Saying what many are thinking

Not everybody gets a chance to address Congress this way; even fewer choose to do so.

Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign adviser, delivered this statement to the committee on Tuesday, May 1, 2018:

‘In 2009, my wife and I moved to my hometown of East Aurora, New York to have a family. Making far less money back home, we had a far better quality of life. That is, until the Trump-Russia narrative took off. Today, I can’t possibly pay the attendant legal costs and live near my aging father, raising my kids where I grew up.

‘Your investigation and others into the allegations of Trump campaign collusion with Russia are costing my family a great deal of money – more than $125,000 – and making a visceral impact on my children.

‘Now I must to move back to Washington, New York City, Miami or elsewhere, just so I can make enough money to pay off these legal bills. And I know I have you to thank for that.

‘Here’s how I know: how many of you know Daniel Jones, former Senate Intelligence staffer for Senator Dianne Feinstein? Great guy, right? Most of you worked with him. One of you probably just talked to him this morning…

((Read the entire statement for his takedown of Jones and the shady origins of the investigation))

‘What America needs is an investigation of the investigators. I want to know who is paying for the spies’ work and coordinating this attack on President Donald Trump? I want to know who Dan Jones is talking to across the investigations – from the FBI, to the Southern District of New York, to the OSC, to the Department of Justice, to Congress.

‘Forget about all the death threats against my family. I want to know who cost us so much money, who crushed our kids, who forced us out of our home, all because you lost an election.

‘I want to know because G*d Damn you to Hell.’

A spineless Congress

It’s no wonder Americans have such a low regard for Congress, when government officials are allowed to thumb their noses at it with impunity.  In recent memory the worst sanction the legislature has given to a recalcitrant official has been to hold Eric Holder in “contempt of Congress” — the first sitting Attorney General ever to be so designated.  That only has effect if the target has any sense of shame, which few in D.C. Mordor do anymore.  Official designation or not, it’s clear much of official Washington shares that contempt.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

It’s no coincidence that defiance from Holder, Lerner, Rosenstein and Wray parallels the public’s near-record low approval of Congress, which, according to the RealClearPolitics average, hit a meager 14.2 percent earlier this week.

But Congress has only itself to blame because the Constitution gives the first branch it created “all of the ultimate weapons in any showdown with either of the other two branches,” in the memorable phrasing of professors Willmoore Kendall and George Carey in their classic “The Basic Symbols of the American Political Tradition.”

Here are five of those “ultimate weapons,” whose deployment ultimately depends on the will of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to defend the right of Congress to be the people’s representatives…

Put somebody in jail.

Impose a big fine.

Invoke the power of the purse

Cut the workforce.

More political appointees.

It’s worth reading the description of these five options at the link.  Despite the frequency of choreographed televised hearings, Congress has largely abdicated its oversight role with regard to the Federal bureaucracy.  This was apparent at least by the time of the “Fast and Furious” gunwalking scandal and the IRS investigations, during which the agencies slow-rolled Congress’ requests for information with impunity.  True oversight involves exercising the power to compel compliance.  The Founders intended the legislature to be “first among equals” within the branches of government.  They, not unelected paper-pushers, represent the people.

The president has less power than people imagine over employees in the Executive Branch.  While he can fire political appointees, career bureaucrats have created a byzantine disciplinary process that, in effect, prevents nearly anyone from losing their job.  I encountered this while supervising relatively low-level “civil servants” — I can only imagine how much more difficult things are in the executive suites.

With a majority in Congress, however, it should be a simple thing to put entire departments like the FBI on notice: comply with legislative directives and requests, or perish as an agency.  Congress can defund any activity of the government with a simple vote.  Unfortunately, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell have shown zero interest in actually asserting Congress’ prerogatives.  They are as much a part of the swamp as the agencies running amok, as the recent omnibus bill debacle shows.  That should be a key issue during these midterms — voters need to seek candidates who will support Trump’s “swamp draining,” and that includes pledging to vote in new Congressional leadership.

But for any of this to happen, We the People will need to be more focused than ever this election cycle.  The election of Trump will accomplish little if voters allow the legislature to defend the status quo by resolute inaction.

Laying out the timeline

UPDATE: (Feb 8, 2018) – It seems Forbes took down the timeline after a couple of days.  No explanation I’m aware of as to why.  Nevertheless, the Internet is forever, and a copy of it remains available here.

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ORIGINAL POST:  One of the challenges for the American public right now is keeping up with the drip, drip, drip of scandalous information coming out of Washington.  The pieces of the puzzles are being slowly dribbled out, and thus it’s difficult for the average citizen to piece together a picture of just how bad the malfeasance of the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation is.

So Forbes has done the nation a great service by assembling the known pieces at this point.  The Epoch Times produced a visual summary in January, but Forbes’ product brings the chronology up to date and provides disturbing clarity.  Keep in mind while reading it there is considerable information that remains redacted or unreleased, and the parties involved will clearly go to great lengths to keep it that way.  The magazine rightly concludes (emphasis added):

It is right to say that this episode is the worst abuse of political power in American history related to elections. Watergate is nothing by comparison. That involved people not employed by the government.  Later it involved a cover-up in which Nixon participated.

Watergate did not involve the DOJ and the FBI – two institutions which must be non-partisans for this Republic of ours.

This case does involve the FBI and DOJ.  It also is foolish not to assume that Loretta Lynch and President Obama were ignorant of the goings on – if not involved in them.

Finally, the dishonest investigation of Hillary who committed actual crimes should not be acceptable. Nor should FBI or DOJ officials be allowed to alter events and Court proceedings for political purposes.

If we let this go, and people are not brought to justice, we will have forever damaged our Republic and the World’s view of us as a nation of laws.

Not to mention that in the eyes of those of us paying close attention, the credibility of our government has taken a body blow from which it may never recover.  Only seeing the key figures in this melodrama in handcuffs and behind bars will suffice to start the process of restoration.  Nothing short of that will matter.

Civil war underway?

This is today’s must-read speech.  It puts into words something I’ve been feeling since the election results in 2016.  The losers of that election have gone far beyond sour grapes.  It feels as if there is a jockeying for position toward a final confrontation.  Given the Left’s utter denial of the 2016 results, there is every possibility that if the housecleaning I’m hoping for gets underway, the struggle could go from backrooms to bullets.

This is not something I write lightly.  Read the entire piece for yourself, because it’s important to understand the nature of the current struggle.  Lengthy excerpt:

Guns are how a civil war ends. Politics is how it begins.

How do civil wars happen?

Two or more sides disagree on who runs the country. And they can’t settle the question through elections because they don’t even agree that elections are how you decide who’s in charge.

That’s the basic issue here. Who decides who runs the country? When you hate each other but accept the election results, you have a country. When you stop accepting election results, you have a countdown to a civil war…

The first time a Republican president was elected this century, they said he didn’t really win. The Supreme Court gave him the election. There’s a pattern here.

Trump didn’t really win the election. Bush didn’t really win the election. Every time a Republican president won an election this century, the Democrats insist he didn’t really win…

It means they don’t believe that transfers of power in this country are determined by elections.

That’s a civil war.

There’s no shooting. At least not unless you count the attempt to kill a bunch of Republicans at a charity baseball game practice. But the Democrats have rejected our system of government.

This isn’t dissent. It’s not disagreement.

You can hate the other party. You can think they’re the worst thing that ever happened to the country. But then you work harder to win the next election. When you consistently reject the results of elections that you don’t win, what you want is a dictatorship.

Your very own dictatorship…

Professional government is a guild. Like medieval guilds. You can’t serve if you’re not a member. If you haven’t been indoctrinated into its arcane rituals. If you aren’t in the club.

And Trump isn’t in the club. He brought in a bunch of people who aren’t in the club with him.

Now we’re seeing what the pros do when amateurs try to walk in on them. They spy on them, they investigate them and they send them to jail. They use the tools of power to bring them down.

That’s not a free country.

We’re in a civil war between conservative volunteer government and leftist professional government.

The pros have made it clear that they’re not going to accept election results anymore. They’re just going to make us do whatever they want. They’re in charge and we better do what they say.

That’s the war we’re in. And it’s important that we understand that.

Because this isn’t a shooting war yet. And I don’t want to see it become one.

Again, read the entire piece here (video of speech at the link).

The Empire strikes back

Many people will be distracted the next few days over the release of the latest Star Wars film.  But recent revelations seem to confirm the “dark side” is already hard at work, and not “in a galaxy far, far away.”  Instead of pouring over the backstory of Luke Skywalker and his compadres, Americans would do well to look at the timeline of the backstory to the 2016 election:

August 6, 2016:

In one exchange from August 2016, the FBI’s Lisa Page forwarded a Donald Trump-related article to Peter Strzok, writing: “And maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace.”

He responded: “Thanks. It’s absolutely true that we’re both very fortunate. And of course I’ll try and approach it that way. I just know it will be tough at times. I can protect our country at many levels, not sure if that helps.’”

This seems clear. Strzok was going to protect the country from Trump.

August 15, 2016

But an Aug. 15, 2016 message has come under more serious scrutiny.

“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way [Trump] gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,” Strzok wrote to Page.

Andy is believed to be Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe.

“It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40,” Strzok added.

The dossier was the insurance policy

Strzok was at least part of the editing of the Comey statement:

The FBI agent who was removed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia — because he sent anti-Trump messages to a colleague — oversaw the bureau’s interviews with ousted National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, Fox News confirmed on Monday.

Peter Strzok, a former deputy to the assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI, also was confirmed to have changed former FBI Director James Comey’s early draft language about Hillary Clinton’s actions regarding her private email server from “grossly negligent” to “extremely careless.”

Strzok interviewed Cheryl Mills, Heather Samuelson and Hillary Clinton

The FBI agent who was fired from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation team for sending anti-Donald Trump text messages conducted the interviews with two Hillary Clinton aides accused of giving false statements about what they knew of the former secretary of state’s private email server.

Yet somehow they escaped prosecution for lying to the FBI because Strzok wasn’t going to jeopardize Clinton’s campaign.

The FBI agreed to destroy evidence on behalf of Clinton aides…

Read the entire timeline, with linked documentation, here.  The leniency of the “investigation” into Her Hillariness’ unauthorized email server and mishandling of classified information does not contrast well with the fishing expedition that is the Mueller probe.  At least at the higher levels, the FBI has been as politicized as the IRS before it, and appears engaged in an unprecedented effort to overturn the results of a presidential election.  Americans should be aghast at a federal agent talking about “insurance policies” prior to that election, especially when that agent was heavily involved in the two most prominent–and politically charged–investigations of the past two years.

Trump’s nationalist agenda does not go over well with the transnational ruling elite encamped in the five wealthiest counties in America.  That invisible empire will use every lever at its disposal to thwart his agenda.

If Americans allow it.

Too many coincidences

Victor Davis Hanson does a good job today summarizing what to date has been a slow but steady drip of information indicating Special Counsel Robert Mueller grossly stacked the deck in terms of staffing his investigation of the Trump team’s activity during last year’s election.  Excerpt:

By now there are simply too many coincidental conflicts of interest and too much improper investigatory behavior to continue to give the Mueller investigation the benefit of doubt. Each is a light straw; together, they now have broken the back of the probe’s reputation.

In inexplicable fashion, Mueller seems to have made almost no effort to select attorneys from outside Washington, from diverse private law firms across the country, who were without personal involvement with the Clinton machine, and who were politically astute or disinterested enough to keep their politics to themselves.

It seems readily apparent from what has been revealed that the investigation is the logical culmination of the Obama administration’s partisan weaponization of government.  Much as the IRS illegally discriminated against Tea Party-affiliated organizations, there is evidence the FBI and other agencies improperly surveilled U.S. citizens during an election, selectively leaking information upon which to base an investigation.  The many media misfires in recent days is further indication this investigation is a conclusion looking for evidence, rather than the other way around.  Ironically (and most likely deliberately), much clearer evidence of mishandling classified information, and improper quid pro quos between Russia and the Clinton Foundation are completely free from any official scrutiny.

Such politicizing of governmental institutions to overturn or thwart the result of a presidential election is a grave and present danger to the health of what’s left of our representative government.  It has further polarized a heavily divided electorate.  Those who support the administration see a partisan witch hunt.  Those who oppose him readily grab onto whatever “bombshells” are illegally leaked to the press from within the investigation in an attempt to further delegitimize Trump and his team–even though many of those “bombshells” quickly turn out to be less than meets the eye.

As Hanson notes, the existence of special counsels is already a poor reflection on the ability of representative government to reach just and fair conclusions in some circumstances.  If that safety valve is itself compromised (which seems highly likely in this case), what options for resolution of the issues are left — short of social unrest and violence?

Our political class continues to lead us down a very dangerous road.

Who needs credibility?

UPDATE: a good summary of a bad media week can be found here.

The mainstream press is tripping all over itself trying to manufacture scandals for the Trump administration — and in the process, shredding what little credibility they have left.  They are as uniformly hostile to Trump as they were protective of Obama, and anyone who believes their claims of objectivity is simply either not paying attention, or is beyond reasoning with.  The press is being aided in their efforts by Robert Mueller’s investigative politically partisan team, which is habitually (and illegally) leaking material to said press.

The Department of Justice would do well to look into both the leaking by the special counsel’s investigative team, and the editorial processes that keep producing these slanderous misfires by the press.

CNN thought it had a major scoop indicating Donald Trump and his inner circle coordinated with Russian-aligned operatives in 2016 to tilt the presidential election.

CNN was wrong

The CNN report hinged entirely on an email that was supposedly sent on Sept. 4. The September email to Trump and his team included a “decryption key and website address” for the WikiLeaks dump, the article added.

There’s a major, glaring error in this story, which CNN promoted all Friday morning and into the afternoon.

The email upon which the entire story hinges was sent on Sept. 14, not Sept. 4, meaning the email merely pointed Trump’s team to a trove of already-public hacked DNC documents.

The difference between Sept. 4 and Sept. 14 is difference between someone merely flagging already public information and someone quietly slipping the GOP nominee and his team advance access to hacked correspondences.

CBS News also misreported independently that the email was dated September 4.

The depth of the swamp

A few items for your reading attention today, each of which illustrate how deeply the rot goes in our current system:

1)Just How Corrupt is the FBI?”

At least three members of the Russia probe: Robert Mueller himself, attorney Andrew Weissmann and Agent Peter Strzok all have very clear conflicts of interest in this matter and/or histories of abuse of power.  One of the latest examples:

As reported by Fox News, FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok changed Director Comey’s earlier draft of the announcement that exonerated Ms. Clinton. He switched it from “grossly negligent,” which is the language in the criminal statute pertaining to the mishandling of classified material, to simply “extremely careless,” essentially getting Ms. Clinton out of criminal jeopardy. Agent Strzok also interviewed Ms. Clinton without recording the session after Mr. Comey was apparently planning to exonerate her. He was fired by Mueller presumably when Mr. Strzok’s anti-Trump emails to a fellow FBI colleague, lawyer, and lover, Lisa Page, came to his attention. Are we having fun yet? It only gets better…

2) Obama’s email involvement tanked the Clinton investigation

I noticed it when this first became public more than a year ago, but perhaps unsurprisingly very little attention has been focused on it: President Obama sent and received emails with Hillary Clinton via the insecure private server over which she demonstrably conducted classified business.  Obama did so using a pseudonym, which seems to indicate he knew this system was likely not on the up and up.

Bottom line: no conviction of Clinton and Huma Abedin for willful mishandling national security information could have been obtained without implicating the president himself.  This likely explains why the Clinton “investigation” and subsequent Russia probe were assigned to some of the most partisan members of what should be a politically neutral FBI.

3) Andrew Weissmann, as noted in some of the links above, heaped praise on then-Attorney General Sally Yates, who early in the Trump administration publicly refused to defend the administration’s new travel restrictions intended to enhance border security. (Trump rightfully fired her.)  Weissmann is now one of Robert Mueller’s senior advisors on the “Russia probe.”  (But I’m sure he’s objective…)  Additionally, it’s been learned that while the courts correctly ruled Trump had the authority to appoint the new head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a number of employees at said agency consider themselves “resistors,” taking the childish name “Dumbledore’s Army.”  Their intent, it seems, is to thwart the new leadership any way they can.  Were I Mick Mulvaney, I would try to identify every employee who considered themselves part of this group — and fire them immediately.

The entrenched bureaucracy is determined there will be no deep and lasting changes under Trump.  How that struggle goes will define his presidency.  The stakes? Powerline’s John Hinderaker put it best:

The most powerful branch of today’s government is the Fourth: the permanent federal bureaucracy that is nowhere mentioned in the Constitution. The Trump administration can best be viewed, perhaps, as a struggle to the death between American voters and the federal employees who are paid to serve them.

 

Swamps, RINOs and Trump

Many in the press hope they see a big story developing: a Republican “civil war” between those aligned with the president or Steve Bannon and the “establishment” GOP.  But as one outlet has already realized, the momentum is with the president:

Traditional Republicans fancying the cracks in their party as an opening to primary President Trump in 2020 need to deal with one inconvenient fact: Republican voters aren’t interested.

The brawl for dominance in the Republican Party is certainly remarkable. Former President George W. Bush; Ohio Gov. John Kasich; the chairmen of two top Senate committees; and now Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.; all have sharply rebuked Trump, questioning his fitness, integrity, and moral authority.

But their resistance, though hardly isolated, is missing one crucial element: a significant measure of enthusiasm from Republican voters. That’s a weak foundation from which to pursue a challenge to the renomination of a sitting president.

Why is Trump’s base willing to overlook his unorthodox presidential behavior? Here the article nails it:

…where Trump’s Republican opposition sees a dangerous political provocateur, the GOP base sees a fighter who is defending them and their values — against the cultural oppression of the liberal elites in New York and Hollywood and against a political establishment in Washington that bends the rules for everyone but them.

Trump’s coalition includes true conservatives (as opposed to the think-tank faux conservatives in D.C.) and blue-collar Democrats who are tired of seeing everything and everyone put ahead of the needs of honest Americans.  The “have you no decency” outrage from the GOP establishment is easily ignored when one remembers how often they have failed to keep their promises to the voters (Obamacare repeal?  Immigration enforcement?  Tax and regulation relief?).  The problem with most Republican members of Congress is they are “Republican In Name Only (RINO).”  The Tea Party movement was a “civil” attempt to protest this repeated betrayal, and the bi-factional ruling party attacked it — the Republicans by painting it unfairly as racist, and the Democrats by illegally unleashing the IRS and other government agencies on the various groups.  In the latter case, no accountability has been forthcoming against Lois Lerner and her helpers, either.

Is it any wonder a large part of the voting population now wants to burn the establishment to the ground?

Not only has the administration outlasted the Democrats’ frantic efforts to delegitimize it, the shoe is rapidly moving to the other foot as:

These stories are far more important than the manufactured distraction over presidential condolence calls to Gold Star families. Those who care about America should not allow the topic du jour to “move on” from them.

The real fight now is not over the survival of the Trump administration (even the NYT admits “he’s not going anywhere“). It’s over whether he will have a more cooperative Congress to deal with after 2018.  Steve Bannon is rallying insurgent candidates* across the country, and even sitting Senators are reading the tea leaves (finally).  The election of Trump represented a bursting point of extreme voter dissatisfaction with business as usual.  “Civil” didn’t get voters anywhere, so they went with the bull in the china shop. Whether that voter anger and focus can be maintained through the next election cycle is the question of the decade.  If it is, the Trump victory in 2016 will be seen not as a fluke, but as a pivotal moment in American politics when the Swamp was finally confronted head on.

* While Bannon rallies Republican insurgents with name recognition, there are also complete outsiders like Tony Monetti in Missouri, who is challenging established Republican candidates in the primary to run against vulnerable Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill.  Be sure to pay attention to ALL the candidates in the races for which you can vote.