Category: Justice

Report: Trump Pressured The Justice Department To Oppose The AT&T Warner Merger

The New Yorker is reporting that President Donald Trump ordered Gary Cohn, then Trump’s chief economic adviser, to block the AT&T-Time Warner merger last summer. If true, the action could raise an additional allegation of the abuse of power and a direct lie to the American public. Months later, Trump expressly denied playing any role in the decision to sue to oppose the $85 billion merger. Trump’s intense dislike for CNN (owned by Time Warner) had been a long source of speculation that he was seeking to punish the cable network for its criticism of him and his Administration.

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Is Mueller Uncovering Ukrainian Rather Than Russian Collusion?

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on status of the Mueller investigation and what we have learned about Russian collusion. On Friday, Mueller filed what could be his last major filing before the submission of his report to Attorney General Bill Barr. It was the Manafort sentencing report and, once again, it was long on Ukrainian and short on Russian collusion. Indeed, Manafort’s lobbying efforts were designed to help Ukrainian figures on issues stemming from their internal political tensions and investigations. For example, the highly detailed filing discusses how Manafort was given millions to further a “furtive activity in connection with the United States’s consideration of a resolution condemning Ukraine for President Yanukovych’s locking up his political opponent Tymoshenko.” Mueller discusses the focus of Mueller’s work as “lobbying for Ukraine.” While Mueller could still present evidence of Russian collusion, this filing continues a notable trend in the omission of such evidence by key players. If Manafort was an agent for Russia, it would likely have been mentioned in his sentencing report and used as the basis of either a FARA or related charge. Instead, the filing shows Manafort was working for Ukrainian not Russian interests in these criminal enterprises.

Here is the column:

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Kurds: Islamic State Defeat To Be Announced “In A Few Days” But Is ISIS Truly Vanquished?


By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

If there was ever a “nation” in the ordinary meaning comprising the Islamic State it is unquestionably moribund. The area reportedly controlled by the terrorist organization remains for the time down to one square kilometer, according to some reports less than six hundred meters square in Baghuz.

What actually has so far saved the jihadists from annihilation was that they interspersed themselves among civilian human-shields while Kurdish forces and allies exercise pause to protect the innocent. Thus remains the glory of the Caliphate, hiding among women and children to save itself.

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Manafort Loses Plea Deal After Judge Finds False Statements To Special Counsel

Paul Manafort added to his burgeoning record of alleged crimes and falsehoods this week with a decision from U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson that he had broken his cooperation agreement with Special Counsel Robert Mueller by making false statements and withholding information. The result could be devastating for Manafort who will now face sentencing without the benefit of the plea deal that he struck with Mueller. That could mean that, absent a pardon from President Donald Trump, Manafort could die in prison since he is looking at decades of potential jail time.

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McCabe: Rosenstein Complained That Trump Forced Him To Justify Comey Firing

We have previously discussed the tell-all book written by James Comey. Now Andrew McCabe has cashed in on his own tell all — and not surprisingly it is scathing. The most notable allegation however concerns the memorandum written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on why Comey should be fired. McCabe insists that he and others witnessed a visibly upset Rosenstein complain that Trump and aides pressured him to write the justification for firing Comey. The book is The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump.

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DOJ Agrees To Investigate Epstein Deal . . . Sort Of

I have previously written about the disgraceful sweetheart deal given to accused serial pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. The deal was struck by Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta and not only succeeded in protecting Epstein from serous jail time but protecting a host of high-profile friends including Bill Clinton who were regulars at his infamous island resort. The problem is that the investigation is not being handled by the Inspector General but the oft-criticized DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility. OPR is routinely criticized for its defense of accused officials, even in some indefensible circumstances. For critics, it often seems more like OPR offers more cover than scrutiny in controversies over prosecutorial abuse. Moreover, the Epstein scandal involves serious questions of corrupt influence by powerful friends of Epstein. Such questions require serious investigative measures. OPR is more likely to find that the deal was within the scope of permissible decisions by a prosecutor like Acosta despite being widely ridiculed as an utter disgrace.

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“That Hero Lies In You”: Saudi Feminist Leader Reportedly Tortured In Saudi Arabia While Saudis Enjoy Mariah Carey Concert

Saudi Arabia is full of contradictions as a nation imposing medieval Islamic laws while striving to portray itself as a modern country. We have routinely discussed the incredible bravery of women in the Kingdom who have risked everything to demand the most minimal rights of human beings from freedom of speech to freedom of travel to associational rights. One of these heroes is Saudi activist Loujain Alhathloulwho remains incarcerated and is being reportedly tortured for her advocacy of equal rights. For all of the women being abused in the Kingdom, many objected to Maria Carey holding a concert when this repression continues. Carey, who loves to sing about that “hero inside you,” took the money and will be holding the concert today. It appears that Carey’s commitment to women does not extend as far as turning down one concert from her already burgeoning fortune.

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Turkish Courts Release Imprisoned Politician After Hunger Strike In Protest To Isolation Of Abdulla Öcalan

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

On January 13th I posted an article featuring PKK Leader Abdullah Öcalan being held without access to visitation by family and attorneys since 2016. The government’s reversal of policy occurred after a two month long hunger strike staged by imprisoned Kurdish sympathizers including pro-Kurdish Turkish Member of Parliament Leyla Guven, 55. MP Guven’s condition was described as “grave” and in the end considerable concern was that her life was in danger. Now, at least for the time being, Ms. Guven is no longer in custody and hopes are high for her recovery.

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Legal Groups Around The World Rally Behind Turkey’s Dwindling Bar On The International Day Of The Endangered Lawyer

Today, the global bar groups rallied in support of the rule of law on the “International Day of the Endangered Lawyer.” The international effort is designed to draw attention to the thousands of lawyers and judges killed or imprisoned each year as they fight for basic legal rights in countries from China to Iran to Venezuela. However, no bar is more devastated than the one in Turkey where thousands of lawyers have been imprisoned and tortured for fighting the authoritarian regime of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Despite the praise from our president, Erdogan has continued a comprehensive campaign against the free press and political dissidents. This campaign however first required the elimination of thousands of lawyers to eradicate the rule of law to make way for his brutal religious-based authoritarian rule.

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Witch Hunt or Mole Hunt? The Times Bombshell Could Blow Up Both Sides

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the recent disclosure that the FBI opened an investigation into whether President Donald Trump was working for Russia after his firing of former FBI Director James Comey. In reading the story, it struck me that the emerging picture from early 2017 looks increasingly like a study in cognitive bias. Indeed, it raises a rather intriguing possibility that both sides may feed each other in reaching the wrong conclusions.

Here is the column:

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PKK Leader Abdullah Öcalan Granted 1st Visit in Two Years After Jailed Pol. Listed In Critical Condition During Hunger Strike Protesting His Isolation

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Abdullah Öcalan, in 1997 by Halil Uysal

Turkey granted imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan his first visitor in nearly two years this Saturday. Turkish courts ruled in 2016 that he was to receive no visitors, including family. Mr. Öcalan has not had access to visits from his attorneys since 2011 despite filing over seven hundred requests to do so. Mr. Öcalan was visited by his brother, Mohammad Öcalan.

While it is unclear exactly why Turkey had a change of heart regarding the visits, it was recently widely reported on Thursday in Turkish and Kurdish news media that a jailed member of Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey is suffering “life-threatening” medical conditions during her hunger strike that started sixty-five days ago. She began the strike to protest the conditions and isolation that Mr. Öcalan was experiencing at the hands of his Turkish captors.

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Trump Reportedly Lashed Out To Whitaker About Controlling The NY Prosecutors After Cohen Plea

Despite a series of self-inflicted wounds by President Donald Trump over the Russian investigation in pressuring former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and directly discussing the investigation with former FBI Director James Comey, Trump has reportedly returned to the same pattern in lashing out with Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker. If true, it is entirely baffling. Republicans and Democrats have uniformly objected to these communications as improper and raising the appearance of influencing the investigation. It also undermines Whitaker’s position.

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The Curious Tale Of The Flynn Sentencing Hearing

Below is a column on the Flynn’s sentencing hearing and the curious turn of events in the case. He is now scheduled for a new sentencing hearing in March 2019. Interestingly, while I have repeatedly stated in print and television that Flynn does not deserve sympathy, I have been widely quoted as saying that I have called for such sympathy. My point is simply that there are serious concerns raised by how this interview was handled, including the intentional effort to have Flynn interviewed without counsel. Moreover, it is possible to denounce such false statements without exaggerating the specific crime itself. It is still unclear why Flynn lied when the conversation of such sanctions was not strange or improper. Indeed, the Administration publicly was saying that it wanted a new start with Russia and would reexamine all aspects of the relationship. The hearing however quickly went off the rails. I have a great deal of respect for Judge Emmet Sullivan and have appeared before him on countless occasions. But this hearing took a radical departure from the record and the specific crime being addressed in sentencing.

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“Let’s Just Send A Couple Of Guys Over”: Comey Admits Another Violation Of Department Protocol and Policy

Below is my column in The Hill Newspaper on the recent admission by James Comey that he intentionally circumvented the White House Counsel and Justice Department protocol to send two agents to interview then National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.  It is a subject that will hopefully be raised this week when Comey appears again before Congress on Monday. Comey describes his sudden realization that he could “get away with” sending “a couple guys over” to the White House. Comey’s epiphany could be his epitaph. 

Here is the column:

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