Thursday, December 14, 2017

Comey edits revealed: Remarks on Clinton probe were watered down, documents show

By Jake Gibson, Judson Berger | Fox News
 


Newly released documents obtained by Fox News reveal that then-FBI Director James Comey’s draft statement on the Hillary Clinton email probe was edited numerous times before his public announcement, in ways that seemed to water down the bureau’s findings considerably.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, sent a letter to the FBI on Thursday that shows the multiple edits to Comey’s highly scrutinized statement.
n an early draft, Comey said it was “reasonably likely” that “hostile actors” gained access to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email account. That was changed later to say the scenario was merely “possible.”
Another edit showed language was changed to describe the actions of Clinton and her colleagues as “extremely careless” as opposed to “grossly negligent.” This is a key legal distinction.
Johnson, writing about his concerns in a letter Thursday to FBI Director Christopher Wray, said the original “could be read as a finding of criminality in Secretary Clinton’s handling of classified material.”


He added, “The edited statement deleted the reference to gross negligence – a legal threshold for mishandling classified material – and instead replaced it with an exculpatory sentence.”
The edits also showed that references to specific potential violations of statutes on “gross negligence
” regarding classified information and “misdemeanor handling” were removed.


The final statement also removed a reference to the “sheer volume” of classified information discussed on email.
“While the precise dates of the edits and identities of the editors are not apparent from the documents, the edits appear to change the tone and substance of Director Comey’s statement in at least three respects,” Johnson wrote Thursday.
That includes, Johnson said, “repeated edits to reduce Secretary Clinton’s culpability in mishandling classified information.”
Johnson continued, “In summary, the edits to Director Comey’s public statement, made months prior to the conclusion of the FBI’s investigation of Secretary Clinton’s conduct, had a significant impact on the FBI’s public evaluation of the implications of her actions.”
Johnson referenced newly revealed anti-Trump text messages exchanged between FBI officials who at one point worked on the Robert Mueller Russia probe.
Fox News has confirmed that one of those officials, Peter Strzok, a former deputy to the assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI, was the person who changed the language from “grossly negligent” to “extremely careless.”


“This effort, seen in light of the personal animus toward then-candidate Trump by senior FBI agents leading the Clinton investigation and their apparent desire to create an ‘insurance policy’ against Mr. Trump’s election, raise profound questions about the FBI’s role and possible interference in the 2016 presidential election and the role of the same agents in Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation by President Trump,” Johnson said.
According to Johnson, Comey emailed a draft statement to top FBI officials clearing Clinton of criminal wrongdoing in May of 2016 -- two months before the FBI completed two dozen interviews, including with Clinton herself.
“I’ve been trying to imagine what it would look like if I decided to do an FBI only press event to close out our work and hand the matter to the DOJ,” Comey wrote at the top of the draft. “To help shape out discussions of whether that, or something different, makes sense, I have spent some time crafting what I would say, which follows. In my imagination, I don’t see me taking any questions. Here is what it might look like.”
Comey delivered his statement on the Clinton case in July 2016, calling her actions “extremely careless” while recommending against criminal charges.
The Senate Homeland Security Committee is doing oversight of the Justice Department's Office of Special Counsel's investigation into whether Comey violated the Hatch Act with his statement. The Hatch Act limits the political activities of federal employees.
Fox News’ Alex Pappas contributed to this report.
Jake Gibson is a producer working at the Fox News Washington bureau who covers politics, law enforcement and intelligence issues. 

PBS suspends Tavis Smiley after sexual misconduct investigation

By John Sexton
 


Variety published an exclusive this afternoon saying PBS host Tavis Smiley has been suspended by the network in the wake of a sexual misconduct investigation.
 “Effective today, PBS has indefinitely suspended distribution of ‘Tavis Smiley,’ produced by TS Media, an independent production company,” the public broadcaster said. “PBS engaged an outside law firm to conduct an investigation immediately after learning of troubling allegations regarding Mr. Smiley. This investigation included interviews with witnesses as well as with Mr. Smiley. The inquiry uncovered multiple, credible allegations of conduct that is inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS, and the totality of this information led to today’s decision.”…
The investigation found credible allegations that Smiley had engaged in sexual relationships with multiple subordinates, sources said. Some witnesses interviewed expressed concern that their employment status was linked to the status of a sexual relationship with Smiley. In general, witnesses described Smiley as creating a verbally abusive and threatening environment that went beyond what could be expected in a typical high-pressure work environment. Several expressed concerns about retaliation.
Earlier this year a former producer for Tavis Smiley’s show wrote a piece for the Observer attacking Smiley. The piece included this detail about a trip to North Dakota to visit the anti-pipeline camp which had formed there:
I look back in the car and see Blanca, a young woman that Tavis had picked up at the Orlando airport and brought along as a f**k buddy. “Look at her, she’s so stupid,” he tells me, during our stop over from New York to Bismarck at Chick-fil-A in the Minneapolis airport Delta terminal after Blanca had left us at the counter and walked toward the gate. “How am I gonna carry all this food and my bags now? I specifically told her to wait for us,” he tells me angrily. Tavis’ misogyny is always creeping around, barely camouflaged by Midwestern good manners in line with the most duplicitous guys who always open doors, buy flowers and carry luggage until their girlfriends end up scrambling for some hotline 800 number…
“If anyone back in L.A. mentions the name Blanca,” Tavis tells me as soon as we are alone in the rented SUV once we arrived at the Oceti camp, “just tell them she was your girlfriend, that you brought her along. Don’t say anything about her to Kim in particular.” The question of my relationship status and if saying I was with Blanca would put me in a very difficult situation with people at the show who knew about my private life never even crossed his mind.
The producer never says or suggests the relationship between Smiley and Blanca was anything but consensual but he definitely gives the impression Smiley didn’t have a lot of respect for her.
Smiley is the second major host at PBS to be involved in sexual harassment allegations. Host Charlie Rose was fired by PBS after a Washington Post story alleged several instances of sexual harassment. PBS’s radio equivalent, NPR, has also fired two senior executives over allegations of sexual harassment.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Rosenstein stands by Mueller probe as Republicans fume over 'insider bias'

By Brooke Singman | Fox News


Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein stood by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe Wednesday, despite a newly unearthed trove of damning text messages and other details that Republicans said show an “insider bias” on the investigative team.

Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller and has overseen the Russia probe since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself, testified before the House Judiciary Committee -- and faced a grilling from GOP lawmakers. 

They zeroed in on anti-Trump text messages exchanged between two FBI agents who once worked on the Mueller team.
“This is unbelievable,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, voicing concern that the "public trust" in the probe is gone.
Republicans for weeks have raised concerns that some investigators may be biased, citing everything from their political donations to past work representing top Democratic figures and allied groups including the Clinton Foundation. 


But when committee Ranking Member Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., pressed Rosenstein over whether he had seen “good cause” to remove Mueller from his post, Rosenstein pushed back.
“No,” Rosenstein said.
Nadler asked whether Rosenstein would fire Mueller if he were ordered to do so.
“I would follow regulation. If there were good cause, I would act. If there was no good cause, I would not,” Rosenstein replied, doubling down that he has seen “no good cause” to do so.
He suggested the probe -- of Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with Trump associates -- is being conducted appropriately at this stage.
But just hours prior to Rosenstein’s testimony, the Justice Department released hundreds of texts messages between two FBI officials—Peter Strzok and Lisa Page—who worked on Mueller’s team and were romantically involved. Many were anti-Trump and pro-Clinton.
In one exchange from August 2016, Page forwarded a Donald Trump-related article to Strzok, writing: “And maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace.”


He responded: “Thanks. It’s absolutely true that we’re both very fortunate. And of course I’ll try and approach it that way. I just know it will be tough at times. I can protect our country at many levels, not sure if that helps.’”
In March 2016, Page texted Strzok, "God, Trump is a loathsome human."
"Yet he many[sic] win," Strzok responded. "Good for Hillary."
Later the same day, Strzok texted Page, "Omg [Trump's] an idiot."
"He's awful," Page answered.
The messages were given to the House Judiciary Committee. The officials no longer work on the Mueller probe.
Rep. Jordan said of Strzok, "This guy thought he was super agent James Bond at the FBI."
“We are now beginning to understand the magnitude of this insider bias on Mueller’s team,” Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said in his opening statement on Wednesday. He cited the “extreme bias” shown in the text messages between Strzok and Page; Mueller investigator Andrew Weissmann’s “awe” of former acting Attorney General Sally Yates for defying President Trump; and Mueller investigator Jeannie Rhee’s representation of the Clinton Foundation. He also cited the case of another DOJ official demoted amid scrutiny of his contacts with the firm behind the anti-Trump dossier.
“Aren’t DOJ attorneys advised to avoid even the ‘appearance of impropriety’?” Goodlatte asked, calling the “potential bias” of certain career Justice Department officials and lawyers on Mueller’s team “deeply troubling.” “DOJ investigations must not be tainted by individuals imposing their own political prejudices.”
Rosenstein told lawmakers that he has “discussed this with Robert Mueller.”
“It’s our responsibility to make sure those opinions do not influence their actions,” Rosenstein said. “I believe Director Mueller understands that, and recognizes people have political views but that they don’t let it [affect their work.]”
Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, pushed back, calling the appearance “sad.”
“Rather than wearing stripes like a referee, the Mueller team overwhelmingly ought to be attired with Democratic donkeys or Hillary t-shirts, not shirts that say ‘Make America Great Again,’ because I think the American people deserve more than the very biased team they have under Mueller,” Chabot said. “It’s really sad.”
But Rosenstein defended Mueller’s investigation, stressing he has “oversight authority” over Mueller.
“I know what he’s doing,” Rosenstein said of Mueller’s investigative actions. “He consults with me about their investigation, within and without the scope.”


When pressed over whether Mueller has attempted to “expand” the original scope of his investigation, Rosenstein said that he had given his “permission” to Mueller to investigate what he requests if necessary, noting that the special counsel team “does have authority” to investigate “obstruction.”
“If I thought he was doing something inappropriate, I would take action,” Rosenstein said.
In terms of any potential “impropriety” in Mueller’s office, cited by multiple committee Republicans, Rosenstein said he was not aware.
“I am not aware of any impropriety. Special Counsel is subject to oversight by the Department of Justice and I’m not aware of any violations of those rules,” Rosenstein said. “Appearance is, to some extent, in the eye of the beholder. We apply the department’s rules and regulations, and career ethics attorneys provide us counsel on that.”
Rosenstein underscored that he, Mueller and FBI Director Chris Wray are "accountable" and will ensure "no bias" in the special counsel's findings. 
Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews 

Do Black Students Need White Peers?

By Jason L. Riley
 


A news report worries about the racial makeup of charter schools, despite their better performance.

The Associated Press published a hit piece earlier this month that blamed charter schools for perpetrating racial segregation. No shock there. The mainstream press has long been sympathetic to left-wing critiques of school choice, and racial imbalance in the classroom is regularly trotted out by union leaders like Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers as a reason to ban charter schools, however high-performing.
More interesting (and somewhat encouraging) was the backlash to the AP “analysis” from others on the political left. Shavar Jeffries of Democrats for Education Reform, an outfit that advocates school choice, faulted the reporters’ methodology, among other issues.
The AP makes “apples-to-oranges comparisons that contrast the demographics of individual charter schools to those of entire cities,” he said. “This ignores the blatantly obvious fact that charter schools are concentrated in neighborhoods with high proportions of students of color to provide them an alternative to the low-performing traditional public schools they previously had no choice but to attend.”
But Mr. Jeffries seemed even more taken aback by the premise of the AP story. To wit: the supposed importance of the role white students play in the education of black students. “There’s no doubt there are benefits for students who attend racially diverse schools,” he said, but “we take issue with the assumption that black and brown children can’t learn unless they attend school alongside white children.”
Mr. Jeffries’s criticism was almost mild in comparison to that of Amy Wilkins of the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools, who took personal umbrage at the implication that school-choice proponents like herself have made common cause with the racial segregationists of yesteryear.
Ms. Wilkins hails from what could accurately be described as civil-rights royalty. She is the daughter of Roger Wilkins, the black political activist, journalist and academic, who served in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. And she is the niece of Roy Wilkins, who led the NAACP in the 1950s and ’60s, two of the most consequential decades in the effort to abolish Jim Crow oppression.
Ms. Wilkins has spent her adult life as an outspoken advocate for black children, and after the AP story appeared she wrote a response in the education-news website The 74 that pulled no punches.

The problem, wrote Ms. Wilkins, “isn’t one article, however off-base it may be. The problem is the mindset of revanchists who peddle stories like these—professional anti-reformers who go nuts when approaches other than those they sanction and control deliver results for the students . . . they insist cannot learn at high levels.”
Black parents simply want better schools, and the strong demand for education choice among low-income families stems from the persistent failure of traditional public-school systems to provide a decent education for their children.
“There is no comparison—none—between the enforced segregation of the pre-Brown v. Board era and the choices black families make when they enroll their children in better schools,” wrote Ms. Wilkins. “It’s ludicrous to suggest the two are in any way similar.
In fact, it’s far closer to the spirit of Jim Crow to tell a black student that she has to go to her dismal neighborhood school because the better charter school up the street is not white enough to satisfy the defenders of the status quo.”
It isn’t obvious from the media coverage of school choice, but education reform is less a left-right issue than it is an internal debate among Democrats, who are torn between carrying water for organized labor and prioritizing the interest of low-income minorities.
The primary obstacle to advancing school choice for liberals like Mr. Jeffries and Ms. Wilkins is not conservative Republicans. Rather, it’s liberal Democrats, who tend to control the levers of power in urban centers populated by the black poor.
Even the AP report acknowledged that “on average, children in hyper-segregated charters do at least marginally better on tests than those in comparably segregated traditional schools.”
Charter schools are also less violent and produce higher rates of graduation and college completion.
As the Shavar Jefferieses and Amy Wilkinses and others on the school reform left understand, parental choice scares defenders of the status quo not because it’s ineffective or somehow harmful but because it works.
“To the people trying to fabricate a segregation story to deny black students educational opportunity, I have a simple message: Don’t you dare,” wrote Ms. Wilkins.
“Don’t you dare try to take away choices black families have fought for. Don’t you dare tell black families that you know better than they do what kind of school their children should attend. Don’t you dare call yourself social justice warriors while undermining the work of black school leaders and educators who are building something better for their communities.”

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

HuffPo Laments That One Year in, ‘Trump Is Winning’

By Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D.

 
 
In the midst of much hand-wringing and anguished sighs, the Huffington Post has announced to its readers that after his first year in office “Trump Is Winning.”

“This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to write and admit,” begins Earl Ofari Hutchinson in his essay, “Trump is winning.”
Hutchinson, an author and co-host of the Al Sharpton Show, observes that according to numerous indicators the Trump presidency is a success, beginning with his delivery of a long list of campaign promises.
Among Mr. Trump’s many victories, Hutchinson enumerates Mick Mulvaney’s appointment to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Neil Gorsuch’s contribution to the Supreme Court, Scott Pruitt’s work at the EPA, Trump’s support of fossil fuels to make America energy independent, the RNC backing of judge Roy Moore in Alabama, the fizzling out of Russiagate, the passage of the tax reform bill, and the record-level stock market.
Yet all of these wins are small potatoes compared to Trump’s three top victories, Hutchinson claims.
First, the President has successfully taken charge of the Republican Party. “He is the point man for GOP policy and issues and, in a perverse way, the spur to get action on them,” Hutchinson notes.
Second, Mr. Trump has managed to energize his base and keep their loyalty. The “overwhelming majority” of Republican voters continues to back him, Hutchinson admits.
“This is the voter loyalty that buys a lot of support from the GOP establishment even as they flail him or shake their head in disgust at his antics,” he writes.
Third, Trump has successfully harnessed the mainstream media for his own purposes. “He remains a ratings cash cow for the networks and makes stunning copy for the print media,” Hutchinson complains.
“He knew that from day one of his presidential bid and he knows it even more now. He will continue to suck the media air out of everything that the Democrats do and try to do.”
While praising the war on Trump waged by the New York Times and “other liberal print publications,” Hutchinson recognizes that for much of the Trump base these papers have lost all credibility. “So the withering criticism of Trump in these publications is tantamount to a wolf howling in the wind,” he says.
After a string of jabs about Trump’s “phony war” with the NFL, his “bumbling, inept, and dangerous handling of the North Korea nuclear threat,” and his “clueless saber rattle” over the Iran nuclear pact, Hutchinson finds himself forced to confess that Trump has managed to come out on top.
For Trump so far, “this has been a win-win, and a sad one to admit,” he writes.
Of course, from Hutchinson’s perspective, all of these triumphs are bad for America. The Trump base of benighted deplorables and hobbits don’t realize that what seem to be victories are really long-term defeats and ultimately won’t benefit them at all, he whines.
One thing seems certain.
The annoying habit leftist elites have of condescendingly telling other people what is best for them isn’t gaining them any friends.
It didn’t work in 2016 and it doesn’t work now.
And then they wonder why Trump is winning.

One Mueller-Investigation Coincidence Too Many

By Victor Davis Hanson

 
Stacking the deck with anti-Trump staffers is proving to be a really bad idea.
 
Special prosecutors, investigators, and counsels are usually a bad idea. They are admissions that constitutionally mandated institutions don’t work — and can be rescued only by supposed superhuman moralists, who are without the innate biases inherent in human nature.

The record from Lawrence Walsh to Ken Starr to Patrick Fitzgerald suggests otherwise. Originally narrow mandates inevitably expand — on the cynical theory that everyone has something embarrassing to hide. Promised “short” timelines and limited budgets are quickly forgotten. Prosecutors search for ever new crimes to justify the expense and public expectations of the special-counsel appointment.
Soon the investigators need to be investigated for their own conflicts of interest, as if we need special-special or really, really special prosecutors. Special investigations often quickly turn Soviet, in the sense of “Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime.”
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has led what seems to be an exemplary life of public service. No doubt he believes that as a disinterested investigator he can get to the bottom of the once contentious charge of “Russian collusion” in the 2016 election. But can he?
A Mandate Gone Wild
Something has gone terribly wrong with the Mueller investigation.
The investigation is venturing well beyond the original mandate of rooting out evidence of Russian collusion. Indeed, the word “collusion” is now rarely invoked at all. It has given way to its successor, “obstruction.” The latter likely will soon beget yet another catchphrase to justify the next iteration of the investigations.
There seems far less special investigatory concern with the far more likely Russian collusion in the matters of the origins and dissemination of the Fusion GPS/Steele dossier, and its possible role in the Obama-administration gambit of improper or illegal surveilling, unmasking, and leaking of the names of American citizens.
Leaks from the Mueller investigation so far abound. They have seemed calibrated to create a public consensus that particular individuals are currently under investigation, likely to be indicted — or indeed likely guilty.
These public worries are not groundless. They are deeply rooted in the nature and liberal composition of the Mueller investigative team — whose left-leaning appointments just months ago had understandably made the liberal media giddy with anticipation from the outset. Wired, for instance, published this headline on June 14: “Robert Mueller Chooses His Investigatory Dream Team.” Vox, on August 22, wrote: “Meet the all-star legal team who may take down Trump.” The Daily Beast, two day later, chimed in: “Inside Robert Mueller’s Army.”
Whose ‘Army,’ Whose ‘Dream Team,’ and Whose ‘All-Stars’?
Special Counsel Mueller was himself appointed in rather strange circumstances. Former FBI director James Comey (now reduced to ankle-biting the president on Twitter with Wikipedia-like quotes) stated under oath that he had deliberately leaked his own confidential notes about conversations with President Trump, hoping to prompt appointment of a special investigator to investigate a president — whom he said, also under oath, that he was not investigating.
Comey’s ploy worked all too well. Department of Justice officials, now in the Trump Justice Department but who once served in Barack Obama’s administration, selected Comey’s close friend and long associate Robert Mueller as investigator. From that germination, an innate conflict of interest was born — given that Mueller’s appointment assumed that Comey himself would not come under his own investigation, a supposition that may be increasingly untenable.
Okay — but one such conflict of interest swallow does not make a discredited spring.
But then there was the weird position of Comey subordinate and deputy director of the FBI Andrew McCabe. He ran the Washington, D.C., office that was involved in the Clinton email investigations. For some strange reason, McCabe did not recuse himself from the email investigation until one week before the presidential election, even though just months earlier his wife, Jill McCabe, had announced her Democratic campaign for a state senate seat in Virginia — and had received a huge donation of more than $675,000 from the political organizations of Governor Terry McAuliffe, a longtime Clinton supporter and intimate. Like it or not, the behavior of the FBI during the Clinton email investigations also extends to the Russian-collusion probe, especially as it pertains to the Clinton-funded Fusion GPS/Steele dossier.
Okay — Washington is an incestuous place, and such conflicts of interest may be unavoidable. Perhaps McCabe himself was not really so directly involved in the FBI investigations of Clinton, and perhaps he had not even talked about the current Mueller investigations.
But then it was announced that at least six of Mueller’s staff of 15 lawyers, who previously had donated (in some cases quite generously) to Hillary Clinton’s campaigns, were now investigating her arch foe Donald Trump.
Okay — no doubt, such apparent conflicts of interests are not what they seem (given the overwhelming preponderance of liberal lawyers in general and in particular in Washington). After all, no one should be disqualified from government service for his or her political beliefs.
But then we came to the inexplicable case of Peter Strzok, an FBI investigator assigned to the Mueller investigation of Russian collusion. Strzok and Lisa Page, a consulting FBI lawyer (part of Mueller’s once-ballyhooed “dream team”), were for some reason relieved from the investigation of Trump in late summer 2017. Mueller’s office refused to explain the departure of either, other than to let the media assume that the departures were both unrelated and due to normal revolving or transient appointments.
Okay — even dream-teamers and all-stars occasionally move on, and the less said, the better.
But then we learn that the two, while part of Mueller’s investigation of Trump, were having an extramarital affair, and exchanging some 10,000 texts, of which at least some were adamantly anti-Trump and pro-Clinton. One wonders, Why did that information, now confirmed, come out through leaks rather than through official Mueller communiqu├ęs? In other words, if there is nothing now deemed improper about the two Trump investigators’ amorous political expressions or in the anti-Trump nature of their exchanges, why was there apparently such a reluctance in August and September to avoid full disclosure concerning their abrupt departures?
Okay — perhaps indiscreet electronic communications and affairs in the workplace are no big deal in Washington.
But then Strzok apparently was also responsible for changing the wording of the official FBI report on the Clinton email affair. He crossed out the original finding of “grossly negligent,” which is legalese that under the statute constitutes a crime, and replaced it with “extremely careless,” which does not warrant prosecution.
Okay — perhaps we can shrug and suggest that Strzok surely did not have the final say in such verbal gymnastics. Or perhaps his anti-Trump, pro-Clinton sentiments were not germane to his mere copy editing or his reliance on a thesaurus.
But then we learned that Andrew Weissmann, who is another veteran prosecutor assigned to Mueller’s legal team, praised Sally Yates, an Obama-administration holdover at the Trump Department of Justice, for breaking her oath of office and refusing to carry out President Trump’s immigration order (Yates was summarily fired). “I am so proud,” he emailed Yates, on the day she publicly defied the president. “And in awe. Thank you so much. All my deepest respects.”
Okay — it certainly does not look good that a disinterested government attorney investigating the president was so indiscreet as to write his admiration to a fellow Obama holdover who was fighting with Trump. But to give the anti-Trump attorneys the benefit of the doubt, perhaps Weissmann was merely reacting to Yates’s panache rather than to her shared political views?
But then again, we learned that another attorney on the Mueller staff, Jeannie Rhee, was at one time the personal attorney of Ben Rhodes, the Obama deputy national-security adviser who is often mentioned as instrumental in making last-minute Obama-administrative-state appointments to thwart the incoming Trump administration. Rhee also provided legal counsel to the Clinton Foundation and was a generous donor to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Rhee seemingly could not be a disinterested investigator of Trump, given that she has had financial interests with those, past and present, who are fiercely opposed to the current likely target of her investigations.
Okay — but perhaps in Washington’s upside-down world, lawyers are mere hired guns who have no real political loyalties and they investigate, without bias, those whose politics they detest. Why should they feel a need to be shy about their political agendas?
But then again, most recently, it was disclosed that a senior Justice Department official, Bruce G. Ohr, connected with various ongoing investigations under the aegis of the Justice Department, was partially reassigned for his contact with the opposition-research firm responsible for the Clinton-funded, anti-Trump “dossier” — which in theory could be one catalyst for the original FBI investigation of “collusion” and thus additionally might be the reason cited to request FISA orders to surveil Trump associates during the 2016 campaign. 
And note that it was also never disclosed that Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, whose expertise was Russian politics and history, actually worked for Fusion GPS during the 2016 campaign, when the opposition research firm’s discredited anti-Trump dossier alleging Russian collusion was leaked shortly before Election Day 2016.
Okay — perhaps Ohr, as part of his job, was merely learning about aspects of the dossier from one of its owners, for future reference.
But then again, we learned of the strange career odyssey of yet another person on Mueller’s legal team, Aaron Zebley (supposedly known in the past as Mueller’s “right-hand hand”). He once served as Mueller’s chief of staff while employed at the FBI and was also assigned to both the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division and the National Security Division at the Department of Justice. In addition, Zebley served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the National Security and Terrorism Unit in Virginia. Yet Zebley, as late as 2015, represented one Justin Cooper.
The latter was the IT staffer who set up Hillary Clinton’s likely illegal and unsecure server at her home, and who purportedly smashed Clinton’s various BlackBerries with a hammer in fear they would be subpoenaed. Zebley had come into contact once earlier with congressional investigators, when he was legal counsel for Cooper — and yet Zebley now is on Mueller’s team investigating Donald Trump.
What’s Next?
By now there are simply too many coincidental conflicts of interest and too much improper investigatory behavior to continue to give the Mueller investigation the benefit of doubt. Each is a light straw; together, they now have broken the back of the probe’s reputation.
In inexplicable fashion, Mueller seems to have made almost no effort to select attorneys from outside Washington, from diverse private law firms across the country, who were without personal involvement with the Clinton machine, and who were politically astute or disinterested enough to keep their politics to themselves.
Indeed, the special-counsel investigation has developed an eerie resemblance to the spate of sexual-harassment cases, in which the accused sluff off initial charges as irrelevant, unproven, or politically motivated, only to be confronted with more fresh allegations that insidiously point to a pattern of repeated behavior.
What then is going on here?
No one knows. We should assume that there will be almost daily new disclosures of the Mueller investigation’s conflicts of interest that were heretofore deliberately suppressed.
Yet Donald Trump at this point would be unhinged if he were to fire Special Counsel Mueller — given that the investigators seem intent on digging their own graves through conflicts of interest, partisan politicking, leaking, improper amorous liaisons, indiscreet communications, and stonewalling the release of congressionally requested information.
Indeed, the only remaining trajectory by which Mueller and his investigators can escape with their reputations intact is to dismiss those staff attorneys who have exhibited clear anti-Trump political sympathies, reboot the investigation, and then focus on what now seems the most likely criminal conduct: Russian and Clinton-campaign collusion in the creation of the anti-Trump Fusion GPS dossier and later possible U.S. government participation in the dissemination of it.
If such a fraudulent document was used to gain court approval to surveil Trump associates, and under such cover to unmask and leak names of private U.S. citizens — at first to warp a U.S. election, and then later to thwart the work of an incoming elected administration — then Mueller will be tasked with getting to the bottom of one of the greatest political scandals in recent U.S. history.
Indeed, his legacy may not be that he welcomed in known pro-Clinton, anti-Trump attorneys to investigate the Trump 2016 campaign where there was little likelihood of criminality, but that he ignored the most egregious case of government wrongdoing in the last half-century.

NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, released in October from Basic Books.

Monday, December 11, 2017

President Trump's Message: New York Terror Attack

 
THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 11, 2017

Statement from President Donald J. Trump Regarding Today’s Attack in New York City

Today’s attempted mass murder attack in New York City—the second terror attack in New York in the last two months—once again highlights the urgent need for Congress to enact legislative reforms to protect the American people.
 First and foremost, as I have been saying since I first announced my candidacy for President, America must fix its lax immigration system, which allows far too many dangerous, inadequately vetted people to access our country.  Today’s terror suspect entered our country through extended-family chain migration, which is incompatible with national security.  My Executive action to restrict the entry of certain nationals from eight countries, which the Supreme Court recently allowed to take effect, is just one step forward in securing our immigration system.  Congress must end chain migration.  Congress must also act on my Administration’s other proposals to enhance domestic security, including increasing the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, enhancing the arrest and detention authorities for immigration officers, and ending fraud and abuse in our immigration system.  The terrible harm that this flawed system inflicts on America’s security and economy has long been clear.  I am determined to improve our immigration system to put our country and our people first.
 Second, those convicted of engaging in acts of terror deserve the strongest penalty allowed by law, including the death penalty in appropriate cases.  America should always stand firm against terrorism and extremism, ensuring that our great institutions can address all evil acts of terror.

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