Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Can Duffy Shred Nigel Wright's "Goody Two-Shoes" Routine?

Nigel Wright's 'gift' of $90K to senator Mike Duffy was a bribe when it was pocketed by Duffy but not when it was given by Wright.  Most of us are finding that pretty hard to square and it is.  The logic by which Duffy is culpable and Wright is not reflects how far the RCMP is prepared to bend over backwards to make some cherry-picked facts suit their narrative.

It sounds as though they're charging Duffy with extortion, not bribery.  Duffy strong-armed the money out of Wright's chequebook, they would have us believe.  But that's a different section of the Criminal Code of Canada.

Besides, why let Nigel Wright off the hook at all?  Oh, I see.  Charging Wright with bribery would have exposed others in the PMO to criminal jeopardy. Benjamin Perrin for starters and even Old Beelzebub himself, Stephen Harper. The rumours are that Wright made it well known around Ottawa that he wasn't going down alone on this so, take him off the hook and everybody's off the hook - except Ol' Duff.  Even out here on the wet coast you could hear the collective sigh of relief.

To get this to stand up at trial you have to keep Wright virginal, above reproach - just like Caesar's wife.  He was only trying to do the right thing.  Duffy was raising proper hell and so Wright did what he thought was the answer, handing over $90K.  No corrupt intent on the part of Mr. Wright, ergo no crime except for Duffy's.

I don't know how hard you have to struggle to keep the facts at bay but, in this case, it must be almost Herculean.  The Crown needs to keep this very simple. Duffy snarls, Wright cuts the cheque.  Nothing to see here, keep moving.

But there is more, a lot more and it goes to whether Nigel Wright's Goody Two-Shoes image is a highly self-serving scam.  There was a quid pro quo to this deal, one the RCMP chose not to notice.  Duffy got the money but on very clear terms dictated by the Prime Minister's Office.  These were terms plainly intended to benefit the Conservative Party if not the prime minister personally.

In emails, Wright called the brewing controversy, "our public agony," and spoke of Conservatives "circling the wagons."

One of the most revealing sets of internal emails filed in court involved the manipulation of a Senate committee, one drafting a report on Duffy's expenses in the spring of 2013.

PMO staffers set about ensuring the committee remove any negative language  from the report on Duffy, and at one point discussed how to get an independent audit firm to refrain from drawing any conclusions on Duffy's residency status...

"Do I need to call Marjory [LeBreton]?" Wright asked in an email.  "They think they're hurting Duffy, but they will end up hurting the prime minister instead."

Duffy was also coached by PMO staff on what to say to the media about the repayment of his expenses.

"It's a scenario, in Nigel Wright's own words, that was created for Sen. Duffy not because he had anything to hide or he'd made inappropriate claims, but because the PMO had decided they wanted to sweep a political embarrassment to their Tory bse under the rug," [defence counsel Don] Bayne said in 2013.

Oddly enough, what may save Duffy's hide (on the main charge, at least), is the very same email that sets these events in motion.  This whole business would likely have died a natural death at an early stage but for a stupid email Duffy sent to his 'confidantes' at the very time the deal was being put in place.

Duffy's email said the PMO was giving him the cash to clear his tab with the Senate.  It listed the conditions imposed - that he was to make no public statements and he was to stop cooperating with the Senate-appointed auditors. For doing this, the PMO would intervene to ensure the Senate audit report "went easy on" Duffy.

Nigel Wright wasn't trying to bail out an old pal.  Wright didn't even like Duffy. He didn't shell out the cash for his own benefit either.  You could conclude he was acting as an agent for a third party and it wasn't Benjamin Perrin either. Wright was creating a smokescreen for the party and, logic screams, for the very guy he was working for, Stephen Joseph Harper.  "Uncle Joe" Harper, Comrade Steve hisself.

This was the email leaked to CTV's Bob Fife.  It's the match that sparked the wildfire that brings us to where we are today.  What makes that email so critical are its contents - it described the deal that transpired - and when the email was sent - back when the parties thought they could keep a lid on the deal. This didn't come out after the fact.  It wasn't contrived after the fact to suit anyone's narrative.  It conforms to the known events.  That could make it the "magic bullet" when it comes to assessing credibility and resolving contradictions and inconsistencies.

Duffy's story, as we know it, comports with the magic bullet email.  Wright's story doesn't even though his emails also seem to corroborate some of Duffy's statements.

How this will play out in court is unclear but one thing is inescapable - there's been an awful lot of very high-level, Hall of Fame-grade Turd Polishing at both the political and investigatory levels to contrive this result.


rumleyfips said...

Bayne has given Wright a couple of kicks in the goolies. An experienced lawyer in front of an experienced judge does not say anything that can't be backed up.

An experienced lawyer will go to a jury with a questionable case and before a judge with a good one.

Wright is a financial predator. he might as well work for Robbem, Cheatem and Howe.

Lorne said...

it seems to me that ultimately, in order "to get the full story out," Duffy will have to testify in his own defence. If he is credible, a big 'if,' even if he is found guilty, one can't help but wonder how much damage his testimony will do to Harper et al.

rumleyfips said...

Duffy will probably testify: he has a good case and nothing to lose.. Harper will not testify ;too scared.

Duffy will be able, under oath, to get everything he knows about Harper out and Harper has chosen to avoid rebuttal. Harper may have made another mistake ; even a fatal one.

Ben Burd said...

One would hope that this is the nail in the coffin for harper but I am too cynical to believe that any "justice" will prevail. There are too many threads that lead back the very heart of power and do you really think that those who have the power - PMO, RCMP, political elites will ever allow that?

Like I said hoping for the eternal but expect the humdrum.

rumleyfips said...


The judge may not be corruptable ;
most commentary is favourable .

Who would have thought ?

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Rumley - you misapprehend the factors involved in deciding whether to opt for a jury or judge alone when there is an election.

@ Lorne - I expect Duffy will testify but that will depend somewhat on how well Bayne mauls/dismembers the Crown's witnesses.

@ Ben - the RCMP, PMO, CPC have no influence beyond the courtroom door. What I've read of this judge suggests he's awfully good, near perfect for this sort of case.

Purple library guy said...

One of the few times when what I'm mostly interested in is the whole media "horse race" thing. I mean, I already know the Cons are a bunch of corrupt lying thugs. The question is what the scorecard's gonna show, how hard the media will crucify them in the course of this trial.
Oh please, please let the feeding frenzy build, and feed on snippet after snippet of juicy scandal, and crush this government until they're seen as so corrupt they couldn't be elected in Ukraine.

Dana said...

Ukraine? Whaddya mean inferring the government in Ukraine is corrupt? We're cancelling you're borrowing priveleges...or your concert or whatever it is we can cancel.

I'm still surprised the trial got underway.

Has anyone seen Duffy's family members?

The Mound of Sound said...

His wife is with him but I don't know about the kids. I'll ask.

I was surprised this reached trial but I'm told that Duffy believes himself not-guilty and that he'll be reinstated to the Senate. Wouldn't that be a hoot? Can you imagine Duffy taking his revenge on Harper on the floor of the Senate? The sparks would surely fly.

Duffy's convictions don't come cheap. He had to add $300K to his mortgage for this trial and you don't make that decision lightly or without your wife's support.

Ben Burd said...

However good and fair the Judge has been in the past the law here is very wishy washy and leaves lots of wriggle room.

The PMO, RCMP and the residual power brokers may not have any direct influence in the Court Room but I am not so naive to believe that their indirect influence will not permeate the whole arena.

Establishmentism is tough to overcome and hard to overthrow. Hence my opinion that groundbreaking rulings may not be seen around here.

The Mound of Sound said...

Ben, a couple of things you need to understand. Where the law presents an ambiguity, that has to be resolved in favour of the accused. That's beyond "well settled" ancient law.

The second point is that ambiguity favours the accused because it makes it even more difficult to find guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt." Ambiguity adds a layer of doubt for which the burden of piercing it falls to the prosecution.

Some aspects of the legal case are certainly 'novel' but whether that goes as far as ambiguity I'm not sure.

Matt Rose said...

You know, it doesn't even matter what the judge decides in the end. Duffy's defence is going to be: "Even though it flies in the face of Common Sense and Decency, everyone in the Senate spends taxpayer dollars on themselves"

Even if Duffy gets off on all charges, The Senate are going to end up looking like pigs at the trough and the PMO are going to end up looking like craven political cowards.

I can't imagine Harper not being affected by this.

Don't forget, the Auditor-General's report on Senate expenses is going to be tabled soon too.

The Mound of Sound said...

Hi, Matt. I think Duffy's defence narrative will be a bit more elaborate than you suggest. There will be a "we all did it" part but he'll go quite a bit further. He'll argue that the prime minister collaborated (conspired, if you like) fully and only turned on Duffy to cover his own tracks when the story leaked out. It's sort of like the criminal equivalent of hiding in a janitor's closet.

deb said...

MOS I so hope you are right, I want Duffy to be able to fry Harper and Co. I too am surprised it made it to trial, it almost worries me as Harper seems to be taking this in stride.
(though I suppose he could be losing his mind and freaking out in private)

Steve said...

In my experience most right hand man/woeman of the Devil incarnate are highly ethical and generally overall people so far beyond reproach that if they give money to someone and that person is later charged with bribery, they will not be charged, thats just how goody two shoes they are.

Steve said...

300K 300K would not pay Nigels legal bills on this case for a week. The Dufftesr is going to half to crowd soucrce
this one

Norm said...

I don't see the RCMP bending backward on this file , perhaps forward would be a more appropriate description.

Anonymous said...

"rumours are that Wright made it well known around Ottawa that he wasn't going down alone on this"

I suspect you are right about Wright - I never fell for the choir-boy routine either - but I haven't heard these rumours before ...

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Anon 10:04

Among my close friends are two veteran Tories. Ottawa guys. One has been a judge, the other a lawyer/politician. One goes back to the Stanfield era, the other was a Joe Clark guy. Both remain closely involved with the party and Ottawa goings-on. One has known Duffy quite well since the early 70s (which is when I knew MD).

I've been kept informed on this emerging scandal, including behind-the-emerald-curtain stuff, since it began. There's been a lot of intrigue behind the scenes on this, stuff that doesn't make the papers.

After he resigned, Nigel Wright hung around Ottawa for more than a year. He split literally days after the RCMP announced he wouldn't be charged for his involvement in the purported "bribe."

Despite being denounced by Harper, Wright spent that year actively circulating in Tory circles where, despite Harper, he remained highly regarded. I'm advised by both sources that he made it plain to all concerned that, if he was charged, he wouldn't lie to spare Harper. Many Ottawa Tories, I'm told, believe that Wright won't give false evidence once he's under oath. He has way too much to lose for that sort of thing.

What's interesting is how Harper has backpedaled and contradicted himself in this scandal. It's reminiscent of how he lied his ass off in the Cadman and Bruce Carson scandals. He begins with Narrative "A". When that gets shredded, he falls back to Narrative "B" and then, eventually, to whatever Narrative "C" he can get away with.

In this scandal we have Harper assuring Canadians that he had examined the expenses and found them in order. He pronounced Duffy and Wallin to have satisfied the residence requirements.

Then came the leak of "the deal." Harper began by praising Wright for trying to save the Canadian taxpayers. Then he reluctantly accepted Wright's resignation. Then came the version that Harper felt betrayed and had fired Wright on the spot.

Harper at first denied having any knowledge of "the deal" but then admitted that he had known a bit but not much.

Contrast this to Duffy whose story hasn't changed one iota and, unlike Harper's, is consistent with both events and facts.

If you were Nigel Wright would you jeopardize your future for Harper knowing that, this time, unlike Cadman or Carson, the story would be tested in court, under oath, by very skilled counsel?