The Russia Investigations and other Trump-related cases

The place for measured discourse about politics and current events, including developments in science and medicine.
Post Reply
User avatar
Voronwë the Faithful
1000%
Posts: 38596
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2005 1:41 am
Contact:

Re: The Russia Investigations and other Trump-related cases

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Washington Post: Manhattan DA convenes grand jury to consider potential charges in Trump Organization probe

This, of course, does not mean that there will be charges. But it is a significant step in that direction. And if this had not happened soon, it would have meant that there won't be charges.
"Among the tales of sorrow there are yet some in which amid weeping there is joy and under the shadow of death light that endures."
User avatar
Voronwë the Faithful
1000%
Posts: 38596
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2005 1:41 am
Contact:

Re: The Russia Investigations and other Trump-related cases

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

More "faulty" redactions (this time by the attorney for Lev Parnas) give a better idea of what prosecutors have on Giuliani.
New York federal prosecutors investigating Rudy Giuliani have seized material from a wider array of individuals than previously disclosed, including messages from email and iCloud accounts they believe belong to two former Ukrainian government officials, as well as the cell phone and iPad of a pro-Trump Ukrainian businessman, according to a court document unsealed Tuesday.

The court filing, which contained redacted portions that CNN was able to read by copying and pasting them into another document, also disclosed that federal prosecutors have "historical and prospective cell site information" related to Giuliani and another lawyer, Victoria Toensing, both of whom were the subjects of search warrants executed late last month.
The Ukrainians include the former Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko, the former head of the Ukrainian Fiscal Service Roman Nasirov and businessman Alexander Levin.
https://www.cnn.com/2021/05/25/politics ... index.html
"Among the tales of sorrow there are yet some in which amid weeping there is joy and under the shadow of death light that endures."
User avatar
Frelga
Meanwhile...
Posts: 18481
Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2005 11:31 pm
Location: Home, where else

Re: The Russia Investigations and other Trump-related cases

Post by Frelga »

The court filing, which contained redacted portions that CNN was able to read by copying and pasting them into another document
:rofl:
His philosophy was a mixture of three famous schools -- the Cynics, the Stoics and the Epicureans -- and summed up all three of them in his famous phrase, 'You can't trust any bugger further than you can throw him, and there's nothing you can do about it, so let's have a drink."

Terry Pratchett, Small Gods
User avatar
elengil
Cat-egorical Herbitual Creativi-Tea
Posts: 4756
Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2005 11:45 pm
Location: Small drinking village with a severe fishing problem

Re: The Russia Investigations and other Trump-related cases

Post by elengil »

:doh:

Reminds me of the scene from Hidden Figures where she's explaining she held the paper up to the light to read the redacted portions.
The dumbest thing I've ever bought
was a 2020 planner.

"Does anyone ever think about Denethor, the guy driven to madness by staying up late into the night alone in the dark staring at a flickering device he believed revealed unvarnished truth about the outside word, but which in fact showed mostly manipulated media created by a hostile power committed to portraying nothing but bad news framed in the worst possible way in order to sap hope, courage, and the will to go on? Seems like he's someone we should think about." - Dave_LF
User avatar
Voronwë the Faithful
1000%
Posts: 38596
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2005 1:41 am
Contact:

Re: The Russia Investigations and other Trump-related cases

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

You will notice that I put "faulty" in quotes. I don't believe for a second that Joseph Bondy, Parnas' attorney, did not not intentionally leak this information.
"Among the tales of sorrow there are yet some in which amid weeping there is joy and under the shadow of death light that endures."
N.E. Brigand
Posts: 1584
Joined: Sat May 26, 2007 1:41 am
Location: Cleveland, OH, USA

Re: The Russia Investigations and other Trump-related cases

Post by N.E. Brigand »

Wall Street Journal reporter Rebecca Ballhaus:

"The publisher of the National Enquirer today agreed to pay $187,500 as part of a settlement with the Federal Election Commission over a 2016 scheme to buy and suppress the story of a woman [former Playboy model Karen McDougal] who alleged an affair with Trump."

I think it's exceedingly unlikely that this happened without Donald Trump knowing about it, but he will of course get off the hook once again.
N.E. Brigand
Posts: 1584
Joined: Sat May 26, 2007 1:41 am
Location: Cleveland, OH, USA

Re: The Russia Investigations and other Trump-related cases

Post by N.E. Brigand »

The transcript of the recent closed-door Congressional testimony by Don McGahn, the White House Counsel who was a witness to President Donald Trump's obstruction of justice, was released today. As expected, it's almost a total bust with practically no new information, because the House agreed to settle their long-running fight with McGahn and Trump and (more recently) the Biden administration (the latter mistakenly trying to protect the institution yet again) by allowing McGahn to testify only to things that he is attributed as having said in the unredacted portions of the Mueller report.

Even so, some in the media are reporting on some of what McGahn describes as if it were new information. And I guess, because so many reporters, not to mention members of Congress, didn't do their jobs when Mueller's report was released (because they fell for William Barr's coverup), that means that paltry as this testimony is, it still may be a good thing to have, if it brings this old information newly to an ignorant public.

For example, an MSNBC reporter today tweeted:

"Judiciary Cmte: Trump directed McGahn to write a false statement—knowing that the statement was false, and knowing that carrying out this order might expose McGahn to criminal liability, including prosecution by the Special Counsel."

Well yes, we've known that for more than two years now. That's obstruction of justice. Donald Trump should have been impeached and removed from office just for that. He should also be prosecuted now for that. It's a serious crime. And it's one of at least a four instances of obstruction that Robert Mueller clearly documented (with another six or more instances that are likely but less certain, largely because they managed to obstruct about obstruction).
User avatar
Voronwë the Faithful
1000%
Posts: 38596
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2005 1:41 am
Contact:

Re: The Russia Investigations and other Trump-related cases

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

One of the biggest mistakes that Nancy Pelosi has made in his her illustrious and remarkable career was pushing for (or agreeing to, depending on the story told) a limited impeachment that only addressed the Ukraine issue, and did not include obstruction of justice. I know why she (and they) came to that decision, but I disagree with it. (When I have time, I'll have to go back and see what I said then; I have a niggling feeling that I was wrong about this too.)
"Among the tales of sorrow there are yet some in which amid weeping there is joy and under the shadow of death light that endures."
N.E. Brigand
Posts: 1584
Joined: Sat May 26, 2007 1:41 am
Location: Cleveland, OH, USA

Re: The Russia Investigations and other Trump-related cases

Post by N.E. Brigand »

One of the very few bits of new information in Don McGahn's testimony does give regular people a glimpse into one of the clever ways that reporters hide their sources.

McGahn told the House last Friday that he was an unnamed source for this Washington Post story from January 2018, just a year into Donald Trump's presidency. That Post story followed up on a New York Times story, for which McGahn told Congress last week he was not the source, that had reported that McGahn had told Trump in the summer of 2017 that he would resign if Trump fired Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The Post story updated the Times story with this tidbit:

"McGahn did not deliver his resignation threat directly to Trump but was serious about his threat to leave, according to a person familiar with the episode."

We now know that "a person familiar with the episode" was McGahn himself. How did the Post hide that fact? Have a look at these paragraphs from their story:
The special counsel probe has quickly expanded to include an exploration of whether Trump has attempted to obstruct the ongoing investigation — a line of inquiry that could now include the president's threats to fire Mueller himself.

Peter Carr, a spokesman for the special counsel's office, declined to comment. McGahn did not respond to requests for comment.

A White House spokesman referred questions to Ty Cobb, the attorney coordinating the administration's response to the Russia investigations, who did not immediately respond to requests for comment. John Dowd, an attorney for the president, declined to comment.
Emphasis added. And I'm sure that bolded sentence is absolutely true: after McGahn gave the reporters the information about what happened six months earlier, they probably followed up with a couple emails asking him to comment, and he didn't respond. Because he had already commented. And the article never said that he didn't. Only that he didn't "respond to requests." It doesn't even say he didn't respond to "all requests." He might have responded to other requests they made before that.

Reporters do this sort of thing all the time. I'm not saying it's necessarily bad. It's often what they need to do to get a story. This is just a reminder about how closely you have to read the news to see around the tricks of the trade.
N.E. Brigand
Posts: 1584
Joined: Sat May 26, 2007 1:41 am
Location: Cleveland, OH, USA

Re: The Russia Investigations and other Trump-related cases

Post by N.E. Brigand »

My first thought, upon learning today that the Dept. of Justice in the Trump administration had secretly obtained subpoenas to obtain the phone records of members of Congress who had been critical of Trump, was that the very same DOJ argued in court that due to the separation of powers, Congress does not have the authority to issues subpoenas to obtain the tax records of the President.
User avatar
Voronwë the Faithful
1000%
Posts: 38596
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2005 1:41 am
Contact:

Re: The Russia Investigations and other Trump-related cases

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Not just members of Congress, but also their family, including at least one minor. Plus staff members, including those not even involved in the matters that were supposedly being investigated for leaks.
"Among the tales of sorrow there are yet some in which amid weeping there is joy and under the shadow of death light that endures."
User avatar
River
bioalchemist
Posts: 12581
Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2007 1:08 am
Location: the dry land

Re: The Russia Investigations and other Trump-related cases

Post by River »

N.E. Brigand wrote: Fri Jun 11, 2021 7:24 am My first thought, upon learning today that the Dept. of Justice in the Trump administration had secretly obtained subpoenas to obtain the phone records of members of Congress who had been critical of Trump, was that the very same DOJ argued in court that due to the separation of powers, Congress does not have the authority to issues subpoenas to obtain the tax records of the President.
Rules are for the little people.
When you can do nothing what can you do?
User avatar
Voronwë the Faithful
1000%
Posts: 38596
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2005 1:41 am
Contact:

Re: The Russia Investigations and other Trump-related cases

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

For some reason I feel the need to belabor the obvious. This is a big deal.
"Among the tales of sorrow there are yet some in which amid weeping there is joy and under the shadow of death light that endures."
N.E. Brigand
Posts: 1584
Joined: Sat May 26, 2007 1:41 am
Location: Cleveland, OH, USA

Re: The Russia Investigations and other Trump-related cases

Post by N.E. Brigand »

Voronwë the Faithful wrote: Fri Jun 11, 2021 1:28 pm Not just members of Congress, but also their family, including at least one minor. Plus staff members, including those not even involved in the matters that were supposedly being investigated for leaks.
Matt Zapotosky, who writes for the Washington Post, explains how it could be true that Dept. of Justice leadership didn't know that lawmakers' call records had been subpoenaed. Basically, if investigators suspected a Congressional staff member was the source of a leak, and they got a subpoena for his communications history, their next step could be to subpoena the tech company for information on all the phone numbers shown as having been in communications with. At that point, investigators would realize that some of the numbers they gathered were for members of Congress, but that doesn't mean that they planned to do anything with that information, because they would deem it irrelevant to their investigation: of course a House staffer would have conversations with Congresspersons. So they wouldn't see the necessity of informing top DOJ officials, because they weren't actually investigation members of the House.

Maybe.

On the other hand, Marcy Wheeler writes that this would be very sloppy work, maybe deliberately so.

And she also notes some slippery language in William Barr's denial: he says that while he was Attorney General he was "not aware of any congressman’s records being sought in a leak case." But if you read the Times story that broke this news on Thursday, you'll see that the data was gathered before Barr became A.G., and that he is said to have ordered the continuation of the investigation into those already-collected records. Also, she points out that by saying he didn't know of a congressperson's records being "sought in a leak case" while he was A.G., Barr doesn't rule out a search for such records for other kinds of cases.

(Finally she points out that there's a good chance that even if things are as bad as they seem, it's very possible that no crime was committed. And ironically that's partly due to Adam Schiff and a number of other Democrats who never bothered to limit the FBI's information-gathering capacity as activists had urged them to do.)
User avatar
Voronwë the Faithful
1000%
Posts: 38596
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2005 1:41 am
Contact:

Re: The Russia Investigations and other Trump-related cases

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

Frankly, I put the likelihood of the DOJ leadership not knowing that they were subpoenaing members of Congress at some place between 0% and zero percent.
"Among the tales of sorrow there are yet some in which amid weeping there is joy and under the shadow of death light that endures."
N.E. Brigand
Posts: 1584
Joined: Sat May 26, 2007 1:41 am
Location: Cleveland, OH, USA

Re: The Russia Investigations and other Trump-related cases

Post by N.E. Brigand »

Tying two recent stories together, the New York Times today published an article about former White House Counsel Don McGahn, whose recent testimony to the House was released earlier this week, but nearly 20 paragraphs into the article are two paragraphs cocnerning the next day's big story about DOJ having obtained call records of Congressional Democrats:
In that case, the leak investigation appeared to have been primarily focused on Michael Bahar, then a staffer on the House Intelligence Committee. People close to Jeff Sessions and Rod J. Rosenstein, the top two Justice Department officials at the time, have said that neither knew that prosecutors had sought data about the accounts of lawmakers for that investigation.

It remains murky whether agents were pursuing a theory that Mr. Bahar had leaked on his own or whether they suspected him of talking to reporters with the approval of the lawmakers. Either way, it appears they were unable to prove their suspicions that he was the source of any unauthorized disclosures; the case has been closed and no charges were brought.
As some observers are pointing out, William Barr is not mentioned in those paragraphs, which might suggest that (1) he is telling the truth about not having approved a search for lawmakers' phone records in a leak investigation (it happened before his appointment), and (2) that the earlier New York Times report that said Barr chose not to close the case (but didn't seek further subpoenas) is also true.

In other words, it could be that Sessions and Rosenstein obtained the records, and then Barr tried to use them to help Trump.

The bulk of the new Times article is about how the FBI subpoenaed McGahn's phone records from Apple in 2018 and obtained a gag order, that was only released in the past few months, that prevented Apple from telling McGahn (and his wife, whose records were also obtained), about the subpeonas. It's not at all clear what the FBI was investigating, and nothing at this time suggests that McGahn was the subject of this investigation.

Edited to add: I had either forgotten or never known that Don McGahn was on the Federal Election Commission from 2008-2013. It was during his tenure, in 2011, that presidential candidate Ron Paul filed a complaint with the FEC alleging that Donald Trump and some of his employees, including MIchael Cohen, violated federal election law with the "Should Trump Run Committee," when Trump was testing the waters for a possible 2012 campaign, by acting as a de facto campaign without filing, by accepting campaign donations, and by spending campaign money.

After investigating the complaint, the FEC's general counsel filed this report on five possible impermissible acts and recommending the Commission find that Trump et al. had violated the law with two of those five acts. But in July 2013, the FEC itself issued its determination, which was that Trump had not violated the law on the three acts the FEC's counsel had said were permissible, but as regards the two other acts for which FEC's counsel recommeded the FEC find to have been violations, the FEC's statement just says "The Commission closed the file in connection with the remaining allegations."

I believe that means the FEC was evenly divided, with three Republicans and three Democrats, and that they deadlocked, and thus no action was taken on those last two points. In this statement issued at that time, McGahn and one of the other Republicans on the committee explain why they didn't think Trump & co. did anything wrong.
N.E. Brigand
Posts: 1584
Joined: Sat May 26, 2007 1:41 am
Location: Cleveland, OH, USA

Re: The Russia Investigations and other Trump-related cases

Post by N.E. Brigand »

Voronwë the Faithful wrote: Sat Jun 12, 2021 6:27 pm Frankly, I put the likelihood of the DOJ leadership not knowing that they were subpoenaing members of Congress at some place between 0% and zero percent.
Ryan Goodman points out this wouldn't be the first time that Rod Rosenstein had misled reporters. And also that this is the how Rosenstein is characterizing the latest news:

"Rosenstein has told people in recent days he was not aware of a subpoena that targeted the data of Democratic members of Congress… a source…told CNN."

So as we already believed, Schiff and Swalwell weren't the *targets* of these investigations. In other words, as you said, Rosenstein knew that their records had been subpoenaed, even if it was incidentally, and he's playing games.
User avatar
Voronwë the Faithful
1000%
Posts: 38596
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2005 1:41 am
Contact:

Re: The Russia Investigations and other Trump-related cases

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

I've actually changed my mind. The news that former White House Counsel Don McGahn and his wife also had their records subpoenaed has convinced me that there was a rogue element that answered directly to Trump in the DOJ that was behind this. I don't think Rosenstein was involved, and Sessions was out of the loop. It was before Barr's time, though I could certainly see him having continued the effort. But the truth needs to be gotten to. I think there should be a special counsel investigate this, rather than relying on the Inspector General. That is big time scary stuff.
"Among the tales of sorrow there are yet some in which amid weeping there is joy and under the shadow of death light that endures."
N.E. Brigand
Posts: 1584
Joined: Sat May 26, 2007 1:41 am
Location: Cleveland, OH, USA

Re: The Russia Investigations and other Trump-related cases

Post by N.E. Brigand »

Voronwë the Faithful wrote: Sun Jun 13, 2021 8:47 pm I've actually changed my mind. The news that former White House Counsel Don McGahn and his wife also had their records subpoenaed has convinced me that there was a rogue element that answered directly to Trump in the DOJ that was behind this. I don't think Rosenstein was involved, and Sessions was out of the loop. It was before Barr's time, though I could certainly see him having continued the effort. But the truth needs to be gotten to. I think there should be a special counsel investigate this, rather than relying on the Inspector General. That is big time scary stuff.
Further to your argument, it's notable that the Inspector General cannot compel testimony from former Dept. of Justice officials, so Will Barr, Jeff Sessions, and Rod Rosenstein are all off the hook. And another Justice Dept. official, John Demers, the Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division for the past three years, today announced that he's stepping down at the end of next week. Reportedly this has long been planned as the date of Demers's departure, so it's not in response to last week's news, but it nonetheless limits the I.G.'s abilities to learn the truth.
User avatar
Voronwë the Faithful
1000%
Posts: 38596
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2005 1:41 am
Contact:

Re: The Russia Investigations and other Trump-related cases

Post by Voronwë the Faithful »

It is very likely that Demers is a key player in this debacle. He became the Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division in February 2018, the same month that the subpoenas in question appear to have been issued. As the person in charge of the National Security Division, it would make sense that he would be involved in a purported investigation of 'leaks'.

I still think that a special counsel is needed, but congressional investigations are also a possible route to revealing the truth. It will be interesting to see if any GOP members of the Senate Justice Committee join with Democrats in agreeing to subpoena Barr, Sessions, Rosenstein and Demers, and probably others. However, the House committee does not need GOP agreement to issue subpoenas, as I understand it.
"Among the tales of sorrow there are yet some in which amid weeping there is joy and under the shadow of death light that endures."
Post Reply