Patterico's Pontifications


Follow Up: Hush Money Prosecution

Filed under: Law,Politics — DRJ @ 7:11 am

[Headline from DRJ]

Prosecutors weighed DOJ policy blocking indictment of a sitting president in closing Trump hush-money probe.

He did it. He can’t be prosecuted because he is President. “The investigation is over.”


49 Responses to “Follow Up: Hush Money Prosecution”

  1. The only reason they investigated in the first place was because he’s Trump and because he’s president.

    Munroe (0b2761)

  2. Heard that was why Elliott Ness went after Al Capone, too.

    nk (dbc370)

  3. And why Comey went after Hillary. So many examples….

    Munroe (0b2761)

  4. What did Heinlein have to say about stupidity? You see anything smart that Trump did with Stormy or whatsername, from start to finish?

    nk (dbc370)

  5. Munroe beat me to the punch. But I’m sure more Trump [insert fandom euphemism here]s will be lining up to spike the ball today.

    Gryph (08c844)

  6. Rule of Law
    (b. June 1215 – d. January 2017)
    Requiescat in pace

    Dave (1bb933)

  7. Meh they dont know what they talked about, so they intuit a motive about Vegas they cant even hazard a guess,

    Narciso (c67b88)

  8. Happy Friday!

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  9. Another anonymous FBI source said what it came down to was “no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”

    Munroe (0b2761)

  10. I don’t see the logic of the DOJ’s opinion that indicting a sitting president would unconstitutionally interfere with his ability to perform executive functions.

    What is a sitting vice-president for? Isn’t he elected to perform executive functions when the president cannot?

    Gawain's Ghost (b25cd1)

  11. Another anonymous FBI source said what it came down to was “no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”

    Give the rest of the quote, please: “… because the evidence fell short.”

    nk (dbc370)

  12. They came so close, before discovering “close” only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  13. Yeah, I’ve also said it’s a lot of fuss about a very small (or at least smaller than average) thing. $130,000 for a $1 stripper was condign enough.

    nk (dbc370)

  14. ‘Give the rest of the quote, please: “… because the evidence fell short.”’
    nk (dbc370) — 7/19/2019 @ 7:58 am

    The anonymous FBI source said no such thing.

    Munroe (0b2761)

  15. Dammit! Someone took my nickname and did it up right!

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  16. Damn it feels good to be a Republican. It’s been a good week!

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  17. CBS finished their research at stormys club yet, since she has to strip to pay legal Bill’s, I imagine they can go in depth

    Narciso (c67b88)

  18. And then Avenatti went and stole her legit money from her book. Dante Alighieri is smiling.

    nk (dbc370)

  19. Trump does not have the greatness to commit great crimes. He is a small person, of small sins.

    nk (dbc370)

  20. We know from Barr’s summary letter announcing the release of the Mueller investigation Report that Barr/the DOJ will tell us when they believe evidence is not sufficient to bring charges against Trump:

    After reviewing the Special Counsel’s final report on these issues; consulting with Department officials, including the Office of Legal Counsel; and applying the principles of federal prosecution that guide our charging decisions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense. Our determination was made without regard to, and is not based on, the constitutional considerations that surround the indictment and criminal prosecution of a sitting president.

    Also note the last sentence. It means they did not make the obstruction decision based on the DOJ guidelines that prohibit indictment of a sitting President, but because of their (charitable) view of the obstruction evidence.

    But in the hush money case, they did not tell the court there was no evidence of further crimes so they were closing the case. Instead, they simply notified the court they were closing the case. The Judge ordered the release of the documents that show Trump’s involvement.

    The only remaining reason to close the case is because they can’t indict a sitting President.

    DRJ (15874d)

  21. Meanwhile you cant find severinos book on the kavanaugh case, unless you search for it like Indiana Jones, in the well of souls

    Narciso (c67b88)

  22. Changing the topic is very Trump-like. Well done, guys!

    DRJ (15874d)

  23. Is there any proof any of this happened or was it just this lady’s confidence scam,

    Narciso (c67b88)

  24. Is there any proof any of this happened or was it just this lady’s confidence scam

    You mean other than the recordings, documentary evidence, indictments, guilty pleas, prison sentence, other than those things?

    Colonel Klink (Ret) (6e7a1c)

  25. “Changing the topic is very Trump-like. Well done, guys!”
    DRJ (15874d) — 7/19/2019 @ 8:51 am

    I’m waiting for how this relates to tariffs.

    Munroe (0b2761)

  26. I bring up Cavanaugh for a reason, that was ginned up on the spot coordinates by Feinstein a Harris staffers, augmented by avenattis contribution, after every thing fell apart vanity fair still back and stirred the ashes, just like the garbage Mayer and Abramson have dined out for 25 years.

    Narciso (c67b88)

  27. Heh. Do you have a specific product or country in mind?

    DRJ (15874d)

  28. I knew it, and called it. With Cohen in the slammer, Trump unindictable, and other parties in immunity deals, prosecutors had nowhere else to go.

    Paul Montagu (dbd3cc)

  29. I bring up Cavanaugh for a reason

    Who is this person you are referring to? Did they pay a porn star or a Playboy playmate? I’m not familiar with this person you keep referring to.

    Colonel Klink (Ret) (6e7a1c)

  30. narciso @25.

    There doesn’t seem to be any serious attempt to deny that this happened, although Trump hasn’t gone out and outright confirmed it.

    In the case of former Playboy centerfold Karen McDougal, according to her, Donald Trump somehow thought she was a prostitute and offered her money, which she declined – then Donald Trump started a ten month affair which she broke off because he was introducing her to his wife.

    In the case of Stephanie Clfford aka Stormy Daniels, she was invited to see him by someone and had a one night stand. Afterward Trump wanted to do it again but she kept om insisting that he give a guest aoppearance on Celebrity Apprentice, which he declined to do.

    It’s not clear at all who put Trump together with these women, and why, but it happened with both of them at about the same time and place in 2006.

    Some false version of the Stormy Daniels case was leaked in which this took place while his wife was pregnant, instead of after she gave birth, and in which this was an “affair” rather than a one night stand, which she declined to repeat unless he made her a guest on Celebrity Appentice.

    Sammy Finkelman (e4c0a6)

  31. that was ginned up on the spot coordinates by Feinstein a Harris staffers

    If by “ginned up on the spot” you mean “kept under wraps for over a month”, then yes.

    Dave (1bb933)

  32. Beating the rap[s]; Trump 101.

    Trump/Haley 2020.

    Place your bets.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  33. I continue to believe that folks are reading into the DoJ policy far more than it actually contains.

    While it says that a sitting POTUS may not be indicted, it doesn’t in any way prevent investigation of a sitting POTUS. Nor does it in any way prevent making formal referrals to the House in lieu of a prosecution. Nor does it prevent the DoJ from demanding that a sitting POTUS formally waive, in writing, any applicable statutes of limitations that might run before the end of his or her term in office; to the contrary, that possibility is expressly recognized within the written policy.

    I do not think it is sound logic, therefore, to conclude by backwards reasoning from the closing of an investigation and the ending of related prosecutions that but for the DoJ policy, the POTUS would indeed have been indicted.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  34. Beldar:

    I have to think that the way the John Edwards prosecution turned out has to be on the minds of SDNY:

    Appalled (c9622b)

  35. I continue to believe that folks are reading into the DoJ policy far more than it actually contains.

    I’d concur, except for Barr, he’s been a most unreliable narrator in his short tenure, so even if all potential criminality has been found/prosecuted/denoted (those not already known; Mueller report, SDNY…), at this point it’s difficult to know if that’s because they’re complete, or were ended, in the most active verb sense of the word ended.

    tRump has managed to make dishonesty, stupidity, and general scumbaggery, into virtues; and many don’t seem to care. In the pursuit of “power”, those who would typically despise him, have attached themselves to him in some sort of weasel’s embrace, for judges, or something. MAGA, sure, great.

    Colonel Klink (Ret) (6e7a1c)

  36. It seems like a fundamental injustice to be able to avoid justice because you abused the law to get elected. If you flipped the parties you’d flip who cares, but the precedent will bite us in unforseen ways. We’re leaving the next generation with corruption and debt.

    At a minimum the statute of limitations should be frozen until this conflict no longer exists.

    Dustin (6d7686)

  37. I also have doubts about this premise, DRJ, when you wrote (#22) that:

    We know from Barr’s summary letter announcing the release of the Mueller investigation Report that Barr/the DOJ will tell us when they believe evidence is not sufficient to bring charges against Trump[.]

    We know that Barr’s letter announced that he, in consultation with and agreement from Rosenstein, made a decision not to further pursue prosecution or other action (including further investigation or a demand for a waiver of limitations) on the obstruction of justice charges that Mueller deliberately and conspicuously refused to draw ultimate conclusions about.

    But that was sui generis — not at all a policy, or even a precedent, for the DoJ to follow in the future even with respect to this or other Presidents. That Barr and Rosenstein saw no reason to further pursue the obstruction of justice inquiries, nor to present any Jaworski-type roadmap to the House, nor to demand a waiver from Trump of statutes of limitations on obstruction of justice, does not at all prove, or even tend to show, that Barr, much less the DoJ generally, would do so on other potential crimes (like campaign finance violations, or conspiracy or mail/wire fraud in the commission of same) arising out of distinctly different facts.

    There’s only so much that even Sherlock Holmes could conclude from the fact that one dog, on one occasion, didn’t bark when he would have been expected to have barked. And there are tons and tons of reasons why a prosecutor might decide to shut down further investigation, or not to pursue further action (including a Jaworski-type roadmap or a waiver of limitations demand) even as to a sitting POTUS that have nothing directly to do with the DoJ policy (which, you’ll recall, Barr expressly disclaimed having relied upon).

    For one thing, they might have despaired of the possibility of ever seating a jury — even in the District of Columbia or the Southern District of New York — that could reach unanimity on charges against a figure as polarizing as Donald Trump, no matter how many peremptory strikes the trial judge passed out or how quick he was to excuse jurors for cause based on preexisting bias.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  38. Beldar, you may be right but (as Col Klink said) the difference to me is Barr. For reasons that weren’t his choice or under his control, he gave us insight into how he thinks and operates in his handling of the Mueller Report investigation of Trump. At this point, they aren’t going to change the rules or the rationale in dealing with a sitting President’s conduct, or they risk a DOJ revolt.

    DRJ (15874d)

  39. @ Dustin (#38): Like the Sixth Amendment constitutional right to a speedy trial before a jury of one’s peers in the district of one’s residence, statutes of limitations are for the benefit of the accused. But the accused can waive all those rights. When prosecutors (or for that matter, potential civil plaintiffs) approach a potential defendant to demand a waiver of limitations, they typically leave open the question of what they’ll do if the defendant simply refuses. But inherent in the nature of the request is that by refusing it, the defendant is effectively forcing the prosecutor/plaintiff to file now or never. Oftentimes, the defendant won’t want to run the risk that the prosecutor/plaintiff will decide upon “now”; instead, the defendant hopes that the passage of time, the scattering of evidence, the death or simply time-impaired memories of witnesses, and so forth will work to his benefit, so that when “later” comes around, the prosecutor/plaintiff will decide, in effect, “Ah, what the heck, this doesn’t look like as much of a winner as it did when we asked for, and got, the extension of limitations.”

    But the process has to start with the prosecutor/plaintiff asking for the waiver; otherwise, there’s no way to “freeze” limitations, because that can only be done with the defendant’s well-informed consent, since it’s a waiver of his statutory rights.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  40. We know weissman wrote a ridiculously tendentious second half of the report, typical of the way he destroyed Arthur Anderson the us supreme court reversed that judgement 9-0, but the patient was dead, carved up by HSBC and accenture

    Narciso (c67b88)

  41. Apologies for the brain fart in my #41: The Sixth Amendment right is to have the trial “by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed,” rather than in the state and district of the defendant’s residence.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  42. DRJ, you may be absolutely right (#40) about what’s in Barr’s head, and what he’s demonstrated a willingness to do and even a likelihood of doing. I’m just saying that’s still a matter of speculation — even if your speculation is absolutely right — rather than something logically compelled by the DoJ policy, which DoJ traditionalists dating back to the Nixon impeachment efforts would insist is not equivalent at all to a declaration that the POTUS is “above the law.”

    Beldar (fa637a)

  43. The Department of Justice is “loyal” now.

    IMO, Barr isn’t going to do anything that will discomfit Trump if he has unreviewable discretion to do something else that won’t.

    Dave (1bb933)

  44. Thank you for the detailed explanation, Beldar!

    And I agree: I am obviously asking for a defendant’s rights to be reduced in this specific situation. Trump is just the first example, and perhaps we can’t fix that, but it’s a problem we can address.

    Perhaps we should make that waiver a part of the oath of office. There are many unfairnesses needed for a proper administration of justice, in order to protect the innocent, but in this case, the unfairness is somewhat maddening. He abused election laws in various ways… and because it worked he’s not prosecutable for the abuse?

    On the other hand, you raise many good practical points that justify maintaining the statute. Over time, things degrade. The period after Trump’s presidency will be an interesting and crucial one for the GOP’s recovery. Will Trump remain the party’s leader? Will we see many GOP leaders attempt to walk back? Will we see Trump’s issues like immigration take rapid turns for the worse? I think a sense of justice will be important for independent voters, but I honestly don’t know.

    Back in the W era, with Obama’s convention speech and the nation’s rejection of John Kerry, I was optimistic. Since then, both parties have found great ways to prove me wrong.

    Dustin (6d7686)

  45. That was my opinion, Beldar, so I agree it is speculation.

    DRJ (15874d)

  46. If only Trump has chosen Barr in 2017. Sigh.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  47. I think Barr believes he is faithfully following the law, and I don’t see his actions or motives as corrupt. But I think he leans more toward the Eric Holder model of AG (who always considered the impact on Obama) than someone like Ashcroft or Mukasey.

    DRJ (15874d)

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