You won’t see this in the MSM headline news of the day’s events because it cuts directly against their preferred narrative.
The Supreme Court ruled 8-0 today to nullify the federal conviction of former Virginia Governor Bob McConnell on bribery and corruption charges (full ruling pdf below). 8 to 0, the entire court agreed, the conviction was politically motivated and not grounded in law.
Why? Why did every justice agree, even the liberal justices? ….and they went one step further in ordering the lower courts to reconsider whether the government’s evidence of corruption is strong enough to even try him again. If not, the charges against him must be dismissed, according to the ruling.
The why is really quite simple. If you’ve ever heard James Carville or any Clinton spokesperson talk about the book “Clinton Cash“, you’ll see quickly what was at stake.
The case against Bob McDonnell was based on him accepting gifts while an elected public official. Accepting gifts and/or donations itself is not illegal. Does it look untoward, unsavory or tawdry, yes. But if the official (recipient) takes no substantive action to benefit the contributor, meaning there is no quid-pro-quo, then no laws have been broken.
Contributions are only bribery when the official takes an official action, as part of their public office, to the benefit of the person providing the contribution, that would not have been taken to the benefit of any other similar request that does not contain a contribution.
In essence McDonnell and his wife took gifts, but the federal prosecutors could not identify any specific action that was taken to the substantive benefit of the donor, that McDonnell had not also taken to the benefit of other constituents who did not provide gifts or donations.
Also, SCOTUS warns, correctly and appropriately, that federal prosecutors applying liberally-defined ideological definitions of an elected official “taking action” directly undermines the entire concept of representative government.
Politicians are expected to advocate on behalf of their constituents needs, and in this case McDonnell took no action that would be out-of-bounds of the normal advocacy anticipated from any elected official.
The entire prosecution of McDonnell was politically motivated by federal prosecutors who could not evidence any quid-pro-quo of action McDonnell took on behalf of the donor who gave him lavish gifts.
Even the four liberal justices recognized this fundamental flaw of prosecutorial logic in the government’s case. But there’s a larger issue; a larger contrasting issue.
If Governor McDonnell was factually guilty of the accusations, as presented by the federal prosecution, then what does that say about the EXTREME gifts and payments that Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation were given by foreign governments while she was Secretary of State.
See the issue?
Hillary Clinton took -by a magnitude of thousands- more contributions, donations, and gifts than McConnell ever conceived of. The defense of those contributions and donations by the Clinton advocates has been very specific. They claim Clinton took no official action on behalf of those who gave her gifts, donations and contributions.
If McDonnell was to have been guilty by the definitions applied by federal prosecutors, then Hillary Clinton was guilty by an exponential magnitude for all of the lavish indulgences presented to her during her tenure as Secretary of State.
That’s why the decision today was 8-0 to nullify the lower court ruling.
Here’s the decision:
Analysis by SCOTUS Blog:
[…] The government, the opinion noted, retains under the Court’s new interpretation of corruption “ample room” for prosecution of elected officials who are charged with taking money and gifts for performing some “official act.” The decision explicitly refused the ex-governor’s plea to strike down, as too vague, the basic bribery and extortion laws under which he was convicted. But by a sharp cutback of what kind of “official act” will be treated as corrupt when done in return for money or gifts, the new ruling poses a major challenge to prosecutors seeking to police official misconduct.
Federal prosecutors had successfully argued, at McDonnell’s trial and in reaction to his appeal, that doing an “official act” in return for gratuities meant “nearly any activity by a public official.”
Insisting that such a sweeping interpretation not only did not square with the text of the criminal laws at issue, but also raised constitutional questions, the Court took several paragraphs to spell out what is, or is not, the kind of “official act” that will expose an official to charges of corruption.
First, the Court said that the kind of government activity that had to be involved was something akin to a lawsuit, a court proceeding, or some other explicit official activity. Holding a typical meeting, making a call, or arranging an event, when done by an elected official, does not cross the line, the opinion declared. The matter that a constituent seeks to have influenced by the official, the opinion said, must be an agency proceeding that is “specific and focused.”
Second, the elected official’s move to do a favor regarding such a matter, the Court said, must be an explicit attempt to influence, or coerce another official to influence, the outcome of such a proceeding. Here is the way the Court phrased that point:
“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…does not qualify as a decision or action on the pending question” of whether a government agency should take an explicit action in favor of a constituent.
The Chief Justice made clear that the decision was driven in considerable part by the Court’s worry that the way McDonnell’s case unfolded — from the prosecutors’ bold charges — was a threat to the way representative government normally works. “The basic compact underlying representative government,” he wrote, “assumes that public officials will hear from their constituents and act appropriately on their concerns…The government’s position could cast a pall of potential prosecution over these relationships” if the constituents had made a campaign contribution or made a modest gesture of entertainment or an outing such as a ball game. (more)