Trump Prepares to Do Something Even Billy Barr Has Said Might Be Obstruction

Update: Trump did, indeed, commute Stone’s sentence. Kayleigh McEnany put out a ridiculous press release here.

According to just about every major outlet (here’s Fox’s story), Trump will use his clemency power — possibly tonight — to keep Roger Stone out of prison, preventing him from spending even one day in prison for lying to Congress about how he tried to optimize the release of emails stolen by Russia and intimidating witnesses (most notably, but not only, Randy Credico) to adhere to Stone’s false cover story.

That Trump was willing to let Paulie Manafort do time, but not Stone, is a testament to how much more damning Stone’s honest testimony against Trump would be.

Trump will presumably commute Stone’s sentence, rather than pardon him, so Stone doesn’t lose his Fifth Amendment privileges that will allow him to avoid testifying about his calls with Trump. Trump is a dummy on most things, but not bribing people to cover up for his own crimes. Plus, he is personally familiar with how George Bush bought Scooter Libby’s silence with a commutation, given that Trump finally got around to pardoning Libby.

While every outlet is reporting on this imminent (presumed) commutation, virtually none are reporting that it will be an act of obstruction, Trump’s payoff for Stone’s lies about what he did.

Stone invented an elaborate story, post-dating the time when he made efforts to optimize the WikiLeaks releases by months, and attributing those efforts to someone he knew had no ties with Julian Assange or anyone else involved in the hack-and-leak. Stone threatened Randy Credico to adhere to that story, his thuggish friends gave Credico real reason to worry about his safety (concerns that continue today), and even hired a PI to find out where Credico moved after he went underground to continue the pressure.

The government has alleged that Stone knew and was coordinating what was coming even before the leak was publicly announced (their public evidence for that is sketchy, however). The government has further pointed to something for which there is abundant evidence: that in return for optimized publication, Assange was promised a pardon, a pardon that Stone tried to deliver from days after the election until early 2018, well after the Vault 7 releases made such a pardon untenable.

Plus, we know that Trump’s personal involvement in the optimization of the WikiLeaks releases is one topic that Trump lied to Mueller about (though not as brazenly as he lied about the Russian Trump Tower deal).

No lesser authority than Billy Barr has said that this kind of clemency might be obstruction of justice. He said as much three times during his confirmation hearing.

Patrick Leahy, specifically invoking Barr’s sanction of the Caspar Weinberger pardon that squelched the Iran-Contra investigation, asked Barr about pardons.

Leahy: Do you believe a president could lawfully issue a pardon in exchange for the recipient’s promise to not incriminate him?

Barr: No, that would be a crime.

Then, in this exchange from Amy Klobuchar, it appeared to take Barr several questions before he realized she knew more about the evidence than he did, and started couching his answers.

Klobuchar: You wrote on page one that a President persuading a person to commit perjury would be obstruction. Is that right?

Barr: [Pause] Yes. Any person who persuades another —

Klobuchar: Okay. You also said that a President or any person convincing a witness to change testimony would be obstruction. Is that right?

Barr: Yes.

Klobuchar: And on page two, you said that a President deliberately impairing the integrity or availability of evidence would be an obstruction. Is that correct?

Barr: Yes.

Klobuchar: OK. And so what if a President told a witness not to cooperate with an investigation or hinted at a pardon?

Barr: I’d have to now the specifics facts, I’d have to know the specific facts.

Klobuchar: OK. And you wrote on page one that if a President knowingly destroys or alters evidence, that would be obstruction?

Barr: Yes.

Klobuchar: OK. So what if a President drafted a misleading statement to conceal the purpose of a meeting. Would that be obstruction?

Barr: Again, I’d have to know the specifics.

Shortly after that exchange, Lindsey Graham tried to clarify the issue, asking the pardon question at a more basic level, coaching another not to testify, as Trump has done on Twitter repeatedly.

Lindsey: So if there was some reason to believe that the President tried to coach somebody not to testify or testify falsely, that could be obstruction of justice?

Barr: Yes, under that, under an obstruction statute, yes.

Lindsey: So if there’s some evidence that the President tried to conceal evidence? That would be obstruction of justice, potentially?

Barr: [nods]

Admittedly, by the third exchange, both Lindsey and Barr were hedging far more carefully about the set of facts.

But on three different occasions during his confirmation hearing, Barr made some kind of statement that said floating pardons for false testimony would be a crime.

And unlike Barr’s effort to erase Mike Flynn’s serial betrayal of the country, the Attorney General has admitted that Roger Stone’s was a “righteous” prosecution, even if only to prevent a rebellion on the part of DC federal prosecutors. Barr at least publicly disputes Trump’s claim that this was a witch hunt.

Trump is going to keep Roger Stone out of prison to ensure his silence.

That’s obstruction. And yet, almost no one is reporting on the crime in progress.

126 replies
  1. DrFunguy says:

    What are the odds that, assuming he loses the election, Trump will resign shortly before ending his term and Pence will pardon him on their way out the door?
    Does this sort of scenario have any basis in reality?

    • BobCon says:

      If Biden wins, I would not rule it out. I am not sure Trump could necessarily manage it, and I am not sure Pence would calculate the risk-benefit ratio as being worth it.

      • BraveNewWorld says:

        Except you can’t really draw up a contract for that and have it notarized. Pence can verbally agree with a hand shake , get the number 40 some thing beside his name, get those life time perks and then stiff Trump. You know, pull a Trump on him. Hard to see a down side.

      • paul lukasiak says:

        I’m actually not that concerned about a Pence pardon of Trump. Such a pardon does not preclude an investigation of Trump’s crimes — and Trump’s testimony would be the demanded. And Trump would certainly perjure himself repeatedly during questioning.

        So Trump winds up in jail anyway.

        • bmaz says:


          “When the men on the chessboard get up and tell you where to go
          And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom, and your mind is moving low
          Go ask Alice, I think she’ll know”

        • DrFunguy says:

          Are you referring to my original scenario?
          Or the idea that 45 would end up in jail? Which I certainly agree points to entheogen use. ;-)

    • N.E. Brigand says:

      That’s been my fear: Donald Trump will pardon all of his associates and then resign on Jan. 19, and then Mike Pence, president for one day, will take a page from Gerald Ford and pardon Trump. Just because it’s unprecedented and would be obviously wrong doesn’t mean it’s not coming. And it would probably be difficult to prove that Pence was obstructing justice.

      It won’t help with state crimes, of course. For those, I believe Trump has been hoping to run out the statute of limitations during his second term and/or use that time to pressure New York to drop its investigations, along the lines of the pressure he put on Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden.

      If it happens, it will be possibly the worst outrage yet. And I’d dearly like to see federal prosecutors charge some of those people anyway and force the Supreme Court to rule on the question of whether the Framers really meant for the pardon power to apply to a president’s co-conspirators (or for that matter whether a pardon is valid if issued for any corrupt reason: I mean, suppose a president pardons someone, but then later we learn that the person secretly paid the president $10 million to do so. Is the person still pardoned?).

      Ford’s pardon of Nixon was sweeping: he wrote that he had “granted and by these presents do grant a full, free, and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 20, 1969 through August 9,1974.” This despite Ford’s previous paragraphs focusing on the Watergate scandal. One wonders what Ford would have done if it later emerged that Nixon had committed some other unrelated and serious crime.

      Ford later justified his pardon of Nixon by citing a 1915 court decision that implies that the acceptance of a pardon is a confession of guilt. But what does that mean if the person hasn’t even been convicted: that he’s guilty of every crime he *might* have committed?

      • bmaz says:

        Acceptance of a pardon is NOT, I repeat NOT, acceptance or confession of guilt. Ford was wrong, as is anybody else who propagates that baloney.

        • N.E. Brigand says:

          I agree, although: has the question ever been tested in court? (Not that I can see how it would be.)

          And I’m also wondering (not that I expect anyone to answer): can a person who has been pardoned for something like “all crimes he might have committed from 2017 through 2020,” if evidence later emerges that he committed a crime, particularly something previously unknown and serious, be tried for it anyway? And found guilty? The pardon would wipe away the verdict as soon as it was issued, of course, but might it not be better for the country to have some clarity about what happened? Let’s suppose Pence pardons Trump of all crimes he might have committed and then we learn that, say, Trump took a personal bribe from Saudi Arabia in exchange for directing staff not to warn Jamal Khashoggi that he’d be killed in Turkey. Who would want Trump off the hook for something like that? Does a pardon for a crime unknown prevent even an arrest? Even an investigation? Could Trump, safe from actual consquences, at least be forced to testify about his crimes?

          I know: I’m flailing about wildly here.

  2. Rugger9 says:

    I’m not surprised that DJT would cover Roger’s butt and therefore his own. Don’t think that he will not, especially considering the last couple of weeks of unrelenting bad news for the WH in general.

    SO, the question is whether the MSM and Congress will see this act for the obstruction it is and haul DJT back into another impeachment. Stop laughing….

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The Don and Paulie go back a ways, but not as far as the Don and Roger. Rog will know a boatload of stuff. His constant reminders to Trump that he’s praying for a pardon suggest a night in prison might loosen his lips. That’s probably a bet the Don does not want to take.

      Comfortingly, Bill Barr has probably been telling Trump to avoid tempting fate over an obstruction charge. Trump doesn’t think Joe would have the balls to let his AG prosecute him. Bill may not be so sure, but I suspect he’d be happy to defend Trump, if he gets his retainer up front.

      • Rugger9 says:

        It’s probably better to think that DJT would act like his feral self and do the deed, leaving AG Barr to clean up the mess. Your notes about Roger and DJT are why DJT really must do this, and quickly. Also part of this calculation would be Ghislaine Maxwell singing (yes I know it’s to Barr, but still this WH leaks impressively) which means much more risk. Best to divide and conquer if he can.

        • skua says:

          Trump, unless he has become naively trusting, will be worried about what Barr might get over him from G. Maxwell.

          Conversely Barr will be considering how to avoid the apparently inevitable fate of Trump’s henchmen.

          Pushing the button earler, but not too early, appears to be a solution for both men.

      • Worried says:

        The day Roger Stone got arrested in late January 2019, he posted on Instagram a picture of him and Trump enjoying good times together, arm in arm.
        At that time I wondered on Twitter if he posted that to let us know he was key member of the Team, or to remind Trump to tread carefully.
        I think the latter.

  3. I Never Lie and am Always Right says:

    If there is a commutation of Stone’s sentence, and Biden wins the election, I wonder if DOJ will grant use immunity to Stone and seek to compel his testimony. That is what Obama’s DOJ should have done to Libby.

  4. tvor_22 says:

    > (most notably, but not only, Randy Credico)

    A few judges, who else?
    Douglas Caddy claims to have been harassed after revealing having matchmade a connection between LaRoche and Stone: “I have no regrets in writing Comey and Mueller even though I have been regularly harassed for so doing by private detectives employed by an unknown person of interest” (incidentally LaRouchePAC seems to have a running series of interviews with Bill Binney pushing out his lies. Anyone who wants to fall down that weird as fuck rabbit hole, this is a good summary of the LaRoche timeline:

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    If Roger tried to spend a $20 that some idiot clerk mistook for a counterfeit, would police and reporters show up en masse to investigate a counterfeiting-in-progress? Asking for a family in Minneapolis.

  6. vicks says:

    Oh the problems of our dear leader..
    If Trump doesn’t pardon Stone what sort of message is he sending to the rest of his crew that have also committed crimes on his behalf?
    On the other hand, what’s a decent American to think when even Bill Barr’s magic wand can’t make what Stone did any less traitorous to our country?
    Wait, looks like he pulled the trigger.
    what a coward.

  7. PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

    Too depressing, all this can’t be waved away or slow-walked by the next admin.

    At what point would an honest and operationally good-faith Durham resign from his role in disgust, and make a statement saying he is no longer willing to help Trump launder his criminality?

    • FL Resister says:

      From what I understand that sound you hear are the attorneys at DOJ gnashing their teeth.
      DT is plugging the leaks on a sinking Trumptanic.
      Yesterday. Cohen brought in by federal officers to sign a hush agreement on the day of the Supreme. Kurt dis fusion to allow state officials to proceed. For not agreeing they put him in jail.

      • FL Resister says:

        Sorry Cohen brought in to sign a hush agreement on the day of the Supreme Court decision to allow SDNY to investigate Trump and issue subpoenas. And since he wouldn’t do it, Cohen is back in jail. Thugocracy? Durham will be covered in Trump detritus if he pulls an October surprise out of the Russian playbook.

        • FL Resister says:

          Gina Haspel might know.
          Would love to see her get Cheney stain off by exposing Trump and Barr.

        • BobCon says:

          Jonathan Swan at Axios, who shamelessly carries water for the White House, said a source told him Cohen was busted for refusing to wear an ankle bracelet.

          If Swan and Axios had any integrity there would be some fallout for this kind of thing, but for them it’s business as usual.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          Swan’s wife, Betsy Woodruff (MSNBC), reported on Stone in a way that was sanitized of history, of crime, of treachery ( via Wikileaks). One of the most dismal examples of cable reporting that I’ve seen for some time — ‘gossip’, sans analysis.

          It’s that kind of political gossip that got us into this mess.

    • vicks says:

      According to a Fox “news” segment last night “followers” are convinced that Durham’s investigation won’t be complete until after November. Someone must have realized how stupid claiming to know it will take six more months to complete sounded because talk then switched to not being able to be released the results of the report because it will be too close to the election.
      Flynn’s gal KT McF was fake fuming at the unfairness of it all, because it will “never see the light of day if Biden gets elected.” The talk then turned to demanding it be released regardless of the timing because of the hell victim Trump has been through.
      Sounds to me like Durham is coming up with squat and this will be the biggest hyped yet slowest walked report in history

      • BeingThere says:

        Hmmm, KT McFarland popping up out of the woodwork? Would love to have a link to that piece. She and J Kushner were observed up to no good in Budapest end of Aug 2016 with a certain pseudo-Hungarian colleague and a well acquainted russian guy. Perhaps they know they still have some common exposure through Stone?

    • bmaz says:

      I’d hang back on that. The implications, much less complications, are far deeper than the surface.

      And, again, the way conspiracy law runs is different than most people think. The “oh Jesus, this is it” hot takes are garbage. Let’s see how time plays it out.

  8. BSChief says:

    Does a commutation, as opposed to a pardon, have different implications for Stone’s ability to invoke the Fifth in the future?

    • Avattoir says:

      Yes indeed.
      A pardon would eliminate all possible implications for testifying truthfully about the subject matter of his convictions, leaving him open only to being charged with perjury. Accordingly, he could no longer resort to pleading the 5th Amendment.
      A commutation, though, leaves his right to plead the 5th intact.

      • BSChief says:

        Many thanks. I’m sure that’s been covered here before, but my sorry memory had me drawing a blank.

      • Eureka says:

        Occasioned by SCOTUS re Mazars and Vance, I was just thinking yesterday of one of your Mueller-era* comments — one that had detailed how many years and levels of investigative expertise it would take DOJ to get through all the layers of Trump’s corporate entities.

        *Eh: pre-BDTS, pre-Barr…

        • Vicks says:

          I will admit, I underestimated Trump.
          I was under the impression that Trump simply did what ever he wanted and was too stupid to understand any downside or fallout.
          I’m not saying that he understands anything about how these people are covering his ass or creating “opportunities” for him to exploit our tax system but I had no idea he was savvy enough to create these layers of fuzziness and deniability.

        • Coyle says:

          Definitely some interesting stuff in the ProPublica story. For example, it was Fred Trump, not Donald, who first hired the accountants that ultimately became the keepers of the Trump family’s financial secrets. Also, that for most of Trump’s career those same accountants — in true Mafia fashion — have had only one client: Donald Trump.

          Finally, there’s a great story about the young accountant who goes through Donny’s past tax records only to find that when he adds everything up, there’s nothing there — no cash, no assets, nothing. So he goes to one of the older guys in the firm and says “Hey, what’s up? I thought this guy was rich but he doesn’t seem to have any money.” And the older guy says “Now you get it!”

          So, yeah, basically it’s a Grisham novel come to life.

        • FL Resister says:

          That’s what Jay Sucksalot, Pat (hint his wife gave birth to a baseball team), and Rudy on the Spot are there to do, create fuzziness and another 24 hours for Trump to breathe in.

      • Peterr says:

        To finish the thought . . .

        If Trump simply pardoned Stone, then Stone would have to testify against Trump. By commuting Stone’s sentence, Trump leaves intact Stone’s Fifth amendment rights, and thus protects himself against this kind of testimony.

  9. timbo says:

    The message is clear. Trump will commute or pardon the sentence of any dirty tricksters who work over our democracy this summer and fall. Disgusting. Has anyone resigned from the DoJ yet over this commutation? Or is the place cleared of all who have a concern for any notion that those in power should be held accountable for their crimes?

    • P J Evans says:

      no, he only does that for people who can benefit him. Stone knows which bodies are buried where: it’s vital for Donald that *that* information not get to investigators.

  10. Mr. Chip says:

    Democracy is getting its ass kicked everywhere. Turkey, Mexico, Japan, Hungary, Poland, Italy, India? The US and UK have their shittiest presidents ever at the same time. 2020 is really a do or die year for all the marbles in my humble opinion. But it’s also probably too late, just a matter of how fast or slow depending on which party is elected, also my humble opinion. Oh and Siberia is on fire. And covid 19 plague. And Locust plague. And there’s some new plague potentially. But it is Friday!!

    • John Lehman says:

      What doesn’t kill us will make us stronger.
      Democracy had a really rough road during the 1930’s also. Took the horrors of WW2 for Democracy to make a come back and the League of Nations did evolve into a much stronger and prestigious United Nations.

  11. Marinela says:

    Plus, he is personally familiar with how George Bush bought Scooter Libby’s silence with a commutation, given that Trump finally got around to pardoning Libby.

    I understand why Bush commuted Libby’s sentence, instead of pardoning Libby.
    So why now it was ok for Trump to pardon Libby?
    It means that Libby can be forced to testify and cannot claim the firth. Is this correct assumption?
    What did Trump accomplished by pardoning Libby?
    Aside for a “favor”.

    • Peterr says:

      It would be interesting to see if there was a federal prosecutor interested in seeking Libby’s testimony against Dick Cheney.

      I’m not going to hold my breath, but it sure would be interesting.

  12. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    How afraid would you have to be to pardon a guy who coordinated with Wikileaks, and Manafort (who gave voting data to Russia/Kilimnick)?

    The walls must be closing in on DJT.
    This smells so strongly of fear that I can detect it all the way from the Left Coast.

  13. PeterS says:

    I am a humble foreigner but I’m always trying to learn more about your wonderful country. This week I am again learning about your legal system.

    Although you have real jury trials, it seems that the verdict of the jury is not so important.

    Someone called “Attorney General”, working for the President, can try and persuade the judge not to give a long prison sentence. 

    And if that doesn’t work the President can just say the word and his friends don’t have to go to prison.

    Please forgive me if I have got some facts wrong. I am so happy to find that your legal system is like mine at home. In my republic we have lots of bananas.

    • bmaz says:

      Naw, you have it about right. Only counts for friends of Trump and Barr though. I can attest that the regular jury trial system is okay though, even if not perfect, and that juries usually reach the right verdict. They did in these cases too.

    • John Lehman says:

      Ya, sadly, sometimes we just have to leave the administration of justice to the hand of destiny.
      More or less the same through out the whole world. But we’re doing what we can in our little corner of it.

      What country are you from?

  14. klynn says:

    So, some questions:
    1. Stone still has to appear in court before ABJ correct?

    2. As obstruction, and ABJ knows it is based on the evidence she has seen, is she obligated in any way to make that known to the public?( I mean we all know it is obstruction as well, just trying to learn the court’s obligation to addressing it.)

    3. Is there a path forward for her to address obstruction on a case she served as judge?

    4. Is she able to address Stone’s violation of her gag order through false FB accounts?

    5. Can she issue protection for jurors?

    6. If Stone threatens jurors now, can anything be done legally to Stone?

      • klynn says:

        Thank you. Depressing, but thank you.

        So is Congress the path forward on obstruction? Could anyone else with knowledge of the evidence bring obstruction charges?

        Sorry for all the questions – I really do not understand how any justice carries forward under these circumstances before the election. After the election, should Biden win, I somewhat understand the possible scenarios, but before, I’m lost on what could be done.

  15. bmaz says:

    No, he did not, and Trump did not “pardon” Stone. A subset of the general Constitutional “pardon power” under Article II, Section 2 is “reprieves”.

    • Jenny says:

      Thank you bmaz for the correction regarding “pardon.”
      Restate. Trump communtes sentence of Stone to help himself.

      “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.”
      Trump, according to written testimony by James Comey released on June 7

      • Jenny says:

        Admitting Stone wants a favor in order to keep silent?

        Howardfineman on Twitter: 4:06 PM · Jul 10, 2020
        Just had a long talk with #RogerStone. He says he doesn’t want a pardon (which implies guilt) but a commutation, and says he thinks #Trump will give it to him. “He knows I was under enormous pressure to turn on him. It would have eased my situation considerably. But I didn’t.”

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          It’s almost as if they orchestrated staying on the same page of the hymnal.

          Their conspiracy is blatant and open. They are daring the Democrats to prosecute, conduct oversight, or enact reform legislation, confident that they will, instead, drift toward those sunlit uplands that lay just beyond god’s all-embracing election.

  16. viget says:

    I’m going out on a limb here, but might this be bad news for Barr? Since Barr has stated under oath that this sort of behavior is tantamount to obstruction, and given Roger’s public statements about clemency, there clearly was a conspiracy to obstruct. Might prosecutors be able to ensnare Barr into this conspiracy too, since he seems to have performed obstructive acts vis-a-vis the alteration of the sentencing memo? And, I’m sure, other things we don’t yet know about?

    If DOJ employees or the FBI have clear and convincing evidence of this, is there any mechanism for a special prosecutor to be appointed?

    And if that’s true, wouldn’t the best move here for Barr be to resign and cut a deal? With this Stone commutation, it’s clear Trump isn’t listening to Barr because he made it explicit that clemency would be a very bad idea.

    Thus, Trump is only looking out for #1 and Barr must know this. How long before Trump throws Barr under the bus? Eventually, he is going to have to do it. AG’s have been prosecuted before, see John Mitchell.

    • viget says:

      Thinking this through some more… Hell they could charge it now with Trump as an unindicted conspirator, given the findings of the Mueller report. I assume that would have to be through District of DC though, and I’m guessing Barr’s lackey won’t allow it.

  17. Vicks says:

    “An organized conspiracy to maintain power”
    Steve Schmidt
    I will add “at any cost”
    Schmidt was referencing the fact that members of Congress don’t give a shit about what their actual jobs are, but to me that handful of words boiled the situation down in a simple but terrifying way I could never find the words for.

  18. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump, of course, can grasp no interest but his own. He did not extend clemency to Roger Stone, except collaterally. He extended clemency to himself. He bought omerta, to hide his crimes. He also bought a potential obstruction charge.

  19. foggycoast says:

    this is the last straw in expecting any justice to be meted out to any trump conspirators during his time in office. the constitution and the legal system has failed us. time to focus on a fair and free election.

    if biden wins and many or most of these scum end up in prison it will be a hollow and soon forgotten outcome. the country will move on and pay little attention to them. the damage is already done.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      The Constitution has not failed us, in and of itself.
      The feckless, corrupt GOP, which appears to have been largely funded by offshore money from a variety of interests (funneled through NRA and RNC), has failed us utterly.

      Trump would never have been possible without Citizen’s United, aka “money = speech” subverting election laws, to say nothing of a whole offshore finance infrastructure designed to hide and anonymize money. SCOTUS bears some responsibility for the current mess.

      The ‘system’ did not fail us: individuals did.
      A feckless Paul Ryan, a tyrannical Mitch McConnell (and his cadre of geriatric senators who came of age in the 1950s), the venality of Stone, Manafort, and their ilk. All their Pyrrhic victories are finally sinking them, but it’s a slow process. People will not forget this time, and they will want the culprits held accountable.

      Part of our current cultural era includes NeverTrump Republicans forming The Lincoln Project to deliver some partisan whoop-ass. It also includes ‘Former Trump Voters’, who identify as Republicans, and explain on YouTube why they will *never* vote for Trump, why they plan to vote for Biden, and why they encourage others to join them.

      They appear to be decent, thoughtful, sincere, and resolved. Their videos make clear that for all the media narrative about ‘civil war’ and ‘polarization’, most people are fundamentally decent, and millions of us are *completely* fed up — not only with the Trump cadre, but with the Senate (and House) GOP. What we are seeing is the potential emergence of decency, of conversation, and of a new level of civility. (If you have not seen the videos, head over to YouTube and watch a few; they are good for the soul.)

      There is a **potential** of 58 Democratic Senate seats. I would not have believed it a week ago, but between the rise of COVID numbers, frustration and exasperation over racism, Trump’s brazen lawlessness, and the inability of the GOP to provide for public safety, 58 Dem seats are now possible. (As a bonus, some of the Dem candidates have excellent practical experience, and encyclopedic knowledge about the nuts and bolts of governing.)

      Voters are not going to simply ‘forgive and forget’ once the election is over.

      People will not forget that a neighbor or family member is dealing with post-COVID complications, that it is still hard to get a COVID test, that the GOP/Trump administration still goes to court to deprive people of health care. And they will never forget the joblessness, the fear of losing businesses, the isolation, nor the ‘lost summer’.
      People will never forget this time.

      We are currently watching the veil ripped off an utterly corrupt, depraved system. It’s appalling and it’s awful, but it’s necessary if we are to see more clearly and navigate more astutely. The glass is more than half full.
      Take heart.

      • DrFunguy says:

        Thanks for that. That’s some well-reasoned and inspiring writing.
        Half the reason I come here is the comments, the other 90% is the original posts.

        “Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts.”

        W. Berry
        from Manifesto:The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

      • foggycoast says:

        meh, by 1975 few other than the political class were concerned with the fates of nixon, haldeman, erlichman, colson, mitchell, mccord et al. the same will happen here.

        the constitution and legal system as supposed to protect us from people like this from succeeding. it failed miserably.

        lofty rhetoric all well and good. this whole debacle is a fail for america. there is just no denying that.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          You don’t read much history, do you? You obviously weren’t there, or you would know better.

        • bmaz says:

          I don’t get takes like this, the “Constitution and legal system” are not autonomous machines that magically control and fix things. They depend at root on people and society.

        • foggycoast says:

          no. the system is supposed to protect us from becoming a government of “men” rather than laws. all here pretty much agree that what has gone on should not be allowed, should be prosecuted and there should be timely punishments both to remove bad players so they cannot do more damage and put the fear of god into the ones that are considering it.

          the design of the system with all its arcane bullshit that clever lawyers love so much is the reason for this fail, not the people. the people have tried mightily to end this and the laws have failed in that regard.

        • bmaz says:

          No the “system” depends on men and women, maybe we can agree to call them citizens, to function.

          It must be oh so convenient for you to carp on the internet that everything is the fault of “clever lawyers”.

          What a complete load of bleating fucking shit. That we are still here is also because of “clever lawyers”. Two of my mentors argued and won Miranda. Are you going to shit on them too out of ignorance while you’re sitting there in your silk upholstered chair?

        • foggycoast says:

          ok, from one bullshitter to another i guess. you tell me how these “citizens” are going to enforce congressional subpoenas, prevent the DoJ from abusing its powers, have a real trial in the case of impeachment, resolve disputes between branches of government when SCOTUS refuses. and on and on. i’ll agree that people need to enforce the laws but the laws themselves too often allow them to go unenforced. the legal and constitutional system failed us this time.

        • bmaz says:

          Listen, I am not bullshitting, I am affirmatively saying you are ignorant and have no clue about the law, how it was written nor how it is applied and the province of the citizenry. To be kind, feel free to fuck right off.

        • foggycoast says:

          that’s ok, i get that you don’t have a great response so you’ll resort to “fuck off”. i’ll stick by the statement that this is a systemic failure of the constitution and the laws of the land.

        • bmaz says:

          Hi there “Foggycoast”, my response is go to hell with your whiny ass stupid bunk. Buh bye. Also, too, feel free to fuck off; we really do not have time for your garbage.

          For anybody that has not paid attention to “Foggycoast”, here is a sample:

          “most white people were not slave owners.
          I know of plenty of bloviating black people.”

        • foggycoast says:

          and both statements are true. most lawyers have no use for the truth. they just want an angle and to win.

        • bmaz says:

          Dear “Foggycoast”, you are a rube and you are effectively done here.

          Your “most white people” and “I know of plenty of bloviating black people.” garbage is racist and ignorant. I am very done with you.

        • foggycoast says:

          you must be joking. those comments were to point out how racists rayne’s post was. and it was. you just dont like being wrong. would love to see you behave like this in front of a judge.

      • bmaz says:

        “Trump would never have been possible without Citizen’s United, aka “money = speech” subverting election laws, to say nothing of a whole offshore finance infrastructure designed to hide and anonymize money. SCOTUS bears some responsibility for the current mess.”

        Baloney. That money is First Amendment political speech is not controversial in the least, of course it is. Frankly CU has not affected all that much really. Buckley v. Valeo was the original sin. You need to look at Buckley first, and it has been around since 1976.

        Oh, and you will need to eliminate corporate personhood too. Good luck with that, because it will never happen. There are a lot of reasons that Trump got elected, but Citizens United is not particularly one of them at all. It is not even the real problem with money in elections, Buckley is.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          Well, wasn’t Buckley decided before the era of tax havens, which put ‘money/finance’ on steroids? Ah, Wikipedia to the rescue again — it was decided in 1976; before the Internet, and before offshore tax havens. (I was overseas and had to make an appointment with the telecom three days ahead, and pay a minor fortune, just to ‘phone home’ at the appointed time and check in with my parents, so IIRC the era of Buckley was almost primitive compared with today, where I can get money from a cash machine in Paris using a debit card issued in Seattle, and then use my iPhone to call England, Idaho, or Hong Kong while I walk away from the ATM. I offer this as a bit of context to help think about the telecomm and social environments in which Buckley was decided.)

          If you insist that Citizens United was about First Amendment, apparently The Wikipedia agrees with you, and I must amend my thinking.

          It’s droll to read in Wikipedia that Mitch McConnell was enthusiastic about the 2010 (post-Internet) ruling.

          And, oh look! Here’s McConnell’s Wikipedia page, where it is reported that he married heiress Chao in 1993, and upon the death of her father, by 2008 was worth between $5,000,000 and $25,000,000. That guy just keeps accruing more and more ‘speech’ over the years: what a coinkydink 🧐

          As for Citizens United thanks for the correction. This post by Marcy is definitely worth a re-read:

          I still maintain my ‘glass half full’ view of things overall: what we are seeing is ghastly – kids in cages, Roger Stone’s sentence ‘commuted’ with a buffoonish, loony tirade by Trump, yada yada.

          But we are also seeing some genuinely talented people running campaigns, and we are starting to hear from ‘normal, ordinary’ **decent, thoughtful** people who take citizenship seriously. What a time to be alive ;-)

        • bmaz says:

          My point is mostly that it is all far more complicated and deeper than “Repeal CU!” The key is sensible regulation, which could be done if there was a legislative will for it. Same thing as guns, it can be done.

          Like many early articles I wrote before we moved from FDL here to our own site though, I am pretty sure I wrote that post, it just looks like Marcy did.

          Oh, and by the way, Kagan did show herself to not really have advocacy chops, and did kind of embarrass herself in that O/A as Solicitor General. She has proven to be a decent Justice, though nowhere near Sotomayor.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          I wondered about authorship. IMVHO, that piece holds up really well over time.

          It seems likely that the experience of actually having to go to trial would sharpen one’s knowledge, but I defer to the attorneys around here for that — if that observation is true, however, it seems to bode ill for many of FedSoc and McConnell’s toady’s. Long on theory, but short on actual experience? Without practical experience, they are easily drawn to ideology because they have no “stabilizing keel” of actually having to deal with the paradoxes and perplexities of life?

          “All hat, no cattle”, would be the Texas phraseology, I suppose.

  20. klynn says:

    IANAL but…
    A lawyer just said to me that Stone was at risk for charges at the state level and that those charges could not be interfered with by POTUS. Is this possible?

  21. Jenny says:

    See a pattern? List of felons.
    Manafort, Campaign Manager
    Gates, Deputy Campaign Manager
    Flynn, National Security Advisor
    Papadopoulous, Foreign Policy Advisor
    Cohen, Personal Lawyer
    Stone, Personal Advisor

    The Roger Stone Commutation Is Even More Corrupt Than It Seems

    Robert Mueller: Roger Stone remains a convicted felon, and rightly so

  22. mospeck says:

    Concerning All Star Billy Barr: from the closed House Judiciary Committee interview of G Berman, former USA SDNY, some excerpts from C Fenwick, AlterNet for us non lawyers.
    Berman explained:
    The Attorney General praised me privately and publicly. Why then did he insist on me resigning during Clayton’s confirmation process? Why did the Attorney General say that I was stepping down when he knew I had neither resigned nor been fired?
    Why did the Attorney General not tell me the actual reason he was asking me to resign instead of saying that it was to get Clayton into the position? And why did he announce the appointment of Craig Carpenito as acting U.S. attorney when Audrey Strauss was the logical and normal successor?
    I believe the Attorney General was trying to entice me to resign so that an outsider could be put into the acting U.S. attorney position at the Southern District of New York, which would have resulted in the delay and disruption of ongoing
    And let me just say that the appointment of Craig Carpenito or anyone from outside of the Southern District of New York as an acting U.S. attorney and bypassing Audrey Strauss, the universally respected deputy of the United States Attorney’s Office, was something that would cause a disruption and delay in our investigations.
    I’m not questioning Carpenito’s honesty or integrity, but all of these events were irregular and unexplained and raised serious concerns for me. Firing me and then bypassing my deputy Audrey Strauss to place Carpenito in charge of the office would have caused significant disruption and delay in the investigations the office was handling.
    Q: You don’t have any concerns — you hadn’t testified about any concerns you have about the Attorney General’s integrity, correct?
    Berman: I don’t know what the Attorney General’s motives were.
    Q: Do you have any concerns about his integrity?
    Berman: I don’t know what the Attorney General’s motives were.
    Q: But you have not testified — you have not provided any testimony here today that signals you have concerns about the Attorney General’s honesty or integrity or fitness to serve, fitness to make decisions that he’s empowered to make under the statutes, correct?
    Berman: I do not know what the Attorney General’s motives were.
    My primary concern in that meeting was not so much the Clayton nomination and confirmation process. That was going to take a long time. My primary concern was not to have an acting U.S. attorney from outside the office placed in that position in the near future.
    The proposal to bring in Craig Carpenito from the outside to be acting U.S. attorney, as I said, was unprecedented, unnecessary, and unexplained. Unprecedented because for about the past 70 years every Southern District of New York U.S. attorney has been succeeded by his or her deputy or the next U.S. attorney and not by an outside acting U.S. attorney, as the Attorney General wanted done with Carpenito.
    So, for example, beginning with Ed Lumbard back in 1953, he was succeeded by his deputy Lloyd MacMahon, who was succeeded by — Paul Williams, the next U.S. attorney, who was succeeded by his deputy, Arthur Christy. Hazard Gillespie, the next U.S. attorney, was succeeded by his deputy, Morton Robson. Bob Morgenthau, the next U.S. attorney, was succeeded by his deputy, Vincent Broderick, and so on. So, for 70 years, that had been the normal and appropriate practice.
    In addition, putting in Carpenito from the outside was completely unnecessary. The office’s deputy, Audrey Strauss, has a sterling reputation and knows the investigations and cases and would be the logical and normal choice for acting U.S. attorney.
    And, finally, putting someone like Craig Carpenito in as acting was unexplained. When I questioned the Attorney General why I was being asked to resign before Clayton was confirmed, he said to get Clayton in the job. He never mentioned Carpenito. The AG has never given a reason for passing over Audrey Strauss.
    The Attorney General said that if I did not resign from my position I would be fired. He added that getting fired from my job would not be good for my resume or future job prospects. I told him that, while I did not want to get fired, I would not resign.
    Q: On June 19th, the very same day Barr announced to the public that you would be stepping down, the Justice Department issued a letter to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio criticizing the city’s enforcement of social distancing rules. It was signed by Eric Dreiband, the head of DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. Did the topic of that letter, or stay at home orders generally, come up during your discussions with Barr on June 19th?
    Berman: No.
    Q: Were you ever, by Barr or anyone else, asked to sign that letter?
    Berman: I decline to answer that question, because it is outside of the parameters established for the interview.
    Q Sir, I’m sure you’re aware of the public reports that you were asked to sign that letter and refused the very day before Barr announced that you would be stepping down. Would you tell us if those reports were untrue?
    Berman: Is the premise of your question that, hypothetically, my refusal to sign that letter might have played some role in the Attorney General’s decision to have me fired?
    Q: Not hypothetically. Do you know whether ..
    Berman: I’m asking you. Please answer my question, because I could only answer this in a hypothetical way.
    Q: Sure, in a hypothetical way.
    Berman: Then the whole premise of your question seems — seems problematic, because had I — had that letter played any role in the Attorney General’s thinking, why would he have offered me to be chief of the Civil Division, which oversees all such letters?

    OT, but we are such a mad hatter of a country. Concerning the Redskins name and helmet logo change, them losing the noble Blackfeet Indian on their helmet, which I and other NFL fans thought was the best helmet in the league btw.. What about “The Washington Swampers”? and Snyder hires Gary Larson to draw the logo?

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