Mueller Briefs: Bad News for Trump, Manafort, and Cohen

In brief No. 1, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office argues that Paul Manafort breached his cooperation agreement with the government by lying to the FBI and the Special Counsel’s Office in the course of 12 meetings. The brief oozes a level of confidence notable even among professionally hubristic prosecutors: Mueller says he’s ready to present witnesses and documents, and that he gave Manafort’s lawyers an opportunity to refute the evidence but they could not. Mueller is sure he has the receipts.

…Manafort lied about his communications with the reputed Russian intelligence agent Konstantin Kilimnik. …Mueller has emails contradicting Manafort’s description of those meetings, which—we can infer from the unredacted snippets—related to the Trump campaign’s interactions with Russian interests. Mueller also asserts that Manafort lied about some of the payments he received. …Manafort lied about his contacts with the Trump administration before his guilty plea, and that text messages, documents, and witnesses prove that he was in contact with administration officials.

In brief No. 2, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York asks a federal judge to sentence the former Trump attorney Michael Cohen to a “substantial term of imprisonment”—meaning between three and four years. 

…The prosecutors’ rebuttal of Cohen’s sentencing brief is one of the more livid denunciations I’ve seen in more than two decades of federal criminal practice. The Southern District concedes that Cohen provided some information to it, to the special counsel, and to the New York attorney general. But Cohen refused to cooperate fully; he declined to engage in a full debriefing about everything he knew or to commit to ongoing meetings, and he only spilled about the things he’d already admitted in his plea. 

..Prosecutors portray Cohen as stubbornly obstructing his own accountant to cheat at taxes, even refusing to pay for accounting work that raised inconvenient issues he wanted suppressed. When it comes to Cohen’s campaign-finance violations, the prosecutors’ fury leaps off the page. 

As the brief puts it:

While many Americans who desired a particular outcome to the election knocked on doors, toiled at phone banks, or found any number of other legal ways to make their voices heard, Cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows. He did so by orchestrating secret and illegal payments to silence two women who otherwise would have made public their alleged extramarital affairs with Individual-1. In the process, Cohen deceived the voting public by hiding alleged facts that he believed would have had a substantial effect on the election.

…And that brings us to brief No. 3:

That includes information about multiple cases of contact between other Trump-campaign officials and the Russian government, and about Cohen’s contact with the White House in 2017 and 2018, suggesting an ongoing inquiry into obstruction of justice. Most significant, the special counsel indicates that Cohen “described the circumstances of preparing and circulating his response to the congressional inquiries, while continuing to accept responsibility for the false statements within it.” That statement suggests that the special counsel believes that someone in the Trump administration knew of, and approved in advance, Cohen’s lies to Congress. 

Mueller Briefs: Bad News for Trump, Manafort, and Cohen – The Atlantic

Hmmmm

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Ammon Bundy Quits Militia Movement, Defends Migrant Caravan

As Hernandez notes, Bundy’s heretical hostility to xenophobic hate isn’t as out of character as it might appear to a lay audience. While the Bundys are heroes to a movement associated with militant nativism, they’ve always belonged to a peculiar strand of the American militia movement — one whose hostility to the federal government is rooted less in white nationalism than a libertarian Mormonism that honors the Church of Latter-day Saints’ traditional support for refugees.

Nevertheless, “woke Bill Kristol” (and woker Axl Rose) notwithstanding, anti-Trump Ammon Bundy has to be the #Resistance’s weirdest recruit yet.

Ammon Bundy Quits Militia Movement, Defends Migrant Caravan

hmmm