Thursday, June 25, 2020
Is America's Judicial System Irreparably Broken?
The image is from an ad for the RCA Victrola entitled "His Master's Voice." Somehow it just keeps coming to mind when I watch the corruption of justice in America in the era of Donald Trump and his personal "Renfield," Attorney General Bill Barr.
Trump and Barr, together with a Republican controlled Senate, have worked methodically to subvert justice and the rule of law in the United States. They have stacked the judiciary with hundreds of pro-Trump judges chosen for their political reliablility, not their legal excellence. These men and women are awarded their lifetime gigs with clear strings attached.
At the same time Barr, at the direction of Trump, has transformed the Department of Justice into Trump's personal prosecution agency. They've sacked not one but two US Attorneys for the Southern District of New York. Why SDNY? That's the district where most of Trump's cronies reside, guys like Roger Stone, Paul Manafort and Trump's former minion, Michael Cohen. They've even tried to put their "own" guy in, a SEC stooge with no prosecutorial experience whatsoever.
To Trump and Barr, prosecutorial independence means less than the integrity of the judicial system itself. Barr manipulated the prosecutors' sentencing submissions on Roger Stone, even as Trump was saying he'd pardon Stone, his personal lifelong buddy. That was pretty outrageous. Then another Trump minion got caught in a jam, Michael Flynn. Not only were Flynn's crimes obvious, he confessed to them. Convictions were entered. Sentencing was imminent. Not so fast. Barr, who works for the people of the United States, not Donald J. Trump, directed the DoJ prosecutors to apply to court to have the charges - plainly made out, to which Flynn had confessed his guilt, and on which convictions had been entered - dismissed, erased, wiped out. Think of it as Bill Barr's judicial time machine.
These outrages scream "obstruction of justice." They reveal a judicial system in which both the prosecutorial and the judicial bodies have become manipulated, where they have succumbed to corruption. Left unchecked this will mean the end of American democracy or what faint vestiges of that still remain in the United States.
Still, it's not over yet. There is a glimmer of hope. Lately I've been following a retired former federal prosecutor, Glenn Kirschner. In the wake of yesterday's appellate court 2-1 decision directing the trial judge to be a good boy and take Michael Flynn off the hook, Kirschner says the trial judge isn't going down without a fight.