Rush Limbaugh's reaction Tuesday to a Texas grand jury's indictment of two people who uncovered a Planned Parenthood scandal involving the sale of baby body parts was blunt: It was a "rogue" prosecutor working with a "pro-abortion" staffer inside his own office.
"So all that has to happen is that your rogue prosecutor, working in concert with your pro-abortion activist in the DA's office, get[s] in the grand jury room and start[s] explaining all this to the grand jury, which is made up of your average Hillary voter, for all we know," he said on Tuesday. "And you start explaining what really went on here. Here we have this great organization, Planned Parenthood, that's trying to plan families and trying to protect women from the terrible, almost fatal disease of pregnancy, and here come these rogue agents disguised as journalists, but they don't have immunity, and they're the ones who've engaged in criminal activity," he said.
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WND reported late Monday a Houston grand jury indicted David Daleiden, the founder of the Center for Medical Progress, and Sandra Merritt, who posed as executives of a fake biomedical research company to capture with a hidden camera Planned Parenthood doctors and clinic managers discussing the harvesting of fetal tissue for profit.
The Planned Parenthood executives talked about how much they wanted to be paid and how they could alter their abortion procedures to preserve certain parts. One commented, "I want a Lamborghini," a $200,000 plus sports car.
But accepting a profit for the baby body parts is illegal, as is changing an abortion procedure to obtain body parts.
Daleiden and Merritt were accused of tampering with a governmental record, a felony that carries a punishment of up to 20 years. Daleiden also was indicted with a misdemeanor for the alleged purchase and sale of human organs.
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CMP said it "uses the same undercover techniques that investigative journalists have used for decades in exercising our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and of the press, and follows all applicable laws."
Limbaugh explained the background: "These two people, guy and a girl from the Center for Medical Progress go in and make secret video tapes of having lunch with or meetings otherwise with members of Planned Parenthood, they get 'em on videotape and audiotape talking about chopping up dead babies and selling them, in some cases, live tissue parts, dead tissue parts, selling them for profit. They pose as potential buyers.
"So a grand jury is convened in Harris County, Texas, which is Houston, for the apparent purpose of compiling and creating, presenting evidence against Planned Parenthood for what they've done. And in the process, something goes terribly wrong and the two people from the Center for Medical Progress end up being indicted for criminal behavior in the way they secured the videos, and now they are subject to 20-year jail terms.
"So I reached out to some trusted legal people, and this is a sensible take on what happened. And it does involve a rogue prosecutor who was able to take the circumstances on the ground and do a 180 with them."
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He noted that the question at hand seems to be whether the journalists, operating under cover, have legal immunity.
"In a regular criminal investigation that is undercover, which is what the two people from the Center for Medical Progress, they essentially went in undercover. They were disguised as potential buyers. That is key here. In a regular criminal investigation that's undercover, the police undercover operatives, the black bag operatives, the undercover agents and their undercover informants have immunity in the criminal transactions they are negotiating. Like if you go undercover to score big heroin deal you can't get prosecuted for buying heroin in the process because you're granted immunity as part of being an undercover agent, right? Makes sense?
"Well, what the prosecutor did here is essentially say journalists do not have this legal immunity to do undercover work as the cops do. You can't just say I'm a journalist and go in there undercover and be immune from whatever criminal actions you engage in in order to entrap or ensnare your targets. Now, this is a guess. It is an analysis of what might have gone on, a rogue prosecutor who knows that journalists do not have legal immunity to do undercover work as the cops would have."
Limbaugh was far from the only one reacting with skepticism to the prosecution announcement.
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Critics noted one of the district attorney's staffers, Lauren Reeder, is a Planned Parenthood board member.
There also was concern that the last time abortion activists launched criminal charges against pro-life activists for opposing abortion it took a precedent-setting three trips to the U.S. Supreme Court and 28 years to fight back.
American Life League President Judie Brown said the grand jury indictment against Daleiden and Merritt "reminds me of a kangaroo court activity."
She cited a court insider, based in New York, who noted that prosecutors have so much influence over grand juries that "'by and large" they could get them to "indict a ham sandwich."
"The evidence against Daleiden, as reported by the mainstream media, may or may not be valid, but lest we forget that the prosecution in this case is a district attorney's office that has a Planned Parenthood board member as a prosecutor," Brown said. 'It is really not surprising, then, that a grand jury run by such an office would find the activities of an organization, Planned Parenthood by name – an organization infamous for its sordid history of aborting babies and advocating for this crime against the laws of God – blameless while trying to silence those who want to protect every human being’s life.
"Oh yes, this is the United States, and yes the killing of preborn children is not against the law, but that is all the more reason to hold any charges against Daleiden suspect. At least that would be the case in a morally sane judicial system.
"We protest the grand jury findings as being of a suspicious nature given the clear and convincing evidence that has surrounded Planned Parenthood and its practices for numerous years. The wrong organization went on trial and the wrong people have been found worthy of an indictment," she said.
Liberty Counsel, which will defend Merritt, noted the allegations include violations of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations law, known as RICO.
"Planned Parenthood is the 'Corrupt Organization' here, and the Texas indictment is outrageous," said Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel. "The fact that our client has been indicted and Planned Parenthood was not is mind-blowing. Anyone who has watched Planned Parenthood employees sort through dismembered baby parts and heard the Planned Parenthood officials attempt to sell them knows that Planned Parenthood is the criminal, not our client."
The 28-year-long case also was a RICO charge. The National Organization for Women and a number of the nation's leading abortion providers alleged the pro-lifers, led by Joseph Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League, engaged in a criminal conspiracy to halt the abortion industry. In 2014, an appeals court's decision to award the defendants legal fees and costs of almost $64,000 finally ended the case.
The U.S. Supreme Court, in an 8-0 ruling, previously determined RICO laws could not be used to ban the protests. In 2003, WND reported NOW had lost its second round in the Supreme Court in a decisive 8-1 ruling.
A lawyer who has worked on the case, Tom Brejcha of Chicago's Thomas More Society and Pro-Life Law Center, said then that the dismissal of the case had wide impact.
"The plaintiffs designed this case as a huge dragnet and they cast it far and wide as if to encompass the entire pro-life activist movement in America," he said at the time. "The law of 'res judicata' or 'claim preclusion' varies from state to state, but all pro-life activists who face lawsuits by their local abortion providers may have a defense based on today's final judgment."
In the Center for Medical Process case, the Washington Times reported the prosecutor was aware of his staffer's support for Planned Parenthood.
Lila Rose, founder of the pro-life group Live Action, said she wanted a special prosecutor to review the Texas grand jury investigation into Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.
"The district attorney's office was asked months ago about recusing itself from this case because one of its prosecutors serves as a board member of the Planned Parenthood affiliate involved in the case," she said. "It is unacceptable that the office did not recuse itself to eliminate any and all questions of potential bias."
Operation Rescue also requested a special prosecutor regarding Reeder's advocacy for Planned Parenthood.
"If you don't want the appearance of impropriety, a special prosecutor should have been selected," said Operation Rescue's Cheryl Sullenger, the group's senior vice president. "And now, because they allowed a Planned Parenthood mole to remain in that office, that just increases our concern about the process."
Fox News legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano dismissed the legitimacy of the indictments, calling them a "political hit job."
Planned Parenthood praised the decision.
"These people broke the law to spread malicious lies about Planned Parenthood in order to advance their extreme anti-abortion political agenda," said Planned Parenthood spokesman Eric Ferrero. "As the dust settles and the truth comes out, it's become totally clear that the only people who engaged in wrongdoing are the criminals behind this fraud, and we're glad they're being held accountable."
Fox News analyst Greg Jarrett agreed with Limbaugh, saying, "The grand jury went rogue here."
LifeNews.com commented: "Rather than reviewing criminal activity that results in high profits from selling abortion and then reselling the aborted children in pieces, the grand jury moved to punish the very people who reported the criminal activity. When an agency that dismembers preborn children capable of feeling pain is exonerated in such a kangaroo court, the prosecutors and those entrusted to administer justice are proving themselves inept, if not corrupted by ties to the abortion industry. The same videos contain graphic footage of abortion workers laughing as they retrieve and sift through body parts, which they identify on camera as organs, arms, and legs of children who had been aborted earlier that day."
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the decision won't affect the state's investigation of the allegations that Planned Parenthood profits from selling fetal parts.
"The Health and Human Service Commission's inspector general and the attorney general's office have an ongoing investigation into Planned Parenthood’s actions," said Abbott. "Nothing about today's announcement in Harris County impacts the state's ongoing investigation. The state of Texas will continue to protect life, and I will continue to support legislation prohibiting the sale or transfer of fetal tissue."
The American Center for Law and Justice said the decision is "very troubling" because of the questions it raises about the legal system.
"By giving Planned Parenthood a pass and indicting two pro-life journalists who merely revealed this horrific practice through their undercover work, the action of this local grand jury raises serious questions about the appropriate use of our legal system," said ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow.
"When you consider the fact that one of the prosecutors in the Harris County district attorney's office is deeply involved with Planned Parenthood – serving as a board member for the local Planned Parenthood affiliate in Texas where the undercover investigation took place – along with the fact that she has served as an active fundraiser for Planned Parenthood for years – you have to ask the question – was this probe tainted? Was there a conflict of interest that produced a biased result?" he asked.
Operation Rescue pointed out it was the same prosecutor's office that refused to charge abortionist Douglas Karpen after three informants came forward to describe horrific circumstances at his business.
They not only reported incidents but brought photographic on their cell phones of illegal late-term abortions.
"They depicted two babies aborted well beyond the legal limit of 24 weeks in Texas. Their necks had been cut," OR reported.
"The photos show babies that are huge, with gashes in their necks, indicating that these babies were likely born alive, then killed, just as Kermit Gosnell did at his 'House of Horrors' clinic in Philadelphia," said Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue. "In fact, there are numerous similarities between Karpen and the Gosnell case, including the disregarding of complaints by the authorities that allowed both men to continue their illegal operations."
Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, said: "It's horrifying that the Houston grand jury failed to indict the organization who was willing to sell baby body parts yet somehow manages to indict the journalist who caught them in the act. The fact that an employee of the district attorney is on the board of Planned Parenthood confirms an incestuous relationship between corrupt officials in the Harris County DA's office and the nation’s largest abortion provider, whose livelihood is on the line should they be criminally charged with selling the body parts of aborted babies. I'm proud to stand with David, the Center for Medical Progress, and journalists everywhere on this one."
The Center for Medical Progress set up a fake company and sent investigators with concealed video cameras to Planned Parenthood clinics. Planned Parenthood doctors and managers were caught haggling over the price of baby body parts. A number of them talked about being paid per item, how they could adjust abortion procedures to salvage requested body parts and how they could create a revenue stream from such transactions.
In the first undercover video released by CMP, Deborah Nucatola of Planned Parenthood commented on crushing babies.
"We've been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I'm not gonna crush that part, I'm gonna basically crush below, I'm gonna crush above, and I'm gonna see if I can get it all intact," she said.
See the first video:
In the second video, Planned Parenthood's Mary Gatter said, "I want a Lamborghini."
See her comments:
In the fifth, Melissa Farrell of Planned Parenthood's Houston clinic discusses "intact fetal cadavers":
The seventh video has the testimony of a Planned Parenthood worker who tapped an aborted infant's heart and saw it start beating.
And No. 8 has Cate Dyer, CEO of Stem Express, admitting Planned Parenthood sells fully intact aborted babies.