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Tag: John Conyers

Cummings, Conyers: Congress Must Act to Avoid Unchecked Powers of Trump’s Presidency

Rep. Elijah Cummings

Rep. Elijah Cummings

By Congressmen Elijah E. Cummings and John Conyers
Op-Ed, Baltimore Sun

On Saturday, Oct. 20, 1973, President Richard Nixon fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox because he refused to back down from his pursuit of the Watergate tapes. Nearly a half century later, President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey because of, in the president’s own words, “this Russia thing with Trump and Russia.” And Wednesday, the president complained about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation; Mr. Trump said he “would have picked someone else” to run the Department of Justice has he known that was coming.

How Congress responds to moments like these matters. The differences between Congress’ response in 1973 and our response today are stark — and, frankly, disappointing. In 1973, the House Judiciary Committee had a serious and bipartisan response, subpoenaing and eventually releasing the Watergate tapes. The current Republican response has been tepid at best; they have not issued a single subpoena to the White House, and Speaker Paul Ryan defended Mr. Trump’s interference in the Russia investigation by assuring us that “he’s just new to this.”

As the senior Democrats on the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees, we believe it is critical that Special Counsel Robert Mueller be given the independence, time and resources to conduct a thorough investigation and report his findings to Congress. At the same time, as a co-equal branch of government, Congress must fulfill its constitutional duty to investigate the full range of Trump administration and Trump campaign actions.

Successful congressional investigations develop a comprehensive, fact-based record to form the basis for further action. The House and Senate Watergate investigations led to Nixon’s resignation and adoption of the Ethics in Government Act. It was serious, deliberative, bipartisan, transparent and operated in parallel to law enforcement investigations.

In the absence of any meaningful investigation by House Republicans, Democratic members have sent requests for information on our own. Our efforts have been met with months of stonewalling. The Trump White House recently told government agencies “not to cooperate [with any oversight] requests from Democrats,” and issued a contrived Justice Department legal opinion that such queries are “not properly considered to be oversight requests.”

We will continue to press for answers because the information we seek goes to the central question of the Trump presidency: Is the administration acting in the public interest, or merely to benefit the private interests of President Trump?

To read more click here.

FBI Drops An October Bomb In Final Stretch of Presidential Race

FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The path to the White House was looking pretty clear for Hillary Clinton, who has been ahead in the polls.

But on Friday, FBI Director James Comey dropped a bomb. The fall out may not be known for days until new polls come out, or perhaps until Nov. 8 when the votes are tallied.

Comey fired off a letter to Congress saying that the discovery of new emails required agents to determine if they were relevant to the Clinton email scandal involving the handling of classified information. The media reported that the emails were discovered while investigating ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner regarding provocative texts he sent an underage teen in North Carolina.

During that investigation, at least one device used by Weiner and his estranged wife, Clinton aide Huma Abedin, was discovered, ABC News reported. 

Comey came under attack from the Clinton camp and some former federal prosecutors who felt the letter to Congress was inappropriate, and the timing, 11 days before the election, was unfortunate and questionable.

“First, Director Comey acted totally inappropriately.  He had no business writing to Congress about supposed new emails that neither he nor anyone in the FBI has ever reviewed,” said attorney Nick Akerman, who was an Assistant Special Watergate Prosecutor.  “It is not the function of the FBI Director to be making public pronouncements about an investigation, never mind about an investigation based on evidence that he acknowledges may not be significant.  The job of the FBI is simply to investigate and to provide the results of its investigation to the prosecutorial arm of the US Department of Justice.  His job is not to give a running commentary about any investigation or his opinion about any investigation.  This is particularly egregious since Secretary Clinton has no way to respond to what amounts to nebulous and speculative innuendo.”

In a memo to FBI employees, Comey explained his actions.

To all:

This morning I sent a letter to Congress in connection with the Secretary Clinton email investigation.  Yesterday, the investigative team briefed me on their recommendation with respect to seeking access to emails that have recently been found in an unrelated case.  Because those emails appear to be pertinent to our investigation, I agreed that we should take appropriate steps to obtain and review them.

Of course, we don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations, but here I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed. I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record.  At the same time, however, given that we don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails, I don’t want to create a misleading impression.  In trying to strike that balance, in a brief letter and in the middle of an election season, there is significant risk of being misunderstood, but I wanted you to hear directly from me about it.

Clinton issued a statement demanding that the FBI provide more information to the public about the emails in question.

Ditto for Reps. Elijah E. Cummings and John Conyers, ranking members of the House Committees on Oversight and Government Reform and Judiciary, sent the following letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and FBI Director James Comey:

Dear Attorney General Lynch and Director Comey:

 Today, Director Comey sent a letter to eight Congressional Committees after the FBI learned of the existence of emails that may be pertinent to its investigation of former Secretary Hillary Clinton’s personal email server.

Although Director Comey’s letter was clear that none of the new material identified by the FBI may be “significant,” the letter provided such limited and vague information that it allowed rampant speculation, numerous leaks, and wild accusations just 11 days before the presidential election.

During Director Comey’s testimony before Congress on July 7, he made clear that the FBI was not treating Secretary Clinton differently from anyone else investigated by the FBI.  He explained that it would have been a double-standard to recommend prosecution based on the evidence the FBI had obtained.

In fairness to everyone involved, we are writing to request that the FBI and Department of Justice issue a more complete accounting of the details behind this letter, based on information from your career investigators and prosecutors, in order to debunk these conspiracy theories and correct the public record.

 

Rep. Conyer’s Wife Can’t Serve Remaining Prison Term at Home, Judge Rules

Monica Conyers/facebook

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

DETROIT — Monica Conyers, the divisive ex-Detroit City Council member, and the wife of Rep. John Conyers, isn’t coming home any time soon.

The Detroit News reports that U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn of Detroit denied her request to serve the remainder of her 37-month prison sentence at home. She pleaded guilty in June 2009 to taking at least $6,000 in bribes for her vote on a city sludge hauling contract.

Cohn, who sentenced her last year, wrote in a court order filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Detroit that he lacked jurisdiction to modify her sentence or credit her with time spent free on bond, the Detroit News reported.

“As to defendant’s argument that the Court misapplied the sentencing guidelines, her pending appeal has divested the court of jurisdiction to reconsider its judgment,” Cohn wrote, according to the News.

Judge Avern Cohn/wsu photo

The News reported that the 46-year-old, who is in a West Virginia federal prison, argued that Cohn “failed to consider her age, education, work skills, employment record, family ties and ‘likihood (sic)’she would commit another crime. Plus, her son’s baby sitter is returning to school soon.”

Detroit Political Consultant Sam Riddle Gets 37 Months

Sam Riddle/facebook

Sam Riddle/facebook

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Detroit political consultant Sam Riddle, who created drama by defying court gag orders and posting comments on Twitter and Facebook, was hit Wednesday with a 37 months federal sentence for bribery and extortion, the Detroit News reported.

Riddle, 64, admitted bribing former Southfield City Councilman William Lattimore, tax evasion and extorting businesses when he worked for the now imprisoned Detroit City Council Member Monica Conyers, wife of Rep. John Conyers (D-Mi.) She was convicted on public corruption charges.

He vowed to return to politics and teach a new generation to avoid mistakes, the News reported.

“You can shackle my arms, you can shackle my feet, but you can’t shackle my soul,” he said, according to the News

Rep. John Conyer’s Wife Trying to Avoid Prison

Monica Conyers/facebook

Monica Conyers/facebook

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Former Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers, the wife of Rep. John Conyers (D-Mi.) , chair of the House Judiciary Committee, is trying to pull out all the stops to avoid reporting to prison to begin serving her 37 month sentence for bribery.

The Detroit News reports that she has filed a motion to remain free pending her appeal before the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. She is set to report to prison on Sept. 10.

The paper reports that her appeal centers around U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn’s refusal to allow her to withdraw her plea on the day she was sentenced.

Her attorney Douglas Mullkoff says she’s not a flight risk and should be allowed to remain free, the News reported.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

House Passes Bill Reducing Sentencing Disparity With Crack Cocaine

file photo/dea

file photo/dea

By Glynnesha Taylor
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The House on Wednesday passed legislation drastically reducing the sentencing disparity between crack and powdered cocaine — a longtime disparity critics saw as unfairly targeting African Americans.

Previously, under the 1986 law, a person selling crack got the same sentence as someone selling 100 times the amount of powdered cocaine. The ratio will now go to 18 to 1.

The old bill became law while crack-cocaine was spinning out of control and savaging urban areas. But critics said it amounted to giving harsher sentences to African Americans who sold crack and lesser sentences to whites who were selling more of the powder cocaine.

The bill now goes before President Obama for his signature.

Read more »

Congressman John Conyers’ Wife Gets 37 Months in Prison in Bribery Case

Monica Conyers/facebook

Monica Conyers/facebook

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ex-Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers, a combative and divisive figure in a town with too little cash and too much crime, was sentenced Wednesday to 37 months in prison in a bribery scandal, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Conyers, the wife of veteran Congressman John Conyers (D-Detroit), was sentenced even though she told the judge she wanted to withdraw her guilty plea, the paper reported.

U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn said Conyers’ conduct on the city council “fell woefully short” of expectations for a public servant, the Free Press reported.

In June,  Conyers pleaded guilty to accepting at least $6,000 in bribes for her support of a  $1.2 billion waste disposal contract with Synagro Technologies.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Nail Biting Continues in Detroit: Deliberations Enter 6th Day for Ex-Council Aide to Cong. John Conyer’s Crooked Wife

Sam Riddle/facebook

Sam Riddle/facebook

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The nail biting continues in Detroit where a federal jury on Wednesday is set to enter its sixth day of deliberations in the trial of Sam Riddle, an outspoken  former city council aide accused of shaking down business people along with his ex-boss, Council member Monica Conyers, wife of Congressman John Conyers.

The jury last week said it was at an impasse, but U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn directed it to continue deliberating.

The Detroit Free Press wrote that ” Riddle, meanwhile, continues to post various thoughts on Twitter that are open to interpretation.

“Late Tuesday night, he posted: “Musings: Lawyers that won’t represent should be cast aside. When is a deal not a deal? You’ll know when your lawyers say ‘be realistic.'”

Conyers wife Monica Conyers was convicted on public corruption charges and is no longer a city council member. She is awaiting sentencing.

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