Open Forum – Wednesday

21 February 2018

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44 Comments

  1. David

     /  February 21, 2018

    A Judge has agreed that General Flynn can withdraw his guilty plea because the DOJ withheld evidence from his legal team and the original judge, who was also the FISA court judge. For a judge to allow this the FBI/DOJ would have to have stuffed up incredibly badly or done something very dodgy.
    Given the awfulness of the US justice system guilty pleas are run of the mill even for the innocent because of the stratospheric length of sentences or the colossal costs of legal fees which is probably pertinent in Flynns case, why bankrupt yourself over a charge of telling porkies.

    • Have you got a link? I saw this mentioned as a possibility yesterday…
      http://voxday.blogspot.co.nz/2018/02/flynn-to-withdraw-guilty-plea.html

      …but I can’t see any reports that it has actually happened yet.

      Fox doesn’t mention it here: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/02/20/muellers-russia-investigation-what-to-know.html

      The latest:

      Alex Van Der Zwaan, an attorney who allegedly lied to federal investigators in the Russia probe, was charged in federal court on Feb. 16. According to charging documents, Van Der Zwaan was employed by a law firm hired by the Ukraine Ministry of Justice in 2012. He is accused of lying about his communications with Gates as well as his discussions about a report he helped prepare on the trial of Ukrainian politician Yulia Tymoshenko.

      And: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-20/skadden-arps-lawyer-is-charged-with-role-in-u-s-russia-probe

      • Joe Bloggs

         /  February 21, 2018

        I see this rooster Van Der Zwaan actually worked for both Manafort and Gates to produce a report about a rival of their client Victor Yanukovych, who was at the time the president of Ukraine.

        Van Der Zwaan’s accused of lying to investigators about 2016 conversations he had with Gates and another individual known only as ‘A’ about the report and of seeking to hide emails exchanged with ‘A’. No points for connecting ‘A’ with Manafort…

        I also see that Van Der Zwaan is also the son-in-law of one of the richest men in Russia German Khan, who filed a libel suit in October last year against Fusion GPS. But that’s just scuttlebutt really – just another happy coincidence …

        Tangled webs, eh – often woven when we practice to deceive, eh…

    • Joe Bloggs

       /  February 21, 2018

      “A Judge has agreed that General Flynn can withdraw his guilty plea”

      Fake news, and a misleading comment by a follower-of-trump – who’da thunk such a thing would be possible? I’m shocked.

      Judge Sullivan entered a standing order, on December 12, 2017, directing “the government to produce to defendant in a timely manner – including during plea negotiations – any evidence in its possession that is favorable to defendant and material either to defendant’s guilt or punishment.” Sullivan’s standing order further directed the government, if it “has identified any information which is favorable to the defendant but which the government believes not to be material,” to “submit such information to the Court for in camera review.”

      But Judge Sullivan enters identical standing orders as a matter of course in all of his criminal cases. Follow this link to understand why:

      http://www.cardozolawreview.com/content/denovo/Sullivan.37.symposium.pdf

      • High Flying Duck

         /  February 21, 2018

        Not quite as simple as that Joe…

        A federal judge has issued an *updated* standing order in the case of U.S. v. Flynn, suggesting that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team may have withheld exculpatory evidence in prosecuting former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

        “Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, United States district judge for the District of Columbia, on Friday issued what is called the “Brady rule,” which requires the prosecution to turn over “any exculpatory evidence” to the defendant in a criminal case, meaning Mueller must provide Flynn with all information that is favorable to his defense.”

        ….

        Subsequently, according to the Washington Examiner, “Comey told lawmakers that the FBI agents who interviewed Flynn did not believe that Flynn had lied to them, or that any inaccuracies in his answers were intentional.”

        This is why Flynn’s guilty plea remains one of D.C.’s greatest mysteries. The FBI reportedly did not think Flynn had even done anything wrong in the phone calls to the Russian ambassador — so what was there to lie about?

        But as Powell pointed out in The Daily Caller, “people who are innocent enter guilty pleas every day.”

        They simply can no longer withstand the unimaginable stress of a criminal investigation. They and their families suffer sheer exhaustion in every form — financial, physical, mental, and emotional. Add in a little prosecutorial duress — like the threat of indicting your son — and, presto, there’s a guilty plea.
        Sullivan’s initial standing order issued on December 12, 2017, directed “the government to produce to defendant in a timely manner – including during plea negotiations – any evidence in its possession that is favorable to defendant and material either to defendant’s guilt or punishment.” The standing order also directed the government to submit information to the court “which is favorable to the defendant but which the government believes not to be material.”

        The updated version added one sentence specifying that the evidence the government must produce “includes producing, during plea negotiations, any exculpatory evidence in the government’s possession.”

        According to Margot Cleveland, a lawyer who writes for The Federalist, the revised version is significant because “it indicates that if the government did not provide Flynn material evidence during plea negotiations, Flynn has grounds to withdraw his plea.”

        Given Sullivan’s history of holding abusive prosecutors in check, Mueller’s vaunted “legal pitbull” Andrew Weissmann may have reason to be concerned.

        Weissmann has a history of prosecutorial misconduct dating back to 1997, when he was officially reprimanded by a judge in the Eastern District of New York for withholding evidence, as Sara Carter recently reported.

        Weissmann and another Enron Task Force member also reportedly terrorized an Arthur Andersen partner into pleading guilty unnecessarily.

        https://pjmedia.com/trending/judge-orders-mueller-provide-flynns-attorneys-exculpatory-evidence/

        http://thefederalist.com/2018/02/19/michael-flynns-plea-reversal-uncover-federal-corruption/

        • Joe Bloggs

           /  February 21, 2018

          The Brady Order is what’s referred to in my comment. Follow my link.

          Sullivan enters identical standing Brady Orders as a matter of course in all of his criminal cases… and incidentally the Brady material covers both exculpatory and inculpatory evidence.

          The Daily Caller (and others) have conveniently overlooked the fact that a Brady Order includes any inculpatory evidence that may be relevant.

          • High Flying Duck

             /  February 21, 2018

            Except the order was made despite a guilty plea which included a provision to “forego the right to any further discovery or disclosures of information not already provided at the time of the entry of Flynn’s guilty plea.”
            The order was also specifically amended from the usual standing order to include:
            “producing, during plea negotiations, any exculpatory evidence in the government’s possession.”
            Sullivan also added a lengthy footnote giving the grounds under which Flynn could withdraw his plea.
            Could be nothing, but interesting nevertheless.

            • Joe Bloggs

               /  February 21, 2018

              yup could be nothing, could be something of interest… here’s why I’m not sweating bricks on Mueller’s behalf…

              Sullivan issued the order “sua sponte” – or at his own volition, unprovoked by Flynn’s defense team. He filed a nearly identical order December 12, after taking over the case.

              There are no details in the filing that are specific to the case, and that suggests that this is Sullivan’s way to have in the record a judge’s reminder to the prosecutors about their Brady obligations.

              It’s a generic, boilerplate order that Sullivan defaults to in every case he hears. And the reason why Sullivan routinely includes his Brady order is because he got stung in the trial of former Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), in which the judge faulted prosecutors for misconduct in failing to turn over exculpatory evidence.

              Another thing to bear in mind is that Mueller didn’t have to inform Flynn of any evidence after he signed his allocution in which he admitted his criminal activity. His allocution details actions he admitted he took, and those are criminal acts. Any exculpatory evidence for any other actions are moot because he wasn’t charged with them.

              so as far as I can see this is a big bunch of nothing in particular… but nevertheless an interesting talking point for us chattering masses.

  2. David

     /  February 21, 2018

    The thing that worries me about this Meuller probe, and the previous Clinton special counsel is they are asked to investigate a specific crime and then that morphs into an investigation that turns people lives inside out to try and find out if they have done something wrong and it becomes an individual witch hunt which is terrible thing for a government to do to a citizen.
    There was this poor guy on the Trump campaign who organised the event centres for his rallies and he has so far spent $80k on legal fees, he has been in front of congress 3 times and spoken to the Meuller team. No one thinks he has done anything wrong but they want information from him and because if you get a detail wrong you can be charged with lying, even accidently, and do a couple of years in a federal prison you need expensive legal representation.

    • Gezza

       /  February 21, 2018

      Welcome to America. Home of the politicised justice system & public services.

      • David

         /  February 21, 2018

        Self inflicted here with Trump appointing the SC and then Sessions recusing himself.
        The funnies thing to come out is Trump hater Michael Moore took prominent part in an anti Trump rally that was organised by the Russians !
        But yes Gezza the politics are criminalized and the justice system has willingly been co opted by the politicians.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  February 21, 2018

      Some of these prosecutors have history too: http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-trump-weissmann-20180216-story.html

      Peoples lives got wrecked before convictions were overturned.

      • David

         /  February 21, 2018

        With Arthur Anderson 10s of thousands of people lost their livelihoods, scary guy.

    • Joe Bloggs

       /  February 21, 2018

      @David, there’s a moral in your story – don’t lie. Don’t lie to the Feds, don’t lie to the media, don’t lie on forms you submit to authorities… Just. Don’t. Lie.

      There, easy – fixed your poor guy’s moral compass for him.

      But he’s not the only one. Kushner’s had to change his financial disclosure forms detailing his divestment from his business empire at least 39 times, and has repeatedly resubmited his FS-86 to correct over 100 errors and omissions. You’da thought he’d know not to lie to Congress…

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  February 21, 2018

        You’ve obviously never filed annual accounts having no way of knowing whether your accountant got everything right or not.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  February 21, 2018

          100 errors is a bit much.

          What happened to Trump’s own tax records that he was going to make public ?

        • Joe Bloggs

           /  February 21, 2018

          Only a fool would file such important financial disclosure forms without knowing their contents. Cue Kushner….

          Oh and the SF-86 (my bad – reversed the letters) isn’t a filing of accounts. Well not of the financial kind anyway….

          It’s the security clearance form in which Kushner did not mention any of the contacts he had with more than twenty countries during the run-up to the inauguration, and in which he didn’t mention the June 2016 meeting he attended with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Donald Trump Jr., and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

          Charles Phalen, the director of the National Background Investigations Bureau, has gone on record to point out that his office has never seen as many “mistakes” as in Kushner’s application.

          No accountants needed to file that sucker… but perhaps a very good reason why Kushner still hasn’t passed a comprehensive background investigation and still doesn’t have a permanent security clearance.

          And while w’re on the subject of Kushner, one of those “errors” allowed Kushner to maintain a stake in the Cadre start-up at a time when the business doubled its venture funding from private investors after he was required by the Office of Government Ethics to divest “100% of all financial interests” from listed companies.
          http://www.newsweek.com/jared-kushner-ivanka-trump-white-house-forms-omissions-cadre-millions-679231

          It’s actually a neat little example of how corruption works….

          Alan what an honourable job it must be to be supporting the president and his family at such a difficult time. I do hope Putin’s paying you well.

  3. Gezza

     /  February 21, 2018

    I hope we won’t be having any more disgraceful attacks on Government politicians’ unborn babies today from yesterday’s offender.

  4. Corky

     /  February 21, 2018

    Mikey is in a lather this morning – he can’t access the cartoon of him in the ODT. Apparently Mikey collects them. He even rings up Tom Scott to obtain originals.

    Does Mikey take offence at these cartoons? Hell, no. He’s a Rightie. Snivelling is for the Left.

    As Mikey says: ”it’s how the world sees me” Great stuff, son.

    • Gezza

       /  February 21, 2018

      What a narcissistic whiner he is. Loves looking at himself whatever the circumstances, obviously.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  February 21, 2018

      He DOESN’T collect them – oh, surely not, not even Mike Hosking would do that. On the other hand…..

      I hope that Tom Scott charges him a good price.

      • Corky

         /  February 21, 2018

        Tom Scott is offended his cartoons have no impact on Mikey. That’s what I admire about the man. He doesn’t give a flying fig what other people think. Paul Henry is another. It seems to be a good Rightie trait. Too many people waste their lives worrying what other people think of them.

        • phantom snowflake

           /  February 21, 2018

          Sometimes you can be thin-skinned and sensitive; a bit of a… Snowflake!

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  February 21, 2018

          There should be limits to this, though.

          If you mean a flying fuck, say so. Flying fig, indeed.

          • Gezza

             /  February 21, 2018

            Why would anybody admire Tom Scott for being offended that his cartoons have no impact on Mike Hosking?

            Also, when did Scott say he’s offended anyway? Wondering if Corky’s making shit up?

            • phantom snowflake

               /  February 21, 2018

              Them good ol’ rightie boys, they jus doan giva flying fig!

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  February 22, 2018

              As Tom Scott is also a comedian, he could well have said it, not expecting anyone with any sense to believe it.

  5. Joe Bloggs

     /  February 21, 2018

    You know who’s really tough on Russians, Donny? Robert Mueller!

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  February 21, 2018

      Putin’s very frightened of Mueller. Yeah, right.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  February 21, 2018

      Joe, he makes it sound as if the ‘facts’ are the fake news. They probably are, of course.

      My father’s a pleecman, yar boo,

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  February 21, 2018

        . not ,

        an’ my big brother’s bigger than YOUR big brother, an’ he’s going to bash you up, nyah nyah.

  6. David

     /  February 21, 2018

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11998883

    Good to see Labour have backed away from the big cheque given to their election campaign by the pharmaceutical giants at the Little hosted dinner, leave drug funding with pharmac not dirty back room deals.
    Been a good day for NZ with this and the support for the TPP trade deal with 2 new letters at the front.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  February 21, 2018

      What evidence do you have that dirty back room deals are done – and who would benefit from them ?

      • David

         /  February 21, 2018

        Little when leader hosted the industry big boys at a dinner in parliament and they disclosed they paid 100k to the Labour Party, as did the Labour Party and this policy was announced shortly after. Big Pharma did the same in the UK and its essentially a slush fund for outrageously priced unique drugs which benefit one off people and so fall outside Pharmacs criteria for funding.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  February 21, 2018

          I doubt if one could buy a party for such a small amount of money.

          It was disclosed, not secret. I am no fan of Andrew Little, but think better of him than that. Even if one believed that he was that crooked, it would be hard to believe that he was that stupid.

        • Blazer

           /  February 21, 2018

          how much did they give National…?

  7. Kitty Catkin

     /  February 21, 2018

    And the winner of the Mean-spirited Person of the Month is…….

    The Hamilton bus driver who ordered the father of a baby to stop making it laugh . She then threatened the parents with being put off the bus if the baby kept laughing so loudly.

    The young mother looked exhausted and from something she said, the baby wasn’t a happy baby at the moment-I took that to mean that he’d been ill. He did look like it.

    The father had taken over the care of junior and was tickling him. The baby was giggling and laughing his head off. What nicer sound is there than that ?

    • Corky

       /  February 21, 2018

      The sound of silence? I hate liberal prats in cafes who become offended when told to take their brats and bugger off because they are annoying other customers.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  February 21, 2018

        Yes, but this was giggling, not howling and screaming, and a giggling baby sounds sweet. I detest the sound of howling/shrieking/squealing small children as much as anyone, but I can’t see that a laughing baby would annoy anyone.

        I noticed that the people who sneered when others were being driven demented by the shrill squealing children on a flying fox that some council had erected close to houses didn’t offer to have it shifted to their streets.

        I once had a ballet (!!!) spoiled because some idiot had brought the baby, who bawled at full volume. The ballet was, of course, expensive and the howler should never have been brought there and kept in the theatre to ruin the ballet for everyone else. Bloody inconsiderate of the mother (and father if he was there).

  8. David

     /  February 21, 2018

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/101654019/government-announces-review-of-culture-at-hrc-after-sexual-harassment-scandal

    Excellent, the do nothing party has announced an inquiry and ordinarily you might say sure why not but firstly this is the human rights commission who are the ultimate arbiter and lectures all sorts of organisations on harassment and no doubt have some very highly paid senior staff who should be able to run their own organisation…or should be fired.
    But we have a Minister drawing 300k a year who used to be the head of a union and he cant figure employment things in his own entity and has to call in a judge. If you are that incompetent Little perhaps you should go to the back benches where it is a little more suited to your skill level.

    • Gezza

       /  February 21, 2018

      You don’t get a thorough, independent review when you get a government department or an NGO to investigate themselves.