Last week, the disclosure of a total of five immunity agreements handed out by the Justice Department as part of its investigation of the Clinton email scandal. The extent of the deals and the recipients were surprising, particularly in the failure to previously disclose those deals. As a criminal defense lawyer, I was surprised to see the deals include Cheryl Mills, one of the highest officials accused in the deletion of tens of thousands of emails and the failure to heed warnings over the risk to national security from the use of the Clinton private server. Below is the column.
By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor.
Free-speech claimed another victim in the Middle-East after Jordanian Journalist Nahed Hattar, who is accused of sharing online an “anti-Islamic” cartoon, was assassinated outside a courthouse where he was facing trial for insulting Islam.
While riots and looting continued in Charlotte over the shooting of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott, the Charlotte police are pushing back on the widely repeated report that Scoot was unarmed and shot walking away from police without any provocation. Police say that Scott was armed and refused to drop his weapon. Continue reading
Another university has cancelled a conservative speaker under the guise of security concerns. The speaker is Milo Yiannopoulos who has repeatedly been disrupted or cancelled in his effort to speak on campuses (as well as being barred by Twitter). Yiannopoulos attracts considerable opposition and seems to relish the controversy with his “Dangerous Faggot” tour.
Former congressman Anthony Weiner appears intent on showing that he is without a single redeeming quality. Long a favorite of liberals for his acerbic attacks on the right, Weiner lied when he was first accused of sending naked unsolicited pictures to women. He attacked the media and denied everything until the proof became insurmountable. He then professed shame, resigned from Congress, and promised to reform. Later he ran an embarrassing mayoral campaign, though not without liberal supporters who continued to defend him. He was then outed again as “Carlos Danger,” this assumed name in sending new texts. He again faded away with promises of reform. Friends gave him jobs as a political commentator and even a public relations expert. He was then shown to be again sexting this year, including pictures showing his infant son. After his wife (Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin) left him, it has now been revealed that Weiner has been sexting a 15-year-old girl and allegedly knew that she was a minor. In the most recent scandal, Carlos Danger has emerged as “T Dog.” On this occasion, however, Weiner could have crossed the line into criminal misconduct.
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 controversy over Donald Trump’s use of his charitable foundation is growing this week. Previously, Trump was fined $2,500 by the IRS for making a $25,000 gift from his charity to support the re-election of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. That donation occurred just a few days after Bondi said that she was considering joining the state of New York in a lawsuit against Trump University. It was a highly problematic use of a charity with obvious concerns over the timing. Now, there is an even more surprising disclosure that Trump used more than a quarter-million dollars from his foundation to settle lawsuits involving his for-profit businesses. That is a very serious allegation and I am surprised that, if true, legal counsel would have signed off on such an arrangement.