President Donald Trump just commuted the sentence for Sholom Rubashkin.
It’s a direct rebuke to the U.S. Department of Justice, or at least to those prosecutors and FBI agents within it who conspire to put people in federal prison, whether or not they deserve to be there. For too long we have incentivized and rewarded prosecutors for plea bargains and convictions — not for fairness and truth. And within the Justice Department there is among many (not all) a kind of IRS mentality. If you expend considerable time and resources on an audit, come up with something — even if the taxpayer owes nothing.
That’s often what happens with a so-called "special counsel." In a high profile case, the hyped media are looking for red meat. When you look back at history, you will find that the initial target is a president or a member of the cabinet, but then the web instead snares the little known guys just trying to do their job, individuals like my friend, the late Lyn Nofziger, or an acquaintance for decades, Charlie Bakaly.
Like many other victims of prosecutorial misconduct, both men were needlessly persecuted, a technical supposed conflict of interest violation for Lyn, and alleged intentional lying to the FBI for Charlie. High courts overturned convictions for them and for others, like the phony charge against I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby who worked for Vice President Dick Cheney.
Special counsels don’t want to spend millions of dollars and come up empty handed. Their typical ploy is to charge someone with lying to the FBI, even if there is no crime to lie about. In lower profile cases that involve no special counsel, some ambitious career prosecutors exaggerate a crime, or even create a crime, as in the Rubashkin saga.
Sholom Rubashkin, a good citizen, philanthropist and father of ten, has been serving a 27-year prison sentence for a crime he did not commit. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) originally had contrived with a federal judge to charge the businessman with a scheme to hire illegal aliens.
When that federal charge didn’t stick, the feds encouraged the state to prosecute Rubashkin for state labor violations. But he was acquitted. That’s when federal prosecutors, seized Rubashkin’s assets, further schemed to prevent the sale of his company at fair market value, all to prevent Rubashkin from repaying a bank loan to his meat processing plant.
Thus, as plotted, they then charged Rubashkin with intentionally defrauding the bank by an amount the feds, by their choreographed machinations, had inflated, essential to the draconian prison sentence they sought from a colluding judge.
Barely more than two months ago, I explained the Rubashkin case and why President Trump should commute Rubashkin's setntence. I had never expected Barack Obama to do so, but I have believed Donald Trump would rise to the occasion.
Although leading members of Congress like Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., have called for this commutation, the stalwarts for justice here have been conservatives who saw the Rubashkin case as yet another example of prosecutors and FBI agents acting like thugs. Former federal prosecutor Sidney Powell documented these kinds of abuses in her book.
I have traced how American conservatives have become catalysts for criminal justice reform in my own book "Whiplash! From JFK to Donald Trump, a Political Odyssey." Attorney General Jeff Sessions, take note. And Robert Mueller — ask not for whom the bell tolls.
Arnold Steinberg is the author of "WHIPLASH! From JFK to Donald Trump, A Political Odyssey." His classic graduate texts, "Political Campaign Management: A Systems Approach" and "The Political Campaign Handbook: Media, Scheduling and Advance" defined modern political campaigns. He has testified numerous times as a court-recognized expert, including on campaigns, media, and polling. He has conducted 2,000 polls and focus groups and pioneered in innovative sampling methodology, question formats, and analytics; he consulted on strategy for hundreds of political campaigns, including historic ballot measures. He has lectured widely and taught at the Graduate School of Public Policy at Pepperdine University. He is extensively published in American media and a frequent television and radio analyst. He has helped formulate major policy, ranging from free market and libertarian issues to national security to criminal justice reform. He served on federal, state and local government commissions. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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