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Barr Just Cost the Justice Department Its Prized Public-Corruption Fighter

Barr Just Cost the Justice Department Its Prized Public-Corruption FighterThe impact of Attorney General William Barr’s intervention in the Roger Stone sentencing won’t just be felt in the cases concerning President Donald Trump’s allies, current and former Justice Department officials warn. It’s cost the Justice Department one of its top public-corruption prosecutors at a time when public corruption is looking like a growth industry. That attorney is Jonathan Kravis. Kravis is the deputy chief of the fraud and public corruption section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, putting corruption within the federal government under his purview. Or he was until Tuesday, when Kravis resigned. The last straw for Kravis, who was part of Robert Mueller’s team that convicted Roger Stone of charges including lying to Congress, was the Justice Department overruling him on the recommended length of Stone’s prison sentence. Unlike his three outraged fellow prosecutors, Kravis didn’t just quit the Stone case, he quit the Justice Department.“It’s troubling and heartbreaking to see someone as talented and dedicated as Jonathan was known to be leaving under these circumstances,” said a federal prosecutor who requested anonymity during a precarious moment for the Justice Department. “His loss is all the greater given his focus on prosecuting fraud and corruption, at a time when both crimes appear to be on the march.” Before joining Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russian election interference and its connections to Trumpworld, Kravis, who had also served in the Justice Department’s public-integrity section, scored several anti-corruption victories against high-profile targets. In 2016, he helped convict former Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman Chaka Fattah on a host of charges including bribery, wire fraud and racketeering. A year earlier, he helped prosecute three aides to Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign for effectively bribing an Iowa state senator to endorse Paul ahead of the Iowa caucus. “He was probably one of the best public integrity prosecutors this country has,” a former colleague, Glenn Kirschner, told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell after the Stone prosecutors quit. Kravis did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment. Just as important as Kravis himself is the position that he held. The public-corruption section within the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia has widespread prosecutorial authority over the federal government, as well as election activities. “In this administration, it along with SDNY [the Southern District of New York] are the two most important venues for public corruption prosecutions. It’s a significant loss to that office,” said Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis. And it comes at a time when there is no shortage of public-corruption targets. Noah Bookbinder, the executive director of the Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and a former Justice Department public-integrity line prosecutor, pointed to the president’s conflicts of interests deriving from the retention of his business empire as an early signal of toleration for brazen public graft. “There’s corruption at the federal government at a level we’ve perhaps never seen before,” Bookbinder said. “Somebody like Kravis resigning under the circumstances he did, and the entire team on the Stone prosecution withdrawing, is pretty clearly a protest that these line prosecutors believe DOJ was interfering for political reasons.” The Justice Department has spent all week denying the allegation. Stephen Gillers, a law professor at New York University, said Kravis’ departure was “bad for the nation,” but considered its broader importance to be what it augurs for the independence of the Justice Department. “In light of Barr’s change in the sentence recommendation for Stone, after Trump voiced his displeasure, this norm can no longer be assumed,” Gillers said. “That reality will discourage not only lawyers now working at DOJ from remaining, but also discourage good applicants who do not want to join a Department where their decisions may be subject to political interference.” “When someone like Jonathan Kravis leaves the office,” said Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney, “that means he will be replaced by someone hired by the new U.S. attorney, Timothy Shea, whose conduct today does not instill a lot of confidence in his integrity, in contrast to Jonathan Kravis, whose conduct is consistent with the best traditions of the independence of the Department of Justice.” (Shea is a former Barr aide whom Barr recently installed as acting U.S. attorney for D.C.)CREW’s Bookbinder added that losing respected public-corruption prosecutors poses a unique challenge. Their high-profile, politically powerful targets frequently argue in court that the prosecutors themselves are corrupt. “You really need people with expertise and credibility who can come in and do those cases and not have anyone question what their agenda is,” Bookbinder said.Bill Barr Is the Most Dangerous Man in AmericaBut instead, said Joshua Geltzer, a former Justice Department national-security official, “you’re seeing more people leave who dislike Trump and more [loyalists] coming in. Trump brought such a politicized, polarized vision about who runs the executive branch that his effect on those leaving and entering the federal workforce is more dramatic than previous presidents.” After Senate Republicans saved Trump from impeachment, the president and his allies accelerated their efforts at making Main Justice an adjunct of the White House. In addition to the Stone sentencing reversal, Barr is now undercutting Mueller’s guilty plea from former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, for lying to the FBI. Former acting attorney general Sally Yates, whom Trump fired after she warned that Flynn was a counterintelligence liability, wrote in The Washington Post on Friday that the president was using the Justice Department for “retribution or camouflage.”“The president has made it clear that his insistence on loyalty includes loyalty from the institutions that administer criminal justice, including DOJ and the FBI,” said NYU’s Gellers. “You might say without exaggeration that Trump wants personal loyalty from the rule of law itself.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.


Wisconsin mother, two daughters found dead after Amber Alert issued; boyfriend arrested

Wisconsin mother, two daughters found dead after Amber Alert issued; boyfriend arrestedA mother and two daughters were found dead after an Amber Alert was issued Saturday.


Photos show how fiery protesters using fake blood took over Mexico City in response to the rise of brutal killings of women

Photos show how fiery protesters using fake blood took over Mexico City in response to the rise of brutal killings of womenThe grisly killing of Ingrid Escamilla set off a massive protest among activists who are concerned about the rising trend of femicide in the country.


Joe Biden: Bernie Sanders Has ‘Never Gotten Anything Done’ on Health Care

Joe Biden: Bernie Sanders Has ‘Never Gotten Anything Done’ on Health CareFresh off his disastrous fifth-place finish in the New Hampshire primary, former Vice President Joe Biden took aim Sunday at the current frontrunner in the Democratic presidential primary, saying Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has “never gotten anything done” on health care.During an interview with Meet the Press anchor Chuck Todd, Biden pushed back on what he felt were “misrepresentations” of his policy positions and views.“The ideas I have, Chuck, are big and bold,” Biden declared. “I mean this idea that I’m not the progressive in the race. I mean, my lord, if I get elected president of the United States with my position on health care, my position on global warming, my position on foreign policy, my position on the middle class, this will go down as one of the most progressive administrations in American history.”Joe Biden Is Running Out Of GasBiden then turned his attention on Medicare for All, which Sanders is advocating for, calling it an “almost fanciful” policy that would cost taxpayers tens of trillions of dollars.“Even Bernie is now saying how much is it going to cost?” Biden exclaimed. “‘Who knows, we’ll find out.’ I think that’s the phrase he used. ‘Well we don’t know.’ Part of being president is not just the idea you have—can you get it done? Have you ever done anything big? Have you ever been able to put together coalitions that bring along Republicans and all the Democrats to get things done? And the idea — I mean it’s almost fanciful sometimes.”Todd, meanwhile, suggested this was “Bernie’s strength”—that voters know where he stands and who he is.“And he’s never gotten anything done,” the ex-veep interjected.“No, I get it,” the NBC News host noted.“He’s been talking about health care, Medicare for All, universal health care for 35 years,” Biden continued. “Nothing has happened. I helped get passed Obamacare. I helped move it forward. I got the votes. I’m in a position where I take something I promise you I’ll get done.”He went on to further blast Sanders’ health care proposal, saying it would require Americans to give up their private insurance while also making sure to name-check the Culinary Workers Union in Nevada, who recently criticized Sanders’ platform.Todd would later ask Biden about Sanders’ supporters attacking Culinary Union members over their criticism of the Vermont senator’s policies, wondering aloud who was responsible for those supporters’ actions.“Look, he may not be responsible for it, but he has some accountability,” Biden stated. “You know me well enough to know that if any of my supporters did that, I’d disown them. Flat disown them.”The former vice president also asserted that Sanders wasn’t doing enough to condemn the attacks on the union leaders, adding: “So far, I don’t think it’s sufficient just to say I’d disassociate myself.”Sanders has accused Biden of distorting his Medicare for All plan and ignoring that even with Obamacare, too many Americans can’t afford health care because of high premiums and deductibles.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.


Australian soldiers caring for rescued koalas

Australian soldiers caring for rescued koalasThe soldiers fed 28 rescued koalas and helped build climbing structures for them in their new home.




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The Importance of Free Press in a Democracy

Before we can understand the importance of a free press in a democracy, we need to grasp what it means to have a free press. The Cambridge Dictionary tells us that a free press allows all media outlets to express whatever opinions they desire. That means, it says, that they are enabled to “criticize the government and other organizations.” So why would that be relevant in a democracy?

Unfair Questions or Democracy At Work ?

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” -- The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Why U.S. Engagement Policy Is The Correct One

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Capitalism and The Wealth Gap

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Living Wages Are A Global Problem

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Ukraine: Not What It Seems

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Religious Freedom Bill - Protecting The Faithful or Legalized Discrimination?

After a much heated national debate, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed the controversial bill that would have allowed people and businesses in the state to refuse services to LBGT people based on their religious belief.

Coup Or Civil War In Egypt

The day after new protests erupted in Egypt the military in a show of support presented an ultimatum to Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood-led government. Morsi was to step down from power and meet all of the demands of the Egyptian people, or face being removed by the military on Wednesday. As the ultimatum deadline draws closer in Egypt, Morsi refuses to leave, insisting that parliamentary elections are needed before he should be removed, and that he doesn't have permission from the United States to remove himself from power. Most recently he stated he will pay with his life to preserve the sanctity of the ballot box.

 

 
 
 
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