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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Nuts all the way down

by digby

I was reading about Roger Stone sounding typically nutty, saying that he may be indicted for something unrelated to the Russia probe and I was thinking that he would proudly go down with the ship because he's a loon. I wondered why Trump has so many people around him like this and then I remembered this:

Liddy Guilty of Contempt of Congress
By Anthony Ripley|May. 10th, 1974

WASHINGTON, May 10—One of the original Watergate burglary defendants, G. Gordon Liddy, was found guilty today of two counts of contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions last, July 20 before a House subcommittee.

Federal District Court Judge John H. Pratt, who heard the case without a jury, gave Mr. Liddy a suspended six‐month sentence and one year's probation, indicating that the penalty was light because of Mr. Liddy's other sentences.

Mr. Liddy, looking trim and fit but slightly pale from his confinement, is now serving two other sentences. He was jailed for up to 18 months for contempt in refusing to answer grand jury questions and given a term of 6 years 8 months to 20 years for his part in the burglary of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office building here.

His latest conviction grew From his appearance as a witness before an executive session of the Special Subcommittee on Intelligence of the House Armed Services Committee.

The subcommittee was investigating possible connecions between the Central Intelligence Agency and the Watergate burglary and also the burglary of the office of Dr. Daniel Ellsberg's former psychiatrist, Dr. Ellsberg was central figure in the Pentagon papers case Mr. Liddy refused to raise his hand and be sworn in or to answer any questions. Neither Mr. Liddy's lawyer, P'eter J. Maroulis, nor Philip A. acovara, counsel for the watergate special prosecutor, raised any questions about the basic facts. Thus, there was no need for a jury in this trial.

Instead, Mr. Maroulis argued lgal questions of whether the subcommittee had been properly assembled and whether it used the correct legal documents in summoning Mr. Liddy from his jail cell to the House.

Mr. Maroulis also cited Supreme Court decision in 1876, Totten v. United States, which dealt with President Lincoln's employment of spies in the Civil War. One of those spies sued for back pay and was turned down.

The Court ruled that “as general principle” public policy forbids trials that would lead to disclosure of confidential matters.

“The service stipulated by the contract was a secret service; the information sought was to be obtained clandestinely and was to be communicated privdtely; the employment and the service were to be equally concealed,” the decision stated.

“Both employer and agent must have understood that the lips of the others were to be forever sealed respecting the relation of either to the matter.”

Mr. Maroulis said that Mr. Liddy's lips were sealed in court and sealed before Congress.

Mr. Lacovara argued that Mr. Liddy could not classify himself as a spy, and that the burglary of Dr. Ellsberg's former psychiatrist could not be called a legitimate intelligence operation.

But even if it were legitimate, he said, it would be no defense for refusing to testify before committee meeting to consider intelligence operations and meeting in secret.

Judge Pratt rejected the defense arguments and found ‘Mr. Liddy guilty on two counts of willfully refusing to be sworn in and refusing to testify. The charges are misdemeanors, and each count is punishable by a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Mr. Liddy told the court that he might appeal the decision.

“This was proposed to me, and I rejected it,” he told the court. “I said, ‘Let's go to trial.”

Liddy did more jail time than any of the other Nixon henchmen. He landed on his feet of course and built a second career as a right wing media star. When people want to talk about how there is no

That was crazy and so is this. But the underlying crime in the Russia investigation is much, much more serious. There is evidence that Trump was selling out US foreign policy for help from foreign adversaries' in sabotaging his rival's presidential campaign with possibly money and blackmail involved. Nixon was an evil bastard who abused his office in grotesque fashion. But this is something else entirely.

I guess if you think the US federal law enforcement is so evil that we're all better off being led by a corrupt, authoritarian American oligarch who's beholden to other corrupt, authoritarian oligarchs then this is fine. Otherwise we are looking at something much more serious. And it's been going on for nearly 50 years in one way or another.