grand jury

Something About Sam Nunberg

#DimensionTrump | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Special Counsel Robert Mueller (AP Photo)

“Let him arrest me. Mr. Mueller should understand I am not going in on Friday.”

Sam Nunberg

This is, y’know, one of those things. Josh Daswey brings the lede for the Washington Post:

Sam Nunberg. (Photo: Uncredited)Former Trump aide Sam Nunberg said Monday that he has been subpoenaed to appear in front of a federal grand jury investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election but that he will refuse to go.

In a nutshell, Mr. Nunberg’s rationale runs, approximately, that “Putin is too smart to collude with Trump”, “I’m not spending eighty hours going over my emails”, and, “there is nobody who hates [Donald Trump] more than me”.

Constitutional precedent is, admittedly, unclear on these points, but still, we might expect such arguments will fail to suffice. Still, though, the impressively unimpressive Nunberg did say, “Let him arrest me.”

____________________

Image note: Top — Special Counsel Robert Mueller (AP Photo)  Right — Sam Nunberg (Photo: Unknown)

Dawsey, Josh. “Former Trump aide Sam Nunberg called before grand jury, says he will refuse to go”. The Washington Post. 5 March 2018.

Advertisements

What Rosenstein Said

#PutiPoodle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testifies to the House Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., 13 December 2017. (Photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Via Bloomberg:

Beyond the 13 people indicted, Mueller announced the Feb. 12 guilty plea of a California man for identity theft, Richard Pinedo, who is cooperating with prosecutors. The indictment of Russian individuals and companies also suggests a broader conspiracy than Mueller charged, saying grand jurors heard about others involved in the scheme.

Richard Painter, who was the chief ethics adviser in the George W. Bush administration, said the lack of any evidence of collusion in the indictment wasn’t the final word by prosecutors.

“They’re charging what they know,” he said. “The contact with the Trump campaign might be unwitting in this case, but that doesn’t mean that the collaboration issue is finished.”

Now, just to make certain: We should probably bear in mind that neither, really is the question of this or that contact being unwitting truly closed. It seems a tawdry hair to split, except there is also the part about how—

This “information warfare” by the Russians didn’t affect the outcome of the presidential election, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told reporters. Trump and his Republican supporters have repeatedly denounced the Mueller investigation as a “witch hunt” and have denied any collusion. The indictment cites no instances of Russians coordinating directly with the Trump campaign.

—and this is important: Rosenstein did not say the information warfare “didn’t affect the outcome of the presidential election”.

(more…)

The Conservative Lesson

David Daleiden, of Center for Medical Progress.  Detail of photo by Charles Ommanney, ca. 2015.

A question arises: Is self-harm ever funny?

Certes, there are complications to the question; obviously, it is harder to justify self-harm if one also hurts others along the way, but here we’re not talking about going on a slashing spree amid a cutting habit. This one falls more under inspiring terrorists while wrecking your life for the sake of your own stupid masculinity.

Never mind.

Yesterday morning, via USA Today:

The videos show Planned Parenthood’s senior leadership partaking in a widespread and organized violation of state and federal laws forbidding partial-birth abortions and profiteering from the sale of fetal organs and tissues, which is why multiple state and federal investigations, including a select committee in Congress, continue to investigate Planned Parenthood’s abortion practice and financial interests in harvesting body parts. Contrary to the liberal shibboleth that the videos were “edited” (by which they mean to insinuate, “doctored”), the Center for Medical Progress has been far more transparent than any major news network in making the unedited conversations available to the public, and forensic analysis verifies their utility as evidence.

David Daleiden penned an op-ed in defense of his Center for Medical Progress, which is perhaps more familiar as the right-wing operation that doctored up some videos that succeeded in causing a ruckus. Congress held hearings, then slated some more because the first round was such a disaster. A terrorist murdered three people, wounded several more. Eleven states have investigated the infamous claims against Planned Parenthood, and all eleven have cleared the organization. In Texas, officials even convened a grand jury.

So Daleiden decided to … what? Pitch his case one last time? Rub it in? Set up for his victory lap?

That was Monday morning. A few hours later, Daleiden and co-conspirator Sandra Merritt got the news:

A Houston jury investigating alleged misconduct by Planned Parenthood declined to charge the women’s health provider, announcing instead felony charges for the leaders of the anti-abortion organization that targeted Planned Parenthood with it’s widely debunked series of “sting” videos in 2015.

The grand jury said they did not find evidence of illegal activity on the part of Planned Parenthood after reviewing the covert videos meant to misleadingly implicate the women’s health provider in the illegal trafficking of fetal tissue ....

.... David Daleiden, the 26-year old president of The Center for Medical Progress, and Sandra Merritt, founder and CEO of the fake tissue procurement company created to misleadingly gain entry into abortion clinics, were indicted for “tampering with a governmental record,” while Daleiden received an additional indictment for “the purchase and sale of human organs.” The first charge is a second degree felony and the second is a Class A misdemeanor. As the Houston Chronicle notes, a second-degree felony carries a punishment of up to 20 years in prison.

(Tesfaye)

They did this to themselves.

(more…)

An Indictment in Texas

Ken Paxton speaks after he was sworn in as the Texas attorney general, Monday 5 January 2015, in Austin, Texas.  (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

It really is a strange tale, one notable not so much for public corruption or the fact of it being a Texas Republican, but rather for its bizarre dimensions, the twenty-first century imagining a dystopic marriage of convenience ‘twixt Mack Sennet and Rube Goldberg.

Or something like that. Sam Levine brings the update for Huffington Post:

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) has been indicted by a grand jury, multiple outlets reported on Saturday.

The indictments were handed down on Tuesday and will be unsealed Monday. Paxton faces three felony charges: two counts of first-degree securities fraud and a third-degree charge of failing to register with the state securities board ....

So, yeah. That’s going on.

____________________

Image note: Ken Paxton speaks after he was sworn in as the Texas attorney general, Monday 5 January 2015, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Levine, Sam. “Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton Indicted”. The Huffington Post. 1 August 2015.

Another Texas Scandal

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, in undated photo from Dallas Morning News.

The explanation from Reuters is simpler:

Special prosecutors will ask a Texas grand jury as early as this month to indict the state’s attorney general on first-degree felony charges for suspected securities laws violations, one of the prosecutors said on Thursday.

A spokesman for Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican who came to office earlier this year with strong Tea Party support, was not immediately available for comment.

“There is evidence that needs to be presented to the grand jury about a couple of different violations. One of which that they will have to determine is if securities fraud was present,” said attorney Kent Schaffer, appointed to investigate the suspected violations.

(Herskovitz)

(more…)

Unfortunately Requisite

USflag-detail-bw

Walking through the filth in the streets made me want to retch, but I hid it. Anyway, we all know Easterners are filthy, right? Look at how they live. Never mind that they can’t use sorcery to keep their neighborhoods clean the way Dragaerans do. If they want to use sorcery, they can become citizens of the Empire by moving into the country and becoming Teckla, or buying titles in the Jhereg. Don’t want to be serfs? They’re stubborn, too, aren’t they? Don’t have the money to buy titles? Of course not! Who’d give them a good job, seeing how filthy they are?

―Steven Brust, Yendi

Every once in a while, our friends show their (ahem!) “true colors”. Today it took the form of a post coming across a social media feed, one of those whining articles about, “Look! A black person committed a crime! And the victim was white! Where’s the racist Obama! What’s the matter with that racist Al Sharpton! Waaaaaaah!”

And no, we are not impressed. The following is a list of questions these people are skipping:

• Were the suspects arrested? (Yes.)

• Were the suspects charged with a crime? (Yes.)

• Were the suspects charged by a prosecutor directly or through grand jury indictment? (Prosecutor.)

• Why were the suspects not indicted by a grand jury?

• Why did the prosecutor not call them to testify on their own behalf at the grand jury investigation?

• Why did the prosecutor not call a string of witnesses with the intention of undermining his own case?

• Why did the prosecutor not falsely inform the jury of what the law says?

• Where are the lines of “law-abiding” people demanding due process for the accused?

And, certes, we might note that some questions can be answered according to the circumstance described in other answers. Why did the prosecutor not do this or that at the grand jury hearing? Because there was none. Why was there none? Because the prosecutor has the discretion to file charges on his own. Why did he do that? Because, under the circumstances, he could.

And, actually, that’s what it looks like for the vast majority of people accused of crimes, even those indicted by grand juries.

And that, in turn, is why the federal government is involved.

But wait … there’s more!

(more…)

Your United States of America

Detail of cartoon by Brian McFadden, 3 December 2014, via Daily Kos Comics.There are days when it absolutely sucks to be an American. Most days you can cheer yourself up by saying, “At least I’m not in Afghanistan!” Or Iraq. Or … well, yeah, that’s the thing, isn’t it?

Here’s the thing about that, the unspoken cheer-your-sorry-ass-up reality about life in the United States: Of course it could be worse. I could be black!

That ain’t gonna help our African-American neighbors cheer up, though. And, in truth, it shouldn’t cheer anyone, period.

A friend of mine noted, via Facebook, that now we’re going to see what a real riot looks like in the wake of a grand jury’s decision to not indict the blue-clad beast that killed Eric Garner. In truth, we should probably hope for a different approach; riots don’t seem to make the point. Then again, perhaps that is the point. The Huffington Post ran with the splash headline, “Strangler Cop Walks”, and perhaps there was a time when this would seem outrageous to suit-and-tie, church-going, patriotic Americans. That is to say, how dare anyone speak ill of the police, or something like that.

But the institutions of law have created extraordinary protection for homicidal law enforcement. Killer cops don’t really need an excuse. After all, as we learned in Missouri, being afraid of black people is a reason for a cop to shoot a black person.

Let us be blunt: When it’s two idiots calling themselves “New Black Panthers” plotting to hit the cops, or an ex-con gunning down badges in a coffee shop, it is easy for people to back even the worst of law enforcement officers. But just how much do our police officers think they can get away with before others decide it’s time to take up arms in defense against cops? And just how ugly do you think that will or won’t be?

(more…)

Offensive, Maybe, In Which Case Just Deal With It

Detail of 'This Modern World' by Tom Tomorrow, 1 December 2014, via Daily Kos Comics.I would like, if I may, to ask that you imagine a simple scene. Everyday Americana. A parking lot, for instance.

There is nothing unusual about parking lots in these United States. Indeed, we hear of them here, there, and everywhere, along roadsides and outside of stores. Even gun stores, like this one. And in this particular parking lot there is a car. And in this car is a seven year-old boy.

At least, he was a seven year-old boy.

Until his father shot him to death, allegedly by accident through negiligence, with a handgun illegally in his possession.

And you know, we’re not going to charge that guy with any crime. He’s suffered enough.

Yes, really. Same country as the one where they shoot black men to death for looking like black men scary, a word that here means “not white enough”.

It’s the best criminal defense in the history of America: I swear in good faith I thought he’s a dirty nigger come’a kill me! And, you know, dead guy’s black, so what spiked grand jury is going to indict?

____________________

Tomorrow, Tom. “Black and White”. This Modern World. Daily Kos Comics. 1 December 2014.

“What Happened in Ferguson?” The New York Times. 25 November 2014.

Something About Justice

Detail of cartoon by Matt Wuerker, 27 November 2014 (via Daily Kos Comics)This is what it comes to. This is the problem. And no, it is not so simple as black and white.

Jenny Durkan, formerly a U.S. Attorney from Seattle, offered some insights recently, in the wake of the Ferguson Grand Jury decision to not charge Officer Darren Wilson with any crimes related to the shooting death of Michael Brown, about why it is hard to secure any sense of justice when police officers have the appearance of being criminals. “I know firsthand,” she writes, “how difficult it is to prosecute police officers.” And then she recounts a really awful period in the history of the Seattle Police Department, a force whose misconduct demanded and received federal attention, a story that is still playing out, a hyperdrama that includes the police complaining that they cannot do their jobs properly and safely without excessive force.

There comes a point at which some might argue that of course the police are going to fight for every last scrap of force, and it really is properly arguable in the context of how the laws of our society operate and intermingle with diverse customs. Trying to identify a threshold between what is tacitly known and accepted—officers can customize their incident reports, omitting or rearranging details as they please to make for a more prosecutable narrative, and the state is allowed to destroy the evidence that would support or contradict those narratives—is an abstraction both peculiar and common. It is customarily inappropriate to speak ill of the police in any terms, which is its own bizarre question insofar as we should not hold our breath for any explanation of just how one applies to become black.

(more…)

“Post-Racial” America

Sometimes the narrative is simply undeniable:

Seldom in Barack Obama’s presidency has he looked quite so impotent as he did last night, pleading from a podium in the White House for calm while the cable news split screens showed clouds of tear gas enveloping the streets of Ferguson, Missouri. He repeated the same themes as every time he has spoken about this subject — people have legitimate grievances but there’s no excuse for violence, we’ve come a long way but we have a ways to go, and so on. It never rang more hollow.

President Barack Obama delivers a statement to the press regarding the Ferguson, Missouri grand jury decision, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Nov. 24, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)But what should he have said? Obama never actually promised to bind up the nation’s racial wounds — that was a hope others placed upon him, far too naively. Even before taking office, Obama found that no matter how hard he tried to be unthreatening, to incorporate different perspectives into his rhetoric, and to stress what Americans share, many of his opponents would never see him as anything but an agent of racial vengeance. No matter what he did, whether passing an economic stimulus or reforming health care, some would spin a story of race around it, one in which whites were under threat.

If anyone ever thought that with little more than the power of his example Obama could mitigate racial resentments, let alone fray the institutional ligaments of racism, they were quickly disabused of those ideas. His presidency has seen an extraordinary backlash against racial progress, from the Supreme Court to the statehouse, where affirmative action is dismantled, the Voting Rights Act is gutted, one Republican legislature after another passes laws to make it harder for people (mostly minorities) to vote, and conservatives are told again and again that they are the racial victims whose problems are the fault of the black president coming after them because of the color of their skin.

(Waldman)

And this is where we’re at. In America. In the twenty-first century.

____________________

Waldman, Paul. “Barack Obama, Ferguson, and racial wounds unhealed”. The Washington Post. 25 November 2014.

Holst, Lindsay. “President Obama Delivers a Statement on the Ferguson Grand Jury’s Decision”. The White House. 24 November 2014.