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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Recommended Reading

See Comey’s last stand for the deep state by Mark Penn, former Clinton aide and 2008 political strategist for Hillary Rodham Clinton (with thanks to Silverfiddle for this link).

The full essay by Mark Penn is below the fold:
They were among the most powerful men of the last decade. They commanded armies of armed agents, had the ability to bug and wiretap almost anyone, and had virtually unlimited budgets. They were the leadership of the FBI, the CIA and the director of national intelligence under President Obama. Each day, it becomes clearer that they are the real abusers of power in this drama.

The book by former FBI Director James Comey and the daily hyperbolic John Brennan sound bites are perhaps the final reveal of just how much hubris and vitriol they had. Comey’s book [A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership], according to reports, contains nothing new of legal consequence to Trump (while suggesting that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch has something to worry about), but it unmasks the hatred that Comey had for Donald Trump from the beginning. It impeaches Comey’s fitness to have ever held high, nonpartisan office.

Whether you are a Democrat who can’t stand Trump, a Hillary Clinton supporter who feels robbed by Comey, or a Trump supporter, any use of wiretapping and vast prosecutorial machinery against our political campaigns and sitting presidents always has to be viewed skeptically and should meet the highest standards of conduct and impartiality. The post-election actions of these former officials makes suspect their actions as officials.

It was, after all, Comey who went to the president during the transition seeking a one-on-one meeting to tell him about the inflammatory dossier, but who critically omitted telling the president that the dossier was a product of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. These facts, he knew, if revealed at that moment in January, would have ended further inquiry. This was no effort to inform the president and douse the fires of unverified and salacious information, but one to inflame the president and spread the stories everywhere.

Unlike a murder or a robbery that has a specific trail of facts that can be investigated, Russia collusion is an allegation that could never be disproved. The accusation allowed special counsel Robert Mueller to investigate the entirety of the Trump campaign, every aspect of the presidential transition, and even interview 27 White House aides.

When that did not bear fruit, the special counsel could start looking at every business transaction with Russians or foreigners who knew Russians. After all, collusion could be hiding anywhere — in a speech given years ago, a condo bought a decade ago by an oligarch — so he could search for it everywhere.

The Mueller investigation bears all of the hallmarks of prosecutorial overreach: pre-dawn raids, denial of reasonable bail, threats to prosecute family members, investigations of unrelated business matters. He didn’t appropriately subpoena selected transition emails but collected every email in the entire transition without notice, prying them from holdover employees at the General Services Administration.

Even Attorney General Jeff Sessions himself was secretly investigated. This is everything our Constitution and the Bill of Rights were set up to prevent. It’s the very reason the independent counsel statute was eliminated. Never again, we said, after wasting a year on the Monica Lewinsky prosecution.

This investigation has now devolved into a full-blown repeat of that 1998 investigation by bleeding over to the personal life of the president. It was wrong then, and it’s wrong now. President Clinton was guilty of trying to conceal his affair. John Edwards was guilty of trying to conceal his affair. Donald Trump might well be guilty of the same. The 1998 impeachment verdict and Edwards trial established that trying to criminalize this behavior through perjury traps and strained election-law readings renders a mockery of our justice system, and we rejected it twice.

Moreover, the double standards being applied here are undermining the rule of law. The payments to Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele, the former British spy hired to compile the Trump dossier, were concealed as payments to their attorneys, Perkins Coie, in what experts believe is a clear violation of campaign reporting rules on the use of “cut-outs.”

While the Federal Election Commission complaint over millions of dollars of these concealed payments is making its way through administrative channels, the $130,000 payment to a porn star by Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, prompted very public search-and-seizure raids. Either both instances should be administrative matters or both should receive raids on their attorneys.

The bank fraud and wire fraud charges being tossed around on Cohen are just prosecutor’s tricks. We are talking about Cohen’s home equity loan, not the laundering of Panamanian drug money. By the same logic, the undisclosed Perkins Coie payments to Fusion GPS would be money laundering and wire fraud since the payments became illegal when not reported properly.

Perhaps the last straw was the report in the New York Times that Mueller is investigating a $150,000 contribution to the Trump Foundation in exchange for a private video speech given by Trump in 2015, showing just how grasping this investigation has become. This is the same Ukrainian businessman who gave the Clinton Foundation $13 million. Nope, no double standard here.

In addition, many of the moves of the prosecutors have been to generate publicity, not fight crime. Mueller indicted 13 Russians knowing there would never be any trials or questioning of their findings that were little more than a press release. The raid on Cohen was not geared just to get information. It was also a publicity stunt, exactly the opposite of how the Justice Department is supposed to carry out investigations in ways that protect the confidentiality of those under investigation.

The first report from the inspector general of the Justice Department came out Friday and it documents in meticulous detail how the FBI’s former deputy director, Andrew McCabe, lied — on audio tape and under oath — denying a role in a self-serving leak that he, in fact, personally managed. His response? He may sue Trump for defamation.

As these deep staters turn into paid talking heads profiting through books, speeches and clicks, they undermine any notion that they acted professionally instead of politically while in office, and the evidence continues to mount that the foundation for turning the country upside down for the last year was most likely two parts politically tinged hubris and one part sketchy evidence.

Mark Penn served as pollster and adviser to President Clinton from 1995 to 2000, including during his impeachment. He is chairman of the Harris Poll and author of the recently released book, Microtrends Squared.


  1. Inspector Javert.
    Captain Ahab.
    Robert Mueller.

  2. Comey whet his appetite with Martha Stewart among others, and no one complained... then Scooter Libby.....

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

    1. Agreed. We have too many and too-complex laws applying to normal people carrying out their everyday lives.

      Prosecutorial abuse is out of control. This applies to high levels like this, and to places like Ferguson, MO.

    2. Bea Day said

      "Beware of him in whom the desire to punish is strong."

      - Nietzsche

    3. SF: What this guy said on Tucker:

    4. It's becoming quite clear: The Obama Administration used the awesome powers of the Intel Community and federal law enforcement to SWAT Donald Trump and his campaign.

    5. Prosecutorial abuse is out of control. This applies to high levels like this, and to places like Ferguson, MO.

      Amen on the Ferguson bit. Darren Wilson made out like a bandit when all the Copsuckers donated money to him, but the City of Ferguson (or rather, its taxpayers) paid out millions to Michael Brown's family when Wilson had to admit in court his grand jury account was mostly bullshit.

      A murderer walks free among us, and we get to pay restitution to his victim's family.

      Yay lawenordah!

  3. Imagine if on one future day we all ignored the Spectacle. What would we do with ourselves? Who would provide the drama for us to fill our passions with?

    Order, as we know it, would evaporate.

    1. The Deep State is the soul of our corporatocracy. The GOPe and DNCe will rule, forever.

    2. We're not going to defeat the Deep State. We're wrestling with Proteus, and we've no Procrustean bed to tie him to. Whenever we get close, SCOTUS modifies the bed.

    3. ...and Trump is no Alexander. He NOT going to cut the Gordian Knot. He simply going to wrap it up in a different way. :(

    4. Comey's entire deep-state raison d'etre in revealing the Weiner e-mails was to ensure Hillary Clinton's legitimacy. And since Trump wasn't a legit GOPe candidate, he must be fitted to a Procrustean bed of perpetual investigation. The insurance policy must be preserved.

  4. Prosecutorial abuse exists because prosecutors are politicians. A friend of mine is a former assistant district attorney, who once told me that whether to prosecute a case is often decided by anticipated publicity that makes the elected DA popular among voters. I think the term for this is corruption.

  5. Not much new in the Comey book nor is there much new in the Clinton's chief lap dog's accusations.
    Couple typical politicians, one skilled (Comey) one an inept Clintonista. Penn's bond to the Clintons and his desperation to find a scapegoat for getting Her Nibs's clock cleaned by the Orange Man means his critique may be largely just vindictive.

  6. Ducky may be right about vindictiveness but that doesn't invalidate his claims.

    1. Indeed. I can understand Clintonistas being enraged at Comey, but I am surprised to hear them using "deep state" rhetoric.

      Lanny Davis has also been chiming in.


    2. Bea Day said

      Loony Davis is a lot like Arthur Schlesinger, Jr –– a mewling, servile, weasely, toadying lickspittle, apologist and "fixer" who attached himself like a mollusk to vain, overly ambitious, rich, powerful, largely despicable people from whiom he has derived both his livelihood and his identity.

  7. Trump's Supreme Court pick Gorsuch just voted to make it more difficult for the government to deport illegal immigrants that commit violent crimes.

    I'm sure Trump will tweet about how mad he is about it if Fox and Friends covers it. In the mean time, lets recount a quick list of Trump's conservative accomplishents:



    1. TC,
      What was the court's rationale for that decision?

      As for Trump's related Tweets, they were posted about 13 hours ago:

      Today’s Court decision means that Congress must close loopholes that block the removal of dangerous criminal aliens, including aggravated felons. This is a public safety crisis that can only be fixed by....

      ....Congress – House and Senate must quickly pass a legislative fix to ensure violent criminal aliens can be removed from our society. Keep America Safe!

      From what I can tell, the SCOTUS decision has largely been overshadowed by the passing of Barbara Bush.

    2. About the SCOTUS ruling:

      The Supreme Court said Tuesday that part of a federal law that makes it easier to deport immigrants who have been convicted of crimes is too vague to be enforced.

      The court’s 5-4 decision — in an unusual alignment in which new Justice Neil Gorsuch joined the four liberal justices — concerns a catchall provision of immigration law that defines what makes a crime violent.

    3. More:

      Tuesday’s decision involves James Dimaya, a native of the Philippines who came to the United States legally as a 13-year-old in 1992. After he pleaded no contest to two charges of burglary in California, the government began deportation proceedings against him. The government argued among other things that he could be removed from the country because his convictions qualified as crimes of violence that allowed his removal under immigration law.

    4. Even more (emphasis mine):

      The decision does not, however, interfere with the government’s ability to deport people who are convicted of clearly violent crimes, including murder and rape, as well as drug trafficking and other serious offenses. The ruling is limited to a category of crimes that carry a prison term of more than a year, but do not otherwise comfortably fit in a long list of “aggravated felonies” that can lead to deportation.

    5. I have to conclude that the SCOTUS decision yesterday wasn't much of a loss for the Trump administration.

    6. The court decision was a win for civil liberties. The government can't write loose laws and then interpret them however they damn well please.

      Justice Gorsuch is a "plain language" guy, and that's the way it should be.

    7. It was Scalise in scope. That's a plus.

    8. Here I was thinking plain language would be something like here illegally = deportable.

    9. Apparently, illegally here no longer means deportable.

      What do we have immigration laws at all if enforcement thereof is so nebulous?


  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. FT,
      I appreciate your tribute. Honestly, though, I have no strong feelings about Barbara Bush, one way or the other.

    2. Sorry to have pulled the piece out from under you like that, AOW, but an error in copying needed to be corrected. A wise old owl told me about it, or I would not have noticed. Let us now praise wise old owls! ;-)

      I –– like most people –– always found Barbara Bush extremely likeable.

      I don't care much for what "pundits," "scholars," "historians," "critics," and "political operatives" say ABOUT anyone. However, I do care a great deal how the person in question comports him or herself in public.

      I always got "good vibes' from Barbara Bush. If she was a termagant behind gth,e scenes, I don't want to know about it.

      As far as I'm concerned, Mrs. Bush was by far the most appealing First Lady in my lifetime, and my life began under Frankin Delano Roosevelt, whom I actually do remember. };^)>

  9. ______ Barbara Bush (1925-2018) ______

    Beloved source of character and strength.
    An asset to her family and our nation
    Refreshing for her lack of agitation.
    Barbara lived a good life of great length.
    A life patrician, gracious, down-to-earth
    Regal, yet a quintessential mother
    A fount of strong opinion like no other,
    But muted, disciplined, and tinged with mirth.
    Unusually poised in public life
    She had a kind of beauty very rare
    Happy to have prematurely aged
    Resplendent in her crown of snow white hair
    In no way mean, her mind always engaged
    Proud, yet humble, and always the ideal wife.


    1. That's a nice tribute, FT. You summed her up well.

      Here and George are fine folk. Don't know what the hell happened to their progeny. Probably too much politics...

  10. Replies
    1. Deep State Democrats going after Sean Hannity by illegally leaking material seized in raid on Trump lawyer, Michael Cohen.


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