Cuccinelli Profile; Reparations; Dillinger's Demise?
Good morning, it’s Monday, July 22, 2019. On this date in 1934, John Dillinger, the famous bank robber designated as “Public Enemy No. 1,” was permanently crossed off the FBI’s most-wanted list outside the Biograph Theater in Chicago. Lead was used, but not the kind found in any pencil. Dillinger had been ratted out by a friend.
The informer was Romanian immigrant Ana Cumpanas, a Chicago madam who went by Anna Sage. After July 22, 1934, she would forever be remembered by another moniker: the “Lady in Red.”
Like almost everything else in this case, that fact was mangled. The dress Anna wore was orange. Even after all this time, the true picture of what happened that night is as clear as mud, as I’ll explain in a moment. First, I’d point you to RealClearPolitics’ front page, which presents our poll averages, videos, breaking news stories, and aggregated opinion columns spanning the political spectrum. We also offer original material from our own reporters and contributors, including the following:
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Cuccinelli, the Immigration Hawk After Trump’s Own Heart. Phil Wegmann has this profile of the new acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, who opposed Donald Trump’s nomination in 2016.
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Mizzou Ignored Donor’s Conservative Intent, Lawsuit Asserts. Bill Zeiser reports on the controversy in which the University of Missouri is alleged to have skirted stipulations attached to a $5 million gift.
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The Real Cost of Socialism. Cora Mandy offers her take on the programs being pushed by Democrats.
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On the night of July 22, 1934, a gaggle of local cops led by East Chicago police detective Martin Zarkovich and FBI agents under the command of Melvin Purvis staked out the Biograph Theater, which was showing “Manhattan Melodrama,” the new Clark Gable picture.
They were waiting for Cumpanas, whom Zarkovich had apparently told that fingering Dillinger to the Feds would help her beat the prostitution rap she was facing. Anna’s goal was to avoid deportation. Zarkovich wanted the $10,000 reward on Dillinger’s head.
After watching “Manhattan Melodrama,” Dillinger strolled out of the theater accompanied by Anna and Polly Hamilton, a lady he was seeing at the time. As planned, Anna was wearing an orange (not red) dress so the coppers wouldn’t miss her -- or the wanted man she was setting up, who was using the alias “Jimmy Lawrence.”
Here is the official FBI version of what happened next:
At 10:30 p.m., Dillinger, with his two female companions on either side, walked out of the theater and turned to his left. As they walked past the doorway in which Purvis was standing, Purvis lit a cigar as a signal for the other men to close in.
Dillinger quickly realized what was happening and acted by instinct. He grabbed a pistol from his right trouser pocket as he ran toward the alley. Five shots were fired from the guns of three FBI agents. Three of the shots hit Dillinger, and he fell face down on the pavement. At 10:50 p.m. on July 22, 1934, John Dillinger was pronounced dead in a little room in the Alexian Brothers Hospital.
The agents who fired at Dillinger were Charles B. Winstead, Clarence O. Hurt, and Herman E. Hollis. Each man was commended by J. Edgar Hoover for fearlessness and courageous action. None of them ever said who actually killed Dillinger. The events of that sultry July night in Chicago marked the beginning of the end of the Gangster Era.
That’s a nice yarn, but what really happened is that Martin Zarkovich walked up to Dillinger without saying a word and shot him in the head, execution-style. The Indiana-born robber never got his day in court, but maybe that’s what he wanted all along.
Veteran crime writer Jay Robert Nash, a former Chicago journalist, has maintained for decades that Jimmy Lawrence was not John Dillinger, and that it was the FBI that was set up. Nash marshals a pretty compelling argument, although we’ll ever know for sure.
One thing is clear to me, though. As someone who once tried unsuccessfully to pry the Dillinger files out of the FBI by using the Freedom of Information Act, it’s obvious that bureau officials blame John Dillinger for crimes they know he didn’t commit, and that the government has never come clean regarding its internal investigation into his killing. That’s a lesson worth remembering this week, when one of J. Edgar Hoover’s successors testifies on Capitol Hill. Allegations by the FBI, or any other law enforcement agency, are just that, allegations, and this is true whether they’re leveled against dashing outlaws, accused sex criminals, or presidents.
Carl M. Cannon
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics