The Guardian’s Flawed Hit Piece On Sessions’ Record As A U.S. Attorney
The Guardian attacked Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ record when he served as a U.S. attorney in Alabama in an article published Saturday that was missing important details.
The article — “‘Gun for hire’: how Jeff Sessions used his prosecuting power to target Democrats” — alleged that Sessions used his power as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Alabama to go after local Democratic politicians.
“Opponents concluded that Sessions used his federal prosecutor’s office, and the FBI agents who worked for him, as political weapons, according to more than half a dozen veterans of Mobile’s 1980s legal and political circles. Some alleged in court filings that the ambitious young Republican actually worked from a ‘hitlist’ of Democratic targets,” Jon Swaine and Oliver Laughland wrote.
The Guardian reporters wrote that four cases Sessions’ office prosecuted were slim and politically motivated. The cases in question are the convictions of the Mobile’s top waste disposal official Gurney Owens, Democratic Mobile city commissioners Gary Greenough and Douglas Wicks, and Lambert Mims, a Democratic city commissioner, who was running at the time for mayor against the Republican mayor of Mobile. Three of these men were convicted of public corruption charges, and Greenough was convicted of 14 counts of fraud, extortion and conspiracy.
All of these men were indicted by federal grand juries, found guilty by federal juries and had their convictions upheld by appeals courts. While The Guardian makes it seem as if the cases against these men were slim, retired FBI special agent John Brennan — who worked in the Mobile field office at the time — told The Daily Caller that getting public corruption convictions is no easy task.
“To convict a politician it’s much more difficult,” Brennan said. “In public corruption and white collar it’s always that they intended for things to happen the way they happened.” The retired FBI agent added, “To get a jury to understand the case and then to believe that the defendant intended to to do it requires substantial proof. And the whole appellate process affirmed all the convictions and they don’t do that on slim evidence.”
Besides arguing that these cases Sessions’ office pursued were slim, The Guardian reporters also focused on the fact that these were all local Democrats. A key bit of context missing from the article was that Mobile at the time was essentially a single-party Democrat town. Chris Galanos, a Democrat who served as Mobile’s District Attorney for 15 years, told TheDC that the town at the time was primarily Democrat, something Brennan also confirmed.
Galanos was also involved in the prosecutions of Mims and Owens, as the case originally started in the district attorney’s office before he asked for federal assistance. “Those cases were based on their merits. I am a Democrat, I was a Democrat back then and I never sensed that there never was an ulterior motive on Jeff’s part,” Galanos told TheDC. Then-U.S. Attorney Sessions was also involved in the prosecution of a local Republican party leader, and advocating upholding the conviction of Republican Gov. Guy Hunt
Brennan also denied that any “hit list” of Democratic politicians existed, and a Department of Justice review at the time found this allegation by Owens’ attorney “utterly without foundation.”
In addition to a Democrat having a key role in these convictions, the assistant U.S. attorney who delivered the closing argument in the Mims case, Ginny Grenade, would go on to become the federal judge who struck down Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage.
Also, the three appellate court judges who upheld Greenough’s conviction were all Democratic appointees. Galanos told TheDC, “When you’re an elected official and you are criminally prosecuted and the first thing you hear from the defense is this is a politically motivated prosecution.”
He added, “jury verdicts obviously tend to negate that defense.”
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