14 October 2016

Packwood Redux

Remember Bob Packwood? A classmate of mine, NYU Law School, class of 1957.  He was on a full scholarship, the President of our class and ran for the U.S Senate from his home State of Oregon only eleven years after graduation. Wonder of wonders, he beat an “invincible” Democrat by the name of Wayne Morse. Millennials, just take it on faith.

Packwood was a Republican who would not be recognizable as such today.  He favored passage of the Civil Rights Act, sought to introduce a bill legalizing abortion, voted against Supreme Court nominees Robert Bork, Clement Haynsworth, G. Harold Carswell, and Clarence Thomas. What’s more, he advocated Nixon’s impeachment. When he and campaign-manager-wife Georgie asked me for a campaign contribution, I willingly kicked in.

What now brings my classmate to mind? Because this mild-mannered, brainy guy, after serving 19 years in the United States Senate, was accused of approaching women in elevators and sticking his tongue down their throats. The bi-partisan Senate Ethics Committee unanimously recommended he be thrown out of the club, and he resigned.

Has our country so coarsened that a confessed sexual predator has a route to the White House? Does anyone believe Trump's denials? “Total fabrication” were his words.  As someone who examined witnesses under oath for a living, I came to have a sense of who was telling the truth. Please look at this video of Jessica Leeds, one of the several Trump accusers who have spoken up since his debate denial of his Access Hollywood admissions.You have seen Donald Trump. Now meet Jessica Leeds, and decide whom you believe:  (An apology. I am technically deficient. I do not know how to trim the commercial from the beginning of the video, and do not know how to trim the succeeding video. So just kill the site after the Leeds video, and then sign back in to this blog. Sorry.)

http://www.nytimes.com/video/us/politics/100000004705688/his-hands-were-all-over-me-trump.html?playlistId=100000003890188&region=video-grid&version=video-grid-headline&contentCollection=Donald+Trump&contentPlacement=0&module=featured-videos&action=click&pgType=Multimedia&eventName=video-grid-click


I got a kick out of reading the letter Trump's lawyer sent to the Times, threatening to sue the paper. (Does anybody believe that?) In that letter,  Mark Kasowitz accuses the paper (and therefore Ms. Leeds and other women) of making false and malicious statements about Mr. Trump. That ignores the Cosby precedent: while many of the women who claimed Cosby sexually assaulted them could not sue because of the statute of limitations, one or more of them have brought viable libel claims, asserting that by denying the assault, Cosby has libeled them by accusing them of lying. I am not sure if Kasowitz distributed his letter to the general press. If he has not, then perhaps he has a defense that Trump lacks, i.e, Kasowitz didn't publish his accusation beyond the addressee, the editor of the Times. Question, could a plaintiff's lawyer reasonably argue that Kasowitz knew the Times would publish it, and therefore Kasowitz constructively made his letter public? Rule Number One for lawyers: while you do whatever you can for your client, you never make the client's problem your problem.

By the way, since my last post, I have looked at the New York Penal Law.  I think Trump did indeed admit to conduct that if committed in his home state would be a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail for each offense.

But the yin and yang of this subject: nobody is any longer talking about Trump’s tax returns. Nobody is now asking why he does not release those returns that are no longer being audited. Or why he required Pence to submit his returns for review before being named his veep candidate. Nobody is mentioning that Trump couldn’t even buy a co-op in New York City without submitting recent tax returns. Are Hillary's people asleep? Are we going to get another wooden debate performance?

Finally, please indulge me: I was home yesterday convalescing from minor eye surgery, and with my good eye watched Michelle Obama’s speech in New Hampshire. She made both me and my opthamologist happy because tears are good for my condition. I always admired Barack Obama’s oratory ability.  He is now only second best in the family. Michelle’s speech was a classic. I do not recall anything like it.  Do yourself a favor: take some time to watch the whole thing. It is 20-25 minutes long, and worth every minute.  Whatever your politics, this is an extraordinary piece of political oratory:


A bientot.


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