By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 1, 2016
A rigged system of justice that protects elites was a constant theme under President Obama’s former U.S. Attorney General at the Justice Department, Eric Holder, who failed to prosecute a single Wall Street bank executive over the epic corruption that led to the financial collapse in 2008.
Now, President Obama’s newest head of the Justice Department, Loretta Lynch, has come under withering criticism for conducting a private meeting with former President Bill Clinton on her government plane at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport while his wife, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, is under an active criminal investigation by her office for transmitting classified government material over her private email server while Secretary of State in the Obama administration.
President Obama’s two terms have been filled with personnel from the Bill Clinton presidency, leading to the appearance of continuity government between the two camps. The current U.S. Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, was appointed by Bill Clinton in 1999 during his Presidency to head the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York, where she worked until 2001. According to her official bio, she joined the corporate law firm, Hogan & Hartson LLP (now Hogan Lovells) in 2002 and remained there until January 2010 when President Obama nominated Lynch to once again head the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York.
The American Lawyer reported in 2008 that while Lynch was employed as a partner at Hogan & Hartson, a tax attorney at that firm, Howard Topaz, handled the Clintons’ tax returns since at least 2004. According to the article, the law firm was also a major contributor to Hillary Clinton’s political campaigns.
Both Republicans and Democrats are now questioning the inexplicable lack of judgment on the part of Lynch. CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan, a former media law professor, wrote the following last evening:
“Since the email server was located in the Clinton’s private residence in Chappaqua, N.Y., most members of the public would reasonably assume that Mr. Clinton himself would have more than a passing knowledge regarding the use and maintenance of the server. He would also be intensely interested in keeping his candidate wife clear of any allegations of criminal wrong during her presidential campaign…
“If the conversation, which took place on a private plane parked at the Phoenix Airport, was, as has been reported, merely a polite exchange of pleasantries and family news, no illegality occurred. Lawyers, however, are not bound by merely the black letter of the law but also by the lawyer’s ‘Code of Professional Responsibility’ which in theory holds them to a higher ethical standard.
“The lawyer’s ethical code historically prohibited them from engaging in activities that create an ‘appearance of impropriety’ and undermine public confidence in the justice system. The tarmac meeting here certainly feels improper. That code binds Lynch but possibly not the former president, whose law license was suspended by Arkansas for five years after the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
“The attorney general should have had better sense than to permit the meeting with the always charming and persuasive former president. It will erode public confidence in the Justice Department she leads.”
According to a Gallup poll released June 13 of this year, confidence in the criminal justice system stands at just 23 percent, two percentage points below that of the George W. Bush administration. The conduct of Eric Holder at the Justice Department has had a great deal to do with that loss of confidence and this appearance of cronyism on the part of Lynch simply fuels the public’s distrust of the institution.
On January 22, 2013, the PBS program, “Frontline,” aired an eye-opening expose on the Justice Department under Holder and the chief of his criminal division, Lanny Breuer, both of whom hailed from the law firm, Covington & Burling.
As Wall Street On Parade previously reported, Covington & Burling is the law firm that fronted for crimes by Big Tobacco for four decades. Covington & Burling’s relationship with Big Tobacco went far beyond the typical attorney-client relationship. The firm set up front groups to hide payments and to hide the coordination of Big Tobacco in promulgating fake science on the issue of second hand smoke according to an August 17, 2006 decision by Judge Gladys Kessler of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The “Frontline” program of 2013 was titled The Untouchables and included this exchange between producer Martin Smith and Justice Department criminal division chief Lanny Breuer:
MARTIN SMITH: We spoke to a couple of sources from within the Criminal Division, and they reported that when it came to Wall Street, there were no investigations going on. There were no subpoenas, no document reviews, no wiretaps.
LANNY BREUER: Well, I don’t know who you spoke with because we have looked hard at the very types of matters that you’re talking about.
MARTIN SMITH: These sources said that at the weekly indictment approval meetings that there was no case ever mentioned that was even close to indicting Wall Street for financial crimes.
Both Holder and Breuer have returned to their multi-million dollar incomes at Covington & Burling. Breuer’s bio at the law firm’s web site states that he is now Vice Chair of the firm and “specializes in helping clients navigate financial fraud investigations, anti-corruption matters, money laundering investigations, securities enforcement actions, cybercrime incidents, Congressional investigations, and other criminal and civil matters presenting complex regulatory, political, and public relations risks.”