I have previously written that recent disclosures over immunity deals with Clinton aides has seriously undermined the credibility of the FBI investigation into the email scandal and raises legitimate questions over the role of top ranking Justice Department officials in the closing of the investigation without criminal charges. Now a far more serious allegation has surfaced with the release of a FBI “302” that states that State Department Undersecretary for Management Patrick Kennedy proposed a “quid pro quo” to convince the FBI to strip the classification on an email from Hillary Clinton’s server. The FBI agent reported the encounter as an effort to “influence” the FBI in return to giving the Bureau long-sought agent placements overseas. Such an offer is more than a standard inter-agency “horse trade.” If the agent’s account is accurate, it was an effort to influence a criminal investigation to protect a high ranking politician and, additionally, an effort to alter a key piece of evidence. The fact that such an effort would be simply brushed aside by the FBI is shocking in itself and again raises questions over Director James Comey’s pledge to pursue any possible charges with independence and vigor. The FBI and State Department, as discussed below, have insisted that there was nothing untoward in the discussions and there is a difference in factual accounts. That is all the more reason for congressional oversight and investigation in my opinion.
I have long been a critic of the Supreme Court justices engaging in public appearances where they hold forth on contemporary issues and even pending matters before the Court. I have been particularly critical of the late Justice Antonin Scalia and Associated Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who clearly relished appearances before ideologically supportive groups. I have called this trend the “rise of the celebrity justice.” Recently, Justice Ginsburg started another firestorm over public comments where she joked that she would move to New Zealand if Donald Trump is elected. Ginsburg apologized for that latest public controversy, though I discussed in a column how the incident spoke to a much larger problem on the Court. While she express “regret” in that instance, it did not deter Ginsburg in continuing to speak publicly and hold forth on contemporary issues, though she did make a curious distinction on this occasion.
By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor.
A long-overdue measure to compensate persons convicted of violating Germany’s 19th century anti-homosexuality law–since repealed–is to finally arrive. The German government set aside a reported thirty-million euros to be distributed among potentially an estimated fifty-thousand men convicted of homosexuality. The award stems for convictions spanning seventy years since the destruction of the Nazi Government.
by Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor.
There are times when you have to cut ties to a vendor when the arrangement no longer is suitable. Then, there are other times when the insolence and lack of respect is so great that if the internet was not available to vent such consternation we probably would boil over in frustration.
American Airlines won the latter approach by leaving my wife stranded–alone in an airport–lied about there being no accommodations to carry her through the night, and refused any form of compensation for their failure to schedule crew members for the flight, leading to this debacle.
Since it was not in American Airline’s interest to offer a hotel room or at least courtesy voucher for another flight here’s some negative publicity as a parting gift to you.
By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor.
Plaintiff Stephanie Ross Desimone filed suit against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia alleging the nation provided material support to Al-Qaida in its terror attacks against the United States on September 11th, 2001. This represents the first of such filings–there–are almost certainly to be many following, since the United States Congress last Wednesday overrode President Obama’s veto of a sovereign immunity bill allowing foreign governments to be sued in the United States for supporting terrorist acts within the US borders.
Stephanie’s husband, Navy Cdr. Patrick Dunn, was murdered when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon.
The full text of the complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, is attached below:
I recently wrote a column on FBI investigation into the Clinton email scandal and revised my view as to the handling of the investigation in light of the five immunity deals handed out by the Justice Department. I had previously noted that FBI Director James Comey was within accepted lines of prosecutorial discretion in declining criminal charges, even though I believed that such charges could have been brought. However, the news of the immunity deals (and particularly the deal given top ranking Clinton aide Cheryl Mills) was baffling and those deals seriously undermined the ability to bring criminal charges in my view. Now, Comey has testified before both the Senate and the House. His answers only magnified concerns over the impact and even the intent of granting immunity to those most at risk of criminal charges.
We have been discussing the controversy surrounding the decision of the Justice Department to give immunity to former State Department staffer, Bryan Pagliano and tech specialist Paul Combetta — thereby removing much of the pressure that could have been brought to bear with the threat of criminal charges. That immunity deal became even more questionable when it was disclosed that Combetta used Bleachbit to destroy email records despite his knowledge that those records were being sought by Congress. Now, there is an allegation that Combetta sought advice on the website for how to hide a “VIP’s (VERY VIP) email address.” If true, that would show a conscious effort to conceal the identity of the VIP and illegally alter federal records. Either Combetta did not disclose this effort in violation of his immunity deal or the Justice Department effectively removed a serious threat of indictment though the agreement. Update: the House Committee has ordered Reddit to preserve all messages concerning “Stonetear.”