Should Schiff want to lock four lawyers up?


The criminalization of everything:
Is Adam Schiff possibly losing his way? Is everything now being criminalized?

These questions popped into our heads as we read this news report in today's New York Times. Forget about people like Donald J. Trump and the even more heinous Donald Trump Junior, who is now wearing a beard. The report raises the possibility that Schiff may even want to lock four lawyers up.

Fandos and Haberman penned the report. They start their report like this:
FANDOS AND HABERMAN (5/15/19): The House Intelligence Committee is investigating whether lawyers tied to President Trump and his family helped obstruct the panel’s inquiry into Russian election interference by shaping false testimony, a series of previously undisclosed letters from its chairman show.

The line of inquiry stems from claims made by the president’s former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, who told Congress earlier this year that the lawyers in question helped edit false testimony that he provided to Congress in 2017 about a Trump Tower project in Moscow. Mr. Cohen said they also dangled a potential pardon to try to ensure his loyalty.

In recent weeks, the committee sent lengthy document requests to four lawyers—Jay Sekulow, who represents the president; Alan S. Futerfas, who represents Donald Trump Jr.; Alan Garten, the top lawyer at the Trump Organization; and Abbe D. Lowell, who represents Ivanka Trump. The lawyers all took part in a joint defense agreement by the president’s allies to coordinate responses to inquiries by Congress and the Justice Department.

“Among other things, it appears that your clients may have reviewed, shaped and edited the false statement that Cohen submitted to the committee, including causing the omission of material facts,” the Intelligence Committee’s chairman, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, wrote to lawyers representing the four men in a May 3 letter obtained by The New York Times.
Forget the part about dangling the pardon. Would it make sense to lock the lawyers up—to charge them with committing a crime—because they "helped edit false testimony," as Michael Cohen says they did? Because their editing had possibly "caus[ed] the omission of material facts?"

The report suggests that Schiff may want to refer the four lawyers in question for criminal charges at some point. Would such an action make sense?

Presumably, this would only make sense if the lawyers knew they were helping create false testimony—if they understood the facts of the matter under review well enough to know that they were "causing the omission of material facts."

If the lawyers believed the testimony in question was accurate, based on what their clients had told them, how could they be charged with committing a crime? And remember—the principal person who knew the facts in this matter would presumably have been Michael Cohen, a person who hasn't always been known for his truthful behavior.

Would it make sense to charge lawyers with a crime if they didn't know the actual facts? As a theoretical matter, this seems like obvious question.

But as we read the Times report, Fandos and Haberman don't touch upon this obvious factor until quite late in their presentation. And even then, they only touch on this matter somewhat tangentially.

More and more, the liberal world's reaction to current affairs seems to resemble "the criminalization of everything." We don't seem to know how to speak to voters who aren't exactly like us, so we seem inclined instead to try to lock everyone on the other side up.

In this matter, Schiff may not be over-reaching at all. It may be that the lawyers in question have actually done something wrong, and that Schiff has good reason to suspect this.

That said, the desire to lock everyone up—the so-called criminalization of everything—seems to be floating around in this Times report.

Might the problem here rest with the Times itself? When we talk about locking lawyers up for having edited false testimony, this would seem to presume that they knew the testimony was false. But the Times reporters touch upon that factor quite late in their report. Along the way, it simply sounds like we've all agreed to try to lock everyone up.

Rachel Maddow has been trying to lock everyone up for at least a decade now. This impulse strikes us as terrible politics and as a sign of liberal failure. So who's out over their skis in this case? Is it Schiff, or perhaps just the Times?


  1. And he went out and bought a big yacht, and he had a very interesting life. I won’t go any more than that, because you’re Boy Scouts so I’m not going to tell you what he did.

    Should I tell you? Should I tell you?

    You’re Boy Scouts, but you know life. You know life.
    So look at you. Who would think this is the Boy Scouts, right?

  2. "Is Adam Schiff possibly losing his way?"

    Lol. Dear Bob, he's a zombie clown, what does he have to lose?

    1. "he's a zombie clown"

      If he thinks there will be a day when a Right-winger makes a good faith argument, I agree 1000%

  3. Not Schiff, as far as I'm concerned. He has generally acted and spoken with great restraint. But such restraint is taken as license by Trump and his gang. Lawlessness sometimes requires enforcement action, even when rich white men are involved.

    1. I will notify Schiff's office of your kind words.

  4. It's ok, Herr Trumpenfuhrer has declared that there will be no further need for the "people's House". This branch of our Constitutional government is null and void now and for the foreseeable future. Seig Heil!

    The White House’s top lawyer told the House Judiciary Committee chairman Wednesday that Congress has no right to a “do-over” of the special counsel’s investigation of President Trump and refused a broad demand for records and testimony from dozens of current and former White House staff.

    White House Counsel Pat Cipollone’s letter to committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) constitutes a sweeping rejection — not just of Nadler’s request for White House records, but of Congress’s standing to investigate Trump for possible obstruction of justice….“Congressional investigations are intended to obtain information to aid in evaluating potential legislation, not to harass political opponents or to pursue an unauthorized ‘do-over’ of exhaustive law enforcement investigations conducted by the Department of Justice,” Cipollone wrote.

    David in Cal March 23, 2019 at 10:07 PM

    This is the new Democratic talking point, but it won't last long. First of all, just about nobody opposes releasing the Mueller Report - not even Trump.

    Those silly "Democratic talking points".

    1. Democrats in the House want to charge the AG with a crime for failing to produce a report that he has already produced. The full report, less only the legally required grand jury testimony, has been available to House leadership for some time. AFAIK no Democrat has bothered to read it. They're not interested in the Report. They're just harassing the AG and creating a cause to excite people who don't understand what's going on.

    2. Barr's a typical piece of shit Republican. How is that a crime?

    3. *** Public Service Announcement ***

      David in Cal is a moral and intellectual idiot, in fact, this commentariat’s Village Idiot. There’s no right-wing propaganda that he won’t swallow whole and regurgitate here.

      You may safely ignore anything he has to say.

      Democrats have rightly rejected Barr’s “less-redacted report” because 1) they have every right to see the full report, and 2) as members of a co-equal branch of government, they won’t be satisfied with the executive filtering information they’re entitled to.

      Defying a Congressional subpoena is a crime.

    4. deadrat, I am not a lawyer, but I would question your comment that Congressmen have every right to see the grand jury testimony. Here's one quote
      Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e), which enshrines the traditional rule of grand jury
      secrecy, establishes exceptions that allow grand jury materials (such as transcripts of witness testimony)
      to be disclosed to certain outside parties in limited circumstances.

      Here's another quote from the same source
      On April 5, 2019, the three-judge panel in McKeever ruled that federal
      courts lack “inherent authority” to authorize the disclosure of grand jury matters in
      circumstances not covered by an explicit exception set out in Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of
      Criminal Procedure. It thus appears that, for the time being, the panel’s decision has closed off
      one potential avenue for Congress to obtain grand jury material in federal court in the District
      of Columbia (though the decision could always be reheard en banc or overturned by the Supreme

    5. Sugar snap peas

    6. David in Cal, like every other Right-winger, is a traitor to the United States of America.
      If there is a word for the opposite of "shocking", please feel free to use it in any reply to this post.

    7. David, you ignorant morally bankrupt treasonous bastard.

      As my father used to say, "who are you trying to fool, me or yourself?"

      Let's read from the Mueller Report, which completely and totally exonerated Herr Trumpenfuhrer and his merry band of liars beggars and thieves.

      c. Congress Has Power to Protect Congressional, Grand Jury, and
      Judicial Proceedings Against Corrupt Acts from Any Source

      Where a law imposes a burden on the President's performance of Article II functions, separation-of-powers analysis considers whether the statutory measure "is justified by an overriding need to promote objectives within the constitutional authority of Congress." Administrator of General Services, 433 U.S. at 443. Here, Congress enacted the obstruction-of­ justice statutes to protect, among other things, the integrity of its own proceedings, grand jury investigations, and federal criminal trials. Those objectives are within Congress's authority and serve strong governmental interests.

      There is no doubt that Mueller was referring the OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE matter to Congress, not to "Coverup" Billybarr.

      Are you stupid or do you just don't give a shit, that the man in charge of the investigation and the man who directed the preparation of the report - now nearly 2 months since being delivered to "Coverup" Billybarr - has not been heard from once in public and apparently is being prevented by the "justice" Department from testifying to Congress.

      Does that one fact not seem FUCKING ODD? How is that possible?

      David in Cal March 23, 2019 at 10:07 PM

      This is the new Democratic talking point, but it won't last long. First of all, just about nobody opposes releasing the Mueller Report - not even Trump.

  5. “Is Adam Schiff possibly losing his way?”

    “The report raises the possibility that Schiff may even want to lock four lawyers up.”

    “The report suggests that Schiff may want to refer the four lawyers in question for criminal charges at some point. “

    These statements by Somerby show that he has not read Adam Schiff’s letter to the lawyers, linked in the story: (

    Somerby is doing a terrible job at media criticism here. Schiff is merely asking for documents, the lawyers are refusing, he may have to issue a subpoena.

    But Somerby, not bothering to read Schiff’s letter, doesn’t notice the misleading characterizations in the Times article:
    “Raising the possibility of legal exposure for lawyers in the case is certain to further inflame tensions”
    (Beyond a possible subpoena for documents, Schiff did not threaten the lawyers).

    “The House Intelligence Committee is investigating whether lawyers tied to President Trump and his family helped obstruct the panel’s inquiry into Russian election interference by shaping false testimony”

    That is not true. The committee is investigating whether *Trump* committed obstruction. The committee wants to see any documents the lawyers have that might shed light on this. Or as Schiff puts it, the committee is “investigating efforts to obstruct authorized investigations.”

    It’s pretty clear that Somerby is now consistently missing the mainstream media narratives that crop up in a story like this one. Why, is anyone’s guess.

  6. “We don't seem to know how to speak to voters who aren't exactly like us, so we seem inclined instead to try to lock everyone on the other side up.”

    Again with the “we”.

    The Times and Maddow aren’t trying to “speak to voters.” They are reporting on the news.

    Adam Schiff isn’t trying to “speak to voters” in his capacity as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. He is trying to get at the truth and exercise oversight of the Executive branch.

    “We” (the American people) aren’t trying to lock anyone up. “We” just want the truth.

    But Somerby is committed to bad faith arguments and rhetorical games that somehow magically fit in with the Republicans’ playbook.

  7. Does Somerby think Schiff should just give up and not issue a subpoena after the lawyers refused his document request?

    1. Notice that the Times article and Somerby accuse *Schiff* of “inflaming tensions” or trying to “lock people up”, when it is *Trump’s lawyers* who are provoking the confrontation by refusing requests from the House. They will likely refuse a subpoena as well.

  8. This columnist predicts that Democrats and Trump's enemies will soon be the ones facing prosecution.

    the ominous approaching clouds of investigative curiosity about the Clinton Foundation and the malodorous ethics of the 2016 Clinton campaign have caused the Clintons’ party to stampede from under them.

    Even Barack Obama, who was cozily settling into a good 30 years as a respected ex-president, is already in the crosshairs of the investigation, conducted against the Clinton campaign, of illegal espionage on the Trump campaign through fraudulently obtained FISA warrants and planted agents and sting operations. The rabidly Trumpophobic texting between former FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page reveals that “the White House” was closely monitoring the investigation of the Trump campaign, which raises the question of the involvement of the former president in illegal surveillance.

    1. Yeah, Conrad Black. Convicted fraudster, pardoned today by fellow grifter Donald Trump. This should age well. I hope mm keeps track.

    2. Faith is a myth and beliefs shift like mists on the shore; thoughts vanish; words, once pronounced, die; and the memory of yesterday is as shadowy as the hope of to-morrow....

      In this world—as I have known it—we are made to suffer without the shadow of a reason, of a cause or of guilt....

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