Presence of Malice

In the ongoing saga that is Washington, thousands of government emails go missing and a strange dossier charts a bevy of bedwetting prostitutes. The cast of this tale features, among others, a former FBI boss, several shadowy Russians, an American Soviet scholar with a short-wave radio, and a British spy we might call Agent 00$6.95.

The tale also stars FBI lovebirds trading texts about a secret society in the Justice Department and a mysterious “insurance policy.” By all indications, this policy was to be claimed in case a real estate developer named Donald Trump should actually win the White House. Which he did. The story ought to make for a blockbuster movie. Except that it would be a remake. In 1981,Absence of Malicealready dramatized some of the story’s key themes.

Down in Miami, union boss Joey Diaz has been murdered, but the authorities have no suspects. So prosecutor Elliot Rosen (Bob Balaban) goes looking for somebody to frame. His target is liquor distributor Michael Gallagher, son of a deceased gangster, played by Paul Newman in probably his best performance.

Rosen leaks a fake story that Gallagher is under investigation in the Diaz case. Reporter Megan Carter, played by Academy Award-winner Sally Field, consults Davidek, the paper’s attorney, played by John Harkins. As he explains, “as a matter of law, the truth is irrelevant. We have no knowledge the story is false, therefore we’re absent malice. We’ve been both reasonable and prudent, therefore we’re not negligent. We can say what we like about him. He can’t do us harm. Democracy is served.”

Carter discovers that when Diaz was killed, Gallagher had taken his Catholic friend Teresa Peron to Atlanta for an abortion. When that becomes public, Peron kills herself.  

“Couldn’t you see what it meant to her?” Gallagher says. “Didn’t you like her?”

The stricken Carter then outs Elliott Rosen as the source of the leak. Gallagher, his business and reputation now in ruins, makes a plan.

He tells District Attorney Quinn he will find out what he can about Diaz if Quinn will publicly drop the investigation. At the same time, Gallagher makes anonymous donations to Quinn’s campaign for mayor. Rosen thinks it’s a bribe and leaks the story to Carter. Enter James A. Wells, assistant U.S. attorney general, wonderfully played by Wilford Brimley.

“You call what’s going on around here a leak?” Wells says. “Boy, the last time there was a leak like this, Noah built hisself a boat.”

They can talk it over there, or the marshal would hand them a subpoena “and we’ll go on downstairs and talk in front of the grand jury.” Rosen can’t prove that Gallagher intended to bribe Quinn to drop the investigation. The innocent Gallagher is duly cleared but the damage is done.

“We can’t have people go around leaking stuff for their own reasons,” Wells says. “It ain’t legal, and worse than that, by God, it ain’t right.”  For the alert viewer, the parallels jump off the screen.

Deep State insiders leak information because they hate Donald Trump. So does the establishment media and, as with attorney Davidek, the truth of their fake stories is irrelevant to their purpose of harming the president.

The movie involves an actual crime but the investigation of Trump is based on allegations that Trump colluded with Russia to steal the election. To date, there is no evidence for this allegation but the investigation continues, with former FBI boss Robert Mueller leading a squad of Hillary Clinton supporters.

It was already known that Russia intervened in U.S. elections by running their own candidates. Former CIA boss John Brennan even voted for one of them, the slobbering Stalinist Gus Hall.

Hillary Clinton’s gross negligence with classified information and her destruction of evidence are actual crimes, but the FBI let the former first lady off the hook and set about framing Trump. That explains Hillary’s recent monologue in India.

“I win the coast,” she said. “I won the places that represent two-thirds of America’s gross domestic product. So I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward.” Her target audience was Robert Mueller, her insurance agent working three shifts to depose Trump and, somehow, install the woman who “won” all the good parts of the country.

The probe may be legal under the independent counsel statute, but as James Wells said, by God it ain’t right, and democracy is not served.

Elliott Rosen said, “I’m not quitting.” But Wells told him, “You got 30 days.” In similar style, President Trump fired “Leakin’ James Comey” and Jeff Sessions fired corrupt Clinton crony Andrew McCabe, but that hardly ends the story.

Nellie and Bruce Ohr, James Strzok, Lisa Page and many other Deep State insiders need to testify, under oath, in front of congressional committees, a grand jury, and quite possibly a criminal court. That’s the dialogue the people need to hear. Some producer could make a film and title it “Presence of Malice.” Odds are, a lot of people would go see it.

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About Lloyd Billingsley

Lloyd Billingsley is the author of Hollywood Party and other books including Bill of Writes and Barack ‘em Up: A Literary Investigation. His journalism has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Spectator (London) and many other publications. Billingsley serves as a policy fellow with the Independent Institute.