UPDATE 1: The day opened with the Commission in preliminary hearing of another case involving "false statements" during a local campaign. When a motion was made to find "no probable cause" to proceed, the plaintiff stood up, yelled "Kangaroo Court!" and left the room before a vote. Will that presage the events to come? Stay tuned!
UPDATE 2: Sara Cohen, Educational Director of the Genocide Education Project in San Francisco and an expert on the Armenian genocide, is here to testify as an expert for Krikorian, as to the truth of Krikorian's 2008 statements. It's unclear if Schmidt will be presenting any expert testimony.
UPDATE 3: I'll take this opportunity for more background: Major publicity surrounding this case has centered on the testimony in deposition by Sibel Edmonds, the FBI whistleblower, on behalf of Krikorian. Edmonds broke a "state secrets" gag order in answer to a subpoena issued by the Elections Commission in this case. Edmonds revealed the complicity of numerous members of Congress, of both parties, in influence peddling by the Turkish government. (Schmidt was not directly named because she did not enter Congress until after Edmonds left the FBI.) The complete Edmonds deposition can be found at Bradblog.com on video and transcript.
UPDATE 4: Schmidt's attorney has opened by asserting that "She never did [deny the Armenian genocide]". Geragos has opened for Krikorian by challenging the authority of the Elections Commission to hear a case involving a federal election, citing the authority of Bush v. Gore, and the Constitutional protection of free speech. Geragos further argued that Schmidt's stipulation of acknowledging the Armenian genocide negates the basis of four of five remaining counts of her complaint.
UPDATE 5: Schmidt's attorney elaborated his opening remarks by lauding Turkey as "a NATO ally," but then claiming that Schmidt had no connection to the Turkish government. Those two lines seem contradictory to me.
UPDATE 6: Geragos responded to Schmidt's opening with a devastating chronology of Schmidt's actual connections to the Turkish government, which led to her becoming co-chair of the congressional Turkish caucus, even though there is no Turkish community in OH-02. Geragos: "The only reckless statement here is when Jean Schmidt says she is not a denier of the Armenian genocide." He then presented a strong positive defense of Krikorian's efforts in the 2008 campaign: "Krikorian is exposing the truth of a congresswoman who is bought and paid for by the Turkish lobby." Wow.
UPDATE 7: Krikorian is now on the witness stand. Under cross-examination about his motives in publishing the flyer, he says: "To get the truth out." Schmidt has arrived, though it's always debatable whether it's her or her identical twin.
UPDATE 8: Dangerous turn: The Commission has decided to take testimony first only on the question of whether Jean Schmidt did take money from the Turkish government. Schmidt's lawyer is grilling Krikorian about what evidence he had of direct payments from the Turkish government. In other words, they will first consider whether money was received, before considering whether "blood money" was received. This appears to be a set-up to narrow the hearing in such a way as to eliminate testimony about the context of the issuance of Krikorian's 2008 flyer. Free speech is meaningless if every phrase of that speech can be parsed for truth or falsity, without a broad consideration of the context of speech. Metaphors, for example, would become illegal, under the line of reasoning now being pursued.
UPDATE 9: The Commission is composed of three Republicans, three Democrats, and one Independent. This is supposed to produce a fair and balanced result. Where have I heard that "fair and balanced" phrase before?
UPDATE 10: Geragos is now doing direct examination of Krikorian on the money question. Krikorian is giving damned impressive accounting of the research he did before making his 2008 allegations. Included is an article from the Southern Poverty Law Center about how the Turkish government spends millions of dollars to illegally influence members of the US Congress.
UPDATE 11: Geragos asked Krikorian if he was personally affected by the Armenian genocide. Schmidt's attorneys objected to the question. Krikorian replied that both sets of his grandparents were survivovors of the genocide, with other relatives killed. Double WOW.
UPDATE 12: Krikorian is now going through individual cases he researched before 2008 showing that various members of the Turkish lobby and Schmidt contributors engaged in illegal activities including money-laundering to evade campaign contribution limits.
UPDATE 13: The Commission appears increasingly intent on a pro-Schmidt ruling, but this may be a result of the fact that only two members of the Commission are speaking. The Commission chairman, Chuck Calvert just sustained an objection from the Schmidt bench, without listening to the Krikorian reply to the objection. The Commission lawyer advised him he had to listen to both sides before ruling.
UPDATE 14: Geragos drops the bombshell that the lawyer sitting at the plaintiff's table next to Schmidt is the head of the Turkish-American Legal Defense Fund, a prima facie demonstration of Schmidt's close connection to the Turkish lobby.
UPDATE 15: One of the companies that contributed money to Turkish-American PACs, with ties to the Turkish government, is called "Hittite Microwave." Need I say more?
UPDATE 16: Understatement of the day from Mark Geragos: "I do a fair amount of criminal work."
UPDATE 17: Total disconnect between the Krikorian attorneys and the Commission on whether Krikorian has to prove the fact that the Turkish government gave money to Schmidt (the expressed Commision view) or whether Krikorian only needs to show that he spoke in good faith after doing due diligence to investigate the charges. Geragos: "It's a free speech issue." Commissioner Harvey Shapiro: "I want to hear if the facts are true." I'm almost ready to stand up and yell "Kangaroo Court!"
UPDATE 18: Schmidt is on the stand, this oughtta be good. She's being direct-examined by the head of the Turkish-American Legal Defense Fund. She says she has "never been investigated by a law enforcement agency for taking money from a foreign government." How would she know? On cross-examination, she admits that she herself has been found in reckless disregard for the truth by the Elections Commission on multiple occasions. She denies having received "gifts from the Turkish government" in direct contradiction to her testimony in deposition.
UPDATE 19: Schmidt admits to two fundraisers for her thrown by the Turkish lobby, at which $10,000 and $15,000 were raised respectively. She "does not recall" any conversation at either of those fundraisers. Great Reagan impression, Congresswoman! She also does not remember the discussion that led to her joining the Congressional Turkish-American Caucus.
UPDATE 20: The entire proceeding is bogging down on this question of "bifurcation." Chairman Calvert is intent on a path that finds no evidence of direct Turkish government payments and then closes off testimony on all other issues. Geragos and the other Krikorian attorneys are insisting on presentation of a full defense without thie shady tactic of bifurcation. Since the Democrats on the Commission remain stone silent, it's not clear where this is going.
UPDATE 21: Geragos made a motion to dismiss the case. Not a single Commission member was in favor, which is a very bad sign. Schmidt's side made a motion for a minor amendment of the complaint, which the Commission unanimously approved. Geragos then moved for a continuance to allow response to the amended complaint, and to respond on the matter of bifurcation. It's already after 5 pm. Schmidt's side opposes any continuance, rather mysteriously.
UPDATE 22: The motion for continuance seemed certain until the chair insisted that they go for another 2 hours today, on the theory that if no money direct from the Turkish government can be shown, a quick decision for Schmidt could be reached. That seems unlikely and if it happened, it would easily be reversed on appeal. So it seems the case is headed for continuance after a couple hours more of slugfest.
UPDATE 23: After a long recess it became clear that various issues would prevent going later today, including the locking of the elevators in the building, violating public meeting sunshine laws. The hearing has now been continued to October 1. Sorry for the anticlimax!
Comments are closed on this story.