The stench from the Sussmann verdict. By Charles Lipson.
Democracies cannot survive without public trust. Citizens must be confident that their elected officials represent their interests, at least in broad terms, and are not corrupt, self-dealing con men. They must believe the courts dispense justice fairly and equally, that there’s not one set of rules for insiders and another for everyone else. They understand that complex societies require bureaucracies and that bureaucracies are inherently non-democratic, but they want the bureaucracies’ rules and procedures to be subject to laws, passed by elected officials, overseen by them, and applied evenly. For transparency, they depend on newspapers and television and, in recent years, on websites and social media.
These essential elements of stable democracy are encompassed by two words: “trust” and “fairness.” …
If he has to go to court, it means he’ll get a fair trial, with an even-handed judge and a jury of his peers. He won’t be pilloried by a biased judge who doesn’t like his politics. His case will be decided by a jury that weighs the evidence without prejudice. The public also has a right to see that trials are handled fairly, without bias.
Every one of those basic tenets was violated in Michael Sussmann’s trial for lying to the FBI. We know now that a Washington, DC jury has found him not guilty, though it is still unclear whether they believed he didn’t lie, or the government didn’t prove it, or it didn’t matter to a politically biased FBI, which was determined to investigate anything connected to Donald Trump. We also know something more: the whole case is drenched in the sulfurous smell of the Washington Swamp. …
The defense makes a devastating point for anybody worried about corrupt law enforcement. They note that the FBI’s cyber experts quickly recognized that the white papers and thumb drives Sussmann gave Baker were garbage. They might fool someone without any cyber expertise but not a real expert. When the FBI learned that Sussmann’s materials were worthless, the Bureau should have immediately ended its investigation based solely on that material. They didn’t. Baker testified that his bosses on the Seventh Floor (FBI director James Comey and his number two, Andrew McCabe) were fired up by Sussmann’s materials and authorized a full-scale investigation of the Trump-Alfa Bank connection. When the Bureau asked the Chicago field office to look into the internet data Sussmann had given them, FBI leaders specifically prohibited the field agents from speaking to anyone who generated the data for Sussmann. The FBI’s approach was fatally biased, corrupt, and partisan — the now-familiar hallmarks of Saint James Comey’s tenure at the Bureau.
Bias like that at the nation’s top law-enforcement agency is noxious for democracy …
Was this a fair-minded jury? There is sickening evidence that the presiding federal judge, Christopher Cooper, seated a jury he knew would strongly favor Sussmann, not because they liked Sussmann but because he represented Hillary Clinton and opposed Donald Trump. How did Judge Cooper tilt the scales of justice? By improperly seating three jurors who donated to the very candidate Sussmann was trying to help. Those jurors said they could be fair, but there is no way they should have been seated.
This whole case was about a lie that was meant to help Hillary Clinton and hurt Donald Trump. That means there was a partisan political element at the very heart of the case. That would pose an uphill battle for Durham in any case since the trial was held in Washington, DC, where Trump received almost no votes. He is reviled there. Knowing that, the judge should have leaned over backwards to make sure the jury wasn’t overtly partisan. He did the opposite, and that’s unconscionable. He not only seated three donors to Clinton, he seated another who donated to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. AOC may not have been a friend of Hillary’s but she was even more staunchly opposed to Trump. All four of those potential jurors should have been excluded.
The stench surrounding the judge, the defendant, the biased jury, and the FBI ought to outrage the public, no matter who they supported for president. In fact, the public has been kept in the dark throughout the trial because the media refuses to report on it. (Expect them to now shout the “not guilty” verdict from the rooftops because it supports their viewpoint.) When James Baker gave his devastating testimony, all three television networks devoted zero minutes to the trial. The New York Times said nothing. They did the same thing the next day, when Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager dropped the bombshell in court that Hillary herself authorized the campaign to spread the Alfa-Bank-Trump story to the media. Again, crickets.
Bigger and badder than Watergate, covered up by the Dems — who at the moment have no shame. Crickets from the media.
Who would fight for a society as unfair as that?
This trial sets new lows in corruption and tribalism, and the whole world will follow. The USA was the light on the hill.