Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise Insinuates David Weiss Lied to Congress

I hope that I was duly cautious in my discussions about Abbe Lowell’s request to subpoena Donald Trump, Bill Barr, Jeffrey Rosen, and Richard Donoghue.

I stated that “That political argument” Lowell was making about Trump’s hypocrisy “won’t work.”

I described that several aspects of the proposed subpoenas asked for the impossible.

These are impossible subpoenas, insofar as they ask for compliance according to an impossible timeline and ask for compliance that may not legally be available (indeed, to the extent Trump has items in his possession, for various reason they may be covered by the Mar-a-Lago protective order). To the extent subpoenas ask for things covered by various privileges, they would pose impossible challenges to overcome. To the extent the subpoenas ask for the perfect phone call in which Trump demanded Zelenskyy’s help with an investigation of Hunter Biden, they are impossible subpoenas because the White House altered that record in real time.

I similarly noted that Lowell didn’t mention, at all, the precedent that would make this request impossible.

Lowell doesn’t mention Armstrong, the precedent that usually makes it impossible for defendants to get discovery in selective prosecution challenges.

I gave all those warnings, in part, to make as clear as I could that this request likely won’t work.

But I also gave these warnings for another reason: Abbe Lowell is no dummy. He knows these precedents. He knows the significance of Armstrong. His silence about it ought to have raised questions — it certainly did for me — about what he was trying to accomplish with this motion.

But that may be instructive. Before Lowell is making a request for discovery based on a selective and/or vindictive prosecution claim, he is first asking for subpoenas, without fully laying out whether this would be a selective or vindictive or political influence prosecution claim.

I lay that out because David Weiss’ response — signed by “Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel” Leo Wise, the third title Wise has adopted over the course of his seven month involvement in this case — goes to great length (twice the length of Lowell’s 16-page motion) to cite those precedents over and over and over. 48 times, Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise invokes Armstrong.

Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise is absolutely right about all these precedents.

Where he struggles, unsurprisingly, is in characterizing Lowell’s intent. He claims to be so sure that this request is exclusively about a selective or vindictive prosecution claim that he spends 17 pages arguing that Lowell has not met a selective or vindictive prosecution standard in the subpoena request before he gets around to arguing what is before him: a request for subpoenas.

Along the way, Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise lectures Abbe Lowell, twice, that selective and vindictive prosecution claims are pretrial motions, not trial defenses.

Defendant contends that the requested material “goes to the heart of his pre-trial and trial defense that this is, possibly, a vindictive or selective prosecution that arose out of an incessant pressure campaign that began in the last administration, in violation of Mr. Biden’s constitutional rights.” ECF 58, at 14. It is worth noting from the outset that defendant misunderstands the difference between pretrial arguments to dismiss an indictment and trial defenses. It is black-letter law that claims of vindictive and selective prosecution are not trial defenses and may only be brought and litigated pretrial. They are not defenses and, therefore, are never argued to trial juries.


As a preliminary matter, the government notes that defendant’s description of this claim as a “trial defense” is erroneous. “A selective-prosecution claim is not a defense on the merits to the criminal charge itself, but an independent assertion that the prosecutor has brought the charge for reasons forbidden by the Constitution.”

In the process, Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise makes an important false representation. He claims that selective and vindictive prosecution is the “sole” reason Lowell is asking for subpoenas.

Defendant’s motion gives, as the sole justification for these subpoenas, that they are in support of his “pre-trial and trial defense that this is, possibly, a vindictive or selective prosecution.” ECF 58, at 14. [my emphasis; note, because Wise uses italics a lot, I’ve taken the painful step of using underline to emphasize throughout this post]

Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise ignores at least three other descriptions of why Lowell wants the subpoenas, all of which precede that language on page 14 that invokes a trial defense.

In this case, production of documents by each of the Subpoena Recipients prior to trial may be used either in pre-trial pleadings or in a pre-trial evidentiary hearing on Mr. Biden’s motions to dismiss the Indictment (or, potentially, another issue).


The information Mr. Biden seeks from the Subpoena Recipients is relevant and material to a fundamental aspect of issues in his defense that will be addressed in pre-trial motions and possibly as impeachment of a trial witness, should the case get that far: whether this investigation or prosecution arose because of or in response to any Executive Branch official or other outside influences placing undue pressure on government officials to investigate, formally or informally, or prosecute Mr. Biden.


All the information sought from the Subpoena Recipients would be admissible in pre-trial motions or an evidentiary hearing or, depending on the author and recipient, to impeach a trial witness. [my emphasis]

Impeaching a witness is the antecedent to that reference to a trial defense.

Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise appears to know that.

When Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise finally gets around to arguing about subpoenas, rather than selective and vindictive prosecution, he seems to admit that he has read those references to impeachment, because he cites the part of Nixon that distinguishes between evidentiary subpoenas (which you can get pretrial) and impeachment ones (which you can only get at trial).

Accordingly, courts have concluded that “[t]he weight of authority holds that in order to be procurable by means of a Rule 17(c) subpoena, materials must themselves be admissible evidence.” United States v. Cherry, 876 F. Supp. 547, 552-53 (S.D.N.Y. 1995) (citing cases). Indeed, in Nixon itself, the Supreme Court noted that even though, “[g]enerally, the need for evidence to impeach witnesses is insufficient to require its production in advance of trial,” the “other valid potential evidentiary uses for the same material” rendered it properly obtainable through Rule 17(c). 418 U.S. at 701. Applying Nixon’s standard, the Third Circuit held that potential impeachment material without an independent basis for admissibility could not be produced to the moving party before the witness testified inconsistently at trial, even if the material had some exculpatory value. See United States v. Cuthbertson (Cuthbertson II), 651 F.2d 189, 192, 195 (3d Cir. 1981) (citing Cuthbertson I, 630 F.2d at 144-46).

Reading Armstrong and Nixon together compels the conclusion that Rule 17(c) may not be used to discover material for pre-trial collateral attacks. Nixon unambiguously imposed limitations on Rule 17(c) subpoenas to “evidentiary” and admissible materials for use at trial, which closes off criminal discovery on collateral, pre-trial issues. See 418 U.S. at 699; see generally Fed. R. Evid. 104, 1101(d) (providing that courts are not bound by the Federal Rules of Evidence other than privilege in various non-trial stages of criminal cases). Then, in Armstrong, although it proceeded on the undecided assumption that some discovery might be available on an adequate showing, the Supreme Court nonetheless unequivocally held that the defendant’s “defense” does not encompass collateral selective-prosecution attacks on the indictment. 517 U.S. at 463 (“[I]n the context of Rule 16 ‘the defendant’s defense’ means the defendant’s response to the Government’s case in chief.”); cf. supra note Error! Bookmark not defined.. Put simply, because Rule 17 is not “a means of discovery in criminal cases” (Nixon, 418 U.S. at 699), defendants may not use it to investigate whether some material that might be useful to some pre-trial motion a defendant may make exists in the files of the government or a third party. Instead, Rule 17(c) is a limited, trial-focused mechanism for procuring known, identifiable evidence. [underlines my own; bolded reference to a note that Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise thought better of, his]

Only in reading Armstrong and Nixon together — along with citing an SDNY District opinion in Donzinger that is not remotely precedential in this case — does Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise address the request before him. But in doing so, he confesses that his earlier representation — that the “sole” reason Lowell asked for these subpoenas was for pretrial motions to dismiss — was false. Maybe that’s why he decided to lecture Lowell that selective and vindictive prosecution are not trial defenses: to cover up his later admission he knows there’s something more here, impeachment of some witness Lowell doesn’t identify (but which might be related to Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise’s recent promotion).

Because Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise misrepresents what Lowell is trying to do here, much of his 32-page response resembles a quixotic effort (in the literal, literary sense) to beat down an imaginary windmill he has not yet come before. Over and over, Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise argues that Abbe Lowell, whom he has lectured about how one uses a pretial motion to dismiss, has not met the standard for selective and vindictive prosecution claims he won’t argue until next week.

In seeking discovery for a claim of selective prosecution, defendant fails to identify even one similarly situated individual who was not prosecuted for similar conduct. This omission alone precludes his request for discovery. See, e.g., United States v. Armstrong, 517 U.S. 456 (1996).


Defendant’s motion does not even attempt to make a showing of similarly situated individuals who were not prosecuted. It discusses no comparators at all, much less articulates the basis on which a court could find that they are “similarly situated” to the defendant but for a protected characteristic. [my underline, Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise’s italics]

Of course Lowell did not discuss comparators! He’s likely to do that next week. This is not (as Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise describes it here) a request for discovery. It’s a request for subpoenas.

I suggested that one reason Lowell may have done this, file a motion for subpoenas before filing the motions to dismiss, is to invite Weiss’ team to lay out their argument. If that was part of the goal, whooboy did Lowell hit paydirt in several specific arguments Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise made.

For example, Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise’s argument against vindictive prosecution was comparatively thin. As I laid out here, if Hunter Biden makes such a claim, he would argue that David Weiss entered into a Diversion Agreement that Leo Wise, then a garden variety AUSA, told Judge Maryanne Noreika on July 26, was a “contract between the parties … in effect until it’s either breached or a determination, period,” a contract, period, which then-Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise breached (Lowell will argue) when he indicted the President’s son in retaliation for Hunter’s not guilty plea to the tax charges. Merits aside, such a claim is pretty obvious to me. But Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise complains that Hunter Biden never identifies what right — the right to plead not guilty — he is being punished for.

Defendant never squarely identifies what right he is purportedly being punished for asserting. But Goodwin makes clear he is not entitled to a presumption of vindictiveness here, and that, in the absence of one, the prosecutor remains entitled to a presumption of regularity, which can be rebutted only by clear evidence that his motivation was “solely” to punish the exercise of a legal right, rather than the usual prosecutorial interests. Goodwin, 457 U.S. at 380 nn.11–12, 384 n.19. Defendant here offers nothing more than speculation and cannot meet the heightened standard necessary to obtain discovery on such a claim.2

2 The government notes that none of the charges in the indictment carry a mandatory minimum, and the two false-statement charges carry equal or lower statutory penalties to the information’s unlawful-possession charge. See ECF 40; compare 18 U.S.C. § 924(a)(1)(A), (a)(2), with § 924(a)(8).

Again, Lowell’s filing was no more the vindictive prosecution claim than it was the selective prosecution one: Abbe Lowell will presumably describe that right — pleading not guilty — next week.

It’s telling that Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise never mentions the Diversion Agreement. Nor does he consider whether a Diversion Agreement — that contract, period — situates the decision to indict Hunter anyway in a pretrial or post-resolution posture. I don’t know the answer to that but Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise better be prepared to address it after Abbe Lowell does file his motion to dismiss next week.

Yet Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise does that while he makes a premature argument that he didn’t punish Hunter Biden by adding two felony charges that turn his previous 10 year maximum exposure into 25 years. He’s only pretending he doesn’t know what’s coming, it seems.

With regards to the selective prosecution claim, in addition to the standard boilerplate arguments, Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise anticipates that Hunter Biden might argue he’s in a class of one — that his theory of selective prosecution will be different than claims based on racial discrimination. In obligingly providing Lowell his thinking on the matter, Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise revealed that the citations he will invoke if and when Lowell does make this argument next week really aren’t all that apt to this case.

Defendant has the burden to plead a theory of selective prosecution that would allow discovery, and he has not done so. The government briefly notes that other theories of selective prosecution fit his case even less. For example, in some cases, a defendant may not need to show these elements if the Executive Branch’s action was “based on an overtly discriminatory classification”; in those circumstances, the overtly discriminatory classification itself satisfies the showing of discriminatory intent. Wayte, 470 U.S. at 608 n.10 (citing Strauder v. West Virginia, 100 U.S. 303 (1880), which invalidated a state law that prohibited African-Americans from serving on juries). But defendant’s motion contains no argument or evidence in support of such a claim. Instead, the arguments he advances appear to fall within the ordinary formulation of selective prosecution, which requires proof of both disparate treatment and discriminatory intent.

Alternatively, a defendant could theoretically seek to advance a selective-prosecution claim based on post-Armstrong/Wayte cases addressing what has been termed a “class-of-one equal-protection claim.” See, e.g., Village of Willowbrook v. Olech, 528 U.S. 562 (2000) (per curiam). But after the Supreme Court decided Olech, the Court rejected the class-of-one theory in a context where the government exercises broad discretion—namely, when the government acts as an employer and makes personnel decisions. See Engquist v. Oregon Dept. of Agriculture, 553 U.S. 591 (2008). The Court observed that “some forms of state action … by their nature involve discretionary decisionmaking based on a vast array of subjective, individualized assessments,” and “in such cases the rule that people should be ‘treated alike, under like circumstances and conditions’ is not violated when one person is treated differently from others, because treating like individuals differently is an accepted consequence of the discretion granted.” Id. at 603. Notably, to illustrate this point, the Supreme Court used an example where only some drivers who are exceeding the speed limit are stopped. “[A]n allegation that speeding tickets are given out on the basis of race or sex would state an equal protection claim. But allowing an equal protection claim on the ground that a ticket was given to one person and not others, even if for no discernible or articulable reason, would be incompatible with the discretion inherent in the challenged action.” Id. at 604.

Courts of appeals have extended Engquist’s limitation on class-of-one theories in various contexts where the government exercises broad discretion. See, e.g., Planned Parenthood Ass’n of Utah v. Hebert, 828 F.3d 1245, 1255 (10th Cir. 2016) (collecting cases). And as Engquist’s example of stopping speeders illustrates, the Supreme Court has repeatedly emphasized that “in the criminal-law field, a selective prosecution claim is a rara avis” and is so “[b]ecause such claims invade a special province of the Executive—its prosecutorial discretion.” Reno v. Am.- Arab Anti-Discrimination Comm., 525 U.S. 471, 489 (1999) (citing Armstrong, 517 U.S. at 463– 65). Cf. United States v. Moore, 543 F.3d 891, 901 (7th Cir. 2008) (“[A] class-of-one equal protection challenge, at least where premised solely on arbitrariness/irrationality, is just as much a ‘poor fit’ in the prosecutorial discretion context as in the public employment context” considered in Engquist). In addition to Rivera, in the context of parole decisions for sex offenders, the Third Circuit has recognized the force of Engquist’s limitations on equal protection challenges where the “state action … involves ‘discretionary decisionmaking based on a vast array of subjective, individualized assessments’ [that] necessarily results in different treatment among those subject to the discretionary action.” Stradford v. Sec. Penn. Dept. of Corrections, 53 F.4th 67, 76 (3d Cir. 2022) (quoting Engquist, 553 U.S. at 603–04). Engquist, Rivera, and Stradford provide no home for a class-of-one theory in the context of this case.

A class-of-one selective prosecution claim made by the son of the President is in no way going to be based on a theory of arbitrariness.

In fact Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise recognizes that, elsewhere. When he tries to argue that the subpoena recipients had no role in the charges in this case, he mentions that private citizen Hunter Biden happens to be the son of the President.

In any event, both vindictive- and selective-prosecution claims turn on the actual intent of the specific decisionmaker in a defendant’s case: here, the Special Counsel. But not only does defendant’s motion fail to identify any actual evidence of bias, vindictiveness, or discriminatory intent on the Special Counsel’s part, his arguments ignore an inconvenient truth: No charges were brought against defendant during the prior administration when the subpoena recipients actually held office in the Executive Branch. Instead, every charge in this matter was or will be brought during the current administration—one in which defendant’s father, Joseph R. Biden, is the President of the United States and Merrick B. Garland is the Attorney General that was appointed by President Biden and who personally appointed the Special Counsel. Defendant has not shown, nor can he, how external statements by political opponents of President Biden improperly pressured him, his Attorney General, or the Special Counsel to pursue charges against the President’s son.


Defendant focuses his narrative of selective prosecution largely on the actions and motivations of non-prosecuting officials in the previous administration prior to any charges being brought. However, after a change in administrations—to one headed by defendant’s father, who leads a competing political party—the President’s current Attorney General personally exercised his discretion to direct “a full and thorough investigation” of these matters and conferred on the Special Counsel statutory and regulatory authority to prosecute this case. See Order No. 5730-2023 (Aug. 11, 2023) (citing 28 U.S.C. §§ 509, 510, 515, 533 and 28 C.F.R. pt. 600). 1 Thus, defendant’s claim of selective prosecution must contend with the presumption of regularity not only for the Special Counsel’s decision to prosecute but also for both the Attorney General’s decision to direct a full and thorough investigation and the Attorney General’s determination that the prosecution warrants the greater authority and independence of the Special Counsel’s Office. On those points, in addition to offering no evidence that the now-Special Counsel had any animus or improper motivation against defendant, he offers no evidence that the current Attorney General acted out of any improper motive in empowering the Special Counsel to continue pursuing prosecution. [my emphasis]

The defendant is the son of the President?!?!?! Wow. You don’t say?!?!?!

I’m not certain, but I don’t think this has been stated explicitly in this case before. Hunter’s motion to do his arraignment by video described him as a Secret Service protectee, for example, but didn’t explicitly say why.

We have now taken judicial notice that Hunter Biden has some kind of familial tie to the Chief Executive.

And this is where Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise’s efforts to disclaim any influence Donald Trump, Bill Barr, Jeffrey Rosen, and Richard Donoghue had on this case gets interesting.

Never mind that Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise sort of ignores the issue that one of the intended subpoena recipients, Donald Trump, appointed Weiss; if Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise wants to treat justice as a matter of competing parties, as he does here, then Weiss is a member of the other party.

The other things that Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise does in these passages is to assert the presumption of regularity to Merrick Garland’s decision to honor a promise he made — to a Republican Senator — in his confirmation hearing, to appoint Weiss Special Counsel if Weiss ever asked to be so appointed.

That is, Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise relies on Garland’s role — as an appointee of the defendant’s father, one who couldn’t fire Weiss without risking accusations of criminal obstruction and impeachment — to vouch for David Weiss’ presumption of regularity. But he does so in a filing where he argues that senior DOJ officials who, Lowell has already shown, were personally involved in the prosecution, along with the President who appointed David Weiss, had a non-prosecutorial role.

Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise is trying to have it both ways: arguing that Merrick Garland is a part of this prosecution but Donald Trump, Bill Barr, Jeffrey Rosen, and Richard Donoghue are not.

Weiss has told Congress at least four different times that Merrick Garland exercised no supervisory role in this case.

Indeed, he has barely spoken to the man. Weiss told House Judiciary Committee, “I’ve never had any direct communications with the Attorney General, save my communication in requesting Special Counsel authority in August of 2023.” Nor has he had contact with the Deputy Attorney General, nominally his direct supervisor. “I have never spoken with [Lisa] Monaco. … Never.”

Rather than being overseen directly by any political appointee, Weiss’ “point of contact for the last year, year and a half ,” the Special Counsel explained, “has been Associate Deputy Attorney General Weinsheimer.” Brad Weinsheimer was first promoted to that position by Jeff Sessions in 2018.

Weiss’ appointment gets perilously close to violating Morrison v. Olson, because neither Biden nor Garland could fire Weiss, could ever have fired Weiss, without being accused of criminal obstruction. Yet now Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise is claiming that Merrick Garland’s decision, made in response to a request Weiss made after Congress floated accusations of obstruction anyway, to give him even more independence is proof that Weiss wasn’t responding to political pressure.

Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise is now suggesting that all Weiss’ claims that Garland had no role were false. He is basing much of his claim that Weiss was not influenced by politics on a reporting structure that has never existed under the Biden Administration, as Weiss has said over and over.

Contrast that with Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise’s wildly misleading attempt to argue that Bill Barr’s DOJ had no improper influence on this case, the only treatment Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise gives the specifically identified documents in Lowell’s motion.

Defendant’s attempts to manufacture discriminatory treatment or intent on behalf of the U.S. Attorney fall apart under the most minimal scrutiny. First, defendant obliquely references that “IRS files reveal that [Richard Donoghue] further coordinated with the Pittsburgh Office and with the prosecution team in Delaware, including issuing certain guidance steps regarding overt steps in the investigation.” ECF 58, at 2-3 & n.3. Looking behind the defendant’s ambiguously phrased allegation reveals the actual “overt steps” involved: (1) the U.S. Attorney making an independent assessment of the probable cause underlying a warrant and (2) a direction by Mr. Donoghue that the Delaware investigation receive the information from the Pittsburgh team, which was being closed out. See ECF 58, at 3 n.3 (citing memorandum of conference call). Assessing the validity of a warrant and merely receiving information from other investigating entities does nothing to show any disparate treatment or animus. Next, defendant alleges that “certain investigative decisions were made as a result of guidance provided by, among others, the Deputy Attorney General’s office.” ECF 58, at 3 n.4. In fact, the source cited revealed that the guidance was simply not to conduct any “proactive interviews” yet. Likewise, defendant’s last attempt to create a link involved guidance not to make any “external requests (outside of government),” which followed the long-standing Department of Justice policy to avoid overt investigative steps that might interfere with ongoing elections. See ECF 58, at 3 n.5; cf., e.g., Federal Prosecution of Election Offenses 40 (2d ed. 1980). In other words, the most defendant claims is that the Deputy Attorney General’s office was aware of and involved in some specific investigatory decisions in the most banal fashion possible—by waiting to take specific investigative steps at certain times out of caution.

I have no fucking clue what warrant Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise is mentioning here; the word “warrant” doesn’t appear in Lowell’s filing (it may be a reference to other documents at the main Ways and Mean link for IRS documents). But what Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise is doing is suggesting that the Pittsburgh effort to share dirt from Russian spies with David Weiss’ investigative team is the same action as Richard Donoghue’s order before the election not to take overt investigative steps. There’s not a shred of evidence they’re related.

As noted, that’s the only specific rebuttal Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise attempts to Abbe Lowell’s description of several different kinds of influence on this case. Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise only makes a general allusion to Donald Trump’s public comments: “how external statements by political opponents of President Biden improperly pressured him.” He certainly doesn’t deny that those threats contributed to the threats made against Weiss and the rest of the investigative team, threats that Weiss described to Congress.

And aside from describing that Lowell wants to subpoena Bill Barr, Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise never mentions him. Indeed, I think Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise trips up in not mentioning him.

Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise claims that Lowell has referenced, “a direction by Mr. Donoghue that the Delaware investigation receive the information from the Pittsburgh team, which was being closed out.” The problem is, unless I’m missing something, there is nothing in the record that describes the investigation was being closed out. Here’s what Lowell referenced:

[I]t has been reported and revealed in the now-public IRS investigative files concerning this case (released by the House Ways and Means Committee1 ) that, separately, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) under then Attorney General Barr opened a dedicated channel at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Pittsburgh to receive information about Mr. Biden coming from then President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph Giuliani, and his associates. 2 That effort to review and vet any material was coordinated by then U.S. Attorneys Richard Donoghue (E.D.N.Y.) and Scott Brady in Pittsburgh (W.D.P.A.). When Mr. Donoghue was elevated to serve as Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General at the DOJ in July 2020 (and later, in December 2020, Deputy Attorney General under Mr. Rosen), IRS files reveal that he further coordinated with the Pittsburgh Office and with the prosecution team in Delaware, including issuing certain guidance regarding overt steps in the investigation. 3

2 See, e.g., Letter From Asst. Att’y Gen. Stephen E. Boyd to Hon. Jerrold Nadler (Feb. 18, 2020) (available via (“[T]he Deputy Attorney General has also assigned Scott Brady, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, to assist in the receipt, processing, and preliminary analysis of new information provided by the public that may be relevant to matters relating to Ukraine.”); Material From Giuliani Spurred a Separate Justice Dept. Pursuit of Hunter Biden, N.Y. TIMES (Dec. 11, 2020),

3 Gary Shapley Aff. 3, attach. 6 (IRS CI Memorandum of Conversation, Oct. 22, 2020), (“Pittsburgh read out on their investigation was ordered to be received by this prosecution team by the PDAG.”), available at

Gary Shapley’s memo — the only description of how and why this was shared with the Hunter Biden team — only says that Donoghue ordered Weiss’ team to be briefed on it.

One of the most authoritative descriptions of how it got passed on came from … intended subpoena recipient Bill Barr, in an interview with Margot Cleveland.

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

While Lowell hasn’t (yet) included this in his filings, Barr’s communications with Cleveland would be among the key things Lowell might obtain with a subpoena. They are critically important, too, because they prove that the Attorney General himself was involved in this process — that the interference in the Hunter Biden investigation went beyond the DAG’s normal interest in supervising US Attorneys.

And as I’ve mentioned before, Barr’s public intervention came at a critical time. He butted in while Lesley Wolf was still involved with this prosecution, before Weiss reneged on the plea deal negotiated by Wolf, and before David Weiss told Lindsey Graham that the FD-1023 obtained via the process to launder information from Russia spies into the investigation of Donald Trump’s opponent’s son was part of a still-ongoing investigation.

Your questions about allegations contained in an FBI FD-1023 Form relate to an ongoing investigation. As such, I cannot comment on them at this time.

In a filing that entirely ignores Lowell’s citation from Barr’s book, Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise ignores the public evidence that Bill Barr not only remains involved in this case, but that David Weiss responded to pressure elicited by Barr’s public intervention, and did so by stating that that was part of the ongoing investigation into Joe Biden’s kid.

Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise’s silence about Barr makes me wonder if the subpoena to him poses a particular risk for Weiss, as if before Weiss made that comment to Lindsey, he got a phone call that would be covered by the subpoena. In any case, whereas Weiss went years before his first contact with Merrick Garland about this case, he did tell HJC that, “I had conversations with Attorney General Barr, and I don’t want to get into the content of those conversations, because they’re with the AG.”

In any case, I’m genuinely shocked by the flopsweat that this subpoena request from Lowell produced. Indeed, that is one reason I’m so interested in Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise’s fancy new title.

Though Lowell never said it, I suspect the likely witness Hunter Biden’s lawyer wants to impeach at trial is David Weiss himself.

Weiss is the single solitary witness who can attest to how and why the prosecution transitioned from Lesley Wolf to Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise. He is the single solitary witness who can claim that that wasn’t a result of either political pressure directly or the pressure created by credible threats of violence targeted at him, his investigative team, and their families.

But Weiss has also now committed to the continued influence of Scott Brady’s task on the ongoing investigation into Hunter Biden. Brady told the House Judiciary Committee that he and Weiss spoke, personally, every four to six weeks between around January 10 and the final briefing in October. He described making “other recommendations about possible investigative avenues that we would recommend that they take.”

And by blabbing to Margot Cleveland, Bill Barr has made public that he was also in the thick of all that.

Weiss is in a position where he has no one to blame. He really can’t — and never could — borrow presumption of regularity from Merrick Garland, because his continued tenure always came on the threat of obstruction charges (and impeachment). He can’t — and never could — invoke Garland’s DOJ to claim his prosecution is not political, because Garland has made a point to be hands off, as Weiss has affirmed to Congress.

But he also is totally in the thick of the wildly inappropriate scheme that Bill Barr set up, one that catered to laundering claims Donald Trump’s personal lawyer had obtained from, among others, a Russian spy.

And that, I suspect, is why Principal Senior Assistant Special Counsel Leo Wise got another promotion: because Weiss himself now poses a threat to this prosecution.

Update: Added specifics about Weiss’ testimony as to contacts with Garland, Lisa Monaco, Brad Weinsheimer, and Bill Barr.

What Matt Viser Won’t Tell You about Hunter Biden, His Dad, and Burisma

Phil Rucker has wasted yet more journalistic space and time in his obsessive pursuit of Hunter Biden dick pics.

Today, it comes in a 4,800-word piece from Matt Viser rehashing what we already knew about Hunter Biden trading on his father’s name — a piece that couldn’t manage to find space to include specific emails where Hunter told potential business partners he would not lobby for them, as he told Vuk Jeremic in 2016 when they were discussing gas deals in Mexico: “[A]s I have also said many times I won’t  engage in I [advocating] on your behalf with my father or anyone else in the USG.”

Viser, who seems to think he is clever, ends his piece with an exchange between Hunter and his business partner, Devon Archer. Archer complains that Joe Biden didn’t step in and make Archer’s legal troubles go away.

“Why did your dad’s administration appointees arrest me and try to put me in jail? Just curious,” Archer asked in a text message, in an exchange found on a copy of Hunter’s hard drive and verified by a person familiar with it. “Why would they try and ruin my family and destroy my kids and no one from your family’s side step in and at least try to help me. I don’t get it.”

Archer declined to comment on the exchange.

“Buddy are you serious,” Hunter responded, going on to explain the role of an independent Justice Department and the need for checks and balances.

“It’s democracy. Three co equal branches of government,” he wrote. “You are always more vulnerable to the overreach of one of those Co equal branches when you are in power.”

Viser apparently didn’t find space — not in 4,800 words — to mention what Chuck Grassley and Scott Brady just revealed: According to Grassley, in 2016, while Biden was Vice President and his kid was on the board of Burisma, DOJ opened a corruption investigation into Mykola Zlochevsky.

[I]n December 2019, the FBI Washington Field Office closed a “205B” Kleptocracy case, 205B-[redacted] Serial 7, into Mykola Zlochevsky, owner of Burisma, which was opened in January 2016 by a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act FBI squad based out of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

Again, according to Grassley, this investigation was opened when Biden was VP and Hunter was on the board of Burisma. It was closed (according to Grassley) in December 2019, even as Trump defended himself against impeachment by claiming that it was important to investigate claims of corruption related to Burisma.

Opened in January 2016. Closed in December 2019. Is that clear enough for you to understand, Matt?

And just weeks later, starting on January 3, 2020, Bill Barr set up a means to insert information Rudy Giuliani obtained — according to Lev Parnas, including from Zlochevsky — into the Hunter Biden investigation. The FD-1023 at the core of Republican efforts to gin up impeachment, one that records a claim Zlochevsky appears to have made in late 2019 that conflicts with what Zlochevsky said in spring 2019, has its roots in the corruption investigation into Zlochevsky opened during the Obama Administration and closed as Trump publicly staked his presidency on a claim to care about Burisma corruption.

The investigation into Zlochevsky got closed (again, per Grassley). And Zlochevsky made a claim that conflicted with his past claims about Hunter Biden. Both happened in roughly the same period.

I’m not sure how Viser didn’t consider that worthy of inclusion in his little story. Nothing demonstrates the irony he seemed to be chasing so much as that the investigation opened while Joe Biden was Vice President is now being weaponized by people like Viser while Biden is President.

Perhaps Viser and Rucker didn’t think that new news was worth sharing, because doing so would make it clear that the entire campaign against Hunter Biden — Viser’s little journalistic hobby that Rucker pays him for — has its roots in the fact that the Obama Administration didn’t protect even Joe Biden’s kid. Sharing that news would require thinking about how the WaPo’s Hunter Biden obsession routinely exhibits the kind of corruption they claim to be exposing.

And so you won’t find that in Viser’s 4,800-word story.

Update: Two more comments about what a corrupt person Viser is.

First, this story seems to be based on Devon Archer’s bid to provide testimony again, which his attorney offers to do in the story. It comes as DOJ just obtained an extension to brief his appeal before SCOTUS. As such, it could be read as an implicit threat from Archer that if President Biden doesn’t keep him out of jail, he will become a bigger political problem then he already is.

Second, as Viser has done in the past, he ignores statements from Abbe Lowell — such as that Tony Bobulinski lied to FBI — relevant to his recycling of certain of these emails (in this case, 10% for Big Guy).

Scott Brady Checked In on Investigations into All of Rudy Giuliani’s Ukrainian Oligarchs

In Lev Parnas’ letter to James Comer laying out how Rudy Giuliani was shopping for Hunter Biden dirt just like the laptop he eventually got, he described reaching out to three different Ukrainian Oligarchs for help getting dirt on Joe Biden.

First, Ihor Kolomoyskyi:

I was tasked in April 2019 to go to Ukraine and get in contact with Zelenskyy. Yet my attempts to contact him were consistently blocked by Ihor Kolomoyskyi, a Ukrainian oligarch who was backing Zelenskyy financially. Eventually I flew to Israel, where Kolomoyskyi was living in exile, and explained Giuliani and Trump’s stance on the matter and why we needed Zelenskyy to commence an investigation into the Bidens. Giuliani had also instructed me to tell Kolomoyskyi that he would help with his legal problems in the U.S. if he would help us with Zelenskyy.


On May 13th, Ukrainian officials got confirmation from the U.S. that Mike Pence would not attend Zelenskyy’s inauguration, which caused turmoil inside the Ukrainian government. They didn’t want their people to realize that the U.S. were essentially pulling out of its promise to provide aid. When Kolomoyskyi found out, he returned to Ukraine, and was furious about the situation. He went to the media, calling Fruman and me grifters, stating that we were trying to force Zelenskyy to do unethical things, and threatening our lives. On his end, Giuliani then began sending bullying and threatening messages to Zelenskyy on Twitter and disparaging him on FOX News. He would question Zelenskyy’s power as president, he would insist that Zelenskyy arrest Kolomoyskyi immediately, and repeat that Zelenskyy’s inner circle was comprised of Trump’s enemies, among other such statements. [my emphasis]

Then, Dmitry Firtash:

The problem was that Firtash would prove nearly impossible to contact. He was also facing a serious extradition case to the U.S. for a number of bribery, racketeering and other charges since 2014. Solomon and Giuliani put together a package of documents regarding confidential information in Firtash’s case, and had me travel to Vienna in June 2019 to meet with Firtash, letting him know that Giuliani and our whole team were serious and that we could help him if he helped us. From June until the time of my arrest in October 2019, we had ongoing communications with Firtash.

In a meeting with the BLT Team, Solomon relayed to Giuliani that he had information that Robert Mueller’s lead prosecutor Andrew Weissman offered Firtash a deal to cancel his extradition if he would testify against Trump and Putin. Firtash didn’t want to get involved with the Biden versus Trump situation, but was open to helping us with Mueller’s investigations into Trump. Thereafter, as I became an interpreter between Firtash’s new legal team and Firtash, most of the conversations in which I participated were potentially privileged; however, I believe this information may be made available to the House Oversight Committee through a Congressional subpoena.

But the true purpose of dangling this carrot in front of Firtash was to get him to use his contacts to pressure Zlochevsky to cooperate with the BLT Team. Eventually, Giuliani proposed a $1 million contract to represent Firtash. Later, similar to the Lutsenko situation, he took it back and had Firtash sign a contract with Victoria Toensing. Giuliani, however, would continue to oversee everything and remain in charge of matters related to Firtash. Then later Giuliani and Toensing had several phone calls that I was privy to with Bill Barr, leading to an unofficial meeting in the lobby at the Trump International Hotel, and then an official meeting at the Department of Justice.  [my emphasis]

Finally, Mykola Zlochevsky:

Giuliani continued the simultaneous efforts to reach Zlochevsky through Firtash and Pruss. I specifically recall that Giuliani told me to tell Pruss to pressure Zlochevsky by saying that he could be “an enemy or a friend of Trump.” At a meeting of the BLT Team, Giuliani and Solomon came up with a series of 12-14 questions about the Bidens that we would propose to Zlochevsky. Eventually, we managed to get Zlochevsky’s answers back. But his answers gave us nothing – because there was nothing. On reading Zlochevsky’s reply, Giuliani turned red and yelled, “What is this shit? This is bullshit. Make sure nobody sees this. Bury this.”

I will remind you that Zlochevsky’s answers are in the report that the House Oversight Committee published.

Parnas described that Rudy explicitly traded legal relief for Kolomoyskyi and Firtash in the letter. He told Politico in 2020 that Zlochevsky had offered up dirt if Rudy could curry favor at DOJ for him.

[T]he Burisma founder had the allegedly derogatory information and was willing to give it to Giuliani if he could help the oligarch curry favor with the Justice Department.

Three Oligarchs, three discussions about intervening with DOJ.

That’s important background to Scott Brady’s discussion of his interactions with other US Attorneys in his role purportedly “vetting” information he didn’t (at least as he described with the FD-1023 involving Zlochevsky) vet all that thoroughly.

Brady described checking in with the Chicago US Attorney, where the Dmitry Firtash investigation is. He described discussing the PrivatBank investigation into Kolomoyskyi with the US Attorney for Cleveland; the PrivatBank investigation out of Cleveland has gone on to seize a number of properties around the US, starting in August 2020 (though the US Attorney’s Office for MDFL filed those 2020 seizures).

Q What other U.S. attorney’s offices did you have contact with?

A Northern District of Illinois, and Northern District of Ohio.

Q And did you give briefings to the Northern District of Illinois and the Northern District of Ohio?

A No. As part of our initial tasking and Mr. Donoghue’s role as kind of quarterback or air traffic controller for all Ukraine investigations, there was an investigation in the Northern District of Illinois. So I spoke with the U.S. District Attorney, talked with him about what we were tasked with doing, what I believed the scope of that to be, asked him if that intersected at all with his case and investigation. He said: No. And so we had no further interaction. The Northern District of Ohio had a — it’s public an investigation into PrivatBank and Mr. Kolomoisky for a series of activities that were occurring in the Northern District of Ohio and elsewhere. There was some interaction with PrivatBank in this case. And so I wanted to, again, do the same thing, talk with the U.S. attorney, say: Here’s what we’re looking at. Here’s where PrivatBank plays a role in this. And does this intersect with yours? And we determined that it did not. And so, didn’t have any followup communications with them

Q And did you provide any sort of report or product to the PADAG regarding this information?

A This information, meaning ND Illinois and ND Ohio?

Q Correct. Correct.

A I don’t know that it would have been written, but I certainly would have apprised him, that yes, I talked with ND Illinois, you know, no intersection. Talked with, you know, Justin in the Northern District of Ohio. We talked about PrivatBank. Theirs is separate from what we’re looking at. As I mentioned, all of our work with SDNY, EDNY and the District of Delaware was summarized in our final report and recommendations to Mr. Donoghue. I think we sent that in September.

Q And did you have an understanding whether the Northern District of Illinois or the Northern District of Ohio had grand jury investigations regarding the information you were passing along?

A They did. That’s why I spoke with them.

Q And, for the FBI, I know we’ve spoken about the FBI Pittsburgh Field Office, the Baltimore Field Office, the Washington Field Office. Were there any other field offices that your office communicated with regarding your task?

A New York. The New York Field Office, which supported both EDNY and SDNY.

As a reminder, Brady effectively quizzed both SDNY and Delaware about where their investigations into Rudy and Hunter Biden. He told Geoffrey Berman he was wrong in the former and obtained interrogatories about the Hunter Biden investigation from David Weiss’ prosecutors.

These other conversations would have given him visibility into the investigations into the Oligarch who refused to help Rudy, Kolomoyskyi, and the one, Firtash, who was offering dirt when Parnas was arrested.

Unlike the vetting he purported to do — which he reported to Richard Donoghue in September 2020 — the results of Brady’s discussions with those US Attorneys did not get committed to a written report.

As to his interaction with DC, where — if we’re to believe Chuck Grassley — a kleptocracy investigation into Zlochevksy opened in 2016 had just been shut down in December 2019, even as Republicans defended Trump by raising the grave risk of Hunter Biden’s association with Zlochevsky, Brady described interacting just with the FBI Field Office, not the US Attorney’s Office. And even there, just to obtain the 2017 FD-1023 that made one reference to Hunter Biden.

And did you have any communications with the Washington Field Office of the FBI?

A Yes.

Q And how many communications did you have with the Washington Field Office?

A They were limited. So headquarters versus Washington Field Office, our interaction with the Washington Field Office related to the underlying 1023 that predated this one that we looked at and then gave rise to our request to reinterview the CHS in the June 2020 1023.

Q And so did the underlying 1023, did that come from the Washington Field Office? Was that why there was interaction?

A Yes.

Q Who did you interact with at the WFO?

A I don’t remember. It would have been my AUSAs, I think, that were interacting with AUSAs and Pittsburgh special agents that were interacting with special agents from WFO.

Q Were there any other interactions that occurred between your office and the WFO?

A Not that I recall.

You can be an enemy or a friend of Donald Trump, Parnas claims Rudy told Zlochevsky.

And less than a month after Rudy obtained dirt from an alleged Russian agent, Andrii Derkach, the guy representing the President seemed to be able to deliver on such promises.

Update: This may be an entirely minor point, or maybe not. In John Paul Mac Isaac’s book, he describes a moment where he prints out a bunch of documents while waiting for the FBI to arrive the first time. Among the things he claims to print out are emails mention Kolomoyskyi. There are only two, at least transliterated that way. One, a polling report. And the other a discussion about how to answer questions from James Risen. Here’s how Vadym responded:

Do I get it right that they are asking wether Igor Kolomoyskyi ever started and then sold a company to NZ?
This is a well spread absurdity! that keep being repeated.
We may use this opportunity to stay firmly that that person does not have and never had any relationship to Buri[s]ma.
Similarly, he suggests Hunter was in email threads with Zlochevsky — who doesn’t show up on these.

Scott Brady’s “D-I-S-C-R-E-E-T” Vetting : A Marginally More Credible Witness than Gal Luft

About 70% of the way through the House Judiciary Committee interview of former Pittsburgh US Attorney Scott Brady on October 23, he explained how reaching out to FBI’s legal attaché in Ukraine to ask that Legat to reach out to Ukraine’s Prosecutor General fit within the scope of a project Bill Barr had assigned him.

Brady had described the project, hours earlier, as vetting incoming information on Ukrainian corruption received from the public, including but not limited to, Rudy Giuliani, using public information.

[W]e were to take information provided by the public, including Mayor Giuliani, relating to Ukrainian corruption. We were to vet that, and that was how we described it internally, a vetting process.

We did not have a grand jury. We did not have the tools available to us that a grand jury would have, so we couldn’t compel testimony. We couldn’t subpoena bank records.

But we were to assess the credibility of information, and anything that we felt was credible or had indicia of credibility, we were then to provide to the offices that had predicated grand jury investigations that were ongoing.

Brady distinguished between reaching out directly to Ukrainian investigators, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine or the Prosecutor General’s Office, and reaching out via the FBI.

The latter, Brady said, was,

a discreet, nonpublic way of securing information about these cases, including from publicly available documents or dockets, in a way that then wouldn’t, you know raise a flag and make the Ukrainian media, the national media aware? Because we were very concerned– [my emphasis]

“So ‘discreet’ here,” a Democratic staffer clarified, “means quietly, basically. You could do that quietly. Is that fair to say?”

“Yes,” Brady agreed, “quietly, as an investigation is…”

The Democratic staffer interjected, “Okay.”

“Usually conducted,” Brady finished, perhaps recognizing what he had just conceded.

Scott Brady’s misreading of discrete words

Two hours earlier, the same Democratic staffer had walked Brady through the email — one he himself had raised — via which a top Bill Barr aide, Seth DuCharme, had first given Brady his assignment on January 3, 2020.

DuCharme had given Brady that assignment between the time on, December 18, 2019, that the House had impeached Donald Trump for (among other things) asking President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to help Rudy Giuliani and Bill Barr look into the Bidens and Burisma, and the time, on February 5, 2020, that the Senate acquitted Trump.

The staffer asked Brady, close to the beginning of the Democrats’ first round of questioning in the deposition, what he took DuCharme to mean by the word, “discreet.”

In spite of the fact that both the staffer and Brady had that email in front of them, an email which spelled discreet, “d-i-s-c-r-e-e-t,” Brady tried to claim that by that, DuCharme meant to give Brady a discrete, “d-i-s-c-r-e-t-e” assignment.

Q And Mr. DuCharme refers to your assignment as a, quote, “discreet assignment,” correct?

A Yes. And I think what he meant by “discreet” was limited in scope and duration.

Q Oh, “discreet” means limited in this case?

A My understanding was that it was “discrete” meaning limited in scope and duration.

Q Okay. Did you think in any way that he was implying that it ought to be kept out of the public, this assignment?

Brady denied that this reference, “d-i-s-c-r-e-e-t,” meant Barr and DuCharme were trying to keep this project quiet, because after all, Bill Barr spoke of it publicly.

A No. I no, because, on the one hand, the Attorney General was speaking publicly of the assignment. However, it should be kept secret, to use your words, just as any investigation would be, any process would be that whether vetting or an investigation between the U.S. attorney’s Office and the FBI or any Federal agency.

Q You mean the information itself that you were discussing or coming upon in the investigation, that should be kept discreet or out of the public eye?

A The investigation, the process, all of that none of that is public

Q Got it.

A when we do that.

The staffer asked whether Brady really meant that Barr was discussing the assignment publicly on January 3, 2020, a month before Lindsey Graham first revealed — days after the Senate had acquitted Trump — that Barr had, “created a process that Rudy could give information and they would see if it’s verified.”

Q And you indicated that you believe that the Attorney General at that time was discussing your assignment publicly? Is that in your recollection, was he doing that publicly on January 3, 2020?

A No. I mean subsequent comments.

Q Okay. So, after it became known that this investigation or assignment had been given to you, Attorney General Barr did make public comments. Is that right?

A Yes.

That gives you some sense of the level of candor that Pittsburgh’s former top federal law enforcement officer, Scott Brady, offered in this testimony. About the most basic topic — how he came to be given this assignment in the first place — he offered two bullshit claims in quick succession, bullshit claims that attempted to downplay the sketchiness of how he came to be assigned a task intimately related to impeachment right in the middle of impeachment.

The word games about “d-i-s-c-r-e-e-t” are all the more cynical given that American Oversight, whose FOIA Brady repeatedly described having read (probably as a way to prepare for the deposition), titled their page on the it “A Possible Discreet Assignment.”

The high risk of deposing Scott Brady

Inviting Scott Brady to testify to the House Judiciary Committee was a high risk, high reward proposition for Jim Jordan.

Brady, if he could hold up under a non-public deposition, might give the Republicans’ own impeachment effort some credibility — at least more credibility than the debunked, disgruntled IRS agents and indicted fugitives that the project had relied on up to this point.

Sure enough, in the wake of his testimony, the usual propagandists have frothed wildly at Brady’s descriptions of how he faced unrelenting pushback as he pursued a project ordered by the Attorney General and “fully support[ed]” by the top management of the FBI. Poor Scott Brady, the right wing wailed, struggled to accomplish his task, even with Bill Barr, Jeffrey Rosen, Chris Wray, and David Bowdich pulling for him.

The right wing propagandists didn’t need the least bit of logic. They needed only a warm body who was willing to repeat vague accusations, including (as Brady, a highly experienced lawyer who should know better did more than once), parroting public claims, usually Gary Shapley’s, about which he had no firsthand knowledge as if he knew them to be fact.

But testifying before House Judiciary also meant being interviewed by staffers of the guy, Jerry Nadler, who first raised concerns about the project after Lindsey blabbed about it. In real time, Nadler established that Bill Barr’s DOJ had set up Brady to ingest material from Rudy Giuliani, then put the US Attorney in EDNY (at the time, Richard Donoghue, but Donoghue would swap places with DuCharme in July 2020) in charge of gate-keeping several investigations into Ukraine. Geoffrey Berman, the US Attorney in SDNY whom Barr fired in June 2020 in an attempt to shut things down, would later reveal that this gate-keeping effort had the effect of limiting SDNY’s investigation into Rudy’s suspected undisclosed role as an agent of Ukraine.

That part has become public: Freeze the investigation into whether Rudy is a foreign agent in SDNY, move any investigation into identified Russian asset Andrii Derkach to EDNY and so away from the Rudy investigation, and set up Scott Brady in WDPA to ingest the material Rudy collected after chumming around with Derkach and others.

What had remained obscure, though, was the role that Brady had with respect to that other “matter[ that] that potentially relate[s] to Ukraine:” the Hunter Biden investigation in Delaware. Indeed, DOJ’s letter to Nadler about it falsely suggested all covered matters were public. It turns out Stephen Boyd, who wrote the letter, was being “discreet” about there being another investigation, the one targeting Joe Biden’s son.

Inviting Scott Brady to a deposition before the House Judiciary Committee as part of an effort to fabricate an impeachment against Joe Biden provided the the same congressional office that first disclosed this corrupt scheme an opportunity to unpack that aspect of it.

It turns out Jerry Nadler’s staffers were undeterred by shoddy word games about the meaning of, “d-i-s-c-r-e-e-t.”

The virgin birth of a “Hunter Biden” “Burisma” search

The central focus of the HJC interview, unsurprisingly, was how an informant came to be reinterviewed in June 2020 about interactions he had with Burisma’s Mykola Zlochevsky months and years earlier, the genesis of the FD-1023 on which Republicans are pinning much of their impeachment hopes, and how and on what terms that FD-1023 got forwarded to David Weiss, who was already investigating Hunter Biden.

Yet it took three rounds of questioning — Republicans then Democrats then Republicans again — before Brady first explained how his team, made up of two AUSAs working full time, himself, two other top staffers, and an FBI team, came to discover a single line in a 3-year old informant report. With Republicans, Brady described that it came from a search on “Hunter Biden” and “Burisma.”

Q And the original FD1023 that you’re referring as information was mentioned about Hunter Bidden and the board of Burisma, how did that information come to your office?

A At a high level, we had asked the FBI to look through their files for any information again, limited scope, right? And by “limited,” I mean, no grand jury tools. So one of the things we could do was ask the FBI to identify certain things that was information brought to us. One was just asking to search their files for Burisma, instances of Burisma or Hunter Biden. That 1023 was identified because of that discreet statement that just identified Hunter Biden serving on the Burisma board. That was in a file in the Washington Field Office. And so, once we identified that, we asked to see that 1023. That’s when we made the determination and the request to reinterview the CHS and led to this 1023. [my emphasis]

That answer — which described Brady’s team randomly deciding to search non-public information for precisely the thing Trump had demanded from Volodymyr Zelenskyy less than a year earlier — satisfied Republican staffers. Again, they weren’t looking for logical answers, much less rooting out Republican corruption; they needed a warm body who might be more credible than Gal Luft.

It took yet another round of questions before the Democrats asked Brady why, if his job was to search public sources, he came to be searching 3-year old informant reports for mentions of Hunter Biden. At that point, the search terms used to discover this informant report came to shift in Brady’s memory, this time to focus on Zlochevsky, not Hunter Biden personally.

Q Okay. And so, in the actually, in the first and second hours, you said pretty extensively that your role was to vet information provided from the public, correct?

A Correct.

Q And so the 1023, the original 1023, was not information provided from the public, correct?

A That’s correct

Q Okay.

A yes.

Q But it came up because you’d received information from Mr. Giuliani and, in your vetting of that information, you ran a search?

A Correct.

Q Okay.

A And just to clarify, I don’t remember if we asked the FBI to search for “Burisma”

Q Right.

A or “Zlochevsky.”

Q Understood.

Searching on “Zlochevsky” and “Burisma” wouldn’t have gotten you to the specific line in a 2017 FD-1023 about Hunter Biden — at least not without a lot of work. Chuck Grassley revealed the underlying informant report came from a 3-year long Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigation into Zlochevsky that had been closed in December 2019.

December 2019.

Remember that date.

Finding that one line about Hunter Biden in a 3-year investigative file would have been the quintessential needle in a haystack.

Spying on the twin investigations

Perhaps this is a good time to explain a totally new — and alarming — detail disclosed in this deposition.

Scott Brady didn’t just accept information from the public, meaning Rudy, and then claim to vet it before handing it on to other investigations. Brady didn’t just attempt to contact Ukraine’s Prosecutor General — through the Legat and therefore discreetly — to try to get the same cooperation that Trump had demanded on his call with Zelenskyy.

He also quizzed the investigators.

In the guise of figuring out whether open grand jury investigations already had the information he was examining, he asked them what they were doing.

In Geoffrey Berman’s case, this involved an exchange in which Scott Brady — the guy claiming to be working off public files and leads from Rudy — told Berman — the guy with a grand jury investigating Rudy — that Berman was wrong.

Q Okay. Let me be more specific. At some point, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Mr. Berman, wrote you a letter or email that provided information he thought that you should have because of the material that he knew you were reviewing, that he thought might be inconsistent with what you were finding; is that correct?

A That’s correct. And then we wrote him an letter back saying that some of the contents in his letter was incorrect.

Q Okay. So you had some kind of dispute with Mr. Berman about the information that they had versus the information that you had, the subject had seemed inconsistent. Is that fair to say?

A I think there was a clarification process that was important that we shared information and made sure that they especially had an understanding because they had a predicated grand jury investigation, what was in our estimation and our limited purview correct and incorrect. So we wanted to make sure they had the correct information. [my emphasis]

As we’ll see, this is important — nay, batshit crazy — based on what the full sweep of Brady’s deposition revealed about his interactions with Rudy. Because, as Brady conceded by the end of the interview, Rudy probably wasn’t entirely forthcoming in an interview Brady did with Rudy.

But, as described, it doesn’t seem all that intrusive.

In David Weiss’ case, however, Brady described that, after Hunter Biden’s prosecutors refused to tell him what they were up to and he intervened with Weiss himself, using “colorful language,” the Hunter Biden team instructed Brady to put his questions in writing.

Q Okay. And so the I think you said you passed along or, not you personally, but your office passed along interrogatories or questions for them.

A That’s right.

Q That was along the lines of asking them what steps they had taken. Is that fair to say?

A Some limited steps. Correct.

Q Okay. So you were asking them about their investigation to help inform your investigation.

A Yes, to help focus our process so that we weren’t doing anything that, as I mentioned, would be duplicative or would complicate their investigation in any way.


Q Okay. And you wanted to know that because you didn’t want to start doing the same investigative steps that they were doing?

A Correct.

Q But you indicated before that you didn’t have the power to get bank records, for example; is that right?

A Correct.

Q So was there a reason that you would need to know whether the other district had subpoenaed something if you weren’t able to subpoena bank records yourself?

A Yes. For example, if we were given a bank account number and wanted to see if they had already looked at that, we would want to know if they had visibility and say, you know: Here’s a bank account that we had received; have you, you know, have you subpoenaed these records, have you can you examine whether this bank account has sent funds into other Burisma-related accounts or Biden-related accounts?

Q So you were looking to sort of use their grand jury or subpoena authority to learn information because you didn’t have that tool in your own investigation?

A We weren’t really looking to learn information about their investigation. We just wanted to know if we needed to do anything with that, to try to corroborate it through perhaps other sources or through the FBI, or if we should even hand it over, again, if it was credible or not credible. If there is nothing to be gained, I don’t want to waste their time if they said: Oh, yeah, we’ve looked at that, and this bank account doesn’t show up anywhere in our records.

Q So, if you had some kind of information or question about a bank account, was there anything stopping you from just passing that onto Delaware without asking them also to tell you whether they had received any information pursuant to a subpoena or any other lawful process?

A We could have, but that wasn’t my understanding of our assignment. Our understanding of the assignment was to really separate the wheat from the chaff and not waste their time with a dump of information, maybe, you know, a percentage of which would be credible or have indicia of credibility. So they have limited resources. They have, you know, a broad tasking. So we didn’t want to waste their time by doing that. We thought it would be more efficient to engage them, ask them: Have you seen this?

Yes, no. And then pass it on, make a determination of what to pass onto them.

Aside from the fact that this sounds like it took more time than simply sending a bunch of bank account numbers to allow the Delaware team to deduplicate — the FBI does have computers as it turns out, and one of the FBI’s best forensic accountants has worked on this investigation — the timing of this matters.

This happened in April and May 2020, so in the months and weeks before Brady’s team did a search on Hunter Biden and Burisma — or maybe it was Zlochevsky and Burisma — and found a 3-year old informant report mentioning the former Vice President’s son.

So Brady sent, and after some back-and-forth, got some interrogatories from Weiss’ team, and then the next month discovered an informant that Delaware presumably hadn’t chosen to reinterview.

“Do not answer” about the vetting

By the point when Brady described randomly searching on Hunter Biden and Burisma — or maybe it was Zlochevsky and Burisma — the former US Attorney had already repeatedly balked when asked if he had vetted anything pertaining to Zlochevsky.

The first time, his attorney, former Massachusetts US Attorney Andrew Lelling and so, like Brady, a former Trump appointee — I think this is the technical term — lost his shit, repeatedly instructing Brady not to answer a question that goes to basic questions about the claimed purpose for this project: vetting leads.

Q All right. The statements that are attributed to Mr. Zlochevsky, did you do any work, you or anyone on your team, to determine whether those statements are consistent or inconsistent with other statements made by Mr. Zlochevsky?

Mr. Lelling. He’s not going line by line from a 1023. He’s not discussing at that level of detail.

Q. Okay. Could you answer the question that I asked you though?

Mr. Lelling. No. Do not answer.

Q. That was not a line-by-line question.

Mr. Lelling. Do not answer the question. You picked the line. You read it. You were asking him

Q. That’s not no, I didn’t. What line did I read from?

Mr. Lelling. Okay. I’m being figurative.

Q. Okay. I’m asking

Mr. Lelling. He is not going to go detail by detail through the 1023.

Q. I’m not asking that. No, I’m not going to ask that. I am asking a general question about whether he tried to determine whether there were consistent or inconsistent statements made by one of the subsources, generally.

Mr. Lelling. Yeah. No. He can’t answer that. This is too much

Q. So we’re going to keep asking the questions I understand he may not want to answer. We’re going to keep asking the questions to make a record. If you decline to answer

Mr. Lelling. Sure. I understand. And some maybe he can. This is

Q. We’re going to keep asking the questions though.

Mr. Lelling. This is a blurry line, a

Q. Understood.

Mr. Lelling. deliberative process question. And I’m sort of making those judgments question by question. So, maybe, categorically, he can’t answer any of the questions you’re about to ask. Maybe he can. So

Q. Well, if you let me ask them, then we can have your response.

Mr. Lelling. Sure.

Q. Fair? Okay. So the subsource, Mr. Zlochevsky, did you make any effort in your investigation to look in public sources, for example, whether Mr. Zlochevsky had made statements inconsistent with those attributed to him by the CHS in the 1023?

Mr. Brady. I don’t remember. I don’t believe we did. I think what our broadly, without going into specifics, what we were looking to do was corroborate information that we could receive, you know, relating to travel, relating to the allegation of purchase of a North American oil and gas company during this period by Burisma for the amount that’s discussed in there. We used open sources and other information to try to make a credibility assessment, a limited credibility assessment. We did not interview any of the subsources, nor did we look at public statements by the subsources relating to what was contained in the 1023. We believed that that was best left to a U.S. attorney’s office with a predicated grand jury investigation to take further.

Brady’s team looked up whether Burisma really considered oil and gas purchases at the time. They looked up the informant’s travel. But did nothing to vet whether Zlochevsky’s known public statements were consistent with what he said to the informant.

Democrats returned to Brady’s description of how he had vetted things, including the FD-1023, later in that round. He was more clear this time that while his team checked the informant’s travel and while he repeatedly described his vetting role as including searching public news articles, his team never actually checked any public news articles to vet what the 1023 recorded about Zlochevsky’s claims.

Q Okay. But open source so, other than witness interviews, you did do some open source or your team did some open source review to attempt to corroborate some of what was in the 1023? Is that fair?

A Just limited to the 1023?

Q Well, let’s start with that.

A Yes.

Q Okay. And what does that generally involve, in terms of the open source investigation?

A It could be looking at it could be looking at public financial filings. It could be looking at news articles. It could be looking at foreign reporting as well, having that translated. Anything that is not within a government file would be open source, and it could be from any number of any number of sources.

Q So, when you look at news reports, for example, would you note if there was a witness referred to in the 1023 that had made a statement that was reported in the news article, for example? Would that be of note to your investigators?

A Relating to the 1023? No. We had a more limited focus, because we felt that it was more important to do what we could with certain of the information and then pass it on to the District of Delaware, because then they could not only use other grand jury tools that were available but, also, we didn’t have visibility into what they had already investigated, what they had already done with Mr. Zlochevsky, with any of the individuals named in this CHS report. [my emphasis]

Scott Brady claimed to search news reports, even in foreign languages. But did not do so about the matter at the core of his value to the GOP impeachment crusade because, he claimed, his team had no visibility into what the Delaware team had already done with Zlochevsky.

Only they did have visibility: they had those interrogatories they got in May.

Having been told by Brady that he didn’t bother to Google anything about what Zlochevsky had said publicly, Democratic staffers walked him through some articles that might have been pertinent to his inquiry, quoting one after another Ukranian saying there was no there there.

Only the claims in the June 4, 2020 article rang a bell for Brady at all, though he did say the others may have made it into a report he submitted to Richard Donoghue (who by that point had swapped roles with DuCharme at Main DOJ) in September 2020.

But as to Brady? The guy who spent nine months purportedly vetting the dirt the President’s lawyer brought back from his Russian spy friends claims to have been aware of almost none of the public reporting on the matters Rudy pitched him. Which apparently didn’t stop him from calling Geoffrey Berman and telling Berman he knew better.

The open source that Scott Brady’s vetting team never opened

Even before they walked Brady through those articles, some appearing days before the informant reinterview, Democratic staffers raised Lev Parnas.

Was Brady familiar with the interview, conducted less than a year before his team reinterviewed the informant, that Parnas claimed Vitaly Pruss did with Zlochevsky on behalf of Rudy Giuliani, the one that had been shared with the House Intelligence Committee as part of impeachment?

Okay. And just to be clear, I think my colleague has already explained this, but this document was provided to investigators on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in 2019, before your assessment began, in relation to the first impeachment inquiry of President Trump. But you indicated you were not aware that that evidence was in the record of that investigation?

A Correct.


Q Okay. So you indicated you’ve never seen this document before. May I actually ask you, before we go through it: You, during the course of your investigation, you asked the FBI or directed others to ask the FBI to review their holdings for any information related to Burisma or Zlochevsky, correct?

A Yes. We asked them, for certain specific questions, to look in open source, as we talked about, and then to look in their investigative files to see if they had intersected with these names or, you know, this topic before.

Q Okay. And they yielded this 2017 1023 that then led you to interview the CHS, correct?

A Yes.

Q Okay. But you never asked, for example, the House Permanent Select Committee investigators or anyone associated with that investigation to do a similar inquiry for evidence relating to Zlochevsky?

A No, I don’t believe we did.

Q Okay. And, like you said, you were not aware that this interview had taken place in 2019. Is that fair to say?

A I don’t believe I was, no.

Q Okay. And anyone on your team, as far as you know, was not aware that Mr. Zlochevsky had been interviewed at the direction of Giuliani before your assessment began?

A I don’t believe so.

One of the Democratic staffers got Brady to agree that, yes, he had found a 3-year old informant report and tried to contact Ukraine’s Prosecutor General, discreetly, but hadn’t bothered to see whether there were relevant materials in the wealth of evidence and testimony submitted as part of the impeachment.

Q Okay. I guess my question was just more based on your own description of your own investigative efforts. I mean, you went on your own, on your own initiative, to search FBI records that had anything to do with Zlochevsky, correct?

A Correct.

Q Or Burisma, but you don’t know what the search term was.

A Correct. There were multiple, but yes. I can’t remember the specific one that uncovered the underlying 1023.

Q Okay. But you didn’t make a similar effort to search the impeachment investigative files that were released and public at that time and dealing with the same matter. Is that

A Correct. To my knowledge, yes

Q Okay.

A that’s correct.

As Brady described, the team he put together to carry out a task assigned during impeachment that closely related to the subject of impeachment, “we were certainly aware” of the ongoing impeachment, but, “I don’t believe that our team looked into the record.”

Brady, at various times, also excused himself from anything pertaining to Lev Parnas because Rudy’s former associate had been indicted.

Mr. Brady. So, just to clarify, without going into detail, because Mr. Parnas had been indicted by SDNY, we didn’t develop any information relating to Mr. Parnas that either Mr. Giuliani gave us or that we received from the public, and we felt that it was best handled by SDNY, since they had that full investigation.


[W]e cordoned that off as an SDNY matter. So, any information that we received from Mr. Giuliani, for example, relating to Mr. Parnas, we relayed to SDNY.

In the same way that the scheme Barr set up to gatekeep Ukraine investigations meant SDNY wouldn’t look at Andrii Derkach, because that had been sent to EDNY, Scott Brady wasn’t going to look at Lev Parnas, because he was sending that to SDNY.

That’s important backstory to the FD-1023 being sent to Delaware as if it had been vetted.

The things Rudy didn’t tell Scott Brady

It matters not just because it exhibits Brady’s utter failure to do what he claimed the task was: using open source information to vet material (which does not rule out that his team performed some other task exceptionally well). It matters because, Brady claims, Rudy didn’t tell him any of this.

One of the minor pieces of news in the Scott Brady interview came in an email that Brady and DuCharme exchanged about interviewing Rudy that probably should have — but, like other responsive records, appears not to have been — released to American Oversight in its FOIA.

Q 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.

Neither the date of this interview nor Brady’s participation in it is new. After the FBI seized his devices, Rudy attempted to use the interview to claim he had been cooperating in law enforcement and so couldn’t have violated FARA laws. And NYT provided more details on the interview in the most substantive reporting to date on Brady’s review, reporting that conflicts wildly with Brady’s congressional testimony.

The new detail in the email — besides that DuCharme didn’t mention Rudy by name (elsewhere Brady explained that all his “discrete” communications with DuCharme were face-to-face which would make them “discreet”) or that the email was written two days before Jeffrey Rosen set up EDNY as a gate-keeper — is DuCharme’s comment that “we” would be more comfortable if Brady participated so “we” got a sense of what was coming out of it.

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.

Q Okay. But they wanted to, quote, “get a sense of what’s coming out of it,” correct? A

From the email, yes.

Scott Brady was supposed to vet Rudy, not just vet the dirt that Rudy shared with him.

And on that, if we can believe Brady’s testimony, Brady failed.

As Democratic staffers probed at the end of their discussion on the Parnas materials from impeachment, it was not just that Brady’s own team didn’t consult any impeachment materials, it’s also that Rudy, when he met with Brady on January 29, 2020, didn’t tell Brady that he had solicited an interview in which Zlochevsky had said something different than he did to the informant.

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.

Democratic staffers returned to that line of questioning close to the end of the roughly 6-hour deposition. After Republicans, including Jim Jordan personally, got Brady to explain that he was surprised by the NYPost story revealing that Rudy had the “laptop” on October 14, 2020, Democratic staffers turned to a Daily Beast article, published three days after the first “Hunter Biden” “laptop” story, quoting Rudy as saying, “The chance that [Andrii] Derkach is a Russian spy is no better than 50/50” and opining that it “Wouldn’t matter” if the laptop he was pitching had some tie to the GRU’s hack of Burisma in later 2019.”What’s the difference?”

Using that article recording Rudy’s recklessness about getting dirt from Russian spies, a Democratic staffer asked if Brady was surprised that Rudy hadn’t given him the laptop. Brady’s attorney and former colleague as a Trump US Attorney (and, as partners at Jones Day), Lelling, intervened again.

Q So when you said earlier that you were surprised you hadn’t seen the laptop, were you surprised that Mr. Giuliani didn’t produce it to you?

A Yes

Q And why is that.

Mr. Lelling. I don’t think you can go into that. You can say you were surprised.

Q You can’t tell us why you were surprised?

Mr. Lelling. He can’t characterize his rationale for his surprise. That’s correct.

Q Why is that? Just for the record, what is the reason?

Mr. Lelling. Because it gets too close to deliberative process concerns that the Department has.

Q It’s deliberative process to explain why he was surprised that Giuliani didn’t give him something that Giuliani said he had public access to?

Mr. Lelling. Correct.

Then Democrats returned, again, to Lev Parnas’ explanation of how Vitaly Pruss had interviewed Zlochevsky, this time using this October 24, 2020 Politico story as a cue. Democrats asked Brady if he was aware that, eight months before the vetting task started, Rudy had heard about laptops being offered.

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. 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.

Then Democrats explored Parnas’ claim in the Politico story that Zlochevsky said he’d provide dirt, if Rudy helped him curry favor with DOJ (note, the staffers misattributed a statement about extradition in the article, which pertained to Dmitry Firtash’s demand, to Zlochevsky). When they asked Brady if he knew that Zlochevsky had reason to curry favor with DOJ because was accused of money laundering, Brady first pointed to two other jurisdictions where such investigations were public, then asked for legal advice and was advised not to respond.

Q Okay. And according to the article Pr[u]ss told Giuliani at the May 30th, 2019, meeting that Mr. Zlochevsky had stated that he had, quote, “derogatory information about Biden, and he was willing to share it with Giuliani if Giuliani would help Zlochevsky, ‘curry favor with the Department of Justice and help him with an extradition request or other efforts by DOJ to investigate or prosecute Zlochevsky.'” Do you see that allegation in the report?

A I see the first part, I’m sorry. I don’t see the extradition.

Q Okay. So what it says in the article is that Zlochevsky was interested in currying favor with the Department of Justice, correct?

A Yes.

Q Are you aware that Mr. Zlochevsky was accused of money laundering among other financial crimes?

A I’m sorry, by which jurisdiction? I’m aware that there were allegations regarding potential money laundering and Mr. Zlochevsky that were investigated by the U.K. and by Ukrainian prosecutors. Could I just have one second?

Q Sure.

Mr. Lelling. I don’t think he can give you further detail.

The day after this October 23 interview, in which Brady claimed to have randomly discovered the 3-year old informant report that led to the reinterview that led to the FD-1023 Republicans want to build impeachment on by searching on Hunter Biden and Burisma — or maybe it was Zlochevsky and Burisma, Grassley released his letter with a slightly different story than the one Brady offered about how Brady came to learn about the 3-year old informant report.

While Grassley, whose understanding tends to rely on disgruntled right wing gossip, is often wrong in his claims about causality and here only speculates that Zlochevsky came up, Grassley nevertheless revealed a US Kleptocapture investigation into Zlochevsky, one that was opened in 2016 and shut down in December 2019.

Although investigative activity was scuttled by the FBI in 2020, the origins of additional activity relate back to years earlier. For example, in December 2019, the FBI Washington Field Office closed a “205B” Kleptocracy case, 205B-[redacted] Serial 7, into Mykola Zlochevsky, owner of Burisma, which was opened in January 2016 by a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act FBI squad based out of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. This Foreign Corrupt Practices Act squad included agents from FBI HQ. In February 2020, a meeting took place at the FBI Pittsburgh Field Office with FBI HQ elements. That meeting involved discussion about investigative matters relating to the Hunter Biden investigation and related inquiries, which most likely would’ve included the case against Zlochevsky. Then, in March 2020 and at the request of the Justice Department, a “Guardian” Assessment was opened out of the Pittsburgh Field Office to analyze information provided by Rudy Giuliani.

During the course of that assessment, Justice Department and FBI officials located an FD-1023 from March 1, 2017, relating to the “205B” Kleptocracy investigation of Zlochevsky. That FD1023 included a reference to Hunter Biden being on the board of Burisma, which the handling agent deemed at the time non-relevant information to the ongoing criminal financial case. And when that FD-1023 was discovered, Justice Department and FBI officials asked the handler for the Confidential Human Source (CHS) to re-interview that CHS. According to reports, there was “a fight for a month” to get the handler to re-interview the CHS. [my emphasis]

Lev Parnas claimed that Zlochevsky was offering to trade dirt on Biden for favor with DOJ in May 2019, and according to Grassley, in December 2019 — the same month Rudy picked up dirt in Ukraine — DOJ shut down a 3-year old investigation into Zlochevsky, one that was opened during the Obama Administration when Hunter was on the board of Burisma. The source of the tip on the informant is, at least if we can believe Grassley, the investigation on Zlochevsky that got shut down the same month as Rudy picked up his dirt.

Given Brady’s refusal to answer whether he knew about the money laundering investigation, it’s likely he knew about that investigation and so may even have been doing this math as he sat there being quizzed, discreetly, by Democratic staffers. The source of the informant tip his “vetting” operation pushed to the Hunter Biden investigation — the one on which Republicans want to build impeachment — may be the source of Zlochevsky’s interest in trading dirt on Joe Biden in exchange for favor with DOJ.

According to Brady, Rudy didn’t tell him about the earlier events, and his “vetting” team never bothered to look in impeachment materials to find that out.

The possible quid pro quo behind Republicans’ favorite impeachment evidence

To be sure, there are still major parts of this evolving outline that cannot be substantiated. The letter Parnas sent to James Comer doesn’t include the detail from Politico about currying favor (though it does include notice in June 2019 of a laptop on offer).

SDNY found Parnas to be unreliable about these topics (though who knows if that was based on “corrections” from Scott Brady?). As noted, Democratic staffers conflated Dmitry Firtash’s efforts to reach out to Bill Barr with this reported effort to curry favor. In a November 2019 interview not mentioned by Democratic staffers, Pruss denied any role in all this.

But the claimed timeline is this. In May 2019, Vitaly Pruss did an interview of Zlochevsky, seeking dirt on Biden for Rudy. After Rudy erupted at a June meeting because Zlochevsky had none, Pruss floated some, possibly a laptop, if Rudy could curry favor with DOJ. In August, a whistleblower revealed that Trump asked Zelenskyy to help Rudy and Barr with this project, kicking off impeachment in September. In October 2019, Parnas and Rudy prepared to make that trade in Vienna, dirt for DOJ assistance, only to be thwarted by Parnas’ arrest. According to the FBI, six days later (but according John Paul Mac Isaac, the day before the Parnas arrest), JPMI’s father first reached out to DOJ offering a Hunter Biden laptop. In December, a bunch of things happened: Rudy met with Andrii Derkach; the government took possession — then got a warrant for — the laptop, followed the next day by Barr’s aides informing him they were sending a laptop; the House voted to impeach Trump, and if we can believe Grassley — on an uncertain date — DOJ closed the Kleptocracy investigation into Zlochevsky they had opened during the Obama Administration. Sometime in this period (as I noted in this thread, the informant’s handler remarkably failed to record the date of this exchange, but it almost certainly happened after the Zelenskyy call was revealed and probably happened during impeachment), the informant’s tie to Zlochevsky, Oleksandr Ostapenko, interrupted a meeting about other matters to call Zlochevsky which is when Zlochevsky alluded to funds hidden so well it would take 10 years for investigators to find them.

Then, just days into January, DuCharme tasked Brady with ingesting dirt from Rudy, and after consultation with DuCharme, Brady decided he’d attend the interview with Rudy “so we get a sense of what’s coming out of it.” In that interview, Rudy didn’t tell DOJ about the interview that Parnas claims he solicited with Zlochevsky. He didn’t tell Brady he had first heard of laptops on order in June 2019. Nor did he tell DOJ, months later, when he obtained a hard drive from the laptop from John Paul Mac Isaac, still several weeks before Brady submitted a report to Richard Donoghue on the dirt Rudy was dealing.

If you corroborate Parnas’ claims about what happened in May and June 2019, then Zlochevsky’s later comments — possibly made after a DOJ investigation into him got shut down — look like the payoff of a quid pro quo. Remarkably, Brady never factored that possibility into his vetting project because he didn’t actually vet the most important details.

Scott Brady will undoubtedly make a more credible witness than Gal Luft if and when Republicans move to impeach Joe Biden. After all, he’ll be able to show up without getting arrested!

But this deposition made several things clear. First, his task, which public explanations have always claimed was about vetting dirt from Rudy Giuliani, did very little vetting. And, more importantly, if Lev Parnas’ claims to have solicited an interview on behalf of Rudy are corroborated, then Rudy would have deliberately hidden one of the most consequential details of his efforts to solicit the dirt that the DOJ, just weeks after closing an investigation into Mykola Zlochevsky, would set up a special channel to sheep dip into the investigation into President Trump’s opponent’s son.

It turns out that the most senior, credible witness in Republicans’ planned impeachment against Joe Biden actually has more to offer about Trump’s corruption than Biden’s.

The Blind Squirrel’s Nut: Chuck Grassley Unwittingly Debunks Bill Barr

Last month, Bill Barr got Federalist Faceplant Margot Cleveland to claim that Jamie Raskin was lying when he said that the lead from an informant claiming that Joe Biden had been bribed was assessed by Pittsburgh US Attorney Scott Brady and then shut down.

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

Then James Comer relied on that to claim that Raskin was wrong when he said that it was shut down as an assessment.

Bill Barr to Margot Cleveland to James Comer: At each new level, this Matryoshka doll of disinformation gets less and less credible.

So incredible, in fact, that even Chuck Grassley debunked them.


Like the proverbial blind squirrel finding a nut.

You see, Chuck is outraged that the IRS agents conducting the investigation into Hunter Biden’s alleged tax crimes were not included in a meeting at which Pittsburgh FBI agents briefed the Delaware US Attorney’s office about the informant report. He has written Delaware US Attorney David Weiss a letter demanding an explanation of why.

The answer is clear from the timing of the briefing, which Senator Grassley reveals in his letter: October 23, 2020.

Based on information provided to my office from individuals aware of the meeting, on October 23, 2020, Justice Department and FBI Special Agents from the Pittsburgh Field Office briefed Assistant U.S. Attorney Lesley Wolf, one of your top prosecutors, and FBI Special Agents from the Baltimore Field Office with respect to the contents of the FBI-generated FD1023 alleging a criminal bribery scheme involving then-Vice President Biden and Hunter Biden; however, the meeting did not include any IRS agents. In addition, based on information provided to my office, potentially hundreds of Justice Department and FBI officials have had access to the FD-1023 at issue, which begs the question that I’ve been asking since the start of my oversight in this matter: what steps have the Justice Department and FBI taken to investigate the allegations?

This briefing was nine days after a NYPost story would have made clear that Rudy Giuliani had ties to the “Hunter Biden” “laptop” that the IRS agents had been relying on for investigative materials for the better part of a year.

It was one day after an October 22, 2020 meeting that the IRS agents did attend. As Gary Shapley confessed to the House Ways and Means Committee, the meeting was largely an effort to make sure that the government had used proper legal process before acquiring two devices that — it had only recently became clear — had become and may always have been part of a political hit job.

A Yes. So there are a couple significant parts of this. One was that, at this time, the laptop was a very big story, so we were just making sure that everything was being handled appropriately.

So we wanted to go through the timeline of what happened with the laptop and devices. I thought one of the most important first parts was that on November 6 of 2019, the FBI case agent, Josh Wilson, called up the computer shop owner, John Paul, and basically got the device numbers from him.

If Shapley’s notes are at all reliable, prosecutors at the meeting instead discovered that the FBI broke the most basic rules of forensics when exploiting the laptop purportedly owned by the former Vice President’s dissolute son, and in the process may have destroyed evidence about who was really behind it. I’m still not convinced his notes are reliable, but if they are, then the meeting should have raised all sorts of alarms within DOJ.

As I laid out here, Shapley has instead pitched the meeting as one that served the primary purpose of giving Whistleblower X opportunity to complain that the US Attorney’s office had prevented the IRS agents from being tainted by dodgy materials on the laptop. Whistleblower X did complain, mind you, but those complaints mostly raise questions about the extent to which he had already been accessing materials from the laptop that Rudy Giuliani had been tampering with, thereby tainting the investigation.

Shapley’s propaganda has worked, because that’s what our blind squirrel from Iowa focuses his letter on.

But as Shapley described in his prepared statement, even before that meeting he had written to AUSA Lesley Wolf complaining about how the laptop was being referred to in the news.

On October 19th, 2020, I emailed Assistant United States Attorney Wolf: “We
need to talk about the computer. It appears the FBI is making certain representations
about the device, and the only reason we know what is on the device is because of the
IRS CI affiant search warrant that allowed access to the documents. If Durham also
executed a search warrant on a device, we need to know so that my leadership is
informed. My management has to be looped into whatever the FBI is doing with the
laptop. It is IRS CI’s responsibility to know what is happening. Let me know when I can
be briefed on this issue.”

Shapley appears to have been concerned, in the weeks before the Presidential election, that people believed the laptop was being investigated by the FBI as an information operation targeting Joe Biden, when in his view, it remained the cornerstone of his investigation into Hunter Biden.

But if DOJ was not already investigating both topics by October 23, 2020 — both Hunter Biden’s tax crimes and a potential information operation targeting Joe Biden — if it has not spent years doing so, then the FBI has become even more captured than I already suspected.

Indeed, if the FBI hasn’t already significantly substantiated that Hunter Biden was hacked in early 2019, then I may renounce my citizenship. I know FBI’s cyber agents can be incompetent, but they can’t be that incompetent, can they?

Can they?

Chuck Grassley may not realize it because he is very old and he is staffed by a bunch of partisan cranks. But he’s basically complaining that DOJ might have learned their lesson after the Steele dossier — the lesson that Chuck Grassley spent years demanding they learn! — and decided, upon the revelation that a key piece of evidence they had been relying on for months had ties to a political hit job, they should figure out precisely what tie that key piece of evidence had to the political hit job.

Chuck Grassley may also not realize that the political cranks who staff him got him to sign a letter effectively complaining that the FBI thought it worthwhile to figure out if the information operation Russian spies had been bragging about for over a year at that point had actually succeeded. Chuck is bitching that the FBI decided to protect a presidential candidate.

Chuck Grassley also likely doesn’t realize his staffers got him to sign a letter bitching that David Weiss attempted to maintain the integrity of the tax investigation even while DOJ assessed whether they had been caught in another information operation. That’s why you don’t include the IRS agents in a meeting where Pittsburgh FBI agents explain to Delaware lawyers how sketchy was the information Rudy Giuliani was collecting from known Russian agents in Ukraine. If you include them, you risk blowing the otherwise meritorious tax investigation.

And Chuck Grassley definitely doesn’t realize that he has debunked Bill Barr.

You see, Bill Barr, who is a very adept liar, was sort of telling the truth to Faceplant Margot that the FD-1023 was referred to DE USAO for further investigation. It surely was. But Pittsburgh FBI agents shared it on October 23, 2020, because the US Attorney’s office was frantically trying to figure out whether the entire tax investigation had been blown, or only parts of it. The US Attorney’s office was undoubtedly trying to understand what kind of other garbage Rudy had produced that got shared with the FBI, in addition to any role he had with the “laptop” that had been used in the tax investigation.

Even Gary Shapley admitted that in the wake of the NYPost story, the Delaware US Attorney’s office did some quick CYA to figure out whether they had been using a tainted information operation for the better part of a year (they had!). The October 23 briefing would have had substantially the same purpose as the October 22 one: to figure out how tainted the investigation was.

And Bill Barr instead got even stupider people to believe that that an attempt to triage the damage done by Rudy’s political hit job amounts to an investigation for bribery.

The [Thus Far] Missing Seth DuCharme Emails Pertaining to Rudy Giuliani’s Russian Disinformation

As I’ve been harping of late, Billy Barr and Jeffrey Rosen went to great lengths to protect Rudy Giuliani’s efforts to obtain and disseminate what the Intelligence Community already knew was Russian-backed disinformation laundered through Andrii Derkach. That effort included the following:

  • For whatever reason, not warning Rudy that the Intelligence Community knew Russia was targeting him for an information operation before he traveled to his December 2019 meeting with Derkach
  • Prohibiting SDNY from expanding its existing investigation into Rudy’s foreign influence peddling to include his efforts with Derkach by making EDNY a gate-keeper for any such decisions
  • Asking Pittsburgh USA Attorney Scott Brady to accept the information that the IC already knew was Russian disinformation from Rudy
  • Doing nothing while Rudy continued to share information the IC already knew was Russian disinformation during an election
  • After belatedly opening an investigation into the Derkach effort that the IC had known was Russian disinformation for a year, opening it at EDNY and scoping it to ensure that Rudy’s own actions would not be a subject of the investigation

As a result of this remarkable effort, led by the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General, to protect Russian disinformation, DOJ willingly ingested a bunch of Russian disinformation and used it to conduct an investigation into the son of the President’s opponent.

Last year, when it was disclosed that Barr had directed Brady to willingly accept this Russian disinformation, American Oversight FOIAed and then sued for the paper trail of the effort, submitted as four separate FOIAs:

  1. [To OIP and USAPAW] “Brady Order and Written Approval” — which specifically asked for “two readily-identifiable, specific documents” — described as:
    • The written approval of the Attorney General or Deputy Attorney General authorizing U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania (USAPAW) to create and/or administer a process for receiving purported investigatory information from Rudy Giuliani concerning matters that relate to former Vice President Biden
    • A copy of the Attorney General’s order directing USAPAW to conduct an evaluation, review, probe, assessment, “intake process,” preliminary investigation
  2. [To OIP and USAPAW] “Giuliani Directives, Guidance, & Communications,” described as:
    • All directives or guidance provided to USAPAW regarding an evaluation, review, probe, assessment, “intake process,” preliminary investigation, or other investigation of any information received from Rudy Giuliani, including information that may concern former Vice President Biden
    • All records reflecting communications between (1) the Office of the Attorney General or the Office of the Deputy Attorney General and (2) USAPAW regarding an evaluation, review, probe, assessment, preliminary investigation, or other investigation of any information received from Rudy Giuliani
    • All records reflecting communications within the OAG or the ODAG regarding any evaluation, review, probe, assessment, “intake process,” preliminary investigation, or other investigation of any information received from Rudy Giuliani, including information which may concern former Vice President Biden
  3. [To USAPAW] “Brady-Giuliani Communications,”described as all records reflecting communications between (1) USAPAW in the course of any evaluation, review, probe, assessment, “intake process,” preliminary investigation, or other investigation of any information received from Rudy Giuliani and (2) Rudy Giuliani, or any of Mr. Giuliani’s personal assistants or others communicating on his behalf, including but not limited to Jo Ann Zafonte, Christianne Allen, or Beau Wagner
  4.  [To USAPAW] “Brady-White House Communications,” described as any communications between (1) USAPAW in the course of any evaluation, review, probe, assessment, “intake process,” preliminary investigation, or other investigation of any information received from Rudy Giuliani and (2) anyone at the White House Office

Before American Oversight filed the lawsuit, the Trump Admin did two things that will have an effect on what we’re seeing. First, DOJ combined requests one and two above; as we’ll see, that had the effect of hiding that Barr didn’t put anything in writing. In addition, USAPAW told American Oversight that they were going to refer the request for such an order to Main Justice for referral.

While the lawsuit was filed under the Trump Administration, the substantive response to it started in February. The FOIA is a way to understand more about this effort — both how willing Barr’s DOJ was to put this scheme in writing, as well as the volume of paper trail that it generated.

The first status report, submitted on February 22, revealed the following based on an initial search:

  1. “Brady Order and Written Approval” and “Giuliani Directives, Guidance, & Communications” (aggregated) at Main DOJ: 8,851 items
  2. “Giuliani Directives, Guidance, & Communications” and “Brady-Giuliani Communications” at USAPAW: 1,400 pages
  3. “Brady-White House Communications:” none

The second status report, submitted on April 1, reported that of the initial search, the following was deemed potentially responsive:

  1. “Brady Order and Written Approval” and “Giuliani Directives, Guidance, & Communications” (aggregated) at Main DOJ: 30 pages referred
  2. “Giuliani Directives, Guidance, & Communications” and “Brady-Giuliani Communications” at USAPAW, of 272 pages reviewed so far:
    • 3 pages released in full
    • 189 pages referred to other agencies for consultation
    • 83 duplicates or non-responsive

Here is the USAPAW production.

The third status report, submitted on May 3, reported the following:

  1. “Brady Order and Written Approval” and “Giuliani Directives, Guidance, & Communications” (aggregated) at Main DOJ:
    • 18 pages released in partly redacted form
    • 4 pages withheld entirely under b5 deliberative exemption
    • 6 pages awaiting a response from some other component
  2. “Giuliani Directives, Guidance, & Communications” and “Brady-Giuliani Communications” at USAPAW, of 263 pages reviewed this month:
    • 5 pages released, 3 of which include b6, b7A and b7C redactions
    • 14 pages referred to another component
    • 244 pages non-responsive or duplicates

Here is the USAPAW production and here is the Main DOJ production.

Here’s what has currently been provided to American Oversight (go here for live links).

Note, this may be clarified in upcoming dumps, but for now, there appears to be something very irregular with the OIP response. At first, DOJ said there were up to 8,851 items that were responsive to American Oversight’s request. But with the next status report, DOJ said there were just 30 pages. The most recent release claimed to account for 28 of those 30 pages.

In the second joint status report, OIP stated that it had completed its search and its initial responsiveness and deduplication review of potentially responsive documents and identified approximately 30 pages of material likely responsive to Plaintiff’s request. See ECF No.7, ¶ 2. OIP further stated that it had sent these records out for consultation pursuant to the Department’s regulations, 28 C.F.R. § 16.4(d), and expected to be able to provide its first response to Plaintiff on or around April 29, 2021. Id. On April 29, 2021, OIP made its first interim response. It released 18 pages in part with portions redacted pursuant to Exemptions 5 and/or 6 and withheld four pages in full pursuant to Exemption 5. OIP is awaiting responses from other components on the remaining six pages.

The math looks like this:

18 pages released

4 pages withheld under b5 exemption*

6 pages referred to another component

Total: 28 pages

Remaining: 2 pages

That’s a problem because there are at least two pages of emails that were part of the USAPAW response that must have had a counterpart at DOJ, as well as one missing from both (though USAPAW has 1000 pages to release):

  • A January 3, 2020 email from Seth DuCharme to Scott Brady asking, “Scott do you have time for a quick call today in re a possible discreet assignment from OAG and ODAG?” (Brady’s response, which includes DuCharme’s original, is included in both, but the copy released by OIP was printed out from Brady’s account, not DuCharme’s).
  • A February 11, 2020 email from Brady to DuCharme, asking “Seth, do you have a few minutes to catch up today?” The email should exist in both accounts, and should be included in both OIP and USAPAW’s response.
  • A March 5, 2020 email from Brady to DuCharme, asking “Seth: do you have 5 minutes to talk today?”

Brady resigned effective February 26 and DuCharme resigned effective March 19. At the time he resigned, DuCharme was supervising an investigation into this Derkach stuff, one that excluded Rudy as a subject.

I assume this will become more clear with further releases (indeed, American Oversight may have the next installment already). Perhaps there’s a sound explanation. But thus far, it looks like only the Brady side of exchanges between him and DuCharme have been provided in response.

* The response letter to Jerry Nadler was two pages long, and the draft was sent twice (or there were two drafts), so those probably account for the 4 pages withheld on b5 exemptions.

Rudy Giuliani’s Alleged “Cooperation” Is a Threat to Lay out How Bill Barr and Jeffrey Rosen Protected Russian Disinformation

Now that I’ve waded through Rudy Giulilani’s response to learning that SDNY had conducted a covert search on him in November 2019 before it conducted an overt search in April 2021, I’m certain Rudy engaged in just the kind of bad lawyering SDNY hoped he would — more on that in a week or so.

But a big part of his letter was not an attempt to engage in good lawyering, but instead to send messages to a variety of people. He provided co-conspirators a map they can use to understand which of their communications are in SDNY’s hands, and which are not. But he also laid out what he called his “cooperation,” which aside from minimal claims (which SDNY disputed) to have cooperated with SDNY against Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, really amounts to the corrupt stuff he believed he was protected for because he did it on behalf of Donald Trump. Indeed, he claims that if Judge Paul Oetken only knew he had permission to do all this stuff, then he wouldn’t have approved the warrants against him.

It is unknown if the Government informed the Court of Giuliani’s cooperation with the State Department or his offers to cooperate with the SDNY or his actual cooperation with the Western District of Pennsylvania.

His first claim of “cooperation” revisits claims he made in the wake of the whistleblower complaint in 2019, claiming that he was working closely with State when he was lobbying to fire Marie Yovanovitch.

It was premature and unwarranted for the Government to seize Giuliani’s ESI because Giuliani had already cooperated with the US State Department (“State”) through Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State, in March 2019 concerning Ukraine. He also cooperated again in July and August of 2019 at the request of the State Department in assisting them with regard to Ukraine.

This is almost certainly the meat of the SDNY investigation, and whatever else Rudy has done by invoking it, he has put Mike Pompeo on the hotseat.

It may not be a coincidence that in the wake of this letter, Gordon Sondland sued Mike Pompeo for covering up what really happened in State in 2019 and provided several excuses — most importantly, that Pompeo refused to let him access his own backup materials before testifying — for why his two existing sessions of sworn testimony might conflict with what SDNY seized from Rudy.

In his other claim of cooperation, Rudy detailed how he shared disinformation from Russian agent Andrii Derkach with DOJ, which he described as “cooperation” with Main Justice in the guise of its delegate, Pittsburgh US Attorney Scott Brady.

Before I repeat Rudy’s description of how he shared disinformation from Andrii Derkach with a hand-picked and very pro-Trump US Attorney, consider several details: first, immediately in the wake of the raid on Rudy in April, there were leaked explanations for how Rudy managed to meet with a known Russian agent — right in the middle of impeachment!! — even though both National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien and FBI’s Counterintelligence folks knew that Russia was feeding Derkach disinformation to feed to Rudy.

The WaPo originally reported that the FBI had warned Rudy, but had to retract that. Rudy never got warned.

Correction: An earlier version of this story, published Thursday, incorrectly reported that One America News was warned by the FBI that it was the target of a Russian influence operation. That version also said the FBI had provided a similar warning to Rudolph W. Giuliani, which he has since disputed. This version has been corrected to remove assertions that OAN and Giuliani received the warnings.

The FBI became aware in late 2019 that Rudolph W. Giuliani was the target of a Russian influence operation aimed at circulating falsehoods intended to damage President Biden politically ahead of last year’s election, according to people familiar with the matter.

Officials planned to warn Giuliani as part of an extensive effort by the bureau to alert members of Congress and at least one conservative media outlet, One America News, that they faced a risk of being used to further Russia’s attempt to influence the election’s outcome, said several current and former U.S. officials. All spoke on the condition of anonymity because the matter remains highly sensitive.

The FBI became aware of the Russian information operation at a time when Giuliani was deeply involved with former president Donald Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign and related activities in Ukraine to surface unflattering or incriminating information about the Biden family.


In late 2019, before Giuliani’s trip to Kyiv, U.S. intelligence agencies warned the Trump White House that Giuliani was the target of a Russian influence operation, as The Post reported last year. Officials became concerned after obtaining evidence, including communications intercepts, that showed Giuliani was interacting with people tied to Russian intelligence. The warnings led then-national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien to caution Trump that any information Giuliani brought back from Ukraine should be considered contaminated by Russia.

Then, after matching the WaPo’s original story and similarly having to retract it, NBC offered an explanation why Rudy wasn’t given that briefing: because it would “complicate” what NBC called “the criminal investigation” into Rudy.

The FBI prepared a so-called “defensive” briefing for Rudy Giuliani in 2019 in which agents were poised to warn him he was being targeted by a Russian intelligence influence operation as he sought to gather opposition research on the Biden family, according to a source familiar with the matter.

But that briefing was not given, according to a second source familiar with the matter, because of concerns that the briefing could complicate the criminal investigation into the former New York City mayor.

Yet, at the time Rudy would have gotten this warning, SDNY had already shown probable cause Rudy was an agent of one or another pro-corruption Ukrainians, almost certainly Yuri Lutsenko in his efforts to fire Marie Yovanovitch. Without a Derkach angle to the SDNY investigation — an angle Jeffrey Rosen went to great lengths to prevent them from pursuing — it’s not clear how it would have complicated that investigation.

Rudy didn’t get his warning and instead of warning him, Trump said that was Rudy being Rudy. So Rudy first met with Lutsenko, the subject of the first investigation, and headed from that meeting directly to meet with Derkach.

A month later, Rosen issued a memo prohibiting any prosecutors from expanding the scope of their already opened investigations, which would have had the effect of preventing SDNY from investigating Rudy’s ongoing influence peddling for known Russian agent Andrii Derkach, about whom FBI decided not to warn Rudy even though everyone briefed on it knew it was a Russian intelligence operation.

But that wasn’t the only thing that Billy Barr and Rosen’s efforts to divvy up Ukrainian investigations did. After Rosen wrote that memo (ensuring no one could start an investigation into Rudy’s dalliances with Derkach), but still a week before Trump was acquitted for coercing dirt from Ukraine to use against Joe Biden, per Rudy’s timeline, Barr assigned Pittsburgh US Attorney Scott Brady to oversee intake of all Ukrainian dirt and, within a day, Rudy was in the business of sharing Derkach’s dirt directly with Pittsburgh’s US Attorney’s office.

In his letter, Rudy clearly identifies four of the nine people who rushed to accept Rudy’s dirt, which the government had identified as Russia disinformation before he went to collect it in December.

[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]

And, as Rudy tells it, that First AUSA kept coming back for more, a claim (like his other claims about the personnel involved) that matches a story published in the NYT after those involved knew that Trump had lost. That story also described that Brady kept pushing for inappropriate investigative steps until, ultimately, Seth DuCharme had to get involved.

Officials said that Mr. Brady almost immediately started pushing to take aggressive steps. He had a list of people he wanted F.B.I. agents to question. It was not clear whether they were the same witnesses that Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Costello had submitted, but a former law enforcement official said that Mr. Brady had wanted the F.B.I. to question people mentioned in Mr. Giuliani’s materials.

The steps were outside “normal investigative procedures,” one former senior law enforcement official with knowledge of the events said, particularly in an election year; Justice Department policy typically forbids investigators from making aggressive moves before elections that could affect the outcome of the vote if they become public.
The Pittsburgh F.B.I. office refused to comply without the approval of David L. Bowdich, the F.B.I.’s deputy director, the former official said.

Mr. Brady’s demands soon prompted a tense confrontation with F.B.I. officials at the bureau’s headquarters in Washington. The meeting was mediated by Seth D. DuCharme, now the acting U.S. attorney in Brooklyn and at the time a trusted aide and ally of Mr. Barr’s at the Justice Department in Washington.

Then, after Barr failed to replace Geoffrey Berman with a hand-picked flunky when he fired him on June 20 of last year, Barr instead installed DuCharme in Brooklyn on July 10, thereby making DuCharme (who had already been personally involved in Pittsburgh) the gatekeeper on any investigations pertaining to Ukraine. And sometime months after that — as Rudy continued to share known Russian disinformation during the election — DuCharme approved not an expansion of the investigation in SDNY that Barr tried to shut down by firing Berman, which would have been the logical thing to do if you were concerned about Russians interfering in our elections, but instead a parallel investigation in EDNY that, per the more recent NYT report, by design would not treat Rudy as a subject. Meanwhile, Rosen created repeated roadblocks — higher and higher levels of approvals for a search of Rudy — in an attempt to prevent SDNY from advancing their investigation into Rudy any further.

There are some involved in this story, like the FBI Agents who got promoted into the jobs formerly held by Andrew McCabe and Bill Priestap and Peter Strzok, who probably let all this happen because they knew the best way to advance their careers was to not make the mistake that their predecessors had made by trying to keep the country safe from Russian interference during an election. Others may rationalize what they did as a means to placate the President, perhaps imagining that it wouldn’t do that much damage to the country — that was the excuse cited by the NYT article on the Pittsburgh investigation. But those people, in recognizing Trump would lash out if they tried to investigate Russian interference in the 2020 election, would have therefore understood that Trump wanted Russian spies to interfere in the election and would be furious if they prevented it. They would have had to have understood that the way to keep Trump happy was to let Russia have its way. They would have been operating on the recognition that all the claims about what Trump did in 2016 were true, at least as far as 2020.

Plus, no one who pushed as hard as Scott Brady did can claim to be trying to placate the President.

Finally, worst of all, there are those who took a vow to “protect and defend against enemies foreign and domestic” who made affirmative attempts to protect not just the disinformation that Rudy was feeding to DOJ and FBI, but also protect Rudy for serving as the willful handmaiden of someone they knew was a Russian spy.

The Russian scandal of 2020 is, in many ways, even more scandalous than the Russian scandal of 2016. At least Paul Manafort and Roger Stone were in a position to claim plausible deniability. Bill Barr and Jeffrey Rosen are not.

Update: This email obtained via American Oversight shows that the decision to use Scott Brady to protect the Russian disinformation intake started earlier, by January 3.

The Claim that Billy Barr Didn’t Release Any Investigative Information During the Election Is False

Even before Billy Barr’s obsequious resignation, he and his handlers had been working the press to boost his tainted reputation. Consider not one (dated December 10) but two (dated December 14) WSJ stories boasting about how Barr kept the Hunter Biden investigations from going public. The WSJ lauds Barr for doing things that he pushed to have Peter Strzok and others prosecuted for also doing in the Russian investigation (one theory that John Durham and Jeffrey Jensen pursued is that because Strzok didn’t approve NSLs against Mike Flynn in November 2016 he had no basis to do so in February and March 2017).

Mr. Barr took more steps than previously reported to insulate the investigations, despite calls from President Trump and Republican allies to announce a probe involving President-elect Joe Biden’s son Hunter.

Mr. Barr and senior department officials relayed the instructions in conversations with prosecutors, questioning whether their staff members could be trusted and warning against issuing subpoenas or taking other steps that might become public, some of the people familiar with the matter said.

It’s full of fawning praise that accepts as true that Barr would never reveal information from an ongoing probe.

As the election drew nearer, calls from Mr. Trump and some Republican allies for the investigations rose in urgency. Mr. Barr and other top Justice Department officials resisted inquiries from several Republican lawmakers and their staffs for information on whether investigators were examining Hunter Biden, two people familiar with the matter said.

“It’s not even debatable that it is wrong for anyone in the chain of command at DOJ, especially the top law enforcement person in the country, to reveal an ongoing confidential criminal investigation. And Bill Barr was not going to do that,” said Richard Cullen, a former U.S. attorney and longtime friend of the attorney general.

The WSJ even points to the Scott Brady investigation, without noting what happened to it during the investigation.

After the acquittal, Mr. Barr announced that the U.S. attorney in Pittsburgh, Scott Brady, would receive and review information related to Hunter Biden and Ukraine from Mr. Giuliani.

As the NYT reported, Brady was pushing the FBI to do stuff they deemed inappropriate, particularly during an election year. It sounds like, to the degree that these investigations remained secret, that was due more to the FBI than to Barr or his hand-selected partisan US Attorney.

The steps were outside “normal investigative procedures,” one former senior law enforcement official with knowledge of the events said, particularly in an election year; Justice Department policy typically forbids investigators from making aggressive moves before elections that could affect the outcome of the vote if they become public.

The Pittsburgh F.B.I. office refused to comply without the approval of David L. Bowdich, the F.B.I.’s deputy director, the former official said.

Mr. Brady’s demands soon prompted a tense confrontation with F.B.I. officials at the bureau’s headquarters in Washington. The meeting was mediated by Seth D. DuCharme, now the acting U.S. attorney in Brooklyn and at the time a trusted aide and ally of Mr. Barr’s at the Justice Department in Washington.


Still, Mr. Brady pressed the F.B.I. to do more, officials said. The agents found ways to ostensibly satisfy Mr. Brady without upending the election. It is not clear how they compromised, but agents could have investigated more discreetly, like questioning witnesses they were confident would keep quiet or checking databases.

WSJ addresses the Durham investigation this way in its last three paragraphs.

Mr. Barr soon after ordered an investigation into the origins of the FBI’s 2016 probe that had led to Mr. Mueller’s appointment. Mr. Barr openly contemplated releasing the results ahead of November’s election. He told The Wall Street Journal in August the department’s election-sensitivities policy did not apply because the previously announced inquiry did not “reach to Obama or Biden, and therefore the people under investigation are in fact not really political figures.”

Then, the federal prosecutor leading that review, John Durham, hadn’t completed his work in time. Mr. Durham’s deputy resigned in part over concerns that Mr. Barr would use the findings for political gain, the Journal previously reported. Mr. Trump and his allies said they hoped some findings would be released before the election. Mr. Durham hasn’t commented on his team’s work.

In October, Mr. Barr appointed Mr. Durham special counsel, meaning he can only be removed for cause and likely leaving the probe for his successor to address. He didn’t disclose that appointment until Dec. 1.

I’m not sure how a piece that describes Nora Dannehy’s resignation can claim — anywhere — that Barr worked hard to keep investigative information secret. He tried to do the opposite, and failed, at least with respect to the Durham investigation.

But what he did in response should disabuse any journalist of the claim that Barr tried to keep investigative information secret.

In the 60 days leading up to the election, the Jeffrey Jensen released an interview report — from a witness that John Durham surely also interviewed — that was so obviously intended for political effect that it left out key details and evidence from the investigation into Mike Flynn and invited a pro-Trump FBI Agent to make accusations about Mueller prosecutors he didn’t even work with. The report was also redacted so as to hide material, complimentary information about the Mueller investigation.

At the same time, the Jensen investigation released a package of exhibits also reviewed as part of the Durham investigation, at least three of which had been altered, including to have their protective order footers removed:

One of the alterations — a misleading date falsely suggesting Biden played a role in the Mike Flynn investigation that DOJ knew well Bob Litt actually played — was used by Trump to make an attack on Joe Biden.

It is simply false to say that Barr didn’t release investigative information affecting Joe Biden. Indeed, under his micromanagement, Jensen did far worse than Jim Comey did in 2016, because the information was packaged up

DOJ’s Ukraine Fire Sale: The Jerry Nadler Questions Bill Barr Didn’t Answer

Yesterday, Natasha Bertrand posted a January 17, 2020 memo issued by Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, which was cited in a response DOJ sent to a letter Jerry Nadler sent on February 10. In it, Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs Stephen Boyd explained that — in addition to asking Scott Brady to manage intake of any disinformation Rudy Giuliani provides DOJ, Rosen “assigned Richard Donoghue, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, to assist in coordinating … several open matters being handled by different U.S. Attorney’s Offices and Department components that in some way potentially relate to Ukraine.”

Add Donoghue to the list of US Attorneys that Attorney General Barr has deployed in his effort to politicize the Department.

Because the Donoghue Ukraine news (and the suggestion that Donoghue may be overseeing an investigation into the Bidens) got so much attention, there has been little attention to the questions Nadler originally asked, most of which Boyd did not answer.

But those questions are perhaps more telling.

For starters, Bill Barr did not answer whether he intends to recuse himself from the Ukrainian grifter case.

In light of the allegations by Mr. Parnas against the Department and you personally, do you intend to recuse yourself from any and all communications relating to Ukraine? Have you done so already?

In addition, Barr did not answer several questions about communications between DOJ, Rudy, and the White House:

(8) Please state the dates of any communications between the Department and Mr. Giuliani regarding information relating to Ukraine or investigations of the Bidens. Please state who else, if anyone, participated in those communications.

(9) Has the Department shared any information it has received from Mr. Giuliani with President Trump or any other White House official? If so, please state the dates of any such communications, the participants in any such communications, and the nature of the information conveyed to the White House.

(10) Have you discussed the intake process with President Trump or any other White House official? If so, please state the dates of any such communications, the participants in any such communications, and the nature of the discussion.

The only answer Boyd gives to any of these questions effectively repeats DOJ’s September 25, 2019 press answer.

Finally, your letter poses questions regarding a September 25, 2019 press statement by the Department. That statement remains accurate. As Attorney General Barr has repeatedly affirmed, he has not discussed matters relating to Ukraine with Rudolph Giuliani.

In short, Bill Barr refused to answer a specific question about whether he should recuse from an investigation into which he has been personally implicated. And DOJ refused to explain precisely what kind of communications there have been between Rudy, DOJ, and the White House.

The Size of Bill Barr’s Cover-Up Hints at the Magnitude of What He’s Covering Up

After the Tuesday Afternoon Massacre — where four prosecutors withdrew from the Roger Stone case rather than be party to Bill Barr interfering in the prosecution of Trump’s rat-fucker — we learned on Friday that Bill Barr had deployed a third US Attorney — Saint Louis’ Jeffrey Jensen — to the DC US Attorney’s office as part of an elaborate cover-up for Trump’s crimes. I’m going to attempt to lay out the full scope of Barr’s attempted cover-up. This post will serve as an overview and I will update it with links to the known or suspected evidence and crimes that Barr is covering up. I’m not including efforts to launch or sustain investigations into those Trump perceives to be his enemies.

The cover-up has the following aspects:

Interim US Attorneys oversee investigations implicating Trump’s actions

Geoffrey Berman, Southern District of New York: For the most part, Berman seems to have operated independently after his appointment as US Attorney for SDNY, but there are recent concerns that investigations implicating Trump have been stymied:

  • Hush payments: After getting Michael Cohen to plead guilty to covering up Trump’s past sex partners during the election and obtaining testimony from National Enquirer, the investigation closed with no further charges on or before July 17, 2019.
  • Ukrainian grifters: There are conflicting stories about the scope of the investigation into Ukrainian grifters Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, particularly with regards to how seriously SDNY is considering charges against Rudy Giuliani. WaPo reported steps taken implicating Rudy’s activities on February 14, 2020. But Parnas has insinuated that his sudden arrest on October 9 was an attempt to keep him silent; Barr visited SDNY that day and subsequently visited Rupert Murdoch at his home. SDNY showed unusual concern for the privacy of third parties as Parnas tried to share more information with the House Intelligence Committee. And Bill Barr has not recused in spite of a clear conflict and a request from Parnas.
  • Halkbank: Barr tried to pre-empt an indictment of Turkey’s Halkbank with a settlement.

Timothy Shea, District of Columbia: While Berman worked for several years without any show of corruption, that’s not true of Timothy Shea, a trusted Barr aide. The very first day he started work — having been installed by Barr with just a day’s notice — he started questioning the guidelines sentence of Roger Stone, who has promised to remain silent about details of Trump’s involvement in his efforts to optimize the release of emails stolen by Russian. Then, Shea worked with Bill Barr to reverse the guidelines sentence recommended by career prosecutors. In addition, Shea’s appointment coincided with the start of a “review” of other prosecutions and investigations of Trump associates in DC including, but not limited to, Mike Flynn and Erik Prince.

Confirmed US Attorneys “review” investigations into Trump and his associates

John Durham, Connecticut: In May 2019, Barr ordered John Durham to conduct an investigation into the origins of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation of Trump associates’ ties to Russia. He predicated the investigation, explicitly, on the absence of evidence. In clear contrast to the Mueller investigation, DOJ has produced no documentation regarding the scope of the investigation (including whether Durham could pursue crimes by Trump’s associates or even Barr himself if he found evidence of a crime), and Barr has remained personally involved, completely negating the entire point of appointing a US Attorney to conduct the investigation. Republicans have described the point of this investigation as an effort to discredit the Mueller investigation. It has included the following:

  • Bill Barr’s worldwide tour chasing the hoaxes rolled out through George Papadopoulos via the right wing echo chamber
  • Some disinformation likely fed via Rudy
  • The legitimate criminal investigation of FBI Attorney Kevin Clinesmith, the actual venue for which should be Washington DC
  • CIA’s 2016 determination — confirmed by more recent intelligence collection and reviewed approvingly by the Senate Intelligence Committee — that Russia not only wanted to hurt Hillary, but help Trump in the 2016 election
  • Communications between John Brennan and Jim Comey and Andrew McCabe

Jeffrey Jensen, Eastern District of Missouri: The “review” Jeffrey Jensen is conducting of DC US Attorney cases seems to couple with Durham’s investigation. It reportedly is second-guessing decisions made by prosecutors on the Mike Flynn and Erik Prince investigation, as well as other non-public investigations. The review is almost certainly assessing rumors started by known propagandists that have already been investigated three times, including by FBI’s Inspection Division, rumors already reviewed and dismissed in a meticulous 92-page opinion from Emmet Sullivan. This “review” seems to have been part of the installment of Shea at DC and may amount to an attempt to thwart investigations that Jessie Liu let proceed without political interference.

DOJ diverts disinformation from Rudy Giuliani to another confirmed US Attorneys

In recent weeks, Barr has appointed Scott Brady, US Attorney for Western District of Pennsylvania, to vet incoming information from Rudy’s foreign influence peddling in Ukraine. It’s unclear whether Barr did this to try to make something out of that disinformation, or to prevent evidence that might support foreign influence peddling charges against Rudy from getting to prosecutors in SDNY.

Richard Donoghue, Eastern District of New York: Donoghue is apparently “handling certain Ukraine-related matters.” In connection to that, Jeffrey Rosen put Donoghue in charge of coordinating all investigations that pertain to Ukraine,

to avoid duplication of efforts across Offices and components, to obviate the need for deconfliction at a later stage of potentially overlapping investigations, and to efficiently marshal the resources of the Department to address the appropriate handling of potentially relevant new information.

That in and of itself is not problematic. But by putting Jensen in charge of intake, presumably before it gets to Donoghue, Rosen has ensured that information that — because it is disinformation — would be incriminating to Rudy, not Joe Biden (or anyone else).

DOJ prevents full investigation of Ukraine complaint

Barr and his DOJ engaged in multiple acts of obstruction of the Ukraine complaint. First, Barr did not recuse from a complaint mentioning him by name. Then (knowing that Barr was personally implicated), DOJ did not conduct a full assessment of the whistleblower complaint, which would have identified a tie to the SDNY investigation of Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. Then OLC invented an excuse not to share whistleblower complaint with Congress, which resulted in a significant delay and almost led Ukraine to make concessions to obtain aid. Then, DOJ did not share whistleblower complaint with FEC as required by Memorandum of Notification. Finally, DOJ made a comment claiming Trump was exonerated, precisely the abuse — speaking about ongoing investigations — that Jim Comey got fired for.