Officials in Washington are using dirty tactics to hide the investigation and decision not to prosecute David Gregory of NBC News for illegally possessing a “high-capacity” magazine in the District of Columbia.
As I wrote in February, my requests to the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and the Office of Attorney General (OAG) to turn over the documents in Mr. Gregory’s case were ignored. I finally had to use a Freedom of Information Act request, but the attorney general and police only turned over public documents.
So I wrote separate extensively-detailed FOIA request to the attorney general, MPD and Mayor Vincent Gray. The police and prosecutor responded with a large amount of documents — 75 percent of them were useless to me (every public email and news story) and seemed to be an effort to bury me in paper. The rest was heavily redacted with big black marks.
On Monday, I got a press release from Judicial Watch announced it has filed a FOIA lawsuit against MPD and OAG on behalf of the Legal Insurrection blog. In reading through the documents that were not turned over, I noticed there was one that I had gotten — the Jan. 9 letter from the NBC’s lawyer Lee Levine to D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan.
I called William A. Jacobson, the lead author of the legal blog, to tell him I had that letter. “I am shocked that the D.C. attorney general would withhold from us the letter from David Gregory’s attorney using a claim of FOIA exemption, and force us to go to court, when they already gave the letter to another person,” Mr. Jacobson, a clinical professor at Cornell Law School, told me.
I emailed him the Levine letter. He sent back a Feb. 20 email from Victor Bonett in the attorney general’s office that said, “OAG is withholding the Jan. 9, 2013 letter from Lee Levine and certain responsive emails between OAG and MPD, pursuant to D.C. Official Code Section 2-534(a)(3)(A)(i), (a)(4) and (e).”
Mr. Levine’s letter provided new information, such as that the source of the “high-capacity” magazine. “Meet the Press briefly borrowed the empty magazine from a private citizen who lives outside of the District of Columbia and who ‘Meet the Press’ understood possessed the magazine lawfully,” he wrote.
The NBC lawyer also claimed, “The magazine was immediately returned to its owner following the broadcast.”
However, according to a police “property record” document, a Kay Industries 30-round magazine was recovered from Mr. Gregory (at a redacted address) as part of an active investigation. The document is signed on Jan. 9, two days after Mr. Levine said the magazine had been returned to its owner.
The lawyer’s letter also sheds light on the way NBC blatantly violated the law.
On Sunday Dec. 23, Mr. Gregory held up the illegal magazine to illustrate the anchor’s position in an interview with NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.
His lawyer’s excuses to the prosecutor were that, “NBC incorrectly interpreted the information it received from [the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] and MPD. It believed that the display of an unloaded magazine not attached to any firearm during a news interview would not be objectionable.”
The police documents show there was no confusion. At 4 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 21, a NBC producer, whose name was redacted, emailed MPD this: “Meet the Press is interviewing a person on the show this Sunday in studio -Producers for the show would liek [sic] to have a clip (standard and high power), without ammunition in studio to use on the show. There will be no gun, no bullets, just clips. Is this legal?”
At 9 p.m., someone at MPD — again, the name was blacked out — replied: “No, possession of high capacity magazines is a misdemeanor under Title #7 of the D.C. Code. We would suggest utilizing photographs for their presentation.”
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton is determined to use the lawsuit to shine a light into this black hole. He told me in an interview Tuesday that, “We want the complete record of this controversial decision not to prosecute Gregory or NBC News, and one of the key documents is the affidavit.”