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FBI’s Comey, Martha Stewart, and the Richmond African-American Minister

April 15th, 2018 No comments

Comey is such a slimeball. In his “Higher Royalties” interview tonight, he said he charged Martha Stewart for lying because:

“I remembered a case I’d been involved in against an African American minister in Richmond when I was a federal prosecutor there, who had lied to us during an investigation. And I begged this minister, “Please don’t lie to us because if you do, we’re going to have to prosecute you.” He lied. And at the end of the day, we had to prosecute him. And he went to jail for over a year. And as I stood in my office in Manhattan, I’m looking out at the Brooklyn Bridge, I remember this moment. And I’m thinking, “You know, nobody in New York knows that guy’s name except me.

“Why would I treat Martha Stewart differently than that guy?” And the reason would only be because she’s rich and famous and because I’ll be criticized for it.”

Actually, he was criticized because in the Martha Stewart case it turned out no underlying crime had been committed, so it looked like he was just out to get a famous person’s scalp for the “lying to the FBI” charge rather than just end the investigation. Read more…

Categories: crime, Justice Dept. Tags:

Mueller’s Indictment of the 13 Russians: Huffing and Puffing with No Substance

February 19th, 2018 No comments

I am disturbed by the Mueller indictment of the 13 Russians. Some of what disturbs me may be not knowing legal procedure well enough, in which case I hope somebody tells me. This will help focus my thoughts.

What Mueller has done is indict 13 Russians, all in Russia so they are safe from arrest and the case will never come to trial, of (1) conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, and (2) wire fraud.  He does not indict them for violations of election law. He does spend 37 pages making allegations of behavior by the Russians, but how they relate to the crimes they’re accused of is often unclear. Read more…

Categories: crime, Justice Dept., law, liberals Tags:

Reforming the FISA Court: A Second Post on the Public Defender Idea

February 13th, 2018 2 comments

On February 7, I blogged on how to reform FISA procedure, suggesting (a) public defenders, and (b) preventing the FBI from getting to pick the judge they want.  Later I came across Judge Reggie Walton’s 11-page letter  (with the FISA rules as an appendix) written  in 2013 to Congress to let them know how the court worked. It’s must reading for anybody opining on the Carter Page scandal. What I learned from it is that (a) the judges do have staff attorneys that take a hard look at the FBI applications for search warrants, (b) the court works with the FBI to narrow down warrants to where they’re appropriate (which is one reason hardly any get rejected—lots get modified before approval), and (c) it looks to me as if the FBI can indeed cherry pick judges.

(1) Here is my proposal. Read more…

Categories: crime, judges, Justice Dept. Tags:

Is the FISA Court Worse Than Nothing?

February 7th, 2018 No comments

4th Amendment expert Professor Orin Kerr tweets:

“American Greatness blog: Every govt official involved in the Page FISA application should be jailed for their crimes (what crimes, who knows, that isn’t mentioned). Then Congress should repeal FISA so there is no judicial check on surveillance.” (Wut?)

He’s right to have that reaction. Angelo Codevilla’s article, “Jail the Guilty, Repeal FISA,” is sloppily written, and seems stupid at first reading. After some thought, though, I think Codevilla may be right.  So let’s see if we can explain his idea better.  Read more…

Categories: crime, judges, Justice Dept., law. politics Tags:

Comment on Orin Kerr on the FISA Memo’s Fraudulence

February 1st, 2018 No comments

From Volokh Conspiracy (and Lawfare), Professor Kerr writes:

This is a scandal, the argument runs, because it means the application was fraudulent. Because Steele was funded by Democrats, his reports were just unreliable opposition research designed to make Trump and his associates look bad. And if the FISA application was based on Steele’s unreliable research, and DOJ never told that to the FISA Court, then DOJ misled the court and the court should not have issued the warrant.

As a Fourth Amendment nerd, it seems to me that the premise of #ReleaseTheMemo is pretty dubious. The apparent idea is that the failure to adequately document the funding behind Steele’s work is a huge deal and a fraud on the court. But as a matter of law, that seems pretty unlikely to me. When federal judges have faced similar claims in litigation, they have mostly rejected them out of hand. And when courts have been receptive to such claims, it has been because of specific facts that are likely outside the scope of the memo that will be released.

 

Prof. Kerr misses the elephant in the room, in two senses.

In the first, sense, the elephant is the omnipresent in 4th Amendment Law: the law protects only criminals, not innocent people, from illegal searches.  It does this by limiting relief to the police not being able to use what they find in court, which is unnecessary if they never intend to indict you.

In the second, more specific,  sense  the elephant is that the purpose of the warrant wasn’t to investigate a crime, it was to be able to spy on the Attorney-General’s political enemies.

This is more than a little relevant. In every case cited in the post, the police had no motive to use informants they thought were totally unreliable. Why bother to do the search if you think it’s not going to find anything? That provides a powerful reason for courts to presume (rebuttably) good faith on the part of the police, and give weight to their local knowledge and expertise. In the Steele dossier case, the FBI had a motive to get the wiretap even if it knew 100% the informant was unreliable, because their Democratic bosses could use the wiretap anyway (and quite likely the FBI civil service bosses were anti-Trump too, as we now know).

Categories: crime, judges, Justice Dept., law, law professors Tags:

The Steele Dossier, Flynn, 18 U.S.C. 1001 (the Martha Stewart Law) and How To Reform “Materially”

January 6th, 2018 No comments

   Byron York has a good article in the Washington Examiner on what it means for the Senate to refer the Steele dossier for criminal investigation by the FBI— basically, that Steele lied to the FBI to get it to investigate imaginary happenings, which is a crime, and the Senators want the Justice Department to file charges under 18 U.S.C. 1001 or explain why not. 

  Read more…

A fisking of Paul Rosenzweig’s LawFare defense of Mueller against the Trump Transition Letter.

December 19th, 2017 No comments

The pdf file HERE is  a fisking of Paul Rosenzweig’s LawFare defense of Mueller against the Trump Transition Letter.

I got interested in this and have been scanning the web for legal explanations of this kerfuffle, since I am not a lawyer.  There aren’t any good ones. As I said, I’m not a lawyer, but I know a lot of law (I’ve co-authored  numerous scholarly articles with law professors from Indiana, Illinois, UCLA, Chicago, Yale,Tokyo,  and Harvard and I’m the relator in New York ex rel. Eric Rasmusen v. Citigroup). I think I know more law than Mr. Rosenzweig, even though I feel my limitations keenly in this area of law (try me on tax whistleblower law, agency law, or the tax treatment of net operating losses and I’ll do better). So I’ll post this, to better inform the public. Maybe it will encourage real experts to come forward too. I wrote a book on game theory when I was 30 that had lots of mistakes, but it was the first in its field and I did stimulate, I fancy, older and wiser people to write books to improve on mine.

If I have mistakes, please  comment. I see an enormous amount of ignorant and arrogant commenting on these issues on the Internet, though, so please only comment  only if you aren’t just mouthing off. I’ll delete the comment otherwise.

 

The Justice Dept. OLC

April 6th, 2009 No comments

IU law prof Dawn Johnsen has been nominated to be head of the Justice Dept.’s Office of Legal Counsel. A vote on her nomination has been delayed a few weeks by Senate Republicans. The news says this is because they don’t like her extreme pro-abortion views, or that this is part of some haggling over release of old Bush OLC memos. I just came across something else that seems relevant, though. Wikipedia says that the last Bush nominee for this job, Steven G. Bradbury, was nominated in June 2005, approved by the Senate committee five months later, and then was blocked for over three years by Senate Democrats from having a full Senate vote and remained acting but unconfirmed till the Administration ended in January 2009. Is there any payback going on? If so, Prof> Johnsen may have a few years to wait.

Categories: Justice Dept., law, OLC Tags: