May 15, 2019

Who Investigates the Investigators?

Editor's note: We couldn’t be more proud of one of our teammates, Isaac Rose-Berman, who penned his first op-ed this week in USA Today: “How college students can bridge American divides: 'Study abroad' in Alabama or New York.” Please give it a read, and share far and wide!

“Attorney General William Barr has appointed a U.S. attorney to examine the origins of the Russia investigation and determine if intelligence collection involving the Trump campaign was ‘lawful and appropriate,’ according to a person familiar with the issue. Barr appointed John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, to conduct the inquiry.” AP News

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz is “close to concluding [his] inquiry into steps the FBI took in its probe of Trump campaign associates and Russia beginning in 2016.” Wall Street Journal

See past issues

From the Left

The left believes that the appointment of Durham is politically motivated, and the investigation into the Trump campaign was justified.

“The Trump officials making [contacts with Russians] included his son, his son-in-law, his campaign chairman, his personal lawyer, his future national security adviser, and his future attorney general, among others. We can argue about how you might define ‘collusion’ and whether what happened constituted a conspiracy. But from the standpoint of counterintelligence investigators looking for a fire, there was smoke billowing from every window in Trump Tower

“By all accounts, the investigators proceeded with unusual care, deeply concerned about what Russia was doing, but just as deeply concerned that their investigation might affect the outcome of the election if its existence became public. Which is why they successfully kept it secret until after the election was over, a fact that is utterly incompatible with the Republicans’ theory that there was a sinister conspiracy within the Justice Department that was bent on destroying Donald Trump.”
Paul Waldman, Washington Post

“Trump supporters point to the fact that the Steele Dossier — a largely unconfirmed report on early Russian efforts to influence Trump which had been funded in part by the Clinton campaign — was cited in a footnote in the formal FISA application. This argument ignores a few key details. The FISA application clearly disclosed that the Steele Dossier had received funding from those ‘likely looking for information to discredit’ the Trump campaign — and the surveillance on Page was renewed multiple times, including by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a Trump appointee… Moreover, Russian spies had previously attempted to recruit Page outright… There’s no indication partisan concerns played any role in the surveillance.”
Casey Michel, ThinkProgress

“The most charitable interpretation of Barr’s behavior in defense of Trump is that he believes strongly in a ‘unitary executive,’ where the president can order any investigation he wants. But in his quest to protect the presidency, Barr is damaging our national security. His complicity in Trump’s efforts to disparage the FBI will make it more difficult for agents to do their jobs and could discourage investigations of those in power.”
Barbara McQuade, Daily Beast

“Robert Mueller’s report on Russian election interference detailed at least 140 contacts between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russian nationals, WikiLeaks or their associates… Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor, said on Tuesday that the F.B.I. confirmed with him that Russian hackers had managed in 2016 to infiltrate two county voter databases in the state… So once the Trump administration is done investigating the investigators,it should turn its attention to ensuring the sanctity and security of the nation’s ballot boxes.”
Editorial Board, New York Times

“Koch’s principles were not purely partisan. He supported same-sex marriage and abortion rights and believed in the value of free trade and humane immigration policies. He reviled the war on drugs and pushed, quite successfully, for criminal justice and prison reform…

“He gave $100 million to New York-Presbyterian Hospital; $150 million to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; tens of millions to the Hospital for Special Surgery. Another $100 million went toward renovating the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center. Another $65 million, to restore the fountains and plaza outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Another $20 million, to the Museum of Natural History. Much of what Koch’s legacy was will be argued over for decades, as it should be. Some of it will deliver aid, comfort and enrichment to people who care not one whit about the name on the hospital wing or museum wall.”
Editorial Board, New York Daily News

Regarding the Cadillac tax, “high-premium employer-based plans raise the cost of health care for everyone by encouraging the overconsumption of expensive services. This means that even Medicare and Medicaid face higher prices. Quite aside from its benefits for the health-care market, the Cadillac tax would also have the effect of expanding the tax base and making the tax code more efficient. It would raise revenues by about $15 billion a year… Rather than killing or delaying the Cadillac tax, Democrats should be trying to make it operational. The tax would raise revenue, lower costs, increase the efficiency of the tax code and give the Obamacare individual market its best chance at success.”
Karl W. Smith, Bloomberg

“The two issues with which he is most often associated, support for a balanced budget and opposition to free trade, put him at odds with both of our major political parties. An old-fashioned, soft-spoken Southerner, he nevertheless held views on so-called ‘social issues’ that would be to the left of the mainstream of the Republican Party, both then and now. He was a fervent supporter of the Vietnam POW/MIA movement in the late '80s and early '90s, but he was not in any sense a hawk. Never mind 2003. Perot opposed the first war in Iraq in 1990… Perot's death should be mourned by all Americans who regret the fact that it is no longer possible to make reasoned, non-ideological arguments about questions of public import, and by the devolution of our political life into mindless partisan squabbling.”
Matthew Walther, The Week

From the Right

The right praises Durham, and hopes he uncovers any misconduct involving the investigation into the Trump campaign.

From the Right

The right praises Durham, and hopes he uncovers any misconduct involving the investigation into the Trump campaign.

“As a U.S. Attorney, Mr. Durham will have the power to convene a grand jury and subpoena people outside the government. Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz has been looking into some of the same questions, but he lacks similar power. Mr. Durham can also pick up any criminal referrals from Mr. Horowitz’s looming report… Appointing someone of [Dunham’s] standing and experience is important to getting to the truth about the FBI counterintelligence probe of Trump campaign officials, the FBI’s apparent misleading of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to get a warrant against Trump adviser Carter Page, and other seeming abuses.”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

“Durham isn’t a prosecutor one sends on a fishing expedition. He’s the prosecutor one sends when there’s a likelihood of finding actionable items to prosecute… Republicans in Congress have repeatedly called for an appointment of a special counsel, during and after the Mueller investigation, to look into the FBI’s actions… It’s possible that Barr wants to head off more specific calls for a special counsel before they have a chance to erupt. If so, then Durham’s new assignment is a smart decision.”
Ed Morrissey, Hot Air

“Democrats could have a difficult time in attacking Durham. Confirmed as U.S. attorney in February 2018 by a voice vote in the Senate, he had gained praise from Democrats when Trump nominated him. Among these admirers were two of Trump’s biggest critics, Connecticut’s two Democratic senators—Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy. The two men had recommended Durham to serve as U.S. attorney.”
Fred Lucas, The Daily Signal

Dated But Relevant: “Opening an investigation of the opposition political party is not like opening an investigation of a Mafia family or a suspected drug conspiracy. An investigation of a political campaign should not be opened unless there is significant evidence of wrongdoing. Even if there is such evidence, that does not mean anything goes. Using informants to spy on a campaign or its operatives is extremely intrusive and has a high potential for abuse. It should not be done based on a few disturbing connections between campaign surrogates and foreign powers. There should be hard evidence of ongoing, corrupt activities or plotting…

“[Moreover] in an investigation of the incumbent administration’s political opposition, it should be too obvious to need mentioning that, if the campaign of the incumbent administration’s party has had a role in generating or supplying information to the FBI, that fact must be disclosed to the court with complete transparency… There needs to be a thorough inquiry. We need answers. The attorney general is right to press for them.”
Andrew McCarthy, Fox News

“Democrats spent more than two years talking about Russia, Russia, Russia seven days per week. It was their way of keeping the story in the news in the hopes that it would eventually bring down Trump. Now that the Russia thing has blown up in their faces, they need to trot out a new totem to raise against the President and the magic word is impeachment… This isn’t about actually impeaching Donald Trump. This is a strategy to have people hearing the word impeachment associated with Trump on a daily basis to give the impression that he’s going to crumble any day now. And they need to keep that going until next November.”
Jazz Shaw, Hot Air

“If a dozen drones or missiles can do the kind of damage to the world economy as did those fired on Saturday—shutting down about 6 percent of world oil production—imagine what a U.S.-Iran-Saudi war would do to the world economy. In recent decades, the U.S. has sold the Saudis hundreds of billions of dollars of military equipment. Did our weapons sales carry a guarantee that we will also come and fight alongside the kingdom if it gets into a war with its neighbors?… the nation does not want another war. How we avoid it, however, is becoming difficult to see. John Bolton may be gone from the West Wing, but his soul is marching on.”
Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative

“NBC and MSNBC embraced Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in the first debate of Democratic presidential candidates Wednesday night, treating her like the star of the show. The debate led off with Warren, who had a huge popularity advantage from the start… NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie started it off sounding more like Warren’s press secretary. ‘You have many plans – free college, free child care, government health care, cancelation of student debt, new taxes, new regulations, the breakup of major corporations,’ Guthrie said, before teeing up an economy question. Guthrie even used Warren’s plan to break up tech companies as the foundation for a question for Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey… the round-robin final comments also ended with Warren, as Maddow asked her for the ‘final, final statement.’ That let NBC bookend the entire debate with Warren and Warren.”
Dan Gainor, Fox News

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“Why did Modi pick this moment to do something so radical? Violence in Kashmir had been trending downwards for the last year, after all. The main reason, besides President Donald Trump's alarming offer to mediate a settlement, is that he wanted a distraction from India's mounting economic woes. India's GDP growth dropped from over 8 percent to 5.8 percent over the last year, and it is widely expected to dip further. Just as ominous has been the crash in consumer demand. India's usual problem has been an insufficient supply to meet its voracious appetite for vehicles, cell phones, and other similar goods. But sales figures for all consumer goods have posted a precipitous decline, slamming businesses that are dramatically scaling back investments.”
Shikha Dalmia, Reason

On the bright side...

Daycare bound: Dog runs away from home to be with friends.
NBC New York

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