2018 is done and we are still waiting on the ‘glorious’ revolution

As the closing hours of  2018 tick off, it’s time to take a moment to assess the year that was.

It was promised to be glorious eight times in various drops. It was going to be quite notable. It failed on both measures although the goalposts were moved many, many times.

While there have been some wins, the Senate majority increase. Some ugly wins such as the Brett Kavanaugh appointment to the Supreme Court. Some wins appear to be hollow, like President Trump’s decision to declassify the FISA courts documents.

However we still have Rod Rosenstein at the Justice Department. Trump has replaced Attorney General Jeff Sessions with Acting AG Matt Whitaker, but still no movement on the release of the burning documents.

We also see Special Counsel Robert Mueller entering his third calendar year without any charges being brought against President Trump or his campaign for colluding with the Russians on the 2016 presidential election.

2018 left without any further information from any authorities concerning the whereabouts and contents of Hillary Clinton’s  private email server(s) or the Clinton Foundation’s lack of transparency and involvement in financing the Fusion/GPS Russian collusion report.

In another example of moving the goalposts, we are told the Executive Order, which goes into effect on Jan.1, 2019, will allow for greater leeway for federal prosecutors to bring charges under military tribunal rule of law.

Well we don’t have to wait very long to see how this plays out.

Will 2019 be glorious? I don’t need the bar to be that high. I just want it to be proactive.


Gitmo will have marquee names at tribunals in 2019

Why does the Trump Administration have more than $200 million in new construction going on at the Naval base in Guantánamo Bay this year and next?

Much of the spending is earmarked for expansion of prison cells and court administration facilities. Since we are coming up on the 17th anniversary of the horrific 9/11 attack, it does not appear we need these facilities for new terror suspects.

No,these facilities will be for military tribunals of Americans — but I hesitate to use the word citizens.

Let me divert for one second.

What does a Presidential pardon mean under Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 of the US Constitution? The President may set aside a federal conviction or reduce the punishment for conviction under federal law.

A Presidential pardon does not need to be announced, unlike the annual Thanksgiving Day pardon. It can be done in secret and expunge crimes committed from the date of the pardon back to birth. It does not work going forward. It has no effect on future crimes.

One exception to a Presidential pardon is a military tribunal. A presidential pardon has no standing in a military court. So any Presidential pardons signed on January 21, 2017 at 11:59 AM offer no protections for the pardonee at a Guantánamo tribunal.

The mechanism that allows these tribunals to move forward is the Executive Order signed by President Trump on Dec. 20, 2017. While the order was mainly focused on taking property of people involved in human rights abuses, it also cited a national emergency in corruption.

As we go forward with testimony in the Russian collusion case Tuesday with Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr telling a House panel behind closed doors of his involvement in the Russian Dossier case, there are a number of Department of Justice and FBI personnel who could find themselves in an US federal court defending themselves against conspiracy or treason charges simply because they did not receive pardons.

No the Guantánamo Bay hearings will only be for the marquee names who rated a Presidential pardon and those trials will not be starting until late 2019, just when the construction at the naval base is concluded.