Senator Mitch McConnell Excoriates Donald Trump

In the aftermath of the Senate vote that acquitted former President Trump in his second impeachment trial, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell gave a speech on the Senate floor in which he explained his vote to acquit. His rationale was procedural; he argued that the Senate lacked jurisdiction to convict because Trump is a now a private citizen and no longer President. If the Senate has the power to impeach a private citizen, which would then allow the Senate to bar that private citizen from ever holding public office in the future, the impeachment power has no limits.

That, it seems to me, is both a close call and a perfectly reasonable position.

We should also note that McConnell pointed out that the matter does not stop here. Trump is still answerable for his actions in both the criminal and civil courts.

Most important is what McConnell said about the substance of the matter. He said what is obviously true, but needed to be said by the ranking elected Republican. In fact, it should have been repeated by all the Republicans. He said that there is no question that Trump provoked the mob into a foreseeable response. In addition, Trump was both practically and morally responsible for the result, which was the storming of the capitol building on January 6.

Senator McConnell’s speech is presented in its entirety in the YouTube video below.

Senate Minority Leader McConnell.

JFB

Trump Impeachment Redux

Lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin (D. MD) led off the proceedings with a video montage that included some footage of Donald Trump’s incendiary speech and the subsequent attack on the capitol by an enraged mob. The video, shown below, is devastatingly effective. It really says all you need to know. The rest is sophistry.

Attack on the Capitol

JFB

Ben Sassse

The Nebraska Republican Party is set to censure Senator Ben Sasse. Again. The charge is that he has not, and will not, bend his knee to Donald Trump in the upcoming impeachment trial. Like Liz Cheney, Sasse has stuck to his guns.

If the Republican Party is ever going to reclaim the mantle of Lincoln and once again become a governing party it is going to need leaders like Sasse and Cheney. The alternative is the road to hell. It is a road shared by Trump fans as well as pretty much the entirety of the Democratic Party. They just don’t realize they share the same underlying collectivist assumptions about the role of government and the use of government power. But they do.

Ben Sasse recorded a short video statement for the Nebraska Republican Party that can be seen below. It is a statement of civic responsibility that, if people paid attention to it, could (and ought to) go a long way toward getting U.S. politics back on the road to reason.

JFB

Same Circus, Different Clowns

As roughly everybody knows, on January 6, 2021, then-President Donald J Trump stirred up a crowd by claiming that the most recent presidential election was stolen from him, implying that  Joe Biden’s ascension to the office was illegitimate.  Immediately thereafter a crowd of Trump supporters, some of whom were armed, attacked the Capitol and attempted to stop Congress from carrying out its lawful duty in counting the electoral votes of the several states. Counting those electoral votes was the last formal step in certifying the election, paving the way for Mr. Biden’s inauguration on January 20, 2021.  

In the aftermath, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell pinned responsibility for the attack on Trump. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and the Senate minority leader Charles Schumer demanded that Trump ether step down or be forced from office immediately. As in right away, without delay. (See the You Tube video below dated January 12, 2021.)

In the event, Pelosi and Schumer demanded, naturally enough, that someone else take action. When that didn’t work, the House impeached Trump for the second time. The vote came on January 13, 2021, a day after Schumer’s speech. But then a funny thing happened. Speaker Pelosi didn’t get around to sending the article of impeachment to the Senate for 12 days, by which time Biden had been sworn in and Trump had become a private citizen. 

Not only that, the article of impeachment was for incitement. Trump could easily have been impeached for dereliction. He, as Commander-in-Chief, refused to respond to an attack on the seat of government. Moreover he rebuked his own Vice President for refusing to tamper with the states’ electoral votes. Not only are those surely impeachable offenses; the evidence is unassailable.  

As it now stands, after insisting on the immediacy of the situation, Speaker Pelosi took her time sending over a deeply flawed article of impeachment. The trial is not scheduled to begin until February 8, 2021. Moreover, the article she sent over contains two important constitutional issues. The first has to do with the definition of incitement—at what point does a political speech become incitement to violence? The second has to do with impeaching a former president. 

The balance of the evidence suggests that a former president may be impeached, paving the way for a majority vote that would prohibit him from holding office again. But there is sufficient ambiguity to make the case less than clear cut.  

The issue of incitement is more problematic. Did Trump incite his followers to violence? It is my opinion that he did. But having said that, we need to acknowledge several factors. First, restricting the political speech of a sitting politician sets a dangerous precedent when free speech is already under attack. Second, the incitement charge was totally unnecessary to achieve the desired goal, namely securing a conviction in the Senate. Third, because of (presumably) sloppy drafting and the constitutional issues involved, Republicans can dodge the underlying issue. In effect they are being given a low cost opportunity to vote for acquittal. 

An acquittal would allow Trump to argue that once again, he has been exonerated. That is surely not an outcome to be welcomed. But it sure looks like the path of least resistance, due in part to the handiwork of Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer. As always they have quashed the national interest in favor of their own narrow political interests.  

JFB

Impeachment Redux

Clowns to the left of me, 

Jokers to the right…

From “Stuck in the Middle With you” written by Gerry Rafferty. 

It seems reasonably clear that Donald J. Trump, who has by now passed Richard M Nixon in the proverbial race to the bottom, has undoubtedly committed an impeachable offense. It is also reasonably clear that the Democratic Party, in its ongoing love affair with incompetence, is regrettably about to go out of its way to make removing him from office nearly impossible.

The single article of impeachment they are poised to pass is going to accuse Trump of inciting an insurrection. The problem is that the wording is an invitation to partisan sniping and the making of legal arguments that conflate Trump’s political offense with the criminal law. Not only is this going to make a conviction impossible, it is entirely unnecessary. 

National Review’s Andrew McCarthy suggests language that avoids these traps and gets to the heart of the matter. He writes: 

“If what the Democrats truly want is bipartisan consensus in the service of national security, rather than political combat, the articles of impeachment they plan to file should charge the president with (a) subversion of the Constitution’s electoral process, particularly the Twelfth Amendment counting of the sovereign states’ electoral votes; (b) recklessly encouraging a raucous political demonstration that foreseeably devolved into a violent storming of the seat of our government; and (c) depraved indifference to the welfare of the vice president, Congress, security personnel, and other Americans who were in and around the Capitol on January 6.”

The charges contained in McCarthy’s language appear to be beyond dispute. Congress could (and should) pass such an article with dispatch and send it along to the Senate. If the Senate wants to pretend it can’t find a way to vote on the article before January 20, or at least vote to censure Trump, so be it. What had heretofore been known as The Party of Lincoln, will have shown itself to be largely populated by cowering fools, utterly unwilling to stand up to mob violence, and incapable of protecting liberty and our institutions. 

Add to that the cynical calculations of the Democrats, some of whom wish to delay an impeachment trial until after Trump has left office, a course of action Jim Clyburn has suggested. The stated reason for this is that Trump could then be barred from office in the future. 

That is nonsense, for two reasons. First, the impeachment power was designed for removal from office, not punishment. After removal, punishment can be meted out the usual way. Second, As Bruce Ackerman points out in the Washington Post, Congress can ban Trump from holding federal office in the future using Section 3 of the 14th amendment. They could do so by finding that he engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the Constitution of the United States. Moreover, such a finding would not require an impeachment conviction. It would require a simple majority in both houses of Congress. That should be doable. 

If Congress decides to wait months to hold an impeachment trial (at which time Chuck Schumer will be majority leader) it will be simply because they wish to use it as a partisan cudgel while they pass the Party’s progressive wish list, including trillions in new “stimulus” that doesn’t stimulate.  All the talk of getting rid of Trump “immediately” will have been shown to be just that. Talk. And it will be politics as usual. 

JFB

A Supposed Return to “Normalcy”

President-elect Joe Biden won the race by running a determined campaign that focused exclusively on an indisputable fact. Joe Biden is not Donald Trump. To which the voters responded by giving Trump the heave-ho while cutting into the Democratic majority in the House and (probably) leaving the Senate in Republican hands. 

The institutional Democratic response to all this thus far has been to continue to push their leftist agenda that was fairly decisively rejected at the polls. In return they ask for a return bipartisanship and comity. 

The plea for comity is coming from people who spent the last 4 years or so calling the Republicans racists, white supremacists, misogynists and Nazi sympathizers. It comes from people who routinely voted as a bloc against Trump’s judicial nominees and legislative initiatives. It comes from people who argued that the entire Trump presidency was illegitimate; that but for collusion with Russia, Trump would not have been elected and  that Trump was a Russian “asset”. 

Democrats and their friends in the media ludicrously argued that Supreme Court nominee Bret Kavanaugh was the leader of a high school gang-rape team; that in high school he unsuccessfully tried to assault Christine Blasey Ford. Mind you Blasey Ford never produced a shred of evidence supporting her claim; the witnesses she cited either refused to testify or flat out contradicted her, including her friend Leyland Keyser. And speaking of media friends, none of this prevented the Washington Post from describing Blasey Ford as a “prosecutor’s dream witness”.

Beyond the direct testimony of Blasey Ford, the party promoted wild and unsubstantiated claims of sexual assault brought forward by attorney Michael Avenatti. The legal career of Mr Avenatti has by now taken a turn for the worse. He is now a convicted felon, having been found guilty of committing fraud and extortion against Nike. 

And then there were the physical attacks on officials of the Trump Administration, encouraged by Maxine Waters (D-CA), among others. According to NBC News, on June 25, 2018, she said: 

“If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere,” Waters, who has called for President Donald Trump to be impeached, told supporters over the weekend. 

In the event, activists took up the call with zest, chasing scores of Trump officials and Republican office holders out of restaurants and physically threatening them, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his wife Elaine Chou. And that isn’t all. Representative Steve Scalise was shot by a Bernie Sanders supporter during a Congressional baseball game. (I hasten to add that the man was obviously mentally ill, and Senator Sanders quickly condemned the shooting). 

Nevertheless, the point remains. Democrats and progressives launched a scorched earth campaign of opposition, and not for the first time. Now that they have the White House, a bare majority in the House, and lack control of the Senate they have decided that they are in favor of bipartisanship and comity after all. Who is kidding whom?

The obvious question is: If Democrats are so interested in compromise, what grounds are they willing to concede in the search for consensus? The answer is: none. 

In that respect let us consider where the head of the party and its titular leader stands. To begin with, he has nominated California AG Xavier Becerra to lead HHS. Becerra, who has no experience in the field is quite simply a culture warrior.  In particular, he is an abortion rights fanatic. Operating as California’s Attorney General, he launched lawsuits seeking to overturn other states abortion restrictions. Those states include Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio. His justification for doing so? “No government” he said “state or federal, has the right” to interfere with abortion. Which, in another context, is essentially the argument Texas AG Ken Paxton recently made with respect to the election, an argument that rightfully got the back of the Supreme Court’s hand. 

Becerra defended California’s mandate (since overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in NIFLA v. Becerra) that required pro-life pregnancy centers to provide patients with information on how to obtain state funded abortions. In yet another attack on the first amendment, he sued the Little Sisters of the Poor seeking to require them to finance the purchase of contraception and abortifacients. 

Then there is the nomination of Neera Tanden to head the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). In one sense she is a candidate that everyone can agree on: she has antagonized just about everyone in Washington, left, right and center. And not because she is a strong independent leader. She is simply a Hillary Clinton sycophant. In emails revealed by Wikileaks she wrote “I would do whatever Hillary needs always. I owe her a lot. And I’m a loyal soldier” and, “I don’t really think the issues matter”. The only explanations for her selection are these: either Biden picked a sacrificial lamb to appease the nomination Gods, or he is making selections essentially at random. No one thinks she is actually qualified to run OMB. 

I could go on, but there is only so much time in a day. It is becoming increasingly clear that the idea of a return to “normalcy” is nothing more than a liberal fantasy. Personnel is policy and Biden is in the process selecting personnel who are creatures of the left, most of whom served in the Obama Administration.  Not only have they presided over numerous policy disasters in the past, they are unchastened, and fully intend to repeat their failures.  Moreover, at the Administrative level it is clear that the supposedly moderate Biden means to govern by “pen and phone”, Obama style. 

Strap in because the best days of the Biden administration are already behind us, and he hasn’t even taken the oath of office yet. 

JFB

Sore Loser

On Friday evening the Supreme Court refused to hear the case brought by Texas’s Attorney General and joined by 18 additional Attorney’s General, all of whom are Republicans.  The plaintiffs in the case sought to have the Court throw out the votes of 4 states to be replaced by the state legislature’s choice of electors to the Electoral College. Conveniently enough, all 4 state were won by Joe Biden and all 4 states have Republican majority legislatures. 

In the event, when the Court declined to take up the case, it did so without dissent. Two Justices, Clarence Thomas and Sam Alito, took the position that the case should be heard, but pointedly noted that the case would fail on the merits. As Andrew McCarthy notes here, Thomas and Alito adhered to their longstanding position that “…the Court must accept cases when states invoke the Court’s original jurisdiction.” The net result is that the Court voted against Trump 9 – 0, a stinging rebuke no matter how you slice it. 

If anyone feels shame anymore then there ought to be a lot of shamefaced people walking around Washington this morning. Start with the man who initiated the lawsuit, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Add the 18 other Republican state Attorneys General who joined the suit. And to that add the 100 or so Republican Congressmen who backed the lawsuit. 

They should be ashamed because not only was the lawsuit garbage from the very beginning; it also implied a wholesale rejection of the separation of powers as well as state sovereignty. It would have set the stage for the spectacle of the states suing each other over policies that clearly reside in the purview of the individual states. And not to put too fine a point on it, just the other day those very same Republicans were arguing that Democrats were turning the Court into a super legislature to achieve policy victories they couldn’t achieve through the electoral process. 

Well, perhaps the Republicans ought to consider the consequences of having nominated a narcissistic reality TV star for President. It ought to be pretty clear that the voters rejected both Trump the person and hard left collectivism. Maybe, just maybe, the Republicans will stop with the cult-of-personality nonsense and begin to act like adults, but I’m not counting on it. 

The Democrats don’t exactly come off well in this fiasco either. Keep in mind that they spent the last 4 years attacking the integrity of the 2016 election, arguing among other things, that Russian interference handed the election, which rightly belonged to Hillary Clinton, to Donald Trump. And Democratic here Stacey Abrams has yet to concede that she lost the Georgia gubernatorial race in 2018. Before the 2020 election even took place, Hillary Clinton announced that Joe Biden should never concede the result. And in Iowa, Democratic candidate for Congress Lisa Hart, who lost the race by 6 votes, has refused to concede and is petitioning Congress to seat her instead of the actual victor. 

Some interest should be given to the predictions of Democratic pooh-bahs  who launched an all-out attack on the Supreme Court. Consider for a moment the dire predictions of Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) who argued that as a result of the Citizens United decision (affirming the 1st amendment by the way) a wave of “dark money” would crash over the elections ensuring corporate control of “our democracy”. Or predictions that Republican Supreme Court nominees would “hand the election” to Trump. 

Well a wave of dark money did cascade over the 2020 elections. But it was largely Democratic money, much of which came from Wall Street. And it didn’t do the Democrats much good in Congressional races where they lost seats. Also consider that Trump has now lost something like 33 of 34 election related lawsuits, and that the Supreme Court turned him down cold without a dissent. It’s pretty hard to take the Sheldon Whitehead’s of the world seriously. 

As if the whole situation were not absurd enough to be the subject of a Fellini film, in the wake of the latest defeat, Trump got busy on his Twitter account. See below.

Donald Trump


Donald Trump. Again.

So what does it all add up to?

First, Donald Trump has presented clear and convincing evidence that he never should have received the Republican nomination and never should have been elected President in the first place. Second, the Republican Party, terrified of its increasingly yahoo electoral base, has abandoned its former principles and continues to display a remarkable profile in cowardice. Third, the leadership of the Democratic Party, is increasingly driven by principles–the wrong ones. They are headed down the path of a radical collectivist ideology that bears no dissent and has always led to ruin.

Cheer up, though. Voters in the U.S. have always been quite willing to throw the bums out for a new set of bums. And thus punished, one set of bums gets enough of the message to correct the errors of the last set of bums. And then the cycle repeats.

JFB

Post Election Absurdities

It would seem that “the most important election of your life” was a tie. 

It is hard not to laugh when political partisans make impassioned arguments about the cause du jour. And not just because the arguments are typically awful.  When Democrats launch their next grandiose scheme for whatever it is they’ve just hatched up, they seem to have convinced themselves that it will actually work as advertised. For their part, Republicans will be in fierce opposition, haunted by the fear that somehow it might work. 

As a result we have endless arguments that are mostly pointless about stuff that doesn’t matter much. On the other hand, things that actually do matter are studiously avoided because often they do not easily fit into a neat ideological box.  So the combatants spend their afternoons dreaming up slogans that substitute for thought, after which they adopt and implement policies that are riotously out of kilter with reality. 

Consider some recent examples. In Manhattan, police recebroke up an orgy attended by some 80 people. The event was sponsored by an operation named Caligula. The firm advertises itself as a private on premise swinger club. Among the reasons the event was raided was that—I am not making this up—the patrons apparently did not properly observe social distancing regulations. 

And then we have the Governor of Oregon to consider. A side note: for the last 50 years radio stations have played Arlo Guthrie’s “Alices Restaurant” on Thanksgiving Day.  All 18 minutes of it. Alice’s Restaurant is the talking blues song about…well here are some of the lyrics below.

“I was drafted and when I went to my induction physical they handed out papers and said , “Have you ever been arrested?” I raised my hand and told the Sergeant , “Yes” and he said, “What for?” and I told him, “Litterin” the Sergeant said,” I’ve seen that movie, ain’t gonna work here.” So I got sent into the Army.”

And in the true spirit of Alice’s Restaurant, the Governor has encouraged people to call the police on their neighbors if they see a possible violation. The violations carry a maximum sentence of 30 days in jail, $1,250 in fines or both. 

So, back to Governor Kate Brown of Oregon. Last week the Governor instituted a new round of Covid restrictions that included a freeze on both indoor and outdoors gatherings, just in time for Thanksgiving. The indoor gatherings permit no more than 6 people from a maximum of 2 families. Thanksgiving Day dinners are no exception. 

The Marion County Sheriff’s office is apparently hesitant to enforce the edict, noting that we cannot arrest our way out of the pandemic. It seems that the heel-clickers are the politicians, not the police. Defund the Politicos has a nice ring to it.  

Finally. Perhaps one of the most absurd remarks made in recent days comes from…Donald J Trump. No surprise there. Any way, Mr. Trump who never takes responsibility for anything even mildly negative actually complained that it is his lawyers who are making him look bad. 

Happy Thanksgiving

JFB

Biden Against Violence. Sort Of.

Former Vice-President Joe Biden is about to unleash a huge ad buy  decrying violence in general, but not in particular. The reason is obvious.  Polling indicates that he is being hurt in swing states where support for Black Lives Matter has plummeted as a result of months of violence BLM unleashed. Further, despite heroic efforts of the mainstream media to obfuscate the facts,  the violence is largely a left wing affair, aided and abetted by Progressive Mayors. Up until this point the Mayors have refused to enforce laws designed to protect people and property from just the sort of violence that has become a daily occurrence in some American cities. 

Conveniently enough, the Biden campaign, along with its media allies, has pivoted to blaming the violence on Trump and white racists. “Without evidence” as CNN is fond of saying. Well, take a look at the video below of “protesters” below chanting “Death to America” Iranian style and count the MAGA hat wearers among them. It won’t take long because there aren’t any. 

Critics of the Mayors’ response (or lack of it) to the chaos have correctly pointed out that the cities engulfed in violence have been governed overwhelmingly by Democrats for generations. Hilariously enough, the New York Times has rushed into the battle with a front page story saying, well yes, it is true enough that the cities have been run by Democrats but…Mayors, unlike the President, don’t have sufficient power to prevent the violence and in any event Republicans abandoned the cities ages ago. 

Where to begin. 

Let’s start with this. Law enforcement is essentially a local affair. Mayors have the responsibility to direct police priorities. Some actually are directly in charge of police departments. To insure political accountability, most of them appoint the senior management (e.g.— like the Police Commissioner). And as for power, New York City has over 35,000 uniformed officers, making it larger than the standing Armies of most countries. But by and large the Mayors, including New York’s de Blasio, have ordered the police to stand down. In addition plenty of the Mayors have rejected federal law enforcement aid. Nancy Pelosi went so far as to refer to federal law enforcement officers as “storm troopers”. The idea that Mayors in the United States lack sufficient authority or resources to prevent the violence is simply ludicrous on its face. 

Then there is the charge that the problem is that the Republicans have abandoned the nation’s urban areas. Or as the Times notes with a straight face

“…if cities have become synonymous with Democratic politics today, that is true in part because Republicans have largely given up on them. Over the course of decades, Republicans ceased competing seriously for urban voters in presidential elections and representing them in Congress.

“Republican big-city mayors became rare. And along the way, the Republican Party nationally has grown muted on possible solutions to violence, inequality, poverty and segregation in cities.”

It takes a level of duplicity that is simply astounding for the Times to complain that there are few, if any, big city Republican Mayors. The very prospect of an actual Republican Mayor, particularly in New York, is enough to send the paper’s editorial board into periodic convulsions of fear and loathing. True enough the Times endorsed Michael Bloomberg in 2005, a nominal Republican. But the party label was a mere convenience for Mr. Bloomberg, evidenced by the fact that he abandoned the Republican Party after a few years and went on the run for the Democratic Presidential nomination.   

The Times did endorse Republican Rudy Giuliani for a second term, basically because his rival Ruth Messinger displayed breathtaking incompetence; not because they agreed with his policy stances. You have to go all the way back to 1965 to find another Republican Mayoral endorsement. That would be John Vliet Lindsay, who like Bloomberg, eventually abandoned ship and ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic Presidential nomination in the 1968 cycle. 

The Times isn’t really interested in Republican policy proposals for cities, unless they have all of a sudden decided they are in favor of, say, school choice. What they really want is for the occasional nominal Republican to run as long as said Republican advances the policy objectives of the Democratic Party. 

Let’s be clear about what is going on here. The Democrats are caught in a vise. The radical left that increasingly controls the party’s agenda is sympathetic to the rioters. But the people who used to be rank and file Democrats, “the deplorables” as Hillary Clinton called them, are so unenlightened that they don’t relish having their houses and businesses burned down in the name of social justice. So Biden is trying to square the circle by decrying violence in general, while pointing at right wing racists, in a delicate effort to assuage all elements of his coalition by carefully avoiding saying anything of substance. 

Will it work? Who knows? It could. It is certainly a cynical enough strategy.

JFB

And About Those Norms…

We hear a lot about norms these days, and in particular, about how President Donald Trump’s typically juvenile behavior violates long standing norms and therefore harms democracy. There is something to this. Trump is, after all, boorish, a habitual liar and an all around disgrace. And that’s on a good day. For instance, Trump has recently taken to insinuating that Joe Scarborough may have been involved in the death of one of his staffers when he was a Congressman. The actual cause of death was an undiagnosed heart ailment; the woman died in Florida while Scarborough was in Washington.

That aside, no reasonable person should doubt that norms, manners and temperament are crucial elements for the institutions of civil society, the rule of law and  for freedom generally.  And here, Donald Trump’s behavior is destructive, and becoming more so.

So we are left to ponder a question: Why is it that there is so little interest from the defenders of norms in what is emerging as perhaps one of, if not the biggest political scandals in the history of the Republic? A scandal in which important norms were eviscerated and may well have involved Nixon style (or worse) criminal behavior by high level federal officials.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the Obama Administration used federal law enforcement agencies to surreptitiously surveil members of the Trump campaign and the incoming administration. Obama officials submitted deliberately falsified documents to the FISA Court in a successful effort to obtain warrants to surveil Trump campaign and administration officials. Obama officials went on television to claim they had evidence of Trump’s collusion with Russia even though under oath and in secret they admitted that they had no such evidence. 

In the matter of the Russia Collusion allegation, and then the Michael Flynn matter, it turns out that much, if not the entirety of the subsequent investigation was simply based on a pretext largely invented by Christopher Steele who was bought and paid for by Hillary Clinton’s campaign using the law firm Perkins Coie as a cutout. In the process not only did numerous Obama Administration political officials make requests to have Michael Flynn’s identity unmasked, his identity was quickly (and illegally) leaked to the press, most famously to David Ignatious of the Washington Post.  

The honor roll of Obama Administration officials who were suddenly interested in having Flynn’s name unmasked included: Susan Rice, Samantha Powers, James Comey, James Clapper, James Brennan, Treasury Secretary James Lew, then Chief-of-Staff Denis McDough and of course Joe Biden. For his part, Biden claimed he “knew nothing about these moves to investigate Flynn.” And then, ahem, his name showed up requesting that Flynn be unmasked on January 12, 2017. 

Not only did former Director of National Security (and admitted liar) James Clapper submit an unmasking request in the Flynn matter, so did two of his deputies, Micheal Dempsey and Stephanie L. Sullivan.  According to both Sally Yates and James Comey, James Clapper personally briefed President Obama on the Flynn-Kislyak calls as part of the Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB). But well before the unmasking requests were released to the public, Clapper testified behind closed doors under oath in the matter. He was asked (under oath) by Congressman Tom Rooney of Florida: “Did you ever brief President Obama on the Flynn-Kislyak phone calls?” Clapper had a one word answer: “No.” We know that was untrue.

The records also show that Samantha Powers made 260 unmasking requests during her tenure as U.N. Ambassador. She has testified that while most of these requests were made in her name, she herself did not make the them. According this version of events, someone else used her name in a national security matter, but she has no idea who it was. 

In all there were 39 Obama Administration officials who made 53 separate requests to unmask Flynn between election day (November 8, 2016) and inauguration day (January 17, 2017). Most of the requests took place between December 14 and 16, 2016, which was 2 weeks before Flynn’s December 29, 2016 call with  Russian Ambassador Kislyak, the predicate offered as justification for the Flynn investigation. 

In this sordid tale we should not omit the handiwork of John Brennan, Director of the CIA. Brennan claimed that “he [Trump] is wholly in the pocket of Putin”. On Meet the Press he told Chuck Todd “I called [Trump’s] behavior treasonous, which is to betray one’s trust and aid and abet the enemy, and I stand very much by that claim.” 

He is not standing by it now, at least from his perch at MSNBC. After special counsel Mueller “did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government” Brennan backtracked. He said “I don’t know if I received bad information, but I think I suspected there was more than there actually was”. 

I could go on with example after example, but the point is clear. Political operatives, law enforcement and intelligence officers in the Obama Administration conducted surreptitious surveillance on opposing Party’s presidential campaign and candidate. On national TV, they went so far as to fan flames about a non-existent Trump-Russia conspiracy, using “evidence” that they knew to be phony and manufactured by the Clinton campaign. We know this because Obama Administration officials have admitted to as much.

Evelyn Farkas, an Obama Administration Defense Department appointee, claimed on MSNBC that she was afraid that Trump administration officials might destroy evidence of the alleged collusion “if they found out how we knew what we knew about Trump’s staff dealing with Russians”. 

But when questioned under oath behind closed doors by Rep. Gowdy of South Carolina, Farkas sang a different tune. 

So, would someone please remind me again on how these norms are supposed to work.