Tuesday, March 31, 2020

No. 362: Whitmer and Trump

A reader shared with me an item by Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press. I am interrupting the suspension of my blog to share the item with you here.


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

No. 361: Greg Lindberg—Trial, Conviction, and an Important Court Order

Blogger's Note
After posting this item, I am suspending work on this blog. I do not know how long the suspension will continue.

North Carolina resident Greg E. Lindberg is the founder and chairman of Eli Global, LLC, an investment company; and the owner of Global Bankers Insurance Group, a managing company for numerous insurance and reinsurance companies. In March 2019, a federal grand jury charged Lindberg and three other individuals with criminal wrongdoing. The other defendants are John D. Gray, a Lindberg consultant; John V. Palermo Jr., a vice president of Eli Global; and Robert Cannon Hayes, chairman of the state Republican party in North Carolina. The indictment charged the defendants with one count of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud; and one count of bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, and aiding and abetting. Hayes was also charged with three counts of false statements. I first wrote about the case in No. 309 (April 17, 2019). (See U.S.A. v. Lindberg, U.S. District Court, Western District of North Carolina, Case No. 5-19-cr-22.)

My Previous Updates
In No. 320 (July 1, 2019), I reported that four Lindberg companies had been placed in rehabilitation by the North Carolina Department of Insurance. I also provided a brief update on the criminal case.

In No. 338 (October 24, 2019), I provided another update. I reported that Lindberg had filed a motion to dismiss the indictment. I also reported that Hayes pleaded guilty to one count of false statements. He is to be sentenced later.

In No. 355 (February 13, 2020), I provided another update. I reported that Gray and Palermo had filed motions to dismiss the indictment. I also reported that, on January 31, U.S. District Court Judge Max O. Cogburn Jr. issued an order denying the Lindberg, Gray, and Palermo motions to dismiss the indictment.

The Trial
The jury trial began February 18 and ended after eleven trial days. On March 5, the jury found Lindberg and Gray guilty on counts 1 and 2, and found Palermo not guilty on counts 1 and 2. The jury verdict form is in the complimentary package offered at the end of this post. Reportedly Lindberg and Gray will appeal. Post-trial motions are due April 2.

The Court Order
On March 18, Judge Cogburn issued an important court order directed at Lindberg, Gray, and others. I decided to report on the order without waiting for the post-trial motions, Judge Cogburn's rulings on them, and the likely notice of appeal. The order, without citations, reads:
This matter comes before the Court on its own motion. On March 5, 2020, a jury returned a verdict in this case, finding that Defendants Greg Lindberg and John Gray were guilty of Conspiring to Commit Honest Services Wire Fraud, and Aiding and Abetting in Federal Funds Bribery. Shortly thereafter, this Court learned that an individual affiliated with Defendants was reaching out to the jurors in this matter. When a juror declined to speak with that individual, they were allegedly told, "don't you know these men could get life?" Neither offense includes a possible punishment of life imprisonment.
The Court reported this behavior to the United States Attorney's Office to commence a criminal investigation for jury harassment and intimidation. The Court also e-mailed the parties and instructed them that jury harassment and intimidation would not be tolerated. In response, on March 17, 2020, the Court received an email from Matt McCusker, a Senior Consultant and President with Convince LLC. In an attachment, McCusker informed the Court that he was a "Litigation Consultant who was retained by the defense in US v. Lindberg, Gray and Palermo." McCusker stated that, after the verdict, "[he] began reaching out to jurors to see if they would be willing to discuss the case with [him]." He assured the Court that, if jurors declined to speak, he "thanked them for their time and told them that they would not be hearing from [him] again." Finally, he underscored, "[t]o be crystal clear, there was no harassment, intimidation, or bullying" because "[t]hat type of behavior is unethical."
The Court reviewed the website of Convince LLC. When describing its post-trial juror interview services, Convince LLC maintains it can "benefit" litigants by "find[ing] out if a juror Googled during deliberations," which will "arm [the parties] for an appeal" and "[p]repare for the next iteration of [the] trial." The Court will not tolerate attempts to taint the jury's verdict by applying undue pressure on jury members. To maintain the integrity of the jury and criminal justice process, the Court now enters the following Order.
IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED that Defendants Lindberg and Gray, as well as their attorneys and agents, including Matt McCusker, SHALL NOT contact the jurors during the ongoing investigation that is being conducted by the United States Attorney's Office and until further order of this Court.
The full order, including the citations and the McCusker attachments, is in the complimentary package offered at the end of this post. Readers may also visit McCusker's website at convincellc.com.

General Observations
I have long been aware of litigation consultants who work with attorneys in selecting jurors and structuring presentations to appeal to jurors. However, I had not heard of litigation consultants who help in the appellate process through post-trial juror interviews (PTJIs). I recently learned that PTJIs have been discussed in legal circles for many years. The complimentary package offered at the end of this post includes a 1968 law review article on the subject.

The above court order suggests Judge Cogburn is not happy with PTJIs. It will be interesting to see the results of the criminal investigation he initiated and the extent to which it may delay post-trial proceedings.

Available Material
I am offering a complimentary 31-page package consisting of the jury verdict form (2 pages), Judge Cogburn's order including attachments (6 pages), and the 1968 law review article about PTJIs (23 pages). Email jmbelth@gmail.com and ask for the March 2020 package about Lindberg.


Wednesday, March 18, 2020

No. 360: Dan Rather on the Current Crisis

It seems appropriate to step back this week from our usual insurance posts and consider the current crisis facing our country and the world. Dan Rather, now aged 88, served a long career with CBS News. He covered such events as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Vietnam War, Watergate, the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon, and the Challenger disaster. Over the years he became a prominent journalist. In his retirement, he continues to express his views. On March 14, 2020, he posted these thoughts about the current crisis.
We will not be the same country when this is over. We can't be. We shouldn't be. Right now, the focus is, as it must be, on the immediate crisis at hand. It looms over us with a darkness that stretches forth without a horizon in sight.
These will be sad and scary times. People will suffer, and many will die. It will reach into everyone's life. For some, the loss will be marked in the passing of friends and loved ones, close and personal. Others might escape such an immediate toll, but the economic pain will be widespread. Here too, it will be uneven, inflicting the greatest cost on the poorest, most vulnerable, and most desperate. It will also strike some industries much deeper than others.
I can't help but reflect on other moments of hardship, anxiety and suffering. I was born into the Great Depression, and the images of abject poverty among my neighbors, the hopelessness of job searches, the ache of empty bellies, are etched in my consciousness. So too are memories of the war that soon followed. The very real sense that the world might end with a triumph of evil. The fathers who went off to battle and never returned. The dawning of the atomic era that ended the conflict. In the course of my work I have seen many other moments like these, where fear and tragedy raged, although most were more localized.
What I have also seen is that from crisis can emerge opportunity. We humans tend not to be good at anticipating problems. We seem to think good times will continue, even as we make decisions that leave ourselves vulnerable. But we are good at fixing things. We are capable of great energy, ingenuity, and that most important quality, empathy.
This nation, and the larger world, long have been broken in ways that have too often gone unaddressed. This is a wake-up call to our economic and healthcare insecurity. It is a reminder of why we must work with other nations to fix global problems. It is evidence that competency and truth-telling in government are paramount for the security of the United States. It is a rallying cry to strengthen the common bonds of our humanity.
We are being tested. In part, it is because we have let ourselves get to this point. That is where we are. We cannot change the past. But we can work our might on the present, and then resolve to fix our weaknesses going forward.
It is easy to blame leadership. They deserve the blame they are getting. But the rot that led to this moment is more systemic. When we emerge from this crisis, and we surely will, we must follow a path of renewal and improvement of how we structure our society, its economy, its health, its social obligations, and its politics. We are seeing the cost of failure. We have no choice but to forge ahead. And forging into a better, more just future, has been the American way. I, for one, continue to believe with all my heart, it will be that way yet again.

Friday, March 13, 2020

No. 359: Pittsenbargar, Shapiro, and a $1.3 Billion Ponzi Scheme

On February 20, 2020, the Texas State Securities Board (TSSB) issued a press release entitled "Austin Insurance Agent Indicted for Alleged $9 Million Fraud on Elderly." The agent was Brett Pittsenbargar. When I explored the matter, I learned about the involvement of California resident Robert H. Shapiro, a massive Ponzi scheme, the involvement of the U.S. Department of Justice, and the involvement of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Here I discuss the case.

The Texas Indictment of Pittsenbargar
On February 4, 2020, a grand jury in Travis County (Austin) indicted Pittsenbargar for alleged violations of Texas securities laws. He was arrested on February 19, and was booked into the Travis County jail.

Pittsenbargar was not licensed to offer or sell securities. The indictment alleges he sold or offered securities, and did so without disclosing important information. The indictment, which lists many victims by name and shows dates and amounts, is in the complimentary package offered at the end of this post.

On March 3, 2020, in the morning, I visited the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) website to learn about Pittsenbargar's agent license. The license type was "life agent individual," the license number was 1530748, the original issue date was October 14, 2008, the "status" was "active," the effective date was October 14, 2008, and the expiration date was January 31, 2021. He had "active" appointments with ten life insurance companies: American National Insurance Company, Americo Financial Life and Annuity Insurance Company, Fidelity Security Life Insurance Company, Genworth Life Insurance Company, Government Personnel Mutual Life Insurance Company, Guggenheim Life and Annuity Company, Life Insurance Company of the Southwest, North American Company for Life and Health Insurance, PHL Variable Insurance Company, and Sentinel Security Life Insurance Company.

On March 5, I checked the TDI website again. The "status" of Pittsenbargar's license was "inactive." The "effective date" was March 3, 2020. The "status" of his appointment with each of the ten companies was "inactive." The "termination date" was March 3, 2020.

On March 6, I filed with TDI a public records request. I asked for a copy of the letter to Pittsenbargar notifying him that his agent's license had been revoked, and a sample copy of the letter sent to each of the companies notifying them that his appointments with them had been terminated.

On March 11, TDI sent me three one-page documents. The first, dated March 3, is a "Voluntary Surrender of Insurance Licenses" signed by Pittsenbargar. The second, dated March 9, is a letter from a TDI investigator informing Pittsenbargar he is prohibited from performing the acts of an insurance agent. The third, dated March 11, is a "Texas Appointment Action Notice" informing American National Insurance Company of six new appointments and ten terminated appointments, including the March 3 termination of Pittsenbargar's appointment. The three documents are in the complimentary package offered at the end of this post. (See State of Texas v. Pittsenbargar, 147th Judicial District Court, Travis County, Texas, No. DPS 2699012.)

The Florida Indictment of Shapiro
Shapiro, a resident of Sherman Oaks, California, was owner, president, and chief executive officer of various Woodbridge companies. On April 5, 2019, a federal grand jury in Florida indicted Shapiro and two other individuals. The indictment included ten counts: one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, five counts of mail fraud, two counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and one count of evasion of payment of federal income taxes. The indictment also sought restitution relating to a massive Ponzi scheme. Here is how the indictment described such a scheme:
19. A "Ponzi" or "Ponzi scheme" is an investment fraud scheme that involves the payment of claimed returns to existing investors from funds contributed by new investors. Ponzi scheme organizers often solicit new investors by promising to invest funds in opportunities claimed to generate high returns with little or no risk. In many Ponzi schemes, the participants focus on attracting new money to make promised payments to earlier-stage investors to create the false appearance that investors are profiting from a legitimate business. Ponzi schemes require a consistent flow of money from new investors to continue and tend to collapse when it becomes difficult to recruit new investors or when a large number of investors ask for their money back.
On August 7, 2019, Shapiro pled guilty to the first and tenth counts of the indictment. On October 16, the judge sentenced Shapiro to imprisonment for 300 months, consisting of 240 months as to the first count, and 60 months as to the tenth count, to run consecutively, followed by supervised release for three years as to each of the first and tenth counts, with the terms to run concurrently. The other eight counts were dismissed. The indictment is in the complimentary package offered at the end of this post.

On August 8, the U.S. Attorney in South Florida issued a press release entitled "Mastermind of $1.3 Billion Investment Fraud (Ponzi) Scheme—One of the Largest Ever—Sentenced to Twenty-Five Years in Prison on Conspiracy and Tax Evasion Charges." The press release is in the complimentary package offered at the end of this post.

On November 4, the judge added restitution of about $479 million. With regard to the two other defendants, proceedings are ongoing. (See U.S.A. v. Shapiro, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, Case No. 1:19-cr-20178.)

The SEC Complaint Against Pittsenbargar
On November 25, 2019, the SEC filed a civil complaint against Pittsenbargar and a firm he owned. Here are three paragraphs of the complaint:
4. The Woodbridge Group of Companies LLC and its affiliates ("Woodbridge") was headquartered and ran its operations in the Central District of California, specifically Sherman Oaks, California. The defendants transacted business in the Central District of California while participating in the offer and sale of Woodbridge's securities over the course of more than 4 years. Among other things, the Defendants regularly communicated via telephone, email, text message and mail with Woodbridge employees who were located in Sherman Oaks, California. Additionally, Pittsenbargar met with Woodbridge executives in the District and from September until December 2017, Pittsenbargar was an employee of Woodbridge.
10. Unbeknownst to the Defendants' clients, many of whom were elderly and had invested their retirement savings as a result of the Defendants' marketing techniques, Woodbridge was actually operating a massive Ponzi scheme, raising more than $1.2 billion before collapsing in December 2017 and filing a petition for bankruptcy. Once Woodbridge filed for bankruptcy, investors stopped receiving their monthly interest payments, and have not received a return of their investment principal.
15. Robert H. Shapiro ("Shapiro") was a resident of Sherman Oaks, California at all material times. He was Woodbridge's owner, President and CEO and, until the company's bankruptcy filing, maintained sole operational control over the company. In August 2019 Shapiro pled guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in connection with the Woodbridge Ponzi scheme, as well as tax evasion, and was subsequently sentenced to 25 years imprisonment. He is currently in federal custody. Shapiro is not, and has never been, registered with the Commission, FINRA, or any state securities regulator.
The complaint alleges two counts of violations of federal securities laws. The SEC requests, among other things, a finding that the defendants violated federal securities laws, a permanent injunction, disgorgement of all ill-gotten gains with prejudgment interest, and civil penalties.

The complaint is in the complimentary package offered at the end of this post. (See SEC v. Pittsenbargar, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, Case No. 2:19-cv-10059.)

General Observations
Pittsenbargar, an agent with a valid Texas license to sell life insurance, started selling securities without a securities license. He also became involved with a national firm headed by Shapiro, an individual in California, who also was not licensed to sell securities, and who in addition was operating a massive Ponzi scheme. What will happen to Pittsenbargar in the Texas criminal case remains to be seen. It is a sad story.

Available Material
I am offering a complimentary 59-page package consisting of the Texas indictment against Pittsenbargar (7 pages), the documents received from TDI relating to Pittsenbargar (3 pages), the federal indictment against Shapiro (29 pages), the press release issued by the U.S. Attorney in Florida (3 pages), and the SEC civil complaint against Pittsenbargar (17 pages). Send an email to jmbelth@gmail.com and ask for the March 2020 package about Pittsenbargar and Shapiro.


Monday, March 2, 2020

No. 358: William Barr—Top Enabler of the Donald Trump Autocracy—Must Resign

The Statement by Former DOJ Employees
On February 16, 2020, former employees of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a "DOJ Alumni Statement on the Events Surrounding the Sentencing of Roger Stone." February 26 was the deadline for DOJ alumni to sign on to the statement, and 2,688 have done so. Here are the first, fifth, and seventh paragraphs of the statement:
We, the undersigned, are alumni of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) who have collectively served both Republican and Democratic administrations. Each of us strongly condemns President Trump's and Attorney General Barr's interference in the fair administration of justice.
Such behavior is a grave threat to the fair administration of justice. In this nation, we are all equal before the law. A person should not be given special treatment in a criminal prosecution because they are a close political ally of the President. Governments that use the enormous power of law enforcement to punish their enemies and reward their allies are not constitutional republics; they are autocracies.
For these reasons, we support and commend the four career prosecutors who upheld their oaths and stood up for the Department's independence by withdrawing from the Stone case and/or resigning from the Department. Our simple message to them is that we—and millions of other Americans—stand with them. And we call on every DOJ employee to follow their heroic example and be prepared to report future abuses to the Inspector General, the Office of Professional Responsibility, and Congress; to refuse to carry out directives that are inconsistent with their oaths of office; to withdraw from cases that involve such directives or other misconduct; and, if necessary—to resign and report publicly—in a manner consistent with professional ethics—to the American people the reasons for their resignation. We likewise call on the other branches of government to protect from retaliation those employees who uphold their oaths in the face of unlawful directives. The rule of law and the survival of our Republic demand nothing less.
The June 2018 Memorandum by William Barr
In No. 326 (August 12, 2019), I wrote about Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, Donald J. Trump, and William P. Barr, among others. I said that on June 8, 2018, Barr—then a private citizen—sent a 19-page, single-spaced, unsolicited memorandum to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Assistant Attorney General Steve Engel. (Many observers at the time and later viewed the Barr memorandum as a job application.) In that post, I quoted the following three paragraphs from the beginning of the memorandum (the full memorandum is in the complimentary package offered in No. 326):
I am writing as a former official deeply concerned with the institutions of the Presidency and the Department of Justice. I realize that I am in the dark about many facts, but I hope my views may be useful.
It appears Mueller's team is investigating a possible case of "obstruction" by the President predicated substantially on his expression of hope that the [sic] Comey could eventually "let ... go" of its [the FBI's?] investigation of Flynn and his action in firing Comey. In pursuit of this obstruction theory, it appears that Mueller's team is demanding that the President submit to interrogation about these incidents, using the threat of subpoenas to coerce his submission.
Mueller should not be permitted to demand that the President submit to interrogation about alleged obstruction. Apart from whether Mueller [has?] a strong enough factual basis for doing so, Mueller's obstruction theory is fatally misconceived. As I understand it, his theory is premised on a novel and legally insupportable reading of the law. Moreover, in my view, if credited by the [Justice?] Department, it would have grave consequences far beyond the immediate confines of this case and would do lasting damage to the Presidency and to the administration of law within the Executive branch.
Six months later, on December 7, 2018, Trump nominated Barr to succeed Jefferson B. Sessions III as U.S. Attorney General. On February 14, 2019, the Senate confirmed Barr (on a largely party line vote of 54 to 45), thus placing Barr in charge of the investigation he had criticized.

Since then I have been deeply disturbed by numerous actions taken by Barr, not the least of which were his handling of the Mueller report and his role in the Ukraine scandal that led to Trump's impeachment in the Democratic-controlled House and acquittal in the Republican-controlled Senate. What prompted this post, however, was Barr's role in the federal criminal case of Roger J. Stone Jr., a long-time Trump (and Nixon) friend, supporter, and campaign operative.

The Criminal Case Against Roger Stone
The criminal case against Roger Stone grew out of the Mueller investigation. On January 24, 2019, a federal grand jury indicted Stone on seven criminal counts: one count of obstruction of proceeding, five counts of false statements, and one count of witness tampering.

The case was assigned to U.S.District Judge Amy Berman Jackson. She is a graduate of Harvard College and the Harvard Law School. President Obama nominated her in June 2010. Her nomination lapsed at the end of 2010. Obama renominated her in January 2011, and the Senate confirmed her in March 2011.

On January 29, 2019, Stone pleaded not guilty on all counts and was released on personal recognizance. On November 6, the jury trial began before Judge Jackson. On November 14, the trial ended. On November 15, the jury found Stone guilty on all seven counts.

The DOJ Sentencing Memorandum
On February 10, 2020, the DOJ filed a 26-page sentencing memorandum, which is in the complimentary package offered at the end of this post. The memorandum was submitted by Jonathan Kravis and Michael J. Marando, Assistant U.S. Attorneys; and by Adam C. Jed and Aaron S. Zelinsky, Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys. The section entitled "Guidelines Calculation" is on pages 16-18. The first and last sentences of that section, and the three-sentence "Conclusion" on page 26, read:
The government submits that Stone's total offense level is 29 and his Criminal History Category is I, yielding a Guidelines Range of 87-108 months.
Accordingly, Stone's total offense level is 29 (14 + 8 + 3 + 2 + 2), and his Criminal History Category is I. His Guidelines Range is therefore 87-108 months.
Roger Stone obstructed Congress's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, lied under oath, and tampered with a witness. And when his crimes were revealed by the indictment in this case, he displayed contempt for this Court and the rule of law. For that, he should be punished in accord with the advisory Guidelines.
The Roger Stone Sentencing Memorandum
On the same day, February 10, attorneys representing Stone filed a 35-page sentencing memorandum and a 39-page appendix consisting of letters to Judge Jackson urging leniency in the sentencing of Stone. The one-sentence conclusion of the memorandum reads:
For the foregoing reasons, it is respectfully submitted that the Court should impose a non-Guidelines sentence of probation with any conditions that the Court deems reasonable under the circumstances.
The DOJ Supplemental Sentencing Memorandum
On the next day, February 11, the DOJ filed a five-page supplemental and amended sentencing memorandum. The events surrounding this memorandum precipitated the DOJ alumni statement, because when Trump expressed his displeasure with the original DOJ sentencing memorandum, Barr instructed DOJ staff to file the supplemental and amended memorandum which overruled the original memorandum the career prosecutors had filed the day before. Barr later claimed, in a televised statement, that his decision was not influenced by Trump's displeasure, and that the supplemental memorandum was appropriate. However, many people, including 2,688 DOJ alumni, thought that Barr was aiding Trump in using the DOJ to reward Roger Stone. The supplemental and amended memorandum was submitted by John Crabb Jr., Assistant U.S. Attorney and Acting Chief of the Criminal Division. It is in the complimentary package offered at the end of this post. The concluding paragraph reads:
The defendant committed serious offenses and deserves a sentence of incarceration that is "sufficient but not greater than necessary" to satisfy the factors set forth in Section 353(a). Based on the facts known to the government, a sentence of between 87 to 108 months' imprisonment, however, could be considered excessive and unwarranted under the circumstances. Ultimately, the government defers to the Court as to what specific sentence is appropriate under the facts and circumstances of this case.
On the same day, February 11, Kravis, Marando, Jed, and Zelinsky withdrew from the case. According to a 2,328-word front-page article in The New York Times on February 12 by reporters Katie Benner, Sharon LaFraniere, and Adam Goldman, Kravis resigned from the DOJ, but Marando, Jed, and Zelinsky remained with the DOJ. (See U.S.A. v. Stone, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, Case No. 1:19-cr-18.)

The Roger Stone Motion for a New Trial
On February 18, attorneys representing Stone filed a motion for a new trial. The motion is pending.

The Sentencing of Roger Stone
On February 20, Judge Jackson sentenced Stone to 40 months in prison. A 1,671-word front-page article in The New York Times on February 21 by reporter Sharon LaFraniere describes in detail what happened at the hearing. Judge Jackson did not order Stone to begin his prison term immediately, because she had not yet ruled on his motion for a new trial.

The Roger Stone Motion to Disqualify Judge Jackson
On February 21, attorneys representing Stone filed a motion to disqualify Judge Jackson. The motion is related to Stone's pending motion for a new trial. The motion to disqualify is based on the alleged bias of the jury forewoman and certain comments the judge made during the sentencing hearing, such as: "The jurors who served with integrity under difficult circumstances cared." Stone alleges that such comments "raise grave doubts about the judge's objectivity." The motion to disqualify is in the complimentary package offered at the end of this post.

On February 23, Judge Jackson issued an order denying the motion to disqualify. The order ends as follows (the full order is in the complimentary package offered at the end of this post):
At bottom, given the absence of any factual or legal support for the motion for disqualification, the pleading appears to be nothing more than an attempt to use the Court docket to disseminate a statement for public consumption that has the words "judge" and "biased" in it. For these reasons, defendant's motion is hereby DENIED. SO ORDERED.
The Hearing on the Roger Stone Motion for a New Trial
On the morning of February 24, Judge Jackson held a closed hearing on Stone's motion for a new trial. Reporters were not allowed to attend, but were able to listen to the proceedings through a closed-circuit audio feed to a media room. That afternoon, reporters Darren Samuelsohn and Josh Gerstein of Politico posted a lengthy article about the hearing. At the end of the hearing, the judge did not immediately rule on Stone's motion for a new trial.

The Neil Steinberg Commentary
As I was wrapping up this post, I saw something that readers might find interesting. I refer to a February 2 commentary by Neil Steinberg of the Chicago Sun-Times entitled "Crumbling US Senate echoes Roman collapse." Steinberg cites The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, the towering six-volume master work by English historian Edward Gibbon published more than two centuries ago.

General Observations
Should Judge Jackson deny Stone's motion for a new trial, it seems likely that she will order Stone to report to prison, and that Stone's attorneys will file an appeal. The question is whether Trump will pardon Stone and/or commute the 40-month sentence.

Following Trump's Senate acquittal on impeachment charges, he has taken numerous actions—many of them with Barr's support—favoring his friends and attacking those he perceives as his enemies. Those actions have created a fire storm. They make clear that our great republic has become an autocracy. I agree with the DOJ alumni that Barr must resign.

Available Material
I offered a complimentary package in the above mentioned No. 326. That package, which contains the full June 2018 Barr memorandum, remains available.

Now I offer a complimentary 42-page package consisting of the DOJ's original sentencing memorandum (26 pages), the DOJ's supplemental and amended sentencing memorandum (5 pages), Stone's motion to disqualify the judge (5 pages), and the judge's order denying the motion to disqualify (6 pages). Email jmbelth@gmail.com and ask for the March 2020 package about Barr.