Friday, August 14, 2015

Bayne Bares His Fangs, Nigel Winces

Mike Duffy's defence counsel, Don Bayne, has been waiting for this moment for months.

Today he began sinking his fangs into the choirboy, Nigel Wright.

It seems there was an email Wright didn't bother to hand over to the RCMP investigators. He didn't think it was "relevant." I suppose he didn't want to burden the RCMP drone who was so busy looking the other way.

Besides it wasn't a Nigel Wright email or, for that matter, a Benjamin Perrin email. It was a message from some guy named Harper. Stevie, Steve.. no Stephen Harper, that's the guy.

It was from Harper to his then principal secretary, Ray Novak, then passed on to Nigel Wright. In it this Harper guy demanded that the issue of senator Duffy's housing and expenses problems be resolved quickly.

Why did Nigel ditch that email? Because he thought it was irrelevant? Or maybe Nigel wanted to bolster the illusion that Harper wasn't directly engaged in the Duffy/Wright deal.

Next question. When did Nigel redact the email? I'll bet that was after the scandal broke, after the investigation was underway.  You know, a cynical mind could see that as obstruction of justice, not Nigel Wright housecleaning.

Nigel also denied the payment to Duffy was a "scheme." Okay, when you've got every senior aide in the PMO, the Conservative leadership in the Senate, and the executive of the Conservative Party in on it - the payment, the laundering of the Senate audit report on Duffy, the party proposing to pick up what they thought was Duffy's tab and eventually covering his legal tab, the formulation of "media lines" to deceive the public - if that's anything, it's a scheme.


Toby said...

How did Nigel Wright get that clean, honest, choir boy reputation? He's going to get out of this trial smelling with Harper's stink just like all the others in the PMO.

Owen Gray said...

The carefully constructed narrative is falling apart, Mound. And as it disappears, Harper's plausible deniability disappears with it.

doconnor said...

Toby, in the business world there in nothing remarkable about paying someone to do what you want or stop talking.

The problem is that it is illegal to do that with a Senator.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Toby - I don't think he'll be wearing the "choirboy" image much longer. The judge knows Wright is a highly-educated lawyer. That means he doesn't get the benefit of the doubt on this business about mistakenly thinking Harper's email wasn't relevant.

It's not that the contents of that email are especially probative. The important point is that it suggests Wright chose to hide it and that goes to his credibility on everything else he says. How is the Court to know what else he has hidden under some other pretext? How much of the truth is he telling? After all, he's already admitted to his dishonesty in conjuring up "media lines" - a false flag to mislead the media and the public. He's already connected with the corruption of the Senate through the laundering of the audit report on Duffy. He was a master practitioner of dishonesty as Chief of Staff and now we find out he ditched evidence, concealed it from the investigator and from the prosecutor.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Owen. This raises that old line about how it's not the deed, it's the cover-up. The email Wright redacted is actually pretty innocuous. Harper simply wrote that he wanted the Duffy business resolved. So what?

However it was an email that a) involved Mike Duffy b) from Harper and c) showed that Harper was engaged with the problem to the point of making demands on his staff.

Somebody from the steno pool might have thought that was irrelevant. Somebody else, who has not one but two prestigious law degrees, the senior of those degrees from Harvard, is unbelievable when he claims he considered that email irrelevant. He stays on the hook for that and the judge is entitled to take that as evidence of Wright's credibility.

Wright didn't help himself when he dug in his heels to deny there was any "scheme" involved in this. I've seen a shorter cast of characters in a Shakespearean play. Bang, there's another strike against his credibility.

Then there's all the skulduggery that was integral to the scheme - the laundering of a Senate report, the fabricated "media lines." That, too, all falls at Wright's feet. Sure it happens all the time but that's not the point. What matters is that this witness has admitted that he was willing to deceive and, with others, perpetrated these and presumably other deceptions.

Once a witness has damaged his credibility, a judge is entitled to find everything else in his testimony unreliable. He doesn't have to find it false, merely unreliable as coming from a person who is untrustworthy. At that point the Crown better find someone else who can introduce the necessary evidence needed to prove the various elements of the offence.

As for Harper's plausible deniability, which was always gossamer thin at best, Wright has damaged him by being caught out having concealed evidence of Harper's direct involvement. Bayne has also slightly strengthened his argument for an order summoning Harper to testify. I don't think he's there yet but he's getting closer.

The Mound of Sound said...

DOC, that's quite right. or, should I say "Wright"?

Purple library guy said...

In all of this, Wright talked a lot about "making Duffy whole". I usually try to avoid the temptation of cheap shots, but dang, if that's what Duffy looks like when he's not whole, I don't want to see the whole thing.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

Is it possible Mound that both Harper and Wright underestimated Bayne? A few days ago Harper was looking pretty smug, but not so much now and Wright quoting from the bible about his motives seemed pretty secure, but not so much now.

crf said...

Reminds me of how Lance Armstrong insisted he was clean, even though he was the leader of a team in which every other member was either caught or admitted doping. It was anybody but Lance. In the end, he admitted he was chief proponent of the doping culture.

So who is the chief proponent of the skulduggery exemplified in Nigel's and Mike's behaviour (among others)? Who could it be? Anybody but Harper I guess.

The Mound of Sound said...

Pamela, you could be, forgive me, right about Wright.

I was struck by the remarks of reporters on the first day who described Wright as relaxed, confident, expansive. What I found really odd was that Wright didn't give direct, brief answers as counsel expect from their witnesses. Instead he gave long answers that delved into matters I can't believe the Crown welcomed - such as what Harper did and didn't know about the Duffy deal.

In my experience, witnesses who respond as Wright did are either extremely nervous or believe they have it wired, that nothing they say can be challenged. Wright seemed to be wanting to score points, an arrogantly foolish thing to do when you're in a witness box under oath. He obviously wasn't taking direction from Crown counsel.

I think he got knocked off that perch today. His stubborn insistence, despite the mountain of facts, that there was no "scheme" in this must have, at least mentally, sent the judge's eyes rolling.

As for Harper, it's likely that he expected the choirboy to put a lid on this and hammer it down. Who knows, he might think Wright is doing just great.

The Mound of Sound said...

Chris, Harper is and isn't on trial. He's not on trial in this court but he surely is in the public's mind. His position is, as you point out, ridiculously implausible and that's why he needs Wright's integrity untarnished. It's critical that Wright remain completely believable for he alone can vouchsafe for what Harper was told and what was concealed from the prime minister. Once Wright starts looking underhanded and manipulative, his claim that Harper knew nothing falls to the floor in tatters.

Anonymous said...


When will various law societies get involved (on Wright and Perrin, anyway)? I live in a small province but the law society here is good at policing its own. Lawyers have lost the right to practice for less than what is so far known about these guys. Also, as PMO lawyer, wouldn't Perrin have a duty to inform Harper of what was going on?

The Mound of Sound said...

As I understand it, the Law Society of British Columbia opened an investigation into Perrin's conduct some time ago. I don't know where that stands but I expect his evidence in this trial will be considered.

I, too, question how Perrin could have participated in this. He did, after all, negotiate some of the terms with Duffy's solicitor, Janice Payne, and, as I understand it, Wright's cheque was transmitted to Payne under Perrin's covering letter.

Now, as Harper's lawyer, Perrin is prohibited from doing anything that could likely harm his client's interests. They all knew, as stated in one of the emails, that "this could end badly." Perrin, cognizant of those risks and the real prospect that Harper would get dragged into it would have had to disclose it to his client. UNLESS - he was aware, beyond any question, that Harper knew everything that was going on.

Regardless of what fairy tales Wright is spinning, Perrin is likely to be Harper's Achilles' Heel and I suspect that was instrumental in Perrin abruptly bailing out of Ottawa for the safety of his old teaching gig at University of British Columbia just a few weeks later, long before the scandal erupted. I'm sure he knew his position within the PMO was no longer tenable. His departure was anything but orderly and relaxed. It looks an awful lot like panicked flight.

the salamander said...

.. ach.. Ray Novak, we barely knew ye ..

Well right now, Ray Novak is all that stands between Stephen Harper and complete & utter disgrace (OK.. there's always utter denial.. which is a constant steaming pile coming from the senior public servant of Canada) So maybe Canada and Canadians can now become aquainted with the tainted intimate housemate of Steve & Laureen. He's shared the same address for how many years now? This oddball slave to Stephen Harper is unelected & considered the 2nd most powerful person in Canada. He probably knows Harper family secrets that even Stephen doesn't know.. or pretends not to know. And without doubt that kindest warmest most loving human being Ray also knows secrets of James Moore, Peter Kent, John Baird, Peter MacKay, Andrew MacDougall, Rob Anders, Jason Kenney.. after all, he's privy to CSIS, Jenni Byrne, Arthur Hamilton, the entire Conservative Senate and Caucus, the RCMP, Afghanistan, the Military.. every dirtbag lobbyist who's creeped the Harper Government & every stinking secret trade deal.. the only thing he isn't.. is Stephen Harper's concience.. because neither of them have one.. they're just sociopathic political parasites sharing the same roof and feeding on victims.. or should I say volunteers ...

The Mound of Sound said...

Nicely put, Sal. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Interesting coverage and analysis. Thanks Mound.