Scott Bloch and Roll: DOJ Takes a Holiday Friday News Dump

The event we have all been waiting for is here in time for the Christmas Holidays! Yes, it is the long awaited news on the DOJ “prosecution” of the former Office of Special Counsel head under the Bush/Cheney regime, Scott Bloch.

As you may recall, when we last heard tangible news on the Blochhead front, it was June 20 of this year when his release restrictions were voided. The court voided Bloch’s release conditions because the DOJ had inexplicably left the case hanging in limbo after the previous guilty plea had been set aside, thus allowing Bloch to withdraw from it, all the way back in August of 2011.

So, between August 2, 2011 and December 21, 2012, a period of nearly a year and a half’s time, the DOJ has done nothing whatsoever in furtherance of prosecuting Scott Bloch. Until today. And the vaunted Department of Justice has, on the Friday before the Christmas holiday…..filed a Motion to Dismiss. However, that is not the end of the story, as clause 5 of the Motion to Dismiss contains this language:

Concurrent with this Motion to Dismiss, the government is filing a new information.

Well, not quite concurrent, as the Motion to Dismiss was filed mid to late morning, and the new information was just now made public. The new charge, a misdemeanor, is pursuant to 18 USC 1361 Depredation of Government Property or Contracts. The factual basis is made out from the “seven level wiping” Bloch caused to be done. Here is the new information just filed.

Well, at least that is what the information is SUPPOSED to charge. That is the crime noted in the caption, and clearly the crime contemplated by the framing, but in the key statute recitation paragraph, the controlling body of the document mistakenly charges 18 USC 1362 instead. A year and a half the DOJ has had to conjure up this smoking pile of whitewashing garbage, and they still can’t get a basic misdemeanor plea right. It will have to be amended to reflect the correct statute. Merry Christmas Dump!

A separate docket entry has set the date for formal entry of the plea for Friday January 4, 2013:

Set/Reset Hearings as to SCOTT J. BLOCH: Plea Agreement Hearing set for 1/4/2013 at 9:30 AM in Courtroom 4 before Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson.

The sentence is not stipulated, but you can bet there will be no jail time involved for Mr. Bloch. The original charge Bloch pled guilty to, 2 USC §192 Refusal of witness to testify or produce papers, was also a misdemeanor. But it involved presumptively mandatory jail time the court – gasp! – indicated it would enforce. Not only did Scott Bloch flinch at having to serve minimal jail time, the DOJ agreed with him and fought side by side with him to make sure his butt never saw a cell for the mandatory jail for the charge he stood in open court and pled guilty to. With a damning set of factual admissions.

As both Marcy and I said back when the true nature of the DOJ’s collusion with Bloch was cast in stone:

But given the record of this Administration–from the mantra of “look forward” to the refusal to charge Dick Cheney for illegal wiretapping Americans to the refusal to charge Jose Rodriguez for destroying evidence of torture–I think it’s just that they refuse to send an official–one of their own–to jail. They cannot uphold the law, because the law might be upheld against them.
So, back to I guess he won’t see a cell Bloch Scott. Is DOJ really saying that a guy who wiped his hard drive shouldn’t go to jail? Yes, and they are willing to fight for him and with him to see that such is indeed the case. First the government filed a Motion to Reconsider dated February 7, 2011 regarding Judge Robinson’s 2/2/2011 ruling discussed and linked above. The Motion to Reconsider was basically five pages of whining that there was compelling authority to the effect the criminal they were prosecuting did NOT have to serve jail time. Yes, that is one hell of a strange argument for government prosecutors to be making.

Then, the willingness of the government prosecutors to fight to keep the criminal Bloch from serving one lousy second in jail goes from the absurd to the ridiculous. A mere four days after having filed the whiny Motion to Reconsider, and before it was substantively ruled on, the government, by and through the ever ethical DOJ, suddenly files a pleading encaptioned “Governments Motion To Withdraw Its Motion To Reconsider The Court’s February 2, 2011 Memorandum Opinion“. In this pleading, the government suddenly, and literally, admits their February 2 Motion to Reconsider was without merit.
Let me put that bluntly for you: the DOJ is helping a guy they have already convicted by way of guilty plea – that has already been accepted by the court – get out of that plea conviction. And they are already negotiating a different deal with the defendant, Bloch, to insure he doesn’t serve one stinking day in jail.

The foregoing is the background that brings us to where we are today, with Bloch pampered with a cuddly gift plea for Christmas, and with the DOJ depriving American citizens of the zeal in advocacy ethically required and needed to ensure the integrity of the federal government. Rather than defend the rule of law, DOJ has fought to help Scott Bloch get out of his plea deal because he might actually have to serve even minimal jail time for his crimes.

The number and quality of felony crimes Bloch could have been, and should have been, charged with are staggering; including obstruction of justice, false statements, perjury, willful destruction of government property and Federal Records Act violations.

But Defendant Bloch made a deal to plead to one little misdemeanor with the guarantee he would be considered under the most favorable sentencing guideline conditions imaginable. And, in return for this staggeringly mild treatment, both Bloch and the government swore and promised, in writing to the court, not to withdraw or appeal. Yet, that is exactly what both cravenly did – together in collusive unison.

It is the duty of the federal court system to provide fair and impartial justice to those before it and to stand as one of the three co-equal branches of government with a solemn duty to protect the sanctity of the government and see that justice is done not just for the powerful and privileged, but for all.

For a misdemeanor plea case, there were powerful and critical factors involved in the case of Scott Bloch which warranted serious treatment and a precedent set to deter future corruptors of American government. Central is the question of whether there is now, and will be in the future, any meaningful accountability whatsoever for Executive Branch officials as to the crimes they commit in office, and to the Congress, in the name of the United States citizenry.

The resounding answer to the accountability question from the actions of the Obama Department of Justice, as evidenced by the Scott Bloch prosecution, is no. There is no accountability, and there will be no accountability, because if Scott Bloch can go to jail for crimes in office, any other common government criminal can too.

The grandees of government, entrusted with the ethos of the American people, cannot possibly be treated with the same zeal for prosecution of perjury and obstruction that is doled out to common athletes such as Roger Clemens (and do check out the graphic at the bottom of the linked post, it is stunning) and Barry Bonds. Why can’t the Executive Branch officials be held to the same standard?

[For more on the Bloch saga today, see Mike Scarcella at Blog of the Legal Times]

[As nobody in the world will see this post this late in the afternoon, I may repost it substantially later, probably a couple of days before the January 4 plea entry setting]

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.
12 replies
  1. Peterr says:

    Why can’t the Executive Branch officials be held to the same standard?

    Because it might irritate congressional leaders on the other side of the aisle, and the Obama administration decided long ago they need to avoid picking fights over the past in order to be able to work with the GOP going forward.

    Practicality over principle, you know, and keeping your powder dry for *real* battles.

    As Dr Phil was wont to say “How’s that working out for you?”

    To the GOP and to progressives alike, this deal with Bloch said that Obama would trade anything for a little peace and quiet and calm — even if that means trading accountability and justice. Of course, the GOP welcomed this news, while progressives lamented it.

  2. bmaz says:

    @Peterr: Actually, you would think that Congress would have a vested interest in prosecuting Executive Branch officials that undermine its process.

    Guess not though.

  3. TG says:

    What fascinates me is that Bloch went from being a Bush White House pet to a Bush White House pest – biting the hand that had fed him – but without doing anything to earn a chit from the incoming Obama administration even as he waddled off to the private sector with a set of custom deluxe embroidered Office of Special Counsel hand towels at the taxpayers’ expense.

    Persona non grata, it would seem, but nonetheless capable of squeezing amazingly preferential treatment out of people who owe him nothing but disdain. And of course, he’s practicing law. BLT: “Bloch runs a solo law office in Washington, concentrating on class actions and false claim suits against private companies. Bloch declined to comment this evening.”

  4. JohnLopresti says:

    Studying the paired down charges, the delays, the artful advocacy of counsel Sullivan, and the multiple converging currents generating a likely wide range of jurisprudent courses of action open to judge Lamberth, all seems like it would be a tale with improved and verisimilar specifics if examined in many contexts.

    My notes from 2 years ago highlight Bloch’s predilection for claiming the infamous contempt of congress probation sentencing guideline created for the likes of Elliot Abrams.

    Then there’s the new bill sent to the preseident a few days back, “modernizing” the 1930s era’s Hatch Act; an update welcomed by Office of Special Counsel’s leader Carolyn Lerner.

    Judge Lamberth also has got involved in a French inspector Clousseauish negotiation with an intell agency which is attempting to set a long distance record for court-approved discovery; Lamberth was a smidgeon perplexed in recent days over the agency request for something approximating 18 years of discovery responding to an Institute for Policy Studies foia request. BLT’s Scarcella on December 18 described Lamberth’s irrascible dealings with that agency.

    Without reviewing the court’s rulings in 2010-2011 regarding Bloch’s baroque guilty plea resculpting, it seems fair to say that the Abrams exception to contempt of congress is what is likely to provide a guideline for OSC in future cases which need to select the least-sticky-wicket rule so officials like Bloch skate. My sense is there was much of that kind of crony quality control as Bush W’s successor took office, and that many years of casuistry may be required to conjure a sufficient blend of forgivenesses that Bush W’s exceptionalism first will be ignored and parsed, years before real history gets written about why so much was illegal and illicit from BushW’s unitary executive approach to power-sharing with the barnacle branch.

    With the recent news about the senate pro tem post and reflections on the energy J Conyers added to discovery requests from the BushW years, again I seem to notice the specter of further dilution of the charge known as contempt of congress. I believe Rep. Issa, too, has worked toward a sort of name-calling repartee in his government operations committee in the House in recent years, seeking a depiction of Democratic party office holders that might serve to give pause to any possible extant Democrats who might be interested in How BushW Governed.

    Initially, after the first restoration of Bloch to private practice somewhere inside the beltway, I was logging the available reports of his new and interesting clientele. But, time has afforded no opportunity to study what, precisely, it could be the Bloch solo practice might represent to Republican leadership now, apart from the variegated threads enumerated in this diffuse ‘Comment’.

  5. bmaz says:

    @TG: @TG: Exactly! Bloch would seem to have cachet with exactly nobody. There is no constituency, on any side of this, that ought to be on his side. He lied to and obstructed Congress, he embarrassed and disgraced the Executive branch, violated lawyer’s ethics, is a felony level criminal in front of the court – yet they all have bowed down to weasel this puke out of his pinch.

    It really is unbelievable. And none of them demonstrably give a shit about Bloch personally, it has to be the refusal to set a precedent that Executive Branch people could actually have meaningful punishment for dishonesty to Congress. But why has Congress not cared more? They sure got their panties in a wad over Clemens, but not Bloch. What gives?

  6. bmaz says:

    @JohnLopresti: John, if you find anything of note Bloch is doing, post it. I wonder if this will cause Bloch to have bar action taken against his ticket. I am guessing the answer is no.

  7. What Constitution says:

    The corruption reflected in this episode is appalling. While there’s a temptation to “knowingly” tut-tut it as “just another episode”, I’m instead just going to say “This is unacceptable and no employee of the United States should either be suffered to have engaged in the underlying despicable conduct or in the subsequent whitewashing reflected here”. Anybody lined up to ask Holder about this on a Sunday show? Can public citizens write to the judge?

  8. BearCountry says:

    So on and on it goes, the aiding and abetting of criminality by the wh. I just hope that the lote voters are getting their money’s worth. On that Nov night when o gave his victory speech I told Ms. BearCountry that he was going to be far worse than I thought and time has only proved to me that he is even worse than I thought through all of the enabling.

  9. mspbwatch says:

    @bmaz Bloch’s cachet is what he gleaned from the various whistleblower disclosures and complaints that came across his desk. He didn’t scrub 3 OSC computers 7 times for nothing…

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