As recently noted here, Judicial Watch and its president, Tom Fitton, deserve high praise for relentlessly seeking answers in cases that otherwise might be swept under the rug, such as Hillary Clinton’s email and the State Department’s cover-up regarding the attack on the consulate in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including our ambassador. (No, Hillary, and, no, Susan Rice, it was NOT inspired by an anti-Muslim YouTube video.) Of side interest is the fact that the Benghazi case and the Hillary email case are actually related, as it was the push by Judicial Watch to look into Benghazi that turned up Hillary’s private email server. If they hadn’t pressed for answers about Benghazi, we might never have known about Hillary’s brazen mishandling of classified material.
Judicial Watch is at it again, and I have to admit it’s fun to clap from the sidelines. They’ve filed a bar complaint against the attorneys for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. You’ll recall that Dr. Ford said under oath that she had not been informed that the committee had offered to fly to California and depose her there so she wouldn’t have to fly to Washington, DC. Attorneys Debra Katz, Lisa Banks and Michael Bromwich deny that and say Dr. Ford was fully informed. So, who was telling the truth?
Judicial Watch wrote a letter to the Board’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel that quotes Dr. Ford’s testimony: “I was hoping that they would come to me, but then I realized that was an unrealistic request.” She said, “I wasn’t clear on what the offer was. If you were going to come out to see me, I would have happily hosted you and had you – had been happy to speak with you out there. I just did not – it wasn’t clear to me that that was the case.”
As legal expert Jonathan Turley has explained, the lawyers’ role in this mix-up violates the rules that require attorneys to keep clients reasonably in the loop so they can make informed decisions.
Katz, Banks and Bromwich wrote that the complaint from Judicial Watch “is a shameful effort to politicize the bar disciplinary process.” They insisted that they fully informed Dr. Ford of all her options and that she made her decisions based on the information provided to her. They said they were never told that Sen. Chuck Grassley would have personally flown to California to meet with Dr. Ford, and that that was how she understood the question at the hearing.
But that's curious, because the question said nothing about Sen. Grassley himself flying to California. The question was about “the committee.” And Grassley had said he would send “female staffers” to question her and obtain her testimony. His letter to her attorneys couldn’t have been more clear --- they were told she could have the interview “at a time and place convenient for her.”
Even so, Dr. Ford’s lawyers will stick to their story, because it would be impossible to challenge the way Dr. Ford “understood the question at the hearing.” Still, Judicial Watch has established that Dr. Ford’s lawyers are saying they told her of the offer.
So, why would she have flown to Washington to testify in an open hearing, on TV and everything, when the committee could have put her under oath in her living room? Grassley’s letter to Dr. Ford’s attorneys gave her the option of appearing publicly or in private, with the option of having a public or private staff interview. If Dr. Ford was telling the truth about not knowing they would have flown out there, did her attorneys deliberately misinform her to create the Kavanaugh circus? Was she manipulated for political purposes by her own “team”? Indeed, as the complaint notes, the day after Dr. Ford’s identify became public, Katz went on several TV shows to ASK “that the (Senate Judiciary) Committee hold a public hearing so that Dr. Ford could offer her testimony.”
Thanks to Judicial Watch for keeping this issue from being forgotten. President Tom Fitton said in a statement that they “are considering additional steps to address the misconduct committed by Justice Kavanaugh’s opponents.”
Fitton has also has plenty to say about the special counsel, who was appointed by deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is finally expected to testify Wednesday. No one has to fly out to see Rosenstein, as he (unbelievably) maintains his job in Washington, and the deposition will be held in a “safe room” there, probably right in his building. I can picture all the attendees trying to fit under a Maxwell Smart-style “Cone Of Silence.”
Along with Rosenstein and, presumably, his legal team, there will be just two Republicans and two Democrats in the room: House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, Judiciary ranking member Jerry Nadler of New York, House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, and Oversight ranking member Elijah Cummings of Maryland. Oh, and a court reporter, as this meeting will be transcribed.
One thing that surprised me was the news from Rep. Goodlatte, as told to Maria Bartiromo on FOX News, that Rosenstein did not set the rules for this questioning, as it had appeared. Goodlatte and Trey Gowdy put the proposal together in a way that they thought would facilitate open discussion.
Goodlatte explained that in a closed room with few people in attendance, they’ll have a virtually unlimited scope in their questioning, and they’ve promised to ask any question submitted by their task force members, such as Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows. Of course, the main focus, at least to start, will be the question of whether or not Rosenstein was talking seriously about wearing a wire and invoking the 25th Amendment to unseat the President, but there’s much more to ask him, especially as it concerns the dossier.
The transcript will be passed through the intelligence community (uh-oh --- I smell a potential problem) to make sure there’s no issue with making it public (bet they'll find one), and then we the public should see it (in theory). There’s probably not much that should be classified in the answers Rosenstein will be asked to give --- unless by “classified” they mean “protecting the FBI.”
Incidentally, during Goodlatte’s appearance, he responded to a tweet from Rep. John Ratcliff sent after the second interview with former FBI general counsel James Baker, which said, “I’m more convinced than ever before that the FBI and the DOJ 1) has not met their obligation to disclose material facts to the FISA court, 2) leaked classified information to the media, 3) violated their own rules with respect to dealing with terminated sources like Christopher Steele, and 4), and most importantly, they had a bunch of Trump-hating agents and lawyers that were telling President Trump he wasn’t under investigation when, in fact, he was.” Goodlatte, as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, made news when he said that “there is a lot of evidence to support Mr. Ratcliff’s statements.”
That brings us back to Tom Fitton, who says he would like to see lawmakers focus more directly on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and the “insipid corruption” behind it. Since Rosenstein is the one who appointed Mueller, you know Fitton would love to be in that room on Wednesday. In the spirit of helpfulness, he might want to send a nice, long list of questions to Chairman Goodlatte.