Steven Cormier of Walnutport, Pennsylvania, has reached a very sad and unexpected conclusion to a once distinguished career. Cormier, 58, previously agreed to disbarment after his arrest for bank robbery in a truly heart-breaking story of a former general counsel who found himself in a free fall. He has now pleaded guilty to robbery, theft and receiving stolen property. He also pleaded no contest to making terroristic threats. He was sentenced to 18 to 36 months in prison
We have been discussing the serious allegations against Donald Trump’s charitable foundation, which have been used in transactions that are linked to Trump’s businesses rather than charities. — which has been sustained for years by donors outside the Trump family — has never obtained the certification that New York requires before charities can solicit money from the public, according to the state attorney general’s office. Now, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) has made the surprising allegation that the Donald J. Trump Foundation does not have the necessary registration and annual audit to operate as a large foundation. I have been critical of Schneiderman in his investigation of climate change skeptics. However, the failure to obtain this necessary registration and comply with basic auditing is quite surprising. Once again, I am unclear how any attorneys representing Trump could continue to maintain the charity without satisfying such basic legal requirements, particularly one (the auditing) designed to prevent the very type of intermingling of funds that been raised by critics.
Hillary Clinton’s position on the email scandal has repeatedly changed from its first emergence in the presidential campaign from denial of bad judgment to the denial of the use of the private server for any classified information to the denial of any material “marked” as classified to the denial of seeing or understanding classified markings. However, one claim has remained unchanged. Clinton has maintained that she and her staff have “cooperated fully” with investigators. That claim was previously shown to be untrue when it was revealed that neither Clinton nor her staff would agree to speak with State Department investigators even though they said that such interviews were needed to determine the scope any damage to national security or security breaches. Now, however, the lack of cooperation has been put into sharper relief with the testimony of FBI Director James B. Comey this week. My column this week raised serious misgivings over the handling of the investigation with the disclosure of five immunity grants by the Justice Department, including one given to Cheryl Mills. Those misgivings were raised with Comey before the United States Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee where Comey revealed the extent to which Clinton aides refused to cooperate, including an assertion of the privilege against self-incrimination raised before answering questions about a key telephone conference conversation before the infamous “bleaching” over email records being sought by Congress. Comey testifies today before the House Oversight Committee. I am currently scheduled to discuss these issues tonight on the O’Reilly Factor.
Deputy PD, Erika Ballou, has refused to comply with a judicial order to remove a Black Lives Matter pin from her blouse — a clear violation of court rules. As we recently discussed with regard to such pins, judges maintain basic rules of decorum and dress in their courtrooms, particularly in barring political symbols that may influence a jury or witnesses. What is astonishing is not just that Ballou defied the court but that Clark County Public Defender Phil Kohn was standing next to her and a dozen defense lawyers stood behind her in support.
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.”
The Trump legal team lost a major motion in San Diego that could have political consequences when U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel refused to move the planned November 28th trial date in the Trump University fraud case. Trump attorney Daniel Petrocelli wanted the trial moved to January 2. Petrocelli argued that it was his not Trump’s schedule in November that needed to be accommodated due to another trial.
We previously discussed the problematic role of all of the Clinton staffers speaking with FBI being represented by the same lawyer despite potential conflicts of interest. The release of material from the FBI has revealed an even more troubling role of a Clinton lawyer. In an accommodation that would have been refused in most criminal investigations, the FBI allowed Cheryl Mills to sit in on the interview of Hillary Clinton on the email scandal even though Mills is a witness and a key figure in the scandal. The FBI still allowed her to advise a witness who could have opposing or conflicting accounts to her own prior statements. It is a dual role that is frowned upon by bar rules and would likely draw intense objections in most cases. The accommodation reinforces the view that Clinton received extraordinary accommodations by the FBI in its consideration of criminal charges.