We have New York State Attorney Eric Schneiderman to thank for the genesis of the sealed indictment against Donald Trump currently being held in the Eastern District of Virginia. This is how that happened:
AG Schneiderman began a case of Enterprise Corruption, the state name for RICO, against Donald Trump. The case was based on the activities of Russian mobsters like Semion Moglievich who lived in Trump Tower, Russian oligarchs, and others.
Upon his own judgement and belief, Scheiderman decided that his case touched both Federal issues, and issues of National Security. He took his case to the Federal authorities. While the appropriate Federal District can often be location-based, if a federal case is to start on the same factual basis, the court chosen can also be based on subject matter. Because National Security is involved, Schneiderman brought his case to FISC to be heard. (Update 2021: my supposition is that this is because Felix Sater was heavily involved).
FISC does not empanel Grand Juries or prosecute. Per procedure, Schneiderman dismissed his case, which as a state AG he can do without a judge’s ruling; he had the right to dispose of it. The case was then reheard in Federal Court (EDVA) on the facts offered by Schneiderman. FISC having determined it was an article 3 matter, evidence under seal was provided to a Grand Jury, drawn from the Eastern District of Virginia, who read the evidence in a SCIF, a secure facility in the building sealed away from the public.
Sources report FISC retained some jurisdiction over this case, although jurors were empaneled from EDVA. FISC is not an article 3 court. Separate sources reported this: it was unclear to me if the FISC power over the case was solely related to sealing the matter, or if perhaps there was more evidence heard at FISC than was shared with the Grand Jury, on the criminal case, perhaps because Felix Sater as a putative foreign agent and therefore Russia were involved. But that ‘some jurisdiction’ was retained was told me by several sources.
Editor’s Note: 2021: All the Patribotics stories remain live but I have moved to Substack and take the opportunity to thank so many of you for subscribing and signing up to my free email list. I named the newsletter after my first post here, Dear Mr. Putin. Here’s a link to sign up – please join us over there!
Earlier Claude Taylor and I reported exclusively that the indictment was granted. We were pulled up on use of the term “granted”, but it is the correct term when, as in this case, no prosecution is yet possible, since a sitting President has immunity; but he can be indicted under seal, and he has been.
We reported the case was intended by prosecutors to form the basis of impeachment. This too was absolutely correct. Following the granting of the indictment on Trump, DAG Rosenstein took the matter to the Senate and presented it to lawmakers including Lindsey Graham in closed session. That is why Senator Graham came out and said ‘this investigation is now very clearly a criminal one.’ He had to say that; there was an existing criminal indictment and he had been shown it.
The following day, Rep. Green called for impeachment on the floor of the House. Contrary to what some ignoramuses are pushing on social media, a case of impeachment was begun against Trump at that moment:
Impeachment proceedings may be commenced in the House of Representatives by a Member declaring a charge of impeachment on his or her own initiative
Per procedure in the case of impeachment of individuals, the matter then went to the House Judiciary Committee.
Trump was then notified by both the other branches that a case of impeachment was commenced against him. I can report the Sergeant At Arms of the Senate, Frank Larkin (correction sorry needed tea), went to the White House on that Wednesday night. We did *not* report that the Marshal of the SCOTUS did so – only that she spoke to him before he left the country, on the matter of preserving evidence and complying with the orders of the courts. Sources linked to the enforcement arm of the judicial branch report Donald Trump was also told that he had not followed procedure to declassify evidence to the Russians; and that it would constitute an offense were he to share intelligence without declassifying it in the legal way on this trip. These sources do not report the location of that warning nor who delivered it to Trump, but it happened prior to his departure on Air Force One.
Sources report that AG Schneiderman, whose evidence was used to form the basis of a criminal indictment of the President, has been placed under an even heavier armed guard than usual for his protection.
Update 2021: I have read this morning that Preet Bharara said I deleted this story which is untrue. I mistakenly allowed a service called “Tweet Deleter” to run and it nuked a lot of my tweets from March 2017 to mid 2020. It’s great, I recommend it; i had used it before but when I reactivated it in 2020 to get rid of something specific it was reactivated with its former settings and set about a wholescale nuking, so be careful if you use one of these. He also questioned my credentials, so here they are: I ran a news site, Heat Street, at Dow Jones for two years and was also a national columnist for the UK Sun for eighteen months after leaving Parliament. I have had bylines in the Times, The Guardian, the New York Times, the Spectator, the Telegraph, the Sunday Mirror and the Sunday Times among others, so my record in journalism is substantial. I have moved away from WordPress to Substack,
I stand by this story exactly as reported. This happened while Comey was director of the FBI and, if I remember correctly, before Rod Rosenstein was confirmed by the Senate. A sealed indictment being granted in 2017 does not mean one currently exists, because, unfortunately, Bill Barr as AG was in a position to choose not to prosecute. We know he tried to kill cases around Trump, most famously that of Mike Flynn.
I have no sources on whether Barr killed this indictment but it would not be a surprise had he done so. That does not mean that Trump will get away with the Felix Sater / Bayrock / Trump case. Even though Schneiderman dismissed it at state level in order to refer it to FISC, presumably as he saw something around Sater he felt they should see, it was always open to a successor AG to restart the Bayrock-Sater-Trump case on the same facts as a “separate sovereign.” I hope AG Tish James is doing so.