By Clifford Nichols
Lawyers tend to inhabit a universe where the center of gravity around which most of them orbit is the rule of law – that ideal that mandates equality – and thereby safeguards freedom – by requiring all laws to be applied equally to all.
Politicians, on the other hand, tend to take up residence in a distinctly different universe. It’s a place where the gravity of the rule of law becomes displaced by a greater attraction to compromise along the way toward that which is politically expedient.
Jeff Sessions has been an inhabitant of both universes. The question now is: In his latest incarnation as attorney general, in which universe is he operating?
To answer this question requires greater weight be given to what he has done in his last nine months at the helm of the Justice Department – or perhaps even more importantly, what he has not done – than what he has said.
Out the gate, one of his first official decisions was to “recuse” himself from any possible crimes connected to any investigation of what has come to be called “Collusion.”
Then, put aside the fact that Mr. Sessions seems to have given little, if any, thought to whether or not there existed any federal law that would make the alleged “Collusion” a crime. Mr. Sessions also permitted his department to ignore the fact that his personal recusal did not in any way require the recusal also of the entire Department of Justice, much less any recusal of the FBI. However, that is exactly what Mr. Sessions has allowed to happen.
Upon recusing himself, he passed off his personal involvement – i.e. responsibilities – with respect to supposed crimes that may emanate from this “Collusion” to his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, who in turn was then allowed to pass all investigative and prosecutorial authority connected to the political hot potato “Collusion” had become to a Special Counsel … none other than Robert Mueller – both a reputed good friend of James Comey and a former director of the FBI whose tenure in that office just happens to have ended the same year Hillary Clinton left the Department of State.
Moreover, in the passing off of the Justice Department’s jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute any crimes discovered in connection with this dubious, if not nebulous, “legal” matter labeled “Collusion” to Mr. Mueller, Mr. Sessions and Mr. Rosenstein both overlooked – perhaps conveniently – another seemingly small, yet very important, detail. When appointing Mr. Mueller, Mr. Rosenstein failed to limit the scope of Mueller’s authority to only investigate and prosecute matters directly associated with “Collusion.”
As a result, the Department of Justice effectively gifted Mueller with an unbridled license to investigate and prosecute just about anybody for any crime he may come across that he wants to, whether or not it has anything to do with any “Collusion” of President Trump’s campaign with Russia in the course of the 2016 election. And that is exactly what Mueller and his team are now doing. Should there be any doubt about that, one need simply ask Paul Manafort.
Even within the last week, Mueller let it be known he is now appearing to include within his jurisdictional sphere an investigation of President Trump’s firing of James Comey. Yet nowhere do we hear Sessions asking Mueller or anyone else, what does Comey’s firing have to do with either President Trump’s campaign or the 2016 election, much less any “Collusion”?
Essentially, Mueller is being allowed by Sessions to create his own shadow department of justice that, with the passage of each day, is trumping Sessions’ department by allowing Mueller to stake his claim to exclusive jurisdiction over all possible crimes that may have been committed by the rich and famous friends of Mueller – like James Comey, the Clintons and all the friends and associates of these friends like Susan Rice, Huma Abedin … and possibly even Mueller himself.
The question then becomes: Notwithstanding Attorney General Sessions’ recusal having set this malignant jurisdiction grab by Mueller in play, why is Sessions continuing to allow it to metastasize?
Could it be that the politician in Jeff Sessions finds it politically expedient? Might he not want to prosecute the wrongful activities of certain notable people? If that’s the case, he certainly would find the expansion of Mueller’s prosecutorial jurisdiction over the crimes of those people convenient. At minimum, it would allow Sessions to explain to anyone who may ask why he had to allow the jurisdiction – i.e. responsibility – of his department to prosecute their crimes to correspondingly wither.
And this is exactly what the public has witnessed over the last several months. It cannot be denied that this jurisdictional shell game has certainly helped Sessions offer seemingly plausible explanations for why it is that he and the Justice Department continue to ignore the investigation and prosecution of certain obvious crimes – crimes any politician like Sessions would find politically inconvenient to pursue based solely on the notoriety and political power of the perpetrators.
Providing even a short list of such felonies that remain unindicted by his department exceeds the scope of this column. However, for the sake of brevity, the following is a list of only some of the file categories in which some of those crimes might be included:
- Hillary Clinton’s grossly negligent, if not possibly intentional, mishandling of confidential information as secretary of state;
- Hillary Clinton’s possible obstruction of justice – that would include her unlawful destruction of evidence under subpoena related to her mishandling of confidential information with gross negligence as secretary of state;
- James Comey’s possible obstruction of justice – that would include his unlawful personal involvement in the misdirection and termination of the FBI’s lawful investigation of Hillary Clinton’ mishandling of confidential information;
- Hillary Clinton’s possible pay-for-play RICO violations – that would include unlawful activities and transactions coordinated by her as secretary of state in cooperation with the Clinton Foundation;
- Mr. Comey’s possible – albeit admitted under penalty of perjury – unlawful use of a friend to leak privileged and confidential information obtained in connection with his private conversations with President Trump to the press for political purposes;
- The possible unlawful payment for and manipulation of a fraudulent “Russian Dossier” by the Clinton campaign and the DNC to achieve unlawful purposes intended to impair the outcome of a national election;
- The possible unlawful unmasking of private citizens by Susan Rice and others in the course of a conspiracy to wrongfully enable various government intelligence agencies to intercept communications of members of the Trump campaign for political purposes intended to impair the outcome of a national election; and
- The possible conspiracy of the Clinton campaign and the DNC to defraud the voters and donors who supported Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary process.
If nothing else, Sessions’ continued failure to proceed with the prosecution of any of the host of the possible crimes connected to any of these scandalous matters is fracturing – possibly beyond repair – the public’s faith and confidence in the very legitimacy of its government.
Anyone watching the Department of Justice’s failure to attend to these matters need not be a legal savant to conclude that, somewhere along the line, the rule of law has been replaced by a system of justice that has not only one, but two tiers – one for the elite and the other for the rest of us who we have been told the elites deplore.
This distortion of our justice system, however, must be stopped. But to do so, Mr. Sessions must first be made aware of the fact that the jurisdictional shell game he has been playing in tandem with Mr. Mueller hoping to distract the public’s attention away from their affording protection to some members of the so-called elite among us is not working.
Instead, his continued silence and immobility in the face of blatant crimes we are all witnessing is causing him to take on the appearance of a mummy wrapped in a malignant fabric that is woven from nothing less than the very corruption the president appointed him as attorney general to help him eradicate. His protection of that corruption is quickly becoming a mountain of ever-mounting evidence of his own corruption. This is the very reason people are now starting to question openly whether Jeff Sessions is either on the take, or in some way or another, being extorted.
Regardless of which it is, however, one fact cannot be denied: To protect the corrupt is itself corrupt.
Any public official charged by law to enforce the law blindly, but who then fails to do so with respect to a select few of his own choosing, must ultimately be found to be complicit in each of the very crimes he fails to prosecute. And that is particularly true when that official is the U.S. attorney general.
In our nation’s history, we have never allowed such corruption to so openly continue festering. And, for the sake of our nation’s future, we must not allow it to do so now – and certainly not just because Sessions, the politician, happens to think his silence and inaction will allow him to achieve an end that, for him, may be politically expedient. To our body politic as a whole, this systemic infection will ultimately prove fatal.
Therefore, we the people must demand that Sessions, as attorney general, immediately become again the excellent lawyer he was once said to be and uphold the rule of law. However, should he continue to insist upon remaining a politician who thinks the rule of law is sometimes better ignored, we are left with only one viable alternative. We must insist the president remove Mr. Sessions from office, and in his stead appoint, not another politician, but a lawyer whose actions at the helm of the Department of Justice will reveal his or her unwavering commitment to the equal enforcement of this nation’s laws to and for all … starting YESTERDAY!
Clifford Nichols — whose website is cnicholslaw.com — graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, summa cum laude, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics where he was elected to membership in the Phi Beta Kappa society. He obtained a Juris Doctorate degree, cum laude, from Northwestern Pritzker University School of Law where he served as a member of the Board of Editors of the Northwestern University Law Review.
Today, Mr. Nichols is an attorney licensed to practice law in both California and New Mexico. More importantly, however, he is a citizen of the United States who is gravely concerned about his country’s future due to its present departure from the rule of law.