May 15, 2019

Who Investigates the Investigators?

We're officially on Insta! Did I throw on a blazer at 5 am for all you lovely people? You bet I did!

“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

Trump's “goal, it seems, is to put so much pressure on Tehran that it has no choice but to completely change its behavior — but he could end up leading the countries to the brink of war in the process… Now is typically the time when cooler heads prevail, but it’s unclear if there are cooler heads around… It’s hard to overstate how avoidable this situation was.”
Alex Ward, Vox

“In theory, there’s no reason why a bad businessman can’t go on to become a good president. But a commander-in-chief whose signature legislative achievement expanded tax loopholes that he himself describes as grossly unfair is pretty much a bad president, by definition.”
Eric Levitz, New York Magazine

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

Some argue, “It stands to reason that if Kim is willing to starve his own people, deprive his economy of any growth, and pour billions of dollars into missile tech, he will, at some point, develop weapons America and its allies mastered decades ago. And short of an invasion or a diplomatic agreement, under the present circumstances, there is very little we can do to stop him… Taking a hardline approach—what many call the ‘big deal’—or only granting sanctions relief after full denuclearization and the end of Kim’s missile programs is completely impractical and something North Korea would never agree to… only a step-by-step process of disarming Pyongyang, where each side gets a benefit for making a concession, will work.”
Harry J. Kazianis, The American Conservative

Others posit that “the reason Kim is developing missiles that can strike Seattle or LA is that 28,000 U.S. troops are in South Korea… If we cannot persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons in return for a lifting of sanctions, perhaps we should pull U.S. forces off the peninsula and let China deal with the possible acquisition of their own nuclear weapons by Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan…

“After an exhausting two weeks [between North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, and others], one is tempted to ask: How many quarrels, clashes and conflicts can even a superpower manage at one time? And is it not the time for the United States, preoccupied with so many crises, to begin asking, ‘Why is this our problem?’”
Pat Buchanan, Townhall

Counterpoint: “after the War of 1812, President Madison… enacted the Tariff of 1816 to price British textiles out of competition, so Americans would build the new factories and capture the booming U.S. market. It worked. Tariffs [also] financed Mr. Lincoln’s War. The Tariff of 1890 bears the name of Ohio Congressman and future President William McKinley, who said that a foreign manufacturer ‘has no right or claim to equality with our own… He pays no taxes. He performs no civil duties’… [A tariff’s] purpose is not just to raise revenue but to make a nation economically independent of others, and to bring its citizens to rely upon each other rather than foreign entities.”
Patrick J. Buchanan, The American Conservative

A libertarian's take

“The scoop reflects poorly on Trump, who willfully misled the public for a decade in hopes of fraudulently representing himself as a man with a Midas touch. But he could not have succeeded without the assistance of many Americans, some mercenary, others over-credulous, who helped to spread the deceit and deception, generating countless newspaper articles, magazine stories, and TV segments that misinformed the public about the publicity hound’s record in business. New evidence of his staggering losses in that decade therefore provides an apt occasion to reflect on the media’s complicity in Trump’s brazen deceit and deception… Let [this] be a lesson for today’s tabloids, gossip columnists, over-credulous or mercenary journalists, and reality-television producers.”
Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic

On the bright side...

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

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