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SMC Speaker Report: Barbara McQuade

Barbara McQuade and President Ken Mokray

Our luncheon speaker on October 8th was Barbara McQuade, the former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. She is currently a professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School and a legal analyst for NBC News and MSNBC.

Barbara began by talking about whistleblowers and the Whistleblower Protection Act, a federal law that protects whistleblowers who work for the US government and report possible wrongdoing. The law is intended to protect whistleblowers from retaliation such as firing, demotion or reassignment, but only if their claims are credible and raise an urgent concern. Such protections are important to discourage the leaking government secrets to the press. Barbara cited a number of well-known leakers, such as Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Reality Winner, and Julian Assange and described how leaking classified documents could damage national security. She mentioned that established media outlets had declined to publish such documents but several internet sites such as WikiLeaks had no such compunctions.  Barbara had a security clearance while serving as US Attorney and prosecuted cases involving terrorism financing, foreign agents, and export violations, so she was able to discuss the different levels of classified documents.

Barbara stayed for a lengthy question and answer session that covered a number of issues, including the current impeachment proceeding. She discussed the elements of the crime of extortion and how it was important in the federal prosecution of Kwame Kilpatrick that she headed in Detroit. Barbara also touched on topics such as the power of Congress to investigate the President, the chance that a President could be prosecuted after leaving office, how she uses remote studios to appear on TV, how experts are compensated by TV networks, and the Michigan Innocence Clinic at Michigan Law School.