Reading and Headline Writing are Fundamental: Epstein Lawsuit Edition

Earlier today The Associated Press reported that a settlement had been reached in ONE OF THE lawsuits in south Florida involving Jeffrey Epstein. The headline and the wording of the tweets breaking the news were bad:

Here’s what’s in the actual AP reporting (emphasis mine):

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A last-minute settlement was reached Tuesday in a long-running Florida lawsuit involving a politically connected financier accused of sexually abusing dozens of teenage girls, clearing the way for the victims’ lawyers to try to unravel a once-secret agreement that prevented federal criminal prosecution of the financier.

The non-prosecution agreement protecting Jeffrey Epstein was negotiated a decade ago by prosecutors in the South Florida U.S. attorney’s office, which was then run by current Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta. It is the subject of a separate federal lawsuit in Florida filed by victims who say the deal trampled their rights to be heard.

“That injustice needs to be addressed and will be addressed,” said attorney Jack Scarola, who represents fellow lawyer Bradley Edwards in the lawsuit settled Tuesday. “There is no justification for the broad scope of immunity that was granted.”

Epstein, 65, pleaded guilty in 2008 to two state charges after reaching the non-prosecution deal with Acosta’s office while under investigation for sexually abusing dozens of teenage girls. He served 13 months in jail, was required to reach financial settlements with many of the victims and registered as a convicted sex offender.

But Epstein could have faced a possible life sentence if federal prosecutors had pursued a draft 57-page indictment that was never filed. Now, Scarola and Edwards say that possibility still exists, and the victims — some of whom were only 13 or 14 when they were molested — may yet get their day in federal court amid a national #metoo movement that seeks to hold sexual harassers and abusers to account.

“They’re willing to talk. They want to share their stories,” Edwards said.

None of the victims was in court Tuesday and it wasn’t clear if any would be available immediately for interviews.

The settlement reached Tuesday involved a lawsuit Epstein filed against Edwards almost a decade ago. Edwards filed a counterclaim, contending that Epstein sued him maliciously, trying to harm Edwards’ reputation and derail his work with Epstein’s own abuse victims.

The final paragraph is where they buried the lede, as the saying goes. The lawsuit settled this morning IS NOT the Federal lawsuit seeking to set aside the Federal non-prosecution agreement that current Labor Secretary Alex Acosta negotiated and agreed to when he was a US Attorney in south Florida in 2008. The lawsuit settled this morning was between Epstein and one of the attorneys representing Epstein’s victims. It is important to highlight all this, because, as usual, everyone read the tweets and the headline and started jumping to the wrong conclusions on social media. Including people that are normally very good at not doing these things. For instance, the normally reliable Dr. Kendzior:

I’m not trying to knock Dr. Kendzior here, she’s just the most well known of the people I’ve seen so far who bit on the AP’s inaccurate headline and tweets. Everyone is busy, everyone is overwhelmed right now with the holidays, with getting by day be day, with the fact that it’s winter, with trying not to let the insanity emanating from DC and many state capitols, as well as from abroad, overtake their daily lives. So not having time to read the article is understandable. What isn’t, and what is also not forgivable, is that our news sources, including some of the best ones, seem to have gotten into a pattern of writing inaccurate and deceptive headlines and then tweeting them out to announce their reporting in a way that further compounds the inaccuracy. It is bad enough that there are hostile foreign state and, and in some cases both foreign and domestic, non-state actors conducting ongoing information and psychological warfare, having legitimate, credible sources of news doing the same thing because they can’t get their acts together makes the hostile state and non-state actors jobs easier.

Despite, or, perhaps, because of this morning’s settlement, Epstein’s crimes and the despicable story about how he was allowed to escape proper accountability for his crimes is not going away. The Miami Herald isn’t going to let this story go. And a lot of people’s foul, stinky laundry is going to get aired out in public. And the disingenuous stories they’ve been telling to cover their own misdeeds aren’t going to hold up when this happens.

Open thread!

 



Nicolle Wallace Broke Some Interesting News Today: Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and Special Counsel Mueller Edition

This afternoon during her MSNBC show Deadline: White House, Nicolle Wallace broke some interesting news when talking to Rachel Maddow. Specifically, Wallace reported that based on her sources at the Department of Justice Deputy Attorney General is still overseeing the Special Counsel’s investigation. She supported this by explaining that today’s plea agreement between the Special Counsel’s Office and Michael Cohen went through the same chain of approval that all of the previous plea agreements that the Special Counsel has agreed to, as well as all of his indictments. That chain of approval stops with Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein. Here’s the clip – the information pertaining to Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein still supervising the Special Counsel’s investigation begins around the 20 second mark:

This is very interesting.

Open thread!

 



He Knows When You’ve Been Sleeping, He Knows When You’re Awake: Special Counselor Mueller Drops the Hammer on Paul Manafort, Who Is, Still, In Jail

Tierney Sneed at Talking Points Memo has reported that Special Counsel Mueller has informed the Federal district court in DC that Paul Manafort has not been cooperative since reaching his plea agreement. Shocking!!!

Special counsel Robert Mueller said in a court filing Monday that Paul Manafort had breached his plea agreement by lying to investigators since signing the agreement.

  1. After signing the plea agreement, Manafort committed federal crimes by lying to

the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Special Counsel’s Office on a variety of subject

matters, which constitute breaches of the agreement. The government will file a detailed

sentencing submission to the Probation Department and the Court in advance of sentencing that

sets forth the nature of the defendant’s crimes and lies, including those after signing the plea

agreement herein.

  1. As the defendant has breached the plea agreement, there is no reason to delay his

sentencing herein.

Paul Manafort, of course, does not agree with the Special Counsel’s evaluation of his cooperation or lack thereof. Also: Shocking!!!

In the status report, which was filed after the parties had asked for a delay in the previous deadline, Manafort denied that he had not been cooperative.

The defendant reports that:

  1. After signing the plea agreement, Manafort met with the government on numerous

occasions and answered the government’s questions. Manafort has provided information to the

government in an effort to live up to his cooperation obligations. He believes he has provided

truthful information and does not agree with the government’s characterization or that he has

breached the agreement. Given the conflict in the parties’ positions, there is no reason to delay

the sentencing herein, and he asks the Court to set a sentencing date in this matter.

You can read the whole filing by clicking the link below.

Manafort_Status_Filing

Now we wait and see what happens at sentencing.

Also, just 327 more shopping hours until George Papadopolous is released from Federal prison!

Shop wisely, shop well!

Open thread!



Floriduh Man! and Floriduh! Woman: Been a Busy Few Days in Pinellas County…

It’s been a while since we checked in with Floriduh! Man, or at least Floriduh! Man not trying to blow up a couple of dozen people, so let’s see what we’ve got cooking. Er, um…

Take it away Tampa Bay Times!

ST. PETERSBURG — It started with chicken wings, a beer and a burglar.

It went downhill from there.

A St. Petersburg police officer was investigating a Nov. 6 break-in at The Chattaway restaurant, reviewing surveillance video that shows the burglar devouring a plate of chicken wings and enjoying a beer inside the kitchen. But then the officer stumbled across another incident from the night before.

The video shows a man riding his bike up to the restaurant at 358 22nd Ave S, pedaling around the parking lot for 10 minutes, then slipping in through the back gate. After wandering around for a bit, he opens the door to a shed for storing odds and ends, and removes them one by one.

Then the man gains access to a restaurant bathroom. And exits without his clothes.

He proceeds to sit naked at one of the restaurant’s picnic tables and digs into a meal he brought with him — Maruchan Instant Lunch ramen. The video also shows him playing the bongos, also naked.

“He came in with pants on but he rode off on the bike without pants,” Chattaway server Chad Pearson said. “I’m not sure if he took his pants with him but we didn’t find them. We still don’t know where his pants are.”

He spray-painted a few chairs, the bongos and a pickle jar, but his handiwork was barely noticeable, manager Amanda Kitto said. Everything was put back so neatly, in fact, it was four hours before anyone noticed he had been there.

“We would not have known about the naked guy without the cop finding that video,” Kitto said.

Police identified the man, who is homeless, but did not release his name publicly. Kitto declined to give his name and said the restaurant will not press charges because he caused no harm.

“His goal was to not break in, his goal was to just hang out at The Chattaway.”

What about the first guy?

Police still are trying to catch him.

He enjoyed the plate of chicken wings and some beer, and stole an estimated $500 worth of stuff, including cash tips, a laptop, a tablet, and a grocery bag he filled with beer.

“He made himself at home,” Kitto said. “He spent over an hour just milling around going room to room and eating and drinking while he did it.”

The man also tried unsuccessfully to access the safe using his hands, a pot handle and tongs.

Kitto is confident that even though the two incidents happened back-to-back, they are not connected.

“I used to always joke and say that if you were going to break into The Chattaway to make sure to grab a beer. And it finally happened.”

I was hot, and I was hungry. Okay?

Also, given the Real Genius reference, this cannot be unseen!

Floriduh! Woman, however, also put in a strong showing.

Once again The Tampa Bay Times has got this story well in hand…

The lobster never saw it coming.

One second it was floating listlessly in a glass tank, vying against endless shrimp, the smell of Cheddar Bay Biscuits hanging hauntingly in the air. Then, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said, an apparently intoxicated St. Petersburg woman snatched the lobster from its crustaceous purgatory and ran.

The lobster was never seen again.

Kimberly Gabel was arrested Saturday on charges of disorderly intoxication and petit theft for causing a disturbance in the Red Lobster at 6151 34th St N . The restaurant had barely been open two hours.

It was just after 1:15 p.m., deputies said, when a manager at the restaurant asked Gabel to leave. The manager said she was disturbing customers and shouted obscenities as she made her way to the door. Before she could leave, though, the 42-year-old woman reached into the oft-familiar entryway lobster tank, grabbed a live lobster and bolted.

Deputies said they caught up with Gabel a “short distance later.” They said she smelled of alcohol and slurred her words as she continued cursing, telling deputies she didn’t know what she did with the lobster because she was “blacked out drunk” and that she “did not care because she did not do anything wrong.”

Deputies described Gabel as a homeless woman. According to Pinellas County Jail records, she has been arrested numerous times for charges ranging from public intoxication to multiple counts of burglary and theft. She is currently awaiting trial in Pinellas County Jail.

Stay hungry!

Open thread!



The Mueller Investigation: A Few Thoughts

 

I’ve been watching and reading the coverage of this all evening and here’s what I think is likely to happen:

  1. Whitaker will be read on to all or part of the Special Counsel’s investigation.
  2. Specifically either Rosenstein and/or Mueller will read him on to the material that shows his op-ed and remarks on CNN were pure fabrication because he has no actual idea what Mueller is doing, nor what the counterintelligence information is.
  3. They’ll also include in this whatever info they have on or got from Sam Clovis, who Whitaker used to work for and with.
  4. At that point:
    a) Whitaker will, himself, either seek a DOJ ethics section opinion on recusal and follow it or he’ll let things alone for the time being.
    b) Whitaker will do whatever he’s going to do to obstruct the Mueller investigation.

I think it is important for everyone to remember that Special Counsel Mueller has been planning for something like this to happen. As such he has contingency plans in place and for each contingency plan he has multiple sequels (to use DOD planning terminology). I would expect to see a bunch of indictments, either previously sealed ones or ones prepared and waiting to go, to be dropped in short order. I would also expect that whatever could be farmed out to the Federal prosecutorial districts, such as the Southern District of New York or the Eastern District of Virginia, as well as to the state level, such as NY state, Maryland, Virginia, and DC will be handed off to them. Whitaker will have limited ability to interfere with anything Mueller hands off or farms out to the Federal prosecutorial districts and no ability at all to interfere with state or DC prosecutions. I’m in agreement with Cheryl that the President’s response here isn’t strategic, rather it’s reflexive.

I also expect, just as we saw with Sessions, that a selected leak or two from the intel community will be quickly released as warning shots across Whitaker’s bow. You’ll recall that the intel community leaked very quickly to force Sessions to recuse himself. And it then leaked a second time regarding Sessions when it looked like he might be trying to, if not interfere with the Special Counsel’s investigation, then peer into it and see what was going on with the investigation. Both of these were warnings. Sessions recognized them as such and quickly adjusted his behavior accordingly. I expect that whatever there is on Whitaker, most likely from the fraudulent Miami patents company that he was involved with and that was fined by the US government, is being weaponized now and lined up for a quick release if a warning is needed to get Whitaker in line.

Finally, if Whitaker decides to seriously interfere with the Special Counsel’s investigation I expect that our allied and partner’s intelligence communities will start to strategically leak. A lot of them have provided the Special Counsel with the information he needs for the counterintelligence portion of his investigation, they are very, very, very worried about Putin, his intentions, his capabilities, and his behavior, as well as the apparent connections between Putin and the President’s businesses, his campaign, and his administration. They will do what they need to do to protect themselves.

So strap in, buckle up, and hold on as it’s going to be a crazy ride for the next few days. And remember that while things seem dire, every previous time it seems that the President and his catspaws were coming for Bob Mueller they failed to stop his investigation. That doesn’t mean it is safe this time, but it does mean that Special Counsel Mueller has been paying attention, has his plans in place, and will respond accordingly when he needs to do so. And, as with everything else the Special Counsel does, we won’t really know what those responses are until he makes them. He’s rigged for silent running, he has his targets selected, he’s got his firing solutions dialed in, and he will prosecute those targets on his schedule.

And if you don’t want to believe me, believe former Special Agent Asha Rangappa, who was a counterintelligence specialist at the FBI and is also an attorney.

Twelve more tweets after the jump.

Read more