Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Indictment Time?


Secretary of State James G. Blaine as the tail manipulating dogsbody president Benjamin Harrison, 1891. Via.

A lot of Independent Counsel news coming down the pike, and in a familiar kind of sequencing, as the leakers—attorneys and friends of the possible targets and defendants—seek to seize whatever control they can of the emerging narrative, while Gym Jordan pulls out a distraction: in March, ahead of the Manhattan Trump indictment, Jordan and Elise Stefanik and J.D. Vance were pulling out the story of how DA Vance is a paid puppet of the financier George Soros; last week Jordan sent his demand to Attorney General Merrick Garland for information on the ongoing special counsel investigations, including names for the FBI personnel involved, while new information kept emerging about the moving round of documents throughout 2022 at Maga-Lardo.

So this evening, The Guardian reports that Trump's lawyers have been formally notified that he is a target in the case of the stolen presidential documents case, and The Independent announces that the federal grand jury in DC will be asked to vote on charges tomorrow 

It is understood that prosecutors intend to ask grand jurors to vote on indictments on Thursday, but that vote could be delayed as much as a week until the next meeting of the grand jury to allow for a complete presentation of evidence, or to allow investigators to gather more evidence for presentation of necessary.

(though it could take up to a week before they do the actual voting). They're also claiming that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has done what Trump likes to call "flipping"

Mr Meadows has already given evidence before the grand jury and is said to be cooperating with the investigations into his former boss. It is understood that the former North Carolina congressman testified as part of a deal for which he has already received limited immunity in exchange for his testimony.

I'm going to throw out a suggestion that these two are finally Justice Department leaks; "it is understood that" is the official way to refer to information gained in a "deep background interview" with DOJ officials:

On Deep Background
The official cannot be quoted or identified in any manner, not even as "an unnamed source." The information is usually couched in such phrases as "it is understood that" or "it has been learned." The information may be used in the reporting to help present or gain a better understanding of the subject, but the knowledge is that of the reporter not the source.

Both phrases ("The Independent has learned that" and "it is understood that") are used in the article. In comparison, reporting that Trump's lawyers have been told a he's a target in the same story, they say "another source familiar with the matter". So it would be a strong indication that it's all true, especially the part about the timing, because they certainly wouldn't be leaking it unless it was really that close. 

Some people online are saying Meadows's attorney has issued a denial that Meadows is copping a plea, but all I find him doing is extremely carefully not doing that, in an interview this morning with CNN:

George Terwilliger, a lawyer representing Meadows, said in a statement that “Without commenting on whether or not Mr. Meadows has testified before the grand jury or in any other proceeding, Mr. Meadows has maintained a commitment to tell the truth where he has a legal obligation to do so.”

What I'm not hearing much about is the shape of the case as it's developing, and the place in the argument of the elements the press has been emphasizing—that leaked audio from Bedminster where Trump is said to be waving General Milley''s Iran war plans in people's faces but not letting them look because he knows that would be illegal. The Meadows connection is somewhat obscure; the occasion was a Trump interview with the ghostwriters of Meadows's autobiography, and Meadows himself wasn't there:

The July 2021 meeting was held at Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, with two people working on the autobiography of Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows as well as aides employed by the former president, including communications specialist Margo Martin. The attendees, sources said, did not have security clearances that would allow them access to classified information.

But we know what the Iran war plans probably related to, that extremely tense moment in the last weeks of the Trump presidency, as later reported by Woodward and Costa, when Trump was agitating for an attack on Iran (presumably as a pretext for declaring an emergency that would prevent him from leaving the White House to Biden) and the professionals on his security team, in particular Milley and Gina Haspel, were successfully resisting. In the autobiography Meadows (or rather the ghosts) wrote that it was Milley who urged the attack and Trump who resisted, rather than the other way around. 

I'm sure Trump would love people to believe that, as Glenn Greenwald and Tucker Carlson work to reposition him as a peace candidate. Does he, did he believe this document would somehow demonstrate it? Is it another example, like the Crossfire Hurricane documents, of stuff he stole in the hope of using it to smear his perceived enemies? If so, will the Smith team try to tell that story at trial?  

It's crazy to hope so.

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