May 23, 2019

Obama Federal Judge Sides with House Democrats over Subpoena for Trump’s Financial Records

Most of President Trump’s income came from his properties, making $247 million from his golf and other resort clubs; Fox Business Network’s Edward Lawrence reports from Washington.

A Washington, D.C.-based federal judge has sided with House Oversight Committee Democrats seeking to enforce their subpoena of Trump accounting firm Mazars USA, in a major ruling that breathes new life into Democrats’ ongoing efforts to probe the president’s financial dealings.

The subpoena seeks access to a slew of Trump financial documents dating back to 2011, including personal records and records of various affiliated business and entities. Democrats pursued the subpoena after former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen testified to Congress in February that the president’s accountants routinely and improperly altered his financial statements — including some signed by Mazars — to misrepresent his assets and liabilities.

Barack Obama-appointed judge Amit P. Mehta’s 41-page opinion began by comparing President Trump’s concerns about congressional overreach to those of President James Buchanan, asserting that Trump “has taken up the fight of his predecessor.”

And Mehta acknowledged a high likelihood that any documents obtained by House Democrats would quickly leak, and become partisan political fodder.

“[T]he court is not naïve to reality,” Mehta wrote, admitting there “is a chance that some records obtained from Mazars will become public soon after they are produced.”

Mehta added that he was “well aware that this case involves records concerning the private and business affairs of the President of the United States,” dating back to well before he declared his candidacy.

White House says House Democrats will not get a 'do-over' of the Mueller probe

White House says House Democrats will not get a ‘do-over’ of the Mueller probe

A letter to House Judiciary Chair Rep. Jerry Nadler accuses Democrats of trying to pursue an unauthorized ‘do-over’ of the investigation; Catherine Herridge reports from Washington.

But, Mehta said, Democrats’ subpoena fell within established congressional investigative and oversight powers, which generally only require that subpoenas serve some “valid legislative purpose.” The judge noted that the probe could uncover conflicts of interest in the White House, as well as potential violations of the Foreign Emoluments Clause or the reporting requirements of The Ethics in Government Act of 1978.

Mehta said he would not stay his ruling pending appeal, despite the risk of permanently compromising Trump’s private financial information, in part because of the public’s strong interest in Democrats obtaining the records.

“Courts have grappled for more than a century with the question of the scope of Congress’s investigative power,” Mehta wrote. “The binding principle that emerges from these judicial decisions is that courts must presume Congress is acting in furtherance of its constitutional responsibility to legislate and must defer to congressional judgments about what Congress needs to carry out that purpose. To be sure, there are limits on Congress’s investigative authority. But those limits do not substantially constrain Congress.”

The judge continued: “It is simply not fathomable that a Constitution that grants Congress the power to remove a President for reasons including criminal behavior would deny Congress the power to investigate him for unlawful conduct—past or present—even without formally opening an impeachment inquiry.”

The president’s legal team, in a filing earlier this month, had asked the judge to prohibit Mazars from “enforcing or complying” with the subpoena, issued April 15.

Trump’s lawyers quoted Democrats as openly admitting they wanted to use subpoena power for political purposes. “We’re going to have to build an air traffic control tower to keep track of all the subpoenas flying from here to the White House,” one Democrat said; another referenced a “subpoena cannon” firing at the White House.

Trump’s lawyers also argued the subpoena to Mazars “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose,” and is an “unconstitutional attempt to exercise ‘the powers of law enforcement.’”

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Elijah Cummings, D-Md., prevailed in court on Monday, as a judge upheld his panel's subpoena of Mazars, President Trump's accountingi firm. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Elijah Cummings, D-Md., prevailed in court on Monday, as a judge upheld his panel’s subpoena of Mazars, President Trump’s accountingi firm. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

But, Mehta wrote in his ruling, the standard for obtaining a valid congressional subpoena is not a difficult bar to clear under Supreme Court precedent, and Democrats had easily shown they were not simply out on a “fishing expedition.” Comments made by Democrats suggesting their political motivations, Mehta said, did not automatically make the subpoena itself invalid.

“The Oversight Committee has shown that it is not engaged in a pure fishing expedition for the President’s financial records,” the judge wrote. “It is undisputed that the President did not initially identify as liabilities on his public disclosure forms the payments that Michael Cohen made to alleged mistresses during the presidential campaign. Furthermore, Michael Cohen has pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations arising from those payments.”

Trump’s lawyers also noted that the House Oversight Committee, led by Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., is leading several Trump-focused investigations.

“The Oversight Committee has shown that it is not engaged in a pure fishing expedition for the President’s financial records.”— Washington, D.C. district court Judge Amit P. Mehta

“Chairman Cummings flat-out admitted that he wanted to ‘investigate whether the President may have engaged in illegal conduct before and during his tenure in office’ and ‘review whether he has accurately reported his finances to the Office of Government Ethics and other federal entities,’” Trump’s lawyers wrote in the filing.

Meanwhile, House Oversight Commitee ranking member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, called the subpoena “an unprecedented abuse of the Committee’s subpoena authority to target and expose the private financial information of the President of the United States.”

The Trump team filing came after Cummings’ committee issued several subpoenas for Mazars Accounting in an effort to obtain financial documents and audits prepared for Trump and his businesses over the last decade.

Cummings also sought independent auditor’s reports, annual statements and other documents related to Trump’s finances spanning from 2011 to 2018.

At the time, Mazars said it “will respect the legal process and fully comply with its legal obligations.”

The ruling comes the same day that Trump directed former White House Counsel Don McGahn to skip a House Judiciary Committee hearing scheduled for Tuesday, citing a Justice Department opinion that he cannot be compelled to testify about his official duties.

In a statement released Monday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders blasted Democrats for continuing to pursue Trump investigations, saying they want a “wasteful and unnecessary do-over” in the wake of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe — and describing the subpoena for McGahn as part of that effort.

Fox News’ Bill Mears, Edward Lawrence, Brooke Singman, and Kristin Brown contributed to this report.Gregg Re is a lawyer and editor based in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re.


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US Attorney John Durham has been Investigating Origins of Russia Probe For Weeks Already


Attorney General Bill Barr assigns Connecticut attorney John Durham to review the origins of the FBI’s Russia probe.

The U.S. attorney appointed to examine the origins of the Russia investigation has been working on his review “for weeks,” a person familiar with the process told Fox News on Tuesday.

Fox News reported on Monday that Attorney General Bill Barr had assigned John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, to conduct the inquiry into alleged misconduct and alleged improper government surveillance on the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election, as well as whether Democrats were the ones who improperly colluded with foreign actors.

https://video.foxnews.com/v/6036508658001/

Durham, known as a “hard-charging, bulldog” prosecutor, according to a source, will focus on the period before Nov. 7, 2016—including the use and assignments of FBI informants, as well as alleged improper issuance of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants.

Barr first announced that he was reviewing the “conduct” of the FBI’s original Russia investigation during the summer of 2016 last month, following calls from Republicans, and President Trump, to investigate the origins of the probe.

“I am reviewing the conduct of the investigation and trying to get my arms around the aspects of the counterintelligence investigation that was conducted in the summer of 2016,” Barr testified on April 9.

AG Barr taps US attorney John Durham to investigate Russia probe origins

That same day, Fox News learned that Barr had assembled a “team” to investigate the origins of the investigation. A source told Fox News Tuesday that Durham has been working on the investigation “for weeks,” but it is unclear if he was part of the original team assembled by Barr last month.

The FBI’s July 2016 counterintelligence investigation was opened by former senior agent Peter Strzok. Former FBI counsel Lisa Page, with whom Strzok was romantically involved, revealed during a closed-door congressional interview that the FBI “knew so little” about whether allegations against the Trump campaign were “true or not true,” at the time that they opened the probe, noting that they had just “a paucity of evidence because we are just starting down the path” of vetting the allegations. Page later said that it was “entirely common” that the FBI would begin a counterintelligence investigation with just a “small amount of evidence.”

The FBI, at the time, was led by former Director James Comey and former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe—both fired during the Trump administration.

It has been widely reported that in the weeks and months leading up to the 2016 election, the FBI employed informants to probe and extract information from Trump campaign officials.

Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that an investigator working for the U.S. intelligence community posed as a Cambridge University research assistant in September 2016, and tried to probe former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos on the campaign’s possible ties to Russia.

The investigator, who went by Azra Turk, met with Papadopoulos at a London Bar, where she asked directly whether the Trump campaign was working with Russia. Papadopoulos told Fox News that he saw Turk three times in London: once over drinks, another time over dinner, and then once with Stefan Halper, the Cambridge professor who had been a longtime FBI informant. The Times noted that Turk had apparently been sent to oversee Halper, and possibly provide cover for Halper in the event Turk needed to testify.

Papadopoulos told Fox News earlier this month that he “immediately thought she was an agent, but a Turkish agent, or working with the CIA,” and explained “that’s why I never accepted her overtures and met her again after London…London became a very bizarre hangout spot for me that year.”

Papadopoulos also told Fox News that Turk was trying to “seduce” him in an effort to “make me slip up and say something that they knew I had no info on.”

The role of the informants, however, are also reportedly part of Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s review into potential abuses of FISA. Horowitz’s probe began last year, and Fox News has learned that that investigation is nearing completion. Horowitz’s probe is also focused on the FISA warrants issued and recertified for former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

Christopher Wray on if the FBI engages in spying: 'That's not the term I would use'

Republicans, for months, have called for a careful review as to whether the FBI violated Page’s constitutional rights, misled the FISA court, or withheld exculpatory information.

The FBI’s ultimately successful October 2016 warrant application to surveil Page, which relied in part on information from British ex-spy Christopher Steele, who compiled the now-infamous anti-Trump dossier, accused Page of conspiring with Russians. Page was never charged with any wrongdoing.

Republicans have also been looking for answers from U.S. Attorney John Huber, who was appointed by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to review not only surveillance abuses by the Justice Department and the FBI, but also their handling of the investigation into the Clinton Foundation and other matters. Huber apparently has made little progress, and has spoken to few key witnesses and whistleblowers.

Meanwhile, Barr’s appointment of Durham comes after he testified last month that he believed that “spying did occur” on the Trump campaign in 2016.

“I think spying did occur,” Barr said at a congressional hearing. “The question is whether it was adequately predicated…Spying on a political campaign is a big deal.”

Barr later clarified in the hearing: “I am not saying that improper surveillance occurred; I’m saying that I am concerned about it and looking into it, that’s all.”

But FBI Director Chris Wray during a separate congressional hearing broke with Barr’s sentiment.

“That’s not the term I would use,” Wray told lawmakers on the Senate Appropriations Committee when asked if FBI agents engage in “spying” when they follow FBI policies and procedures.

“Lots of people have different colloquial phrases,” he continued. “I believe that the FBI is engaged in investigative activity, and part of investigative activity includes surveillance activity of different shapes and sizes, and to me the key question is making sure that it’s done by the book, consistent with our lawful authorities.”

But former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who resigned in November amid a political clash with the president following his decision in 2017 to recuse himself from oversight of the Russia investigation due to his work with the campaign, later took Barr’s side.

“I think that ‘spying’ is a perfectly good word,” Sessions said during an on-stage interview at a conference in Las Vegas last week.

Fox News’ Jake Gibson, Gregg Re and Adam Shaw contributed to this report. Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.


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Colorado School Shooters are Leftist Terrorists – Thwarted by Mormon Youth and Others

Devon Erickson, the 18-year-old accused in the fatal shooting at a Colorado charter school shared social media posts that were critical of President Trump and Christians, but heaped praise on former President Barack Obama.

Joshua Jones, Kendrick Castillo and Brendan Bialy are credited with disarming one of the two shooters — an act that undoubtedly saved many lives. Castillo died as a result of his wounds, while Jones was shot but survived.

One student was killed and nine others were injured when Erickson and he and another underage suspect allegedly opened fire inside a K-12 school on the afternoon of May 7. Kendrick Castillo, 18, was fatally shot, and eight others were hospitalized. Several of the shooting victims have been released, and one was upgraded from serious to fair condition on Friday.

Devon Erickson, leftist-terrorist who attacked innocent and defenseless children at the STEM School Highlands Ranch in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, with Maya McKinney.

The two suspects — 18-year-old student Devon Erickson and 16-year-old Alec McKinney — will appear in court next week to hear the charges against them. They are both students at the school and face murder and attempted murder charges.

The 16-year-old shooter is a female, Maya McKinney, an LGBTQ proponent who identified as a male at the time of Tuesday’s shooting at the STEM School Highlands Ranch in Highlands Ranch, Colo., that left one student dead and eight others wounded. McKinney reportedly goes by the name Alec or Alex.
LGBTQ McKinney’s father is a criminal illegal alien, the 33-year-old Jose Evis Quintana, who was jailed for 15 months for domestic violence against McKinney’s mother Morgan Lynn McKinney. He was also convicted of “menacing with a weapon,” and has been deported by ICE a number of times.

Devon Erickson was a well-known bully who joked about shootings and threatened other students for years, a former friend said. Kevin Cole used to go to STEM School Highlands Ranch, where one student was killed and eight others injured Tuesday in a shooting. Two suspects are in custody and will appear in court next week to hear the charges against them.

One of those alleged shooters was Devon Erickson, 18, who was once a friend of Cole’s. “They couldn’t believe that he would actually do it, but they weren’t entirely surprised that he did,” Cole said of the suspect’s friends.

He would enter the classroom and say, “When the pencil hits the floor I’m going to start shooting.” Then, he would spend the rest of class sporadically dropping pencils, Cole said of the suspect. And sometimes, the “jokes” were more like threats.

“He would just get really close and kind of hunch himself over your shoulder as you were sitting down, and he would just whisper in your ear ‘don’t come to school tomorrow’ and just kind of crack a smile and walk back to his seat,” Cole said.

Devon Erickson not only posted anti-President Trump messages on Facebook, but shared pro-Obama posts from left-wing Facebook page “Occupy Democrats.”

It was just three days before the last day of school, and students inside the English classroom were relaxing during the last period of the day watching “The Princess Bride” when one of their classmates walked in late and pulled out a gun.

“The only thing he said out loud to the students was, ‘Don’t you move,’” said Nui Giasolli, an 18-year-old senior who was in the class at the time.

In that moment, she recalled, Kendrick Castillo, a gentle teenager fascinated by cars and engineering, lunged to stop the gunman and was shot dead. Eight other students were wounded in the shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch on Tuesday afternoon, which the authorities said was carried out by two fellow students.

Kendrick Castillo, the gentle hero who tried to stop the gunmen was shot dead.
Latter-day Saint ‘hero’ shot twice after rushing gunman at Colorado school shooting.

Castillo’s friend, Joshua Jones and two classmates saved lives when they tackled one of two people behind the Colorado mass shooting that killed a young hero and wounded eight others.

Jones pinned the shooter with his body until police arrived, according to Lewis. He suffered gunshot wounds to his left calf and hip.

Jones is at home recovering, his family insisting that he use his crutches. He vows to ditch them for his May 20 graduation, according to Lewis. Jones always thought he wanted to become an EMT but now he’s certain, Lewis says. The teenager would like to go on a Mormon mission before his EMT training.

By James Thompson. James holds a doctoral degree, and is a political commentator and professional ghostwriter.


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9th Circuit Agrees Trump Admin can Send Asylum Claimants to Wait in Mexico

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals late Tuesday granted the Trump administration’s request to send asylum seekers back to Mexico to wait out court proceedings temporarily.

The court order reversed a decision by a San Francisco judge that would have blocked the policy — giving President Trump a temporary victory on immigration.

The case must still be considered on its merits at a lower court in San Francisco and could end up at the Supreme Court.

U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg ruled April 8 that the policy should be halted while a lawsuit, filed on behalf of 11 asylum applicants and several other organizations, proceeds.

Migrants from around the world gather in Mexico with goal of entering US

The American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the suit along with the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, said that despite the ruling, “there is good reason to believe that ultimately this policy will be put to a halt.”

“Asylum seekers are being put at serious risk of harm every day that the forced return policy continues,” Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a statement. “Notably, two of the three judges that heard this request found that there are serious legal problems with what the government is doing.”

The lawsuit on behalf of 11 asylum seekers from Central America and legal advocacy groups says the Trump administration is violating U.S. law by failing to adequately evaluate the dangers that migrants face in Mexico.

Yuma at breaking point over asylum seekers, Sen. McSally says ‘crisis getting worse everyday’

Video

It also accuses Homeland Security and immigration officials of depriving migrants of their right to apply for asylum by making it difficult or impossible for them to do so.

The Trump administration says the policy responds to a crisis at the southern border that has overwhelmed the ability of immigration officials to detain migrants. Growing numbers of families are fleeing poverty and gang violence in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Last year, the Justice Department eliminated gang violence and domestic abuse as a possible justification for seeking asylum.

The so-called “Remain in Mexico” policy was one of the primary innovations of former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who left her role with the Trump administration last month.

Asylum law, conservatives point out, is intended to shield individuals from near-certain death or persecution on account of limited factors like religious or political affiliation — not poor living conditions and economic despair.

Most asylum applicants are ultimately rejected for having an insufficient or unfounded personalized fear of persecution, following a full hearing of their case before an asylum officer or an immigration judge.


Fox News’ Raymond Bogan, Gregg Re and The Associated Press contributed to this report.Nicole Darrah covers breaking and trending news for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter at @nicoledarrah.


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Treasury Secretary Mnuchin Denies House Dem’s Request for Trump’s Tax Returns

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, in a letter Monday, denied House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal’s request for President Trump’s tax returns, saying the request lacked a “legitimate legislative purpose.”

“As you have recognized, the Committee’s request is unprecedented, and it presents serious constitutional questions, the resolution of which may have lasting consequences for all taxpayers,” the letter said.

Mnuchin told the Massachusetts Democrat he’d relied on the advice of the Justice Department. He concluded that the department was “not authorized to disclose the requested returns and return information.”

“The Department of Justice has informed us that it intends to memorialize its advice in a published legal opinion as soon as practicable. Out of respect for the deadlines previously set by the Committee, and consistent with our commitment to a prompt response, I am informing you now that the Department may not lawfully fulfill the Committee’s request,” the letter read.

The move, which was expected, is sure to set in motion a legal battle over Trump’s tax returns. The likely options available to Democrats would be to subpoena the Internal Revenue Service for the returns or to file a lawsuit.

Neal originally demanded access to Trump’s tax returns in early April under a law that said the IRS “shall furnish” the returns of any taxpayer to a handful of top lawmakers, including the chair of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.

The White House and the president’s attorneys declined to comment on the deadline to turn over Trump’s returns. Trump already has signaled he has no intention of turning over the much-coveted records.

The president has long told confidants that he was under audit and therefore could not release his taxes. But in recent weeks, he has added to the argument, telling advisers that the American people elected him once without seeing his taxes and would do so again, three White House officials and Republicans told The Associated Press anonymously.

By Frank Miles | Fox News

The Associated Press contributed to this report.Frank Miles is a reporter and editor covering geopolitics, military, crime, technology and sports for FoxNews.com. His email is Frank.Miles@foxnews.com.

Kimberly Strassel: AG Barr Attacked Because His New Probe Targets Powerful Democrats

The only thing uglier than an angry Washington is a fearful Washington. And fear is what’s driving this week’s blitzkrieg of Attorney General William Barr.

Mr. Barr tolerantly sat through hours of Democratic insults at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday. His reward for his patience was to be labeled, in the space of a news cycle, a lawbreaking, dishonest, obstructing hack. Speaker Nancy Pelosi publicly accused Mr. Barr of lying to Congress, which, she added, is “considered a crime.” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said he will move to hold Mr. Barr in contempt unless the attorney general acquiesces to the unprecedented demand that he submit to cross-examination by committee staff attorneys. James Comey, former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, lamented that Donald Trump had “eaten” Mr. Barr’s “soul.” Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren demands the attorney general resign. California Rep. Eric Swalwell wants him impeached.

These attacks aren’t about special counsel Robert Mueller, his report or even the surreal debate over Mr. Barr’s first letter describing the report. The attorney general delivered the transparency Democrats demanded: He quickly released a lightly redacted report, which portrayed the president in a negative light. What do Democrats have to object to?

Some of this is frustration. Democrats foolishly invested two years of political capital in the idea that Mr. Mueller would prove President Trump had colluded with Russia, and Mr. Mueller left them empty-handed. Some of it is personal. Democrats resent that Mr. Barr won’t cower or apologize for doing his job. Some is bitterness that Mr. Barr is performing like a real attorney general, making the call against obstruction-of-justice charges rather than sitting back and letting Democrats have their fun with Mr. Mueller’s obstruction innuendo.

But most of it is likely fear. Mr. Barr made real news in that Senate hearing, and while the press didn’t notice, Democrats did. The attorney general said he’d already assigned people at the Justice Department to assist his investigation of the origins of the Trump-Russia probe. He said his review would be far-reaching – that he was obtaining details from congressional investigations, from the ongoing probe by the department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, and even from Mr. Mueller’s work. Mr. Barr said the investigation wouldn’t focus only on the fall 2016 justifications for secret surveillance warrants against Trump team members but would go back months earlier.

He also said he’d focus on the infamous “dossier” concocted by opposition-research firm Fusion GPS and British former spy Christopher Steele, on which the FBI relied so heavily in its probe. Mr. Barr acknowledged his concern that the dossier itself could be Russian disinformation, a possibility he described as not “entirely speculative.” He also revealed that the department has “multiple criminal leak investigations under way” into the disclosure of classified details about the Trump-Russia investigation.


Kimberley Strassel is a Fox News contributor and writes the Potomac Watch column for the Wall Street Journal where she is a member of the editorial board. Her latest book is “The Intimidation Game: How the Left Is Silencing Free Speech” (Twelve, 2016).  Follow her on Twitter @KimStrassel.  


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Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein Resigns

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who frequently found himself in the political crosshairs due to his role in the special counsel’s Russia probe and whose departure has long been expected, submitted his resignation on Monday to President Trump, effective May 11.

Attorney General William Barr in a statement said Rosenstein served the Justice Department “with dedication and distinction.”

“His devotion to the Department and its professionals is unparalleled,” the statement read. “Over the course of his distinguished government career, he has navigated many challenging situations with strength, grace, and good humor.”

Rosenstein, 54, previously served as deputy assistant attorney general and U.S. attorney. He had intended to leave his position last month but stayed on for the completion of the Mueller probe, which Rosenstein had overseen.

In February, Fox News reported that Barr had picked Jeffrey Rosen, who currently serves as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, to take over for Rosenstein.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein defends Attorney General Bill Barr's handling of the Mueller report

Rosenstein was part of a small group of department officials who reviewed the document and helped shape its public release. After Mueller didn’t reach a conclusion on whether Trump had obstructed the investigation, Barr and Rosenstein stepped in and determined the evidence wasn’t enough to support such an allegation.

In recent months, Rosenstein became a frequent target of Trump’s ire, after FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe described private discussions about secretly recording and potentially ousting the president in the days after he fired FBI Director James Comey.

Trump accused them of pursuing a “treasonous” plot against him. Rosenstein, though, denied pursuing a recording of the president and has pushed back on claims he broached the idea of invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. However, Rosenstein was largely spared the type of anger directed by Trump at Sessions, whose recusal infuriated the president and led to Sessions’ to his forced resignation last November.

As first reported by The New York Times last year, Rosenstein allegedly discussed wearing a “wire” to tape Trump and pursuing his removal from office in meetings and conversations with Justice Department and FBI officials. This would have been in the tumultuous days after Comey was fired as FBI director, with the president citing in part a memo penned by Rosenstein — reportedly catching him off guard.

Are Democrats overreacting to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's expected departure from the DOJ?

Fox News has learned one key meeting took place on May 16, 2017 at Justice Department headquarters. Several people were in the room, including McCabe and former FBI counsel Lisa Page. Mueller was appointed as special counsel the next day.

Rosenstein’s conservative critics on the Capitol Hill seized on the reports, with North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, calling on him to appear before Congress to explain the comments. In July, Meadows and Jim Jordan of Ohio, another member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, introduced five articles of impeachment against Rosenstein.

Those impeachment articles accused Rosenstein of intentionally withholding documents and information from Congress, failure to comply with congressional subpoenas and abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). That effort was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, where it has not been voted upon.

Before named by Trump to serve as the No. 2 to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Rosenstein served as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland. Rosenstein took over the Russia probe after Sessions recused himself from the investigation. It was Rosenstein who later appointed Mueller to his post.

Fox News’ William Mears, Alex Pappas, Jake Gibson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.Nicole Darrah covers breaking and trending news for FoxNews.com.


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Joe Biden Announces 2020 Presidential Bid

3 things to know about the former vice president

Former Vice President Joe Biden officially announced his 2020 presidential bid.

“The core values of this nation, our standing in the world, our very democracy, everything that has made America — America — is at stake. That’s why today I’m announcing my candidacy for president of the United States,” Biden announced in a tweet early Thursday.

Biden, 76, is the latest Democrat to enter the crowded race for the White House against President Trump. A former senator from Delaware, Biden has emerged as a frontrunner for the Democratic nomination — topping the polls alongside self-proclaimed Democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Here are three things to know about the former vice president as his campaign journey begins.

He first bid for the presidency came over three decades ago

Biden’s announcement on Thursday marks the beginning of his third campaign for the White House.

As a 45-year-old senator from Delaware, Biden launched his first campaign in 1987 at the Wilmington train station. The first campaign didn’t last long, ending after it became public that he had plagiarized a speech from a British politician, according to the Delaware News Journal.

His second bid began in 2007, but he dropped out in 2008 after failing to gain enough support. Biden ultimately went on to serve as vice president for two terms under Barack Obama.

In 2016, there was much speculation that Biden would again announce a bid for president, but he decided against running for personal reasons. His son, Beau, had died in 2015 after battling brain cancer.

His choice of transportation is the Amtrak train

Aptly nicknamed “Amtrak Joe,” Biden had long been a fixture on the rail line between his home in Delaware and his office in Washington D.C.

Biden began taking the train home every night to care for his two sons after his wife and daughter died in a car accident in 1972, according to the Washington Post.

He carried on the Amtrak tradition throughout his decades-long Senate career. Biden’s affinity for the train gained national attention when he became Obama’s running mate in 2008.

He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Barack Obama presents Vice President Joe Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Jan. 12, 2017.

President Barack Obama presents Vice President Joe Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Jan. 12, 2017. (The Associated Press)

In January 2017, outgoing President Obama surprised Biden with the President Medal of Freedom in an emotional ceremony.

“To know Joe Biden is to know love without pretense, service without self-regard, and to live life fully,” Obama said.

Biden tearfully accepted the honor.

By Stephen Sorace


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Dr. Qanta Ahmed: Rep. Ilhan Omar is a Disgrace to Islam

Rep. Ilhan Omar continues to be an embarrassment and a disgrace for me and other American Muslims with her outrageous, ignorant, anti-Semitic and now anti-American comments.

And while Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, holds herself out as a proud Muslim, she repeatedly projects a distorted and patently Islamist interpretation of Islam – a religion that in reality stands for the values of justice, peace and ethical conduct.

Sadly, Omar gives millions of Americans a false impression of what Islam is and what we Muslims believe and stand for. While she denounces prejudice against Muslims, her aberrant views on Islam fuel prejudice against me and my coreligionists by distorting who we are while defaming and dishonoring the great monotheism of Islam.

Omar’s latest absurd and insulting comment came to light just a few days ago. Describing the horrific Islamist terrorist attacks on America on Sept. 11, 2001 that killed almost 3,000 people and injured more than 6,000 others – including many Muslims – Omar told a Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) fundraiser: “CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something, and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”

First, Omar betrayed her ignorance, because CAIR was founded in 1994. Second, the congresswoman displayed an appalling and dismissive insensitivity to the worst foreign attack on America in our history, claiming almost 600 more lives than the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Omar’s grotesque trivialization of a national tragedy amounts to an explicit denial of 9/11 – a desecration of all the lives erased that awful day. This denial is inexplicable unless she has strong and covert Islamist sympathies.

Tragically, the Sept. 11 attacks continue to take a toll almost 18 years later.

Some estimate more than 2,100 first responders who worked in Ground Zero in New York City in an effort to save lives and then find the deceased after the attacks have died of diseases they incurred. More than 10,000 people have been diagnosed with cancer related to the World Trade Center attacks and over 43,000 have been certified with World Trade Center-related illnesses.

Omar should be honest. There is no escaping the fact that the atrocities of 9/11 were not simply committed by “some people.” Islamist jihadists were responsible and they came from within the Muslim fold.

Most of the almost 490,000 Americans who either lived near Ground Zero or responded to the recovery and rebuilding efforts have never enrolled in the government’s health programs. So we don’t know how many more have suffered health problems from the terrorist attack on the twin towers.

I am a physician now working in New York and I’m affiliated with New York University Winthrop Hospital’s World Trade Center Health Program. I see the burden of Sept. 11 on a regular basis, treating brave and selfless first responders who still suffer from complex sleep disorders – including post-traumatic stress – that I specialize in treating.

President Trump responded to Omar’s comments by posting a video on Twitter mixing her words with terrible scenes of the Sept. 11 attacks. His action can be considered insensitive to many 9/11 survivors and family members – including some of my own patients – who can’t view these pictures without experiencing repeat trauma.

However, the president’s exposure of Omar’s hypocrisy and offensive diminishment of 9/11 was both legitimate and necessary.

In her dismissal of Sept. 11, Omar callously erased the deep suffering of every survivor and family I attend, and everyone else still impacted by the terrorist attacks.

Like each person old enough to remember Sept. 11, 2001, the day will be engraved in my mind for as long as I live.

I was working as a physician in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It was 4 p.m. when I turned on my TV and watched the world come to a standstill as I witnessed (along with people around the world) the jet planes go through the World Trade Center, and soon after saw the twin towers collapse.

Mass murder on live TV – an unbelievable nightmare, like a horror film come to life.

Living at the time in the Saudi Kingdom – the epicenter of Islam – as the world learned the identity of the 9/11 terrorists, I wondered how my religion had been hijacked by suicidal killers who claimed they had a religious duty to kill innocents.

And I knew from that moment that these murderers would now become the face of Islam for many non-Muslims who know little about a religion with more the 1.6 billion followers around the globe.

Of course, only the perpetrators of the 9/11attacks and their supporters are to blame for their evil and immoral massacre. But on that sad day it became the responsibility of every Muslim to understand the heinous perversion of Islam known as Islamist jihadism and to stand against it.

In her grotesque trivialization of the Sept. 11 attacks, Omar betrays the Islam she claims to follow. She also denigrates every victim and survivor of the attacks and does me and every other Muslim a grave dishonor.

And while Omar relishes in flaunting her Muslim identity, she categorically fails in her Islamic duty. Islam is very clear in assigning responsibility for wrongdoing. Each Muslim has a clear-cut duty to himself or herself, to God and to society.

In fact, the holy texts of Islam emphasize that one’s greatest allegiance should be to justice – even if doing so demands superseding family and coreligionist ties.

“Be strict in observing justice, and be witness for Allah, even though it be against yourselves or against your parents or kindred,” the Koran says in Chapter 4, Verse 36. Omar fails on every count when her remarks trivializing the Sept. 11 attacks are seen in the light of this verse.

There is no question that the Sept. 11 attacks were an act of war launched through evolutionary Islamist jihadism, which has since become the hallmark of radical Islam.

Radical Islam – also known as Islamism – is a deviant, fictional and extreme distortion of true Islam, perpetrated by Islamist Muslims who use it to justify hatred and lethal violence that in reality have nothing to do with Islam.

Omar should be honest. There is no escaping the fact that the atrocities of 9/11 were not simply committed by “some people.” Islamist jihadists were responsible and they came from within the Muslim fold.

The vast majority of the world’s Muslims reject the cult or murder and death embraced by the hijackers of our beautiful religion, and in fact, many Muslims continue to die at the hands of Islamist jihadism. We each bear a responsibility to expose it.

Finally, let me set the record straight on Omar’s frequent complaints about how she and other Muslims are being persecuted and discriminated against in the United States today.

As a Muslim woman of color and immigrant – just like Omar – it’s logical to assume that if there was pervasive anti-Muslim discrimination in the United States I would be aware of it.

But in fact, Muslims have not experienced a contraction of civil rights in the U.S. since the Sept. 11 attacks. We continue to have the same rights as all other Americans.

Rather than being second-class citizens, Muslims born in America and immigrating here legally have full citizenship open to us. We are all allowed to both be and feel fully American and recognized as such, unlike the way many Muslims tell me they feel in European nations.

The greatest obscenity in the lie that Omar pedals is that she – along with millions of other Muslims in America – is somehow victimized. Do not believe this.

Muslims in America are mainstream and most are middle-class. Some of us are even wealthy. Many of us are highly educated, upwardly mobile and among the fastest immigrants to climb the economic ladder and earn six-figure incomes. This is in stark contrast to Muslims in Europe, where Muslims are much less affluent than the general population.

The myth of Muslim victimhood is an Islamist one. It is completely false in the setting of Islam in America and in comparison to Islam in the wider Muslim-majority world.

For me, condemning Omar’s trivialization of the Sept. 11 mass murders is an act of being fully American, being a physician advocate for my 9/11 survivor patients and their families, and at the same time – keeping in line with Islam’s clear teachings – being fully Muslim.

Omar’s words are a grotesque injustice against people who have already experienced diabolic injustice.

I thank God every day that I was able to immigrate to the United States of America, where I am now a proud citizen in a country I love and where I enjoy the blessings of  American liberty and protection of my rights under the U.S. Constitution. Wouldn’t it be nice to hear Rep. Ilhan Omar express these same sentiments?  Don’t expect it anytime soon.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE BY QANTA AHMEDQanta A. Ahmed, M.D., is  a councilor at the USC Shoah Foundation and member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She is also an associate professor of medicine at the State University of New York. Follow her on Twitter @MissDiagnosis.


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On This Easter Morning, Let Us Remember

The New Testament of the Bible contains the story of the life of Jesus Christ. Within its pages is recounted how He was crucified on Friday, and his body was hastily removed from the cross and placed into a tomb hewn into the rock, with very little time to appropriately prepare the body for final burial before the Jewish Sabbath started at sunset.

It was early Sunday morning when Mary Magdalene and other women disciples arrived at the tomb to see the sepulcher and prepare His body. Suddenly there was a great earthquake and an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow.

The angel said to the women, “Fear not: for I know that you seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is arisen. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” He then instructed her to go and tell Jesus’ disciples that He was risen from the dead and that He would go before them to Galilee; and there they would see Him.

The others ran to tell the Apostles what they had seen and heard, but Mary stood at the door of the sepulcher weeping. As she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulcher, and saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet where the body of Jesus had lain.

They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”

empty-tomb

She said, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.”

And when she had spoken she turned back, and saw Jesus standing, but knew not that it was Him. He spoke to her and said, “Woman, why are you crying? Whom do you seek?”

She, supposing him to be the gardener, said, “Sir, if you have borne him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”

Jesus looked upon her with compassion, and said, “Mary.”

Suddenly recognizing His voice, she turned herself and said to him, “Rabboni,” which is to say, Master.

Mary ran to him and embraced him, but Jesus said to her, “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say to them, ‘I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.’”

What is the significance of this story nearly 2,000 years later? Each of us must decide its implications and importance for ourselves, and apply its lessons in our own lives as we interpret the message for ourselves. John, the Apostle who recorded this version of the incident gives us his own explanation of why he recorded it: “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing, ye might have life through his name.”

Let us remember Him this Easter.

James Thompson is a Christian author, political commentator and ghostwriter.


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NOTRE DAME BURNS

Central spire and roof of Paris’ historic 12th-century cathedral collapse amid massive blaze

A massive fire broke out at the famed Notre Dame cathedral in Paris on Monday afternoon, officials said.

Black smoke could be seen from a distance billowing out from the top of the medieval cathedral, while flames leaped out from two of its bell towers. The sight stopped pedestrians in their tracks along the Seine River, which passes under the cathedral.

Flames rise during a fire at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019 afternoon. (Photo by FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP)

Flames rise during a fire at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019 afternoon. (Photo by FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP)

A dramatic video showed the cathedral’s main spire collapsed from the blaze. Local reports said the roof collapsed.

A church spokesman told French media that all of Notre Dame cathedral’s frame is burning after the spire collapsed.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo called it a “terrible fire,” while President Emmanuel Macron said it was “sad to see this part of us burn.”

“Notre-Dame of Paris is in flames. Emotion in the whole nation. Thoughts for all Catholics and for all French,” he tweeted. “Like all our countrymen, I’m sad to see this part of us burn.”

The French capital’s police department said no deaths have been reported from Monday’s fire. The police department didn’t say anything about injuries.

Hidalgo said Paris authorities are in touch with Paris diocese.

The fire department was fighting the flames, while the area near the cathedral was being cleared.

It was not immediately clear what caused the fire. Notre Dame was undergoing a $6.8 million renovation project, with some sections under scaffolding, while bronze statues were removed last week for works.

Sources told Fox News that it appears the fire was related to recent construction done at the cathedral.

Macron canceled a planned televised speech to the nation in light of the “terrible fire” underway at the cathedral, an official at the president’s Elysee office said.

A fire broke out at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.

A fire broke out at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. (Mayor Anne Hidalgo/Twitter)

Additional information was not immediately available.

President Donald Trump tweeted about the fire, saying it was “horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.”

Located on the Ile de la Cite in the center of Paris, the Gothic cathedral – which dates back to the 12th century – attracts millions of tourists each year. It was featured in Victor Hugo’s novel “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame.”

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.Lucia I. Suarez Sang is a Reporter & Editor for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter @luciasuarezsang


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Porn Lawyer Michael Avenatti Arrested for Extorting Nike for $20M

Michael Avenatti, porn star Stormy Daniels’ former lawyer who briefly considered a bid for president, was charged Monday for allegedly trying to extort Nike for $15-$25 million, officials at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York said. He was also charged in a separate case out of California for wire fraud and bank fraud.

Avenatti, who Fox News confirmed was taken into custody Monday, allegedly tried to extort the massive sports apparel company “by threatening to use his ability to garner publicity to inflict substantial financial and reputational harm on the company if his demands were not met,” prosecutors alleged.

The counts against him include conspiracy to transmit interstate communications with intent to extort, conspiracy to commit extortion and more. Avenatti is expected to answer to the charges later Monday.

At a press conference Monday, Geoffrey S. Berman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said that Avenatti used illegal tactics and threats in an effort to obtain millions of dollars for himself. He claimed that if Nike did not meet his demands “the company might die.” The scheme played out in less than a week.

According to the New York complaint against him, Avenatti and an unidentified co-conspirator met with attorneys for Nike on March 19 and “threatened to release damaging information” if the company did not agree to make multi-million dollar payments to them, as well as an additional $1.5 million payment to a client Avenatti claimed to represent.

He allegedly told the attorneys that if his demands were not met, he would “go take ten billion dollars off your client’s market cap … I’m not f***ing around.”

The complaint said Avenatti threatened to hold a news conference on the eve of Nike’s quarterly earnings call and the start of the NCAA tournament to announce allegations of misconduct by Nike employees.

The co-conspirator was identified as an attorney licensed to practice in the state of California, and is “similarly known for representation of celebrity and public figure clients.” Meanwhile, the alleged client was identified as a coach for an amateur athletic union men’s basketball program based in California.

Earlier Monday, Avenatti tweeted he would be holding a press conference Tuesday to “disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal perpetrated by @Nike that we have uncovered. This criminal conduct reaches the highest levels of Nike and involves some of the biggest names in college basketball.”

Meanwhile, at a second press conference in California, federal authorities announced additional criminal charges against the lawyer for a separate matter. In that case, Avenatti was accused of embezzling a client’s money to pay his own expenses and debts — as well as those of his coffee business and law firm.

United States Attorney Nick Hanna said Avenatti was charged with wire fraud and tax fraud stemming from a two-year IRS tax investigation after he allegedly obtained bank loans on false terms by using phony tax returns to obtain millions of dollars in loans.

“[Avenatti] is a corrupt lawyer who instead fights for his own selfish interest,” Hanna said, adding that the allegations against the attorney “paint an ugly picture of lawlessness and greed.”

Avenatti became famous as the lawyer for Daniels, the porn actress who alleged she had an affair with President Trump. In the last year, the duo became household names in their fight against Trump, dominating cable news shows for months and taunting the president in interviews.

Daniels released a statement Monday saying she was not “shocked” by the charges against Avenatti.

“Knowing what I know now about Michael Avenatti, I am saddened but not shocked by news reports that he has been criminally charged today,” Daniels said. “I made the decision more than a month ago to terminate Michael’s services after discovering that he had dealt with me extremely dishonestly and there will be more announcements to come.”

Before Avenatti began representing Daniels in February 2018, he was virtually unknown outside of the California legal community. But in a matter of months, he had become known as a no-holds-barred lawyer with a media style — and a penchant for tweeting — similar to Trump’s.

Avenatti had toyed with a 2020 presidential run as a Democrat — he even visited Iowa at one point — but ultimately ruled that out. He also was involved in another high profile case, representing dozens of parents whose children were separated from them at the U.S. border as a result of the Trump administration’s immigration policies. More recently, he’s been representing women who said they were sexually abused by R&B star R. Kelly.

In the California case, Avenatti faces up to 50 years in prison, while in the New York case, the charges carry a potential penalty of 47 years in prison. Hanna said they coordinated with prosecutors in New York to execute both arrest warrants at the same time, but emphasized that they were two separate cases that happened to coincide.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.Lucia I. Suarez Sang is a Reporter & Editor for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter @luciasuarezsang


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BREAKING–AG Barr Stuns Washington, Nation with Mueller Results

NO COLLUSION! NO OBSTRUCTION!

WASHINGTON – The day has finally come. 

Attorney General William Barr on Sunday released the “principal conclusions” of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s completed Russia probe in a bombshell four-page letter to Capitol Hill lawmakers, which stated definitively that Mueller did not establish evidence that President Trump’s team or any associates of the Trump campaign had conspired with Russia — “despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.”

Mueller’s team specifically looked into two Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 election — first, the work by a Russian organization, the Internet Research Agency, to “conduct disinformation and social media operations” designed to “sow discord” in the U.S.”

According to Barr’s letter, “The special counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its effort” to interfere with the 2016 presidential election in that manner.

Next, Mueller investigated whether the Trump team was involved in the hacking of emails, many of which were released publicly, that belonged to the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

“The Special Counsel did not find that any U.S. person or Trump campaign official or associate conspired or knowingly coordinated” with Russians who worked on those hacking efforts, according to Barr’s letter, “despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.”

The letter concluded: “After reviewing the Special Counsel’s final report on these issues… Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”

Barr adds, “the Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does no exonerate him.”

For Trump, who has tweeted more than 230 times that he and his team did not collude with Russians, the moment amounted to a near-total vindication.

Attorney General William Barr leaving his home in McLean, Va., on Sunday morning. (AP Photo/Sait Serkan Gurbuz)

Attorney General William Barr leaving his home in McLean, Va., on Sunday morning. (AP Photo/Sait Serkan Gurbuz)

Barr said Mueller’s team had “thoroughly” investigated allegations that Trump’s team sought to conspire with Russians or obstruct investigators. Mueller said he employed 19 lawyers and approximately 40 FBI agents, executing hundreds of search warrants, 10 pen registers, and interviewed approximately 500 witnesses.

Barr’s disclosure was a capstone moment following the 22-month investigation that ensnared six former Trump advisers and associates — but resulted in no indictments related to collusion with Russia.

The letter promised to settle some of the largest outstanding questions of the Mueller investigation, even as Democrats on Sunday vowed to press on with other investigations, and members of both parties continued to push for the public release of as much of the Mueller report as possible.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Sunday that he believed there remained “significant evidence of collusion” linking the Russian government with President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Schiff said Democrats might subpoena Mueller if the full report is not released.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., speaking to “Fox News Sunday,” insisted, “So we know a lot of things and maybe it’s not indictable, but we know there was collusion. The question is the degree.”

Democrat congressional leaders scrambled to respond to the end of the Mueller probe this weekend, holding an emergency conference call and discussing potential next steps.

A top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee conceded to reporters Saturday that Barr’s release of Mueller’s conclusions likely would be a cause for celebration among President Trump’s supporters — many of whom have stood by the president for more than two years amid a torrent of unproven allegations that the Trump campaign illegally worked with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

WATCH THE MEDIA MELTDOWN OVER MUELLER REPORT — WAS MADDOW CRYING?

“It’s the end of the beginning but it’s not the beginning of the end,” Delaware Sen. Chris Coons said, echoing his party’s strategy of moving forward on to other investigations, including probes into Trump’s financial dealings. “Once we get the principal conclusions of the report,” he added later, “I think it’s entirely possible that that will be a good day for the president and his core supporters.”

Along those lines, Nadler said that Democrats would continue their efforts.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and his wife, Ann, leaving St. John's Episcopal Church, across from the White House, in Washington on Sunday. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and his wife, Ann, leaving St. John’s Episcopal Church, across from the White House, in Washington on Sunday. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

“The job of Congress is much broader than the job of the special counsel,” Nadler said. “The special counsel is looking and can only look for crimes. We have to protect the rule of law, we have to look for abuses of power, we have to look for obstructions of justice, we have to look for corruption in the exercise of power which may not be crimes.”

But House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Doug Collins, R-Ga., speaking to “Fox News Sunday,” argued that Democrats were unlikely to uncover anything Mueller could not.

“As we’ve seen in the first two months of this Congress, [Democrats] really don’t have a policy agenda,” Collins said. “They have an agenda against the President. They have an agenda to try and win 2020. And so, what we’re seeing is, they think that they can go into the Judiciary Committee or any other committee and have a limited budget, limited subpoena power, limited staff and go up against an investigation that lasted 22 months, had unlimited power, unlimited subpoena power, had plenty of investigators — and they think they can find something more than what they did, then I think they’re sadly mistaken.”

A former senior law enforcement official echoed those remarks, telling Fox News that Democrats would lack key investigative powers that Mueller had, including the ability to convene grand juries — and that Nadler’s path amounted to trying to criminalize meetings with foreign actors that the special counsel apparently determined were simply not criminal.

criminal.

Was press too invested in probe toppling Trump?

Pundits split over attacking Trump or investigators.

“With all the talk of the Democrats intensifying their House investigations,” the former official said, it was important to note that “unlike Special Counsel Mueller, Congress and the [DOJ Inspector General] cannot convene grand juries and initiate prosecutions. If Mueller couldn’t find collusion or conspiracy with every investigative tool, what do the Democrats expect to accomplish?”

Some conservatives, meanwhile, argued that Democrats should come under increased scrutiny for their contacts with foreign nationals. Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) hired the firm Fusion GPS, which employed Britsh ex-spy Christopher Steele to produce an anti-Trump dossier that the FBI used to justify the surveillance a top Trump aide and kickstart the Russia probe — even as text messages exclusively obtained by Fox News this week revealed that the DOJ seemingly raised “repeated” concerns that Steele, whose anti-Trump views are now widely known, was politically biased.

The Trump aide, Carter Page, has not been charged with any wrongdoing, although the FBI initially alleged he had conspired with Russians.

On Sunday, Ohio GOP Rep. Jim Jordan said Sunday that if the Mueller report is disclosed publicly, then all documents relating to it should also be published — including the complete Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant application to monitor Page.

“We have asked for that information to be made public a long time ago,” Jordan said in a televised interview.

In a show of confidence, for his part, Trump waved and flashed two thumbs up to supporters as he returned to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida on Saturday. The entertainer Kid Rock later uploaded a photograph of his golf outing with Trump earlier in the day.

On Sunday morning, Trump broke an unusual, nearly 40-hour-long Twitter silence, writing simply, “Good Morning, Have A Great Day!”

He added, minutes later: “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

White House officials told Fox News that Trump then embarked on a golf outing with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., former House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., and chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

This is a breaking story. Check back for updates.

Fox News’ Jake Gibson at the Justice Department and Chris Wallace contributed to this report.


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BREAKING: Mueller Report Delivered

Mueller submits long-awaited Russia probe report to Justice Department

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has submitted to Attorney General Bill Barr his long-awaited report on the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential race and possible collusion with Trump associates — marking the end of the politically explosive probe and the beginning of a new battle over its contents and implications.

Mueller is “not recommending any further indictments,” a senior DOJ official told Fox News.

The report was delivered Friday afternoon to the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s office and it was delivered to Barr’s office within minutes, a senior DOJ official told Fox News. The White House was notified that the DOJ had received the report around 4:45 p.m., before lawmakers on Capitol Hill were informed. Neither the White House or Congress have seen the actual report.

Both Barr and Rosenstein have seen the report, according to a senior DOJ official.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted following the report’s submission.

“The next steps are up to Attorney General Barr, and we look forward to the process taking its course,” she said. “The White House has not received or been briefed on the Special Counsel’s report.”

Rudy Giuliani and Jay Sekulow, both of whom are counselors to Trump, also released a joint statement.

“We’re pleased that the Office of Special Counsel has delivered its report to the attorney general pursuant to the regulations,” the statement said. “Attorney General Barr will determine the appropriate next steps.”

Following word that Mueller was not recommending more indictments, Giuliani told Fox News that they were “confident” the investigation would show there was no collusion.

“This marks the end of the investigation. We await a disclosure of the facts. We are confident that there is no finding of collusion by the President and this underscores what the President has been saying from the beginning – that he did nothing wrong.”

President Trump's attorneys release statement on completion of Mueller report

Video

Several lawmakers, including Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., received a letter about the report’s submisision. Graham is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Feinstein is the ranking member.

“Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III has concluded his investigation of the Russian interference in the 2016 election and related matters,” the letter said.

Barr also said that he “may be in a position to advise you of the Special Counsel’s principal conclusions as soon as this weekend.”

“Separately, I intend to consult with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Special Counsel Mueller to determine what other information from the report can be released to Congress and the public consistent with law, including the Special Counsel regulations, and the Department’s long-standing practices and policies,” it continued.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., released a joint statement, urging that the report’s contents be made public.

“Now that Special Counsel Mueller has submitted his report to the Attorney General, it is imperative for Mr. Barr to make the full report public and provide its underlying documentation and findings to Congress,” the statement said. “Attorney General Barr must not give President Trump, his lawyers or his staff any ‘sneak preview’ of Special Counsel Mueller’s findings or evidence, and the White House must not be allowed to interfere in decisions about what parts of those findings or evidence are made public.”

“The Special Counsel’s investigation focused on questions that go to the integrity of our democracy itself: whether foreign powers corruptly interfered in our elections, and whether unlawful means were used to hinder that investigation,” the statement continued. “The American people have a right to the truth. The watchword is transparency.”

It’s not clear how much, if any, of the report will be made public or provided to Congress. None of Mueller’s findings were immediately released.

The president has repeatedly decried Mueller’s probe as a “witch hunt,” emphatically denying he or his campaign colluded with Russia to undermine Democrat Hillary Clinton’s chances in the 2016 race. The president has alleged a slew of internal “conflicts of interest” from Mueller’s team and has previously said his legal team is drafting a “major counter report” in response to its findings.

Mueller’s investigation, which was initially ordered to look into the 2016 election in May of 2017, has gone on for almost two years. It has expanded to probe financial crimes of Trump associates before the election, conversations Trump’s national security adviser had with the Russians during the transition and whether Trump obstructed justice with his comments and actions related to the probe.

Mueller, the former director of the FBI under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, was appointed special counsel by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in May of 2017. In his order, Rosenstein directed Mueller to investigate any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign, as well any other matters that arose from the investigation.

“If the Special Counsel believes it is necessary and appropriate, the Special Counsel is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation of these matters,” Rosenstein wrote to Mueller.

Since then, Mueller’s team has indicted, convicted, or won guilty pleas from 34 people and three companies as part of an investigation that has also probed issues unrelated to the 2016 campaign.

Twenty six Russian nationals and three Russian companies have been charged with interfering in the 2016 presidential election.

But none of the Trump associates connected to Trump have been charged with crimes related to collusion, though Mueller’s team charged former Trump associate Roger Stone in January with lying about his communications with WikiLeaks, which published hacked Democratic emails during the election.

Other convictions include: former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, who both pleaded guilty to making false statements in 2017.

Former campaign adviser Rick Gates in 2018 pleaded guilty and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was convicted and later pleaded guilty in a separate financial crimes case dating back before the 2016 election.

Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to making false statements in a case brought by Mueller in November.

Alex van der Zwaan, a London-based lawyer, pleaded guilty to making false statements this year, and Richard Pinedo, a California man, pleaded guilty to identity fraud in 2018.

Mueller has also looked at actions taken by Trump after he was sworn in as president, like his firing of FBI director James Comey and his ousting of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Sessions, once one of President Trump’s most loyal and trusted advisers infuriated Trump over his recusal from the Russia investigation. In March 2017, Sessions announced his plans to recuse himself after reports surfaced detailing undisclosed conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign.

At the time of his recusal, Sessions said he met with the “relevant senior career department officials” to discuss the issue.

“Having concluded those meetings today, I have decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for president of the United States,” Sessions said.

Rosenstein, Sessions’ number two at the Justice Department, then took control of the investigation and decided to appoint Mueller to take over the probe.

Rosenstein said at the time, “What I have determined is that based upon the unique circumstances the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command.”

Mueller said in a statement, upon his appointment: “I accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability.’’

Rosenstein later ceded oversight to then-acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker when he took over for Sessions. But the report was submitted to Barr, who was confirmed in February by the Senate as attorney general.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Fox News’ Jake Gibson and John Roberts contributed to this report.


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BREAKING: FBI clashed with DOJ over potential ‘bias’ of source for surveillance warrant: McCabe-Page texts

Just nine days before the FBI applied for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to surveil a top Trump campaign aide, bureau officials were battling with a senior Justice Department official who had “continued concerns” about the “possible bias” of a source pivotal to the application, according to internal text messages obtained by Fox News.

The 2016 messages, sent between former FBI lawyer Lisa Page and then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, also reveal that bureau brass circulated at least two anti-Trump blog articles, including a Lawfare blog post sent shortly after Election Day that called Trump possibly “among the major threats to the security of the country.”

Another article, sent by Page in July 2016 as the FBI’s counterintelligence probe into Russian election interference was kicking off, flatly called Trump a “useful idiot” for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Page told McCabe that then-FBI Director James Comey had “surely” read that piece. Both articles were authored in whole or part by Benjamin Wittes, a Comey friend.

Further, the texts show that on Sept. 12, 2016, Page forwarded to McCabe some “unsolicited comments” calling then-GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy a “total d–k.” Gowdy, at the time, was grilling FBI congressional affairs director Jason Herring at a hearing on the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email investigation.

But perhaps the most significant Page-McCabe communications made plain the DOJ’s worries that the FISA application to surveil Trump aide Carter Page was based on a potentially biased source — and underscored the FBI’s desire to press on.

Fox News is told the texts were connected to the ultimately successful Page application, which relied in part on information from British ex-spy Christopher Steele – whose anti-Trump views are now well-documented – and cited Page’s suspected Russia ties. In its warrant application, the FBI assured the FISA court on numerous occasions that other sources independently corroborated Steele’s claims but did not clearly state that Steele worked for a firm hired by Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

One-time advisor to President Trump Carter Page addresses the audience during a presentation in Moscow, Russia, December 12, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin - RC165B503FF0
One-time advisor to President Trump Carter Page addresses the audience during a presentation in Moscow, Russia, December 12, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin – RC165B503FF0

Carter Page has not been charged with any wrongdoing despite more than a year of federal surveillance, and he has since sued numerous actors — including the Democratic National Committee (DNC) — for defamation related to claims that he worked with Russia.

“OI [Office of Intelligence] now has a robust explanation re any possible bias of the chs [confidential human source] in the package,” Lisa Page wrote to McCabe on Oct. 12, 2016. “Don’t know what the holdup is now, other than Stu’s continued concerns.”

It’s unclear whether the confidential source in question was Steele or another individual. “Stu” was an apparent reference to Stuart Evans, then the DOJ’s National Security Division deputy assistant attorney general. In one previously unearthed and since-unredacted text message, former FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok texted Lisa Page that he was “Currently fighting with Stu for this FISA” in late 2016.

(In text messages above, “incoming” refers to texts from McCabe; “outgoing” refers to texts from Page)

“Strong operational need to have in place before Monday if at all possible, which means to ct tomorrow,” Page added. “I communicated you and boss’s green light to Stu earlier, and just sent an email to Stu asking where things stood. This might take a high-level push. Will keep you posted.”

Minutes later, Page sent another urgent text to McCabe: “If I have not heard back from Stu in an hour, I will invoke your name to say you want to know where things are, so long as that is okay with you.”

Did FBI retaliate against Trump for firing James Comey?

Former FBI assistant director Chris Swecker reacts to report that the FBI opened an inquiry into whether President Trump was a Russian agent.

On Oct. 14, 2016, Page again wrote to McCabe, this time concerning a meeting with the White House.

“Just called,” Page said to McCabe. “Apparently the DAG [Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates] now wants to be there, and WH wants DOJ to host.  So we are setting that up now.  … We will very much need to get Cohen’s view before we meet with her.  Better, have him weigh in with her before the meeting. We need to speak with one voice, if that is in fact the case.” (“Cohen” is likely then-Deputy CIA Director David Cohen.)

McCabe responded within the hour: “Thanks. I will reach out to David.” On Oct. 19, Page wrote to McCabe that the “meeting with WH counsel is finally set up.”

Neither Lisa Page nor McCabe responded to Fox News’ inquiries as to whether the meeting was designed to brief the White House on the FISA application or some other matter. Page and McCabe also did not reply to Fox News’ inquiries about the DOJ’s concerns over the FISA application, or dispute that the texts related to the Carter Page warrant application. Fox News has also reached out to the FBI and DOJ for comment.

Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page arrives for a closed door interview with the House Judiciary and House Oversight and Government Reform committees, Friday, July 13, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page arrives for a closed door interview with the House Judiciary and House Oversight and Government Reform committees, Friday, July 13, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Associated Press)

The FISA application eventually filed by the FBI on Oct. 21, 2016 stated, “The F.B.I. believes [Carter] Page has been the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government.”

The FBI went on to allege that Carter Page “has established relationships with Russian government officials, including Russian intelligence officers,” and that the FBI believed “the Russian government’s efforts are being coordinated with [Carter] Page and perhaps other individuals associated with” Trump’s campaign. Page, the FBI told the FISA court, “has been collaborating and conspiring with the Russian government.”

Fox News’ Cyd Upson contributed to this report.  Gregg Re is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re.


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Fixing the Problems of Leftist Universities and High Student Loan Debt

I propose that the US government replace its student loan program with a very low tuition online university system.

As we wrote in our article NEA Report Card: F, the education problem has been growing in America for decades, as the costs of educating our children skyrocket and students are churned out of the public education system and universities with less and less actual education.

Man-on-the-street interviews reveal that college age Americans have little or no understanding of American history or the political process. They appear to be focused on leftist political issues, like man-made global warming, and if any of them question their leftist professors or the nonsense they spew in classrooms, they are automatically flunked from the course.

A decades-long growing battle between liberals and conservatives over education is culminating in conservative calls to either get the government and unions out of education altogether, or to entirely overhaul the system.

Of course, Democrat Party presidential candidates are upping the ante in votes-for-handouts campaigning, offering free college educations to all young Americans in exchange for making them president. None of the Democrats inform the electorate who will pay for all of that free education in the face of a $22 trillion debt, and it fails to solve the problem of churning armies of knuckleheads out of our universities. Greater government support of the current university system would only exacerbate the problems we are suffering now.

Greater government support of the current university system would only exacerbate the problems we are suffering now.

The major problems with the current system are:

1) costs have artificially skyrocketed (liberals inflating university tuition) and the taxpayer is left holding the bag for most of it while students incur decades of debt; and

2) anti-American leftists dominate the current university system and classrooms, leaving indoctrinated students with very little usable education and mush for brains.

In other words, the current system fails to educate our children while burying them under a mountain of debt.

Proposal

I propose a new higher education option, patterned somewhat after the current online degree programs offered by several universities, or similar to the CLEP and DANTES higher education programs being utilized by a handful of students.

To envisage this new online university system, think Star Trek. We have the technology, and it’s long past time to upgrade our educational systems.

In this age of digital access it is feasible to launch a program that provides students with online classes, with lectures by top experts in every field and stunning graphics, videos and demonstrations of the principles and concepts being taught. A basic 2 year core curriculum will ensure that all students receive across-the-board instruction in math, science, English, history, American politics, etc. Then specialization will occur in 3rd and 4th year online courses. This is essentially how colleges and universities are supposed to offer classes now, but they have strayed far from their mandate, entreating students with useless courses in little more than socialist propaganda, with tragic results.

Third and fourth year specialization courses in the government-offered online university should emphasize productive degree programs initially; science, engineering, language, history, chemistry, education, pre-medicine, pre-law, etc., with some liberal arts programs being added as the system is more fully developed to accommodate their greater need for interactivity.

Online students study and progress at their own pace, at an affordable cost, focused on the coursework and not on social activities or the politics of university personnel

It appears that new online programs being offered by many universities have greatly reduced the problem of cheating on coursework and exams, a major problem in the brick-and-mortar system as well. Biometrics and other identity-confirming techniques will ensure that the coursework is being completed by the actual student.

Results

Students can take these online courses at their own pace, and take the exams as soon as they have completed each course.

Many college age Americans are feeling that capitalism is failing them, because they are forced to bear the burden of student loan debt for the first decades of their careers.

Costs, which will be only a fraction of the current $500 billion, can be shared by students and the taxpayers. Students can pay a low flat fee for each course, freeing them from the current enslaving burden of student loan debt, and the federal government can dramatically cut its higher education budget and finance the remaining cost of the online university system.

This will replace the current Student Loan program, which supports and promotes a bloated, ineffective higher education system that is little more than a propaganda arm of the global socialist movement. It will also eliminate the current nearly insurmountable hurdle of student debt, cruelly hanged around the neck of most graduating students in America.

This proposal will provide higher education for anyone who wants it, and anyone who is self-motivated enough to do the work. It doesn’t get any easier, cheaper or better than this.

By James Thompson. James holds a doctoral degree, and is a political commentator and professional ghostwriter.


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Socialism’s Bloody History Shows Millennials Should Think Twice Before Supporting It

Socialism demands that we place blind trust in whoever takes the power to distribute society’s goods and services. History shows those who have this power abuse it in horrific ways–every time.

Socialism has murdered over 200 million of its own citizens in the last century to maintain its power over its people

Nikolai Bukharin was executed by shooting in Moscow on March 15, 1938. He had been revered as a giant of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, as one who even worked side by side with Vladimir Lenin himself. Alas, Bukharin’s Marxist chickens had come home to roost by the time he was shot like a dog during Josef Stalin’s reign of terror. His execution marked the pinnacle of Stalin’s show trials of high-level officials.

You see, Bukharin invested in building a political system that inevitably puts the reins of power into the hands of just a few strongmen who end up calling all the shots. It’s a system in which suspicion and the smell of treason tend to hang in the air.

Socialism, by the way, is just such a system. This is the case whether you call it by any other name, whether communism, utopianism, or collectivism. Oh, go ahead and slap some lipstick on that pig and call it “democratic” socialism or “progressivism” or “communitarianism.”

Lenin and his gang all started out calling themselves socialists. Social democrats, to be exact. So the fact remains: the path of socialism is ultimately paved with coercion, censorship, and, yes, terror. Does stating this make me an alarmist? No. It makes me a realist.

Socialism Is a Bait-and-Switch Scheme

Socialism and communism both involve ceding to the state control over the distribution of goods and services for the masses. This involves giving up individual rights, and giving the state a good measure of control over our personal lives. This road always leads to tyranny, no matter what you pave it with, and no matter what you name it. Socialism requires a power clique—or, as Lenin put it, an elite ‘vanguard’—in order to pretend to function.

Socialism requires a power clique—or, as Lenin put it, an elite ‘vanguard’—in order to pretend to function.

Socialism requires a power clique—or, as Lenin put it, an elite “vanguard”—in order to pretend to function. This means going heavy on executive power and rubber-stamp light on the legislative. Socialism demands that we place blind trust in whoever takes the reins of power to distribute society’s goods and services. This tiny elite, by the way, typically enjoys enormous privileges and a much higher standard of living than the hoi polloi, simply by being a part of the elite “nomenklatura.”

Sure, this oligarchy claims to distribute in the name of “equality.” That’s typically the cover story. The historical fact is that the vanguard, the power clique, eventually takes control of everything that’s produced—medicine, education, housing, food, transportation, etc. Its members then bureaucratically ration out—as they see fit—the means of human survival. In the end, you’ve basically got an elite corps of mobsters with the power to decide which folks are more equal than others.

Socialism also has a way of producing bloated bureaucracies that in turn produce ever greater scarcity. Along the way, this produces ever more corruption and cronyism. Censorship puts down deep roots because dissent cannot be tolerated or the system would collapse. Those are all prime ingredients for a closed society and surveillance state. Yet everybody is supposed to lay back and enjoy it.

Millennials for Bernie Sanders, Be Careful What You Wish For

So why should we meditate on the gruesome anniversary of Bukharin’s execution 78 years after the fact? Because Stalin’s purges and the reign of terror he invoked throughout Soviet society are actually pretty natural outgrowths of a system that puts too much power in the hands of too few people. That’s why. The current professed yearning for socialism—a system so conducive to corruption, cronyism, censorship, and coercion—just keeps rearing its ugly head.

The current professed yearning for socialism—a system so conducive to corruption, cronyism, censorship, and coercion—just keeps rearing its ugly head.

Yet the current professed yearning for socialism—a system so conducive to corruption, cronyism, censorship, and coercion—just keeps rearing its ugly head. One case in point is the open support for Stalin himself in today’s Russia. On March 5, the anniversary of Stalin’s death, a group of communists led a brazen procession to his grave to pay homage to this man who is responsible for the deaths of untold millions during his reign of terror in the Soviet Union.

We are also witnessing a new trendiness for all things socialist and communist among college youth. They sport T-shirts featuring the image of nauseatingly murderous tyrants like Che Guevara. Thanks to the popularity of the avuncular Bernie Sanders, coupled with an astonishing ignorance of history, millennials have fast become trusty mouthpieces for socialism. This is ironic, because socialism has a way of redistributing power away from the “99 percent” and puts it into the hands of the few central planners—a teensy fraction of 1 percent—at the top.

Then what? Well, too often the answer is in the title of this recent article written by libertarian Matt Kibbe: “Socialism Kills.” R.J. Rummel chronicled and documented the killing habits of socialist regimes in his work “Death by Government.” There’s an indisputable correlation between big government and terror that keeps turning up throughout history. That’s because big government is really Borg government. It just can’t get enough of itself.

We’d better get acquainted with it if we’d like to avoid it, no?

Nikolai Bukharin’s Wretched Ides of March

Bukharin’s execution, as well as all of the wild show trials with forced confessions and executions of so many high-level Soviet leaders, caused shock and disillusionment among several prominent communists in the West. (One of them, Arthur Koestler, reflected on the impact of the show trials in his novel “Darkness at Noon.”) In that last letter, he requested poison to drink rather than a bullet to the head.

Bukharin wrote more than 30 letters to Stalin while in prison, none of which were answered. But his last letter is particularly poignant. It’s an utter mess of emotions and contradictions: wailing self-pity, confession to crimes, pleas for his innocence, Stockholm Syndrome, total despair, and hope against hope. He referred to Stalin by his revolutionary nickname “Koba,” in an attempt to hearken back to their old Bolshevik days of being comrades-in-arms.

But Bukharin knew he was finished. In that last letter, he requested poison to drink rather than a bullet to the head. (According to one report, he was made to watch the executions of 16 other defendants, then shot last.) He requested to see his wife and infant son. (Obviously, not granted or answered. His wife was sent to a gulag prison camp.)

He even requested to be exiled to America, where he promised to wage Stalin’s war against by-then-enemy-of-the-people Leon Trotsky, the founder of the Red Army. (This seems a pathetic Hail Mary pass.) He also expressed regret for pal-ing around with Lev Kamenev, another high-ranking Bolshevik Stalin had purged earlier.

Here’s how Bukharin’s letter to Stalin ends:

In me you have lost one of your most capable generals, one who is genuinely devoted to you. But that is all past. It is bitter to reflect on all this. But I am preparing myself mentally to depart from this vale of tears, and there is nothing in me toward all of you, toward the party and the cause, but a great and boundless love. I am doing everything that is humanly possible and impossible.

I have crossed all the t’s and dotted all the i’s in spite of a headache and with tears in my eyes. My conscience is clear before you now, Koba. I ask you one final time for your forgiveness (only in your heart, not otherwise.) For that reason I embrace you in my mind.

One Soviet scholar in particular, Stephen Cohen, has defended Bukharin as courageous, and as one who never truly confessed but engaged in a war of words—in an Aesopian language—during his spoken defense at the trial itself. Be that as it may, Bukharin’s letter displays the full human wreckage that lay at the end of the road of socialism.

A fascinating postscript here is that Cohen came into possession of the last letter Bukharin wrote from prison to his young wife Anna Larina. Cohen actually delivered it into her hands in 1992, 54 years later.

Socialism Separates People and Causes Great Human Misery

Bukharin’s letter to Anna displays in stark clarity what a socialist system ultimately does to the most intimate of human relationships. Once socialism is entrenched, it is tailor-made to separate human beings and stand in the way of intimacy. Indeed, its general premise is that the good of the collective trumps the good of the individual, which means it is actually invested in wreaking havoc on family relationships and loyalties.

Below is an excerpt from Bukharin’s letter to Anna Larina. It’s loaded with pathos, suffering, loneliness, and all manner of contradictions. It’s a testament to the fact that in the end, we only want familial closeness with real, flesh and blood people. Not “communitarian” efficiency. Yet, at the same time, Bukharin extols the very system, socialism, that would destroy these relationships for him and for everyone:

My sweet Anushka! My Darling!

I write to you on the eve of the trial, and I write to you with a definite purpose, which I emphasize three times over: No matter what you read, no matter what you hear, no matter how horrible these things might be, no matter what might be said to me nor what I might say – endure everything courageously and calmly. Prepare the family. Help all of them. I fear for you and the others, but most of all for you. Don’t feel malice about anything. Remember that the great cause of the USSR lives on and this is the most important thing. Personal fates are transitory and wretched by comparison. A great ordeal awaits you. I beg you my dearest, muster all your strength, tighten all the strings of your heart, but don’t allow them to break.

Do not talk carelessly with anybody about anything. . . .

There you have it. Bukharin feels compelled to say that the great Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) is “the most important thing.” And be careful, oh, so very careful, what you say to anybody. Political correctness on steroids. That’s socialism in a nutshell for you.

No doubt the stated intentions are oh-so-pure and oh-so-good, like “liberte, egalite, fraternite.” It’s the sort of compassion Flannery O’Connor wrote of when she noted that “tenderness leads to the gas chamber.” That’s because, at the end of the day, socialism is a manipulative machine of human cruelty powered only by a blind greed for power. It forces people to finely mince their words, or remain silent.

Of course it operates under the fig leaf of “equality.” Because how else can it seal the deal?

Socialism Is a Well-Trod Path to Absolute Power

Somehow, a lot of folks missed the memo that a system without checks and balances on political power is conducive to creating power-mongers, and even monsters. Lord Acton famously stated: “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” A system without checks and balances on political power is conducive to creating power-mongers, and even monsters.

A system without checks and balances on political power is conducive to creating power-mongers, and even monsters.

Lord Acton’s warning is oft quoted, but little noted, despite the fact that history proves it correct time and bloody time again. Witness Nazi Germany, Mao’s China, Kim Jong Un’s North Korea, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, and myriad other examples. Lord Acton’s statement has even been laboratory-tested, and you can check that out in this Leadership Quarterly article.

Bukharin’s Bolshevik comrades had held him in the highest esteem. He was a prominent leader of the Russian revolution and party theorist who worked side by side with Lenin himself, the firebrand who overthrew czarist Russia and entrenched communism there. Lenin even dubbed Bukharin “the golden boy of the revolution.”

But Bukharin basically had two killers, as did all of the other cronies in the government’s power clique. One, of course, was the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. The other killer was the ideology of socialism that Bukharin put into place—a system of unchecked power that grows monsters like Stalin.

We need to remember that, when soft socialism with its siren song of “equality” is left to its own devices, it takes ever more rigid forms. The political hubris of “progressives” who know better than you and me—and with such utter certainty—always leads to central control, corruption, cronyism, censorship, and abject conformity.

The more than 100 million victims of communism shows just how slippery a slope socialism is. Any person of goodwill who is familiar with the history and realities of socialism would do everything possible to avoid going down that minefield of a road.

Stella Morabito

By Stella Morabito

Stella Morabito is a senior contributor to The Federalist. Follow Stella on Twitter.

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20 Hate Crime Hoaxes in the Age of Trump

Jussie Smollett is far from an isolated case

Jussie Smollett’s arrest in connection to what Chicago cops believe is a hate crime hoax the “Empire” actor orchestrated upon himself included what’s become a glaringly common denominator in similar capers: Apparent hatred for President Donald Trump and his supporters. Woman from Hawaii turned a $453 investment into $42,643 by doing this

Smollett told police he was the victim of a racist, homophobic attack last month by masked men who yelled “MAGA country” — a reference to Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.” No video of the alleged attack has been found, and Smollett was charged with felony disorderly conduct Wednesday evening for filing a false police report.

Image source: Chicago Police Department

You may have noticed that hate crime hoaxes — many which reference Trump or Trump supporters— have been frequently popping up ever since the Republican billionaire defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in November 2016. Independent journalist and Quillette editor Andy Ngo has been compiling a list on Twitter, but TheBlaze has been on the case as well — so here’s a little list for your hate crime hoax reading pleasure.

Buckle Up, Buttercup

1. A black man was accused of spray-painting graffiti — “Trump Rules” and “Black Bitch” — on a car in Philadelphia just hours after Trump’s election.

2. The day after Trump was elected, an 18-year-old student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette claimed to have been robbed by two white men of her wallet and her hijab — a head scarf often worn by Muslim women. But she made up the entire thing.

3. Also the day after Trump’s election, a student at Bowling Green State University in Ohio said three white boys wearing Trump shirts threw rocks at her and called her racial slurs, but cops told WTVG-TV she made it all up — possibly over frustration with friends and family who were Trump supporters.

4. A University of Michigan student falsely claimed that on Nov. 11, 2016 — just days after Trump’s election — a white man in Ann Arbor threatened to burn her if she didn’t remove her hijab.

5. Another UM student claimed a white man cut her face with a safety pin in Ann Arbor on Nov. 15, 2016; she was charged and pleaded guilty to making a false police report.

6. Days after Trump’s election, a 20-year-old man admitted he lied when he told Malden, Massachusetts, police he was harassed by two white men proclaiming it’s “Trump country now,” the Boston Herald reported.

7. About a week after Trump’s election, two students at Williams College in Massachusetts “vandalized Griffin Hall to bring attention to the potential impact of the presidential election on campus,” the Williams Record reported. The students poured a red wood-stain substance resembling blood down the main stairwell of and wrote “AMKKK KILL” in the stairwell, the paper said.

8. In November 2016, the president of North Park University in Chicago told WMAQ-TV that hateful “Trump” notes and emails allegedly sent to a student were “fabricated,” and that the woman who claimed they were aimed toward her was no longer enrolled at the school.

9. In December 2016, police arrested 18-year-old Yasmin Seweid, a Muslim woman, for filing the false report after she claimed she was verbally attacked on a New York City subway by three drunk white men who mentioned Trump and demanded she remove her hijab.

Yasmin SeweidImage source: YouTube screenshot

10. A gay choir director admitted to spray-painting “Heil Trump” on the walls of his Indiana Episcopal church just after the 2016 election.

11. A Wisconsin college student claimed in January 2017 his door and wall next to it “had been spray painted with a bias symbol and phrases related to his religion and ethnicity.” He then confessed to making up the whole thing.

12. Police arrested a black man in Charlotte, North Carolina, in April 2017 for planning a hate crime at an immigrant-operated store in which a window was broken, a flaming object was thrown through the door, and a note was left behind that blamed the fire on white Trump supporters.

13. A racist note that prompted the student body of Lutheran St. Olaf College in Minnesota to hold a massive protest that shut down classes for a day in May 2017 was revealed to be hoax, school officials said.

14. Racist messages were discovered in September 2017 against several minority candidates at the Air Force Academy Preparatory School in Colorado Springs, but the incident was revealed to be another hoax.

15. A reported “hate crime” near Kansas State University in November 2017 — in which a black man’s car was covered in racist graffiti and prompted action by the FBI — turned out to be a hoax, as the car’s owner admitted he was responsible for the graffiti.

16. Also at Kansas State — one year later — campus police concluded a racist note left on a dorm door was placed there by the student who reported it.

17. Last April, authorities concluded a 13-year-old Virginia girl falsely reported that a black man grabbed her arm, displayed a small knife, called her a “terrorist,” pulled off her headscarf, and put his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream.

18. A black woman on Long Island, New York, told police last September she found a hateful note on her car and discovered her tire was slashed after a group of teens yelled “Trump 2016!” at her — but authorities told WNBC-TV she made up the story.

19. Just last November, officials at Drake University in Iowa said four of five racist notes found in residence halls were hoaxes, the Des Moines Register reported.

20. Last December, a black student was charged with writing racist graffiti — including a swastika and a Ku Klux Klan reference — in a dormitory at Goucher College in Baltimore.

‘People want to be a victim’

Adding additional context to the hate hoax phenomenon was Mediaite writer and podcast host John Ziegler who joined Glenn Beck on Monday to discuss the latest developments in Jussie Smollett’s alleged assault case.

“I hope that we don’t just look at this as the left wants us to, as an isolated incident or that it’s somehow unique,” Ziegler told Beck. “This is an epidemic. Especially in the realm of hate-crime situations. We now live in a world where being the right kind of victim is the American dream. People want to be a victim. You get adulation, you get attention, you get money in certain situations … being the right kind of victim is the American dream today.”

Check out the clip:

By Dave Urbanski


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Chicago police blast Jussie Smollett ‘phony attack’

‘Bogus police reports cause real harm’

Police boss unloads on Smollett over alleged race hoax

Chicago cops laid out their case against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett Thursday morning, accusing the TV star of orchestrating an elaborate hoax involving two “bogus” hate crimes — one involving an alleged attack, and one involving a threatening letter — all in order to get a pay raise.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Smollett orchestrated a “phony attack” in order to take “advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career.”

Johnson said at a news conference Thursday that Smollett, 36, also sent a racist and homophobic threatening letter to himself at the Fox studio lot before the attack because he was dissatisfied with his salary.

The mug shot of Jussie Smollett after he was arrested by Chicago police.
The mug shot of Jussie Smollett after he was arrested by Chicago police. (Chicago PD)

“I’m left hanging my head and asking why,” a visibly upset Johnson told reporters. “Why would anyone, especially an African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations? How could someone look at the hatred and suffering associated with that symbol…how can an individual who has been embraced by the city of Chicago turn around and slap everyone in this city by making this false claim?”

He added, “Bogus police reports cause real harm.”

Following three weeks of mounting suspicions, Smollett, who is accused of filing a false police report, was charged Wednesday with felony disorderly conduct. He turned himself in at central booking early Thursday. If convicted, he is facing up to three years in prison.

Smollett told police he was attacked by two masked men as he was walking home from a Subway sandwich shop at around 2 a.m on Jan. 29. The actor, who is black and gay, said the masked men beat him, made derogatory comments and yelled “This is MAGA country” — an apparent reference to President Donald Trump‘s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again” — before fleeing.

Smollett onstage during his concert at The Troubadour on Feb. 2, 2019, in West Hollywood, Calif., his first public appearance after reporting he was attacked. The actor and R&B singer Smollett opened the concert with an emotional speech, saying he had to play the show because he couldn’t let his attackers win. (AP)

Smollett onstage during his concert at The Troubadour on Feb. 2, 2019, in West Hollywood, Calif., his first public appearance after reporting he was attacked. The actor and R&B singer Smollett opened the concert with an emotional speech, saying he had to play the show because he couldn’t let his attackers win. (AP)

But that isn’t how police say it all went down.

Johnson said police found the “check that [Smollett] used to pay [two brothers]” to fake the beating, adding he paid them $3,500 “for the two of them in total, and then $500 upon return.”

He said the attack “was staged, the brothers had on gloves during the (air quotes) ‘staged attack’ where they punched him a little, but as far as we can tell, the scratching and bruising that you saw on [Smollett’s] face was most likely self-inflicted.”

This image provided by the Chicago Police Department and taken from surveillance video showed two people of interest in an attack on "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett walking along a street in the Streeterville neighborhood of Chicago, early Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. The men are no longer considered suspects, police said Thursday.

This image provided by the Chicago Police Department and taken from surveillance video showed two people of interest in an attack on “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett walking along a street in the Streeterville neighborhood of Chicago, early Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. The men are no longer considered suspects, police said Thursday. (Chicago Police Department/AP)

Johnson was also incensed at the spotlight the incident put on his town for the past three weeks.

“This is shameful because it painted this city that we all love and work hard in, in a negative connotation,” he said. “To insinuate and stage a hate crime of that nature when he knew that as a celebrity he’d get a lot of attention… It’s despicable. It makes you wonder what’s going through someone’s mind.”

“As a black man, who spent his entire life living the city of Chicago, I know the racial divide that exists here. I know how hard it’s been for our city and our nation to come together,” he said. Johnson added that “absolute justice would be an apology to this city that he smeared….admitting what he did and then be man enough to offer what he should offer up in terms of all the resources that were put into this.”

CNN anchor Don Lemon delivers his perspective to viewers on the growing controversy surrounding actor Jussie Smollett

Video

“Empire” is shot in Chicago and follows a black family as they navigate the ups and downs of the recording industry. 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment told Fox News on Thursday, “We understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process. We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options.”

In less than a month, the 36-year-old changed from being the seemingly sympathetic victim of a hate crime to being accused of fabricating the entire thing.

The felony charge emerged on the same day detectives and the two brothers, who were initially viewed as suspects, testified before a grand jury. Smollett’s attorneys met with prosecutors and police, but it was unknown what they discussed or whether Smollett attended the meeting.

In a statement to Fox News on Wednesday, Smollett’s attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson said the actor “enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked.” They did not provide further comment when contacted by Fox News on Thursday.

L-R: Taraji P. Henson and Jussie Smollett in the "Treasons, Stratagems, and Spoils" episode of "Empire."

L-R: Taraji P. Henson and Jussie Smollett in the “Treasons, Stratagems, and Spoils” episode of “Empire.” (Fox via Getty)

Police say the investigation shifted after they questioned the two brothers who were in the area that morning. Police said Thursday that Smollett spoke to the brothers an hour before and an hour after he says they helped the actor stage last month’s attack.

Detective Commander Edward Wodnicki said at the news conference that after questioning the brothers for nearly two days last week, they were released and investigators no longer viewed them as suspects.

The brothers, who were identified by their attorney as Abimbola “Abel” and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo, were initially held for nearly 48 hours on suspicion of assaulting Smollett. Police said one of the men had worked on “Empire,” and Smollett’s attorneys said one of the men is the actor’s personal trainer, whom he hired to help get him physically ready for a music video. The actor released his debut album, “Sum of My Music,” last year.

Why would anyone, especially an African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations?— Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson

Investigators said they have phone records that show there were extensive communications between Smollett and the brothers.

Wodnicki said the brothers testified before a grand jury before prosecutors charged Smollett on Wednesday. Smollett was charged by prosecutors, not the grand jury. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the brothers appeared before the panel to “lock in their testimony.”

Speaking outside the courthouse where the grand jury met on Wednesday, the brothers’ attorney said the two men testified for about two and a half hours.

“There was a point where this story needed to be told, and they manned up and they said we’re going to correct this,” Gloria Schmidt said.

She said her clients did not care about a plea deal or immunity. “You don’t need immunity when you have the truth,” she said.

She also said her clients received money from Smollett, but she did not elaborate.

Police release 2 Nigerian men arrested in Jussie Smollett case

Video

Smollett has been active in LBGTQ issues, and initial reports of the assault drew outrage and support for him on social media, including from Sen. Kamala Harris of California and TV talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.

But several hours after Smollett was declared a suspect and the charges announced, there was little reaction from celebrities online.

Smollett, who has a record — one that concerns giving false information to police when he was pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence. According to records, he was also charged with false impersonation and driving without a license. He later pleaded no contest to a reduced charge and took an alcohol education and treatment program.

Sasha Savitsky

By Sasha Savitsky | Fox News

The Associated Press contributed to this report.You can find Sasha Savitsky on Twitter @SashaFB.


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Autopsy of an Attempted Coup

The illegal effort to destroy the 2016 Trump campaign by Hillary Clinton campaign’s use of funds to create, disseminate among court media, and then salt among high Obama administration officials, a fabricated, opposition smear dossier failed.

So has the second special prosecutor phase of the coup to abort the Trump presidency failed. There are many elements to what in time likely will become recognized as the greatest scandal in American political history, marking the first occasion in which U.S. government bureaucrats sought to overturn an election and to remove a sitting U.S. president.

Preparing the Battlefield
No palace coup can take place without the perception of popular anger at a president.

The deep state is by nature cowardly. It does not move unless it feels it can disguise its subterranean efforts or that, if revealed, those efforts will be seen as popular and necessary—as expressed in tell-all book titles such as fired FBI Directors James Comey’s Higher Loyalty or in disgraced Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe’s psychodramatic The Threat.

In candidate and President Trump’s case that prepping of the battlefield translated into a coordinated effort among the media, political progressives and celebrities to so demonize Trump that his imminent removal likely would appear a relief to the people. Anything was justified that led to that end.

All through the 2016 campaign and during the first two years of the Trump presidency the media’s treatment, according to liberal adjudicators of press coverage, ran about 90 percent negative toward Trump—a landmark bias that continues today.

Journalists themselves consulted with the Clinton campaign to coordinate attacks. From the Wikileaks trove, journalistic grandees such as John Harwood, Mark Leibovich, Dana Milbank, and Glenn Thrush often communicated (and even post factum were unapologetic about doing so) with John Podesta’s staff to construct various anti-Trump themes and have the Clinton campaign review or even audit them in advance.

Some contract “journalists” apparently were paid directly by Fusion GPS—created by former reporters Glen Simpson of the Wall Street Journal and Susan Schmidt of the Washington Post—to spread lurid stories from the dossier. Others more refined like Christiane Amanpour and James Rutenberg had argued for a new journalistic ethos that partisan coverage was certainly justified in the age of Trump, given his assumed existential threat to The Truth. Or as Rutenberg put it in 2016: “If you view a Trump presidency as something that’s potentially dangerous, then your reporting is going to reflect that. You would move closer than you’ve ever been to being oppositional. That’s uncomfortable and uncharted territory for every mainstream, non-opinion journalist I’ve ever known, and by normal standards, untenable. But the question that everyone is grappling with is: Do normal standards apply? And if they don’t, what should take their place?”

I suppose Rutenberg never considered that half the country might have considered the Hillary Clinton presidency “potentially dangerous,” and yet did not expect the evening news, in 90 percent of its coverage, to reflect such suspicions.

The Democratic National Committee’s appendages often helped to massage CNN news coverage—such as Donna Brazile’s primary debate tip-off to the Clinton campaign or CNN’s consultation with the DNC about forming talking points for a scheduled Trump interview.

So-called “bombshell,” “watershed,” “turning-point,” and “walls closing in” fake news aired in 24-hour news bulletin cycles. The media went from fabrications about Trump’s supposed removal of the bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. from the Oval Office, to the mythologies in the Steele dossier, to lies about the Trump Tower meeting, to assurances that Michael Cohen would testify to Trump’s suborning perjury, and on and on.

CNN soon proved that it is no longer a news organization at all—as reporters like Gloria Borger, Chris Cuomo, Eric Lichtblau, Manu Raju, Brian Rokus, Jake Tapper, Jeff Zeleny, and teams such as Jim Sciutto, Carl Bernstein, and Marshall Cohen as well as Thomas Frank, and Lex Harris all trafficked in false rumors and unproven gossip detrimental to Trump, while hosts and guest hosts such as Reza Aslan, the late Anthony Bourdain, and Anderson Cooper stooped to obscenity and grossness to attack Trump.

Both politicos and celebrities tried to drive Trump’s numbers down to facilitate some sort of popular ratification for his removal. Hollywood and the coastal corridor punditry exhausted public expressions of assassinating or injuring the president, as the likes of Jim Carrey, Johnny Depp, Robert de Niro, Peter Fonda, Kathy Griffin, Madonna, Snoop Dogg, and a host of others vied rhetorically to slice apart, shoot, beat up, cage, behead, and blow up the president.

Left wing social media and mainstream journalism spread sensational lies about supposed maniacal Trump supporters in MAGA hats. They constructed fantasies that veritable white racists were now liberated to run amuck insulting and beating up people of color as they taunted the poor and victimized minorities with vicious Trump sloganeering—even as the Covington farce and now the even more embarrassing Jussie Smollett charade evaporated without apologies from the media and progressive merchants of such hate.

At the same time, liberal attorneys, foundations, Democratic politicians, and progressive activists variously sued to overturn the election on false charges of rigged voting machines. They sought to subvert the Electoral College. They introduced articles of impeachment. They sued to remove Trump under the Emoluments Clause. They attempted to invoke the 25th Amendment. And they even resurrected the ossified Logan Act—before focusing on the appointment of a special counsel to discredit the Trump presidency. Waiting for the 2020 election was seen as too quaint.

Weaponizing the Deep State
During the 2016 election, the Obama Department of Justice warped the Clinton email scandal investigation, from Bill Clinton’s secret meeting on an airport tarmac with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, to unethical immunity given to the unveracious Clinton aides Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, to James Comey’s convoluted predetermined treatment of “likely winner” Clinton, and to DOJ’s Bruce Ohr’s flagrant conflict of interests in relation to Fusion GPS.

About a dozen FBI and DOJ grandees have now resigned, retired, been fired, or reassigned for unethical and likely illegal behavior—and yet have not faced criminal indictments. The reputation of the FBI as venerable agency is all but wrecked. Its administrators variously have libeled the Trump voters, expressed hatred for Trump, talked of “insurance policies” in ending the Trump candidacy, and inserted informants into the Trump campaign.

The former Obama directors of the CIA and National Intelligence, with security clearances intact, hit the television airways as paid “consultants” and almost daily accused the sitting president of Russian collusion and treason—without cross-examination or notice that both previously had lied under oath to Congress (and did so without subsequent legal exposure), and both were likely knee-deep in the dissemination of the Steele dossier among Obama administration officials.

John Brennan’s CIA likely helped to spread the Fusion GPS dossier among elected and administrative state officials. Some in the NSC in massive and unprecedented fashion requested the unmasking of surveilled names of Trump subordinates, and then illegally leaked them to the press.

The FISA courts, fairly or not, are now mostly discredited, given they either were willingly or naively hoodwinked by FBI and DOJ officials who submitted as chief evidence for surveillance on American citizens, an unverified dossier—without disclosure that the bought campaign hit-piece was paid for by Hillary Clinton, authored by a discredited has-been British agent, relied on murky purchased Russian sources, and used in circular fashion to seed news accounts of supposed Trump misbehavior.

The Mueller Investigation
The Crown Jewel in the coup was the appointment of special counsel Robert Muller to discover supposed 2016 Trump-Russian election collusion. Never has any special investigation been so ill-starred from its conception.

Mueller’s appointment was a result of his own friend James Comey’s bitter stunt of releasing secret, confidential and even classified memos of presidential conversations. Acting DOJ Attorney Rod Rosenstein appointed a former colleague Mueller—although as a veteran himself of the Clinton email scandal investigations and the FISA fraudulent writ requests, Rosenstein was far more conflicted than was the recused Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Mueller then packed his investigative team with lots of Clinton donors and partisans, some of whom had legally represented Clinton subordinates and even the Clinton Foundation or voiced support for anti-Trump movements.

Mueller himself and Andrew Weissmann have had a long record of investigatory and prosecutorial overreach that had on occasion resulted in government liability and court mandated federal restitution. In such polarized times, neither should have involved in such an investigation. Two subordinate FBI investigators were caught earlier on conducting an affair over their FBI-issued cell phones, and during the election cycle they slurred the object of their subsequent investigation, ridiculed Trump voters, and bragged that Trump would never be elected. Mueller later staggered, and then hid for weeks the reasons for, their respective firings.

The team soon discovered there was no Trump-Russian 2016 election collusion—and yet went ahead to leverage Trump campaign subordinates on process crimes in hopes of finding some culpability in Trump’s past 50-year business, legal, and tax records. The point was not to find who colluded with whom (if it had been, then Hillary Clinton would be now indicted for illegally hiring with campaign funds a foreign national to buy foreign fabrications to discredit her opponent), but to find the proper mechanism to destroy the presumed guilty Donald Trump.

The Mueller probe has now failed in that gambit of proving “collusion” (as even progressive investigative reporters and some FBI investigators had predicted), but succeeded brilliantly in two ways.

The “counterintelligence” investigation subverted two years of the Trump presidency by constant leaks that Trump soon would be indicted, jailed, disgraced, or impeached. As a result, Trump’s stellar economic and foreign policy record would never earn fifty percent of public support.

Second, Mueller’s preemptive attacks offered an effective offensive defense for the likely felonious behavior of John Brennan, James Clapper, James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Bruce Ohr, Peter Strzok, and a host of others. While the Mueller lawyers threatened to destroy the lives of bit players like Jerome Corsi, George Papadopoulos, and Roger Stone, they de facto provided exemption to a host of the Washington hierarchy who had lied under oath, obstructed justice, illegally leaked to the press, unmasked and leaked names of surveilled Americans, and misled federal courts under the guise of a “higher loyalty” to the cause of destroying Donald J. Trump.

The Palace Coup
All of the above came to a head with the firing of the chronic leaker FBI Director James Comey (who would lie to the president about his not being a target of an FBI investigation, lie to House investigatory committees by pleading amnesia and ignorance on 245 occasions, and repeatedly lie to his own FBI bureaucrats).

In May 2017, acting FBI director Andrew McCabe took over from the fired Comey. His candidate wife recently had been a recipient of huge Clinton-related campaign PAC donations shortly before he began investigating the Clinton email scandal. McCabe would soon be cited by the Inspector General for lying to federal investigators on numerous occasions—cynically stooping even to lie to his own New York FBI subordinates to invest scarce resources to hunt for their own nonexistent leaks as a mechanism for disguising his own quite real and illegal leaking.

The newly promoted McCabe apparently felt that it was his moment to become famous for taking out a now President Trump. Thus, he assembled a FBI and DOJ cadre to open a counterintelligence investigation of the sitting president on no other grounds but the fumes of an evaporating Clinton opposition dossier and perceived anger among the FBI that their director had just been fired. In addition, apparently now posing as Andrew McCabe, MD, he informally head counted how many of Trump’s own cabinet members could be convinced by McCabe’s own apparent medical expertise to help remove the president on grounds of physical and mental incapacity under the 25th Amendment. This was an attempted, albeit pathetic, coup against an elected president and the first really in the history of the United States.

At one point, McCabe claims that the acting Attorney General of the United States Rod Rosenstein volunteered to wear a wire to entrap his boss President Trump—in the manner of Trump’s own attorney Michael Cohen’s entrapment of Trump, in the manner of James Comey taking entrapment notes on confidential Trump one-on-one meetings and leaking them to the press, and in the manner of the Department of Justice surveilling Trump subordinates through FISA and other court authorizations.

McCabe was iconic of an utterly corrupt FBI Washington hierarchy, which we now know from the behavior of its disgraced and departed leadership. They posed as patriotic scouts, but in reality proved themselves arrogant, smug, and incompetent. They harbored such a sense of superiority that they were convinced they could act outside the law in reifying an “insurance policy” that would end the Trump presidency.

The thinking of the conspirators initially had been predicated on three assumptions thematic during this three-year long government effort to destroy Trump:

One, during 2016, Hillary Clinton would certainly win the election and FBI and DOJ unethical and illegal behavior would be forgotten if not rewarded, given the Clintons’ own signature transgressions and proven indifference to the law;

Two, Trump was so controversial and the fabricated dossier was so vile and salacious, that seeded rumors of Trump’s faked perversity gave them de facto exemptions to do whatever they damned pleased;

Three, Trump’s low polls, his controversial reset of American policy, and the general contempt in which he was held by the bipartisan coastal elite, celebrities, and the deep state, meant that even illegal means to continue the campaign-era effort to destroy Trump and now abort his presidency were felt to be moral and heroic acts without legal consequences, and the media would see the conspirators as heroes.

In sum, the Left and the administrative state, in concert with the media, after failing to stop the Trump campaign, regrouped. They ginned up a media-induced public hysteria, with the residue of the Hillary Clinton campaign’s illegal opposition research, and manipulated it to put in place a special counsel, stocked with partisans.

Then, not thugs in sunglasses and epaulettes, not oligarchs in private jets, not shaggy would-be Marxists, but sanctimonious arrogant bureaucrats in suits and ties used their government agencies to seek to overturn the 2016 election, abort a presidency, and subvert the U.S. Constitution. And they did all that and more on the premise that they were our moral superiors and had uniquely divine rights to destroy a presidency that they loathed.

Shame on all these failed conspirators and their abettors, and may these immoral people finally earn a long deserved legal and moral reckoning.

About the Author: Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is an American military historian, columnist, former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He was a professor of classics at California State University, Fresno, and is currently the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush. Hanson is also a farmer (growing raisin grapes on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author most recently of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict was Fought and Won (Basic Books).


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