Nov 172018

Julian Assange has been charged “under seal” in the US. That means no details of the charge, or even the charge itself, are meant to be known by the public.

Vanity Fair, Excerpt:

According to The Washington Post, an August 22 filing in an unrelated case mentions Assange twice by name. Arguing that a case involving a man accused of coercing a minor for sex should be kept sealed, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kellen Dwyer, who is also working on a long-standing case against WikiLeaks, wrote that both the charges and the arrest warrant “would need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested in connection with the charges in the criminal complaint and can therefore no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition in this matter.” Elsewhere in the filing, Dwyer wrote that “due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged.” Seamus Hughes, a terrorism expert at the George Washington University, first noted both mentions. “To be clear, seems Freudian, it’s for a different completely unrelated case, every other page is not related to him,” he wrote on Twitter. The office “just appears to have Assange on the mind when filing motions to seal and used his name.”

Exactly what charges Assange is facing remains unclear. In the past, prosecutors have considered conspiracy, violating the Espionage Act, and theft of government property. During the Obama administration, the Justice Department held back on going after Assange amid concerns that doing so was similar to prosecuting a news outlet. (Charging someone for publishing accurate information, Assange’s lawyer Barry Pollack told The Guardian on Thursday, is “a dangerous path for a democracy to take.”) The recently ousted Jeff Sessions, however, took a more Draconian stance on government leaks, and prosecutors were reportedly told over the summer that they could start compiling a complaint. So far, the D.O.J. has not offered further details. “That was not the intended name for this filing,” Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, told The New York Times, explaining that “the court filing was made in error.”

Whether Assange will be charged as part of the Russia probe is also unknown, though it seems likely. Presumably, the mention of Assange’s name in legal documents has spooked Trumpworld, which is already on edge in anticipation of the next Mueller bombshell. According to Politico, the White House suspects more indictments are imminent, potentially targeting a cabal of Trump family members and associates for their connections to WikiLeaks. On Wednesday, the special counsel delivered a one-page motion to a Washington judge stating that former Trump campaign deputy chairman Rick Gates, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the U.S. and making a false statement in a federal investigation, “continues to cooperate with respect to several ongoing investigations.” Then, on Thursday, Mueller’s office and Paul Manafort’s lawyers jointly requested a 10-day extension to file a report pertaining to the former campaign chairman’s sentencing.

Trump allies are feeling the pressure. Conspiracy theorist and commentator Jerome Corsi, a Stone ally, has said he expects to be indicted for perjury, and told The Guardian that Mueller’s team grilled him on Assange and Brexiteer Nigel Farage, the latter of whom has links to both WikiLeaks and Trump. Donald Trump Jr., too, is said to be bracing for a legal showdown—as three sources recently told my colleague Gabriel Sherman, the president’s eldest son has “been telling friends he is worried about being indicted as early as this week.” (His lawyer, Alan Futerfas, denied this, saying in a statement, “Don never said any such thing, and there is absolutely no truth to these rumors.”)

As paranoia, media scrutiny, and the hashtag #indictmentpalooza pick up, the president, who has been working with lawyers on written answers to a series of Mueller’s questions, also appears to be on tenterhooks. “The inner workings of the Mueller investigation are a total mess. They have found no collusion and have gone absolutely nuts. They are screaming and shouting at people, horribly threatening them to come up with the answers they want,” he wrote on Twitter Thursday, ending an almost two-month hiatus of attacks on the Russia probe. “They are a disgrace to our Nation and don’t care how many lives [they] ruin.”

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>