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Manafort's D.C. Guilty Plea

Bump and Update 9/15/18: I have uploaded Paul Manafort's plea agreement here. It's 1.2 MB, so give it a minute to load. Same for the Statement of Facts in support of the Plea (1.4 MB) which I've uploaded here.

****Original Post 9/14/18*****

Paul Manafort is pleading guilty this morning in D.C. to two charges in an information which will also resolve the conduct in the counts in Virginia that the jury couldn't reach a verdict on.

It's going to cost him.

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Michael Cohen Pleads Gulity to 8 Charges

Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to 8 charges today in New York.

The Information (charges against him) is here. More interesting is his plea agreement which is available here. [More...]

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Manafort Guilty on 8 Counts

Update: 8/21/18: The jury in the Paul Manafort trial returned guilty verdicts on 8 of 18 counts. The judge declared a mistrial on the other counts.

Original Post, 8/16/18, Manifort Jury Deliberating: The jury is out in the Paul Manafort trial. His charges:

  • willfully subscribing and filing false income tax returns (Counts 1 through 5),
  • willfully failing to file foreign bank account
    reports (“FBARs”) (Counts 11 through 14),
  • bank fraud (Counts 25 through 27, 30 and 32),
  • bank fraud conspiracy (Counts 24, 28, 29, and 31)

It's interesting to see all the media articles with photos of Manafort and counsel arriving at the courthouse and Manafort and his wife leaving the courthouse. The photos are all from prior court appearances. Manafort is detained during trial, his bond having been revoked in June. There are no photos of him coming to or leaving the courthouse during the trial. [More...]

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Manafort Trial: Judge Keeps the Reins Tight

The judge in the Paul Manafort trial is keeping a tight reign on the prosecution. According to Fox News, the judge told Team Mueller today they would not be able to prove conspiracy without calling Rick Gates. Prosecutors began floating the idea yesterday Gates might not testify.

Manafort's defense seems to be that Gates did all the bad stuff.

Manafort is being tried in the Eastern District of Virginia. He is charged with tax and bank fraud crimes. From a brief the Government filed today (Doc. 193): [More...]

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Trump Pardons Scooter Libby

President Bush granted Scooter Libby clemency so he didn't have to go to prison. Today, Donald Trump granted him a pardon.

Trump sounds like he knows nothing about the Scooter Libby case.

“I don’t know Mr. Libby,” Trump said in a White House statement, “but for years I have heard that he has been treated unfairly. Hopefully, this full pardon will help rectify a very sad portion of his life.”

He's deciding pardons based on what he hears? Has he read any of the case filings, read the trial transcripts? I attended the trial as credentialed media and I didn't think he was treated unfairly. How is this a "very sad" situation? Because he has a felony conviction and can't practice law? When was the last time he practiced law?

Trump is sending a message to Republicans. What is it? [more...]

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Testimony Begins in Bill Cosby Retrial

Bill Cosby, 80 and legally blind, is being retried for drugging and assaulting Andrea Constand. The defense, led by Tom Mesereau, presented its opening argument today, calling Constand a con artist who was out for money.

“Andrea Constand was 30 years old” when she met Cosby, defense attorney Tom Mesereau said in a 50-minute opening argument. “Mr. Cosby was in his 60s. She said she was not attracted to him. She said, ‘He’s older than my father.’ But she was madly in love with his fame and money.”

...“She knew exactly what she was doing and, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, she’s now a multimillionaire because she pulled it off,” he said. “She’s a con artist. Well prove it.”

The defense team has 7 members who are exasperating the Judge with all their motions. [More...]

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NY Times Obtains Surveillance Camera Videos for LV Shooter

The New York Times has obtained new surveillance camera videos of Stephen Paddock's last days at the Mandalay Bay before carrying out the Las Vegas shootings.

The videos add nothing to deciphering Paddock's motives. He acts normal, his interactions with staff are normal, even when he's alone in the elevator the cameras don't capture anything odd.

The Times labels the videos:

"unnerving because it ends in the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.

That may be, but they are not the deadliest mass killings in modern American history. More than 3,000 people died in the 9/11 attacks. As for domestic killings, more than 168 people died in the OKC bombing and more than 500 were injured.

Congress could disregard the Second Amendment entirely and outlaw the possession and purchase of all guns and rifles and we'd be no safer. Bombs can kill more people than guns. [More...]

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Paddock's Estranged Brother Bruce Arrested in LA on Unrelated Matter

Stephen Paddock's estranged brother (not the one who talked to the press and went to Las Vegas to be interviewed)is in custody on a child p*rn allegation.

Bruce Paddock, 58, was detained at a Los Angeles assisted-living facility, where he was awaiting surgery for spinal stenosis. He had not yet been booked, and no other details were available.

An attorney who Paddock said had represented him in criminal matters in the past told NBC News he is no longer representing Paddock and declined comment.

Bruce had not been in contact with Stephen in 10 years, so I don't see how this is relevant to the Las Vegas shootings, any more than his father's past as a bank robber.

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FBI Releases Sandy Hook Documents

The FBI today released about 1,500 pages of documents relating to interviews in the Sandy Hook shooting. You can view them here.

I skimmed them and didn't learn anything new. Most of the documents are blacked out, and the interviews that are not seem to be those we've read before (although from the media, not the FBI.) There are a few Connecticut state police reports, which were previously available, basically saying we'll never know what caused Adam Lanza to go on the shooting spree.

There are numerous references to Adam having Asperger's but that's not an explanation for his behavior. Personally, I would have liked to see what his mother's family members and brother said, but given the blackouts, it's hard to connect the interviews to a particular person.

There's simply not much new here.

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Las Vegas Sheriff's Latest Update

Here is the interview with the Sheriff today from Las Vegas on the Mandalay Bay shootings.

He sounds defensive and nervous -- his voice is shaky. At the end, after reading accounts from victims, he begins to tremble, an associate puts his hand on his shoulder, and he ends the conference with "Vegas Strong" and takes no questions.

His explanation of the timeline made no sense to me -- probably because he doesn't describe events in order. He talks about one thing and then backtracks and then goes forward. And in his effort to avoid mentioning Paddock by name, he doesn't clearly distinguish between items, such as a "barricaded door" an "open door" and "the suspect's room." As to the security guard: [More...]

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LV Security Guard Shot Before Paddock Began Shooting From Windows

Here is the video of the Las Vegas Sheriff Department media update today on shooter Stephen Paddock.

Update: I'm not going to write a third post about this tonight, so I'll just update this one with what I think may be the significance of this news, having thought about it for a few hours:

I am now thinking the concert was not Paddock's target at all. He may have still been in prep mode, methodically assembling his gear for a planned attack somewhere in Vegas the next day or even the day after that, when he was surprised by the security guard outside his door. The cameras may just have been to make sure no one intruded on him while assembling his stuff. The appearance of the guard, and his shooting of him at 9:59 p.m. may have caused him to realize the gig was up and he'd be discovered shortly. So instead of abandoning his mission entirely, he just assembled what he could as fast as he could, broke out the windows and started shooting. [More...]

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Las Vegas Shooter Update

There's been all sorts of news updates on Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock over the weekend, none of which seem to offer a clue into his behavior.

One worthwhile interview I saw was that of Steve Wynn, the billionaire owner of many Las Vegas hotels. (Corrected: He built the Mirage but no longer owns it.) He said his staff was very familiar with both Paddock and Marilou Danley and they were as "vanilla" as could be -- no flags at all.

He says Paddock didn’t run up debts or have a gambling problem. Wynn said butlers, waiters and massage employees knew Paddock and his girlfriend.

The main thrust of his interview was the difference in security tactics at the Mirage and other hotels. [More...]

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Anthony Weiner Sentenced to 21 Months

Anthony Weiner was sentenced to 21 months in his sexting case.

He pleaded guilty, pursuant to a plea agreement with the Government, to a one-count Information, charging him with transferring obscene material to a minor from January through March 2016, in violation of 18 USC 1470. The statute prohibits “knowingly transfer{ing] obscene matter to another individual who has not attained the age of 16 years, knowing that such other individual has not attained the age of 16 years, or attempt[ing] to do so.”

His guideline range would have been 135 to 168 months but the statutory maximum for the crime he pleaded to was 10 years, so that made his guideline range 120 months. The Government and Weiner agreed that a sentence within the range of 21 to 27 months’ imprisonment would be fair, but Weiner was allowed to argue for a lesser sentence, including probation.

According to the Government's brief, Probation had recommended 27 months. So he got the bottom of the agreed upon range. He will voluntarily surrender to whatever facility or institution is designated by the Bureau of Prisons on November 2.

The Government said in its brief that it does not contend that Weiner engaged in inappropriate exchanges with other minors "or that he is a pedophile."[More...]

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El Chapo's New Legal Team

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman has hired private counsel to represent him on the Indictment in the Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).

I think the federal defenders representing him until now have done an outstanding job. But I also think the private lawyers he hired are excellent. Who are they?

Jeffrey Lichtman, Marc Fernich (both in New York), Eduardo Balarezo (Washington, DC) and William Purpura (Baltimore).

While the media mentions in passing Balarezo was involved in the recent case of Alfredo Beltran-Leyva (sentenced to life a few months ago), I think his addition is significant. [More...]

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OJ Simpson Granted Parole

Update: the vote was unanimous for parole among the four board/commission members. Each spoke individually. They said their vote was fair and consistent.

Update: Looks like OJ will get parole. They have a Florida parole officer explaining the procedures for transfer from Nevada to Florida.

OJ told his version of the robbery he was convicted of during the hearing. It's live on CNN and other channels now.

My view: OJ should get and will get parole. [More...]

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