Posted tagged ‘2016 elections and Russia’

An Epidemic of Lawlessness

June 24, 2017

An Epidemic of Lawlessness, Power LineScott Johnson, June 24, 2017

Taking the story at face value, we can conclude that the Post and its sources have done great damage to the national security of the United States. The Post attributes the leaks on which the story is based to “three dozen current and former U.S. officials in senior positions in government, including at the White House, the State, Defense and Homeland Security departments, and U.S. intelligence services. Most agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity…”

Again, taken at face value, the story buries this bombshell. Three dozen current and former U.S. officials in senior government positions have undertaken a campaign of gross lawlessness for their own purposes undermining the national security of the United States beyond anything Vladimir Putin can do.

**********************

Yesterday’s Washington Post carried the Russia story of the day. Post reporters Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima and Adam Entous purport to deliver the goods on “Obama’s secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin’s election assault.” It’s a long, long story that is of interest from a variety of perspectives.

The Post purports to give us the inside story on the collection of intelligence on Russian interference in the presidential election and serve up the apologetics explaining the Obama administration’s passive response. Based on highly classified intelligence related to the Post, the CIA discovered Russian interference in the election while it was in process within months of the election in the last year of the Obama administration. According to the CIA intelligence, the interference came on the order of Vladimir Putin and furthered Putin’s desire to aid the election of Donald Trump as president.

The Post dates the critical intelligence “bombshell” obtained by the CIA to August 2016. The Post reports that CIA Director John Brennan deemed it so confidential that he withheld it from the President’s Daily Brief and conveyed it directly in writing to Obama by hand delivery.

The intelligence provided Obama administration officials plenty of time to do foil Putin’s plans. Indeed, administration officials concocted plans to punish and deter Russia from interference. The Post reports that “Obama administration secretly debated dozens of options for deterring or punishing Russia, including cyberattacks on Russian infrastructure, the release of CIA-gathered material that might embarrass Putin and sanctions that officials said could ‘crater’ the Russian economy. But in the end, in late December, Obama approved a modest package” (emphasis added). In other words, President Obama declined to take any action while it might still have done some good.

One might infer from story that President Obama “colluded” with Putin to defeat Hillary Clinton and elect Donald Trump. One might support the inference with Obama’s own comment open mic comment to Dmitri Medvedev that during Obama’s second term he would have more “flexibility” to cooperate with Putin.

To be fair, we might consider the explanation that Obama was just a pusillanimous pussy disinclined to protect the interests of the United States from our enemies. Perhaps Obama’s passivity was overdetermined and several of the possible explanations apply. Certainly some explanation beyond any offered by the Post’s sources is called for. The possibilities are endless.

By contrast, however, the Post’s reportage offers no evidence of Trump’s “collusion” with the Russian interference intended to assist Trump’s election. Zero. Nada. Not even by inference.

Perhaps evidence of Trump “collusion” is beyond the scope of the Post’s story. If the Post had obtained such evidence from its numerous sources, however, it would be in the story.

So far as I can tell, sophisticated commenters on the story take it at face value and consider it on the terms presented by the Post. See, for example, David French’s NRO column and Tom Rogan’s Examiner column.

The story comes complete with this revelation: “Obama also approved a previously undisclosed covert measure that authorized planting cyber weapons in Russia’s infrastructure, the digital equivalent of bombs that could be detonated if the United States found itself in an escalating exchange with Moscow. The project, which Obama approved in a covert-action finding, was still in its planning stages when Obama left office. It would be up to President Trump to decide whether to use the capability.”

I’m sure Putin is grateful for the heads-up from the Post. You don’t have to be a CIA officer of analyst to figure that out.

Now like much of the Post story, this is a piece of highly classified intelligence whose disclosure violates the oaths of those who gave it to the Post. The violation of a solemn oath by a witness is commonly taken to detract from the credibility of the witness’s testimony. Consider, moreover, that the Post did not place its sources were not under oath when they confided in Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima and Adam Entous. The intelligent reader would be well within his rights not to believe a word they say.

If we believe it, however, this pertinent fact should be added. The disclosure of highly classified intelligence by government officials seriously violates the espionage laws of the United States. It is in all likelihood felonious several times over in the case of each of the Post’s numerous anonymous sources.

The Post and its reporters are accomplices to the crimes committed by their sources. They have disseminated highly classified intelligence to the enemies of the United States — as the left has lately discovered Putin and Russia to be.

Taking the story at face value, we can conclude that the Post and its sources have done great damage to the national security of the United States. The Post attributes the leaks on which the story is based to “three dozen current and former U.S. officials in senior positions in government, including at the White House, the State, Defense and Homeland Security departments, and U.S. intelligence services. Most agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity…” As for the requirement of anonymity imposed by the Post’s sources, see the paragraph above.

Again, taken at face value, the story buries this bombshell. Three dozen current and former U.S. officials in senior government positions have undertaken a campaign of gross lawlessness for their own purposes undermining the national security of the United States beyond anything Vladimir Putin can do.

Putin Wins Big

June 23, 2017

Putin Wins Big, Jewish Media Resources, Jonathan Rosenblum, June 23, 2017

(Putin is winning because the national focus is on non-events. Hence, our faith in the electoral system has been damaged and the ability of the Trump administration to focus on the agenda Trump was elected to pursue has been limited. The Congress, rather than focus on legislating, is preoccupied with investigations of non-events. That’s good for America’s enemies and bad for America. President Trump’s successes in focusing on his agenda despite the many distractions speak well of him. — DM)

Smith makes an insightful distinction between “consolations, vicious self-sung lullabies” and “conspiracy theories.” Examples of the former would be: Hillary lost because the Russians hacked the election; our children died because the Jews poisoned the wells.

But such “consolations,” as vicious as they may be, only become full-blown conspiracy theories when weaponized through the mass media for political use. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion would be the classic example of such a conspiracy theory. And, Smith points out, Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” do not have the platforms “to proliferate weaponized narratives capable of doing real damage to our polity – the elites do.” And those elites — the press, the intelligence community, political parties – have been used to legitimize a conspiracy theory.

James Kirchik, another anti-Trump pundit (as well as a brilliant analyst on many issues) laments the way the “confirmation bias” has resulted in well-meaning, liberal anti-Trump journalists reporting stories that they want to be true and are emotionally true for them – e.g., stories of threatened or actual violence against minorities – but are factually false.

******************************

It is certain that Russia launched a massive hacking campaign to undermine the U.S. electoral process in 2016. That is a major issue that needs to be thoroughly investigated, and steps taken so that it does not recur.

Though the Russian involvement in the 2016 election targeted both presidential candidates at various times, it likely damaged Hillary Clinton’s campaign more. Confirmation in the emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee that the DNC had actively favored Clinton over her chief rival for the Democratic nomination, Senator Bernie Sanders, infuriated Sanders supporters. Conceivably enough of those supporters could have decided not to vote for Clinton based on those emails to have made a difference in the three crucial battleground states – Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Thus far, however, the primary focus on the Russian hacking has been with respect to the far-fetched claim that the Russians colluded with the Trump campaign fashion in some fashion The obsessive focus on that issue has turned the hacking into a major victory for Vladimir Putin by introducing an unparalleled degree of rancor and paralysis into the American political system.

James Kirchik writing in the May 3 American Interest (“Who Killed the Liberal World Order”), describes how at last September’s G-20 summit in Hangzhou, China, then President Obama confronted Russian President Vladimir Putin about the Russian hacking of the DNC, and told him to “cut it out” or “face serious consequences.” In October, according to Bloomberg News, the White House used a cyber version of the “red phone” to convey to the Kremlin detailed evidence of Russian hacking of voter data banks in numerous states. On both occasions, Putin, who had long since taken Obama’s measure, did nothing in response.

WHATEVER THE REASON Putin decided to interfere with the 2016 election, it was not because he feared Obama or Obama’s legacy-bearer, former Secretary of State Clinton. Starting with Clinton’s declared “reset” of relations with Russia, shortly after the Obama administration entered office in 2009, until Obama issued his warning at Hangzhou, the United States had repeatedly stood down in every possible confrontation with Russia.

The 2009 reset itself took place in the wake of the assassinations by Russian intelligence agents of Alexander Livinenko in London, where the former Russian intelligence operative he had been granted political asylum, and of Russia’s leading investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya. Russia was also busy hardening control of areas of Georgia occupied by Russian troops. As part of the reset, the Obama administration abandoned plans to provide Poland and Czechoslovakia with anti-missile defenses.

During the 2012 presidential debates, Obama mocked his Republican opponent Mitt Romney for listing Russia as the United States’ primary international foe. “The 80s called. They want their foreign policy back,” teased Obama. And even prior to the 2012 campaign, Obama told Putin’s sidekick Dmitry Medvedev that he’d be able to be “more flexible” after the campaign, and asked for a little breathing room from Russia.

All Obama’s shows of good will, however, went unreciprocated by Putin. In 2013, Putin granted asylum to Edward Snowden, the former CIA employee who had exposed the U.S. National Security Agency’s surveillance methods. The same year Putin cracked down on foreign-funded NGO’s, and invaded the Ukraine. Obama refused to supply the Ukrainians with defensive weapons, as the United States had committed to do in the Budapest Memorandum, drafted when the former Soviet republics gave up their nuclear stockpiles.

In 2015, Soviet forces entered Syria in force to shore up the Assad regime, fairly daring the United States to challenge them. Previously, Putin had humiliated Obama by offering him a lifeline, when the latter refused to enforce his own redline against Assad’s deployment of chemical weapons.

PUTIN HAD reasons to prefer Trump to Clinton. He harbors a paranoid belief that Hillary orchestrated protests against him in 2011. And, writes Kirchik in the Los Angeles Times, he appreciated that Trump’s ignorant outbursts made “American politics – and by extension America – look like a foolish country.”

Putin may also have thought that Trump’s neo-Jacksonian, quasi-isolationist campaign talk would serve Russia’s interest in carving out a sphere of interest in its near abroad. But, as Kirchik notes in his American Interest piece, Obama’s “interconnected world,” without American power to back it up, had already resulted in a reduction of American influence and allowed Putin free rein in Russia’s near abroad.

The Russians were as shocked as everyone else, however, by Trump’s victory. Their goal was not so much to defeat Clinton, as to render it difficult for her (or Trump) to govern and to thereby “weaken the world’s last superpower,” writes Professor Mark Galeotti of the Institute of International Relations Prague in Tablet. And their means for doing so was to reduce America’s democratic legitimacy by calling the election results into question and reducing the scope for compromise and consensus in the American political system.

Or as veteran Moscow correspondent David Satter argued in the June 12 Wall Street Journal, Putin did not so much support Donald Trump, as he sought American political paralysis. The differences between Trump and Clinton were simply not that significant in his view.

Putin’s method is to sow chaos, to light a hundred brushfires and see which ones turn into full-fledged forest fires. “Putin is not a chess player,” writes Galeotti. “He and his people are improvisers and opportunists. They try to create multiple potential points of leverage, never knowing which will prove useful or not.”

One of those prongs was the so-called “Trump dossier, compiled by former British intelligence official Christopher Steele based on information “sold” to him by Russian intelligence officials. The document bears all the marks of a classic Russian disinformation campaign. “The kind of gossip that fills the Trump Dossier, writes Galeotti, is common currency in Moscow, “even if very little of it has any authority behind it aside from the speaker’s own imagination.”

One thing is almost certain: The Trump campaign did not collude with the Russians. Both Senator Diane Feinstein and Congressman Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrats on the Senate and House intelligence committees investigating Russia’s electoral involvement, respectively, have confirmed that they have seen nothing to implicate Trump or his aides in collusion with Russia.

The absence of collusion is, moreover, logically demonstrable. If there were collusion, the Russians would undoubtedly possess evidence of it. Since coming to office, the Trump administration has taken a much more aggressive anti-Russian stance than Obama ever did – targeting with cruise missiles an airfield and planes of Russian ally Bashir Assad and just this week shooting down a Syrian plane in a dogfight; allowing Montenegro’s entry into the NATO alliance; denying Exxon-Mobil a waiver for energy exploration in Russia; and sharply criticizing Russian support for the Taliban in Afghanistan. If Putin possessed incriminating evidence on Trump, he would have already revealed it in order to destroy President Trump. Elementary, my dear Watson.

DESPITE THE LACK OF ANY PLAUSIBLE EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION, Russian interference in the 2016 election has set in motion a “self-sustaining process,” in Galeotti’s words, in which “America is tearing itself apart with little need for Russian help.”

It is hard to know for sure whether those most actively promoting the Trump-Russian collusion narrative really believe it themselves or just see it as the best way of bringing down the president. About the latter they might be right. Already the anti-Trump forces have succeeded in gaining the appointment of a special prosecutor, and the scope of the special prosecutor’s investigation has expanded to legally flimsy charges of obstruction of justice against Trump. Once a special prosecutor is in the saddle there is no way of knowing where things will go. The longer the investigation continues the greater the chance of a prosecution for something entirely tangential to the original investigation.

Patrick Fitzgerald, for instance, was appointed special prosecutor to investigate the outing of CIA employee Valerie Flame. From the very outset of the investigation, he knew the source of that information; Undersecretary of State Richard Armitage was the one who told it to columnist Robert Novak. Armitage, however, was never prosecuted. But Fitzgerald carried on for years, until he claimed the scalp of Vice-President Richard Cheney’s top aide, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, on perjury charges, over statements given to investigators about which there were conflicting memories.

Putin has succeeded in driving a wedge between President and the intelligence agencies upon which he must rely for crucial decisions. Every week, a new leak emerges from some anonymous intelligence official – leaks which, if true, would subject the leaker to up to ten years in prison. Yet the source of these leaks has received little attention from the FBI or other investigative bodies.

Lee Smith bemoans in Tablet that the president’s very real flaws, which are “plain to every sentient being on the planet,” have been supplanted as a topic of discussion by a “toxic fabulism typical of Third World and Muslim societies.” “A vulgar conspiratorial mind-set [has become] the norm among the country’s educated elite . . . and is being legitimized daily by a truth-telling bureaucrats who make evidence-free and even deliberately false accusations behind a cloak of anonymity.”

Smith makes an insightful distinction between “consolations, vicious self-sung lullabies” and “conspiracy theories.” Examples of the former would be: Hillary lost because the Russians hacked the election; our children died because the Jews poisoned the wells.

But such “consolations,” as vicious as they may be, only become full-blown conspiracy theories when weaponized through the mass media for political use. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion would be the classic example of such a conspiracy theory. And, Smith points out, Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” do not have the platforms “to proliferate weaponized narratives capable of doing real damage to our polity – the elites do.” And those elites — the press, the intelligence community, political parties – have been used to legitimize a conspiracy theory.

James Kirchik, another anti-Trump pundit (as well as a brilliant analyst on many issues) laments the way the “confirmation bias” has resulted in well-meaning, liberal anti-Trump journalists reporting stories that they want to be true and are emotionally true for them – e.g., stories of threatened or actual violence against minorities – but are factually false.

He points to the non-stop anti-Trump vitriol from the Twitter feed of the New York Times assistant Washington D.C. editor, Jonathan Weissmann – anti-Trump vitriol that matches his own – as an example of the mainstream press having lost any claim to the public’s trust about the news stories it publishes.

In the short-run the beneficiary of the mainstream media’s reporting of baseless stories, such as that the Russians successfully hacked voting machines in key states, is Donald Trump. By refuting the wilder accusations, he can evade the more substantive ones and, at the same time, stoke the anger that brought him to the presidency in the first place.

But in the long-run, the current state of political toxicity, manifested last week in an assassination attempt against GOP congressman, and the loss of credibility of our major media organizations weakens America and its place in the world. And the big winner from that is Vladimir Putin.

Putin quips he’s ready to grant asylum to ex-FBI chief Comey

June 15, 2017

Putin quips he’s ready to grant asylum to ex-FBI chief Comey, ReutersDmitry Solovyov and Vladimir Soldatkin, June 15, 2017

Former FBI Director James Comey pauses as he testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Russian President Vladimir Putin joked on Thursday that if former FBI director James Comey suffers persecution because of his falling-out with U.S. President Donald Trump, Russia is ready to grant him asylum.

The offer, made with Putin’s trademark sardonic humor, came as the Russian president poured scorn on Comey for his role in a row in Washington over alleged Russian meddling in last year’s U.S. presidential election.

At a congressional hearing this month, Comey said Trump asked him to drop an investigation into contacts between Trump associates and Russian officials, while the U.S. president has accused Comey of not telling the truth.

Asked about Comey at a question-and-answer session with Russian voters, Putin said it was “strange” that, while still FBI director, Comey had passed the contents of a conversation he had with Trump to the media via a friend.

“What is the difference then between the FBI director and Mr. Snowden?” Putin said, referring to former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who was granted asylum in Russia in 2013 after leaking classified information about U.S. spy operations.

“In this case, he (Comey) is not the head of a special service but a human rights activist who defends a certain position,” Putin said.

“By the way, if he is subject to any sort of persecution in connection with this, we will be ready to give him political asylum in Russia. And he should know about this.”

Striking a more serious note, Putin said Comey, in his congressional testimony, had produced no proof that Russia had meddled in the U.S. election.

“I am not familiar in detail with the testimony given by former FBI director Comey,” Putin said. “Again, he gave no evidence of this (Russian interference).”

“And what about constant U.S. propaganda, constant U.S. support of America-oriented non-governmental organizations by giving them money directly? Isn’t it an impact on our minds? Isn’t it an attempt to influence how we should behave during election campaigns? This continues year after year,” he said.

Putin said many heads of state around the world had told him of similar U.S. meddling in their internal affairs. But they would not voice their concerns openly, fearing they would “spoil relations” with Washington, he said.

As for Russia, “we have an opinion of our own, we express it openly. But this is not any sort of underground, subversive activity”, Putin said.

Corruption and Collusion: Obama, Comey, and the Press

June 11, 2017

Corruption and Collusion: Obama, Comey, and the Press, PJ Media, Andrew Klacan, June 11, 2017

Image Courtesy of Shutterstock

My point is simply this: when you are listening to Comey, and when you are listening to the news media sanctifying Comey or indeed demonizing Trump, just remember who it is you are listening to: unindicted co-conspirators in an administration that was rotten to the core.

******************************

It now seems clear that Barack Obama was a corrupt machine politician in the worst Chicago mold. He used the IRS to silence his enemies, and the Justice Department to protect his friends. His two major “achievements” — a health care law that doesn’t work and a deal that increased the power and prestige of the terrorist state of Iran — were built on lies to the public and manipulation of the press. And that’s according to his own allies! Only the leftist bias and racial pathology of the media kept his administration from being destroyed by scandal, as it surely would have been had he been a white Republican.

I don’t mention this to bring up old grudges, but for what it says about the current moment and the week just passed. Here’s some of what we recently learned:

Former FBI Director James Comey’s Senate testimony concerning former Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s corruption confirmed our worst suspicions about the Obama DOJ. In an apparent attempt to help Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Lynch told Comey to refer to the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s abuse of classified material as “a matter” rather than an investigation. And, as we already knew but Comey confirmed, Lynch’s secret tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton so underscored Comey’s sense of her crookedness that the self-serving drama queen Comey actually went around her to publicly declare Hillary guilty-but-not-guilty.

“It won’t get much attention, but that was pretty damning,” said CNN’s John King of Comey’s testimony about Lynch. You can translate “it won’t get much attention” into “we won’t give it much attention.”

But all that was nothing compared to the brutal, nearly 300-page report released last week by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, a report absolutely blasting the previous Obama AG, Eric Holder. The report details how Holder and the Obama administration labored to cover up the details of the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal — a scandal which, unlike the non-collusion-with-Russia non-scandal, was implicated in the murder of an American law officer. Even the mom of the slain officer couldn’t get the truth out of Holder and his cronies. The report says Holder considered the officer’s family a “nuisance” because they were trying to get him to tell them how exactly the lawman died at the hands of gangsters who were wielding guns Obama’s DOJ had allowed them to buy.

We’ve heard a lot from Comey and the press this week about the precious independence of the Justice Department. And yet Attorney General Holder once said, “I’m still the president’s wing-man, so I’m there with my boy.” Holder was also the first attorney general ever to be held in contempt of Congress for not turning over documents relating to Fast and Furious. And, speaking of obstruction of justice — we were speaking of obstruction of justice, weren’t we? — President Obama asserted executive privilege to make it easier for Holder to keep those docs in the dark. Hey, nothing’s too good for the president’s wingman!

What a sleazy bunch they were! Hiding their corruption behind the color of their skin. Criticized for Fast and Furious in 2011, Holder said: “This is a way to get at the president because of the way I can be identified with him, both due to the nature of our relationship and, you know, the fact that we’re both African-American.” What a sleazy bunch.

So let’s remember. Obama is the nefarious machine pol who appointed James Comey to head the FBI in the first place. This is the Comey who took no notes when he spoke with Obama, no notes when he questioned Hillary about her emails, no notes, apparently, during the cover-up conversation with Lynch that left him with “a queasy feeling,” but who suddenly began documenting his exchanges with Trump — exchanges that Trump says never happened. This is the Comey who let Hillary off the hook because he somehow knew she didn’t intend to share classified information (a matter that doesn’t exist in the relevant law), but who cannot comment on whether Donald Trump intended to obstruct justice when Trump expressed his hopes about an investigation.

And the Obama administration — this crooked gang of liars and colluders — this is the gang that was deemed “scandal free” by virtually every “mainstream” news outlet. Indeed, investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson had to leave CBS News in large part because CBS would not run her work on Fast and Furious.

My point is not to excuse Trump for any of his inappropriate and sometimes boorish behavior. I hope he learns better. My point is simply this: when you are listening to Comey, and when you are listening to the news media sanctifying Comey or indeed demonizing Trump, just remember who it is you are listening to: unindicted co-conspirators in an administration that was rotten to the core.

Loretta Lynch, Swamp Thing

June 10, 2017

Loretta Lynch, Swamp Thing, American ThinkerDaniel John Sobieski, June 10, 2016

(Please see also OPINION: The damaging case against James Comey. — DM)

Arguably, the most interesting part of the testimony of James Comey, the cowardly lion of the criminal justice system, before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday is not that President Trump was cleared of even a scintilla of corruption and obstruction of justice but that President Obama’s Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, is up to her eyeballs in both. As the Daily Caller reports:

Loretta Lynch, the former attorney general under Barack Obama, pressured former FBI Director James Comey to downplay the Clinton email server investigation and only refer to it as a “matter,” Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday.

Comey said that when he asked Lynch if she was going to authorize him to confirm the existence of the Clinton email investigation, her answer was, “Yes, but don’t call it that. Call it a matter.” When Comey asked why, he said, Lynch wouldn’t give him an explanation. “Just call it a matter,” she said….

Earlier in his testimony, Comey said Lynch instructed Comey not to call the criminal investigation into the Clinton server a criminal investigation. Instead, Lynch told Comey to call it a “matter,” Comey said, “which confused me.”

Comey cited that pressure from Lynch to downplay the investigation as one of the reasons he held a press conference to recommend the Department of Justice not seek to indict Clinton.

Comey also cited Lynch’s secret tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton as a reason he chose to hold the press conference, he said, as he was concerned about preserving the independence of the FBI.

This is far worse than President Trump asking Comey in a private conversation to wrap up the Flynn investigation after Flynn was dismissed as National Security Adviser. This was a direct order by Comey’s immediate superior to align his rhetoric with the Clinton campaign spin. This is what Comey did, calling it a “matter” and not a criminal investigation, which is the only thing the FBI does. Couple this submissive compliance to an order to help the Clinton campaign with their spin with the meeting on the tarmac between Lunch and Bill Clinton, the husband of the target of that criminal investigation, and you have an obvious case for charging Lynch with obstruction of justice.

If Comey was concerned about preserving the integrity of the FBI, he wouldn’t have leaked the memo of his private conversation with President Trump to the New York Times through a third party. That memo, prepared on a government computer by a government employee on government time, is the property of the U.S. government and the U.S. taxpayer. Its unauthorized dissemination is a clear violation of the Federal Records Act and executive privilege. Comey was charged to find leakers, not be the leaker-in-chief.

Just as he didn’t have the authority to leak the memo, he didn’t have the authority to go before the American people and declare that the multiple felonies committed by Hilary Clinton while she was Secretary of State were not prosecutable due to lack of intent. Not only was he wrong on the law, which does not require intent, but his job is to gather evidence not to recommend prosecution or not. If Comey wanted to preserve the independence of the FBI, he wouldn’t have held the press conference giving Hillary Clinton a pass. He would have thrown the evidence on Lynch’s desk and told her to do her job. He bailed both Clinton and Lynch out and gave the Clinton campaign a boost.

Lynch ordered Comey to drop the word “investigation.” Did she also order him to drop the investigation itself and take the hit for doing so? Questions still remain as to why Comey did not attend the final Clinton interview, why the interview was not recorded, why Clinton was not under oath, and why obvious follow-up questions were not asked. It would seem that Comey, perhaps at the order of Lynch, was doing everything that would benefit the Clinton campaign.

Let us not forget another example of the tangled web woven between the FBI and the Clinton campaign — the relationship between Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe. As Caherine Herridge of Fox News reported:

A top FBI official who came under scrutiny last year over his wife’s campaign contributions from a Hillary Clinton ally did not list those 2015 donations or his wife’s salary in financial disclosure forms, according to records reviewed by Fox News.

The records, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, show FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe left the box blank for wife Dr. Jill McCabe’s salary, as a doctor with Commonwealth Emergency Physicians. And there is no documentation of the hundreds of thousands of campaign funds she received in her unsuccessful 2015 Virginia state Senate race.

As first reported by The Wall Street Journal, Clinton confidant and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe urged McCabe’s wife to run for statewide office shortly after news reports were published that Hillary Clinton used a private email server and address for all her government business while serving as secretary of State.

For the reporting period of October through November 2015, McCabe’s campaign filings show she received $467,500 from Common Good VA, a political action committee controlled by McAuliffe, as well as an additional $292,500 from a second Democratic PAC.

Well, isn’t that special? This is the swamp President Trump wants to drain. Let us also deal with Swamp Thing — Loretta Lynch.

Remember that Comey’s exoneration of Hillary came just days after Lynch met with Bill on the tarmac. Can you say “collusion” and “obstruction of justice”? The June 27, 2016 tarmac meeting on Lynch’s plane in Phoenix itself, in the light of Comey’s admission of Lynch’s pressure on him, is worthy of a special prosecutor all unto itself:, a fact not lost on Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton:

Lynch was caught off guard when a local Phoenix reporter asked her about the meeting at a press conference. She claimed at the time the discussion with the former President, which lasted 30 minutes, was simply about golf and grandchildren. After Hillary Clinton lost the White House to Donald Trump in November, Lynch said the meeting was regrettable.

“The infamous tarmac meeting between President Clinton and AG Lynch is a vivid example of why many Americans believe the Obama administration’s criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton was rigged,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement about the new lawsuit. “Now it will be up to Attorney General Sessions at the Trump Justice Department to finally shed some light on this subversion of justice.”

Let’s hope so. Let’s hope this DOJ will focus on real crimes and real obstruction of justice. It may turn out that Loretta Lynch and James Comey interfered in the 2016 election more than Vladimir Putin could even have dreamed of.

Winners and Losers from Comey Hearing

June 9, 2017

inners and Losers from Comey Hearing, BreitbartTony Lee, June 9, 2017

The mainstream media, left-wing Democrats, and “Never Trump” Republicans all breathlessly hoped for weeks that former FBI director James Comey’s testimony on Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee would be the beginning of the end of President Donald Trump’s presidency.

Mainstream media cable networks like CNN had countdown clocks. Broadcast networks covered the hearing as if it would go down as one of the most seminal events in the history of the country. “Never Trump” Republicans were getting ready to be used as the mainstream media’s useful idiots and get their predictable television hits and quotes in mainstream media publications. Left-wing Democrats were dreaming of drafting articles of impeachment. They lionized Comey as their hero who would help them destroy Trump once and for all.

Not so fast.

After nearly three hours of testimony, Comey established that Trump did not collude with Russia and, as Breitbart’s Joel Pollak pointed out, “all but destroyed any hope Democrats had for bringing a case of obstruction of justice.”

The press and anti-Trump forces on the left and right were still hoping for “new information” that would destroy Trump. But to their surprise—and chagrin—the only new bits of information Comey revealed actually made Comey, the mainstream press, and Democrats, especially Hillary Clinton and then-President Barack Obama’s Attorney General Loretta Lynch, look bad before a captivated national audience.

In the end, Comey, Democrats, Never Trumpers, and the mainstream press turned out be losers while Trump, especially because the mainstream media so overhyped the hearing, emerged as the victor.

LOSERS:

Mainstream Media

NBC’s Chuck Todd set the table on Sunday for the mainstream media’s breathless coverage, predicting that Comey’s testimony “may well join those rare historic moments when the whole country stops to watch. Think Army-McCarthy hearings in 1954. Watergate hearings in 1973. Oliver North’s testimony in the Iran Contra hearings in 1987, and of course Anita Hill at the Clarence Thomas hearings in 1991.”

But the media got the sense that Comey’s testimony would be a dud for them on Wednesday when Comey released his introductory statement in which he confirmed Trump’s account that Comey had told Trump on multiple occasions that the President was not under FBI investigation.

Before, during, and after Comey’s testimony, the mainstream press looked as deflated as Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James did after Golden State’s Kevin Durant drained a go-ahead pull-up three-pointer in the waning moments of game three of the NBA Finals on Wednesday evening.

Trump felt “vindicated” by Comey’s introductory remarks, which may be why Comey conveniently decided not to read them before a captivated national audience.

“I’ve submitted my statement for the record, and I’m not going to repeat it here this morning,” he said.

Comey, though, revealed some information that further discredited the mainstream press that had deliberately ginned up talk of impeachment. They did so by using stories based solely on anonymous sources and double hearsay—some of which have since been discredited.

The former FBI director told Senators that the New York Times’ February 14 article, based on four anonymous sources, that suggested Trump’s campaign possibly colluded with Russians a year before the 2016 presidential campaign was “not true.”

Sen. James Risch (R-ID) pointed out that after the story’s publication, Comey “sought out both Republican and Democrat senators to tell them that, hey, I don’t know where this is coming from, but this is not the case. This is not factual.”

“In the main, it was not true,” Comey said of the story. “And again, all of you know this. Maybe the American people don’t. The challenge, and I’m not picking on reporters about writing stories about classified information, is the people talking about it often don’t really know what’s going on, and going on are not talking about it. We don’t call the press to say, hey, you don’t that thing wrong about the sensitive topic. We have to leave it there.”

Comey said there were many more mainstream media articles about the FBI’s Russia investigation, based on anonymous sources, that were “dead wrong.”

Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) asked Comey: “Have there been news accounts about the Russian investigation or collusion about the whole event or as you read the story you were wrong about how wrong they got the facts?”

“Yes, there have been many, many stories based on — well, lots of stuff but about Russia that are dead wrong,” Comey responded.

On Wednesday, ABC and CNN falsely reported, based on their anonymous sources, that Comey would dispute Trump’s claim that Comey told him he was never under investigation. When he fired Comey, Trump wrote: “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.”

Before Comey released his introductory remarks, CNN’s Gloria Borger claimed “Comey is expected to explain to senators that those were much more nuanced conversations from which Trump concluded that he was not under investigation.” CNN, citing an anonymous source, reported that Comey would “refute” Trump during his testimony and “say he never assured Donald Trump that he was not under investigation, that that would have been improper for him to do so.” CNN then had to issue this embarrassing correction:

CORRECTION AND UPDATE: This article was published before Comey released his prepared opening statement. The article and headline have been corrected to reflect that Comey does not directly dispute that Trump was told multiple times he was not under investigation in his prepared testimony released after this story was published.

In addition, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) pointed out that the only bit of information that the Deep State did not leak to the mainstream press was the fact that Trump was not under investigation.

Comey also revealed that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch pressured him into misleading the public about the FBI’s “investigation” of Hillary Clinton’s emails. And yet, the mainstream media never dug enough to report that bit of inconvenient news.

James Comey

Comey’s surprising revelation that he orchestrated the leaking of his “contemporaneous” memo to the mainstream media raised more questions than answers.

When Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) asked Comey if he showed his memos to anyone outside the Justice Department, Comey matter-of-factly revealed that he asked his friend to leak his memo to the mainstream media.

“I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter. Didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons,” he said. “I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel. I asked a close friend to do it.”

Comey revealed that his “close friend” is a professor at Columbia law school. Reporters later determined that that person is Daniel Richman. Richmond’s Columbia University bio states that he “is currently an adviser to FBI Director James B. Comey.”

“I asked—the president tweeted on Friday after I got fired that I better hope there’s not tapes,” Comey stated. “I woke up in the middle of the night on Monday night because it didn’t dawn on me originally, that there might be corroboration for our conversation. There might a tape. My judgement was, I need to get that out into the public square.”

George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley said he found “Comey’s admission to be deeply troubling from a professional and ethical standpoint.”

“Would Director Comey have approved such a rule for FBI agents?” he asked. “Thus, an agent can prepare a memo during office hours on an FBI computer about a meeting related to his service . . . but leak that memo to the media. The Justice Department has long defined what constitutes government documents broadly.”

He added that “it is not clear if Comey had the documents reviewed for classification at the confidential level or confirmed that they would be treated as entirely private property. What is clear is that he did not clear the release of the memos with anyone in the government.”

“Comey’s statement of a good motivation does not negate the concerns over his chosen means of a leak. Moreover, the timing of the leak most clearly benefited Comey not the cause of a Special Counsel,” Turley added. “It was clear at that time that a Special Counsel was likely. More importantly, Comey clearly understood that these memos would be sought. That leads inevitably to the question of both motivation as well as means.” There are also questions about whether Comey may have lied under oath about when he actually leaked his own memo.

Comey, after accusing Trump of lying about and defaming the FBI, also tried to paint Trump as a serial liar.

“I was honestly concerned he might lie about the nature of our meeting so I thought it important to document,” he said. “That combination of things I had never experienced before, but had led me to believe I got to write it down and write it down in a very detailed way.”

He added, “my common sense, again I could be wrong, but my common sense told me what’s going on here is, he’s looking to get something in exchange for granting my request to stay in the job.”

But the bottom line is on the most important point—whether Comey told Trump on multiple occasions that he was not under investigation—Trump was telling the truth all along, even though mainstream media outlets like the Associated Press did everything to make American doubt Trump.

Obama Administration/Loretta Lynch

Comey’s testimony revealed that there may be just as many—if not more—questions surrounding the Obama administration regarding possible malfeasance.

When asked if former President Bill Clinton’s infamous tarmac meeting with then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch led him to go public with the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server, Comey said, “yes,” adding that the incident was conclusively “the thing that capped it for me, that I had to do something separately to protect the credibility of the investigation, which meant both the FBI and the justice department.”

Comey later revealed that he felt “queasy” when Lynch “had directed me not to call it an investigation, but instead to call it a matter, which confused me and concerned me, but that was one of the bricks in the load that led me to conclude I have to step away from the department if we’re to close this case credibly.”

“I don’t know whether it was intentional or not but it gave the impression that the attorney general was looking to align the way we talked about our work with the way it was describing that,” he said. “It was inaccurate. We had an investigation open for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, we had an investigation open at the time. That gave me a queasy feeling.”

Even CNN’s Chris Cilizza had to begrudgingly admit that Loretta Lynch “is having a surprisingly bad day in the Comey testimony.”

Loretta Lynch is having a surprisingly bad day in the Comey testimony

 As Breitbart’s John Hayward noted, the “big takeaway from the Comey hearing” may have been the “urgent need to investigate Loretta Lynch, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton for obstruction.”

Big takeaway from the Comey hearing: urgent need to investigate Loretta Lynch, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton for obstruction

 Left-wing Democrats and Never Trumpers

Liberals and left-wing activists in places like San Francisco reportedly took the day off of work to attend various “viewing parties.

As soon as Trump fired Comey, the usual “Never Trump” suspects like Ana Navarro, Jennifer Rubin, and Max Boot immediately started floating the idea of “impeachment.” Boot predicted that “if Democrats take control of Congress in 2018, the firing of Comey will form one of the articles of impeachment.” Rubin added that “House R’s should consider: Either a special pros/select committee now or impeachment if D’s take House.”

But it was a bad day for Democrats and Never Trumpers looking to ramp up their impeachment demands.

Even MSNBC’s Chris Matthews had to concede that Comey’s testimony revealed that there is no case to be made that Trump colluded with the Russians.

And as Breitbart’s Pollak pointed out, Comey’s exchange with Risch destroyed their hopes of bringing an “obstruction of justice” against Trump. Harvard lawyer Alan Dershowitz also declared that there is “no plausible case” that Trump obstructed justice. In his memo, Comey recalled that Trump told him, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

As Risch pointed out, Comey may have “taken it as direction but that’s not” exactly what Trump said:

RISCH: You may have taken it as a direction but that’s not what he said.

COMEY: Correct.

RISCH: He said, I hope.

COMEY: Those are his exact words, correct.

RISCH: You don’t know of anyone ever being charged for hoping something, is that a fair statement?

COMEY: I don’t as I sit here.

Having no case for impeachment after Comey’s Thursday testimony, it is not surprising that there has was not a peep about impeachment from left-wing Democrats like Rep. Maxine “Get Ready for Impeachment” Waters (D-CA). Instead, Waters was railing against Wall Street. Mainstream media journalists were complaining about Trump’s character, mendacity, and temperament. Showing her Trump Derangement Syndrome, Rubin, though, continued to bring up potential impeachment.

Senators confused if they think only spec pros decides if Comey or Trump truthful. House in impeachment and Senate in trial must decide

“The saturation of Watergate analogies in the media however seems wildly detached from either the actual testimony or history. If Watergate was a cancer growing on the presidency, this is still little more than a canker sore — not great to look at but hardly life threatening,” Turley continued. “It could get worse but what Comey described in his testimony was boorish and even brutish but not necessarily an indictable or impeachable offense. Article I is not a book of etiquette for presidents. If Trump said these things to Comey, they are incredibly improper and ill-advised. Yet, the Nixon comparison works in favor of the position of Trump more than it does Comey.”

WINNER: PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP

Is he getting tired of winning yet?

Liberal anchors like MSNBC’s Chris Matthews conceded that there is no case for collusion. Comey’s exchange with Risch will make it difficult to bring an “obstruction of justice” against Trump. It turned out that Comey initiated the first one-on-one meeting with Trump during the transition period.

During his testimony, Comey reiterated that Trump never asked him to stop the FBI’s Russia investigation and was never under investigation in the first place. He also revealed that it is normal for foreign governments to reach out to officials in the incoming administration. He vindicated Trump’s claims about the “fake news” mainstream media. He reminded Americans that “the law required no reason at all” for Trump to fire an FBI director.

Comey testified that he was “confident” that no votes in the 2016 presidential election were altered. “When I left as director I had seen no indication of that whatsoever,” he said.

The bottom line is the media hyped Comey’s hearing so much that Trump would have emerged as the winner so long as Comey didn’t have a “smoking gun” or dropped a “bombshell” that proved Trump colluded with the Russians.

Though Trump reportedly decided the night before Comey’s testimony that he would not live-tweet rebuttals, the fact that he did not feel compelled to tweet during Comey’s testimony said it all. It turns out that when it came to the most important points, Trump did not have much to rebut.

Trump ends remarks on Comey Day without mentioning the word “Comey” or directly referencing the testimony.

History, Precedent and Comey Statement Show that Trump Did Not Obstruct Justice

June 8, 2017

History, Precedent and Comey Statement Show that Trump Did Not Obstruct Justice, Gatestone InstituteAlan M. Dershowitz, June 8, 2017

Comey has also acknowledged that the president had the constitutional authority to fire him for any or no cause. President Donald Trump also had the constitutional authority to order Comey to end the investigation of Flynn. He could have pardoned Flynn, as Bush pardoned Weinberger, thus ending the Flynn investigation, as Bush ended the Iran-Contra investigation. What Trump could not do is what Nixon did: direct his aides to lie to the FBI, or commit other independent crimes. There is no evidence that Trump did that.

*************************

The statement may provide political ammunition to Trump opponents, but unless they are willing to stretch James Comey’s words and take Trump’s out of context, and unless they are prepared to abandon important constitutional principles and civil liberties that protect us all, they should not be searching for ways to expand already elastic criminal statutes and shrink enduring constitutional safeguards in a dangerous and futile effort to criminalize political disagreements.

The first casualty of partisan efforts to “get” a political opponent — whether Republicans going after Clinton or Democrats going after Trump — is often civil liberties. All Americans who care about the Constitution and civil liberties must join together to protest efforts to expand existing criminal law to get political opponents.

Today it is Trump. Yesterday it was Clinton. Tomorrow it could be you.

In 1992, then-President George H.W. Bush pardoned Caspar Weinberger and five other individuals who had been indicted or convicted in connection with the Iran-Contra arms deal. The special prosecutor, Lawrence Walsh, was furious, accusing Bush of stifling his ongoing investigation and suggesting that he may have done it to prevent Weinberger or the others from pointing the finger of blame at Bush himself. The New York Times also reported that the investigation might have pointed to Bush himself.

This is what Walsh said:

“The Iran-contra cover-up, which has continued for more than six years, has now been completed with the pardon of Caspar Weinberger. We will make a full report on our findings to Congress and the public describing the details and extent of this cover-up.”

Yet President Bush was neither charged with obstruction of justice nor impeached. Nor have other presidents who interfered with ongoing investigations or prosecutions been charged with obstruction.

It is true that among the impeachment charges levelled against President Nixon was one for obstructing justice, but Nixon committed the independent crime of instructing his aides to lie to the FBI, which is a violation of section 1001 of the federal criminal code.

It is against the background of this history and precedent that the statement of former FBI Director James must be considered. Comey himself acknowledged that,

“throughout history, some presidents have decided that because ‘problems’ come from Justice, they should try to hold the Department close. But blurring those boundaries ultimately makes the problems worse by undermining public trust in the institutions and their work.”

Comey has also acknowledged that the president had the constitutional authority to fire him for any or no cause. President Donald Trump also had the constitutional authority to order Comey to end the investigation of Flynn. He could have pardoned Flynn, as Bush pardoned Weinberger, thus ending the Flynn investigation, as Bush ended the Iran-Contra investigation. What Trump could not do is what Nixon did: direct his aides to lie to the FBI, or commit other independent crimes. There is no evidence that Trump did that.

With these factors in mind, let’s turn to the Comey statement.

Former FBI Director James Comey’s written statement, which was released in advance of his Thursday testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, does not provide evidence that President Trump committed obstruction of justice or any other crime. Indeed it strongly suggests that even under the broadest reasonable definition of obstruction, no such crime was committed.

The crucial conversation occurred in the Oval Office on February 14 between the President and the then director. According to Comey’s contemporaneous memo, the president expressed his opinion that General Flynn “is a good guy.” Comey replied: “He is a good guy.”

The President said the following: “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this thing go.”

Comey understood that to be a reference only to the Flynn investigation and not “the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to the campaign.”

Comey had already told the President that “we were not investigating him personally.”

Comey understood “the President to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December.”

Comey did not say he would “let this go,” and indeed he did not grant the president’s request to do so. Nor did Comey report this conversation to the attorney general or any other prosecutor. He was troubled by what he regarded as a breach of recent traditions of FBI independence from the White House, though he recognized that “throughout history, some presidents have decided that because ‘problems’ come from the Department of Justice, they should try to hold the Department close.”

That is an understatement.

Throughout American history — from Adams to Jefferson to Lincoln to Roosevelt to Kennedy to Obama — presidents have directed (not merely requested) the Justice Department to investigate, prosecute (or not prosecute) specific individuals or categories of individuals.

It is only recently that the tradition of an independent Justice Department and FBI has emerged. But traditions, even salutary ones, cannot form the basis of a criminal charge. It would be far better if our constitution provided for prosecutors who were not part of the executive branch, which is under the direction of the president.

In Great Britain, Israel and other democracies that respect the rule of law, the Director of Public Prosecution or the Attorney General are law enforcement officials who, by law, are independent of the Prime Minister.

But our constitution makes the Attorney General both the chief prosecutor and the chief political adviser to the president on matters of justice and law enforcement.

The president can, as a matter of constitutional law, direct the Attorney General, and his subordinate, the Director of the FBI, tell them what to do, whom to prosecute and whom not to prosecute. Indeed, the president has the constitutional authority to stop the investigation of any person by simply pardoning that person.

Assume, for argument’s sake, that the President had said the following to Comey: “You are no longer authorized to investigate Flynn because I have decided to pardon him.” Would that exercise of the president’s constitutional power to pardon constitute a criminal obstruction of justice? Of course not. Presidents do that all the time.

The first President Bush pardoned Caspar Weinberger, his Secretary of Defense, in the middle of an investigation that could have incriminated Bush. That was not an obstruction and neither would a pardon of Flynn have been a crime. A president cannot be charged with a crime for properly exercising his constitutional authority

For the same reason, President Trump cannot be charged with obstruction for firing Comey, as he had the constitutional authority to do.

The Comey statement suggests that one reason the President fired him was because of his refusal or failure to publicly announce that the FBI was not investigating Trump personally. Trump “repeatedly” told Comey to “get that fact out,” and he did not.

If that is true, it is certainly not an obstruction of justice.

Nor is it an obstruction of justice to ask for loyalty from the director of the FBI, who responded “you will get that (‘honest loyalty’) from me.”

Comey understood that he and the President may have understood that vague phrase — “honest loyalty” — differently. But no reasonable interpretation of those ambiguous words would give rise to a crime. 
 Many Trump opponents were hoping that the Comey statement would provide smoking guns.

It has not.

Instead it has weakened an already weak case for obstruction of justice.

The statement may provide political ammunition to Trump opponents, but unless they are willing to stretch Comey’s words and take Trump’s out of context, and unless they are prepared to abandon important constitutional principles and civil liberties that protect us all, they should not be searching for ways to expand already elastic criminal statutes and shrink enduring constitutional safeguards in a dangerous and futile effort to criminalize political disagreements.

The first casualty of partisan efforts to “get” a political opponent — whether Republicans going after Clinton or Democrats going after Trump — is often civil liberties. All Americans who care about the Constitution and civil liberties must join together to protest efforts to expand existing criminal law to get political opponents.

Today it is Trump. Yesterday it was Clinton. Tomorrow it could be you.

WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 3: Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, James Comey testifies in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee during an oversight hearing on the FBI on Capitol Hill May 3, 2017 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)