On Thursday, the Office of Military Commissions, Rear Adm. Crandall presiding, segued away from Podesta’s fascination with small children and focused instead on criminal actions he had taken against Donald J. Trump and his family.
Rear Adm. Crandall showed the three-officer, all-female panel statements of guilt Podesta had written and signed prior to the tribunal and before the military had rescinded a plea deal removing capital punishment from the table. One statement described how Podesta, Hillary Clinton, and then-DNC Chairwoman Donna Brazile planned to extort Trump into dropping out of the 2016 presidential election. The plan, which was Podesta’s idea, involved kidnapping Trump’s youngest son, Barron, and threatening to “send him home in pieces” unless Trump followed the kidnapper’s demands.
To obfuscate their participation, Podesta suggested using a third party with no ties to the DNC to hire Chinese nationals to grab Barron Trump. At the time, Barron was 10 years old and typically in the company of his mother, Melania Trump. Tuesday and Friday afternoons were the exceptions. For 2 hours on those days, Barron left his mother’s side and travelled with a Secret Service detail to posh NYC toy stores like FAO Schwartz and Kidding Around, child-friendly places the SS had rigorously vetted.
“They learned the Trumps’ schedule. They intended to either pay off the Secret Service or create a distraction to kidnap young Barron. This ill-conceived plot was not carried out, but that’s not the point. Conspiracy to commit a crime is an actionable offense. The level of hubris is mindboggling,” Rear Adm. Crandall told the panel.
Moreover, he showed the panel an email Podesta had sent to Clinton and Brazile. “Difficult but doable. Will cost a lot, probably. But if we get ‘B’ then ‘D’ will have no choice,” the email read.
A reply from Brazile said, “Let’s do it.”
“Clinton and her minion, I mean the defendant, were publicly confident Hillary would win that election. Privately, they had an abundance of fear that Trump was going to win. So fearful they wanted to kidnap his son. A profusion of both arrogance and fear,” Rear Adm. Crandall said.
After a short recess, Rear Adm. Crandall focused on a Podesta-and-Clinton-hatched plot to assassinate President Donald J. Trump during his visit to Vatican City on May 23-24, 2017.
Podesta’s written confession told a horrific tale about hiring someone to murder Trump at the Apostolic Palace. In this case, the plan to kill Trump failed, but still a life was lost.
Rear Adm. Crandall read from Podesta’s confession: “It was both our idea to eliminate Trump because we knew Pence would be more agreeable to work with. Hillary had connections in the Vatican, and she asked me to contact a man I knew only as Vittore Mazzi. We wired him the equivalent of $2,500,000 and told him we didn’t want details, only results. He wrote back, cryptically, he would poison Trump’s dinner plate and make sure it was only Trump who got poisoned food. Since we were not expecting to hear back until the job was completed or network news announced Trump was dead, I didn’t check the email address he responded to until after the dinner was scheduled. If I’d checked earlier, I would’ve told him to find a different way to kill Trump, because we know, of course, that a food tester accompanies him on most domestic and all trips abroad. I learned shortly thereafter that someone besides Trump had eaten food from his plate and died. The administration covered it up because there isn’t supposed to be public knowledge that a president employs a food tester, and his administration was afraid public dissemination would damage public opinion of the Secret Service. That’s what I learned. And I can only assume they asked the Vatican to keep it under wraps.”
“The defendant was a pitiful schemer,” Rear Adm. Crandall said, addressing the panel. “It seems that when Clinton tasked you with planning these crimes, things always went awry. Your involvement is indisputable. Regardless the statements and emails, out of his own mouth he admitted to these crimes at Clinton’s trial. This commission could spend weeks or even months highlighting his expansive criminal career, but we have others to bring to justice.”
A tearful and sullen Podesta slouched in his chair. Beside him, his counsel, Trisha Anderson, stared at the screen of her MacBook and rapped at the keys. She slowly rose to her feet and with an acrimonious smirk on her face, asked to make a statement.
“I remind the commission that my client’s admissions of guilt were based on a good faith agreement. JAG has pulled a bait-and-switch on Mr. Podesta. Had he known he might receive capital punishment, he would not have cooperated. The U.S. military is subverting justice, and Mr. Podesta, by no means a picture-perfect man—who among us is?—is being railroaded. I ask that you ladies, you officers, consider JAG’s behavior before deciding Mr. Podesta’s outcome,” Trisha Anderson said.
Rear Adm. Crandall gave a brief review of the charges and reminded the panel that a military commission, unlike a civilian court, needed only a majority vote to convict. He also said the tribunal, again unlike a civilian trial, does not have a separate penalty phase and that judgment be rendered once a determination of guilt is reached. Without a moment’s hesitation, the panel announced it had reached a verdict, finding Podesta guilty on all charges. It recommended Podesta receive capital punishment for his grievous crimes.
“Ms. Anderson, does your client understand the verdict, and does he have a preference as to how this sentence will be carried out?” Rear Adm. Crandall asked.
Podesta broke down in tears, his shoulders heaving fitfully.
“You’re murdering him, you decide,” Trisha Anderson said.
“Very well. This commission decrees John Podesta will face capital punishment by firing squad, the act to be carried out on 1 June. This session of the military commission on tribunals is concluded,” Rear Adm. Crandall said.
As Podesta was helped to his feet and escorted from the tribunal chamber, his counsel said she would appeal the decision to anyone and everyone willing to listen.