Sunday, February 8, 2009

Karl Rove and the Stench That Follows Him

Wherever former Bush White House strategist Karl Rove goes, a foul odor seems to follow.

More evidence of that has come forth in recent days.

First, we had a report that Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, says his client is cooperating with an Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR)investigation into the Don Siegelman prosecution.

Scott Horton, legal-affairs contributor at Harper's magazine, is not buying that one. OPR, Horton reports, probably is not conducting a legitimate investigation on the Siegelman matter anyway:

My guess: Rove and Luskin have concluded that OPR is not conducting a serious investigation of the Siegelman debacle; instead, it is engaged in a whitewash designed to cover-up the Bush Administration’s manipulation of the case. And if that’s their conclusion, they’re almost certainly right. OPR has been involved in investigations at the periphery of the Siegelman case already, and it has a perfect record of whitewashing and belittling expressions of concern about the prosecutors involved. To a significant measure, the scandal surrounding the politically motivated prosecution of Siegelman is also a scandal surrounding a toothless and dysfunctional OPR.

This is in line with our recent report that OPR, which is supposed to be investigating Alabama U.S. attorneys Alice Martin and Leura Canary, actually is investigating Republican whistleblower Jill Simpson in an effort to obtain information that could help Martin and Canary--and Rove--get off the hook.

Horton provides more insight:

TPM reports that the OPR’s report is nearing completion. Yet of the list of obvious witnesses who have furnished information concerning prosecutorial misconduct to date, it seems very few have been contacted or interviewed by OPR. A number of individuals who have been contacted have revealed the questions put to them by the OPR representatives: they revolved almost entirely around scandalous and completely irrelevant accusations targeting the principal witness who has leveled accusations at Rove. The OPR investigation into prosecutorial misconduct in going after Siegelman has been redirected, it appears, into an effort to vindicate Karl Rove.

OPR has also engaged and used individuals from the staff of one of the Siegelman prosecutors to conduct the investigation—hardly people likely to have an open mind as to whether his boss is guilty of misconduct.

I don’t know what the OPR report will state. But I am already persuaded that no serious investigation has been undertaken up to this point, and it is therefore not likely to be much more than yet another in a long line of whitewashes. And in the topsy-turvy world so typical of the Bush Justice Department, the OPR investigators seem to be doing Karl Rove’s bidding, rather than investigating Karl Rove.

Meanwhile, Adam Lynch of the Jackson Free Press has an outstanding overview article about the Paul Minor case in Mississippi, which resulted in a prominent Democratic donor and two former state judges being wrongfully convicted on corruption charges and sent to federal prison. Like the Siegelman case in Alabama, the Minor prosecution appears to have Rove's fingerprints all over it.

Lynch points out the central role that bogus jury instructions played in the Minor convictions. The jury instructions came from U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate, an African-American Reagan appointee. And they helped U.S. Attorney Dunn Lampton obtain a conviction on retrial:

The prosecution followed federal requirements in Minor’s 2005 trial to show quid pro quo in jury instructions. Specifically, the quid pro quo requirement demands proof that “monies were provided” and “unlawful favors received.”

But Ronald Reagan appointee U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate made the fight easy for Lampton’s people the second time around, allowing that “there need not be a mutual intent on the part of both the giver and the offeree or acceptance of the bribe,” according to Minor’s 2008 appeal. Wingate also allowed the jury to find Minor guilty “even though you find that the (defendant judges’) rulings were legal and correct, that the official conduct would have been done anyway, that the official conduct sought to be influenced was lawful and required by law, and that the official conduct was desirable and beneficial to the public welfare.”

Now that no proof of the bribe was necessary, even Lampton proved capable of pushing a case for bribery against Minor.

In other words, Paul Minor and fellow defendants Wes Teel and John Whitfield were convicted of a crime that does not exist, under the law. It only existed in the world inhabited by a Republican-appointed federal judge--and a confused jury bought it. A third Mississippi state judge, Oliver Diaz, was acquitted twice on charges brought by Lampton related to the Minor case.

Lynch notes the connections of one man--Karl Rove--to both the Siegelman and Minor cases. Minor's attorneys, Lynch reports, say Rove's testimony under oath before Congress will be critical to reaching the truth about a Justice Department that produced political prisoners in the United States:

Minor’s attorney Hiram Eastland said he is encouraged by the new make-up of the Justice Department and the president’s office, and felt Rove’s testimony could have “huge” consequences. “We think they’re going to find out that Karl Rove was actually involved with the Justice Department and countless cases of political prosecution, and in the creation of nothing less than political prisoners,” Eastland said. “Congress is addressing the U.S. attorneys firing and all, but they’ve yet to get down to the questions that were raised about whether these prosecutions were political. We’re not aware that they’ve gone around and questioned anyone. There’s been very little follow-up after our letters to the Office of Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility. We’re not saying the investigations won’t happen. They may have ultimately planned to get around to them anyway, but this was never meant to be a country where we take political prisoners and we’re encouraging Congress and the Justice Department to get to the bottom of these issues."


Matt Osborne said...

Rove was bad enough as "Bush's Brain." The revelations of injustice are downright excremental. No wonder Bush called him "Turd Blossom."

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but I have read all that I can find about Paul Minor (Which is a TON) and he is as guilty as sin and should be kept in prison. He also violated his release terms TWICE when he was released before so why should we go for strike three you're out? I hope all this blogging that the lawyers are putting out doesn't have any effect on the outcome of his scheduled hearing. We who think the way I do will need to step up our efforts to countermand them if it does.

legalschnauzer said...

I'm sorry, but you haven't read enough--or you've been reading the wrong things. If you are genuinely interested in the facts and the law in the Minor case, I would encourage you to key in "Mississippi Churning" into the search function on this blog. That will call up a 25-part series I wrote on the Minor case. If you read it all, you will see that Minor and his codefendants were wrongfully convicted--and it's not a close call. They truly are political prisoners in the U.S. of A here in 2009. It's hard to imagine a more shameful case.