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US House general counsel has serious questions about Schock probe

Friday, Apr 28, 2017

* I’ve kinda ignored the back and forth pleadings in this case because defense lawyers say a lot of stuff. But this can’t be ignored

The lawyer for the U.S. House of Representatives asserted Wednesday that investigators looking into the financial dealings of former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., possibly committed a crime themselves when they directed a staffer-turned-informant to take materials from Schock’s district office.

In a letter to the U.S. Attorney’s Office that supervised the case, U.S. House of Representative General Counsel Thomas Hungar wrote that he had “serious concern” about investigators’ tactics, which he asserted the U.S. Attorney’s Office had “erroneously characterized as lawful.”

Requesting a staffer take records from a congressional office without authorization from the congressman or House clerk, Hungar wrote, “amounts to a solicitation of that employee to steal official records.”

“Such conduct likely constitutes a federal crime, both on the part of the employee who steals the records and, quite possibly, on the part of the federal agents who induce the commission of that underlying crime,” Hungar wrote.

The full letter is here. Whew.

* CNN

Hungar’s letter asserts that while the surreptitious recording may be a “legitimate law-enforcement technique in some circumstances,” recording a member of Congress triggers “special constitutional concerns.”

“(T)he separation of powers precludes non-consensual review of legislative communications by Executive Branch officials in the absence of appropriate constitutional safeguards … however, it appears that the procedures followed by your office in this regard did not ensure compliance with those constitutional safeguards,” Hungar writes. […]

“The letter is helpful because the government needs to be held accountable for its conduct. Conduct we believe was driven to find a crime where one does not exist. As has been acknowledged repeatedly, these were clerical errors and omissions by former Congressman Schock for which he has taken full responsibility,” said Mark Hubbard, a spokesman for the defense team, in a written statement to CNN. […]

The Justice Department did not immediately return a request for comment and no official response to Hungar’s letter has been filed on the public docket.

* Politico

A spokeswoman for Hansen’s office confirmed receipt of the letter, but declined to comment.

However, in a court filing last week, prosecutors defended the tactics used in the case and disputed any claim of impropriety or illegality. However, they said they do not plan to use the records obtained by the informant at trial.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

7 Comments
  1. - Chicago Cynic - Friday, Apr 28, 17 @ 10:51 am:

    Potentially opens up a “fruit of the poisonous tree” argument to throw out the case. Interesting.


  2. - ste_with_av_en - Friday, Apr 28, 17 @ 11:04 am:

    A “shocking” development indeed.


  3. - J. Bieber - Friday, Apr 28, 17 @ 11:06 am:

    Pretty boy is gonna skate. Was Wondering why there has been much heard about this case lately.


  4. - Ron Burgundy - Friday, Apr 28, 17 @ 11:28 am:

    Way to botch a case guys. This is bad. Just the fact that they aren’t fighting to use the documents because they know they have a problem is damning, token protests notwithstanding.


  5. - DuPage Saint - Friday, Apr 28, 17 @ 11:28 am:

    Don’t like the guy but he deserves to skate. Talk about overreaching. Bet they hang the poor intimidated employee and the Feds also skate.


  6. - Notary Public - Friday, Apr 28, 17 @ 12:39 pm:

    Schock certainly has benefitted from prosecutorial missteps. Even in Schock’s pre-congress days, the prosecutor conveniently “forgot” to file charges against Schock for using his notary public authority to backdate documents in a financial fraud scheme. This looks like he could away again. Sheeesh!


  7. - wordslinger - Friday, Apr 28, 17 @ 1:53 pm:

    –However, in a court filing last week, prosecutors defended the tactics used in the case and disputed any claim of impropriety or illegality. However, they said they do not plan to use the records obtained by the informant at trial.–

    Yeah, right. We took the guy’s stuff without his consent, but it turns out we don’t need it. No worries.

    This is tricky stuff. In addition to the separation of powers argument, what about unlawful search and seizure?

    Can the Justice Department insert a mole in anyone’s home and office and have them remove possibly incriminating evidence that doesn’t belong to them?

    Shouldn’t a judge sign off on a warrant for that, at the very least?


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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