At the July 23, 2020 markup of a clearly unconstitutional bill attempting to limit the President’s Article 2 pardon power, Chairman Jerrold Nadler of the House Judiciary Committee, spewed a series of baseless falsehoods about Roger Stone and President Trump regarding the circumstances of the commutation of Mr. Stone’s prison sentence.
In his prepared statement, Nadler falsely said that President Trump gave Stone a commutation as a favor for Stone not testifying against the President, comparing it to the way the mafia acts. Nadler falsely stated, “In fact, Stone has bragged how he resisted pressure to flip and testify against the president.”
Nadler is simply repeating a lie, perhaps having in mind that if the lie is repeated often and widely enough, it will be perceived as the truth. That kind of historically reckless approach is beneath the office of a member of Congress.
What Mr. Stone has said, consistently and repeatedly, is that he would not “bear false witness” against President Trump no matter how much pressure ethically bankrupt, politically agenda driven Mueller prosecutors would put on him to lie about his communications with candidate Trump in 2016. “False Witness!” That is a far cry from Nadler’s claim.
It is always wrong for a prosecutor to ask a witness to lie. Resisting such an effort is a great credit to any defendant in the clutches of the kind of prosecutors Mueller chose for his team.
It is not hard to imagine the delight the Mueller team of political partisans would have taken if it could have convinced Mr. Stone to concoct a story about the President to make up for their inability to find any evidence that supported their baseless Russian collusion theory.
Mueller and his team paralyzed the nation for years, cost taxpayers millions of dollars, and came up empty. They apparently thought Roger Stone, like some others they had in their clutches, would be willing to sell his soul to help himself; but he simply would not lie to hurt another, even if it meant ending his troubles with Mueller.
This false claim about Mr. Stone arises from two sources. First, in her political diatribe against the Trump administration, posing as Mr. Stone’s sentencing hearing, the judge who presided over Stone’s trialannounced to her constituency that Stone was prosecuted for covering up for Donald Trump. That was not the charge Stone faced, it does not reflect the evidence in the case, and it simply is not true. The Mueller team agenda might have been to make that claim; but it is a claim without one iota of evidence, after months of merciless searching through every corner of Roger Stone’s life. It was irresponsible and wrong for the judge to unfairly politicize our criminal justice system to serve her partisan purposes.
The second source for this false notion that Stone knows about some misconduct by the President and refused to come clean with it is an interview Stone gave to a journalist after the commutation. That journalist gave a misleading account of what Roger Stone said to him on the subject and has since written to Stone acknowledging that Stone never said what Nadler and others are now trying to attribute to him.
It is disappointing that several lawyers in recent op-ed pieces who have no basis at all for knowing any relevant facts have repeated this false claim about Mr. Stone and then have made the leap, without knowing any facts, that this was a basis for the commutation decision.
It is not surprising that Nadler would take this path; for he has hated and attacked Donald Trump fordecades. It is no less surprising that Mueller’s right hand man Andrew Weissmann would continue the
lie, given his well reported history of one after another ethical transgression throughout his checkered career, with his prosecutorial misconducted expressly noted by at least one federal judge and the stuff of legends among criminal defense lawyers who have had the unfortunate experience of seeing his despicable handiwork.
I recognize that in Jerry Nadler’s political world, sadly, facts don’t really matter; but here are the factssurrounding the subject matter of Nadler’s attack today, according to the lawyers who actually wereinvolved.
During a March 14th, 2019 trip to D.C., A.U.S.A. Jeannie Rhee, Hillary Clinton’s personal lawyer prior tojoining her law partner Robert Mueller on his team, asked to see Mr. Stone’s trial counsel at the U.S.Attorney’s office where she informed them that the prosecutors wanted Stone to cooperate with theMuller investigation by providing evidence that he communicated with the Russians to help the Trump campaign win the 2016 election. In return they would have provided Stone with unspecified leniency. Stone would not lie to fit their narrative.
Mr. Nadler, like Weissman, Hillary Clinton, and others, have twisted this statement to assert their false claim regarding the circumstances of the decision by the President’s decision to commute Roger Stone’s sentence.
And here are the facts surrounding Mr. Stone’s commutation: The President had three reasons for commuting Mr. Stone’s sentence. First, the President and many other Americans who cared enough to give an honest look, recognized long ago that the Mueller team of political partisans was rotten to the core from its inception and the prosecution of Mr. Stone, begun with a grandstanding commando raid on his home, was a political circus.
Secondly, his trial, unfairly politicized by a judge who entered Draconian gag orders, who prohibited Mr. Stone from putting on a defense that challenged the integrity of the investigation against him, and who let stand a verdict returned by a jury led by a foreperson who was an unabashed hater of all people and things associated with President Trump, shredded the integrity of our criminal justice system.
And finally, the President acted literally to save a man’s life. Notwithstanding Stone’s serious medical issues and a prison to which he was designated to report with a raging COVID-19 positive inmate and staff problem, growing exponentially by the day (256 inmates and 14 staff members have tested COVID-19 positive as of today and the first inmate has now died there) and in full quarantine status, the judge in his case would not countenance a 60 day extension of time for him to report to that prison.
Other judges on her court had given extensions and bail to other defendants, despite the dangerous nature of their crimes. Judges around the country had done the same, in recognition of the very real risk of death. But she would not consider it for this 67 year-old man, convicted of non-violent process crimes, with an undisputed medical opinion that sending him there risked his death. If the President had not acted when he did, the chances are very real that Stone would have been sent to his death.
There is no end to the daily hypocrisy we see on Capitol Hill; but Chairman Nadler’s bill targeting a President’s Article 2 pardon power might set a new standard.
Nadler has a well reported history of advocating for the pardon of a notorious member of a domestic terrorist gang that devastated the family of the gang’s victims when President Clinton agreed to Nadler’s persuasion. He has supported other pardons that are rooted in corruption; but now when his lifelong enemy, President Trump, who has sparingly used his pardon power, while helping to save the lives of poor, underrepresented people through the First Step Act, gives a commutation, Nadler wants to restrict the plenary power our Founding Fathers, after much debate and the vigorous advocacy of Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 74, saw fit to give exclusively to the President in Article 2.
The Chairman demeans himself, our Constitution, and our nation with his behavior and he should be ashamed. But it seems Chairman Nadler knows no shame.
This column is a special to SaraACarter.com. David Schoen is a civil rights and criminal defense lawyer, who is now representing Roger Stone for the appeal of his conviction and sentence.
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Historic House Vote Expels Rep. George Santos Amidst Scandal
In a turn of events, the House of Representatives made history on Friday with a vote to expel Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), marking the first such expulsion in over two decades. A moment fraught with gravity unfolded as Speaker Mike Johnson wielded his gavel to formalize Santos’ removal, setting a precedent in congressional annals.
Santos, indicted on 23 counts related to wire fraud, identity theft, and other charges, has not faced conviction but stands accused of misusing campaign funds for opulent purchases. The bipartisan vote, tallying 311 to 114, signaled robust support for expulsion, with a marginally higher number of Republicans opting to retain Santos.
Questions loomed as Speaker Johnson left the chamber, his silence leaving the fate of the ongoing government spending battle uncertain. According to reports from Fox News, Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer emphasized the non-partisan nature of the decision, asserting that members concluded Santos had tarnished the House’s reputation and was unfit for representation.
Within the GOP, conflicting opinions emerged, with Rep. Darrell Issa arguing against expulsion, citing the presumption of innocence. The tight-lipped stance of the House Ethics Committee played a pivotal role in the deliberations.
Conversely, members of the New York Republican delegation, led by Rep. Marc Molinaro, asserted Santos’ commission of crimes, justifying expulsion based on a comprehensive investigation.
Santos himself predicted the outcome in an exclusive morning interview on “FOX & Friends.” This vote not only underlines the House’s rare use of expulsion powers but also sets a critical precedent in handling members facing severe legal challenges.
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