Patterico's Pontifications

3/5/2020

Federal Judge: Barr’s Handling of Mueller Report Lacked Candor and Calls His Credibility Into Question

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:06 pm



U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton has issued an eye-opening order today directly calling into question the credibility of Attorney General William Barr, based on Barr’s misleading summary of the Mueller report.

That Barr spun the report in a dishonest fashion is not news, of course. On May 3, 2019, I wrote a long post detailing how Barr had misled the American people about the contents of the Mueller report. My post cited and concurred with another detailed article by Benjamin Wittes on the same topic.

But to hear these things spoken by a federal judge, in a published order, is another level of magnitude.

Judge Walton is hearing FOIA cases brought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center as well as by Buzzfeed and our old unreliable friend Jason Leopold. Today Judge Walton ruled that he will independently review whether the redactions in the report are proper. Judge Walton explains that when the government seeks to keep information secret and assures the court that the secrecy is for legitimate reasons, a judge will conduct in camera review of the material (review of material privately in the judge’s chambers) when there is evidence — or at least a suspicion in the judge’s mind — that the government has acted in bad faith, such that the judge cannot completely rely on the government’s representations. Judge Walton says that is the case with the redactions in the Mueller report, and sets forth in detail why he can’t rely on Barr’s representations that the redactions are for legitimate reasons:

The Court has grave concerns about the objectivity of the process that preceded the public release of the redacted version of the Mueller Report and its impacts on the Department’s subsequent justifications that its redactions of the Mueller Report are authorized by the FOIA.

. . . .

The speed by which Attorney General Barr released to the public the summary of Special Counsel Mueller’s principal conclusions, coupled with the fact that Attorney General Barr failed to provide a thorough representation of the findings set forth in the Mueller Report, causes the Court to question whether Attorney General Barr’s intent was to create a one-sided narrative about the Mueller Report — a narrative that is clearly in some respects substantively at odds with the redacted version of the Mueller Report. Attorney General Barr’s decision to not only conduct a press conference but also issue his April 18, 2019 letter immediately prior to releasing the redacted version of the Mueller Report to the public on April 18, 2019, also causes the Court concern.

. . . .

[T]he Court has reviewed the redacted version of the Mueller Report, Attorney General Barr’s representations made during his April 18, 2019 press conference, and Attorney General Barr’s April 18, 2019 letter. And, the Court cannot reconcile certain public representations made by Attorney General Barr with the findings in the Mueller Report. The inconsistencies between Attorney General Barr’s statements, made at a time when the public did not have access to the redacted version of the Mueller Report to assess the veracity of his statements, and portions of the redacted version of the Mueller Report that conflict with those statements cause the Court to seriously question whether Attorney General Barr made a calculated attempt to influence public discourse about the Mueller Report in favor of President Trump despite certain findings in the redacted version of the Mueller Report to the contrary.

These circumstances generally, and Attorney General Barr’s lack of candor specifically, call into question Attorney General Barr’s credibility and in turn, the Department’s representation that “all of the information redacted from the version of the [Mueller] Report released by [ ] Attorney General [Barr]” is protected from disclosure by its claimed FOIA exemptions.”

Wow. When you are Attorney General Barr, one phrase you don’t like to see in a federal judge’s published opinion is “Attorney General Barr’s lack of candor.”

Judge Walton concludes:

[T]he Court must conclude that the actions of Attorney General Barr and his representations about the Mueller Report preclude the Court’s acceptance of the validity of the Department’s redactions without its independent verification.”

That is just a stunning rebuke of the nation’s highest law enforcement official by a federal judge. (In case you are tempted to scream Obama Judge! or Unqualified Judge! please note that Judge Walton was appointed by George W. Bush and served for a time as the Presiding Judge of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.)

Nancy Pelosi Blames Misogynistic Democrats For Elizabeth Warren’s Loss

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:34 pm



[guest post by Dana]

After Elizabeth Warren anounced that she was dropping out of the Democratic presidential race, Nancy Pelosi weighed in on the “misogyny” factor that contributed to her demise:

“Every time I get introduced as the most powerful woman, I almost cry, because I wish that were not true,” Pelosi told reporters, just hours after Warren ended her presidential run and extinguished the possibility of the first woman president being elected in 2020.

“I so wish that we had a woman president of the United States, and we came so close to doing that,” said Pelosi, the highest-ranking woman in government, at her weekly news conference. “I do think there’s a certain element of misogyny.”

It’s funny because Pelosi never endorsed any of the female candidates that were running. Funnier yet, she acts as if there is no longer a female Democratic candidate in the race. And there is: Tulsi Gabbard. Which brings me to my other point: While Gabbard has virtually no chance of becoming the nominee, it remains a fact that Democratic women wo claim that having a woman in the White House is of the utmost imporantance, they belie that claim with their ever-present abortion litmus test. Pelosi can’t support Gabbard, and it’s not because of her contrarian nature or squishy Democratic views. At the end of the day, she can’t support Gabbard because Gabbard, not unreasonably, believes that there should be some limitations on abortion, and that disqualifies her from any serious consideration from Pelosi or other Democratic woman in power:

“I do, however, think that there should be some restrictions in place. I support codifying Roe v. Wade while making sure that, during the third trimester, abortion is not an option unless the life or severe health consequences of a woman are at risk.”

That’s simply unacceptable to Pelosi and her ilk.

Further, it’s interesting that while Pelosi blames the problem on misogyny, she seems to pretend to not know that Democratic women are endorsing and voting for the male contenders – even as their first choice before Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Marianne Williamson, Amy Klobuchar or Elizabeth Warren. Consider the female officials who have endorsed Bernie Sanders: five female Representatives, one female representative, 25 female State legislators, and five female DNC officials. Joe Biden has been endorsed by four sitting female Senators, 22 female Representatives, 4 female Cabinet-level officials, 4 female State Dept. officials, two female State governors, etc. So really, misogyny is the reason for Warren’s poor showing?? How about the thousands upon thousands of women who voted for the male candidates over her? Because they actually exist, you know.

Which brings me to this:

Whoever the nominee is, their campaign is going to have to come to terms with the intense misogyny so many female voters have dealt with — and understand that it’s an issue we care deeply about. And their supporters are going to have to let us be sad — depressed, even — that once again we’re going to watch a race to leadership between old white men.

So ignoring the fact that Democratic and progressive women happily support two old white men, one wonders how the Democratic Party, the party of inclusivity and girl power, reconciles the fact that both female voters and female candidates on the Democratic side of the aisle, are, once again, victims of “misogyny” from their fellow travellers?

–Dana

Chuck Schumer To Supreme Court Justices: You Will Reap the Whirlwind

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:22 am



[guest post by Dana]

Yesterday Chuck Schumer came under fire for comments he directed at Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh as the Court listened to arguments being made in June Medical , which involves a Louisiana law requiring medical doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital within 30 miles of their clinic. Schumer made the seemingly prepared comments at a protest rally outside the Court:

“I want to tell you Gorsuch. I want to tell you Kavanaugh. You have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price. You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions,

Later in the day, Chief Justice Roberts rebuked Schumer, saying:

This morning, Senator Schumer spoke at a rally in front of the Supreme Court while a case was being argued inside. Senator Schumer referred to two Members of the Court by name and said he wanted to tell them that ‘You have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price. You will not know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.’ Justices know that criticism comes with the territory, but threatening statements of this sort from the highest levels of government are not only inappropriate, they are dangerous. All Members of the Court will continue to do their job, without fear or favor, from whatever quarter.”

Schumer spokesman Justin Goodman released a silly statement that doesn’t hold water because Schumer didn’t address his comments to “Senate Republicans” or Republican lawmakers. He specifically named Gorsuch and Kavanaugh:

“Women’s health care rights are at stake and Americans from every corner of the country are in anguish about what the court might do to them,” Goodman said in an emailed statement. “Sen. Schumer’s comments were a reference to the political price Senate Republicans will pay for putting these justices on the court, and a warning that the justices will unleash a major grassroots movement on the issue of reproductive rights against the decision.”

“For Justice Roberts to follow the right wing’s deliberate misinterpretation of what Sen. Schumer said, while remaining silent when President Trump attacked Justices [Sonia] Sotomayor and [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg last week, shows Justice Roberts does not just call balls and strikes,” Goodman added.

Goodman was referencing comments made by President Trump:

Fuller comments were made by Trump at a press conference in India last month:

It’s very obvious, Justice Ginsburg should [recuse herself] because she went wild during the campaign when I was running. Perhaps she was for Hillary Clinton. I just don’t know how they cannot recuse themselves from anything having to do with Trump or Trump-related.

… He said Sotomayor is “trying to shame people with perhaps a different view.”

Reactions to Schumer’s attacks on the Justices and Chief Roberts’ rebuke ran the gamut. Here’s David Harsanyi at NRO:

…Schumer’s thuggish attack on Kavanaugh and Gorsuch is a transparent attempt to intimidate justices. And wow — a sitting senator threatening an independent judiciary. Surely the champions of norms and decency will be horrified by this development. When Donald Trump, rather absurdly, demanded that Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg recuse themselves from “Trump-related” Supreme Court cases because of their partisan positions — and, yes Notorious RGB is openly partisan and anti-Trump — it was a major national story. In this case, I suspect we’re going to hear a lot about a general “coarsening” of discourse.

Whatever the case, this an unprecedented attack on a justice of the Supreme Court. And by unprecedented, I mean that you won’t be able to unearth a single instance in modern history of a member of Congress threatening a justice — by name, no less — for ruling against his wishes. Which is why, I imagine, Chief Justice John Roberts felt the need to release this statement

Here’s Dahlia Lathwick over at Slate, who, among other things, makes an embarrassing attempt to blame Kavanaugh for what Schumer, a grown man with agency, said:

If Schumer’s repudiated words sounded at all familiar to you, or to the chief justice, it might be because at his confirmation hearing, then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh turned to the Senate Democrats on the Judiciary Committee and pledged as follows:

“Since my nomination in July, there’s been a frenzy on the left to come up with something, anything, to block my confirmation. You sowed the wind for decades to come. I fear that the whole country will reap the whirlwind.”

The upshot here is that Schumer didn’t necessarily start this fight and maybe the guy whose honor Roberts just jumped in to defend bears some responsibility for the threatening rhetoric.

This morning, Mitch McConnell blasted Schumer from the Senate floor, saying “there is nothing to call this except a threat”. Following McConnell’s rebuke, Schumer accused McConnell of “making a “glaring omission” by not mentioning that Schumer was speaking regarding a Supreme Court case that could impact women’s ability to get an abortion”. He also said that he chose the wrong words, and that he didn’t mean to threaten Gorsuch and Kavanaugh. And then he blamed his hometown:

“I’m from Brooklyn. We speak in strong language.”

(Because Trump excusing his various attacks and smears of others with a dismissive I’m from Queens. We speak in strong language, would be readily accepted by Democrats, right? Trump supporters, sure, but Democrats? Give me a break…)

Absolutely this: If McConnell made this exact same speech about liberal justices on steps of the Supreme Court, every Republican in America would be asked to condemn it.

Schumer needs to be a big boy and own his words, apologize directly to Gorsuch and Kavanaugh and the Court for his implicit threat, and then just shut-up. Why do these goobers try to make their self-indulgent acts seem like some sort of noble cause, and then whine about being misunderstood when rightfully called out on it? Just grow the hell up. You’re nothing more than a professional politician manipulatively playing with people’s lives, and we are sick and tired of your damn refusal to take responsibility for your own word vomit.

Oh, and of course Trump had to weigh in too:

While Trump has inarguably been critical of Supreme Court Justices, and even angrily attacked a few of them, I can’t find where he has implicitly threatened anyone of them. If he has done so, let me know in the comments.

–Dana

Breaking: Warren Drops Out

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:52 am



News is just hitting now. I was wrong to suggest yesterday that she would hang on to the bitter end, in the manner of a Rubio or Kasich.

And then there were two.


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