A lot has happened in the last few months. This is so both in the world of white-collar enforcement and just in the world. I thought I’d share some thoughts on last week’s news about Michael Flynn and the Supreme Court’s decision in the “Bridgegate” case.

I. Flynn-sanity or: Gee, it must be nice to be the President’s buddy when you lie over and over again.

First up, Michael Flynn. He’s been a repeat player on this blog.

The Background. The short version is this: After the 2016 election but before the 2017 presidential inauguration, incoming National Security Advisor Flynn spoke to Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. about U.S. sanctions against Russia. He asked the Russians not to escalate tensions. But he told incoming Vice President Pence later in the transition that he had not discussed the sanctions. He told the FBI the same thing in late January 2017. He pleaded guilty to one charge of making a false statement to the FBI, and also admitted that he had acted as an unregistered agent of the Turkish government during the transition, and that he made false statements to DOJ in March 2017 about his actions on Turkey’s behalf. But then he tried to withdraw his guilty plea. Last week, DOJ filed an unusual motion asking the court to drop the charges against Flynn.

The Controversy. Depending on who you ask, this is either (1) vindication for an innocent man railroaded by the FBI, (2) a stunning assault by the Attorney General on the rule of law and an act of pure corruption to protect the President’s allies, or (3) a small taste of the kinds of pressures that less well-connected subjects of federal investigation face every day. For my part, I lean toward some version of (2) and (3), though neither completely captures my view.
Continue Reading Some Thoughts on Michael Flynn & Bridgegate

What happens when the President of the United States asks for a bribe?

I know what you’re thinking: what could possibly have inspired this topic? I’m not here to throw partisan stones or to take sides on the House’s ongoing impeachment inquiry, though publicly available information is pretty damning. Instead, I want to look at what we know now—and what we might know in the future—through the lens of the federal criminal law governing bribery.

I want to briefly explain four things:

  1. What the bribery statute says
  2. Why the facts about Ukraine-gate potentially implicate the solicitation—but not the offering—of a bribe by the President
  3. Whether the bribery statute applies to the President
  4. What legal defenses the President may have if he’s ultimately prosecuted


Continue Reading Presidential Bribery

Happy new year! While the shutdown has slowed DOJ, it has not stopped it. And we have fraud documentaries from Netflix and Hulu.

  • Just after the new year, the Senate confirmed Brian Moran as the Western District of Washington’s new U.S. Attorney.
  • Also in Seattle, a guilty plea to wire fraud and filing a false

Happy holidays after a long break. While we may have been quiet, DOJ has not.

  • The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Portland has charged three men with bank fraud and money laundering. The three allegedly used SnapChat to recruit students at Grant High School in Portland to deposit counterfeit checks, luring the teens with pictures of

  • Interesting post from former FBI GC Jim Baker (“Mr. FISA, himself“) about the rarely used presidential power to make legal determinations that are binding on the entire executive branch and whether the current president’s twittering counts
  • More interesting would be this newly posted job at the DOJ — Deputy Pardon Attorney, who

Been a while — not sure “Roundup of White Collar News” is the catchy phrase we’re looking for after a month or so, but here we go:

  • Interesting explanation of the Carter Page FISA application over at Lawfare
  • The Attorney General announced the publication of the Cyber-Digital Task Force Report — Question: does anyone actually