In his first public remarks, Joe Biden’s acting deputy attorney general promised he would spare no resource in the nationwide manhunt for anyone involved in the Capitol breach on January 6.
“The investigation into those responsible is moving at a speed and scale that is unprecedented, and rightly so,” John Carlin said in a February speech on the threat of domestic terrorism. “Those responsible must be held to account, and they will be.”
Carlin referred to the Capitol melee as an example of “violent extremism.”
If Carlin’s name rings a bell, here’s why. Carlin headed Barack Obama’s National Security Division at the Justice Department for more than two years; his office handled all the evidence presented to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) seeking permission to spy on suspected enemies of America.
Just weeks before the 2016 presidential election, Carlin’s shop persuaded the court, based on the so-called Steele dossier authored by a British operative paid by the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton, that Carter Page, a Trump campaign advisor, was a “foreign agent” of Russia. The dossier—consisting largely of unverified opposition research—was central to validating the FBI’s investigation into Donald Trump and his campaign.
Carlin left the agency on October 15, 2016—the FISA warrant to spy on Carter Page was approved by FISC on October 21, 2016, and reapproved three more times. An inspector general’s report later concluded the original FISA applications were filled with “significant errors and omissions,” to put it charitably; the secret court itself blasted the many failings of the Page FISA process.
Carter Page’s life was nearly destroyed, yet not one Obama-era government official responsible for initiating the crusade against him has so much as apologized. Instead, Carlin continued to perpetuate the phony Russian collusion myth by vilifying other Trump aides, including Lt. General Mike Flynn. In 2017, Carlin condemned Flynn’s “secret” conversations with a Russian ambassador as posing a threat to the country that must be investigated.
He warned career Justice Department employees would resign if Trump fired Special Counsel Robert Mueller. As Democrats considered impeaching Trump in 2019, Carlin described Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president as “corrupt.”
The “Independence” Canard
Despite assurances that his Justice Department will be independent and free from partisan bias, Joe Biden (or whoever is running the White House) is stacking the agency with Obama loyalists who have a history of weaponizing their authority against political foes. Their actions in office and public comments during Trump’s presidency are disqualifying on their face, never mind that they remove all doubt that these appointees are unfair and selective enforcers of the rule of law.
Merrick Garland, an Obama Justice Department appointee and Obama’s scuttled nominee to the Supreme Court, could be confirmed by the full Senate this week. The judge gave off serious Robert Mueller vibes at his hearing a few weeks ago, which signals that his top aides will be in charge. That isn’t a good sign for Trump, his aides, or his supporters, as it’s highly likely Justice Department brass will continue what they started in 2016—nonstop investigations into the former president and anyone in his orbit.
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday is scheduled to hold a hearing for Lisa Monaco as deputy attorney general. Monaco would replace Carlin, who then would become her top deputy. The pair have a long history together as friends and colleagues, both having headed Obama’s National Security Division.
Carlin and Monaco have something else in common: each served as chief of staff to Robert Mueller when he was head of the FBI. In fact, none other than Andrew Weissman, Mueller’s top henchman turned anti-Trump MSNBC commentator, called Monaco “the truly ideal choice” to be second-in-command at the Justice Department.
The committee also will consider Vanita Gupta, Biden’s controversial pick for associate attorney general who once headed the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
Architects and Enablers of the Collusion Hoax
An ironic endorsement coming from the prosecutor who couldn’t finish what Monaco helped start in 2016. As Obama’s White House homeland security advisor, Monaco was part of a tight-knit group of top Obama officials who concocted the Trump-Russian collusion hoax.
“[National Security advisor Susan] Rice, [Deputy National Security Advisor Avril] Haines, and White House homeland-security adviser Lisa Monaco convened meetings in the Situation Room to weigh the mounting evidence of Russian interference and generate options for how to respond,” the Washington Post revealed in a lengthy 2017 article about how the White House handled Russia’s election “interference.” (Haines is now Biden’s director of national intelligence.)
Those secret meetings included former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former FBI Director James Comey, and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
To help plant the idea the Russians were planning to “attack” the November election, Monaco and Comey traveled to Capitol Hill in the fall of 2016 by SUV caravan to alert top lawmakers. Their visit prompted a public statement by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.): “Based on briefings we have received, we have concluded that the Russian intelligence agencies are making a serious and concerted effort to influence the U.S. election,” the pair wrote on September 22, 2016. “We hope all Americans will stand together and reject the Russian effort.”
Monaco publicly peddled the Russian election interference threat right before Election Day, promising the Obama White House would consider all options in retaliation. In public forums and interviews, Monaco heavily suggested Russia might have been responsible for the intrusion into the Democratic National Committee email system, a now-debunked conspiracy theory that nonetheless was made to sound legitimate in an October 2016 statement issued by Obama’s Department of Homeland Security.
In December 2016, Monaco announced Obama had directed the intelligence community to conduct a “full review” of Russian interference in the 2016 election. The infamous Intelligence Community Assessment, released just a few weeks before Trump’s inauguration, claimed the Russians hacked the election to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump win; the shoddy document has been widely discredited and rumored to be a subject of Special Counsel John Durham’s investigation into the origins of “Crossfire Hurricane.”
Hyperpartisan, Relentless, and Destructive
Aside from her involvement in the manufactured Trump-Russia collusion hoax, an egregious crusade to delegitimize Trump’s presidency, Monaco’s statements since leaving the White House don’t inspire trust she will use a blind, nonpartisan eye at Biden’s Justice Department. CNN hired Monaco as a national security analyst; she often appeared on the network to push Russian collusion propaganda, including accusations that Michael Flynn violated the Logan Act, a menacing comment from someone who may become the second-most-powerful law enforcement official in the country.
She co-authored a 2018 Washington Post op-ed demanding the Trump Administration direct more funding to combat “far-right extremism” and “white-supremacist violence.”
After January 6, those descriptors are used not only to apply to everyone involved in the Capitol breach but also extend to anyone who attended Trump’s speech and, in many circles (especially the news media), the nearly 75 millions Americans who voted to reelect the president. It’s no coincidence Biden, calling the protestors “domestic terrorists,” formally announced Garland as his pick for attorney general the day after the Capitol riots.
In his Senate testimony, Garland promised to make the Capitol breach investigation, which has resulted so far in the arrests of nearly 300 people, his top priority. The prospective attorney general compared January 6 to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and suggested the sprawling investigation could lead right to Donald Trump. “We begin with the people on the ground and work our way up to those . . . who were further involved,” Garland told the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 22.
Biden’s Justice Department is shaping up to be as hyperpartisan, relentless, and destructive as Barack Obama’s, perhaps more so since no one has been held responsible for perpetuating the Russian collusion hoax on the American people for more than three years.
If anything, folks like Monaco and Carlin will be emboldened to wield their government power against Republicans, including Donald Trump.
If Biden and the Democrats claim they want an “independent” Justice Department free from political bias, Republicans need to force the White House to be true to their word and hold agency officials accountable for their partisanship.