Essential Reading: Cheating Justice


Reviewer of Cheating Justice:

“…no one in our government has the backbone or balls to do the right thing.”

Not then, and not now.

Perhaps I missed it, but I don’t remember this book getting a lot of play in 2013. It should have. And, it should be getting a lot of play now in the context of the take-over of the government by a transnational organized crime group otherwise known as the Trump administration.

Elizabeth Holtzman has been on numerous news programs in the past three years, but I cannot remember once, once, hearing her asked about this book, which every news pundit needs to be reading and talking about.

I remember being 20 years old and watching Elizabeth Holtzman on television as a member of the House Judiciary Committee. I stayed home from work to watch her vote for articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon in 1973.

Years later, Holtzman became an outspoken advocate for impeaching George W. Bush.

In this book, Holtzman points out that legal accountability (for Bush and Cheney, et. al.) could have come many years after the president and his staff were out of office.  when she wrote the book, it wasn’t too late.

But, accountability didn’t come.  There was no legal accountability for Bush and Cheney and others who conspired to deceive the American people about the need for a war against Iraq, who broke surveillance law against wiretapping, and who authorized and used the form of torture known as waterboarding.

I live in fear that this is exactly what will happen with Trump and the rest of his chronies, Barr, Mulvaney, Bolton, Sondland, Conway, Bannon…

As Holtzman’s book clearly illustrates, the Trump administration is not the first to use the Office of Legal Counsel as a mechanism to create the impression that their illegal behavior is legal.  The Bush Administration used the Office of Legal Counsel to craft opinions so absurd that they then made the decisions classified so people couldn’t see how rationally tortured they were.   So, this is not the first time the OLC has been an essential part of Executive law breaking.  The OLC is a tool in the kit of unscrupulous authoritarians.

I don’t hear anybody, though, pointing this out.  I don’t hear any discussion of the long history of using the OLC as a weapon.  I don’t remember anyone having Holtzman talk about the OLC and Mueller’s use of the opinion preventing presidental indictment as a dodge to hold him accountable.  I don’t hear anyone having Holtzman talk about the centrality of the OLC in the Republican campaign to install a one-party state in which authoritarian government rules.

This is not the first rodeo for these folks (the Barrs, the Mulvaneys, the McConnells). They know how to play this game and are playing it for all it’s worth. Nobody in the corporate media is talking about it. Instead, the corporate media is mired in the ins and outs of what amounts to Trump psycho babble and hours of analysis of polls they themselves admit are no longer accurate because of changes in technology.  There is endless discussion of the minutia of legal reasoning, whether criminal intent can be established in white collar and corporate and government cases without a verified videotape of the offender committing a specific crime and confessing to it.

There is no discussion of why the laws regarding state, corporate and white collar crime have been rewritten to make them almost impossible to convict on.  There is no discussion of the cowardice of state and federal prosecutors to go after the crimes of wealthy people and the loss of expertise to prosecute complicated cases.  (See Jesse Eisinger’s “The Chickenshit Club.”)  Where is this discussion?

The Republicans have been laying the groundwork for this take over of democracy for decades. William Barr has been intimately involved in crafting the mechanisms of state to accomplish this purpose. He saw that Trump could be the man they could use to achieve this end, and he auditioned for the job.

These guys aren’t playing. They have been at this for decades and they are not going to give up. People need to stop deluding themselves that this is politics as usual. It is not.

The Chris Coons of the world will sell us out. While congratulating themselves and having the corporate media heap them with praise for “bipartisan” effort,  the Coons will make deals and compromises.  Coons did just that and helped Kavanaugh onto the Supreme Court.  The Joe Bidens of the world just want to go back to business as usual – the regular corruption with good manners. The corporate news pundits like Nicolle Wallace will laugh us through normalizing the end of democracy, having a grand old time doing it. The Chuck Rosenberg’s of the world will sooth us and tell us that there’s nothing to be alarmed about, the professionals will save us. They will not. And we must not let them fool us into thinking so.

The leadership of the Democratic party is culpable as well. George W. Bush should have been impeached.  He should have been put in jail along with Cheney.  The man knowingly lied us into a war where almost 5,000 Americans were killed and God knows how many Iraquis.  But he is now treated like a sweet, dottering old fool.  The fact that he is spending his time painting the faces of dead servicemen isn’t even considered weird as hell.

And, we have Nanci Pelosi publicly joking that people wanted her to impeach Bush.  She makes this statement and waits for people to laugh.  How stupid, how naive that people wanted her to impeach Bush.  This is where we are.

“Cheating Justice” is a book that is essential reading for anyone who thinks Trump is different, that Trump is not the logical culmination of Repubican starategy launched decades ago. It is essential reading for anyone who believes that Republicans have been led down an immoral rabbit hole by Trump. It is essential reading for anyone who believes (as Biden purports to) that the Republicans will go back to being rational and honest people after Trump is gone. THEY WILL NOT.

Republicans were corrupt before Trump and they will be corrupt after Trump.


Comments on Cheating Justice:

The crimes of the Bush/Cheney Administration were exposed but unpunished. “Extraordinary rendition, warrantless wiretapping, torture: we cannot live with this legacy, but neither can we seem to escape it. No one is better qualified than Elizabeth Holtzman—prosecutor, congresswoman, member of the Watergate committee—to confront this legal and moral conundrum and show the way forward. Cheating Justice, like its author, is fierce, bold, and unflinching. A powerful, necessary book.”—Mark Danner, author of Stripping Bare the Body
Gloria Steinman: The Bush/Cheney administration “subverted civil liberties, human rights and the law itself and then used”… 9/11 to cover it up.”

JohnConyers, Jr.: Holtzman’s book could provide us important insights into “how we can prevent those (actions) from recurring.”

Trump was Organizing a Propaganda Campaign: Against the American People

ukraine scandal

Yet another impeachable offense.  What Trump and Giuliani (and Sondland, Perry and Volker) were organizing was a covert propaganda campaign designed to fool the American people.  And, Republicans are fighting for their right to do so.  This article by Asha Rangappa, a former FBI agent, explains the most important point of the Ukraine dirt for money scandal.


Running Covert Propaganda Against Americans Is Illegal. Trump Tried It Anyway.



They Were Chosen Because They Were Sleaze


One of the main reasons we are in such a disastrous position politically in this country is the corporate media.  The corporate media gave Trump tens of millions of dollars of free airtime in the 2016 election, did not cover (and have still not adequately covered) Trump’s extensive criminal financial background and associations, and continues to normalize his criminal behavior and that of his minions.

Tuesday night, I tuned in to watch part of Nicolle Wallace’s program and found her and her panel constructing a narrative that US Ambassador to the EU, Gordan Sondland was basically a good guy who had wanted to be an ambassador for years.  As they spun the story, Sondland had worked so hard to get the job as an ambassador.  Sondland was just so thrilled to have been appointed, he wanted badly to please the Trump administration.  The poor inexperienced man was caught between Trump and Giuliani and was just trying to do the right thing for Ukraine.  Poor soul.  It was all just another example of how good people get ruined when they associate with Donald Trump.

There are so many things wrong with this narrative, I don’t know where to begin.  First, there is no evidence to support this fiction. Sondland didn’t work hard to get appointed ambassador.  He bought the position with a $1 million contribution to Trump’s campaign.  There is no evidence in the text messages and cables that Sondland cared one whit about doing the right thing for Ukraine.  He cared about assisting the “drug deal” that Trump, Guiliani and the rest of them were putting together.  Sondland knew what he was doing was wrong because he tried to cover it up by asking Volker to communicate with him over the phone rather than in writing about the plot.  Gordon Sondland is not a good person who got caught up in a criminal enterprise.  He was chosen because he was and is just the sort of person who would happily get involved in a criminal enterprise.

But, corporate media stars like Nicolle Wallace, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski will white-wash all the major players in this running transnational scandal.  They have done so for years.

Scarborough and Brzezinski were called “supporters” by Trump himself and were celebrating at Mar-a-lago after the election.  They only broke with Trump after he outed their adulterous affair.  Nicolle Wallace spent months castigating all the Trump administration members who didn’t quit their jobs in the White House.  She, however, worked for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney who lied us into a war that killed almost 5,000 American and God knows how many Iraqis.  Wallace was on television just after Bret Kavanaugh delivered a contrived temper tantrum at the end of his confirmation hearings.  Wallace felt sorry for him, fell for it hook-line-and sinker.  Scarborough spent months before the Mueller report came out telling us that our “institutions continue to hold.”  This morning, Brezezinski told the MSNBC audience that Sen. Kennedy (sucks being this dumb) was a “good guy” and had allowed himself to be drawn into Trump’s sleaze.

These people are not good people who have been drawn into anything.  Most of them were chosen because they were the same sort of sleaze Trump is.  Others went into this with their eyes open, so craven they didn’t care what they were agreeing to.  They all deserve contempt, ridicule, impeachment, many of them prosecution, and shunning.

These people were immoral scum before Trump even thought about running for office and they will be immoral scum after he leaves.  People like Mitch McConnell and William Barr are not “good guys.”  They are dangerous men, willing to do anything, anything to maintain this shot at permanent power they have carved out around Donald Trump.

When people like Wallace and Scarborough and Brzezinski try to absolve them of guilt and weave fictional narratives explaining their behavior, they become enablers of this attempt to overthrow and crush democracy.

Ukraine, Trump and the Corporate Media: It’s All a Coincidence

One of the reasons we are where we are politically is the corporate media.  They consistently refuse to admit reality even when it is staring them in the face.

Pundits are still asking people whether there was a “quid pro quo” in the July 25 call even when this fact is obvious to anyone who has read the memo about the call released by the White House itself and doctored to make them look good.

Last night, on Rachael Maddow, a reporter from the NYT refused to connect the dots revealed by his own reporting that show that the Trump administration clearly engaged in extorting the Ukrainian government to engage in activities to benefit them.

The Ukrainian government stopped investigations into the criminal activities of Paul Manafort at a time when they were desperately trying to get weapons out of the Trump administration, but since we don’t have an incontrovertible video tape of Trump holding a bag of money and saying the actual words – drop the investigations or we will withhold support – all this just might be a coincidence.  Right.

In the reporter’s own story, he characterizes the Trump administration’s relationship with Ukraine as “transactional.”  This is a term repeatedly used by the corporate media to frame Trump’s illegal behavior as that of “a real estate mogul unfamiliar with government.”

In the article, the NYT reports that Ukraine’s former president, Poroshenko, implemented “trade deals that were politically expedient for Mr. Trump,” scheduled meetings with Giuliani, froze “potentially damaging criminal cases,” and attempted to “use the former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort as a back channel.”  But, I’m sure all that was just coincidence.

After these actions, Trump reversed an Obama-era moratorium on sales of lethal weapons to Ukraine.  At the end of 2017, while the Ukrainian government was trying to get approval of the sale of Javelin anti-tank weapons, Poroshenko’s prosecutor general, Lutsenko, began freezing cases relevant to the Mueller investigation, including an inquiry tracing millions of dollars that Ukrainian political figures paid to Mr. Manafort.”  But, I’m sure all this was just coincidence.

Allies of Poroshenko reached out to Manafort trying to curry favor.  Poroshenko sent officials to arrange through Rick Perry and Wilbur Ross, a deal to buy tens of millions in coal.  This was designed to help out Trump with the coal industry.  But I’m sure that was just coincidence.  This was just the first of three similar deals.

In another $1 billion deal in early 2018, GE was signed to build locomotives and retrofit aging Ukrainian train systems.  Westinghouse Electric signed another deal to supply nuclear fuel to Ukraine.

Poroshenko hired the BGR lobbying firm in 2017, led by former Republicans National Committee chairman Haley Borbour.  And an envoy they sought who worked for the lobbying firm, Kurt Volker, agreed to work for the Trump administration for free.

Ukrainian law enforcement had allowed a potentially key witness in the Mueller investigation, Kontantin V. Kilimnik, to escape to Russia.  He is believed to have ties to Russian intelligence.  But, all of this was evidently just coincidence.

The corporate media will normalize this rampant transnational crime spree until we make them stop it.  We must make them stop it.

NYT Article:

It’s Monday

zelensky winning post


  • There are mass rallies in Lebanon that have been going on since October 17. The protesters are demanding a “complete overhaul of a political system deemed inefficient and corrupt.” One of the protesters is quoted as saying: “They think we are playing here.” (Yahoo News)
  • Iraqi security forces have opened fire on protesters in fatal clashes in Baghdad (The Guardian).
  • Hong Kong protests continue.
  • More than a year after the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, critics of bin Salman continue to be arbitrarily detained. (Guardian)



. Oklahoma has the distinction of being the state with the highest incarceration rate in the U.S. But, Oklahoma is commuting prison sentences for around 500 inmates.  These are people serving sentences for low-level drug and nonviolent offenses.

  • White House officials again refuse to show up for closed-door hearings on Capital Hill. Democrats wring their hands and say that it will be used an evidence of obstruction.


  • Katie Hill (unfairly hounded out of the Congress) tweets that she hopes we elect a woman president in 2020. A woman, any woman?  This is supposed to be progress?


The New York Times is reporting that in 2018, Ukraine’s chief prosecutor froze four cases that were being pursued which involved Paul Manafort.  It is highly likely that this was part of another deal between Ukraine and the Trump Crime Family.


  • The decision to halt the investigations came as the Trump administration was “finalizing plans to sell…anti-tank missiles, called Javelins” to Ukraine.
  • “The Ukrainian investigators had been tracing money paid to Mr. Manafort and a New York law firm, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, by figures in the political party of Viktor F. Yanukovych.”
  • The investigations were not closed, but an order blocked issuing subpoenas for evidence or interviewing witnesses.
  • One case involved a payment of $750,000 to Manafort from a Ukrainian shell company, being investigated as money laundering. This payment was part the multimillion dollar transfers to Manafort from politicians in Ukraine that underpin indictments filed by Mueller. Before the case was frozen, prosecutors had subpoenaed records from Ukrainian banks.
  • A second case concerned a former chairman of the Ukrainian Parliament’s foreign relations committee, Vitaly Kalyuzhny, who had signed nine of 22 entries designated for Manafort in a secret ledger of political payoffs uncovered after the 2014 revolution. The ledger showed payouts totaling $12.5 million for Manafort.
  • The handwritten accounting document, called in Ukraine the Black Ledger, formed an evidential linchpin for investigating corruption in the former government. Manafort denied receiving under-the-table payments from the party and his spokesman claimed the ledger might be a forgery.
  • The other two cases looked at Skadden Arps, which wrote a report with Manafort’s participation that was widely seen as whitewashing the politically motivated arrest and imprisonment of Mr. Yanukovych’s principal rival, Yulia V. Tymoshenko.
  • Two months before Ukraine’s government froze the cases, Horbatyuk reached out to Mueller’s office with a formal offer to cooperate by sharing evidence and leads. Horbatyuk (of the Prosecutor General’s office) said that he sent a letter in January and did not receive a reply, but that the offer was now moot, since he has lost the authority to investigate.
  • Entries in the ledger appear to bolster Mueller’s money laundering and tax evasion case against Manafort, said Serhiy Leshchenko, a lawmaker who has closely followed the investigation. They indicate, for example, payments from Ukraine to a Cypriot company, Global Highway Limited, that was also named in an indictment Mueller filed in federal court in Virginia this year. The company covered hundreds of thousands of dollars of Manafort’s bills at a high-end men’s clothing store and antique shop in New York.•
  • In another move seeming to hinder Mueller’s investigation, Ukrainian law enforcement allowed a potential witness to possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to leave for Russia, putting him out of reach for questioning.
  • The special counsel’s office has identified the man, Konstantin V. Kilimnik, Manafort’s former office manager in Kiev, as tied to a Russian intelligence agency. Kilimnik was also under investigation in Ukraine over espionage, but no charges were filed before he left the country, sometime after June. During the 2016 campaign, Kilimnik met twice with Manafort. In December, a court filing in the United States said Mr. Kilimnik was “currently based in Russia.”
  • But in the United States, Mueller’s office appears still keenly interested in Manafort’s ties to Russia. Among the questions Mueller would like to ask Mr. Trump, according to a list provided to the president’s lawyers, was: “What knowledge did you have of any outreach by your campaign, including by Paul Manafort, to Russia about potential assistance to the campaign?”
  • In Kiev, the missile sale was seen as a political victory for Poroshenko, indicating American backing for his government in the war in eastern Ukraine against Russia-backed separatists and against the threat of a wider Russian intervention in the country. After Ukraine announced on April 30 that it had received the missiles, Poroshenko posted on Facebook that “the long-awaited weapon arrived in the Ukrainian Army.”
  • Apart from the missiles, the Ukrainian government is propped up with about $600 million in bilateral aid from the United States annually.
  • David Sakvarelidze, a former deputy prosecutor general who is now in the political opposition, said he did not believe that the general prosecutor had coordinated with anybody in the United States on the decision to suspend the investigations in Ukraine, or that there had been a quid pro quo for the missile sale.•
  • Ukrainian politicians, he said, concluded on their own that any help prosecuting Manafort could bring down Mr. Trump’s wrath.
  • “Can you imagine,” Sakvarelidze said, “that Trump writes on Twitter, ‘The United States isn’t going to support any corrupt post-Soviet leaders, including in Ukraine.’ That would be the end of him.”
  • Last summer, another member of Parliament, Andrey L. Derkach, initiated an investigation into leaks to the news media about Manafort’s dealings from Ukrainian law enforcement, saying they put at risk vital American aid to Ukraine. He has openly opposed any Ukrainian role in aiding the special counsel’s investigation.
  • Ukraine, Mr. Derkach said in an interview, would be taking grave risks if it assisted in what he called a politicized investigation in the United States. In Ukraine, he said, “everybody is afraid of this case.”