23 thoughts on “News/Politics 11-25-19

  1. Maybe next the IG can investigate the leaking in his own dept.



    A leak filtered through the friends of the Resistance at CNN afforded us our initial glimpse of the pending findings made by Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz; John summarized the leak here. The findings set forth in Horowitz’s long-awaited report address possible FISA abuse in the Russia hoax perpetrated by John Brennan, James Comey et al. in the 2016 election and the first months of the Trump administration. The leak to CNN derived from the draft of the Horowitz report to be released on December 9.

    The larger story out of which the FISA issues emerge represents the biggest scandal in American political history by far, as Andrew McCarthy makes abundantly clear in Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency. In his weekly NR column McCarthy now asks whether the leak represents the tip of a scandalous iceberg or a signal that Horowitz’s report will be much ado about nothing much?

    If I were a betting man, I would bet that we have been set up for an infuriating anti-climax (infuriating to those of us familiar with the evidence). One would be a fool to doubt that justice will ever be administered to the perpetrators of this particular scandal.

    Andy does not answer the question that he raises in the opening of his column. Rather, he “add[s] some relevant details about the lead-up to the FISA surveillance, which are more thoroughly outlined in” Ball of Collusion. I finished reading a galley of the book just before it was published this past August and posted an appreciation of it on Power Line, but I had already forgotten a few of the details that McCarthy marshals in this column.

    He reiterates four points made in the book (emphasis in original):

    1. The Steele-dossier claims formed a substantial basis for the warrant application. McCabe has assessed that there would not have been probable cause without them; others have indicated that it was a 50–50 proposition, at best. It is impossible for us to make a judgment about this without knowing the totality of the non-dossier information.

    2. What we do know is not reassuring. While much has been made of the Steele dossier’s blatant unreliability, not enough attention has been paid to another matter on which the FBI and DOJ relied: the attempts by Russian spies to recruit Page as an asset between 2008 and 2013.

    The government made much of this in the warrant application. Downplayed, however, were the facts that Page cooperated with the government in the prosecution of the spies; that the Justice Department used Page’s information in its arrest complaint; that Page submitted to numerous interviews by the federal investigators, including as late as spring 2016, when (according to Page) he was being prepared to testify as a government witness, which testimony became unnecessary when the spy pled guilty; and that the Russian spies against whom he cooperated regarded him as an “idiot” in communications intercepted by the feds.

    Did the FBI tell the FISC everything it should have been told about the spy case? If so, what made the FBI believe that Russia, with its highly competent intelligence services supposedly in a high-stakes conspiracy with Trump, would trust as a key conspirator a man who (a) the Kremlin believed was incompetent and (b) had helped the U.S. prosecute the Kremlin’s operatives?”


  2. The McCarthy piece is here.


    “3. The FBI’s many interviews with Page are highly relevant. So is the fact that, while the FBI was pushing for the warrant, Page — in reaction to the Steele-generated negative publicity against him — fired off a letter to FBI director James Comey, pleading to meet with agents in order to assuage any concerns they might have about his contacts with Russians.

    As I’ve pointed out a number of times, federal law requires agents seeking an eavesdropping warrant to explain to the court why less intrusive alternative investigative techniques would not be adequate to obtain the information they claim to need. Why did the FBI and DOJ believe they needed an eavesdropping warrant enabling them to monitor all of Page’s communications (and to review prior stored texts, emails, and phone messages), if Page was more than willing to submit to an interview — under circumstances where there was a long history of such interviews, and where the government had found Page’s information sufficiently credible to rely onit in an arrest complaint (and to prepare him to testify as a government witness, Page says)?

    What did the FBI and DOJ tell the court about why interviewing Page would not adequately serve their purposes?

    4. Much of the information offered as probable cause involved Russia’s history of anti-American operations and its cyber-meddling in the 2016 election. These matters are not in dispute, but they do not mean that Carter Page and the Trump campaign were complicit as clandestine agents of the Putin regime.

    This last point brings us back to the question raised earlier: Are the investigators and their media allies laying the groundwork to argue that, because Russia did interfere in the 2016 campaign, any “mistakes” in using FISA or other investigative tactics do not detract from the overall validity of the investigation?

    If evidence tampering by a low-ranking FBI lawyer ended up making no difference to the validity of the Carter Page FISA warrants, that is hardly the stuff of scandal. It would be small-scale misconduct of the kind that unavoidably happens from time to time, and that the government has handled appropriately — by forcing the culprit out of the FBI and referring him to U.S. attorney Durham for possible prosecution.

    On the other hand, if the Horowitz report is going to take the tack that, because Russia did in fact meddle in the 2016 campaign, any investigative overreach amounts merely to regrettable but understandable overzealousness, that would be a very big deal — and not in a good way.

    The question is not whether Russia meddled. On four separate occasions, the FBI and the Justice Department solemnly told the FISC there were grounds to believe that Carter Page and others in the Trump campaign, potentially including Donald Trump himself, were complicit in a criminal conspiracy with the Kremlin. The question is: What was their compelling basis for making that explosive representation, which breached the American norm against government intrusion in our political process?”


  3. So if it’s “unethical” for them to investigate his Democrat opponents in the primary, why would it be OK to do so with his R challenger in the general? That to me would seem just as bad. They’d still be working to do the boss’s bidding and help him win. There is no difference.

    Well, other than them not wanting to dirty up their fellow Democrats….


    “Bloomberg News Pledges Not To Investigate Democratic Presidential Candidates”

    “Bloomberg News won’t conduct investigative reporting on any of the Democratic presidential candidates, the outlet’s editor-in-chief announced Sunday.

    The announcement followed Michael Bloomberg’s official campaign launch Sunday. “We will continue our tradition of not investigating Mike (and his family and his foundation) and we will extend the same policy to his rivals in the Democratic primaries,” editor-in-chief John Micklethwait wrote in a note to staffers.

    “If other credible journalistic institutions publish investigative work on Mike or the other Democratic candidates, we will either publish those articles in full, or summarize them for our readers — and we will not hide them.”

    “For the time being, the news outlet “will continue to investigate the Trump administration, as the government of the day,” Micklethwait added. He also revealed that two of Bloomberg News’ top opinion editors, Tim O’Brien and David Shipley, will be joining their boss’s campaign.”


  4. Even the AP says it raises serious ethical issues.


    “At his news service, Micklethwait said, Bloomberg reporters will still cover polls, policies and how the Bloomberg campaign is faring, much as it does for all candidates. But it will not do investigative stories on Bloomberg — or, to be fair, on any of the other Democratic contenders. It will continue to investigate the Trump administration, however, he said. Micklethwait noted that the situation is different because Trump is already president and so the work of his administration is fair game.

    If other credible news organizations do investigative stories on Bloomberg or other Democrats, the news service will summarize them or publish them in full, he said.

    “We will not hide them,” Micklethwait said.

    To anyone who thinks the news service shouldn’t cover Bloomberg at all, he said Bloomberg News “has handled these conflicts before — and proved our independence.”

    The situation presents an ethical tightrope. When Bloomberg was considering a candidacy in 2016, the news service’s politics news director in Washington, Kathy Kiely, quit and said she did not feel she could do her job without covering Bloomberg aggressively.

    Kiely said Sunday that the new rules “relegate his political writers to stenography journalism … it’s not satisfying for journalists and it’s not satisfying for readers. I think people will go elsewhere for in-depth political coverage.”

    Kiely said Michael Bloomberg should step completely away from his news organization and let it operate independently. Instead, he’s undermining the news organization “he worked so hard and spent so much money to build up.”

    It’s good that the news service has a structure in place to consider issues as they arise, said Kelly McBride, senior vice president at Poynter and chair of the Craig Newmark Center for Ethics and Leadership. But every day they will have to consider tough decisions about how to cover the candidacy, she said.

    “I can’t imagine that they’re not going to have to deal with the temptation of self-censorship,” she said.”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Trump wasn’t happy with the way they treated Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s trial. He, and many others, thought it a miscarriage of justice. So the president used his pardon powers, and now they’ve fired the man responsible.


    “Defense Secretary Mark Esper asked and received the resignation of Navy Secretary Richard Spencer on Sunday over his handling of the case of a Navy SEAL accused of war crimes in Iraq that angered President Donald Trump.

    “I was not pleased with the way that Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s trial was handled by the Navy,” Trump said in a series of tweets after Spencer’s ouster was announced by the Pentagon. Trump confirmed that Kenneth Braithwaite, the U.S. Ambassador to Norway since 2018, will be nominated as his replacement.

    Esper acted after learning Spencer had approached White House officials privately about the case of Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher. The request was first reported by the Washington Post.

    The secretary lost “trust and confidence in him regarding his lack of candor over conversations with the White House involving the handling of” Gallagher, Defense Department spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in an emailed statement.”

    Hoffman said Esper learned Spencer had privately proposed to the White House to restore Gallagher’s rank and allow him to retire with his Trident pin while the Navy pursued disciplinary actions, at odds with his public position on the issue. Stripping an individual of the pin allows them to remain in the Navy after leaving the elite SEAL unit.

    “I am deeply troubled by this conduct shown by a senior DOD official,” Esper said in the statement. “I have determined that Secretary Spencer no longer has my confidence to continue in his position. I wish Richard well.””


  6. The Squad seems to be a criminal enterprise.


    “In Less Than A Year, 3/4 Of The ‘Squad’ Is Under Financial Investigation”

    “The three most prolific members of the “squad” of freshman representatives are the subjects of multiple Federal Election Commission complaints and ethics probes.

    The congresswomen have been accused of violating campaign finance laws for their personal or political benefit.

    Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib have promised to bring about a more equitable and just world.”


    That’s how socialists operate. Of course those who consider themselves our benevolent overlords will get extra perks. Duh. That’s how socialism works.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Journalism is alive and well in some places. 🙂


    “Timeline of alleged “sabotage” of Trump in 2016 by Democrats, Ukraine”

    “Republican senators request records related to reported Ukraine-Democrats’ role in 2016 anti-Trump efforts

    Democrats deny both interference by Ukraine, and coordination between Ukraine and Democrats

    Timeline of key allegations and events follows”


    “The heads of two Senate committees are asking the FBI and the Department of Justice for records related to a reported scheme by Democrats to get “dirt” on the Trump campaign from Ukraine in 2016.

    According to reporting in Politico in 2017, the alleged efforts by Democrats and Ukraine to “sabotage” the Trump campaign in 2016 did impact the race, even though Trump won in the end.

    Both Politico and Yahoo News interviewed a Democratic National Committee (DNC) consultant named Alexandra Chalupa.

    Democrats have repeatedly claimed the reporting on Chalupa, her work for the DNC, her meetings with Ukrainians, and her meetings with reporters in Ukraine and the U.S., is “debunked” and a “conspiracy theory.” In public accounts since the original news articles, Chalupa has claimed her role and intentions have been misrepresented.

    A Ukrainian-American, Chalupa reportedly acknowledged in a 2017 interview with Politico that she worked as a consultant for the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 campaign to publicly expose Trump campaign aide Paul Manafort’s links to pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.”


    Dems and some of the media are doing their best to bury the truth yet again.


  8. I am worried and disappointed about the way the Democratic party has been going since Hillary and Obama. I always vote Republican, given today’s political leanings. However, I don’t trust a dominant party. We need a reliable opponent..
    Nobody in the present Democratic party measures up.
    That is not good.

    Liked by 2 people



    . . .I’m convinced using political news as the sight-and-sound wallpaper of our daily lives isn’t healthy for our emotional disposition or our sense of perspective.

    I cringe every time I see a friend or family member share some derogatory or dehumanizing comment or meme about politicians they don’t like. Sadly, objectifying our opponents has frequently been the way American political debate works, simply because it’s the way the world works. But Christians are not to act and look like the world. The stakes in our political rivalries may be high, but they are not so high that we must abandon the biblical truths that our real war is not waged against flesh and blood. They are not so high that we must deny the dignity of our political opponents, harping on their mistakes and flubs, scorning them with the hatred none of us owes to fellow human beings made in the image of God.

    There are certainly issues in the political realm that should cause us a righteous kind of anger and a zeal for the truth – issues especially related to injustice and corruption – but in our anger, we must not sin. Christ calls us to love our enemies, which may involve rebuking, but must never involve reviling. I’ve seen both Democrats and Republicans on social media refer to the other as “human scum” or “garbage.” This is language unbecoming of those who claim the name of Christ.


    . . .Let us all remember that our hope is not ultimately who is in the White House but who is on the throne of heaven.”


    Liked by 1 person

  10. https://www.military.com/join-armed-forces/the-uniform-code-of-military-justice-ucmj.html

    The president cannot order anyone in the military to do something that is not inconformity to the UCMJ. I doubt the president knows that.

    Indeed, no president except the Bushes has served in the military since Jimmy Carter (who also violated the UCMJ once. My husband knew all about it!)

    People seem to think the president can order service members to do anything s/he likes. That’s not true.

    I’m not familiar enough with the SEAL story to comment. I just thought it was interesting that reporters don’t seem to know how the military works in matters like these.

    So, alas, what else is new?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Michelle, a side note, not to take away from your main point.

    Reagan served in the military, in the reserve starting in 1937 and then on active duty during WWII. His poor eyesight prevented him from overseas assignment. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronald_Reagan#Military_service

    So actually half the presidents since Carter served in the military, Reagan, Bush 41, and Bush 43 did, Clinton, Obama, and Trump did not.

    My grandfather, 10 years older than Reagan, was an Army cavalry instructor and at one point had Reagan in a class (or in whatever you call a group being instructed in the Army).

    Here’s an article on his Cavalry years: https://owlcation.com/humanities/Trooper-Reagan-The-Gippers-US-Cavalry-Legacy.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Michelle,

    Something I noted in your link.

    “The president had tweeted he would shield Special Warfare Operator Chief Edward “Eddie” Gallagher from what was widely perceived to be a punitive Trident Review Board set up by Rear Adm. Collin Green, the commander of Naval Special Warfare.”


    Which has a link that then tells us this, which appears to say the president has the authority to do what he did, and it demonstrates some at least, ignoring that, and that this was retaliatory in nature.



    “Exercising his power as the commander in chief of the armed forces, however, President Donald J. Trump on Friday advanced Gallagher back to chief, telegraphing that he thought the punishment was unfair on the eve of the highly decorated SEAL’s retirement after more than two decades in uniform.

    Rear Adm. Green apparently disagreed and has convened a review board for Dec. 2 at Naval Special Warfare Command headquarters in Coronado, California, to “evaluate your operational ability, ethics, judgment, potential and motivation for continued service” as a SEAL, according to the notification.”

    ““They cheated. We played fair,” said defense attorney Marc Mukasey, who represents Gallagher. “They covered up corruption. We exposed it. They lost at trial. We won the trial. They want Eddie to suffer. We want him to retire in peace. They’re retaliating. We’re not shutting up.””


    This sounds like something Democrats and Adam Schiff were running.

    “Gallagher isn’t allowed to be represented by legal counsel. He’s allowed to review the evidence against him in a room set aside for his use, but he can’t copy it or take pictures of it.

    He must submit a list of witnesses to Green by Nov. 27 but the rear admiral will determine if the witness is relevant or reasonably available before greenlighting an appearance before the panel, according to the letter.

    The proceedings will be closed to the public and even other witnesses.”

    ““Rear Adm. Green likes to talk about the ‘Gallagher Effect’ on the SEALs, but what he’s really saying is that if you invoke your constitutional rights, if you dare to hold government accountable, if you force them to make a criminal case against you, and it all falls apart, Rear Adm. Green will personally retaliate against you.””


  13. More, and some more background links. Esper’s issue seems to be that they went over his head after some continued their pursuit of Gallagher even after a jury found him not guilty.


    “Esper discovered Spencer’s actions after the fact, which made him lose faith and confidence in Spencer.

    President Donald Trump and the Pentagon have butted heads over Gallagher after a jury found him not guilty of murder and attempted murder of an ISIS terrorist in Iraq.

    The jury found “him guilty of the seventh charge, posing for a photo with a casualty, considered the least egregious of the crimes, which carries a maximum prison sentence of four months.”

    The Navy demoted Gallagher after his conviction, but Trump “restored Gallagher’s rank” back to chief petty officer. He also told the Navy to “halt its internal review of Gallagher’s actions from 2017.”

    On Friday, Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley tried to persuade Trump “to allow the Trident review board to go forward.”

    But then Esper discovered Spencer already spoke to Trump about Gallagher. From The Wall Street Journal:

    Mr. Spencer told The Wall Street Journal that he had tried to make a deal in which President Trump would allow the Navy to conduct an internal review of Chief Edward Gallagher, who would then be allowed to retire with his Trident pin, the revered symbol of his membership in the elite commando force. But Mr. Esper only learned of these efforts after the fact, and thus lost confidence in Mr. Spencer, according to Pentagon officials.

    “I am deeply troubled by this conduct shown by a senior DOD official,” Mr. Esper said in a statement. “Unfortunately, as a result I have determined that Secretary Spencer no longer has my confidence to continue in his position. I wish Richard well.”

    A senior official explained Esper fired Spencer for “lack of candor” and “dishonesty and undermining the military justice system.”



    “A jury found decorated Navy SEAL Edward “Eddie” Gallagher not guilty Tuesday on almost all charges he was facing, including murder and attempted murder, in the killing of a teenage Islamic State member in Iraq.

    Gallagher was accused of stabbing to death a 15-year-old ISIS fighter in 2017 and posing with the corpse for photos.

    As he awaited the charges to be read, Gallagher, 40, bounced lightly on his feet, appearing nervous, but dissolved into joyful tears once the verdict came through, tightly embracing his wife, Andrea, who has publicly championed him throughout the case as they both cried. Also seated in the gallery were Gallagher’s attorneys, brother and parents, all of whom he hugged.

    “I’m happy and I’m thankful,” Gallagher told reporters after the verdict as he joked with his legal team that “it’s Independence Day,” his freedom coming days before the July 4th holiday.

    “Suffice to say, huge victory, huge weight off the Gallaghers, huge victory for justice,” Gallagher’s attorney Marc Mukasey said adding that his client cried “tears of joy, emotion, freedom, absolute euphoria and proud of the process.”

    “I was feeling like we’re finally vindicated after being terrorized by the government that my husband fought for for 20 years,” Andrea Gallagher said. She also said she intends to “continue to fight for the war heroes of this country” and hopes to see Naval Special Warfare Group 1 Commodore Capt. Matthew D. Rosenbloom resign, among other things.”


  14. And if the Navy is really ticked about it, blame prosecutors who gave immunity to the man who blew up their case against Gallagher. And it was those same prosecutors who illegally spied on the defense attorneys for Gallagher.

    But they can’t touch him, due to their deal. If they want to be mad at someone, look in a mirror.


    “More than nine months after he was charged with murder, attempted murder and a string of other alleged war crimes tied to a 2017 deployment in Iraq, Special Warfare Operator Chief Edward “Eddie” Gallagher strolled out of a Naval Base San Diego courtroom a free man, guilty only of appearing in an inappropriate photograph.

    Military prosecutors had accused Gallagher, 40, of stabbing to death a seriously wounded Islamic State prisoner of war on May 3, 2017 in a SEAL compound near Mosul, but a military panel composed mostly of combat-tested Marine officers disagreed and acquitted the chief.

    Several junior petty officers in Alpha Platoon, SEAL Team 7 also alleged that he had shot at least two civilians from a sniper perch and later tried to cover up his actions, but jurors tossed those charges, too.

    Gallagher’s defense team had savaged the witnesses in court as liars bent on usurping a demanding chief they didn’t like and making sure he failed to receive a Silver Star commendation for battlefield heroism.

    And in the end a panel of his peers agreed with Chief Gallagher, not a handful of junior SEALs.”


    “On June 21, the prosecution suffered a blow when their star witness, SEAL medic Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Corey Scott, confessed on the stand that he, not Gallagher, ended the detainee’s life by plugging his breathing tube, a mercy killing so the fighter wouldn’t be tortured to death by Iraqi security forces.

    A spotter for Gallagher when the chief was a sniper in Iraq — Special Operator 1st Class Joshua Graffam — also told jurors that a Father’s Day shooting in 2017 was a good kill, not a war crime.

    Both petty officers were represented free of charge by Brian Ferguson, a Texas attorney and Air Force Reserve major.

    “An impartial panel of seven senior service members had the opportunity to evaluate the credibility of the witnesses in the case and returned a verdict consistent with the truthful testimony provided by these two special operators.”

    But in a second press conference after court recessed Tuesday evening, Gallagher’s attorney Parlatore traced the collapse of the prosecution’s case to earlier events.

    He cited an “aggressive defense” that went directly at prosecutors and Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents for what he described as a botched case tainted by government misconduct.

    “The prosecutors got sloppy,” said Parlatore, a former Navy surface warfare officer. “They committed misconduct. They spied on us. NCIS screwed up. And it was a continuous downhill spiral from there.””


  15. Nice try, NYTimes and others, but Clinesmith wasn’t a “low-level” lawyer.


    “These initial reports cast the FBI lawyer as a low-level employee, but Clinesmith was an attorney with the FBI’s National Security and Cyber Law Branch and worked under then-FBI General Counsel James Baker and Deputy General Counsel Trisha Anderson. Clinesmith had worked on the Clinton email investigation, as well as special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. He was kicked off the latter case after Horowitz discovered he expressed negative opinions of Trump in messages to colleagues, including one that said, “Viva le resistance.””

    “Whitaker said he expects “one of the more consequential inspector general reports we’ve seen in probably the last two decades.” Referring to the contentious political debate hovering over Mueller’s investigation and the Page-FISA controversy, Whitaker added that he hopes the watchdog report’s disclosure will “begin the process of a restoration of confidence in the Department of Justice and the FBI.””


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