Update On The Roger Stone Sentencing Fiasco

Last night, I wrote in response to the news that all four of Roger Stone’s prosecutors had resigned after the Justice Department had submitted a memo opposing their recommendation to the judge in the case regarding Stone’s sentence…

I can’t figure this out until…

  • I know whether Stone was targeted as a Trump ally, and how much of this, if any, was politically motivated.
  • What the sentencing guidelines are, and exactly what Stone did.
  • What the reasoning of the Justice Department was in opposing its own prosecutors’ judgment.
  • To what degree the President influenced the decision.

 

Finally, thanks to the always reliable and astute Andrew McCarthy, I do understand, and can confidently say, “What a mess!” Continue reading

Post-“Procedure” Ethics De-Brief, 7/26/2019: Drunk-Blogging Edition [CORRECTED]

WHaT tImE iS It, aNYway?

The nurse said that I was to handle the rest of the day as if I were “impaired,” so I guess this is “drunk-blogging,” an allegedly humorous practice that is a trademark political Stephen Green, aka. Vodkapundit when he covers a long and annoying event, like candidates debate or the Mueller testimony. In this case, I don’t have any choice, but I will say this: the first commenter who rags on me for a typo will be srroy! [CORRECTION NOTE: Prodded by JutGory’s comment below, I fixed the several typos in the post, except the one that was intentional. I’m better now.]

1. Welcome to my world, Ann. Althouse just banned “Inga,” a relentlessly snotty and intractable commenter on her blog who is one of the few knee-jerk progressives hanging out there. Ann mentions that she wishes there were a lot more liberal commenters at Althouse, which makes me feel a little better. Her blog has also suffered an ideological exodus in recent years, and Ann thinks of herself—correctly— as a non-partisan contrarian, though she has guest-hosted at Instapundit.. She certainly strives for objectivity (as well as unpredictability), but she has also been very critical of the “resistance” and the media’s treatment of President Trump, as every fair commentator should.

Then again, she refuses to link to Ethics Alarms, so to hell with her…

2. When the U.S. becomes Greece, think of these days, these unethical leaders, and the incompetent public that supported them. The recent budget deal between the President and Congress to explode the budget, ignore the deficit and bring the national debt even closer to a suicidal level is bipartisan betrayal. Although it is especially galling for a President with a “bottom line” orientation to capitulate, Trump is no worse in this respect than Obama, or any of his predecessors going back to Lyndon Johnson. At some point, the American public can only look in the mirror and admit that it has had the power to demand responsible fiscal government, and refuses. We will regret this.

I voted for the late Ross Perot in 1992 for many reasons, but the main one was that I felt he deserved credit for making the debt his signature issue, and for his courageous and clear explanations of the crisis. Since his candidacy, there have been no serious political leaders who have tried to muster consensus that spending has to be cut, that so-called entitlements are out of control, and that our debt is unsustainable. Rand Paul was recently savaged for simply insisting that a new expenditure–expanded assistance for 9-11 first responders–be paid for. Our economy is suffering because of a ridiculously antiquated infrastructure, but it will take trillions to repair.  Politicians are waiting for a crisis, like when city sewer systems break down all across the East Coast, or bridges start collapsing with cars on them–and this is coming. Social security is nearing the point where someone’s going to have to give up something. California could have retrofit its buildings in anticipation of the Big One, but would rather play Russian Roulette. I’m just picking these out of the air randomly—I’m impaired, after all—but I could go on and on.

While the President rammed through  tax cuts without cutting expenditures, his likely opposition tries to buy the votes of the fiscally idiotic with promises of expensive goodies, like “Medicare for All” (more trillions), guaranteed income and free college. The absurd Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, (who has no chance, but really how much worse is she than Warren, Sanders, Harris and the rest?) has proposed a thoroughly irresponsible “climate change” plan with about a 10 trillion dollar price tag, and it is mostly made up of Authentic Frontier Gibberish, virtue-signaling and unsupportable assumptions.  Before a public even slightly aware of the dangers of the exploding debt (or a public that has anything but the vaguest notion about what real science is and the uncertainty of climate change projections, such a proposal would be political hara-kiri. Gillibrand considers it a last ditch effort to rescue her campaign.

Oh, heck, just read her alleged plan. I could vivisect it here, but why should I have all the fun? Continue reading

I KNEW He Could Do It! As Impeachment Plans A-Q Look Like Losers, Rep. Adam Schiff Invents Plan R!

It should be obvious what the Democratic Party’s game plan is now, especially since Robert Mueller’s testimony yesterday dashed hopes that he would blow wind into the limp sails of the SS Overthrow The Republican. Instead, the ostensible Special Prosecutor  made the case for “high crimes and misdemeanors” look weaker and more contrived than before. One by one, the weak, weaker and weakest “resistance” plans to remove President Trump have fallen into various states of hopelessness and ruin, and the bitter-enders are now resorting to denial or impeachment rationalizations unmoored to anything at all, like this guy, who says that “history demands” an impeachment. [Pointer: Zoltar]

The Democrats will just keep the impeachment fires burning until the election, hoping that 1) one of the horrible candidates Democrats get to choose from will defeat Trump, which looks like a Hail Mary at this point (but who knows what the President will tweet next) or 2) the Democrats will take control of the Senate, and 3) the public will tolerate them spending another 4 years trying to overthrow an elected President without getting disgusted and turning the House back over to the GOP.  Does this sound rational and responsible to you? I wonder why it sounds reasonable to Democrats.

Meanwhile, I was beginning to think the Ethics Alarms list of coup theories had maxxed out at Q, plan #17. [ The most recent  updated list is here] But somehow I knew, deep in my heart, that Rep. Adam Schiff, who has lied, puffed, exaggerated and grandstanded all manner of impeachment justifications that didn’t exist in fact or law, but somehow isn’t walking around Washington D.C. with his head in a bag, would be equal to the daunting task of coming up with a new plan. And so he has.

Perhaps anticipating the  Mueller Meltdown,  Schiff unveiled Plan R in his opening statement as Chair of the House Intelligence Committee.  His theory? President Trump was “disloyal”:

“Disloyalty to country. Those are strong words. But how else are we to describe a presidential campaign which did not inform the authorities of a foreign offer of dirt on their opponent, which did not publicly shun it, or turn it away, but which instead invited it, encouraged it, and made full use of it? That disloyalty may not have been criminal. But disloyalty to country violates the very obligation of citizenship, our devotion to a core principle on which our nation was founded, that we, the people, not some foreign power that wishes us ill, we decide, who shall govern, us.”

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Robert Mueller’s Disastrous Testimony And Its Significance, Part Two

Part I is here.

Random Observations on the Mueller testimony and aftermath:

  • Observing the desperate spin offered by frustrated “resistance” members, desperate Democrats and social media Trump-Haters has been almost as revealing as Mueller’s performance. The most positive  takeaway they could muster is that Mueller clearly said that his investigation didn’t exonerate the President. That’s meaningless. It is not a prosecutor’s job to exonerate anybody, ever. An investigation’s goal is to determine whether there is probable cause to determine that a crime or crimes have been committed, not to prove anyone’s innocence. The hearts of the impeachment mob leaped for joy briefly during the morning hearing of the Judiciary Committee when Mueller answered “yes” to Rep. Ted Lieu’s (D–Calif.) question whether he had declined to indict Trump because of an existing Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinion stating that a sitting president couldn’t be charged with a crime. Ah-HA!  Mueller had found evidence of illegal activity committed by the President and was only prevented from indicting him by Justice Department policy! Start those impeachment hearings!

Never mind. In the afternoon hearing before the House Intelligence Committee, reversed himself,   saying that that OLC opinion prevented him from making any determination, period, of Trump’s culpability in obstructing justice. “As we say in the report, and as I said in the opening, we did not reach a determination as to whether the president committed a crime,” Mueller told the Committee after specifically referencing the Lieu exchange.

“I want to go back to one thing that was said this morning by Mr. Lieu, who said, and I quote, ‘you didn’t charge the president because of the OLC opinion.’ That is not the correct way to say it,” Mueller said.

This did not prevent journalists, pundits and my Facebook friends from ignoring the second statement so they could falsely promote the first. “They got him to confirm that he didn’t make a charge because of the Justice Department memo,” said “Meet the Press’s” Chuck Todd in an NBC panel. No, they didn’t. That’s a direct lie, as well as fake news.

  • The contention that Mueller was only a convenient figurehead for what was designed as a partisan hit job was made more credible by Mueller’s confusion. Mueller’s chief deputy, the infamously over-zealous,  partisan and controversial prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, headed a group of mostly left-leaning investigators. Complaints about the apparent rigged nature of the investigation were met by reminders of Mueller’s party affiliation and reputation for fairness and rectitude. That defense was left in the dust.

Now the anti-Trump tenor of the report no longer suggests the objective conclusions of a political neutral, but the partisan bias of prosecutors with an agenda.

  • Mueller’s weakness also suggests an answer to the persistent question of why the investigation appeared to be so incompetently managed, as with, for example, the involvement of Peter Strzok.

It didn’t appear that Mueller was capable of competent oversight, or even paying attention.

  • The most damaging and disturbing Mueller answer by far was when he was asked about Fusion GPS, which hired Christopher Steele to compile the infamous Russian-sourced ‘dossier’ against Trump.  Mueller said that he was ‘not familiar‘ with it. KABOOM! How is this even possible, unless Weissman and the other anti-Trump Jauberts on his team kept the old man locked in a closet somewhere? The involvement of the Steele dossier undercut the legitimacy of his investigation, and the investigation’s leader  was that uninformed about its origins? Was this wilful ignorance? Blatant incompetence?

Finally, how could the investigators and Mueller justify following bread crumbs that led to indictments of various Trump administration and campaign figures for crimes unrelated to the subject of the investigation, but be oblivious to the strong indications of wrongdoing—the FBI’s FISA fraud, the conflicts of interest, the surveillance of Carter Page—related to the investigation itself?

  • In another ridiculous addition to the Ethics Alarms, “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!” files—at this point, I  cannot maintain any respect for the intelligence and/or integrity of anyone who denies the obvious partisan bias of CNN, MSNBC, and the major networks—I watched CNN for over 30 minutes this morning to see how they would cover the hearings. Over at Fox News, of course, Mueller’s disturbing demeanor was being dissected in detail. The “Fox and Friends” blonde of the day said, sympathetically, that she would be “praying for him and his family,” since something is definitely seriously wrong.

At CNN, however, there was just a crawl representing Mueller’s testimony as straightforward, sticking to the report, and, of course, emphasizing the “no exoneration” statement and his answer to Lieu, retracted though it was. CNN showed no video of Mueller from either hearing, and its panels all focused exclusively on “where the Democrats go from here.”

Incredible. (Can something be simultaneously incredible and unsurprising?)The big news from the hearings, what those who didn’t have the time or stamina to watch them needed to know, was unquestionably Mueller’s frightening lack of preparation, clarity, or knowledge of the report he had signed and the investigation he had supposedly overseen, and how this undermined the report’s legitimacy, especially as an anti-Trump document.  Not only did he fail to give Democrats more ammunition for their coup as they clearly hoped it would, he undermined the credibility of the entire report.

Spin is one thing; intentionally hiding what occurred to make spin easier is something very different, and a major breach of journalism honesty and integrity.

  • Mueller’s repeated concern during his testimony regarding Russian interference in our elections, past and future, is being largely ignored by CNN and the rest because it directly points the finger of accountability to Barack Obama. The Mueller report  states that Russia began interfering in American democracy in 2014, with the operation becoming full-blown during the 2016 presidential election. The Obama administration knew this was going on, and took no discernible action.  In 2016, Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice told her staff to “stand down” and “knock it off” as they drew up plans to “strike back” against the Russians, according to  Michael Isikoff and David Corn in their book “Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump.”

Yet I continue to read attacks on Trump because he didn’t take adequate steps to foil the Russians,

  • Where is the accountability? House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler had said over the weekend that Mueller’s report showed “very substantial evidence” that President Donald Trump is “guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors” — an impeachable offense. “We have to … let Mueller present those facts to the American people, and then see where we go from there, because the administration must be held accountable,” Nadler,  said on “Fox News Sunday.” Yet Mueller’s testimony, orchestrated by Nadler,  confirmed none of this. Nadler was intentionally misleading the American public.

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Sources (for Parts 1 and 2): NBC News, Grabien, The American Spectator, Reason, Issues and Insights, The Hill,

Robert Mueller’s Disastrous Testimony And Its Significance, Part One

A transcript of the testimony is here.

The amazing thing is that the Democrats held the hearings at all. Mueller, as a matter of legal ethics and client confidentiality, was severely limited regarding what he  could say beyond what was already in his investigation’s report. Desperate to gain some public relations traction in their endless, nation-rending determination to end a legal and duly elected Presidency without the inconvenience of an election, one can only surmise that Mueller’s ethically problematical press conference led them astray, and not only astray, but into a disaster of their own making.

The first hint that something was amiss was Mueller’s request that an aide sit by him and assist in his testimony. That was not only unusual but ominous, and the Republicans on the committee quickly rejected it. Once Mueller started answering questions, it was painfully clear why this request had been made. He looked disoriented and confused. The 75-year-old Justice Department veteran had to ask committee members to repeat their questions repeatedly, as if he was having difficulty focusing. He often did not know whether the representatives were asking him questions or if they were reading from his own report. In  the first 90 minutes of the hearing, Mueller asked for clarification of questions more than 10 times. Under questioning from Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), Mueller asked: “And where are you reading from on that?” “I’m reading from my own question” was the answer.  “Then can you repeat it?” Mueller asked. The audience laughed. By the end, the audience had stopped laughing. As Obama strategist David Axelrod tweeted, the performance was “painful” to watch.  Mueller asked Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee to restate her question three times.  Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) asked the 14 word question, “Attorney #2 in the Inspector General’s report and Strzok both worked on your team, didn’t they?” and Mueller appeared to be confused by it.“Pardon me?” Mueller replied. After Gaetz restated his question, Mueller replied: “And the question was?” Asked by Head Trump-hunter Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) to explain what his investigation  found “in plain terms,” Mueller answered: “Well, the finding indicates that the president, uh, was not, uh, the president was not exculping, uh, exculpated, uh, for the acts that he allegedly committed.”

Ah! Well thank you, sir, that explains everything! Nadler looked as if he wanted to start banging his head on the table.

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MSNBC Legal Analyst Tweets Fake News, Social Media Makes It Viral, Prof. Turley Makes Excuses. Yecchh. [UPDATED]

First, MSNBC legal analyst Joyce Alene Vance sends out the completely false tweet above. Of course Fox News covered the hearing. Why would she do that? Is it because she works for all all-anti-Trump-spin all the time network? Or is it because she’s a hard core partisan, having been an Obama U.S. Attorney? Maybe its because she’s not a journalist, and has no idea what kind of standards journalists are supposed to use before reporting “news.” Then again, virtually nobody at MSNBC appears to know what ethical journalism is.

Whatever the reason, she tweeted it, and immediately confirmation bias set in, with such sophisticated political analysts as horror novelist and well-established Trump-hater Stephen King helping to spread the word–three “words,” really: Fox won’t report news unfavorable to Trump, Trump is afraid of the Mueller Report (never mind that anyone’s been able to read it for months) and that Mueller’s testimony was going to be a likely calamity for the President—to his more than 5 million followers.  [NOTE: It wasn’t. It was a calamity for “the resistance” and Robert Mueller’s reputation]

Here’s King:

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Lunchtime Ethics Appetizer, 6/3/2019: Self-Censorship, Trump’s Ridiculous Jumbo, Turley On Mueller, And A College Ranking Scandal [Updated]

Bon Appettit!

1. To self-censor or not to self-censor. Right after expressing here my dilemma about whether to risk political and partisan backlash by raising current, important and legitimate legal ethics issues from the Mueller investigation, there were a flurry of articles and podcasts about the dangers of self-censorship in a climate where Americans are being systematically intimidated from opposing the Woke Collective. This is a classic ethical dilemma, with ethical considerations like integrity, duty, citizenship, honesty and responsibility, are opposed by non-ethical considerations, like keeping one’s job, paying the bills, and not being cast as a pariah in one’s profession.

I was also reminded of my problem by Instapundit referencing today an old  Washington Post article about Mao’s mass murders. My company lost a lucrative sexual harassment training deal after two Chinese nationals (that I did npt know were in the audience) too offense at a tangential comment about Mao’s exterminations dwarfing those of Hitler and Stalin  (but not Darth Vader). Both contacted me and demanded apologies, claiming that it was Western propaganda and that the Great Leader had “only” executed millions out of necessity. I refused (I know I have mentioned this before here) and said I was sincerely sorry they had been subjected to cultural influences that had warped their ethics, and that if I had been aware that this was a sensitve topic to anyone in the audience, I would have omitted the reference. Having spoken the truth, however, I was not going to deny or apologize for it.

“Why didn’t you just apologize?” my client asked. And I was reminded of the moment in “1776” when a royalist in the Continental Congress asks Jefferson why he called King George “a tyrant” in the Declaration. “Because he is a tyrant,” Jefferson answers.

I’m an ethicist, I said. I’m not going to whitewash the massacre of 45-60 million people because someone is offended by the truth.

That was the end of that contract…

2. The President issues a Jumbo. Why does he do things like this? I have no idea. It si the political equivalent of pushing a pie into his own face. In an interview with the British tabloid, The Sun tabloid, Trump responded to a query about his reaction to  Megan Markle’s statement  that he is a “misogynist” and her suggestion that “she’d move to Canada if you got elected; turned out she moved here.” He said, “Well, a lot of people are moving here, so what can I say. No, I didn’t know that she was nasty.”

Of course Trump was attacked for saying that to a British newspaper—it was racist, it was an insult, the usual. Of course the President shouldn’t stoop to personal swipes at anyone; on the other hand, that’s what he does when he is attacked himself.  “Tit for Tat” and “doing unto others as they did to you” are part of Trump’s “ethics.” Can’t we stipulate this by now? Can’t TRUMP stipulate it at this point?

Then he tweeted, “I never called Meghan Markle ‘nasty.’ Made up by the Fake News Media, and they got caught cold! Will @CNN, @nytimes and others apologize? Doubt it!” He did this knowing that the Sun had his statement recorded, and sure enough, the paper  released the audiotape.

See, the idea behind Jimmy Durante saying “Elephant? What elephant?” when caught stealing the biggest pachyderm in the world in a musical comedy is that it’s obviously desperate and ridiculous, and intended to be funny.

This is just self-destructive, disturbing, and really, really stupid.

3. Jonathan Turley on Mueller. The George Washington Law prof has consistently been a voice of reason and objectivity reagarding the Mueller investigation. He has recently written two excellent columns on Mueller’s public statement, here, and here.

Greg should send them to his ex-friend.

4. Why is this more damaging to a school than, say, falsely instructing students about justice, the right to representation, and due process?

From TaxProf Blog: “University Of Oklahoma Inflated Its Alumni Giving Data For 20 Years, U.S. News Strips Its #127 Ranking”

The University of Oklahoma admitted to  U.S. News that it had inflated its alumni giving data since 1999, which affects its placement in the National Universities, Best Value Schools, Top Public Schools, Best Colleges for Veterans and A-Plus Schools for B Students rankings and lists. For the 2019 Best Colleges rankings, the University of Oklahoma originally reported its two-year alumni giving rate at 14 percent. The school informed U.S. News the correct value is 9.7 percent. The average alumni giving rate has a weight of 5 percent in the Best Colleges ranking methodology.

And now,

A former OU student has filed a class action lawsuit against the University of Oklahoma as a result of the university being stripped of its U.S. News & World Report ranking. [Gretzer v. Oklahoma, No. 19-490 (W.D. OK May 28, 2019]

The lawsuit, which was filed May 28 on behalf of former OU student Elani Gretzer and all OU undergraduate students since 1999, alleges the university broke contract by providing false alumni giving data to U.S. News & World Report, inflating its ranking in U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges” ranking as a result.

The lawsuit alleges the U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of the Price College of Business was a “material factor” in Gretzer’s decision to enroll at OU. … The suit is also filed on behalf of an estimated minimum of 350,000 people — all OU students who have enrolled since 1999, the year in which OU has admitted it began providing false information to U.S. News & World Report.

Morgan Cloud (Emory) & George Shepherd (Emory), Law Deans In Jail, 77 Mo. L. Rev. 931 (2012):

A most unlikely collection of suspects — law schools, their deans, U.S. News & World Report and its employees — may have committed felonies by publishing false information as part of U.S. News’ ranking of law schools. The possible federal felonies include mail and wire fraud, conspiracy, racketeering, and making false statements. Employees of law schools and U.S. News who committed these crimes can be punished as individuals, and under federal law the schools and U.S. News would likely be criminally liable for their agents’ crimes.

Some law schools and their deans submitted false information about the schools’ expenditures and their students’ undergraduate grades and LSAT scores. Others submitted information that may have been literally true but was misleading. Examples include misleading statistics about recent graduates’ employment rates and students’ undergraduate grades and LSAT scores.

U.S. News itself may have committed mail and wire fraud. It has republished, and sold for profit, data submitted by law schools without verifying the data’s accuracy, despite being aware that at least some schools were submitting false and misleading data. U.S. News refused to correct incorrect data and rankings errors and continued to sell that information even after individual schools confessed that they had submitted false information. In addition, U.S. News marketed its surveys and rankings as valid although they were riddled with fundamental methodological errors.

One question: why isn’t Harvard’s ranking being lowered? I suspect that it’s because maleducating students and systematically undermining American values and civil rights isn’t included in the criteria.

It should be.