He resigned abruptly on September 27, 2016. One day earlier, Assistant Attorney General John P. Carlin certified to a court that the government did not abuse its awesome surveillance tools to illegally spy on American citizens.
With just one stroke of a pen, Carlin efficiently perpetrated two staggering violations of the Constitution. His certification was a fraud and filing it totally nullified the court’s ability to act as an independent branch of government under Article III of the Constitution.
But the fraudulent certification was also designed to enable a massive ongoing FBI operation that violated the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against searching the private correspondence and data of Americans. Carlin knew he was defrauding the court because eight months prior, the relevant inspector general report disclosed that the government allowed anonymous bureaucrats and contractors to romp around in the most intimate and private information about Americans without the required warrants.
Carlin would have gotten away with the fraudulent certification, too, if it hadn’t been for Admiral Michael Rogers, who was director of the National Security Agency at the time. As noted on pages 83-84 of the subsequent court opinion, Rogers discovered that the FBI had disclosed raw information from the database and had employed a small army of contractors just to keep up with the volume of illegal spying. The opinion also revealed that Rogers shut down contractors’ access to the database.
As I have previously shown, little or none of the FBI’s massive domestic spying operation has ever led to criminal convictions. Clearly, catching criminals has never been the purpose of the spying.
In October 2016, the very same month the government lied to the FISA court to spy on the Trump campaign through a fraudulent warrant application, Rogers spilled the beans exposing Carlin’s fraud.
Both Carlin and Rogers, however, failed to consider how the legal landscape had begun to change radically in the dawn of the get-Trump era.
Carlin likely would have been just fine if he had stayed. While the FBI might have routinely flouted constitutional controls over spying on Americans, there was always an attempt to pretend to respect those controls. But in the get-Trump era, people like Peter Strzok, Andrew McCabe, Kevin Clinesmith, Rod Rosenstein, and James Comey would all be caught in the act abusing their positions for political reasons. When those reasons aligned with the get-Trump movement, the media recast their lawless acts as heroic.
In contrast, Rogers blew the whistle on indisputably illegal spying. Naturally, the deep state ousted Rogers from his position and torpedoed any chance he might have had of serving in the Trump Administration.
Carlin’s subversion of the Constitution and his willingness to deceive a court has not stopped the Department of Justice from welcoming him back into the powerful position once occupied by Rod Rosenstein. But Carlin is merely “acting” in that role making it necessary to audition for a permanent post.
As Julie Kelly has reported, Carlin gave a lengthy speech promising to use his position against political enemies guilty of wrongthink. Carlin promised the Department of Justice would prioritize “the detection, disruption, and deterrence of the threat” of “violent extremism.” This vague term, “violent extremism,” should not be mistaken for actual violence or crimes. We all know what he means. He’s not talking about prosecuting Antifa or BLM-inspired violence. He’s talking about right-wing political opponents with “extreme thoughts.”
Because thinking “extreme” thoughts is not technically a crime, we can anticipate “Truman Show”-style sting operations in which agents of the FBI coax, fund, and encourage innocent Americans into prosecutable acts.
Carlin’s presence back in the Department of Justice is a chilling sign of things to come. Instead of making an example of him to discourage future frauds upon the court, the Justice Department has empowered a man with a history of enabling illegal domestic spying on his fellow Americans. But he’s the right man if the goal is to use the criminal justice system to find and punish the Democrats’ political enemies.