Thursday, January 12, 2017

Lanny Davis Seeking Presidential Pardon For Chaka Fattah

By Ralph Cipriano

He may have lost a bail motion today, but former U.S. Congressman Chaka Fattah still has one long shot left to stay out of jail -- a request for a presidential pardon from Lanny Davis, former special counsel to President Bill Clinton.

In a Jan. 1 letter to President Obama,  Davis and Dr. Therman E. Evans, a New Jersey doctor and pastor, ask the president to pardon Fattah before leaving office later this month.

"We have known him for 30 years and know first-hand his unmatched contributions to improving the life chances of tens of millions of Americans," Davis and Evans wrote.

Davis and Evans cite three key issues that they argue make Fattah a worthy candidate for a presidential pardon -- "the presiding judge exhibited a clear prejudice, there was documented misconduct by the prosecutors, and there are major evidence gaps in the case."

"In the midst of the jury's deliberating, the judge inappropriately dismissed a juror," Davis and Evans wrote, referring the president to a Big Trial blog post, "Will 12th Juror Flap Keep Chaka Out of Jail."

Davis and Evans also say that Judge Harvey Bartle's recent decision to deny bail to Fattah and his co-defendants is out of step with rulings around the country in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn the political corruption conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. In the case, the Supreme Court redefined the definition of bribery in a political corruption case, as well as what constitutes an official act by an elected official.

In a brief one-page ruling today, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals denied without explanation appeals for bail from Fattah and two co-defendants, Robert Brand and Karen Nicholas.

In their letter seeking a pardon, Davis and Evans also cite Judge Bartle's decision to deny a motion to enter into evidence the mental health records of Thomas Lindenfeld, the government's star cooperating witness.

The request for a presidential pardon may be the equivalent of a Hail Mary. But under Obama in 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder submitted a motion to vacate the conviction of former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska because of prosecutorial conduct.

While Lanny Davis was special counsel to former President Clinton, Clinton commuted the sentence of former U.S. Congressman Dan Rostenkowski from Illinois. So if you're a Fattah supporter, there is some reason for hope.

In their letter to Obama, Davis and Evans remind the president that he had a minor role in the Fattah case.

"Even though much had been made about it, at trial the Prosecution failed in its attempts to provide any confirmation by any witnesses that a letter was hand-delivered to you, Mr. President, for an ambassadorship for a family friend," Davis and Evans wrote, referring to an ambassadorship Fattah had sought on behalf of co-defendant Herb Vederman. In the wake of the McDonnell case, Fattah's lawyers have contended that the congressman's letter to the president advocating the appointment of Vederman to an unpaid ambassadorship did not constitute an official act.

Evans and Davis also accused the government of prosecutorial misconduct during the Fattah trial:

"Months before the Congressman's trial, the Prosecutors at sidebar, in another case, but before the same Judge, made statements which alleged bad acts and illegal activity by the Congressman," Evans and Davis wrote. "The prosecutors knew without a shadow of doubt that the statements were undeniably false."

"The lead FBI agent has admitted to violating federal law in leaking false information to the press involving the Congressman and his son years before the indictment."

"In conclusion, Congressman Fattah has made extraordinary contributions to this country," Evans and Davis wrote.

"His GEARUP program has helped millions of young people go on to college," Evans and Davis wrote. "His mortgage relief plan (included in Dodd Frank) has kept millions of people in their homes. His urban jobs bill has made possible real life chances for opportunity youth. His support for the development of the commercial space industry and your own acknowledgment of his work on neuroscience are part of a proud legacy of decades of public service."

"Under the circumstances, we, along with many others would hope that you would take action to address this injustice and we respectfully request your favorable consideration," Davis and Evans concluded.

Fattah, sentenced to ten years in prison by Judge Bartle, is scheduled to report on Jan. 25th.


  1. While a long shot, it's certainly worth the try. However, it seems unlikely Obama will undo a conviction by his own justice department that was tasked with its own version of draining the swamps. Especially in Fattah's case, there does not appear to be any political motivation for this prosecution. The GOP hasn't shown much interest in his seat, unlike Kathleen Kane's.

    On the other hand, a commutation might work for everyone - commute the sentence to sometime in the future (a year, two years, etc.) with an admission of guilt and waiver of appeals. That would be consistent with what he's done on other sentences. It would also save a lot of money.

    Most people probably couldn't care less how long Fattah is away. At the same time, in the absence of term limits, most people likely approve of indictments that move politicians along.

  2. If Fattah had drug convictions he would have a chance.

  3. Sure. But there's a perception (which is accurate) that drug sentences historically were way too long. In some cases they were racially disparate. In other cases they were just too long of a sentence for what was basically the crime of growing the wrong kind of plant.

    There isn't any sentiment that too many politicians are behind bars for too long.

    One could argue that there was a recent string of racially motivated prosecutions. But you could also argue that Seth Williams picked up those cases to give those politicians a sweetheart plea deal and prevent any further state or federal prosecution.

    So even the idea of a racial disparity among convicted politicians would be a tough sell.

    Fattah is facing an uphill climb. He probably falls into the category of "wrongfully convicted corrupt politicians."

  4. Davis and Evans cite three key issues that they argue make Fattah a worthy candidate for a presidential pardon -- "the presiding judge exhibited a clear prejudice, there was documented misconduct by the prosecutors, and there are major evidence gaps in the case."

    Sounds like the phone cases against Msgr Lynn, Fr Englehardt, and Mr Shero.

  5. He is a long time crook

  6. It truly is amazing to have your article referenced by a prominent attorney in his letter citing the misconduct of the judge, and the lack of evidence of the prosecution. Lack of evidence seems to be an obstacle easily overlooked by juries, it does not matter as long as the prosecution says it, it has to true and with the media running with the accusations. Slam Dunk.

    Thank you Inky for always unquestionable siding with the prosecution, thank you for never giving a defendant the benefit of the doubt.In this new world order, when an journalist produces a piece of work it will either be scoffed at or held up as truth, depending on the reader, but not when its information coming from a government source. Your articles shape public opinion, the same public that are called on to be jurors. Your contempt for politicians is showing loud and clear.


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