Tag Archives: perjury

Update On The Jeff Sessions-Russian Ambassador Fiasco: A Confederacy Of Ethics Dunces

dunces2

Everyone—almost literally everyone— involved in the Jeff Sessions flap has beclowned themselves and revealed that a gerbil running around in a wheel is powering their ethics alarms.

These include such previously noted Ethics Dunces as..

  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who couldn’t or wouldn’t answer a simple question clearly….
  • Democrats, who continue to act like spoiled siblings trying anything to make mommie get mad at the one she likes best, embracing conspiracy theories, smearing former colleagues, and generally morphing into walking, talking rectums before America’s eyes, to appeal to their deplorable hard core base made up of people who completed that mutation long ago…
  • Senator Chuck Schumer, displaying a partisan double standard so blindingly, throbbingly obvious than anyone can identify it….
  • Senator Claire McCaskill, engaging in perhaps the best timed hypocrisy and inexplicable amnesia of all time….
  • Deranged Trump-haters, determined to expose their legal ignorance to the world, who proclaimed Sessions guilty of perjury, when he obviously was not…
  • Every reporter, editor and news source who rushed into the trap of declaring that having contact with the Russian ambassador justifies  being “linked’ to Russia, when any dolt should have known that by that formula, anyone in Washington could be “linked” to Russia or be accused of having “Russian ties.”

But wait!

There’s more!

Now we have… Continue reading

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Ethics Observations On The AG Sessions-Russian Ambassador Controversy

sessions-3

To bring you up to date—from the Times yesterday:

“…[N]ew questions were raised about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s ties to the Russians. According to a former senior American official, he met with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, twice in the past year. The details of the meetings were not clear, but the contact appeared to contradict testimony Mr. Sessions provided Congress during his confirmation hearing in January when he said he “did not have communications with the Russians.”

“I have no idea what this allegation is about,” he said. “It is false.”

Sean Spicer, the Trump White House spokesman, said, “The only new piece of information that has come to light is that political appointees in the Obama administration have sought to create a false narrative to make an excuse for their own defeat in the election.” He added, “There continues to be no there, there.”

…On Wednesday, a Justice Department official confirmed that Mr. Sessions had two conversations with Ambassador Kislyak last year, when he was still a senator, despite testifying at his Jan. 10 confirmation hearing that he had no contact with the Russians. At that hearing, Mr. Sessions was asked what he would do if it turned out to be true that anyone affiliated with the Trump team had communicated with the Russian government in the course of the campaign. He said he was “not aware of any of those activities.”

“I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I didn’t have — did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it,” Mr. Sessions said at the time.

However, Justice officials acknowledged that Mr. Sessions had spoken with Mr. Kislyak twice: once, among a group of ambassadors who approached him at a Heritage Foundation event during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July and, separately, in an office meeting on Sept. 8. The contacts were first reported by The Washington Post.

From today’s Times:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, facing a storm of criticism over newly disclosed contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States, recused himself on Thursday from any investigation into charges that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election…Many top Democrats demanded Mr. Sessions’s resignation, and a growing number of Republicans declared that he should not take part in any investigation into the case, given his own still largely unexplained role in it.

But Mr. Trump stoutly defended Mr. Sessions, one of his few early champions on Capitol Hill. “He could have stated his response more accurately, but it was clearly not intentional,” he said in a statement, which accused Democrats of engaging in “a total witch hunt.”

…Mr. Sessions insisted there was nothing nefarious about his two meetings with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, even though he did not disclose them to the Senate during his confirmation hearing and they occurred during the heat of the race between Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, and Mr. Trump, whom Mr. Sessions was advising on national security….

In his account on Thursday of the more substantive meeting, which took place in his Senate office on Sept. 8, Mr. Sessions described Mr. Kislyak as one of a parade of envoys who seek out lawmakers like him to glean information about American policies and promote the agendas of their governments.

“Somehow, the subject of Ukraine came up,” Mr. Sessions said, recalling that the meeting grew testy after the ambassador defended Russia’s conduct toward its neighbor and heaped blame on everybody else. “I thought he was pretty much of an old-style, Soviet-type ambassador,” Mr. Sessions said, noting that he declined a lunch invitation from Mr. Kislyak.

Mr. Sessions’s decision to recuse himself was one of his first public acts as attorney general. He said he made the decision after consulting with Justice Department officials, and he denied misleading Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, when he said in his confirmation hearing that he had not met with Russian officials about the Trump campaign.

“In retrospect,” Mr. Sessions told reporters, “I should have slowed down and said, ‘But I did meet one Russian official a couple of times, and that would be the ambassador.’ ”

Observations:

Continue reading

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Follow-Up On “Lying Donald vs. Lying Hillary”: Donald’s Lie Is Worse, And Here’s Why

Lie vs Lie

Yesterday I asked readers which of our “presumptive” Presidential candidates were revealed as the worst liars  last week: Hillary Clinton, whose stubborn, year long claims that she followed State Department policy in handling communications, that she turned over all of her official emails to State, and that she “never sent classified material on my email, and I never received any that was marked classified” were all shown to be false by new emails that were released to the media, or Donald Trump, who denied that he had pretended to be his own publicist in recorded phone calls unearthed by the Washington Post, despite the fact that he had previously admitted as much in court testimony under oath.

I learned several useful things from the poll results:

1. Most readers don’t bother to take polls. 

2. Clinton’s lie is overwhelmingly believed to be worse, and

3. I measure lies very differently from most people.

To me, the worst lie is the brazen denial of what cannot be denied, done so shamelessly that it sends the message is no big deal. On the old Ethics Scoreboard, I highlighted such lies as a regular feature called the David Manning Liar Of The Month, named after a now forgotten incident when Sony was caught using fake rave reviews from a made-up film critic on its ads for some really bad movies. Sony’s excuse was that since everybody knows those reviews in movie ads are unreliable, there was nothing wrong with using a fake review. Another version of the lies I hate are those labelled Jumbos on Ethics Alarms, the infamous and often funny “Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?” desperation excuses, like Lindsay Lohan’s “These aren’t my pants!” explanation when arresting officers found drugs in her pockets. Continue reading

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Another Day, More Lies From Donald And Hillary. Whose Are Worse? How Will Their Supporters Excuse Them This Time?

Donald and Hillary

This election is going to be something to watch, with two compulsive, shameless liars each backed by ethically inert loyalists, fighting for the biggest prize in politics. I’m stocking up on Pepto.

Today’s edition of Lying Donald vs. Lying Hillary:

First let’s look at Trump’s lie, because it’s funnier: from the Washington Post:

“A recording obtained by The Washington Post captures what New York reporters and editors who covered Trump’s early career experienced in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s: calls from Trump’s Manhattan office that resulted in conversations with “John Miller” or “John Barron” — public-relations men who sound precisely like Trump himself — who indeed are Trump, masquerading as an unusually helpful and boastful advocate for himself, according to the journalists and several of Trump’s top aides.”

This is, of course, an early result of the Post’s “Let’s dig up embarrassing stuff on Trump” project, which Bob Woodward talked about this week. There is nothing wrong with the Post doing this with Trump; what is despicable is that they didn’t do it with Obama in 2008.

On the fake publicist story, the Post has Trump cold. He even confirmed that he masqueraded as “John Miller” and “John Barron” under oath in a lawsuit, and forensic experts have confirmed the voice is Trump’s. Never mind. Now he’s not under oath, so he’s denying it all. Trump  hung up on two Washington Post reporters when they asked him this afternoon about  masquerading as his own publicist in interviews and he lied directly to USA Today, saying: Continue reading

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The Late Senator Dale Bumpers Was An Ethics Corrupter Of Historic Significance: That’s His Legacy

Impeachment ticket

Former U.S. Senator Dale Bumpers (D-Ark) has died at 90, and his obituaries respectfully note his successful political career that led him to the Arkansas State House as well as Washington, D.C. His death is nicely timed with the re-emergence, thanks to Donald Trump and Bill Cosby, of scrutiny of Bill Clinton’s proclivities as a sexual predator. Bumpers played a key role in not only allowing Clinton to escape accountability for that reprehensible conduct and other conduct required for him to continue it, but also in corrupting the Presidency, the public and the nation.

Good job, Senator. Sorry you’re dead, but now, while you are briefly back in the public eye, is the time to be clear about your legacy.

On January 21, 1999, late in the Clinton impeachment proceedings on the Senate floor, recently retired Senator Dale Bumpers took center stage to defend his fellow Arkansas Democrat as he fought for his political life. The fact that Bumpers was allowed to make such a speech proved that the proceedings were rigged, and were nothing but partisan theater. I don’t think Chief Justice Rehnquist, who supposedly presided over the impeachment “trial,” should have allowed Bumpers to speak; maybe the Chief Justice had to: I am unclear on whether he could have acted like a judge if he wanted to. Bumpers was not then a member of the body, and he introduced no evidence. Indeed, his entire function was to mischaracterize the issues, confuse the public, and remind his Democratic colleagues that their first duty was to the party rather than the nation.

That being the case, he did his job well.

Reading the transcript of his speech again for the first time in over a decade, I was struck at how terrible—cynical, misleading, dishonest—it was. The speech essentially distilled all of the rationalizations and excuses, repeated ad nauseum by Lanny Davis and others on cable TV since the Monica Lewinsky scandal had broken, into a credible imitation of a sincere, non-partisan appeal by an elder statesman. Masterful it was; it was also rotten to the core. Continue reading

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Law vs. Ethics: A Snatched Bar Mitzvah Gift, A Leaky AG, An Embarrassing Scoreboard, and”OINK”

Oink

I try to keep my legal ethics seminars up-to-the-minute, so while preparing for yesterday’s session with the Appellate Section of the Indiana Bar, I came across a bunch of entertaining stories in which the ethics were a lot clearer than the law, or vice-versa. All of them could and perhaps should sustain separate posts; indeed, I could probably devote the blog entirely to such cases.

Here are my four favorites from the past week’s legal news, involving a mother-son lawsuit, a brazenly unethical attorney general, a college scoreboard named after a crook, and police officer’s sense of humor: Continue reading

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We Have A Winner In The “False Hastert-Clinton Equivalency Sweepstakes”! Congratulate Slate’s William Salatan!

I don’t know when William Salatan jumped the ethics shark at Slate; I used to find him fair, reasonable and perceptive. Now he has apparently gone over the Dark Side, the shadowy, ethics-free realm where the Clintons are victims of a vast right wing conspiracy. Too bad.

There is some compensation for Salatan, though. He just penned the perfect example of the Shameless Left’s attempt to exploit the fall of  former GOP Speaker Dennis Hastert to exonerate Bill Clinton, and by extension, his Lady MacBeth, Hillary, as she tries to complete her rise to power fueled by the public’s acceptance of her husband’s corrupt ways.

You can read it here, and I would hope that most of you would be able to spot, and quickly, the multiple blatant ethics bait-and-switches that Salatan employs. But for those deceived, let me provide some guidance.

Many commentators have made the point that Hastert’s prosecution looks politically motivated and unfair. He is not being prosecuted for the alleged sexual misconduct with a student believed to be the source of an extortion attempt, and paying a blackmailer is no crime. He is being prosecuted for lying to the F.B.I about the reason for his large cash withdrawals. Says Salatan:

“The critics have a point. Lying under oath and evading transaction surveillance are derivative crimes. Usually, they’re prosecuted only if the underlying offense is serious and demonstrably true. You can argue that if the core allegation hasn’t been proved, or if the core issue isn’t grave enough, it’s cheap and abusive to proceed with prosecution based purely on derivative charges. But Hastert can’t make that argument, because he made the opposite argument 17 years ago. He threw the book at President Clinton for lying about sex.”

Thus Slate’s misleading and ignorance-seeding headline, “Hastert’s Hypocrisy.” There is no hypocrisy. Moreover, like Professor Kerr, Salatan mistakenly says that Clinton was impeached for “lying about sex.”  That was a Lanny Davis/Clinton spin talking point, and it is false.. Continue reading

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