The Ultimate Price for Violating the Rule of Law
by Joe Speelman on April 5, 2017 at 9:31 AM
The Legal Wilderness
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The Ultimate Price for Violating the Rule of Law
“So you would cut down all the Laws of England in pursuit of the Devil….and
when that vicious creature turns and begins to pursue you….
Where, then, would you hide, all the laws having been laid flat…
For even a man as righteous as you could not stand in the wind that would then blow.”
Sir Thomas More (1478-1535)
“A Man For All Seasons”
Oscar Award for Best Picture, 1966
There comes a time in the lives of attorneys when they confront things being done in the name of The Law that cannot, by any stretched interpretation or any intellectually honest review, be accepted or condoned as “being legal”. If you were fortunate, you had the influence in your early years of someone, perhaps a mother or father, a grand parent or maybe a teacher, who would tap you on the shoulder and tell you “no, you cannot do that, and you know it is not permitted” and thus not legal. You were, then, given an internal conscience, a moral, (and legal) compass with which you could lead your life. There are some, perhaps many, in the legal profession who have no such internal compass. It simply is not there, and likely never was there. It is those members of the profession I speak of and to in this story.
As the last vestiges of the regime that preceded the Trump Administration wound slowly down, we were treated to numerous statements, interviews, and even guest editorials in national newspapers by the head of that regime; whom I shall refer to as “The Block Organizer In Chief” or “BO” for short; lauding his administration as being scandal free and how proud he was of that as well as claiming that he stood for “The rule of law”. I am sure you have seen or heard these claims, many being echoed by a national media that seemed to fall all over itself in agreeing, without review, and certainly no serious or critical review, with those statements. I remind all, that BO is a Harvard Law School graduate and, as such, is an attorney. As so often happens, time has begun to erode those lofty assertions. Although, the speed with which that erosion is occurring should be noted by any who consider themselves serious and honest observers. It has been barely 95 days since the end of that regime. What follows may surprise or even shock some citizens, and others may be surprised that it was ever discovered.
First, let me give you a simple, western Kansan view of what The Rule of Law means. The good faith, earnest adherence to and enforcement of the laws of the United States and its 50 states; starting with the supreme law of the land, the US Constitution in all of its parts, as properly interpreted by an independent judiciary, and including every law established by Congress and signed into law as provided by the Constitution, and each and all laws of the various states, consistent with the primacy of Federal laws as the Constitution provides and, as well, the primacy of state laws as the Constitution also provides. The most important language in the above is the phrase “good faith, earnest adherence to and enforcement of….”. That is what attorneys, all attorneys, have a sworn obligation to uphold.
What has come more clearly to light only recently shows that the former head of the prior regime in Washington, DC has been engaged, personally and through the Department of Justice, in a systematic series of illegal, unethical, unconstitutional, and morally reprehensible schemes in violations of numerous Federal laws and the US Constitution. The list, which will likely grow much larger, is as follows:
- Issuing knowingly illegal Executive Orders regarding immigration. For a number of years, the head of the prior regime in Washington professed in writing and during news conferences and televised speeches that he did not have the power, under US law, to issue executive orders that changed or were contrary to existing US laws regarding immigration policy, protocols, quotas or standards of screening or vetting of immigrants into the US, whether legally entering or illegally entering the US. Then, within the last two years of the 8 years of the regime, he issued numerous orders that did exactly what he had maintained for 6 years he could not do. Many, if not most, serious constitutional and legal authorities agreed he did not have that power. Such executive orders would violate specific, stated provisions of laws passed by Congress and signed by the President. And yet, he did it, intentionally, and willfully, knowing full well his acts violated the law by his own omission.
- Knowing and intentional use of the IRS in targeting of Republican and conservative US citizens and denying those persons the protection of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Between April, 2010 and April 2012 the Internal Revenue Service placed on hold the processing of applications for 501 (c)(4) tax exempt status for organizations with the words “Tea Party”, “patriots”, or “9/12” in their names. All of these names were conservative or Republican oriented groups. While normal processing time for such applications would be 15 days, these applications were delayed by several years. Many are still not acted upon. During that same period the IRS approved hundreds of liberal oriented groups without scrutiny and within days of the application. As well, during this period, liberal groups and Democrat groups could have their petition approved by low level agents however the Republican or conservative groups could not be so approved according to newly established IRS internal directives. This policy especially included any groups supporting right to life issues or positions.
In May, 2013 the US Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration release an audit report confirming the IRS used inappropriate criteria to identify potential political cases including organizations with “Tea Party” in their names. MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough called the IRS actions “tyranny” and spoke of “unspeakable” abuses by the IRS, finishing his remarks by saying “this time it’s real”.
During congressional investigations on the matter, the former head of the IRS admitted he frequently visited the White House during 2010-2011. Lois Lerner, a senior IRS official on this matter, refused to testify before any Congressional committees.
When all these facts were provided to the Department of Justice for investigation and prosecution, the DOJ, led by Eric Holder, an attorney and appointee to that position by the Block Organizer in Chief, declined ANY criminal prosecution, saying in a terse statement that “perhaps there was some bad judgment” but nothing more. If that phrase sounds familiar, it was used later by the same DOJ to decline any criminal proceedings regarding Hillary Clinton for continuous and on going violations of security communications and, as Secretary of State, endorsing and securing contributions by Russian companies to the Clinton Foundation in exchange for securing approval of the sale of substantial amounts of near weapons grade uranium to a Russian company…which a clear eyed view of the Rule of Law would be called accepting a bribe from foreign entities and likely the Russian Government. Which violates Federal criminal laws and perhaps Federal Treason laws.
When asked in an interview with a Fox News reporter whether there was a scandal and misconduct by the IRS, the Block Organizer in Chief smiled and said “not a smidgeon “. As stated above, the DOJ, the chief law enforcement agency of the US Government, declined to bring any criminal charges in this entire frightening, tyrannical, and vicious act of extreme intimidation against American citizens attempting to exercise their rights to free speech and freedom of association. Not a smidgeon!
- Knowingly, intentionally, and repeatedly violating Federal Environmental Criminal Laws. Federal law specifically protects the Bald Eagle and the Golden Eagle by making it a felony to kill these birds. The Bald Eagle Protection Act, 16 USC 668-668d, was enacted in 1940 to protect the Bald Eagle and amended in 1962 to include the Golden Eagle. As previously published in this author’s Legal Wilderness Series article entitled “Sky Pirates”, the Block Organizer In Chief’s administration attempted to write this federal criminal law completely out of the books by instructing the US Fish & Wildlife Service to publish a regulation allowing the manufacturers of wind turbines to continue killing these birds for thirty years; approximately 2.5 million each year. The reason? So the manufacturers could get financing to continue to build their eagle killing machines. All of this done in violation of federal criminal laws and in the face of objections from the American Bird Conservancy and the American Wildlife Society and the administration’s refusal to perform an environmental impact investigation on the impact of such a regulation, as required by law.
- Intentionally and repeatedly soliciting bribes, accepting bribes, and, misappropriation of billions of dollars of funds of the US Treasury. The most troubling set of facts and the most egregious violations of Federal law and the US Constitution by the prior federal administration have come to light only within the last few months and have become widely known to the public only within the last few weeks. Noted conservative columnist George Will wrote in his Washington Post column in the Fall of 2016 about a Department of Justice settlement “Slush Fund”.
For the last several years, the DOJ, which is the chief law enforcement agency in the Federal government, has brought large claims against many, if not all, major banks operating in the US that were potentially involved in the mortgaged-backed securities investment schemes which led to the bail out of all such banks, the near collapse of the world economy, and caused numerous companies, small, medium, and large to fail or file for protection under Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code. Claims were also brought against British Petroleum for the massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The cases brought were both civil and criminal cases. The cumulative “value”, meaning the claim size, for these cases is in the hundreds of billions of dollars.These funds, when collected from the defendants, belong to the US Treasury and, as such, it is money that belongs to the US taxpayers.
The Block Organizer, through his hand picked Attorney General, began to solicit settlement offers from each of these defendants that included reducing the size of the ultimate payments, which were incredibly large, if such defendants would make sizable “donations” to a number of private, nongovernmental advocacy organizations all of which were serving Democratic Party needs and preparations for elections or were groups widely known to be policy advocacy groups for liberal and Democratic Party positions. None of these nongovernmental groups were parties in the cases or victims of the defendants’ conduct. They were channels through which secret money could and would be channeled to support the Democratic Party advocacy projects and elections, including the Hillary Clinton election campaign. These solicitations, as secretive as they were, took place under the guise of “prosecutorial discretion”, meaning the Attorney General used his discretion to “accept” such offers, after he solicited them, in the name of the US Government. Here is the problem (one of many): those funds belong to the government, not the Attorney General and certainly not the Democratic Party. The only acceptable use of prosecutorial discretion is for the benefit of the government and the US Treasury.
As Mr. Will points out succinctly, the US Constitution provides “no money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law”.The power to appropriate money of the US Government belongs entirely to the Congress and neither the Attorney General, nor the Block Organizer, can appropriate such money. Congressional investigators became involved and Representative John Ratcliffe, R – Texas has stated that “clear partisan politics were involved in the solicitations that were made”. So far, congressional investigators have determined that over $ 3 billion has been channeled through the “slush fund” process but they estimate it will be much, much larger.
As an attorney, the then Attorney General, Eric Holder, knew at the time that he was soliciting the contributions, that such activity was improper. Indeed, he knew it was illegal. It is a Federal crime, punishable by jail time and massive fines, and ultimate disbarment, for an attorney representing the US government to solicit money from a party to pending criminal or civil litigation involving the US government in exchange for a reduction of any sort of that party’s liability, criminal or civil. The Attorney General, and the Block Organizer, as attorneys, are both guilty of solicitation of bribes in each of these cases and then misappropriating those funds, which belong to the US Treasury. You may find these laws clearly stated in Title 18 of the United States Code, which is the part of the US code that contains crimes under Federal law. Soliciting a bribe is a crime. Accepting a bribe is a crime. Misappropriation of public funds is a crime. These are pretty simple and easy to understand laws. As citizens we have to obey them. There are no exceptions for “really important” people such as the former Attorney General or his former supervisor. It is The Rule of Law.
Finally, the parties who were solicited and then paid these funds have some accounting to do. They prepared checks, presumably, and delivered them to these private, nongovernmental political groups. They were most assuredly represented by the finest attorneys money can buy. They have, apparently, participated in the criminal conduct set forth above. They must pay the full penalty to the US Treasury, including the “discount” for making payments to private political organizations. As well, the private, political groups must return the improperly diverted funds of the US Treasury to the US Treasury together with admitting their participation in wrong doing. A full accounting of where such funds were used must be provided. Dare I say it….the IRS must audit these private, political groups regarding the receipt of the funds.
As this article goes to press, the investigations go on into the above and various matters of misconduct, criminality, and unethical conduct by persons and organizations during the prior eight years of the administration of the US Government. Only 95 days since the finish of that regime, some terrible, criminal, unethical, and very, very disturbing issues are emerging, now to be considered. Crimes have been committed with attorneys involved or with full knowledge of them. Laws, especially the Constitution, have been ignored or full out violated; and to what purpose? Sadly, attorneys, who are supposed to ensure that Rule of Law prevails, were deeply involved in these criminal, unethical, and illegal activities.
I take you back to Sir Thomas More and his admonishment for all times. A democratic government can only exist if the Rule of Law is upheld and I mean not just “words designed to misdirect citizens” but by belief and actions consistent with upholding the law. We are watching a former regime in our own country begin to see its’ place in history unravel in a deluge of criminality, obfuscation, misdirection, and back room undermining of public interests and the rights of citizens. It is clear that this prior administration adhered to only one concept, “the ends justify the means”. Nothing else matters. Laws are mere annoyances to be roundly and constantly ignored. These people fit perfectly the name “outlaws”.
If this continues, as it would appear may be the case, judging by the behavior of the minority party in Congress, the invitation for the vicious winds to come full on will be unstoppable. The tyranny surrounding this place will destroy this remarkable but fragile experiment after only a mere 240 odd years, and the beasts you have yet to even imagine in your nightmares will come forth and rule. Mere anarchy will be unleashed and prevail. Even a block organizer will not stand in those winds.
Who mourns for Rule of Law?