Jul 03 2018

Shredding (Not The Good Kind)

Buzzfeed is kind of a weird site. It’s unabashed click bait, I’m looking at it now and they’re featuring 21 Photos That, Despite Their Best Efforts, Are Not Of Butts, 25 Facts About The FIFA World Cup That Every Football Fan Should Know, 21 Foods Around The World That’ll Make You Want To Book A Flight Right Now (a thing for the number 21), 18 Tweets About The ’00s That’ll Make You Remember Your Entire Childhood (kinda nails their target demo), and Create Your Own YA Dystopian Novel With This Mad Libs-Style Quiz along with at least 15 other “quizzes” designed to suck up all your personal information and that of the friends and relatives in your contacts (whether you share it with them in any way or not) to sell the Russians so they can re-elect Trump in 2018, or market you tainted Chinese dog food or cell phones, or make you think Emin Agalarov has talent.

Emin has no talent.

On the other hand there’s also this piece about “Pay For Play” (Businesses paying writers for favorable coverage) and this one that “The Capital Gazette Shooting Suspect Sent Letters Threatening To Kill ‘Every Person Present'”.

He is also an Alt-Racist, which to me would seem to be a pretty big point.

So it’s a pretty mixed bag.

Anyway, if you have the attention span of a Goldfish (it’s better than you think) you’ll probably remember waaay back to April 9th, 2018 (What?! You can’t keep a Goldfish alive for 3 stinking months?! Remind me to take you off my pet sitting list), the day Michael Cohen’s office and residence were searched. You may even recall that among the items seized was a basket full of shredded materials. Well, guess who has them in their reconstructed glory.

Here Are The Documents Recovered From Michael Cohen’s Shredder
by Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier, Buzzfeed
July 2, 2018

When the Department of Justice announced this month that investigators had pieced together records found in a shredder belonging to the president’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, critics, legal experts, and journalists feverishly speculated about what they might contain.

Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for adult film star Stormy Daniels and Cohen’s devoted nemesis, tweeted that the shredded documents could be a “huge problem.” MSNBC host Ari Melber devoted a large part of his program in May to the shredded documents and suggested that “something is going down.” Asha Rangappa, a former FBI agent and CNN analyst, tweeted: “This is not going to end well for the defense.”

Now, BuzzFeed News has obtained documents reconstructed by the FBI. A close examination shows that the records are a combination of documents that prosecutors already had, handwritten notes about a taxi business, insurance papers, and correspondence from a woman described in court filings as a “vexatious litigant” who claims she is under government surveillance.

The clearest page documents a payment that has already been reported: a $62,500 wire transfer from March into a First Republic Bank account controlled by Cohen. This would fit with a series of payments reportedly from the Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy. He reportedly paid Cohen to negotiate a nondisclosure agreement with a former Playboy model with whom Broidy was romantically involved. A federal law enforcement source told BuzzFeed News that prosecutors already possessed some of the records dealing with Cohen’s financial transactions.

It remains to be seen whether any of the reconstructed documents are of use to federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York in their ongoing probe into Cohen, whose home, office, and hotel room were raided by the FBI in April. They are among nearly 4 million individual paper records or electronic files discovered on more than a dozen cellphones, computers, and other devices. Some of the devices — including old cellphones, cameras, and laptops — belonged to Cohen’s wife and children.

Prosecutors said in a recent letter to a judge that they also obtained more than 700 pages of messages extracted from encrypted apps such as Signal or WhatsApp.

Cohen has been in the spotlight of the Trump–Russia investigation since January 2017, when BuzzFeed News published a dossier that was circulating at the highest levels of the federal government and that alleged Cohen helped the Trump campaign collude with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election. Cohen would not comment for this story, referring reporters to his attorney, who did not immediately return a message.

Oh yeah, that’s right. Buzzfeed was also the site that dropped a dime on the Steele Dossier which was widely dismissed at the time (even by me) as being pretty dodgy based on its including the infamous “pee” incident.

Well, who’s laughing now? Christopher Steele is vindicated for the most part (even the “pee” incident which was possible despite Trump initially claiming it wasn’t). Michael Cohen’s Prague meeting is not disproven by his Passport. Steele is even today answering questions for the Senate Intelligence Committee (well, also according to Buzzfeed)-

The head of the top congressional committee investigating Russian election interference says that the panel has been in “weekly” contact with lawyers for former British spy Christopher Steele, the author of a dossier alleging years of links between President Donald Trump and the Kremlin.

“We’re still in conversation weekly,” North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, chair of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, told BuzzFeed News. Asked if Steele had provided any information to the committee, Burr said: “That continues to be the topic weekly.”

Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the committee’s vice chair, said that he was unsure whether the committee was in weekly contact with Steele’s attorneys. “I know that we are in communications and we obviously would like to get that hearing,” he told BuzzFeed News.

Warner said that interviewing the former MI6 agent has been a priority for the committee, which started its investigation in early 2017. “We’ve had that goal obviously from the outset,” he said.

It’s unclear why the interview has failed to take place. Burr simply cited Steele’s “cooperation” as the reason. Warner, asked what is preventing the interview from happening, said: “It’s a good question, since there were indications earlier on at least through intermediaries that he was willing to have an interview.”

I don’t really know how reliable Buzzfeed’s reporting is. They had the goods on the Steele Dossier, at least in terms of the content which most people seem to accept now. The recovered documents appear genuine enough and their content likewise has been checked out by more conventional publications. Do they have these quotes (named and on the record) from Burr and Warner? Easily disproven if untrue.

I wish the sourcing was more wide spread. They don’t seem to have much that we didn’t already know. If they were leaked it wasn’t the Southern District of New York Federal Attorneys, the Court, the Special Master, or the FBI Agents. It was Trump’s defense team which leaks like a sieve, whether by accident or on purpose.

In the Grand Scheme of Things the documents, and everything else, lead me to believe that the SDNY (not Mueller who handed the Cohen investigation back to the regular DoJ) is ready to act with an indictment of Cohen soon, maybe by the end of the week though it is a Holiday week so perhaps by the middle of next.

I don’t expect it will be any longer than that.

And then we will know if Cohen is going to flip or go to jail for a very long time. The DoJ is never happy with tax evasion and perjury and the State of New York and Taxi Medallion fraud?