|Jeff Sessions announces his recusal|
You might say Jeff Sessions is a crooked bigot, or a bigoted crook. Either way, his widely reported tendency to use racist language is not his only "distinctive" feature. He also is fundamentally dishonest, as the nation has learned in the past 38 hours or so. Sessions yesterday recused himself from any investigation related to the Trump-Russia scandal, and prominent Democrats are calling for him to resign. Even some of the nation's sleaziest Republicans are having trouble defending him, which makes us think Sessions soon will hit the exits, probably within a week.
How much doo-doo might Sessions have stepped in? An article by Zack Beauchamp, of vox.com, provides the best analysis I've seen. The headline on his story: "Legal experts think Jeff Sessions is in a whole mess of trouble." From the article:
The million-dollar questions: Did Sessions break the law? And, if so, could he lose his job — or even be charged with perjury like someone who lied in court? To find out, we reached out to several legal experts who study relevant topics. The general sense was that if Sessions didn’t commit outright perjury, he came uncomfortably close.
“I think a jury presented with evidence that he did have meetings with the Russians during the relevant time period could conclude that he perjured himself in front of the Senate committee,” Stuart Green, a law professor at Rutgers who studies the law of lying, wrote via email.
Sessions' ouster can't come soon enough for me. I lived in Alabama for more than 35 years -- and I hope to return there, sooner rather than later -- so I've seen his chicanery up close. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've felt it personally in recent days. Perhaps that's because I've reported many times on this blog about the underhandedness that seems to permeate the actions of Sessions and those affiliated with him. Here are just a few examples from the Legal Schnauzer archives:
Using "unethical conduct" to steer clear of a black judge
In a 1990s civil case, Sessions retained the Birmingham law firm of Lehr Middlebrooks Price and Proctor to represent him in a case styled USX v. Tieco, where Sessions (as Alabama attorney general) was a defendant. Why did Sessions choose that firm? Well, partner Terry Price is the nephew of U.W. Clemon, the first black federal judge in Alabama history. Hiring Price was a not-so-subtle form of "judge shopping." Clemon had built his career by representing plaintiffs and taking on powerful corporations and institutions in civil-rights cases, and Sessions knew such a judge might not view him and his activities favorably. Hiring Price forced Clemon to recuse himself, and that became such a common practice in Alabama legal circles that The Wall Street Journal wrote about it. An opinion from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals described such actions as "unethical conduct." But Sessions used them anyway, with the help of another Lehr Middlebrooks partner, R. David Proctor. (Remember that name.) By the way, the USX case also generated a criminal case, in which a former Alabama state judge said Sessions' office had engaged in "pronounced and persistent" prosecutorial misconduct.
Having your crony judge cheat a journalist who has reported on GOP corruption
This one gets personal. My wife, Carol, and I have two pending federal lawsuits -- "The Jail Case" (re: my unlawful five-month incarceration in Shelby County) and "The House Case" (re: the wrongful foreclosure on our Birmingham home of 25 years.) Both cases just happened to wind up with R. David Proctor. Yes, that's the same guy who helped Sessions steer clear of Judge U.W. Clemon. Perhaps as a thank you from Jeff Sessions, Proctor wound up with a lifetime appointment on the federal bench. From that lofty perch, in the Northern District of Alabama, Proctor repeatedly has cheated us in both of our cases. Gee, could that be because at least five defendants -- Jessica Medeiros Garrison, Cliff Sims, Rob Riley, Yellowhammer News, and Bill Pryor -- are closely aligned with Sessions? Proctor recently recused himself from one of our cases, when his conflicts became so glaring that even he had to acknowledge them. In fact, that sounds a whole lot like Sessions' recusal in the Russia scandal. Is this a case of "like mentor, like judge"? Has Jeff Sessions, or someone affiliated with him, instructed Proctor to cheat us in order to protect his cronies who are defendants? Given what the world has learned about Sessions in the past two days, that question is not unreasonable at all. If the answer is yes, it points to a crime called obstruction of justice -- to go along with lying to Congress, which already is obvious with Sessions in the Russia matter.
Being a closeted homosexual who is vulnerable to blackmail
One of the worst-kept "secrets" in Alabama politics is that Sessions is a closeted homosexual. D.C.-based Wayne Madsen was the first journalist to report on the subject, and he showed how the "secret" has been used against Sessions. When President Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court, reports had Sessions determined to block her. That changed, Madsen reports, when the Obama administration (in a rare show of toughness) let it be known it was prepared to drop "The G Bomb" on Sessions if he tried to obstruct. And what do you know? Sotomayor made it smoothly onto the Supreme Court.
Paying late-night visits to the home of your youthful protege
After Sessions was elected to the U.S. Senate, he strongly pushed for his youthful deputy, Bill Pryor, to be appointed as his successor. After Pryor spent a few years in that post, Sessions pushed for him to be nominated to the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. When Vladimir Putin selected Donald Trump as president, Sessions pushed for Pryor to fill Antonin Scalia's seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. (The nod went to Neil Gorsuch of Colorado.) Is Sessions overwhelmed with admiration of Pryor's legal abilities? No, it appears he admires more than that about Pryor. We already know about nude photos of Pryor that appeared at the gay-porn Web site badpuppy.com in the 1990s. Perhaps Sessions knew of his former deputy's proclivities. After Alabama law-enforcement officials became aware of the badpuppy.com photos, they were concerned about possible blackmail of the new state AG. They conducted surveillance on Pryor's residence and caught Sessions making frequent late-night visits. Were they studying briefs? Maybe, but we doubt they were the legal kind. (See video embedded at the end of this post.)
Paving the way for the political prosecution of Don Siegelman
Former Alabama governor Don Siegelman, a Democrat, recently was released to home detention from federal prison. That Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy spent more than a combined 12 years in prison, is one of the most grave injustices of the modern era. And Jeff Sessions helped make it happen. How? First, he pushed for his favorite "boy," Bill Pryor to become Alabama AG -- and Pryor launched a state investigation of Siegelman that turned into a federal probe, driven by the wife of Karl Rove crony Bill Canary. Sessions also supported Mark Fuller for a seat on the federal bench in the Middle District of Alabama, and Sessions likely knew of plans to make Fuller "hanging judge" in the Siegelman case. Fuller allowed the prosecution to proceed, even though it was brought almost a full year after the five-year statute of limitations had expired. Fuller allowed a hopelessly compromised jury to convict, even though the trial produced zero evidence of an illegal quid pro quo ("something for something") agreement. Does the Siegelman case happen without Jeff Sessions? Almost certainly not.
Supporting a judge who proves to be a wife beater
How poor is Jeff Sessions' judgment? Well, he supported Mark Fuller as a federal judge. That's a lifetime appointment, the kind that is damned near impossible to lose. But Fuller managed to lose it, following his arrest for beating his second wife in an Atlanta hotel room. Documents from his divorce case indicated Fuller had abused his first wife and their children, while also drinking heavily, engaging in extramarital affairs, and abusing prescription painkillers.
Evidence suggests Jeff Sessions would not know someone with integrity if the person landed on the AG's little tiny hands. Maybe that's because Sessions lacks integrity himself, as the whole world now is finding out.