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Jonathan Turley

Israeli Ambassador Calls For The Criminalization of Antisemitic Speech

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In the aftermath of another tragic shooting at another synagogue, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon has again called for the criminalization of antisemitic speech. I have previously written about such international efforts to criminalize speech, including a proposal supported by the Obama Administration. The implications of such laws for free speech are easy to dismiss amidst the sorrow of another attack. However, the free speech community must remain firm that free speech is not the cause of hate, it is solution to hate.

Danon declared “The time for talking and having a conversation is over. What Israel and the Jewish community around the world demand is action – and now.”

Over the course of the last 50 years, the French, English and Germans have waged an open war on free speech by criminalizing speech deemed insulting, harassing or intimidating. We have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, (here and here and here and here and here and here and here) and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). There are encroachments appearing in the United States, particularly on college campuses. Notably, the media celebrated the speech of French President Emmanuel Macron before Congress where he called on the United States to follow the model of Europe on hate speech.

Danon argues that “Until it becomes criminal, this bigotry will persist; it will fester. It is only a matter of time until it erupts again in violence and bloodshed.”
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Duopoly Distemper: Media and Democrats Attack Schultz For Even Considering A Third Party Run

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The exploration of former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz of a possible third party candidacy has been welcomed by many who have long seen our dysfunctional politics as a result of the duopoly of power in the country in the hands to just two parties. People want change and that is highly unlikely to occur in our current system. That is precisely why Schultz has been met with a torrent of criticism by the media and Democrats for even suggesting a third party run. The spin is that he is handing the election to Donald Trump by splitting the anti-Trump ticket. However, this has been the same mantra for every third party candidate in my lifetime. The problem is that he could win and there is no danger that more threatens the establishment in Washington. So we are back to the same refrain — eagerly repeated by the media — that the country simply cannot handle more choice than the two offered by the party elites.

I do not know much about Schultz, though I have put his kids through college with a coffee addiction. He has studied the number of a third party run and thinks that it is possible. He may be right or wrong but it is the response from the political and media establishment that is so telling. The best indicator that he might be right is the outrage over his possible run.

Yet, every election in my lifetime I have heard (and felt) nothing but anger over having to constantly choice between the candidates approved by the Democratic and Republican primaries. Neither party reflects with majority of voters and the number of independents continue to rise.
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'The Machine of Perpetual War Acceptance': Veteran NBC Journalist Resigns in Protest Over One-Sided Coverage

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This week I published a column on how the Democratic Party seems to have jettisoned many of its defining values to simply become the anti-Trump party. The best example of that transformation is the automatic opposition to Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria and other countries. At the same time, liberal media outlets like CNN and MSNBC have been airing continual experts denouncing the “hasty” withdrawal. 

Now veteran NBC award-winning journalist William Arkin has resigned in protest of what he says is the unrelenting support of the network for endless wars. He notes that the anti-Trump agenda at the network has overwhelmed what used to be critical coverage of “the machine of perpetual war acceptance and conventional wisdom to challenge Hillary Clinton’s hawkishness.” Now the reflective anti-Trump response at the network has overwhelmed all such considerations, according to Arkin. While Arkin calls Trump “an ignorant and incompetent impostor,” he cites the transformation of NBC into an opposition network as the main reason for his departure.

In my recent speech at the Newseum, I raised the same issue over the change in national media coverage. While praising the investigative reporting of various outlets, I objected to the raw advocacy that you now see from hosts in being live and immediate opposition talking points against new developments in the Administration.
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Federal Judge Orders Mueller To Turn Over Flynn Material

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In a surprising move, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ordered Mueller late Wednesday to turn over all of the government’s documents and “memoranda” related to Flynn’s questioning. This follows a Flynn filing that described an effective trap set by agents who encourages him not to bring a lawyer and left inconsistencies unaddressed in what has been described by critics as a “perjury trap.”  I have practiced in front of Judge Sullivan for years and he is a respected judge who has a keen eye for prosecutorial and investigative abuse.
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DoJ Filing Mistakenly References Sealed Criminal Charges Against Assange

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In a truly astounding misstep, the United States Attorney’s Office in Eastern Virginia filed a document that referenced an indictment against the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange. The filng in an unrelated court filing seems to confirm that charges are pending or planned against Assange but the Justice Department will only say that “The court filing was made in error.” The charges would raise serious first amendment questions over whether it is a crime to publish hacked emails if you were not a party to the hacking. Wikileaks maintains that it was performing a journalistic function.
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Pro-Life Students Attacked at Ryerson University in Latest Assault on Free Speech

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We have been following the increasing violence seen on college campuses, particularly directed against conservative and pro-life speakers.  The latest incident occurred at Ryerson University in Ontario  where a video captured Ryerson Student Gabriela “Gabby” Skwarko attacking two members of Toronto Against Abortion (TAA). Skwarko works for the school’s Office of Social Innovation. The video below shows a violent and unprovoked attack to stop an act of free speech on campus.

Skwarko, a member of the Ryerson Reproductive Justice Collective, kicked the displays and physically attacked the pro-life activists as well as taking property and throwing it about.

Strangely, Skwardo is temporarily forbidden from contacting fellow student Blaise Alleyne, president and founder of TAA, but there is no indication that she was banned immediately from campus. Indeed, the university did not respond to media inquiries.

We have been discussing the enculturation of anti-free speech values in college students across the country. One recent incident occurred at the California State University where assistant professor of public health professor Greg Thatcher is shown on a videotape wiping out the pro-life statements written in chalk by members of Fresno State Students for Life. The university is now being sued over the incident.
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Hirano’s Hedge: Kavanaugh Not Entitled To Presumption Of Innocence Due To His Ideological Views

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With the addition of a second woman alleging sexual misconduct of Brett Kavanaugh, it is still not clear what factual disputes will have to be addressed before a final confirmation vote occurs in the Senate. Putting aside questions over late timing of the allegations, there is agreement that the Senate will have to consider both the allegations of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and the new allegations of Deborah Ramirez. What is far more troubling is the continued disagreement on the standard that Senators should use in considering the allegations. While objecting that their Republican colleagues are not prepared to give the women an “impartial hearing,” various Democratic senators have declared (before any testimony is heard) that they believe Dr. Ford – and thus do not believe Judge Kavanaugh. That is troubling enough, but Sen. Mazie Hirono (D., HI) has introduced a far more troubling element in suggesting that she may decide the factual question on the basis of Kavanaugh’s jurisprudential views.

Hirono has previously declared that she believes Ford even before hearing either in testimony before the Committee. She also told all men everywhere to “shut up” and just stand with Ford. In her latest interview, Hirono was pressed on whether Kavanaugh has “the same presumption of innocence as anyone else in America?” For most people, the question would be an easy one to answer in the affirmative, Hirono demurred and declined to say that she would afford Kavanaugh this core presumption of the rule of law. She said that she would “put his denial in the context of everything that I know about him in terms of how he approaches his cases.” She said that she would consider his “ideological agenda” and her view that “he very much is against women’s reproductive choice.”

Hirono’s mixing of factual with ideological considerations further degrades a process that is already deeply undermined by last minute allegations and partisan bickering. It is also curious to see a senator tie credibility on sexual misconduct to one’s view of Roe v. Wade. Bill Clinton, Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Al Franken and others were all reportedly pro-choice but also labeled as abusers.
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Justice Delayed Is Justice: Mueller Fights To Delay Russian Collusion Trial

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There is an old joke among criminal defense attorneys that “justice delayed is justice,” a twist of the old adage that “justice delayed is justice denied.”  The joke reflects that fact that the defense almost always benefits from the passage of time and it is the prosecution that often pushes for earlier trial debates to deny the defense enough time to absorb and address evidence. That is not the case with Special Counsel Robert Mueller who has asked federal Judge Dabney L. Friedrich to deny a speedy trial motion and delay any trial of 13 Russians and three Russian companies for efforts to influence the 2016 election. The effort reflects problems in Mueller’s matinee case, including the allegation that he has charged a company that did not exist at the time of the alleged offenses.
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Comey v. Comey: How New Disclosures Could Put Just One Week Between Comey and Perjury

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Former FBI Director James Comey continues to market his book – and himself – as a lesson in “ethical leadership.”  However, the historical record is proving increasingly at odds with Comey’s account and image. After months of spins and swerves by defenders, a consensus is emerging that Comey is indeed a leaker. The most damaging evidence, however, comes not from Comey’s critics but Comey himself.  Indeed, Comey v. Comey could be the most telling conflict in this still unfolding scandal. However, at issue, is not simply whether Comey will be viewed as a leaker or a liar, but a perjurer.


Comey’s crumbling defense was most evident in his interview last week with Anderson Cooper when Cooper challenged his self-serving definition of a leak as only involving classified information.  That is manifestly wrong, as Cooper correctly pointed out, since leaks often involve unclassified but still non-public information.

Agency rules (including most notably the FBI’s rules) ban the release of non-public agency information whether or not it has been classified.  Indeed, many leak investigations (including some under Comey) do not involve classified information, such as leaks about White House meetings or non-public statements.  The FBI, including Director Andrew Wray, confirmed that the Comey memos were not his documents (as he continues to implausibly maintain) but rather FBI material subject to rules of nondisclosure. Nevertheless, Comey gave at least four memos to Columbia University law professor Daniel Richman to leak information to the media.

However, in the ongoing Inspector General’s investigation into his conduct, Comey’s defense could ultimately collide with Comey’s own (prior) interpretation.  In the last two weeks, the divide between Comey and his former deputy (and acting FBI Director) Andrew McCabe widens.  McCabe has claimed that Comey knew about his giving non-public information to the Wall Street Journal. McCabe’s counsel directly challenged Comey and said that the public should not buy Comey’s “white knight” account of his own conduct. Comey responded by publicly stating that McCabe was found to be a liar by the IG and that he was the one who called for an investigation into the “leak.”  That’s the problem.
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Happy Anniversary, James Clapper

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Today is an important anniversary for former intelligence chief James Clapper. No it is not his marriage anniversary or conventional milestone. Clapper can celebrate the running out of the statute of limitations on his alleged perjury before Congress — five years and Clapper is now beyond the reach of the law.

recently wrote a column on the approaching anniversary and how it reaffirms the widely held view that powerful people in Washington are immune from laws used against the rest of society.

Clapper appeared before the Senate to discuss surveillance programs in the midst of a controversy over warrantless surveillance of the American public. He was asked directly, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions, or hundreds of millions of Americans?” There was no ambiguity or confusion and Clapper responded, “No, sir. … Not wittingly.” That was a lie and Clapper knew it when he said it.

Later, Clapper said that his testimony was “the least untruthful” statement he could make. That would still make it a lie of course but Clapper is a made guy. While feigned shock and disgust, most Democratic leaders notably did not call for his prosecution. Soon Clapper was back testifying and former president Obama even put Clapper on a federal panel to review the very programs that he lied about in Congress.
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