“Republican” is not a Synonym for “Moron”.
I know because I am one of them. A Republican, that is.
In saying this, I recognize that characterizing oneself as not being a moron may be viewed as mildly moronic. So let me share a little bit about one of the few things I truly know, and then you can decide.
As a former federal criminal prosecutor in the District of New Jersey, one thing I know about is the rule of law. What it is and what it is not. Here is an example of what the rule of law isn’t.
The Department of Justice asks many other countries to help it gather evidence about crimes, and also reciprocates. I was on the reciprocation end. A Central American country prosecuting a gang kidnapping in that country needed the victim’s testimony, who was in the United States. I arranged for her to testify at the trial via a closed circuit camera in a conference room in Newark.
To protect her identity that country’s consulate was to verify the victim’s actual identity, confidentially share that identity with the Judge, and then have the victim testify without showing her face on camera, using a pseudonym.
All of which then happened. Except the last part.
The Central American Judge insisted that the victim state her true name before she testified – while the defendant was in the courtroom. This was unexpected, and we both protested. I took it one step further. I told the Judge that I was not authorized to let the victim testify in this manner without first clearing it with my superiors in Washington, D.C. He then changed his mind, said that the victim could testify anonymously, she was sworn in and about to begin. When the Judge revealed her name in open court. In front of the defendant. The victim started to cry. And then (to her credit) testified anyway.
Why did the Judge do this? I’ll never know for sure, but my guess is that he had been bribed by the defendant’s gang and wanted to intimidate this victim into not testifying.
What I don’t have to guess about is this Judge’s blatant misuse of the legal system to obtain a result that had nothing to do with the facts of the case. In direct opposition to the rule of law.
Can that happen here? Yes. In part, it already has.
Exhibit A. Paul Manafort was serving a seven year sentence for bank and tax fraud and other crimes, after being found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by ordinary citizens. The juror’s interrupted their lives to serve as jurors at Manafort’s trial because it was their civic duty to do so. They had no ax to grind.
To the contrary. A guilty verdict requires unanimity. One of the unanimous votes to convict was cast by Paula Duncan, a juror who “described herself as an avid supporter of President Trump . . . . “
That world view was plain to see. Duncan explained that ‘“[c]ertainly Mr. Manafort got caught breaking the law, but he wouldn’t have gotten caught if they weren’t after President Trump,’ and ‘separately described the Mueller investigation as a ‘witch hunt to try to find Russian collusion,’ borrowing a phrase Trump has used in tweets more than 100 times.’”
Indeed, finding Mr. Manafort guilty was “hard” for Duncan. ‘“I wanted him to be innocent, I really wanted him to be innocent, but he wasn’t,’ Duncan said. ‘That’s the part of a juror, you have to have due diligence and deliberate and look at the evidence and come up with an informed and intelligent decision, which I did.’”
Why did Duncan vote to convict? Because “the evidence was overwhelming. I did not want Paul Manafort to be guilty, but he was. No one is above the law.”
Trump concluded otherwise. In announcing Manafort’s pardon, the White House stated
[a]s a result of blatant prosecutorial overreach, Mr. Manafort has endured years of unfair treatment and is one of the most prominent victims of what has been revealed to be perhaps the greatest witch hunt in American history.
Manafort also never cooperated and took a bullet for Trump. Those two facts did not make it into the White House press release.
Exhibit B. One would like to think that National Security Advisor (and former Army General) Michael Flynn had a certain degree of judgment, intellect, and integrity. He testified twice under oath in open court that he was guilty of having lied to law enforcements agents. And he was twice adjudicated by the Court as guilty. While represented by a top tier law firm with a national reputation. From this, we may presume that Flynn believed that he was guilty. Flynn’s former attorneys were satisfied he was guilty. As was the Judge who accepted Flynn’s admission under oath. Twice.
Yet Flynn’s case was dropped before he was sentenced. Why? Let’s speculate. Like Manafort, Flynn never cooperated and took a bullet for Trump.
As for the run-up to that decision; it happened after Sydney Powell (yes, that Sydney Powell – of “Kraken” election fraud lawsuit fame) took over the case and Attorney General Barr personally intervened in it in a direct (and unprecedented) manner. Which, Barr was later to discover, did not stop Trump from throwing him under the bus.
Exhibit C. Charles Kushner, who made a fortune developing real estate, served two years in prison for tax evasion and retaliating against a federal witness. That witness was Kushner’s brother-in-law and former employee, William Schulder.
To stop Schulder from cooperating, Kushner “hired a prostitute to sleep with Schulder, secretly video-taped the encounter, then mailed a tape of it to his own sister. But the move backfired. Schulder and his wife turned the tape over to prosecutors [emphasis added].”
Consider that dynamic. Kushner wants to stop his sister’s husband from testifying. So Kushner hires a prostitute to approach that family member, secretly sets up a motel room with videotaping equipment, has the prostitute convince that family member to have sex, brings the family member to the room with the hidden video equipment, they engage in a sex act, he collects the tape, and sends it to his sister. For that reason Chris Christie – then the United States Attorney – called the case, ‘one of the most loathsome, disgusting crimes,’ he’d ever prosecuted. [emphasis added].”
Charles Kushner is, of course, Jared Kushner’s father, Ivanka Trump’s father-in- law, and a grandfather to Trump’s grandchildren. But, we were told, that was not why Trump pardoned him. No. Trump explained that “[s]ince completing his sentence in 2006, Mr. Kushner has been devoted to important philanthropic organizations and causes, such as Saint Barnabas Medical Center and United Cerebral Palsy.”
I don’t mean to disparage anyone’s good works. But keep in mind that Charles Kushner is a billionaire. He has 1,000 million dollars.
In the end, Kushner pleaded guilty to 16 counts of tax evasion, one count of retaliating against a federal witness, and another count of lying to the Federal Election Commission. And was then effectively exonerated. By Trump. For Kushner’s philanthropy.
Exhibit D. As I remarked in an earlier InsiderNJ column, Trump wants us to accept that what we saw in the Capital in real time with our own eyes on January 6th was a benign reality show.
If you put salt on a garden slug (which you should not do) it literally tries to turn itself inside out. As has Kevin McCarthy, in a misshapen (and loathsome) bid to become House Majority Leader. Besides kissing the ring at Mar-a-Lago, McCarthy has done everything he can to delegitimize the January 6th Commission and prevent all of us from learning what happened in the White House that day. Senator Elizabeth Warren recently described McCarthy as a “liar and a traitor.” I agree with very, very few of Senator Warren’s opinions. I’ll leave this one alone.
Tom Kean. Jr. won’t. He invited Kevin McCarthy to be the featured guest at Kean’s campaign kick-off. Then Kean doubled down on Trump’s Big Lie about the 2020 election. Despite the fact that more than 60 judges, plus
Trump’s own Attorney general, plus Trump’s own cyber security chief – having looked for it – found no evidence of systemic election fraud. Despite the fact that the Republican Party writ large actually won the 2020 election in the Senate, the House of Representatives, and numerous state legislatures. And despite Kean almost certainly having received more mail in votes in 2020 then Tom Malinowski did.
Kean stands with Trump. And Trump plainly does not stand with us.
Which takes me back to the title of this article.
I am voting for Malinowski. Not for his policy positions (although Malinowski is a left of center moderate) or his Democratic Party affiliation.
I am voting for Malinowski for me. For my children. For those upon whose shoulders we stand. And for those who will come after us. To protect what all of us have enjoyed and until recently took for granted, but no longer can. That is, the rule of law. There is no policy more important, and no responsibility to protect it more fundamentally owed, then this.