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Please No More Sam Nunberg Circus as Breaking News

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018
Sam Nunberg -Courtesy of the Grio

Sam Nunberg -Courtesy of the Grio

Anyone, who turned on cable news TV at any time on Monday, couldn’t help but see a defiant Sam Nunberg, a former Trump aide, ranting and raving about his refusal to appear before a grand jury to testify pursuant to a subpoena. Nunberg, appearing possibly inebriated or at least smelling of alcohol according to CNN’s Erin Burnett, speculated about Trump, Roger Stone and other parties involved in the Russian-Trump investigation. Whenever did speculation become breaking news?  I wonder who on the major cable news outlets thought Nunberg’s hours long coverage was appropriate.

As I watched Nunberg, I wondered what the world must now think of the U.S. While we do have very good reason to be concerned about an Russian involvement or interference in our election, we do not have a good reason to air every possible aspect as breaking news. And Nunberg appears in the category  of non-breaking news given the non-substance of his interview.

I do think there are journalists that would not have interviewed Nunberg to the point of sickening to watch on air.  MSNBC Joy Reid recently interviewed Stephanie Hamill, an adviser for the National Diversity Coalition for Trump, who spouted conspiracy theories when asked to answer a question.  Akin to what should have happened with Nunberg’s speculation on Trump affairs, Reid cut off  Hamill’s responses, saying she does not harbor conspiracy theories on her show.  I think it would have been appropriate for one of the news outlets to have proceeded to commercial and return without Nunberg.   Perhaps, Joy Reid was needed to interview Nunberg to cut short his breaking-non-breaking news segment.

 

On Friday, we will learn if Sam Nunberg, former Trump aide, will appear before the grand jury pursuant to the subpoena issued to him to produce documents and testify in the Russian-Trump investigation. He later changed his tone indicating that he will comply. Whatever he decides to do, I hope the cable news networks do not waste another entire day to interviewing and discussing him as breaking news.

Nunberg’s grand jury attendance or non-attendance is not breaking news worthy of the news time spent on it on Monday.  If he doesn’t appear, as a former proseuctor, I know that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller will file a motion to compel him to testify and bring the requested documents. If a contempt order is entered against Nunberg, he must comply with the subpoena or face jail time.

There are so many stories that were news worthy on Monday and will be news worthy on Friday, in lieu of Nunberg;  Gun control debate and laws, immigration and ending of DACA, upcoming special elections and ensuring our  2018 and 2020 elections are secured, Flint, Michigan water contamination are just a few.  Former first lady Michelle Obama once said that when they go low, we go high. Monday’s coverage of Nunberg was a new low for cable TV  news.  I just hope the cable news outlets do not rinse and repeat similar coverage of Nunberg  all day on Friday.

 

Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, legal analyst and former prosecutor.

 

Trump’s Days are Dwindling Down

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

Meeting with my national security team in #WashingtonDC. #Trump2016

A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

 

Some Republicans now state that Donald Trump may not seek re-election. If the unsealed indictments of Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and guilty plea agreement of George Papadopoulos are any indication of things to come, Trump may not last the entire first term. The much anticipated hashtag of #MuellerMonday revealed a 31 page, 11 count indictment against Manafort and co-defendant Gates’ indictments for money laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent. Allegations revealed $75 million held in offshore account by Manafort resulting in his use to purchase lavish million-dollar homes, secure loans, purchase a lavish lifestyle of a million-dollar wardrobe in an alleged scheme to evade reporting of income and payment of taxes. It is a classic money laundering scheme as alleged.

After turning themselves in, Manafort and Gates respectively were released on $10 million and $5 million bail, ordered held on house arrest, only to leave for lawyer, doctor and court appearances and ordered to turn in their passports. NPR reported after reviewing unsealed court documents that Manafort had three passports and traveled with aliases. For a man alleged to be worth over $75 million, perhaps $10 million in bail was low. And if the government proves its case, all of the alleged ill-gotten gains will be turned over to the government. Usually, white collar defendants are released on their own recognizance—only having to report to pre-trial. The trial may not occur for over a year due to the nature of the charges.

The real coup of Mueller was the unsealing of the indictment and guilty plea of George Papadopoulos, an alleged Trump campaign foreign policy advisor. Papadopoulos pled guilty to one count of making a false statement. It was the best kept secret in a town that is not known for secrets. According to court papers, Papadopoulos is a cooperating defendant—meaning he is likely wearing a wire to gain and or corroborate information.

The Trump administration denies having knowledge of him, except to say Papadopoulos was a volunteer. The Internet is not as forgetful. In March, 2016, Trump tweeted an Instagram photo of Sessions and Papadopoulos at a meeting with Trump and a few others present. Trump titled it  “national security meeting”—with Papadopoulos present seated two seats to the left of Jeff Sessions.  Trump and Sessions are at the heads of the  table shown in the Instagram photo.

Today, Trump says Papadopoulos was a low level volunteer. Court papers allege a meeting was held in March, 2016 on seeking assistance from Russia on dirt on Clinton, in the campaign. In addition to Trump, Attorney General Sessions may now be in legal hot water. Of course, both will continue to deny involvement—and attribute everything to fake news.

Special Prosecutor Mueller, a former George W. Bush FBI director appointee, has been diligently working on the Trump Russian investigation for months now. By all legal accounts, he is methodically investigating the involvement of Russia into our 2016 presidential election. And the end game for Trump may likely be death by Mueller, whether by indictment, impeachment, resignation or 25th amendment. But mark my words, Trump’s days are numbered.

Meeting with my national security team in #WashingtonDC. #Trump2016

A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer who represents white collar defendants and a former Baltimore prosecutor.

Comey, Trump and Our Constitutional Crisis

Friday, May 12th, 2017

Comey’s Firing and the Lingering Constitutional Crisis

AmericanflagDonald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey for what might appear to be Comey’s reluctance to end the Trump Russian collusion investigation and/or pledge loyalty to the President. Before being fired, Comey had asked for additional funds to investigate any Russian collusion with the 2016 presidential election. Instead of more funds, he was fired.

The reasons keep changing as to the reasons for the firing. At first, Trump stated he relied on the letters and memorandum of Attorney General Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Nominee Rod Rosenstein which discussed Comey’s performance and duties. Attorney General Sessions, as many may recall, stated that he recused himself from the Russian collusion investigation over one month ago, due to his conflict of interest. Yet, he re-entered the investigation to weigh in on Comey’s performance into Russiangate. It’s as if the Trump administration violates its own rules whenever it deems necessary.

Trump later stated he intended to fire Comey all along due to how badly he treated Hillary Clinton. And within days after being sworn into office, Trump now alleges that he met with and dined with James Comey and asked if he was the target of the investigation. Trump insists that Director Comey advised that Trump was not being investigated. As the world turns, the facts change.

The legal issues involved are so immense in this scenario. If Trump intended to politically pressure Comey to end an ongoing investigation of any Russian involvement and/or involvement with the Trump administration, then a charge of obstruction of justice to impede an ongoing investigation might be warranted.

And meanwhile as the Comey firing issue was being discussed and dissected by the media, Trump was meeting with Russian officials at the White House with only Russian photographers present. All U.S. media were excluded by the President. It is as if this President is snubbing all rules of law, protocol, hijacking the U. S. for his own purposes and acting as the chief CEO of the U.S, in the process.

Meanwhile, the investigative process continues into the issue of Russian influence in the 2016 election. Without a FBI director, the investigation will continue despite Trump’s desires to the contrary. However, an independent special prosecutor needs to be appointed to avoid even the appearance of the ongoing impropriety. However, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejects the call for a special prosecutor. One must wonder if he has any involvement with Russiangate.

The real issue is whether we as American citizens and our lawmakers will continue to allow Trump to take us down the very dark abyss that he is leading us into. The task is not just for the FBI to investigate but for the many Americans who see democracy slipping from our grips to actively protest, resist, contact law makers and urge action to be taken. There comes a time when going down a slippery slope becomes impossible to climb back up. And we are inching towards the fall into the darkness. Democracy is not slipping away in darkness. It is occurring right before our eyes.

Please watch my discussion on the Bill Press Show on May 11, 2017 for a more detailed analysis at 38:00 min mark:

Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, legal analyst and former prosecutor. She often appears on MSNBC, CBS News, PBS, Al Jazeera and Fox 5 DC.

How Will Hillary Clinton New Emails Impact Election?

Saturday, October 29th, 2016

Hillary_Clinton_official_Secretary_of_State_portrait_cropThis election has more twists and turns than any novel could ever imagine. And now with 11 days before the election, FBI Director Comey claims to have found new emails as a result of a search involving Anthony Weiner and Clinton aide, Huma Abeden.  No information is really known except for a short 2 paragraph letter from  Director Comey to Republican leaders.   Everything in Washington, DC is political.  And I  have to admit the revelation of any “pertinent” emails at this timing is likely politically motivated.  Despite what many people might say otherwise, everything is really political.

WUSA 9 anchor Bruce Johnson interviewed legal analyst Debbie Hines on Friday, October 29, 2016 on the Clinton new emails and their significance to the 2016 election.  Watch here:  Legal analyst Debbie Hines examines what this latest email probe could mean for Hillary Clinton’s campaign:

http://www.wusa9.com/mb/opinion/editorials/off-script/how-do-new-clinton-emails-impact-campaign-/343991838

 

 

 

 

 

What the Media Got Wrong About Marilyn Mosby

Thursday, May 7th, 2015
Marilyn Mosby-  Official Photo as State's Attorney

Marilyn Mosby- Official Photo as State’s Attorney

Once Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced that her  office was bringing charges against the six police officers allegedly involved in the death of Freddie Gray, all media piercing eyes were focused on her with extreme scrutiny.  There was very little praise for Mosby conducting her own individual investigation instead of relying on the police to police and investigate themselves.  There was little discussion of her investigation except to say that it was swift.  Yet, the police concluded their investigation in the same time period and no one questioned their swiftness. The media mostly focused on her age, her lack of experience with homicides, potential conflicts of interests with the Gray family attorney, bias against the police, conflicts due to her husband’s position and a host of other things. Almost nothing good has been said about Mosby in the media.

At 35 years old, she is the youngest chief prosecutor in a major city.  Ms. Mosby worked at the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s office for five years before moving on to obtain other work experience. And I hate to let the media in on a secret. Ms. Mosby will not likely be trying the case by herself.  She will most likely have a team of seasoned prosecutors involved on the case. As a former Baltimore prosecutor, the State’s Attorney’s Office has many senior  career prosecutors.  She did not conduct the investigation by herself. She used her own team of investigators and lawyers. To their credit and respect for her, no one leaked that there was a simultaneous investigation occurring alongside of the police investigation.

 

The main focus has been on her alleged speed in investigating the Gray case. Just about every interview has asked about the speed of the investigation—as if it were lightning fast and referring to a “rush to judgment.” The problem is not with Ms. Mosby’s speed but with the other police involved killings in other jurisdictions   and Maryland that took months to investigate without charges being filed.  It should not and does not normally take months to investigate a homicide.  Although police are involved, at the end of the day, it’s still a homicide case. Like all homicide investigations, her office’s investigation will be ongoing. A homicide investigation does not end just because charges have been brought. Just as the police are continuing their investigation, Ms. Mosby undoubtedly will continue her investigation.  Once Mosby had enough information to bring charges based on probable cause, her office prepared the necessary paperwork to bring the charges. Probable cause is a far much lower standard from reasonable doubt.

As if the attacks on her age, level of experience and competence weren’t enough, the media questioned her bias against police officers and potential conflict with the Gray family attorney, William “Billy” Murphy.   Any bias questioned against her for bringing charges against  the police is utterly unfounded.  According to Mosby in interviews, her family consists of police officers for generations from her parents, grandfather, two  uncles  and other relatives.  The alleged potential conflict of interest with Mr. Murphy and his association with her campaign is also a non-issue. Mr. Murphy gave money to Mosby’s campaign and the Fraternal Order of Police also contributed to her campaign.  Clearly, no apparent conflict exists.  As for her knowing William Murphy, he is a prominent attorney in the Baltimore community and most attorneys, and particularly African American attorneys, are familiar in some way or another with Mr. Murphy. Then the media questioned whether a conflict of interest exists with her handling the case because her husband, Baltimore City Councilman Nick Mosby represents the district where Freddie Gray resided.  It is the area in which she and her family reside.  There would be no reason for Ms. Mosby to recuse herself in every case involving her district. I doubt if any other State’s Attorney was ever asked to recuse his or herself due to where they lived.  She represents the entire City of Baltimore, including the district where she and her family reside.

 

What most of the media got wrong with Marilyn Mosby is their failure to address her intelligence, savvy, ingenuity and boldness in taking the action that she took. If she were a young, white male prosecutor, she would have been described as a rising star, an emerging legal figure with a keen and brilliant legal mind or a legal maverick.  Ms. Mosby is all those things and many more. But most of the media has chosen and probably will continue to focus on negativity when referring to her and her office.  The six police officer’s attorneys and some of their fellow officers will continue to put their negative spin on Ms. Mosby in the media.  In contrast, Mosby will not try the case in the press.  She will have to wait patiently until the case proceeds through the legal system to prove her worth.  Many in the media act as if Marilyn Mosby is on trial.  She is not the one on trial in this case.

 

Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, legal analyst and former Baltimore prosecutor. She appears on MSNBC, Al Jazeera,  BET, C-Span, CCTV- America, Sky News, PBS and TV One, among others addressing legal issues. She is a native of Baltimore, MD.