Friday, May 31, 2024

Did They Awaken the Sleeping Giant?

Did They Awaken the Sleeping Giant?

AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura

I guess I'm an eternal optimist. Despite all the predictions that the case was unfairly stacked against former President Donald Trump, I was hoping against hope that the jury with the two lawyers on it might be able to traverse the mess that Judge Merchan handed them, make sense of it, and come out with the truth on the other side. 

Unfortunately, that did not happen. 

A man who should not have been charged, let alone convicted, was convicted on Thursday, and it was against everything that we stand for as a nation. As even CNN's Fareed Zakaria acknowledged out loud about two weeks ago, he doubted Trump would have been charged if his name were not Donald Trump. There was so much wrong with the case that even CNN's Jake Tapper questioned its validity. Whatever one thinks of Donald Trump, wherever you stand on the political aisle, someone being wrongly convicted should be an affront to us all. 


BREAKING: Jury Returns Guilty Verdict Against Former President Donald Trump

CNN's Zakaria Has Brief Moment of Clarity – Defends Trump, Calls Hush Money Trial 'Politically Motivated'

WATCH: Even CNN Doesn't Think Prosecution Has Proven Case Against Trump

But beyond the nature of the conviction of the one man is the greater question of what that means and where that leaves us. And in some measure, George Washington Law professor Jonathan Turley's comment encapsulated what I was thinking and feeling. 

I obviously disagree with this verdict as do many others. I believe that the case will be reversed eventually either in the state or federal systems. However, this was the worst expectation for a trial in Manhattan. I am saddened by the result more for the New York legal system than the former president. I had hoped that the jurors might redeem the integrity of a system that has been used for political purposes.

I am sad for him and his family, but this goes far beyond Trump. I think I am mourning what it means for our legal system and our rule of law when you can do this to a political opponent and a former president. It means none of us is safe, that that great principle which has made us special as a nation—equality under the law—died more than a little on Thursday. And that's a horrible thing to ponder. 

Democrats have sacrificed it all on the altar of power and holding onto control. 

Yes, there are a bunch of potential appealable issues, and it may very well be overturned on appeal. And sentence is likely to be stayed pending appeal. But in the meantime, the Democrats have what they wanted: the ability to call Trump a "convicted felon" and the hope that in a close race, this will hurt Trump and hand the race to Biden. The case may be overturned in the future, and some may say then, "Oh, so sorry." But it will be too late for justice and too late for the Republic. And nothing will be the same again. 

There is, of course, only one answer to this: to take the threat of what this means seriously and do all we can to turn Biden out of office on Nov. 5 and to repair the damage that has been done to our system. 

There are signs that this may backfire on the Democrats, with people rushing out to donate to Trump in such numbers as to temporarily overwhelm the system. I'd also like to note the following examples from folks who are now going to vote for Trump because they understand what's at stake. 

I saw many similar posts.

You even have folks who support other candidates like Robert F. Kennedy Jr. being so offended as to donate money to Trump. 

Have they awoken a Sleeping Giant? 

Let us hope so.

For only we can save ourselves. 

Meltdown in Florida

Meltdown in Florida

An extended temper tantrum by one of Special Counsel Jack Smith's prosecutors this week represented the DOJ's frustration at failing to cover-up the dirty details of the imploding documents case.

“I'm going to ask that you just calm down. I understand this is sensitive and it's difficult, but these questions are briefed and they're before the Court.”

So said Judge Aileen Cannon to David Harbach, one of Special Counsel Jack Smith’s lead prosecutors in the government’s espionage and obstruction case against former president Donald Trump, during a hearing on Wednesday. While temperatures spiked outside the federal courthouse in Fort Pierce, Florida throughout the day, so too did the climate inside Cannon’s courtroom. 

The May 22 proceeding, as I explained here, represented the first of a series of hearings that will turn the tables on Smith; Cannon is in effect putting the Department of Justice on trial to account for its corrupt, dirty, and sloppy prosecution into Trump and two co-defendants.

Cannon’s admonishment came after what can only be described as a prolonged meltdown by Harbach after he ranted for several minutes in response to a defense motion seeking to dismiss the case against Waltine Nauta, Trump’s longtime personal valet also charged in the indictment, based on selective and vindictive prosecution. 

At times pounding the podium and clapping his hands in anger to emphasize a point, Harbach, usually the cooler head of the prosecution side, escalated the war of words between Cannon and the special counsel’s team. A longtime DOJ apparatchik having served as former FBI Director James Comey’s special counsel and alongside Smith in the DOJ public integrity unit during the Obama administration, Harbach is used to getting his way before federal judges.

Not this time. Cannon is a slow-moving freight train, systematically and almost to the point of torment exposing every government fault line in the imploding case. 

Just this month alone, Cannon has forced Smith to admit key evidence seized during the 2022 FBI raid of Mar-a-Lago has been bungled and possibly misplaced, contrary to his team’s representations to her.

She continues to authorize the unsealing of motions and exhibits including records the DOJ never thought would see the light of day.

In fact, Harbach’s outburst came less than 24 hours after Trump’s lawyers filed a motion related to the Mar-a-Lago raid, a document Cannon ordered unsealed; the motion, as I reported on Twitter/X Tuesday afternoon as well as here, revealed the stunning news that FBI agents had authority to use deadly force during the nine-hour raid.

The disclosure instantly prompted fury on the Right, leading to a damage-control statement by the FBI several hours later. Attorney General Merrick Garland also addressed the controversy the following day, calling Trump’s claims about a potential assassination, “false and extremely dangerous.” Garland also claimed, without evidence, that the consensual search of Joe Biden’s home for classified documents involved the same authorization for use of force.

Late Friday night, Smith filed a motion asking Cannon to prohibit Trump from making public statements “that pose a significant, imminent, and foreseeable danger to law enforcement agents participating in the investigation and prosecution of this case.”

Will the Public Learn More about a Controversial 2022 Meeting?

But Harbach’s bad behavior in court specifically related to accusations of prosecutorial abuse. Nauta’s attorney, Stanley Woodward, has accused the DOJ of retaliating against Nauta for refusing to flip on Trump and become a cooperating witness. (Nauta faces several charges including conspiring to obstruct the investigation and making false statements.)

Woodward further alleged that Jay Bratt, the other lead DOJ prosecutor, made threats against Woodward during an August 2022 meeting to discuss Nauta’s potential cooperation. Woodward said Bratt noted his pending judicial nomination before the D.C. Superior Court and said something to the effect of “I wouldn’t want you to do anything to mess that up.”

Bratt’s conduct during the meeting is the subject of both a congressional investigation and an Office of Professional Responsibility probe at the DOJ. (The OPR inquiry is on hold pending resolution of the classified documents case.) Woodward wants all records and communications about the meeting given to the defense—something Cannon appears inclined to do.

Which sent Harbach over the edge.

Calling Woodward’s account of the meeting a “fantasy,” Harbach blasted Woodward’s “garbage” argument for dismissing the case. “This is no way to run a railroad,” Harbach, perhaps ignorant to the irony of using that particular word, told Cannon for her allowing Woodward to discuss at length his allegations about the meeting.

When Cannon inquired as to the existence of records including Zoom videos that might support or refute Woodward’s account of the meeting, Harbach scolded her. “I have already told Your Honor that no recording exists. I have told you that some time ago,” Harbach replied.

Cannon reminded an increasingly agitated Harbach that she maintains oversight into how the investigation was conducted. “I still have inherent authority to oversee this proceeding and ensure that professionalism is maintained, and I think there is a basis to ask those questions, which is why I'm asking them,” she shot back.

If Cannon orders the DOJ to produce all communications before and after the meeting, the ruling could represent another blow to the special counsel’s cratering credibility. Congress already wants answers about the spoliation of evidence; more congressional demands related to the authorization for lethal force and other dubious aspects of the FBI raid could be around the corner.

Cue more meltdowns.

Pride’s 30-Day Insult to American Excellence

Pride’s 30-Day Insult to American Excellence

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

With Pride Month kicking off next weekend, we can look forward to a cavalcade of media reports about parades, commemorations and similar events. Given these expectations, a little context is in order. 

According to United States Courts, the official website of the national federal court system, Pride Month is one of six, month-long observances in the U.S., referred to as Heritage Months. There are heritage months for people whose familial ancestry is of Asian and Pacific, American Indian, and Latino and Hispanic origin. There are also months set aside for examining the history of women and blacks in America. 

These observances highlight the accomplishments of people of particular ethnic and racial backgrounds, or their sex. While much of the American story involves men who happened to have been white, it’s wrong to ignore the myriad contributions of others. Our history is replete with achievements by (among very many others) Amelia Earhart and Admiral Grace Hopper; the Tuskegee Airmen and George Washington Carver; Roberto Clemente and Dr. Ellen Ochoa; Daniel Inouye and Jenson Huang; Powhatan and Sacagawea; and countless others who made their mark on America. 

Then there’s Pride Month. Rather than emphasizing the contributions of groups with defined and immutable characteristics, this observance is predicated on private behavior and opinion. Nobody gets to choose what race or ethnicity or sex they are but we do choose our personal behavior, which is foundational to Pride Month. 

Regardless of which letter of the alphabet one applies to one’s self, it connotes a particular behavior. One cannot proclaim L, G, B, T, or Q status without acknowledging the behavior that defines it. Some argue that homosexuality is an innate characteristic but science has not proved or disproved that theory, and transgender ideology claims that variations of sexuality are fluid, so the jury is out on that matter.

Much of Pride Month involves how and with whomone chooses to copulate. Lesbians, gay men and bi-sexual people engage in specific sexual behavior which is a prerequisite for inclusion in one of these subsets of the population. With transgender ideology, a person’s behavior of pretending to be something they’re not is combined with their individual feelings. This is not a judgment, merely a factual observation.

Dedicating a month to the personal conduct of a small percentage of people diminishes the perseverance and achievements of Americans who contributed marvelously to history and helped make America great. Observances focused on women, blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Indians celebrate accomplishments, not sexual preferences. 

But Pride Month is different. Consider this June 1, 2023 compendium of “25 LGBTQ+ people who changed the course of history.” It’s grossly irresponsible to promote speculation that Leonardo Da Vinci, Julius Cesar, Alexander the Great, Isaac Newton and others mighthave had sex with other men. Even if any of this were accurate, there is no achievement in such behavior. Suggestions about their sex lives, while giving short shrift to their accomplishments, is insulting to them.

Poet Emily Dickinson and painter Frida Kahlo might have had sex with other women but who cares? Conversely, there may be some value in teaching about artist Lili Elbe, thought to be among the first men to undergo elective surgery in pursuit of altering his body. Complications from this ‘gender affirming’ mutilation in the early 1930s killed him.

Andy Warhol and Gore Vidal were tremendous artists with lasting impact, and they happened to be gay. Okay, fine. Hopefully, people will be more interested in their contributions to art and literature than their sex partners. Oscar Wilde and Alan Turing, the British author/playwright and mathematician/code breaker respectively, were criminally prosecuted for their homosexuality. But putting victimhood aside, their contributions to the literary arts and defeating Nazi Germany are monumental. It’s also good that Great Britain stopped prosecuting men for being gay nearly 60 years ago. 

It can be argued that providing role models for young people confused about their sexuality might be helpful. But perhaps it would be more effective in a personalized manner rather than subjecting hundreds of millions of Americans, with no need of inspiration to feel good about their sexuality, to a month of gratuitous and, frankly, boring parades and presentations on how blues singer Billie Holiday might have had sex with women in prison while separated from one of her three husbands. 

Of course gay men and other non-heterosexuals have made their mark on America. I’m reminded of one of my favorite composers, Aaron Copeland. Whether he was gay is inconsequential compared to his compositions like Appalachian Spring, Fanfare For the Common Man, and so many other soaring masterpieces. Instead, Pride Month is better recognized for bizarre costumery and public displays of lewd behavior, cheapening achievement and offering praise not for what we accomplish but for sexual mannerisms. It’s become a 30-day insult to American excellence, gay and straight.