No, I Never Said Sotomayor Wasn’t Smart Enough For The Supreme Court

When I agreed to testify in the Trump impeachment hearing, I knew that that I would be attacked for my testimony. With roughly 54 pages of testimony, there would be ample areas of good-faith disagreement. The surprising thing was the tsunami of attacks for things that I did not say. The most vile was that I previously said that Justice Sonia Sotomayor “wasn’t smart enough for the Supreme Court.” That false story appears to be traced to a tweet from from another law professor, Baltimore Law Professor Garrett Epps stating “Does anybody else remember @JonathanTurley appearing on MSNBC to explain that Sonia Sotomayor didn’t have the intellect to serve on the Supreme Court?” I certainly don’t because I never said such a thing. However, Epps and an array of reporters did not feel that such a statement required a modicum of actual research. (I am giving Professor Epps the benefit of the doubt that he did not actually watch the video that he linked. If he did, he clearly chose to ignore where I clearly state a very different point about Sotomayor’s opinions while saying that she could still emerge on the Court as a great justice like Justice John Paul Stevens).

When then-Judge Sotomayor was nominated, I was asked as a legal commentator to review her opinions and give my view of what that body of work suggested about her potential on the Court. I raised the identical objection that I made of the pre-nomination work by Stevens, Samuel Alito, David Souter, and others. They all had relatively short and unimpressive decisions before joining the Court. My point was simply that intellectual leaders on the courts are rarely selected for the Supreme Court. Before Sotomayor’s appointment, I cited various liberal judges like Judge Diane Wood who had already proven to be intellectual forces on their respective courts. However, as with Alito and others, those leading jurists were bypassed.

The fact that I said that same thing about justices from John Paul Stevens to Samuel Alito also does not matter. Likewise, it does not matter that I was making this point in arguing that Obama missed an opportunity in Diane Woods, who I had advocated as the best nominee before Sotomayor’s selection. (The fact that I called for the nomination of Woods over Sotomayor did not prevent commentators like Colin Kalmbacher from suggesting that I was motivated by sexism in describing these opinions — as many others did — as narrow and unremarkable).

Given my earlier column on intellectual leaders among liberal jurists, I was repeatedly asked about how Sotomayor’s opinions stacked up to not just my preferences of Woods but conservative powerhouse Antonin Scalia. I was also critical of opinions by Sotomayor that I viewed as inimical to free speech rights.

In the specific interview cited by Epps, I stated:

“I’ve read roughly about 30 of these opinions. She has a much larger library of opinions. But they are notable in one thing. And that is a lack of depth. There is nothing particularly profound in her past decisions. She’s been a judge a long time. That’s opposed to people like Judge [Diane] Wood on the Seventh Circuit — and she was viewed as a real intellectual powerhouse. You really can’t read the opinions of this nominee and say: “Oh yeah, this person is a natural choice for the Supreme Court.”

I then immediately stated that this is not unique and that other justices have had such short and unremarkable appellate opinions but proved more profound on the Court. I expressly compared Sotomayor to Stevens who have I long praised. I also stated that Sotomayor could prove a truly great justice but that her opinions do not offer any glimpse into how she might emerge in such a role.

Neither Epps nor those who repeated his false suggestion bothered to note other statements that I made in defense of Sotomayor. For example, after the nomination, I also stated that following:

Like a number of other professors and commentators, I have expressed disappointment in the fact that Sotomayor’s opinions lack of deeper view of the law or any particularly profound observations on the law. Conservatives, however, take this lack of depth in these opinions as evidence that Sotomayor is not smart or competent. This is demonstrably absurd. These opinions are little different from those of Alito, Souter, or the limited writings of Thomas. Clearly, Sotomayor is quite intelligent. This record is little different from records of Republican nominees who enthralled these same critics.

Here is another column around the same time making the same point:

“Sotomayor is a relatively rare commodity in that, unlike many past nominees with few written opinions, she has hundreds of opinions over the course of 18 years. Review of these opinions by academics and newspapers describe Sotomayor’s opinions as extremely narrow and conventional. There is no single opinion that stands out as particularly profound or clearly establishes why Sotomayor should be elevated to the court — though this does not distinguish her from other recent nominees like Samuel Alito.”

As I noted in that column, many of us were saying that same thing about these opinions on all of the networks: they were narrow, short, and conventional. They were therefore unhelpful in judging Sotomayor’s potential on the Court and gave no guarantee that she would prove an intellectual leader.

Thus, not only does that specific interview expressly discuss Sotomayor’s opinions and not her intellect, but I expressly rejected any use of these opinions to make assumptions about her intellect or potential as a justice. Nor does it apparently matter that I have praised Sotomayor for her opinions as a justice because she has done previously what I suggested: come into her own as a jurist on the Court just as Stevens and others did. By the way, the analogy to Stevens was to the contemporary justice I have most admired and the example of a jurist blossoming on the court in finding his voice and depth.

However, it does not stop there. Colin Kalmbacher reported Epps’ tweet and added that I “unprompted . . . brought Sotomayor’s race and gender into the 2009 discussion on MSNBC.” That is perfectly bizarre. Virtually every story and commentary noted that historical significance of Sotomayor as the first Latina on the Court. I raised it to say that people could be “rightfully” proud of that historical distinction. As a legal commentator, any review of this nomination would have been incomplete without noting that distinction. Moreover, hundreds of stories on MSNBC and other news outlets “unprompted” noted the historic distinction. I then returned to the original question on whether Sotomayor’s opinions suggest that she would be transformative intellectual leader on the Court. The opinions simply did not offer such an indication, but she is not unique in that way (hence my expression and favorable comparison to Stevens).

I have long objected to the failure to select proven intellectual leaders like Diane Woods, Richard Posner, and Guido Calabresi for the Court. (Notably, Posner has also criticized the lack of intellectual leaders on the Court). For decades I have been a critic of our nomination process. (here and here and here and here and here). All of these opinions make the same objection over the course of decades that we no longer nominate proven intellectual leaders. Indeed, one of the reasons I agreed to testify at the confirmation hearing of Neil Gorsuch was that he was an exception to this trend.

This rather lengthy account only quotes a fraction of the writing and commentary directly contradicting Epps’ irresponsible statement. My point is really over the declining state of legal commentary. What matters is the total disregard of the truth in order to paint a fellow academic as some form of racist or sexist. To put it simply, I would never have tweeted such a claim about another academic without reading his full commentary or noting that the specific interview clearly refers to the opinions and not the intellect of then Judge Sotomayor. However, in this age of rage, civility (like reason) remains a stranger.

136 thoughts on “No, I Never Said Sotomayor Wasn’t Smart Enough For The Supreme Court”

  1. I suspect she, Sotomayor, really isn’t smart enough to be on the Supreme Court. I began to think so when she described herself as superior to others because she is a ‘wise Latina’. What a foolish, childish self-description. Little she has done since then has improved my initial opinion of her.

  2. Interesting opinion piece in the Charlotte Observer:

    ‘They want [Trump] gone by any means necessary.

    That’s their right as private citizens. But, as impeachment dominates the nation, I would hope they might take a step back and recognize how dangerous it is when the pillars of our Republic – the government and the press – share their commitment to remove a duly elected president by hook or crook.

    Recall that from the moment Trump was elected, the reporting and commentaries from news organizations such as the New York Times, CNN and NPR created the impression that Trump conspired with the Russians to steal the 2016 race. Former CIA Director John Brennan promised time and again that indictments were imminent.

    The reporting was so one-sided and unfair it’s no wonder that Americans already repulsed by the president took it all as gospel. Part of me can’t blame them – who would believe that their government and the prestigious news outlets they relied on would mislead them about so much for so long?

    But they did.

    Instead of owning up to this horrific malfeasance, Democrats and their operatives in the media have been gaslighting the public, defending their indefensible conduct by pretending only a few small errors were made while switching the focus to the first wholly partisan impeachment in our history.

    None of this will change my friends’ feelings. But one can hate Trump and still admit that he has been libeled and smeared. One can oppose him with every fiber of their being and still acknowledge that the government and the press have acted with reckless contempt for the truth.

    If they normalize this behavior by refusing to demand honesty and accountability from their party and their news outlets, then we are lost.

    FISA Abuse is the true scandal of the 2016 election.

  3. The reality is that very few possess the logical ability to discern, or the conviction, strength, to do so dispassionately as constructionists. And if you’re not a true constructionist? Well then you’ll never achieve the historically fine repute of a Scalia. Sotomayer did not belong on the court and either did Kagan. The point is, we’re not speaking here solely of intelligence or intellectual ability.

    1. Betuadollar, today’s Far Right engages in an ongoing charade in which they pretend their politics lines up perfectly with the so-called ‘founding fathers’. These people like to call themselves ‘constructionists’.

      Constructionists think nothing has changed since the 1780’s. Therefore we can look to the 1780’s for guidance on everything from regulations to social policies.

      But the truth is that more than 2 centuries have passed since the 1780’s. Yet Constructionists dont care. For them the 18th Century is as modern as they ever care to get.

      1. Of course things change you dolt. Constructionists don’t deny that. It’s precisely because things change that we need to assert our founding first principles. We have Twitter and not just pony express. We have AR-15’s and not just muskets. Things change, but the need to secure our natural rights remains the same as it did 2+ centuries ago.

        1. Constructionists pretend the needs of government haven’t changed. Modern cities dont exist, according to Constructionists. Therefore the infrastructure needs of modern cities dont justify appropriate spending. The recent Trump tax cuts pandered to this charade by pretending New York City’s needs are no greater than the needs of Des Moines.

          1. And who has been in charge of taxation and infrastructure spending in these major metropolitan areas? Constructionists? Pathetically, this is the closest you’ll ever get to critical-thinking.

            1. +..........................................................................................................................................................................W says:

              OLLY – Merry Xmas and Happy New Year

                1. OLLY – thanks for figuring out who I was. 😉 I guess I did it last night and didn’t notice it, but someone called me a sock puppet, so I guess they were right. Wasn’t a very good one.

                    1. OLLY – I am offended. That “stock” paragraph changes at least every week. More if I add new citations he owes me. It is a living thing. 😉

                    2. LOL! Stop pretending to be a snowflake. For the record, I stopped reading the stock comment many moons ago.

                    3. OLLY – now I have gone from offended to triggered. It is not stock. How could you be so hurtful? 😉

              1. We alls know you was drunk when you made this snafu, Paul. Who you kidding here…@1:01

                1. WW33 – I have not had a drink since the 1st Fiesta Bowl (1971). So, we alls don’t know sh**; 😉

      2. Far Right? What’s that? The socalled Far Right has not been libertarian since the 80s or 90s at the latest. Those intellectual shackles have been cut off.

        But the less you know about it the better, probably

          1. What a stupid comment Peter. You don’t have the slightest understanding of the various political and economic philosophy’s. Your facts are generally erroneous and you make things up as you go along. You want to play in the big leagues but a sandbox with 6 year olds is too much for you.

              1. Anonymous – I am going to need a cite that “this isn’t the big leagues.”

                1. Well, what one “needs” and what one gets are two different things, Paul/+….W.

                  1. Anonymous owes me two citations or proof of mental health professionalism. A current certificate from the state you reside in will do.

                    1. I need proof you know what you are talking about.
                    2. I dropped a Christmas cookie or parts thereof into my keyboard and I caught some of the stuff it messed up, but did not realize it had changed my name on Turley’s blog. I do apologize for my crumbly cookie and inefficient method of cleaning up after it. I did not realize I was running a sock puppet account for awhile and I corrected it as soon as I realized it. However, people knew who I was anyway, so it was not very effective. 🙁
                    3. I have saved your new name and will continue to use it until I get my citation. I am up to 56 weeks for DBB.

              2. “This isn’t the “big leagues.””

                This might be the first reasonable thing said by Anonymous the Stupid.

            1. +..........................................................................................................................................................................W says:

              Allan – Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year.

          2. +..........................................................................................................................................................................W says:

            Peter – Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year.

          3. My entire family of east coast lefties have run away from the Dems because of whack jobs like you.

          1. Anonymous – I think I need a citation for that. I asked Benson for one on the same topic and asking you for one is only fair. 😉

              1. Anonymous – are you saying you are a psychologist or psychiatrist and you are evaluating at a distance. I think that violates the codes of the APA. If you are not one of these, you are out of your field.

          2. “most of those who hang out here are nutcases”

            But, some aren’t nut cases. Anonymous the Stupid is an example of a nutcase

      3. “Constructionists think nothing has changed since the 1780’s.”

        Those who make straw man arguments have straw for brains.

  4. Merry Christmas Eve, everyone. I’m wrapping up my Christmas baking, and the kitchen smells divine. May everyone enjoy this time with their families, and perhaps take a break from quarreling online. Be happy and safe.

    1. And they said it couldn’t be done!

      Merry Christmaser!

      After energy independence, the next goal should be the achievement of fully automated production of goods in factories without people in order to repatriate American free enterprises, eliminate competition from foreign imports, establish absolute border control, terminate illegal immigration and implement complete immigration control.

      “No man is an Iland, intire of itselfe;…”

      – John Donne

      Like Atlantis, America may prove the poets and philosophers wrong.

    2. Merry Kwanza to us all and here’s a depiction of our own hard-won present.


      You have entirely missed the point of Christmas.

      Christmas is the gift from God the Father of His Son, Jesus Christ, to us all: the gift of reconciliation to Him through the Holy Spirit in spite of our unworthiness. There is a reason He was born in a stable, amongst farm animals, pursued as a criminal by Herod as his parents fled persecution, having no where to go.. He understands our anxieties, our being pursued, our fears, our living in darkness. Christmas is not about celebrating anything we have won on our own, through hard work or otherwise, or anything else that we have gifted to ourselves.

      Kwanza is what you are actually referencing, more specifically Ujamaa

      Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa is dedicated to one of the following principles, as follows

      Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

      Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define and name ourselves, as well as to create and speak for ourselves.

      Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems and to solve them together.

      Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.

      Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

      Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

      Imani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

      – Wiki

      1. a contrived “holiday” that’s rarely “celebrated” by anyone

        however i don’t demean them for wanting racial unity. any ethnic group naturally wants that. even white folks.

        Merry Christmas

  5. Mayor Soto was heard singing these phrases at the Supreme Court bldg this morning:
    “Here comes Sinter Klaus,
    Here comes Sinter Klaus…
    Right down Santa Clause lane…
    Nixon and Agniew and all his reindeer trolling down his way…
    Bells are ringing… children singing… alll is Mary and wise…

    1. Bullseye! Who’d a thunk the parasitic, illegal alien, foreign invader hyphenates would actually harbor their own version of racism, of course, with plausible deniability because, God knows, only the white man is racist!

      As “original intent,” the four-time-Founders-passed Naturalization Acts of 1790, 1795, 1798 and 1802 require:

      “Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That any Alien being a free white person, who shall have resided within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the United States for the term of two years, may be admitted to become a citizen thereof…”

      The Founders were only overridden and quashed by “Crazy Abe” Lincoln and his communist successors.

      What do they come here for: Free Dom!

      What do they REALLY come here for: “Free Stuff” from the white man’s money.

      “It can’t happen here”

      – Sinclair Lewis/Frank Zapa

  6. Professor-

    We’d love to hear your thoughts on Putin’s 2016 grand slam. The FISA Abuse Scandal: How Russian disinformation infected the highest levels of our government, became the focal point of the administration’s campaign to spy on its political opposition, and was championed by partisans to delegitimize the 2016 election.

  7. This rather lengthy account only quotes a fraction of the writing and commentary directly contradicting Epps’ irresponsible statement.

    It is quite clear that Epps’ (etal) are attempting an act of character assassination via the use of disinformation and ideological bias masquerading as factually based analysis – it is their modus operandi.

    The march of the triggered snowflakes (ie Epps etal) will melt under the blazing unblinking glare of the facts.

  8. For Nino….please pray for us

    Judges as Mullahs

    Let me make it clear that the problem I am addressing is not the social evil of the judicial dispositions I have described. I accept for the sake of argument, for example, that sexual orgies eliminate social tensions and ought to be encouraged. Rather, I am questioning the propriety—indeed, the sanity—of having a value-laden decision such as this made for the entire society (and in the case of Europe for a number of different societies) by unelected judges. There are no scientifically demonstrable “right” answers to such questions, as opposed to answers that the particular society favors. And even if there were scientifically “right” answers, there would be no reason to believe that law-trained professionals can discern them more readily than, say, medical doctors or engineers or ethicists or even the fabled Joe Six-Pack. Surely it is obvious that nothing I learned in my law courses at Harvard Law School, none of the experience I acquired practicing law, qualifies me to decide whether there ought to be (and hence is) a fundamental right to abortion or to assisted suicide.

    Judges’ lack of special qualification to deal with such questions is disguised by the fact that they provide their answers in classic legal-opinion form, with boring recitations of the facts, the procedural history of the case, the relevant provisions of law, the arguments of the parties, and finally, the court’s analysis, which takes pains to demonstrate the consistency of today’s result with earlier decisions of the court. The problem is that those earlier decisions, like the present one, fail to address the real issues, which are of a nature too fundamental to be logically resolved by a law court….The same phenomenon of disclaiming resolution of the central issue in the case appeared in Roe v. Wade, where my court said that, in order to decide whether a state must allow termination of a fetus’s life at the wish of the mother, it was unnecessary to decide when human life begins. Of course that question is central to intelligent discussion of the issue—but judges obviously know no more about it than the rest of us.

    Excerpt From
    Scalia Speaks
    by Antonin Scalia

  9. What is the ethiic backdrop of her last name? Is that the last name of a husband? More importantly, I will ask the American question: Where did she go to high school?

    1. Her Father was Mayor of a town in Mexico called Soto. The migration agents at the border mis-took that for the real last name which was Gringo.

  10. Sotomayor fills three “Affirmative Action Slots” and we all know that was the “original intent” of the American Founders, right? The three slots are: female, “Latina” and sympathetic, illegal alien, globalist/communist, foreign hyphenate. In 1789, the American Founders required citizens to be “…free white person(s)…” and voters to be: Male, European, 21 with 50 lbs. Sterling or 50 acres. What happened, America? My guess is Comrade “Crazy Abe” Lincoln happened. “Crazy Abe” eliminated classes from society and commenced the “Progressive” move toward communism (Yes, Virginia, Abraham Lincoln was a Marxist

    1. I sort of understand what “an affirmative action slut” is but wonder why it is mis-spelled as “slot”.

    2. Actually, no, it was the Puritan who created America’s class-leveling. That said, I’m not a huge fan of Lincoln either. Great writer, but historically speaking there’s no way anyone can accept the Civil War as reasonable political response.

      1. but historically speaking there’s no way anyone can accept the Civil War as reasonable political response.

        What would have been a reasonable political response?

        1. i can say. a legislative plan to give taxpayer funded compensation to slaveowners for the abolition of their private property, which would have been consistent with the fifth amendment understanding that govenment can’t take property without due process and just compensation.

          so yes a declaration of the end of slavery but a per capita price paid to slaveowners for their losses. that would have been feasible eventually. proof: this is how it was done in Brazil and a lot of other countries, not long after our civil war, without 620,000 dead men to pay with their life-blood

          but the blood of the conscripts was an oh so much an easier price for Yankee industrialists to pay to have their way fast, than a legislative manumission

          1. There were hardly any conscripts. All but a single digit minority in the Union Army either enlisted or was a substitutionary recruit.

          2. And where is the due process and just compensation for those whose taxes were taken to pay off slaveholders? Confiscating the wealth of innocent people to redistribute it others that did not earn it is the very definition of legal plunder.

            No thanks.

    1. “…she was simply unqualified”

      Are you sure about that? Tell us more. “Anonymous” is surely the voice of wisdom.

    2. She was ‘qualified’ in a professional sense. The trouble is that nearly everyone the Democrats might nominate and about 1/2 those the Republicans nominate adhere to an understanding of judicial review that is incompatible with free and popular government. That includes Justices Kagan, Sotomayor, Breyer, Ginsburg, Souter, Stevens, Blackmun, Marshall, Fortas, Goldberg, Brennan, and Warren. In a more attenuated way, it was also true of Kennedy, O’Connor, Powell, Burger, and Stewart. The jury’s still out on three of the five Republican appointees on the Court today. They’re ‘qualified’. And they suck hump.

  11. Nowadays, liberal listening skills are polluted with tribalistic emotional processing. What actually registers in memory is not verbatim what was said, it’s an interpretation of it applying maximum sinister mind-reading.

    I see the same tendency on the right as well. There is way too much zeal. It’s almost like nuance is dead with about 60% of the American population. It’s like a position of neutrality, or dispassionate objectivity cannot survive its retelling, because it is misinterpreted from the git. Listening skills and dispassionate attentiveness are the lifeblood of productive discourse — these skills are absent in to many these days.

  12. Fair enough! However, I find it appalling that others would presume to pass judgment on the intellect of any Supreme Court Justice. I was admitted to the NYS Bar 40 years ago, and I have known Justice Sotomayor for 20 years. I was pleased to see that she had been nominated to SCOTUS. At the time that she joined the Court she had experience in private practice, SDNY, and CA2. I will say that I had not read any opinions that she had authored. That’s because, until recently, I had been interested only in reading opinions in my practice area – securities law. I know Justice Sotomayor to have a keen intellect. I believe that I was fortunate to be invited to Justice Sotomayor’s investiture ceremony. I am looking forward to reading more SCOTUS opinions. p

  13. What matters is the total disregard of the truth in order to paint a fellow academic as some form of racist or sexist.

    As the late political powerhouse (Biden) said: We choose truth over facts. So it’s not that they disregard the truth, they just arrive at it differently than you. Everyone feels truth, but not everyone considers facts to prove truth.

    Example: Trump’s alleged QPQ to target his political rival to personally benefit him in the 2020 election.

    Example: Biden’s actual QPQ alleged to prevent an investigation of corruption at Burisma involving Hunter.

    – Both are believed to be true depending on one’s political affiliation.
    – Only Biden’s QPQ has direct evidence (facts).
    – Trump’s impeachment was based on a feeling of truth and not facts. (Schiff’s parody).
    – What evidence exists that a full and impartial investigation was ever completed, proving our foreign aid did not go to corrupt individuals, NGO’s and/or government actors?

    1. Except that Biden did not stop an investigation into Burisma and/or his son. But if you aren’t lying you have nothing to say and you are never quiet.

      1. Except it wasn’t me that said: Biden did not stop an investigation into Burisma and/or his son. You did. I said: Biden’s actual QPQ alleged to prevent an investigation of corruption at Burisma involving Hunter.

        Which makes your: But if you aren’t lying you have nothing to say and you are never quiet. another indication you are using this blog as your personal diary.

        Try again.

      2. YNOT has the knowledge of a brain dead flea.

        Hunter Biden and his Ukrainian gas firm colleagues had multiple contacts with the Obama State Department during the 2016 election cycle, including one just a month before Vice President Joe Biden forced Ukraine to fire the prosecutor investigating his son’s company for corruption, newly released memos show.

        During that February 2016 contact, a U.S. representative for Burisma Holdings sought a meeting with Undersecretary of State Catherine A. Novelli to discuss ending the corruption allegations against the Ukrainian firm where Hunter Biden worked as a board member, according to memos obtained under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. (I filed that suit this summer with the help of the public interest law firm the Southeastern Legal Foundation.)

        Just three weeks before Burisma’s overture to State, Ukrainian authorities raided the home of the oligarch who owned the gas firm and employed Hunter Biden, a signal the long-running corruption probe was escalating in the middle of the U.S. presidential election.

        Hunter Biden’s name, in fact, was specifically invoked by the Burisma representative as a reason the State Department should help, according to a series of email exchanges among U.S. officials trying to arrange the meeting. The subject line for the email exchanges read simply “Burisma.”

        “Per our conversation, Karen Tramontano of Blue Star Strategies requested a meeting to discuss with U/S Novelli USG remarks alleging Burisma (Ukrainian energy company) of corruption,” a Feb. 24, 2016, email between State officials read. “She noted that two high profile U.S. citizens are affiliated with the company (including Hunter Biden as a board member).

        “Tramontano would like to talk with U/S Novelli about getting a better understanding of how the U.S. came to the determination that the company is corrupt,” the email added. “According to Tramontano there is no evidence of corruption, has been no hearing or process, and evidence to the contrary has not been considered.”

        At the time, Novelli was the most senior official overseeing international energy issues for State. The undersecretary position, of which there are several, is the third-highest-ranking job at State, behind the secretary and deputy secretary. And Tramontano was a lawyer working for Blue Star Strategies, a Washington firm that was hired by Burisma to help end a long-running corruption investigation against the gas firm in Ukraine.

        Tramontano and another Blue Star official, Sally Painter, both alumni of Bill Clinton’s administration, worked with New York-based criminal defense attorney John Buretta to settle the Ukraine cases in late 2016 and 2017. I wrote about their efforts previously here.

        Burisma Holdings records obtained by Ukrainian prosecutors state the gas firm made a $60,000 payment to Blue Star in November 2015.

        The emails show Tramontano was scheduled to meet Novelli on March 1, 2016, and that State Department officials were scrambling to get answers ahead of time from the U.S. embassy in Kiev.

        The records don’t show whether the meeting actually took place. The FOIA lawsuit is ongoing and State officials are slated to produce additional records in the months ahead.

        But the records do indicate that Hunter Biden’s fellow American board member at Burisma, Devon Archer, secured a meeting on March 2, 2016 with Secretary of State John Kerry. In addition to serving on the Burisma board, Archer and Hunter Biden were partners at an American firm known as Rosemont Seneca.

        “Devon Archer coming to see S today at 3pm – need someone to meet/greet him at C Street,” an email from Kerry’s office manager reads. “S” is a shorthand frequently used in State emails to describe the Secretary of State. The memos don’t state the reason for the meeting.

        Tramontano, a lawyer for Hunter Biden, Archer and Joe Biden’s campaign did not return messages seeking comment on Monday.

        In an interview with ABC News last month, Hunter Biden said he believed he had done “nothing wrong at all” while working with Burisma but “was it poor judgment to be in the middle of something that is…a swamp in — in — in many ways? Yeah.”

        Whatever the subject of the Archer-Kerry meeting, its existence is certain to spark interest. That’s because Secretary Kerry’s stepson, Christopher Heinz, had been a business partner with both Archer and Hunter Biden at the Rosemont Seneca investment firm in the United States.

        Heinz, however, chose not to participate in the Burisma dealings. In fact, he wrote an email to his stepfather’s top aides in May 2014, pointedly distancing himself from the decision by Hunter Biden and Devon Archer to join Burisma’s board.

        Heinz’s spokesman recently told The Washington Post that Heinz ended his relationship with Archer and Hunter Biden partly over the Burisma matter. “The lack of judgment in this matter was a major catalyst for Mr. Heinz ending his business relationships with Mr. Archer and Mr. Biden,” Heinz spokesman Chris Bastardi told the newspaper

        A person who assisted Blue Star and Buretta in settling the Burisma matters in Ukraine told me in an interview that the late February 2016 overture to State was prompted by a dramatic series of events in Ukraine that included when that country’s top prosecutor escalated a two-year probe into Burisma and its founder, the oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky.

        Zlochevsky’s gas firm hired Hunter Biden and Archer as board members for Burisma Holdings in spring 2014, around the time that British officials opened corruption investigations into Zlochevsky’s gas firm for actions dating to 2010 before Hunter Biden and Archer joined the firm. Ukraine officials opened their own corruption probe in August 2014.

        A firm called Rosemont Seneca Bohai began receiving monthly payments totaling more than $166,000 from Burisma Holdings in May 2014, bank records show. The records show Devon Archer was listed as a custodian for the Rosemont Seneca Bohai firm and that Hunter Biden received payments from it. You can read those bank records here.

        In September 2015, then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt gave a speech imploring Ukrainian prosecutors to do more to bring Zlochevsky to justice, according to published reports at the time.

        By early 2016 the Ukrainian investigation had advanced enough that then-Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin authorized a court-ordered seizure of Zlochevsky’s home and other valuables, including a luxury car. That seizure occurred on Feb. 2, 2016, according to published reports in Ukraine.

        The same day that the Zlochevsky seizure was announced in Ukraine, Hunter Biden used his Twitter account to start following Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken, a longtime national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden who was promoted to the No. 2 job at State under Secretary John Kerry.

        The Feb. 4, 2016 Twitter notification from Hunter Biden to Blinken was captured by State email servers and turned over to me as part of the FOIA release.

        Within a few weeks of Tramontano’s overture to Novelli and of Archer’s overture to Kerry, Vice President Joe Biden took a stunning action, one that has enveloped his 2020 campaign for president in controversy.

        By his own admission in a 2018 speech, Joe Biden used the threat of withholding $1 billion in U.S. aid to strong-arm Ukraine into firing Shokin, a prosecutor that he and his office knew was investigating Burisma.

        Biden has said he forced Shokin’s firing because he and Western allies believed the prosecutor wasn’t aggressive enough in fighting corruption.

        Shokin disputes that account, telling both me and ABC News that he was fired specifically because he would not stand down from investigating Burisma. In fact, Shokin alleges, he was making plans to interview Hunter Biden about his Burisma work and payments when he got the axe.

        Ukraine prosecutors have said they do not believe the Bidens did anything wrong under Ukraine law. But some of the country’s prosecutors made an effort in 2018 to get information about Burisma to the U.S. Justice Department because they believed American prosecutors might be interested in some activities under U.S. law. You can read about that effort here.

        Some experts and officials have been quoted in reports saying Joe Biden’s actions created the appearance of a conflict of interest, something all U.S. government officials are supposed to avoid. The questions about conflicts were previously raised in a 2015 article by the New York Times and the 2018 book Secret Empires by author Peter Schweizer.

        The new evidence of contacts between Burisma, Hunter Biden and Archer at State are certain to add a new layer of intrigue to the debate. Those contacts span back to at least spring 2015, the new memos show.

        On May 22, 2015, Hunter Biden emailed his father’s longtime trusted aide, Blinken, with the following message: “Have a few minutes next week to grab a cup of coffee? I know you are impossibly busy, but would like to get your advice on a couple of things, Best, Hunter.”

        Blinken responded the same day with an “absolutely” and added, “Look forward to seeing you.”

        The records indicate the two men were scheduled to meet the afternoon of May 27, 2015.

        The State Department records also indicate Hunter Biden met Blinken in person for lunch on July 22, 2015, when State officials gave the name of a person to meet to help him enter the building. “He has the VIP pin and can escort you upstairs for your lunch with Tony,” the email said.

        The emails don’t indicate whether the meeting had to do with Burisma or one of Hunter Biden’s other interests.

        But they clearly show that Hunter Biden, his business partner and Burisma’s legal team were able to secure contacts inside the State Department, including to one of his father’s most trusted aides, to Secretary Kerry and to the agency’s top energy official.

        The question now is: Did any of those contacts prompt further action or have anything to do with Joe Biden’s conduct in Ukraine in March 2016 when he forced Shokin’s firing?

        1. All roads lead to Obama.

          “POTUS wants to know everything we’re doing.”

          – Lisa Page to paramour Peter Strzok

          Gina Haspel was COS, London, 2014 – 2017 (favorite under John Brennan), during the creation of the Steele Dossier there.

          The Obama Coup D’etat in America is the most egregious abuse of power and the most prodigious scandal in American political history.

          The co-conspirators are:

          Bill Taylor, Eric Ciaramella, Rosenstein, Mueller/Team, Andrew Weissmann, Comey,

          Christopher Wray, McCabe, Strozk, Page, Laycock, Kadzic, Yates, Baker, Bruce Ohr,

          Nellie Ohr, Priestap, Kortan, Campbell, Sir Richard Dearlove, Steele, Simpson,

          Joseph Mifsud, Alexander Downer, Stefan “The Walrus” Halper, Azra Turk, Kerry,

          Hillary, Huma, Mills, Brennan, Gina Haspel, Clapper, Lerner, Farkas, Power, Lynch,

          Rice, Jarrett, Holder, Brazile, Sessions (patsy), Nadler, Schiff, Pelosi, Obama et al.

  14. I think you might also add to your analysis of past performance as a judge of SC performance, the fact that lower court judges don’t have the luxury of choosing the cases they handle. Also they must stay within the limits of what prior pleadings and procedural matters may restrict their rulings.
    As Kipling said, you must expect “the truth you’ve spoken, twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools”.

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