It seems to me that one of the complications that may arise from writing a weekly opinion column is that some days may elapse between the time a column is submitted to the newspaper and the day it is published.
Occasionally the circumstances about which the column is written change — sometimes substantially.
That’s what happened with my previous column about the way the FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) handled the case of a former national security advisor to the president. Between the time I sent it in and when it was in the newspaper, a major and unexpected event took place that requires an update and follow on.
The gist of the story is that some high-ranking folks in the FBI and DOJ were intimately involved with the indictment, prosecution, and subsequent guilty plea of lying to the FBI by this former national security advisor. Rumors have persisted for years that he had been “set up” by the FBI and the DOJ in an effort to force him to “turn” on and provide damning evidence against the president — which he didn’t do.
I noted that recently revealed internal FBI memos indicate that he was almost certainly “set up” for what is known as a “perjury trap.” I also wrote, “He has not yet been sentenced and the DOJ prosecutors have recently reversed their recommendation of a light sentence in favor of a much heavier one.” Both parts of this statement were correct when I wrote them. The individual had changed lawyers and was in the process of trying to revoke his guilty plea — which displeased the prosecutors and was likely cause for their reversal.
The event that changed this saga was the announcement by the attorney general that the DOJ was filing a brief with the court to drop the charges against the defendant. This decision was based on findings by an independent investigation by the well-respected Missouri U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Jensen, who had been assigned to review the prosecution of this case.
According to news reports, Jensen said, “Through the course of my review of [this] case, I concluded the proper and just course was to dismiss the case. … A crime cannot be established here … People sometimes plead to things that turn out not to be crimes.” But this isn’t the end as the first part of my above statement is still correct and the case is still active.
You see, the judge put a hold on the motion to drop charges against the accused, saying he expects independent groups and legal experts to argue against the bid to exonerate the former national security adviser of lying to the FBI and will “at the appropriate time” set a schedule for outside parties to argue against the DOJ’s efforts to drop the charges. According the defendant’s lawyer, however, “[I]n the more than two years of [this] prosecution, ‘This Court has consistently — on twenty-four (24) previous occasions — summarily refused to permit any third party to inject themselves or their views into this case.’ ”
Wonder why now?
Historically, the defendant had entered a “guilty” plea before two different judges. Interestingly enough, the first federal judge recused himself from overseeing the case shortly after accepting the guilty plea. Why? Well, messages between FBI officials suggest his decision was prompted because a “personal friend” was “connected” to the case. This caused the case to be passed to a second judge.
During a hearing in which sentencing was discussed, the second judge said to the defendant, “[Your conduct] … undermines everything this flag over here stands for … Arguably you sold your country out. … I’m not hiding my disgust, my disdain.” He stopped barely short of using the term “traitor.” He also said, “I cannot recall any incident in which the court accepted a guilty plea in which he was not guilty, and I don’t intend to start today.” Wonder if these are clues to his thinking.
Anyway, at this writing we have a situation where both the prosecution and the defense have requested the charges be dropped but the judge has put his decision on hold until he can hear outside parties arguments against dismissal of the charges and of possible additional charges of perjury on the part of the defendant.
As I wrote last time, “This latest episode adds to what could be a great novel of intrigue, treachery, deceit, and outright crimes — except that most people would probably think the plot and cast of characters are so far out as to be unbelievable.”
Sure looks like that assessment still holds with these latest developments. You know, none of this will likely change the opinion of those who figure this is the revelation of yet another “deep state” plot or of those who believe the current administration consists of devils incarnate who aim to destroy our country, but that’s current America politics for you.
At least that’s how it seems to me.
Bill Taylor, a regular contributing columnist and local area resident, may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.