Political Musings November 24, 2014: Obama urges calm after grand jury does not indict Darren Wilson in Michael Brown’s death

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Obama urges calm after grand jury does not indict Wilson in Brown’s death

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Right after the Missouri Grand Jury announced that they would not indict police officer Darren Wilson in the death of black teen Michael Brown Monday evening, Nov. 24, 2014, President Barack Obama made a statement in the White House briefing…READ MORE
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Full Text Obama Presidency November 24, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Remarks After Announcement of the Decision by the Grand Jury in Ferguson, Missouri — Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President After Announcement of the Decision by the Grand Jury in Ferguson, Missouri

Source: WH, 11-24-14

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

10:08 P.M. EST

     THE PRESIDENT:  As you know, a few moments ago, the grand jury deliberating the death of Michael Brown issued its decision. It’s an outcome that, either way, was going to be subject of intense disagreement not only in Ferguson, but across America.  So I want to just say a few words suggesting how we might move forward.

First and foremost, we are a nation built on the rule of law.  And so we need to accept that this decision was the grand jury’s to make.  There are Americans who agree with it, and there are Americans who are deeply disappointed, even angry.  It’s an understandable reaction.  But I join Michael’s parents in asking anyone who protests this decision to do so peacefully.  Let me repeat Michael’s father’s words:  “Hurting others or destroying property is not the answer.  No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son’s death to be in vain.  I want it to lead to incredible change, positive change, change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone.”  Michael Brown’s parents have lost more than anyone.  We should be honoring their wishes.

I also appeal to the law enforcement officials in Ferguson and the region to show care and restraint in managing peaceful protests that may occur.  Understand, our police officers put their lives on the line for us every single day.  They’ve got a tough job to do to maintain public safety and hold accountable those who break the law.  As they do their jobs in the coming days, they need to work with the community, not against the community, to distinguish the handful of people who may use the grand jury’s decision as an excuse for violence — distinguish them from the vast majority who just want their voices heard around legitimate issues in terms of how communities and law enforcement interact.

Finally, we need to recognize that the situation in Ferguson speaks to broader challenges that we still face as a nation.  The fact is, in too many parts of this country, a deep distrust exists between law enforcement and communities of color.  Some of this is the result of the legacy of racial discrimination in this country.  And this is tragic, because nobody needs good policing more than poor communities with higher crime rates.  The good news is we know there are things we can do to help.  And I’ve instructed Attorney General Holder to work with cities across the country to help build better relations between communities and law enforcement.

That means working with law enforcement officials to make sure their ranks are representative of the communities they serve.  We know that makes a difference.  It means working to train officials so that law enforcement conducts itself in a way that is fair to everybody.  It means enlisting the community actively on what should be everybody’s goal, and that is to prevent crime.

And there are good people on all sides of this debate, as well as in both Republican and Democratic parties, that are interested not only in lifting up best practices — because we know that there are communities who have been able to deal with this in an effective way — but also who are interested in working with this administration and local and state officials to start tackling much-needed criminal justice reform.

So those should be the lessons that we draw from these tragic events.  We need to recognize that this is not just an issue for Ferguson, this is an issue for America.  We have made enormous progress in race relations over the course of the past several decades.  I’ve witnessed that in my own life.  And to deny that progress I think is to deny America’s capacity for change.

But what is also true is that there are still problems and communities of color aren’t just making these problems up.  Separating that from this particular decision, there are issues in which the law too often feels as if it is being applied in discriminatory fashion.  I don’t think that’s the norm.  I don’t think that’s true for the majority of communities or the vast majority of law enforcement officials.  But these are real issues.  And we have to lift them up and not deny them or try to tamp them down.  What we need to do is to understand them and figure out how do we make more progress.  And that can be done.

That won’t be done by throwing bottles.  That won’t be done by smashing car windows.  That won’t be done by using this as an excuse to vandalize property.  And it certainly won’t be done by hurting anybody.  So, to those in Ferguson, there are ways of channeling your concerns constructively and there are ways of channeling your concerns destructively.  Michael Brown’s parents understand what it means to be constructive.  The vast majority of peaceful protesters, they understand it as well.

Those of you who are watching tonight understand that there’s never an excuse for violence, particularly when there are a lot of people in goodwill out there who are willing to work on these issues.

On the other hand, those who are only interested in focusing on the violence and just want the problem to go away need to recognize that we do have work to do here, and we shouldn’t try to paper it over.  Whenever we do that, the anger may momentarily subside, but over time, it builds up and America isn’t everything that it could be.

And I am confident that if we focus our attention on the problem and we look at what has happened in communities around the country effectively, then we can make progress not just in Ferguson, but in a lot of other cities and communities around the country.

Okay?

Q    Mr. President, will you go to Ferguson when things settle down there?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, let’s take a look and see how things are going.  Eric Holder has been there.  We’ve had a whole team from the Justice Department there, and I think that they have done some very good work.  As I said, the vast majority of the community has been working very hard to try to make sure that this becomes an opportunity for us to seize the moment and turn this into a positive situation.

But I think that we have to make sure that we focus at least as much attention on all those positive activities that are taking place as we do on a handful of folks who end up using this as an excuse to misbehave or to break the law or to engage in violence.  I think that it’s going to be very important — and I think the media is going to have a responsibility as well — to make sure that we focus on Michael Brown’s parents, and the clergy, and the community leaders, and the civil rights leaders, and the activists, and law enforcement officials who have been working very hard to try to find better solutions — long-term solutions, to this issue.

There is inevitably going to be some negative reaction, and it will make for good TV.  But what we want to do is to make sure that we’re also focusing on those who can offer the kind of real progress that we know is possible, that the vast majority of people in Ferguson, the St. Louis region, in Missouri, and around the country are looking for.  And I want to be partners with those folks.  And we need to lift up that kind of constructive dialogue that’s taking place.

All right.

                         END              10:18 P.M. EST

Political Headlines June 3, 2011: John Edwards Indicted by Grand Jury for Misappropriating Campaign Funds

POLITICAL HEADLINES

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

IN FOCUS: JOHN EDWARDS INDICTED

Jennifer Rotenizer/Winston-Salem Journal, via Associated Press

John Edwards enters the Federal Building in downtown Winston-Salem, N.C. on Friday. A grand jury indicted the two-time presidential candidate, accusing him of trying to protect his political ambitions by soliciting and secretly spending more than $925,000 to hide his mistress and their baby from the public.

Grand jury indicts former presidential candidate John Edwards: A federal grand jury has indicted two-time presidential candidate John Edwards over massive sums of money spent to keep his mistress in hiding during the peak of his 2008 campaign for the White House. The case of USA v. Johnny Reid Edwards contains six counts, including conspiracy, four counts of illegal campaign contributions and one count of false statements. The indictment was returned in the Middle District of North Carolina on Friday.

  • U.S. v. Johnny Reid Edwards indictment: The charges Conspiracy: John Edwards faces one conspiracy count, with prosecutors arguing that he participated in a scheme to violate federal campaign-finance laws by using $925,000 in private money from two wealthy benefactors to help keep his pregnant mistress and love child a secret.
    Illegal campaign contributions: Prosecutors filed four charges of illegal campaign contributions against Edwards, saying he was part of a conspiracy that willfully and knowingly accepted contributions that exceeded federal limits. The four charges are nearly identical, referencing contributions Edwards received in 2007 and 2008 from his former campaign-finance chairman, Fred Baron, and Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, the widow of banking heir Paul Mellon.
    False statements: The indictment includes one count of false statements, saying that the conspiracy Edwards participated in knowingly allowed the filing of false and deceptive campaign-finance reports that failed to disclose the illegal contributions from Baron and Mellon. Document: The full indictment against John Edwards
  • Public vs. private: Long an issue for John Edwards: The legal case against two-time presidential candidate John Edwards focuses on where to draw the line between the public and private in a politician’s life, a divide he riskily straddled throughout his entire career and family life.
    Edwards isn’t alone. The private activities and concerns of public officials increasingly seem to be pulled or pushed into the public arena. Is that Rep. Anthony Weiner modeling his underwear? Donald Trump and Sarah Palin use a knife and fork to eat pizza! Which school did President Barack Obama pick to go all the way in college hoops?
    These things don’t reveal much about their qualifications to lead, yet they fascinate Americans…. – AP, 6-5-11
  • Feds say Edwards hid mistress to aid campaign: In May 2007, as John Edwards endured ridicule for his $400 haircut, a wealthy supporter fired off a note to a campaign aide, vowing to privately pay for his hair care and other expenses important to his candidacy.
    “It is a way to help our friend without government restrictions,” Bunny Mellon wrote in a letter cited by federal prosecutors.
    Investigators believe there should have been restrictions on the $925,000 in under-the-table money that Mellon and another benefactor ended up providing to support Edwards. It’s key to the government’s contention that the 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee broke the law in hiding his pregnant mistress during the final months of his 2008 campaign for the White House. Prosecutors contend that plan was an illegal conspiracy to evade campaign finance laws…. – AP, 6-4-11
  • Edwards Indicted in Campaign Fund Case: John Edwards, the former senator from North Carolina and presidential candidate, was indicted Friday morning by a grand jury in Raleigh on charges that he violated campaign finance law during his 2008 presidential campaign.
    Mr. Edwards is scheduled to make his initial appearance in federal court in Winston-Salem, N.C., at 2:30 p.m. before Magistrate Judge Patrick Auld.
    The grand jury, which has been investigating the case for two years, indicted Mr. Edwards on six counts — four involving illegal payments, one involving conspiracy and one involving false statements. “Mr. Edwards is alleged to have accepted more than $900,000 in an effort to conceal from the public facts that he believed would harm his candidacy,” Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer said in a statement. “As this indictment shows, we will not permit candidates for high office to abuse their special ability to access the coffers of their political supporters to circumvent our election laws.”
    At issue are financial contributions that prosecutors say Mr. Edwards received in excess of federal limits, did not report properly and then misused for the political purpose of hiding his extramarital affair to save his candidacy. Mr. Edwards, 57, has maintained that he used the money to hide the affair, but for private purposes — to conceal it from his wife.
    Mr. Edwards had a chance to reach a plea agreement and avoid the indictment, but he chose not to do so and will fight the charges, his lawyers said.
    The decision to fight could lead to a long, messy, public trial and possible jail sentence for Mr. Edwards, or it could lead to his acquittal.
    The decision to risk a trial reflects confidence by some on the Edwards legal team that the government’s case would not hold up in court…. – NYT, 6-3-11
  • Edwards Pleads Not Guilty in Campaign Fund Case: John Edwards, the former Democratic senator from North Carolina, pleaded not guilty Friday to charges that he conspired to cover up an extramarital affair while running for president in 2008 by “secretly obtaining,” misusing and misreporting certain campaign contributions in violation of federal law.
    He entered his plea at the federal courthouse in Winston-Salem on Friday afternoon, setting the stage for a trial to begin July 11. When the judge read him his list of rights, including the right to remain silent, Mr. Edwards, who was the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2004 and twice a candidate for president, said: “Your honor, I’m an attorney. I’m aware of that.”
    Later, outside the courthouse, Mr. Edwards told reporters he had behaved badly but insisted he had not committed a crime.
    “I will regret for the rest of my life the pain and the harm that I’ve caused to others,” he said. “But I did not break the law. And I never, ever thought that I was breaking the law.”
    The indictment handed up earlier Friday in Greensboro charged that Mr. Edwards, 57, conspired to use illegal campaign contributions to conceal his affair with his mistress for political reasons…. – NYT, 6-3-11
  • Edwards pleads not guilty to finance charges in NC: Former presidential hopeful John Edwards pleaded not guilty Friday to federal charges that he solicited and secretly spent more than $925,000 to hide his mistress and their baby from the public at the height of his 2008 White House campaign.
    In a 30-second statement to dozens of reporters and television news cameras that surrounded him outside the courthouse, he said he never thought he was breaking the law.
    “There is no question that I have done wrong,” he said. “And I take full responsibility for having done wrong. And I will regret for the rest of my life the pain and the harm that I have caused to others. But I did not break the law.”
    Edwards did not have to post bond, but he had to surrender his passport and is not allowed to leave the continental U.S. He also can’t have contact with one of the wealthy benefactors who gave him money that prosecutors say was used to hide the affair.
    The indictment contained six felony counts, including conspiracy, four counts of receiving illegal campaign contributions and one count of false statements for keeping the spending off the campaign’s public finance reports.
    It said the payments made with money from two wealthy supporters were a scheme to protect Edwards’ presidential ambitions.
    “A centerpiece of Edwards’ candidacy was his public image as a devoted family man,” the indictment said. “Edwards knew that public revelation of the affair and the pregnancy would destroy his candidacy.
    Prosecutors said the spending was illegal because the 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee should have reported it on public campaign finance filings and because it exceeded the $2,300 limit per person for campaign contributions.
    Edwards’ lawyer, Gregory Craig, said there’s no way that anyone, including Edwards, would have known that the payments should be treated as campaign contributions.
    “This is an unprecedented prosecution,” he said at the courthouse. “He has broken no law and we will defend this case vigorously.”… – AP, 6-3-11
  • John Edwards indicted in $925K mistress cover-up: John Edwards acknowledged he has “done wrong” and hurt others but denied breaking the law after federal prosecutors charged him Friday with using $925,000 to hide his pregnant mistress during his 2008 run for president.
    The former U.S. senator and two-time Democratic presidential hopeful was indicted on six felony charges that he violated campaign-finance laws in a desperate bid to protect his White House hopes and his image as a devoted family man.
    Edwards, 57, pleaded not guilty and was released without bail on the condition he surrender his passport and not leave the continental U.S.
    A former trial lawyer who won multimillion-dollar verdicts with the same formidable powers of persuasion that propelled his political career, he faces the prospect of a lurid trial and the possibility of prison time and the loss of his license to practice law.
    “There’s no question that I’ve done wrong. And I take full responsibility for having done wrong. And I will regret for the rest of my life the pain and the harm that I’ve caused to others,” Edwards said outside the courthouse, accompanied by his oldest daughter, Cate, 29. “But I did not break the law.”… – AP, 6-3-11
  • John Edwards denies federal charges: The former Democratic presidential candidate says he didn’t break the law when he used funds from two supporters to hide his mistress and their daughter.
    Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards has insisted that he broke no laws when he hid his pregnant mistress while seeking the nomination in 2008. Now, he’s made that position official, pleading not guilty to federal criminal charges that he accepted nearly $1 million from two supporters to fund the deception.
    On Friday, a federal grand jury indicted Edwards, 57, on six counts of violating campaign finance laws, lying to the government and conspiring to protect his candidacy by breaking the law.
    The case against Edwards could rise or fall on whether the government is reaching too far and trying to hold Edwards to a higher election law standard than usual. Notably, the first paragraph of the 19-page indictment said that a “centerpiece” of Edwards candidacy in 2008 was “his public image as a devoted family man” and that he often stressed to voters that “family comes first.”
    The government maintains that by accepting money to keep his mistress, Rielle Hunter, and eventually their daughter, Frances Quinn Hunter, out of sight, he was trying to maintain the viability of his candidacy. Therefore, the government said, the money constituted undeclared campaign contributions. LAT, 6-3-11
  • John Edwards: ‘I did not break the law’: Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards said he takes “full responsibility for having done wrong” but insisted he “did not break the law” to cover up his extramarital affair with Rielle Hunter.
    Edwards was indicted earlier today by a federal grand jury. He pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy, making false statements and four counts of illegal campaign contributions.
    In a brief statement to reporters outside the courthouse in Winston-Salem, N.C., Edwards declared his innocence on the criminal allegations.
    “There’s no question I’ve done wrong,” Edwards said, adding he’ll “regret the pain and the harm” that he caused for the rest of his life. But he was adamant: “I did not break the law and I never, ever thought I was breaking the law.”… – USA Today, 6-3-11
  • John Edwards: ‘I’ve Done Wrong, but I Did Not Break the Law’: Two-time presidential candidate John Edwards pleaded not guilty Friday to charges that he spent more than $900,000 in campaign donations to cover up his extramarital affair as he was running for the White House in 2008.
    “There’s no question that I’ve done wrong, and I take full responsibility for having done wrong. I will regret for the rest of my life the pain and harm that I’ve caused to others,” he said in a brief statement outside a federal courthouse in Winston-Salem, N.C. after being arraigned.”But I did not break the law, and I never ever thought I was breaking the law.”
    A federal grand jury indicted Edwards on six counts: conspiracy, four counts of illegal campaign contributions and one count of false statements. He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count if convicted…. – Fox News, 6-3-11
  • John Edwards: I Did “Wrong,” But Broke No Law: Disgraced ex-senator John Edwards admitted today he has “done wrong” – but insisted he broke no laws. The onetime presidential hopeful made his 20-second statement shortly after he was indicted for allegedly using more than $900,000 in campaign funds to cover up an extramarital affair during his failed 2008 presidential campaign.
    “There’s no question that I’ve done wrong and I take full responsibility for having done wrong,” Edwards said after he pleaded not guilty – and endured the humiliation of having to surrender his passport.
    “And I will regret for the rest of my life the pain and the harm that I’ve caused to others. But I did not break the law and I never, ever thought that I was breaking the law.”
    Then Edwards, flanked by his daughter Kate, left without another word…. – NY Daily News, 6-3-11
  • John Edwards indictment: A North Carolina grand jury has indicted former Sen. John Edwards on criminal campaign finance violations in connection with a sex scandal.
    Edwards, the Democratic nominee for vice president in 2004 and a candidate for president in 2004 and 2008, was charged with four counts of illegal campaign contributions, one count of conspiracy and one count of false statements. The charges stem from a years-long investigation into whether Edwards used money from two supporters to cover up an affair with Rielle Hunter, a former campaign videographer with whom he had a child….. – LAT, 6-3-11
  • John Edwards in a brief statement outside a federal courthouse in Winston-Salem, N.C. after being arraigned: “There’s no question that I’ve done wrong, and I take full responsibility for having done wrong. I will regret for the rest of my life the pain and harm that I’ve caused to others. But I did not break the law, and I never ever thought I was breaking the law.”
  • Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer denounced Edwards’ “scheme”: “We will not permit candidates for high office to abuse their special ability to access the coffers of their political supporters to circumvent our election laws. Our campaign finance system is designed to preserve the integrity of democratic elections – for the presidency and all other elected offices – and we will vigorously pursue abuses of the kind alleged today.”
  • Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer said in a statement: “As this indictment shows, we will not permit candidates for high office to abuse their special ability to access the coffers of their political supporters to circumvent our election laws.”
  • Former Federal Election Commission Chairman Scott Thomas, who is serving as an expert witness for Edwards’ legal team: “I believe that the theory on which the government intends to base its prosecution is without precedent in federal election law, and that the Federal Election Commission would not support a finding that the conduct at issue constituted a civil violation, much less warranted a criminal prosecution.”
  • John Edwards’ lawyer, Gregory Craig: “This is an unprecedented prosecution. He has broken no law and we will defend this case vigorously.”… –
  • Plus, John Edwards indicted: Can his legacy be rehabbed?Politico Arena, 6-3-11
  • Edwards emails acknowledge payments: Prosecutors have obtained emails between John Edwards and a former aide to use as evidence at trial that he knew about payments to his pregnant mistress even while he was publicly denying it, people familiar with the case told The Associated Press on Monday.
    Dozens of emails were exchanged between Edwards and his former speechwriter Wendy Button as they worked on a never-released draft statement to acknowledge paternity of his out-of-wedlock child, according to people who have seen the messages and requested anonymity because they have not been made public yet.
    The messages, draft statements and notes of their related phone conversations are key evidence prosecutors are using against Edwards, indicted on charges he failed to report nearly $1 million allegedly spent to keep his mistress out of the public eye as he pursued the White House. The former senator was still denying he was the baby’s father and publicly maintained he knew nothing about any money that may have been spent when the emails were sent in summer 2009…. – AP, 6-6-11
  • Criminal charges likely Fri. against John Edwards: Criminal charges were likely to be filed Friday against John Edwards, the culmination of a two-year federal investigation into money used to cover up an extramarital affair during the 2008 presidential election.
    Edwards’ attorney Greg Craig was traveling to meet with prosecutors in North Carolina, an indication that the former presidential candidate will likely be charged, either in a grand jury indictment or in a negotiated charge to which he would plead guilty…. – AP, 6-3-11
  • John Edwards indicted in $925K mistress cover-up: John Edwards acknowledged he has “done wrong” and hurt others but strongly denied breaking the law after federal prosecutors charged him Friday with using $925,000 in under-the-table campaign contributions to hide his pregnant mistress during his 2008 run for president.
    The former U.S. senator and two-time Democratic presidential hopeful was indicted on six felony charges that he violated campaign finance laws in a desperate bid to protect both his White House hopes and his image as a devoted family man…. – AP, 6-2-11
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