Showing posts with label Dept of Justice-Injustice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dept of Justice-Injustice. Show all posts

November 10, 2018

Anti Gay Matt Whittaker Prosecuted Gay Law Maker For 2 yrs The Jury Acquitted in 2hrs.

                                Image result for Matthew Whitaker

Before the feds' case against state Sen. Matt McCoy went to the jury last week, the prosecutor made an appeal. Referring to her star witness, she told jurors, "The government is not asking that you take Tom Vasquez home with you for Christmas. We're just asking that you consider his testimony."
A good thing, too. Vasquez, McCoy's former business associate, was so thoroughly discredited during the nine-day trial that you might not want to share an elevator ride with him — much less take him home.
Which is to say that the federal government's case against an Iowa state senator — a rarity to begin with — was based on the word of a man former associates depicted as a drug user, a deadbeat and an abuser of women; a man so shady even his Alcoholics Anonymous sponsors called him "a pathological liar."
Not surprisingly, it took a Des Moines jury less than two hours to acquit McCoy.
But even if the outcome is the right one, the outrage is that the federal government would pour two years and all sorts of taxpayer money ($2,600 of which went right into Vasquez's pocket) into building a case over a private business dispute.
Why would the federal government contact, wire and pay an informant without checking him out — or, worse, despite knowing he was disreputable? It has all the earmarks of a politically motivated witch hunt.
The indictment accused McCoy of attempting to extort money from Vasquez's employer, Security Plus, by using his position as a lawmaker to threaten the company with economic harm. But the jury believed McCoy's version, that as a consultant to Security Plus who was helping to create demand for its QuietCare product, he was due a commission of $100 for each system sold. Vasquez in court acknowledged offering the same commission to others.
Matthew Whitaker was previous Jeff Sessions' chief of staff. Sessions submitted his resignation on Wednesday, one day after the 2018 midterm elections. USA TODAY
McCoy threatened to form a competing company if he wasn't paid. Vasquez told police that McCoy also threatened to use his political influence to ensure Security Plus wouldn't be a Medicaid vendor.
The feds got wind of this, contacted Vasquez and wired him to tape conversations with McCoy. Vasquez and his boss then paid McCoy about $2,000 of the government's money, which was the basis of the extortion attempt allegation.
Any time a public official conducts private business with a government entity (e.g. Medicaid), it has potential ethical pitfalls. McCoy claimed he sought and was given approval from Senate officials. The ethics rules may need amending. But that's not the point.
The U.S attorney general's office is already under investigation for firing federal prosecutors who wouldn't allow themselves to be used as political pawns for the administration. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales resigned in August over it.
McCoy is a Democrat. Matthew Whitaker, the U.S. attorney who launched the case, is a Bush-appointed Republican. McCoy is openly gay. Whitaker has ties to the evangelical Christian community. McCoy's lawyers have charged that the grand-jury process resulting in an indictment against McCoy was tainted because prosecutors selectively played jurors portions of taped conversations.
And then there are the conflicting stories about payments made to Vasquez as an informant. Asked by McCoy's defense if he was paid, an assistant U.S. attorney, Mary Luxa, said he wasn't. But memos later showed not only that he was paid but that Luxa authorized the payments.
In a Des Moines radio interview in March, Whitaker spoke of his priorities as a federal prosecutor: "We're trying to protect the people, the children and our way of life..." he said. "We're trying to take the worst of the worst and put them in federal prison..."
This is the worst of the worst?
McCoy's defense tried to get access to memos between the FBI, Justice Department and local U.S. attorney's office, but was turned down in U.S. District Court. His lawyers wanted to see whether anything indicated a political motivation. There's nothing else they can do, says attorney F. Montgomery Brown. "Prosecutors have near absolute immunity. There's just no remedy there."
There is one, but it would have to come from a member of Congress. Sens. Tom Harkin or Chuck Grassley can and should request access to the correspondence. Voters and taxpayers deserve to know whether this was just a poorly conceived and badly bungled effort by the government — or whether something else was going on.
Rekha Basu is an opinion columnist for The Des Moines Register. Contact: Follow her on Twitter @RekhaBasu and at Her book, "Finding Her Voice: A collection of Des Moines Register columns about women's struggles and triumphs in the Midwest," is available at

October 20, 2018

Justice Dept Rank and File Have A Beef of Discontent Over Sessions Ideology Instead of Fairness on The Law

The New York Times

During his 20 months in office, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has swept in perhaps the most dramatic political shift in memory at the Justice Department, from the civil rights-centered agenda of the Obama era to one that favors his hard-line conservative views on immigration, civil rights and social issues.

Now, discontent and infighting have taken hold at the Justice Department, in part because Mr. Sessions was so determined to carry out that transformation that he ignored dissent, at times putting the Trump administration on track to lose in court and prompting high-level departures, according to interviews over several months with two dozen current and former career department lawyers who worked under Mr. Sessions. Most asked not to be named for fear of retribution.

President Trump has exacerbated the dynamic, they said, by repeatedly attacking Mr. Sessions and the Justice Department in baldly political and personal terms. And he has castigated rank-and-file employees, which career lawyers said further chilled dissent and debate within the department.

The people interviewed — many yearslong department veterans, and a third of whom worked under both the Bush and Obama administrations — said that their concerns extended beyond any political differences they might have had with Mr. Sessions, who is widely expected to leave his post after November’s midterm elections.

“Since I’ve been a lawyer, going back to the late 1970s, I can’t recall a time when morale has been as low as I have heard from some former colleagues,” said Robert Litt, a former Justice Department official during the Clinton administration.

A department spokeswoman, Sarah Isgur Flores, said that Mr. Sessions and other senior law enforcement officials were committed to the department’s mission of upholding the rule of law, and that they had heard no complaints about that.

“We know of no department employee who is opposed to policies that uphold the rule of law and protect the American people — which are precisely the policies that this department has implemented and embraced,” Ms. Flores said in a statement.

Driven by Ideology
Mr. Sessions’s shift in the department’s priorities reflected Mr. Trump’s campaign promises to be tough on crime and crack down on illegal immigration, much as former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. took office in 2009 with a mandate to realize President Barack Obama’s vision on civil rights
Ms. Flores called Mr. Sessions’s changes “vital to reducing violent crime,” combating the opioid epidemic and securing borders.

The Justice Department’s effort to crack down on sanctuary cities through the courts has been met with protests, here in Sacramento in June.
Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

But Trump appointees ignored the legal advice of career lawyers in implementing their agenda, four current Justice Department employees said.

In one instance, Mr. Sessions directly questioned a career lawyer, Stephen Buckingham, who was asked to find ways to file a lawsuit to crack down on sanctuary laws protecting undocumented immigrants. Mr. Buckingham, who had worked at the Justice Department for about a decade, wrote in a brief that he could find no legal grounds for such a case.
Reminding Mr. Buckingham of the attorney general’s bona fides as an immigration hard-liner, Mr. Sessions asked him to come to a different conclusion, according to three people who worked alongside Mr. Buckingham in the federal programs division and were briefed on the exchange.

To Mr. Buckingham’s colleagues, the episode was an example of Mr. Sessions stifling dissent and opening the department to losses in court.
Mr. Buckingham resigned a few months later, and Mr. Sessions got his lawsuit. A federal judge dismissed most of the case, and the department has appealed. Both Mr. Buckingham and Ms. Flores declined to comment on the episode.

In stripping protections last year for transgender people under the Civil Rights Act, Mr. Sessions consulted no departmental experts, leaving out Diana Flynn, the head of the civil rights appellate division who led the effort to add the protections in 2014, and many of her career staff.

The process left little room for debate. “Edicts came down, and it was up to us to try to implement them,” said Ms. Flynn, who has left the Justice Department for Lambda Legal, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender legal aid organization.

Similarly, a flare-up over the Affordable Care Act this summer occurred after the department’s political leaders urged a judge to find unconstitutional two of the law’s key elements, a reversal of the government’s longstanding position. 

“This is a rare case where the proper course is to forgo defense” of existing law, Mr. Sessions said at the time, adding that Mr. Trump had approved the step. Three career lawyers withdrew from the case, including Joel McElvain, a 27-year department veteran, who made headlines by resigning in protest. 

After more than an hour, the officials running the meeting said they understood the employees’ concerns and simply encouraged them to continue doing good work.     

Attorneys general have long confronted resistance when they implement ideological initiatives that career lawyers view as outside the Justice Department’s mission.
During the Bush administration under Alberto R. Gonzales, the department formed a task force to crack down on pornography; investigators focused on only a small swath of the most egregious examples.

When political appointees under Mr. Holder wanted to abandon the government’s defense of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” Jody Hunt, a well-regarded career attorney, argued successfully that the department had a legal duty to defend it.

Mr. Sessions is not bound to follow the advice of career Justice Department lawyers, “and, if he doesn’t like recommendations, to ignore them,” Mr. Litt said. “But it would be inappropriate to ask people to tailor legal judgments to policy preferences.”

Without directly addressing the department’s positions on transgender rights or the Affordable Care Act, Ms. Flores noted that its reversals on workplace arbitration, voting rights, labor unions and the appointments of federal officials were validated by wins at the Supreme Court.

Trump’s Shadow
Mr. Trump has stoked much of the unease at the Justice Department. He assailed the prosecutors who won a conviction of his former campaign chairman, and he attacked the plea agreement struck with his longtime personal lawyer. He castigated Mr. Sessions for not investigating perceived White House enemies — drawing a rare rebuke from the attorney general — and for daring to pursue cases against Republican lawmakers.

Frequently targeted Rod J. Rosenstein, who as deputy attorney general oversees the day-to-day operations at the department as well as the special counsel investigation. In a turnabout this month, Mr. Trump declared his relationship with Mr. Rosenstein good, to the relief of some federal prosecutors. To them, Mr. Rosenstein’s office symbolizes the department’s independence because he oversees its inquiries into the president and his inner circle.

More unnerving, employees said, was the president’s threat to remove the security clearance of Bruce Ohr, a civil servant who worked to combat Russian mobs and oligarchs. The message, said one lawyer in the criminal division: Doing your job can make you vulnerable to a career-ending attack.

Two former attorneys said that they stepped away from Russia-related work as a result.
“The underlying message from Trump is that department employees are either enemies of the White House or vassals doing its bidding,” said Norman L. Eisen, who served as special counsel for ethics and government reform under Mr. Obama. Mr. Eisen is co-counsel for the plaintiffs in a lawsuit accusing Mr. Trump of violating the Constitution by maintaining a stake in his hotel in Washington.

As a target of Mr. Trump’s high-profile rebukes, Mr. Sessions has gained cautious support even from some rank-and-file lawyers who find his culture wars zeal distasteful. They cited instances where he pushed back on Mr. Trump’s broadsides and his simply enduring months of presidential invective.

Empty Spots
Internal events intended to boost morale have also proved tense. Guy Benson, a Fox News commentator, was chosen to speak at a gay pride event over the objections of the department’s L.G.B.T. affinity group, DOJ Pride, Justice Department lawyers said.
DOJ Pride members held a separate event, where one employee spoke about how progress for L.G.B.T. Americans had regressed under Mr. Trump. Department officials would not comment on the episode.

Some of the lawyers interviewed also said that departures of respected leaders and longtime career lawyers has weakened morale. Besides Ms. Flynn, Mr. McElvain and Mr. Buckingham, others who left included Doug Letter, the head of the civil appellate branch, and David Laufman, the chief of the counterintelligence section.

“Any given person wants to spend more time with his family,” said Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and critic of Mr. Trump’s attacks on law enforcement who has heard complaints from department lawyers. “But the sudden decision by large numbers of people to spend more time with their families is a creation of the atmosphere.”
Days after the health law brief was filed, a long-planned happy hour for former and current federal programs lawyers took on the feeling of a support group, according to people who attended. Gathered at an Irish pub near the Justice Department, colleagues told Mr. McElvain they were sorry that he was leaving but that they admired his decision.
Some maligned the Trump administration or poked fun at Mr. Sessions. But when political appointees joined the conversation, the career lawyers, worried about being pegged as dissenters, shifted the discussion to more neutral topics

August 12, 2018

Trump Blasts Sessions as "Scared Stiff and MIA"


President Trump on Saturday blasted Attorney General Jeff Sessions for being "scared stiff and Missing in Action" in a tweet series questioning if there will be an Inspector General report about the Steele dossier, Steele's meetings with former Deputy Attorney General, Bruce Ohr and Ohr's wife, Nellie Ohr.  
....Do you believe Nelly worked for Fusion and her husband STILL WORKS FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF “JUSTICE.” I have never seen anything so Rigged in my life. Our A.G. is scared stiff and Missing in Action. It is all starting to be revealed - not pretty. IG Report soon? Witch Hunt!

Behind the scenes: Sessions doesn't use Twitter and has no TV in his office. Sources who work for him tell Axios' Jonathan Swan he tries as best he can to tune out Trump's attacks. They seemed to genuinely bother him at first but over time aides said it appeared he'd grown desensitized to them. If Sessions has thought again about resigning — early on he wrote a resignation letter for Trump and it was rejected — he's kept very close-lipped about it.
President Donald Trump on Saturday publicly excoriated his attorney general in a series of tweets about the Russian investigation, describing Jeff Sessions as “scared stiff and Missing in Action.”
Sessions has recused himself from the investigation into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia. The probe is being overseen by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who hired Special Counsel Robert Mueller after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey last year.
Trump’s latest comments come 10 days after the president sparked a major controversy by criticizing Mueller and publicly stating that Sessions “should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now.” At the time, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders insisted that Trump’s comments did not constitute obstruction of justice and that they were merely the president’s opinion, not orders for Sessions. But Saturday’s tweets make clear that Trump isn’t letting go of the matter and that he remains furious with Sessions for not intervening on his behalf.
Trump’s Saturday tweets are a reference to reports this week that Bruce Ohr, a Department of Justice official involved in the Russia probe in 2016, frequently communicated with Christopher Steele—the former British spy and author of the famous dossier—and with Glenn Simpson, whose firm Fusion GPS hired Steele on behalf of Democrats. Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr—who Trump for some reason referred as “his beautiful wife, Nelly”—worked for Fusion.
This was the second Twitter fusillade that Trump fired at the Justice Department Saturday. Earlier in the day, Trump threatened “to get involved” to force the FBI to hand over the text messages of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who Sessions fired earlier this year. 
Mother Jones

May 3, 2018

Senator Accuses A.G.Sessions of Colluding with Texas to Rid of DACA

 Jeff Sessions Campaigning for Trump '16 and he still trying to make the boss happy '18

Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois is accusing Jeff Sessions of doing some collusion—with the state of Texas.
More specifically, Durbin alleged that Sessions is completely throwing the federal government’s DACA case because he wants reactionary state governments suing the federal government to end the program—namely Texas and its attorney general, Ken Paxton, who filed another lawsuit yesterday to force the federal government to stop issuing permits—to win. Duh. 
In a letter to Sessions dated today, Durbin wrote:
“Yesterday, the State of Texas and six other states filed suit against the Trump Administration challenging the legality of DACA and seeking an injunction to “phase out” the program. This lawsuit again raises serious unanswered questions about whether the Trump Administration is conspiring with Texas and other states to undermine DACA.”
In fact, you have publicly supported the states’ threat to challenge DACA. For example, in a June 30 interview, you said, ‘I’ve got to tell you, I like it that our states and localities are holding the federal government to account, expecting us to do what is our responsibility to the state and locals, and that’s to enforce the law.’ I cannot recall the Attorney General of the United States ever welcoming a threat to sue the President.
Durbin also cites an exchange he had with Sessions last October:
On October 18, 2017, at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, I asked you, “Did you have any communication with the Attorney Generals threatening to bring lawsuits to DACA before the decision was made?” You replied, “That kind of legal discussion I believe would be part of the work product of the attorney general office and I should not reveal it.” I then asked you, “You are saying …that communication is privileged? That you had a communication with the Texas Attorney General about the threatened lawsuit against DACA before the Administration’s announcement?” You responded, “…That is correct. I will review it. If I feel it’s appropriate for me to reveal to you, I will do so.” 
That was more than six months ago, and I have not received any follow-up communications from the Justice Department. As you know, there is no recognized legal privilege between adversaries in potential litigation. And [Texas] Attorney General [Ken] Paxton has acknowledged that his office did communicate with the Trump Administration about the threatened litigation, saying “we had some back and forth conversations” before sending the June 2017 letter.
Sessions has never kept his opposition to DACA a secret. “This unilateral executive amnesty, among other things, contributed to a surge of minors at the southern border that yielded terrible humanitarian consequences and it denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same illegal aliens to take those jobs,” Sessions said at the September 5, 2017 press conference where he announced that DACA would end. “The compassionate thing is to do is end the lawlessness...We cannot admit everyone who would like to come here. It’s just that simple.” 
Furthermore, the DOJ also asked the Supreme Court to intervene in Januaryafter the first of three district court judges ruled that the administration had to keep the program going.
Durbin’s letter doesn’t make it clear whether or not he can actually force Sessions to hand over the communications he’s asking for. Regardless, the Trump administration has a more immediate problem regarding DACA right now: last week, a D.C. district court judge who was appointed by George W. Bush demanded that the administration produce a better rationale for ending the program within 90 days or else he’d restore the program in full.

Night Editor, Splinter

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