Wednesday, May 10, 2017

No one should be surprised at Jeff Sessions' role in Trump's firing of James Comey; Sessions has a history of using such underhanded tactics in Alabama

James Comey
Many Americans were stunned yesterday at news that President Donald Trump had fired FBI Director James Comey. Many were further stunned upon learning that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had recommended the firing to Trump.

The disbelief likely was driven by two overriding factors: (1) Trump's firing of Comey smacks of Richard Nixon's Watergate-era firing of special prosecutor Archibald Cox. That became known as "The Saturday Night Massacre," led to the release of White House tapes, and hastened Nixon's exit from the presidency. History tells us this might be the strongest indicator yet that Trump is headed for a fall; (2) Sessions had announced his recusal on all matters connected to the Trump-Russian investigation, which Comey was heading. (Note: Sessions also had recused himself from any matters related to the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation, and Comey's clumsy handling of that matter is the reason a Sessions deputy gave for the firing.) So how did Sessions think it was his duty to recommend Comey be fired?

This kind of behavior is not new for Jeff Sessions, and it dates to his time as U.S. attorney and attorney general in Alabama. Sessions has a history of taking underhanded steps to remove people he sees as threats. Knowing that history might help the public better understand how yesterday's drama came to unfold.

Perhaps the best example of Sessions' back-stabbing tendencies came in a mid-1990s case styled USX v. Tieco. The case started with USX (United States Steel) alleging that Tieco had engaged in a fraudulent billing scheme, with Tieco allegedly providing kickbacks to compromised USX employees. Tieco responded with a counterclaim, alleging civil-rights violations, conspiracy, and other wrongs. From an opinion in the matter:

[Tieco has] also filed a counterclaim against the plaintiffs, the Attorney General of the State of Alabama, and two others in the Office of the Attorney General ("AG"). In their counterclaim, the defendants allege civil rights violations and conspiracy . . . , violations of § 36-25-8 of the Code of Alabama of 1975 (regarding non-disclosure of confidential information by a public official) . . . , intentional interference with business relationships, negligence, wantonness, conversion, and conspiracy.

The attorney general in question was Jeff Sessions. The gist of Tieco's allegations against Sessions and others in his office involve a search warrant for the company's business records. From the court opinion:

The seizure by the AG's office included virtually all of the business records of these two defendants, as well as some of the records of another corporation, House of Threads, Inc.

Some of the records seized by the AG's office were later turned over to USX. After USX received these records, it filed this lawsuit in December 1995.

If that smells funny to you, Tieco executives had the same reaction. Here was the state's AG seizing the company's business records and then turning them over to USX so that firm could sue Tieco. No wonder Tieco included Sessions and others from the AG's office in its counterclaim.

The opinion referenced above was written by U.W. Clemon, the first black federal judge in Alabama history and a noted civil-rights lawyer before President Jimmy Carter nominated him to the federal bench. Sessions must have sensed he was in serious trouble because he took underhanded steps to get Clemon removed from the case. Here's how we explained it in a previous post:

At the time, a relatively new law firm had formed in Birmingham called Lehr Middlebrooks Price and Proctor. The last name in that lineup stood for R. David Proctor, now a federal judge handling our cases. The third name stood for Terry Price, who just happened to be Judge Clemon's nephew (the middle son of the judge's oldest sister).

Did Sessions and his chief investigator, Edward F. McFadden, hire Lehr Middlebrooks to defend them to create a conflict that would force Clemon off the case?

The answer to that question almost certainly is yes. In fact, hiring Terry Price and his firm to get Judge Clemon off cases -- supposedly to be replaced by a white, conservative, business-friendly judge -- became almost a sport in the Birmingham legal community. In fact, it became so blatant that The Wall Street Journal reported on the subject. From that article:

Court rulings say it's a breach of ethics to hire a lawyer "solely or primarily for the purpose of disqualifying the judge." Though deciphering motive is usually difficult, lawyers found to have engaged in such practices could face professional disciplinary proceedings.

So, courts found that hiring a certain lawyer to force Judge Clemon off cases was grossly unethical. And Jeff Sessions helped pioneer the use of that tactic -- as did current U.S. Judge R. David Proctor. Is it any surprise that Sessions now finds himself at the heart of the KremlinGate scandal?

At the heart of Sessions' actions in the Comey firing -- and in USX v. Tieco -- is stunning dishonesty and disregard for the rule of law. Consider that a letter from the Department of Justice, pushing for Comey's firing, cited his mishandling of the Clinton e-mail investigation. Trump and Sessions previously had praised Comey's conduct of that matter, so we are supposed to believe they now are using it to justify firing Comey.

It's hard to see how anyone with three functioning brain cells would fall for that one. The New York Times certainly isn't. From its editorial page yesterday:

The explanation for this shocking move — that Mr. Comey’s bungling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server violated longstanding Justice Department policy and profoundly damaged public trust in the agency — is impossible to take at face value. Certainly Mr. Comey deserves all the criticism heaped upon him for his repeated missteps in that case, but just as certainly, that’s not the reason Mr. Trump fired him.

Mr. Trump had nothing but praise for Mr. Comey when, in the final days of the presidential campaign, he informed Congress that the bureau was reopening the investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s emails. “He brought back his reputation,” Mr. Trump said at the time. “It took a lot of guts.”

Of course, if Mr. Trump truly believed, as he said in his letter of dismissal, that Mr. Comey had undermined “public trust and confidence” in the agency, he could just as well have fired him on his first day in office.

The Times then gets to the heart of the matter:

Mr. Comey was fired because he was leading an active investigation that could bring down a president. Though compromised by his own poor judgment, Mr. Comey’s agency has been pursuing ties between the Russian government and Mr. Trump and his associates, with potentially ruinous consequences for the administration.

With congressional Republicans continuing to resist any serious investigation, Mr. Comey’s inquiry was the only aggressive effort to get to the bottom of Russia’s ties to the Trump campaign. So far, the scandal has engulfed Paul Manafort, one of Mr. Trump’s campaign managers; Roger Stone, a longtime confidant; Carter Page, one of the campaign’s early foreign-policy advisers; Michael Flynn, who was forced out as national security adviser; and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recused himself in March from the Russia inquiry after failing to disclose during his confirmation hearings that he had met twice during the campaign with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

There is that name again -- Jeff Sessions. His actions in the firing of James Comey probably will go down as one of the most corrupt acts in U.S. history. If so, it won't be a surprise to those of us in Alabama, who have seen him get away with underhanded actions for decades. Perhaps he's finally gone a "bridge too far."


Anonymous said...

Trump, Sessions and a whole bunch of other crooks are going down -- and they know it.

Anonymous said...

I'm hearing two grand juries have been convened. I'm thinking that's what drove Comey's ouster.

Anonymous said...

Comey must have been getting close to hitting pay dirt with his investigation.

Anonymous said...

Tieco and USX in large part in search of bedrock upon which to build future political corruptions and control of power legacy, originally upswinging during the former governor Jim Folsom [D] campaign v Fob James when he as candidate Sessions with tag along boy Pryor used FBI agents from out of another jurisdiction to engage in clandestine and fraudulent investigations. Some of these same FBI agents would go to work for Sessions [95/96] and eventually Pryor [96/04]; but the events far more serious than Folsom occurring during 1995 and 1996 which would become vehicles for ethics investigation[s] were covered up, likewise the ethics commission after opening two separate investigations weeks apart, mysteriously closed both without educated explanation[s]. After having entered two of Sessions' and Pryor's assistant attorney generals unannounced into a ethics commission's investigation meeting. These actions, may very well have been the first steps into the walk onto [their] "a bridge to far" when discussing blackmail and black-books !

Anonymous said...

The country needs to become more aware of USX v. Tieco. It says a lot about the man currently heading our justice department.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible Flynn reached a plea deal with Comey, and that sparked the Trump and Sessions outrage?

Anonymous said...

Maybe Sessions will stop by Bill Pryor's house tonight for some "consolation."

Anonymous said...

Subpoenas were issued re: Mike Flynn just hours before Trump dumped Comey. Hmmmm . . .

Anonymous said...

Something behind the scenes is causing Trump and Sessions to have a massive attack of gastric distress. Can't wait to learn what it is.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like Sessions had some sort of quid pro quo with USX to screw over Tieco. That conduct sure sounds like it might have been criminal.

Anonymous said...

There's been so much quiding and pro quoing ongoing in this state that the hookers decided to leave it.

legalschnauzer said...

@8:17 --

Hah! Great line. Maybe we need a new state motto:

"Alabama: Our politicians are an embarrassment to our hookers."

Anonymous said...

Hey Legal, it looks like it's getting all internecine with the Alabama Repukes and the Luv Guv's Senate seat!

Washington 'swamp critters' backing Luther Strange, Mo Brooks says

The super PAC is seeking records of phone calls, emails, text messages and any other communication between Ivey and Brooks, Marsh and Moore --dating back to Nov. 9, 2016. Ivey ascended to the governor's chair after Robert Bentley resigned from office April 10. lolol

It is likely that most readers will overlook the interparty tittie twisting to follow the yoogest news of the day.

Trump mentions Auburn football during Liberty University commencement address

e.a.f. said...

In my opinion Trump wanted rid of Comey. He already had Sessions in place, but to move forward he had to change the directorship of the FBI. That has now been done. Wait for the replacement. '

The firing of Comey got rid of him; deflected attention from the ruckus regarding the passing of Trumpcare in the House of Representatives, and most importantly took attention off of the renewal of the visa program which will permit Communist Chinese to immigrate to the U.S.A. if they invest $500K in an American business. That intent of the program was to foster foreign investment to create jobs in the U.S.A. It wasn't doing that and Obama canned the program. (Canada had a similar program and we got rid of it also, very interesting problems). Trump resurrected the program the day prior to his son-in-law's sister making a pitch in China to investors, with pictures of Trump and Jared K. The message of course was, give me $500K and you're in like flint and my brother will make sure everything goes fine.

Now all of that has disappeared so the firing of Comey works for Trump on so many levels. it will be easier for him to skate around the firing than the visa for cash program which benefits Kusner el al and the constant objections by the voters regarding Trumpcare.

I do wish the Americans the very best. They will need all the help they can get. the U.S.A. is starting to look a lot like Russia and Turkey and Egypt. With JEFF Sessions plan to start up the "war on drugs" they are taking a page out of Turkey's books and you can look forward to mass incarcerations of protestors. They'll most likely have small amount of drugs or the dogs will smell something.

An interesting PBS documentary on jails in American highlighted an area in Kentucky which has very few jobs, mining is almost gone and the last big prison closed but the citizen they spoke to was hopeful, there was word the prison would be opening again with 400 jobs.

So there are approx. a million African Americans in jail right now. it will most likely rise to 2 million with in the next 18 months if Sessions and Trump are still on the job. The war on drugs will start up again just as the mid term elections start. its about ensuring no one protests the dismantling of the American justice system, the free press, and the democracy. I still believe there will be thousands of Americans fleeing to Canada for political refugee status, and that isn't those who are people who might be deported but born and raised Americans.

Just leave your guns at the border, we give medical cards and welcome to your new home. Real estate is a tad expensive in places but we do free heart, kidney, and liver transplants. There are a lot of jobs available for nurses, doctors, and techies. We will also educate your kids in French if you so desire. The federal government is making weed legal for the country this year on 1 July, the equivalent of your 4 July.