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Now that we have a better understanding of James Comey and his career, Mary Katharine Ham thinks it’s time for Martha Stewart to be pardoned.
… If you ask an average American why Stewart went to jail, they’d probably tell you “insider trading.” In fact, that is not what brought her down. She was never charged with insider trading over the 2001 sale of ImClone stock that started the whole affair. She was charged with conspiring to lie about the crime with which she was never charged.
“Stewart has always asserted that she sold the stock because it fell below a ‘predetermined price [$60] at which she planned to sell,’” Slate reported. “The U.S. attorney, in contrast, alleges that Stewart sold because she heard that Sam Waksal, ImClone’s CEO, was trying to sell his own stock in the company. The alleged crimes, in any event, took place after the sale.”
That move, which she said she did on the advice of her broker, prevented a loss of about $45,000. The case for insider trading was weak, so the government went after her on more novel charges.
One was so novel it got tossed out by the judge. That particular legal theory was that because Stewart publicly professed her innocence of insider trading, she thereby propped up the value of her own company, with which her personal reputation was inextricably linked. That amounted to “securities fraud.”
There’s a reason “don’t make a federal case out of it” is a phrase for blowing something out of proportion, and this case is a perfect example. It shouldn’t have been a federal case, and Stewart shouldn’t have lost her freedom, her executive position, and a bunch of earning potential over it.
2. To Take A Swipe At Comey
Hey, we know what makes the guy tick. Guess who decided to go after Stewart on these charges when he was a federal prosecutor? James Comey. A pardon to Stewart would be a blow to Comey that is perfectly within Trump’s power and a much less controversial move than firing him was. …
Last June, Mollie Hemingway details the excesses of Comey’s career.
… Frank Quattrone
Let’s begin with the case of one Frank Quattrone, a banker who Comey pursued relentlessly on banking related charges without fruition. But while he couldn’t find any wrong-doing on criminal conduct, he went after him for supposed “obstruction of justice” because of a single ambiguous email. Sound familiar?
Before he was indicted, Comey made false statements about Quattrone and his intent. The first trial ended in a hung jury but the second one got a conviction.
That conviction was overturned in 2006. Quattrone was so scarred by the harassment, he began funding projects designed to help innocent people who are victims of prosecutorial overreach or other problems. He said his motivation for supporting such projects was that at the very moment he was found guilty in the second trial, he realized there must be innocent people in prisons who lacked the financial resources to fight for justice. He also started the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
You might remember Martha Stewart being sent to jail. You might not remember that James Comey was the man who put her there, and not because he was able to charge her for anything he began investigating her for. The original investigation was into whether Stewart had engaged in insider trading. They didn’t even try to get her on that charge. Gene Healy wrote about it in 2004, warning about federal prosecutorial overreach:
Comey didn’t charge Stewart with insider trading. Instead, he claimed that Stewart’s public protestations of innocence were designed to prop up the stock price of her own company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, and thus constituted securities fraud. Stewart was also charged with making false statements to federal officials investigating the insider trading charge — a charge they never pursued. In essence, Stewart was prosecuted for “having misled people by denying having committed a crime with which she was not charged,” as Cato Institute Senior Fellow Alan Reynolds put it.
But she still served a five-month prison sentence. …