As part of the analysis we do on Lawfare, we often express our best professional judgment on an issue. I like to think that my judgment is pretty good and that a review of what I've said in the past tells the story of relative accuracy and thoughtfulness. But part of establishing credibility is acknowledging error—and the past couple of days have shown that I've not been that accurate on at least two occasions (at least two big enough to warrant acknowledgment like this). Here they are:
- First, and most obviously, I opined that the witness tampering case against Paul Manafort was a weak one. Judge Amy Berman Jackson disagreed, and Manafort is now in jail. I take some comfort in the fact that the judge said she "struggled" with the decision—suggesting it wasn't an easy one for her and partially validating my concerns—but the bottom line is simple: Clearly the case was stronger than I assessed it to be, at least in the mind of the only person who matters.
- Second, some time ago I wrote quite critically of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's memorandum in support of FBI Director James Comey's dismissal, calling it strangely inadequate. I stand by the view that the memorandum was too brief to suit the purpose for which it was intended. But candor requires one to acknowledge that the memo looks much better in the wake of the Justice Department Inspector General's report on the FBI's handling of the Clinton email investigation. When the Inspector General characterizes an employee, as it did Comey, as "insubordinate" and acting in an "extraordinary" manner that "disregards" settled policy—that's pretty damning. And that procedural impropriety was exactly the issue that Rosenstein's memo focused on.
When I err, it's important to say so, if only so readers may better judge my future contributions.