How a Trump-loving cop undermined the Seth Rich murder investigation

In case you are not familiar with the murder of Seth Rich, let Wikipedia fill you in on the details:

The murder of Seth Rich occurred on July 10, 2016, at 4:20 a.m. in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Rich died about an hour and a half after being shot twice in the back. The perpetrators were never apprehended; police suspected he had been the victim of an attempted robbery.

The 27-year-old Rich was an employee of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and his murder spawned several right-wing conspiracy theories, including the false claim, contradicted by the law enforcement branches that investigated the murder, that Rich had been involved with the leaked DNC emails in 2016. It was also contradicted by the July 2018 indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence agents for hacking the e-mail accounts and networks of Democratic Party officials and by the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion the leaked DNC emails were part of Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections. Fact-checking websites like PolitiFact, Snopes, and FactCheck.org stated that the theories were false and unfounded. The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post wrote that the promotion of these conspiracy theories was an example of fake news

Rich’s family denounced the conspiracy theorists and said that those individuals were exploiting their son’s death for political gain, and their spokesperson called the conspiracy theorists “disgusting sociopaths”. They requested a retraction and apology from Fox News after the network promoted the conspiracy theory, and sent a cease and desist letter to the investigator Fox News used. The investigator stated that he had no evidence to back up the claims which Fox News attributed to him. Fox News issued a retraction, but did not apologize or publicly explain what went wrong. In response, the Rich family sued Fox News in March 2018 for having engaged in “extreme and outrageous conduct” by fabricating the story defaming their son and thereby intentionally inflicting emotional distress on them. Fox News reached a seven-figure settlement with the Rich family in October 2020.

Fast forward to the present and this story in Rolling Stone:

It was the headline that made federal prosecutor Deborah Sines sit up straight in her chair.

For nearly a year, she’d been investigating the murder of 27-year-old Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich. During that time, she had watched as viral conspiracy theories and fantastical speculation about Rich had spread beyond anyone’s imagination, overshadowing the facts about Rich’s life and death. The theories had spun so out of control that they’d interfered with Sines’ own investigation, forcing her to run down bizarre tips and rule them out. But she had never imagined what she now saw before her eyes: A pro-Trump blogger and vocal Rich conspiracist had published the name of the closest thing she had to a witness in the case.

Until that moment, the witness’s identity wasn’t public. That was by intent. Sines knew how dangerous it could be for a potential murder witness to have their identity revealed. A decade earlier she had prosecuted a notorious D.C. serial murderer who specifically targeted people in his neighborhood who had cooperated with the police and U.S. attorney’s office. Now her quasi-witness in the Rich murder had been outed, which sent the rampant speculation and conspiracy theorizing about Seth Rich into overdrive.

What Sines would later discover is that the person who leaked the name of the only witness to Rich’s murder was a Trump-loving MAGA cop in DC who owned gyms and was a sucker for conspiracy theories. Note that Julian Assange also played a big part in this, and not a flattering part.

You can read the rest of the fascinating Rolling Stone story here.

Seth Rich.

Trump keeps playing right into the hands of the Department of Justice

It’s a question that untold numbers of us have asked ourselves: How has Donald Trump gotten away with being so crooked for so long?

That question has been batted about ad infinitum.

But those days seem to have come to an end, with federal law enforcement finally using Trump well-known stupidity and lazy habits against him, as David A. Graham at The Atlantic recounts in this interesting article:

As the great American philosophers Ralph Waldo Emerson and Omar Little each expressed in their own ways, if you go after the king, you can’t make a mistake.

The Department of Justice now finds itself in just such a can’t-miss scenario in its legal battle with Donald Trump over documents he took with him to Mar-a-Lago. Given the delicate political calculation, any error could strengthen the former president, weaken the rule of law, and imperil the Constitution. But so far, the federal government has been a step ahead of Trump at every turn.

The latest demonstration came in a filing late last night, in which prosecutors dramatically swept away the most recent excuses from Trump and his allies, who have insisted that the former president cooperated with the government and acted in good faith. The filing provides evidence that Trump and his team not only didn’t hand over all classified materials, but actively sought to conceal them by misleading the FBI. And a striking photograph, showing cover sheets with bold red block letters reading top secret // sci, preempts any claim that Trump might simply not have realized the documents were classified.

This has been the pattern of the story of Trump’s mishandling of presidential records from the start. In January, the National Archives and Records Administration retrieved 15 boxes of documents from Mar-a-Lago. By February, NARA had already told DOJ about classified documents, according to a letter from the agency’s head to Representative Carolyn Maloney. Although a lawyer for Trump requested that NARA not disclose the contents of the boxes to the FBI, government lawyers were already a step ahead, pointing out that “there are important national security interests in the FBI and others in the Intelligence Community getting access to these materials … Some include the highest levels of classification, including Special Access Program (SAP) materials.”

Trump is a moron, and he’s mostly now only able to hire lawyers who are also morons or near-morons. The days of him being able to sleaze and bluster his way out of legal messes is (hopefully) drawing to a close.

One of several in a rotating list of Trumpland excuses for having top secret documents is that he didn’t know they were top secret. So the DOJ shared photos of what they found during the raid of Mar-A-Lago so that everyone could see that nobody could miss that these were restricted documents, since they were clearly and ostentatiously labeled as such.

NY set to award valuable marijuana dispensary licenses first to black, brown people most targeted by old marijuana drug laws

This seems like a great idea, if it works as it’s intended:

If you or a loved one have a pot conviction, you could have a new employment opportunity. New York will give you first dibs to sell marijuana, legally.

While 19 states have legalized recreational weed, New York is the first to offer its initial dispensary licenses solely to entrepreneurs with marijuana convictions. It’s a move aimed at offering an advantage to people, disproportionately in Black and brown communities, harmed by the war on drugs.

“We think that leaning into folks who are not only justice-involved, but have that business experience means that we’re going to find a bunch of applicants who have gone through some significant challenges to still open and operate successful businesses,” Office of Cannabis Management executive director Chris Alexander said in an interview. “We just took a different approach.”

Most states have let medical dispensaries be the first to roll out recreational products, which has largely let big fish get bigger. And places like Illinois and Detroit created lotteries or restrictions to promote diverse ownership in their adult-use weed sectors only to see them mired in legal challenges and legislative fixes for years. So, New York — one of the nation’s largest cannabis markets — went further.

New Yorkers with past cannabis-related convictions and business experience will get the first chance at Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary licenses. If selected, the state will set up the applicants with a retail location and financing to help develop their storefronts — with shops openings potentially as early as the end of the year.

That “social equity” framework, as set forth in in the 2021 law as part of the state Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act which legalized the drug for adult use, underpins the state’s efforts to ensure those most harmed by the decades-long prohibition of marijuana — and not large multi-state operators — are at the center of New York’s recreational program. The Democratic-led Legislature pushed for the measure as part of the law.

Here’s the rub: California was supposed to also set up this type of program for those residents — black and brown people — most sent to prison under draconian marijuana laws.

But loopholes, along with government inertia and stupidity, have made the program a farce.

Let’s hope NY state learns from those mistakes.

You can find out more about those New York cannabis dispensary licenses at this link.

A variety of strains at a recreational marijuana dispensary in Denver, Colorado. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons.)

Insider-Only Hiring of Police Chiefs May Violate Civil Rights Law, Officials Say

ProPublica and Boston’s legendary PBS station WBUR have a piece up about a problem I didn’t even know existed: state and local laws which require police forces to hire new police chiefs from within the often scandal-plagued departments they will lead.

With police departments facing demands for reform nationwide, some experts say that one way to address problems such as racial discrimination, poor training or use of excessive force is to bring in an outsider. But Revere’s mayor, Arrigo, didn’t have that option. In 2017, he tried to change the ordinance so he could look at external candidates, but he was rebuffed by the city council.

“We absolutely welcome the help of [U.S. Attorney] Rachael Rollins to make these changes going forward,” Arrigo said in a statement to WBUR. “I have been and always will be in support of this change and am willing to work with anyone able to provide help and guidance. The work of improving a toxic police department culture cannot be done alone.”

It’s not known exactly how many cities and towns around the country are constrained to choose police chiefs who already work in the department. In New Jersey, state law requires most municipalities to choose a chief from the ranks. The city of Bakersfield, California, will hold a ballot referendum this November on whether to remove its insiders-only requirement. Bakersfield agreed to the referendum as part of a settlement with the California state Department of Justice, which had been investigating alleged civil rights abuses by city police officers. In 2020, after a sweeping overtime pay scam that implicated more than 45 troopers, the Massachusetts legislature dropped a requirement that the head of the state police be hired from within.

Police unions and local elected officials often support these insider-only ordinances to reward veterans of the force for their service and to keep political allies close. Brandon Buskey, head of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Criminal Law Reform Project in New York, said that these requirements should be abolished because they limit cities from finding the most qualified candidates for chief, but that unions are standing in the way.

“That’s a problem that really is national in scale because we see police unions and the lobbying effort of police groups being used to really thwart necessary reforms in so many jurisdictions,” he said.

This is just crazy, but it just goes to show you how elected officials often claim to support good policing, but then go along with corrupt police unions in passing laws which virtually guarantee the opposite. These laws also maintain the racial status quo for majority Caucasian police departments.

You can read the rest of the ProPublica article at this link.

U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins said that rules like Revere’s that require hiring police chiefs from within are “ridiculous” and may limit the diversity of the candidate pool. Credit: Jesse Costa/WBUR

Former Trump campaign co-chair charged with sex abuse

I used to be a newspaper editor and one of our specialties was running stories about arch-conservative people who get caught doing bad things things along the lines of that which they try to pass laws to prevent other people from lawfully doing in normal, everyday ways.

Adultery? Prostitutes regularly report that business is remarkably better (yet far worse tippers) in cities that host the Republican National Convention, rather than the Democratic one.

Child enticement? I could’ve run a newsletter all these years highlighting nothing but notable right-wingers who’ve been caught on “To Catch A Predator” or exposed some other way.

Homosexual trysts and orgies? Oh, man. I witnessed over the years literally (correct use of the word literally, BTW) nearly every male leader of nearly every anti-homosexual group that’s appeared over the years, getting arrested as those leaders have been caught in either male prostitution stings or drug-fueled orgies in some location that catches the attention of law enforcement.

I’ve said it a thousand times, I’ll bet: if a person is so obsessed that they need to make a living telling others what to do sexually, chances are that person is doing (and ashamed of) the very thing they are trying to fight.

Take Donald Trump’s former statewide campaign co-chair down in Alabama:

A former Alabama legislator who served as a co-chair of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign in the state has been arrested and charged with first-degree sex abuse, police confirmed Wednesday.

The incident that Perry Hooper Jr. is charged with happened on Aug. 16 in the 100 block of Commerce St., which is the address of the Hampton Inn & Suites Montgomery-Downtown.

Hooper, 67, was arrested Tuesday, said Capt. Saba Coleman, a spokeswoman for the Montgomery Police Department. He was booked into the Montgomery County Detention Facility and his bond set at $15,000. But there were no details about what Hooper is alleged to have done posted on the jail website.

Ahh, the the Hampton Inn & Suites — always a fine location for right-wingers to get caught illegally dipping their chicken tenders in secret sauce.

You can read the rest at this link.

Perry Hooper, Jr.

This article about the Trump family separation policy is just as jaw dropping as I’d heard it to be

I just finished writer Caitlin Dickerson’s exhaustive (and much talked-about) piece in The Atlantic about the insidious genesis and disastrous implementation of the Trump Administration’s family separation policy at the border. It’s a lot to digest given the byzantine nature of both the politics behind the policy, and the dizzying alphabet soup of federal agencies and programs involved.

I had no idea, for instance, of the myriad ways that immigrants seeking asylum at southern border — the vast majority who are not criminals, that is — can be handed off from the Border Patrol to ICE to HHS and elsewhere. The system already seems primed to lose track of people. Add into the mix an effort to purposefully yank screaming toddlers out of the arms of their mothers, and it’s easy to understand how people with nefarious motives could use the immigration bureaucracy toward amoral ends.

One part of the debacle that gob-smacked me was that I kept wondering, “Why had nobody thought to sit down and create a simple spreadsheet tracking the children who were taken away?” With just a few data points I could create one myself in an hour or two, and I’m no Excel expert.

I wasn’t the only one confused by that, as the Atlantic article makes clear:

[U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas John] Bash and other U.S. attorneys were flabbergasted by the ineptitude of those who had created the [family separation] policy. “I remember thinking, Why doesn’t someone just have an Excel file? ” Bash reportedly said. “I mean, it’s a large population in human cost and human terms, but it’s not a large population in terms of data management. We’re talking about a few thousand families. You can have all that on one spreadsheet with the names of the people, where the kid’s going. It was just insane. I remember being told that there was going to be a phone number parents could call and know where their kids were. And I told a public defender that and she was like, ‘This phone number doesn’t work, one. And two, most parents don’t have access to phones where they’re being held, or they have to pay for the use of the pay phone. So that doesn’t work.’ ”

Bash asked the Justice Department to launch an investigation into why parents and children were not being reunited expeditiously, still not fully understanding his agency’s role in the scheme. He created a list of questions that he wanted answered, which were shared with Gene Hamilton, Rod Rosenstein, and others at DOJ: “What technology could be used to ensure that parents don’t lose track of children?”; “Is it true that they are often pulled apart physically?”; “Why doesn’t HHS return the child to the parent as soon as the parent is out of the criminal-justice system, on the view that at that point the child is no longer an ‘unaccompanied minor’?” Rosenstein responded that the U.S. attorneys should try to find out what was going on themselves. The attorneys sent the questions to their Border Patrol counterparts, but their inquiries were ignored. “DHS just sort of shut down their communication channels to us,” Ryan Patrick, the U.S. attorney in South Texas, told me. “Emails would go either unanswered, calls would go unreturned, or ‘We’re not answering that question right now.’ ”

There wasn’t a way to track the children who were yanked from their parents because the Trump people wanted to inflict as much pain as possible. They didn’t want it to be easy, if possible at all, to reunite these terrified, damaged children with their loved ones. They fully expected — nay, they counted on it — that these children would never see their mothers again.

I seem to recall a government in the 1930s that thought taking newborns and toddlers away from undesirables and placing them with “acceptable” families in the homeland was good family planning.

I will admit here that I’ve always considered immigration to be a lesser issue, at least in terms of broad goals for a more just domestic society. Americans spend so much time being distracted and divided by the billionaire-funded right-wing echo chamber that has all of us fighting over immigration and abortion and drag queen story hours. Fighting about those important, but ultimately peripheral issues, keeps all of us from truly reforming laws related to Wall Street and the billionaires; from transforming the system so that Fox News and OAN and the people who pull their strings are no longer in charge.

If we did that rising up and taking power from the people who really hold it in this country, then many of these other issues would eventually become less controversial and easier to solve in rational ways, away from the white-hot cauldron of manipulated public opinion.

Now that I’ve read Dickerson’s heart-breaking article, however, immigration has moved up my list of motivations for the upcoming elections.

We cannot let the Trump monsters who pushed these inhumane policies — many of whom are federal career bureaucrats still employed at DHS, HHS and the Justice Department — from holding power. Because they are waiting for their chance to do it again. Next time, however, they will have lessons learned; namely, to first get rid of any of the people who stood in their way last time.

You can read Dickerson’s article at this link.

Two PA judges, who sent kids to prison so the judges could get kickbacks from private kids prison, ordered to pay $200 million

As someone who spent the latter part of his childhood stuck in the foster care system, I can attest to sense of helplessness you have when the state has total control over your life.

In some ways that state control was an improvement over my emotionally and sexually abusive alcoholic parents, but in other ways you understood that all it would take is one judge having a bad day and you could be sent to some horrible institution, no question asked.

So I’ve followed the Pennsylvania Kids-For-Cash scandal closely, mostly because there but for the grace of God go I (or any foster kid, really):

Two former Pennsylvania judges who orchestrated a scheme to send children to for-profit jails in exchange for kickbacks were ordered to pay more than $200 million to hundreds of people they victimized in one of the worst judicial scandals in U.S. history.

U.S. District Judge Christopher Conner awarded $106 million in compensatory damages and $100 million in punitive damages to nearly 300 people in a long-running civil suit against the judges, writing the plaintiffs are “the tragic human casualties of a scandal of epic proportions.”

In what came to be known as the kids-for-cash scandal, Mark Ciavarella and another judge, Michael Conahan, shut down a county-run juvenile detention center and accepted $2.8 million in illegal payments from the builder and co-owner of two for-profit lockups. Ciavarella, who presided over juvenile court, pushed a zero-tolerance policy that guaranteed large numbers of kids would be sent to PA Child Care and its sister facility, Western PA Child Care.

Former Luzerne County Court Judges Michael Conahan, front left, and Mark Ciavarella, front right, leave the U.S. District Courthouse in Scranton, Pa., on Sept., 15, 2009. The two Pennsylvania judges who orchestrated a scheme to send children to for-profit jails in exchange for kickbacks were ordered to pay more than $200 million to hundreds of children who fell victim to their crimes.

Ciavarella ordered children as young as 8 to detention, many of them first-time offenders deemed delinquent for petty theft, jaywalking, truancy, smoking on school grounds and other minor infractions. The judge often ordered youths he had found delinquent to be immediately shackled, handcuffed and taken away without giving them a chance to put up a defense or even say goodbye to their families.

“Ciavarella and Conahan abandoned their oath and breached the public trust,” Conner wrote Tuesday in his explanation of the judgment. “Their cruel and despicable actions victimized a vulnerable population of young people, many of whom were suffering from emotional issues and mental health concerns.”

If the world made sense, these two judges would die in prison.

One might. The other was released early because of COVID.

You can read the rest of the AP article here.

The FBI has always been used in a “political” way

The “problem” conservatives scream about is that, now that the FBI has been used to go after the kinds of criminals who usually set the agency’s agenda, the GOP is upset that the FBI has become a “political tool.” What a load of horseshit and shame on the New York Times whenever it gives unquestioning column inches to this kind of smokescreen from conservatives.

John Ganz over at Unpopular Front is, as usual, blunt and on-the-mark:

It’s time to stop fucking around. All of the savvy political wisdom of the preceding years got us here: with a half-lunatic trying to shake down the country to call off his followers. Trump doesn’t care about precedents: as soon as he’s able, he will use whatever tool he’s able to use against his opponents. This is why his supporters like him. They openly say so. The first time around, he didn’t really know how to wield the power of the state or the most violent core of his supporters, but most likely he will will learn. The Federal oath of office begins, “I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” If that means anybody in the history of the country, that must mean Trump. He cannot be allowed to hide behind his supporters or try to use them to manipulate the U.S. government. Is it possible that this will lead to bad outcomes? Sure, anything is possible. But treating Trump like he’s got special powers has lead us here.

“But, John, are you saying we should use the Justice Department politically? With the express purpose of getting rid of someone you don’t like.” Kind of! As Trump’s intellectual defenders love to remind us, there’s ultimately no neutral administration of justice, everything is political, and when you get the state apparatus in your hands you use it beat up on your enemies and help out your friends. So, in part, these are their rules. (If you start talking about how you are gonna apply the thought of Carl Schmitt when you administer the state, I may start to get the sense you are my enemy.)

Also, let’s not play innocent. Historically speaking, the F.B.I. has always been used “politically:” it was used against Reds, Nazis, Reds again, the KKK, civil rights leaders, black power leaders, Nazis again etc. A lot of this was abusive and terrible and you know where my political sympathies lie, but this was because the political establishment implicitly or explicitly viewed these groups as threats to the United States itself. In many cases, they were not. (Yeah, yeah, I know what you are gonna say, “but J. Edgar Hoover, blah, blah, blah”—The fact is that Hoover lasted so long because powerful people thought he was useful and mostly right.) But here is a case where the real deal has come along: a bonafide domestic threat to the constitution. People these days are willing to call everything from annoying college students to crummy D.E.I. consultants “totalitarian threats to democracy” or whatever, but when a big, fat threat to democracy is standing right there, suddenly everyone is like, “Well…it’s a little complicated, isn’t it?” No, it really isn’t. And, in this case, we don’t have to break the law or do anything underhanded: just actually try to uphold the law for a change and stop playing little political games around it.

I’m still amazed how often I still see a MSM reporter write, without any follow-up information whatsoever, that this is “the first time” that a search warrant has been served on a former president “at his private residence,” no less. (Mar-A-Lago is Trump’s home in the same ways Chicago’s Lexington Hotel was Al Capone’s home.)

Let’s never forget: Nixon would have been in jail had Ford not pardoned him. That is the only reason this is the first time a president might be arrested and prosecuted for serious crimes. It could have happened, and likely would have happened, to another Republican president. And then there is the gargantuan matter that Trump marks the first time a sitting president came perilously close to overthrowing the government. Trump makes Nixon look like a shoplifter in the presence of a hard core criminal.

These things are all self-evident. You know them. I know them. Everyone sane knows them. Yet somehow the Republicans have people in the MSM in Washington bamboozled into thinking that going after Trump is bad because it might antagonize his followers, many of whom believed that JFK. Jr. was about to make a surprise appearance in the place in Dallas in Dealey Plaza. Even more of them believe that the Clintons and George Soros run an international pedophile ring. And even more than that believe Tucker Carlson.

We’re not prosecuting Trump because those people might be antagonized? Nuts.

Anyway, John Ganz is very good and you can read the rest of it at this link.

Indiana police chief suspended after false arrest of town board candidate he thought was anti-police

Police in Brookville, Indiana, got it into their heads that town resident Trevin Thalheimer is anti-police. Thalheimer was also running for the town board, which the police didn’t like. So the police chief and one lieutenant allegedly had Thalheimer arrested on false charges:

Two members of the Brookville Police Department are suspended following allegations that they arrested a man thought to be anti-police whom they did not want running for town board.

Police Chief Terry Mitchum and Lt. Ryan Geiser are implicated in the evolving scandal.

Trevin Thalheimer is the man arrested on drug and rape charges that were later dropped. He says he doesn’t understand why Mitchum and Geiser thought he held anti-police views.

“I was shocked and in disbelief. Furious,” he said Wednesday, adding he experienced a “whole range of emotions” in the aftermath. “It was very hard.”

Franklin County Prosecutor Chris Huerkamp announced late last month he had dismissed the charges, saying he was disturbed at the conduct of the investigation and arrest.

Thalheimer’s attorney, Judson McMillin said previously the officers got a search warrant after claiming they smelled marijuana on Thalheimer and his friend. They then arrested both people, later adding a rape charge based on an old allegation against Thalheimer that did not result in a prosecution.

Court documents claim Aleese Whitamore came forward saying the officers encouraged her to run against Thalheimer. She said previously she never wanted to run. Her testimony helped clear Thalheimer.

“Any time you start mixing police power with political preferences, you got major problems, and that’s what we had here,” McMillin said.

The incident forced Thalheimer to drop out of the race.

“I laid in bed for ten days. I didn’t go to work. My job suffered. I mean, there’s a lot of things going on at once,” he said. “And I was completely blindsided by the whole thing. I was never expecting that situation, and clearly wasn’t expecting the, you know, the allegation, that part, to be arrested for, because I was, I was dumbfounded by the whole thing.”

This is what follows from a culture that had long given police a sense of invincibility and being above the law.

You can read the rest of the article here.

Trevin Thalheimer being interviewed about his ordeal.

Atty. Gen. Merrick Garland is turning out to head a Justice Dept. finally willing to go after Wall Street criminals

One of my favorite chroniclers of the dangerous political times in which we find ourselves is David Dayen at the The American Prospect (TAP). I find his insights to be helpful in understanding the mess we are in, but he is very often hopeful, too.

Such is the case with one of his current articles in TAP. He notes in it that the U.S. Justice Department is finally showing some muscle in prosecuting wrongdoing at the highest echelons of Wall Street — something he starts out by noting has long been absent even in Democratic administrations.

In a country with such a yawning gap between the wealth and influence of elites and the comparatively piddling power of everyone else, to catch what’s really happening at the highest levels of power you must consult news sources like the Vineyard Gazette, a paper covering goings-on in Martha’s Vineyard. A recent chronicle of a book event for former Attorney General Eric Holder offered just such a window.

Holder was asked whether, if he were still running the Justice Department, he would charge Donald Trump, specifically for inciting the riot at the Capitol on January 6th. Holder called out to Lanny Breuer, his head of the Criminal Division while at DOJ, who happened to be in the audience.

“So Lanny, would we bring this case?” asked Holder. “We would bring it in a minute,” replied Breuer, to thunderous applause.

If ever there was a moment of elite historical amnesia, it was this. Lanny Breuer and Eric Holder are jointly responsible as the greatest enablers of criminal impunity in American history. They indicted literally nobody of consequence for the destruction of the U.S. economy in the global financial crisis of 2008, and the mountain of demonstrable fraud that triggered it. In fact, Holder literally had a corner office held for him at Covington & Burling, the corporate defense firm that represented many of the top banks whose executives Holder declined to prosecute, while he served as attorney general.

Why anyone would listen to the views of Holder and Breuer on the subject of holding criminal actors responsible is beyond comprehension. These are two charter members of the chickenshit club.

He then goes on to describe a recent case in which the Justice Dept. sought and won convictions in an important case of Wall Street lying and cheating, something so common it’s shocking it hasn’t happened more often.

But the most hopeful elite accountability moment this week, the one that suggests that maybe the rule of law has a pulse, wasn’t actually conducted with a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago. It was a Justice Department victory in a different case that actually holds top officials of one of the nation’s biggest corporate recidivists accountable.

On Wednesday, a jury in Chicago convicted two traders from JPMorgan Chase, including managing director Michael Nowak, who was the head of the bank’s gold trading desk, for financial fraud in gold markets. The traders were engaging in “spoofing,” a practice of entering fake trades to spur activity and boost the commodity price.

Financial-reform observers believe this case involves the most senior bank officers ever charged in recent history, let alone convicted. The Justice Department actually went for a racketeering charge, depicting the precious metals trading desk as a criminal enterprise within the bank. This is incredibly new stuff for a Justice Department that has long been moribund on corporate crime. “RICO is now clearly a valid charge in white-collar criminal cases like this, and that’s a very, very powerful weapon,” said Dennis Kelleher of the financial reform group Better Markets.

You can read the rest of the article at this link.

You can read the Justice Dept. press release about the spoofing case at this link.