The Question That Has Gotten Lost In The Politics

The Mueller Report is out. It is all over the news. The mainstream media is trying to find something in it that they can actually use to discredit President Trump; the Democrats in Congress are trying to find something in it that they can use to impeach President Trump. Unfortunately, the circus continues–the main event has moved on, but the clowns remain.

Yesterday, Byron York posted an article at The Washington Examiner that reminds us what the Mueller investigation was supposed to be about.

The article notes:

…At its heart, the Trump-Russia probe was about one question: Did the Trump campaign conspire, coordinate, or collude with Russia to influence the 2016 election? Mueller has concluded that did not happen.

…And now Mueller has determined there was no collusion. Not that there was no criminal collusion. Or no prove-beyond-a-reasonable-doubt collusion. Just no collusion. Mueller’s report says it over and over and over again. Here are seven examples:

1. “The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

2. “The investigation examined whether [contacts between Russia and Trump figures] involved or resulted in coordination or a conspiracy with the Trump Campaign and Russia, including with respect to Russia providing assistance to the Campaign in exchange for any sort of favorable treatment in the future. Based on the available information, the investigation did not establish such coordination.”

3. “The investigation did not establish that [Carter] Page coordinated with the Russian government in its efforts to interfere with the 2016 election.”

4. “The Office did not identify evidence in those [contacts between Russians and people around Trump after the GOP convention] of coordination between the Campaign and the Russian government.”

5. “The Office did not identify evidence of a connection between Manafort’s sharing polling data and Russia’s interference in the election … [and] the investigation did not establish that Manafort otherwise coordinated with the Russian government on its election-interference efforts.”

6. “The investigation did not establish that these [contacts between Russians and people around Trump during the transition] reflected or constituted coordination between the Trump Campaign and Russia in its election interference activities.”

7. “The investigation did not identify evidence that any U.S. persons conspired or coordinated with the [Russian disinformation campaign].”

That is definitive. It is not kinda, sorta. It is definitive. As far as Mueller’s conclusions are concerned — and remember, he was long considered the gold standard of Trump investigations — there was no collusion.

Other than dealing with the abuse of power by some former high officials in our government, can we please move on now.

Objectivity From An Unexpected Source

Paul Farhi posted an article yesterday at The Washington Post about the media’s role in the Mueller investigation.

The article reports:

After more than two years of intense reporting and endless talking-head speculation about possible collusion between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian agents in 2016, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III put a huge spike in all of it on Sunday. Attorney General William P. Barr relayed Mueller’s key findings in a four-page summary of the 22-month investigation: The evidence was insufficient to conclude that Trump or his associates conspired with Russians to interfere in the campaign.

Barr’s announcement was a thunderclap to mainstream news outlets and the cadre of mostly liberal-leaning commentators who have spent months emphasizing the possible-collusion narrative in opinion columns and cable TV panel discussions.

“Nobody wants to hear this, but news that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller is headed home without issuing new charges is a death-blow for the reputation of the American news media,” Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi wrote in a column published Saturday, a day before Barr nailed the collusion coffin shut. He added: “Nothing Trump is accused of from now on by the press will be believed by huge chunks of the population.”

That’s bad enough, but there is another noteworthy observation in the article:

Other news outlets defended their reporting as well, noting that much of it is undisputed and has led to indictments and guilty pleas by figures associated with Trump’s campaign.

“I’m comfortable with our coverage,” said Dean Baquet, the New York Times’s top editor. “It is never our job to determine illegality, but to expose the actions of people in power. And that’s what we and others have done and will continue to do.”

He noted that Barr’s letter summarizing Mueller’s findings points out that the actions that warranted an obstruction inquiry were “the subject of public reporting” — a fact “that’s to the credit of the media.”

In fact, revelations by the Times and The Washington Post about contacts between Russian agents and Trump’s campaign advisers in 2016 helped prompt the inquiry that the special counsel took over in May 2017. The two newspapers shared a Pulitzer Prize for their reporting on the issue that year.

Although the mainstream media tried to make this Watergate, it wasn’t, and I suspect they have little or no intention of admitting their misreporting of major aspects of the story. First of all, where was the reporting of the abuse of power by the Obama administration in surveillance of an opposition party political campaign? Second, where was the commentary on inflammatory statements by former intelligence officials that later proved to be wrong? Third, where was the commentary on the accomplishments of the Trump administration in trade, taxes, and economic policy? If you are still watching the mainstream media and believing what they say, you will continue to be misinformed and mislead.

The Tactics Are Definitely Over The Top

The internet is buzzing today with the arrest of Roger Stone, someone who evidently had contacts with the Trump campaign at various points. Nothing he did in that context was illegal, but it seems that when questioned by Congress he did not tell the entire truth. Funny, other people who have recently lied to Congress are still walking around free.

The Washington Examiner posted an article today about Roger Stone’s arrest.

The article reports:

FBI agents arrested longtime Trump associate Roger Stone in a paramilitary-style raid at his home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., early Friday morning. A CNN producer on the scene said the arrest involved “heavy weaponry.” Stone was taken into custody without incident.

The arrest followed action by a grand jury in Washington, D.C., under Trump-Russia special counsel Robert Mueller. On Thursday, the grand jury indicted Stone on seven counts of lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstructing a congressional investigation.

Roger Stone is 66 years old. The paramilitary-style raid was an abuse of power and was dangerous. It was also a waste of money. I have no doubt they could have simply waited until after breakfast, knocked on the man’s door, and taken him into custody. This is another example of the over-the-top tactics used by Robert Mueller.

The article goes on to explain what Roger Stone is charged with. Basically it is process crimes connected to the Special Counsel’s witch hunt. I suspect his real crime was supporting President Trump.

The article continues:

All the counts stem from Stone’s Sept. 26, 2017, interview with the House Intelligence Committee investigating Russia’s attempt to influence the 2016 election and the response by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Stone is not charged with lying to or attempting to obstruct the Mueller investigation.

The special counsel’s charges involve Stone’s House testimony about WikiLeaks and its release of hacked material from the Democratic National Committee and, later, from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta during the 2016 campaign. The indictment does not say Stone communicated with Wikileaks head Julian Assange. Rather, it says Stone lied about his attempts to learn Assange’s intentions through two intermediaries: journalist and provocateur Jerome Corsi and radio host Randy Credico.

Meanwhile, crimes involving lying to a FISA court go unpunished, misuse of government agencies to spy on Americans goes unnoticed, and destruction of evidence that was subpoenaed goes unpunished.

Unless the new Attorney General is sworn in quickly and deals with the unequal justice currently being practiced in America, we will have become a banana republic.

Is This What The Voters Wanted?

Yesterday The Daily Wire reported a statement from New York Attorney Gen.-elect Letitia James. The statement is troubling on many levels.

The article reports:

New York Attorney Gen.-elect Letitia James is buttressing President Trump’s claims that there is a “witch hunt” pursuing him; she told NBC News that she intends to investigate not only the president, but also his family and “anyone” in his circle who may have violated the law.

James blustered, “We will use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well,” adding, “We want to investigate anyone in his orbit who has, in fact, violated the law.”

The article also notes:

When she campaigned for attorney general, James stated that she supported legislation allowing prosecutors to charge individuals who received a presidential pardon. Because of the double jeopardy clause, if an individual receives pardons for crimes at the federal level, they cannot be tried at the state level. James stated:

After careful deliberation, I am urging the state legislature to swiftly pass legislation which safeguards against President Trump’s attacks on the rule of law in our country. The pending legislation closes a loophole in our state law that effectively allows the president to pardon individuals for crimes committed in New York State. Given President Trump’s recent use of the presidential pardon in a case adjudicated in New York State and his claim that he can pardon himself as he pleases, it’s clear that we must act now. We can protect New Yorkers from double jeopardy prosecutions without giving away our state’s ability to deliver justice for all.

I wonder if this lady has actually read her job description.

According to the National Association of Attorneys General:

As the chief legal officer of the states, commonwealths and territories of the United States, the attorneys general serve as counselors to their legislatures and state agencies and also as the “People’s Lawyer” for all citizens. Originating in the mid-13th century in the office of England’s “King’s Attorney,” the office had become, by the American Revolution, one of advisor to the Crown and to government agencies.

While varying from one jurisdiction to the next due to statutory and constitutional mandates, typical powers of the attorneys general include the authority to issue formal opinions to state agencies; act as public advocates in areas such as child support enforcement, consumer protections, antitrust and utility regulation; propose legislation; enforce federal and state environmental laws; represent the state and state agencies before the state and federal courts; handle criminal appeals and serious statewide criminal prosecutions; institute civil suits on behalf of the state; represent the public’s interests in charitable trust and solicitations; and operate victim compensation programs.

What New York Attorney Gen.-elect Letitia James plans to do is highly unethical. Using one’s public office to personally go after a person or family you disagree with or don’t like is a blatant abuse of power.  She deserves to be immediately censured for her statements if not impeached.

Ending An Illegal Practice

Heritage.org posted an article today about the ending of Operation Choke Point. Operation Choke Point was the brainchild of the Obama Administration that was used to isolate financially businesses the administration did not approve of.

The article reports:

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.), who helped lead a multi-year effort to shut the program down, highlighted some of theses newest findings and pointed out that stopping Operation Choke Point is not a partisan issue.

Luetkemeyer’s legislation to prevent a redo of Choke Point – The Financial Institution Customer Protection Act of 2017 – overwhelmingly passed the House, with only two nay votes. Operation Choke Point was an egregious affront to the rule of law, so it is good to see that so many lawmakers want to prevent a repeat.

For those unfamiliar, Choke Point consisted of bureaucrats in several independent federal agencies taking it upon themselves to shut legal businesses – such as payday lenders and firearms dealers – out of the banking system. Given the nature of the U.S. regulatory framework, this operation was easy to pull off.

The Operation was carried out by the people in the F.D.I.C. who are supposed to be engaged in insuring that Americans who have placed money in American banks will not be bankrupted by a financial crisis.

The article explains:

Officials at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), for instance, simply had to inform the banks they were overseeing that the government considered certain types of their customers “high risk.” The mere implication of a threat was enough to pressure banks into closing accounts, because no U.S. bank wants anything to do with extra audits or investigations from their regulator, much less additional operating restrictions or civil and criminal charges.

Banks are incredibly sensitive to any type of pressure from federal regulators, and they know that the regulators have enormous discretion.

The article concludes:

It is now clear that these unelected government officials set out to harm law-abiding citizens. Yet many of the government officials named in these documents are still employed by the same government agency. Most of these folks work at the FDIC, and one has even moved up from a regional director position to FDIC Ombudsman.

At the very least, the Trump administration owes the public a full investigation into Operation Choke Point and an explanation for why many of the people involved in this abuse of power are still working for the government.

Operation Choke Point was mainly directed at banks dealing with payday lenders or any business related to gun sales. It was obviously a government shakedown of banks doing business with legal businesses. Hopefully the legislation passed to prevent this from happening again will be successful. Meanwhile, there are people in government who need to be held accountable.

 

A Massive Train Wreck Blocked The Street

Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial yesterday about the two investigations that are currently going on involving President Trump. The editorial reminds us that as the media continues to breathlessly report of the Trump-Russia Collusion Scandal, there is a definite lack of actual evidence to report. Meanwhile there seems to be a lot of evidence showing that the FBI and DOJ overstepped their bounds and acted in a very partisan manner during and after the 2016 presidential campaign. However, that evidence is being purposely ignored.

The editorial cites an interesting story that illustrates the media’s focus:

National Review reporter John Fund relates an interesting story. He was waiting to go on the air and struck up a conversation with another prominent reporter in the network’s green room.

Why, he asked, aren’t reporters actively investigating the suspicious activities at the Justice Department and the FBI regarding the Trump/Russia and Hillary/email investigations?

Fund says the reporter “bluntly told me ‘There’s only room for one narrative on all this. And it’s all about Trump.’ “

You might think that reporters are chasing facts wherever they might lead, and “speaking truth to power,” especially when that power involves the CIA, FBI and Justice Department.

Instead, it’s all about the “narrative.”

The editorial reminds us of the solid results of the investigation that is getting results:

While Mueller has turned up no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, this “counternarrative” has led to: former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe fired for lying to investigators; Peter Strzok and Lisa Page booted off Mueller’s team for virulently anti-Trump texts; Deputy Assistant AG Bruce Ohr demoted after contacts with a Trump oppo-research firm came to light; the quitting of former Deputy Assistant AG David Laufman, who played a key role in both the Russia and Clinton email investigations; and FBI general counsel James Baker reassigned after evidence emerged that he’d been in contact with leftist reporter David Corn.

In other words, while the Mueller investigation sputters along, the evidence of political abuse at the FBI and Justice is piling up.

This “counternarrative” also has uncovered the fact that the FBI had a spy in the Trump campaign, and that the FBI has not been entirely forthcoming about how the Trump investigation got started, or when.

The editorial concludes:

It reminds us of the story about the cub reporter who is sent to cover a routine meeting of the local town council. The reporter later returns to the newsroom without a story. When the editor asks why there’s no story, the reporter responds: “I couldn’t get to the government building because a massive train wreck blocked the street.”

A good reporter, or at least one who isn’t hopelessly biased, would be able to see that the real story isn’t the go-nowhere Mueller investigation, but the more troubling story of abuse of power by Obama administration officials to protect Hillary Clinton and then derail the Trump presidency.

The mainstream media is going to look very foolish when the only people reporting on the train wreck are the alternative media.

Reining In An Out Of Control Government

Civil asset forfeiture has become a problem in America in recent years. I have written about a number of cases of forfeiture in recent years. Two of these stories are here and hereHot Air posted an article today citing what Florida has decided to do about this government abuse of power.

The article at Hot Air reports:

Some great news in asset forfeiture reform is coming out of Florida. S.B. 1044, approved by the legislature earlier in the month, was signed into law today by Gov. Rick Scott.

The big deal with this particular reform is that, in most cases, Florida police will actually have to arrest and charge a person with a crime before attempting to seize and keep their money and property under the state’s asset forfeiture laws. One of the major ways asset forfeiture gets abused is that it is frequently a “civil”, not criminal, process where police and prosecutors are able to take property without even charging somebody with a crime, let alone convicting them. This is how police are, for example, able to snatch cash from cars they’ve pulled over and claim they suspect the money was going to be used for drug trafficking without actually finding any drugs.

The civil asset forfeiture law was put into effect to allow municipalities to sell off the assets of criminals and use the money for municipal purposes. In order to trace drug money, a law was passed that any cash deposit of $10,000 or more had to be documented by the bank involved. This law was abused and used against small businesses that generally made cash deposits of less than $10,000. They were accused of making the small deposits to avoid the law, and their bank accounts were seized. A number of small businesses were forced out of business by these actions. Aside from the fact that that this is simply government overreach, it is also a violation of the Sixth Amendment.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Montana and New Mexico have already passed laws to curb the abuse of civil asset forfeiture laws. We need this trend to continue.