. They did anything they could do to win and gain power, even if they lie, cheat, steal. … What they’re doing is they’re destroying the country. Who could bring it back?” He answered his own question: “Trump’s the only one.” [my emphasis]

Rather than contest Johnson’s premise that Joe Biden has scandals, Kruse instead challenges Johnson as to what Hunter has to do with Nikki Haley.

Then later in the story, Kruse himself raises Hunter Biden as the counterpart of accountability to Trump.

“Accountability is accountability. But they’re throwing so much stuff at this guy, and it’s almost like I’m rooting for him,” he told me. “This is a whole system of government going after one man who, probably, I bet, right now, 85 million people want to be president.”

“But accountability is accountability,” I said.

“Accountability is accountability,” he said.

“Whether it’s Hunter Biden or Donald Trump,” I said.

“But do I trust the system?” he said. “I don’t.”

Kruse himself, who has actually been pretty sympathetic to Joe Biden in the past, likens the President’s son’s alleged crimes to Trump’s coup attempt.

Now, perhaps Kruse allowed Johnson to make all these false claims uncontested simply to let him talk. It’s a useful interview. I shouldn’t gripe.

But adopting Hunter Biden as the counterpart of accountability for Trump is itself a false claim. It’s why I spend so much time calling out shoddy dick pic sniffing stenography.

The record shows that even if everything Republicans allege about Hunter Biden were true (and at this point, DOJ has let statutes of limitation on FARA crimes expire without charges, so it seems that in going-on-six-years of looking, DOJ never substantiated FARA crimes), his actions still wouldn’t come close to those of Paul Manafort, whom Trump pardoned with nary a whisper.

Perhaps a better response to Johnson’s complaints about Hunter Biden would be a question about Trump’s decision to pardon Manafort for doing far worse? How is that accountability? Manafort is the quintessential sleazy insider and he gets a pass.

Plus, the record shows that Trump’s crimes are not a mirror of Hunter’s; rather, Trump’s crimes cannot be dissociated from the charges against Hunter.

The record shows that Trump started pushing Rudy Giuliani and Lev Parnas to gin up an investigation into Hunter Biden no later than December 2018, at such time as Joseph Ziegler was struggling to come up with some excuse to turn non-payment of taxes into a criminal case.

The record according to Johnathan Buma shows that before DOJ opened a grand jury investigation into Hunter Biden, FBI agents on the investigation enthusiastically accepted dirt on Hunter Biden from two Ukrainians that Buma would acknowledge were part of an influence operation.

The record shows that four days after Joe Biden announced he was running for President, DOJ decided the grand jury investigation into Hunter Biden would be in Delaware, where Joe might one day become a target, rather than Washington DC or Los Angeles, where any tax crimes would have happened. Ziegler first claimed, then backed off a claim, that Bill Barr made this decision personally.

The record shows that the first IRS supervisor on this case documented what he viewed to be problems with the predication of it and ongoing political influence into it.

The record shows that Donald Trump extorted Volodymyr Zelenskyy in an attempt to get an investigation into Hunter  Biden and his father. In that same conversation, he asked Zelenskyy to work with both his personal attorney and with Bill Barr to gin up such an investigation.

The record according to Chuck Grassley shows that even while Trump was claiming to care about Burisma corruption, his DOJ shut down an investigation into Mykola Zlochevsky, one that had been opened while Joe Biden was Vice President and Hunter was on the board of Burisma. Grassley says DOJ shut that investigation down in December 2019.

The record shows that the day after DOJ obtained a warrant to access a laptop obtained from John Paul Mac Isaac, Barr’s chief of staff texted him to say, “laptop on way to you.”

The record shows that days later, Bill Barr set up a dedicated channel by which Rudy Giuliani could share dirt he had obtained, including from a known Russian spy and almost certainly from Burisma, such that it could be laundered into the investigation into Hunter Biden.

The record shows that that process resulted in DOJ obtaining an informant report describing a conversation with Zlochevsky. Remarkably, the FBI neglected to write down what date that conversation happened even though that’s how they validated that it did occur, but it almost certainly dates to the period when DOJ was shutting down an investigation into Zlochevsky. The informant report recorded a claim of bribery of Joe Biden that conflicted with claims Zlochevsky had made just months earlier, when DOJ was (per Chuck Grassley) still investigating him.

The record shows that FBI made Steve Bannon associate Peter Schweizer an informant so he could pitch Hunter Biden dirt leading up to the 2020 election.

The record shows that Trump bitched Bill Barr out about the Hunter Biden investigation shortly after the October 14, 2020 NYPost story on the hard drive from Hunter Biden. Days later, Richard Donoghue ordered the Hunter Biden investigators to accept a briefing about that bribery allegation.

The record shows that, shortly before David Weiss used the FD-1023 obtained during the course of Scott Brady’s effort to launder dirt into the Hunter Biden investigation to justify reneging on the plea deal he had agreed to, Bill Barr described being personally involved in the handling of it.

The record shows that, the day after Trump hosted Tony Bobulinski at a Presidential debate, Bobulinski told the FBI things that conflict with his own communications.

The record according to Cassidy Hutchinson shows that shortly after that Bobulinski interview with the FBI, he had a secret meeting with Mark Meadows at which Trump’s Chief of Staff handed Bobulinski something that might be an envelope.

The record shows that, in the same call where Trump threatened to replace Jeffrey Rosen if he didn’t start endorsing Trump’s claims of voter fraud, he also criticized the handling of the Hunter Biden case.

The record shows that Trump repeatedly, publicly, demanded criminal charges against Hunter Biden, including in the January 6 speech that set off an insurrection.

The record shows that when Trump first learned he’d be indicted, he raised pressure on the Hunter Biden investigation.

The record shows that on the day Hunter’s plea deal was released, Trump complained three times, twice suggesting Joe Biden was implicated in this plea deal.

“Wow! The corrupt Biden DOJ just cleared up hundreds of years of criminal liability by giving Hunter Biden a mere ‘traffic ticket.’ Our system is BROKEN!

“A ‘SWEETHEART’ DEAL FOR HUNTER (AND JOE), AS THEY CONTINUE THEIR QUEST TO ‘GET’ TRUMP, JOE’S POLITICAL OPPONENT. WE ARE NOW A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY!”

“The Hunter/Joe Biden settlement is a massive COVERUP & FULL SCALE ELECTION INTERFERENCE ‘SCAM’ THE LIKES OF WHICH HAS NEVER BEEN SEEN IN OUR COUNTRY BEFORE. A ‘TRAFFIC TICKET,’ & JOE IS ALL CLEANED UP & READY TO GO INTO THE 2024 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. . . .”

The record shows that, among the other complaints and false claims Trump made about Hunter’s prosecution, one targeted David Weiss and demanded a death sentence.

Weiss is a COWARD, a smaller version of Bill Barr, who never had the courage to do what everyone knows should have been done. He gave out a traffic ticket instead of a death sentence. . . .

The record shows that when Trump attacks people on social media, they get threats, often so bad as to uproot their entire lives.

The record also shows that former President Trump’s words have real-world consequences. Many of those on the receiving end of his attacks pertaining to the 2020 election have been subjected to a torrent of threats and intimidation from his supporters. A day after Mr. Trump’s “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!” post, someone called the district court and said: “Hey you stupid slave n[****]r[.] * * * If Trump doesn’t get elected in 2024, we are coming to kill you, so tread lightly b[***]h. * * * You will be targeted personally, publicly, your family, all of it.” Special Counsel Br. 5; see United States v. Shry, No. 4:23-cr-413, ECF 1 at 3 (Criminal Complaint) (S.D. Tex. Aug. 11, 2023). The Special Counsel also has advised that he has received threats, and that a prosecutor in the Special Counsel’s office whom Mr. Trump has singled out for criticism has been “subject to intimidating communications.” Special Counsel Mot. 12.

The record shows that investigators in the Hunter Biden case were, just like prosecutors on Trump’s own cases, threatened in response to manufactured political outrage. That includes David Weiss himself. Here’s how former AUSA Lesley Wolf described those threats.

My desire to serve my community and my country, such a great source of pride, has recently come at significant cost. As a private person, the once routine and mundane details of my life have become the subject of public interest in an invasive and disturbing manner. Far worse, I’ve been threatened and harassed, causing me to fear for my own and my family’s safety.

I mentioned earlier that I recently left the U.S. Attorney’s Office. My decision to do so long predated and was unconnected to the baseless allegations made against me. In fact, I agreed to stay with the office months longer than planned because of my belief that my family and I were safer while I remained an AUSA.

I have no doubt that after today the threats of harassment and my own fear stemming from them will heighten. This not only scares me, but as someone who loves this country, it also breaks my heart.

We are living in a day and age where politics and winning seem to be paramount, and the truth has become collateral damage.

In short, the record shows that Trump was always a part of the Hunter Biden investigation.

I think the record is pretty clear that Hunter Biden owned a gun for 11 days during the worst days of his addiction. The record is pretty clear that as he tried to rebuild his life, it took several years to straighten out his taxes — but less time than it took Roger Stone to straighten out his taxes, even while the rat-fucker was using a shell company to shield his funds from the IRS.

But the story of Hunter Biden’s alleged crimes — the things that Michael Kruse seems to think mirror Trump’s 91 felony charges — is a story that cannot be told (or should not, were journalism engaged in a responsible pursuit), without also telling the story of Trump’s extortion, Rudy’s consorting with Russian spies, Bill Barr’s hijacking of DOJ for partisan purpose, Bobulinski’s seemingly inconsistent story and whatever role the secret meeting with Meadows had in that story, and Trump eliciting dangerous threats against every participant in the legal system who does not bow to his will, including on this case.

I get that journalists believe that the story of Hunter Biden is a story of DOJ holding Biden’s family member accountable for what they gleefully report are real crimes.

But it is, no less than that, a story of Trump crimes, including, possibly, under two statutes that prohibit this kind of pressure explicitly, 26 USC 7217 and 26 USC 7212. The story of Hunter Biden’s prosecution is the story of Trump’s successful going-on-six-year effort to hijack rule of law to target Joe Biden, an effort that builds on years of similar conduct targeting Hillary Clinton.

I’m grateful that Kruse has depicted Johnson’s nonsensical beliefs in all their absurdity. It’s an absolutely critical step in underestanding how Trump taught Republicans to hate rule of law.

But another step is in unpacking how journalists have come to reflexively equate Hunter Biden with Donald Trump, how journalists have come to simply ignore the five years of corruption that Trump and his lawyers engaged in to get us here, how journalists are not remotely curious about details in the public record about this case.

The reflexive equation of Hunter Biden with the President who targeted him for over five years is an equation every bit as manufactured by Donald Trump as Ted Johnson’s pathetic belief that Trump brings accountability rather than the opposite.

David Weiss Buries Bill Barr Right Alongside Tony Bobulinski

For a second time, David Weiss’ Special Counsel team has buried an inconvenient (some)body to avoid accounting for the politicization of the investigation they claim is not political.

This time, it’s Bill Barr.

Across three responses pertaining to political influence submitted yesterday — request for discovery, immunity through diversion agreement, and selective and vindictive prosecution — the prosecutors used a variety of tactics to simply avoid dealing with inconvenient evidence.

In the discovery response, after describing discovery production to date — 500,000 pages of which came on January 9 — Derek Hines argued that under Armstrong, Hunter Biden hadn’t reached the threshold for discovery, primarily addressing selective prosecution rather than vindictive (as I’ll show, Hines ignores much of Hunter’s vindictive prosecution argument). In claiming there’s no evidence to support discovery, his discovery response doesn’t address a single piece of evidence that Hunter showed to support his argument. Instead, it paraphrases Hunter’s two discovery requests (one, two) this way:

  • Emails, documents, and information reflecting deliberative processes and decision-making of DOJ concerning the investigation and its decision to bring charges against the defendant. ECF 65 at ¶¶ E, G
  • Emails, documents, and information concerning communications with Congress and “any person at the U.S. Department of Justice” “concerning the investigation or prosecution of Mr. Biden, including the decision to bring any particular charges.” ECF 65 at ¶ H
  • “All documents and records reflecting communications from January 20, 2017 to the present (the “Relevant Time Period”) to, from, between, or among Donald J. Trump, William P. Barr, Geoffrey Berman, Scott W. Brady, Richard Donoghue, or Jeffrey A. Rosen relating to or discussing any formal or informal investigation or prosecution of Hunter Biden, or a request thereof” ECF 66 at ¶ 1
  • “All documents and records reflecting communications from the Relevant Time Period to, from, between, or among Donald J. Trump, William P. Barr, Geoffrey Berman, Scott W. Brady, Richard Donoghue, or Jeffrey A. Rosen and any Executive Branch official, political appointee, Department of Justice official, government agency, government official or staff person, cabinet member, or attorney for President Trump (personal or other) discussing or concerning Hunter Biden.” ECF 66 at ¶ 2

The paraphrase ignores items in Hunter’s first request pertaining to John Paul Mac Isaac (yesterday’s filings reference the laptop without describing its provenance or whether and how follow-on warrants relied on it), to disciplinary investigations, leak investigations, and other communication with the press (one of which Hines specifically relies on in his responses), as well as draft 302s and FD-1023s like the one recording an unreliable Tony Bobulinski interview made after being hosted by Donald Trump (which, as I noted, Weiss distorted the facts to exclude from the tax indictment, just as he distorts the facts regarding Barr’s involvement) or an informant report obtained via a dedicated channel for Rudy Giuliani’s dirt.

That is, Hines simply ignores a number of items in Hunter’s request that prove Trump’s personal and ongoing tampering in this investigation.

The discovery response likewise ignores Hunter’s request for subpoenas for materials in the possession of Trump and others, including Barr, which was cited in Hunter’s own discovery motion, even though Hines dealt with comments Trump made on Truth Social this way, in his selective and vindictive response:

The next statements by Trump cited by the defendant in support of his argument (ECF 63 at 31) occurred in 2023, now on a website called “Truth Social.” After the defendant filed his motion, undersigned counsel have tried to gain access to the website to verify the authenticity of the “Truth Social” messages cited by the defendant, but the site apparently is not functional:

Accordingly, while the government has not verified the accuracy of the messages or been able to assess any surrounding context that the defendant may have omitted, it is still clear that these supposed messages do not advance the defendant’s claim.

“Let me subpoena all the threats made by Donald Trump on his social media site,” Hunter asked. And after Leo Wise claimed that’s not necessary, Hines professed to be utterly incompetent to be able to find those threats, including at least one targeting David Weiss personally, published publicly. That, even though other parts of DOJ have proven perfectly capable of accessing Truth Social — for example, after Taylor Taranto used the address for Barack Obama that Trump posted there to start stalking the Kalorama neighborhood of Trump’s predecessor. DOJ knows how to find threats Trump elicits on Truth Social, but poor Derek Hines claims he doesn’t have any way of doing that.

You know how you might get those posts, Derek Hines? A subpoena.

But it is in Bill Barr’s role where this response is most telling (particularly given Hines’ paraphrase ignoring FD-1023s).

Here’s how, in the selective and vindictive response, he addressed Hunter’s request for information from Bill Barr.

Even the contents of most of the tweets cited by the defendant contradict his claim that he is being selectively and vindictively prosecuted. For example, according to the defendant, on December 12, 2020, former President Trump complained that then-Attorney General Barr did not “reveal the truth” to the public before the election about Hunter Biden. ECF 63 at 29. If the DOJ was acting to pursue a political agenda, wouldn’t DOJ have done the opposite? The defendant says President Trump tweeted, “I have NOTHING to do with the potential prosecution of Hunter Biden, or the Biden family. . . ” Id. That claim of non-involvement does not support his claim. According to the defendant, in his book, Attorney General Barr stated he was asked by President Trump about the investigation of Hunter Biden, and Attorney General Barr refused to tell him about it. Id. at 30. This withholding of information does not support his argument.

And here’s how Hines dodged any discussion of the Deputy Attorney General’s role in channeling Russian disinformation — as well as an FD-1023 obtained via a dedicated channel from Trump’s personal lawyer — into the investigation of the son of Trump’s campaign opponent.

In this same section of his brief, the defendant cites testimony of an IRS employee who stated that DOJ made the decision not to take overt investigative steps that could influence the 2020 election. Id. The problematic conduct that the defendant complains of is that the Deputy Attorney General’s office during the Trump Administration was aware of and involved in some specific investigatory decisions in the most banal fashion possible—by waiting to take specific investigative steps at certain times out of caution so that that investigation would not influence a Presidential election. If the defendant’s vindictiveness allegations were true, wouldn’t DOJ prosecutors have done the opposite and permitted investigators to take overt steps that could have influenced the election? These claims show only that career DOJ prosecutors and DOJ leadership acted appropriately when investigating the son of a candidate for President. Moreover, against this backdrop, U.S. Attorney Weiss was then asked to remain U.S. Attorney during the Biden Administration, which further underscores the lack of discriminatory intent.

As Wise did in the filing claiming to need no subpoena, Hines did here: both completely ignored that Hunter has pointed to official records, which are in no way deliberative, showing that months after Donald Trump asked Volodymyr Zelenskyy to provide campaign dirt to Rudy Giuliani and Bill Barr, days after (per Chuck Grassley) shutting down an investigation into Mykola Zlochevsky, the former Attorney General set up a channel dedicated to ingesting dirt from Rudy, including from Zlochevsky and known agents of Russia, to be laundered into the investigation of Hunter Biden.

That response ignores several aspects — either implicit or explicit — of Hunter’s request:

  • Joseph Ziegler initially claimed (he subsequently backed off this claim) that Bill Barr personally decided to put the investigation in Delaware, an appropriate venue to investigate Joe Biden, but not for Hunter’s suspected tax crimes
  • Bill Barr set up a back channel to receive Rudy Giuliani’s dirt targeting Hunter and Joe Biden, including dirt obtained from Mykola Zlochevsky and known Russian agent Andrii Derkach
  • Days after Trump harangued Bill Barr personally (described in his book as a response to the initial NY Post story published on October 14), Richard Donoghue ordered Weiss’ team to accept a briefing on the FD-1023 (which happened on October 23 — the same day Bobulinski met with the FBI)
  • Bill Barr told Margot Cleveland, for a story published just as David Weiss started reneging on a plea deal in June, that he was personally involved in sharing the FD-1023 with Weiss’ office

And if Weiss responded to Hunter’s request for “communications with Congress,” he would have to provide the following:

  • Discussions Barr had with Lindsey Graham about the dedicated channel he was setting up to target Hunter Biden
  • The correspondence via which DOJ told Jerry Nadler about the dedicated channel for Rudy’s dirt
  • The July 10 letter from Weiss to Lindsey Graham stating that the FD-1023 produced by that dedicated channel was still being investigated, crucial evidence of what I called the FARA headfake inventing a reason to reopen the investigation
  • Chuck Grassley’s October 23 letter to Merrick Garland describing that days before Barr set up that dedicated channel and around the time when Zlochevsky made unprecedented claims of having bribed Joe Biden, Bill Barr’s DOJ shut down a corruption investigation whence the FD-1023 would be reverse engineered via Barr’s dedicated channel
  • Scott Brady’s testimony describing:
    • The dedicated channel to launder dirt into the Hunter Biden investigation involved 5 prosecutors in Brady’s office (including him), plus some number of FBI people
    • Between January and October 2020, Brady spoke to Weiss every four to six weeks about this dedicated channel
    • Brady demanded — and after some “colorful” language with Weiss, got — interrogatories regarding the scope of Weiss’ investigation
    • In his initial explanation, Brady said his team found that lead via asking the FBI to search on “Hunter Biden” and “Burisma,” precisely the request Trump had made of Volodymyr Zlochevsky
    • The reinterview of the Zlochevsky informant came at Brady’s direction
    • Brady’s claimed vetting of the Zlochevsky lead included checking travel records (the dates of which were not included on the FD-1023) but did not include comparing Zlochevsky’s claims against the materials from impeachment or even public reporting that conflicted with it
    • He “reminded” Weiss of the obligation to investigate leads
    • He provided a report to Donoghue in September 2020 that would in no way be deliberative
    • He got Donoghue to intervene when Weiss’ team showed reluctance to accept his laundered dirt
    • Brady personally kept Bill Barr informed of his efforts
  • David Weiss’ testimony describing:
    • He never spoke with Joe Biden about remaining on as US Attorney, has not been supervised by any political appointee since 2022, and has never once spoken to his boss, Lisa Monaco
    • He did speak with Bill Barr about remaining on as US Attorney
    • He has never had direct communication with Merrick Garland save the written communication in which he asked to be made Special Counsel
    • The discussion he had with LA US Attorney Martin Estrada goes to the merits of the case that Estrada said would not be worth charging that Weiss has since charged
    • He always intended to continue the investigation into Hunter, a claim that materially conflicts with something that Chris Clark says Weiss’ First AUSA told him
    • He believes Leslie Wolf, whom he removed from the Hunter Biden team, is a person of integrity
    • The information laundered through Brady was still ongoing as of November 7
    • His office has been targeted by threats and harassment — and he himself raised concerns about intimidation
    • He still remembers Gary Shapley’s body language in response to Weiss’ comment about the merits of the case
  • Thomas Sobocinski’s testimony describing:
    • After Gary Shapley’s claims went public, threats to personnel on the team “absolutely increased”
    • He “definitely” had discussions with David Weiss about how Shapley’s claims would affect the case
    • After Shapley’s claims, the children of people on the team started getting followed
    • Leslie Wolf has concerns for her safety
  • Martin Estrada’s description of three reports he received, which convinced him it was not worth dedicating resources to prosecuting Hunter Biden for tax crimes in Los Angeles

In short, Hines simply refuses to deal with the evidence — some laid out explicitly in Hunter’s filing — that would substantiate how Bill Barr went to great lengths to let Trump’s personal attorney launder dirt into this investigation, and then continued to politicize this investigation during the period when Weiss’ team was subjected to increased threats.

The record already shows that Trump demanded an investigation, DOJ set one up in the way most likely to implicate Joe as opposed to Hunter, in the wake of pressure from Trump and during the campaign season, DOJ ordered Weiss to accept an informant report reflecting a suspect relationship between Zlochevsky and Trump’s attorney, and that back channel continues to be one of the ways Republicans have provably pressured David Weiss to prosecute Hunter more harshly, after which pressure Weiss did just that.

But by refusing to address the substance of the evidence Hunter laid out showing this investigation was politicized, Hines simply buried all that.

Ball of Thread: Introduction

In my post on Elise Stefanik’s decline into fascism, I described that I’ve been meaning to lay out how Trump used his legal cases to train Republicans to hate rule of law, which has been a key part of how the Republican party has come to embrace fascism. I’ve been dreading and therefore putting off writing that, in large part because it’ll involve rehashing the Russian investigation, and the counter-propaganda to the Russian investigation has been so effective that even addressing the reality of the Russian investigation at this point is always a real chore.

One other reason I’ve been putting it off is because there are a lot of things I want to have in the background — what I’ll call a Ball of Thread. These are not so much related points. Rather, they’re just things that I want to have in the background so I can pull on one or another thread without distracting from the main argument.

So I’m going to first try to write those up fairly quickly, so they’re out there, my Ball of Thread. Some of these posts will be more observation than detailed collection of facts. Others will not show my proof to the extent I normally do. Some will update things I’ve already said. Still others would not normally merit their own post, but I want to have it out there, as part of my Ball of Thread.

Plus, I’m going to try to do this while continuing to cover two Trump prosecutions, multiple Hunter Biden dick pic sniffing campaigns, 1,200 January 6 cases, and some other things that will come up. You know? My day job. All while learning to walk again, after foot surgery.

Happy New Year!

As of now, I anticipate that my Ball of Thread will include:

These will hopefully be quick; they may be sloppy; they likely will not be in this order. But hopefully I can spin my Ball of Thread then move onto the larger task.

On the image: The featured image for this post comes from the Library of Congress’ Farm Services Administration set. 

Rudy Giuliani’s Scott Brady Interview Doesn’t Appear in His Warrant Affidavit

I’m about to do a larger post on some of the warrants targeting Rudy Giuliani and Lev Parnas, but first I want to make a point about the April 21, 2021 warrant targeting Rudy.

It doesn’t once mention Rudy’s January 29, 2020 interview with the Pittsburgh US Attorney’s office.

It sources Rudy’s own claims about his activities to a series of articles, interviews, and Tweets.

But the affidavit never once mentions that Rudy Giuliani sat for a 4-hour interview with the Pittsburgh US Attorney and nine other people on January 29, 2020.

NYT first disclosed the interview in this December 2020 article.

Mr. Giuliani’s lawyer, Robert J. Costello, asked the Justice Department for a meeting to discuss what he felt was explosive information about Hunter Biden that he had gathered from people in Ukraine and elsewhere, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

In response, Mr. Brady called Mr. Costello and offered to meet. Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Costello sent reams of documents to Pittsburgh, then traveled there on Jan. 29. They were picked up by F.B.I. agents and stopped for breakfast before meeting for nearly four hours at the local F.B.I. office with Mr. Brady and his top deputies on the inquiry, Stephen Kaufman and Ira Karoll, the person said.

Rudy described the interview at length in a letter claiming that the government should never have seized his devices (and revealing that SDNY requested, in both November 2020 and January 2021, to do so).

[I]n January 2020, counsel for Giuliani contacted high officials in the Justice Department, to inform them that Giuliani wanted to provide evidence for their consideration about the Ukraine. Within a day, the United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Scott W. Brady, contacted Giuliani’s counsel and offered to hold a meeting in Pittsburgh with both the United States Attorney’s office personnel and the FBI. Mayor Giuliani immediately accepted, and a meeting was scheduled for January 29, 2020.

On January 29, 2020, Mayor Giuliani and his counsel, flew to Pittsburgh at their own cost, where they were met by agents of the FBI and transported to FBI headquarters in Pittsburgh. Present at that meeting were the United States Attorney, the First Assistant United States Attorney, the Chief of the Criminal Division, and two additional Assistant United States Attorneys (“AUSA’s”) from the Western District of Pennsylvania. The FBI was represented by the Special Agent in Charge (“SAIC”) of the Pittsburgh FBI, the Assistant Special Agent in Charge (“ASAIC”), and three other special agents of the FBI.

Prior to the meeting, Giuliani’s counsel had provided the Pittsburgh United States Attorney’s office with documents and an extensive outline of the subject matter to be discussed, so that the Government could be fully informed and prepared to ask probing questions. Giuliani began the meeting by making a presentation with handouts. During his presentation, and at the end of it, the Mayor and his counsel answered every question they were asked, to the apparent satisfaction of all of the Government officials in the room. In addition to the presentation, Giuliani provided the Government with the names and addresses of individual witnesses, both in the United States and in Ukraine, that could corroborate and amplify the information that the Mayor was providing. Subsequent to that meeting, and covering a period of months, counsel for Giuliani received a number of inquiries, discussions and requests from the First Assistant United States Attorney. All requests were granted and all inquiries were answered. [my emphasis]

At Scott Brady’s deposition before House Judiciary Committee, there was an extensive exchange about that interview — including regarding then-Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Seth DuCharme’s request that Brady sit in on the interview personally — which I first wrote about here.

And I’ll get copies for everyone. It’s very short. This is an email from Seth DuCharme to you, subject: “Interview.” The date is Wednesday, January 15, 2020. And, for the record, the text of the email is, quote, “Scott I concur with your proposal to interview the person we talked about would feel more comfortable if you participated so we get a sense of what’s coming out of it. We can talk further when convenient for you. Best, Seth.” And tell me if you recall that email.

A Yes, I do recall it.

Q Okay. And the date, again, is January 15, 2020, correct?

A That’s right.

Q So that was 14 days before the interview that you just described at which you were present, correct?

A Correct.

Q Does that help you recall whether this email between you and Seth DuCharme was referring to the witness that you participated in the interview of on January 29, 2020?

A Yes, it definitely did.

Q Okay. Just for clarity, yes, this email is about that witness?

A Yes, that email is about setting up a meeting and interview of Mr. Giuliani.

Q Okay. So the witness was Mr. Giuliani? That’s who you’re talking about?

A Yes.

Q Okay. And it was, in your judgment, important to get Mr. DuCharme’s opinion or, quote, “concurrence” about interviewing Mr. Giuliani. Is that fair to say?

A As I sit here, I don’t know if it was about interviewing Mr. Giuliani or just the logistics of where the interview would take place Pittsburgh, New York, D.C. It might’ve been about that.

Q So you needed Mr. DuCharme’s opinion about where the interview would be taking place?

A No, I didn’t need his opinion.

Q Oh. I’m just trying to

A Yeah.

Q understand, what was the reason, if you can recall, why you consulted with Mr. DuCharme about that particular decision, about whether or not you should interview Mr. Giuliani and any other aspect of that decision?

A Yeah, I I don’t know. I may have just been circling back to him, saying, “Hey, here’s the plan.” And he said, “Yeah, that sounds fine.”

Q Okay. Well, he also said that he would feel more comfortable if you participated, right?

A In that email, he did, yes.

Q Yeah. Was that consistent with what your experience with Mr. DuCharme was when you discussed interviewing Mr. Giuliani, or is there something unusual about the email?

A I don’t remember that there’s anything unusual. I would’ve sat in on that interview anyways, in all likelihood.

Q Okay. And just I don’t want to take this away from you, because I know you and I

A Oh, sure.

Q just have one copy. But just, again, what this email says is, “I concur with your proposal to interview the person we talked about.” And then he says, “Would feel more comfortable if you participated so we get a sense of what’s coming out of it.” Do you see that?

A Uhhuh.

Q Okay.

A Yes.

Q So what did he mean by “we”? Who was he referring to by “we”? Do you know?

A I don’t know.

Q Okay. Is it fair to infer that he is referring to the Attorney General and the Office of the Deputy Attorney General where he was working?

A I don’t know. Yeah, some group of people at Main Justice, but I don’t know specifically if it was DAG Rosen, Attorney General Barr, or the people that were supporting them in ODAG and OAG.

Brady would go on to concede there were a number of things — such as Rudy’s attempts to reach out to Mykola Zlochevsky and his possession of a hard drive of data from Hunter Biden — that Rudy never told the Pittsburgh US Attorney.

Q Okay. Then the other question I think that I have to ask about this is: This is a prior inconsistent statement of Mr. Zlochevsky that your investigation did not uncover, but it’s a statement that Mr. Giuliani was certainly aware of. Would you agree?

A Yes, if based on your representation, yes, absolutely.

[snip]

Okay. And what I am asking you is, have you ever heard that during the course of your investigation that Mr. Giuliani actually learned of the hard drive material on May 30th, 2019?

A No, not during our 2020 vetting process, no.

Q Mr. Giuliani never shared anything about the hard drives or the laptop or any of that in his material with you?

Mr. [Andrew] Lelling. Don’t answer that.

Q Oh, you are not going to answer?

Mr. Lelling. I instruct him not to answer.

Q. He did answer earlier that the hard drive. That Mr. Giuliani did not provide a hard drive.

Mr. Lelling. Okay.

Mr. Brady. He did not provide it. We were unaware of it.

By his own telling, Rudy spent four hours telling a team of ten people about these matters, and yet this affidavit doesn’t mention that interview at all.

To be sure, in his book, Geoffrey Berman — who was likely fired for conducting this investigation — provides one explanation for why Rudy’s 302s wouldn’t be incorporated in any warrant affidavit targeting Rudy: because the FBI refused to share those 302s with the NY Special Agent in Charge, William Sweeney.

So in January 2020 he came up with a plan. He described this plan he had hatched as “an intake process in the field.” That made it sound almost normal. The Department of Justice, in order to deal with the large influx of evidence, was going to employ this tried-and-true method in order to keep it all straight! But in all my years as a prosecutor and defense attorney, I had never heard of “an intake process in the field,” and neither had my executive staff or Sweeney.

His plan was to run all Ukraine-related matters, including information that Giuliani was peddling about the Bidens, through two other districts. His choices were Rich Donoghue, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, who sat in Brooklyn; and Scott Brady, the US Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, in Pittsburgh. Donoghue would oversee all Ukraine-related investigations, and Brady would handle the intake of information from Rudy and his lawyer.

This scheme, notably, did not include me or SDNY, which, as the office running the Lev and Igor case, was well versed in all things Ukraine. Barr’s implication seemed to be that with such a fire hose of material coming in from Rudy and his lawyer, we needed to spread the work out. And we had to have some kind of traffic cop to keep it all organized and flowing in the right direction—which was to be Brady in Pittsburgh.

All of this, of course, was utter nonsense. If somebody has information about an ongoing case, they typically hire a lawyer and approach the office that’s involved. Regardless of the quality or veracity of the material, I wanted to see it. We were the office with the background to determine its value. And we certainly would have had our own questions for Rudy, because he was a close associate of the two guys we just indicted. What’s more, our office was only a taxi ride away for Rudy and his lawyer—Pittsburgh was a 350-mile trip for them.

We could have handled whatever information Rudy had. With more than two hundred fully capable attorneys, I would have found a couple more to throw into the mix if it came to that. But that’s not what was driving the attorney general’s machinations. I believe it was really an effort by Barr to keep tabs on our continuing Lev and Igor investigation and keep us segregated from potentially helpful leads or admissions being provided by Rudy.

This became immediately clear to me and to Sweeney when we tried to access the information Rudy was providing. Rudy and his lawyer met several times with Main Justice and then with Brady’s team in Pittsburgh. There were FBI reports of those meetings, called 302s, which we wanted to review. So did Sweeney. Sweeney’s team asked the agents in Pittsburgh for a copy and was refused. Sweeney called me up, livid.

“Geoff, in all my years with the FBI I have never been refused a 302,” he said. “This is a total violation of protocol.”

Sweeney asked Jacqueline Maguire, his special agent in charge, to reach out to the acting head of the FBI’s office in Pittsburgh, Eugene Kowel, to request the 302s and related information. A few days later Kowel got back to Maguire and repeated what Brady had told him about the 302s: “It’s not my job to help the Southern District of New York make a case against Rudy.” [my emphasis]

Yet SDNY had to wait until Bill Barr was long gone before they got approval to serve this warrant. How is it possible that in the month and a half since Merrick Garland came in, SDNY had never gotten permission to read the 302s from Rudy’s “cooperation” in Pittsburgh?

Related: In related news, in a request for a delay in responding to Hunter Biden’s lawsuit against Rudy and his former attorney now creditor Robert Costello, it appears they are represented by the same firm.

SDNY Obtained Warrant(s) for Foreign Agent Charges before John Demers Reviewed the Perfect Transcript

Had DOJ followed its own rules in 2019, Donald Trump’s “perfect phone call” with Volodymyr Zelenskyy should have been linked to the ongoing criminal investigation into Lev Parnas. Instead, DOJ limited the review of the criminal referral of the whisteblower complaint in such a way that prevented investigators from making that link. The Parnas warrants recently liberated by NYT reveal that failure was even more damning than previously known.

On August 14, 2019, CIA General Counsel Courtney Elwood told National Security Division head John Demers that someone in the CIA had expressed concerns about the July 25 call. The next day, on August 15, 2019, Demers went to the White House to review the transcript of it.

Mr. Eisenberg and Ms. Elwood both spoke on Aug. 14 to John Demers, the head of the Justice Department’s national security division, according to three people familiar with the discussion. Ms. Elwood did not pass on the name of the C.I.A. officer, which she did not know because his concerns were submitted anonymously.

The next day, Mr. Demers went to the White House to read the transcript of the call and assess whether to alert other senior law enforcement officials. The deputy attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen, and Brian A. Benczkowski, the head of the department’s criminal division, were soon looped in, according to two administration officials.

Department officials began to discuss the accusations and whether and how to follow up, and Attorney General William P. Barr learned of the allegations around that time, according to a person familiar with the matter. Although Mr. Barr was briefed, he did not oversee the discussions about how to proceed, the person said.

While DOJ was dawdling over what to do, on August 12, the whistleblower went to Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson and filed a formal complaint. ODNI made a criminal referral at the end of August. And then DOJ declined, almost right away, to investigate.

Ms. Elwood and Mr. Eisenberg learned only later about the complaint, filed on Aug. 12, and did not know it was sent by the same officer who had sent the information anonymously to her.

At the end of August, the office of the director of national intelligence referred the allegations to the Justice Department as a possible criminal matter. Law enforcement officials ultimately declined to open an investigation.

I have always pointed out the problem with this tale. Since 9/11, DOJ’s expectation is that when investigators obtain a tip about anything that might pertain to national security, they run it against FBI holdings to see if there’s a known link to any existing investigation.

Had DOJ’s investigators scrutinized the OCCRP story about Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman cited three times in the complaint, had they done searches on all the identifiers implicated by reference in the complaint, they should have found the ongoing investigation into Parnas and Fruman at SDNY. (On review, even the unclassified part of the complaint mentioned people, like Andriy Telizhenko, who were likely the focus of intelligence scrutiny already, though perhaps not yet at FBI.)

But investigators didn’t get the complaint. According to a public confession Kerri Kupec made in September 2019, they got only the call transcript.

“In August, the Department of Justice was referred a matter relating to a letter the director national intelligence had received from the inspector general for the intelligence community regarding a purported whistleblower complaint. The inspector general’s letter cited a conversation between the president and Ukrainian President Zelensky as a potential violation of federal campaign finance law, while acknowledging that neither the inspector general nor the complainant had firsthand knowledge of the conversation,” Kupec said.

Relying on established procedures set forth in the justice manual, the department’s criminal division reviewed the official record of the call and determined based on the facts and applicable law that there was no campaign finance violence [sic] and that no further action was warranted. All relevant components of the department agreed with this legal conclusion, and the department has concluded this matter,” Kupec concluded. [my emphasis]

They didn’t assess the complaint. They assessed the transcript.

That was always a self-evidently corrupt decision — a decision that, if Bill Barr (who definitely knew of the Parnas and Fruman investigation) and Jeffrey Rosen (who likely did) were involved would be provably an effort to prevent investigators from tying the President to Parnas and Fruman.

But the timeline looks worse given something revealed in the warrants from the investigation liberated by the NYT last week.

The indictment used to arrest Parnas and Fruman on October 9, 2019 only charged them for campaign finance crimes: Conspiracy to violate campaign finance law by donating — including to Trump’s PAC and Pete Sessions — in the name of their front company Global Energy Partners, false statements to the FEC about the donation to Trump’s PAC, filing a materially false document to the FEC about the same, and conspiracy to make cannabis-related political donations using foreign money. The Russian source of those funds, Andrey Muraviev was not yet public. And while the donation to Pete Sessions was intimately connected to the firing of Marie Yovanovitch, that wasn’t mentioned in the first indictment.

What appeared in that indictment was consistent with the first two warrants obtained against Parnas and Fruman. The first, served on Google and Yahoo on January 18, 2019, sought evidence of those foreign and straw donor crimes, along with money laundering and fraud. It cited contacts with Sessions’ office, with Ron DeSantis, and even (regarding what the investigation would ultimately show pertained to Fraud Guarantee), Rudy Giuliani. But even in the discussions of Sessions, there was no mention yet of Yovanovitch.

That began to change in the second warrant, served on Apple for iCloud content on May 16, 2019, the first one after Bill Barr would have started getting briefings. That warrant remained focused on those foreign and straw donor crimes, though added false statements for Parnas and Fruman’s claims to the FEC about what they were up to. It added Muraviev to the inquiry. It took out a request to look for communications with individuals who work at “[redacted].”

That second warrant affidavit included a three page section focused on Parnas and Fruman’s recruitment of Pete Sessions to help get Marie Yovanovitch fired. The most striking thing about that second warrant is that SDNY obtained it the day after public notice of her removal, which development it noted in the warrnt. The warrant affidavit appears to have removed a reference to an email sent to Rudy the day after the Campaign Legal Center first disclosed the Parnas and Fruman grift (perhaps upon discovering that it pertained to Parnas’ effort to recruit Rudy into Fraud Guarantee). Still, there was no mention in that second warrant — the one obtained the day after Yovanovitch’s ouster was confirmed — of any foreign agent ties.

On August 14, presumably blissfully unaware of all the efforts to cover up Trump’s extortion attempt in DC, SDNY attempted to get at least two warrants, one requiring Yahoo and Google to provide new email content, everything generated since the January 18 warrant, and another asking for permission to examine the previously obtained content for new crimes. I phrase it that way for two reasons: First, because those warrants were docket number 19 MJ 7593 and 7595; there’s undoubtedly at least one more, 19 MJ 7594, targeting something or someone else (possibly either Muraviev or Pete Sessions). And while Magistrate Judge Henry Pitman approved the warrant permitting SDNY to examine already collected content for new crimes, they bolloxed it somehow. As SDNY explained in an October 17 letter to Judge Oetken,

[T]he Government is not presently able to locate a copy of the August 14 warrant itself, which may be the result of a clerical error, although it is possible a warrant was not submitted in connection with the August 14 application. As such, the Government respectfully requests that the Court review the attached agent affidavit, which was sworn before Judge Pitman on August 14, and issue the attached warrant which would authorize the Government to seize the materials sought in the August 14 application.

But they did get that warrant, 19 MJ 7593, which required Yahoo and Google to provide new content, content that would be scrutinized under SDNY’s expanded focus.

For the first time, SDNY asked for permission to review Parnas and Fruman’s communications for evidence that they or others were unregistered agents of a foreign power under either FARA or 18 USC 951. Those warrants also asked to look for evidence of bribery (a prong of the investigation that appears to have been dropped after interviewing Sessions in the wake of the Parnas and Fruman arrest).

Normally, by the time a US Attorney’s office contemplates such charges, they involve NSD. According to Geoffrey Berman’s book, before SDNY charged Parnas and Fruman, they got Public Integrity’s approval, at 4AM in the middle of the night! It’s certainly possible the “Sovereign District of New York,” as people jokingly describe SDNY’s notorious independence, did not. But it certainly raised the stakes on the tie between Parnas and Fruman and the President.

By the time John Demers reviewed the transcript of Trump’s call with Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the topic of his call had already been made a national security investigation.

Garanimals in a SCIF: David Weiss’ Attempt to Sheep Dip Bill Barr’s Hunter Biden Prosecution

On July 11, 2023, David Weiss’ First AUSA Shannon Hanson responded to an inquiry from Judge Maryanne Noreika’s courtroom deputy, Mark Buckson. He wanted to know when “the final versions of the documents” pertaining to the Hunter Biden plea deal would be completed. Hanson responded within five minutes. Before she explained that she didn’t know when they’d have the final documents, but hoped to have them to Judge Noreika by Thursday (so July 13), she described that, “I will be speaking with the team later today (I understand they are in a secure location and cannot readily be contacted at the moment.”

Hanson was describing “the team” — she had cc’ed Delaware AUSA Benjamin Wallace and Baltimore AUSAs Leo Wise and Derek Hines — as something of which she was not a part. And she was describing that team as being in a SCIF.

Hunter Biden’s attorneys included the email with their motion to dismiss based on an argument that the diversion agreement Hunter signed prohibits the indictment charging him with three gun charges. The email shows that the final documents filed with the court on July 20, by Wallace, had just one change from the version submitted on June 8, by Hanson. Wallace explained:

The parties and Probation have agreed to revisions to the diversion agreement to more closely match the conditions of pretrial release that Probation recommended in the pretrial services report issued yesterday.

Hunter’s team submitted it to show that, following the Probation Office’s recommendation of Hunter for diversion on July 19, the parties submitted it as a finished agreement.

This motion makes a strong argument that the government entered into an agreement with Hunter for which he sacrificed his rights — including by allocuting to the facts regarding the gun purchase — and therefore must honor the contractual protections it offered to get Hunter to sacrifice those rights.

Indeed, in a footnote it goes further than that: it argues that because the immunity agreement language was in the gun diversion, all the charges tied to the informations that were before Noreika are barred, including the tax charges filed in California.

7 Although the only charges now before the Court are the gun charges in the prosecution’s lone Indictment of Mr. Biden in this District, Mr. Biden notes that the sweeping immunity of the Diversion Agreement would seem to bar any plausible charge that could be brought against him (including the recently filed tax charges in California). The only charges that are not be barred by the immunity provision are those filed in the pre-existing Informations filed against him in this District. The Diversion Agreement called for the eventual dismissal of the gun charge Information upon the conclusion of the diversion period, but the prosecution already has dismissed it. Although the Plea Agreement was not accepted on the misdemeanor tax charge Information, the prosecution has dismissed that Information as well. Consequently, the Diversion Agreement’s immunity for gun and tax-related charges would bar any similar charge from now being filed. This sweeping immunity may make it difficult for the prosecutors to appease Mr. Trump and the Republican congressmen who have criticized them, but this is the deal that the prosecutors made and it reflects their choice to place the immunity provision in the Diversion Agreement.

I’m less certain that’ll fly, but it’s a hint of where things are headed in California.

That’s what the documents show with regards to the motion to dismiss, which I’ve always said is probably Hunter’s best argument to have the indictment dismissed.

But the documents are as interesting for what they show of David Weiss’ attempt to sheep dip this prosecution — to give it a virgin birth under the direction of now-Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise or, as Joseph Ziegler’s attorney described it when he invited the disgruntled IRS agent to explain how irreplaceable he was, to replace one Garanimal with another.

Mr. Zerbe. I want to make sure — you made one point. I think you need to clarify it for him. He asked if the case is going forward. I think for everybody here, explain though that it’s not just kind of Garanimals where they can swap you in and out. Talk about, you not being on the case, you have to put somebody in new, but kind of how that impacts. I just want you to understand that.

Mr. [Ziegler]. So what’s frustrating — and I think it’s obvious is he removed two of the people who have been challenging and been kind of like this is the — we’re trying to do the right thing, we’re trying to do the right thing. And it was kind of like we got loud enough, and they found an avenue to remove us. I have been told by so many people on this case that we’re where we are today because of my work. It’s 5 years of an investigation. You can’t just pick up that and move it onto someone else. And if they removed all the prosecutors, DOJ Tax, and had a brand-new team, I would understand that completely if that’s the decision that they made. But they just removed us.

Ziegler made that comment on June 1. And he was right, at that point — as he sat in a room making claims about Lesley Wolf’s conduct that documents he himself released almost four months later would substantially debunk — that “they” had not yet “removed all the prosecutors.” But they would, within days.

As Chris Clark described in his declaration describing plea negotiations, that same day, June 1, Lesley Wolf invited Clark to come to the US Attorney’s Office the next day to work on the plea agreement, in part so they could share language with David Weiss in real time.

20. On June 1, 2023, AUSA Wolf sent me an email inviting me to meet at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Wilmington on June 2 to work together on the agreements’ specific language and provisions. The idea was for the AUSAs and defense counsel to be in the same room with access to U.S. Attorney Weiss, so that the terms could be worked out. A true and correct copy of AUSA Wolf’s June 1, 2023, email to Chris Clark is attached hereto as Exhibit H.

21. On June 2, 2023, co-counsel Matthew Salerno and I went to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Wilmington, where the USAO presented us with its draft of a new Diversion Agreement, along with a draft Plea Agreement. This was the first time that we had seen the USAO’s draft Agreements. Each draft Agreement was accompanied by a broad and lengthy Statement of Facts, each of which had been drafted solely by the USAO in advance of the June 2 meeting. At this meeting, AUSA Wolf expressed the view that it was in Mr. Biden’s interest to have broad Statements of Facts included because the scope of immunity (under Paragraph 15 of the Diversion Agreement) would be tied to the Statements of Facts. The Agreement included a more limited immunity provision than I had discussed with AUSA Wolf or that Mr. Biden would accept. Among the revisions, during or shortly after that June 2 meeting, references to tax liability for years 2016 and 2019 were specifically added to the Plea Agreement’s Statement of Facts.

22. The AUSAs and we took turns working on the specific language of each Agreement—with AUSA Wolf running the changes by Office leadership, including U.S. Attorney Weiss. No final agreement was reached that day, and the meeting concluded with the AUSAs agreeing that the USAO would work on composing acceptable language on an immunity provision.

23. That same evening (Friday June 2), at or around 9:43 PM EST, I emailed AUSA Wolf, copying my co-counsel, and proposed one revision to Paragraph 15 of the Diversion Agreement (the provision governing immunity): that Paragraph 15 provide that “The United States agrees not to criminally prosecute Biden, outside the terms of this Agreement, for any federal crimes arising from the conduct generally described in the attached Statement of Facts (attachment A) and the Statement of Facts attached as Exhibit 1 to the Memorandum of Plea Agreement filed this same day.” (Emphasis added.) In the email, I advised AUSA Wolf that it was “very critical for us” that the Diversion Agreement include “[t]his language or its functional equivalent.” A true and correct copy of Chris Clark’s June 2, 2023, email to AUSA Wolf, copying co-counsel, is attached hereto as Exhibit I. [emphasis original]

Wolf was still on the team when — after Clark spoke with Weiss directly on June 6 about the importance of protecting Hunter from any further legal exposure — she sent Clark new language seemingly addressing Clark’s concerns about the immunity language.

28. After extensive discussion with AUSA Wolf in which she repeatedly stated that U.S. Attorney Weiss was unwilling to revise the language of the Agreement’s immunity provision, I conveyed that if this language could not be revised, we would not have a deal and that it was the most important term in the Agreement that Mr. Biden get finality. Accordingly, I requested to speak directly with U.S. Attorney Weiss, whom I was told was the person deciding the issues of the Agreement. Later that afternoon, on June 6, 2023, I spoke directly with U.S. Attorney Weiss. During that call, I conveyed to U.S. Attorney Weiss that the Agreement’s immunity provision must ensure Mr. Biden that there would be finality and closure of this investigation, as I had conveyed repeatedly to AUSA Wolf during our negotiations. I further conveyed to U.S. Attorney Weiss that this provision was a deal-breaker. I noted that U.S. Attorney Weiss had changed the deal several times heretofore, and that I simply could not have this issue be yet another one which Mr. Biden had to compromise. The U.S. Attorney asked me what the problem was with the proposed language, and I explained that the immunity provision must protect Mr. Biden from any future prosecution by a new U.S. Attorney in a different administration. The U.S. Attorney considered the proposal and stated that he would get back to me promptly.

29. Later that same evening on June 6, 2023, at or around 5:47 PM EST, AUSA Wolf emailed me proposed language for the immunity provision that read: “How about this- The United States agrees not to criminally prosecute Biden, outside of the terms of this Agreement, for any federal crimes encompassed by the attached Statement of Facts (Attachment A) and the Statement of Facts attached as Exhibit 1 to the Memorandum of Plea Agreement filed this same day.” (Emphasis in original.) After speaking with Mr. Biden, I responded to AUSA Wolf that the language she sent me “works” and is suitable for Mr. Biden as well, at which point the Parties had a deal. A true and correct and correct copy of AUSA Wolf’s June 6, 2023, email to Chris Clark is attached hereto as Exhibit K. [all emphasis in Clark’s declaration]

And Wolf was still on the team on June 8, the day when the documents were first filed with the court.

That is, Wolf was still on the team when Jim Jordan and Bill Barr had already intervened in the case.

Wolf was still on the prosecutorial team — and negotiating a plea deal that would have ruled out FARA charges — on June 7.

That’s the same day Weiss sent the first response, to a May 25 letter Jim Jordan sent Merrick Garland about the IRS agents’ complaints of being removed from the investigation. In it, he cited Rod Rosenstein’s explanation to Chuck Grassley in 2018 how congressional interference might politicize an investigation (in that case, the Mueller investigation).

The information sought by the Committee concerns an open matter about which the Department is not at liberty to respond. As then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wrote in 2018 in response to a request for information from the Honorable Charles Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary:

Congressional inquiries during the pendency of a matter pose an inherent threat to the integrity of the Department’s law enforcement and litigation functions. Such inquiries inescapably create the risk that the public and the courts will perceive undue political and Congressional influence over law enforcement and litigation decision.

[snip]

Weiss might claim that he replaced Wolf with Wise and in the process had Wise reassess the prior prosecutorial decisions. But, given the date of that letter, there was never a moment he had done so before the political pressure started. David Weiss cannot claim he did so before being pressured by Jim Jordan.

And Jordan’s letter wasn’t the only political pressure. On the same day that Weiss said he couldn’t share information — the likes of which Shapley had already started sharing — because it might politicize an ongoing investigation, Bill Barr (one of the people Lowell wants to subpoena) publicly intervened in the case, insisting the FD-1023 recording Mykola Zlochevsky making a new allegation of bribery had been a live investigative lead when it was shared with Weiss in October 2020, the FD-1023 Weiss specifically said he could not address because it was part of an ongoing investigation.

On a day when Lesley Wolf remained on the case, both Jordan and Barr had already intervened. And because there was never a time that Weiss had replaced Wolf with Wise before the political pressure started, there was little time he had done so before the physical threats followed the political pressure.

But June 8 — the day the plea deal first got shared with the court — was the last day that Lesley Wolf shows up in Clark’s timeline.

She wasn’t removed for misconduct. In his testimony to the House Judiciary Committee, Weiss agreed that Wolf, “did her work on the Hunter Biden matter in a professional and unbiased manner without partisan or political considerations.” He said,

I believe she did. As I said, she served the Department for more than 16 years, and I believe her to be a prosecutor with integrity.

But per Michael Batdorf, she was, nevertheless, replaced.

On June 19, Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise made his first appearance. Joseph Ziegler, a disgruntled IRS agent spreading false hearsay claims, succeeded in getting Wolf replaced.

That same day, June 19, Hanson requested that Clark modify the statement he was going to release. But, in a phone call, she told him that there was no pending investigation against Hunter Biden.

35. On June 19, 2023, at 2:53 PM EST, after I had a phone call with AUSA Hanson indicating I would do so, I emailed AUSA Hanson a proposed press statement to accompany the public release of both Informations that read, in part, “I can confirm that the five-year long, extensive federal investigation into my client, Hunter Biden, has been concluded through agreements with the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware.” (Emphases added.) A true and correct copy of Chris Clark’s June 19, 2023, email to AUSA Hanson is attached hereto as Exhibit P.

36. Shortly after that email, I had another phone call with AUSA Hanson, during which AUSA Hanson requested that the language of Mr. Biden’s press statement be slightly revised. She proposed saying that the investigation would be “resolved” rather than “concluded.” I then asked her directly whether there was any other open or pending investigation of Mr. Biden overseen by the Delaware U.S. Attorney’s Office, and she responded there was not another open or pending investigation. Thereafter, at 4:18 PM EST that day, I sent AUSA Hanson a revised statement that read: “With the announcement of two agreements between my client, Hunter Biden, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware, it is my understanding that the five-year investigation into Hunter is resolved.” (Emphases added.) The new statement revised the language from “concluded” to “resolved,” a stylistic change that meant the same thing. A true and correct copy of Chris Clark’s June 19, 2023, email to AUSA Hanson is attached hereto as Exhibit Q [Clark’s italics, my bold]

I hope to hell Clark has notes of that conversation, because the assertion that there was no pending investigation of Hunter Biden on June 19 directly conflicts with a claim that David Weiss made to the House Judiciary Committee.

On November 7, David Weiss repeated a claim his office made when they first announced the deal: that it was ongoing. “I can say that at no time was it coming to a close,” Weiss told the House Judiciary Committee. “I think, as I stated in the one statement I made at the time … the investigation was continuing. So it wasn’t ending there in any event.”

That is, Weiss’ First AUSA, Shannon Hanson, allegedly told Clark something that directly conflicts with something Weiss said to Congress.

That may be why Abbe Lowell, while arguing that no hearing is necessary to dismiss the indictment based on the contract that existed between the government and Hunter Biden, said that if Judge Noreika thinks she does need a hearing, then to please have David Weiss prepared to testify as a witness.

If the Court believes that parol evidence should be considered, Mr. Biden requests an evidentiary hearing in which all participants in the negotiation of the Diversion Agreement, including Mr. Weiss and the responsible members of his prosecution team, can be called as witnesses to address the extensive recapitulation provided in Mr. Clark’s Declaration.

It’s going to be a lot harder for Weiss to claim that US Attorneys-turned-Special Counsels can’t testify when he was willing to testify to Congress.

This is undoubtedly why Lowell asked to be able to subpoena Bill Barr’s communications, through the present, about the Hunter Biden investigation — a version of which he made in formal discovery as well (Lowell also noted Barr’s recent comments on the investigation in the selective and vindictive prosecution MTD). Because Bill Barr intervened in this case before such time as Wolf was apparently removed and replaced by Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise. Barr intervened publicly, and given Wise’s concerns about DOJ materials in the possession of former DOJ employees in his response to that subpoena request, it seems acutely likely that Weiss recognizes that Barr intervened in a way that shared privileged information.

Likewise, specific regulations govern the disclosure of DOJ materials in the possession of former DOJ employees, and the government is unable to assess the applicability or propriety of disclosure without identification of the specific documents. See 28 C.F.R. § 16.26 (outlining considerations governing appropriateness of disclosure); see generally 28 C.F.R. pt. 16, subpt. B (proscribing Touhy regulations for disclosure of official materials, including those held by former DOJ employees); United States ex rel. Touhy v. Ragen, 340 U.S. 462 (1951). Only once those materials are specifically identified can the government assess the appropriateness of disclosure, including whether such materials are privileged

Worse still, per Weiss’ testimony in November, this effort to mine the investigation into Mykola Zlochevsky that Barr personally orchestrated remains ongoing — or remained ongoing until such time, CNN recently reported, as it closed the investigation into Zlochevsky’s changed statements about the Bidens around the same time DOJ’s criminal investigation into him was closed down by Bill Barr’s DOJ.

When Steve Castor asked about the FD-1023 that, per Chuck Grassley, was the result of Scott Brady’s effort to mine the recently closed Zlochevsky investigation, David Weiss responded that it was part of an ongoing investigation.

Q Are you familiar — let’s mark this as the next exhibit — with an FD-1023 dated June 30, 2020, summarizing a confidential human sources meeting with Burisma executives during which they discussed bribes allegedly paid to Joe Biden and Hunter Biden?

A I’m sorry. What was your question about this document?

Q Are you familiar with this?

A I’m not going to comment on that. I appreciate your question, but it concerns a matter that is subject to an outstanding investigation. It’s something that I absolutely cannot comment on either way. [my emphasis]

This is why I’m interested in Hanson’s description that “the team” was in the SCIF on July 11. Wise and Hynes are — or were, until getting their big promotion to Senior Assistant Special Counsels — Baltimore AUSAs. There’s no reason for them to be in SCIF together with Wallace except on the Hunter Biden case. There is no conceivable classified information in the two Hunter Biden indictments (one, two).

But on July 10 — the day before Hanson said “the team” was in a SCIF — Weiss told Lindsey Graham that the FD-1023 was part of an ongoing investigation. And on November 7, Weiss told Steve Castor that it was part of an ongoing investigation.

And the possibility of a FARA charge is what Leo Wise used on July 26 to blow up an investigation that — as of June 19 — was done.

There is a good deal of reason to believe that David Weiss used the effort Bill Barr set up four years ago to launder dirt from Russian spies into the Hunter Biden investigation as an excuse, after private citizen Barr had intervened in this investigation, to reopen the investigation after Republicans demanded it.


Documents

Motion to dismiss because the diversion agreement prohibits the gun charges

NYT Covers Up the Still-Ongoing Trump-Russian Effort to Frame Joe Biden

The reason I have so little patience for NYT’s decision to dedicate the resources of three senior reporters to warn about the dangers of a second Trump term is not that I disagree about the second term. They’re right that it would be far worse.

It’s that the same reporters continue to downplay Trump’s past corruption — some of which Maggie Haberman specifically enabled — and outright ignore the ongoing effects of it.

Imagine how much healthier American democracy would be if the NYT dedicated just half of the time and space that went into the eight, often repetitive stories on this topic to instead lay out how the ongoing effort to impeach Biden is a continuation of Trump’s efforts, made with the assistance of men now deemed to be Russian spies by both the US and Ukraine, to frame Joe Biden?

  1. December 4: Why a Second Trump Presidency May Be More Radical Than His First
  2. November 15/December 2: How Trump and His Allies Plan to Wield Power in 2025
  3. November 11: Sweeping Raids, Giant Camps and Mass Deportations: Inside Trump’s 2025 Immigration Plans
  4. November 1: Some of the Lawyers Who May Fill a Second Trump Administration
  5. October 31: If Trump Wins, His Allies Want Lawyers Who Will Bless a More Radical Agenda
  6. July 17: Trump and Allies Forge Plans to Increase Presidential Power in 2025
  7. June 21: Few of Trump’s G.O.P. Rivals Defend Justice Dept. Independence
  8. June 15: The Radical Strategy Behind Trump’s Promise to ‘Go After’ Biden

NYT appears not to have assigned a single reporter to chase down the following allegations that have come out of the GOP impeachment effort:

  • Bill Barr’s DOJ shut down a corruption investigation into Mykola Zlochevsky — which had been opened in January 2016, while Biden was VP and Hunter was on the board of Burisma — in December 2019, right in the middle of an impeachment defense claiming to prioritize the investigation of Burisma’s corruption.
  • Days later, Barr set up a rickety effort to ingest the dirt Rudy Giuliani had obtained, including from known Russian agent Andrii Derkach and possibly from Burisma itself, without being forced to prosecute Rudy for soliciting dirt from known Russian agents. One of several details we’ve learned since NYT’s superb past reporting on this effort (besides that Scott Brady’s testimony completely conflicts with that past NYT report), is that Brady mined information from the newly closed Zlochevsky investigation to obtain an FD-1023 recording Zlochevksy making new claims about Joe Biden around the same time in 2019 as Barr shut down the investigation into Zlochevsky, claims that were utterly inconsistent with what he had said months earlier.
  • Hunter Biden’s lawyer claims, backed by newly disclosed communications, that Tony Bobulinski falsely told the FBI on October 23, 2020 that he had personally attended a February 2017 meeting at which he saw CEFC’s Chair hand Hunter Biden an enormous diamond. That meeting with the FBI took place one day after attending the October 22, 2020 debate with Donald Trump. Weeks later, according to Cassidy Hutchinson, Bobulinski and Mark Meadows had a covert meeting at a campaign stop; she claims she saw Trump’s chief of staff hand Bobulinski, “what appeared to be a folded sheet of paper or a small envelope.”
  • Separately, Hunter Biden partner Rob Walker described the concerns he and Hunter had about Bobulinski’s business ties to Russians, possibly including Viktor Vekselberg.
  • In addition to the informant report on Zlochevsky’s changed claims about Biden, there were three other dodgy informant reports shared with the Hunter Biden team: from two Ukrainians that seem tied to the Rudy effort, from Gal Luft at meetings where — he has since been accused — he lied about his ties to CEFC, and from Bannon associate Peter Schweizer (the latter of which this important NYT story on Tim Thibault did address).
  • Throughout this period, the IRS supervisor on the investigation documented repeated examples of improper influence on the investigation. In a recent subpoena request, Hunter’s attorney noted that Trump’s improper effort to influence the investigation continues to this day.

In short, basic reporting on Republican efforts to impeach Biden show that it, along with key parts (though not necessarily all) of the investigation into Hunter Biden, are simply a continuation of an effort Trump started in 2018 to frame Joe Biden. That is an effort that involved people that both the US and Ukraine have labeled as Russian spies.

Aside from some key articles (linked above), NYT has covered none of this.

Instead, NYT claims the exact opposite. It claims that the effort to gin up a criminal investigation into Joe Biden didn’t succeed.

And neither effort for which he was impeached succeeded. Mr. Trump tried to coerce Ukraine into opening a criminal investigation into Mr. Biden by withholding military aid, but it did not cooperate.

It’s right there, the full-time pursuit of three different House committees, ongoing, with an FD-1023 about Zlochevsky’s changed claims about Biden and Bobulinksi’s FBI report that seems to have close ties to Trump (in which Bobulinski was represented by a known Maggie Haberman source).

NYT tells you the first term wasn’t that bad, because Trump’s efforts failed. Yet what failed was NYT’s reporting on ongoing events.

NYT tells this fairy tale even as they continue to whitewash Bill Barr’s efforts. In a recent 4,000-word story, in which they claimed that the commutation of Jonathan Braun’s sentence “stood out” more than the pre-trial pardon of Steve Bannon issued the same day, NYT gives Barr two paragraphs to claim he tried to clean up pardons.

William P. Barr, a Trump attorney general who had left by the time of the Braun commutation, said when he took over the Justice Department he discovered that “there were pardons being given without any vetting by the department.”

Mr. Barr added that he told Trump aides they should at least send over names of those being considered so the department could thoroughly examine their records. While the White House Counsel’s Office tried to do so, the effort fell apart under the crush of pardon requests that poured in during the final weeks before Mr. Trump left office, according to people with direct knowledge of the process.

It is true that of the eight pardons given before he arrived, there were some doozies, including Joe Arpaio, Dinesh D’Souza, Scooter Libby, and the ranchers whose arson cases sparked the Malheur occupation.

But Barr was utterly complicit in the most abusive pardons Trump gave. Less than two months after he was confirmed based off repeated assurances that giving a pardon in exchange for false testimony was obstruction, Bill Barr wrote a memo declining to prosecute a crime in process, the effort to use pardons to ensure that Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Mike Flynn, and others continued to lie to cover up Trump’s ties to Russia in the 2016 campaign. The Barr memo did not once mention pardons, even though that was a key thrust of the second volume of the Mueller Report (something Charlie Savage has also noted).

Of course, NYT joins Barr in that complicity. This story finally mentions one of those pardons in its discussion of Trump’s abuse.

His lawyers floated a pardon at his campaign chairman, whom Mr. Trump praised for not “flipping” as prosecutors tried unsuccessfully to get him to cooperate as a witness in the Russia inquiry; Mr. Trump later did pardon him.

But it does not mention that Manafort specifically lied about why he briefed Konstantin Kilimnik campaign information, an act that the Intelligence Community later stated as fact resulted in the sharing of campaign information with Russian intelligence. This is a topic about which NYT has a still uncorrected story, hiding the tie to Oleg Deripaska.

It’s not that Trump pardoned Manafort for “not flipping.” It’s that he pardoned Manafort after he lied about why the campaign manager shared information that Russian spies could use in their attack on US democracy.

And the very link NYT relies on here mentions the Stone pardon, a commutation and then pardon that halted a still ongoing CFAA conspiracy investigation between Trump’s rat-fucker and the Russians (another detail NYT has never reported).

Yes, I absolutely agree. A second Trump term would be worse.

But repeating that, over and over, even while misinforming readers about the ongoing five year effort to frame Joe Biden is not the best way to prevent a second term.