United States Code, Title 18, Section 4, states:
“Misprision of a Felony: Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”
Yes, Virginia, it is a crime in this country to know of a violation of federal law and not report it to a judge or a prosecutor.
Do the feds ever prosecute this crime? Not often, but, yes they do. Just this year, Zach Scruggs, the son of prominent personal injury lawyer Richard Scruggs, pled guilty to misprision of a felony for his failure to report to authorities others in his law firm who were improperly trying to influence a judge.
We have just learned from the Chicago Tribune Rahm Emanuel did in fact have conversations with Gov. Blagojevich’s team about who should replace Obama in the United States Senate. All the clever parsing over the past several days of the President-elect’s team has raised suspicion, and now, with the news from the Tribune, the suspicion has been proven well-founded.
This is where misprision of a felony comes in. If Rahm Emanuel knew that Governor Blagojevich was trying to extort something for himself in exchange for the US Senate appointment only he could make, then Emanuel, under Title 18, Section 4 of the United States Criminal Code had a duty to run, not walk, to the Feds with this information. Maybe Emanuel did just that, but if he did not he could be charged for a failure to report this crime.
The Feds’ criminal complaint does in fact state, beginning at paragraph 90 on page 56, that a demand for a bribe from Team Blagojevich was conveyed to “Advisor A” on November 3, the day before the presidential election. One cannot read the complaint without concluding that “Advisor A” is an advisor to Barack Obama.
Further, federal criminal complaint paragraphs 96, 98, 99, 101, 102, 103, 105, 107, 110, 113, 114, and 115 all recount in disturbing detail the intercepted, recorded phone conversations between Team Blagojevich and Team Obama individuals (Advisor A and Advisor B) as to what Blagojevich thought he could get from Obama in exchange for certain Senate picks.
These numbered paragraphs are not idle ruminations or wonderings by Blagojevich. They are demands that the complaint states were communicated on the phone to “Advisor A” and “Advisor B.” Other “advisors” — ones who are advising the Governor — are described with a different label and clearly indicated to be Blagojevich “advisors.” “A” and “B” belong to Team Obama.
A Chicago Sun-Times reporter this week asked Emanuel, who was at his kids’ holiday event, whether he, Emanuel, was the Obama emissary (Advisor A or B) who heard radioactive “Hot Rod’s” demands as set forth in the criminal complaint. Emanuel refused to answer the question, pushing away the reporter’s tape recorder with his hand. The question is fair because paragraph 112 in the federal criminal complaint refers to communications between Blagojevich and a “President-elect advisor” about the “Fifth CD thing,” which the complaint construes to mean the Fifth Congressional District. Emanuel is the Congressman from the Fifth Congressional District.
Back in the waning days of the Nixon presidency, US Senator Howard Baker, ranking member on Senator Sam Ervin’s Watergate Committee, openly asked the question given him by Fred Thompson, the committee’s minority counsel, “What did the President know and when did he know it?”
The question now, for the man who claims there is an “Office of President-elect,” is this: “What did the President-elect and his advisors know about what Illinois’ Governor was doing, and when did they know it?” Obama says he is putting together a document to answer that question.
This is not a pleasant question to have on the table even before Inauguration Day, but there it is. It will be asked and asked again until a plausible answer is given. Washington political reporter Juan Williams this week said, “This Illinois scandal has used up Obama’s honeymoon even before he is sworn in.”
One reason that’s true is that Barack Obama sat in a church for 20 years and then claimed he did not know its senior pastor was spouting racism. Is there a pattern here? We don’t know yet, but there is one pattern which is an historical fact: The last two lawyers to serve as President, before Illinois lawyer Barack Obama, were Nixon and Clinton.
Both were disbarred and one of them was impeached for not telling the truth.