DOWNSIDE LEGACY AT TWO DEGREES OF PRESIDENT CLINTON
SECTION: STRANGE JUSTICE
SUBSECTION: Judge Paul Friedman
AP Sacramento Bee 8/10/00 Greg Toppo "……A former Democratic fund-raiser convicted of arranging illegal contributions to the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign asked a federal judge to grant her a new trial Thursday. Attorneys for Maria Hsia told U.S. District Court Judge Paul Freedman that Hsia conviction in March on charges she arranged more than $100,000 in illegal contributions to President Clinton, Vice President Al Gore and other Democrats in 1996, should be set aside, along with her indictment. Hsia, a Taiwan native who began raising money for Gore more than a decade ago, was convicted in U.S. District Court on five felony counts of causing false statements to be filed with the Federal Election Commission. Each charge carries a five-year maximum prison term. …… In a hearing Thursday, Nancy Luque, an attorney for Hsia, said the jury heard misleading and confusing evidence from prosecutors. Luque said Hsia's alleged wrongdoing in the case was based on ''extremely weak to nonexistent evidence,'' and said publicity surrounding the trial tainted the outcome. ……"
Reuters 8/10/00 "……The Democratic Party figure convicted in March of using Buddhist monks to hide $109,000 in illegal campaign contributions went to court Thursday to seek a new trial. Lawyers for Maria Hsia, who helped organize a 1996 fund-raiser at a California Buddhist temple that was attended by Vice President Al Gore, argued that politics had overshadowed the trial, with prosecutors and U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman facing pressure to convict her. Prosecutors countered that Hsia's arguments had no legal basis. Nancy Luque, Hsia's lead attorney, cited an ongoing review of allegations that the case was improperly steered to Friedman -- appointed by President Clinton -- as grounds for Friedman's retroactive recusal, a step that could lead to a new trial. "I just don't think it's fair for those kind of questions to be in the air," said Luque at a motions hearing before Friedman. She said Friedman's awareness of the review may have "unconsciously or subconsciously" biased him against Hsia, who is out on bond. …’
FindLaw Legal News 7/17/00 AP "……A federal judge dismissed an indictment against a McDonnell Douglas Corp. executive who was charged in a broader case that accused the aircraft company of trying to circumvent U.S. export controls and ship sophisticated machine tools to China for use in military production. U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman, in a ruling Friday, threw out the case against Robert Hitt, who directed the company's China program office, because it exceeded the five-year statute of limitations. …… Hitt was charged in only one of the 16 counts against McDonnell Douglas and a Chinese government-owned company, the China National Aero-Technology Import Export Corp., or CATIC. The case involved McDonnell Douglas' sale in 1994 of 19 surplus machine tools to the Chinese company for $5 million. The U.S. government licensed the export of the tools only for use in a joint Chinese-McDonnell Douglas program to build 40 McDonnell Douglas civilian airliners in China. …….Six of the sophisticated machine tools were diverted, in violation of license restrictions, to the Nanchang Aircraft Corp., where China makes Silkworm cruise missiles and A-5 attack aircraft. ……."
Townhall 4/13/00 Robert Novak "………Two weeks later, the Justice Department subpoenaed the e-mails. Had Attorney General Janet Reno finally lost patience with her president? Not a chance. In asking for the evidence, Justice asked Lamberth to set aside a lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch. Lamberth refused, noting the Clinton administration's "track record" of "bogus" investigations. Nothing like those words or that decision would have been expected from Clinton judges. Judge Paul Friedman, a prominent liberal lawyer from Washington named to the court in 1994, was assigned the criminal case against Democratic fund-raiser Maria Hsia (a close supporter of Al Gore). He threw out the case, but it was reversed on appeal, and Hsia was later convicted in a jury trial. The way the D.C. judges operate under the public's radar was demonstrated in an unpublicized courtroom proceeding. Friedman was also given the criminal case against Democratic activist Pauline Kanchanalak for laundering illegal campaign contributions. Early last month, Justice asked for merely a two-month postponement of the April trial. Friedman agreed but privately informed the prosecutors that it would be too hard to get a Washington jury in the summer and so he was delaying the trial until mid-November -- after the presidential election. ……… The assignments were made by Chief Judge Norma Holloway Johnson, a government lawyer or judge for the past 37 years who has abandoned random selection of judges. There is no disputing some facts. She did ask the Justice Department to ask her to assign the Hsia case to Friedman. She arbitrarily gave the Hubbell case to Robertson. ……. A Judicial Watch complaint that the Clinton D.C. judges were meeting privately was dismissed as "frivolous" by Appeals Court Judge Stephen Williams, acting on Judge Johnson's assurances. But Republican Rep. Howard Coble of North Carolina renewed the request, and a scathing account of Johnson's conduct by University of Illinois Law Professor Ronald Rotunda (published in the Wall Street Journal) was filed in court. Consequently, the circuit's Judicial Council reinstated the issue, and a five-judge panel was named. It was supposed to be secret, judges privately observing a colleague's conduct. But news leaked of an inquiry that could expose an outrageous means of survival for Bill Clinton. ….."
ABC 4/4/00 AP "……..A federal judge on Tuesday upheld a Maryland preacher's First Amendment right to pray inside the U.S. Capitol. U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman ruled that the Capitol Police have no authority to stop people from making speeches or engaging in other nondisruptive forms of behavior. The Rev. Pierre Bynum, an associate pastor at Waldorf Christian Assembly, Waldorf, Md., sued police following an incident at the Capitol in November 1996. Bynum was part of a small group taking a self-tour of the Capitol when the group stopped for a few minutes of prayer _ bowing their heads and folding their hands. ……."
Freeper aristeides 3/31/00 "……I continue to be suspicious over the assignment of Rep. Tom Campbell's war-powers suit Campbell v. Clinton to Clinton appointee Paul Friedman. I just spoke to the staffer on Tom Campbell's staff who specializes in war powers and relayed this news about the investigation to him. He told me he would confer with Rep. Coble's staff about the possibility that the assignment of the war-powers case to Friedman was corrupt. The staffer also told me that Rep. Campbell and his fellow plaintiffs have just decided to appeal the war-powers case to the Supreme Court. ….."
Previously, from the DSL, on Judge Friedman:
6/8/99 AP "…A federal judge today dismissed a lawsuit filed by a group of House members who wanted the bombing of Yugoslavia by U.S. forces to be declared illegal. The lawsuit was filed by 26 lawmakers, led by Rep. Tom Campbell, R-Calif., who alleged that President Clinton violated the War Powers Act of 1973 by authorizing military air strikes against Yugoslavia….. U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman, in his ruling granting a White House motion to dismiss the case, said ``congressional reaction to the airstrikes has sent distinctly mixed messages.'' …."
LA Times 9/11/98 Allan Miller "A federal district court judge Thursday dismissed five of six charges against Democratic fundraiser Maria Hsia that accused her of using money from a Buddhist temple to make illegal contributions to the Clinton-Gore reelection drive and other Democratic campaigns..The remaining count charges Hsia, a Los Angeles immigration consultant, with conspiring with the Hsi Lai temple to make campaign contributions through conduits, including monks, nuns and Hsia herself. In a separate matter, she also faces tax fraud charges..In dismissing the charges, U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman said that prosecutors would have to prove that Hsia actually conspired with the campaign treasurer to knowingly submit the false information or knew the false information would be provided to the government.."
Washington Post 10/10/98 Roberto Suro and Bill Miller "In an opinion that could undermine major campaign finance prosecutions, a federal judge yesterday concluded that the Justice Department has seriously misinterpreted the law governing political contributions by foreign nationals. U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman ruled that citizens of other nations are only prohibited from making "hard money" contributions, funds that are used to directly support individual candidates for federal office. Most of the investigations involving foreign contributions to the 1996 Clinton-Gore reelection effort have involved "soft money," which was used by the Democratic Party for general purposes, such as issue advertising and voter- registration drives.. Yesterday's ruling comes a month after Friedman delivered a major setback to another important campaign finance case, dismissing five of six charges brought against Maria Hsia, another controversial Democratic fund-raiser. In that ruling, the judge found that prosecutors had stretched the law in a manner that "defies logic" in alleging that Hsia caused campaign and party organizations to file false statements to the FEC for donations she had helped collect. Friedman yesterday threw out three similar charges brought against Trie. The Justice Department has formally decided to appeal that ruling.."
AP 01/01/99 ".In a setback for the Justice Department's campaign fund-raising investigation, a federal judge has dismissed much of the case against a Thai businesswoman who raised substantial funds for the Democratic Party. U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman on Thursday threw out 11 counts against Pauline Kanchanalak, a key figure in the investigation of foreign money raised in the 1996 Clinton-Gore re- election campaign. The ruling left seven of the original 24 counts. Prosecutors had dropped six charges against Ms. Kanchanalak last fall after the judge raised legal concerns about those counts. Friedman's ruling Thursday followed earlier decisions that threw out much of the Justice Department's cases against two other defendants in the foreign money probe, Yah Lin ``Charlie'' Trie and Maria Hsia..Friedman threw out allegations that they filed false statements with the Federal Election Commission, ruling that prosecutors failed to show they had any significant role in the submission of statements to the FEC by the Democratic organizations. He also found that the newly dismissed counts were nearly indistinguishable from the dismissed allegations at issue in the Trie and Hsia cases. In those earlier rulings, the judge found that citizens of foreign countries are prohibited only from making donations that directly support individual candidates - contributions known as ``hard'' money.."
Yahoo News 2/3/99 Reuters ".A federal judge Wednesday dismissed more charges against Thai businesswoman Pauline Kanchanalak and her sister-in-law, dealing another setback to a U.S. Justice Department campaign finance task force. U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman, who in December dismissed 17 of the 24 charges they each faced, threw out two of the remaining counts against Kanchanalak, a key figure in the investigation of foreign money raised in the 1996 re-election campaign of President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore. The judge in the 19-page ruling also dropped one count against Kanchanalak's sister-in-law, Duangnet ``Georgie'' Kronenberg. The dropped charges involved allegations that the two defendants made false statements to the Federal Election Commission. In addition, the Justice Department voluntarily dropped two other counts against each. Friedman has also thrown out much of the Justice Department's charges against two other Democratic fund-raisers, Charlie Trie and Maria Hsia.."
Washington Post 3/31/99 Peter Slevin "…The Internal Revenue Service properly stripped tax breaks from a New York church that opposed candidate Bill Clinton in full-page newspaper advertisements during the 1992 campaign, a federal judge here ruled yesterday. U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman decided that the IRS acted lawfully when it took away tax-exempt status from The Church at Pierce Creek in Vestal, N.Y. He dismissed the church's claims that the IRS violated religious freedoms and engaged in selective prosecution. Churches that claim exemption from taxation cannot take sides in an election campaign, the federal tax code states. The IRS concluded after a two-year investigation that the nondenominational Christian church had done just that and no longer was entitled to the exemption. The case centered on a full-page advertisement that appeared in USA Today and the Washington Times four days before the 1992 general election. The advertisement said, "Bill Clinton is promoting policies that are in rebellion to God's laws."…"
Judicial Watch Press Release 4/02/99 "...Judge Paul Friedman, who was appointed by President Clinton to the federal bench in Washington, DC, has sustained a decision by the Clinton-run Internal Revenue Service to remove the tax exempt status of a Christian church that had placed newspaper advertisements critical of Bill Clinton's moral views and policies. At the time of Clinton's IRS decision, tens of groups critical of Clinton were subject to IRS audits. Many other IRS audits of Clinton critics followed. The ruling comes at a time when some religious groups are deciding how to participate in public policy debates during the 2000 elections, and as issues of abortion, gay rights, and morality become even more pronounced - especially given the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal's destructive impact on Judeo-Christian values. Judge Friedman is the same federal judge who presides over the Clinton/Gore-endorsed Sidney Blumenthal libel suit against Matt Drudge - calling Drudge not a journalist but "a purveyor of gossip." He also recently issued the landmark decision that foreign political "soft money" contributions (i.e., from Communist China) to the Clinton-controlled Democratic National Committee are not illegal. One implication of that astonishing ruling is that a president can solicit and accept soft money contributions from China's People's Liberation Army. Judge Friedman has also recently dismissed large portions of indictments of key figures in the Clinton-Chinagate scandal...."
Blumenthal suit against Matt Drudge and AOLDEMOCRATIC DONOR (CHARLIE TRIE) MIGHT HAVE FLED
U.S. Judge Drops More Charges In Fund-Raising Case
Yahoo News Feb. 3, 1999
http://commdocs.house.gov/committees/judiciary/hju42227.000/hju42227_0.htm JUDICIAL REFORM ACT OF 1997 WEDNESDAY, MAY 14, 1997 House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property, Committee on the Judiciary, Washington, DC
"….Representative Ed Bryant has proposed in section 4 that a complaint brought against a Federal judge be referred to a circuit other than the circuit in which the judge who is the subject of the complaint sits, pursuant to rules developed by the Judicial Conference. This would ensure that greater objectivity would be brought to bear in cases where the disability or misconduct of a judge warrants punishment…."
"…..PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. HENRY A. POLITZ, CHIEF JUDGE, U.S. COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT, AND HON. ANN CLAIRE WILLIAMS, JUDGE, U.S. DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS, ON BEHALF OF THE JUDICIAL CONFERENCE OF THE UNITED STATES
"….In the view of the federal judiciary, the proposal in Section 4 is seriously deficient The Conference has looked carefully at this legislation and has recently adopted the following resolution:
The Judicial Conference of the United States expresses its strong opposition to any revision of the complaint procedure established by the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act, 28 U.S.C. 372(c), to provide that proceedings on complaints filed under that section shall be conducted by a circuit other than the circuit in which the named judge serves. Such a change would seriously threaten one of the central achievements of the Act: the enhancement of the ability of chief judges and circuit councils to resolve genuine problems of misconduct or disability within their own circuits through corrective actions or informal resolutions. See Report of the National Commission on Judicial Discipline and Removal, at 104, 113, 123, 124 (August 1993). It would also dramatically increase the costs and burdens of the complaint process for the federal judiciary, if every complaint must be considered by judges who are hundreds or thousands of miles away from the complaint's principals. No substantial purpose would be served by such a change, because the current practice of handling complaints within the circuit does not create any perceptible problem of Conflict of interest.
…..The National Commission on Judicial Discipline and Removal, a Commission created by Congress to investigate and study issues involved in the tenure, discipline and removal of federal judges (Public Law No. 101–650, Dec. 1, 1990 (104 Stat. 5122), 410(1)), exhaustively examined the current arrangements for the discipline of federal judges. In its Report, published in 1993, the Commission lauded the existing judicial discipline system precisely because of its effectiveness in promoting informal and behind-the-scenes solutions to genuine problems of judicial misconduct or disability. The Commission stated as follows:
Although the 1980 Act [28 U.S.C. 372(c)] established a formal mechanism for filing complaints, perhaps its major benefit has been the facilitation of informal adjustments of problems of judicial misconduct or disability. In some situations, that has occurred without the filing of a complaint; in others it has followed a chief judge's inquiry in response to a complaint. A chief judge's power under the 1980 Act to conclude a proceeding ''if he finds that appropriate corrective action has been taken'' is a boon to negotiated resolutions.
* * * * *
The 1980 Act ... has yielded substantial benefits both in those few instances where it was necessary for the judicial councils to take action and, more importantly, in the many instances where the existence of its formal process enabled chief judges to resolve complaints through corrective action and, indeed, to resolve problems before a complaint was filed.
Report of the National Commission on Judicial Discipline and Removal, at 104, 123 (August 1993).
These informal and corrective processes—the very core of any system for the discipline of life-tenured judges—cannot function effectively from remote locations. For this reason, Section 4—far from toughening discipline and making federal judges more accountable, as is its apparent intent—in fact would soften and undermine existing disciplinary processes.
Under the current system, a complaint with some substance goes for determination to judges who are in a position to act knowledgeably and tactfully to seek genuine solutions: a chief judge and/or judicial council within the circuit. The result is often effective action to resolve the problem. A more distant and impersonal authority, ignorant of the personalities involved in the matter and acting at arm's length, would be far less able to bring about such a result. Instead, the complaint process would likely become more formal, less efficient, and less productive.
Just as important, the potential exercise by judges in the same circuit of the formal complaint power provided for under current law strongly facilitates the informal resolution of genuine problems of judicial misconduct or disability without the filing of a formal complaint. The very existence of this power strengthens the judges' hand in working out solutions, since all know that the Act looms in the background as a less favored, but perhaps unavoidable, alternative. If, instead, all knew that the local judges had no ultimate power to act, this informal process so crucial to the effectiveness of the judicial discipline system would be severely weakened.
Accordingly, the National Commission on Judicial Discipline and Removal concluded:
One of the most important findings of this Commission concerns the continuing importance of informal approaches to judicial misconduct and disability even after the 1980 Act.... Informal approaches remain central to the system of self-regulation within the judiciary.... [A] major benefit of the Act's formal process has been to enhance the attractiveness of informal resolutions. The continuing success of informal approaches is due in large part to the system of decentralized self-regulation that long antedated but was fortified by the Act.
[P]erhaps the greatest benefit of the 1980 Act has been the support it has provided, and the impetus it has given, to informal approaches to problems of federal judicial misconduct and disability. No evaluation of the 1980 Act should neglect its influence in this regard....
National Commission Report, supra, at 113, 124.
The proposed change also would undercut the ability of judges who have taken action to resolve a problem to monitor and follow up on that resolution, in order to ensure that the problem has truly been remedied. Only judges in the same circuit are in a position to do this. Under the proposed new system, conceivably judges in the same circuit as the judge against whom a complaint has been filed could be informed about the matter by the transferee circuit, in order to enable them to monitor results. This procedure, however, would require that two sets of judges in two different circuits become involved in the matter, a wasteful use of judicial resources.
Thus, the notion that it is somehow desirable for complaints to be determined by far-off authorities, who know less about the judge accused or about local circumstances, overlooks the 45 very point of the current judicial discipline process.
Based on my experience as Chief Judge in handling complaints arising under the existing system, I can tell you that this proposal will mean a host of practical difficulties and concomitant increased costs.
….. In sum, Section 4 would transform the entire framework of the judicial discipline process, a process that the National Commission found has been ''working reasonably well.'' National Commission Report, supra, at 123. In doing so it would undercut many of the most important virtues of the present system, and would impose significant cost burdens on the federal judiciary, all in an attempt to address a perceived conflict of interest ''problem,'' which we believe does not exist……"
Associated Press 12/3/99 Pete Yost "…..The chief federal judge in the District of Columbia said changes in the way cases are assigned may be needed in light of questions about her assignment of two criminal cases against friends of President Clinton to judges he appointed. The acknowledgment by U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson came as an appeals court judge dismissed a complaint against Johnson and the eight other Democratic district court judges. The appeals court released the Nov. 17 decision Friday. In confidential court papers, Johnson wrote to appeals court judge Stephen Williams that perhaps "our special assignment system needs to be re-examined, and more precise standards need to be adopted." ……Judicial Watch, a conservative group, requested an inquiry after Johnson bypassed the computer system that randomly assigns cases to various judges. Judicial Watch also complained about private meetings of the eight Clinton-appointed judges on the court…..."
AP 1/10/00 "….The chief district judge in Washington directed five prosecutions of Democratic fund-raisers to judges appointed by President Clinton, bypassing the normal system for randomly assigning cases, records show. Clinton confidant Vernon Jordan interceded in one case, asking the sentencing judge to be lenient with the defendant, prominent Miami businessman Howard Glicken, who has been a fund-raiser for Vice President Gore. Glicken was sentenced to community service work and probation for two misdemeanors. Rep. Howard Coble, chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee on courts and intellectual property, on Monday disclosed the assignment of the cases of Glicken and another Miami fund-raiser, Mark Jimenez, now a fugitive in the Justice Department's campaign fund-raising probe…… Days before Glicken's sentencing, Jordan wrote U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy, a 1997 Clinton appointee, that ``despite his admission of wrongdoing, I am confident I can state without hesitation that this conduct is not the type of conduct that characterizes Howard Glicken.'' ``Mr. Glicken ... has been a member of and active participant in the Democratic party,'' Jordan added. ``I write this letter to ask for leniency.'' Glicken pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors July 20 in a deal with the Justice Department's campaign finance task force. Kennedy fined him $80,000, put him on 18 months probation and ordered him to do 500 hours of community service. A court rule permits Johnson to specially assign cases that are ``protracted.'' ``No rationalization can possibly justify the direct assignment of the Glicken case,'' Coble wrote. ``There was nothing complicated or protracted about this case. In fact, his attorney publicly announced ... the day he was charged with soliciting a $20,000 foreign contribution ... that Mr. Glicken would plead guilty.'' ….. Jimenez, of Miami, fled the country last year after being accused of making illegal contributions to Clinton, Sen. Robert Torricelli of New Jersey and other Democratic candidates. Two weeks after the Jimenez case was assigned to Sullivan, it was moved to Judge Paul Friedman, who also handled the campaign finance cases of Trie, Kanchanalak and Hsia. Friedman and Sullivan are Clinton appointees….."
Legal Times 1/10/00 "…..U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman has flatly rejected a push by defense lawyers to dismiss an indictment against fund-raiser Maria Hsia. Hsia's lawyers had charged that prosecutors connived to get privileged information from Hsia and other targets of a campaign finance probe. Specifically, the defense team argued that Brian Sun and other members of his Santa Monica, Calif., firm, O'Neill Lysaght & Sun, wrongfully shared information with prosecutors on the federal Campaign Financing Task Force and thus violated a joint defense agreement. Last month, Friedman took the unusual step of holding two days of hearings - some closed even to the government - and asking Sun prosecutor Eric Yaffe and others to explain their actions. Sun told the court he may have shared privileged information with prosecutors in one or two areas, but that he did so with Hsia's consent….."
Washington Times 1/11/00 Jerry Seper "….A Republican congressman yesterday asked a federal appeals court to investigate rare case assignments made by the chief judge of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C….. "Did Chief Judge Johnson abuse her discretion under the rule and should she have allowed the normal random case assignment to occur?" he said in a seven-page letter to Mark Langer, clerk of the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The inquiry focuses on cases involving Mr. Hubbell, former associate attorney general; Arkansas businessman Charles Yah Lin Trie; Democratic fund-raiser Howard Glicken; Thai lobbyist Pauline Kanchanalak; and Miami fund-raiser Mark B. Jimenez. The judges are Paul L. Friedman, James Robertson and Emmet G. Sullivan, all of whom were named to the bench by Mr. Clinton in 1994; and Henry H. Kennedy Jr., appointed by Mr. Clinton in 1997. Judge Johnson has declined to talk to the media……. "The Judicial Council . . . did not attempt to determine whether there was an abuse of discretion," he said. "Rather, the Judicial Council simply accepted Judge Johnson's justification in support of her action and concluded that in the circumstances presented, a purely conclusionary allegation . . . is not enough to justify a search for [evidence of misconduct]. "How much evidence would be enough to justify an investigation?" he asked. ….. Mr. Coble also said "no rationalization can possibly justify" the assignment of the Glicken case to Judge Kennedy, adding there was "nothing complicated or protracted about this case" and Glicken's attorney announced on the day he was charged he would plead guilty. ……. With regard to the assignment of the Jimenez case, Mr. Coble said it was assigned by Judge Johnson to Judge Sullivan at his request, although it was later reassigned to Judge Friedman. Mr. Coble questioned how Judge Sullivan was able to request the case — and get it —and why was it transferred to Judge Friedman after he claimed it was related to the Trie case. "How is the Jimenez case related to the Trie case," Mr. Coble asked, noting there was no provision for transferring the case under District Court rules…."
NewsMax.com 12/9/99 Carl Limbacher ".....The Monicagate judge who determined last year that Independent Counsel Ken Starr's conduct warranted investigation didn't take kindly to complaints about her own alleged misbehavior on the bench. According to a little noticed wire report on Friday, Judge Norma Holloway Johnson now acknowledges that it may not have been such a hot idea to bypass the standard procedure for random selection of judges in the cases of Clinton hot potatoes, Webster Hubbell and Charlie Trie...."
NewsMax.com 12/9/99 Carl Limbacher ".....But when the DC based legal watchdog group Judicial Watch complained about the apparent conflict of interest, Judge Johnson popped her cork. "I am saddened that any credence could be given to such facially partisan allegations which are fueled by rumor, innuendo and speculation," she wrote to DC appeals court judge Stephen Williams. "With all due respect to your duties as Acting Chief Judge," Johnson continued, "it is abundantly clear that the claims of complainant Judicial Watch are mere surmise based on adolescent, anonymous chatter and should be promptly dismissed." The good judge went on to characterize the questions about her decision in the Hubbell and Trie cases as "patent nonsense" and "libelous of my reputation for impartiality."
NewsMax.com 12/9/99 Carl Limbacher ".....While Judge Williams ruled that the evidence was too "slender" to find Johnson guilty of actual wrongdoing, his opinion suggested that Judicial Watch may have had a point. "I do not intend to imply that the local rule allowing nonrandom assignment of cases is beyond criticism," he said, adding that the loophole Johnson excercised "makes possible both actual and perceived abuses." ....The court has subsequently found that Judge Johnson's suspicions that Starr 's office was leaking Monicagate grand jury information were unfounded....."
Washington Times 12/8/99 John McCaslin ".... Chief U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson, immersed in controversy since presiding over the Clinton-Lewinsky grand jury, has been presented the Judicial Excellence Award at the 128th annual banquet of the D.C. Bar Association. For the judge, the award couldn't come at a better time. In a unanimous 3-0 vote in mid-September, a federal appeals court panel overturned Judge Johnson's ruling ordering independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr to face criminal contempt proceedings for reported leaks of grand jury information in the Monica Lewinsky probe. After President Clinton walked away a free, but impeached, man, Judge Johnson appointed the Justice Department to prosecute Mr. Starr and his office on the contempt charge. Weeks earlier, departing from the court's traditional random case-assignment process, Judge Johnson came under fire for selectively assigning criminal cases against presidential pals Charles Yah Lin Trie and Webster L. Hubbell to judges Mr. Clinton appointed. ...."
WorldNetDaily 12/7/99 Larry Klayman "…..When was the last time that you heard of a federal judge getting in trouble for allegedly taking bribes, banning a lawyer from his courtroom for expressing his opinion or asking a question, sitting on a case for years as the plaintiff goes under financially, or for that matter making one bad decision after another? The answer is almost never. Federal judges, like lawyers, generally protect themselves. Indeed, federal judges -- who are appointed by the president for life, through a system of political patronage -- have rigged the system; complaints of misconduct are investigated by their peers. So it was when Associated Press and The Washington Times recently reported that Chief Judge Norma Holloway Johnson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia had bypassed the random "wheel of fortune" assignment system to send two Chinagate-related criminal cases to recently appointed Clinton judicial appointees (who then dismissed the charges) and that eight Clinton-appointed judges, calling themselves the "Magnificent Eight," were holding secret meetings, that Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, felt duty-bound to file a complaint against the nine allegedly offending judges before the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the body which oversees lower court judges. ….."
WorldNetDaily 12/7/99 Larry Klayman "…..The information upon which Judicial Watch bases its request for an investigation has been reported publicly by a number of media outlets. Given the hard fact that several district court judges appear themselves to be the sources for this information, Judicial Watch's request for an investigation should respectfully be acted upon sua sponte (i.e., on the Court's own initiative)……. In response to the complaint, Mr. Fitton then heard from Acting Chief Judge Stephen Williams, of the D.C. Circuit, a Republican, who asked for greater specificity…… In a decision released publicly last Friday, Judge Williams, in dismissing Judicial Watch's complaint -- and branding the reported allegations of the Associated Press and The Washington Times frivolous -- effectively admitted to not conducting an investigation at all. Relying only on letters of Judge Johnson denying the allegations, and surmising, without any factual investigation, that the "Magnificent Eight" had not discussed ongoing cases against the Clinton administration in their secret meetings, he wrote, The complaint of misconduct is "wholly unsupported" and is dismissed as frivolous pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 372 (c)(3). Specifically, with regard to the allegation that Judge Johnson had bypassed the random assignment system, Judge Williams held: ... [t]he alleged impropriety is incapable of being established through investigation. As for the secret meetings of the "Magnificent Eight," he concluded, also without investigation, that judges would not act on their political affiliations: ...it is inappropriate to impose on the court the burdens of an investigation….." LegalTimes 12/7/99 Carrie Johnson "….Nancy Luque, lead attorney for Democratic fund-raiser Maria Hsia, claims that prosecutors connived to gain access to damaging information about her client and then used it to win an indictment before the grand jury. She argues that the allegedly ill-gotten facts taint the government's entire case against Hsia. At issue is whether attorneys for a California Buddhist temple shared privileged information with the Justice Department in violation of their earlier agreement to cooperate with Hsia's lawyers. Luque's claim, while difficult to prove, is raising dust. U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman convened an unusual evidentiary hearing on Nov. 24, when two California defense attorneys and their former paralegal testified about conversations they'd had with Hsia and members of the prosecution team. Parts of the hearing were closed - even to the prosecutors in the case - to avoid leaks of privileged information……What's more, on Nov. 29, Friedman ordered Eric Yaffe, a member of the Justice Department's Campaign Financing Task Force and one of Hsia's prosecutors, to take the stand in an open proceeding as soon as Dec. 14 to get to the bottom of the matter. Friedman said in court last week that he wants to learn what Yaffe knew about the lawyers' joint-defense agreement…... Last year, Friedman dismissed several charges against Hsia and other key targets of the investigation, opining that prosecutors' theory of the cases resembled an "Alice in Wonderland-like maze of logical leaps and tangled inferences." But in May 1999, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit revived five counts against Hsia for making false statements under the Federal Election Campaign Act….."
Associated Press 7/31/99 "...The chief judge of the U.S. District Court bypassed the traditional random assignment system to send criminal cases against presidential friends Webster Hubbell and Charlie Trie to judges appointed by President Clinton, according to court officials. U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson's decision to abandon the longtime random computer assignment for the high-profile cases has raised concerns among several other judges, according to Associated Press interviews with them. The judges also raise concerns about an appearance of possible conflicts of interest, because judges who got the cases were friendly with key players - presidential confidant Vernon Jordan and defense lawyer Reid Weingarten - and made rulings that handicapped prosecutors...."
Associated Press 7/31/99 "... Johnson, an appointee of President Carter, assigned: -Friedman the Trie case, the first major prosecution from the Justice Department probe of Democratic fund raising. Clinton nominated Friedman, a former president of the local bar, in 1994. -Robertson the Hubbell tax case, Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's first prosecution in Washington. Robertson is an ex-president of the local bar and a former partner at the law firm of former White House counsel Lloyd Cutler. Robertson was nominated by Clinton in the last days of Cutler's tenure as counsel in 1994. Robertson donated $1,000 to Clinton's 1992 presidential bid and has said he ``worked on the periphery'' of that campaign. When Johnson bypassed the random draw for these cases, there were 12 full-time judges on the federal court, seven of them Clinton appointees. Four were Republican appointees. The court also has a number of senior judges who work part-time. Experts said the assignments to Clinton-nominated judges did not violate any rules, but could shake public confidence...."
Washington Post 7/31/99 Pete Yost "... One politically sensitive aspect of the Hubbell tax evasion indictment was a reference to a $62,500 consulting arrangement that Jordan helped obtain for Hubbell, making Jordan a potential witness. Robertson and Jordan are friends from their days in the civil rights movement. Jordan did not return repeated calls seeking comment. Johnson assigned the Trie case and two subsequent cases against Democratic fund-raisers to Friedman, who tossed out various charges. After one of Friedman's rulings was overturned on appeal, Trie agreed to plead guilty. Friedman and Weingarten, the defense lawyer in two of the three fund-raising cases before Friedman, are longtime friends...."
New York Post 8/1/99 Brian Blomquist "...The chief federal judge in Washington threw out the normal judge-selection rules and handpicked two Clinton-appointed judges on cases that could have damaged the president, it was reported yesterday. ...."I think she made a mistake," a federal judge in the court told The Post yesterday. "There are a number of us who don't believe it was a good idea to specially assign cases. We believe in the concept of random assignment." The judge said Johnson's assignments "make the court look bad," especially during a time when it's important to show the public that even the president doesn't get special breaks from the court..... One judge speculated that Johnson handed the Hubbell and Trie cases to Clinton-friendly judges to "counteract" her decisions against the president in the Sexgate probe...."
Judicial Watch 8/2/99 Tom Fitton letter to Judge Johnson "... Dear Judge Johnson: .... Last Saturday, July 31, and today, Monday, August 2, 1999, reports appeared in the Associated Press suggesting that you have not made random assignments of certain politically charged criminal cases concerning the Clinton Administration. Copies of these reports are attached. Yesterday, on Fox News Sunday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch commented on these allegations. Judicial Watch has also been active since its inception in 1994 in bringing lawsuits, in the public interest, to address allegations of corruption in the Clinton Administration, and other branches of government. Judicial Watch would not be true to its "core mission" if it overlooked the allegations contained in the Associated Press reports of the last few days. Accordingly, with deep respect for you, and with an appreciation for your fine reputation for integrity and honesty, we respectfully request, on behalf of the public, that you quickly address, in the public domain, the allegations contained in the Associated Press stories...."
Washington Times 8/2/99 "...The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said yesterday he is disturbed that there has "apparently been selective assigning" of criminal cases against friends of President Clinton's to judges he appointed. "Something sort of smells," said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican and a GOP presidential contender. "It looks as though they're covering these things up. Certainly it looks like these plea bargains have been deals, and we even worry about whether the judges were preselected so that they would give these soft plea bargains credibility." Mr. Hatch said he has no evidence of wrongdoing by U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson, the selecting judge, "but this doesn't look right."
USA Today 8/2/99 AP "...U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson's decision to abandon the longtime random computer assignment for the high-profile cases has raised concerns among several other judges, according to Associated Press interviews with them. The judges also raise concerns about an appearance of possible conflicts of interest, because judges who got the cases were friendly with key players - presidential confidant Vernon Jordan and defense lawyer Reid Weingarten - and made rulings that handicapped prosecutors..... ''As far as assigning a recently appointed judge of the same party, it's dangerous, it's risky, it's hazardous because the outcome might support the cynical view that the judge did not decide the matter on the merits even though that may be the furthest thing from the truth,'' Columbia University law professor H. Richard Uviller said. New York University law professor Stephen Gillers said, ''If the case is high-profile, that should increase the presumption in favor of random selection.'' ...Johnson assigned the Trie case and two subsequent cases against Democratic fund-raisers to Friedman, who tossed out various charges. After one of Friedman's rulings was overturned on appeal, Trie agreed to plead guilty. ..."
Associated Press 8/2/99 Pete Yost "…U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson summoned her colleagues to an unusual meeting Monday and told them that heavy workloads were a factor in her assignment of criminal cases against two presidential friends to judges appointed by President Clinton, according to attendees… The story noted some of her colleagues were concerned by the special assignments. According to several judges who attended the late-afternoon meeting, the chief judge called the meeting to discuss a letter she plans to write in response to the AP article. She declined repeated requests to comment before the story was released.. Johnson told the judges that she will point out in the letter that her predecessors had assigned cases outside the random draw in scandals such as Watergate and Iran-Contra. Those assignments, however, were to some of the most experienced judges in the courthouse at the time and not to recent appointees, AP reported this weekend… "
Freeper mrssmith observes USCode 28 372 "( c )…(1) Any person alleging that a circuit, district, or bankruptcy judge, or a magistrate, has engaged in conduct prejudicial to the effective and expeditious administration of the business of the courts...the judicial council may, in its discretion, refer any complaint under this subsection, together with the record of any associated proceedings and its recommendations for appropriate action, to the Judicial Conference of the United States. "…":
The Wall Street Journal Editorial 8/4/99 "…With something of a post-impeachment reassessment going on, we are learning more about how the legal system has favored the Clinton team. Suddenly, we have the case of Norma Holloway Johnson, chief judge of the Federal District Court in the District of Columbia…. It should be said that Judge Johnson cast a skeptical eye on some Clinton claims when she heard the assertions of special privileges for Secret Service agents. But it now turns out that Judge Johnson was also instrumental in the Linda Tripp indictment. The Maryland prosecutors could not proceed without the evidence of the Tripp tapes, and in receiving them Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr had granted her immunity that would have protected them from both federal and state prosecutors. But Judge Johnson intervened and decided to transmit the tapes to the Maryland prosecutors office….."
Washington Times 8/5/99 Jerry Seper "...The eight federal judges appointed by President Clinton to the U.S. District Court in Washington meet privately every month in closed-door sessions that other jurists believe are improper and call into question the court's impartiality. "I cannot imagine any legitimate reason for them to meet together once a month, even socially," said one veteran courthouse official familiar with the sessions. "It's not only in bad taste, it certainly has the appearance of impropriety. It's hard to imagine any rationale for these meetings." Another court official said they "reek with impropriety." ...None of the eight Clinton-appointed judges, all of whom were named to the bench between 1994 to 1998, would comment on the meetings or their content. ....Four judges appointed by other presidents, both Republican and Democrat, said the meetings have been taking place for some time, although specific topics are not known. .... "The Clinton appointees have confirmed that they meet together, and we know they do, but where they go and what they discuss I just don't know," said one judge. "But a very important part of what we do here is our collegiality. We all come with political viewpoints but we try to leave politics behind. Unfortunately, the Clinton appointees have gone off on their own." ....The nature of the isolation, another judge said, was punctuated by an e-mail message sent to all of the judges inviting them to a birthday party for U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina, a 1994 Clinton appointee. The message asked the judges to guess Judge Urbina's age for a prize but excluded members of the "Magnificent Seven" -- a name the first seven Clinton appointees had used to describe their group before Judge Roberts' 1998 appointment.... "Even if deviations from the district court's random case assignment procedures are technically permitted by local rule, I share the concern that has been expressed by other judges on the court that these assignments will damage the public's confidence that these cases were impartially adjudicated," he [Hatch] said. Committee member Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican, echoed Mr. Hatch's concerns, adding that as a former prosecutor he was "stunned" by the Johnson assignments.... Some judges questioned whether the Hubbell and Trie cases, both of which ended in plea agreements, could be considered protracted or complex. They said several high-profile and lengthy trials have been assigned through the random-selection process...."
AP Janelle Carter 8/5/99 "...The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman has asked Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist to consider investigating why two cases involving President Clinton's friends were assigned to Clinton-appointed judges. .....Several other judges have expressed concern that the assignments had the appearance of a conflict of interest. Friedman dismissed various charges against Trie. One of Friedman's rulings was reversed on appeal, and Trie is to be sentenced in two weeks, probably to probation, on a plea-bargained guilty plea. Robertson dismissed the tax case against Hubbell, a former associate attorney general, who eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor when an appeals court reinstated the case. Robertson was later chosen, at random, to handle a felony case against Hubbell that charged him with lying to federal regulators. Robertson threw out the central felony count in that case, but again an appeals court reversed him, and Hubbell eventually pleaded guilty to one felony count.....Still, Hatch asked Rehnquist to look into the matter using the Judicial Conference of the United States, a panel of judges that includes chief justices from each judicial circuit. As chief justice, Rehnquist is presiding officer of the conference, which makes policy concerning the administration of U.S. courts. "I wish to ask you ... to consider whether an examination by the Judicial Conference might be warranted,'' Hatch wrote. Such an inquiry should examine whether other cases involving the Clinton administration have been assigned in a manner that deviated from normal procedure, whether the facts justify any deviations and the propriety of any deviations, Hatch wrote....."
Judicial Watch 8/6/99 Larry Klayman "...Yesterday, as reported by the Associated Press, Judicial Watch asked the higher court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to investigate recent allegations that certain assignments of cases concerning the Clinton Administration and The White House have been steered to recently appointed Clinton judges, and that these Clinton judges, who are also alleged to have once called themselves "the Magnificent Seven," have been holding meetings among themselves. Ordinarily, it is the appellate court which is encharged under law to investigate allegations concerning the conduct of lower court judges. Judicial Watch will await these findings before deciding whether further steps are necessary, as, under these circumstances, the judicial system should be allowed the first opportunity to investigate and take whatever corrective steps are necessary. As many cases concerning the Clinton Administration and The White House are now pending before Clinton appointed judges, Judicial Watch has asked for a swift investigation...."
Judicial Watch 8/6/99 Tom Fitton 8/5/99 Letter to Judicial Council for the District of Columbia Circuit "...While not responding to our letter of August 2, 1999, Judge Johnson responded directly to The Washington Times (see Exhibit 3). In her letter of August 2, 1999, to The Washington Times, Judge Johnson accused the Associated Press and The Washington Times of "impugn[ing] the integrity of two outstanding members of the judiciary..." She adds, "Such an unsubstantiated and unsupportable article does the public little credit and the truth much harm. Id. at 2. However, Judge Johnson's letter does not answer the fundamental question: Why did she assign highly-charged criminal cases concerning the President, The White House, and the Clinton Administration to recent Clinton appointees, when either the random selection system or assignment to other more experienced judges could have occurred - particularly since her rationale in bypassing the random system depends on the complexity and likely protractedness of the cases? According to both the Associated Press and The Washington Times, at least six other judicial officers have raised questions about the case assignment process. Senator Orrin Hatch has also expressed concern about the controversy. In light of the fact that sources of the articles themselves were judicial officers, the questions raised in them take on added weight. Judicial Watch has the utmost respect for Judge Johnson, but the allegations raised in the articles remain largely unaddressed by her letter. In addition, Judicial Watch respectfully requests that this Court investigate additional allegations contained in an article entitled "Clinton appointees meet privately; Other judges, lawmakers question propriety of secrecy," which appeared on the front page of The Washington Times today (see Exhibit 2). Without making any accusations and with deep respect for the District Court for the District of Columbia, Judge Johnson and all of its judges, we, therefore, respectfully request that the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit expeditiously commence an investigation of this important and serious matter, under its supervisory powers...."
Freeper mrsmith 8/6/99 "...Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist is the Circuit Justice of the DC Court. Judicial Conference of the United States Judicial Code of Conduct :
Canon 1: A judge should uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary....
Canon 2: A judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities....
Canon 3: A judge should perform the duties of the office impartially and diligently. ("A judge shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned, including but not limited to instances in which the judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party ... ")
Canon 4: A judge may engage in extrajudicial activities to improve the law, the legal system and the administration of justice...
Canon 5: A judge should regulate extrajudicial activities to minimize the risk of conflict with judicial duties....
Canon 6: A judge should regularly file reports of compensation received for law-related and extrajudicial activities. .."
www.nypost.com 8/7/99 "...The eight Clinton-appointed judges in Washington's U.S. District Court have been gathering behind closed doors for secret monthly meetings, at the exclusion of the other 15 judges at the federal courthouse. These meetings are highly inappropriate, and they raise legitimate suspicions that the jurists are more concerned with politics than the law. This is especially worrisome considering the fact that Judge Norma Holloway Johnson personally selected judges to hear two high-profile cases rather than, as is the routine, allowing a computer to randomly spit out assignments.... The judges and their secret meetings are just another example for the shady, unethical behavior that will forever be associated with the Clinton years. That this administration has extended its reach to the system of justice and the rule of law is frightening - but not surprising...."
Augusta Chronicle 8/9/99 "...The revelation by The Washington Times that the eight federal judges appointed by President Clinton to the U.S. District Court in Washington meet privately every month in closed-door sessions dynamites the very foundation of judicial ethics and impartiality in this country. There is absolutely no reason for these meetings, which are described in e-mails addressed monthly to each of the judges..... None of the eight Clinton appointees are talking to the press, even though they have confirmed that they plot who-knows-what together. But The Times reports the other judges -- appointed by other presidents of both parties -- ``question the propriety of the sessions and lament what they describe as the `loss of collegiality' when the judges fail to come together as a group.''...."
Rebuttal by Judge Johnson:
The Washington Times Letter to the Editor From Judge Norma Halloway Johnson 8/4/99 "…As I firmly believe that justice is best served in the courts of law and not on the front page of a newspaper, it has long been my policy not to discuss my judicial decision-making with members of the press. However, I feel compelled to make an exception to that policy in order to correct the disturbing misimpression left by an Associated Press story published in The Washington Times ("Judges fret over assigning of cases," Aug. 1).
The article alleges that I "bypassed the traditional random assignment system" to assign certain criminal cases to judges appointed to President Clinton, singling out the criminal case against Charles Yah Lin Trie, which was assigned to Judge Paul L. Friedman, and the criminal case against Webster Hubbell, which was assigned to Judge James Robertson. The article implies that these case were assigned to judges based on political motivations. This unsubstantiated assertion could not be further from the truth. Moreover, the article does a significant disservice to the perception of impartial justice that I believe all of the judges on our court strive mightily to maintain. Contrary to the false perception left by the AP story, these cases were assigned to highly capable federal judges. Politics was not and is never a factor in our case assignments.
The circumstances leading to these routine "special assignments" are quite simple. For years, Local Rule 403(g) of the Rules of the District Court for the District of Columbia has authorized the chief judge to specially assign protracted or complex criminal cases to consenting judges when circumstances warrant. My predecessors and I have used this assignment system to enable our court to handle expeditiously high-profile criminal cases with unique demands on judicial resources. For example, criminal cases arising from Watergate and the Iran-Contra affair were handled through special assignment. In both these instances of overwhelming media scrutiny and complexity, the special assignment system well served our needs. In addition to these highly publicized criminal cases, special assignment also has been a valuable tool in addressing multiple-defendant narcotics conspiracy cases. It is the responsibility of the chief judge to move the docket as expeditiously as possible. That was all that was intended by these assignments.
Finally, I must note that the article irresponsibly impugns the reputation of two fine federal judges by suggesting conflicts of interest in their handling of these cases. Neither judge had any obligation to recuse himself from the cases to which he was assigned, for neither faced a conflict of any sort. A judge's prior affiliations and acquaintances, alone, do not require recusal or disqualification. Indeed, many judges on this court know many lawyers and public officials in Washington. If recusal were required on the basis of these innocuous connections, it would wreak havoc on case scheduling.
In the future, I suggest that before your newspaper prints a story that impugns the integrity of two outstanding members of the federal judiciary, you offer more evidence of an actual onflict than the slender reed of innuendo that supports these current allegations. Such an unsubstantiated and insupportable attack does your publication little credit and the truth much harm….NORMA HALLOWAY JOHNSON Chief judge United States District Court for the District of Columbia Washington…"
Freeper the wildthing 2/19/00 biography "…
U.S. District Court Judge, District of Columbia.
Room 6321, 333 Constitution Ave. NW,
Washington, DC, 20001.
Judge Paul L. Friedman was an assistant to Lawrence Walsh in Iran-contra investigation. He was appointed to the bench by President Bill Clinton. His best known decision is FEC v. GOPAC, 897 F.Supp. 615 (DDC 1995), in which he ruled against GOPAC. Judge Friedman was also an attorney in the law firm of White and Case for almost two decades.
Judge Friedman was born February 20, 1944. He received his B.A. from Cornell in 1964, and his J.D. from S.U.N.Y. Buffalo in 1968.
http://www.dcd.uscourts.gov/97-2946.html On Lincoln Assassination http://www.dcd.uscourts.gov/district-court.html
Terry Frieden/CNN 1/4/00 "……A Florida businessman involved in a scheme to funnel illegal contributions to the 1996 Clinton-Gore re-election campaign will plead guilty in federal court in Washington Tuesday. The plea by Juan Ortiz, chief financial officer of Future Tech International (FTI), comes three weeks after the Justice Department announced Ortiz had reached an agreement with federal prosecutors. Government officials say Ortiz will plead guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Paul Friedman to charges of serving as a conduit for illegal contributions and reimbursing eight others who provided similar contributions. Ortiz and eight other FTI employees had been reimbursed by the company for their $1,000 contributions made at a 1995 fund-raising event at a Miami hotel, according to court documents. ……Officials say the Ortiz agreement is related to the September 30 17-count indictment of Democratic fund-raiser Mark Jimenez, FTI's chief executive officer and Ortiz's boss. ……" http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/stories/1999/01/04/fundraising/
The Wall Street Journal 2/18/00 "……Senator Bill Bradley has demanded that Al Gore explain his appearance at the now legendary 1996 fund-raiser staged at a Buddhist temple in Hacienda Heights, California. Needless to say, the Vice President of the United States will shrug off Mr. Bradley's pertinent question, secure in the knowledge that no one else is likely to bother him with it again anytime soon. But those curious for a clue should get themselves down to the D.C. courtroom of federal district Judge Paul Friedman, who is presiding over the trial of Democratic Party fund-raiser and Gore crony Maria Hsia. The question of the moment is whether the entire federal legal establishment is going to manage to shrug off the Clinton-Gore fund-raising violations. Consider the Hsia trial testimony this week of Clinton co-fund-raiser John Huang, who cut a deal with prosecutors for his own role in the scandal--one year of probation, a fine and community service. Get a load of what Justice got in return. Mr. Huang testified that the Buddhist Temple event "was never a fund raising matter."…... Maria Hsia has been raising money for Al Gore as far back as 1989, long before he teamed up with Bill Clinton's own fund-raising operation….. Jeffrey Birnbaum detailed the Gore-Hsia financial relationship in the February 7 issue of Fortune. "You are a wonderful friend," Mr. Gore wrote Ms. Hsia in 1989....... In a copy of a notice filed by prosecutors and released by Rep. Coble, the Justice Department requested the Hsia case be sent to U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman "at the request of the Chief Judge." The department said the case was "related" to an earlier indictment of Clinton fund-raiser Charlie Trie and that both cases should be handled by the same judge. Rep. Coble said the Hsia case was not "related" as defined by court rules and called the handling of the Hsia case "disturbing." ...,,:
2/7 Fortune Magazine article "……Vice President Al Gore's visit to a Buddhist temple near Los Angeles in 1996 is the very symbol of campaign-finance chicanery, particularly illegal contributions from Asia. Gore tried to distance himself from the event by claiming at first that it was "community outreach." Eventually he conceded that it was "finance related," but he's always said he didn't know it was a fundraiser. Could that be true? It stretches credulity. Over the years Gore, who rarely signed his own thank-you notes, maintained an extraordinary correspondence with Maria Hsia, a fundraiser who was one of the event's main organizers. "I cannot thank you enough," Gore wrote to Hsia and Howard Hom, then her partner, in 1990. "You two are great friends. See you soon." Six years later Hsia stood with the yellow-robed Master Hsing Yun when Gore arrived at the Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights, Calif. ……"
2/7 Fortune Magazine article "……A little-noticed set of documents collected by the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee leaves scant doubt that the event at the Buddhist temple was a Democratic Party fundraiser--and that Gore knew it. These electoral mash notes between Gore and Hsia make clear that Gore saw green whenever he saw Hsia….."
2/7 Fortune Magazine article "…… Gore and Hsia got to know each other in the late 1980s, when Gore was worried about raising enough money for his 1990 Senate reelection. Hsia, an immigration consultant, was eager to contribute to politicians who could help her clients and associates. One associate was John Huang, who became notorious as an Asian fundraiser for the Democratic Party in 1996. Her clients would later include the Hsi Lai Temple, whose parent was the Fo Kuang Shan Buddhist order. In 1989, Gore was the sole U.S. Senator to accept Hsia's entreaty to visit the temple's Taiwan headquarters on a trip partly paid for by the order. Prior to that journey, Hsia had donated money to Gore's campaign, and Gore had written to Hsia, "My involvement in the presidential race over the past two years has delayed my efforts to raise money for the 1990 [Senate] campaign and left our coffers empty for the upcoming race.... I appreciate your generosity and hope we can get together sometime soon." And before Gore accepted Hsia's entreaty to go to Taiwan, she wrote to him: "If you decide to join this trip, I will persuave [sic] all my colleagues in the future to play a leader [sic] role in your future presidential race." ..."
2/7 Fortune Magazine article "……Hsia also collected donations for Gore in California, helped organize Asian-American giving in Tennessee, and directed other contributions to his campaign through the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee......., Gore and Hsia stayed in touch through the years. He co-sponsored part of an immigration bill she favored. She and her partner gave his son an electronic submarine game. She sent material for Gore's book, Earth in the Balance. ("Perfect," Gore aide Peter Knight wrote back.) And, as ever, she raised money.......:
Freeper snopercod 2/18/00 Senate Gov. Affairs report (1997) "……Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Special Investigation of Illegal or Improper Activities in Connection With 1996 Federal Election Campaigns, HSI LAI TEMPLE portion in .pdf format. Pages one and two (of 83) - the executive summary, follow (publishing date unknown, but probably Dec. 1997):
THE HSI LAI TEMPLE FUNDRAISER AND MARIA HSIA
The fundraiser attended by Vice President Gore on April 29, 1996 at the Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights, California, has been the focus of considerable attention and controversy ever since reports first surfaced in the national press revealing that some of the donations given to the DNC in connection with this event were unlawfully reimbursed1. Over the course of its investigation, the Committee has examined the various allegations of illegality and impropriety that have surfaced in connection with this event. Furthermore, the Committee has conducted a broader inquiry into the unlawful involvement of the Hsi Lai Temple in the 1995-96 election cycle and the complex chain of events that produced this involvement.
As a result of these inquiries, it has become apparent that the DNC's Hsi Lai Temple fundraiser on April 29, 1996 was merely one instance - albeit the most significant one - in an ongoing campaign of illegal Temple donation-laundering arranged by a woman named Maria L. Hsia in support of Democratic candidates. Nor was this campaign merely an aberration confined to the 1995-96 election cycle. Rather, it had roots stretching back to 1988, with the decision of James Riady, John Huang, Maria Hsia, and others to organize themselves into a political fundraising and lobbying organization in order to advance their interests through U.S. politics.
The Temple-related issue that has hitherto received the most attention in the press - Vice President Gore's knowledge (or alleged lack thereof) with regard to the status of his April 29 luncheon as a DNC fundraiser - is addressed in this section. It will be obvious from the evidence recounted herein that despite his various denials, the Vice President was well aware that the event was one designed to raise money for his party. Preoccupied by a narrow debate over the inconsequential terminology of "community outreach," "finance-related events," "donor maintenance," and "fundraisers," many observers have missed the forest for the trees. The real significance of the Temple incident lies not in the Vice President's lack of candor, but in the ongoing relationship this affair illustrates between him - and the Democratic Party - and a small but influential political clique headed by Riady, Huang, and Hsia. As will become clear, despite the participation of Temple monastics in criminal wrongdoing in connection with the April 1996 event and in Hsia's broader campaign of Democratic Party donation-laundering, the Temple itself seems to have been only a secondary actor in this drama. Indeed, Temple officials seem to have known little - if anything - about the political campaigns they illegally supported at Hsia's direction2. The real significance of the Temple incident may therefore be found in what it reveals about the activities and agenda of its key decision-makers - Maria Hsia and John Huang.
Hsia and Huang have both asserted their Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and have refused to cooperate with the Committee. Nevertheless, from documentary evidence produced pursuant to subpoena and from interviews and depositions of persons involved, the Committee has been able to develop a detailed understanding both of the events at issue and of the role of Hsia and Huang therein.
1. See, e.g., Phil Kuntz, Instant Karma: Cash Gets to Democrats Via Buddhist Temple," Wall 1 Street Journal, Oct. 17, 1996 (recounting allegations by Buddhist nun that DNC donation for Gore event was reimbursed). This early coverage prompted the Christian Coalition to file a complaint against the DNC with the Federal Election Commission in connection with the Hsi Lai Temple fundraiser. See generally Colleen Sealander, letter to Master Shing Yun, Oct. 29, 1996 (Ex. 1) (forwarding complaint to Temple, with attachments).
2.Since the Hsi Lai Temple received electronic alarm services from a corporation called "DNC," 2 many of the monastics solicited to give money to the Democratic National Committee may have mistaken the party for the company. Cf., e.g., IBPS check #1278, Jan. 5, 1996 (Ex. 2) ($50 payment to "DNC," apparently for alarm services). ......"
Freeper Severnside 2/18/00 Ed and Bill "….. We think our picture in "Year of the Rat" tells it all. From left to right: Maria Hsia [identified by the CIA as a Chinese agent], the Buddhist Master, No-controlling-legal-authority, Ted Sioeng [identifed by the CIA as a Chinese agent] and hovering in the background is John Huang who took the Fifth a godzillion times before Larry Klayman. We stand by our comment on Gore at the Temple: Either he's lying when he says he didn't know or he's too dumb to be President. ......"
8/2/99 William Mann AP "….. A Republican presidential contender questions the selection of a President Clinton-appointed judge to try Democratic fund-raising cases against a Clinton friend and others that resulted in "soft plea bargains." Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said Sunday that he has no evidence of wrongdoing by U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson, the selecting judge, "but this doesn't look right." The Associated Press found that Johnson bypassed a traditional random assignment system to send the criminal case against presidential friend Charlie Trie to U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman. Trie's case was the first major prosecution from the Justice Department investigation of Democratic fund raising in the 1996 election. Friedman, appointed to the bench by Clinton two years earlier, also was assigned by Johnson to two other related cases. ……. Friedman threw out various charges against Trie and the other two, assigned to Friedman under normal court rules because of their cases' relevance to Trie's. One of Friedman's rulings was thrown out on appeal, and Trie is to be sentenced, probably to probation, in two weeks on a plea-bargained guilty plea. ..."
The Associated Press 2/18/00 "….A videotape of Vice President Al Gore's controversial visit to a fund-raiser at a Buddhist temple won't be available for his political opponents' campaign commercials for another week or so. U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman ruled Friday that the Gore video will be off limits to the public until a jury reaches a verdict in the criminal trial of former Democratic fund-raiser Maria Hsia. Justice Department prosecutors plan to wrap up their case Tuesday, followed by a defense from Hsia's lawyers and jury deliberations. Hsia lawyer Nancy Luque played the video for the jury, making it vulnerable to public dissemination. In a three-page ruling, Friedman made all trial exhibits available immediately, except for the tape, saying he wanted ``to avoid the possibility that the jury will be influenced by the coverage of the videotape by the media.'' However, the media already has videotape of Gore at the Buddhist temple, with CNN airing segments on Jan. 31. Congressional investigators looking into Gore's role in the fund-raising scandal of 1996 never were able to find video of him at the temple. Luque did not give the source of the tape, which carried a commentary in Chinese. Thursday in court, Luque referred to the Republican National Committee in saying she'd like the judge to keep the Gore tape under wraps until the case ends so it doesn't prejudice the jury. The judge said he'd gotten a few inquiries about the video from congressional offices……"
Freeper abwehr 2/18/00 "…..Unable to find a copy??? I hate it when the media lie like this. Do they do it on purpose, or is it just stupidity or laziness on their part? The real story:
Hsia barred reporters from viewing the videotape taken by King & I Productions, videographers hired for the Vice President's Temple luncheon, including that taken of the speeches made by Vice President Gore and others to the assembled guests229. Within two days of the luncheon, all copies of the videotape footage were gathered up from the film company and quickly shipped to Taiwan230. Moreover, the monastic who took the tape from the production company on May 3, 1996- a monk by the name of Man-Chin231 - left the Fo Kuang Shan order shortly after the Committee served Temple officials with a subpoena for the videotape; he has since disappeared232. Despite the repeated assurances of Temple officials that they are looking for this missing tape - and despite the fact that Temple officials have used short excerpts from this tape in making a brief publicity video that appeared on the Cable News Network - the full videotape record of the event with Vice President Gore on April 29, 1996 remains hidden to this day.
229. See Memorandum of Interview of Anonymous Chinese newspaper reporter, May 16, 1997, pp. 1-2.
230.Hank Tseng, letter to Christopher Ford, Aug. 27, 1997 (Ex. 153); Hearing testimony, Sept. 4, 230 1997, pp. 167-69 & 173-81.
231.See Ex. 153.
232.Hearing testimony, Sept. 4, 1997, pp. 174-75 & 179 (remarks of Man Ho, Senator Fred Thompson, and Brian Sun).
Source: The "Thompson Committee" hearings, 1997. .pdf transcript…….. Gotta love Nancy Luques request to the judge that she didn't want to release the tape because it might prejudice the jury when she had just showed it to that same jury... and the judge? AGREED! ….."
AP 2/18/00 "…..A federal appeals court Friday refused to revive a lawsuit by 31 members of Congress who accused President Clinton of overstepping his authority when he ordered the military to join in last year's NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. The members of Congress lacked legal standing to pursue their argument that Clinton violated the 1973 War Powers Act, said the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Writing for the court, Judge Laurence Silberman said the members of Congress lacked standing because they had ``ample legislative power to have stopped prosecution of the war.'' Congress could have passed a law forbidding the use of U.S. forces, and it could have cut off funds for the operation, wrote Silberman, a Reagan nominee to the court. ……. Rep. Tom Campbell, the California Republican who led the lawmakers suing the president, said lawmakers would consider appealing to the Supreme Court. ``The court's decision today is a disappointment to all of us who try to uphold the Constitution,'' Campbell said in a statement released by his office. ``To allow a president to make war on his own is a terrible error.'' …..U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman dismissed the case last June, saying those who sued failed to show ``a sufficiently genuine impasse between the legislative and executive branches to give them standing.'' ..."
The Washington Weekly 2/28/00 Marvin Lee "…..Judge Paul L. Friedman has sealed a videotape of Al Gore fundraising at a Buddhist temple, keeping it unavailable for campaign ads targeting the Vice President's illegal fundraising practices. The tape was the only piece of evidence the Judge chose to withhold from the public. Judge Friedman was appointed by President Clinton and the case against Maria Hsia, the host of the illegal fundraising event, was assigned to him under circumstances that are now under investigation by Congress. The Justice Department asked for a change of venue from Los Angeles, where the fundraiser took place, to Washington, D.C. where the White House controls some of the judges. Other judges, however, have been appointed by President Reagan and are outside control of the White House. So to retain control over the case it would be necessary to bypass the random assignment of cases to judges.
The Washington Weekly 2/28/00 Marvin Lee "…..It now turns out that the Justice Department asked for the case to be assigned to Judge Paul Friedman because it was "related" to another Clinton case that had already been assigned to Friedman. The case against Clinton fundraiser Charlie Trie had been assigned to Friedman bypassing the rules of random assignment of cases to avoid political favoritism by the courts. Chief Judge Norma Holloway Johnson complied with the request for a special assignment. In fact, the Justice Department claims that it was her idea to begin with. ….."http://www.palni.edu/news-archives/pacs-l/msg00756.html Judge Paul Friedman (!) issued in 1998 an opinion concerning government e-mails that Archivist of the United States John Carlin seems to have welcomed:
WASHINGTON POST, Sunday, May 10, 1998; Page W04 Those Evil Weeds By Al Kamen * * * . and Don't Delete the E-Mails …….……Some folks think that Clinton press secretary Mike McCurry has retired the spinmeister-of-the-century trophy. But not so fast. National Archives director John Carlin and his troops are making a se-rious run for the award. U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman in October declared that a Carlin regulation advis-ing government agencies that they may wipe out electronic mail and other computerized records without regard to their content was "null and void." Last month, the judge found that the Archives had continued to use the regulation and had "flagrantly violated" the court order by telling agencies they could "continue to rely upon" Carlin's voided regulation even "when [Carlin] knew there was no such authorization."Sounds like bad news? Au contraire! ……"
Here's the Archives press release, issued the day after Friedman's most recent ruling:
"Archivist of the United States John Carlin today welcomed encouragement from a U.S. District Court for efforts of a special work group appointed by Carlin to help the federal government manage, preserve and provide access to electronic records of continuing value."
The release acknowledged that Friedman ordered Carlin to stop saying that the voided regulation "authorizes the disposition of electronic records." But it noted that the judge said nice things about the working group, and Carlin said, "We will certainly comply with this order." Wonder what the spin would've been if Friedman had cited Carlin for contempt (as he had threatened to do)? Maybe that would've been declared a clear-cut victory. ……."
PROFS Case: Results of Legal Ruling……..
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* Date: Tue, 12 May 1998 14:09:41 -0500
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Newsday.com 3/14/00 Jonathan Slanat AP "……The Federal Election Commission is urging Congress to pass a law saying foreigners cannot give any money to federal campaigns -- a subject at the heart of the scandals involving President Clinton's 1996 re-election effort. Commissioners want Congress to enact such a measure during its current session, saying it is one of the FEC's top legislative priorities. An existing law specifically bans foreign contributions to candidates and the FEC has ruled that the statute also applies to unregulated soft money given to the political parties. The commission, citing court cases that ruled otherwise, has recommended in the past that Congress pass a new law, but this is the first year that the FEC has made it a priority. U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman in 1998 threw out several Justice Department charges against Democratic fund-raisers Maria Hsia and Yah Lin ''Charlie'' Trie, ruling that the law applied just to donations that directly support individual candidates. An appeals court reinstated the charges. ….."
Chicago Sun-Times 3/19/00 "…..A Clinton-appointed federal judge is quietly delaying the trial of Pauline Kanchanalak, a major figure in the 1996 Democratic campaign scandals, until after the November elections that will settle the fate of Al Gore. Robert Conrad, one of the tougher Justice Department prosecutors, recently asked District Judge Paul R. Friedman for a two-month postponement of Kanchanalak's April trial date. The judge agreed, but privately informed the prosecutors that it would be too difficult to get a jury in the summer months and they must wait until mid-November. Friedman, a veteran Washington lawyer active in liberal causes, was named to the bench by President Clinton in 1994. ……"
AP 2/2/00 Pete Yost "……A federal jury today found former Democratic fund-raiser Maria Hsia guilty of arranging more than $100,000 in illegal contributions during the 1996 presidential campaign……. Hsia, who began raising money for Vice President Al Gore more than a decade ago, showed no emotion as the U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman read the verdict. ……. At the trial, former Democratic Party fund-raiser John Huang, the central figure in the campaign fund-raising scandal, testified that Hsia handed him an envelope containing $100,000 the day after Gore attended the temple event. Most of the donations in the envelope were reimbursed by the temple. ……"
Committee on Government Reform 3/2/00 "…..Congressman Dan Burton, Chairman of the Government Reform Committee, issued the following statement regarding the conviction of Democratic fundraiser Maria Hsia for her involvement in the Hsi Lai Temple fundraiser:
"I was disturbed that Attorney General Reno's Justice Department sought to portray the Vice President and the Democratic National Committee as victims in the Hsi Lai Temple fiasco. The Justice Department is being a little disingenuous about this.
"Yesterday, Charlie Trie testified before my Committee that he spent the night at the Hsi Lai Temple and that members of the Temple 'asked Mr. [Antonio] Pan and I if we were interested in helping the Temple organize a fundraiser for President Clinton or Vice President Gore.' Trie then called John Huang and suggested the Hsi Lai Temple as a fundraising venue.
"When John Huang testified before our Committee, he said that numerous people at the DNC and in the Vice President's office knew it was a fundraiser: 'Mr. (Don) Fowler . . . knew about it and Mr. (David) Strauss knew about it.' There is no doubt that the Vice President and the DNC were not victims. The Vice President just hasn't leveled with the American people.
"I will be watching the sentencing in this case very carefully. Janet Reno's Justice Department has sought very light sentences for Democrats and severe sentences for Republicans who have committed similar crimes.
"Simon Fireman, a Republican fundraiser, admitted to funneling $120,000 through straw donors. He got a $6 million fine. John Huang admitted to working with James Riady to funnel more than $700,000 in illegal money to the Democratic Party. He got a $10,000 fine.
"Empire Sanitary Landfill pled guilty to arranging $129,000 in conduit contributions. They were fined $8 million. The Justice Department wanted to give Charlie Trie probation. They didn't even want to fine him. The judge insisted on a $5,000 fine and four months of home confinement.
"Two years ago, when Judge Friedman, a Clinton-appointee, threw this case out, he called it an 'Alice in Wonderland-like maze of logical leaps and tangled inferences.' The appellate court and the jury did not agree. I'll be watching to see if Judge Friedman hands down an Alice in Wonderland sentence."…."
Associated Press 2/29/00 Pete Yost "….Focusing on a Buddhist temple that illegally bankrolled fund-raising events attended by Vice President Al Gore and other politicians, prosecutors are portraying an ex-Democratic fund-raiser as the overseer of a scheme to hide the true sources of more than $100,000 in campaign donations. But a lawyer for the defendant, Maria Hsia, says the Justice Department's case is so flawed that it suggests the prosecutors' motive in bringing the charges was simply to raise Gore's name once again in the 1996 fund-raising scandal. ``Why is Maria Hsia here?'' defense attorney Nancy Luque asked a federal court jury Monday in closing arguments at the trial, now in its fourth week. Prosecutors brought the case because of Hsia's ``relationship with the vice president'' which ``goes back to 1989. ... That is the only thing I can think of,'' Luque continued. Hsia, an immigration consultant, used 40 or 50 people as illegal conduits, most of whom were ``dupes'' who didn't even speak English, said prosecutor Eric Yaffe. ``She used ... her own clients and she used the temple to suit her own purposes,'' repeatedly arranging for the Buddhist temple to finance campaign donations……."
The Hsi Lai Temple Fundraiser and Maria Hsia
"…As a result of these inquiries, it has become apparent that the DNC's Hsi Lai Temple fundraiser on April 29, 1996 was merely one instance--albeit the most significant one--in an ongoing campaign of illegal Temple donation-laundering arranged by a woman named Maria L. Hsia in support of Democratic candidates. Nor was this campaign merely an aberration confined to the 1995-96 election cycle. Rather, it had roots stretching back to 1988, with the decision of James Riady, John Huang, Maria Hsia, and others to organize themselves into a political fundraising and lobbying organization in order to advance their interests through U.S. politics….
…… The real significance of the Temple incident lies not in the Vice President's lack of candor, but in the ongoing relationship this affair illustrates between him--and the Democratic Party-- and a small but influential political clique headed by Riady, Huang, and Hsia…..
…… The involvement of Hsia and the Hsi Lai Temple in donation- laundering in support of the Clinton/Gore ticket in 1996 was the culmination of a relationship between Hsia and Vice President Gore that stretches back to 1988--the year that James Riady, John Huang, Maria Hsia, Eddy Yang, Howard Hom, Fred Hong, and others established the Pacific Leadership Council (PLC) as a fundraising and lobbying organization to promote their interests in U.S. politics……
…… From the beginning, it should be noted, the PLC was in large part a vehicle for the advancement of Lippo interests. James Riady, the son of Mochtar Riady and scion of the family dynasty that ran the Lippo Group, was instrumental in the PLC's founding and served alongside Hsia and Fred Hong as one of the organization's first co-chairs.18 Indeed, James Riady was perhaps the single most important figure in the PLC's early political activity, hosting its first political fundraiser on April 22, 1988,19 using his business contacts to facilitate the group's fundraising,20 and employing his own money and that of Lippo employees to make up for unanticipated shortfalls in PLC fundraising efforts.21 ......"
THE WASHINGTON TIMES 2/17/00 Jerry Seper "…..The chief judge of the federal court here told Justice Department prosecutors to ask that a criminal case against a Democratic fund-raiser be assigned to a judge appointed by President Clinton, records show. Chief District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson, already under investigation for bypassing the court's random computer assignment system, made the request in the prosecution of Democratic fund-raiser Maria Hsia. Judge Johnson has suggested she assigned the Hsia case to Judge Paul L. Friedman, a Clinton appointee, because it was related to a case he already had been assigned - the prosecution of Arkansas businessman Charles Yah Lin Trie. She used the department's statement that the cases were related as justification for her decision to bypass the random assignment system…….In a Feb. 14 letter to the House Judiciary subcommittee on the courts and intellectual property, the Justice Department acknowleged that it had filed "a related case notice stating that at the suggestion of the chief judge" the Hsia case was related to the Trie prosecution……."As far as I am concerned, this procedure is unusual, unorthodox and may be improper," said Mr. Coble. "The subcommittee is concerned that the chief judge may have improperly influenced the department's decision to file a related case notice. "Did Chief Judge Johnson abuse her position by requesting that the department file a notice of a related case, particularly when the department apparently did not believe the cases were related?" Mr. Coble asked in requesting that the ongoing investigation be expanded. "Was this an attempt to disguise a special assignment? . . . An investigation in this matter should immediately be commenced."……"
Associated Press 2/16/00 Pete Yost "…..But Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C, whose judiciary subcommittee is looking into the assignments, disclosed a new document on Wednesday which states that Johnson suggested to prosecutors that they ask for the case of fund-raiser Maria Hsia be sent to a judge appointed by Clinton. "This procedure is unusual, unorthodox and may be improper," Coble wrote in a letter to the federal appeals court in Washington. Coble, a House Judiciary subcommittee chairman, enclosed a copy of a notice that the Justice Department filed in the Hsia case in 1998 in which prosecutors requested the case be sent to U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman "at the suggestion of the Chief Judge." …."
1/10/2000 Legal Times "…… U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman has flatly rejected a push by defense lawyers to dismiss an indictment against fund-raiser Maria Hsia…... Specifically, the defense team argued that Brian Sun and other members of his Santa Monica, Calif., firm, O'Neill Lysaght & Sun, wrongfully shared information with prosecutors on the federal Campaign Financing Task Force and thus violated a joint defense agreement. Last month, Friedman took the unusual step of holding two days of hearings - some closed even to the government - and asking Sun prosecutor Eric Yaffe and others to explain their actions. Sun told the court he may have shared privileged information with prosecutors in one or two areas, but that he did so with Hsia's consent. On Jan. 4, Friedman brushed aside the defense argument, writing "the facts simply do not support defendant's allegations. She has failed to provide sufficient evidence under any of these theories that would lead the Court to believe that it should take any action whatsoever, let alone dismiss the indictment." ……Nancy Luque, Hsia's lead attorney and a partner in the D.C. office of Reed Smith Shaw & McClay, says, "I plan to ask Judge Friedman to revisit it in short order." …."
1/24/2000 Reuters "…. The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way on Monday for Democratic fund-raiser Maria Hsia to stand trial on charges of hiding illegal contributions from a Buddhist temple to the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign. The high court without any comment or dissent rejected Hsia's appeal, opening the way for a trial that could renew attention about some of Vice President Al Gore's controversial activities in the 1996 fund-raising scandal. The justices let stand a U.S. appeals court ruling that reinstated five counts charging Hsia with causing false statements to be filed with federal regulators in a scheme to solicit illegal contributions and disguise them as lawful. A federal judge [Friedman] initially had dismissed the counts….."
1/24/00 UPI "….. The Supreme Court on Monday left in place a lower court decision that upholds one of the most powerful weapons federal prosecutors use to combat campaign finance violations: a felony charge of "willfully causing" a political committee to make false reports to the Federal Election Commission…… After an investigation by the Justice Department's campaign finance task force, Los Angeles immigration consultant Maria Hsia was indicted in 1998 on six counts in Washington, D.C. The indictment alleged that Hsia had illegally funneled campaign contributions through Buddhist nuns, monks and volunteers to the Clinton-Gore campaign in an attempt to avoid $1,000 limits on contributions imposed by the Federal Election Campaign Act. The Buddhist contributors were later allegedly reimbursed, the indictment said. A federal judge [Friedman], however, later dismissed counts 2 through 6, which charged that Hsia willfully caused a campaign committee to make false reports to the FEC. The judge [Friedman] said the First Amendment, the free-speech provisions of which the Supreme Court has closely tied to political contributions, did not permit the government to interpret the Federal Election Campaign Act in such a secondhand way. Besides, the judge [Friedman] reasoned, there appeared to be no way for federal prosecutors to prove that Hsia knew she was doing something illegal, and therefore, they could not prove that she "willfully caused" the fraudulent FEC filings. When an appeals court reversed the decision, Hsia asked the Supreme Court for review. The justices denied review Monday without comment. (No. 99-880, Maria Hsia vs. United States of America)
2/7/00 Washington times "…. Opening arguments begin today in the federal trial of Maria Hsia, longtime fund-raiser for Vice President Al Gore, who is accused of illegally disguising campaign donations to the 1996 Clinton-Gore Re-election Committee. The trial in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., begins as Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley has intensified his challenge of Mr. Gore's credibility concerning questionable fund-raising practices by the vice president during the 1996 presidential campaign…… She has pleaded not guilty. The case will be heard by U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman…….In bringing the case, the Justice Department overcame several adverse court rulings, including a 1998 decision by Judge Friedman to drop five counts against Mrs. Hsia. A federal appeals court overturned the ruling, saying Judge Friedman erred in citing the First Amendment's protection of religious expression and free speech in dropping the charges. Hsia set for trial on fund charges ..."
2/10/2000 Washinton Times -- A judicial body that oversees the conduct of judges at the federal court in Washington, D.C., yesterday ordered a new investigation into the assignment of criminal cases involving friends and associates of President Clinton to judges appointed by the president…….The new investigation was sought by Rep. Howard Coble, North Carolina Republican and chairman of a House subcommittee that oversees the courts, and Judicial Watch, a conservative public interest law firm. Mr. Coble asked the Judicial Council in January to investigate the case assignments, saying there were questions concerning the propriety of Judge Johnson's decision to bypass random assignments. "I have traditionally been reluctant to insert my oars into judicial waters, but this situation cried out for oars to be inserted," Mr. Coble said yesterday. "Judge Johnson received notice of my concerns in August and in November, and she declined to respond. "That set a bell off in my head and prompted me to get involved, and while I'm not interested in slam-dunking anyone, there is smoke here and we need to find out if there also is a fire," he said. Mr. Coble, chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee on the courts and intellectual property, said in his Judicial Council letter the judge's actions "may have been prejudicial to the effective and impartial administration" of the court's business……..Judicial Watch's complaint in the case was dismissed by Judge Williams, who labeled the matter as "frivolous" in a November opinion. "All we requested was an investigation and this is an important step in that direction," said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch. Earlier this month, senior judges at the federal court abolished the policy that let Judge Johnson bypass the random assignment system. Instead, they created a new system in which high-profile or lengthy cases will be assigned on a random basis to a separate pool that will include all the judges. Mr. Coble's concerns focused on cases involving Mr. Hubbell, former associate attorney general; Arkansas businessman Charles Yah Lin Trie; Democratic fund-raiser Howard Glicken; Thai lobbyist Pauline Kanchanalak; and Miami fund-raiser Mark B. Jimenez. The judges were Paul L. Friedman, James Robertson and Emmet G. Sullivan, all of whom were named to the bench by Mr. Clinton in 1994; and Henry H. Kennedy Jr., appointed by Mr. Clinton in 1997.
2/10/2000 Washinton Times -- In his letter, Mr. Coble challenged the Johnson assignments in the Hubbell and Trie cases and said the subcommittee had "additional information" that would "justify" a new inquiry. He said the new information included Judge Johnson's assignment of the Glicken, Kanchanalak and Jimenez cases, which "again bypassed the random case-assignment system." "The Judicial Council simply accepted Judge Johnson's justification in support of her action and concluded that in the circumstances presented, a purely conclusionary allegation . . . is not enough to justify a search for [evidence of misconduct]," he said. "How much evidence would be enough to justify an investigation?" Mr. Coble's concerns about the case assignments surfaced after two federal appeals court panels reinstated the Hubbell case that Judge Robertson had thrown out and reversed Judge Friedman's ruling in the Trie case, resulting in his guilty plea several days later. Another appeals court panel reinstated charges against Mrs. Kanchanalak of making false statements to the Federal Election Commission about money she contributed to the DNC….."
2/11/2000 Washington Times "……New York Times columnist William Safire describes Justice Department official Lee Radek as "the chief of the cover-up" involving 1996 campaign finance violations by higher-ups in the Clinton administration. Mr. Safire said he bumped into Mr. Radek the other day at Loeb's delicatessen on 15th and I streets and asked him why the trial of Maria Hsia, a former fund-raiser for Vice President Al Gore, was being held in Washington rather than in California near the Buddhist Temple where she is accused of illegally laundering campaign cash via Buddhist nuns. " 'We thought it would be a better venue,' the chief of the cover-up replied. From his concealing standpoint, he's right - the nation's capital is far better for acquittal or most lenient sentencing of the defendant." Mr. Safire also noted that by holding the trial here, Janet Reno's Justice Department "was certain it would get a Clinton-appointed judge [Friedman]," because the chief federal judge has been bypassing normal procedure in such cases……"
The Wall Street Journal 2/4/00 "…..A few days ago, the Associated Press's Pete Yost reported on one of the lingering ghosts of the Clinton scandals: "Addressing a growing controversy, federal judges in the nation's capital killed a rule that enabled the chief judge to send prosecutions against friends and supporters of President Clinton to his judicial appointees." In the normally well-cloaked world of judicial procedure, this is a very big deal. As far as we can make out from a large data-base search, the AP story was picked up by next to no major news outlets. …… The matters newly revealed last month include the assignment of the case of Mark Jimenez, a fugitive from the Justice Department's campaign-finance probe, to Judge Friedman (who, it should be noted, drove the internal review that had resulted in abolishing the discretionary assignment rule). And hearings regarding Miami businessman and Democratic fund-raiser Howard Glicken were assigned to Judge Henry Kennedy, a 1997 Clinton appointee…….. "
The New York Times 2/10/00 William Safire "…..Loeb's delicatessen on 15th street serves the best hot corned beef sandwich in town. It was there I ran into Lee Radek, who for years has been successfully making certain that no investigation of illegal Asian money poured into the Clinton-Gore campaign touches any of the higher-ups. Munching a pickle, I asked how come the current trial of Maria Hsia -- the longtime Gore fund-raiser charged with using Buddhist nuns as conduits for $140,000 in illegal contributions -- was being held in Washington, rather than near the Hacienda Heights, Calif., temple, scene of the alleged crime. "We thought this would be a better venue," the chief of the cover-up replied. From his concealing standpoint, he's right -- the nation's capital is far better for acquittal or most lenient sentencing of the defendant……"
The New York Times 2/10/00 William Safire "…..Reno Justice wants none of the Clinton-Gore Asian funny-money traffickers such as John Huang, Pauline Kanchanalak and Charlie Trie to face punishment that might induce them to involve any of the famous recipients of China's largess. In moving the trial of Hsia (pronounced shaw) to Democratic D.C., Reno Justice was certain it would get a Clinton-appointed judge. That's because in all the "Asian Connection" cases here, the chief federal judge bypassed the normal random assignment procedure to direct all those cases to Judge Paul Friedman. After this liberal jurist relieved Clintonites in 1998 by dismissing as "Alice in Wonderland" five of six felony counts against Hsia, the Court of Appeals overruled him, reinstating the charges whose prosecution he so reluctantly oversees today. (Feeling the heat of criticism about being the repeatedly chosen instrument of the cover-uppers, Friedman last week got the chief judge's egregious assignments stopped.) …..Reno's Radek not only has a demonstrably anti-prosecution Democratic judge but the usual 90 percent Democratic D.C. jury. Hsia's lawyer reminded it this week that the defendant "is a minority, supports Democrats and has all her life." ….."
The Washington Weekly 2/14/00 Marvin Lee "….The Department of Justice has changed the venue of the trial against Maria Hsia, the Gore-fundraiser charged with laundering illegal contributions through Buddhist nuns, from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. In Washington, D.C. the federal district court is controlled by the Clinton White House. All campaign fundraising cases against Clinton associates have bypassed the random selection of judges and have been assigned to Judge Paul Friedman who has cooperated with the Justice Department in its attempt to shut up witnesses so the case is not moved closer to the top and into the White House. Appearing on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor," last week, former House impeachment counsel David Schippers was asked whether the Washington D.C. court is more favorable to the Clinton-Gore team: "I think that's absolutely true. I think it's been proved already where there have been acquittals out there on cases that were very strong cases. As an old prosecutor, usually it's the defense that's screaming about the venue. In this case, Ms. Hsia's from California. The -- the co-conspirator, the temple, is in California. The money was paid in California. The reimbursement was made in California. The trial is being held in Washington, D.C." …….."
Judicial Watch 2/9/00 "…..The Judicial Council of the District of Columbia Circuit ordered yesterday that a federal appeals court judge reconsider Judicial Watch's judicial complaint, based on press reports and congressional inquiries, asking for an investigation of allegations that Chief Judge Norma Holloway Johnson had improperly bypassed the random assignment process when she directly assigned cases concerning President Clinton to recent Clinton appointees. Judicial Watch's complaint, which also asked for a probe of secret monthly meetings by Clinton appointees in the DC Circuit, was first filed in August, 1999.... The Judicial Watch Council for the District of Columbia Circuit, which is made up of D.C. federal circuit and district court judges, ruled on February 9: "...that the portion of the [Judicial Watch] complaint concerning the special assignment of cases be returned to the Acting Chief Judge for reconsideration in light of the letter of January 10, 2000...from The Honorable Howard Coble, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property of the Committee on the Judiciary United States, House of Representatives, and for consideration of whether a special committee should be appointed...to investigate further this aspect of the complaint." Congressman Coble's letter had raised further questions about Chief Judge Norma Holloway Johnson's assignment of cases concerning Bill Clinton's fundraising to recent Clinton appointees….."
THE WASHINGTON TIMES 2/10/00 Jerry Seper "…..The Judicial Council of the D.C. Circuit, in a terse two-paragraph ruling, ordered acting Appeals Court Chief Judge Stephen F. Williams to determine why a random computer assignment system at the court was bypassed in four campaign fund-raising prosecutions and a tax-evasion case against Clinton pal Webster L. Hubbell. Chief District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson abandoned the computer system to send the cases to judges appointed by Mr. Clinton. She has declined public comment on the decision, but told The Washington Times in a letter last month she was authorized to assign "protracted or complex criminal cases to consenting judges when circumstances warrant," although she did not elaborate. The new investigation was sought by Rep. Howard Coble, North Carolina Republican and chairman of a House subcommittee that oversees the courts, and Judicial Watch, a conservative public interest law firm…….Mr. Coble's concerns focused on cases involving Mr. Hubbell, former associate attorney general; Arkansas businessman Charles Yah Lin Trie; Democratic fund-raiser Howard Glicken; Thai lobbyist Pauline Kanchanalak; and Miami fund-raiser Mark B. Jimenez. The judges were Paul L. Friedman, James Robertson and Emmet G. Sullivan, all of whom were named to the bench by Mr. Clinton in 1994; and Henry H. Kennedy Jr., appointed by Mr. Clinton in 1997……"
Jewish World Review 2/10/00 Michelle Malkin "….Live, from the sixth floor of the U.S. District Courthouse, I watched the futility of campaign finance reform unfold before my eyes. The federal criminal trial of Democratic fund-raiser Maria Hsia - Vice President Al Gore's infamous Buddhist temple gal pal -- opened here in the courtroom of Judge Paul Friedman on Monday. It's a case study in the senselessness of passing new laws to fix The System. …….. Three of the nuns testified to Congress in 1998 that the temple reimbursed them and others for $55,000 in Democratic National Committee donations, which were drummed up by Hsia the day after Gore's two-hour visit to Hsi Lai in April 1996. …… Besides, Luque rationalized, "Even if Maria Hsia knew that contributions came from somewhere else, how does just knowing cause a lie?" So Hsia is not responsible even if she knew laws were being broken because knowing a lie isn't telling one. The monks and nuns were not responsible because they were unwitting dupes who didn't know the laws. The Democrat campaign treasurers who accepted the checks from Hsia were not responsible because they can't check every contribution. And Al Gore is not responsible because there was no controlling legal authority. ….."
10/18/99 Washington Weekly ".....Judge Paul L. Friedman, the Clinton-appointed Judge who has been assigned cases against Clinton friends outside normal procedure and who meets in secret with other Clinton-appointed judges, has been reversed by an appeals court. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia reinstated false-statement charges against Pauline Kanchanalak and her sister-in-law and business associate, Duangnet Kronenberg....... Judge Friedman had thrown out several of the charges brought by the Justice Department's Campaign Task Force, but they were all reinstated by the appeals court on October 8...... The charges against Kanchanalak and other subjects indicted by the task force have carefully avoided mention of the role of the White House and the DNC in the illegal campaign contribution scheme. Witnesses with knowledge of White House involvement have walked with cozy plea bargains to ensure their silence. Still, Judge Friedman found it necessary to throw out the remaining charges of making false statements against Kanchanalak and Kronenberg. The appeals Court has only one Clinton appointee, Judge David Tatel. He joined the opinion of the two other appeals court judges. ...."