We have been following the unfolding disaster in Venezuela where the socialist dream of Hugo Chavez and his dim-witted successor Nicolas Maduro has reduced a major nation to virtual starvation. The central planning of Maduro’s nation has destroyed the oil-based economy and triggered inflation that is projected to reach 1 million percent within the year. Maduro however continues to follow the absurd economic model of Chavez and his chief ally, Cuba (another economic basket case). Now in a move that will worsen an already horrific situation, Maduro has ordered five zeros to be simply erased on the inflated currency while increasing the minimum wage by over 3000 percent. Continue reading “Faced With One Million Percent Inflation, Venezuela’s Socialist Government Strikes Five Zeros Off Its Currency”
A jury in in Texas has a curious notion of justice after recommending a sentence of just 10 years probation and no jail time for Shafeeq Sheikh, a former physician at Baylor College of Medicine. Sheikh raped a heavily sedated patient but will walk after a guilty verdict. It is one of the most disturbing sentences that I have seen in a decade.
Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on the continuing jury deliberations in the trial of Paul Manafort in Alexandria, Virginia. Defense counsel generally take heart in the passage of time as an indication that the jury is having difficulty in reaching a verdict. However, it can be deceiving. I took over a case in this same courthouse after a jury deliberated over a week and still convicted on all counts.
I have been critical of the decision of President Donald Trump to rescind the clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan and to release a list of other officials to be reviewed — officials who are uniformly critics of the President. Despite my criticism of everyone on the list, I viewed the unprecedented action to be unwarranted and retaliatory. However, Brennan himself does not help the case for those of us opposing the action. This weekend Brennan walked back his earlier reckless statement that Trump press conference with Russian president Vladimir Putin was treasonous. Now Brennan insists that when he called Trump treasonous he did not mean that he actually committed treason. Continue reading “Brennan: I Did Not Mean Trump Was Treasonous When I Said His Actions Are “Nothing Short Of Treason””
Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on the continuing controversy surrounding the release of the tell-all book by Omarosa Manigault Newman. Manigault Newman has continued her release of secret tapes featuring the President and his staff. Her latest tape captures a private conservation with Lara Trump who offers Manigault Newman a $15,000 a month job with the Trump campaign on the promise that she will “stay positive.” Trump refers to the rumor that Manigault Newman has dirt of Trump as she offered a job with few apparent duties or expectations other than “staying positive.” Of course, many of us are still wondering what Manigault Newman did in the White House. Nevertheless, the taping shows the utter lack of loyalty or honestly by Manigault Newman in dealing with friends and coworkers.
The Trump campaign has now filed a civil action, which is discussed as a possibility in the column below. The potential for criminal liability however is limited in this case.
Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghegan quit their jobs in Washington, D.C. to experience the world in their late 20s. Austin wrote on the trip how he had found great decency everywhere they had gone. He wrote: “Evil is a make-believe concept we’ve invented to deal with the complexities of fellow humans holding values and beliefs and perspectives different than our own… By and large, humans are kind. Self-interested sometimes, myopic sometimes, but kind. Generous and wonderful and kind.” That inspiring world adventure came to the end in Tajikistan when they and two other cyclists were hit by a car filled with ISIS fighters who jumped and stabbed them to death as “nonbelievers.”
In a brief exchange with Judge T.S. Ellis III, former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort declined yesterday to take the stand in his own behalf. His defense then declined to present its own case and moved the trial to closing arguments. Given the highly damaging evidence offered by the prosecution, there is little that will be offered to actually refute the charges. The decision to waive testimony and a defense case can be a strong strategic choice in a case where the defense savaged the prosecution. That is not this case. Continue reading “Manaport Declines To Testify Or Present Defense in Alexandria Trial”
As many of you know, I have been a long critic of the corrupt history of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and its sleazy leadership. For years, many have called for FIFA officials to end their global reputation as corrupt and self-dealing. They showed utter contempt for such calls and investigation. It was not until the United States worked with other countries to arrest top officials that FIFA fessed up to its problems. However, it did not take long for FIFA to go back to its old ways. It has now made future corruption scandals less likely not by the implementation of new rules allowing the punishment of those who “defame” FIFA officials or the organization. Indeed, the word “corruption” is no longer in the code of ethics. Moreover, bribes and other violations kept secret for ten years will be essentially wiped clean for purposes of prosecution.
Controversial FBI official Peter Strzok has been fired by the FBI — joining former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe in the ignoble distinction of being terminated by an agency that rarely jettisons its own. The firing creates an obvious dissonant element to the Democratic defense of Strzok as someone unfairly hounded by the Republicans. The terminations of McCabe and Strzok are based on the view of officials who viewed their conduct as unacceptable and, in McCabe’s case, potentially criminal.
One notable controversy was raised by Strzok attorney Aitan Goelman, who maintained that Deputy Director David Bowdich “overruled” the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility to remove him. The suggestion is that career officials did not view Strzok’s conduct as warranting such action.
Strzok was with the FBI for 21 years. It did not take time for Trump to tweet out the news:
Strzok was removed from the special counsel probe last year after the discovery that his incendiary text messages with FBI lawyer, who had an affair with Strzok.
I am interested in the basis for Strzok’s attorney claiming that the deputy director “reversed the decision of the career FBI official responsible for employee discipline who concluded, through an independent review process, that a 60-day suspension and demotion from supervisory duties was the appropriate punishment.” There should be some explanation from Goelman as to whether that is true and, if so, the basis for such a reversal. Generally, the recommendation of the OPR carries considerable weight in such matters. However, the ultimate decisions rests with officials like Goelman on whether the findings warrant more serious sanctions.
We spent our second day on beautiful Kauai was visiting beaches on the South shore. We started in the morning at the aptly named Shipwreck Cove where the waves were huge but the under current quite dangerous. We went in briefly before going down the shore to Poipu Beach which was lovely but a bit crowded. At the suggestion of one of the lifeguards, we went further down the road to Salt Pond Beach which had more roasters than people. The waves were huge and we had a ball.
This week, the City of West Hollywood council joined in the gratuitous insults and derogatory that has come to characterize our politics on both sides. The city council unanimously voted to ask Los Angeles and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce to remove President Donald Trump’s star from the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The star has been repeatedly vandalized in recent weeks. In the meantime,Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced that Austin Clay, 24, was charged with vandalism for destroying Trump’s star last month. He used a pickaxe.
Below is my column in USA Today on the most recent claim that the tweets of President Donald Trump concerning the Special Counsel are acts of obstruction. Once again, there is a blind eagerness to claim a prime facie criminal case against Trump. However, the implications of such a charge are enormous. It would mean that a subject or target of an investigation could be criminally charged for publicly denouncing the prosecutors or their investigation. While it is certainly true that a president is not just any investigatory subject and has powers that do mean a menacing meaning to such tweets, it would radically extend the scope of obstruction into more ambiguous areas. In the end, this is still the exercise of free speech in this context.
Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on the Manafort trial and why Manafort is pursuing a high-risk litigation strategy over a plea deal. The strategy looks strikingly like a pardon pitch and it could be working. President Donald Trump took the rare step of commenting on a case at trial to not only praised Manafort but analogized his case to the treatment of Al Capone. He tweeted that “Looking back on history, who was treated worse, Alfonse Capone, legendary mob boss, killer and ‘Public Enemy Number One,’ or Paul Manafort, political operative & Reagan/Dole darling, now serving solitary confinement – although convicted of nothing? Where is the Russian Collusion?” Of course, both could well be guilty and both could find that a criminal count with a ten year sentence is just about the same as another in terms of its impact on your life.\
There is an extraordinary case out of North Carolina where Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson awarded Keith King $8.8 million in compensatory and punitive damages against Francisco Huizar III. Huizar had an affair with King’s wife and was sued for criminal conversation and the relatively rare claim of “alienation of affection.” Only six states currently have alienation of affection laws still on the books. We previously discussed an award of $9 million to a woman in North Carolina.