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Elections

Breaking the Law Pays When It’s Done to Get Trump

Hating the president is good business and it works as a near-guaranteed immunity from prosecution.

G Gordon Liddy once quipped, “Obviously crime pays, or there’d be no crime.” The get-Trumpers can be described similarly—if it didn’t make money, they would have stopped doing it by now.

My review of the record leads me to conclude that the get-Trump project started with Hillary Clinton laundering campaign funds through Perkins Coie to hire Fusion GPS to frame Donald Trump with the charge of colluding with the Russians. By that measure, we’re closing in on the fourth anniversary of the project. While Trump is still president, the project nevertheless has succeeded in enriching its worst villains.

Let’s start with Perkins Coie where it all started. The law firm generally and its partner Marc Elias specifically have been accused of violating campaign finance law by disguising as “legal fees” the money it paid to hire Fusion GPS to frame Donald Trump. (You can read one such complaint here.)

Perkins Coie attorney Michael Sussman even met with the FBI’s general counsel, James Baker, during the election as the FBI’s contribution to the effort to get-Trump, “Crossfire Hurricane” began to materialize. In testimony to the House Oversight Committee, Baker said Sussman handed over information to him to help bolster the Trump-Russia collusion project.

The August 2018 complaint against Perkins Coie alleges, “Perkins Coie hired and paid over $1 million to Fusion GPS, a ‘strategic intelligence’ firm, to perform opposition research on then-candidate Trump for [Hillary for America] and the [Democratic National Committee]. This opposition research was for purely political purposes, and completely unrelated to the provision of legal advice or any ongoing or impending litigation.”

The Federal Election Commission currently lacks a quorum of commissioners to take action. But FEC commissioner (and Perkins Coie alumnus) Ellen L. Weintraub nevertheless issued a statement condemning foreign influence in American elections. Did she condemn her former law firm’s use of Fusion GPS’s subcontractor and foreigner Christopher Steele who, desperate to stop Donald Trump peddled foreign gossip to interfere in the 2016 election? Heavens, no! She used her perch to add to the “Russia, Russia, Russia!” hysteria. Perkins Coie is still a successful law firm taking clients in need of its election-related services.

Our trail next takes us to Glenn Simpson, co-founder of Fusion GPS. Perkins Coie paid Fusion GPS substantial sums to smear Trump. In addition to its part in the aforementioned campaign finance shenanigans, Fusion GPS also paid the wife of a senior Justice Department attorney for “research” into Trump. That Justice Department attorney, Bruce Ohr, then passed the information to the FBI. I’m not going to use the word “bribery” to describe this arrangement. But I will call the reader’s attention to 18 U.S.C. § 208, which makes it a crime for Ohr to participate in a particular matter in which his wife has a financial interest. Ohr still works for the Department of Justice (pronounced, “Just Us”) as an attorney.

Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) accused Simpson of lying to Congress about when he met with Ohr and whether he continued the anti-Trump work after the election. Fusion GPS has received plenty of money to keep things going against Trump after the election.

According to the Washington Examiner, a former staffer for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Daniel Jones, “had privately claimed to the FBI that he raised $50 million from ‘seven to 10 wealthy donors primarily in New York and California.’ That money reportedly funds Fusion’s ongoing post-election efforts to vindicate the dossier. It’s unclear how much Feinstein and her staff knew about this at the time.” Simpson has since invoked his Fifth Amendment rights to block further questions into his actions.

Similarly, Grassley referred Christopher Steele for prosecution for potential violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1001. Grassley wrote that Steele “materially misled the FBI about key aspects of his dossier efforts, one of which bears on his credibility.”

The recent Justice Department inspector general report details a number of Steele’s lies to the FBI, including lying about leaking the investigation to the press and lying or exaggerating what his sources told him. Steele has not been prosecuted but he did get paid for his “work” for the FBI. This, on top of the $168,000 Fusion GPS paid him to do essentially the same work.

No list of Russian collusion hoax profiteering would be complete without the former deputy director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe. In 2016, while overseeing the Clinton email investigation that went nowhere, McCabe began taking heat over a perceived conflict of interest resulting from Clinton ally Terry McAuliffe recruiting and lavishly funding his wife for a state-level election.

McCabe decided it would be a good idea to leak to the Wall Street Journal the existence of an investigation into the Clinton Foundation in order to make himself appear to be (falsely) tough on Clinton. As noted in the inspector general report, McCabe was caught leaking and then he lied about it four times to the FBI. Since the discovery of his own lying he has been identified as an indispensable witness to prove Michael Flynn lied to the FBI. McCabe has received a book deal, a lavish “legal defense” fund, and a paid television contract with CNN.

Then there’s the insufferable James Comey. The former FBI director committed multiple misdeeds too numerous to list. But here’s one example: he authorized and then lied to obtain and reauthorize the electronic surveillance warrant on Carter Page. Comey has been made rich by the royalties from his book, A Higher Royalty . . . excuse me, A Higher Loyalty, which, as the title suggests, proves he’s loyal to his self-interest above all else.

Which brings us to U.S. Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who recently tortured his counterparts in the Senate with an unbearable vanity project known as the impeachment trial of Donald Trump.

For some time, Schiff has monetized the Russian collusion hoax to raise greater and greater sums for his reelection campaign. Laugh at Schiff for the impeachment debacle if you will. But he’s laughing all the way to the bank with an additional $1.8 million in cash in just the first three months of 2019. OpenSecrets has the details.

In particular, notice the dramatic spike in his fundraising since the Russia collusion hoax started. Notice, too, the yellow line showing how his fellow House Democrats have actually done worse as he’s prospered. While Schiff has repeatedly lied to Americans to further the Russian collusion hoax, it wouldn’t be right to call those lies “crimes.” But it’s still very bad behavior.

The fact is that hating Donald Trump is good business and it works as a near-guaranteed immunity from prosecution. In other words, crime does pay if it’s done to get Trump.

Elections

Facing Up To the Revolution

Our ultimate objective, unlike that of our enemies, is “peace among ourselves and with all nations.” But what kind of peace we may get depends on the extent to which we may compel our enemies to leave us in peace. And for that, we must do unto them more and before they do unto us.

Some conservatives, rejoicing that impeachment turned into yet another of #TheResistance’s political train wrecks and that President Trump is likely to be reelected by a bigger margin than in 2016, expect that a chastened ruling class will return to respecting the rest of us. They are mistaken.

Trump’s reelection, by itself, cannot protect us. The ruling class’s intolerance of the 2016 election’s results was intolerance of us.

Nor was their intolerance so much a choice as it was the expression of its growing sense of its own separate identity, of power and of entitlement to power. The halfhearted defenses with which the offensives of the ruling class have been met already advertise the fact that it need not and will not accept the outcome of any presidential election it does not win. Trump notwithstanding, this class will rule henceforth as it has in the past three years. So long as its hold on American institutions continues to grow, and they retain millions of clients, elections won’t really matter.

Our country is in a state of revolution, irreversibly, because society’s most influential people have retreated into moral autarchy, have seceded from America’s constitutional order, and because they browbeat their socio-political adversaries instead of trying to persuade them. Theirs is not a choice that can be reversed. It is a change in the character of millions of people.

The sooner conservatives realize that the Republic established between 1776 and 1789—the America we knew and loved—cannot return, the more fruitfully we will be able to manage the revolution’s clear and present challenges to ourselves. How are we to deal with a ruling class that insists on ruling—elections and generally applicable rules notwithstanding—because it regards us as lesser beings?

The resistance that reached its public peaks in the Brett Kavanaugh hearings and the impeachment imbroglio should have left no doubt about the socio-political arbitrariness that flows from the ruling class’s moral autarchy, about the socio-political power of the ruling class we’re forced to confront, or of its immediate threat to our freedom of speech.

Chief Justice John Roberts, presiding over the Senate’s impeachment trial, was as clear an example as any of that moral autarchy and its grip on institutions.

Pursuant to Senate rules, Senator Rand Paul sent a written question through Roberts to House Manager Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) regarding the extent of collaboration between Schiff’s staffer Sean Misko and his longtime fellow partisan, CIA officer Eric Ciaramella in starting the charges that led to impeachment. Roberts, having read the question to himself, declared: “The presiding officer declines to read the question as submitted.”

The chief justice of the United States, freedom of speech’s guardian-in-chief, gave no reason for declining to read Paul’s question. The question was relevant to the proceedings. It violated no laws, no regulations. The names of the two persons were known to every member of the House and Senate, as well as to everyone around the globe who had followed news reports over the previous months. But the Democratic Party had been campaigning to drive from public discussion that this impeachment stemmed from the partisan collaboration between a CIA officer and a Democratic staffer.

Accordingly, the mainstream media had informally but totally banned discussion of this fact, supremely relevant but supremely embarrassing to Schiff in particular and to Democrats in general. Now, Paul was asking Schiff officially to comment on the relationship. Schiff could have explained it, or refused to explain it. But Roberts saved him the embarrassment and trouble—and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) spared senators the problem of voting on a challenge to Roberts’ ruling. The curtain of official concealment, what the Mafia calls the omertà, remained intact. Why no reason?

Just as no dog wags his tail without a reason, neither did Roberts wag his without reason. Neither the laws of the United States nor the rules of the Senate told the presiding officer to suppress the senator’s question. Why was Roberts pleased to please those he pleased and to displease those he displeased? In short, why did this impartial presiding officer act as a man partial to one side against the other?

This professional judge could hardly have been impressed by the ruling class’s chosen instrument, Adam Schiff, or by Schiff’s superior regard for legal procedure. Since Schiff’s prosecution featured hiding the identity of the original accuser—after promising to feature his testimony—and since it featured secret depositions, blocked any cross-examination of its own witnesses, and prevented the defense from calling any of their own, it would have been strange if Chief Justice Roberts’ bias was a professional one.

Is it possible that Roberts favored the substance of the ruling class claim that neither President Trump nor any of his defenders have any right to focus public attention on the Biden family’s use of public office to obtain money in exchange for influence? That, after all, is what Washington is largely about. Could Roberts also love corruption so much as to help conceal it? No.

Roberts’ professional and ethical instincts incline him the other way. Nevertheless, he sustained the ruling class’s arbitrariness. Whose side did he take? His dinner companions’ side? The media’s? His wife’s? Roberts’ behavior—contrary as it was to his profession, to his morals, and to his political provenance—shows how great is the ruling class’s centripetal force.

The sad but inescapable consequence of this force is that conservatives have no choice but to follow the partisan logic of revolution—fully conscious of the danger that partisanship can make us as ridiculously dishonest as Adam Schiff or CNN’s talking heads, into rank-pullers like John Roberts, and into profiteers as much as any member of the Biden family.

And yet, revolution is war, the proximate objective of which is to hurt the other side until it loses the capacity and the will to do us harm. That means treating institutions and people from the standpoint of our own adversarial interest: controlling what we can either for our own use or for bargaining purposes, discrediting and abandoning what we cannot take from our enemies.

Unlike our enemies, our ultimate objective is, as Lincoln said, “peace among ourselves and with all nations.” But what kind of peace we may get depends on the extent to which we may compel our enemies to leave us in peace. And for that, we must do unto them more and before they do unto us.

Elections

Schadenfreude Has Never Felt So Good

Success has many fathers, but failure is always an orphan. The impeachment charade will have Democrats squabbling over its paternity, once the dust begins settling and the Democrats start blaming each other. It will be glorious to watch.

The impeachment farce will likely conclude this week—and not a minute too soon. On Friday, the Senate voted on whether to call witnesses to Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. The weak link, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, held the line and the resolution was defeated, 51-49. So the Democrats will not get to hear from John Bolton or Mick Mulvaney or Mike Pompeo or Rudy Giuliani. And Republicans, alas, will not get to hear Adam Schiff, Eric Ciaramella, or Joe and Hunter Biden testify under oath. Now that would have made for interesting television. Ah, well.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has outfoxed the Democrats yet again. Master Legislative Strategist Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is looking less masterful by the day with her hysterical diatribes. Perhaps the Democrats can drag this thing out a few more days, even as the vast majority of Americans have tuned it out. Only political junkies still follow the ins and outs of the grotesque absurdity taking place in the Senate chamber. With the final acquittal vote to take place on Wednesday, the day after Trump’s State of the Union address, I expect the president’s speech Tuesday night will be a blockbuster for the ages.

For over a week now, my father would call me multiple times a day, in a near panic. He would watch Adam Schiff and his merry gang of Democratic goblins throw out accusation after accusation, and he was certain that the end was near. The idea that Trump was about to lose his job was a virtual certainty in his mind. He had to go see his internist earlier this week—the blood pressure medication wasn’t working well enough, especially on days when House manager Adam Schiff was talking. Just listening to the Schiffmeister was enough to make his blood pressure spike.

I would tell him to stop watching CNN, that everything would be fine, that Trump wasn’t going anywhere—but he wasn’t buying it. He and all his friends were in full panic mode over the notion that Trump was about to be convicted and removed.

“Trump violated a rule!” he told me, after listening to a few hours of Schiff. “The rule . . . I don’t know exactly what the rule says, but there is a rule is that he had to tell the Senate that he was . . . doing something!”

It did little good to explain that I, a lawyer, had no idea what he was talking about, much less what this “rule” is, that Trump supposedly violated.

“And don’t forget—Democrats sent a written request for documents and witnesses to Trump!” my father said. “In writing! And he refused! You just wait and see—Trump won’t even wait for the final vote, he’ll resign before that.” The power of left-wing TV talking heads to brainwash even conservative minds is truly remarkable.

I asked my father what would happen if Congress demands documents, and the president says they are not entitled to them. Who is right, and who is wrong?

“I don’t know,” he said, after thinking for about 20 seconds. “It literally has never occurred to me to even ask that question.” So perhaps, I suggested, things aren’t as clear-cut as they seem? Maybe Trump isn’t quite done for yet, and it’s a bit early to panic?

Dispatches from #TheResistance

Schadenfreude is one of those unpronounceable and unspellable German words that means, roughly, delight in the misfortune of others. At times, I feel that I need to keep my finger on the pulse of what the other side is thinking. To that end, I read Slate—there is no pretense that we’re getting anything other than the unvarnished lefty viewpoint there. And reading Slate Friday and Saturday, I truly feel their pain.

Every Slate commentator writing about the Senate trial sounds as if they want to scream their heads off in impotent rage—and would scream their heads off, if only they got paid for screaming (instead of writing lefty polemics). Their emotional pain is palpable. Their psyches are scarred, their minds are struggling to process what is happening. Donald Trump, the man they’ve dedicated three years of their lives to tearing down, is on the cusp of yet another victory—a resounding Senate acquittal. Victory doesn’t need spin, but Democratic defeat will need lots of it. We are already seeing some of that desperate spin—it wasn’t fair, it wasn’t legitimate, it wasn’t a real trial, the Senate didn’t do its job, the Republicans are scared of Trump, blah, blah.

Reading Dahlia Lithwick or Mark Joseph Stern in Slate, I really do feel their pain.

And I’m lovin’ every minute of it.

I like Dahlia. I used to like her more, a few years back when she was trying to be just barely objective, but that’s fine—I still like her. “Just barely objective” is about the size of it, but still—that’s more objectivity than a lot of what we see in leftist media these days. She is kind of funny, though not in the way that she intends. She is probably a decent person—I am unwilling to demonize her just because I disagree with her on just about everything. If I ever met her, and if we could have a civil conversation that doesn’t involve politics, she would probably be an interesting person to have a beer with after work, at Capitol City Brewing Co., in downtown D.C.

And, let’s be honest: in this day and age, if she tried to be even a teeny-weeny bit objective, she’d probably get fired from Slate—and good luck getting another job in this media landscape. Nobody expects objectivity anymore, certainly not from Slate. But, it’s all right. I still read her when she writes apocalyptic things about Trump’s judges, for example, just to get that warm and fuzzy feeling of schadenfreude. It goes without saying that anything Dahlia finds objectionable, because it throws a monkey wrench in some progressive scheme or scam, I find uplifting and inspiring.

But, back to impeachment. Dahlia criticizes everyone—John Bolton, Chief Justice John Roberts, Mitch McConnell, Senators Lamar Alexander and Lisa Murkowski, the GOP—and it only serves to remind us just how close we came to having to endure weeks more of this constitutional burlesque. Just imagine if Murkowski and Alexander had voted “yes” on witnesses. We would still be here in March, or maybe even April, masticating on the same nonsense about Trump’s Ukrainian thought crime. There is no room for doubt as far as Dahlia is concerned—Trump is guilty of everything, including things he hadn’t done yet and hadn’t even thought of doing.

Different Realities

Dahlia rejects any notion that there was anything wrong with the sham House inquiry. The shattering defeat in the Senate cannot possibly be tied to the rank partisanship of the House “inquiry,” or the bad tactical decisions made by Schiff and Pelosi, or because Republicans have a legitimately different view of what “high crimes” mean, or because scams that worked with the Kavanaugh confirmation don’t work anymore, or because the over-the-top apocalyptic rhetoric grated even on those GOP senators who weren’t big Trump fans, or because Schiff and Nadler chose a strategy of insulting Republican senators, or because getting a root canal done is preferable to sitting like a hostage for hours listening to Adam Schiff drone on and on, or because the Schiffmeister and the Nadster just weren’t as good at persuading as the sycophantic media wants to believe, or because the Schiffster has been lying his ass off nonstop on TV for three years and has no credibility left.

But any reader who is not a committed leftist would probably remember the top-secret basement where Adam Schiff coached witnesses, the nakedly partisan nature of the entire process, the Democrats’ rejection of even a thought of bringing any Republicans on board, of denying the accused the right to bring his own witnesses (and forget cross-examining the Schiffmeister’s witnesses)—none of this is even remotely objectionable, as far as Dahlia is concerned.

Dahlia was entirely on board with the Pelosi timeline of ramming impeachment through before Christmas, because (remember?) Trump is a dire, urgent, existential danger to our Republic, and impeachment couldn’t wait for those pesky courts to resolve subpoena issues.

Every day Trump remained in office mattered, because we are in the fight for the soul of our nation . . . No, wait—that’s Joe Biden’s line. Dahlia is Canadian by birth, so she probably doesn’t buy into that “soul of our nation” claptrap. She is also entirely on board with Pelosi going on a long vacation, and waiting for a month after the impeachment vote to send the articles to the Senate, because, well, Nancy is the Master Legislative Strategist, and she must surely know what she is doing.

And now, this disaster. So much hope was riding on the whole witness issue. Maybe Murkowski would fold, the Left thought, like she folded during the Kavanaugh confirmation vote. Maybe Alexander, soon to retire, would discover his inner John McCain. Maybe Chief Justice Roberts would finally swing the Democrats’ way, and break a tie the way the Democrats need it—because we all know, any time the Left loses, it’s invariably because all alternative views are illegitimate, and any arguments other than their own lack merit.

I feel Dahlia’s pain. And I hope to continue feeling her pain for at least the next five years, as I read her articles.

Success has many fathers, but failure is always an orphan. This impeachment charade will have Democrats squabbling over its paternity, once the dust begins settling and the Democrats start blaming each other. It will be glorious to watch.

Mark Stern makes a point that Dahlia herself made in one of her earlier articles—that an impeachment where the outcome is known in advance to be an acquittal sets an awful constitutional precedent—first, because now there is literally nothing left to throw at Trump and Trump will feel even less constrained (and the Left very much feels the need to constrain him), and second, because the next president won’t fear being impeached, and will not feel constrained at all. All the next president will need is 34 votes in the Senate.

This is actually the precise argument that many conservative commentators made against this impeachment, including those who don’t like Trump much. And yet, for some strange reason, the Slatesters fail to see this is an argument that the Democrats should never have gone down the impeachment road in the first place. It feels cognitively dissonant to read Dahlia Lithwick’s arguments for initiating impeachment while at the same seeing her admitting that impeachment, once initiated, would lead to the very result the Left abhors!

Stern goes through a laundry list of Trump’s alleged offenses against Congress:

Trump has fought the House of Representatives’ oversight tooth and nail every step of the way. His lawyers have successfully stopped the House from obtaining information that may be relevant to impeachment, including his tax returns and other financial records. They’ve prevented the House from seeing potentially incriminating grand jury materials from Robert Mueller’s probe. And they have stopped executive officials like former White House counsel Don McGahn from testifying before impeachment investigators, asserting a sweeping claim of executive privilege that could gag all witnesses to the president’s crimes.

He would have been better off leaving this out of his piece, that is, if he wanted to persuade anyone not on the Left. There is little sympathy among most Republicans and many independents for congressional Democrats’ fishing expeditions. By overreaching with their demands for tax returns and financial records from years before Trump was even a candidate, congressional Democrats have ensured that many Americans see “congressional oversight” for what it is—harassment.

In response to an assault on his presidency, and on himself, that is historically unprecedented, it is unsurprising that Trump is forced to rely on the fullest panoply of executive privileges and scorched-earth litigation. Nor is it surprising that many Republican-appointed judges aren’t buying into the Democrats’ efforts to enlist the judiciary in tormenting the president.

But Mark Stern obviously doesn’t see it that way. He blames the GOP for taking the low road and doing exactly what everyone predicted the GOP would do in September—acquitting Trump. (Well, we’re almost there—more schadenfreude to come on Wednesday.) I get it—his job is not impartial analysis. His job is partisan polemics in a left-wing publication. But it’s hard not to feel satisfaction at his closing words:

Impeachment will remain an option for lawmakers who seek a symbolic condemnation of the president. But Trump’s acquittal will take removal off the table for good.

The Left brought this on itself. Whatever the long-term implications, I have a huge grin on my face now, as I hear their primal screams in my mind. Schadenfreude has never felt this good.

Elections

‘Walls Are Closing In’ on the Democrats

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On Friday, as I and about 456,874 other people predicted, the Senate voted against calling yet more witnesses in the make-believe, 100 percent certified partisan impeachment fiasco run by the Democrats and their media cheerleaders.

That vote brought this lucrative entertainment to an end, de facto if not de jure. The official, signed-sealed-and-delivered end will come Wednesday, we’re told, when the Senate will vote on whether to acquit the president of the two charges on which he was impeached by the House. Spoiler alert: They will.

A quick refresher. Those two charges were “abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress.”

Let’s take them in order. The alleged abuse of power charge stemmed from President Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Zelinsky. Trump was keen to have Zelinsky look into alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. He was also keen to have him look into allegations that Hunter Biden, the son of Joe Biden, who is campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination, was knee-deep in corrupt activities.

“There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son,” President Trump said, “that [Joe] Biden stopped the prosecution [of Burisma, the corrupt company on whose Board Hunter sat and from which he collected more than $50,000 a month] and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great.”

Was that an abuse of power? Opinions vary. I do not think so. Nor do I think the president erred when he went on to tell Zelinsky that Joe Biden “bragged” he had stopped the prosecution of Burisma. He did so, and was gracious enough to be filmed doing it.

As Peter Schweizer has shown in meticulous detail in his new book, the Bidens’ corruption, like Falstaff’s dishonesty, is “gross as mountain, open, palpable.” This was not an abuse of power. Far from it. Indeed, I believe that Ted Cruz was right: President Trump, confronted with credible allegations of Hunter Biden’s corruption, had a “responsibility” to investigate Biden’s activities.

So much for “abuse of power.” What about “obstruction of Congress”? Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of that. I hadn’t either. In essence, the House alleged that President Trump was guilty of this newfangled tort because, rather than instantly capitulating to their demands, he asked the court to review the case. In other words, he asked for the same due process that protects you and me to protect him.

Not much to build an impeachment case on is it? No treason. No bribery (though the House tried furiously to fabricate such a case). No high crimes or even misdemeanors.

But according to the Constitution (Article II, Section IV) those are the only impeachable offenses: “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Those are the reasons, and the only reasons, for which a president may be impeached.

I know, I know: Alexander Hamilton, writing about impeachment in Federalist 65, said that “The subjects of [impeachment’s] jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust.” That concern is in the background for the Framers. But the fact is that the Constitution does not mention such scruples. Moreover, I do not believe that, in the case of President Trump’s phone call, there was any “misconduct” or “abuse or violation of some public trust.”

So, as many observers have been predicting since the impeachment clown show began, the president will be officially acquitted in a few days. According to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the Senate trial was “the greatest cover-up since Watergate” and hence the acquittal will be “meaningless.” It pains me to disagree, but I feel constrained to point out to Schumer that President Trump’s acquittal will have at least this irrefragable meaning: Donald J. Trump will still be president of the United States.

It is obvious to anyone who is paying attention that “cover-up” is the new phrase of the month and I predict that the Democrats will run with it all the way to November 3. I predict, further, that the charge will have zero effect on the election.

Still, Schumer’s contention that the president’s acquittal (which he now implicitly acknowledges is a foregone conclusion) will be “meaningless,” coupled with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s insistence that the “stain” of impeachment will “forever” be attached to the name of Donald Trump, prompts me to suggest a few courses of action the president might take in his second term (some parts of which might be started even now).

First, to discourage such frivolous, wholly partisan efforts to overturn the results of a free, open, and democratic election, people who have committed felonies by leaking classified material or lying under oath should be prosecuted. A dozen or so indictments would have a clarifying and salutary effect.

I’d start with a few of the women who perjured themselves when lying about Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearings. I’d follow up with some people involved in the “Russian collusion” hoax. And I’d finish by looking into Representative Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) and Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman’s claim that they did not know the “whistleblower” (Eric Ciaramella) and also into who leaked information from John Bolton’s memoir and revenge drama.

Second, as for removing the “stain” of impeachment, I propose that when the House flips to the Republicans again next year, a bill be introduced rescinding President Trump’s impeachment and publicly exonerating him of any and all wrongdoing.

Third, since the media as well as the Democrats (pardon the pleonasm) clearly enjoy the spectacle of impeachment, I suggest that Barack Obama retroactively be impeached, not for anything as mealy-mouthed as “obstruction of Congress” but for aiding and abetting America’s enemies by shoveling billions of dollars to the Iranian mullahs.

Other charges doubtless will be forthcoming when U.S. Attorney John Durham begins handing down indictments in the “Russian collusion” ruse and we have hard evidence that the attempted soft coup against Donald Trump was an explicit creature of Obama’s Administration. I’ve bought stock in popcorn companies in anticipation of this entertainment.

Elections

As Impeachment Ends, It’s Time to Correct These Nine Injustices

The president should take action to exploit this very short window in which his exhausted opponents cast about for their next fake “bombshell.” They’re going to complain about Trump anyway. He might as well give them something to complain about.

How will Donald Trump spend the windfall of political space resulting from the busted impeachment effort? It now appears that the Senate is ready to put an end to Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) vanity project. The “resistance” will require approximately six weeks to lick its wounds and re-manufacture outrage over yet another Trump “scandal.”

In the meanwhile, an exhausted Congress and media cannot easily pivot to another offensive. The president should use this critical breathing space immediately to correct some of the many outrages perpetrated by his opponents. Yes, as a matter of fact, I do have a wish list.

  1. Commute Paul Manafort’s sentence. Paul Manafort has spent most of his time in solitary confinement since his arrest in 2017. As noted by the National Review, “Everyone knows this prosecution is politically motivated. [the prosecutor] hates the president and wants to use solitary confinement in a hellhole with violent criminals to squeeze Manafort into testifying against the president.” Reason magazine, no fan of either Trump or Manafort, has called this torture. Enough is enough. He’s served years in brutal conditions for white collar crimes. Commute his sentence.
  2. Pardon Michael Flynn. I’ve already written thousands of words on the myriad injustices visited upon Michael Flynn by the deep state’s premier vengeance project. But this is Trump’s Department of Justice. He shouldn’t farm out the obligation to do the right thing to a district judge. He should immediately stop this nonsense. While he’s at it, pardon Roger Stone and Papadopoulos too.
  3. Fire or demote Christopher Wray. Wray seems like a nice guy. But he’s not the right person to reform the FBI. In fact, it’s getting worse under his supervision. As bad as James Comey was, there’s a case to be made that Wray is worse. Since he took office, we’ve had a fresh new round of serious spying misconduct by the FBI and he’s allowed the FBI’s informant program to become even more dysfunctional than it was (to name just two examples.)
  4. Reassign Brandon Van Grack. Van Grack was appointed the head of the Justice Department unit in charge of prosecuting cases under the Foreign Agent Registration Act. FARA is a vague law that the government uses as a pretext to investigate and surveille political opponents. Van Grack recently lost two FARA prosecutions in court. As a former Mueller prosecutor, he retained his role as the chief prosecutor in the Flynn case. After we learned that the original Carter Page FISA warrant was built on lies, the Justice Department should be reviewing his work in the other 500 warrants issued during Van Grack’s tenure with the Mueller team. He should not be in his current position while that review is conducted.
  5. Reform the CIA and the FBI. Ok, I know this is a project that will take years, not weeks. But there are some simple things that can be done quickly. We’ve learned in the last 3-4 years that both the CIA and the FBI participated in the Russia collusion hoax even after it was known to be a hoax. Where were the whistleblowers? One answer is that these two powerful agencies don’t rotate their officials the way the military does. Keeping the same power-players working together for decades creates fertile ground for conspiracy. They learn each other’s secrets and come to depend on a kind of “omerta” to their mutual benefit. A few fresh faces will keep these power players more accountable as they will never know whether the new guy will “play ball.”
  6. Reassign Michael Atkinson. As noted by Julie Kelly, the current Intelligence Community inspector general is (or should be) under investigation for his role in surveillance abuse. Yes, it appears that the guy who is supposed to field whistleblower complaints for surveillance abuse is somebody against whom somebody blew the whistle. In addition to (likely) playing a role in the massive surveillance scandal noted by the FISA court here, Kelly believes he was “involved in handling the FISA warrant on Trump campaign associate Carter Page.” That’s the warrant that resulted in a bombshell OIG report finding numerous deceptions against the court.
  7. Make the bureaucrats live closer to their areas of responsibility. One problem with Washington, D.C., as demonstrated by the Ohrs (read here for the more complete story), is the intellectual incest. As the ruling class all hang out with each other, coach each other’s kids, and sleep with each other’s wives, they lose the ability to tolerate the “smell” of the peasants they rule. Our largest law enforcement challenges involve drug smuggling and Mexican cartels. So perhaps Dallas is a better location for the FBI headquarters. And why is so much of the CIA, which isn’t supposed to do anything inside the United States, located in Washington? How about splitting it into three divisions with a headquarters in Miami for Latin American affairs; Seoul, South Korea for Asian matters; and Warsaw, Poland for European affairs. The CIA is spending too much time in DC.
  8. Fire the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. As I noted here, the SDNY led a raid on Cohen’s private law office. Shortly thereafter, audio files of confidential attorney-client communication leaked to the press. There’s no excuse for that. Since then, the SDNY has continued its insurrection by abusing its awesome power to “take down” Trump. That’s not OK. Trump needs a U.S. Attorney who will prioritize law enforcement over political prosecutions.
  9. Introduce Intelligence Reform Legislation. The best time to reform the Intelligence Community is when the politicians can’t be sure who the IC will next target. A Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), for example, might be interested in voting to prevent a 2020 edition of “Crossfire Hurricane” if he might be the next target. Among the low-hanging fruit is the FISA court which recently issued a decision questioning whether it could rely on FBI affidavits on any of its approximately 1,000 annual FISA applications. The most important job of the FBI is to protect the Constitution, not to meddle in elections and spy on Americans.

The president should take action to exploit this very short window in which his exhausted opponents cast about for their next fake “bombshell.” They’re going to complain about Trump anyway. He might as well give them something to complain about.

News

Majority of Americans Do Not Think Impeachment Trial Will Change Their Minds

A majority of Americans say that they do not think the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump will change their opinions of him one way or the other, as The Hill reports.

The findings come from a poll by the Associated Press, which shows that about 75 percent of Americans said that “the trial is not likely at all or not very likely to change their views” on the president.

Other findings show that 90 percent of Republicans do not believe President Trump has done anything illegal, and 80 percent of Republicans do not think he should be removed from office. Conversely, 25 percent of Democrats do not believe that President Trump committed a crime.

News

Pelosi Caves: House to Transmit Impeachment Articles Next Week

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) appears to have buckled under pressure and has finally agreed to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate, Fox News is reporting.

In a letter to lawmakers Friday, Pelosi wrote, “I have asked Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler to be prepared to bring to the floor next week a resolution to appoint managers and transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate. I will be consulting with you at our Tuesday House Democratic Caucus meeting on how we proceed further.”

“I am very proud of the courage and patriotism exhibited by our House Democratic Caucus as we support and defend the Constitution,” she added.

On Thursday, she told reporters that she would send the articles of impeachment over to the Senate “when I’m ready.”

“I’m not withholding them indefinitely,” she said during a press conference. “I’ll send them over when I’m ready. And that will probably be soon. . . . documentation, witnesses, facts, truth. That’s what they’re afraid of.”

But rather than appear fearful of a Senate trial, Republicans have only demonstrated a desire to abide by past precedent.

McConnell has repeatedly said the resolution to govern the impeachment trial in the Senate would mirror the one used for then-President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1999—setting a timeframe for the trial to begin, with the opportunity for lawmakers to determine how to proceed on potential witness testimony and additional documents later, after both the defense and the prosecution make their opening statements.

Pelosi has been under increasing pressure from Republicans and Democrats alike to stop playing games with the impeachment process.

“The longer it goes on the less urgent it becomes,” Senator Dianne Feinstein told Politico. “So if it’s serious and urgent, send them over. If it isn’t, don’t send them over.”

Pelosi, Time reported, had gotten the bright idea to refuse to send the articles of impeachment to a Senate from disgraced Watergate felon John Dean, Nixon’s former White House lawyer.

Dean reportedly floated the idea on CNN on December 5. An aide told Time’s Molly Ball that Pelosi said in a committee hearing that she believed McConnell would be motivated to move if the House withheld the articles.

“Somebody said to me today that he may not even take up what we send. [But] then [Trump] will never be vindicated,” she said, according to the aide in the room. “He will be impeached forever. Forever. No matter what the Senate does.”

But McConnell was unmoved. “There will be no haggling with the House over Senate procedure,” he said on Twitter Wednesday. “We will not cede our authority to try this impeachment. The House Democrats’ turn is over. The Senate has made its decision. This is for the Senate, and the Senate only, to decide.”

Meanwhile, fellow Democrats including Senators Angus King (D-Maine), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.),  Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.),  and Feinstein all called for Pelosi to speed up the impeachment process.

Senior Democrat Rep. Adam Smith of Washington also broke ranks with Pelosi on Thursday, but was quickly whipped back into line.

“This is a challenging time to create bipartisan agreement” McConnell quipped on Twitter. “But the Speaker Pelosi has managed to do the impossible. She has created growing bipartisan unity — in opposition to her own reckless games with impeachment.”

Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) further tweaked the speaker on Friday:

The moral of the story, according to oil CEO Dan Eberhart: “Don’t base your entire impeachment strategy off something someone said on CNN once.”

Elections

Trapped by the Ghosts of Corrupt Administrations Past

The Left is lying not to beat Republicans so much as beat the rap.

It’s little wonder sane people have taken the Left’s messaging strategy regarding impeachment and the Justice Department inspector general’s new report as mere political inanity and mendacity. Government officials, past and present, who fear potential indictment for abuse of power for personal and partisan gain, their legal “experts” at Lawfare, their collusion media cohorts, and social media’s rabid pack of regressive mouth-breathers who do little more than parrot them are not advancing a typical political argument. They are proffering a preemptive legal defense.

For the Left, preparing briefs for a prospective court of law rather than making good faith arguments in the court of public opinion is a necessary gambit, due to U.S. Attorney John Durham’s probe into the Russia-gate lie. Think of it this way:  These Obama administration officials, both in and out of government, are out on karaoke night croaking out their mashup of Warren Zevon’s classic, “send Lawfare, guns, and money!”

Specifically, the Left is pursuing a legal strategy common in criminal trials: In order to distract from and/or prejudice the trier of fact against the evidence of the accused’s guilt, the defense endeavors to put the government on trial. (In the case of the House Democrats’ sham impeachment, it is doing this quite literally.)

It’s understandable the Left’s ulterior motive might be missed as one merely aimed at gaining votes and, though they do hope that will be a collateral benefit, that’s not all that’s going on here. Still, they are using their shopworn bag of despicable “politricks”: baseless personal attacks; veiled threats to intimidate; and, of course, accusing others of what the Left is doing.

This is routine by now, so it’s easy to miss what’s actually going on.

In the instance of Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on FISA abuses, the potential criminal defendants and their cohorts view it—rightly—as a prospective legal exhibit. Hence, their imperative to construct a false narrative of its findings for the collusion media to gaslight the juror pool—i.e., the American people. Some narrative attempts have been comically inept, such as that of former FBI Director James Comey claiming the report exonerated him; or that the report found only “mistakes” made by “low-level” employees.

Other attempts, however, have been far more insidious and effective—namely, claiming the report found “no bias” motivating the FISA abuses or in commencing the counterintelligence investigation.

Horowitz’s report specifically said it would not second guess the discretionary judgments of the FBI in the FISA process. In other words, he would give individuals the benefit of the doubt as to the purity of their motives. Only direct evidence of bias—say, a memo or a person admitting bias—would change the inspector general’s presumptive conclusion. This is a difficult standard, given that those knowingly engaged in criminal malfeasance are loath to implicate themselves in word or deed; moreover, even if such evidence exists, Horowitz’s limited investigatory powers and scope would have rendered it almost impossible for him to obtain.

Horowitz is well aware of the limits on his investigatory powers. So it makes total sense for him to continually state why, despite the overwhelming evidence indicating bias in the FISA process, he cannot conclude there was bias. Conversely, it is also why Horowitz always uses the disclaimer that, though his report found no direct evidence of bias, he cannot rule out the possibility there was bias in the murky FISA process.

As for the counterintelligence investigation’s predicate, Horowitz is more emphatic there was no bias in launching it, because the threshold is so low as to be almost nonexistent. (Apparently, while Horowitz is reluctant to second guess the FBI’s discretionary judgments, there are times he is more than happy to affirm them without a second thought at all.)

Yet this finding also requires the same disclaimer: Although his report found no direct evidence of bias, he cannot rule out the possibility there was bias in the launching the counterintelligence investigation.

Why? Because while it is sad but true that the FBI can legally launch a counterintelligence probe based upon the thinnest of hearsay, that does not mean that the FBI should launch a counterintelligence investigation based upon information agents know to be false, especially if they know that information was manufactured.

It is akin to an FBI agent knowingly lying by omission or commission to manufacture information to obtain a FISA warrant. Not that such a horrible abuse of power would ever happen . . . Again.

It is a mistake to assume there could be bias on the part of individuals who lied to spy when fraudulently obtaining a FISA warrant, but somehow there could not be any bias coming from the same individuals when it came to commencing the counterintelligence investigation, which was required first and foremost before they could even consider applying for said FISA warrants to spy. Therefore, if the FBI agents involved knew the investigation’s predicate was bogus  and proceeded anyway, that would certainly constitute bias.

This is a question—among many others—the Durham probe must ultimately answer. Yet for Obama Administration officials fearful of legal jeopardy due to the findings in Durham’s probe, they and their cohorts want to gaslight the public—i.e., prospective jurors—into believing that Horowitz’s FISA report “debunks Trump’s conspiracy theories” about the “deep state” sabotaging his candidacy and presidency.

If this gaslighting prevails, these potential defendants, their legal teams, and the collusion media will argue there can be no malfeasance—let alone criminality—in the absence of bias; just routine misfeasance by somebody, anybody, but not them.

In sum, then, the collusion crowd wants Americans to believe the Horowitz report is the end.

But, unfortunately for them, it is just the beginning. And the Left knows it, for they are painfully aware the Durham probe into the origins of the Russiagate lie is grinding away toward the truth. In consequence, from the Left come the personal attacks, threats, and false accusations of doing what the Left, in fact, has been doing all along and is doing still.

How else to explain, after the Horowitz FISA report revealed some of the gravest abuses of the surveillance power of the state, the collusion media condemns not the miscreants who did it, but U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr?

How else to explain Eric Holder slithering forth and, in an acute failure of self-awareness, sliming Barr and issuing veiled threats to U.S. Attorney Durham for conducting an inquiry into the origins of the Russiagate scam—you know, an investigation to root out federal government corruption and safeguard the civil liberties of the American people?

Given the acute stupidity and abject lack of self-awareness that must have gone into his penning this fast and furious smear, one cannot help but wonder if Holder is reprising his role as former President Obama’s “wing man” to perpetuate the risible myth the previous administration was “scandal-free.”

How else to explain why the House Democrats’ clown show impeachment hearing’s key talking point is the patently false allegation that President Trump “abused his power for political gain in 2020,” when that is precisely what the Democrats did in 2016?

In a nutshell, the Left’s messaging remains a shot of “Orange Man Bad” with a chaser of “Barr sucks, too.” As the polls now unmistakably show, for Democrats and the Left impeachment is not a winning political argument. Yet, trapped by the ghosts of the corrupt administrations past, the Left cannot change tactics or tack to political messaging that might salvage a short-term electoral advantage. Instead they must persist in their legal messaging, due to the long-term damage that will be done to regressive political fortunes should Obama Administration officials be indicted and possibly convicted for abusing their powers.

Two words to the wise, then. First, when exposed to the Left’s mendacity regarding Barr and Durham and his investigation into government corruption, suffice to remember: the Left is lying not to beat Republicans but to beat the rap. Then, as the Durham probe drops and justice is meted, let us pause to enjoy the Left’s discordant strains:

I’m hiding in Honduras
I’m a desperate man
Send Lawfare, guns, and money
The sh– has hit the fan . . .