Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on the calls for either a new trial or a presidential pardon for Roger Stone. I believe that he has a far greater claim to the former than the latter.
While I believe that the sentence of 40 months was longer than was warranted in this case, Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Stone where some of us had predicted on the guidelines range. It was less than half of what the prosecutors originally asked for. Yet, the decision to go forward with the sentencing seemed odd given the substantial claim of juror bias raised by the defense in a pending motion. The other pending motion for disqualification is quite weak, but the motion for a new trial in my view should be granted. Although the odds are against Jackson ordering a new trial, it is clear that the foreperson has now business being on this jury and that her past comments raised significant and legitimate questions over whether Stone was given an impartial jury.
This week, many were surprised by the disclosure made by the lawyers for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in London in the Westminster Magistrates’ Court. Edward Fitzgerald made a witness statement application for co-counsel Jennifer Robinson who shared information concerning ex-California representative Dana Rohrabacher. She claimed that he made Assange a startling offer: if he cleared the Russians as the source of the hacked emails at the Democratic National Committee, Rohrabacher could get a presidential pardon from President Donald Trump. Now Rohrabacher himself says that it is true and that he spoke of the plan with Trump White House Chief of Staff, though he did not speak of the plan with Trump himself. The timing is particularly unfortunate for the White House with a report that U.S. intelligence believes that Russia is again seeking to intervene in the election and appears to be intervening in favor of Trump. Update: A new story suggests that the Russians could also be helping Bernie Sanders.
Roger Stone has been sentenced to 40 months by U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson. I previously stated that the likely sentence would be half of what the prosecutors originally sought and that is precisely what the court did. The sentence not only completed the conviction of Roger Stone but completely vindicated Attorney Bill Barr on the appropriate length of the sentence. Barr has been unfairly accused of political influence in modifying the original sentence even though many of us denounced the original recommendation as wildly offbase. Not only did over a thousand former prosecutors demand his resignation without knowing the full facts, but one former colleague declared Barr to be “unAmerican.” If these individuals have a modicum of decency, they will acknowledge that Barr was right on the merits of this sentencing recommendation as demonstrated by the court itself.
Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on widespread accusations against Attorney General Bill Barr, including former prosecutors who called for his resignation before knowing all of the underlying facts. Critics have simply ignored reports that various Justice Department officials believed (as did many of us) that the original recommended sentence for Roger Stone was wildly out of proportion with the underlying crimes. They have also ignored indications that Trump’s controversial statements on the case came after a decision was made to modify the recommendation. Some have even gone as far to declare that Barr, who has served his country for decades, is “unAmerican.” Such hair-trigger attacks have become common in Washington, but there must remain some modicum of decency and restraint when so few of the facts are fully established.
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.
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.
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.
While China is being criticized for withholding information, it has confirmed one lethal side effect of the virus: the death of free speech. Chinese professor Xu Zhangrun has been arrested after publishing criticism of President Xi Jinping and the handling of the crisis. He is now cut off from the Internet, banned from social media, and could soon find himself in prison. The government will no doubt argue that he had a pre-existing lethal condition in China: a desire for free speech.
Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the Stone controversy. The column suggested that the Trump tweet before the change in the sentencing memorandum in the Stone case may not have been related, but simply another example of Trump triggering a controversy with an irresponsible and ill-timed tweet. After the column, Trump made the situation even worse by publicly complimenting Attorney General Bill Barr. As I mentioned at the time, the “atta boy” was more damaging than the original criticism. Barr responded correctly by criticizing the President’s continued public comments on pending cases and attacks on federal judges. While the President is clearly undeterred, both the change in the sentencing recommendation and the criticism of the President were well warranted.
A comparatively small burial plot of the World War I Oise-Aisne American Cemetery in France contains the remains of American military personnel who, following convictions in US Military Courts Martial, remain as nearly anonymous as the numbered markers above them. For nearly seventy-five years after their convictions, their grave markers only reveal one or two digit identification numbers and not the names of those so buried. Though they were convicted of capital crimes, do they deserve the dignity of a proper burial that all of us expect for ourselves?
On this Valentine’s Day, the Democratic establishment is sending out its equivalent of “forget me nots” saying “Love is never having to say you’re Socialist.” Alarm over the surge of Bernie Sanders has turned widespread alarm in Democratic and media circles (sometimes hard to differentiate on some channels) into full-blown panic. With now a double digit lead over Biden in national polls, there is a constant drumbeat in the media against Sanders — the same type of bias that actually pushed many voters toward Trump in 2016.
We recently discussed how stories of violence on conservatives and Trump supporters often receive limited attention. The common narrative is that President Donald Trump is the source of violent speech and violent acts in society. The inverse does not fit that narrative. The latest such example is found in New Hampshire where Patrick Bradley, 34, is accused of assaulting a 15-year-old Trump supporter and two adults at a polling site. This follows another college attack on conservatives at the University of California at Santa Cruz.