Donald Trump’s defenders have a lot of reasons to be very nervous about the route Robert Mueller is taking in his investigation of Russia’s effort to hack the election.
Last weekend, for instance, McClatchy DC Bureau’s Peter Stone revealed Mueller has proof that longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen really was in Prague in the summer of 2016, despite Cohen’s loud insistence he wasn’t there. Watch Stone discuss this bombshell with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews here.
Earlier, Mueller revealed that he is looking into Paul Manafort’s dealings with pro-Russian politicians in the Ukraine as part of a larger review of the former Trump campaign chairman’s potential involvement in collusion with Russia. In essence, Mueller told the American people that he believes the operating head of a major-party campaign colluded with a hostile foreign government to harm an opponent.
In response, Trump’s diehard supporters have tried to link Mueller to one of the blackest pages in the history of American criminal justice–the Boston FBI’s decades-long practice of engaging in unethical and criminal behavior to protect informants. We already know about the most infamous chapter in that saga–how rogue agents John Connolly and John Morris allowed Whitey Bulger to become a criminal powerhouse solely because he was feeding them information on the Boston Mafia.
But as anyone from Boston will tell you, one other case is equally likely to generate outrage. In 1965, six New England mafiosi, including underboss Enrico Tameleo, were convicted of the murder of small-time Boston hoodlum Edward Deegan.
It turned out that four of the defendants were convicted on the word of perjured testimony from Joseph Barboza, a small-time mobster turned informant. He framed Tameleo, Louis Greco, Joe Salvati and Peter Limone in order to protect one of the real killers, Vincent Flemmi–who, like Barboza, was an informant. Barboza’s FBI handlers, Dennis Condon and H. Paul Rico, knew Barboza was lying, and yet didn’t tell prosecutors. Tameleo and Greco died in prison in 1985 and 1995, respectively. Salvati and Limone were finally released in 1997 and 2001, respectively. In 2011, Salvati, Limone, and the families of Tameleo and Greco were awarded $101.8 million in damages.
Now where does Mueller come in? Well, recently, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh have claimed that during numerous commutation hearings that took place while Mueller worked at the U. S. Attorney’s office in Boston from 1982 to 1988–serving as acting U. S. Attorney from 1986 to 1987–he withheld evidence of Barboza’s deceit.
When the federal judge who signed off on that massive reward, Nancy Gertner, watched these smears, she felt that she had to respond. In an op-ed that ran in Thursday’s edition of The New York Times, Gertner bluntly stated that “there is no evidence” of any wrongdoing on Mueller’s part. She noted that based on “voluminous evidence,” Mueller wasn’t even involved. Gertner puts the blame for this travesty where it belongs–on the FBI, who “continued to withhold the truth” at clemency hearings.
Gertner turned her attention to claims that Mueller wrote a letter opposing the release of the four men. But Gertner contends that neither she nor the plaintiffs’ attorney, Juliane Balliro, can find such a letter. Indeed, the only time Mueller’s name appeared in connection with this case came when the House Government Reform Committee praised the then-FBI director for his efforts to reform how the agency handles informants. “Black Mass,” the best-selling book about the FBI’s dealings with Bulger, makes no mention of Mueller either.
Gertner suggests that unless Hannity has “that I, Ms. Balliro, the House investigators and the ‘Black Mass’ authors did not and do not have,” they should back off Mueller. Amen.
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