Anybody heard a Republican member of Congress say that the prosecution of Brian Twilley will further divide the nation? Anyone heard a former FBI director call for Joe Biden, once inaugurated, to pardon Ronald Repass so that the country might heal? And has anyone heard a prominent minister decry those who helped federal prosecutors bring charges against Sarah Holmes?
I don’t see any hands going up, but didn’t really expect any.
The three people I just mentioned, all from Maryland, will not be rescued from federal prosecution or public shame for crimes they have committed.
You won’t hear Sen. Lindsey Graham speak up for Twilley the way he has demanded mercy for his golfing buddy, Donald Trump, the twice-impeached president.
You won’t hear James Comey, the former FBI director, suggest a pardon for Repass as he has for Trump.
The Rev. Franklin Graham compared the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump to Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Christ. But I don’t see him castigating the government witnesses against Holmes.
Maybe you think there’s no comparison between these cases — Trump’s impeachment and lower level federal indictments — and, technically, you are correct. But there’s no getting around what the Trump sycophants reveal with their tone-deaf pleas for “moving on” and “healing” and “unity.”
They are willing, with either silence or loud exhortations, to excuse corruption and criminal behavior by the president, and all the president’s men, while rejecting it everywhere else.
Republican hypocrisy has been on full display during the Trump administration, especially the last dreadful year of it, with presidential pardons for presidential pals, the politicization of the Department of Justice under former Attorney General William Barr, and now with most Republicans continuing to coddle Trump even after he incited a riot in the Capitol and got impeached for it.
This continuing tolerance of privileged treatment comes from the so-called party of law and order. Under the spell of Trump, the GOP takes the side of criminals and their abettors. It’s blatantly hypocritical, and few Republicans care that we notice.
Meanwhile, and fortunately, the federal justice system away from Washington functions as Americans expect — apolitically, with indictments of all varieties, from bank robberies to bank fraud, handed down daily across the land. Defendants face penalties of prison or fines, or both, as they should.
The three cases I mentioned came from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Maryland — an office, by the way, that has been led since 2005 by two men, Rod Rosenstein and Robert Hur, appointed by Republican presidents.
Let me tell you about Twilley first. It’s the most recent case, and typical of a white-collar crime the feds prosecute.
Twilley is a 57-year-old businessman on the Eastern Shore. He owned a commercial printing business in Wicomico County and served on the board of Hebron Savings Bank. (He’s also listed as an adjunct faculty member at Salisbury University’s Economics and Finance Department.) The other day, in the U.S. District Court in Baltimore, Twilley entered a guilty plea to lying on an application for a home equity line of credit from the bank he once served as director. For this, Twilley faces prison time and restitution of $163,081.88.
Repass, also 57, is a former postal carrier in Montgomery County. In 2014, he fell and injured his right shoulder, then filed for disability compensation. The Department of Labor granted him $3,227 a month. But Repass apparently found part-time work driving a snowplow in winter, cutting grass in summer, working for a mechanic and a home improvement company, doing some plumbing and installing window blinds. When you’re drawing a disability compensation check from the government, you’re supposed to report any other income you might receive; you’re also supposed to report improvements in your physical condition. Repass did neither, and prosecutors say he cheated the government out of $62,690.44. He pleaded guilty to fraud and is to be sentenced in March.
So is Holmes. She pleaded guilty last month to embezzling $294,585.18 from her employer, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Local Lodge 24 at Joint Base Andrews in Prince George’s County. Holmes was secretary-treasurer of the local and managed to steal money from the union by writing checks to herself, forging checks and altering accounting software. She did this to feed a casino gambling habit. Federal agents found 17 occasions when Holmes deposited fraudulent checks from the local into her personal account, then on the same day went to Maryland Live! and used her casino player card.
She’s 65 years old and looking at possible federal prison time. As part of her plea agreement, she has to fully compensate the union.
Holmes is no longer employed by the local, but I don’t hear anyone saying she should be pardoned because she’s out of office — not in the way Lindsey Graham pleads for Trump. “Post-presidential impeachments are bad for the presidency, bad for the country,” the South Carolina Republican said the other day. “If you want to end the violence, end the impeachment.”
Given what happened at the Capitol on Jan. 6, you could hear that statement as an ultimatum — either give Trump a break or look for another attack by the MAGA mob.
Add to that the Republican pleas for pardon and healing, for moving on and putting Trump behind us — sorry, but that all subverts the American idea of justice and affirms the double standard we both acknowledge and detest.