“The Laws All Being Flat”: Clinton Supporters Search For Legal Shelter After Months Of Lowering Standards To Target Trump

Hillary_Clinton_Testimony_to_House_Select_Committee_on_BenghaziBelow is my column in the Hill Newspaper on the allegations against Hillary Clinton and her campaign.  Yesterday, the controversy surrounding the Russian dossier deepened after it was disclosed that the co-founder of Fusion GPS (the company hired by the Clinton campaign to do the dossier) met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya before she met with Donald Trump Jr. Indeed, she met with the Fusion officials shortly before and shortly after she met with Trump Jr. in Trump Tower.  Just hours before on June 9, 2016, Fusion co-founder and ex-Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson was with Veselnitskaya in a Manhattan federal courtroom.  Simpson and Fusion GPS were hired by BakerHostetler, which represented Russian firm Prevezon through Veselnitskaya.

Here is the column:

A_Man_for_All_Seasons_(1966_movie_poster)In “A Man for All Seasons,” Sir Thomas More was accused by his son-in-law William Roper of putting the law before morality. Roper declared he would “cut down every law in England” to “get after the devil.” More warned his son-in-law, “When the last law was down, and the devil turned around on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?”

Similar winds are blowing in the Beltway. For months, President Trump’s critics have bent and twisted criminal provisions to accuse him of a “plethora” of crimes. Little thought has been given to the implications of radically expanding the meaning of crimes such as obstruction, election fraud or conspiracy. Now, experts are scrambling to find shelter in the narrowest of criminal definitions as Democratic figures are implicated in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation as well as new campaign allegations by a former party leader.

Just as I have been skeptical of theories of Trump’s criminality, I am equally skeptical of such pronouncements of Hillary Clinton’s crimes based on current evidence. However, Trump would need to look no further than the interpretations of many experts to support calls for prosecution. It was recently confirmed that Clinton’s campaign paid a foreign national to dig up dirt against Trump from other foreign nationals, including Russian and foreign intelligence sources. Both Trump and Clinton have justified their actions as standard “opposition research.” Moreover, both campaigns insist the public had a right to know of evidence of illegality held by such sources.

Experts have spent months shoehorning Trump into ill-fitting criminal provisions. Some have argued that he can be charged under Section 371, which prohibits conspiracies to defraud the United States “in any manner or for any purpose.” Former federal prosecutor Randall Eliason has argued, “Running a free and fair presidential election is a core lawful function of the federal government. Any agreement to secretly and dishonestly attempt to interfere with a federal election would fall squarely within Section 371’s prohibition on conspiracies to defraud the United States.”

220px-donna_brazile_1Well, if seeking dirt from the Russians on Clinton is now a federal crime, how about seeking dirt from Russian sources against Trump? If that does not “fall squarely within” the criminal code, how about rigging the primary, as alleged last week by former Democratic National Committee head Donna Brazile? In her new book, she contends Clinton essentially bought the DNC by assuming responsibility for its crippling debt in exchange for controlling critical elements of the organization before the primary. Brazile was fired by CNN for unethical conduct in leaking debate questions to Clinton, then lying about it to the media. However, even Brazile balked at what she found at the DNC.

Brazile says she discovered an August 2015 agreement between the national committee and the Clinton campaign that the latter be allowed to “control the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised.” Brazile said the deal was legal, “but it sure looked unethical,” but still gave the Clinton campaign “control of the party before the voters had decided which one they wanted to lead.” The former DNC head now agrees the deal “compromised the party’s integrity.”

If Clinton gained critical control over the primary in a secret deal, how was the election “free and fair” for the purposes of Section 371? When the subject was Trump, defense counsel Tor Ekeland insisted that the Trump could be charged on “a whole plethora of areas of potential criminal liability.” When asked if Trump could be prosecuted even if he did not encourage the hacking of emails, but simply encouraged the release of information, Ekeland reportedly responded with an expression of profane glee and said that mere encouragement is potentially enough. Such abandon is characteristic of the “anything goes when it comes to Trump” approach to legal interpretation.

 

Yet again, nothing but barriers are seen to investigating Clinton, even after her belated acknowledgement of funding the dossier after it was confirmed by various newspapers for weeks. Clinton defended her actions by claiming, “You know, from my perspective, it didn’t come out before the election, as we all know.” Some have balked at that spin. Christopher Steele, the former English spy behind the dossier, was in Washington in September 2016 peddling the allegations to a wide array of reporters. The same information from the dossier began to appear in the media. Moreover, the Clinton campaign, including communications director Jennifer Palmieri, pushed the story.

Many Trump critics have insisted the pattern of concealing or lying about Russian connections is an obvious basis for investigation. However, Clinton never fessed up to paying for the dossier over months of coverage and speculation. In addition, journalists (including two New York Times reporters) have accused Clinton lawyer Marc Elias of repeatedly lying in denying any connection between the dossier and the campaign. Elias later sat next to the Clinton campaign chairman, John Podesta, who denied any connection with the campaign in a formal interview with congressional investigators. It is a crime to knowingly give false information to federal investigators or to Congress.

Other criminal allegations against Clinton do not require linguistic gymnastics to fit the criminal code. Critics have charged that huge amounts of money were exchanged through the Clinton Foundation or speaking fees for Bill Clinton, including the $500,000 given to him by Russians before the State Department approved the controversial Uranium One deal under Secretary Hillary Clinton. While there are obvious defenses for Clinton, the allegation would fit a classic “pay to play” scheme. If true, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was sent to jail for far less.

Does this mean Clinton or her aides committed crimes? No. The point is only that a sharp disconnect exists between the interpretive approaches given to allegations about Trump as opposed to those about Clinton. A presumption of criminality exists for one, and for the other, a virtual immunity. A concerted effort is being made to get the law to fit the conduct, at considerable risk to our legal system.

440px-Hans_Holbein,_the_Younger_-_Sir_Thomas_More_-_Google_Art_ProjectAs Sir Thomas More observed, “This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast.” The blind rage exhibited in legal analysis will leave us in no better of a position than the hapless William Roper when we have need of these laws again. Perhaps with the latest allegations, More’s words will now resonate with some in Washington. As he said, “If you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!”

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanTurley.

251 thoughts on ““The Laws All Being Flat”: Clinton Supporters Search For Legal Shelter After Months Of Lowering Standards To Target Trump

  1. the photo wouldn’t copy by any method but the description was perfect except for using a fifty cent word to replace a four letter word.

    “I’m not blasting Hillary for giving a speech about”inequality”while wearing a $12,500 Armani jacket. I’m posting this to congratulate Armani for selling a potato sack with sleeves for $12,500, which, in this case, holds about 200 pounds of fertilizer.”

    From now on Bubba and the Flying Desk Episode is second place to Bubbette – and the Blubber Blues Not much else going on except McConnel shows his right wing of the left colors with yet another round of Screw the Voters. Eminem and 10 cent are going to help sharpen up the lyrics.

  2. At this blog, verdicts are being rendered based on illegally obtained information that was gathered in an egregiously discriminatory manner.
    When are the “poisoned fruit of the tree” and “zeroed in on only one suspect” arguments going to be made?

    • As soon as the DNC’s Robby Robot and the Clonettes “Machine Collective” rusts enough. Surely you aen’t taking that stuff seriously? It’s just a machine. Nolthing Hominem about The Party’s Collective.

  3. It doesn’t seem to matter Johnathan. These people worked for the Russians, they were paid by the CLINTONS and DNC, but nobody cares. They hate TRUMP and that is all that matters. America is no longer great, we are a bunch of victims wanting to take out anybody that thinks differently. Good by OLD LADY, it was nice knowing you. You did some great things and you made some big mistakes, but I always believed your heart was in the right place. The question that nobody can answer, is where does all the hate go when Trump is gone. The HATE is like OOZE in the Ghostbuster movie, it bubbles, it overcomes, it makes people do things that men with a conscious would regret. Welcome to America home of the HATER! Continue to CONDONE your own HATE, while CONDEMNING Trump and all who HATE- and say Goodbye to the blessings of LIBERTY!

      • My guess was a subjective comment refined to one word such as ‘you are flat out….” Sooooooo I asked the computer
        most were about granny flatss in real estate but findlaw helped

        FindLaw Legal Dictionary

        The FindLaw Legal Dictionary — free access to over 8260 definitions of legal terms. Search for a definition or browse our legal glossaries.
        Flat Rule

        flat rule n
        : “per se rule”

        this one in line three started the LMAO effect.

        Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Financial, Acronyms, Idioms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
        Related to flat: Flat White, Flat affect, Flat character
        See: impecunious, insipid, jejune, lifeless, pedestrian, prosaic, stale
        Burton’s Legal Thesaurus, 4E. Copyright © 2007 by William C. Burton. Used with permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

  4. Oh, the irony is so enjoyable.

    My own glee aside, there is nothing wrong with getting opposition research from a foreign national. Say, for example, that a candidate had a history of fraud, graft, and scandal in another country where he or she funneled foreign aid to himself or herself and friends. Of course we would want to know, and of course the information would come from a foreign national. In addition, everyone was taking meetings with Russians after the “Russian reset.” Their fingers and spies have been in all the pies, as have ours in theirs.

    No, the issue is when the entirely fabricated Russian dossier was sent out, lauded as truth, without proper vetting. That’s not research; it’s libel. Then there is the entire double standard. If it was criminal or egregious or evil or treason for Trump, then they must apply the same standard to themselves.

  5. “Scripture tells us: Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season, we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.”

    HRC’s tweet I just picked off Assange’s Twitter.

    Shameless POS – ask the people of Haiti, Honduras, Iraq, Libya about her “good works”

  6. It continues to amaze me that the typical response by Trump supporters to Trump bashers is “Get over it, Hillary lost.” I have yet to see the Trump bashers bring Hillary’s name into the conversation as in “Well if Hillary was President….”. It is always Trump supporters who drag her back into any conversation regarding Trump. It sounds a lot like the kid whose defense is “Well Bobby did something worse”. Besides, the DOJ is much too busy trying to force AT&T to sell off CNN as part of the deal to approve their purchase of Time-Warner. Gotta have priorities.

    • It is always Trump supporters who drag her back into any conversation regarding Trump.

      I suspect you will continue to be amazed then. I am not a Trump supporter but a rule of law supporter. So when the cry went out regarding Russian collusion, I’m expecting evidence. We now have evidence, mountains of evidence of corruption, pay-for-play, infosec violations, etc., and it doesn’t point to President Trump but rather Hillary Clinton. No one should get a pass from the law, unless of course you believe the political class is above it.

      Amazing!

    • Hillary did lose.

      The DNC and the Clinton campaign paid money to smear Trump. It was under their dollars that the Russians became involved.

      A double standard is being used and that is why Hillary’s name so frequently enters the conversation.

      Has any evidence of criminal action by Trump or Clinton been found? None found against Trump. The Clinton Foundation has yet to be thoroughly investigated. Hillary’s emails demonstrated security issues and noncompliance with Congress but is that criminal or not? Hillary’s anti-democratic methods of managing the Democratic nomination certainly is an affront to all Democrats but is it criminal?

      Care to tell us the criminal act Trump is supposed to have performed along with a bit of proof? Plenty of smoke around Hillary and so far none around Trump.

  7. More of the Kellyanne Pivot: Yesterday’s election results show that the Toxic Dotard is killing the Republican Party, but to pivot away from this bad news, JT drums up crap about Hillary Clinton. After awhile, even the hardcore Trumptards will realize that the election was a year ago, and this is nothing but a cover. BTW: the dossier was initially commissioned by one of Dotard’s Republican rivals, who dropped it after he “won” the nomination. After that, it was picked up by the Clinton campaign. The point is, it didn’t start with the Clinton campaign. The big dossier story is that the Ruskies have audio and/or video of Dotard having prostitutes urinate on the bed where Michelle Obama slept. They could use it to blackmail the Dotard any time they want to. That’s the real story here.

    • Natacha – most Republicans do not think that Trump represents either party. He is willing to go both ways to make a deal. Historically Virginia goes to the opposite party of the President after an election. Life with it. When the Democrats finally retake the Presidency, Virginia will have a Republican governor.

      • PCS, there is the theory and then there is the effect. Tell that beneficiary of “Affirmative Action Privilege,” hiding behind artifice, not relying on merit, Nutchacha, that Hillary is NOT in the presidency. Anything but Hillary (or Bush, “W” being the $4 trillion disaster for America). Trump shmump! Hillary was roundly rejected. Hillary lost! Thank God.

          • Hillary WON the popular vote. SHE, not Dotard, was the people’s choice.

            Then it would only be fitting for her to receive flowers today from the People’s House courtesy of PRESIDENT Trump, to recognize such an accomplishment.

          • The Dodgers won the popular vote by winning the most regular season games, 104.

            The Astros won the electoral college by taking 4 of 7 world series games.

            The Astros won the world championship.

            I don’t expect parasites to understand the host they feed on.

            Normally, I don’t respond to parasites, enjoying the artifice of “Affirmative Action Privilege,” who were never intended to vote in the American republic, but I couldn’t stop myself. It’s important that readers who are actual Americans understand America and its Constitution.

        • George – Hillary had been around the Presidential block twice before with Bill, so she knew how the game was played. She got her a$$ kicked by an amateur and she had no one to blame but herself. However, she has blamed everyone else. 😉

    • “Natacha” I think the Dims should be looking at the damage the Clintons and their loyal sycophants have done to the Dim party rather than trying to divert to fake stories.

  8. Hillary and Comey should be in prison with Anthony Weiner. Can you say “corruption?”

    “Comey Softened Language In Hillary Memo Even After CIA Officials Called Her Emails ‘Problematic’”

    CIA officials described emails found on Hillary Clinton’s private email server as “problematic” and damaging to the agency, according to summaries of interviews they gave to the FBI last May and June.

    The timing of the interviews is significant because they are within a 39 day time window in which top FBI officials, including then-director James Comey, edited language in a draft memo of a statement that was to be given at the conclusion of the Clinton email probe.

    A May 2, 2016 memo sent by Comey to three top bureau officials referred to Clinton’s use of a private email server to send and receive classified information as “grossly negligent.”

    But according to Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the memo was changed on or around June 10 to refer to Clinton’s actions as merely “extremely careless.”

    The distinction between “grossly negligent” and “extremely careless” is significant because the former is considered a federal crime while the latter term has no legal weight.

    DC

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