Did Samantha Power Commit Perjury? It Depends If The Sessions Standard Applies.

440px-Samantha_Power_official_portraitFor weeks, we have discussed how the media, Democratic members, and a wide variety commentators have adopted a different standard in dealing with the allegation of sexual assault against Joe Biden. As soon as the presumptive Democratic nominee was accused, the rallying cry from the Kavanaugh hearing that “all women must be believed” was dropped. This week, the question may not be the applicability of the Kavanaugh standard but the Sessions standard. The recent declassification of documents shows that United Nations ambassador Samantha Power sought to unmask Michael Flynn’s name not once but on at least seven occasions. Yet, Power insisted that she had no recollection of even a single such request. When former Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that he had “no recollection” of meetings or other details, Democrats called for his prosecution for perjury. Will the Sessions’ standard apply to Power, or is this another example of standards changing with the affiliation of the accused?

Power testified under oath before the House Intelligence Committee that she had “no recollection” of ever making a single request for the unmasking of Flynn’s name. One would think that this was one unmasking that would stand out. After all, it occurred just before Power left with the Obama Administration and involved one of the top and most visible Trump officials. It also involved one of the highest ranking officials affecting diplomatic matters. Yet, Power said she had no such recollection.

It now appears that she made not one but at least seven such requests.  While Power and other Obama officials did not expressly seek Flynn’s name, they asked for the unmasking of the individual under surveillance who was speaking to the Russian ambassador on future policy changes. More importantly, Power was responding to unmasking requests that revealed Flynn’s name and said she had no recollection of such a request, let alone multiple requests. He was unmasked and later someone leaked that information from a classified investigation to the media as the Trump Administration was about to take over.

When Sessions had such gaps, the media spent weeks exploring the need for a perjury investigation and Democratic members demanded such an inquiry. He ultimately was investigation for perjury by the FBI.

Media like Politico lined up prosecutors to say that the “no recollection” claim is transparent and weak as a defense to perjury, including many of the former prosecutors routinely cited for supporting criminal charges against Trump and other Trump officials. Democratic insider and former Watergate prosector, Richard Ben-Veniste, said “Simply repeating the words ‘I don’t recall’ is not a magical amulet to ward off any further trouble.” On NBC.com, Sarah Kendzior declared “The first is that he is a skillful liar, flagrantly flirting with perjury as he denies or pretends to forget.”

However, Biden is not Kavanuagh and Power is not Sessions.  The most notable distinction is their party affiliation. Suddenly sexual assault and perjury becomes a more challenging and nuanced question.  The media has been virtually silent on this glaring failure to recollect.  The fact is that I did not view Sessions as a strong case for perjury and I do not view Powers as a strong case.  I also have never supported the view that any accuser must be believed as opposed to must be heard and taken seriously. My problem is the relative easy shown in these cases for Democratic members and commentators in shifting from one position to the other.  The only common denominator is not just political identification but political convenience.

 

 

120 thoughts on “Did Samantha Power Commit Perjury? It Depends If The Sessions Standard Applies.”

  1. I am also concerned over this hypocrisy.

    How can these commentators be taken seriously when they change their position on an issue just because of party affiliation? In my reconciliation of these differences, I can’t give credibility to any of these people who change their opinion for what appears to be this reason.

    On the issue of Samantha Power making these unmasking requests: Either she did, or she didn’t. If she didn’t, then someone in her office is an expert forger, or she leaves her signature stamp where it is accessible to anyone in her office. I also don’t know whether she has been presented with these documents that show her signature, nor what her response was, and whether her response was under oath. All I heard her say was that she knows nothing.

    I also find it disturbing that these former government insiders accepted employment as contributors to various news outlets, and have lied about their previous statements made to Congress. I am speaking of John Brennan and James Clapper in specific, but that is not an all-inclusive list. I must question any advice they offered to President Obama when they have shown such dexterity with the ability to stretch the truth on television. Were they knowingly feeding Obama false information in their intelligence briefings?

  2. I’ll admit it. I grew up during a time when politics were fun. I’ve always been a Republican and I can most certainly remember the Grand Ole Party of old.However, I also know in more recent times, that politics have been weaponized and we may never see a return to the “good old days”. So that means new rules have to be learned and new strategies adopted.

    Unfortunately, the Democrats beat the Republicans to the punch by implementing strategies that incorporated the overtaking and control of public school systems (I’ll leave most private universities out of this post since they’ve mostly been liberal bastions since inception), and of course, the media. Now, to be fair, I prefer a fair fight where the rules are the same for everyone. It’s the only way where justice can prevail. Sadly, the Democrats recognized early on that one way to influence public opinion was to control those who report on what the public sees.

    Yep, you guessed it…the media. With so many interrelationships amongst media pundits and executives and the politicians in power, I am amazed we ever get a truthful story. Presidents of powerful news organizations married to Presidential inner circle members, some related by birth as siblings. News anchors whose spouses, siblings, etc. also work within the White House acting as spies to report to the public what those in power want us to know. Mata Hari herself would be envious.

    Professor Turley, by now, you most likely see where I’m headed with this. The media is partisan and will remain so until the public call out these “unfair” relationships for what they are. Maybe we should begin with those who enjoy such relationships to post that relationship in their byline along with the qualification that their article is influenced by that relationship. This is what happens when we allow our politics to become weaponized.

    One last thing. I said I remember the “good old days.” To qualify that, what I mean is where people from different backgrounds, different political parties could sit together for lunch in D.C. or in Congress and exchange ideas. And from those exchanging of ideas came forth an even better idea, one that worked for everyone. Yes, the process was slower than some would want, but it worked. With the constant accusations, threats of impeachments, parading of allegations from decades ago and the propping up of candidates whose heydays are long gone, my beloved America is doomed. And I blame it on the teachers and the professors and on the parents who failed to teach their children the meaning of right from wrong.

    1. I share some of your feelings here. I can remember when “conflict-of-interest” was a real thing. When white collar criminals, at least occasionally, went to jail. When perception was important and politicians would resign rather than hire lawyers, continue to lie and cause a big scandal. When nepotism was also a real thing. When people had some self-respect, character, dignity. And when entitled politicians didn’t use US taxpayers to maintain the lavish life-styles they created for themselves.

  3. Samantha Powers unmasked Flynn seven times. To say she doesn’t remember is a lie.

    She’s also been mentioned as one who asked for hundreds of people to be unmasked. That’s a very important point that I think is being lost in the Flynn mess.

    The Obama administration people weren’t just unmasking Flynn but they were unmasking a whole more people as well.

    1. “Samantha Powers has also been mentioned as one who asked for hundreds of people to be unmasked.” ~
      I’m laughing – at the immense criminality still covered up.
      We have the smallest portion of the tip of the iceberg, that is all.

    2. She says she doesn’t remember asking for Flynn’s name to be unmasked.

      Because she didn’t.

      You don’t know who you’re unmasking until after they’ve been unmasked.

      Therefore Power didn’t lie.

      it’s as simple as that.

  4. Sessions had one meeting that would not stand out, as he met thousands of foreign VIP’s over a years time as part of his job, and this one seemed to be that they were in the same room. That is not the same thing as Power’s not remembering seven times she did something extraordinary. Or the fact that in her name 260 times she requested unmaskings but claims to either not remember of state flat out it was not her.

    And somehow, that was accepted. No followup questions, no followup investigation that has become public. I mean, we are not talking about lending your car keys to someone – which you would probably remember, but either handing your credentials that allow access to highly sensitive classified data, or worse, having it stolen from you. In either case – seems like there should have been a big investigation launched 3 years ago when she first uttered this nonsense. But no. Nothing.

    I have to have two factor authentication for ordering a pizza, but somehow classified info can be accessed 260 times in the name of our Ambassador to the UN and no one knows what to do next!

  5. So, which crime occurred? Did Powers lie or did someone use her clearance without her knowledge?

  6. I’m sure Inspector JT will want to cover this.

    Susan Rice to Sen Johnson – “Bring it!”

    Politico:

    “A powerful Senate committee chairman has asked the Trump administration to fully declassify an unusual email a top Obama aide sent herself regarding Michael Flynn on the eve of her departure. In a letter reviewed by POLITICO, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) made the request of Attorney General Bill Barr.

    Through a spokesperson, the aide said she welcomes the release of the email.

    At issue is a meeting then-President Barack Obama had with senior officials in the Oval Office on Jan. 5, 2017. President Trump and his allies say the meeting may have involved problematic discussions of Flynn, a retired lieutenant general who was set to become Trump’s national security adviser. Democrats vehemently defend the president and his aides, saying all discussions involving Flynn were appropriate.

    “I understand your office is currently reviewing a January 20, 2017, email from former national security advisor Susan Rice,” Johnson wrote in the letter. “In that email, Ambassador Rice summarized an Oval Office meeting with President Obama and other administration officials that occurred on January 5, 2017. A majority of Ambassador Rice’s email was declassified but a portion of the email remains classified.

    “The significance of that meeting is becoming increasingly apparent as more and more information is declassified,” Johnson wrote. “For these reasons, it is essential that Congress and the American people understand what occurred during that January 5, 2017, meeting and how it was later characterized by administration officials. The declassification of Ambassador Rice’s email, in whole, will assist these efforts.”

    “On January 5, following a briefing by IC leadership on Russian hacking during the 2016 Presidential election, President Obama had a brief follow-on conversation with FBI Director Jim Comey and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates in the Oval Office. Vice President Biden and I were also present,” Rice wrote in a portion of the email that was declassified.

    “President Obama began the conversation by stressing his continued commitment to ensuring that every aspect of this issue is handled by the Intelligence and law enforcement communities ‘by the book,’” Rice continued. “The president stressed that he is not asking about, initiating or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective. He reiterated that our law enforcement team needs to proceed as it normally would by the book.”

    “From a national security perspective, however, President Obama said he wants to be sure that, as we engage with the incoming team, we are mindful to ascertain if there is any reason that we cannot share information fully as it relates to Russia,” Rice added.

    Another unredacted portion of the email reads: “The president asked Comey to inform him if anything changes in the next few weeks that should affect how we share classified information with the incoming team. Comey said he would.“

    A spokesperson for Rice said supports the effort to release her email. “Ambassador Rice would welcome the release of the entirety of her January 20, 2017 email, as well as all of the intelligence reports related to Michael Flynn,” the spokesperson said.

    When the redacted email surfaced in early 2018, Rice’s then-attorney, Kathy Ruemmler, told reporters there was “nothing unusual” in Rice “memorializing an important discussion for the record.”

    Last week, Johnson asked the intelligence community to reveal the names of officials who made so-called unmasking requests that revealed Flynn’s name.

    The next day, acting director of national intelligence Richard Grenell sent the names to Johnson and other senators; the list was first reported by POLITICO.”

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  7. Professor Turley,

    Not a loaded question, but could you expand on the bases of your opinion that neither is a good case for perjury charges?

    Thanks for the blog.

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