Tag Archives: collusion

Political Investigations and their Purpose

When Vladimir Putin seeks to eliminate a political rival, he has them assassinated. China’s President Xi has his dissidents tossed into hard labor prison camps.  North Korea’s Kim Jung-un has been known to have those he disagrees with literally blown apart, sometimes using artillery.

That’s not the American way, however. When an outspoken group or individual runs afoul of leadership in the United States, insiders use the machinery of the federal government, and abuse taxpayer-funded agencies and departments, to engage in financial and legal harassment to fight them.

There is a great deal of frustration with the fact that outsiders have challenged Washington’s political hierarchy. The opposition of the Tea Party was met with stiff resistance by the Obama Administration, which violated numerous legal and ethical standards when it employed the Internal Revenue Service to prevent those involved from fully organizing. The American Center for Law and Justice  notes that “As a tidal wave of grassroots activism began to roar throughout the country, the Obama Administration attempted to quell this activism by everyday Americans by beginning to develop an unconstitutional and illegal system of targeting and abuse.  The Administration’s IRS began pulling some tax-exempt applications out of the normal screening process for additional scrutiny (including the issuance of onerous demand letters for additional information) of organizations seeking tax-exemption whose names included the terms ‘Tea Party,’ ‘Patriots,’ ‘9/12,’ or other conservative-sounding names, such as ‘We the People’ or ‘Take Back the Country.”

There are significant examples of attempted federal intimidation outside of the Internal Revenue Service. Harassment of centrists and conservative think tanks were a significant strategy of the Obama administration. Attorney General Loretta Lynch “referred to the FBI” the proposal to criminalize any disagreement with Obama’s environmental policies.

 Jonathon Hauenschild, writing in The Hill reported that during the Obama Administration “Efforts to curtail online political speech were not limited to one federal commission or agency. Rules proposed by The [Federal Communications Commission] FCC, Federal Election Commission, [FEC] and considered by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) all threatened online political speech. In the Open Internet Order of 2015, the FCC proposed something called the ‘general conduct standard’ or the ‘Internet conduct standard.’ The former chair of the FEC repeatedly called for federal regulation of online political speech and nearly persuaded the FEC to sanction Fox News for merely sponsoring a primary presidential debate.”

Tom Basile, in a 2014 Forbes article  reported that “government has grown so large, so complex, so involved in virtually every aspect of their lives, that it is now being used as a weapon by a small segment of the ruling political class. The weaponization of government is happening and it’s time Americans took notice…Those tactics reduce every Americans’ personal and economic freedom. There is a dangerous arrogance of power among …President Obama and senior-level Democrats that should concern every American.”

Sara Carter, in a Circa expose, found that during the Obama Administration “The National Security Agency…routinely violated American privacy protections…and failed to disclose the extent of the problems until the final days before Donald Trump was elected president last fall, according to once top-secret documents that chronicle some of the most serious constitutional abuses to date by the U.S. intelligence community. More than 5 percent, or one out of every 20 searches seeking upstream Internet data on Americans inside the NSA’s so-called Section 702 database violated the safeguards Obama and his intelligence chiefs vowed to follow in 2011, according to one classified internal…”

This surveillance had little to do with national security and everything to do with spying on political opponents.

The current use of a special counsel, Robert Mueller, who has now empaneled a grand jury, to investigate the Trump campaign—despite a distinct lack of any evidence of a crime being committed, or, indeed, even a discussion of what federal law or regulation may have been broken, fits neatly into this pattern. It is a clear continuation of the harassment by political insiders of those, like the Tea Party, who seek to challenge the monopoly of political professionals.

The Democrats were quite successful in abusing and violating their own internal party procedures to prevent an outsider, Bernie Sanders, from gaining their 2016 presidential nomination, an act which has not received the judicial scrutiny it deserves.  The GOP leadership held a more open process, allowing outsider Trump to win. His campaign capitalized on the growing unease of the American electorate that the political game was increasingly rigged and Constitutional rights were being trampled, to insure the election of insiders.

Without the support of GOP insiders, and facing the anguish of a Democrat Party that has virtually been driven from power on the federal and most state levels, Trump is exceedingly vulnerable. The goal of the political insiders—to hobble his administration—is achieved not by the potential results of the Mueller inquisition, but by the very fact that it exists, and that it hampers the agenda he campaigned on.

There is another non-legal reason for the hysteria and hyperbole surrounding the as-yet unsubstantiated allegations about the Trump Campaign. There can be little doubt that numerous Constitutional violations occurred during the Obama Administration.  There are also serious legal questions about Hillary Clinton’s obvious violation of the law and endangerment of American national security in her personal profit from the sale of uranium to the Russians, as well as her felonious mismanagement of classified emails. But Obama and Clinton are ultimate insiders—they don’t get investigated or punished for their misdeeds. The Mueller investigation effectively distracts the public from those offenses, and gives the media an excuse to ignore them.

After all, during the past eight years, we have learned that political investigations are aimed at outsiders who have the temerity to challenge the insiders.

Contrast in Charges about Trump and Clinton, Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government completes its review of the contrast in the  treatment of allegations about the Trump and Clinton campaigns. 

The appointment of a Special Counsel to review questions concerning the Trump campaign has raised questions of whether there was a sufficient evidentiary basis to do so, and highlighted contrasts between the relative eagerness of Washington to review the Trump campaign while ignoring clear conflict of interest actions by Hillary Clinton.

President Trump’s supporters allege that the former Obama Administration initiated charges of collusion to cover up its illegal surveillance of the Trump campaign, abusing The United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, popularly called the FISA court, to do so.  FISA is a federal tribunal consisting of 11 federal judges who serve on a weekly rotating basis, It was established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to oversee requests for surveillance warrants against international intelligence agents working within the United States. It convenes in an undisclosed but highly protected courtroom not far from the White House.

While those who disagree with President Trump’s allegation that he was unlawfully spied upon point out that there was no FISA authorization to do so, it does not mean that surveillance didn’t take place. The Obama Administration has a history of abusing federal assets and agencies for partisan political purposes. The Department of Justice intentionally turned a blind eye towards offenses having to do with voting, the Internal Revenue Service clearly was employed in partisan attacks against the Tea Party, and even agencies such as NASA, NOAA, and the EPA were manipulated for political or ideological gain.

As Trump began to explode in popularity, the Obama Justice Department and FBI considered a criminal investigation of Trump associates, and perhaps Trump himself, based on what may have been artificial concerns about connections to Russian financial institutions.

Heatstreet describes the allegation:

“An initial request to place surveillance on Trump Tower was denied back in June, but the second was drawn more narrowly and was granted in October on flimsy evidence that a server in Trump Tower hay have had links to two Russian banks. ‘Sources suggest that a FISA warrant was granted to look at the full content of emails and other related documents that may concern US persons.’ It turned out there was nothing amiss. Rather than shut the case down, though, the Obama Justice Department converted it into a national-security investigation.”

That the FISA court reportedly turned down the Obama Justice Department’s initial request, is notable, according to RealClearPolitics  “The FISA court is notoriously solicitous of government requests to conduct national-security surveillance. Not taking no for an answer, the Obama Justice Department evidently returned to the FISA court in October 2016, the critical final weeks of the presidential campaign. This time, the Justice Department submitted a narrowly tailored application that did not mention Trump. The court apparently granted it, authorizing surveillance of some Trump associates. The New York Times has identified – again, based on illegal leaks of classified information – at least three of its targets: Paul Manafort (a former Trump campaign chairman), and two others whose connection to the Trump campaign was loose at best, Manafort’s former political-consulting business partner Roger Stone, and investor Carter Page. The Times ultimately concedes that the government’s FISA investigation may have nothing to do with Trump, the campaign, or alleged Russian efforts to interfere in the U.S. election by hacking e-mail accounts.”

Breitbart quotes Mark Levine  describing the Obama White House’s practices as those of “a police state… and suggested that Obama’s actions, rather than conspiracy theories about alleged Russian interference in the presidential election to help Trump, should be the target of congressional investigation.” Levin called the effort against the Trump campaign a “silent coup” and demanded that it be investigated.

Breitbart and Levin describe an unusual timeline that appears to indicate a concerted effort to surveil the Trump campaign and deflect attention away from scandals affecting the Clinton campaign, including the DNC’s interference in the Democrat primary process to insure a Clinton victory, a move which infuriated DNC staffers who supported rival Bernie Sanders and reportedly prompted them to leak embarrassing facts about Clinton to Wikileaks, leaks which those leading the charge against the Trump campaign now blame on “collusion” between the GOP candidate and the Russians.

A Grabien  review notes “So here we have the president of the United States using America’s most advanced surveillance technology, designed for monitoring foreign actors, against his domestic political opposition.”

In extremely sharp contrast, there has been no investigation called for or commenced in the clear, specific, substantial, lucrative and illegal contacts between the Russian government and Hillary Clinton that compromised the national security of the United States. Notes the Washington Post “The Clinton Foundation accepted millions of dollars from seven foreign governments during Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, including one donation that violated its ethics agreement with the Obama administration, foundation officials disclosed Wednesday. Most of the contributions were possible because of exceptions written into the foundation’s 2008 agreement, which included limits on foreign-government donations. The agreement, reached before Clinton’s nomination amid concerns that countries could use foundation donations to gain favor with a Clinton-led State Department, allowed governments that had previously donated money to continue making contributions at similar levels.”

Following a Clinton State Department approved deal that gave a 20% interest in U.S. uranium interests (uranium is the basic ingredient in nuclear weapons) “Bill Clinton keynoted a seminar staged by Renaissance Capital in Moscow, a reputedly Kremlin-controlled investment bank that promoted this transaction. Renaissance Capital paid Clinton $500,000 for his one-hour speech”
reports National Review . Vast, additional funds from other sources flowed to the Clinton foundation as well.

No investigation has been commenced against the Clintons, and no outrage has been expressed by the media.

Contrast in Charges about Trump and Clinton

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government reviews the contrast in the  treatment of allegations about the Trump and Clinton campaigns. 

The awaited testimony of former FBI Director Comey  produced two major results. The first is that it is clear that there is no evidence of any action by the President that justifies a consideration of impeachment. The second is that Comey had substantial concerns that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch colluded with the Clinton campaign. Little information or clarity was added to the issue of Russian collusion.

By the way, Alan Dershowitz writes: “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.”

That leads to the salient questions:  Was it appropriate to appoint a special counsel to examine allegations about the Trump campaign? Was it appropriate to not appoint a special counsel or otherwise commence an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s profiting from the sale of uranium to Russia?

The Code of Federal Regulations, Title 28, Chapter VI, Part 600.1 states that a special counsel should be appointed:

“when he or she determines that criminal investigation of a person or matter is warranted and—(a) That investigation or prosecution of that person or matter by a United States Attorney’s Office or litigating Division of the Department of Justice would present a conflict of interest for the Department or other extraordinary circumstances; and (b) That under the circumstances, it would be in the public interest to appoint an outside Special Counsel to assume responsibility for the matter.”

The key issue is whether there is sufficient substance in the allegations concerning the charge that the Trump campaign “colluded” with Russia.  Similarly, there must be a description of what actions occurred which would amount to “collusion.” Strangely, there appears to be a total lack of interest in very specific and open information concerning illicit Russian contacts with the Clintons.

According to the law firm of  Burnham & Gorokhov “In most cases, a federal investigation is triggered by the filing of a credible crime report. Sometimes, it may also commence as a result of information law enforcement agents receive from defendants in pending criminal cases who are hoping to receive leniency (i.e., cooperators). In other cases, a federal investigation may result from data gathered by a federal intelligence agency, such as the CIA…”

There has been no evidence presented of Trump campaign officials meeting with Russian officials in anything other than a casual or nonrelated capacity, for example, at general events attended by many in the Washington orbit.  Indeed, even if—and there has been no evidence of this—Trump campaign officials engaged in specific planned meetings with Russian officials, there is no description of how this constituted an actionable violation of the law by the campaign of a candidate for president, or that anything was specifically said or agreed to that constituted a violation of the law, sufficient to warrant an investigation.

Some individuals with significant ties to the Trump Administration and campaign have had previous business dealings with Russian officials. The extent to which this has been stretched to being evidence of “collusion” is extraordinary, symbolized by demands that any records of Russian officials staying at hotels owned by Trump interests be released.

The refusal to present evidence sufficient to commence an investigation, and the hostile reaction to requests for the presentation of such evidence, is worrisome. Notably, in an exchange during a House Intelligence Committee Hearing, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) specifically asked former CIA Director John O. Brennan about the existence of any evidence of Trump campaign wrongdoing.  Brennan testily replied that “I don’t do evidence.” The anger of CIA officials at being asked to produce substance behind the allegations was further highlighted by the threatening comments by Former CIA Official Phil Mudd, who, as reported by Fox News, said Gowdy should “have his ass kicked” for his questioning the lack of evidence.

The unsubstantiated claims that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia has been called  a cover-up for unlawful surveillance the Obama Administration engaged in against the Republican 2016 presidential candidate.

The misappropriation of government assets, including the intelligence services, for partisan political purposes characterized the Obama Administration.

Circa  reports that “The National Security Agency under former President Barack Obama routinely violated American privacy protections while scouring through overseas intercepts and failed to disclose the extent of the problems until the final days before Donald Trump was elected president last fall, according to once top-secret documents that chronicle some of the most serious constitutional abuses to date by the U.S. intelligence community.”

The move was consistent with other Obama Administration abuses, including the use of the IRS to harass political opponents, and the Justice Department surveillance of reporters.

Breitbart quotes Mark Levine describing the Obama White House’s practices as those of “a police state… and suggested that Obama’s actions, rather than conspiracy theories about alleged Russian interference in the presidential election to help Trump, should be the target of congressional investigation.”

The Report concludes tomorrow.