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3 Things: Memory, Memory, the 6th of January

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

Next week the UK observes another Guy Fawkes Day, the anniversary of the failed assassination in 1605 of King James I, his privy council, and the House of Lords. Children used to recite a rhyme to commemorate the day:

Remember, Remember the 5th of November, Gunpowder, Treason and Plot

The U.S. has now survived its own Guy Fawkes Day; members of Congress, the Vice President and Vice President-elect were sheltered from a mob of insurrectionists who had been incited to rebel and obstruct congressional proceedings.

Unlike Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators, the conspirators and insurrectionists who temporarily disrupted Congress on January 6 and who continue their seditionist schemes will not be hung, drawn, and quartered if prosecuted and found guilty.

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Marcy’s crunching away on some January 6-related posts right now, but we could use some fresh thread to tide us over to discuss recent developments related to the insurrection.

Let’s start with the unexpected heroics of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) which disclosed in a very early Saturday morning court filing that Donald Trump was trying to block release of 750 documents out of 1600 identified and requested by the House’s January 6 commission during its investigation — documents over which Joe Biden as the current president chose not to exert privilege.

The commission also filed a brief supporting its position that Trump as the former president does not have the authority to claim executive privilege over Trump administration documents sought by the commission.

You’ve likely read POLITICO’s report — the tl;dr version is Kyle Cheney’s Twitter thread describing NARA’s filing.

What boggles the mind is how Trump has tipped his hand as to which documents are most damning.

The cherry on top is NARA’s filing which details Steve Bannon’s role in the seditious conspiracy to incite rebellion and insurrection. Ryan Goodlaw at Lawfare wielded a highlighter for us:

Oh my. That’s just so good. It’s payback by NARA for all the crappy additional work they’ve had to do to archive the history of the Trump administration — all those tedious reconstructions of papers Trump had a nasty habit of shredding into confetti now coming home to roost.

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Now add the claim reported today in Salon that Michael Flynn may have conspired to extort performance from Pennsylvania GOP elected officials in order to reseat Trump in the White House. U.S. Senate candidate for Pennsylvania, Everett Stern, who owns and operates a private intelligence company, had been contacted by persons associated with Flynn’s effort.

Stern says he’s shared information about the approach and related communications with the feds.

What’s deeply concerning about this plot is the possible involvement of foreign entities:

… Because of his intelligence background, Stern claims at least two people representing a Flynn-linked group called “Patriot Caucus” approached him earlier this year after a speech with an offer to hire his firm to gather “dirt” on officials and recruit others to assist in the plot. At one point, one of the men allegedly told Stern that they had retained the services of active intelligence officials “both domestic and foreign.” …

This sounds very much like something Flynn would do based on his past record of involvement with foreign agents.

Stern was also encouraged to achieve the ends desired using violence if necessary — “accomplish the mission even if you have to use domestic terrorism” — which he found very disturbing.

He’s recorded a YouTube video statement which sounds awkward and uncomfortable, and yet he sounds wholly legitimate in his concerns about the situation, including the lawyer for one of the intelligence targets.

Assuming Stern’s claims all check out, one might wonder if it was Bannon who set Flynn on this plot given Bannon’s relationships in PA.

UPDATE: Scott Stedman at ForensicNews tweeted Stern’s a serial fabricator. I guess we’ll let the feds sort that out. Have to ask yourself why a GOP candidate would commit political suicide with their own party and trash the cred of their private intelligence business at the same time while potentially risking federal charges for false statements.

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Bannon appears to have played a more direct role in lead-up to the January 6 insurrection, along with working relationships to state-level contacts; Flynn may have been/may still be pressuring states’ elected officials using extortive tactics…

Does John Eastman’s ongoing involvement with state legislators complement their efforts?

It already looks like Eastman’s activities on and before January 6 complemented the activities Bannon and Flynn set in motion with their incitement intended to terrorize both Congress and VP Pence:

Sure would be nice to know if Bannon, Flynn, and Eastman had some overlapping communications.

Oh, and Rudy Giuliani.

Same, Jim Bourg, same. Good on you getting this photo.

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ADDER: If you haven’t already read the Washington Post’s investigative expose examining the run-up to, the day of, and the aftermath of January 6, you should do so. It’s worth your time even if you’ve been following along closely as both the House January 6 commission and the DOJ investigations have unfolded. You may see things which spawn more questions than the reporting answers.

I still don’t buy the benign spin put on former acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller’s role, for example. There’s a reason Trump wanted him in that role after Esper resigned; the multiple times Miller failed to respond to requests for National Guard support on January 6 looks like a particular reason.

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I wonder if in the future children will have a rhyme to recall Trump’s January 6th autogolpe plot.

Memory, Memory, the 6th of January, Sedition, Insurrection, and Trump…

I certainly hope we have a few bonfires each January 6 to keep our memories fresh.

Judge Sullivan Was Prepared For Potential Flynn Perjury and Fraud On The Court

Okay, that was quite a morning at the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse in DC in regard to the Flynn plea and sentencing. In the windup this morning, well before the proceeding began, I cautioned that Flynn and his attorney Rob Kelner would have to back off the right wing Fox News Trumpian nonsense they stupidly included in their sentencing memo. See this report from Marcy on the sentencing memo, and this one as to how the FBI 302’s the Flynn team stupidly demanded be made public ate them alive. And, they really did.

There is already simply a ton of discussion on the Flynn proceeding today, I will leave that to others. But there was one little nugget I say from, I think, Glenn Kirshner, as almost a throwaway comment, on MSNBC that Judge Sullivan insisted Mike Flynn be sworn in before proceeding today. I was not really ready to write about this until confirming it from others in the courtroom this morning. I have now received that corroboration from multiple sources. In fact, Judge Sullivan directly said he was doing so because “he was doing basically an extension of the plea colloquy”. Wow!!

This is fairly notable. Defendants can get sworn in for their plea allocution, but not their sentencing. Judge Emmet Sullivan was laying in the weeds for Flynn from moment one. To be specific, here is what I said in a tweet well before the sentencing began regarding Flynn and Kelner having included the right wing nonsense about Flynn being innocent and tricked by the FBI in their sentencing memo:

“Keep in mind that this argument, if pursued to success, then makes his plea allocution effectively a fraud on the court.”

Well, apparently Judge Sullivan was on to the problem that such a direct repudiation by Flynn of his underlying guilt, and the previously sworn voluntariness of his plea, would pose if he was stupid enough to continue down that path. Sullivan was ready, because continuing down that path would have directly undermined everything Flynn swore to in his plea allocution on December 1, 2017.

What Judge Sullivan effectively did was set the first real “perjury trap” to date in the greater Mueller investigation (despite the idiocy purveyed relentlessly on Fox News and by Rudy Giuliani). And it was a federal court and judge that did it, not Mueller or his deputies. Emmet Sullivan was loaded for bear today on multiple fronts, but this is one the media does not seem to have caught on to yet.

Flynn and his attorneys were ready for it after the searing followup sentencing memo filed by the government, but clearly were not ready for just how seething Judge Sullivan really was. Frankly, I think the canard, as suggested by Sullivan himself, that “further cooperation” by Flynn really will change the dynamics for sentencing at this point is absurd. That said, assuming they can keep their client from doing further stupid things in the interim, giving Emmet Sullivan 90 days to calm down is not a bad idea for the defense I guess. What a mess. I remain convinced, however, that Flynn could have walked out of court sentenced to probation today if he had not included that right wing Fox News nonsense in his sentencing memo. Oh well!

Trumpnami 2 by Rayne for Emptywheel.net

Jared’s Flynn ‘Surfing’, Election Day to Present

Quite a bit has been written about the Senate Judiciary Committee’s request last week asking Jared Kushner’s attorney Abe Lowell for “missing” documents omitted from his client’s previously requested document production. Didn’t anybody find odd the time range Senators Feinstein and Grassley specified in the letter, asking for all communications to, from, or copied to Lt. General Michael Flynn?

Here’s an excerpt from the November 16 letter; note the bit underlined in red:

From election day last year to the present.

To the present.

Has Jared Kushner — or other(s) copying both Kushner and Flynn — still been in direct communication with Michael Flynn all this time, even after Flynn resigned in February? Even after it looked like he was being investigated by Mueller? Even after it looked like Kushner himself was under scrutiny by both Mueller and Congress?

Does the Senate Judiciary Committee think Kushner’s trying to build a defense case on “I’m too stupid to be a criminal!” based on his sloppy surfing over their document requests?

Or is Kushner so confident his daddy-in-law can pardon him that he isn’t even bothering to hide his ongoing relationships with co-conspirators or his obstruction — and just keeps surfing on by?

Worse, does this range suggest the Senate Judiciary Committee believes Kushner has been actively using a backchannel to communicate with others under investigation, including Russian contacts and Michael Flynn?

And does the range suggest Kushner may have been communicating with Flynn even while out of the country — perhaps even during his recent unannounced wee-hours pajama party in Saudi Arabia with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman while they talked ‘strategy’?

This is an open thread. Bring your off-topic discussions here.

Curiouser: The Blindsiding of Sally Yates

Remember back in early May I noted the curious timing of events leading up to former Lt. General Michael Flynn’s departure from the Trump administration and the launch of Trump’s ‘travel ban’?

It looks like former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates was completely blindsided by the travel ban, according to The New Yorker.

Yates told McGahn that she would have the Flynn materials for him by Monday morning. She left the White House, stopped at the Justice Department to pick up some documents, and continued on to the airport. She was returning to Atlanta for a dinner honoring a camp for children with serious illnesses and disabilities, which her husband has supported for years. On the way to the airport, she received a call from her deputy, Matt Axelrod. “You’re not going to believe this, but I just read online that the President has executed this travel ban,” he said.

It was the first Yates had heard of the order. “I had been sitting in Don McGahn’s office an hour before that,” she said. “He didn’t tell me.” She later learned that lawyers in the Office of Legal Counsel, at the Justice Department, had reviewed the order, and that they had been instructed not to share it with her. A source familiar with the process said that even the most senior Trump aide assigned to Yates’s office didn’t know about the order until he saw the news on CNN.

Yates was in the White House meeting with the White House Counsel and the administration couldn’t bother to flag her and tell her, “By the way, we have something new for you to enforce”?

They couldn’t brief her on the order in advance?

The Office of Legal Counsel was  “instructed not to share it with her”?

They couldn’t call her directly and tell her about the order even after they signed and implemented it?

She had to look up the text of the order on the internet and read it. It doesn’t look as if the Trump administration ever bothered to contact Yates directly about the order, yet they expected her and the rest of federal law enforcement to blindly defend it.

Come Monday evening — after she told the Justice Department that afternoon it cannot enforce the travel ban — she was summarily fired. Trump called her “weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration” in her dismissal letter.

Either this administration was (is) completely out of its depth, unable to read organizational charts, understand how to administer operations changes, and muster basic team management skills, relying instead on media across the internet and television to disseminate information about executive orders throughout the executive branch…

Or they wanted to completely derail and swamp Yates from pulling together “underlying evidence” describing Flynn’s conduct for the following Monday morning after she left the White House on Friday evening, January 27.

Nor did they have any intention of successfully rolling out a legitimate ban on travel to thwart credible terrorist threats.

Curiouser and curiouser.