The New York Times reports tonight that search warrants were used for the first time in a Special Counsel’s investigation: Not in Watergate, not in Iran-Contra, not in Whitewater, not in the Valerie Plame investigations. With a Picked Lock and a Threatened Indictment, Mueller’s Inquiry Sets a Tone by Sharon Lafraniere, Matt Apuzzo & Adam Goldman. The others didn’t because they used grand jury subpoenas, and, in Kenneth Starr’s case, he blatantly violated F.R.Crim.P. 6 by putting the grand jury transcripts online. They could have used search warrants if they had probable cause. Why use grand jury subpoenas that take so long? In Whitewater, they had all the records. There was nothing to get a search warrant for. Apparently in none of the others, either.
“They seem to be pursuing this more aggressively, taking a much harder line, than you’d expect to see in a typical white collar case,” said Jimmy Gurulé, a Notre Dame law professor and former federal prosecutor. “This is more consistent with how you’d go after an organized crime syndicate.”
White collar lawyers who haven’t been in the crucible of the search warrant process ripping their client’s house or office apart may be clueless. But they all cut their teeth in USAOs around the country, didn’t they? Welcome to reality, gentlemen (Trump wouldn’t use a female lawyer would he? He certainly can fire them for insufficient loyalty to him, not the law. [Exhibit A: Sally Yates])
With FISA wiretap warrants revealed already on Manafort, it’s not a stretch at all to go to search warrants for evidence from Manafort. In fact, it’s natural and logical. And remember the two week long ad nauseam talking point that this was all a “nothing burger”? Haven’t heard that in a while. I learned the hard way not go public and trust what clients tell you until you corroborate something. And then don’t do it. Who’s advising these people? The lawyers need to shut the flacks up. And the lawyers need to stop being flacks. You know who you are, but you won’t read this anyway.
Next: Facebook warrants. On MSNBC tonight, Rachel Maddow thought it significant that Facebook got search warrants, too. Not at all. There’s plenty of probable cause, and anybody reading this blog even occasionally seek the Facebook search warrant litigation. Facebook has been insisting on search warrants and questioning probable cause for records for a long time. After all, search warrants aren’t that hard to get. In my estimation, probable cause is probably about 25-30% of guilt where proof beyond a reasonable doubt is about 85% in federal court and 90% in my state court. Add in the good faith exception, and probable cause drops to about 15%, about the same as reasonable suspicion. You want conservatives on the Supreme Court and you get Gates and Leon and every other good faith exception case. What goes around …
So, search warrants are merely a logical occurrence and extension of the wiretaps. It was posted here earlier: Techcrunch: Report: Facebook gave special investigator Robert Mueller detailed info on Russian ad buys. See also Trump team lawyer doesn’t understand search warrant process.
On another note, as Lawrence O’Donnell put it about 20 minutes ago: “Two of [Trump’s] lawyers showed their fundamental incompetence” by talking about their case in an open restaurant with a New York Times reporter sitting nearby who just happened to be there, too, and he made notes and took their picture. NYTimes: Trump Lawyers Clash Over How Much to Cooperate With Russia Inquiry by Peter Baker & Kenneth P. Vogel. Then they denied it when confronted by their gross and obvious breach of confidentiality. And then be lawyers as liars. Shameful lawyer conduct.