Call It On—Or Call It Off?

By | 2017-09-14T13:10:58+00:00 September 11th, 2017|
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Will America, nine months into Donald Trump’s unexpected presidency, continue to chase its tail while a nuclear Korea looms, tax and immigration reform are pending, and the country is torn apart by identity politics—or will it return to sanity?

Presumably, special investigator Robert Mueller is focused mainly on whether former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort, or ex-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, or members of the Trump family, or Trump himself colluded with agents of the Russian government.

Allegedly, either individually or in combination, they racketeered for money or business opportunities or for inflated honoraria—in exchange for abetting Russia’s efforts to hack information from the Clinton campaign affiliates that would vault Donald Trump to the White House.

Ostensibly, Mueller would be looking for suspicious bank deposits, sudden increases in cash spending, or any of the other tell-tale signs of quid pro quo profiteering. By extension, he would be pursuing leads that might show how such efforts actually altered the election, in a way that Barack Obama on the eve of the election—and a purportedly assured Clinton victory—suggested was impossible.

So far little seems to have turned up in nearly a year of intensive press and political probing—other perhaps than the lurid Christopher Steele/Fusion GPS file accusing Trump of criminal conspiracies along with a host of sexual perversions. But that dossier apparently was paid for by opposition candidates and even may have been purchased by the FBI. Its preposterousness and weird origins have turned attention back to the authors and financiers of this calibrated smear document.

As Mueller continues this inquiries (if the history of special counsels and investigators is any indication, the time, money, and effort expended is inversely related to the number of successful convictions), several investigations are underway on the other side of the aisle.

Unmasking the Unmaskers
The House Intelligence Committee at some point may turn over its findings to the attorney general to ascertain whether John Brennan, Samantha Power, Susan Rice, and other high Obama intelligence, cabinet, and diplomatic officials were requesting covert intelligence findings on American citizens, having their names unmasked, and then leaking them to pet reporters. The Obama team’s activity apparently spiked during the 2015-2016 campaign season and may well have been directed at perceived political opponents. If ­­so, the leaking likely constituted criminal activity—and would represent a violation of government trust not seen in decades. The committee may also finally take a careful look at the Steele file to ask what exactly was the relationship between this political hit job and James Comey’s FBI—and those implications are every bit as serious as the unmasking mess.

Meanwhile, the FBI and Capitol police are scrutinizing former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and her former information technology team, headed by Imran Awan and various members of his family. Imran, et. al., allegedly engaged in bank and procurement fraud, and may have been peddling classified government information.

But the greater interest is why Wasserman Schultz, to the bitter end, protected Awan—at one point nearly threatening investigators while demanding the return (without examination) of his accidently/on purpose “lost” computer that apparently contained classified information. Wasserman Schultz, remember, de facto denied the FBI initial access to the DNC server and computer hard drives (Comey’s testimony on the FBI’s initial role with the DNC is somewhat incoherent on this score) when it was learned that emails were hacked and/or leaked to Wikileaks, instead preferring to rely on a private cyber-security firm.

Stranger still, the FBI relied on such private sources, at least in part, to issue a finding that the Russians had hacked the DNC computers in order to leak the contents—an accusation hotly denied by Julian Assange of Wikileaks, the recipient of the leaked emails. Belatedly, Awan was fired by the various Democratic congressional members who used his services; yet Wasserman Schultz shielded Awan until his arrest in July. The investigation and pending prosecution of the Awans, in Churchillian terms, remain a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma—although an explosive one all the same.

Comey’s Evasions
Then we have the behavior of Comey, close friend of Robert Mueller. During and after his tenure at the head of the FBI, Comey has acted unprofessionally and perhaps criminally. We know the following so far: Comey’s FBI was not truthful when it asserted there was no electronic trail or communications at the FBI concerning the stealthy June 2016 meeting between Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton on a Phoenix airport tarmac.

Comey was not forthcoming about the Steele smear file.

He was not truthful when he said that he decided not to suggest prosecution of Hillary Clinton on security violations and other possible crimes based on his thorough investigation. We know now Comey offered that assessment before he had even interviewed Clinton or her subordinates involved in the email fiasco.

Comey was likely not truthful when he repeatedly reassured President Trump that he was not the subject of an ongoing FBI investigation while simultaneously suggesting to the public that the FBI would not disclose the status of its case—which in effect suggested that Trump was in fact the subject of a probe.

Comey acted unethically if not illegally when he took his personal notes from his meeting with Trump—likely categorized as government property—and leaked them via third parties to news organizations for the expressed purpose, as he himself put it, of “massaging the news” and thus forcing the appointment of a special investigator. The subsequent appointee Robert Mueller was a close acquaintance of Comey himself.

Mueller’s problem is that his friend Comey offers as many potentially unethical and unlawful lines of investigations as those of Manafort and Flynn, who are supposed to be his targets.

Open Questions About Hillary’s Emails
The Hillary Clinton email scandal, we know now, was never fully investigated, probably because the Obama Justice Department did not wish to imperil her chances to be elected as Obama’s successor.

As a result, the Justice Department quite improperly fobbed off to Comey the veritable tasks of being investigator, prosecutor, judge, and jury in ascertaining Clinton’s culpability—a task that an exasperated Comey apparently felt was doomed to failure. He no doubt rightly assumed that any further investigations that did not confirm a predetermined result desired by the Obama Justice Department would simply be ignored.

That is a pity. Clinton, in fact, engaged in behavior that would have sent most any other low-ranking American official to jail: using an unauthorized and unsecured server to transmit not just government matters, but classified information; lying repeatedly about her shenanigans; destroying thousands of emails under investigation on the premise that she alone had determined which were private and which not; and then “bleaching” the electronic records of such correspondence to ensure that the FBI could not check the veracity of her findings.

An outside investigator, without working for an attorney general vested in Clinton’s exemption, might have found culpability for a number of possible felonies. If Comey could rely on outsourced initial investigations into the leaks of computers at the DNC, perhaps he could have likewise contracted out the Clinton email investigations to a similarly respected cyber-security firm.

The Best Defense
In similar fashion, no government entity has investigated thoroughly the documented quid pro quo cash nexus between Hillary Clinton, her husband, Bill, and their family’s foundation. Russian colluding interests, inordinate honoraria to Bill Clinton, huge donations to the foundation, eerie government decisions such as approving sales of sizable American holdings of uranium to Russian interests—all paint a picture of low-rent grifting by the Clinton family, whose foundation was focused on offering a cash crutch for hangers-on to prep for the 2016 campaign.

What was strange about the Democratic hysteria over the Russian collusion yarn was that the Democrats apparently failed to appreciate their own, far-greater liabilities. Although the charge of Russian collusion seemed to have either little basis in fact, or, if there were some disturbing conflicts of interests, they did not seem to affect the 2016 election, it did not prevent Democrats from creating a climate of investigatory hysteria.

More specifically, under the Obama administration there was a chronic and veritable ends-justifying-the-mean suspension of normal ethical behavior, a climate intensified by Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, drawing as it did on the familiar fast-and-loose-with-the-truth culture of Clinton political operatives.

Republicans will perhaps learn that the most effective defense against the Russian collusion mania is a much greater investigatory offensive into the unethical behavior of the Clinton and Obama machines.

Only then will the country learn whether the progressive investigatory apparatus will keep calling it on—or strike a deal and finally call it off.

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About the Author:

Victor Davis Hanson
Victor Davis Hanson is an American military historian, columnist, former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He was a professor of classics at California State University, Fresno, and is currently the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush. Hanson is also a farmer (growing raisin grapes on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author most recently of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict was Fought and Won (Basic Books).