1 “A Murder in the Park.” The 2014 documentary about how the Northwestern University “Innocence Project” freed a guilty murderer hours before his execution and framed an innocent man who was eventually exonerated is now available on Netflix. I wrote about the case, which had the unanticipated consequence of causing Illinois to ban the death penalty, in 2014. Then I concentrated on how badly the whole mess reflected on the justice system. As I watched the documentary last night, however, what struck me was the self-satisfied smugness and certitude of the journalism students who participated in selective investigation, advocacy instead of objective reporting, manipulation of witnesses, cause driven conclusions and more. The documentary shows us why journalism has become whatever it can be called now–certainly not journalism. Northwestern has one of the elite journalism schools in the nation, and David Protess, then the professor who ran “The Innocence Project,” was teaching students that corrupt journalism was honorable. Protess at the time was perhaps the most praised journalism teacher in the nation. It seems that he was less the exception than the rule.
2. Real discipline would be nice for a change. The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) informed the Trump yesterday that White House counselor Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act twice. The findings were referred to President Trump “for appropriate disciplinary action.” The White House promptly denied the charges, so we should assume that Kelly won’t be disciplined at all.
The Hatch Act allows federal employees to express their views about candidates and political issues as private citizens, but forbids them from using their official government positions try to influence elections. Of course Conway violated the Act. On Fox and CNN, she made it clear that voters in Alabama should reject Democrat Doug Jones. The White House ludicrously claims that Conway did not advocate for or against the election of any particular candidate. Nah…she just told Fox viewers last November,
“Doug Jones in Alabama, folks, don’t be fooled. He will be a vote against tax cuts. He is weak on crime, weak on borders. He is strong on raising your taxes. He is terrible for property owners.”
On CNN, she said in part,
I could headline this as an Ethics Dunce, an Unethical Quote, a “Stop making me defend Donald Trump” or even a KABOOM!, but it’s really a Popeye. The upcoming statement by Matt Miller, previously a spokesperson for the Holder Justice Department, could be easily ignored—who the hell is Matt Miller?—except that it breaks my chutzpah meter, and more than that, is designed to be recirculated as an indignant talking point by Democrats who haven’t cracked a history book since they were 12, or who are just plain liars.
After the Justice Department announced that it was taking another look at Hilary Clinton’s shenanigans with her secret email server (and perhaps the Clinton Foundation), Miller told The Daily Beast (echoing Holder, who has made similar statements),
“The president’s ongoing campaign to tear down the wall between the Justice Department and the White House seems to be working.”
Wall between the White House and the Justice Department? If there had been such a “wall,” President Kennedy obliterated it in 1960 when he appointed his brother as Attorney General while Bobby was also serving as JFK’s primary political advisor. Nixon’s Attorney General, John Mitchell, had been the director of Nixon’s 1968 presidential campaign, and was one of Nixon’s closest personal friends. Ronald Reagan’s second Attorney General was his longtime friend and political aide Ed Meese, who had previously served as Reagan’s Chief of Staff! Some wall! Continue reading
Over at The Hill, lawyer David Weisberg examines the questions in the title above. Frankly, I assumed that Hillary needing a pardon from Obama was a dead issue, but Weisberg persuades me that it might not be.
Let’s begin by pointing out that it would be gallactically stupid for the Trump Justice Department to prosecute Clinton. Doing so would be a guaranteed circus; it would inflame Democrats who are already resembling The Human Torch, and it would appear to be a political prosecution. A winning President tries to put his losing opponent in jail would reek of banana republic vengeance, and that’s one reason why no American President has ever done it.
This is Donald Trump we are talking about, however, so who knows? Certainly many of his more angry and less grey matter-blessed supporters would love to see Hillary in the slammer. I am hoping and praying that Trump either is smarter than this or has advisors who can talk him out of his worst ideas, but I am not as confident as I should be. Weisberg makes the reasonable point that Hillary may not be confident either:
“Since being elected, Trump has been remarkably warm towards the person he used to call “Crooked Hillary.” But how confident could Clinton be that the Justice Department, under a Trump administration, would not prosecute? Prosecutorial decisions are supposed to be independent of political considerations, so Trump’s recent friendliness should not be controlling once the new attorney general is in office.”
That last sentence is both true, and following the wretched partisanship of the Obama Justice Department, very much in the category of legal fiction. Continue reading
As you should know by now, the Wall Street Journal reported…
“The Obama administration secretly organized an airlift of $400 million worth of cash to Iran that coincided with the January release of four Americans detained in Tehran, according to U.S. and European officials and congressional staff briefed on the operation afterward.
Wooden pallets stacked with euros, Swiss francs and other currencies were flown into Iran on an unmarked cargo plane, according to these officials. The U.S. procured the money from the central banks of the Netherlands and Switzerland, they said.
The money represented the first installment of a $1.7 billion settlement the Obama administration reached with Iran to resolve a decades-old dispute over a failed arms deal signed just before the 1979 fall of Iran’s last monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi….Senior U.S. officials denied any link between the payment and the prisoner exchange. They say the way the various strands came together simultaneously was coincidental, not the result of any quid pro quo….But U.S. officials also acknowledge that Iranian negotiators on the prisoner exchange said they wanted the cash to show they had gained something tangible….Iranian press reports have quoted senior Iranian defense officials describing the cash as a ransom payment. “
Isn’t this, then, the equivalent of paying ransom for hostages? Continue reading
…and not just any law enforcement matter, but an investigation of a former Secretary of State and presumptive Presidential nominee.
Nice. You see, Barack Obama just doesn’t care. That’s the only possible explanation for this pattern which goes way back to 2009, when he opined on whether his old friend from Harvard, Henry Louis Gates, was the party at fault in an altercation with a Cambridge, Mass, police officer. That was his first year as President, so maybe it’s plausible that this “Constitutional scholar” and allegedly brilliant man didn’t know that the President of the United States warps the justice system and law enforcement when he declares how he thinks they should handle a particular matter, since he is at the tippity top of our rule of law. Obama has done this again and again, however—with Trayvon Martin… in the Big Branch Mine disaster…as Obamacare approached a key challenge in the Supreme Court…in the military sex abuse scandal…regarding Arizona’s illegal immigration laws, and regarding other matters. He has to know by now that it biases the process, but his supporters cheer, the news media makes excuses, only Republicans, the “conservative media” and Ethics Alarms complain, so he keeps doing it anyway. He can get away with it, so he just doesn’t care.
This, however, was special. The same day that the White House admitted that the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s intentional mishandling of official e-mails for her own personal needs–she didn’t want citizens to be able to see her business and political machinations using the Freedom of Information Act—was a criminal investigation, he endorsed Clinton for President in glowing terms.
Fox News’ Chief Washington Correspondent James Rosen asked White House Paid Liar Josh Earnest about the appropriateness of this—heaven forfend that any non-conservative-biased news outlet would ask such an obvious and necessary question, queried “You have other employees of the executive branch, career prosecutors, FBI agents, working this case who have now just heard how the president wants to see this case resolved, in essence. Isn’t there some conflict there?”
“Whether or not the alleged institutional abuses are ultimately proven, the reality is this: A severely ill young man wasted away, smeared in his own feces, under the watchful eyes of multiple health care workers, corrections staff, and other inmates. His death will force no accountability and will bring about no change. The illness from which Jamycheal Mitchell suffered could have been better managed through medication, proper treatment, and simple respect. The illness that allows the rest of us to jail great masses of dangerously sick people and mistreat them until they die? It is increasingly seeming to be untreatable and incurable.”
—-Slate’s legal pundit Dahlia Lithwick, writing about the case of 24-year-old Jamycheal Mitchell, who was found dead in his cell at Hampton Roads (Virginia) Regional Jail in Virginia.
Jamycheal Mitchell: Almost nobody thinks his life mattered.
There is a $60 million lawsuit being filed by Jamycheal Mitchell’s family over his death as a result of an astounding combination of incompetence and negligence. Mitchell suffered from schizophrenia and a bipolar disorder, and was arrested four months prior to his death for stealing a can of Mountain Dew, a Snickers bar, and a Zebra Cake from a 7-Eleven. He was allowed to waive counsel despite his mental and emotional impairments, and bail was set at $3,000 for stealing less than five dollars worth of junk food. A judge twice ordered him moved to a state mental health hospital, but no beds were available, so he was allowed to languish, and starve to death, in jail.
The videotape of his last days in prison were also erased forever, because, officials say, they didn’t show anything irregular. I was asked if this qualified as spoliation, the intentional and illegal destruction of evidence when a court proceeding is looming or and investigation is underway. No, because spoliation can only take place when a legal proceeding is inevitable or in process, and also because government institutions are remarkably unlikely to ever be held to account for the practice. This was not technically spoliation, because there was no legal proceeding yet, though one could have been predicted by an idiot. Similarly, Hillary Clinton destroying 0ver 30,000 supposedly “purely personal” emails before they could be demanded by a Senate Committee (and hearings are not legal proceeding) were not technically spoliation. Ethically, it is a distinction without a difference.