Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Briefly Noted: Barr's Non-Recusal, Epstein The Intel Guy, Acosta

Yesterday I featured Monica Showalter's explanation for Barr's recusal from the Epstein case in the SDNY. Later in the day commenter Brad Crawford pointed out that word had it that Barr had only recused from the Miami case, not from the SDNY case. While I haven't seen anything official, this seems to be accepted as of now. Showalter has a take on this, too: On Epstein case, Barr gives Democrats a new reason to get the willies. It appears that Barr will still be riding heard on the SDNY, and we can all agree that that's probably a Good Thing.

Also yesterday, in Epstein, Acosta, Trump--And The Russia Hoax! I quoted investigative reporter to this fascinating effect:

Epstein’s name, I was told, had been raised by the Trump transition team when Alexander Acosta, the former U.S. attorney in Miami who’d infamously cut Epstein a non-prosecution plea deal back in 2007, was being interviewed for the job of labor secretary. The plea deal put a hard stop to a separate federal investigation of alleged sex crimes with minors and trafficking. 
“Is the Epstein case going to cause a problem [for confirmation hearings]?” Acosta had been asked. Acosta had explained, breezily, apparently, that back in the day he’d had just one meeting on the Epstein case. He’d cut the non-prosecution deal with one of Epstein’s attorneys because he had “been told” to back off, that Epstein was above his pay grade. “I was told Epstein ‘belonged to intelligence’ and to leave it alone,” he told his interviewers in the Trump transition, who evidently thought that was a sufficient answer and went ahead and hired Acosta. 

The obvious question is: "Intelligence"? What "Intelligence"? A number of talking heads have hinted at the possibility that Epstein was simply a front for bigger players. Zerohedge has carried two blogs by Mike Krieger that address that question. This morning in Bombshell: Alex Acosta Reportedly Claimed Jeffrey Epstein "Belonged To Intelligence" Krieger sets the table, so to speak:

it appeared his real job was to run a blackmail operation to ensnare some of the most wealthy and powerful people on earth. ... he was collecting this priceless information on behalf of a third party ...

Krieger is referring here to a previous blog in which he shares some "extremely bizarre facts about Jeffrey Epstein and the people around him." You can find that here: The Jeffrey Epstein Rabbit Hole Goes a Lot Deeper Than You Think. After sharing that information Krieger concludes:

It looks as if Jeffrey Epstein’s real job was to obtain blackmail on some of the world’s most wealthy and powerful players, and in this sense he was a huge success. The much bigger question is whether he was doing this primarily for himself or if he was a frontman for other players to whom such information would be priceless. 
The reason I put this together is to expose as many people as possible to this bizarre information. I hope journalists and criminal investigators dig deep into all this stuff (and more) in order to truly get to the bottom of who Jeffrey Epstein is, where his money came from and who, if anyone, he answers to. 
There may be a lot more here than meets the eye.

The current CW on Epstein, at least among the Smart People, is that there is no reasonable or even remotely plausible explanation for how he got his money. None at all. So from that standpoint, and taking Acosta's statement into account, Krieger's viewpoint seems, well, entirely reasonable in the circumstances. Read Krieger's Rabbit Hole blog entry for details.

Finally, Alex Acosta. Dems and the Powerline bloggers have been out for Acosta's scalp, but commenters Forbes and Yancey Ward--and I, too--beg to differ (see the comments at Epstein: Sphere Of Influence). It's not that Acosta covered himself with credit or merit, but he simply wasn't the person controlling events. To make him the scapegoat risks missing the forest for a single tree. Today the WSJ rides to Acosta's defense, behind their subscription wall. First in their lead editorial, Prosecuting Alex Acosta--Democrats try to blame the Labor Secretary for Jeffrey Epstein, and then through Holman Jenkins' article, Trump and the Sex Offender--Guess why the press makes a villain out of Jeffrey Epstein’s only successful prosecutor?

The editorial points out:

There’s nothing in the Epstein indictment to indicate that Mr. Acosta abused his power or violated his oath as U.S. Attorney. By all publicly available evidence, Mr. Acosta acted honorably and drove a tougher deal with Mr. Epstein than state prosecutors and some lower-level U.S. prosecutors sought. 
The non-prosecution agreement required Mr. Epstein to cop to two state felonies that led to a 13-month jail sentence, register for life as a sex offender and pay restitution to victims as well as their attorney fees. Mr. Schumer’s friend, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., is the prosecutor who in 2011 sought to downgrade Mr. Epstein’s sex-offender status in New York where he was required to register because he had a home. 
According to documents unsealed in a related federal case, low-level federal prosecutors initially sought to have Mr. Epstein plead guilty to a misdemeanor. Former state attorney Barry Krischer for unclear reasons also pushed for lighter charges. 
But Mr. Acosta pushed back against Mr. Epstein’s lawyers.
Mr. Acosta also sought to ensure that victims’ rights were respected. “We intend to provide victims with notice of the federal resolution, as required by law,” Mr. Acosta wrote to a defense attorney who objected to victims being notified of the non-prosecution agreement.

The editors conclude:

Democrats shouldn’t get away with implying that Mr. Acosta is guilty of prosecutorial abuses without evidence. President Trump shouldn’t throw Mr. Acosta to the same mob that has indicted him without evidence of colluding with the Russians.

Jenkins is making much the same point, but does so by taking on the Miami Herald's virtue signaling (despite their admittedly excellent reporting):

A much-cited story in the Miami Herald last November is headlined “How a future Trump Cabinet member gave a serial sex abuser the deal of a lifetime.” The paper thereby invokes a previously unknown form of retroactive quantum action at a distance, since Alexander Acosta’s actions as a U.S. attorney in Florida in 2007 could not have been premised on Mr. Trump being president a decade later. 
The headline is also misleading. In fact, the Herald’s 5,000-word exposé tells us very little about the reasons and circumstances behind the 2008 plea deal in which Mr. Epstein agreed to plead guilty to two felonies, serve an 18-month jail sentence, pay restitution to certain victims, and accept designation for life as a registered sex offender. 
Instead, the paper tells us what its own sources are willing to say now about Mr. Epstein more than a decade after the prosecution. What a newspaper can report in 2018 and what a prosecutor can prove in 2007 are two very different things. A fact the Herald also should have made plain: It was precisely Mr. Epstein’s conviction at the hands of Mr. Acosta that helped fuel the filing of civil lawsuits and emergence of newly declared victims that became the basis for the Herald’s own reporting. 
Making an even bigger joke of the paper’s positioning of Mr. Acosta as Mr. Epstein’s protector is this glaring fact: It wasn’t Mr. Acosta but New York County’s district attorney—a member of the city’s ruling Democratic elite, with the illustrious name of Cyrus Vance Jr.—who in 2011 sought to undo Mr. Acosta’s work by relieving Mr. Epstein of his Level 3 sex offender status in New York state. 
But then Mr. Vance is not a member of the Trump administration.

And Jenkins concludes with this just observation:

Would the Herald even have invested in reporting the Epstein story if it couldn’t also have flounced up an anti-Trump angle? 
Yes, it’s been rough couple of decades for the newspaper business. At the kindest, the Herald should have had the confidence to rest its claim to public attention on what it had to reveal about Mr. Epstein’s behavior rather than trying so pathetically to annex its reporting to an au courant anti-Trump narrative.


  1. I do think Acosta has to reveal everything he knows about that plea deal- he has to name names if he was, as I believe, following the orders of his line management. If he isn't willing to do that, though, he should be fired.

    If I were Barr, I would encourage the Senate Judiciary Committee to subpoena Acosta and I would give Acosta free rein to talk about the case as it existed in Florida in 2007-2008.

  2. The Epstein story is so fascinating because details are so lacking. Oh, there plenty of lurid speculation, but nothing to point your finger and hang your hat. Outside of Acosta, that is--who was instructed, ordered to cut the plea deal by higher-ups.

    In taking the Occam's Razor approach, I'd say the plea deal was to avoid any testimony, documentation, statements, and open court sessions where actual evidence would be recorded--names named--as to who was "involved" with Epstein.

    For starters, there's Bill Clinton and his 20+ flights. This has all the appearance of Harvey Weinstein's escapades in that many, many people knew, but no one is talking. In this instance, the Establishment, the Deep State was protecting one of its own.

    For example, it was reported earlier this week that Epstein's Wikipedia page was being edited to remove all mentions of Democrats. (Is that knowledge of guilt or merely a guilty conscience?) Orwell's Ministry of Truth comes to life.

    1. Hopefully the release of docs in Miami will make a coverup impossible.

    2. I could verify the Wiki edits as they were happening- it was hilarious. First Clinton was mentioned, then he wasn't, then he appeared again, then disappeared. I think Wiki finally locked the page yesterday, at least for a while, but with Clinton missing again.

  3. Its not clear to me who is telling the truth here about how the Epstein NPA deal went down.

    I'd like to believe that now-Secretary Acosta did the best he could when confronted with powerful adversaries (Epstein's all-star legal team), jurisdictional problems, evidentiary problems, and, perhaps, considerable 'pushback' from above. And he may well have.

    But there is clearly much more to this story than is currently known. Notwithstanding the report that Acosta "had just one meeting on the Epstein case" it is apparent from Judge Marra's order that the US Attys office in the SDFla was for months stepping all over themselves to co-operate with Epstein's lawyers and make this case go away without a trial. During this whole time Acosta was the US Attorney in charge.

    I highly recommend to those with interest reading Judge Marra's order (issued in February 2019) which reviews the negotiations between the US Attys office and Epstein's lawyers and finds that the US Attys office violated the Crime Victims Rights Act. At a minimum Epstein has some powerful friends.

    Here's a link to the judge's order:

    1. Tx, Cassander. If I'm gonna shoot my mouth off about this I guess I better read the whole thing.

    2. Paul Mirengoff at Powerline pitches strongly against .Acosta: Alex Acosta speaks

    3. Mirengoff has been going after Acosta for a long time--even prior to the latest on Epstein.

      I believe Mirengoff, at one time, was an attorney at the Department of Labor--later going into private practice. Miregoff's father was a career DOL employee. He's got an axe to grind, apparently.

    4. Cassander, I just finished reading the judge's opinion, granting summary judgment to the petitioner/victims. I found the judge's reasoning cogent--to me, it really didn't seem a close call at all, and that seemed to be his view.

      What's not clear is what role Acosta played in all this. I think an argument can be made that Acosta believed CVRA notification had been given in complete good faith and that he was misled in that regard by the line prosecutor.

      To me the real question becomes: why the non-prosecution agreement (NPA) in the first place? Acosta's explanation seems to be that for national security reasons that decision was "above his pay grade." He was told to go forward with the NPA. OTOH, there is a brief passage in which we're told that the DAG gave the opinion that prosecution was warranted. Was that used only to force Epstein into the NPA, or was that open-ended--leaving the decision to the line prosecutor? Not clear.

    5. Forbes, I can certainly agree with much of what Mirengoff says. The difficulty is this--how much of this can actually be laid at Acosta's door? That may seem mealy-mouthed--he was the USA so didn't the buck stop at his door? Nevertheless, there do seem to be complications. Maybe more facts will be coming out soon.

    6. Mark -- Like I said, I want to believe Acosta's version of events. But do you think a line prosecutor kept the US Atty out of the loop in a case which implicated the former POTUS and his wife, the front-runner for the 2008 presidential nomination? That's a question.

      I am also wondering what compelled the Republican-affiliated lawyers to join the Epstein defense team...Ken Starr? Jay Lefkowitz? How does that add up?

      I've also been wondering to what extent-- if part of the rationale for the NPA was to protect Hillary Clinton going into the 2008 election -- the fragile condition of the country played into high level DOJ decision making. We tend to forget in 2019 that the US economy, and the world economy, hung by a thread during the fall of 2008. Rodgin Cohen, a lawyer who found himself in the epicenter of the financial crisis has said that the system came within a hair of failing. Here's an interesting article where Cohen describes the situation:
      I could be way off base but I'm wondering whether the Bush DOJ in 2008 just felt the system couldn't withstand an Epstein trial which implicated Bill Clinton.

    7. Let me be clear--I have no overall theory on this as far as Acosta goes. What I see are problems. So, ...

      1) Why would a GOP USA risk his career and rep for Epstein? The judge's opinion doesn't show Acosta closely involved in the decision making.

      2) Re Starr and Lefkowitz joing the Epstein team, how about Emmett Flood? Was important on the Bill Clinton impeachment team--and also Trump's team.

      3) I'll look at the article. But before I do I'll just ask--was the system in trouble or was it the Establishment?

    8. Re 'was the system in trouble or was it the Establishment?'

      Well...both. But do not underestimate the peril the financial system was in. I've heard Rodge Cohen say to a small audience that we were within a hair of system destruction in Sept/Oct 2008.

      Still doesn't fully answer the question why the Bush DoJ would 'protect' Epstein. If one concludes that the NPA was a form of protection.

    9. Sorry, haven't read the article yet, still plowing through the news. The thing is, Rodge's client's were all big institutions. The narrative is transparently self serving--he makes his living, and a very good one, off preservation of the system. Maybe it works to the greater good, maybe ... well, maybe not so much.

      As for the Bush DoJ, I'd say that it was the Bush dynasty, actually. Not simply their DoJ. The chumminess of the Bushes and Clintons--perhaps not personal but professional--has been on display for years.

    10. The Deep State has been the Deep State for much longer than most people suppose, going back to at least the New Deal and arguably to WW I (the FCC being a good example of early politicization).
      Maybe it's as simple as, "We must all hang together or surely we shall all hang separately."

    11. Right. Somehow the existence of a Deep State gets skipped over in history classes.

    12. The Bush/Clinton friendship is one reason I will NEVER again vote for a Bush. I am so glad that Low Energy Jeb! was defeated by Donald.

      He beat both the Bushes and the Clintons.

    13. Think about it--how long the country was ruled by Bush/Clinton and their cronies. I think you have to largely include Obama in that, so you end up with 7 presidential terms. All the built up vested interests--and then Trump bulldozes it.

    14. I had been thinking that a revolution was coming to our country. Thankfully, we got Donald instead.

      Now it's the Left who is spoiling for a revolution.

    15. "Now it's the Left who is spoiling for a revolution."

      Or maybe just for a civil war--strictly on the Left?

    16. One side puts on masks and beats journalists, lies with impunity, censors the other side.

      Antifa, are they the sons of the Ku Klux Klan? We know that the Dems are the part of the KKK.

      Personally, most on the Right are tolerant. I may not agree with the practice of homosexuality but I mind my business.

      Seems to me that the ones who accuse us of wanting to stick our nose into people's bedrooms or the ones who insist that men use women's bathrooms. They also teach that gender isn't binary and are the ones who indoctrinate our children at the libraries with their story time.

    17. Black masks, white hoods--it's all Dems.

  4. Isn't it deliciously wonderful that all these conspirators setting traps for DJT are instead falling into the snare themselves? To invoke the Bard, to see them "hoist on his own petard" is so refreshing.

    Epstein might be a contemptible pervert who deserves a special place in Hell but it sounds like he wasn't a dummy when it came to keeping evidence to protect his backside. And it seems elementary that he has a "safe place" where he has backup copies.

    P.S. Mr. Wauck, if you wouldn't put up so many good posts, then I wouldn't put up so many comments. LOL

  5. Regarding Powerline and the commenters are no friends of Acosta. That is true. However, they point out that Acosta has been no friend of Donald's economic agenda. I'm not taking sides on his job performance in the Trump Administration.

    I'm with you that he didn't cover himself in glory but he isn't the villain. or. at least isn't the main villain.

    1. Mirengoff has been outspoken in criticizing Acosta not just for the Epstein case but, first of all, for his failure to push Trump's dereg agenda.