A Conundrum … No Easy Answers

Yesterday, I wrote with some annoyance about the Department of Justice continuing to support the previous administrations claims that … basically, the former guy could do no wrong and was above the law, no matter how many women he raped and then denigrated publicly.  Today, one of my favourite columnists, Eugene Robinson, has given me pause, caused me to perhaps look at it from a slightly different perspective.  One sentence says it all … “The meaning of the law does not change depending on who is in power.”  While I still do not support We the Taxpayers having to pay to defend a rapist madman, I now have a somewhat better understanding of why the Justice Department is doing what they are doing.  Like Mr. Robinson, I hope Trump, and by extension the U.S. Justice Department, lose the suit to Ms. Carroll, for she is deserving of retribution, but I now understand it better.  And I think it only fair that any restitution to Ms. Carroll come out of the former guy’s pocket, not mine and not yours.


Merrick Garland is right to be cautious about breaking with Trump’s Justice Department

Opinion by 

Eugene Robinson

Columnist

June 10, 2021 at 4:05 p.m. EDT

As frustrating and galling as it may be to see President Biden’s administration make anything less than a clean break with its predecessors, Attorney General Merrick Garland is right not to peremptorily reverse positions taken by the Justice Department during the Trump era. And his caution is appropriate even if those positions, such as continuing to represent a certain Mar-a-Lago resident in a defamation case, are clearly wrong.

The Justice Department never should have tried to defend Donald Trump in a civil lawsuit filed by advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, who says that Trump, back in his real estate mogul days, raped her in a department store dressing room. When Carroll made her rape allegation public, then-President Trump called her a liar. Carroll responded by suing Trump for defamation, seeking damages.

Trump was initially represented by private counsel. But his Justice Department intervened to have the case moved to U.S. District Court and argued that it should have been dismissed, saying that Trump was a government “employee” acting within “the scope of his employment” when he verbally attacked Carroll, and thus enjoyed immunity for his defamatory words.

U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan ruled against those claims in October and ordered that Carroll’s lawsuit be allowed to proceed. But Garland’s Justice Department is continuing to defend Trump, even though Kaplan determined that the case should be seen as a private matter between two individuals.

I hope the Justice Department ultimately loses the case and Carroll gets her day in court. But Garland, by staying the course, is sending a powerful message: The Justice Department doesn’t “belong” to Trump or Joe Biden or any one president. The meaning of the law does not change depending on who is in power. We should all swallow hard and accept Garland’s general commitment to some measure of continuity, because the alternative can be much worse.

I know that from personal observation. I was The Post’s South America correspondent three decades ago, at a time when most nations on the continent were emerging from long, dark years of military rule and trying to rebuild their democratic institutions. They all found that once faith in those institutions is lost, it is not easy to regain.

I was based in Buenos Aires, and Argentina’s civilian leadership was still finding its bearings. After years of being lied to by the murderous ruling junta, citizens had little faith in what their elected leaders said. And they had even less faith in the ability of the court system to honestly ascertain truth and deliver justice.

One instructive case study was a brutal rape and murder in Catamarca, a province in the Andean foothills. On a Friday night in September 1990, a 17-year-old girl named Maria Soledad Morales went with some friends to a local dance and never came home. Her tortured and mutilated body was found the following Monday in a roadside ditch. The Catamarca police chief initially said only that she had died from cardiac arrest, but it was later found that she had been brutalized and possibly forced to ingest a lethal dose of cocaine.

Suspicion fell on a group of young men with ties to the Saadi family, a powerful dynasty that had been in control of the province since the days of strongman Juan Perón. But none of these men was arrested by local police, whose statements about the case no one trusted.

The Carmelite nun who ran the school Morales had attended began organizing marches calling for justice, and the demonstrations grew so large that the national government had to respond by sending in a strike force of supposedly “untouchable” investigators. But no one trusted anything they said about the case, either.

The problem was that the Saadis had been political allies of then-President Carlos Menem. The universal assumption was that with Menem in power, there would be no honest and thorough investigation that might hold the Saadis or other powerful people accountable.

Finally, eight years later, two men — one of them a well-connected scion — were convicted of involvement in the murder; they each served time in prison and were released. Many Argentines are convinced — as am I — that the justice system never got anywhere near the full truth of the murder. Ramón Eduardo Saadi, who at the time was the provincial governor, was removed from office in 1991 — but only because of how loud the outcry about the case became.

My point is not that Argentina is uniquely flawed, but that we do not want the United States to become a nation where the default assumption is that justice is always political. We don’t want to be a place where culpability and liability depend on who happens to be president.

So if Garland believes there are plausible reasons for the government to keep defending Trump in Carroll’s defamation suit, I’m glad he’s doing so. His job is to follow the law as he sees it — even when I think he’s dead wrong.

WHY???

If you thought I let off all the steam in this morning’s rants, you’d be wrong.  Two things are puzzling me at the moment … puzzling and annoying me … leading me to keep asking over and over — WHY???  The former guy needs to fade into oblivioun … he is, or at least ought to be, irrelevant now, yet he keeps popping back onto the radar.  Somebody please, put him somewhere, like a mental institution or better yet, a prison.


I don’t believe a word of it …

You remember June 1st 2020, right?  That was the day that the former guy, having seen his approval rating drop even lower than usual, decided a photo op was just the thing to boost his ratings.  So, he and his band of merry men (and women) walked from the White House to a church in Lafayette Park so he could hold up a bible and let the press take pictures of him doing so … pictures that would be splashed all over every major news outlet by that evening.  However, his walk was only accomplished after the Secret Service and other federal law enforcement agencies cleared the path of peaceful protestors protesting the brutal police killing of an unarmed Black man, George Floyd, a month prior.

The protests were peaceful, no violence until federal law enforcement officers showed up.  According to The Washington Post the following day …

“In a massive show of force, federal law enforcement officers fired rubber bullets and chemical gas at peaceful protesters outside the White House on Monday evening … Hundreds of protesters were pushed away from Lafayette Square, where they were protesting the police killing of George Floyd, by the National Guard, U.S. Park Police and Secret Service. The ambush began half an hour before the city’s newly imposed curfew of 7 p.m. went into effect.”

There were photos, videos … it cannot be denied.  And yet, yesterday a report by the Interior Department’s inspector general did just that … denied that law enforcement cleared area for the former guy’s ludicrous walk to church.  According to the report, the area was cleared of protestors in order to allow contractors to safely install some fencing.  BULLSHIT!  I believe that just about as much as I believe elephants can fly!

What I don’t understand is why this particular lie?  What is the purpose, one year later, of telling a lie covering up actions that occurred as a result of egomania by the former guy?  Does the inspector general who issued the report honestly think that We the People are so stupid that we don’t remember the scene from one year ago?  And what’s the point?  The former guy is gone, he surely isn’t still pulling strings in the Department of the Interior, is he?  Police do not use violent means to clear peaceful protestors from an area so that they can build a fence.  Period.  Give us credit for a little bit of intelligence!


Defending the indefensible

This week the Department of Justice led by Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that it would continue defending the former guy in the lawsuit brought by E. Jean Carroll.  A bit of a refresher for those who may not remember this situation …

Ms. Carroll has claimed, and for the record I believe her, that the former guy raped her in the 1990s.  More than a dozen others have made the same claim, most quite credible, and I remind you of that old saying, where there’s so much smoke, there’s a fire somewhere.  When Ms. Carroll made her claim, the former guy rudely denigrated her in public, calling her rude names, saying he had never met her (this despite the fact there are photos of Ms. Carroll and her husband with the former guy at a party) and that he couldn’t have raped her because she isn’t his ‘type’.  Ms. Carroll filed a lawsuit against Trump for defaming her character and calling her a liar among other things.  At that point, then-Attorney General William Barr stepped in and said that the former guy was acting in his official capacity as president when he denied ever knowing Ms. Carroll and made statements assaulting her character, and thus could be defended by government lawyers — in effect underwritten by taxpayer money.

Long story short, he lied and called her names, Bill Barr said he had a right to do that because he was the then-occupant of the Oval Office, and that We the Taxpayers should pay to defend him and prove that in his position at the time, he was above the law.

Today, William Barr has left the Justice Department, replaced by a man for whom I have a great deal of respect, Merrick Garland.  However, I am extremely disappointed in the decision by the DoJ to continue defending the former guy at our expense!  WHY???  Is this a democratic republic as stated in the U.S. Constitution, or is this a banana republic that supports egomaniacal dictators???

In 2020, Barr argued that the former guy was a federal employee whose statements were part of his employment duties and who was thus entitled to protection under the Westfall Act, which grants civil immunity to federal employees for actions that are part of their jobs.  Since when is calling a woman a ‘slut’ part of the president’s job?  So, by this standard, if a sitting president kills one of his staff with a knife or a gun, would that be defensible under the Westfall Act?  Where is the line … and when do We the People finally stand up and say, ENOUGH!

Again, I want to know why the current DoJ is still upholding the former guy’s actions.  I just need an explanation … We the People deserve an explanation.

Da Queen of Snark Strikes Again!

There are so many things that have crossed my radar in the past 24 hours that my head is reeling and I don’t know where to begin.  I’ll try to be brief in my snippetry today …


Nobel PEACE Prize???  Surely NOT!

I guess every country has its share of nutcases in government.  I really thought Norway was better than this, but apparently I was wrong.  For the second time, Donald Trump, the person who stirs conflict wherever he goes and pits people against each other, has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.  His very nomination disgusts and sickens me, rather reminiscent of Trump awarding the Medal of Freedom to the very dishonourable Rush Limbaugh.

The person who nominated Trump this year is the same one who nominated him in 2018, far right, xenophobic member of Norway’s parliament, Christian Tybring-Gjedde.  He claims he is not a big fan of Trump, but that …

“The committee should look at the facts and judge him on the facts – not on the way he behaves sometimes.”

The facts are, Mr. Tybring-Gjedde, that Donald Trump is the most hateful, cruel person ever to lead this nation!  Donald Trump is the least peace-promoting person on this planet!  He has done more to divide the people of this nation than any other president in our history, and he is continuing to do so every day.  Peace???  HAH!  If he is awarded this prize, then every past recipient should return their awards, for they will have lost all meaning.

Hopefully, the Nobel Prize Committee will have good sense as they did in 2018, and ignore Trump.  His odds are at about 20/1, and the most likely projected winners are among the World Health Organization, Greta Thunberg, and Jacinda Ardern … all three are excellent choices … far more worthy than a cruel tyrant.  He does have the support of QAnon, however, and gun-totin’ member Marjorie Taylor Greene, possibly the next U.S. representative from Georgia tweeted her gushing support.  DISGUSTING!


We the People pay for Trump’s sexual harassment???  WHY???

Author E. Jean Carroll accused Donald Trump of rape, in a Bergdorf’s dressing room in the mid-1990s. After Trump denied ever meeting her and dismissed her story as a Democratic plot, she sued him for defamation.  There is much I could say here … I fully believe Ms. Carroll’s story, as well as those of the many other women who have accused Trump of everything from grabbing them inappropriately to out and out rape. Trump called Ms. Carroll a liar and said he did not know her, even though the two had been photographed together at a party in 1987 with Ms. Carroll’s former husband. However, none of that is my point today.

Ms. Carroll’s defamation suit is still pending, but this week, the corrupt Attorney General of the United States made a decision that means if Ms. Carroll wins her suit, it will be We the Taxpayers who pay the penalty, while Trump skates free.

The White House asked the Justice Department to replace Trump’s private lawyers in this suit.  The Justice Department’s intervention in the lawsuit means that taxpayer money will be used to defend Trump, and it threatens the continued viability of the case of the plaintiff, Ms. Carroll.

Mr. Barr defended the decision to intervene, arguing that it was routine for the department to take over lawsuits against federal officials — substituting the government as the defendant.  Ms. Carroll’s lawsuit has been reassigned from a New York State court to a Federal District Court judge in New York, Lewis A. Kaplan. If he signs off on the department’s certification that it meets the standards to substitute the government as the defendant, he could dismiss the lawsuit because the government has sovereign immunity and cannot be sued for defamation.

Ms. Carroll has requested a DNA sample from Trump to determine a match.  An innocent man would give up the sample and be done with it … case closed.  But, this is akin to his withholding of his tax returns … a man with nothing to hide would release the returns!

So, Trump rapes a woman and we pay the price.  Frankly, she should have done a Lorena Bobbitt on him when she had the chance!


Destroy the nation, but don’t make “Trump look bad”

Brian Murphy, who had previously served as undersecretary for the Office of Intelligence and Analysis within the Department of Homeland Security, filed a 24-page complaint on September 8th, alleging that he was instructed to halt the reports on Russian influence activities in the United States because they were making “the president look bad.” The report was delivered by Murphy’s attorney, Mark Zaid, to the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.

The report alleges that acting Secretary Chad Wolf, his predecessor Kirstjen Nielsen, and other senior DHS brass engaged in “a repeated pattern of abuse of authority, attempted censorship of intelligence analysis and improper administration of an intelligence program related to Russian efforts to influence and undermine United States interests.”

In his complaint, Murphy claimed he was instructed by Wolf to stop reporting on Russian activities altogether and “instead start reporting on interference activities by China and Iran.” Wolf told him that the instructions came from Robert O’Brien, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, and Murphy pushed back and said he would not comply “as doing so would put the country in substantial and specific danger.”homeland-securityTaken in conjunction with last week’s announcement by Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe that he was suspending in-person briefings to Congress about foreign threats to the 2020 election, I think we all have ample reason to be concerned … very concerned.  Our government, led by a cruel tyrant, is withholding vital information from us, and from Congress.  THIS, my friends, is an abomination!  It’s as if … as if we are naught but cardboard cutouts with no ears, no eyes, no brains.  Funny, though, how the government that doesn’t even pretend to represent us still takes our taxes every week, isn’t it?


I’m not even halfway through my list, so you can count on more later!  On a brighter note, even though George Conway is no longer an active participant in The Lincoln Project, they are still turning out some great, hard-hitting ads!  Here is one of their latest …