Thursday, September 13, 2018

Yow! Wow! Pow! (Updated)

Manafort. Looks like he is flipping. Semi-flipping. I think that he will enter a plea tomorrow. I do not think that we will see an announcement of cooperation with Mueller.

Why a plea, and why now? Lotta speculation on this point. Marcy thinks it's all about moolah:
But the reason why Mueller isn’t just going to let Manafort plead to some of the DC charges without cooperating is because that would mean giving up the considerable leverage — $30 million worth — that Mueller built into this case a year ago.

While it hasn’t gotten a lot of attention, both Manafort indictments include forfeiture provisions, meaning the government will seize his ill-gotten gains. And because Manafort had a shit-ton of ill-gotten gains, there’s a whole lot of stuff that the government can now seize, starting with his ostrich skin suits.

Having been found guilty of charges 25 and 27 in his EDVA trial, for example, the government will seize the funds from the $16 million loan Manafort got by lying to Federal Savings Bank.
Fair point, but Putin and the 'garchs can make Paulie whole and then some. In my opinion, this is about the all-important state charges against Manafort -- charges which that divinely-inspired holdout juror in the first trial made possible. Thanks to him or her, then will be no argument about double jeopardy.

(Y'think that juror was secretly working for Mueller? Nah. That's a ridiculous theory. But boy -- that would be playing hardball, wouldn't it?)

The point is this: For a guy Manafort's age, it's no longer about the money. It's about spending your remaining years a free man. I'm older than Marcy, so this is one area where my instincts may be keener than hers.

My hunch, and it is just a hunch, is that any cooperation agreement won't be revealed tomorrow.

Why not? I suspect that a key factor is the Grand Omerta Compact which links everyone on Team Trump facing investigation. Manafort, we now know, is part of that compact, officially known as a Joint Defense Agreement.

I'm not sure how the Joint Defense Agreement would impact the cooperation agreement, but common sense tells us that if  Paulie comes out and says "I'm cooperating!", he must then leave the Omerta Compact.

On the other hand, if a cooperation agreement is not formally announced...

What then? Is Paulie still in the Big Omerta Club?

I dunno. I can't find an answer to that question. Folks, we are swimming in strange waters...

Keep in mind, though, that much the same thing happened to Cohen. He was forced to make a plea based on state charges -- to be specific, the potential charges against his wife. No cooperation agreement was announced, even though Cohen clearly is cooperating.

Cynic I may be, pessimist I may be, but even I must admit that Muller played this one well. He seems to have found a way around the presidential power of the pardon. The Manafort case is not like the Papadopoulos case, which seems to have turned out badly for Mueller.

The great Brett Kavanaugh Guessing Game. Just now, as Rachel Maddow transitioned to Lawrence O'Donnell, we learned more about the mystery letter, which O'Donnell (probably based on his contacts in the Senate) has known about since last freakin' Friday.

Apparently, the letter involves a sexual abuse case which goes all the way back to Kavanaugh's high school days -- to a time when both Kavanaugh and the unnamed girl were underaged. I'm not sure what "abuse" means in this instance, but nobody has mentioned the word "rape."

So what are we talking about? Are we dredging up an accusation that a seventeen year-old boy made a premature play for second base? Is the letter about something like that?

Frankly, most Americans won't be angered by that kind of revelation. A few ultra-hardcore feminists might sound the alarms, but most won't care. Nobody wants to see a small-ish skeleton -- a high school skeleton -- pop out of the closet at this stage of the game. I would become infuriated if a Democrat got blindsided by the revelation of a sin dating back to his teenaged years -- the years when everyone is trying to figure out how to read sexual signals. We have to maintain the same standard in the case of a Republican.

On the other hand: Perhaps the letter does contain a claim of rape. Perhaps the claim is justified. Or perhaps the claimant is lying. (If so, why would a liar demand anonymity?) It's also possible that she is working on behalf of a Republican plot, the mechanics and purpose of which we can now only guess at. (DiFi's careful reaction indicates that this thought has crossed her mind.)

The greatest mystery facing us right now is this: Why the referral to the FBI? The Bureau does not investigate sexual abuse allegations. Besides, the statute of limitations has passed.

Earlier today, Dem sites discussed a theory that Kavanaugh paid the woman to keep quiet about an abortion, and that the man's reported $200,000 in credit card debt was actually a hush money payment. If such a payment was structured in such a way as to avoid making a payment exceeding the $10,000 mark (the kind of payment that must be reported), then the FBI might well take an interest.

A simpler theory is that Kavanaugh was asked about his sexual history during the vetting process. If he did not mention -- or lied about -- an assault case which occurred during his youth, then he is guilty of perjury.

Of course, we know that the man has perjured himself on other matters, but sex gets attention. At any rate, the simpler theory seems like the better theory right now, although I do wonder if that $200,000 plays a role here.

The right is filling comments sections with outrageous accusations of a Democratic conspiracy. Come off it!

The woman provably exists; some news organizations know her name and have spoken to her. She does not want to go on the record. If she were party to a conspiracy to besmirch Kavanaugh, then she would go on the record -- otherwise, what would be the point? A smear that remains secret is no smear at all.

If this were a smear, then the letter would have leaked. Feinstein would not have referred the matter to the FBI, where (as far as we know) the whole issue may well disappear into a black hole. The whole point of a smear is publicity, and the Dems have bent over backward to avoid that. Even Lawrence O'Donnell has kept mum.

Update: The Guardian reveals more about the letter.
A source who said they were briefed on the contents of the letter said it described an incident involving Kavanaugh and a woman that took place when both were 17 years old and at a party. According to the source, Kavanaugh and a male friend had locked her in a room against her will, making her feel threatened, but she was able to get out of the room. The Guardian has not verified the apparent claims in the letter. It is not yet clear who wrote it.
Is that it? I doubt that the FBI will take any deep interest. So far, it seems as though this letter won't be the thing that kills Kavanaugh's chances.

The Hill comparison. Quite a few right-wing trolls have brought up Anita Hill's accusations against Clarence Thomas. These trolls are banking on the fact that young people have no clear memory of what really happened back in the 1990s.

In the years since that confrontation, Hill has been entirely vindicated. Back then, the only conspiracy in evidence was a right-wing conspiracy to besmirch Anita Hill, an honorable woman speaking the truth. We know all about that conspiracy because the man hired to smear Hill, David Brock, later confessed to everything. In fact, he offered the world a superb behind-the-scenes expose of how the right-wing smear machine operates.

That machine is even more vicious nowadays. If the author of the Kavanaugh Mystery Letter is ever revealed, she'll be pummeled by dozens of Brocks. Perhaps hundreds. A Brock brigade. They will play far dirtier than Brock did, and they will be backed by the Russian troll army.
isn't it just as possible that someone from the Trump team found a juror to not find guilty on the two counts you mentioned not realizing it would eliminate the argument for double jeopardy?
On the Manafort NG verdicts, the holdout is a Trumper who played the Reasonable Doubt card.
Koathanger Kavanaugh's high school antics are a straw for spineless Red State Democrats looking for an excuse. This brings up the hypocrisy of the Liberals hectoring Sens Collins and Murkowski but ignoring Manchin, Heitkamp, and McCaskill, as probable Yes votes.
any woman who goes through this at any age will never forget it:
This whole sexual innuendo against Kavanaugh is distraction. The real issue concerns the debt he incurred for, allegedly, baseball tickets. That story is so simply unbelievable. He won't name the "friends" for whom the tickets were bought. It looks like something much more sinister is involved with that debt.
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