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Doj Lawyers Insist Laughing At Their Boss Jeff Sessions Can Be A Criminal Offense

Tue, May 2, 2017
WASHINGTON Laughing at the claim during a congressional hearing that Attorney General Jeff Sessions treats all Americans equally is in and of itself enough to merit a criminal charge, a Justice Department lawyer argued before a D.C. jury on Tuesday. David Stier, a Justice Department lawyer, made the claim in closing arguments in a twoday trial of Desiree Fairooz, a 61yearold activist associated with Code Pink. She was arrested in January when she laughed during Sessionsrsquo confirmation hearing after another senator claimed Sessions had a long record of ldquotreating all Americans equally.rdquo Fairooz is on trial alongside Tighe Barry and Lenny Bianchi, whonbspdressed as Ku Klux Klan members and pretended to support Sessionsnbspduring the hearing. Fairooz was taken into custody by a rookie Capitol Police officer who had never made an arrest before and was covering her first congressional hearing. Stier also told the men and women deciding the case in D.C. Superior Court this was his first jury trial.nbspThe U.S. Attorneyrsquos Office for the District of Columbia prosecutes both local and federal cases, so Superior Court is a good place for DOJ attorneys from various divisions to get trial experience, as very few federal cases ultimately go to trial. Stier said the case against the defendants was about them ldquomaking a scenerdquo and intentionally taking steps to bring attention to themselves. He labeled them ldquoprofessional protestersrdquo and said Fairoozrsquos ldquoloud bursts of laughterrdquo disrupted Congress, even though the proceedings continued without interruption until Capitol Police forcibly removed her from the room.nbsp ldquoA number of heads turned around because it was loud,rdquo Stier argued. ldquoI would submit that laughter is enough, standing alone,rdquo to merit a charge, he said. But he then went on to highlight other actions he believed put the case over the top, such as Fairoozrsquos statement when she was being removed from the room that she was ldquogoing to be quietrdquo until she was removed, as well as holding up her sign as she was escorted out. ldquoMs. Fairooz decided to not be quiet,rdquo Stier told the jury. It wasnrsquot the Capitol Police, Stier told the jury, who moved her mouth or moved her lips or moved her diaphragm. Stier called the evidence against Fairooz and the other clients ldquoabsolutely overwhelming.rdquo Later, in a rebuttal to the defense,nbspDOJ lawyer Jason Covert claimed Fairooz was ldquogiven multiple warningsrdquo before her ldquoscoffrdquo ornbspldquoburst of laughter.rdquonbsp Covert claimed that other people around her were disrupted by Fairoozrsquos laugh after Sen. Richard Shelby RAla. claimed that Sessionsrsquo ldquoextensive record of treating all Americans equally under the law is clear, and welldocumented.rdquo Sessions was rejectednbspby the Senate as a federal judge because of concerns about his views on race. While he denied many of the allegations against him, he admitted to suggesting, in the 1980s, that the ldquofundamental legal barriers to minorities had been knocked downrdquo and expressing concern that civil rights organizations were asking for things ldquobeyondrdquo what was ldquojustified.rdquo While Fairoozrsquos lawyer may say the laughter was minor event, Covert claimed that for ldquothe other people around her, it wasnrsquot insignificant.rdquonbspA couple of the defendantsrsquo supporters in the courtroom scoffed at that line. Fairoozrsquos attorney Samuel Bogash said his clientrsquos laughter was ldquototally spontaneousrdquo and ldquounintentional.rdquo He said you could ldquobarelyrdquo hear the laugh on the CSPAN tape you can listen for her laugh in the video below. Bogash said that Fairooz was ldquostruckrdquo by Shelbyrsquos claim. The U.S. Capitol Police, Bogash said, gave his client ldquothe old United Airlines routinerdquo and removed her from the room. Fairooz simply acted the way anyone would have if they were ldquoyankedrdquo out of their chair, he said. ldquoShersquos here because she laughed,rdquo Bogash said. ldquoI canrsquot say it enough. Shersquos here because she laughed.rdquo Another protester escorted out of Sessions hearing. Her original offense appeared to be simply laughing. pic.twitter.comp6lWzBVFRWmdash Ryan J. Reilly ryanjreilly January 10, 2017 Lenny Bianchi, one of the individuals who dressed up like a KKK member and greeted Sessions when he entered the hearing, represented himself during the trial and said he purposefully took action before the hearing began because he did not wish to interrupt or be arrested. ldquoFor there to be a disruption, there must first be order,rdquo Bianchi said. ldquoWhere there is no order, there can be no disruption.rdquonbsp ldquoIt was clearly not my intention to disrupt anything,rdquo Bianchi said. ldquoI am not guilty of the charges that have been filed against me, and what I did was for the good of the country.rdquo Fredrick Iverson, an attorney representing Tighe Barry, argued that the government ldquodidnrsquot do their jobrdquo in proving their case, and that the defendants created a ldquospectaclerdquo but not a disruption. The government couldnrsquot prove that the defendants intended to disrupt the proceedings, he said, and their arguments were all about confusing the jury. In his rebuttal, Covert also said that protesting is something the defendants ldquodo all the time.rdquo He once again highlighted the KKK outfits to the majorityblack jury, repeating lines Bianchi and Barry used and pointing out that their signs said ldquoKKK 1rdquo and ldquoGo Jeffie Boy.rdquo Nevertheless, Covert said, he was ldquovery surerdquo the defendants donrsquot support the KKK. Covert said all of the defendants disrupted orderly proceedings in Congress.nbspldquoAll three of these individuals were well beyond the line,rdquo he said. The jury began deliberations late Tuesday afternoon and will continue deliberating on Wednesday morning. Of possible concern for DOJ lawyers prosecuting the case President Donald Trump received just 4.1 percent of the vote in the District of Columbia. 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