Attorney Ginnal, thorn in the flesh of democracy
By Marston Gordon
Jun 28, 2020, 22:55
In parliamentary democracies the Attorney General is a government minister directly answerable to parliament. The person is the chief legal adviser of the crown and its government, whose primary role is advisory to the government on any legal repercussions of their actions.
It is evidently clear why this should not be a political post in modern democracies and the examples below argue in favour of this assertion.
Jody Wilson-Raybould was Canada’s first indigenous justice minister, she was also appointed attorney general by liberal prime minister Justin Trudeau in 2015 when he won on the platform of transparency, gender equality and a commitment to reconcile with Canada’s indigenous people.
SNC-Lavalin, one of the world largest engineering and construction company is situated in the prime minister’s Montreal riding. The company faced fraud and corruption charges for allegedly offering bribes to Libyan officials between 2001 and 2011 during the reign of Gaddafi.
The attorney general asserted that the prime minister and his staff spent months trying to convince her that taking the company to court would cost Canadian jobs and their party votes, when she did not relent she was shuffled out of the department and later expelled from the Liberal caucus.
Subsequently, the independent federal ethics commissioner concluded that Mr. Trudeau violated the conflict of interest act. The law requires the commissioner to present his report to the prime minister and it is up to the prime minister to implement any further action.
Avichai Mandelblit was appointed attorney general in February 2016 with the support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Since December 2016 Mr. Netanyahu has been under investigation by police and prosecutors for corruption and presumably he hoped that Mandelblit would stymie the investigation. In December 2018 after the state prosecutor recommended that Netanyahu be indicted, Mandelblit said he would work quickly to decide whether to indict him and further stated that he would not act “at the expense of quality decisions and professionalism” and “would not be influenced by anything other than the evidence and the law”.
On November 21, 2019, Mandelblit indicted Netanyahu on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Netanyahu became the first sitting Israeli prime minister to be charged with a crime and was legally required to relinquish all his ministerial posts other that the position as prime minister. Netanyahu has decided not to step aside during the trial unlike his predecessors Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Olmert had done when under investigation.
Dorothy Lightbourne was the minister of justice and attorney general of Jamaica from September 2007 to July 2011; she was appointed by Bruce Golding.
Mr. Golding was elected prime minister in 2007 and he was also the Member of Parliament for the West Kingston constituency. One of his constituent’s Christoper “Dudus” Coke was subsequently indicted by the United States to face arms and drug smuggling charges and Golding instructed Lightbourne not to sign the extradition request. In March 2010 it came to light that the JLP government engaged Washington based law firm Manatt, Phelps and Phillips to lobby the US government to set aside the extradition order. By May 2010 Golding revealed that he had sanctioned the engagement of the law firm on behalf of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and not the government of Jamaica and that he has instructed Lightbourne to sign the extradition order.
The ensuing standoff between the security forces and gunmen loyal to Dudus resulted in over 70 deaths before his captured on June 23, 2010.
William “Bill” Barr’s second stint as United States attorney general began in February 2019 following his nomination by Donald Trump.
The Special Counsel investigation conducted by special prosecutor Robert Mueller was an investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 US elections and alleged links between Trump associates and Russian officials. Instead of turning over the full report to congress in April 2019, Barr called a press conference and release a four page report ruling that the evidence was insufficient to establish a finding of obstruction of justice.
Roger Stone, a friend of Trump and political operative was convicted on seven counts in November 2019 including witness tampering, obstruction of justice and lying to investigators. He was sentenced to seven to nine years in prison. In February 2020 Barr directed the US attorney’s office in the District of Columbia (a hand-picked Barr ally) to enter a new recommendation for a lighter sentence; the four career prosecutors who signed the original recommendation withdrew from the case.
Geoffrey Burman was appointed by Jeff Sessions as interim US attorney in 2018. Burman was reportedly investigating Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Guiliani for alleged crimes relating to his activities in Ukraine when in 2020 Trump and Barr sought his ouster. He was fired by Barr on June 20, 2020.
Source: Jamaica Gleaner, Wikipedia, National Post, BBC News
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