Daily Archives: December 11, 2018

Yes, a sitting president can be indicted for criminal misconduct (Updated)

Lazy media villagers and cable news jockeys — lookin’ at you Chuck Todd –rotely recite that the Office of Legal Counsel has legal memorandums which say that a sitting president cannot be indicted, “so whatcha gonna do” about Donald Trump?

This is an unsettled question of law.  If you actually read the lengthy OLC memos in full, you will find that the OLC first found that a sitting president can be indicted irrespective of any impeachment proceeding by law, but then made a policy argument against the Department of Justice from doing so.

In contrast, independent counsels Leon Jaworski and Kenneth Star both prepared legal memorandums which found that a grand jury could indict a sitting president, and Ken Starr even had an indictment prepared, which he decided not to pursue (see below the fold).

With Republicans in Congress aiding and abetting obstruction of justice by Donald Trump and expressing their willingness to abdicate their constitutionally prescribed duty to permit Trump’s ongoing criminal misconduct to continue unimpaired by Congress, GOP shrugs at Trump’s involvement in Cohen crimes, and ‘I Don’t Care’: GOP Senators Dismiss Allegations Against Trump, effectively rendering the impeachment clause remedy a nullity (i.e., jury nullification), the indictment of Donald Trump by Robert Mueller for his criminal misconduct may be necessary in order to obtain justice.

44 former U.S. Senators are so concerned about Trump’s criminal misconduct and Senate Republicans willingness to abdicate their responsibilities that they are literally pleading with senators to do their constitutionally prescribed duty in an extraordinary letter. We are former senators. The Senate has long stood in defense of democracy — and must again.

Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe was a guest on The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell to explain that there is nothing in the Constitution that prevents the indictment of a sitting president. Video Link.

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Maria Butina, who bragged she was ‘a channel between Team Trump and the Kremlin,’ enters into a cooperation agreement with DOJ (Updated)

ABC News was first to report that Maria Butina, accused Russian agent, reaches plea deal with prosecutors that includes cooperation.

She admits, as part of the deal, according to a copy obtained by ABC News that is expected to be filed to the court, that she and an unnamed “U.S. Person 1,” which sources have identified as longtime Republican operative Paul Erickson, with whom she had a multiyear romantic relationship, “agreed and conspired, with a Russian government official (“Russian Official”) and at least one other person, for Butina to act in the United States under the direction of Russian Official without prior notification to the Attorney General.”

Based on the description, the “Russian Official” appears to be Alexander Torshin, deputy governor of the Russian Central Bank and a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Under his direction, the agreement said, she “sought to establish unofficial lines of communication with Americans having power and influence over U.S. politics.”

The agreement, which Butina signed on Saturday, Dec. 8, also notes that the conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison, but the deal could see Butina receive a lesser sentence, depending on the level of her cooperation, before likely being deported back to Russia.

It is unclear what Butina’s cooperation might entail, but federal prosecutors have reportedly notified Erickson that he is a target of an ongoing investigation. The target letter sent to Erickson is from federal prosecutors in Washington, sources familiar with the case told ABC News, and separate from any South Dakota-based federal fraud investigation into his business dealings that has been the subject of earlier media reports.

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TIME Person of The Year: The Guardians (Journalists)

TIME magazine has named its person of the year, and it is collectively journalists who have been murdered or imprisoned in pursuit of the truth. The Guardians And The War on Truth:

Murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Capital Gazette newspaper staff, which lost five members in a newsroom shooting this year; jailed Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, imprisoned in Myanmar for their coverage of the Rohingya crisis; and Filipino journalist Maria Ressa, who was arrested after criticizing President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.

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As TIME reports:

Every detail of Jamal Khashoggi’s killing made it a sensation: the time stamp on the surveillance video that captured the Saudi journalist entering his country’s Istanbul consulate on Oct. 2; the taxiway images of the private jets bearing his assassins; the bone saw; the reports of his final words, “I can’t breathe,” recorded on audio as the life was choked from him.

But the crime would not have remained atop the world news for two months if not for the epic themes that Khashoggi himself was ever alert to, and spent his life placing before the public. His death laid bare the true nature of a smiling prince, the utter absence of morality in the Saudi-U.S. alliance and—in the cascade of news feeds and alerts, posts and shares and links—the centrality of the question Khashoggi was killed over: Whom do you trust to tell the story?

Khashoggi put his faith in bearing witness. He put it in the field reporting he had done since youth, in the newspaper editorship he was forced out of and in the columns he wrote from lonely exile. “Must we choose,” he asked in the Washington Post in May, “between movie theaters and our rights as citizens to speak out, whether in support of or critical of our government’s actions?” Khashoggi had fled his homeland last year even though he actually supported much of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s agenda in Saudi Arabia. What irked the kingdom and marked the journalist for death was Khashoggi’s insistence on coming to that conclusion on his own, tempering it with troubling facts and trusting the public to think for itself.

Such independence is no small thing. It marks the distinction between tyranny and democracy. And in a world where budding authoritarians have advanced by blurring the difference, there was a clarity in the spectacle of a tyrant’s fury visited upon a man armed only with a pen. Because the strongmen of the world only look strong. All despots live in fear of their people. To see genuine strength, look to the spaces where individuals dare to describe what’s going on in front of them.

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Harold Baines belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame

2019 Hall of Fame Inductee Harold Baines

Elitism and snobbery are not confined to the political class.

It also exists in other venues, including sports. Every year the baseball writers vote on candidates to the Baseball Hall of Fame. If a player languishes for ten years without getting 75 percent of the vote, they fall off the ballot. Some of these players are later recognized by Hall members (players, managers, and executives) who have formed era committees to consider the candidacies of exceptional players not confirmed by the writers. Yesterday this committee voted to select All-Star relief ace and one time all-time saves leader Lee Smith and All-Star Hitter Harold Baines to the Hall of Fame in 2019. While the selection of Smith was unquestioned, the selection of Baines was.

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