Department of Justice

Federal Prosecutors Break Rules, Wreck Lives, and Get Promoted

Washington's overlords protect their own.

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A group of Washington overlords—federal prosecutors—sometimes break rules and wreck people's lives. President Obama may soon appoint one of them to be America's next Attorney General.

The prosecutorial bullying is detailed in a new book by Sidney Powell, Licensed to Lie. She reports that the Department of Justice's (DOJ) narcissistic and dishonest prosecutors destroy people by doing things like deliberately withholding evidence.

Remember the Arthur Andersen accounting firm? It was killed off by ambitious prosecutors who claimed the company helped Enron commit accounting fraud and then shredded the evidence.

But instead of charging people who allegedly ordered evidence destroyed, the DOJ indicted the entire company. That destroyed the accounting firm. Publicly traded companies cannot do business with companies under criminal investigation, so Andersen lost most of its clients.

The prosecutor's purpose, says Powell, was to chill resistance from other companies that might dare fight the Feds. The message: cooperate, or we will destroy you! These pressure tactics were appropriate, said one prosecutor, because shredding documents "attacks the justice system itself by impeding investigators and regulators from getting at the truth."

But who actually hid the truth? The prosecutors, writes Powell. In fact, Andersen had saved most of its documents and gave them to the government. The prosecutors simply lied to the court about it.

Eventually, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Arthur Andersen's conviction. But by then, 80,000 employees had lost their jobs—80,000 people who'd done nothing wrong.

You'd think that this would teach federal prosecutors to obey the law. Paul Kamenar of the Washington Legal Foundation said, "this decision will send a strong message to the Justice Department to stop this kind of abusive prosecutorial misconduct."

So were the prosecutors fired or jailed? No. Many were promoted. Washington's overlords protect their own.

Licensed To Lie/Facebook

Next, some of the same prosecutors accused four Merrill Lynch executives of falsifying Enron's books. The government lawyers told the media that Enron "conspired with Wall Street bankers to carry out a sham transaction." The Merrill Lynch executives charged with fraud got three- to four-year jail sentences.

But Powell writes that the government "failed to allege anything that actually constituted a crime by the Merrill Lynch executives. Instead it cobbled together parts of different statutes to make up some kind of new crime that didn't even make sense."

Sure enough, an appeals court tossed most of the verdict, and the Merrill executives were released. But that was after they had spent a year in jail.

Did the prosecutors hang their heads in shame? No. Far from it. Some of them then went after Republican Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska. Stevens, the prosecutors claimed, took $250,000 in gifts from rich donors and never reported that.

But later it was revealed that the prosecutors withheld evidence that showed Stevens had not taken anything like $250,000. A judge threw out that conviction, too. But by then, Sen. Stevens had lost his Senate seat. His replacement, a Democrat, became the deciding vote for Obamacare.

So was the lead prosecutor, Matthew Friedrich, finally punished? Again, no. He took a higher-paying job at a private law firm. Leslie Caldwell, who helped destroy Arthur Anderson, got promoted to assistant attorney general at the Justice Department. Andrew Weissmann, who helped prosecute the Andersen and the Merrill Lynch employees, was made deputy director of the FBI.

Finally, prosecutor Kathryn Ruemmler, who helped manipulate the system to unfairly jail four Merrill Lynch employees, was promoted to deputy attorney general, then promoted again to White House counsel. Now Bloomberg reports that she's President Obama's first choice to replace Eric Holder!

If you find these charges as hard to believe as I did, you can read Powell's supporting documents at LicensedtoLie.com. We invited prosecutors Ruemmler, Friedrich, Caldwell and Weissmann to reply to the charges laid out in Powell's book and on my TV show, but they didn't respond.

Federal prosecutors always have a big advantage over anyone they attack. The U.S. government has endless time and money. Only multi-millionaires can afford to fight back. Most people accused, even those who are innocent, just settle with the prosecutors and get punished. Prosecutors abuse this awesome power and get promoted for it.

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28 responses to “Federal Prosecutors Break Rules, Wreck Lives, and Get Promoted

  1. Another reason to end immunity.

    1. If clever attorneys can find ways of weaseling out of prenups and liability/accident waivers, they should be able to find a way to file a class action suit on behalf of the 80,000 who lost their jobs.

      1. Nope. You can’t sue the United States without the United States’ permission.

        1. Isn’t that what the 2nd Amendment is for?

  2. …shredding documents “attacks the justice system itself by impeding investigators and regulators from getting at the truth.”

    This sounds more like an inquisitorial system than an adversarial one.

    The prosecutors simply lied to the court about it.

    Lying to the court is a pretty blatant violation of legal ethics in any jurisdiction. Somebody should report them to the bar association….

    Why are you laughing? Stop it! Stop laughing right now!

    1. Legal ethics? You lie to a court and it’s perjury, or worse.

  3. We not only fail to punish bad behavior, we reward it.

    1. What do you mean ‘bad’, that’s called ‘expected’.

      1. Perhaps having higher standards, rather than lower ones, for public officials would be a good idea.

  4. We invited prosecutors Ruemmler, Friedrich, Caldwell and Weissmann to reply to the charges laid out in Powell’s book and on my TV show, but they didn’t respond.

    What?! Not even an “I won’t dignify that invitation with a response”?!

    1. What?! Not even an “I won’t dignify that invitation with a response”?!

      There will be a response. Phones are ringing at the IRS, TSA, DOJ, EPA…

  5. The U.S. government has endless time and money. Only multi-millionaires can afford to fight back.

    Legally speaking, that is a true statement. “Extra-legally” speaking, that is not a true statement.

    Remember, as long as the people are armed, they do not yet have a monopoly on force (though they like to pretend they do).

  6. This is why the world needs Julian Assange’s, Stossel… I noted your sneer at his name the other night, you ancient media tool.

    1. Other than cause the deaths of quite a few people who worked for the coalitions in Iraq and Afghanistan at the hands of terrorists, what exactly did Julian Assange accomplish?

  7. As bad as this is, it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Few entities have sufficient resources to fight back against DoJ. In many, many cases, they are embarrassingly wrong on the law. Narcissistic, power-hungry, arrogant, and usually focused on scalps for their careers.

  8. Prosecutorial overkill is SOP at all levels of government. One well honed tool is the “Kitchen Sink” approach where multiple charges are filed against defendants, charges that wouldn’t stand up in any court due to insufficient or non-existent, or exculpatory evidence. Thus, enabling prosecutors to appear magnanimous when the “Kitchen Sink” charges are dropped in exchange for a guilty plea from defendants that are facing bankruptcy or unable to bond out of jail.

    1. It’s also a brilliant way to ensure laws of questionable constitutionality never get effectively challenged. The prosecutors throw in these constitutionally weak charges in with a lot of other charges and force the defendant to settle.

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  10. A federal felon used to be someone like John Dillinger. Now it’s someone like Martha Stewart.

  11. The Arthur Andersen prosecution was amazingly corrupt. While there was more than enough evidence to ruin the firm’s long-term reputation — the firm was involved in two of the big collapses of that time, Enron and WorldCom — the DoJ wanted an immediate scalp and went about committing a wrong even bigger than the ones Arthur Andersen had committed.

  12. people who allegedly ordered evidence destroyed, the

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  14. Circle of evil.

  15. What is troubling about this is the lack of supervision by the Attorney General. In cases like Arthur Andersen and Merrill Lynch, the consequences of a conviction have great political and economic ramifications. If the Attorney General does not review such cases personally before the indictment is sought, he is not doing his job. If he does vet the prosecution, he should be held accountable if it fails, particularly if it fails for reasons of prosecutorial misconduct.

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