OA284: Drain the Swamp, Starring Gordon Hartogensis

Today’s episode is a tragedy in three acts, bringing together three seemingly-unrelated stories: (1) understanding the looming crisis at the Pension Benefits ordonuarantee Corporation; (2) figuring out who Gordon Hartogensis is and why he’s about to gain control over potentially hundreds of billions of dollars in assets; and finally, (3) putting together all the pieces to see how President Trump has acted to protect his crony, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, from potential criminal and civil liability in connection with his management of Sears. Strap in; it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

We begin in Act I, in which the guys break down the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), its creation, the Pension Benefits Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), and the developments over the last 45 years that have pushed the PBGC to the brink of collapse.

Act II, then, takes over with the recently-appointed International Man of Mystery, Gordon Hartogensis, to lead the PBGC. Who is this guy, and what has he done to inspire confidence that he can right the ship? Listen and find out!

Act III weaves these stories together with the ongoing civil lawsuit by Sears against Steven Mnuchin and his buddy Eddie Lampert, who are alleged to have looted Sears’s assets, driving it into bankruptcy. You’ll never guess who bought those assets in bankruptcy… or, perhaps you’ll instantly guess who did.

After all that, it’s time for the answer to Thomas Takes the Bar Exam #128 involving a crazy fast-food heist involving an imaginary sniper and the drive-thru lane. Did you get it right??

Appearances

None! If you’d like to have either of us as a guest on your show, drop us an email at openarguments@gmail.com.

Show Notes & Links

  1. Check out ERISA, 29 U.S.C. §§ 1001 et seq.
  2. You can also read the text and a breakdown of the key provisions of the PPA, which passed the Senate 93-5.
  3. For a sad laugh, check out the PBGC’s own scant “Who the hell is Gordon Hartogensis?” page. The first person to break this story was Politico’s Ian Kullgren, who wrote this article.
  4. We first covered the Sears/Lampert/Mnuchin story back in Episode 273, and you can read the Warren/Ocasio-Cortez letter here.

-Support us on Patreon at:  patreon.com/law

-Follow us on Twitter:  @Openargs

-Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/openargs/, and don’t forget the OA Facebook Community!

-For show-related questions, check out the Opening Arguments Wiki, which now has its own Twitter feed!  @oawiki

-And finally, remember that you can email us at openarguments@gmail.com!





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OA283: Mueller Speaks! (& Clarence Thomas Pens a Nonsensical Concurrence)

Today’s episode breaks down the statement made this week by Robert Mueller in connection with his report and investigation. Is it a good sign? Is it a bad sign? Is it both? Listen and find out!

We begin, however, with a bit of housekeeping, including a recommendation that you check out Episode 194 of Serious Inquiries Only (featuring Eli Bosnick!) for the official OA answer to all things milkshaking. We also preview a bit of next week’s show, which involves revisiting Eddie Lampert, Steve Mnuchin, and the alleged looting of Sears. Is it worse than you think? (It’s always worse than you think.)

Next, we check in on four Supreme Court orders that relate to gerrymandering. Is that worse than you think? (It’s always worse than you think.)

After all that, we’re not even halfway done! Our main segment breaks down the Supreme Court’s brief, two-page per curiam order in Box v. Planned Parenthood… and the sprawling, nonsensical 20-page concurrence written by Clarence Thomas that literally repeats David Barton-level falsehoods. You’ll be angry, but you won’t want to miss it.

Then, it’s time to Yodel! We carefully break down Robert Mueller’s statement regarding his investigation and what it means for the future. In so doing, we also analyze Mueller’s claims regarding the now-infamous 2000 OLC memo as to whether a sitting president can be indicted.

After all that, it’s time for an all-new Thomas Takes The Bar Exam #128 involving a crazy criminal effort to steal money from a fast-food drive-through by pretending to have a sniper… look, you’ll just have to listen and play along, okay?!?

Appearances

None! If you’d like to have either of us as a guest on your show, drop us an email at openarguments@gmail.com.

Show Notes & Links

  1. For the correct take on milkshaking, check out Serious Inquiries Only Episode 194 with Eli Bosnick.
  2. We first covered the alleged looting of Sears by Eddie Lampert and Steve Mnuchin in Episode 273 and that was picked up by our friends Elizabeth Warren and AOC.
  3. These are the four orders the Supreme Court granted in gerrymandering cases:
    A. HOUSEHOLDER, LARRY, ET AL. V. A. PHILIP RANDOLPH INST., ET AL.
    B. CHABOT, STEVE, ET AL. V. A. PHILIP RANDOLPH INST., ET AL
    C. MICHIGAN SENATE, ET AL. V. LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS, ET AL.
    D. CHATFIELD, LEE, ET AL. V. LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS, ET AL.
  4. Click here to read the Supreme Court’s Opinion in Box v. Planned Parenthood
  5. Click here for the peer-reviewed research showing that Sanger was not a eugenicist; and here for the article showing she wasn’t a racist.
  6. This is a transcript of Robert Mueller’s testimony and this is the 2000 OLC Memo.

Support us on Patreon at:  patreon.com/law

-Follow us on Twitter:  @Openargs

-Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/openargs/, and don’t forget the OA Facebook Community!

-For show-related questions, check out the Opening Arguments Wiki, which now has its own Twitter feed!  @oawiki

-And finally, remember that you can email us at openarguments@gmail.com!





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OA281: Follow the Money! (Analyzing Judge Mehta’s Order)

Today’s episode breaks down Judge Mehta’s recent order in the Trump v. Mazars litigation, which is parallel to the Deutsche Bank lawsuit we discussed on last week’s show. Why is this ruling significant, how does it accelerate the House’s efforts to uncover crucial financial documents, and what does this mean for the future of the Trump Presidency? Listen and find out!

We begin, however, with a look at some late-breaking news from Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who have requested information from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin related to his tenure at Sears (that we discussed in Episode 273) and whether that conduct continued during his time working for the Trump administration.

Then, it’s time for the main segment, in which we discuss Judge Mehta’s order, what it means for the future of the Trump investigations (and for future presidential administrations!), as well as deal with skeptical questions about the potential timeframe. Learn how the Congressional Democrats maneuvered to get this case fast-tracked so as to avoid endless delays — and listen to Andrew’s possibly-surprising prediction about what he thinks the Supreme Court won’t do to protect Trump!

After all that, it’s time for a brand new Thomas Takes the Bar Exam #127… and yes, it’s another dreaded real property question. Worse, it’s a hard one — in which the question gives you the answer but asks for the best reason why. Find out what happens when someone conveys property and dies while the gift recipient is overseas serving in the military. And if you’d like to play along with #TTTBE, just share out this episode on social media for a chance to be next week’s winner!

Appearances

Andrew was a guest on the most recent episode of Pod Therapy, discussing the “Goldwater Rule,” and Thomas was a guest on Episode 196 of God Awful Movies, “Alien Intrusion: Unmasking a Deception.” If you’d like to have either of us as a guest on your show, drop us an email at openarguments@gmail.com.

Show Notes & Links

1.  This is the link to the Warren/AOC letter to Mnuchin

2.  We most recently discussed the Congressional subpoenas into Trump’s finances in Episode 279.

3.  Text of Judge Mehta’s order in the Mazars case.

4.  This is the New York Times story about the Deutsche Bank whistleblower; and for an in-depth discussion of SARs reports, check out Carla McCadden in Episode 174.

5.  This is the report that some lenders have already provided documents to the House, and we discussed the Wells Fargo penalties in Episode 146 and 169.

Support us on Patreon at:  patreon.com/law

Follow us on Twitter:  @Openargs

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/openargs/

Don’t forget the OA Facebook Community!

For show-related questions, check out the Opening Arguments Wiki, which now has its own Twitter feed!  @oawiki

And email us at openarguments@gmail.com





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OA273: Sears, Steve Mnuchin & “The Producers”

Today’s episode features a deep dive into a just-filed lawsuit by Sears against its CEO, Eddie Lampert, and certain directors, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The lawsuit alleges that Eddie & Steve managed to wreck not one but two long-standing American institutions. How? Why? And what does any of this have to do with one of the best comedies of all time, The Producers? Listen and find out!

We begin, however, with a very brief Andrew Was Wrong malapropism in which he confused a journalist with a philosopher. (There’s a comedy setup in there somewhere.)

Then, it’s time for the main segment, which breaks down the background on Mnuchin, especially how he teamed up with billionaire Eddie Lampert, and then how the two of them managed to turn less than a billion dollars into full ownership of both Kmart and Sears, each of which had eight-figure valuations at the time. And, as if that wasn’t enough, you can find out how Lampert (allegedly) ripped off the public on Mnuchin’s watch, all while enriching himself. Drain the Swamp! You’ll also learn all about The Producers-style fraud. You can make more money with a flop than with a hit!

After all that, it’s time for the glorious return of Thomas Takes the Bar Exam — this time, featuring guest Monica Miller, who will be joining us for a full-length interview next episode.   TTTBE question #123, however, is a dreaded real property question…will anyone be able to get it right?? 

Appearances

None! If you’d like to have either of us as a guest on your show, drop us an email at openarguments@gmail.com.

Show Notes & Links

  1. Click here to read the Sears lawsuit, and here to check out Mnuchin’s Wikipedia page.
  2. This page contains a good explanation of Delaware corporate law regarding duty of loyalty.

Support us on Patreon at:  patreon.com/law

Follow us on Twitter:  @Openargs

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/openargs/

Don’t forget the OA Facebook Community!

For show-related questions, check out the Opening Arguments Wiki, which now has its own Twitter feed!  @oawiki

And email us at openarguments@gmail.com





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