“I am pleading guilty because I am in fact guilty.”

38 thoughts on ““I am pleading guilty because I am in fact guilty.”

    1. A Friend of the Fuckstick. Boy, there’s a group of American aristocracy, like the Order of the Bath or of the Garter. There is already precedent for Trump’s family: The House of Orange.

  1. It’s a close race, but when all is said and done, Bill Barr will go down as the most evil instrument of the Trump Administration.

    1. Tough call there. That Miller kid with the spray-on hair is pretty evil and either of them might win if you’re factoring in effectiveness. But for just plain evil, no one beats Bannon.

      1. Miller and Bannon are policy guys.

        Barr has corrupted the Department of Justice from a department which was supposed to make decisions independent of the White House into the Bootlicking Asskissing Department of What Trump Wants. We are no different from Russia now.

        1. I gotta go with fwald on this one. Miller and Bannon could try to persuade Trump to do things. Barr can do things by himself, and he (like most people) is smarter than Trump.

  2. At the time Flynn agreed to plead guilty there were media reports that he was pleading guilty in exchange for a promise that his son would not be prosecuted. Obviously, that is exactly what that form Flynn signed says did NOT happen. Other than some work in a prison legal clinic as a law student, I never practiced criminal law. But it seems to me in almost every plea agreement there is some kind of at least implied threat/promise. “You can accept this plea and get X many months in prison or you can roll the dice and get a longer sentence at trial.” Now there is sometimes the issue that the judge doesn’t have to follow a prosecution recommendation, hence the “no promises” clause. But often prosecutors may drop certain charges and only proceed with charges that have lower maximum sentences. But how many people would plead guilty without some kind of promised benefit. I have to wonder how ethical such “Defendants Acceptance” clauses are. There is such a thing as an “Alford Plea” where a defendant pleads guilty without admitting guilt. The idea is that a defendant may maintain his/her innocence but feel going to trial is too great a risk and a deal is too good to pass up. But it is my understanding that many if not most judges refuse to accept Alford Pleas, forcing at least some innocent defendants to lie in court and say they did things they did not.

    All that is to say I don’t find the “Defendants Acceptance” dispositive as to whether Flynn intended to mislead the FBI during his interview. I’m also troubled by the actions the actions of the FBI. But at the same time, while Flynn may or may not have intended to mislead the FBI, he appears to have been guilty of other shady things related to his lobbying for the government of Turkey. So I am not exactly outraged on his behalf. But I had professors that warned that if you talk to the FBI, if they want to charge you with making a false statement, they will most likely be able to figure out a way to at least have you indicted. That is troubling to me. I just wish so much politics wasn’t tied up in the issues.

    1. “Intended to deceive” is a red herring. If you said something you knew was untrue, you lied to the FBI. And yes, this is often abused – for instance, you can’t record your interview. Whatever they write down as a record of what you said, you legally said. Still, I don’t imagine Flynn was innocent, or that he was railroaded.

      1. Intent to deceive isn’t a red herring, it’s an element of the crime. Most every crime in the U.S. requires a mens rea or mental state. That mens rea is usually the intent to do an illegal thing. That’s why insanity can be used as a defense, because it negates intent. But that’s also why a defendant knowing what he did was wrong invalidates that defense. In the case of Flynn, I can imagine a situation where he may have denied discussing sanctions with Kislyak, but hadn’t meant to deceive the FBI. If I recall correctly, on the recorded conversation, Kislyak asked about sanctions and Flynn said they could talk about it another time or something like that. Flynn may have interpreted the question about discussing the sanctions as discussing them substantively and hadn’t considered their discussion substantive. I am not saying that’s what happened, but the FBI agents that interviewed him said they did not believe Flynn had meant to be untruthful. I think he was probably innocent of the crime he pleaded guilty to. But I think he was guilty of more serious charges but it was agreed he would plead guilty to that crime because under the sentencing guidelines he would get a shorter sentence.

    2. Agreed. The feds have a 90%+ percentage conviction rate and they offer you life in prison or several years if you plead guilty. Almost every white collar federal crime ends in a plea bargain admitting guilt. It’s not evidence of a crime or the absence of a crime. It’s just a deal. I too am more concerned by the actions of the fbi.

      “Trials are rare in the federal criminal justice system – and acquittals are even rarer.

      Nearly 80,000 people were defendants in federal criminal cases in fiscal 2018, but just 2% of them went to trial. The overwhelming majority (90%) pleaded guilty instead, while the remaining 8% had their cases dismissed, according to a Pew Research. Most defendants who did go to trial, meanwhile, were found guilty, either by a jury or judge. (Defendants can waive their right to a jury trial if they wish.)

      Put another way, only 320 of 79,704 total federal defendants – fewer than 1% – went to trial and won their cases, at least in the form of an acquittal, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.”

      1. The document is signed under oath. One of the following is true

        1) If Flynn’s signature comes under an accurate statement, he is guilty of lying to the FBI.
        2) If Flynn’s signature comes under a false statement, he is guilty of perjury.

        He has no winning position there.

        But the point is that he is not denying that he lied to the FBI. That’s not the legal issue. The prosecutors have tried to withdraw the case because they now believe that his lies were not “material,” therefore not criminal, whereas they had previously held a different opinion.

        Unfortunately for him, that charge was always a McGuffin anyway. It was just an excuse to get a plea from him so they didn’t have to prosecute him for the serious charges, and could therefore gain his co-operation. If Trump loses the election, it would re-open the charges against Flynn on FARA and Emoluments. To coin a Trumpesque phrase, those are “treason light.”

        1. That means that anyone who is innocent of a crime who was forced to plead guilty as the result of threats, intimidation, lack of resources, or lack of an alibi lied under oath. They had absolutely no choice. I get what you are saying but that’s not realistic. He signed to save his family and himself from harsher prosecution. And if he was pressured to admit guilt as the result of entrapment, then the fbi violated his rights.

          1. Yes, Steverino, you have defined what pleading guilty to something means. Do you think Flynn would have pled guilty when he was not? Do you think he was without resources, and intimidated and so on? (Are Lieutenant Generals usually people who can be intimidated, BTW?) Do you think he would have been found not guilty if he went to trial? Apparently Flynn did not, and he ought to know.

            As for your point about “saving his himself and his family from harsher prosecution”, saving yourself and perhaps others from harsher prosecution is the entire point of a plea bargain. Congrats on defining the obvious again.

            It is good to see you have become a friend of the downtrodden and oppressed, Steverino. Of course, Flynn is neither, but at least it’s a start.

            Besides, what are you worried about? As a Friend of the Fuckstick (see elsewhere), will not Trump pardon him if he has been the victim of injustice?

          2. There’s a false equivalence there. You’re comparing Flynn to people who are innocent. He wasn’t railroaded into pleading guilty to something he didn’t do. He was allowed to plead guilty to avoid getting charged with something bigger that he definitely did. Flynn is obviously guilty of the much greater charges of failing to register as a foreign agent and violating the emoluments clause. The bargain was that he pleaded guilty to this one in order to get out of the trial on the more serious charge. He is now renouncing the plea bargain, which means that the minute the Justice Department is not corrupt, he will get charged with the greater crime, and he’ll never be allowed another plea bargain, given what he did this time. And I think that would happen even if this lesser charge is dismissed with prejudice, because the other charge would remain unadjudicated.

            As I said, he’s placing all of his eggs into one basket – he desperately needs Trump to win and the Justice Department to remain corrupt.

            In a way, Barr screwed Flynn. If Flynn had gone ahead with the deal, and Trump pardoned him, then the general would not have had to rely on a Trump victory. Presidential pardons are not reversible, and Trump could have pardoned him even for the crime he was not charged with. (I am assuming Barr had reasoned that Trump would not pardon Flynn because of the unseemly political cosmetics.)

          3. I agree with Scoop that the best solution for permanent protection for Flynn would have been a presidential pardon, and so this leaves the door open that he will still stand trial later.

            However if (God willing), Trump loses in November, we will have to deal with the likelihood that the Barr Department of Jackoffs will spend their last two months destroying and corrupting as much evidence as is humanly possible to make it difficult to prosecute Flynn and the rest of the administration.

          4. Scoop, that’s not what I was getting at. If the feds come after you, whether you’re guilty or not, you’re pleading guilty. Their conviction rate isn’t that high because they have good lawyers, but because they have the tools, tactics, and power to take you down.

          5. The reason Flynn pleaded guilty to that charge was because he really was guilty, caught red-handed, of a much more serious charge and knew that he could not win in court. The feds actually cut him a pretty sweet deal in exchange for co-operation. Lying to the FBI is almost petty, but failure to register as a foreign agent is not far removed from espionage.

            Anyway, as I said, it doesn’t matter. The lying to the FBI charge is a dead issue. I think the judge will ultimately dismiss it, possibly with prejudice, depending on how he interprets the case law. That charge was really only there to give Flynn a lesser charge to plead to. If Trump wins the election, Flynn is home scot-free. If Trump loses, Flynn is probably still OK because has about two months to get to a country with no extradition treaty.

            In either case, he can’t risk a trial on the FARA charge because he’s obviously guilty of at least one count and has a slim chance of winning the verdict in a jury trial. Moreover, the charges against him, as a former general officer in the US military, would be much more extensive than they would be against you or me doing the same thing. In our case, we are only required to register as agents of a foreign country, which is a relatively routine process, after which we can start consulting to or lobbying for foreign governments. If we fail to do so, we can only be charged for a FARA violation. In Flynn’s case, he can’t accept compensation from a foreign power without permission – either from Congress, or from both the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Army. Failing that permission, he would violate the emoluments clause. He clearly accepted such compensation (and admitted it), and he clearly did not have that required permission at the time he accepted it. That’s all cut-and-dried. There’s no way he can get a “not guilty” verdict except in the unlikely event of some kind of jury nullification. (Flynn knew all that, which is why he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge in the first place. It wasn’t because he was an innocent man being railroaded. It was because he was very guilty, and had almost no chance of a “not guilty” verdict, on the more significant charges. He and his lawyers were well aware of that.)

            The only question is how many counts they would charge him with if they eventually prosecute him for FARA and emoluments clause violations. Given his previous shenanigans, neither prosecutors nor judges are likely to cut him much slack. Obviously, nobody will cut a deal with him since he has shown that he will renege.

            Anyway, the judge in this case has not accepted the withdrawal yet, and the guilty plea has already been offered and accepted, pending sentencing. I assume the judge will call all the prosecutors in for questioning. That should be interesting.

          6. Your argument that he was somehow bullied into the guilty plea is not valid. He is not denying anything that he formerly admitted, and the justice department is not claiming he was previously tricked. That’s not the legal issue. The way the case now stands is that the prosecutors are saying, in essence, “Yes, he lied, as he admitted, but whereas we previously thought his lie was ‘material,’ we no longer think so.” In other words, they have decided, upon further consideration, that the thing he pleaded guilty to was not a crime after all.

        2. I can’t imagine the government would ever prosecute an exonerated defendant for perjury because they lied when they said they were guilty as part of a plea bargain. Honestly, I am not sure that some prosecutors didn’t suborn perjury in this case (something for which they could be both disbarred and prosecuted) for letting Flynn sign the Defendant’s Acceptance and submitting it to the court if in fact they had promised not to prosecute his son as part of the agreement. But it may just be that those kinds of promises/threats are not considered to be covered by that Acceptance despite it’s plain language. But if the government ever tried to prosecute Flynn for lying in that Acceptance, the defense closing argument would go something like “the government threatened to prosecute his son if he didn’t plead guilty, then as part of that plea made him sign something saying he hadn’t been threatened and is now prosecuting him for lying about not being threatened.” That would of course come after calling/cross examining the original prosecutor about the threats to prosecute his son and asking him about suborning perjury.

          Scoop. I left a comment in response to Nature Mom and it said it would be posted after it had been moderated. Any idea why this keeps happening to me, but only occasionally?

          1. “Exonerated”? I guess that’s why they couldn’t get any of the actual prosecutors to sign off on it.

            Where is Inigo Montoya when you need him?

          2. I am getting confused. How does someone who signs a plea bargain normally get exonerated? Is it like those Innocence Project where someone who IS like Steverino describes gets found innocent after taking a plea to avoid the death penalty? Once again, I am having a hard time seeing how Flynn fits that model. No offence, I just don’t understand.

          3. If your post includes a link, it is automatically held for moderation because the anti-spam app considers it likely to be dangerous.

            To be completely honest, I don’t know about the non-link posts. The app has maybe set aside 10-20 of those in the entire history of the blog, and they mystify me. I’ve never seen any common characteristics, and they don’t seem to break any clearly expressed rules. Sorry. If I could find their commonality, I’d fix it or warn y’all about it, but it has me perplexed.

            Anyway, I usually get there and wave them through fairly quickly.

          4. I didn’t mean that Flynn was exonerated. I was referring generally to an innocent person that signed a plea agreement and the idea of them being prosecuted for signing it. While I think the percentage of innocent people that plead guilty is relatively small it is a not insignificant number of people in absolute terms. People are exonerated through the efforts of the Innocence Project and others. Witnesses recant. Sometime prosecutorial misconduct or falsified lab tests are discovered.

            Just to be clear, I don’t mean to insinuate that Flynn is some poor innocent soul. I think we should respect his military service, but he loses a great deal of the respect I personally afford him for that service because of his dealings with a rather brutal regime in Turkey. He clearly enriched himself by doing it and broke the law by failing to register as a foreign lobbyist. I’m not sure how serious a crime that is, but he was clearly guilty of it.

  3. Oh yeah, he’s definitely guilty because he signed that thing. No one in prison has ever said they were guilty who wasn’t. Innocent people never admit to doing something they haven’t done. And if they did say that they did something they didn’t do out of fear, then that’s a lie! We can put them in jail for that! It’s the perfect system.

    1. Flynn is not guilty because he signed the plea agreement, Steve. He is guilty because he did the things he admitted to, or worse. If he didn’t, please let us know why he did plead guilty when he would have had the backing of the President of the United States and the POTUS’s hand-picked Attorney General? What was Flynn afraid of in that situation if he was innocent?

      Jeebus, you and Steverino sound like what Bush the Elder would have dismissed as “card-carrying members of the ACLU”. That would be a good thing if you were talking about some low-level drug dealer who got life in prison because he had no-one to roll over on. Can you see the difference between someone like that and Flynn, or are you going to pretend there isn’t one?

      1. To be fair, he is not denying that he did the things he pleaded guilty to. The legal basis, or maybe it would be more accurate to say the legal rationalization, for the non-prosecution is a revised consideration of materiality.

        “A review of the facts and circumstances of this case, including newly discovered and disclosed information, indicates that Mr. Flynn’s statements were never ‘material’ to any FBI investigation.” In other words, “We still think he lied, but we no longer think it was about something prosecutable.” Kinda similar to the ol’ Bill Clinton defense.

        The main point is that he isn’t denying that he lied. From his point of view, he is still admitting the same actions. From the prosecutors’ point of view, “We made the mistake. Those actions he admitted, and presumably still admits, are not criminal.”

        As I pointed out earlier, however, his violations of FARA and the emoluments clause are still open game. His criminal violations in those areas are the reason he pleaded guilty to the other charges in the first place. Since his deal is now dead, he could now be prosecuted on the serious matters, but won’t be as long as Trump is in office.

  4. As I wrote above, I never practiced criminal law other than working in a prison legal clinic. But while working in that clinic I did see one prosecution that in my opinion was horribly unethical. This was at the Alderson Prison camp in WV that was later famous for having Martha Stewart as a guest. On one of my visits, an African American woman came to see me. I will never forget what she said to me first. She told me “I am 52 years old, I’ve never been in trouble with the law before, and I don’t know why I’m here.” From what she told me and what her pre-sentence investigative report said, I learned she was there because her son was a criminal that refused to testify against a bigger criminal. Her son lived with her, but also sold crack. She knew that he did, but had told him to never bring it into her house. But he had. So when the son refused to testify, they told him if he didn’t they would lock up his mother. He didn’t and they did. They charged her with maintaining a facility in furtherance of a drug conspiracy (or something like that it’s been over 20 years). Her lawyer had recommended she take a plea and she had. I don’t know who was worse, the son that let his mom go to prison for something he did or the people that put her there.

    Now I understand that a threat is useless if no one believes you will follow through. But that is no excuse for locking up a mother for not kicking her son out of the house. That is not justice in my opinion. I only wish she had had Flynn’s lawyers.

    1. Ummm…That poor woman had nowhere near the legal representation that Flynn had when he pleaded guilty. Clearly prosecutorial conduct occurs…see all those questionable murder convictions in Texas as an example. But to argue that Flynn pleaded guilty due to prosecutorial conduct is intellectually bankrupt given the caliber of his legal representation. Read here.

      1. I think that Peter Strzok lobbying to keep the Flynn investigation open when it was about to be closed, if recently released documents are accurate, just so Flynn could be caught in a false statement was misconduct. But I think in the long run it worked to his advantage because the false statement charge he pleaded guilty to in the plea bargain that made more serious charges go away was tainted by the misconduct. I think ending the false statement prosecution was the right decision because continuing it after the evidence of misconduct surfaced would have sent the wrong message. But politics is so wrapped up in this it probably won’t send the right message either.

        Personally, I wish I could be a reverse bear of some kind and hibernate for the next 6 months and wake up on the 10th of November when hopefully the election and social isolation are both over. I could stand to lose some weight as well.

    2. The difference between that poor West Virginia woman and Flynn is the difference between being near the bottom of the heap and being near the top.

      As an aside, I firmly believe the “War on Drugs” has done vastly more harm than good. This is more evidence. Try getting a Republican to sign off on that.

      1. Actually there are a number of Republicans that will sign off on that, probably most prominently Rand Paul. There are various constituencies in the GOP with the religious right probably being the largest. But there is also a sizable libertarian wing. Of course there is a certain amount of overlap there. Personally, I think it’s long past the time to decriminalize marijuana on the federal level and leave it to the states. But then I think the states should legalize it. I am less certain about legalizing heroin. But if people could be confident the opioid they are buying is exactly the drug and dose they think it is, it would reduce accidental overdoses. But there would still be a significant number of people that try to quit, relapse, and start taking it again at their previous dose without realizing they’ve lost their resistance. Plus if you legalize all drugs think of all of those drug dealers you’d be making unemployed. Perhaps the government could come up with a bailout to help them transition to running numbers or loan sharking.

        1. I think in this instance Rand Paul is either a “fatal champion” or “the exception that proves the rule”, or both.

          As for the libertarian wing of the Republican Party, their only purpose seems to be to provide lip service to freedom and rhetorical cover whenever their rhetoric lines up with whatever the majority of America’s billionaires want at the moment.

          Like this yip-yap about social restrictions due to a public health emergency being a violation of freedom. Big Money wants to make more money, so libertarian rhetoric gets trotted out. They sang a different tune when the “Patriot” Act was being passed.

          1. There are a lot of libertarian Republicans that have serious issues with the Patriot Act. I consider myself “libertarian leaning” more than a libertarian because I think many libertarians go too far. Like, for instance, trying to undermine social distancing orders. If hanging out with a large group of people only risked the consenting adults that decided to hang out in that crowd, I’d say go ahead and be an idiot. But it puts many other lives at risk and perhaps as importantly it risks having shutdown orders being extended or even worse being reimposed. My right to extend my fist ends at the start of your nose.

  5. PS – M. McChesney, I should have said I agree with a lot of what you say about drug legalization. I think there will be a price to pay for – a price in ruined lives and death. But I think it will be substantially less than the price in ruined lives and death that we are paying for the War on Drugs.

    I guess I have come to believe you cannot save people from themselves, you can only try to limit the collateral damage they do to others. We proved unable to stop the sale of alcohol, we can’t keep people from drinking, but we can clamp down hard on drunk driving. We can’t keep people from smoking, but we can limit their ability to subject people to second-hand smoke. Something analogous will have to be the case with other drugs.

    I still cannot make up my mind about whether some drugs are just too powerfully addictive for humans to handle. (Especially after decades of scare talk and lies about stuff like marijuana.) Perhaps legalizing milder things will help with that problem.

    Dang, am I long-winded today? Sorry, just bored and irritable, I guess.

    1. I am surprised there aren’t more politicians calling for decriminalizing marijuana on the federal level. The fact is that a new president could decide to seize the proceeds of all “legal” marijuana businesses, medical or recreational, because they they violate federal law and are thus subject to asset forfeiture. But I would think federal marijuana laws would be changed within a decade, if not sooner. If I’m not mistaken about 3/4 of states have legalized medical marijuana, though I think some still have too many restrictions.

      I made it through high school, college, and law school and never once tried marijuana or any recreational drug other than alcohol. But today I am a middle aged man physically dependent on opioids. I hurt my back 8 years ago when I was rear ended at a red light by a garbage truck. I’ve tried everything from rehab, to acupuncture, to surgery. But the only thing that’s worked for me is Oxycodone. I try to get by with as little of it as possible because I know over time my resistance will grow and I will need larger doses and I want to put that off for as long as possible. A couple of years ago, I thought I’d try medical marijuana to see if it would help. I didn’t particularly like how it made me feel, but eventually I discovered if I took a THC/CBD pill 2 hours before bed, I’d sleep really well. Without it there were nights I’d be in too much pain to sleep without several additional Oxycodone pills. But when I went to renew my medical certification I discovered I couldn’t get it renewed because I was also taking an opiod. Most doctors in NY aren’t certified to authorize medical marijuana. My personal doctor isn’t. But because of the opiod, I could only be certified by a doctor providing ongoing care. The end result is I can’t use medical marijuana to reduce my opioid use. I could get it illegally, but I have no interest in smoking anything. There has been talk of legalizing recreational marijuana in NY. I’m hoping that I will be able to buy it in pill form.

      I’m sorry I am so long winded now. My point is that this fear of legalizing what at this point we know is a relatively safe drug that in many cases (not mine but others) is nothing short of a miracle drug is a travesty. I’ve read of a guy that was sent to prison for giving his stepson marijuana to treat his seizure condition. That is insane. I have no comparable need for medical marijuana, but it still makes no sense that it is so much easier to be prescribed opioids than marijuana.

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