Category: Justice

Report: Barr Refused To Hold Press Conference Exonerating Trump Of Ukraine-Related Crimes

The New York Times and other papers are reporting that Attorney General William Barr refused a request from President Donald Trump to hold a news conference to declare that Trump did not violate any laws in his telephone call with Ukraine’s president. I have known Barr for years and I am not surprised by the report. If such a call to Barr was made, it was inappropriate and shows that the President is still acting incautiously and impetuously in managing these scandals. With various investigations going forward on the Ukrainian matter, it would have been deeply troubling for Barr to make such a statement. While no crime has been identified, there could be potential criminal conduct related to the call as well as questions of the abuse of power. Trump has denied the report.

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The Normalization of Homicide Instigated by Politicians

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Why do we as a people accept and permit one occupational group to initiate killings of other human beings on a national scale but nearly all other occupational group members, who might carry animosity against others, are penalized up to the death penalty should they kill only one person? It might sound preposterous, yet that is exactly the duality we accept as normal–that politicians at national levels especially may lay waste to others and that is simply part and parcel of “diplomacy” and the “laws of war”. Yet if an ordinary citizen dislikes his neighbor so bitterly the act of stepping on his property alone may send the citizen to jail.  The animosity and will to retaliate is the same, but the domain and system of accountability could not be more vastly divergent.

The stem of this license to instigate homicide at a permissible level by national leadership has been endemic in human history to such a perverse degree, people today have come to regard the killing of others by these leaders as normal human interaction, that wars are inevitable, and that lives and societies will be upheaved.

It does not have to be this way.

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Depravity: Breaking Oaths of Office and Child Molestation

Scales of Justice

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

According to Court records via the local news, a former middle-school para-educator pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of Communicating with a Minor for Immoral Purposes after she allegedly facilitated the statutory rape of a thirteen year old girl by her husband.

The former Kennewick, WA educator acted as an intermediary in the exchange of “love letters”, providing a cellphone,  and arranging for sexual relations between the child victim and her husband, a former Umatilla County Oregon Corrections officer.

I have often lamented in the past that virtue has its limits but depravity knows no bounds. And with these two having positions of both authority and responsibility to the public, especially children, there simply is no redemption they may qualify.

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The Mueller Hearing And The Theater Of The Macabre

Below is my column in The Hill on today’s hearing with former Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The hearing will no doubt be lively as a couple dozen members of the House Judiciary Committee struggle to stand out in less than five minutes to make the cut for a clip on evening news. That means that you have to be more outraged than every member who came before you. It should all prove to be a true theater of the macabre. I will be covering the hearing for CBS News and BBC.

I have previously published 3 questions, 5 questions, and 20 questions for Mueller. You can choose but none are likely to be answered.

Adding to the drama is the disclosure of a demand by Mueller that an aide be sworn in and allowed to testify with him. The move drew vocal objections from Republicans who suggested that Mueller may not have a good handle on the Report — reinforcing claims that his key staff aides actually controlled the investigation. It also has been reported that it was Mueller who asked for the letter limiting his testimony.

Here is the column:

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Acosta Resigns Amid Mounting Questions Over Role In Epstein Scandal

There is a curious pattern in the Trump Administration that you need to beware of presidential praise which often proves the swan song for cabinet members. The latest is Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta who tried to keep his job with a press conference that was widely panned as trying to shift the blame for the sweetheart deal that he gave Jeffrey Epstein, the serial sex abuser. Since I previously called for Acosta’s resignation (and opposed his confirmation) based on his role in the Epstein scandal, I will not feign sympathy.

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Lock Him Up: Harris Says Justice Department Would Have “No Choice” Under Her Administration But To Prosecute Trump

For years, many of us have criticized Donald Trump for his signature campaign mantra of “Lock her up” against Hillary Clinton. Now, however, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) seems to be adopting a “Lock him up” pledge to jumpstart her campaign, which remains struck around fifth in the pack. Last week, Harris pledged to prosecute Trump. This morning, she said her Justice Department would have “no choice” but to prosecute Trump after he left office.

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Wolff Book Prompts Rare Denial From Special Counsel’s Office

Michael Wolff made a killing on his last book on Donald Trump despite denials from his sources as to key statements. He is now back with a sequel entitled “Siege: Trump Under Fire.” As before, there were instantly questions about Wolff’s standards and sources in making sensational claims. Two such claims immediately stood out as highly dubious, if not facially untrue. The Special Counsel’s office has already made a rare public denial of one of those claims: that Mueller’s office actually drafted indictments against Trump for obstruction of justice.

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The Assange Case Could Prove The Most Important Press Case In 300 Years

Below is my column for BBC on the Assange espionage charges. As I have written, I believe that Attorney General Bill Barr is dead wrong on these charges — a view apparently shared by at least two of the prosecutors on the team. Until now, President Donald Trump’s disturbing rhetoric against the media has been disconnected from actual moves against the media with the exception of suspending press passes or changing rules for the White House press corp. This is a quantum leap in the wrong direction. Indeed, this prosecution could easily become the most important press case since John Peter Zenger.

Here is the column:

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Most Hapless Felon Ever

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Every year in reading of the human experience, individuals continue to reinforce the notion that while intelligence has its limits, stupidity knows no bounds. But today’s case-study  imports an existential question into the latter element: Stupidity can be so self-actualized, that it succeeds in preventing procreation, thus constraining the bounds of inheritable haplessness.

It all began simply enough–a felon reportedly stuffed a pistol into the front pocket of his pants and shot himself in the testicles. And yes, the story does get worse for him.

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Trump Administration Ignored Internal Legal Opinion In Withholding Tax Records

I recently testified in the House Judiciary Committee that the Congress must challenge the refusal of the Trump Administration to turn over certain records and to bar certain witnesses from oversight investigations. While I also disagreed with some of Congress’s actions, the Trump Administration has cannot withhold material from oversight authority on the basis of undeclared privileges or ill-defined objections. This is the case in the refusal to turn over tax records demanded by Congress. As I stated earlier, the House has made only generalized claims of a legislative purpose for such records. Nevertheless, the law clearly favors Congress in seeking such material. Notably, the Trump Administration has not claimed executive privilege but only that the Committee lacks a legislative purpose. That is not enough. Now, it appears that the Administration was warned by its own confidential Internal Revenue Service legal memorandum that it would be violating the law by withholding the records without an executive privilege claim. It ignored the legal memorandum and refused the congressional demand.

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Turley To Testify Before House Judiciary Committee On Executive Privilege

I will be testifying tomorrow before the House Judiciary Committee on President Donald Trump’s assertion of executive privilege and congressional oversight. The Hearing will be held 10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 15th, in Room 2141 in the Rayburn House Office Building.

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Barr Assigns Federal Prosecutor To Investigate Origins Of Russia Probe

Attorney General William P. Barr has assigned John H. Durham, the United States Attorney in Connecticut, to investigate the origins of the Russia Investigation. The country remains divided over the Russian Investigation with many questions raised as to political influence and targeting. Durham is a former special prosecutor with a long and distinguished record at the Justice Department, including prior investigations into CIA abuses of detainees and internal corruption. Besides, he has one of the most intense official photos in government that I have ever seen.

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WA Appeals Court Allows Necessity Defense For Alleged Vandal In Shutting Down Pipeline As Environmental Protest

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

I have been critical of the notion that a defendant may not always be permitted the opportunity to present evidence in their defense, especially the affirmative defenses of necessity and self-defense.  Yet in a case recently before the Washington State Court of Appeals, Division One, The Court held that in a particular case, a defendant charged in shutting down an oil pipeline to draw attention to environmental hazards posed by such industry–he is entitled to argue before the court his actions were necessary to protect the environment and common good of the people. 

While this case received nearly no attention in the recent media, the effects of this ruling can be both of benefit to the defendant and the environmental protection cause, but could also open some doors to those seeking to excuse criminal behavior using specious necessity claims.

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Holder: Barr Needs To Learn That He Is “The People’s Lawyer, Not The President’s Lawyer”

Attorney General William Barr has faced considerable criticism over his press conference before the release of the Special Counsel report. Many have objected that his account seemed designed as a prebuttal to the report to support Trump. While I disagree with the extent of the criticism, I can see why there are such objections. Yet, the one person who one would not expect to hear from would be former Attorney General Eric Holder who was viewed as a highly political and intensely loyal member of the President Barack Obama’s cabinet. That reputation was highlighted when Holder proclaimed that he was “I’m still the president’s wingman.” Yet, Holder went public this week to remind Barr that he is “the people’s lawyer, not the president’s lawyer.”

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Kushner in the Crosshairs: New Book Ties Kushner To Comey Firing

U.S. Embassy (Jerusalem)

If President Donald Trump has had a couple of lousy weeks, it is still considerably better than the experience of his son-in-law Jared Kushner. Not only has the media reported (and the White House has not denied) that Trump overruled his security and legal advisers in ordering a clearance for Kushner, but Kushner is the subject of a new book and confirms earlier accounts that he was the mastermind behind the disastrous decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey. What is striking about the account in Vicky Ward’s new book, Kushner, Inc. is how clueless Kushner (and by extension the President) seemed about the likely response to the firing. With every other advisor, including Steve Bannon, warning of the inevitable backlash and disaster, Trump went with Kushner and fired Comey. The result was the Special Counsel appointment. Had Trump let Comey finish the investigation and then fired him, the Russian investigation would have likely ended many months ago.

In addition Kushner has been accused this week of using private or personal email for official business despite years of controversies over such use and his own father-in-law’s campaign on the issue against Hillary Clinton.

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