About thebellyofthebeast

Adjunct professor at Northwestern University's School of Law and its Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences, contributing editor to ABA "Litigation" and "The American Lawyer," and author of "The Lawyer Bubble - A Profession in Crisis (2013), "The Partnership - A Novel" (2010), "Crossing Hoffa - A Teamster's Story" (2007) (A "Chicago Tribune" Best Book of the Year), and "Straddling Worlds: The Jewish-American Journey of Professor Richard W. Leopold" (2008). Recently retired after 30 years at Kirkland & Ellis LLP. Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. Graduated from Harvard Law School (magna cum laude) and Northwestern University (combined B.A./M.A. in economics, with distinction and Phi Beta Kappa).

THE TRUMP-RUSSIA TIMELINE: UPDATES THROUGH OCT. 9, 2017

Lost in the controversy over the “Steele dossier” is an important fact: Key aspects of Christopher Steele’s investigation turned out to be true.

Here’s a list of what we added with our Oct. 9 update:

Additions to our main Trump-Russia Timeline:

  • Sept. 10, 2013: US Attorney Bharara Files Prevezon Case
  • Early August 2016: Steele Gives the FBI Documents About Alleged Trump-Russia Connections
  • June 9, 2016: Don Jr., Manafort, Kushner Meet With Russian Lawyer [revision of previous entry]
  • Oct. 31, 2016: David Corn Breaks ‘Steele Dossier’ Story
  • Dec. 9, 2016: McCain Delivers ‘Steele Dossier’ to FBI Director Comey
  • Jan. 6, 2017: CIA, FBI, NSA: ‘Putin Ordered an Influence Campaign in 2016’ [revision of previous entry]
  • Jan. 10, 2017: BuzzFeed Publishes ‘Steele Dossier’
  • Jan. 10, 2017: Trump Dismisses ‘Steele Dossier’ as ‘Fake News’
  • Jan. 11, 2017: Trump Blasts ‘Steele Dossier’
  • Jan. 11, 2017: Trump Tweets About BuzzFeed and Russia
  • Jan. 11, 2017: WSJ Identifies Author of ‘Steele Dossier’
  • Jan. 13, 2017: Trump Dismisses Steele as ‘Failed Spy’ Promoting ‘Fake News’
  • Jan. 14, 2017: Trump Tweets About ‘Steele Dossier’
  • Jan. 15, 2017: Trump: ‘We Should Trust Putin’; Blasts Steele
  • March 10, 2017: Trump Fires US Attorney Preet Bharara and 45 Other US Attorneys [revision of previous entry]
  • March 21, 2017: Magnitsky’s Lawyer Suffers Severe Injuries [revision of previous entry]
  • May 12, 2017: DOJ Settles Civil Russian Money Laundering Case; Criminal Case Continues [revision of previous entry]
  • Summer 2017: Mueller Interviews Steele
  • July 2017: Nunes’ Aide Sends Staffers to Contact Steele
  • Oct. 6, 2017: Steele Talking to Senate Intelligence Committee

Additions to our timeline of the Comey firing:

  • Dec. 9, 2016: McCain Delivers ‘Steele Dossier’ to FBI Director Comey
  • Summer 2017: Mueller Interviews Steele

Additions to our Kushner Timeline:

  • June 9, 2016: Don Jr., Manafort, Kushner Meet With Russian Lawyer [revision of previous entry]
  • May 12, 2017: DOJ Settles Civil Russian Money Laundering Case; Criminal Case Continues [revision of previous entry]

Here’s a list of what we added with our Oct. 7 update:

Additions to our main Trump-Russia Timeline:

  • June 14, 2016: Rohrabacher’s Request to Show Pro-Russia Film During House Committee Hearing is Denied
  • Nov. 8, 2016: Election Day Troubles [revision of previous entry]
  • April 11, 2017: Rohrabacher Meets with Rinat Akhmetshin in Berlin
  • Oct. 3, 2017: Mueller Researching Limits of Presidential Pardon Power
  • Oct. 4, 2017: Interim Press Conference with Senate Intelligence Committee Chair and Vice-chair
  • Oct. 4, 2017: Senate Intelligence Committee Leaders Announce Briefing; Trump Tweets
  • Oct. 5, 2017: Trump Tweets

Additions to our timeline of the Comey firing:

  • Oct. 3, 2017: Mueller Researching Limits of Presidential Pardon Power
  • Oct. 4, 2017: Interim Press Conference with Senate Intelligence Committee Chair and Vice-chair

Additions to our Kushner Timeline:

  • Nov. 8, 2016: Election Day Troubles [revision of previous entry]

Here’s a list of what we added with our Oct. 2 update:

Additions to our main Trump-Russia Timeline:

  • October 2015: Cohen Receives Proposal for Moscow Residential Project
  • March 31, 2016: Trump Meets with Foreign Policy Advisers
  • April 11, 2016: Manafort to Russian Business Associate: ‘How Do We Use to Get Whole?’
  • June 2016: Sater Emails Cohen About Attending Russian International Economic Forum
  • July 7, 2016: Manafort Offers to Brief Oligarch Close to Putin [revision of previous entry]
  • July 18, 2016: Trump Campaign Successfully Changes GOP Platform on Ukraine [revision of previous entry]
  • June 15, 2017: Pence Hires Outside Attorney, Says He Will Cooperate with Mueller [revision of previous entry]
  • June 15, 2017: Reports: Mueller Is Investigating Kushner; McGahn Worries About Kushner-Trump Meetings
  • July 15, 2017: White House Hires Attorney for Trump-Russia Matters [revision of previous entry]
  • Sept. 28, 2017: Mueller Interviews NSC Chief of Staff Kellogg
  • Sept. 28, 2017: Senators are Concerned that Trump May Not Enforce New Russia Sanctions
  • Sept. 29, 2017: Fox News: Investigators Reviewing March 2016 Meeting of Trump Campaign’s National Security Advisers

Additions to our timeline of the Comey firing:

  • June 15, 2017: Pence Hires Outside Attorney, Says He Will Cooperate with Mueller [revision of previous entry]
  • Sept. 28, 2017: Mueller Interviews NSC Chief of Staff Kellogg
  • Sept. 29, 2017: Fox News: Investigators Reviewing March 2016 Meeting of Trump Campaign’s National Security Advisers

Additions to our Kushner Timeline:

  • June 15, 2017: Reports: Mueller Is Investigating Kushner; McGahn Worries About Kushner-Trump Meetings
  • July 15, 2017: White House Hires Attorney for Trump-Russia Matters [revision of previous entry]

Additions to our Pence Timeline:

  • June 15, 2017: Pence Hires Outside Attorney, Says He Will Cooperate with Mueller [revision of previous entry]

DAN RATHER’S AMERICA

Excerpts from my Oct. 3, 2017 appearance on “Dan Rather’s America” (on Radio Andy – Sirius XM 102 Radio):

Steven Harper Tells Dan Rather Why the Russia Investigation Is Not Overblown
https://youtu.be/4HVaplkgrG8

Steven Harper on Jared Kushner’s Role in the Evolving Russia Investigation
https://youtu.be/7O1UnJ_dzws

Is “Attack” Too Strong of a Term to Describe Russia’s Actions?
https://youtu.be/u2MN-Gnvqqk

 

DAN RATHER INTERVIEW

Here are three short excerpts from my Oct. 3 interview with Dan Rather on Sirius XM 102 — “Dan Rather’s America” on Radio Andy:
**
Steven Harper Tells Dan Rather Why the Russia Investigation Is Not Overblown
https://youtu.be/4HVaplkgrG8
**
Steven Harper on Jared Kushner’s Role in the Evolving Russia Investigation https://youtu.be/7O1UnJ_dzws
**
Is “Attack” Too Strong of a Term to Describe Russia’s Actions? https://youtu.be/u2MN-Gnvqqk

OCTOBER 3, 2017

On Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, you can:

  1. Listen to my conversation with Dan Rather on Sirius XM Channel 102. (“Dan Rather’s America” on Radio Andy at 10:00 am EDT) We’ll be discussing the Trump-Russia Timeline at BillMoyers.com
  2. Take advantage of a Kindle promotion and download my novel, The Partnership.” Through Oct. 7, it’s free. 

TRUMP LAWYERS, BEWARE!

[This post first appeared at BillMoyers.com on Sept. 28, 2017.]

NOTE: On October 3, 2017 at 10:00 EDT/9:00 CDT, my interview with Dan Rather on the Trump-Russia Timeline will air on “Dan Rather’s America” — Radio Andy, Sirius XM 102

Former White House counsel John Dean counted 21 lawyers involved in Watergate wrongdoing. Among the most prominent were President Richard M. Nixon, White House Domestic Affairs Adviser John Ehrlichman, Attorney General John Mitchell, Nixon’s personal attorney Herbert Kalmbach, White House special counsel Charles Colson, Egil “Bud” Krogh—who headed the “Plumbers” unit involved in the break-in—and Dean himself. History may not repeat itself, but sometimes it rhymes.

Obstructing justice requires more than a president’s single-handed efforts. It’s a team sport. Whether intentional or unwitting, complicit attorneys bring a unique disgrace to their profession and do enormous damage to the country. Upon admission to the bar, all of Trump’s advisers with JDs swore an oath to defend the Constitution and uphold the rule of law. Beginning the week of Oct. 1, many of them could face tough questions about whether they witnessed or participated in criminal wrongdoing at the highest levels of government.

At the moment, special counsel Robert Mueller has Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort (JD, Georgetown, ’74) in the hottest seat. But Mueller has also informed the White House that he wants to interview at least three lawyers who are present or former staffers. Others inside and outside the White House could join that line.

If he is following a typical prosecutorial approach—working from the bottom up in questioning witnesses who may have information pertinent to the investigation—Mueller has already reached rarified air. One of his early picks now sits in the office that John Dean once occupied, White House counsel Don McGahn (JD, Widener, ‘94), who reportedly has “a couple documents” so sensitive that he keeps them locked in a safe and away from Trump’s personal attorney, Ty Cobb (JD, Georgetown, ’78). Thanks to Cobb’s recent public comments over lunch with another Trump attorney, John Dowd (JD, Emory, ’65), Mueller can now be quite specific in seeking that material.

Long before the Cobb-Dowd luncheon that will become a case study in law school courses on professional irresponsibility, Mueller said he wanted to speak with one of McGahn’s deputies, James Burnham, (JD, U of Chicago, ’09). Burnham was reportedly with McGahn on Jan. 26, 2017, when acting Attorney General Sally Yates told them about her concerns with then-national security adviser Michael Flynn. Yet for more than two weeks after that briefing, Flynn remained in the nation’s most sensitive national security post. Reasonable investigators might want to know what McGahn did during to protect the country during that period. After all, the White House counsel is not any president’s personal attorney.

The third lawyer reportedly on Mueller’s current request list is Reince Priebus (JD, Miami, ’98). Other than as an indefatigable Trump defender, Priebus’ role in the Flynn episode is unclear. But Priebus was at the center of another Trump firestorm: the cover-up relating to the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

Apparently, Mueller has not yet questioned other attorneys involved in the Comey cover-up, but everyone knows who they are. Jared Kushner (JD/MBA, NYU, ’07) spent the weekend at Bedminster, NJ urging Trump to fire Comey. Then he reportedly joined Priebus, McGahn, and Vice President Mike Pence (JD-Indiana-Robert W. McKinney, ’86) to draft talking points. Pence saw or heard Trump read aloud his four-page letter outlining the reasons he was firing Comey. Pence also took the cover-up to Capitol Hill.

A president’s outside attorneys are at risk, too. On July 12, 2017, one of Trump’s personal lawyers, Jay Sekulow (JD, Mercer, ’80), told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that Trump had no role in drafting Don Jr.’s first misleading statement about the June 9, 2016 meeting between top Trump advisers and three Russians. “The president didn’t sign off on anything,” he said. Four days later, he told NBC’s Chuck Todd the same thing: “I do want to be clear – that the president was not involved in the drafting of the statement and did not issue the statement.” Sekulow’s best defense now is that he didn’t know what he was talking about.

Since Nixon’s impeachment, the seminal lesson of political scandals has been: “It’s not the crime; it’s the cover-up.” Eventually, the public will learn whether Trump’s advisers have heeded that lesson. When that day arrives, it could become an especially embarrassing moment for those with legal degrees.

 

THE TRUMP-RUSSIA TIMELINE: UPDATES THROUGH SEPT. 28, 2017

If you think it’s been a quiet week for the Trump-Russia story at BillMoyers.com, think again….

Additions to our main Trump-Russia Timeline:

  • 1980: Stone and Manafort Start a Business [revision of previous entry]
  • 1988: Stone Urges Trump to Run for President
  • 2012: Trump Again Considers Presidential Bid
  • June 2015 to May 2017: Kremlin-linked Russian Company Buys Ads on Facebook; Russian Actors Also Used Twitter [revision of previous entry]
  • Sept. 22, 2017: Russians Continue Using Twitter to Support Trump
  • Sept. 22, 2017: Former DNI Clapper Expresses Doubt About Legitimacy of Trump’s Election
  • Sept. 25, 2017: Stone Decries Congressional Hearings
  • Sept. 26, 2017: Mueller Interviews of White House Staffers to Begin
  • Sept. 26, 2017: Senate Hearings on Legislation to Protect Mueller
  • Sept. 26, 2017: Russian Facebook Ads Supported Trump
  • Sept. 27, 2017: Trump Tweets About Facebook
  • Sept. 28, 2017: Twitter Says It Has Cracked Down on Russian Accounts

Additions to our timeline of the Comey firing:

  • Sept. 26, 2017: Mueller Interviews of White House Staffers to Begin
  • Sept. 26, 2017: Senate Hearings on Legislation to Protect Mueller