Category: Justice

“Far More Troubling”: Flynn Document Release Could Foreshadow Blockbuster Report

440px-Michael_T_FlynnLast night, many of us were digesting the highly disturbing documents released in the case of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.  As I discussed this morning in a Hill column, the documents reveal an effort to entrap Flynn, including the use of a blatantly unconstitutional statute to achieve that “goal.” However, there appears far more than has not been released, according to various sources.  The release of the Flynn documents highlight what  Attorney General William Barr said on “The Ingraham Angle” on April 10th and stated that “far more troubling” material will be released as a result of the investigation of U.S. Attorney John Durham. I believe it is a mistake for Barr to give such foreshadowing interviews before the release of the Durham report. While I agree with Barr ordering these reviews (and his view of the evidence so far), these interviews only undermine the credibility and that of the eventual report. (For full disclosure, I testified in favor of Barr’s confirmation before the Senate Judiciary Committee).  Putting that aside, the evidence strongly supports Barr’s effort to force the disclosure of material that has been buried despite the claims of full investigations by Congress and the Inspector General.  Bizarrely, the media and many liberal commentators are struggling to ignore these troubling disclosures and the obvious abuses that they reflect within the Justice Department.

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Schiff and Democratic Leaders Push For IG Investigation Of Bill Barr Over Comments

440px-William_BarrThere  is an interesting fight brewing on the Hill after House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler called for the Justice Department inspector general to investigate Attorney General Bill Barr over his comments on the firing of the intelligence community watchdog, Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson.  What is curious is that Barr justified the firing on the very basis that I previously raised in a blog column, While I was highly critical of the move, I noted that termination would have been justified if Atkinson continued to assert that he would not follow Justice Department interpretations of federal law.  However, President Donald Trump made clear that he fired Atkinson for the worst possible reason: the merits of the Ukrainian allegations reported to Congress.  So Schiff and Nadler are calling for an investigation into Barr over his arguing what would be legitimate grounds for a termination? It is not clear to me what the IG is supposed to do with such a request.  Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., have also requested a review of Barr’s comments. (For full disclosure, I testified in favor of Barr’s confirmation before the Senate Judiciary Committee).

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Virtual Democracy: Congress and The Supreme Court Need To Move Into The Virtual Space

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the baffling reluctance of Congress and the Supreme Court to allow for remote or distance technology as an alternative to physical sessions. Democracy at a distance is better than no democracy at all in times of emergency. President Donald Trump was asked about Congress allowing remote voting given the various Senators who are now in quarantine. He thought that it was a good idea but that there may be constitutional barriers. The greatest barriers, particularly for the Supreme Court, remain cultural not constitutional.

Here is the column:

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COVID-19 Situation Demonstrates The Potential For Harm To Society Caused By Politicians

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Putting aside the discussion of whether or not actions taken by various elected officials were reasonable, the hurried effects suffered by the public during the COVID-19 virus pandemic at the behest of politicians should if anything prove the potential for damage caused by unscrupulousness or incompetence in government.

Today’s events should be by now a self-evident reminder of the great importance of putting the right people in office and the folly of settling for very fallable politicians. The next coming weeks will make that point likely more for you, with less consideration to your rights or interests.

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MSNBC Legal Analyst: Trump Must Be Investigated For Negligent Homicide And Manslaughter

YouTube Screenshot/MSNBC

We recently discussed how an American University professor called for the impeachment of President Donald Trump over his handling of the coronavirus outbreak. Not to be outdone, MSNBC legal analyst Glenn Kirschner is now declaring that Trump should be charged with negligent homicide over his conduct. While insisting that, as a former prosecutor, this is something he “actually know[s] too much about,” Kirschner proceeds to utterly misrepresent the controlling law and definitions of such a criminal case. While I come from the other perspective of a criminal defense attorney, the argument being put forward by the MSNBC legal analyst is devoid of any basis in the law. It does however play well for those who believe impeachment or prosecution are entirely fluid and relative concepts when it comes to Trump.

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Free The Trolls: The Justice Department Moves To Drop Major Mueller Case Against Russian-Linked Companies

It appears that trolls are enjoying St. Patrick’s Day as much as Leprechauns. The Justice Department shocked many by dropping the matinee case of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller against two Russian companies accused of funding the “troll farms” in the 2016 election. Many critics have charged that the trolling operation was laughingly ineffective and clumsy. Moreover, the evidence against the companies, including Concord Management and Consulting LLC and Concord Catering, was questioned. The prosecutors, while defending the original charges, moved to dismiss the case because they viewed the trial as threatening national security secrets. That claim seemed like more of a spin in a case that never seemed to materialize into hard evidence to support these charges. Update: The company has announced that it will sue the U.S. government for billions in damages — a move that will once again raise this same information for trial.

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FBI Agents Connected To Carter Page Surveillance Barred From FISA Process

In a further demonstration of the abuses that led to the surveillance of Trump officials, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court has barred FBI officials involved in the wiretapping of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page from appearing before the court. in rebuke that exceeded the remedial recommendations made by the independent monitor recently appointed by the court. Notably, this goes beyond the recommendations for David Kris, the highly controversial choice as an independent monitor of reforms. The order of Judge Boasberg further belies arguments that the surveillance of the Trump-relate figures was well-based and justified, as I discussed in any earlier column.

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Former Bush Deputy AG Denounces Barr As “UnAmerican”

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Yesterday I wrote a column in the Hill criticizing hair-triggered responses to the controversy over the sentencing recommendation in the case of Roger Stone. This included former prosecutors who did not see the need to confirm critical facts before demanding the resignation of Barr. Former Deputy Attorney General Donald Ayer called Barr, his former colleague in the Bush Administration, “unAmerican.” It is a disgraceful attack on someone who has served his country for decades with distinction. Just as many (including myself) have denounced President Donald Trump for calling opponents disloyal or traitorous, this personal attack should also be roundly denounced by all sides in this controversy.

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Diss Barr? Trump Returns To Attacking The Justice Department

Despite a public condemnation by Attorney General Bill Barr, President Donald Trump is back tweeting and atacking a wide range of Justice Department attorneys and investigations. That includes the recently resigned prosecutors in the case of Trump associate Roger Stone. These irresponsible tweets continue undermine Barr and magnify the problems for the Administration with both the courts and Congress.

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Dershowitz Claims Obama Asked For An Investigation From FBI At The Behest Of Soros

Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz pulled a Giuliani on television this weekend by claiming bombshell evidence in his possession but refusing to disclose it. On Fox News, Dershowitz claimed that he has conclusive proof that Barack Obama “personally asked” the FBI to investigation someone “on behalf of George Soros,” the wealthy liberal donor. However, Dershowitz mysteriously referenced future “litigation” where all of this would be disclosed.

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“A Significant Escalation”: Justice Department Sues Sanctuary Cities

In what Attorney General Bill Barr has called a “significant escalation,” the Justice Department is filing actions against sanctuary cities over what is alleged as interference with federal enforcement of immigration laws and removals. As discussed yesterday, both parties seems to be going “all in” on immigration from sharply opposing positions.

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When Will We Finally Treat Ancient Human Remains With Dignity?

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

While I maintain that the scientific community has for hundreds of years steadfastly failed to exercise a modern sense of decency and respect for human remains of the ancients, a recent article in Ars Technica prompted me to type my concern.

The objection I have is that most societies in the world currently place special value and reverence in the preserving and protection of interred human remains, often citing the desire to allow the departed the right to rest in peace. Yet, among governments, scientific organizations, academics, and museums we allow an abandonment of these values and permit the continual insult to the deceased–who’s remains serve as equivalents to rock samples and objects to be endlessly studied and displayed to the curious.

Would we allow such a spectacle to be exacted upon our own families?

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Washington State Senator Introduces Bill To Deregulate Lemonade Stands

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the lemonade of Andria & Zoey.

In a welcome departure from Washington State’s penchant to overbearingly tax, regulate, and control every aspect of human existence possible, a state senator recently introduced Senate Bill 6320 titled “AN ACT Relating to the ability of a minor to operate a lemonade business on an occasional basis” as a prophylaxis against the state shutting down another fledgling business and cultural icon: the childhood lemonade stand.

It is, however, a rather sad commentary that such a bill becomes necessary, but given the unholy alliance between the neighborhood busy-bodies who shake their canes at all things enjoyed by children and mindless automatons of local government who put rules above reason, it seems we now have to legislate discretion to protect young entrepreneurs from being thwarted by the ridiculousness sometimes displayed by adults having more power than sense.

Do we have to make laws to protect lemonade stands from government? Unfortunately it seems in today’s society we must.

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Modus Operandi or Old News? Comey Under Investigation In New Leak Probe

Former FBI Director James Comey is back in the news this week after The New York Times  reported late Thursday that he is again under investigation for leaking information to the media. The Justice Department Inspector General previously found that Comey was a leaker and violated FBI policy in his handling of FBI memos, including material  containing the “code name and true identity” of a sensitive source. Now, he is again accused of leaking information. There is an element of a modus operandi in the story since the same academic Comey used in the earlier leaks is also named in this leak, Columbia Law Professor Daniel Richman.

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Tax Avoidance: A Moral Duty

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

While it is a truism that in many respects some form of taxation is needed to provide necessities to a society, in practice many government and social detriments arise as either a consequence to or are derivative of tax policy. I’ve found for myself that fostering a personal goal of avoiding specific taxation or in many cases excessive taxation generally comports with a greater advocacy of morality in several beneficial forms.

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