Columnist and former federal prosecutor, Andrew C. McCarthy joined American Greatness publisher, Chris Buskirk, and contributing editor, Seth Leibsohn, to discuss his recent work on the many scandals that seem to be bubbling up around the Democrats and the Clintons over Uranium One and the question of the infamous Steele/Fusion GPS Russian dossier on President Trump. You can listen to their conversation below or read the transcript that follows.
Chris Buskirk: I am Chris Buskirk. He’s Seth Leibsohn. Welcome back to the Seth and Chris Show. We are joined by Andrew C. McCarthy. He is a columnist at National Review. Former federal prosector. Andy, how are you?
Andrew McCarthy: I’m doing great, gents. How are you?
Chris Buskirk: Doing really well. Doing really well. You want to know something? You want to know why the Seth and Chris Show has the finest listeners on the planet? You will not get this, but when I tell you, you’re going to agree.
Andrew McCarthy: It’s got to be the charm of the hosts, I would assume.
Chris Buskirk: That’s what attracts them. That’s what attracts them for sure, but-
Seth Leibsohn: That’s how we bring them in.
Chris Buskirk: Right. That’s how we bring them in.
Seth Leibsohn: This is how they keep us.
Chris Buskirk: This is how they keep us. Here’s the evidence of how they’re making The Seth and Chris Show great again. One of our listeners sent us today, because they knew we would love us, they sent us a copy of the February 19th, 1988, issue of a little magazine you may have heard of called National Review. The cover story is, Kemp Gets Tough, written by Rick Brookhiser, and we were just going through it, and this is a trip down memory lane. I think you would appreciate this, Andy.
If you open up the magazine, at the front of the book there’s the page on the left where you’re got the table of contents. On the right there’s a full-page ad. Full-page ad provided by … How junk bonds help provide 50,000 people with a living room and 20,000 people with a living. Any idea what firm might have bought that ad?
Seth Leibsohn: Were you involved in that prosecution, by the way, Andy?
Andrew McCarthy: No. I was busy on a couple of other things at the time.
Chris Buskirk: By the way, it’s not the only full-page ad in this particular issue that Drexel Burnham had. There’s one further back in the book, but there’s lots of great stuff in here. There’s a little short piece about Stanford, about protesters there trying to get rid of their Western Civilization course. Do you have any idea how that might have turned out?
Exactly. 30 years later it’s laughable. Of course they got rid of it.
Seth Leibsohn: Andy, your magazine … I don’t know if you know this … the magazine at which you are affiliated now, your magazine used to have personal ads.
Andrew McCarthy: This is all very … I-
Seth Leibsohn: Let me read you one. Would you like to hear one?
Andrew McCarthy: Yeah, yeah.
Seth Leibsohn: Upstate-
Andrew McCarthy: Well, I suppose it depends on the nature of it.
Seth Leibsohn: We can do it on the radio. It’s National Review, so it’s rated PG-13. Upstate New York engineer, dark and attractive, moral interests, drawing and painting, outdoors, classical music, Europe, seeks conservative Midwestern-type female 25-35. Write to Box 69, Wrexford New York 12-4-14-8.
Chris Buskirk: It’s not the only one like that.
Seth Leibsohn: No, no. There’s like 20 of them.
Andrew McCarthy: I guess I should have known that. At the time I think I was a single white male.
Chris Buskirk: All you had to do is place a little ad in the back of NR and wait for the cards and letters to come pouring it.
Andrew McCarthy: It’s very timely to hear all this because I was actually in New York last night for the annual William F. Buckley, Jr. Dinner where we honored Tom Wolfe with the annual honor that’s given in Buckley’s name, and all the old National Review folks are there, and we were regaled with stories, especially stories about Wolfe and Buckley, who had a very interesting relationship, so it’s interesting that we’re having this discussion now. [crosstalk 00:03:45]
Chris Buskirk: You don’t know how interesting.
Seth Leibsohn: You don’t know where you walked into here, Andy. You have now opened up … We need you for four more hours now.
Chris Buskirk: You have no idea. I have been on a Tom Wolfe jag for like the past six months. I’ve read almost everything he’s written just this year, some of it for the second time, but we’ve been talking about it here and there on the show, and so now you’ve gone onto one of these other things that we can’t get off of, which is Tom Wolfe. What was the relationship between Buckley and Wolfe?
Andrew McCarthy: They knew each other for decades. Buckley considered Wolfe to be the singular man of letters in the United States, and he appeared on “Firing Line” I think four or five times over the years in connection with various of his books, although I think, as Chris Buckley, who introduced Tom Wolfe last night pointed out, he thought the easiest and favorite of the Wolfe titles for Bill was of course The Right Stuff, but it was really … I had had the honor of meeting Mr. Wolfe a couple of times over the years, and it was really a thrill to see it last night.
Chris Buskirk: It’s an amazing list of phrases and words Tom Wolfe has introduced into the English language. I don’t know is they got into that last night.
Andrew McCarthy: Yes. Even good old boy.
Chris Buskirk: Good old boy, based on an old Esquire piece on, who was it, Jimmy Johnson?
Seth Leibsohn: Junior Johnson.
Chris Buskirk: Junior Johnson. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Maw mawing. There’s so many. It’s amazing. It’s interesting. We were flipping through this old National Review. There’s an ad in there for the American Spectator, and they show a picture of a late ’80s American Spectator. You want to know who was writing the lead story for the Spectator? Tom Wolfe.
Andrew McCarthy: Sure. Oh, really.
Chris Buskirk: Yes.
Andrew McCarthy: The story.
Chris Buskirk: Brit Hume had the second story, by the way. Isn’t that interesting in 1988.
Andrew McCarthy: Wow. And that was around the time … 88. That was around the time Fox News started, right?
Chris Buskirk: That’s right.
Andrew McCarthy: Brit was then the head of … Wasn’t he the head of Fox News?
Seth Leibsohn: No. He was … wasn’t he at-
Andrew McCarthy: The Washington editor, or [crosstalk 00:06:09]
Seth Leibsohn: Yeah. I think he went to ABC and became chief White House correspondent. Didn’t he get tied up in that fight with Bill Clinton over Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s nomination at one point?
Andrew McCarthy: I know that he was the White House guy for ABC for a while, but I think he was really the foundation of Fox News.
Chris Buskirk: Yes. He would have been.
Andrew McCarthy: [crosstalk 00:06:27] I think he was the guy.
Chris Buskirk: He would have been. But it’s a fun stroll down memory lane.
Seth Leibsohn: Andy, did Wolfe speak last night?
Andrew McCarthy: He did, and he was gracious and funny, and regaling us with his memories of Buckley, so it was great.
Chris Buskirk: I want to say he’s 86 or 87. Does that sound right to you?
Andrew McCarthy: Oh, I think he’s over 90.
Seth Leibsohn: Wow.
Chris Buskirk: He’s still got it. I saw an interview … I just watched it on YouTube a couple of months ago … an interview that he did at the New York Public Library, the one that’s kind of there by Bryant Park, and he was very eloquent. He was very Tom Wolfe. Maybe a little slower than he had been, but clear. In other words, had not really … maybe had lost a step in speed but nothing in substance.
Andrew McCarthy: Correct. I think he’s had physical problems, but he’s still a sharp guy.
Chris Buskirk: Amazing. Amazing. That’s not what I-
Andrew McCarthy: And today if he wanted to knock one out, he could probably do a novel on collusion in nothing flat.
Chris Buskirk: I wish he would do it.
Andrew McCarthy: A lot to work with.
Chris Buskirk: Which is the original reason I emailed you this morning. Okay. So we’ve got … I like the title of the piece that you wrote. I think it was the last one you wrote, “When Scandals Collide.” Explain the collision if you don’t mind.
Andrew McCarthy: Well, it always goes back to the lawyers, right?
Chris Buskirk: Always.
Andrew McCarthy: You know, the interesting thing, or one of the unsavory things about modern campaigns is that they always retain middle-man law firms in order to do all the icky stuff, right, because if the icky stuff gets found out, then you have a layer of obfuscation and deniability and can say that you can’t turn over information because of attorney-client privilege and various other stuff, so I guess we shouldn’t be surprised to learn that when we have multiple scandals involving the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee going on, it turns out that the same law firm is in the middle of a couple of them.
So we have-
Chris Buskirk: And the firm is Perkins Coie, yes?
Andrew McCarthy: The firm is Perkins Coie, and we have this situation where we have, I guess, the Democratic National Committee’s servers get hacked in April of 2016, and it turns out that it was the law firm that retained this outfit, CrowdStrike, which is what the Clinton … what the Democratic National Committee used to do a forensic examination of the servers, and the interesting thing about that is that, notwithstanding that the servers are really the foundation of this whole idea that the Russians hacked the election, that they are the ones who went into the Democratic National Committee and got into their computer systems and all that good stuff.
The FBI never actually physically examined the servers. They’re relying on the contractor for the Democratic National Committee, retained through this law firm, and it turns-
Chris Buskirk: And that’s CrowdStrike, is the contractor.
Andrew McCarthy: That’s CrowdStrike. Right.
Chris Buskirk: Andy, you hear the music. We’ve got to go to a break. You have one more in you?
Andrew McCarthy: Yeah, sure. Of course. Yeah, yeah.
Chris Buskirk: Okay. Perfect. We’ll be right back with more of the Seth and Chris Show and Andy McCarthy.
I am Chris Buskirk. He’s Seth Leibsohn. We are joined by Andrew C. McCarthy. He is a columnist at National Review. Talking about what’s going on in, I guess in Clintonworld, we can say that. Wrote a good piece called “When Scandals Collide,” and then just a couple of days after, gosh, Andy the piece you wrote over the weekend on Uranium One. How many people read that? That seemed to be every place over the weekend.
Andrew McCarthy: Yeah, real. I was thrilled with that. It really got around, so I was gratified by that, but I did try to lay out the story from soup to nuts, and it’s a complicated story, so it’s gratifying to think that people were interested enough to follow along.
Chris Buskirk: You know cream rises, right? You do good work, people will notice every now and then.
Andrew McCarthy: Well, you hope.
Chris Buskirk: So, okay. So you write this piece, “When Scandals Collide.” You write here, you say, “Here, the Clinton campaign and the DNC retained the law firm of Perkins Coie; in turn, one of its partners, Marc E. Elias, retained Fusion GPS. We don’t know how much Fusion GPS was paid, but the Clinton campaign and the DNC paid $9.1 million to Perkins Coie during the 2016 campaign.” Where does all this lead us?
Andrew McCarthy: Well, what it means for this small particular here is this firm is in the middle of both the Fusion GPS scandal with respect to the Trump dossier, and, look, it may be too strong a term to call it a scandal, but I think it’s certainly a controversy, and it’s very problematic. I’m not as quick, Chris, as a lot of people are to dismiss the dossier out of hand because there’s been a lot of reporting that parts of it have been corroborated, although I think people continue to say that certainly the salacious allegations in it and some of the most important ones are either unverified or have been, if not proven false, vigorously denied.
Whenever I think about this I continue to go back to the fact that both Comey, the former FBI director, Jim Comey, and President Trump, they don’t agree on much, but they do agree that Comey three times told Trump that he was not a suspect, so you would think that if they had credited this dossier in any great substantial way, Trump’s status would have changed, and since they’ve had a long, long time to investigate this, and it appears that Trump was never a suspect, you have to think that this dossier is more than likely something that’s been largely discredited, and I think the reason that is so important is probably only now becoming apparent to us.
I mean, I’m now trying to rethink, for example, the FBI’s and the intelligence community briefing of Trump on the dossier back on January 6 when he was President Elect Trump. You have to ask, by then you would think that the FBI must have known that this was being paid for by the Clinton campaign and the DNC, so one wonders if they thought it was important enough to share the contents of the dossier with Trump, wouldn’t you think that they should have told him who paid for it because I don’t see how you can assess … I mean, just in terms of investigations 101, you never want to just have information. You always simultaneously try to make a judgment about whether you can believe what you’re being told, and one of the things that goes to bias, one of the most essential things that goes to it is what’s the provenance of the information? Where does it come from?
If it turns out that somebody is paying for it who has an ax to grind with the person that the information is about, that doesn’t mean necessarily that it’s a lie, but it’s certainly something you take into great account when you’re weighing the veracity of it.
Chris Buskirk: So it strikes me that the importance of this is there are two different realms, so we have to judge the importance of these revelations in both of those realms. One is the political, and one is the purely legal, right? Does that seem like a right way to look at it?
Andrew McCarthy: Yeah. At least those two realms. Yes.
Chris Buskirk: So in the legal realm … I’ll start there, I guess. In the legal realm, there have been these complaints … I guess, a complaint filed, maybe, that there was some illegality on the part of the Clintons or their minions.
Andrew McCarthy: Right.
Chris Buskirk: What’s your assessment of that claim?
Andrew McCarthy: Well, I must say on … There’s so many different episodes now, and they run together. I think that on the Uranium One, as I wrote about over the weekend, I’ve been saying for over a year that I thought the Clinton Foundation ought to be examined as a potential racketeering enterprise. It doesn’t mean that they are a racketeering enterprise, but if you’re a prosecutor or an investigator, you have to have a theory that guides your investigation, so I’d be looking at it that way. That’s obviously a criminal violation.
What we’re talking about here in connection with the dossier, what I’ve read in terms of criminality is that there’s a potential FEC violation.
Chris Buskirk: Right.
Andrew McCarthy: A . . . Federal Election Commission, and that would be the theory that I must say doesn’t blow me over with the importance of it. The idea would be that the Clinton campaign misrepresented the nature of the expenditure, so that this was opposition research, and they carried it instead as legal fees. I don’t think anybody’s going to get … If that’s the nature of it, I don’t think anybody’s going to get too terribly whipped up over it.
I do think that when you cross out of law and get to intelligence, this is much more important as an intelligence matter, and it’s much more important as a governance matter because whether this rises to the level of a criminal violation, you have potential abuse of power here. You have potential … Well, forget about potential. You have a situation where if this was part of the driving force of having a special counsel investigation of the administration, it’s made it terribly difficult for the administration to govern for the first year, which is really obviously problematic. So there may be legal … there may be ramifications here that are much more important than the criminal law ramifications.
Chris Buskirk: So tease that out a little bit. How do you see those … I guess, what are those potential ramifications?
Andrew McCarthy: Well, you know, it’s hard to enforce political accountability on people who don’t hold political office anymore. I remember during the campaign, the issue came up of whether Mrs. Clinton on the basis of whether it was the email scandal or her other basket of deplorable conduct that she has to cart around, whether she was liable to be impeached or not, just as a kind of an academic matter, and I argued that she was liable for impeachment because the constitution makes that possible, but usually they don’t even want to impeach people who are in power, let alone people who are out of power.
Chris Buskirk: Andy, we’re going to have to leave it there. You hear the music. Would you come back and kind of keep us up to date on this as this unfolds?
Andrew McCarthy: I’d be delighted.
Chris Buskirk: Very good. Andrew C. McCarthy, columnist at National Review. Former federal prosecutor, and a good friend. Appreciate you coming on. Thanks a bunch.
Andrew McCarthy: Thanks, guys. Take care.
Chris Buskirk: Bye bye.