Still Not Playing By The Rules Of Evidence

One of the aspects of justice in America is the idea that the evidence against the defendant has to be revealed to the defense so that they can prepare their case. That is part of the fairness that has been injected into the American justice system. Every American is entitled to have access to the evidence against him before he is tried for a crime. Unfortunately the Democrats have chosen not to honor this principle.

The Gateway Pundit posted an article today about the latest attempt by Congressional Democrats to deny basic civil rights to President Trump. Keep in mind that if the President can be denied his civil rights, any American can also be denied those rights.

The article reports:

Rep. Adam B. Schiff and his fellow colleagues on the House impeachment management team spent nearly 24 hours last week repeatedly hyping the testimony from 17 witnesses interviewed during the House’s impeachment inquiry.

But they seem to have forgotten all about the testimony from an 18th witness.

Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community’s inspector general, delivered 179-pages worth of testimony before House investigators. Atkinson, it turns out, has direct knowledge of the origins of a complaint from a whistleblower that kicked off the whole impeachment probe.

While Schiff and his colleagues talk openly about the testimony of the 17 witnesses, members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence who interviewed Atkinson are not permitted to talk about the IG’s testimony.

But Republicans on that committee say his testimony should see the light of day.

“The reason it hasn’t been released is it’s not helpful to Adam Schiff. It is not helpful to the whistleblower,” said Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX). And Ratcliffe knows: he is among the lawmakers who attended the October interview of Atkinson. “It raises credibility issues about both of them.”

Schiff, Ratcliffe said, “is trying to bury that transcript.”

Because Atkinson’s testimony has been deemed classified, only members of the House intelligence committee have seen it, and President Trump’s legal team has not been allowed to view the transcript.

It is denied a copy.

Atkinson’s interview before House lawmakers covered the origins of the whistleblower complaint that led to the two articles of impeachment, the Washington Times reported. “Mr. Trump’s supporters charge that the whistleblower was part of a scheme to take down the president and that the complaint was coordinated by Mr. Schiff, chairman of the intelligence committee and the lead House impeachment manager prosecuting the case.”

In a perfect world, the impeachment of President Trump would be tossed out because the President’s civil rights have been violated repeatedly. It will be interesting to see if the lack of this piece of evidence is mentioned by the President’s defense team this week.

When You Poke The Bear

There were two articles posted at The Federalist yesterday (here and here) about the current circus in the House of Representatives. I suspect this is not going exactly the way the Democrats had intended.

The first article notes:

In tense testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) on Friday, the inspector general for federal spy agencies refused to disclose why his office backdated secret changes to key whistleblower forms and rules in the wake of an anti-Trump whistleblower complaint filed in August, sources told The Federalist.

As The Federalist reported and the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) confirmed, the spy watchdog secretly changed its whistleblower forms and internal rules in September to eliminate a requirement that whistleblowers provide first-hand evidence to support any allegations of wrongdoing. In a press release last week, the ICIG confessed that it changed its rules in response to an anti-Trump complaint filed on August 12. That complaint, which was declassified and released by President Donald Trump in September, was based entirely on second-hand information, much of which was shown to be false following the declassification and release of a telephone conversation between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The first article concludes:

Several top lawmakers in the Senate raised similar concerns about Atkinson’s behavior in a separate letter.

“Why did the IC IG initially require first-hand information in its May 2018 disclosure form?” the senators asked. “Why did the IC IG remove the requirement for first-hand information?”

Atkinson has not answered their questions, either, raising questions that his behavior following his receipt of the anti-Trump complaint might not be completely above board. Atkinson ignored legal guidance from both the director of national intelligence and the Department of Justice that the anti-Trump complaint was statutorily deficient and forwarded it to HPSCI even though it did not meet the legal definition of an “urgent concern” that is required to be given to Congress.

The embattled ICIG also admitted on Friday that the anti-Trump complainant lied on his whistleblower complaint form by concealing the complainant’s previous secret interactions with House Democratic staff prior to submitting the complaint. Atkinson never even bothered investigating potential coordination between the complainant, whom DOJ said showed evidence of partisan political bias, and House Democrats prior to the filing of the anti-Trump complaint.

The second article is more of a history of the entire Ukraine scandal. It mentions the fact that there are genuine concerns about Ukraine interference in the 2016 American presidential election.

The second article also suggests some motivation behind this current circus:

The Democrats’ case for impeachment is hopeless, but their motivation is simple. They whipped up their base into such a delusional frenzy during the “Russia investigation,” they have to keep the narrative going at all costs. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi faces a rebellion from her caucus if she doesn’t go along with it.

There may be a more serious motivation behind this:

But there’s a group of intelligence bureaucrats at work here, and their motivation is a bit different. An immediate motive may be to prevent an investigation into how the Russia probe started. This includes an investigation into how a document the Hillary Clinton campaign created — using anonymous Russians and a British national tied to Russia — was used by our intelligence agencies to investigate Trump.

The other possible motivation is more complex. During the “Russia investigation,” many in the intelligence agencies worked to subvert Trump’s foreign policy and remove Trump, through spying, a large series of leaks, and articles planted with friendly outlets. Trump’s campaign was even spied on before the election, via something called the “two-hop rule,” once a secret court granted a warrant to spy on Trump campaign officials such as Carter Page.

Because of this, the White House moved to cut off the broader “intelligence community” — inexorably tied to America’s foreign policy establishment that Trump ran against — from information the White House knew many in the intelligence agencies would use to selectively leak.

That could mean some of what’s going on today, at least from the CIA angle, is intelligence bureaucrats “striking back” because they lost their access to diplomatic communications, a coveted source of the intelligence community’s power. But even the Obama administration liked to hide diplomatic calls from the broader intelligence community, which should tell us something about that bureaucracy.

The second article includes the following statement:

In other words, the real big takeaway here is that we have a problem with our Washington bureaucracy, including our intelligence agencies, which have routinely crossed the line into policymaking. How much of the impeachment mess is due to CIA bureaucrats being incensed that Trump, who is elected, would dare to question military aid to Ukraine, and would dare to curtail their eavesdropping on diplomacy?

What we see here is an illustration of the reason why we need to drain the swamp.