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The Tommy Tuberville Gap in the Trump Indictment

The release of details about Dan Scavino’s testimony in Trump’s January 6 case made me realize something: Trump’s call to Tommy Tuberville around 2:26PM on January 6 isn’t in the indictment.

As you’ll recall, Trump attempted to call Tommy Tuberville, but instead got Mike Lee’s phone. Back before he became Based Mike Lee, the Utah Senator told the local UT press what happened next.

With a mob of election protesters laying siege to the U.S. Capitol, Sen. Mike Lee had just ended a prayer with some of his colleagues in the Senate chamber when his cellphone rang.

Caller ID showed the call originated from the White House. Lee thought it might be national security adviser Robert O’Brien, with whom he’d been playing phone tag on an unrelated issue. It wasn’t O’Brien. It was President Donald Trump.

“How’s it going, Tommy?” the president asked.

Taken a little aback, Lee said this isn’t Tommy.

“Well, who is this? Trump asked. “It’s Mike Lee,” the senator replied. “Oh, hi Mike. I called Tommy.”

Lee told the Deseret News he realized Trump was trying to call Sen. Tommy Tuberville, the newly elected Republican from Alabama and former Auburn University football coach. Lee walked his phone over to Tuberville who was talking to some colleagues.

“Hey, Tommy, I hate to interrupt but the president wants to speak with you,” Lee said.

Tuberville and Trump talked for about five to 10 minutes, Lee said, adding that he stood nearby because he didn’t want to lose his cellphone in the commotion. The two were still talking when panicked police ordered the Capitol to be evacuated because people had breached security.

As police were getting anxious for senators to leave, Lee walked over to retrieve his phone.

“I don’t want to interrupt your call with the president, but we’re being evacuated and I need my phone,” he said.

Tuberville said, “OK, Mr. President. I gotta go.”

Tuberville, in real time with impeachment, confirmed the substance of the call.

Sen. Tommy Tuberville revealed late Wednesday that he spoke to Donald Trump on Jan. 6, just as a violent mob closed in on the the Senate, and informed the then-president directly that Vice President Mike Pence had just been evacuated from the chamber.

“I said ‘Mr. President, they just took the vice president out, I’ve got to go,’” Tuberville (R-Ala.) told POLITICO on Capitol Hill on Wednesday night, saying he cut the phone call short amid the chaos.

During impeachment, Lee released call records that (at the time) undercut something Democrats were suggesting about the call: that Trump may have been told by Tuberville about the mob before he sent the Tweet targeting Pence. Lee also tried to get any mention of the call — the call he had revealed — stricken from the Congressional Record.

Back on February 14, 2021 — a good ten months before Liz Cheney and through her the TV lawyers discovered Trump’s exposure on this count — I argued that was compelling evidence that Trump had obstructed the vote certification.

Trump’s indictment does describe efforts he and Rudy Giuliani and Co-Conspirator 6 (who is most likely Boris Epshteyn) made to get Congress to further delay the vote count, later in the day (perhaps hoping the Coffee County caper would provide cause to create more delay). But it places those efforts later, during the evening.

119. On the evening of January 6, the Defendant and Co-Conspirator 1 attempted to exploit the violence and chaos at the Capitol by calling lawmakers to convince them, based on knowingly false claims of election fraud, to delay the certification, including:

[Per ABC report, Trump showed Nick Luna a draft Tweet here]

a. The Defendant, through White House aides, attempted to reach two United States Senators at 6:00 p.m.

[Tweet released, an hour later Trump cut off Twitter]

b. From 6:59 p.m. until 7:18 p.m., Co-Conspirator 1 placed calls to five United States Senators and one United States Representative.

c. Co-Conspirator 6 attempted to confirm phone numbers for six United States Senators whom the Defendant had directed Co-Conspirator 1 to call and attempt to enlist in further delaying the certification.

d. In one of the calls, Co-Conspirator 1 left a voicemail intended for a United States Senator that said, “We need you, our Republican friends, to try to just slow it down so we can get these legislatures to get more information to you. And I know they’re reconvening at eight tonight but the only strategy we can follow is to object to numerous states and raise issues so that we get ourselves into tomorrow-ideally until the end of tomorrow.”

e. In another message intended for another United States Senator, CoConspirator 1 repeated knowingly false allegations of election fraud, including that the vote counts certified by the states to Congress were incorrect and that the governors who had certified knew they were incorrect; that “illegal immigrants” had voted in substantial numbers in Arizona; and that “Georgia gave you a number in which 65,000 people who were underage voted.” Co-Conspirator 1 also claimed that the Vice President’s actions had been surprising and asked the Senator to “object to every state and kind of spread this out a little bit like a filibuster[.]”

There’s no mention of the call that Trump made at around 2:26.

111. At 2:24 p.m., after advisors had left the Defendant alone in his dining room, the Defendant issued a Tweet intended to further delay and obstruct the certification: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!”

112. One minute later, at 2:25 p.m., the United States Secret Service was forced to evacuate the Vice President to a secure location.

[Tommy Tuberville call took place here]

113. At the Capitol, throughout the afternoon, members of the crowd chanted, “Hang Mike Pence!”; “Where is Pence? Bring him out!”; and “Traitor Pence!”

114. The Defendant repeatedly refused to approve a message directing rioters to leave the Capitol, as urged by his most senior advisors-including the White House Counsel, a Deputy White House Counsel, the Chief of Staff, a Deputy Chief of Staff, and a Senior Advisor. [my emphasis]

Two people who might be interested in the Scavino testimony released the other day, then, are Senators Lee and Tuberville. They’ve now been told that Scavino testified that he was not in the room when that call was placed (consistent with the indictment’s claim that Trump had been left alone in the dining room), meaning there’s no witness to the call besides Trump and the two Senators, both of whom would be protected from compelled testimony under Speech and Debate.

If Scavino’s testimony ever were to change, if Scavino ever were to recall witnessing that call, it would be among the most damaging evidence available: proof that in the wake of Pence’s evacuation, Trump turned immediately to stalling doubling down on the advantage he had won.

Instead, prosecutors are left with the later calls, which can be introduced under a co-conspirator hearsay exception.

Still, it’s telling: While Trump’s advisors were someplace else squabbling about whether Scavino was responsible for that Tweet that might get Mike Pence killed, Trump was (presumably still alone) seeking more delay.

In Rudy Giuliani Affidavit, SDNY Hung Up the Perfect Phone Call

Consider this: The April 21, 2021 warrant affidavit showing probable cause for the search of Rudy Giuliani’s home, office, and devices did not mention the Perfect Phone Call between Donald Trump and Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

It could have done so. Earlier warrant affidavits targeting Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, starting with a bunch obtained on October 21, 2019, included it.

On July 25, 2019, President Trump spoke to Ukrainian President [Zelenskyy]. According to a memorandum of the call, which the White House released publicly, President Trump noted that “[t]he former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news.” He also praised a “very good prosecutor,” which appears to be a reference to [Lutsenko,] who was still in place at that time following [Zelenskyy’s] election but subsequently removed from office, or possibly [Shokin,] the former prosecutor.

While SDNY did not release the affidavit for a December 10, 2019 warrant focused exclusively on the Foreign Agent charges, this same reference did appear in an affidavit to obtain the contents of Lev Parnas’ Instagram account the same day.

In context of the potential FARA charges tied exclusively to the firing of Marie Yovanovitch, the paragraph showed that Trump had been persuaded by Rudy Giuliani’s lobbying not just that Yovanovitch “was bad news,” but that the prosecutors behind the effort to oust her, Yuriy Lutsenko and/or Viktor Shokin, were “very good.”

Moreover, the paragraph is particularly relevant evidence in the affidavit targeting Rudy. Far more specifically than the (much earlier) affidavits targeting Lev Parnas, the Rudy affidavit describes that Rudy lobbied Trump to fire Yovanovitch at least three times (the affidavit clearly identifies two instances: once on February 16, 2019, and again on March 22) and lobbied Mike Pompeo at least twice (once on February 8 and again when the White House forwarded his packet of disinformation in March) before he and Parnas turned to a press campaign involving John Solomon to get her ousted.

Yet the only public affidavit targeting Rudy, unlike several targeting Lev Parnas, excluded the paragraph showing the extent of Rudy’s influence.

There may be a perfectly banal explanation, such as an attempt, relatively early in Merrick Garland’s tenure, to minimize the extent to which this was about Trump personally. Or, the Perfect Phone Call might embody some of the uncertainty, noted explicitly in the affidavit, about whether Rudy was targeting Yovanovitch to get contracts with Lutsenko, or whether he was doing it only to get disinformation, to benefit Trump, on Hunter Biden. Given the high likelihood that data seized in this search was also used in other, undisclosed investigations into Rudy — DOJ may not yet have had a January 6 warrant targeting Rudy, but in June 2021, DOJ took overt steps in the investigation into an anti-Hunter Biden film that Rudy plotted — the silence about the Perfect Phone Call may simply reflect the boundary line between investigative prongs. That is, maybe the Perfect Phone Call appears in another affidavit.

The anti-Hunter film was, reportedly, an investigation into possible foreign support. As this table, which compares the scope of investigation in three warrants for substantially the same Foreign Agent investigation, shows, the funding of Rudy’s shenanigans shifted focus over the course of the investigation.

The warrants include:

  • October 21, 2019, 19 MJ 9832, obtained days after Parnas’ arrest, as SDNY obtained warrants to expand the scope of the investigation to incorporate its expanding Foreign Agent focus
  • December 10, 2019, 19 MJ 11500, obtained days after Rudy met with Andrii Derkach, which would have been a natural follow-on investigation to the Parnas investigation, but which Barr moved to EDNY to protect Rudy’s ability to solicit dirt from Russian agents to help Trump’s 2020 campaign
  • April 21, 2021, 21 MJ 4335, obtained on Lisa Monaco’s first day as Deputy Attorney General, when SDNY finally obtained approval for warrants targeting Rudy’s home and devices

In October 2019, DOJ wasn’t looking closely at how the Ukraine caper was funded. In December 2019, it made up two bullets of the warrants, permitting the seizure of:

  • Evidence of any funds sent into any account controlled by or associated with [redacted] or Giuliani, or any instructions to send such funds. (c)
  • Evidence of money, actions, or information requested by, or offered or provided to Parnas, Fruman, Giuliani, or [Toensing] by any Ukrainian national in connection with efforts to remove [Yovanovitch], including but not limited to any Ukrainian investigation of [Burisma Holdings] Ltd., [Hunter Biden], or potential interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. (e)

That December 2019 focus on funding may have reflected details about Lev Parnas that SDNY had only just discovered. In an unsuccessful bid to have Parnas detained pretrial submitted the day after DOJ obtained that December 10 warrant targeting Lev Parnas, SDNY laid out what it had learned about the funding of the Ukraine caper.

Parnas poses a significant risk of flight for several reasons, the chief among which are his considerable ties abroad and access to seemingly limitless sources of foreign funding. Parnas has extensive and significant international ties, particularly in Ukraine, the country of his birth. Over the past two years, Parnas traveled repeatedly to Ukraine, and met with numerous Ukrainian government officials, including officials at the very highest level of government. More broadly, Parnas has traveled abroad more than twenty times over the past four years, including on a nearly monthly basis in 2019. Parnas took circuitous travel routes that obscured his final destination, such as by departing the U.S. for one country, but returning from a different country on a different airline. Parnas traveled internationally by private jet as recently as this year; bank account records from Account-1 show that Parnas spent more than $70,000 on private air travel in September 2019 alone.

[snip]

In addition, Parnas’s close ties abroad include connections to Russian and Ukrainian nationals of nearly limitless means, including [Andrey Muraviev] and a Ukrainian oligarch [Dmitry Firtash] living in Vienna who is currently fighting extradition to this country. Parnas has proven adept at gaining access to foreign funding: in the last three years, Parnas received in excess of $1.5 million from Ukrainian and Russian sources. In sum, given Parnas’s significant, high-level connections to powerful and wealthy Ukrainians and at least one Russian national, he could quickly and easily flee the United States for Ukraine or another foreign country, and recoup the security posted to his bond. It is difficult to overstate the extreme flight risk that Parnas poses.

[snip]

  • Between August and October 2019, Parnas received $200,000—not $50,000, as he told Pretrial Services—from the Law Firm into Account-1, which was held in Svetlana Parnas’s name, in what appears to be an attempt to ensure that any assets were held in Svetlana’s, rather than Lev’s, name.5 A portion of this money existed in Account-1 at the time that Parnas submitted his financial affidavit, and, to the Government’s knowledge, does so today, underscoring that Parnas continues to mislead the Government and the Court about his financial condition.
  • Parnas failed to disclose, in describing his income to the Government and Pretrial Services, the fact that in September 2019, he received $1 million from a bank account in Russia into Account-1. While the majority of that money appears to have been used on personal expenses and to purchase a home, as discussed below, some portion of that money existed in Account-1 at the time Parnas submitted his financial affidavit.
  • At the time of his arrest, Parnas had at least $200,000 in an escrow account, in connection with his intended purchase of a property located in Boca Raton, Florida, which was listed for sale at approximately $4.5 million. The escrow account was funded with $200,000 from Account-1 in September 2019. Parnas did not disclose this asset (either the property or the funds in the escrow account) to either Pretrial Services or the Government. It is unclear whether Parnas proceeded with this real estate purchase or received the funds back from the escrow account.

In an appearance on Michael Cohen’s podcast last month, Parnas addressed how various Ukrainian, Russian, and American oligarchs were funding his and Rudy’s efforts; he says it’ll also appear in his forthcoming book.

The warrant targeting Rudy 17 months later doesn’t reveal what SDNY had learned about the funding in the interim, nor does it sustain the focus on how this was all funded. It states with some certainty that in spite of two rounds of discussions of retainer agreements with Lutsenko and others, Rudy never got any money from them.

Based on my involvement in this investigation and my review of text messages, it appears that Giuliani was referring to the execution of [redaction] retainer agreement and the wiring of funds. However, based on my review of bank records, it does not appear that [redacted] wired funds to Giuliani at that time, or any subsequent time.

As NYT emphasized in their report on these warrants, the later warrant does describe that Rudy needed the money.

6 Based on my review of a financial analysis prepared based on bank records and public reports, it appears that around this time, Giuliani had a financial interest in receiving a retainer agreement from [redacted] Specifically, in May 2018, Giuliani left his former law firm and its substantial compensation package. Based on my review of a financial analysis of bank records that have been collected to date (which may not include all of Giuliani’s checking and credit card accounts), on or around January 25, 2018, Giuliani had approximately $1.2 million cash on hand, and approximately $40,000 in credit card debt. By contrast, on or around January 25, 2019, right before he met with [redacted] Giuliani had approximately $400,000 cash on hand in those same accounts and approximately $110,000 in credit card debt. By on or around February 16, 2019, his account balances had dropped to approximately $288,000 and his credit card debt remained over $110,000.

Perhaps because of what SDNY claimed were Parnas’ efforts to obscure his travel, the December 2019 warrant (for which, remember, it did not release the affidavit) added a bullet point, seemingly an afterthought unmarked by a letter, authorizing seizure of evidence that the men were hiding meetings with Ukrainians.

Evidence of efforts or attempts to conceal meetings with individuals acting on behalf of or associated with any Ukrainian national or government official. (no letter)

By contrast, the April 2021 affidavit targeting Rudy was interested in one single trip: His February 2019 trip, with Parnas, to Warsaw.

Evidence relating to a trip by Rudolph Giuliani to Poland in February 2019.(5)

As the affidavit describes, there was good reason to believe Rudy’s public claims about the trip — made in the days after the Perfect Phone Call was released — were lies, because immediately after the meeting, Rudy drafted a retainer shortly after the meeting and started lobbying Trump and Pompeo.

7 Based on my review of public reporting, I have learned that according to an article published on September 29, 2019 in Reuters, Giuliani admitted that he met [Lutsenko] in Warsaw in February 2019 after first meeting him in New York in January, but that the meeting with [redacted] in Warsaw was “really social . . . I think it was either dinner or cigars after dinner. Not opportune for substantive discussion.” However, this does not appear to be accurate, as described herein, Giuliani circulated a draft retainer agreement between [2 words redacted] and [redacted] (a firm owned by [Toensing] and her husband, [Joe DiGenova]) only five days after meeting with [redacted] and communicated with Parnas and [redacted] about lobbying [Pompeo] and Trump to remove [Yovanovitch] on the same day, and in the days following, his meeting with [redacted].

The reference to Lutsenko in that Reuters story is minor; far more of the story focuses on who paid for Rudy’s galivanting — again, a topic dropped in the later known warrant.

One of the key questions is who financed Giuliani’s globe-trotting as he pursued unsubstantiated allegations that Biden had tried to fire Ukraine’s then chief prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, to stop him investigating an energy company on which his son Hunter served as a director.

“Nobody pays my expenses,” Giuliani said in an interview with Reuters on Friday. “What does it matter if I’m getting paid for it. Isn’t the real story whether he (Biden) sold out the vice presidency of the United States, not whether I got paid for it?”

The singular focus on that Warsaw meeting — a meeting that took place at an event designed to undermine Obama’s Iran Deal, which Rudy attended in conjunction with MEK (former NJ Senator, Robert Torricelli, with whom John Solomon has a past, also attended with MEK) — is all the more interesting given the temporal scope of the warrant.

The other two warrants I adress here were dictated by dates of collection. Because the October 21 warrant authorized an expanded search of materials obtained months earlier, its temporal scope necessarily ended at the collection date, May 16, 2019. Because the December 10 warrant authorized an expanded search of materials seized from the search of Parnas and Fruman’s residences (primarily Parnas’ — by this point, SDNY seemed to be scrutinizing Parnas far more closely than it did Fruman), its temporal scope necessarily ended on that collection date, October 9, 2019.

But the Rudy warrant extended long past the last overt act, the firing of Yovanovitch, described in the warrant, to December 31, 2019. Here’s how the FBI justified that:

To the extent materials are dated, this warrant is limited to materials created, modified, sent, or received between August 1, 2018, and December 31, 2019. Materials going back to approximately August 2018 are relevant to understand Giuliani’s relationship with Parnas and information he was provided in the fall of 2018 relating to, among other things, Ambassador [Yovanovitch] and Ukraine. Materials created, modified, sent, or received after approximately May 2019, when the Ambassador was removed from her post, through the end of December 2019, during which time Giuliani traveled to Europe to meet [Lutsenko] with are relevant because based on my review of the Prior Search Warrant Returns, it appears that Giuliani continued to make public statements about Ukraine and the Ambassador.

Thus, it rationalized extending the warrant’s temporal scope through December 2019 — a temporal scope that would include the trip for the anti-Hunter Biden documentary, on which Rudy again met Lutsenko, but also met known Russian asset Andrii Derkach and others who would later be deemed Russian assets — based on Rudy’s continued focus, vaguely, on Ukraine (as well as Yovanovitch).

But it’s not clear whether FBI would be able to access details of Rudy’s meeting with Derkach, as opposed to Lutsenko, with this warrant. The long redaction in this bullet point shields who else, in addition to Parnas and Lutsenko, was included in the scope of the known warrant.

In other words, though the temporal scope of the warrant would permit FBI to review information about Rudy’s later meetings with Lutsenko, in association with which trip Rudy also met a series of Russian assets, nothing unredacted in the warrant permitted FBI to seize information about that later meeting (or about the anti-Hunter Biden documentary).

For that matter, nothing unredacted in the April 2021 warrant explicitly permits the FBI to seize information about Rudy’s attempts to dig up disinformation targeting Hunter Biden and his father, even though the warrant affidavit likely mentions such efforts at more than twelve times (one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve).

Still, as I’ve noted repeatedly, by the time Judge Oetken approved the Special Master process that Rudy himself had demanded, Special Master Barbara Jones was instructed to review all content post-dating January 1, 2018, a temporal scope significantly broader than the one laid out in the warrant. And according to her reports, while for some devices she focused more nearly on the timeframe of the Ukraine caper, those she reviewed first, she reviewed through the date of seizure.

We still know just a fraction of the story about how Bill Barr obstructed the investigation into Rudy Giuliani’s Ukrainian influence peddling — and the degree to which that let Rudy get rid of phones before the investigation would have otherwise developed (for example, the warrant describes that Rudy replaced a phone used with his main phone number on the date the House started subpoenaing records in advance of impeachment). That is, even though SDNY took aggressive investigative steps on Lisa Monaco’s first day as Deputy Attorney General, it was likely already too late.

Update: Back in real time, I posited that the first time Rudy pitched Mike Pompeo on firing Marie Yovanovitch was done while in Trump’s presence.

Timeline

Below, every bullet is a known warrant. The ones not linked were described in a passage that failed to be fully redacted in a Lev Parnas filing.

  • January 18, 2019, 19 MJ 1729: Yahoo and Google content

May 15, 2019: Marie Yovanovitch firing public

  • May 16, 2019, 19 MJ 4784: iCloud content
  • August 14, 2019, 19 MJ 7593: Yahoo and Google content since January, with expanded focus
  • August 14, 2019, 19 MJ 7594: Unknown warrant
  • August 14, 2019, 19 MJ 7595: Existing Yahoo and Google content, with expanded focus

September 25, 2019: Disclosure of Perfect Phone call

October 9, 2019: Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman arrested

  • October 17, 2019, 19 MJ 7595: Actual authorization of the warrant approved in August
  • October 21, 2019, 19 MJ 9829: iCloud content since May
  • October 21, 2019, 19 MJ 9830: Unknown warrant
  • October 21, 2019, 19 MJ 9831: Devices from Dulles
  • October 21, 2019, 19 MJ 9832: Existing iCloud content for expanded focus
  • November 4, 2019: Warrant for Rudy’s iCloud
  • November 4, 2019: Warrant for Rudy’s email
  • November 4, 2019: Warrant for Victoria Toensing’s iCloud
  • November 6, 2019: Warrant for Yuriy Lutsenko’s email

December 5, 2019: Rudy meets with known Russian asset, Andrii Derkach

  • December 10, 2019, 19 MJ 11500: Stuff seized from residences for foreign agent focus
  • December 10, 2019, 19 MJ 11501: Instagram
  • December 10, 2019, Warrant for Roman Nasirov’s email
  • December 13, 2019, Warrant for Victoria Toensing’s email

December 14, 2019: Barr aide texts him: “Laptop on way to you”

January 3, 2020: Barr establishes dedicated channel to ingest Rudy’s dirt

January 17, 2020: Jeffrey Rosen makes Richard Donoghue a gatekeeper for all Ukraine-related investigations

  • February 28, 2020: iPhone of Alexander Levin
  • March 3, 2020: iPad of Alexander Levin
  • March 20, 2020, 20 MJ 3074: Fruman iCloud content obtained with October 21, 2019 warrant to cover earlier periods

June 20, 2020: Barr fires Geoffrey Berman

November 2020: SDNY denied authority to seek devices of Rudy Giuliani

January 2021: SDNY denied authority to seek devices of Rudy Giuliani

  • April 13, 2021: Cell site data for Rudy and Toensing

April 21, 2021: Lisa Monaco sworn in

  • April 21, 2021, 21 MJ 4335: Rudy’s office, residence, and devices
  • April 21, 2021: Victoria Toensing iPhone

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.

Jim Jordan Says Trump’s Years of Blowing Off Subpoenas May Merit Impeachment

In another ploy to get journalists at dick pic-sniffing right wing outlets like JustTheNews and NBC to air false claims, Jim Jordan and James Comer sent the White House a letter demanding any communications the White House had with Hunter Biden or his lawyers about blowing off a subpoena that — the letter itself notes — was issued before the chairmen obtained support of the House to issue impeachment subpoenas.

They base their claim that the President knew his son was going to blow off a subpoena on a misrepresentation of what Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said later that day: that the President was familiar with what his son was going to say.

Look, as you know, Hunter Biden is a private citizen, and so I certainly would refer you to his representatives. Look, the President was certainly familiar with what his son was going to say, and I think what you saw was from the heart from his son. And you’ve heard me say this, you’ve heard the president say this, when it comes to the president and the first lady, they’re proud of him continuing to rebuild his life. They are proud of their son.

Perhaps Jean-Pierre was suggesting Joe Biden knew Hunter would say things like, “James Comer, Jim Jordan, Jason Smith, and their colleagues have distorted the facts,” a true statement similar to comments Joe himself has made. Perhaps Jean-Pierre’s comment meant that Joe Biden knew his son would say that Jordan and Comer, along with Jason Smith, “ridiculed my struggle with addiction [and] belittled my recovery,” something consistent with her own focus on his recovery. Given Jean-Pierre’s observation that “what you saw was from the heart,” perhaps she was referring to Hunter’s tribute to his parents’ love:

During my battle with addiction, my parents were there for me. They literally saved my life. They helped me in ways that I will never be able to repay. And of course they would never expect me to. In the depths of my addiction, I was extremely irresponsible with my finances. But to suggest that is grounds for an impeachment inquiry is beyond the absurd. It’s shameless. There’s no evidence to support the allegations that my father was financially involved in my business because it did not happen.

[snip]

They have taken the light of my Dad’s love — the light of my Dad’s love for me and presented it as darkness.

There is nothing in her statement that confirms foreknowledge that Hunter would blow off the subpoena, something conceded in the letter that her statement only, “suggests that the President had some amount of advanced knowledge that Mr. Biden would choose to defy two congressional subpoenas” [my emphasis].

Nevertheless, serial liar Comer and subpoena scofflaw Jordan use Jean-Pierre’s statement to insinuate that Joe Biden has committed what they themselves call a potentially impeachable offense of dissuading a subpoena recipient from complying with it.

Later on December 13, when asked whether President Biden had watched Mr. Biden’s statement, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated that President Biden was “certainly familiar with what his son was going to say.”11 Ms. Jean-Pierre declined, however, to provide any further details about the President’s actions or whether the President approved of his son defying congressional subpoenas.12 Nonetheless, Ms. Jean-Pierre’s statement suggests that the President had some amount of advanced knowledge that Mr. Biden would choose to defy two congressional subpoenas.

Under the relevant section of the criminal code, it is unlawful to “corruptly . . . endeavor[] to influence, obstruct, or impede the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any investigation or inquiry is being had by . . . any committee of either House or any joint committee of the Congress[.]”13 Likewise, any person who “aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures” the commission of a crime is punishable as a principal of the crime.14

In light of Ms. Jean-Pierre’s statement, we are compelled to examine the involvement of the President in his son’s scheme to defy the Committees’ subpoenas.

[snip]

[T]he fact that the President had advanced awareness that Mr. Biden would defy the Committees’ subpoenas raises a troubling new question that we must examine: whether the President corruptly sought to influence or obstruct the Committees’ proceeding by preventing, discouraging, or dissuading his son from complying with the Committees’ subpoenas. Such conduct could constitute an impeachable offense.

11 Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and NSC Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby. White House Briefing Room (Dec. 13, 2023).

12 Id. 13 18 U.S.C. § 1505 (Obstruction of proceedings before departments, agencies, and committees).

14 18 U.S.C. § 2(a).

Once you wade through all the bad faith and misrepresentation, this is a breathtaking development: Donald Trump’s most vigorous defender in Congress, Jim Jordan, someone who himself defied a subpoena to cover up Trump’s actions, has accused Donald Trump of committing an impeachable offense.

There are a slew of ways that Donald Trump, “prevent[ed], discourag[ed], or dissuad[ed]” witnesses from complying with subpoenas, during both his impeachments, the January 6 Committee, and elsewhere. Most famously, during the first impeachment, for example, Trump attorney Jay Sekulow got Trump to permit Trump attorney John Dowd to represent Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. In a response to a subpoena that was very similar to the pre-impeachment vote subpoena sent to Hunter Biden, Dowd made a bunch of claims about attorney-client relationships that, with the exception of the tie to Dmitry Firtash, have since been disproven, all in an attempt to deprive Congress of their testimony. While Parnas eventually cooperated with impeachment, neither Fruman nor Rudy did. Indeed, Trump’s entire Administration blew off the inquiry.

Trump did the same with the January 6 inquiry. Trump attempted to pressure Cassidy Hutchinson about her testimony. Even better documented, Robert Costello described that Trump’s lawyer instructed him to withhold materials about a meeting involving a bunch of lawyers but also Mike Flynn based on an attorney-client privilege claim. On Jordan’s logic, Trump should join Bannon in his 4-month contempt sentence for that intervention.

In short, while Comer and Jordan manufactured the claim that President Biden knew Hunter was going to blow off a subpoena, the evidence that Trump has ordered everyone in his orbit to do the same for years is overwhelming.

Once you argue that instructing people to blow off subpoenas merits impeachment, you’ve made the case for a third Trump impeachment.

Comer and Jordan have already surfaced far more evidence supporting an impeachment of Donald Trump than Joe Biden. Three major examples are:

  • Ties between DOJ access and dirt on Hunter Biden: In response to Comer’s allegations about Hunter and Joe Biden, Lev Parnas has renewed allegations he made in the past, much of which are backed by known communications and the recently released warrants from SDNY. Of particular note, he described that Rudy floated access with Trump’s DOJ in exchange for dirt on the Bidens with both Yuriy Lutsenko and Dmitry Firtash. Parnas also claimed that when he attempted to fly to Vienna on October 9, 2019, he believed he would retrieve content stolen from a Hunter Biden laptop.
  • Efforts to funnel Rudy Giuliani’s dirt to the investigation into Hunter Biden: Chuck Grassley revealed that during his first impeachment, when Trump was emphasizing the import of investigating Burisma corruption, his own DOJ shut down a 3.5-year old investigation into Mykola Zlochevsky. Testimony from Scott Brady enhanced what we already know about the dedicated channel Bill Barr set up days later for dirt Rudy had obtained, including from known Russian agents. Of particular import, Brady revealed that he mined the recently closed Zlochevsky investigation to obtain informant testimony about how Zlochevsky changed his story about Joe Biden during the course of impeachment. Brady and Gary Shapley both provided new details of how that information got shared with the Hunter Biden investigative team, with Brady submitting interrogatories about what they were investigative and getting David Weiss’ intervention to brief the information they obtained. Ultimately, after Trump yelled at Bill Barr about the Hunter Biden investigation, Richard Donoghue ordered the Delaware investigators to accept the FD-1023 memorializing Zlochevsky’s changed story about Biden; Bill Barr confessed that he was involved in this process. In short, Jordan and Comer, with an assist from Grassley, have confirmed many of the suspicions that drove the first impeachment.
  • Trump’s involvement in Tony Bobulinski’s inconsistent FBI testimony: The disgruntled IRS agents released Tony Bobulinski’s draft interview report (from the same day as the briefing about Zlochevsky’s changed Biden claims), key claims in which are not backed by previously unreleased communications. The disclosure of testimony that Hunter Biden alleges to be false comes even as Cassidy Hutchinson’s book describes a secret meeting Mark Meadows had weeks after that FBI interview, at which Trump’s chief of staff handed Bobulinski something that could be an envelope.

Thanks to Comer and Jordan — with an important assist from Grassley — Republicans have exposed that Trump has been corruptly involved in the Hunter Biden investigation — the Hunter Biden investigation they’re using to impeach Joe Biden — from the start.

But this letter is different.

Comer and Jordan never admitted that all the rest — all the evidence that Trump corruptly ginned up an investigation into Joe Biden’s kid — merited impeachment. They have claimed the opposite, even in the face of Grassley’s stunning claim that Trump’s DOJ shut down an investigation into Zlochevsky opened when Biden was Vice President.

But here, at long last, they’re admitting that Trump’s years-long efforts to stonewall Congress may merit impeachment.

Mind you, the outlets that believed this letter was newsworthy didn’t mention that fact. Instead, they treated Jordan’s stunning hypocrisy as if it were a good faith intervention. They didn’t even mention that Jordan himself blew off a subpoena to protect Trump!

We know why John Solomon — implicated himself in all these events — pretended this was all good faith. Solomon doesn’t pretend to be anything but a pro-Trump propagandist.

But NBC has no excuse. Either it is too stupid to recognize that this Jordan letter is the height of bad faith … or it is too addicted to dick pic-sniffing clicks to explain all that to their readers.

At some point, Jim Jordan’s confession that Donald Trump really did deserve impeachment becomes the story.

Update: I should have included Luke Broadwater — the NYT scribe who can’t do basic things like test the provenance of documents — in the right wing outlets that simply parroted Jordan’s garbage.

In Lev Parnas Investigation, SDNY Decided that Ivana Trump Is Not Political

I really should be writing a responsible article describing, in detail, the three phases of the Lev Parnas investigation. But instead, I need to obsess about Ivana Trump.

There were, roughly speaking, three phases of the investigation into Parnas:

January through August 2019: Campaign Finance crimes

The first — which I laid out here — focused primarily on the campaign finance crimes. SDNY obtained two warrants in this period:

  • January 18, 2019, 19 MJ 1729: For Yahoo and Google content
  • May 16, 2019, 19 MJ 4784: For iCloud content

When DOJ did a search of Parnas and Fruman’s residences the day they were arrested, the only crime listed on the warrants were the campaign finance crimes; they did this to hide the scope of the ongoing investigation. SDNY only unsealed the Fruman warrant, not the Parnas one (nor warrants in other districts targeting their co-defendants).

August through December 2019: Foreign Agent suspicions

After the firing of Marie Yovanovitch, SDNY investigated whether all Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman’s influence-peddling served the interests of foreign principals — chiefly Ukrainian prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko, but also other Ukrainians and maybe some Russians too.

SDNY obtained at least 8 warrants in this period (there are at least two, 19 MJ 7594 and 19 MJ 9830, which must be related — perhaps targeting their Russian backer, Andrey Muraviev? — but which SDNY withheld). And SDNY also withheld the November 2019 warrants targeting Rudy Giuliani.

  • August 14, 2019, 19 MJ 7593: Yahoo and Google content since January, with expanded focus
  • August 14, 2019, 19 MJ 7595: Existing Yahoo and Google content, with expanded focus
  • October 17, 2019, 19 MJ 7595: Actual authorization of the warrant approved in August
  • October 21, 2019, 19 MJ 9829: iCloud content since May
  • October 21, 2019, 19 MJ 9831: Devices from Dulles
  • October 21, 2019, 19 MJ 9832: Existing iCloud content for expanded focus
  • November 4, 2019: Warrants targeting Rudy
  • December 10, 2019, 19 MJ 11500: Stuff seized from residences for foreign agent focus
  • December 10, 2019, 19 MJ 11501: Instagram

As I’ll return to, it looks like Bill Barr intervened to halt SDNY’s expanding investigation even earlier than previously disclosed, in December 2019 rather than January 2020.

The only additional warrants SDNY served after December 10, 2019 in the foreign agent investigation was a warrant obtained in March 2020 because Fruman had not synced his iCloud with his phone until after SDNY obtained the May 2019 warrants, meaning some of the texts and chats he had already sent were not in the earlier warrant return.

  • March 20, 2020, 20 MJ 3074: iCloud content obtained with October 21, 2019 to cover earlier periods

Effectively, SDNY discovered that they had obtained content in October 2019 pertaining to events in 2018 and earlier in 2019 that hadn’t been available when they first got Fruman’s iCloud in May 2019, so they asked to use the October 2019 warrant for the earlier periods.

This may mean that Fruman, like Parnas, deleted some of his content on his phones.

December 2019 through March 2020: Fraud Guarantee fraud

Starting on December 12, 2019 — two days after the foreign agent investigation halted — SDNY spent several months trying to figure out what Fraud Guarantee actually was.

  • December 12, 2019, 19 MJ 11651: Google for longer period and expanded focus
  • January 21, 2020, 20 MJ 740: Existing email content for expanded focus
  • February 28, 2020, 20 MJ 2240: Google from creation date for Fraud Guarantee
  • February 28, 2020, 20 MJ 2241: Parnas iCloud for expanded focus

SDNY originally had believed, in 2018, that Fraud Guarantee was a recent creation, one serving as another means to launder political donations. But they had to keep digging further and further back, to 2012, to try to figure out what Fraud Guarantee really was.

The Instagram pivot

I’m still triple checking my own work, but SDNY appears not to have complied with SDNY’s order to release all this backup. In addition to withholding the warrant for the search of Lev Parnas’ residence on October 9, 2019 (though that’s likely to be nearly indistinguishable from the one used to search Fruman’s residence, which was obtained in the same docket), I don’t think they released the affidavit for the December 10, 2019 search of the devices seized at the residences for foreign agent crimes.

That’s the one that should have the most expansive description of the foreign agent investigation (and, I suspect, of the financing behind the effort to fire Marie Yovanovitch and obtain dirt on Hunter Biden, which I’ll return to). I suspect the affidavit is closer in content to the one used to seize Rudy’s email in November 2019 than what was unsealed the other day.

The Instagram warrant obtained that same day necessarily used a different affidavit, partly because it included all the crimes under investigation (broadly, the campaign finance crimes and the suspected foreign agent crimes), but also because it was looking for a different kind of information: mostly, but not entirely, photos that Parnas had posted.

But there’s something really weird about it, which has made me obsess about Ivana Trump.

The warrant suggests SDNY learned about the Instagram account from this WSJ video.

As you’ll note, WSJ describes that the oldest thing on the account was an April 2015 photo of a dog, then this photo, showing Parnas and co-defendant David Correia with Ivana Trump, at what he billed as a “Fraud Guarantee pow wow.”

As WSJ notes, the next things in Parnas’ Instagram account are photos showing him getting access to Trump from very early on in Trump’s campaign, in 2015 (as I’ll return to, Parnas’ 2016 access peddling is something that the warrants focus on more than the coverage of Parnas ever did). Then there’s a break in the Instagram account until summer 2018, when it returns to its focus on political access. The Instagram shows Parnas’ work with Rudy to dig up dirt on Hunter Biden and the 2016 election. It ends (again, per WSJ), with their trip days after the Perfect Phone Call to Madrid, to continue that effort.

SDNY obtained this warrant just two days before the investigation shifted focus to Fraud Guarantee. When they obtained the warrant, they undoubtedly had all the questions they spent the next two months pursuing.

Yet SDNY limited the temporal scope of this warrant to postings starting on October 1, 2015 — effectively excluding only the photo of the dog and some event with Ivana trump six months before Parnas started insinuating himself into Trump’s political orbit, one pertaining to Fraud Guarantee.

To the extent materials are dated, this warrant is limited to materials created between October 1, 2015, which is the month in which it appears Parnas first posted a photo related to a political event, to the present.

Did Ivana have some pre-existing relationship with Lev Parnas, one that dates to months before Lev started serially insinuating himself into Donald Trump’s orbit?

And if she did, why didn’t SDNY want that photo?

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.

Garrett Ziegler’s Landscaping Problem

According to emails posted at BidenLaptopEmails dot com made available by Garrett Ziegler, sometime around May 31, 2017, someone set a Google alert for weekly landscaping work, which usually took place in the mornings. Many weeks, Hunter Biden would receive a Google alert on Wednesday, reminding him landscapers would show up the next day. Then the next day, his iCloud email would email his RosemontSeneca email (hosted by Google) with a reminder.

In the depths of his addiction — again, per emails made available by Garrett Ziegler — the only emails that Hunter Biden “sent,” the only sign of life on his email accounts, was that email. For weeks on end, the only communication “from” Hunter is that eerie repetitive notice: “Alert – FYI landscapers at CBR (usually in AM).” It’s like that Google alert is a phantom, always there in Hunter’s email box.

I’m not sure the technical explanation for it — though I expect that experts would be able to use the nature of those weekly alerts to determine what inboxes were really used to load up the laptop that found its way to John Paul Mac Isaac and from there, on a hard drive, to Rudy Giuliani and then, another hard drive, to Garrett Ziegler. The technical explanation may also explain why the FBI relied on the laptop for Google alert information rather than the information the FBI received from Google itself, as I laid out here.

“Alert – FYI landscapers at CBR (usually in AM).” There must be over 150 versions of either the Google alert or the email from Hunter’s iCloud email to Hunter’s RosemontSeneca email in the collection made available by Garrett Ziegler.

In fact, those emails, “Alert – FYI landscapers at CBR (usually in AM),” may doom Ziegler’s effort to defeat Hunter Biden’s hacking lawsuit against him.

Ziegler filed his response, along with a sworn but not notarized declaration from Ziegler himself, yesterday.

As to the claim that he hacked Hunter Biden’s phone — which I’ve noted is a key vulnerability for Ziegler — Ziegler admits he used a password to access the backup from a phone Hunter allegedly owned in 2019.

19. Paragraph 29 falsely casts my comments to imply thta I and Defendant Marco Polo “hacked” into Plaintiff’s iPhone backup file.

20. In the case of the iPhone backup file referred to in paragraph 29, I received a copy of an iPhone backup file which existed as part of the copied files.

21. Also contained on the external hard drive given to me were files containing passcodes, which are essentially similar in function to passwords designed to allow access to password-protected files. Although it took months of examination, we were able to locate the passcode which allowed access to the iPhone backup file. Those files existed on the external hard drive when it was first given to me.

But he argues that because the disk drive he received from an associate of Rudy Giuliani had the password for the phone on it, and because Hunter never owned the hard drive on which Ziegler received both sets of data, he did not “hack” anything.

Plaintiff selectively cites to Defendant Ziegler’s December 2022 remarks about decrypting a specific file which stored the passcode to the iPhone backup file, both of which were on Defendants’ copy of the Laptop. (Compl. at ¶ 29). The Complaint falsely suggests Defendants “hacked” into Plaintiff’s iPhone backup. (Zeigler Decl. at ¶ 19). Defendants received a copy of Plaintiff’s iPhone backup file which existed as part of the files. (Id. at ¶ 20). When Defendants received the external hard drive, it contained passcodes, which allowed access to the iPhone backup file. (Id. at ¶ 21).

[snip]

Moreover, Plaintiff does not allege unlawful access to a computer within the meaning of the CFAA. A computer user “without authorization” is one who accesses a computer the user has no permission to access whatsoever—an “outside hacker[ ].” Van Buren v. United States, 141 S. Ct. 1648, 1658, (2021). Here, Plaintiff admitted that Defendants accessed and used a hard drive that Plaintiff never possessed. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants accessed a hard drive provided by a third party which contains a copy (duplicates) of files. (Compl. at ¶ 18). Plaintiff does not allege that Defendants possessed or accessed Biden’s computer or original files.

Plaintiff alludes to his actual iPhone and iCloud account when he alleges that “at least some of the data that Defendants have accessed, tampered with, manipulated, damaged and copied without Plaintiff’s authorization or consent originally was stored on Plaintiff’s iPhone and backed-up to Plaintiff’s iCloud storage.” (Id. at ¶ 28). However, Plaintiff alleges no facts which demonstrate Defendants ever accessed any computer, storage, or service which Plaintiff either owns or has exclusive control over. Likewise, the Complaint also shows facts which conclusively prove that Defendants had no need to access any service or storage because the laptop copy in their possession admittedly contained all of the necessary information, including the passcode to view all of the files contained on the Biden Laptop regardless of encryption. (Id. at ¶ 18). Put simply, both the encrypted iPhone backup file and the passcode to open the iPhone backup file were on the Laptop copy.

Given that Hunter’s lawsuit also names a bunch of John Does, blaming his access to this backup on Rudy’s unnamed associate and Rudy and John Paul Mac Isaac may not help Ziegler.

In any case, Ziegler may hope he doesn’t have to rely on this argument. His response actually spends more time arguing that venue, in California, is improper than he does that using a password to access an encrypted backup is legal. The “work” Ziegler did to make ten years of Hunter Biden’s emails available took place in Illinois. He has no employees or board members in California. Fewer than 10% of Marco Polo’s supporters live in California (Ziegler doesn’t say what percentage of his donations they provide, however).

His venue argument and his hacking argument ignore a part of Hunter’s lawsuit, though, which alleges that Ziegler “directed illegal conduct to occur in California.”

Plaintiff is informed and believes that Defendant Ziegler intentionally directed illegal conduct to occur in California and has therefore subjected himself to jurisdiction in California.

Similarly, his response only mentions Hunter’s allegation that in addition to accessing that iPhone, he also accessed data in the cloud once.

Plaintiff accuses Defendants of “knowingly accessing and without permission taking and using data from” Plaintiff’s devices or “cloud” storage (Compl. at ¶¶ 40, 41), computer service (id. at ¶ 42), or protected computer (id. at ¶ 35) but fails to identify a single device Defendants accessed without authorization

That allegation is a key part of alleging that Ziegler broke the law in California.

40. Defendants have violated California Penal Code § 502(c)(1) by knowingly accessing and without permission taking and using data from Plaintiff’s devices or “cloud” storage, including but not limited to, Plaintiff’s encrypted iPhone backup to devise or execute a scheme to defraud or deceive, or to wrongfully obtain money, property, or data.

41. Defendants also have violated California Penal Code § 502(c)(2) by knowingly and without permission accessing, taking, copying, and making use of programs, data, and files from Plaintiff’s devices or “cloud” storage, including but not limited to, Plaintiff’s encrypted iPhone backup.

Ziegler denies accessing any computer in the possession of Hunter Biden. That falls short of denying that he hacked data owned by Hunter Biden.

22. Neither I nor any person associated with Marco Polo have accessed, or attempted to access, any computer, device, or system owned or controlled by Plaintiff. We are not hackers, we are simply publishers, and the Plaintiff is attempting to chill our First Amendment rights and harass us through a frivolous and vexatious lawsuit.

I think Ziegler has a problem with his description of where the iPhone backup came from in the first place: he says that the “laptop” was in Hunter Biden’s possession when the iPhone backup was saved to it on February 6, 2019.

The metadata concerning the duplicated iPhone backup file on our external hard drive indicates that the last backup made of the iPhone file to the plaintiff’s laptop, which he left at the repair show of John Paul Mac Isaac on April 12, 2019, occurred on February 6, 2019, while still in the plaintiff’s possession based upon all the facts known to me to be provably true beyond dispute.

Hunter may be able to prove that Ziegler, of all people, doesn’t believe that to be true, doesn’t believe that when that iPhone was backed up on February 6 — a day when someone presenting as Hunter was involved in a car accident in DC — Hunter was in possession of that laptop.

But the bigger problem Ziegler that has is that phantom landscaping reminder.

According to emails that Garrett Ziegler has made publicly available, an October 14, 2021 notice triggered by a Google alert was received on November 24, 2021, long past the time, per Ziegler’s declaration, he was in possession of this hard drive.

Again, I’m not sure how that happened technically. But if it involved either Apple servers or Google servers (or both, given that the notice was dated October 24, 2021), that would get you venue in California.

Hunter Biden may not have been in possession of Apple’s and Google’s servers in 2021, but accessing them using passwords stored on the hard drive — at least one password that Ziegler admits to using — would also constitute hacking.

Update, to answer a question below: The text of the email shows that the notice was October 14, but the email was received on November 24, 2021.

Rudy’s Seized Devices Were More Useful for Investigating January 6 than Marie Yovanovitch’s Firing

On April 28, 2021, the FBI seized up to 18 devices from Rudy Giuliani. On Tuesday, DOJ unsealed the affidavit behind that seizure.

The affidavit, read in conjunction with Barbara Jones’ Special Master reports, Rudy’s privilege log from the Ruby Freeman lawsuit, and a filing he submitted in that suit provide abundant evidence that the devices FBI seized on April 28, 2021 were more useful for investigating January 6 than any suspected FARA violations involved in the firing of Marie Yovanovitch.

And this goes well beyond Robert Costello’s claim that a number of the devices seized from Rudy were corrupted.

The affidavit, as written, was narrow: it only covered FARA violations tied to the role of Yuriy Lutsenko and other Ukranians in the firing of Ambassador Yovanovitch in spring 2019. While there is evidence cited in the affidavit from a broad period of time (for example, describing Rudy’s public admissions that he did certain things in early 2019 later that year), the last overt act described in the affidavit is of someone — probably Victoria Toensing — texting Rudy on May 9, 2019, complaining that people were asking about whether she had registered under FARA and denying that she had a client.

Remarkably, then, the affidavit asked for — and Judge Paul Oetken authorized — the authority to seize “any and all” devices at Rudy’s office and home almost two years after that last overt act.

Judge Oetken authorized that search and seizure even though one of the phones described in the affidavit — an Apple iPhone X that Rudy first started using on January 20, 2021 — could not possibly have been used in the suspected crime described in the affidavit. And three more of the devices described in it, including another iPhone, were only put in use later in 2019.

I’ve long argued that by September 2021, DOJ at least contemplated obtaining other warrants to access that content (because SDNY successfully argued to do the privilege review on all content that post-dated January 1, 2018). But given the scope of those devices, it looks likely that there was at least one other affidavit presented to Oetken in April 2021, one that would justify seizing those later devices.

This table shows (on the vertical axis) the devices that Rudy says were seized and (on the horizontal axis) the devices that FBI thought they’d find.

While Rudy’s own description of these devices (including the model number of the MacBook used in planning January 6, here listed as A22251) is as unreliable as everything else about him, the FBI didn’t find the two iPhone Xes — one used between January 8, 2018 and August 13, 2019, the other used between April 5 2018 and August 27, 2019, both marked in yellow above — that would have been Rudy’s primary phones during the events described in the affidavit.

Just three devices — two iPads and one iPhone 11 — clearly match the description of what the FBI expected to find.

All of them were, according to Rudy’s description (marked in the vertical “January 6 column”), among those used in planning January 6.

Whichever iPhone 11 they did find is almost certainly device that Special Master Jones labeled as device 1B05, the privilege review of which she described this way:

I next assigned for review the chats and messages that post-dated January 1, 2018 on Device 1B05, which is a cell phone. There were originally 25,481 such items, which later increased to 25,629 after a technical issue involving document attachments was identified. An initial release of non-designated items was made to the Government’s investigative team on November 11, 2021.1

Of the total documents assigned for review, Mr. Giuliani designated 96 items as privileged and/or highly personal. Of those 96 designated items, I agreed that 40 were privileged, Mr. Giuliani’s counsel withdrew the privilege designation over 19, and I found that 37 were not privileged. I shared these determinations with Mr. Giuliani’s counsel, and they indicated that they would not challenge my determination that the 37 items are not privileged. The 40 privileged documents have been withheld from the Government’s investigative team and the remaining 56 were released on January 19, 2022.

1 Additional non-designated items were released on January 19, 2022.

Those 25,000 chats were easily the most voluminous content turned over from any one device to the FBI. Of all the chats that Rudy attempted to withhold from that phone, he ultimately only succeeded in withholding 40 items. 40 chats or texts out of 25,000 total.

262 items in Rudy’s privilege log come from that phone. Another 127 come from a device, 1B09, also used to text about January 6 (including with Mark Meadows), which — given the date scope — must have been among the first devices Jones reviewed. That’s one possible source of a Ken Chesebro document included in the indictment but not identified in the January 6 Report.

And while Rudy withheld those documents from Ruby Freeman, since Jones only permitted Rudy to withhold 43 items total from DOJ, those must have been deemed non-privileged in the Special Master review. (I’ve noted before that there are easily 40 items that clearly relate to Rudy’s own lawyers.)

They were all turned over to DOJ, for use with whatever investigative teams had obtained warrants to access them, no later than January 21, 2022.

This is one thing Rudy accomplished by defaulting on discovery: Withholding from Ruby Freeman, and therefore from a public trial that would precede Republican primaries, documents that were turned over to DOJ in January 2022.

By April 2021 when — using warrants approved on Lisa Monaco’s first day on the job, but nevertheless a year after Bill Barr started obstructing this investigation — the FBI came looking for devices involved in Rudy’s suspected FARA violations tied to getting Marie Yovanovitch, they didn’t find the devices he would have been using at the time.

They did, however, find three devices on which Rudy planned January 6. And because of the way DOJ did the privilege review on those devices, those records would have been made available to any investigators with a lawful warrant no later than January 21, 2022.

Preliminary Comments on Rudy and Lev Warrants

In the last few months, NYT asked to and did liberate the warrants in the Lev Parnas investigation and the expansion of the investigation into Rudy Giuliani on Lisa Monaco’s first day on the job.

The Rudy warrants are very tidy. They include:

The Parnas warrants are a godawful mess — the digital equivalent of someone throwing 1,000 pages incorporating 30 or so documents on the floor, intermixing them all, thereby confusing where one document begins and the next ends. Here’s what just half look like: SDNY repeatedly split affidavits across multiple documents.

Bad words have been said in the Wheeler home today as a result.

Very bad words. And loudly.

For now, these two affidavits regarding Parnas provide a key introduction:

  • February 28, 2020: This warrant affidavit regarding Fraud Guarantee — the only ongoing investigation after Barr intervened to shut down any investigation into Rudy and after Parnas agreed to cooperate with impeachment — summarizes many if not all of the earlier warrants targeting Parnas.
  • December 10, 2019: This warrant, for Parnas’ Instagram account, is (for the moment) the most intact warrant describing the investigation as it was before Barr shut down any natural development. Temporally, it ends with a description of Trump’s perfect phone call with Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

I suspect the Parnas docket may look like it does to obscure what happened to the investigation when Barr intervened. Notably, while both sets of warrants make it clear that the Bidens were part of the project, there is much less focus on it in the Rudy warrants.

All that said, reviewing the Rudy affidavit, I have zero doubt — zero — that this affidavit was intended to obtain content for more than just the Foreign Agent investigation into Rudy. I was always confident that DOJ had set up that possibility (relatedly, former DOJ spox Anthony Coley pointed to this Politico story as proof that Garland nay-sayers have always been wrong), but there are several signs in this affidavit (which I’ll return to) that was the idea.

That said, as I reported, many of the devices seized with the Rudy warrant were corrupted, making them useless for any investigation.

Say Her Name: The Story of Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss’ Vindication

After a jury awarded Ruby Freeman and her daughter $148 million for the intentional lies the former president’s former lawyer told about them in an attempt to steal an election, this is some of what Freeman had to say:

Good evening everyone. I am Lady Ruby. Today’s a good day. A jury stood witness to what Rudy Giuliani did to me and my daughter and held him accountable. And for that I’m thankful. Today is not the end of the road. We still have work to do. Rudy Giuliani was not the only one who spread lies about us, and others must be held accountable too. But that is tomorrow’s work. For now, I want people to understand this. Money will never solve all of my problems. I can never move back to the house that I called home. I will always have to be careful about where I go and who I choose to share my name with. I miss my home, I miss my neighbors, and I miss my name.

Freeman’s daughter, Shaye Moss, said this:

As we move forward, and continue to seek justice, our greatest wish is that no one — no election worker, or voter, or school board member, or anyone else — ever experiences anything like what we went through. You all matter and you are all important. We hope no one ever has to fight so hard just to get your name back.

For the women — vindicated by a jury of their peers, Rudy Giuliani’s peers, doing their civic duty — winning this substantial recognition of the damage done to them was about getting their name back.

The comments from the women said so much about the damage that Trump and Rudy’s bullying have done to the nation’s civic fiber.

But that’s not what led the coverage of their victory.

Rudy did.

Here’s how WaPo covered it.

WaPo first named Freeman and Moss in ¶3 of the story. The entire story quotes just 23 of their collective words after the verdict (though quotes or describes their testimony at more length, starting 24¶¶ into the story, after repeating Rudy’s false accusations about the women and the debunking presented at trial.

The damages verdict came in a defamation lawsuit filed against Giuliani, 79, by Fulton County, Ga., election workers Ruby Freeman and Wandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss, whom Trump and others on the former president’s campaign and legal teams falsely accused of manipulating the absentee ballot count in Atlanta.

“Today is a good day,” Freeman said, standing outside the courthouse with Moss after a jury awarded the mother and daughter pair $75 million in punitive and $73 million in compensatory damages for defamation and emotional distress.

[snip]

Their attorneys in closing arguments had urged jurors to “send a message” to Giuliani and others in public life that the “facts matter.” On Friday Moss added, “Giuliani was not the only one who spread lies about us, and others must be held accountable, too.”

By comparison, WaPo cited 58 words from Rudy’s post-verdict comments, with pushback on his claims that he hadn’t had a chance to present a case, but not on his comment that if the 2020 election weren’t exposed we wouldn’t have a country anymore.

Though the story described the verdict as a “potentially worrying sign for him as he faces criminal charges in Georgia accusing him of related efforts to overturn Biden’s victory there,” it didn’t talk about how some of the evidence Rudy withheld in discovery might have made that plight worse.

Here’s how Politico covered it (placed on the front page behind a 1,250-word story purporting to describe how impeachment will work, without mentioning there’s no evidence of wrongdoing).

Politico got the names of Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss in the subhead and the second paragraph.

Politico sandwiched some of Freeman’s comments, 47 quoted words in ¶19, in-between two paragraphs — starting at ¶9 and in ¶24– quoting 49 words of Rudy’s comments.

A few minutes later, Giuliani stood outside the courthouse and declared, “I don’t regret a damn thing.”

The former mayor and federal prosecutor called the monetary award “absurd” and said he would appeal. He denied responsibility for the threats and harassment that Freeman and Moss received — including a bevy of unambiguously racist, violent messages — and said that he receives “comments like that every day.”

[snip]

“Today’s a good day. A jury stood witness to what Rudy Giuliani did to me and my daughter — and held him accountable,” Freeman told reporters after the verdict was delivered. “We still have work to do. Rudy Giuliani was not the only one who spread lies about us, and others must be held accountable, too,” she said, without elaborating.

[snip]

But after the verdict on Friday, Giuliani offered a different reason for declining to take the stand: “I believe the judge was threatening me with the strong possibility that I’d be held in contempt or that I’d even be put in jail,” he said.

Giuliani didn’t repeat his false claims about Freeman and Moss Friday, but continued to air false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. “My country had a president imposed on it by fraud,” he declared.

Rather than mentioning Moss’ tribute to other civil servants, Politico focused closely on tensions between Rudy and his attorney, Joe Sibley.

Even though the reporters on this story, Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, provide some of the best coverage of all things January 6, the story didn’t mention that by blowing off discovery in this case, Rudy may have tried to keep evidence hidden from Jack Smith.

Like the other outlets, NYT’s story led with an image of Rudy.

But it focused paragraphs two through four on the women.

Judge Beryl A. Howell of the Federal District Court in Washington had already ruled that Mr. Giuliani had defamed the two workers, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss. The jury had been asked to decide only on the amount of the damages.

The jury awarded Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss a combined $75 million in punitive damages. It also ordered Mr. Giuliani to pay compensatory damages of $16.2 million to Ms. Freeman and $16.9 million to Ms. Moss, as well as $20 million to each of them for emotional suffering.

“Today’s a good day,” Ms. Freeman told reporters after the jury delivered its determination. But she added that no amount of money would give her and her daughter back what they lost in the abuse they suffered after Mr. Giuliani falsely accused them of manipulating the vote count.

Because of that early focus, the dead tree version of today’s paper got Freeman’s name — and her declaration that it was a good day — on page A1 three times.

It closed with Freeman’s promise of more.

“Our greatest wish is that no election worker or voter or school board member or anyone else ever experiences anything like what we went through,” she said.

And while this is a an artificial measure, this NYT story also managed to quote more of Freeman’s speech — 31 words — than Rudy’s — 28. While it quoted Rudy attacking the verdict and standing by his lies, it did not repeat his other lies.

As with all the others, this story didn’t consider whether Rudy was protecting himself criminally by withholding related information in discovery.

I get that these measures are totally artificial. I mean this as observation, not criticism.

I get that Rudy is the famous one, Rudy makes this a tale of downfall. Even bmaz made this about Rudy, not the women who faced him down, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss.

But I was really really struck by how, even in their vindication, the heroism of what these women did, the heroism of election workers refusing to be bullied, still wasn’t the focus.