Time to End the Veil of Secrecy Inside D.C. Kangaroo Court

Judge Beryl Howell did not get the gushing send off from her colleagues she undoubtedly expected.

Howell, appointed to the D.C. District Court by Barack Obama in 2010 and elevated to the court’s highest post in 2016—just in time to oversee numerous criminal investigations into Donald Trump—finished up her seven-year stint as chief judge earlier this month. Colleagues and staff assembled in her courtroom as the proverbial torch was passed to Judge James Boasberg, another Obama appointee.

But according to Politico, the retirement celebration turned into a “roast” of sorts as one judge after another chided Howell for her closed-doors dealings.

“Howell seemed to freeze in her seat as the most senior jurist on the court, Judge Paul Friedman, publicly described her still-secret rulings in grand jury-related matters,” reporters Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney wrote on March 17. “[Her] fellow judges made clear they were as tantalized as the rest of the political world by Howell’s secret work presiding over grand juries that could lead to charges against former President Donald Trump.”

Howell sat “stone-faced” when Friedman teased how, “we’d all love to read her opinions, but we can’t.” Friedman also noted that Howell issued “100 secret grand jury opinions” as chief judge.

Tanya Chutkan, another Obama appointee, also chimed in. “There’s so much work Chief Judge Howell has done that we may never know about,” she joked.

Although she will remain on the bench as an associate judge, her farewell as chief ended on a sour note. Nevertheless, Howell got the last laugh, once again, at Trump’s expense.

In yet another sealed ruling, Howell rejected claims of privilege and ordered Evan Corcoran, one of Trump’s attorneys, to testify before a grand jury in the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation into Team Trump’s handling of alleged classified documents.

Howell’s penchant for secrecy, of course, doesn’t extend to the news media; details related to the sealed order were leaked a few days later.

“Sources added that Howell also ordered Corcoran to hand over a number of records tied to what Howell described as Trump’s alleged ‘criminal scheme,’ echoing prosecutors,” ABC News reported on March 21. “Those records include handwritten notes, invoices, and transcriptions of personal audio recordings.” (Corcoran testified on Friday.)

In a matter of months, Howell has authored a flurry of secret decrees, including authorization to retain the contents of Representative Scott Perry’s (R-Va.) cell phone—seized by FBI agents last August, the day after the Mar-a-Lago FBI raid—and compelling the testimony of key Trump aides including former chief of staff Mark Meadows, former national security advisor Robert O’Brien, and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, a ruling also leaked to ABC News last week.

In fact, much of the work conducted in Washington, D.C.’s E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse is far out of the public eye. In the ongoing prosecution of at least 1,000 people (and counting) in what the Biden regime considers an act of domestic terror comparable to 9/11 and Pearl Harbor, it is nearly impossible for Americans to watch what’s happening on a daily basis. When initial court proceedings began in the January 6 investigation—arraignments, pretrial detention requests, plea agreements—Howell made those individual hearings available on a public access line.

But shortly before the first jury trial in March 2022, most of the public access lines were disabled. Reporters or members of the public who want to view any part of the Justice Department’s largest criminal investigation in American history must travel to the nation’s capital, go through an intense security screening, and sit in a small courtroom without access to electronic devices. (For example, I sat in an empty courtroom in February and watched Chutkan sentence a J6 defendant to 12 months in prison on misdemeanor convictions while mocking him for using a public defender.)

This is in stark contrast to the D.C. appellate court, which livestreams hearings on YouTube and posts recordings on its website.

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