Failure of the rule of law? 1

Is it not obvious that crimes have been committed by former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, former FBI Director James Comey, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton?

And that they are getting away with them?

Deroy Murdock writes at Townhall:

James Comey, Loretta Lynch, and the Clintons should do time for their crimes. So should the unnamed leakers who give away state secrets as if they were handing out leaflets at a busy street corner.

While the relentless Russiagate probe continues its futile search for lawbreaking among Team Trump, actual crimes already have occurred at the highest levels of the Deep State and among former Democratic officials. These perpetrators should be prosecuted. 

Someone violated federal law by unmasking former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s name from National Security Agency transcripts or other surveillance records of his conversations with Russian ambassador to Washington Sergey Kislyak. As part of the presidential transition, it was perfectly normal for Flynn to speak with Kislyak and other foreign emissaries. It also is no surprise that the NSA and other American intelligence agencies cup their ears when Kislyak speaks.

However, the identities of Americans in such conversations are supposed to remain confidential. Whoever unmasked Flynn in such documents violated the federal Espionage Act of 1917, 18 U.S. Code § 793. It prohibits the improper handling and transmission of “information respecting the national defense”.

The anti-Flynn leaks also appear to breach 18 U.S. Code § 798, which forbids disclosure of classified data “concerning the communication intelligence activities of the United States or any foreign government.”  …

Leaking seems to be Washingtonians’ favorite indoor activity. And Comey got in on the fun, too. Referring to his memo-to-file about a private Oval Office meeting with Trump, Comey said, “I need to get that out into the public square,” as if that were his job.

… and as if there was something so incriminating in what the president said that it simply had to be broadcast to the nation.

But surely if there had been something of that sort, it would have been the right procedure for the FBI to bring to the attention of the Justice Department?

It is not normal FBI procedure to leak details of an investigation to the press rather than use it to build a criminal case.

A president cannot be charged with a criminal offense, but if there is proof that he has committed crimes, or has said something that could be interpreted as criminal, he could be impeached. But only by Congress, not by the readers of a  Communist Youth organ such as the New York Times.

Yet the Dirctor of the FBI wanted it to reach the NYT at all costs. So he leaked it through the conduit of a leftist academic.

Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8: “I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter.” This “close friend who is a professor at Columbia law school,” is named Daniel C. Richman. …

“I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel,” Comey explained.

Shazzam!

Comey’s leaked memo hit the front pages, and Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein named a special counsel: Comey’s mentor and one-time boss, former FBI chief Robert Mueller.

Comey and Mueller’s toasty relationship raises legitimate worries about Mueller’s capacity for disinterest in a case that involves the dismissal and public ostracism of his protégé of at least 14 years. …

How can Mueller be objective about his bosom buddy, who now is at the epicenter of this entire probe?

Also troublesome: Mueller’s team includes attorneys who maxed out in donations to Hillary and Obama, defended Hillary against Freedom of Information Act requests, and even represented a Clinton staffer at the heart of E-mailgate. …

According to Political Insider, “In total, Mueller’s team has made $52,650 in political donations since 1997, 95 percent of which ($49,900) went to Democrats.”

Among some 100,000 attorneys in the Washington, D.C. Bar, was Mueller really unable to employ lawyers who neither have worked for the Clintons nor underwritten their campaigns? Could he not have hired professionals unconnected to either the Clintons or the Trumps? Was that really so hard?

Or maybe Mueller deliberately assembled a kennel full of Hillary-loving legal Rottweilers.

Whatever Mueller’s objectives, he has crafted at a minimum — a major appearance of impropriety. If Team Mueller fairly, honestly, and properly discovers wrongdoing among Team Trump, Republicans may dismiss his findings as the crooked output of a rigged system. But if Mueller correctly exonerates Trump & Co., Democrats may scream that the special counsel chickened out, to avoid being accused of running a politically tainted probe. Either way, such second-guessing would erode confidence in American justice.

For his part, Comey’s leak to Professor Richman looks like a violation of, at least, 18 U.S. Code § 641, which bars the unauthorized conveyance of “any record” belonging to the U.S. government. Comey should be brought back before Congress and forced to spell out any and every such leak he ever made, describe the documents he spilled, the dates he did so, etc. Each one of those instances should constitute an individual count in an indictment for breaking the Espionage Act.

According to Comey, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch instructed him to refer benignly to E-mailgate as a “matter” rather than an “investigation”. While that latter word was more politically volatile, it also was accurate. After all, Comey ran the Federal Bureau of Investigation, not the Federal Bureau of Matter.

According to Circa.com’s John Solomon and Sara A. Carter, Comey told senators behind closed doors about “a communication between two political figures that suggested Lynch had agreed to put the kibosh on any prosecution of Clinton”, never mind evidence of Hillary’s crimes.

Comey reportedly showed Lynch that do-not-prosecute record. As one source familiar with Comey’s comments told Solomon and Carter, “the attorney general looked at the document then looked up with a steely silence that lasted for some time, then asked him if he had any other business with her and if not that he should leave her office”. …

Coupled with Lynch’s notorious “golf clubs and grandkids” pow-wow with Bill Clinton on her official plane at Phoenix Airport last June 27, just five days before the FBI questioned Hillary (inexplicably, not under oath), Lynch’s behavior reeks of obstruction of justice.

Comey stated last July 5 that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring charges against Hillary Clinton in E-mailgate. This claim instantly was refuted by reasonable former federal prosecutors including Sidney Powell, Andrew McCarthy, Rudolph W. Giuliani, and Michael Mukasey. They all stated why Hillary deserved indictment.

Comey said that Hillary should have stayed free because she had no criminal intent to violate the Espionage Act. However, to be convicted under this statute, one need not possess criminal intent. …

Hillary could be convicted merely for handling classified documents in a “grossly negligent” fashion. She certainly did this. …

Beyond E-mailgate, the Clinton Foundation’s bribes-for-favors scandal has gone entirely unpunished. Hillary approved the Kremlin’s purchase of 20 percent of U.S. uranium supplies. She permitted Russia’s Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation to acquire Uranium One Inc. This is the sort of cloak-and-dagger Russian collusion about which Democratic mouths have foamed since last fall. The $145 million that Uranium One’s investors pumped into the Clinton Foundation before, during, and after this grotesque deal epitomizes the pay-to-play bonanza for which Hillary should be tossed in the clink. Ditto the $500,000 fee that Kremlin-controlled Renaissance Capital handed Bill Clinton for a one-hour speech while Hillary decided to green-light this transaction. Remember: the Clintons literally gave Vladimir Putin access to the active ingredient in hydrogen bombs — extracted from American soil. …

And “giving aid and comfort” to the enemy is treason according to the Constitution.

The House Government Oversight Committee should hold public hearings and subpoena Comey, Lynch, and the Clintons and make them testify publicly about these crimes, under penalty of perjury.

After that, President Trump should keep a promise that he made in the October 9 debate against Hillary: “If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation.”

Prosecuting Comey for leaking government papers, Lynch for sandbagging the E-mailgate probe, and the Clintons and Clintonites for running their bribes-for-favors scams would not signal American devolution into a banana republic. Rather, this would reinvigorate a core principle of American constitutional republicanism: Equal Justice Under Law.

On all that is wrong with James Comey’s buddy Robert Mueller being appointed to sniff out an unknown crime in the Trump administration, Andrew McCarthy writes:

So I’ve been wondering: Why on earth does a prosecutor, brought in to investigate a case in which there is no apparent crime, need a staff of 14 lawyers?

Or, I should say, “14 lawyers and counting.” According to the press spokesman for special counsel Robert Mueller — yeah, he’s got a press spokesman, too — there are “several more in the pipeline.”

Concededly, none of Mueller’s recruits requires Senate confirmation, as do Justice Department officials — notwithstanding that the former may end up playing a far more consequential role in the fate of the Trump administration. But does it seem strange to anyone else that, by comparison, the president of the United States has managed to get — count ’em — three appointees confirmed to Justice Department positions in five months?

A special counsel, the need for whom is far from obvious, has in just a few days staffed up with four times the number of lawyers. And all for a single investigation that the FBI has described as a counterintelligence probe — i.e., not a criminal investigation, the kind for which you actually need lawyers.  

Oh, and about those three Justice Department appointees: One of them, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has already recused himself from the investigation in question — the department’s most high profile undertaking. Another, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, is reportedly weighing whether he, too, should bow out. Perhaps he figures he has already done quite enough, having sicced a special-counsel investigation on the Trump Administration by flouting both the regulation that requires a basis for a criminal investigation before a special counsel is appointed, and the regulation that requires limiting the special counsel’s jurisdiction to the specific factual matter that triggers this criminal investigation.

The way this is supposed to work is: the Justice Department first identifies a likely crime, and then assigns a prosecutor to investigate it. Here, by contrast, there are no parameters imposed on the special counsel’s jurisdiction. Mueller is loosed—with 14 lawyers and more coming—to conduct what I’ve called a “fishing expedition”.

But it is actually worse than that … Mueller’s probe is the functional equivalent of a general warrant: a boundless writ to search for incriminating evidence. It is the very evil the Fourth Amendment was adopted to forbid: a scorch-the-earth investigation in the absence of probable cause that a crime has been committed.

For now, Mueller appears utterly without limits, in his writ and in his resources. As the ease with which he has staffed up shows, it is not hard to recruit lawyers. All you need is money. Mueller has a bottomless budget, thanks to a bit of Treasury Department chicanery known as “permanent, indefinite appropriations”. 

Under the Constitution’s Appropriations Clause, no funding is supposed to be paid out of the treasury unless Congress has approved it in advance. Under the Framers’ design, with an eye toward limited, accountable government, every spending initiative must compete with every other one when Congress enacts a budget. Lawmakers must decide what we can and can’t afford when they draw on what is supposed to be the finite pot of money confiscated from taxpayers. We are supposed to know what we are underwriting and what it will cost.

The Swamp, ever resistant to such restraints, has developed a scheme known as “indefinite appropriations”. These are slush funds for future contingencies. A good example is the “Judgment Fund” which President Obama raided to underwrite nearly $2 billion in ransom payments demanded by Iran, the sweetener he needed to close the infamous nuclear deal.

And that sounds like treason too.

It is an Orwellian game. What makes an appropriation an appropriation is that Congress provides a definite amount of funding suitable to the task it has approved. If it turns out more is needed, the executive branch is supposed to come back to Congress — ask for it and justify why it should be prioritized over other needs.

Mueller’s special counsel investigation is somehow under no such restrictions, according to the Justice Department. He unilaterally decides how much staffing he needs. And unlike a normal prosecutor’s office, the special counsel does not have to apportion his resources over hundreds of cases. He can direct all of them at one investigative target.

In this instance, the target is Trump, and the resources — apart from what will be scores of FBI agents — include 14 lawyers (going on 15 … going on 16…).

These lawyers, overwhelmingly, are Democrats. … Mueller’s staffers contribute to Trump’s political opponents, some heavily. The latest Democratic talking-point about this unseemly appearance is that hiring regulations forbid an inquiry into an applicant’s political affiliation. That’s laughable. These are lawyers Mueller has recruited. They are not “applicants”. We’re talking about top-shelf legal talent, accomplished professionals who have jumped at the chance of a gig they do not need but, clearly, want. …

Notice that, consistent with the familiar ethical canon that lawyers must avoid even the appearance of impropriety, the standard here is based not on the lawyer’s personal rectitude or his subjective belief that he can administer the law impartially. The issue is: What would this look like to fair-minded observers?

Consequently, if this boundless investigation careens into a criminal prosecution, Mueller could have some major soul-searching to do. I thus confess to being taken aback that he has exacerbated the problem, rather than trying to mitigate it, with his staffing decisions. Into an investigation that was already fraught with political tension, the special counsel has recruited partisans — to politicians who describe themselves not as a loyal opposition but as the Trump “Resistance”. What are fair-minded people to make of that?

Not just one or two recruits, but 14 lawyers, with more to come. …

Why does special counsel Mueller need 14 lawyers (and more coming) for a counterintelligence investigation, as to which the intelligence professionals — agents, not lawyers — have found no “collusion with Russia” evidence after over a year of hard work? What will those lawyers be doing with no limits on their jurisdiction, with nothing but all the time and funding they need to examine one target, Donald Trump?

The Mueller investigation itself has the smell of corruption about it.

The law is the house in which we live. If its timbers are rotten, what will become of us? 

The man who will clean the Augean Stable 8

A great new movement, a grassroots rebellion, has arisen in America. Those who realize this, and understand why, have no trouble seeing Donald Trump as president of the United States after the disastrous, almost ruinous, deeply depressing presidency of Barack Hussein Obama.

Conrad Black understands it. He writes at the National Post, of which he was formerly a proprietor:

Donald Trump polled extensively last year and confirmed his suspicion that between 30 and 40 per cent of American adults, cutting across all ethnic, geographic, and demographic lines, were angry, fearful and ashamed at the ineptitude of their federal government.

Americans, Trump rightly concluded, could not abide a continuation in office of those in both parties who had given them decades of shabby and incompetent government: stagnant family incomes, the worst recession in 80 years, stupid wars that cost scores of thousands of casualties and trillions of dollars and generated a humanitarian disaster, serial foreign policy humiliations, and particularly the absence of a border to prevent the entry of unlimited numbers of unskilled migrants, and trade deals that seemed only to import unemployment with often defective goods. I was one of those who thought at the outset that Trump was giving it a shot, and that if it didn’t fly it would at least be a good brand-building exercise.

Americans, unlike most nationalities, are not accustomed to their government being incompetent and embarrassing. History could be ransacked without unearthing the slightest precedent or parallel for the rise of America in two long lifetimes (1783-1945) from two and a half million colonists to a place of power and influence and prestige greater than any nation has ever possessed — everywhere victorious and respected, with an atomic monopoly and half the economic product of the world. Forty-five years later, their only rival had collapsed like a soufflé without the two Superpowers exchanging a shot between them. International Communism and the Soviet Union disintegrated and America was alone, at the summit of the world.

And then it turned into a nation of idiots, incapable of doing anything except conduct military operations against primitive countries. The objective performance of the latter Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama administrations, and the Gingrich, Reid-Pelosi, and Boehner-led congresses, and most of the courts, have for these 25 years been shameful and as unprecedented in American history as the swift rise of America was in the history of the world. The people turned out rascals and got worse rascals.

We would not be so hard on Newt Gingrich. He’s been saying sensible things about Trump.

Donald Trump’s research revealed that the people wanted someone who was not complicit in these failures and who had built and run something. Washington, Jackson, the Harrisons, Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and others had risen as military heroes, though some of them had had some political exposure. Jefferson and Wilson were known as intellectuals, Madison as chief author of the Constitution, and Monroe and John Quincy Adams as international statesmen. What is called for now is a clean and decisive break from the personalities and techniques of the recent past. Donald Trump doesn’t remind anyone of the presidents just mentioned, but he elicited a surge of public support by a novel, almost Vaudeville, routine as an educated billionaire denouncing the political leadership of the country in Archie Bunker blue-collar terms.

Last (Super) Tuesday, he completed the preliminary takeover of the Republican Party.He demonstrated his hold on the angry, the fearful, and the ashamed by passing the double test: he had held no elective office, but he was a worldly man who knew how to make the system work  and rebuild American strength and public contentment. All the other candidates in both parties were vieux jeu, passé. Only a few of the governors (Bush, Christie, and Kasich) had run anything successfully, none of them had built anything, and all were up to their eyeballs in the sleazy American political system — long reduced to a garish and corrupt log-rolling game of spin-artists, lobbyists, and influence-peddlers. Bernie Sanders gets a pass, but he is an undischarged Marxist, and while many of his attacks on the incumbent system and personnel have merit, his policy prescriptions are unacceptable to 90 per cent of Americans.

It was clear on Tuesday night that Trump’s insurrection had recruited the Republican centre and pushed his opponents to the fringes. The conservative intellectuals, including my friends and editors at National Review, as well as Commentary, the Weekly Standard, and some of the think tanks, attacked Trump as inadequately conservative. They are correct — he isn’t particularly conservative, and favours universal medical care, as much as possible in private-sector plans, but a stronger safety net for those who can’t afford health care, and retention of federal assistance to Planned Parenthood except in matters of abortion. Traditional, quasi-Bushian moderate Republican opponents and liberals  were reduced to calling him an extremist — claiming he was a racist, a “neo-fascist” said Bob Woodward, America’s greatest mythmaker and (albeit bloodless) Watergate assassin, and a “Caesarist” by the normally sane Ross Douthat in The New York Times. (He was confusing the triumphs of the early Caesars with the debauchery of the later Caligula and Nero and the earlier bread and circuses of the Gracchi, but it is all bunk.)

John Robson [a columnist and editorial writer for the National Post], took his place in this queue on Monday, claiming Trump was squandering an inherited fortune (he has multiplied it), and concluding that Trump is “a loathsome idiot”.  The sleaziest dirty tricks campaigner of modern American history, Ted Cruz, claimed Trump was in league with gangsters.

We would not be that hard on Ted Cruz.

On Tuesday night, Cruz ran strongly in his home state of Texas but his support is now confined exclusively to Bible-thumping, M16-toting corn-cobbers and woolhats, and he has no traction outside the southwest and perhaps Alaska. The orthodox Republican candidate, Marco Rubio, is now a Chiclet-smiled, motor-mouth loser, having first been exposed as such by Chris Christie (the New Jersey governor who could have won the nomination and election four years ago and is now running for the vice-presidential nomination with Trump). Rubio should bite the dust in Florida next week. On Super Tuesday evening Donald Trump made the turn from rabble-rouser to nominee-presumptive. The only early campaign excess he has to walk back is the nonsense that all the 11 million illegal migrants will be removed, and then many will be readmitted. Of course the selection process must occur before they are evicted, not after.

Even the formidable and adversarial journalist Megyn Kelly acknowledged that he looked and sounded like a president. He spoke fluently and in sentences and without bombast or excessive self-importance. He is placed exactly where he needs to be for the election, after Hillary Clinton finishes her escapade on the left to fend off the unfeasible candidacy of Bernie Sanders. (This is if she is not indicted for her misuse of official emails — Obama is nasty enough to have her charged, and almost all prosecutions of prominent people in the U.S. are political, but she is now all that stands between Donald Trump and the White House, but is almost a paper tigress.) Trump sharply raised the Republican vote totals and the fact that he carried 49 per cent of the Republican voters in Massachusetts, a state with almost no extremists in it, indicates how wide his appeal has become.

Obama may well be “nasty enough” to have Hillary charged, but is he law-abiding enough?

Hillary Clinton was, as Trump described her when she unwisely accused him of being a sexist, a facilitator of sexism; simultaneously the feminist in chief and First (Wronged) Lady, as spouse of America’s premier sexist. She was elected in a rotten borough for the Democrats in New York State, and was a nondescript secretary of state. She has been caught in innumerable falsehoods and her conduct in the entire Benghazi affair (the terrorist murder of a U.S. ambassador) was reprehensible. Her indictment for various breaches of national security and possible perjury is regularly demanded by former attorney general Michael Mukasey and other worthies. …

All these and more failures, as well as unseemly activities with the Clinton Foundation, will be mercilessly pounded on in the campaign. Donald Trump will not simulate the languorous defeatism of the senior Bush or Mitt Romney, or the blunderbuss shortcomings of Bob Dole and John McCain. (Romney’s savage attack on Trump on Thursday served to remind Republicans of how he squandered a winnable election in 2012 and faced in all four directions on every major issue.)

It really is incomprehensible why Mitt Romney laid himself open, with his vituperative attack on Trump, to an obvious blow in retaliation; that he failed miserably when he was a Republican nominee for the presidency. Any opinion of his on any candidate could only remind everyone of his failure. He figuratively lay down in front of Trump and begged, “Kick me!”  Which Trump obligingly did – though not too hard.

Eight years ago, it was time to break the colour barrier at the White House. Now it is time to clean the Augean Stable. Donald Trump has his infelicities, though not those that malicious opponents or people like John Robson, who simply haven’t thought it through, allege. But he seems to have become the man whom the great office of president of the United States now seeks. He is far from a Lincolnian figure, but after his astonishing rise it would be a mistake to underestimate him.

We prefer him not to be a “Lincolnian figure”.

But we like Conrad Black’s turn of phrase when he says that “the great office of president of the United States now seeks” Donald Trump. 

Certainly an enormous number of Americans want to place him in that office. Which might be the same thing.