Patterico's Pontifications


Democrats Enter Another Time Warp — Before, It Was Carol Lam; This Time, It’s Steven Biskupic

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:20 pm

Democrats are bending the time-space continuum again. They did it with Carol Lam, and now they are doing it with Steven Biskupic.

Democrats claimed that Carol Lam was targeted for something that she did months after she was initially targeted. Specifically, they claimed that the Administration targeted Carol Lam in January 2005 for an investigation she began months later, relating to a scandal that broke in April 2005.

The claim as to Biskupic is equally illogical, but in reverse — like the Carol Lam argument viewed in the mirror. Democrats claim that Steven Biskupic was given a reprieve from firing for something that he did months before he was ever targeted for firing. Specifically, they claim that the Administration added him to a list of U.S. Attorneys to be fired in October 2006, but later removed him in gratitude for his baseless prosecution of a Democrat. But that prosecution was concluded months before Democrats claim his name was added to the list of people to be fired. (The prosecution commenced in January 2006 and concluded in June 2006; Joshua Micah Marshall has argued that his name was added to the list in October 2006.)

It would be like someone claiming that the boss didn’t fire you because you got him Lakers tickets — except that he first thought about firing you only after he went to the game. It makes no sense.

If your head is spinning from the illogical nature of all this, you must not be a Democrat.

But if you are rational, you can see that this incident proves the opposite of what Democrats are claiming. According to Joshua Micah Marshall, Biskupic was probably added to the list after he got a conviction in a thin case against a Democrat. If that is true, then Biskupic’s success in prosecuting tough cases against Democrats didn’t save him from being considered for firing.

As I detail below, the argument that Biskupic prosecuted a Democrat for political reasons is belied, not just by the timeline, but also by statements from numerous local Democrats, who support Biskupic and say that he is a career prosecutor who prosecutes both Republicans and Democrats alike.

Democrats, it’s time to give up this angle. This dog won’t hunt.

The details are in the extended entry.

[Extended entry]

One thing that bothers me about the U.S. Attorney scandal is this: if you are out to see every prosecution and failure to prosecute as politically motivated — and if you are willing to overlook obvious major flaws in your theory, such as that the timing is implausible — you can find suspicious activities everywhere!

For example: this entire controversy began with a silly fraudulent claim: that former USA Carol Lam was targeted because of her investigation into Republican lawmaker Randy “Duke” Cunningham, together with various offshoots of the investigation. There is a big fat gaping hole in the logic: Lam was on a list of prosecutors to be fired long before anyone knew that Randy Cunningham had done anything illegal. Yet leftists have uniformly brushed aside that major flaw in the theory as though it were completely irrelevant.

Here’s an analogy: the defendant in a criminal case is accused of receiving money from Mr. Smith to kill Mr. Smith’s wife. The prosecution introduces evidence that Mr. Smith gave the defendant $50,000 — without noting that Mr. Smith gave the defendant the money two years before Mr. Smith even met his wife. It could be a nice piece of evidence — if the timing didn’t render it completely ludicrous.

And so it is with the Democrats’s nutty theory involving U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic.

Biskupic is the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Lefties got excited when a conviction in a political corruption case that Biskupic had brought against Wisconsin Democrat Georgia Thompson was reversed by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals for insufficient evidence. Thompson was hardly a high-level Democrat; rather, she was a bureaucrat in the Wisconsin Department of Administration. She participated in the selection process for numerous travel contracts, and the prosecution related to her alleged illegal use of “political considerations” in the selection process.

The Seventh Circuit’s ruling in her favor was remarkable for its swiftness:

The three-judge panel in Chicago acted with unusual speed, ruling after oral arguments by Thompson’s attorney and the U.S. attorney’s office.

During 26 minutes of oral arguments, all three judges assailed the government’s case, with Judge Diane Wood saying at one point that “the evidence is beyond thin.”

In an extraordinary action, the judges entered an order the same day, ordering Thompson to be released. The opinion supporting the order has yet to be issued. Although the panel’s reasoning has not been documented, Democrats have understandably seized upon the judges’ unusual order as strong evidence that the case against Thompson was exceptionally weak.

When news of the Seventh Circuit’s decision first came down, TPMmuckraker linked an article on the weakness of the evidence against Thompson, and said:

Dozens of readers have written in, asking if this is what a “loyal Bushie” looks like. It’s hard to see it otherwise.

At the time of that post, the assumption was that, because Biskupic was simply a “loyal Bushie,” he had never been considered for termination. Why would he be? He prosecuted a Democrat on virtually no evidence!

But in an episode of “Talking Points Memo TV,” Joshua Micah Marshall, the lefty guru of this scandal, came up with a darker theory. He made the case that Biskupic had actually been added to the list — but was very possibly saved from having been fired due to his baseless prosecution of Georgia Thompson.

There is a fundamental problem with Marshall’s analysis. He makes the case that Biskupic’s name was added to the list of attorneys to be fired on or after October 17, 2006. But if Biskupic was placed on a list on or after October 17, that is well after the Georgia Thompson case was long over. Here’s the timeline:

  • On or after October 17, 2006: Biskupic’s name added to list of potential U.S. Attorneys to be fired, according to Marshall’s analysis.

Hmmm. So if this scandal is all about rewarding U.S. Attorneys who toe the line on political prosecutions, why would the Bush Administration have added Biskupic’s name to the list after he successfully prosecuted a Democrat in a tough case?

To any rational person with no political axe to grind, the message is clear: the Biskupic/Thompson saga is a piece of evidence against the contention that U.S. Attorneys were targeted because they didn’t please the Administration on political prosecutions.

Now of course, this analysis depends upon Josh Marshall’s analysis of when Biskupic was added to the list. It might not be correct. In recent days, it has emerged that Biskupic was indeed placed on a list for termination. Initial reports cited only a leak from an anonymous congressional staffer — likely a staffer for one of the Senate Judiciary Democrats. The report was confirmed on April 14, when Biskupic announced that he had indeed been on a list of prosecutors to be fired. Biskupic issued a press release in which he defended his record, saying that he had prosecuted Republicans and Democrats, and had consulted with local Democrats on the proscution of Thompson. Neither Biskupic nor other news articles have specified the date that Biskupic was added to the list.

We’ll have to see in coming days whether Marshall was right about the timing. But if he is, then the Democrats’ argument makes no sense at all.

I should add that, even if the timing is not as Marshall contends, a rational view of the situation still compels the conclusion that Biskupic’s prosecution was not political. If it were obviously so, you would think that local Democrats would be in an uproar. Instead, they support him. According to this report:

Biskupic’s defenders, who include several Democratic prosecutors, said he’s a respected, career prosecutor who isn’t guided by a partisan agenda. Mordecai Lee, a professor of governmental affairs at UW- Milwaukee, noted Biskupic’s handling of the voter fraud cases drew criticism from both Republicans and Democrats.

“That’s about as clean a bill of health as one gets,” said Lee, a former Democratic state senator.

Several other local Democrats have supported Biskupic.

In his statement Saturday, Biskupic reiterated that his investigation of Thompson was carried out with the help of then-state Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager and Blanchard, both Democrats. . . . Blanchard confirmed Saturday he had been consulted on the charging decision. Blanchard, who with Lautenschlager has defended Biskupic, said the decision to charge was Biskupic’s.

The article also notes that Biskupic brought more public corruption cases against Republicans than against Democrats:

Michelle Jacobs, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Milwaukee, said Biskupic had brought at least 12 cases involving individuals who donated money to Republican candidates or who were aligned with the Republican Party. That compares to at least eight cases involving Democrats, not including the voter fraud cases, she said.

So if Biskupic’s name had been put on the list and then taken off by a Democrat Administration, Republicans would be able to say: well, this guy prosecuted more Republicans than Democrats, and Democrats complained about his inability to follow up on voter fraud, so the Democrat Administration decided he was too partisan towards Democrats.

No matter what the facts are, the Democrats will find some way to spin it to make it sound political.

But in this case, based upon the evidence available so far, the evidence just isn’t there. It’s nonsense. Utter nonsense.

19 Responses to “Democrats Enter Another Time Warp — Before, It Was Carol Lam; This Time, It’s Steven Biskupic”

  1. Oh, it hunts all right—all it needs is wall to wall coverage on cable news nets, which even FOX is doing….(I think they gave up researching stories about a year ago). The Dems are getting mucho mileage out of it.

    Howard Veit (4ba8d4)

  2. Ever hear of Daniel Metcalfe?

    How about Pete Domenici?

    There’s a lot of smoke with the fire. Try addressing it.

    semanticleo (2f60f4)

  3. The Dems and their spinners are making themselves into fools, or worse, but is anybody else listening? Today the OC Register reprinted another AP/NYT attack article about how the email “scandal” gets Dems another shot at Rove. I thought that was discredited!

    I feel sorry for you re-reading this stuff. I just threw the section out and started the crossword!

    Patricia (824fa1)

  4. Person #1 put him on the list. Person #2, more aware of Steve’s “good work,” said to take him off.

    No time machine required.

    The Commissar (5e4083)

  5. I’m starting to wonder whether this is a Rove conspiracy of some sort. With Congress and the MSM threatening America on so many fronts, what better way to keep them busy than by dangling a few herrings to chase. By the time 2009 rolls around (or maybe October 2008), the White House will have helped Congress prove all of the allegations as false.

    Let them chase their tails a while so real patriots can get accomplish the mission…

    Clark Baker (6a377d)

  6. #4 is a good example of the thought process where you start with a theory and fit the facts to it, with whatever speculation is necessary to keep the theory alive.

    Kind of like the complete bullshit you pulled on me, Stephen, to portray me as dishonorable and dishonest. Not because it’s true, but because — for some fucked-up reason I can’t begin to understand — you really, really *want* it to be true.

    Patterico (3cf906)

  7. When you fire and retain USAs for mysterious reasons—it wasn’t the Dems who put forth and then retracted the ‘performace’ story—then people will be skeptical about all the USAs. In some cases this may be unfair. So what.

    But if you obtain bogus confessions with torture, then people won’t believe any of the confessions. If you cry wolf, people won’t believe you when you cry wolf. If you tell the GSA to find ways to help GOP candidates, why the hell should people believe you when you say tell us that the DoJ isn’t similarly perverted.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (41317f)

  8. “Specifically, they claim that the Administration added him to a list of U.S. Attorneys to be fired in October 2006, but later removed him in gratitude for his baseless prosecution of a Democrat.”

    Patterico, can you add a link to that specific claim? I see Marshall arguing that the baseless prosecution shows that the U.S. Attorney was under political pressure to indict Democrats in 2005, but I’m having trouble finding the claim that the prosecution was brought to get off the list after having been put on it in late 2006.

    Orin Kerr (dc6bed)

  9. Orin,

    Watch the video at the link I provided. I started preparing a transcript, but it made the post too long. Suffice it to say that the TPM crowd is clearly implying that the Thompson prosecution is what saved Biskupic. Do you deny that? Yet Marshall argues that the Administration put Biskupic on the list in October 2006. Do you deny that?

    Tell me which part of that you deny, and I’ll work harder to show that they are making the claim. But they most assuredly are, and the proof is already in the links cited in the post.

    Patterico (5b0b7f)

  10. Who struck John?

    The Bush administration is systematically perverting every governmental agency by using government and our taxpayers’ dollars to boost Republicans chances to win elections and to diminish Democrats’ chances. That much we know.

    The devil is in the details. It’s all there, all you have to do is look.

    Jay Magoo (2323e8)

  11. Trackbacked by The Thunder Run – Web Reconnaissance for 04/16/2007
    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

    David M (72c6d8)

  12. Suffice it to say that the TPM crowd is clearly implying that the Thompson prosecution is what saved Biskupic. Do you deny that? Yet Marshall argues that the Administration put Biskupic on the list in October 2006. Do you deny that?

    Patterico, I believe “the TPM crowd”‘s claim is that the Thompson prosecution shows how much Bikupic felt pressured to bring bogus cases back in 2005. In contrast, your post here seems to assume the TPM crowd’s claim is that all of a sudden, in late 2006, Biskupic decided to prosecute Democrats to get off the list. I think eveyone can see that if the TPM crowd is making that latter claim, it makes no sense. But I can’t seem to find anyone making that claim.

    Orin Kerr (ea60bb)

  13. The Bush administration is systematically perverting every governmental agency by using government and our taxpayers’ dollars to boost Republicans chances to win elections and to diminish Democrats’ chances.

    OMG! POLITICS! Run away!

    But don’t use the White House travel office, if you can avoid it. There will be hell to pay.

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  14. I love the time travel angle, but – Biskupic may have been feeling heat during 2006 even if he was not officially on a [s]hit list.

    The line I have been peddling:

    1. The corruption investugation into the Governor’s travel office was announced in Oct 2005 as a joint effort of the Feds, the Dem State AG, and the Dem Dane County DA. Neither of them criticized the indictment or the conviction and had no criticism of Biskupic upon reversal. (The Sate AG, Lautenschlager, lost the Dem primary in Sept; a Rep won in November.)

    2. The timeline makes no sense if this was a weak, politically motivated case – why go to trial in the spring of 2006 and risk repudiation and humiliation for Biskupic / vindication for the Governor?

    Instead, Biskupic *got a conviction*. When an attorney believes in his case enough to go to trial and then wins, that looks like evidence he had justifiable confidence in his case, yes?

    3. Ms. Thompson refused to cooperate with the initial FBI investigation. Juries are meant to presume innocense, not prosecutors.

    4. In the sentencing memo, Biskupic noted five instances of apparent perjury by Ms. Thompson (he argued that if the jury had believed Ms. Thompson rather than the witnesses contradicting her, she would have been acquitted.) For example, five committee members testifed that she said something like “We have to go with the Wisconsin company; the other one won’t fly politically”. She denied saying that.

    OK, the Appeals Court was not impressed, and here we are. But the idea that Biskupic did not believe in his case, that it was purely partisan, and that it was hopelessly weak seem to be belied by the facts.

    As to cliche management – instead of “that dog won’t hunt”, I have been pushing variants of “they have bupkis on Biskupic”.

    This is a skirmish we will win, eventually. Sort of like pumping one room dry on the Titanic. But dammit, it’s our room!

    Tom Maguire (70f93b)

  15. Seems like Biskupic was put on the firing list in 2005, and then later removed.

    I thought that since you are only interested in the truth and all that, you know, you’re not just a cheap partisan Bushie hack, right?

    So, since the timeline has changed, I know that you’re the kind of guy with so much integrity that he’ll want to mention that.

    The Commissar (1676c2)

  16. Thanks for passing that along without sarcasm. It separates you from the people who would pass along such information with a sarcastic tone. Someone like that would be a smug prick who distorts the truth to take petty and dishonest shots at people, all to get high on his own self-righteousness. But you have shown yourself to be far different, and that’s why you’re such a valued member of the Internet — and you are in no way a puffed-up asshole stoking his own vanity by staking out a contrary position to show how goddamn honest he is, and smearing people in the process.

    You are far different from that! Three cheers for you.

    Patterico (eeb415)

  17. Patterico, it’s your blog so I guess you can be as over the top as you want. But can you explain why the previous comment was so deeply offensive?

    I mean harsh language is one thing, but was all that boldface really necessary? I appreciate that The Commissar did use that troubling rhetorical device known as “sarcasm”, but he may not be alone in that.

    Crust (399898)

  18. Why do you think I found it offensive? He said I’m interested in the truth, and I adamantly maintain that he is not a cheap and dishonest hack who previously distorted my positions to falsely paint me as extreme.

    Patterico (c9f1d0)

  19. Thanks for the article. Interesting Read🙂

    Boost Mileage (4f8f8f)

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