DoJ Inspector General Glen Fine is investigating Bush's ending of Abramoff's Guam Scandal
John Conyers in August asked for an investigation for possible Obstruction of Justice charges against Bush for abruptly ending an inquiry on Abramoff and Guam. Covered this in Bush Abruptly Ended Abramoff Investigation in 2002! Obstruction of Justice? (must-see!!), my diary yesterday.
Here is the full letter:
It was on November 19, 2002, that President Bush announced he was demoting U.S. Attorney Black. The federal grand jury took no further action in the Abramoff investigation.
The Los Angeles Times reports that an extensive effort by lobbyists connected to the Government of Guam is responsible for U.S. Attorney Black's demotion. In May 2003, U.S. Attorney Black was replaced by Leonardo Rapadas who had been recommended by the Republican Party of Guam. Fred Radewagen, a lobbyist, said he carried that recommendation to Karl Rove, White House Deputy Chief of Staff, in early 2003.
August 23, 2005
Honorable Glenn A. Fine
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 4322
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Dear Inspector General Fine:
We write to request that the Office of the Inspector General conduct an investigation into the November 2002 demotion of former Acting United States Attorney for Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, Frederick A. Black. We are troubled by an August 7, 2005, report in the Los Angeles Times that suggests this demotion was politically motivated (enclosed).1
At the time U.S. Attorney Black was demoted, he was supervising a grand jury investigation into the lobbying activities of Jack Abramoff and conducting an ongoing investigation into possible corruption within the Government of Guam. U.S. Attorney Black had been serving as the Acting United States Attorney for more than 10 years when he was demoted. The timing of President Bush's decision to remove and replace U.S. Attorney Black is questionable and warrants an investigation.
The Los Angeles Times reports that in 2002, lobbyist Jack Abramoff entered into a secret agreement with Guam Superior Court officials to lobby against a court revision bill then pending in the United States Congress. For his lobbying efforts, Mr. Abramoff was reportedly paid with thirty-six $9,000 checks funneled through a Laguna Beach lawyer to disguise the lobbyist's role in working for the Guam Superior Court. These transactions were the target of a federal grand jury subpoena issued on November 18, 2002, which required the Guam Superior Court Administrative Director to release records involving the lobbying contract. It was on November 19, 2002, that President Bush announced he was demoting U.S. Attorney Black. The federal grand jury took no further action in the Abramoff investigation.
The Los Angeles Times also reports that at the time U.S. Attorney Black was demoted, he was directing a long-term investigation into allegations of public corruption in the Government of Guam. This inquiry produced numerous indictments, including some of the top officials in the government. The Los Angeles Times reports that an extensive effort by lobbyists connected to the Government of Guam is responsible for U.S. Attorney Black's demotion. In May 2003, U.S. Attorney Black was replaced by Leonardo Rapadas who had been recommended by the Republican Party of Guam. Fred Radewagen, a lobbyist, said he carried that recommendation to Karl Rove, White House Deputy Chief of Staff, in early 2003. Since taking office, U.S. Attorney Rapadas has excused himself from the ongoing public corruption case involving the Government of Guam because he is the cousin of one of the key targets of the investigation.
Again, we are troubled by the circumstances that surround the demotion of former Acting U.S. Attorney Black and request than an investigation be conducted. The Department of Justice should be concerned that a federal prosecutor was possibly removed from his position as a result of lobbying efforts by those he was investigating for public corruption. We appreciate your prompt consideration of this matter. Please reply through the Judiciary Committee Democratic office, 2142 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515 (tel:202-225-6504; fax: 202-225-4423).
John Conyers, Jr.
Member of Congress
Madeleine Z. Bordallo
Member of Congress
cc: Hon. William E. Moschella
Assistant Attorney General
Hon. F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.
Chairman, U.S. House Comm. on the Judiciary
Here is another article, from Guam:
Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo and the Democrats' highest-ranking member in the House Judiciary Committee are calling for a Justice Department investigation into what they called the demotion of Frederick Black from being the acting U.S. Attorney on Guam and in the Northern Marianas.
"At the time U.S. Attorney Black was demoted, he was supervising a grand jury investigation into the lobbying activities of Jack Abramoff and conducting an ongoing investigation into possible corruption within the government of Guam," according to a letter signed by Bordallo and Rep. John Conyers Jr.
Conyers was elected by his congressional colleagues to lead the Democratic side of the House Committee on the Judiciary, which has oversight of the Department of Justice, including the FBI and the federal courts.
"U.S. Attorney Black had been serving as the acting United States Attorney for more than 10 years when he was demoted. The timing of President Bush's decision to remove and replace U.S. Attorney Black is questionable and warrants an investigation," Bordallo and Conyers wrote.
The office of U.S. Attorney Leonardo Rapadas, who has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Black's replacement, has denied that Black was demoted. The office issued a press release recently, stating Black's title shift did not mean a demotion.
Black remains in the U.S. Attorney's Office as senior litigation counsel.
The Los Angeles Times had reported that Black was demoted after Guam Superior Court records of lobbying payments that eventually went to Abramoff's law firm were subpoenaed as part of a federal grand jury investigation Black was heading.
"Mr. Rapadas' nomination was well under way long before any suggestion of supposed subpoenas or a politically sensitive investigation in November 2002. The White House, in its Nov. 19, 2002, press release, cited Rapadas' 13-year experience as an assistant attorney general for Guam," Rapadas' office said in a previously released press statement.
Bordallo and Conyers wrote: "We are troubled by an Aug. 7, 2005, report in the Los Angeles Times that suggests this demotion was politically motivated."
An ethics watchdog organization in Washington, D.C., also has asked Department of Justice Inspector General Glenn Fine to investigate the demotion of Black. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington stated that it sent copies of the request for an investigation to U.S. senators and congressmen who lead the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.
Such an investigation could have been a major liability for Bush, and might have brought to light a web of other scandals that are now being investigated by the Senate, the FBI, and the Justice Department.
Here is a letter from CREW calling for an investigation of Bush Obstructing Justice for Jack Abramoff:
CREW SENDS LETTER TO DOJ - URGING INVESTIGATION INTO DEMOTION OF PROSECUTOR ON ABRAMOFF GUAM SCANDAL
Washington, DC - Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a non-profit ethics watchdog group, sent a letter today to Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Glenn Fine asking for an investigation into the demotion of former Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, Frederick A. Black. CREW sent copies of the letter to Senators McCain, Specter and Leahy and to Congressmen Sensenbrenner and Conyers.
According to a story in yesterday's Los Angeles Times, Mr. Black had been supervising a grand jury investigation into lobbyist Jack Abramoff's secret arrangement with Guam Superior Court officials to lobby against a court revision bill then pending in the U.S. Congress. In 2002, Mr. Abramoff was retained by the Superior Court and paid with a series of $9,000 checks apparently funneled through a Laguna Beach lawyer to conceal the arrangement. These payments were the target of a grand jury subpoena issued November 18, 2002, which required the administrative director of the Guam Superior Court to release records involving the lobbying contracts.
The day after the subpoena was issued, Mr. Black who had launched the prosecution, was demoted despite holding the post of Acting U.S. Attorney for more than a decade. After the issuance of the subpoena and Black's subsequent demotion, the federal grand jury took no further action in the Abramoff investigation.
"The demotion of Acting Attorney General Black looks political and should be investigated," Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW said today. "The fact that Mr. Black's demotion apparently resulted in the termination of a serious public corruption investigation into a friend of the White House, makes the situation all the more egregious. This Administration needs to be held accountable for its actions. An investigation by the Department of Justice Inspector General would be a good first step."
At the time of Mr. Black's demotion, he was directing a long-term investigation into allegations of public corruption in the administration of then Governor of Guam Carl Gutierrez. Mr. Black was responsible for the indictment of some of the governor's top aides and political associates. Supporters of Governor Gutierrez lobbied for Black's demotion and he was replaced by the Bush Administration with Leonardo Rapadas, a cousin of one of the targets of Black's public corruption case. Soon after taking office, Rapadas recused himself from the case.
Earlier this year - over two years after Mr. Black attempted to initiate an investigation - Guam Public Auditor Doris Flores Brooks commenced a separate investigation into Mr. Abramoff's secret lobbying on behalf of the Guam courts. Ms. Brooks' office is reviewing 36 payments of $9,000, totaling $324,000 made to Mr. Abramoff and paid through a middleman, California lawyer Howard Hills.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit, progressive legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. CREW drafted the complaint against Rep. Tom DeLay, filed by former Congressman Chris Bell, for which DeLay was admonished last year.
We need to blast this out to the media, other blogs and our e-mail lists, Kossacks!
What has Inspector General Glen Fine discovered so far? Is the President above the law? What about the $314,000 the RNC 2000 recount committee still owes Abramoff's firm, making that $314,000 in effect a HUGE campaign contribution?
Quid meet Pro and Quo! DoJ Inspector General Glen Fine is apparently looking into the Shutdown of the Abramoff Guam Investigation, presumably for Obstruction of Justice violations, like the Nixon firing of Archibald Cox.
Where is the media on this? Where are WE??
Let's dig up everything we can on Guam and what Abramoff was doing there and why it was so important for Bush to demote a sitting US Attorney.
Update [2005-12-4 7:48:6 by Sherlock Google]: Here are the Obstruction Statutes:
OBSTRUCTING JUSTICE STATUTES
TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 73 > § 1510
§ 1510. Obstruction of criminal investigations
(a) Whoever willfully endeavors by means of bribery to obstruct, delay, or prevent the communication of information relating to a violation of any criminal statute of the United States by any person to a criminal investigator shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
Title 18 U.S.C. § 2. Principals. (a) Whoever commits an offense against the United States or aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures its commission, is punishable as a principal. (b) Whoever willfully causes an act to be done which if directly performed by him or another would be an offense against the United States, is punishable as a principal.
Note: The legislative intent to punish as a principal not only one who directly commits an offense and one who "aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures" another to commit an offense, but also anyone who causes the doing of an act which if done by him directly would render him guilty of an offense against the United States. Case law decisions: Rothenburg v. United States, 1918, 38 S.Ct. 18, 245 U.S. 480, 62 L.Ed. 414, and United States v. Giles, 1937, 57 S.Ct. 340, 300 U.S. 41, 81 L.Ed. 493.
Title 18 U.S.C. § 3. Accessory after the fact. Whoever, knowing that an offense against the United States had been committed, receives, relieves, comforts or assists the offender in order to hinder or prevent his apprehension, trial or punishment, is an accessory after the fact.
Title 18 U.S.C. § 4 (misprision of felony). Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States, shall be fined not more than $500 or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
Update [2005-12-4 12:4:11 by Sherlock Google]: Conyers himself has replied to me, saying there is no word yet and that he agrees this is now a very important case. He asked us to keep up our vigilance! Let's not let him down Kossaks!
Also, Viget suggested in Rational Being's Diary on Black's Replacement that Sue Ralston might have been involved in letting Abramoff remove Black with Rove's help and having Bush name Rapada, who would never prosecute Abramoff (Ralston was Abramoff's secretary who became Rove's personal assistant and she is Filipino and familiar with all of Abramoff's dealings with the Saipan sweatshops). Go read A Rational Being's diary now...