Why We Need Total Transparency Of The Mueller Report

Yesterday Andrew McCarthy posted an article at Fox News that brings up a very interesting (and largely unreported) aspect of the Mueller Report. The article asks the question, “How long has Mueller known there was no Trump-Russia collusion?” That questions is important because it is obvious that the two-year long investigation had an impact on the 2018 mid-term elections–it suppressed the Republican vote. It also cast a cloud over the Trump presidency which I am sure had an impact on the President’s ability to govern. Was that intentional? We will probably never know, but the article states some interesting facts.

The article reminds us:

Now that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has concluded that there was no criminal collusion, the question arises: When during their exhaustive 22-month investigation did prosecutors realize they had no case?

I put it at no later than the end of 2017. I suspect it was in the early autumn.

By the time Mueller was appointed on May 17, 2017, the FBI had been trying unsuccessfully for nearly a year to corroborate the dossier’s allegations. Top bureau officials have conceded to congressional investigators that they were never able to do so – notwithstanding that, by the time of Mueller’s appointment, the Justice Department and FBI had relied on the dossier three times, in what they labeled “VERIFIED” applications, to obtain warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

And make no mistake about what this means. In each and every application, after describing the hacking operations carried out by Russian operatives, the Justice Department asserted:

The FBI believes that the Russian Government’s efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election were being coordinated with Page and perhaps other individuals associated with [Donald Trump’s] campaign.

Yes, the Justice Department continued to make that allegation to the secret federal court for months after Trump was sworn in as president.

Notably, in June 2017, about a month after Mueller took over the investigation, while he was still getting his bearings, the Justice Department and the FBI went on to obtain a fourth FISA warrant. Yet again, they used the same unverified information. Yet again, they withheld from the court the fact that this information was generated by the Clinton campaign; that the Clinton campaign was peddling it to the media at the same time the FBI was providing it to the court; and that Christopher Steele, the informant on whom they were so heavily relying, had misled the bureau about his media contacts.

You know what’s most telling about this fourth FISA warrant? The fact that it was never renewed. The 90-day authorization lapsed in September 2017. When it did, Mueller did not seek to extend it with a new warrant.

This is the key:

This means that by autumn 2017 when it would have been time to go back to the court and reaffirm the dossier’s allegations of a Trump-Russia espionage conspiracy, the major FBI officials involved in placing those unverified allegations before the court had been sidelined. Clearly up to speed after four months of running the investigation, Mueller decided not to renew these allegations.

Once the fourth warrant lapsed in September, investigators made no new claims of a Trump-Russia conspiracy to the court. The collusion case was the Clinton campaign’s Steele dossier, and by autumn 2017, the investigators now in charge of the Trump-Russia investigation were unwilling to stand behind it.

The article concludes:

When Special Counsel Mueller closed his investigation last week, he almost certainly knew for about a year and a half that there was no collusion case. Indeed, the indictments that he did bring appeared to preclude the possibility that the Trump campaign conspired with the Kremlin.

Yet the investigation continued. The Justice Department and the special counsel made no announcement, no interim finding of no collusion, as Trump detractors continued to claim that a sitting American president might be a tool of the Putin regime. For month after month, the president was forced to govern under a cloud of suspicion.

Why?

What impact will releasing the entire bundle of background and other information that went into this investigation have? Would it do anything to heal the divide the media has caused by claiming this investigation would result in impeachment (impeachment will probably still happen, but that has nothing to do with this investigation)? Would it undo an election that was influenced by a lie? I think all information that can be released without harming innocent people or compromising national security should be released. However, I don’t think it will change anything. Any member of the government who is still employed by the government who was involved in the creating of the collusion narrative should be fired. The public will judge the media.

Good News

Yesterday Fox News reported the following:

The caliphate has crumbled, and the final offensive is over. While the official announcement hasn’t yet been made – Fox News has been told that this village, the last ISIS stronghold, is liberated.

It’s the first time since we’ve been here in Syria for five days that the bombs have stopped dropping and the gunfire has disappeared. We have witnessed the end of the caliphate – the brutal empire that once ruled over 8 million people – is gone.

Troops here are now bringing down the black flags of ISIS. The flags no longer fly over the town, instilling fear.

…None of the main surviving ISIS leaders have been caught inside Baghouz. Instead, they left their men to fight alone. It’s thought they prepared ahead for the insurgency.

The scale of the devastation here is incredible. And everyone acknowledges that without U.S. support, it would have taken far longer.

For four-and-a-half years, ISIS held this territory, ruling over it with an iron fist. It was the terrorist group’s heartland – and they were so dug in that the only way to push them back was to flatten whole villages. The devastation here goes on for miles – and craters like this are a reminder of the critical role played by U.S. airpower. Military jets still fly overhead.

SDF fighters are all so grateful to the U.S., not just for their help in the battle, but now for its decision to leave troops here when it’s done. Reports now suggest the figure may be around 1,000 staying.

We need to leave enough of a force to prevent ISIS from reassembling. As the article stated, the leaders fled and left the lower ranking members to fight. That means the leaders are still somewhere, possibly plotting how to take power again. I don’t want to fight the battles for all of the people in the Middle East, but if our assistance means that the bad guys will lose power,  I think we need to be ready to assist.

It’s Hard To Figure Out Who To Believe

The mainstream media lies. We could debate whether they lie or are simply misinformed, but the fact remains that they do not do a good job of informing the public on current events. Today Fox News posted an article that illustrates the problem with discerning the truth.

The article reports:

The Washington Post was among many news organizations to denounce President Trump’s claim of tape being used to silence women during illegal border crossings — but a subsequent New York Times article revealed the president wasn’t making things up after all.

Back on Jan. 25, the Post published an update to a piece headlined, “Trump again mentioned taped-up women at the border. Experts don’t know what he is talking about.” It claimed the president’s “new favorite anecdote” was about tape covering the mouths of migrant women.

Post reporter Katie Mettler wrote that Trump, in pushing for a border wall, was claiming “without evidence that traffickers tie up and silence women with tape” before illegally crossing the border. The Post called Trump’s claims “salacious and graphic,” even providing a timeline of Trump’s taped-women rhetoric.

“Yet human-trafficking experts and advocates for immigrant women have said they are perplexed by this increasingly repeated story in Trump’s repertoire — and are at a loss for where he got his information. It was not from them, they say; in fact, they have no idea what he is talking about,” Mettler wrote.

Not so fast. Last week, The New York Times published a piece headlined, “Yes, there was duct tape: The harrowing journeys of migrants across the border.” The piece – part of a limited-run series on border crossing – reveals that tape is used during border crossings.

The Times report said that women are “tied up” and “bound,” featuring first-hand accounts from several women who experienced the brutality themselves.

“For weeks, President Trump has been criticized for exaggerating the brutality experienced by migrant women on the border as he makes his case for a wall,” the Times wrote. “But there is some truth to the president’s descriptions of the threat of sexual assault and of women who have been duct-taped and bound.”

Building a border wall will not put an end to all of the evil that is happening at the border. However, we do need to acknowledge that there is a lot of evil happening at the border. The situation at our border is a national emergency with caravans of people breaking into our country. It is time Congress stopped ignoring the safety of Americans and of those in the caravans and got behind President Trump to build the wall.

Reykjavik Revisited

All Americans were hoping something good would come out of the meetings between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. It was understood that China was holding a leash on Kim Jong Un and that he was very limited in what he could agree to, but we hoped. Holding the summit in North Vietnam was a stoke of genius–the message it sent was ‘your country can have this kind of prosperity if you behave well.’ Unfortunately the talks ended without an end to North Korea’s nuclear policy and with no relief in sight for the starving, abused people of North Korea.

Fox News posted an article about the talks.

The article reports:

President Trump abruptly walked away from negotiations with North Korea in Vietnam and headed back to Washington on Thursday afternoon, saying the U.S. is unwilling to meet Kim Jong Un’s demand of lifting all sanctions on the rogue regime without first securing its meaningful commitment to denuclearization.

Trump, speaking in Hanoi, Vietnam, told reporters he had asked Kim to do more regarding his intentions to denuclearize, and “he was unprepared to do that.”

“Sometimes you have to walk,” Trump said at a solo press conference following the summit.

Trump specifically said negotiations fell through after the North demanded a full removal of U.S.-led international sanctions in exchange for the shuttering of the North’s Yongbyon nuclear facility. Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters that the United States wasn’t willing to make a deal without the North committing to giving up its secretive nuclear facilities outside Yongbyon, as well as its missile and warheads program.

Removing sanctions without denuclearization would have been reminiscent of the Iran deal, which did not go well. Walking away was reminiscent of Reykjavik, which actually went very well (although it did not appear to go well at the time).

Let’s take a look at Reykjavik for a moment. Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev and American President Ronald Reagan met in Reykjavik on October 11 and 12, 1986. The purpose of the meeting was to explore the possibility of limiting each country’s strategic nuclear weapons to create momentum in ongoing arms-control negotiations. The two leaders failed to come to an agreement because President Reagan insisted on America having the freedom to develop the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI, mockingly known as ‘Star Wars’). SDI was still in the infant stages of its development at that point, but President Reagan wanted the freedom to develop it (and was willing to share the technology with Russia in order to create a situation where nuclear weapons owned by rogue nation states would be useless). Gorbachev refused to allow America to develop SDI, and President Reagan left the summit. The Soviet Union officially dissolved on December 26, 1991. The strong stand taken by President Reagan against the Soviet Union played a part in the end of the Soviet Union.

Hopefully the strong stand taken regarding North Korea’s nuclear program will also result in the dissolution of the tyrannical government currently in control of that country.

Religious Freedom In America?

Fox News posted an article today about the confirmation hearings for Omaha-based lawyer Brian Buescher who is nominated for the U.S. District Court in Nebraska.

The article reports:

Two Democratic senators are scrutinizing a federal judicial nominee over his membership in the Knights of Columbus, drawing a stern rebuke from the Catholic organization.

Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, raised concerns about Omaha-based lawyer Brian Buescher’s membership as part of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s review of his nomination by President Trump to sit on the U.S. District Court in Nebraska, as first reported by the Catholic News Agency.

In a series of questions sent to Buescher, Hirono asked whether his membership in the Knights of Columbus would prevent him from hearing cases “fairly and impartially” and, if confirmed, whether he would end his membership in the Roman Catholic charitable organization.

“The Knights of Columbus has taken a number of extreme positions,” Hirono said in the questionnaire. “For example, it was reportedly one of the top contributors to California’s Proposition 8 campaign to ban same-sex marriage.”

Have we reached the point where taking a Biblical stand on marriage is considered extreme? I guess so.

The article continues:

Harris, in her questions to the nominee, called the Knights of Columbus “an all-male society” and asked the Nebraska lawyer if he was aware that the group was anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage when he joined. The California senator also referenced Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson’s statement that abortion amounted to “the killing of the innocent on a massive scale” and asked Buescher if he agreed with the statement.

Buescher responded that his involvement in the group consisted mostly of charitable work and community events at his local Catholic parish. He indicated he would abide by judicial precedent regarding abortion.

The Knights of Columbus maintained that its positions reflect Catholic teachings, and suggested that the senators’ scrutiny amounts to criticism of the Catholic faith.

Senator Harris wants to run for President. I am sure that in challenging the right of a member of the Knights of Columbus to sit on a U.S. District Court will win her votes on the extreme left. However, I am not sure it will win her votes in mainstream America. This is the equivalent of a religious litmus test of a nominee, which is unconstitutional and illegal. Being a member of a recognized church group should not disqualify a person nominated for a U.S. District Court.

The Challenges In Exercising Oversight Responsibility

Congress is charged with the responsibility of oversight of the Justice Department. It is part of the checks and balances that are supposed to function within our government. Congress is within its bounds when it asks for documents from the Justice Department. However, that does not necessarily mean that the Justice Department is cooperative in the process. Particularly if the Justice Department may have been coloring outside the lines in recent history.

Catherine Herridge posted a story at Fox News today about recent clashes between Congress and the Department of Justice. It is becoming very obvious that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is not a fan of Congressional oversight.

The article reports:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein threatened to “subpoena” emails, phone records and other documents from lawmakers and staff on a Republican-led House committee during a tense meeting earlier this year, according to emails reviewed by Fox News documenting the encounter and reflecting what aides described as a “personal attack.”

The emails memorialized a January 2018 closed-door meeting involving senior FBI and Justice Department officials as well as members of the House Intelligence Committee. The account claimed Rosenstein threatened to turn the tables on the committee’s inquiries regarding the Russia probe. 

“The DAG [Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein] criticized the Committee for sending our requests in writing and was further critical of the Committee’s request to have DOJ/FBI do the same when responding,” the committee’s then-senior counsel for counterterrorism Kash Patel wrote to the House Office of General Counsel. “Going so far as to say that if the Committee likes being litigators, then ‘we [DOJ] too [are] litigators, and we will subpoena your records and your emails,’ referring to HPSCI [House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence] and Congress overall.”

A second House committee staffer at the meeting backed up Patel’s account, writing: “Let me just add that watching the Deputy Attorney General launch a sustained personal attack against a congressional staffer in retaliation for vigorous oversight was astonishing and disheartening. … Also, having the nation’s #1 (for these matters) law enforcement officer threaten to ‘subpoena your calls and emails’ was downright chilling.”

This Thursday we will finally see the Inspector General’s report. It will be interesting to see if Rob Rosenstein is mentioned in this report.

A Happy Ending To An Awful Story

Fox News is reporting today that Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been released from prison in Iran and has been reunited with his family. The Pastor had been in prison for three years on charges of apostasy, which is punishable by death in Iran. The charges were lowered to evangelizing to Muslims, which carries a three-year sentence, and he was released.

The article reports:

…He was released with time served, according to the American Center for Law and Justice, a Washington-based watchdog group that had been campaigning for the pastor’s release.

“Today our sources in Iran reported that Pastor Youcef was acquitted of apostasy and released from prison. After languishing in prison for almost three years, he has been reunited with his family,” Jordan Sekulow, executive director of ACLJ said in a statement to FoxNews.com.

“While we are working on confirming the exact details of his release, some sources report that the court alternatively convicted Pastor Youcef of evangelizing to Muslims, sentencing him to three years and granting him time served.  Pastor Youcef’s story is an example of how the world can join together to ensure that justice is served and freedom preserved.”

I am glad that the Pastor has been released and is home with his family, but we need to look at the overall situation here. Iran is a country governed by Sharia Law. There is no freedom of religion–sharing any faith other than Islam will result in a jail sentence or worse if you are caught. This is a part of Sharia Law. Please keep that in mind as you hear Muslims in America attempt to introduce Sharia Law into American courts.

The article further reminds us:

“While we praise the release of Pastor Youcef, we must recognize that Iran felt obligated to save face among its people and continue its pattern of suppressing religious freedom with intimidation tactics,” Tiffany Barrans, a legal director for ACLJ said to FoxNews.com.

“International attention to this matter saved this man’s life, but we must not forget the human right of freedom of religion includes the right to freedom of expression.”

As Americans, we need to treasure our freedom and work to protect the freedom of people like Pastor Youcef.

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