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CORRUPTION

Roger Stone Floats Possibility of Special Counsel Cooperation

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Roger Stone on This Week

On today’s episode of This Week with George Stephanopoulos, guest Roger Stone seemed to signal an interest in cooperating with the Special Counsel.

“You know, that’s a question I would have to –- I have to determine after my attorneys have some discussion,” said Stone in response to host Stephanopoulos asking if he would cooperate with Robert Muller. 

“If there’s wrongdoing by other people in the campaign that I know about, which I know of none, but if there is, I would certainly testify honestly. I’d also testify honestly about any other matter, including any communications with the president. It’s true that we spoke on the phone, but those communications are political in nature, they’re benign, and there is –- there is certainly no conspiracy with Russia. The president’s right, there is no Russia collusion,” he continued.


Stone has long painted himself as a “political trickster” for many years. He has been involved in the president campaigns of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp, Bob Dole and Donald Trump. He also co-founded the lobbying firm Black, Manafort, Stone along with Charles R. Black Jr. and Paul Manafort. The latter has also been indicted by Robert Mueller.

Stone also said that the President has “absolutely, positively not” offered him a pardon for any wrongdoing.

Donald Trump himself has attempted to distance himself from Stone, claiming he did not work for him during the election, and trying to change to focus to his then opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Stone’s answers on This Week seem to show that he may be open to cooperation with the Special Counsel, in spite of his defiant actions both before and after his arrest.

Stone was arrested in a pre-dawn FBI raid of his Florida home this Friday. He will be arraigned on Tuesday on seven counts — one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, five counts of false statements, and one count of witness tampering — in connection with the investigation into interference into the 2016 election.

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CORRUPTION

Politicians Accepting a ‘Gratuity’ After Official Acts is Legal, Supreme Court Rules

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The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that politicians may accept a gratuity after making an official act, and that laws against bribery do not apply.

In the case, Snyder v. U.S., former Portage, Indiana mayor James Snyder gave Great Lakes Peterbilt two contracts with the city, purchasing five garbage trucks for $1.1 million in 2013. The following year, Peterbilt paid Synder $13,000. Though the DOJ and FBI said the payment was likely a gratuity for the contract, Snyder said the money was merely payment for his consulting services.

A federal jury disagreed, convicting him of violating a 1984 law that banned gratuities to state and local officials. The law mirrors a statute barring federal officials from taking either bribes — defined as a payment or gift before an official act — or gratuities — defined as a gift after such an act.

READ MORE: Clarence Thomas Accepted Millions in Gifts – Far More Than All Other Justices Combined

Snyder was sentenced to 21 months in prison. He appealed, arguing that the specific law only applied to bribes, not gratuities. Though the Seventh Circuit upheld the conviction, the Supreme Court reversed it, agreeing with Snyder.

The Supreme Court ruling was 6-3, along ideological lines. Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote the Court’s opinion, arguing that though local governments may regulate the gifts public officials can accept, the federal statute does not, leaving it to the states to determine what gratuities are legal.

“Gratuities after the official act are not the same as bribes before the official act. After all, unlike gratuities, bribes can corrupt the official act—meaning that the official takes the act for private gain, not for the public good. That said, gratuities can sometimes also raise ethical and appearance concerns. For that reason, Congress, States, and local governments have long regulated gratuities to public officials,” Kavanaugh wrote, adding that “different governments draw lines in different places.”

Kavanaugh also argued that a 1986 amendment to the 1984 law updated it to mirror the prohibition against bribery only. In this particular case, Indiana state law prohibits bribery of local officials, but has no such rule on gratuities.

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote the dissent, arguing that the original law used “expansive, unqualified language.” She criticized the reading of the law that banned bribery but not gratuities.

“Snyder’s absurd and atextual reading of the statute is one only today’s Court could love,” Jackson wrote, citing that the text of the law “expressly targets officials who ‘corruptly’ solicit, accept, or agree to accept payments ‘intending to be influenced or rewarded.'”

“The Court’s reasoning elevates nonexistent federalism concerns over the plain text of this statute and is a quintessential example of the tail wagging the dog,” she added.

The decision comes in the wake of controversy over Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas accepting a number of gifts from billionaire Harlan Crow without declaring them until earlier this month.

 

 

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CORRUPTION

Monica Lewinsky Calls for Judge Aileen Cannon to be Impeached, But Is That Possible?

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monica lewinsky

Anti-bullying activist Monica Lewinsky called for federal Judge Aileen Cannon, who is presiding over former President Donald Trump’s classified documents case, to be impeached. But what’s the process for that?

“i awakened angry about the documents case in florida. it is INSANE that it hasn’t moved forward to trial, and i hope judge cannon is impeached. IF the documents had been declassified (which they weren’t) then all trump had to do was xerox them and return originals that were being asked for and explain they were declassified (again, for those in back, which they weren’t). IF it had been an honest (ahem) mistake to take them… just return them — LIKE EVERY OTHER PRESIDENT WHO WAS FOUND TO HAVE CLASSIFIED MATERIALS IN THEIR PRIVATE POSSESSION. (which still would have warranted an investigation but maybe not resulted in a trial.) the danger and damage done by this judge is mind-numbing,” Lewinsky posted to X Tuesday morning.

READ MORE: Trump Focuses on Another Federal Judge – This Time Defending ‘Impartial’ Aileen Cannon

Cannon has been a controversial figure in the Trump documents case. The Trump-appointee been frequently criticized for delaying the trial indefinitely so it won’t be decided prior to the November election. She has been holding hearings for many of the defense’s motions, even when precedent says they should be dismissed out of hand.

Legal experts have called her “incompetently bad” and “wildly lawless,” and said she’s “perplexed” by basic rules of law. Multiple experts have predicted she could be removed from the case, though thus far, she’s held tight.

But can Cannon be removed from the case or even impeached? The short answer is yes — but the former is more likely than the latter.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals technically has the power to reassign a judge in cases “where the trial judge has engaged in conduct that gives rise to the appearance of impropriety or a lack of impartiality in the mind of a reasonable member of the public.” according to MSNBC.

Legal analyst Harry Litman said that the 11th Circuit Appeals Court would like to replace her, according to Newsweek. The court may get the chance, Litman said, if she declines to put Trump under a gag order over concerns he would engender threats against those involved in the case. If she refuses, the prosecution would likely appeal. And while Trump has faced gag orders in other trials, Cannon appears skeptical that Trump’s comments would lead to direct threats, according to Politico.

That said, trial judges have a large amount of discretion, which makes a reassignment order difficult, MSNBC reported. And a replacement could lead to further delay.

But Lewinsky specifically called for impeachment; how likely is that?

Not very. Impeaching a federal judge is similar in process to impeaching a president. The House must conduct a vote of impeachment. If it passes, it’s up to the Senate to convict. Only 15 judges have been impeached — the most recent in 2010 — and of those, only eight have been successfully convicted and removed from the bench.

Given that the Republicans control the House, it is unlikely that the House would move to impeach Cannon. (House Republicans did vote in December 2023 to formalize an impeachment query into President Joe Biden, however.)

In the event that the Republicans did move to impeach Cannon, it would require a two-thirds vote in the Senate. Though the Democrats currently control the Senate, it’s by a razor thin 51-49 margin.

So, barring any utterly egregious behavior from Cannon, it’s likely she’s on the bench for good, whether or not she stays on the Trump documents case.

Featured image of Monica Lewinsky taken from TED Conference/Flickr under the Creative Commons license. The photograph was taken by James Duncan Davidson/TED.

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BAD PRESIDENT

Ex-GOP Head Says Judge in Trump Documents Case ‘Wasted Countless Months on Frivolous Motions’

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Former head of the Republican National Committee Michael Steele accused the judge of dragging her feet in former President Donald Trump’s case about improper handling of classified documents.

On Friday, Trump’s defense lawyers put forth a motion to dismiss special counsel Jack Smith under allegations that he was illegally appointed, according to the Associated Press. Despite admitting that Smith’s appointment appears to be supported by precedent, Trump-appointed Judge Aileen Cannon agreed to a three-day hearing to determine the challenge’s validity, according to The Washington Post. While defense attorneys will often challenge the standing of the prosecution, not every challenge necessarily warrants a full hearing.

Steele called out Cannon on Sunday’s edition of Inside with Jen Psaki on MSNBC. He called the particular challenge against Smith a “long shot,” according to The Hill, and said most judges would dismiss it out of hand.

READ MORE: Judge Cannon’s ‘Mind Boggling’ Move Could Put Witnesses at Risk, Experts Warn

“But apparently, Judge Cannon just had to have a hearing about it. It’s the last delay tactic from a judge who’s wasted countless months on frivolous motions. She has all but refused to allow Trump’s case to go to trial and still, still hasn’t even set a date for the trial to begin,” Steele said. He also accused Cannon of “effectively putting the prosecution on trial.”

Cannon has faced much criticism over her handling of the Trump documents case. In May, she postponed the trial indefinitely, putting the kibosh on hopes that the case would be heard before the November election. Her reasoning was that it would be “imprudent and inconsistent with the Court’s duty to fully and fairly consider the various pending pre-trial motions before the Court,” referring to motions like the one to dismiss Smith.

Rulings like this have led legal experts to trash Cannon. Constitutional law professor Anthony Michael Kreis called Cannon “incompetently bad.” George Conway, a lawyer and founder of the conservative anti-Trump The Lincoln Project, said Cannon “doesn’t know the most basic rule governing criminal conspiracies.” Conway’s comment was in response to Cannon appearing unfamiliar with the Pinkerton rule, which holds that everyone involved in a conspiracy can be held liable for crimes committed by co-conspirators. This appears to back up NBC News legal analyst Joyce Vance’s statement that Smith has to “spoon feed… the law” to Judge Cannon.

One month ago, Laurence Tribe, a top constitutional scholar and University Professor Emeritus at Harvard, said that Cannon would likely be removed from the Trump documents case.

“Cannon’s wildly lawless rejection of Special Counsel Smith’s clearly correct request for a gag order against fake and dangerous claims that the FBI was ordered to assassinate him is good news,” Tribe wrote on X. “It’s the smoking gun that will finally lead to her removal from the stolen secrets case.”

 

 

 

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