The formal investiture of a Supreme Court justice is a merely ceremonial event, and after the fact for Justice Kavanaugh who has been on the bench from the beginning of the this term. But Thursday’s script was slightly different because of two events of the previous day, the resignation of AG Sessions, and Justice Ginsburg’s fall resulting in fractured ribs. As a result Justice Ginsburg was not present on the bench, and the new Acting AG, Matthew Whitaker was at the lectern.
Otherwise it was a packed house with most, if not all, of the DC Circuit present, including Judge Merrick Garland. A lot of US District judges too. And everyone else you would expect like Senators McConnell and Graham ( the later arriving and leaving with the president, further feeding speculation that he may become the next AG ), Kavanaugh’s parents, wife and daughters. POTUS and FLOTUS were the last to arrive and the first to leave.
What can one say, yet another mass shooting. This time at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue. Eleven worshipers murdered.
The shooter, pushed into the courtroom in a wheelchair, appeared remarkably unremarkable. A poor pathetic shlub who became the instrument of evil.
Former Trump campaign manager, and now convicted felon, Paul Manafort appeared dour as he was wheeled into the courtroom for a pre-sentencing hearing in Alexandria yesterday. When Judge Ellis addressed him directly Manafort just stared into space. No details were given about his health, why he was in a wheelchair, or why his right foot was shoeless and covered with a thick white sock.
Manafort’s attorney Kevin Downing told Judge Ellis there are “significant issues with Mr. Manafort’s health right now that have to do with his confinement.”
It is not unusual for defendants facing incarceration to develop “significant health issues” shortly before sentencing. Judge Ellis set a sentencing date of February 8.
An unusual start to the new term of what can now be truly called the Roberts Court. After Justice Kennedy’s retirement the Chief Justice, who on the bench occupies the center chair, now also becomes the center of gravity of the Court as the most likely swing vote.
Last week saw eight justices on the bench. After a weekend Senate confirmation vote followed by a swearing in at the Court, Justice Kavanaugh took his seat on the bench this Tuesday to hear arguments. After the drama of the past weeks it almost felt “normal’. No protesters in the courtroom, nor even on the plaza when I arrived early Tuesday morning though some did show up later.
In a filled to capacity courtroom – I think all of Special Counsel Mueller’s team were present, though not Mueller – Paul Manafort yesterday entered a plea of guilty to two counts before Judge Amy Berman Jackson.
Manafort also entered into a cooperation agreement with the government promising to respond truthfully to all questions from investigators.
George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign adviser who’s conversation with an Australian diplomat in a London bar in 2016 was partly responsible for launching an FBI investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential elections was yesterday sentenced to 14 days in prison, 200 hours of community service and fined $9,500.
I took a lot of flak on Twitter for using the term crochet “needles” in my caption to the above. Word to the wise, don’t mess with crocheters!
At the end of four days’ deliberations the jury in the Manafort trial in Alexandria returned a partial verdict of guilty on eight of the eighteen counts while remaining hung on the others. I decided ahead of time to just concentrate on Manafort as the verdict was announced and forgo a wider view of the courtroom. There was really no reaction I could see in Manafort or his wife, just the slightest nod on his way out of the courtroom. The one sketch I maybe should have done but didn’t, mainly because of the late hour, was of the two lines of lawyers, government and defense, shaking hands as they passed each other as at the end of a baseball game.
Below are sketches done as we waited for the verdict Monday and Tuesday.
After hearing from two final witnesses and closing arguments the jury in the trial of Paul Manafort began deliberations on Thursday morning. It’s too soon to tell how far along the jurors are though a note on Friday indicating that they wished to work two more hours before recessing and returning Monday morning seems to me to indicate they are still working their way through the counts and evidence . . . but who knows?
Quite a week. Manafort’s former partner in crime, Rick Gates, was called to testify late Monday and remained in the hot seat through Wednesday morning. Then came the real meat of the case in sometimes tedious testimony from, an FBI forensic accountant, an IRS revenue agent, and several banking officers. And on Friday there was an unexplained delay possibly due to a jury issue. We don’t know the reason yet but the judge did go back to the jury area and spent a considerable amount of time in there.
The government is expected to rest on Monday after calling a couple of final witnesses. My sketches from week two are posted below more or less chronologically.