There are numerous media reports today that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia is recommending to the Department of Justice that Bob McDonnell be re-indicted.
According to the Washington Post, the final decision appears to rest with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who was asked in an interview earlier this week whether she would accept the recommendation of prosecutors who handled the case. In her response, Lynch said the recommendation is “working its way through the process, so I’m not able to give you a comment on that.” I presume from this cryptic statement she is responsible for making the final decision.
The McDonnell case is presently before the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. Prosecutors have until September 19, 2016 to inform the court if they are going to recommend re-indictment or not. When the Supreme Court unanimously vacated Bob McDonnell’s conviction on June 27, 2016, it sent the case back to the 4th Circuit specifically laying out the standard for an “official act” that the Court of Appeals must use in determining whether McDonnell should be tried again, stating,
[I]f the court below determines that there is sufficient evidence for a jury to convict Governor McDonnell of committing or agreeing to commit an ‘official act’ his case may be set for a new trial. If the court instead determines that the evidence is insufficient, the charges against him must be dismissed. We express no view on that question.”
Opinion at p. 28.
In issuing the opinion, the Supreme Court justices specifically cut the legs out from under the DOJ’s previous factual arguments regarding what constitutes an “official act” that would violate the Federal Honest Services Fraud Act and Hobbs Act. The Supreme Court justices appeared to be saying to the DOJ that they don’t want to see these factual allegations being used again. To wit:
Setting up a meeting, hosting an event, or calling an official (or agreeing to do so) merely to talk about a research study or to gather additional information, however, does not qualify as a decision or action on the pending question of whether to initiate the study. Simply expressing support for the research study at a meeting, event, or call—or sending a subordinate to such a meeting, event, or call—similarly does not qualify as a decision or action on the study, as long as the public official does not intend to exert pressure on another official or provide advice, knowing or intending such advice to form the basis for an ‘official act.’ Otherwise, if every action somehow related to the research study were an ‘official act,’ the requirement that the public official make a decision or take an action on that study, or agree to do so, would be meaningless.”
Opinion at p. 20.
In light of the severe restrictions imposed by the Supreme Court, I find it astonishing—and incredibly vindictive—that the U.S. Attorney is recommending re-indictment. They can’t use their previous factual theory as to what constitutes an “official act.” Do they have new allegations? No.
I am hoping that if Lynch gives the green light to re-indict (who knows what she will do), the 4th Circuit will put an end to this travesty and let the McDonnells get on with their lives.
I personally think the McDonnell’s crossed a line. However, what he was put on trial for wasn’t his real crime.
When you look at Kaine and then at Warner that virtually offered a judgeship for an Assembly members daughter if he didn’t retire, you can see Bob’s real crime. It didn’t matter that he has raised taxes. At the end of the day Bob’s crime is being Republican. Republicans trying to curry favor with the Democrats by raising taxes or abridging freedoms should take note. We don’t live under the rule of law. Democrats are allowed to be dirty. See Clinton. The arbitrary hammer of a no longer blind justice will be used against you.
Rule of law, blind justice, and no ID to protect the concept of “one man – one vote”…… Just how many concepts that made America free are you willing to surrender?
Mr. Webster I am beginning to be of the opinion that this case has left the realm of the determination of justice for ex-governor McDonnell and his former wife and has entered the clash of political entities over the definition and potential usage of the concept of what is an “official act.” There is no political juice left to squeeze from the events for the Democrats so why the reluctance to just move on after the Supreme Court ruling?
Why are they so maniacally focused to proceed with this particular case and this specific legal context? Did the court’s ruling set final legal precedent for definition of what is an official act? Could the DOJ believe this “official acts” type of prosecution might well come up again in the near future with a far higher profile individual for potential prosecution and they want to predispose the ground as much as possible to some specific favorable precedent? I don’t understand the logic of any of this and I don’t believe agency head Lynch acts vicariously.
It could be as simple as the prosecutors are upset at losing after spending so much time and effort on the case and can’t let go. Let’s see what Lynch does. I don’t hold a very high opinion of her so I am not convinced she will do the right thing.
Governor McDonnell obviously isn’t entitled to “elite immunity.” That is only granted to the elite, like the Dem nominee for President.
It’s an election year, it worked to knock down Kooky Cuccinelli, it can’t hurt to try it again here.
Team Hillary is freaked and they will do everything possible to win. NGH!
It’s amazing how Republicans in VIrginia will defend McDonnell to the death. From what I know about this guy, he was a rising star in the party. But he crossed the ethical line when he accepted all those gifts from that donor/rich guy. There’s only one thing worse than a crooked Democrat…and that’s a crooked Republican. I have no tolerance for crooked politicians. I say hang’em and hang’em high. He can be sorry all day long and I accept that….he needs to do his time and move on.
The Supreme Court disagreed with you in a unanimous 8-0 vote which is almost unheard of these days.
And, SCOTUS left the door open for re-indictment. Why?
For procedural reasons they had to. They can only vacate a criminal conviction if the gravamen of the appeal is that improper jury instructions were given.
So, Judge Spencer was vindicated by SCOTUS regarding jury instructions?
Why did SCOTUS bother to even say “we express no view to that question” regarding a new trial.
Spencer wasn’t vindicated. Read the opinion.
Yeah well, this family will vote 5-0 against ANY future McDonnell political run. The supreme court has their view, we have ours.
That was the purpose of this highly politicized prosecution in the first place–win or lose, they would succeed in derailing McDonnell’s political career. It’s a very, very dangerous precedent to set by criminalizing political differences.
So after accepting 170 grand, driving around in someone else’s dream Ferrari, and all expense paid shopping in the Big Apple, what would have been next if things hadn’t been exposed?
Republicans jump for joy with every Clinton email release. “Criminal! ” they scream. “Traitor to the nation!”, Not one second in a court room yet. But good ole Bob? Nah, he’s one of us. The other side is just criminalizing political differences, you know.
But the fact is, we don’t know. What we do know is that there are 8 million people in Virginia, and there are bound to be at least ten running for any office that would be better than Bob in integrity.
McDonnell’s ‘dangerous precedent’ began when he took that first step, regardless of where the walk ended up. 5-0 Against, and I’m certain there are plenty of other Virginia families that feel the same as we do.
Mazurka, please reference the Va law that was broken. I’m patient. Take your time..
I don’t care about Bob McDonnell’s political career. I care about the rule of law. What you’re demanding is for a man to be criminally prosecuted for a non-existent crime. Listen to yourself! Step back and listen to what you’re actually saying. It’s actually kind of insane and a lot sad.
You know, I just went back and re-read this entire chain. Where did I say I demanded Bob be prosecuted? I said there were better people than Bob who I will vote for and who hasn’t taken any money.
Bob ran for office as a God and Country politician. He left both God and Country on the doorstep for a lousy ride in a Ferrari.
Charges dropped. And yes, you insinuated that he should be charged when you couldn’t simply agree that the prosecution was political and not based in actual law.
Mr. Webster, my comment had nothing to do with the rule of law. It was centered on what is right and what is wrong. Bob McDonnell is exactly what is wrong with politics today. Who knows what other indescetions he may have perpetrated that they didn’t uncover. Government officials have a lot of influence on our day to day lives and that’s why there are so many rules that govern ethics. When you betray the trust and confidence as the former governor did, often there are other law abiding individuals or businesses who suffer. But those people aren’t often though of.
Your comment has EVERYTHING to do with the rule of law. You literally said that McDonnell should “do his time” (presumably in prison). That has everything to do with the rule of law. If a man violates the public’s trust then the public doesn’t re-elect him–that’s the consequence. If a man violates the LAW then he does time in jail. If you cheat on your wife then you get divorced–you don’t get prosecuted. If you lie to your kids you lose your children’s trust–you don’t get sent to prison. If you drink excessively you hurt your liver and may lose friendships and job opportunities–you don’t get prosecuted for alcoholism.
See the distinction??? You have to break the law to get prosecuted and convicted of a crime.
Geez Louise…some people will just latch on to a comment and run. Now I’m being told what I meant. I understand that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of McDonnell and he is probably not ever going to do time. I understand that there are bad behaviors that do not have legal consequences. I also know that McDonell did whatever he needed to do to save his skin and not do prison time. I was simply saying he should have done his time and been a man. He got off just like OJ. And I don’t mean legally!
Your comment is truly insane. You’re saying that McDonnell should have agreed to go to prison, despite knowing that he didn’t actually violate the law? And that would have made him a real “man”? That’s literally the most immoral and idiotic comment I’ve read in 2016, and I’ve read a lot of truly crazy things this year. People like you are the reason we have multiple layers of appeals–because there are people, like you, who think they have the moral insight to arbitrarily declare one man guilty or innocent based on personal biases.
Yours is a truly unbelievable comment.
There you go again…telling me what I am thinking. Maybe I am not articulating my thoughts well enough for you. I can say reading your comments that you are not a very nice person. I’ll just say uncle and you can move on to your next victim. I hope that whatever is tormenting you in life goes away. Take care.
How can you claim you aren’t articulating your thoughts properly? You literally stated that McDonnell should agree to go to jail despite not having committed a crime. That’s what you literally said. As far as me not being a nice person, you also said that McDonnell should be “hanged.” And you also compared what McDonnell did to O.J. Simpson’s brutal murder of two innocent people. You clearly have some bizarre standards for what “nice” is.
And Kaine took even more gifts than McDonnell and yet he’s funning for Veep!
Thanks for saying it ! So true if they are going to re-indite McDonnell they need to indite Kaine, in fact they can add Hillary because it seems an appearance of impropriety it sufficient to indict and convict!
I’m a Virginia Republican and I have no affinity for McDonnell as I believe his type is the core of what’s wrong with politics in America. With that said, I have great affinity for the rule of law, which means just because I personally disagree with a behavior doesn’t mean I think a man should go to jail. The rule of law is (or should be) supreme in the United States–no honest broker could possibly say that McDonnell broke the law as written (and the Supreme Court unanimously agreed that the prosecution’s arguments were legally preposterous). Now, I believe the law should change, but we don’t imprison people for how we believe the law ought to be written. That’s not justice–that’s complete injustice.
So let’s change the law and move on from here. Let’s stop this bizarre witch hunt against a person who is obviously not guilty of violating the law.
Bill, I just love RINO twits who are so high-minded when one of ours steps off the path, but do not ever rant and rave when the Democrats steal us blind.
I was a Federal employee for a while. Federal rules prohibit taking any renumeration other than salary. Those who hew to that line avoid a lot of problems.
That said, you ought to climb down from your high horse.
Bob, not sure if you are attacking me with the word RINO or not. As for the high horse comment, I don’t think asking our civil servants to be honest/honorable is unreasonable. I guess I am guilty if it is. Don’t get me wrong, I am a sinner just like anyone else and am not perfect by any means. This is a discussion page with opinions on it. These are my opinions. Sorry if you do not like them, but don’t worry, I won’t attack you back.