Russian Ukraine invasion is Europe’s 9-11

Editor's Introduction: Ray Kreig, right, an Alaskan prominent in that state's conservative circles and also the older brother of the undersigned editor of the Justice Ray Kreig 160x160.jpgIntegrity Project, seeks in this guest essay to persuade readers in the column below to support strongly Ukraine's defensive war against Russian invaders.  Must Read Alaska and Alaska Watchman, two conservative Alaska-based publications, first published the column. The author, a consulting engineer and civic activist, was in the Soviet Union during the Soviet coup d’état against Mikhail Gorbachev in August, 1991.

An appendix includes recent news excerpted as part of a daily feature on the Justice Integrity Project's news section.  Shown below at left is one of the world's iconic recent images, which portrays the reaction of Ukraine's president to suggestions from afar last February that he should flee the Russian invasion to try to establish a government-in-exile. This editor had plans, thwarted by travel delays, to meet at a roundtable dinner for 20 on Dec. 5 convened by Semafor with three Ukrainian officials visiting the United States to discuss the current situation there.

-- Andrew Kreig / Justice Integrity Project Editor

 

Russian Ukraine invasion is Europe’s 9-11

Conservatives must not excuse what Putin has unleashed on Ukraine

 

ukraine magnifying glass

 

By Ray Kreig

Recently propagated by Republican members of the Alaska Legislature are two narratives about which they should know better:

• First, that George Soros (Open Society Foundations) helped Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy become president of Ukraine through massive propaganda campaign and he now backs the puppet regime he installed.

• Second, that Ukrainian President Zelenskyy [shown below at left] is tied to Klaus Schwab (World Economic Forum), Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and other global elites.

According to the theory, the enemy (Russian President Vladimir Putin) of my enemy (Soros) is my friend. Therefore, apparently, there should be a hesitation to support Zelenskyy and Ukraine’s resistance of the Russian invasion at this pivotal point in history.

Conservatives are justified for crucifying President Joe Biden for his weakness inviting the invasion itself while he continues to pander to green energy as prices burisma logoskyrocket. Outrage is also warranted as Biden demands defense of Ukraine’s borders while he opens our own to massive illegal immigration. His son Hunter Biden’s sleaze with his suspicious Ukrainian gas company Burisma “no-show job” also is a justifiable cause for outrage.

volodmyer zelinsky graphicBut in pounding away on these points, things go off the rails when the rhetoric turns to, “There is no U.S. interest in Ukraine,” “Ukraine is a corrupt, undemocratic failed state,” concepts espoused by Fox News and Tucker Carlson. 

That is wrong. The U.S. has an essential national interest in a Russia that stands down from authoritarianism, becomes a functioning democracy and reduced military threat.  We would save trillions of dollars and live in a better world. The future of Ukraine is critical to that much larger objective.

Some opine that the West, and America in particular, is responsible for this invasion because the continued expansion of the NATO military alliance eastward to Russia’s borders threatens Russian national security.  Is Ukraine then doomed to remain in a Russian sphere of influence as some sort of vassal state to Moscow, notwithstanding the desires of Ukrainians themselves to look to the West, the EU for their integration into a free market and democracy?  It’s completely understandable that, feeling threatened by Russia, Ukraine would want to be a part of the NATO defense alliance.

Yes, Russia and Putin have been consistent for over two decades in saying NATO and Ukraine pose an unacceptable threat to Russia and regional security. They use the missiles in Cuba analogy. Maybe the West did push NATO too hard and too far East to the borders of Russia, but these expansions were popular and were wanted by the people in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland.  

Maybe this invasion was avoidable with better, more adroit diplomacy that sought to probe the limits of Russia’s security concerns while not conceding our own principles. Maybe Russia President Putin and his proud countryman in mourning for the loss of the Soviet Empire should not have been insulted and embarrassed by a triumphant West after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

By no means does any of this excuse what Putin has unleashed. Thousands of innocent people have perished.  All thinking and feeling people around the world are shocked and disgusted by the devastation and carnage being unleashed on that poor country. The sight of rows of apartment buildings, cars, factories, hospitals, schools, bridges, and public buildings being rocketed and bombed is disgusting and unacceptable for all civilized people. 

Continued below

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Analysis: Pro-Trump US Prosecutor loses ‘Russiagate’ Jury Verdicts but PR Battles Loom

 

 

U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel John Durham, right, is shown in a file photo with international consultant Igor Danchenko, defendant in a false statement prosecution that represents in a trial scheduled to begin Tuesday the culmination of a Durham probe began with his Trump administration appointment in 2019 to investigate Trump allegations that the president was being smeared by suspicions that Trump and his campaign team acted in cooperation with Russian interests and entities in the 2016 era.  U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel John Durham, right, is shown in a file photo with international consultant Igor Danchenko, defendant in a false statement prosecution that represents in a trial scheduled to begin Tuesday the culmination of a Durham probe began with his Trump administration appointment in 2019 to investigate Trump allegations that the president was being smeared by suspicions that Trump and his campaign team acted in cooperation with Russian interests and entities before the 2016 presidential election.

 U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel John Durham, above right, is shown in a file photo with international consultant Igor Danchenko, who was acquitted this October of false statements in the likely end of a Durham probe that began with his 2019 appointment by the Trump administration. Durham has sought to prove that Trrump was unfairly smeared by opponents, operatives and FBI personnel claiming that Trump and his campaign team had acted in cooperation with Russian interests and entities.

 

By Andrew Kreig

Excerpted from Global Strat View

A Virginia jury verdict in October probably thwarted the last hope of Trump supporters to use a special counsel’s investigation of “Russiagate” to prove criminally in court that rogue members of the FBI conspired with Democrats to make false allegations of Russian help for the 2016 Trump presidential campaign.

Trump supporters in Congress and the media are predicting, however, that they can use Justice Department Special Counsel John Durham’s final report to keep conspiracy allegations alive despite his losses in court.

william barr new oTrump Attorney General William Barr, right, named Durham in 2019 to investigate Trump’s allegations that Democrats working with FBI personnel smeared his 2016 campaign and several advisors with false theories of “collusion” with Russians.

“The special counsel’s looming report is the only chance the American people will ever get to hold the Clinton campaign and the FBI accountable for Russiagate,” according to a National Review article by conservative pundit Andrew McCarthy on Oct. 22, four days after the jury verdict.

donald trump for president button nice smileMeanwhile, Newsweek published “Durham Blasted by Experts After New Acquittal: ‘Laughed Out of Court Twice'” by Aila Slisco, who reported mockery of Durham elsewhere in the legal community for not fulfilling Trump’s prediction that the prosecutor would prove “the crime of the century” in a massive conspiracy. Below is a sample of comments from that article:

FBI logoLaurence Tribe, professor emeritus of constitutional law at Harvard University, told Newsweek that the acquittal was evidence Durham’s “groundless mission has now failed yet again, putting yet another dismal marker on William Barr’s shameful record as Trump’s henchman and the worst Attorney General in our nation’s history.”

“John Durham racks up another acquittal, this time on a case he tried personally,” legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Elie Honig tweeted. “His investigation will go down as a shameful abuse of prosecutorial power in service of political vengeance. Juries — our most basic civilian bulwark — have firmly rebuked this abuse of power.”

Read the rest of this Global Strat View story at: https://www.globalstratview.com/analysis-pro-trump-us-prosecutor-loses-russiagate-jury-verdicts-but-pr-battles-loom.

About the Author: Andrew Kreig, a Global Strat View (GSV) advisory board member, edits the non-partisan Justice Integrity Project in Washington, DC, following a long career in law, journalism, and business. He covered the US Justice Department full-time for five years while working for the Hartford Courant in Connecticut and holds law degrees from both Yale and the University of Chicago. In "On Eve of ‘RussiaGate’ Trial, Questions Loom About Special Counsel Durham," he previewed in May for GSV the DOJ’s major “Russiagate” trials and he is now shaping several years of his research about the investigation into a book.

 

Click below to see a sampling of recent news clips about this much-reported case from other news and opinion outlets.

 

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Steady, Commentary by Dan Rather: Breaking the Republic

 

Editor's Note: The following guest column was written by Dan Rather, right, following revelations on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022 about former President Donald dan rather 2017Trump during what is expected to be the final House Jan. 6 dan rather steady logoCommittee hearing investigating the pro-Trump insurrection of Jan. 6, 2020 at the U.S. Capitol.

This was first published in Rather's near-daily column "Steady," which he so named to urge readers to stay balanced during our troubled times. This editor is a subscriber to the columns, which are published in collaboration with Elliot Kirschner and benefit from Rather's experience and blunt, colorful style. Rather, whose 91st birthday is Oct. 31 and who currently based in his native Texas, is the iconic author and journalist who worked for many years as the CBS Evening News anchor and managing editor.

-- Andrew Kreig, Justice Integrity Project editor

 

 

Jan. 6, 2020 Capitol Riot (Photo by Brent Stirton via Getty Images).

Jan. 6, 2020 Capitol Riot (Photo by Brent Stirton via Getty Images).

Steady, Commentary: Breaking The Republic, January 6 wasn’t an accident, Dan Rather, Oct. 14, 2022. “That, my fellow citizens, breaks the republic.”

dan rather 2017This was the chilling conclusion of Liz Cheney today at the January 6 hearings over what would have happened if the guardrails of our democracy, exposed for their frailty in 2020, had buckled to an autocrat determined to hold onto power.

And the danger remains. “Without accountability, it all becomes normal, and it will recur,” Cheney warned.

dan rather steady logoCheney’s statement is striking in its simplicity and its power. Her audience is her “fellow citizens,” the ones who will be going to the polls in less than a month to decide who should lead this nation going forward. Her fellow Republicans have cast Cheney as a pariah for having the courage to state the truth: that their leader wanted to destroy America as we know it.

What the committee presented today shed a spotlight on the authorship of this historic tragedy. It is Trump who is the playwright, conjuring and casting the roles of those who would act out his destructive intentions. It was he who dreamt up and directed a frontal attack on American democracy. But he couldn’t have done it without his willing accomplices.

Today, we saw footage of members of Congress grappling in real time with a deteriorating situation on January 6 that could have ended with more bloodshed and the decimation of governmental order. We could feel a visceral fear in their actions and words, not only for their own personal safety but for the safety of the nation they had sworn an oath to serve. Those who could have intervened, starting with the president but including his top aides inside the White House, were absent. And that is just as the president wanted it. We heard today evidence that Trump knew he had lost, and he didn’t care what it would take to retain power.

Or are we now so divided that we can no longer be sure? This is the overriding question as our beloved America evolves in the first quarter of the 21st century.

 

djt flag

President Donald J. Trump is introduced on stage Saturday, March 2, 2019, at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Oxon Hill, MD. 

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Whistleblower Panel Focuses On Justice Dept. Scandal, Unaccountability

 

Victims and whistleblowers central to a major human rights scandal at the U.S. Justice Department will be among the speakers at the 10th Annual Whistleblower Summit and Film Festival this week in Washington, DC.

A panel on July 26 organized by the Justice Integrity Project is scheduled to include former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, right, and Don SiegelmanHealthSouth founder and former CEO Richard Scrushy, each of whom served more than six years in prison on what many observers have long regarded as trumped-up corruption charges.

Justice Department log circularThe Justice Department, then controlled by political enemies of Siegelman, manufactured the charges more than 15 years ago in cooperation with Alabama Republicans. The purpose?  To end Siegelman’s political career in disgrace and imprisonment -- and also oust Scrushy from leadership of the multi-billion-dollar company he had founded and to profit from his ouster, critics say.

Participating also on the panel “Righting the Wrongs of a ‘Shadow Government’” in the week-long conference will be Tami Todd, the former top Justice Department paralegal for the prosecution. She was fired after raising concerns internally with tommy gallionthe Justice Department about the gross irregularities that she had witnessed implicating high-level lawyers leading the prosecution.

Another panelist is Thomas T. Gallion, III, right, a prominent attorney for many years in Alabama. He has described the prosecution as part of a scandalous hidden history of corrupt prosecutions extending back decades that he believes occur without accountability from ostensibly reputable employees of the Justice Department and their allies.

The Tuesday session is at 1 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, the second day of the conference, and is available for free remote viewing for registrants visiting this site.

The Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival

This week's event features panels, films, awards and co-located events by other whistleblower groups. The Summit event ends on July 30 with a Tribute to Dick Gregory providing comedy, plus an awards presentation that features celebrity host Marsha Warfield at the Busboys & Poets Restaurant in the Adams-Morgan neighborhood in the nation’s capital.

The Summit and Film Festival has been managed for years by Michael McCray and Marcel Reid, two former national board members of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), who joined the whistleblowing community by protesting corruption within michael mccray marcel reid race power politicsACORN, as recounted in the McCray's memoir, Race, Power & Politics (2009), right, written with Reid.

The event is normally based primarily on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. But it relies heavily this year on Zoom and other remote viewing because of the region’s recent upsurge of coronavirus cases. The program began on Monday, July 25, with a series of panel discussions underscoring the importance of whistleblowing in fostering a healthy civic life in the United States.

Regarding the Justice Integrity Project panel on July 26, it will be moderated by this editor, Andrew Kreig, who has written extensively about the Alabama scandals, including a comprehensive investigative story front-paged for days by the Huffington Post in 2009:

Huffington Post, Siegelman Deserves New Trial Because of Judge’s ‘Grudge’, Evidence Shows….$300 Million in Bush Military Contracts Awarded to Judge’s Private Company. The Alabama federal judge who presided over the 2006 corruption trial of the state's former governor holds a grudge against the defendant for helping to expose the judge's own alleged corruption six years ago.

Former Gov. Don Siegelman therefore deserves a new trial with an unbiased judge ─ not one whose privately owned company, Doss Aviation, has been enriched by the Bush administration's award of $300 million in contracts since 2006, making the judge millions in non-judicial income.

Panelists will describe their experiences and share their thoughts on how best to reform the justice system, a continuing issue involving many controversial situations nationally these days involving the Justice Department, whose personnel are usually praised instinctively by mainstream journalists whose work encourages them to rely on authorities for information.

Alabama Injustice, With National Implications

As for specifics of the 2006 convictions of the Democrat Siegelman and the Republican Scrushy in Alabama’s state capital of Montgomery on highly dubious corruption charges:

The irregularities in the case before Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller of the Alabama Middle District prompted massive, unsuccessful and rare -- if not unprecedented -- protests by former prosecutors, law professors and grassroots protesters, with a few journalists breaking the tradition of accepting prosecution allegations with scant criticism.

Some 113 former state attorneys general, the chief law enforcers from more than forty states, wrote an unsuccessful friend-of-the-court brief to the U.S. Supreme Court arguing unsuccessfully that no crime had been committed when Scrushy’s company contributed to a non-profit that Siegelman had founded to advocate for better funding for Alabama’s schools. Similarly, more than 40 law professors filed similar arguments in seeking Supreme Court review of the convictions by a jury that rejected the most serious charges against the defendants but compromised to find some guilty verdicts under pressure from the presiding judge.

Our Justice Integrity Project, which published dozens of investigative articles about irregularities in the case, has estimated that well over 200,000 complaints via letters, phone calls and emails from the public about the verdict were received by the Justice Department and White House as part of what became a human rights scandal of global notoriety.

Among those journalists first raising serious questions about the prosecution were investigative reports in 2007 by Harper’s legal columnist Scott Horton, independent bloggers Roger Shuler, Wayne Madsen and Glynn Wilson, and investigative commentary by a few journalists at the New York Times, Time Magazine, CBS News and NBC News.

don siegelman 60 minCBS “60 Minutes,” for example, broadcast a 2008 investigative report led by correspondent Scott Pelley featuring Republican attorneys, including then-McCain for President co-chair Grant Woods, right, a former Arizona attorney general. Woods argued that the prosecution by fellow Republicans in the Bush Administration and Alabama state government was grant woodsbased on politics, not a sound reading of relevant law.

The CBS report also quoted Alabama attorney Dana Jill Simpson, who stated that she had been a Republican operative for years and knew that fellow Republicans, including then Senior Bush White House Advisor Karl Rove, had targeted Siegelman to prevent him from winning re-election in 2006 after he was narrowly defeated in 2002 following his 1999-2003 term.

As one conflict that Todd (then using the last name Grimes) had separately highlighted, Middle District U.S. Attorney Leura Canary was married to longtime Rove ally William Canary, the campaign manager for Siegelman’s Republican bob rileygubernatorial opponent in 2006, Gov. Bob Riley, left.

As part of the congressional inquiries into the so-called "U.S. Attorney Firing Scandal" of 2006 whereby the Bush administration fired presidentially appointed U.S. attorneys unwilling to bring dubious cases against Democrats, Simpson gave testimony before House Judiciary Committee staff in 2007. She stated that the Siegelman/Scrushy presiding judge, Fuller, a Republican, “hated” Siegelman because of previous political controversies and that Rove led an effort to use the Justice Department to imprison Siegelman to help Republicans win elections in Alabama, with parallel efforts elsewhere.

The courtroom irregularities and the pattern of nationwide abuses attracted also brave but seemingly fruitless interventions by numerous whistleblowers trying to reverse the apparent frame-up of two of Alabama’s most prominent citizens and the destruction of their life’s work, Siegelman and Scrushy.

Richard Scrushy (Early in Career)The central allegation by prosecutors to win their corruption convictions was that Siegelman reappointed Scrushy, a Republican shown at left early in his career, to an Alabama state health board. This was in the same general time frame that  Scrushy’s corporate entities made substantial donations to help retire the debt for a Siegelman-led non-profit that had advocated in a 1998 referendum for more state funding for public schools via creation of a state lottery that might undercut income for private casinos that opposed the lottery.

Siegelman and Scrushy have both denied that there was any “quid pro quo” between the donation and reappointment, with Scrushy saying he did not even want to be on the regulatory board since he was a CEO running a multi-billion-dollar company. Scrushy has said also that he routinely authorized major charitable and political donations for Alabama causes as part of normal operations for a large company, with generous contributions to Republican governors before Siegelman's term.

But prosecutors presented at trial a witness, former Siegelman aide, Nick Bailey, who was facing serious prison time for separate offenses, who richard scrushy it should not happensuggested a relationship between the donations and the reappointment.

Since then experts have repeatedly challenged Bailey’s credibility and focused on many legal irregularities. These include up to 70 secret government pre-trial interrogations of Bailey at an Air Force base, in effect coaching sessions, led by a prosecutor who was a colonel in the Air Force reserves and also without required disclosure to defense counsel of the prosecutors' actions. Such disclosures to the defense to enable it to prepare are ordinarily required under Supreme Court precedent.

Among post-conviction developments: Scrushy was stripped of his leadership of HealthSouth and incurred a $500 million civil fraud judgment while he was imprisoned in the Siegelman scase and unable to defend himself adequately in court. He later published a powerful memoir, It Should Not Happen in America: From Selma to Wall Street, a Journey of Fire and Faith. 

don siegelman stealing our democracy CustomSo did Siegelman in his Stealing Our Democracy: How the Political Assassination of a Governor Threatens Our Nation, shown at left.

Panelists will describe their experiences and share their thoughts on how best to reform the system.

Separately, Gallion, published a memoir Shadow Government: Southern Style – A Saga of Political Corruption rom DC to Dixie, describing the years of injustice he has witnessed as a prominent Alabama attorney active in the Republican Party and based in the state capitol.

He decries the injustice of the Siegelman and Scrushy prosecutions, as well as numerous other cases dating back seven decades to a time when his late father was state attorney general.

His treatment blows the whistle on several of his well-connected Republican friends, including the trial judge in the case.

Gallion also links the prosecution to a desire by Alabama Republicans to profit from legalized gambling interests while maintaining a veneer of anti-gambling moralisms.

Gallion repeatedly refers to what he calls "The Cabal" running Alabama, which he describes as primarily Republicans but with important hidden relationships with powerful Democrats that he names. The identities are beyond the scope of this article but are readily found via his public comments as a whistleblower drawing on both research and personal observation.

In 2009, this editor profiled Todd and her heroic whistleblowing for a "Sue," nationwide magazine for paralegals in an article entitled, From Justice Dream Job to Nightmare…Why This Whistleblower Was Dissed & Dismissed. The magazine editor, Chere Estrin, told me it was the most important article they had ever published because it illustrated the pitfalls that paralegals can encounter even when they have every reason to think they are on the side of justice in a case.

GrimesTodd, who formerly used the last name "Grimes," has since become an attorney and is working on a memoir of her own that will address the lessons to be learned from the injustices she witnessed and the whistleblowing she undertook at the cost of her job at the Justice Department. She says she draws inspiration from, among other places, her small town upbringing, training in the law and the powerful best-seller Just Mercy (2014), authored by Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama.

Accountability?

Authorities from both major parties have always resisted detailed answers to questions about the irregularities in the case aside from legal filings that for the most part sidestepped issues, with affirmation by pro-prosecution judges who failed to deal in any detail with allegations of mind-boggling prosecution irregularities.

Eric HolderEric Holder, left, the attorney general in the Democratic administration of President Obama, told this editor in an improptu interview after a speech that he was a unfamiliar with the Siegelman case, a highly dubious assertion.

Among the reasons: Holder's wife is an Alabama native, Holder personally fired Todd in 2009, and his Justice Department ardently and successfully fought the Siegelman and Scrushy petitions to the U.S. Supreme Court for review that included the unprecedented friend-of-court arguments by the 113 former state attorneys general arguing that Siegelman and Scrushy had not committed any crime because of the donations to the non-profit Alabama Education Foundation.

Federal and state officials did pressure Fuller publicly and privately to resign from his lifetime appointment to the federal bench in 2015 after he was arrested the previous year for beating his wife, his former court clerk in the Siegelman-Scrushy case, in an Atlanta hotel room.

But that matter was separate from the many other scandals regarding the Siegelman/Scrushy cases and similar abuses that have remained unresolved and in many ways uninvestigated in any thorough manner.

 

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Perfidy Personified: Donald Trump Revelations Analyzed By Dan Rather

Editor's Note: The following guest column was written by Dan Rather, right, following revelations on Tuesday, July 12, 2022 about former President Donald dan rather 2017Trump during the seventh of the House Jan. 6 dan rather steady logoCommittee hearings.

This was first published in Rather's near-daily column "Steady," which he named to urge readers to stay balanced during our troubled times. This editor is a subscriber to the columns, published in collaboration with  Elliot Kirschner and benefiting from Rather's experience and blunt, colorful style. Rather, age 90 and currently based in his native Texas, is the iconic author and journalist who worked for many years as the CBS Evening News anchor and managing editor.

-- Andrew Kreig

 

 

President Donald Trump speaks to supporters from The Ellipse near the White House on January 6, 2021 (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

 

President Donald Trump speaks to supporters from The Ellipse near the White House on January 6, 2021 (Photo by Brendan Smialowski for Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)

 

Perfidy Personified: The more we learn, the worse it gets.

By Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner

Anger and concern well up. Anger and concern that are fueled by love for a country that has been violently transgressed. By a president of the United States no less. And with stunning complicity from those who actively participated in an attempted coup, and those who stood by and did nothing while their country teetered on the edge of chaos. Unbelievable. But believe it we must. Because true it is.

dan rather steady logoWe struggle to keep the mantra: steady, steady, steady. But in doing so may we follow the lead of the January 6 committee whose methodical, steady — admirably steady — pursuit of the facts has brought into the light a perfidy perhaps unmatched in the modern history of this nation.

When one must reach for comparisons to the Civil War to bring context to our current moment, it is to acknowledge the gravity of what we are learning.

Another day of hearings, and yet more details in a tableau of rampant law breaking. It is at a scale that is beyond what anyone could have imagined. Those who screamed into the void about what this man did and what he was capable of were often dismissed as histrionic. But even the most outrageous of suppositions have turned out to have been too restrained. The truth now has far outpaced the speculation. And the probability is that we have more to learn.

Take the news that ended today’s hearing, that there is new evidence raising questions about witnesses and a Trump telephone call. Did the president of the United States directly engage in witness tampering? It is impossible to be shocked anymore, yet it remains shocking to even have to ask the question. I’ve said something of this nature many times before; it only becomes more accurate with each new revelation.

And let us note with emphasis the new revelation that the president indicated that he wanted the U.S. military to seize voting machines as a means of keeping him in power past an election which he had clearly lost.

Perhaps if the reality of what took place was less abhorrent we might be able to process it more easily, and thus be less stunned.

Can this really be happening? Did all of this really occur?

Above all, one question looms for which we must demand answers:

"How is all of this only coming out now?" It's THE question for all who could have made a difference. At any step along the way.

There must be soul searching at all levels.

Justice Department log circularThe cowardice of those who saw this unfold in real time and said nothing is a permanent stain on their characters. Those who would explain it away, or who sought to sabotage this investigation — and that includes almost every elected Republican in Congress — have put their narrow party’s unquenched thirst for power ahead of the country.

We must ask: What was happening at the Department of Justice? And what is happening there now?

It brings me no joy to include the press as an institution in this tally of systemic breakdown. How could this story have been so widely missed? And is the full scale of it being given enough prominence? A story of this scale and far-ranging nature is bigger than just the White House press corps. Everyone should have been asking questions. It is not too late to dig into it with more investigative journalism. And while doing so, false equivalence should be banished from every newsroom.

 

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At 'RussiaGate' Trial, Questions Loomed About Special Counsel Durham (Updated)

 

With trial completed and ending in acquittal for one of the most politically explosive federal prosecutions in years, U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel John H. Durham’s record reveals legal error that undercuts his image as straight-shooting seeker of justice.

In a 2008 ruling that has never been reported by a major news outlet, a New York federal appeals court vacated bribery, wire fraud and racketeering convictions john durham Custombecause a team led by Durham, left, then the Deputy U.S. Attorney in Connecticut (and Acting U.S. attorney for supervising the prosecution), illegally withheld evidence that could have helped federal defendant Charles Spadoni defend himself in a corruption case.

In another case, a Connecticut federal judge overturned a conviction in 2003 because of what she ruled in a 57-page decision was Durham's repeated prosecutorial misconduct at trial, a sanction that authorities stated is extremely rare in the federal system.

Past performance is relevant now because Durham's three-year probe of alleged illegality pertaining to the 2016 U.S. presidential election is reaching a pivotal and controversial juncture with the trial this month of the prominent cyberlaw attorney Michael Sussmann, right, on a claim that Sussmann falsely denied that michael sussmann perkins youngerhe was representing the campaign of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton when he sought to alert FBI general counsel James Baker in the fall of 2016 to suspicions of Russian interference in the campaign and operations of the Democratic National Committee..

Sussmann, his attorneys and some independent commentators have denied wrongdoing and claimed that the prosecution is exceptionally weak and also tainted by political partisanship by Durham, a career prosecutor who was also nominated by President Trump for Durham's political post of U.S. attorney for Connecticut.

The trial began on May 16 and lasted two weeks before U.S. District Judge Christopher R. Cooper in Washington’s federal court.

Breaking News May 31: 

Durham’s case against Sussmann, a former partner at the DC office of law firm Perkins Coie, has generated substantial interest in the national press, particularly in pro-Trump circles where some Trump supporters regard it as their last best hope to vindicate Trump’s 2016 election victory as a purely American popular effort, thereby debunking claims that Russian operatives interfered in the 2016 election to hurt Clinton and other Democratic candidates.

donald trump for president button nice smileSussmann and his defenders, on the other hand, have defended his actions as both non-criminal and reasonable, particularly in view of what they see as confirmed threats to the elections process posed by Russians, Trump and their allies. Sussmann’s defense lawyers accused Durham, for example, of promoting a “baseless narrative that the Clinton campaign conspired with others to trick the federal government into investigating ties between President Trump and Russia.”

Sussmann’s attorneys also have pointed to evidentiary problems in Durham’s case, including the lack of contemporary notes by the key FBI witness, James Baker, to support the Durham prosecution team's allegation that Sussmann criminally deceived Baker regarding his relevant clients.

The case, in other words, has come to be regarded in some quarters as either a rigorous and fearless application of the law by Durham and his team -- or, conversely, as an example of over-zealous overreach by an unaccountable prosecutor suspected of bringing a baseless prosecution to favor pro-Trump politics.

A consistent theme in the news accounts exploring the Durham investigation is that prosecutor and his team, including Nora R. Dannehy, a former Acting U.S. Attorney in Connecticut and longtime Durham colleague, bring to their work outstanding reputations as career prosecutors long entrusted to fulfill their responsibilities with the highest standards of professional expertise and justice-seeking.

And this is why the 2008 federal court decision, invalidating Durham’s prosecution of Spadoni for prosecutorial misconduct, remains especially relevant today in Durham’s prosecution of Sussmann.

barry sussmanHere’s the story: New Questions Raised About Prosecutor Who Cleared Bush Officials in U.S. Attorney Firings, which we at the Justice Integrity Project originally reported in 2010 in Nieman Watchdog, a niche website published by Harvard University and edited by Barry Sussman, left, the former Watergate editor of the Washington Post who supervised its coverage of that scandal. Sussman is also the author of the recently released fifth edition of The Great Cover-up, a widely praised account of the Watergate probe.

The Nieman Watchdog story focused primarily on the appointment of Durham and Dannehy as special counsel investigating allegations of CIA and Justice Department misconduct. The story began this way:

"Four days before Nora Dannehy was appointed to investigate the Bush administration’s U.S. attorney firing scandal, a team of lawyers she led was found to have illegally suppressed evidence in a major political corruption case.....[T]his previously unreported fact calls her entire investigation into question as well as that of a similar investigation by her colleague John Durham of DOJ and CIA decision-making involving torture."

charlesspadoniThe New York-based U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled that Durham’s team should have known that the Spadoni defense was entitled to an FBI's agent's notes, which could have been used by Spadoni to argue that his conduct was legal.

The three-judge court ruled unanimously in vacating the major convictions against Spadoni, right. Judges held that the evidence john gleeson Customunconstitutionally withheld might have helped Spadoni's defense against prosecution claims that he and his employer, Triumph Capital, Inc., illegally conspired to hire a political consultant in hopes of winning a major contract from the State of Connecticut.

U.S. District Judge John Gleeson, left, a former federal prosecutor, authored the opinion, which is available here. It did not name the federal prosecutors at fault but the case caption and relevant filings were signed by Durham and Dannehy as the most senior attorneys.

Follow up correspondence to the courts in 2010 provides a sense of the high stakes and continued rancor. A memo signed by Durham and assistant, William J. Nardini, now a federal judge, urged the courts to sentence Spadoni without delay.

Spadoni's attorney, William M. Sullivan, Jr.., responded this way:

In his Memorandum (“Mem.”), Charles Spadoni presents overwhelming evidence of the government’s continued misconduct in this case—misconduct which the Second Circuit  previously recognized when it sternly rebuked the government. Instead of being chastened by the Second Circuit’s opinion, however, the government complains of Mr. Spadoni’s “tone” and of the delay which has taken place in this case—even though responsibility for both lies in its
hands.

 

Widespread Praise

Durham and Dannehy have achieved widespread praise and career advancement as special prosecutors entrusted with reviewing several of the most sensitive Justice Department controversies of recent years. These include investigations of suppression of evidence, partisan prosecutions or other alleged serious wrongdoing by Justice Department and CIA personnel in major proceedings of historic stature.

That pattern continued after May 2019, when the Trump-appointed Attorney General William Barr named Durham, later assisted by Dannehy, to investigate the Trump team’s claims that the FBI and other Justice Department concocted phony claims of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election along with Democratic operatives associated with Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Tabloids, pro-Trump media outlets and some leftist critics of the Democratic Party have labeled the claims of Russian interference "RussiaGate" in many news stories and commentaries that suggest that Russian "interference" is colossal fraud on par with the Nixon-era scandal of the 1972 break-in by GOP and CIA operatives of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, DC.

Typical of such coverage are editorials by the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post, including a headline in February, Eyes turn to Hillary Clinton, not Trump in the Russiagate scandal. A headline last fall was The real ‘collusion’ was the creation of ‘RussiaGate’ out of absolutely nothing. Fox News, pro-Trump Republican officers and many bloggers have similarly advanced arguments that Trump and Russians have been falsely accused.

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