Thursday, July 23, 2020

Wishing Her Well

Donald Trump is a terrible President and possibly the worst human being in the country, aside from a murderer or rapist. However, he also is smart. Approximately an hour before President Trump commuted the sentence of Roger Stone, the latter told journalist/columnist Howard Fineman

I had 29 or 30 conversations with Trump during the campaign period.He knows I was under enormous pressure to turn on him. It would have eased my situation considerably. But I didn’t. They wanted me to play Judas. I refused.

Neal Katyal and Joshua Geltzer explain

Sure, Trump helped Stone by invoking his extraordinary constitutional powers to relieve Stone of the consequences of his 2019 conviction for lying to investigators, obstructing a congressional inquiry, and witness tampering. But Trump, characteristically, did as little as possible: He commuted Stone’s sentence but didn’t pardon him. That means—as Special Counsel Robert Mueller wrote on Saturday—that Stone “remains a convicted felon, and rightly so.” A commutation does nothing to erase or even call into question a convicted defendant’s guilt.

Because of the prohibition of double jeopardy, Stone cannot be retried for the exact same offense. However, he can face charges for similar offenses and

A future Justice Department would be well within its rights to open a new investigation into Stone’s activities. Such an investigation wouldn’t be hard: The very facts the jury found sufficient to convict Stone suggest that he may be guilty of other criminal offenses.

This includes obstruction of justice and/or perjury, maybe aiding and abetting the email dump. Such crimes

have different elements from the ones Stone was convicted of, so they are not the same—and being forced to prove different facts to establish different elements of a crime is, in general, a key indication that prosecutors are not running into constitutional double-jeopardy concerns.

If the President had pardoned Stone for all offenses which might be related to this affair, Stone would be free-and-clear of all federal charges. But Trump didn't do so because he wanted the possibility of further criminal charges to hang over the notorious dirty trickster. 

That's how it's done in the underworld. Asked by David Letterman in 2013 about the Mafia, Trump responded "You just don’t want to owe them money. Don’t owe them money."

Better for them to owe you.  Now Stone owes Trump for pardoning him, with the implied threat of more legal trouble if he chooses to speak up.

Currently, Ghislaine Maxwell doesn't owe Trump. She has the goods on him, which was made clear when the President wished her well. It's the best of both worlds for him, with both the implied promise of a pardon or a commutation of sentence if she keeps her mouth shut- and much worse if she doesn't.

It's the way of La Cosa Nostra, which Donald Trump has played ball with for decades.  He has done it effectively with Roger Stone and now he's playing with Ghislaine Maxwell, who needs to makes sure she's paid up on her life insurance. She's not up against anyone stupid.


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