by Julie Kelly at RealClear Investigations
Washington glitterati assembled at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in October to celebrate federal employees making a difference in government. Hosted by CNN anchor Kate Bolduan, the black-tie affair featured in-person appearances by top Biden White House officials including Chief of Staff Jeffrey Zients, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, and Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack.
Midway through the evening’s festivities, Max Stier, president of the group sponsoring the event – the Partnership for Public Service, a $24 million nonprofit based in Washington that recruits individuals to work in the civil service – took the stage to thank his high-profile guests. “Great leaders are the heart and soul of effective organizations,” Stier said, “which is why I am so thankful to see so many of our government’s amazing leaders here tonight.”
Stier also acknowledged one federal employee, his wife, Judge Florence Y. Pan, who sits on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Pan would soon need no introduction. Earlier this month she made headlines by asking Donald Trump’s lawyers whether the presidential immunity he sought in connection with alleged Jan. 6 crimes was absolute.
Could a president order SEAL Team Six to assassinate a political rival?” Pan asked Trump lawyer John Sauer. “That’s an official act – an order to SEAL Team Six?” she clarified.
Although the back and forth between Pan and Sauer was inconclusive as to the question about a president’s criminal liability, many mainstream outlets misconstrued the exchange while lionizing Pan for posing a question that they then used to advance their description of Trump as a lawless menace. The exchange, which Pan prompted when she posed the pre-arranged hypothetical at beginning of the hearing, has raised new questions about the impartiality of judges hearing politically charged cases.
For months progressives have been insisting that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas should recuse himself from any case that involves Trump because of his wife Ginni Thomas’ political involvement and participation in the events of Jan. 6. Those same interests have yet to express similar worries about Pan’s objectivity, despite her husband’s longtime political activism and current opposition to another Trump presidency.
Power couples are the lifeblood of Washington so it’s not unusual for political activists, judges, and White House bigwigs to rub elbows at fancy soirees like the October gala at the Kennedy Center. But Max Stier’s longtime ties to the Democratic Party, his access to key Biden administration officials, and his suggestion that Trump represents a threat to democracy at the same time his wife is handling sensitive matters related to the Department of Justice’s prosecution of the former president should raise questions about her impartiality.
A member of Bill Clinton’s legal team during the Monica Lewinsky scandal,…Continue Reading