Category Archives: Donald Trump

Ha,ha,ha

Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist #65, identified the greatest danger in an impeachment is “that the decision [to impeach] will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt”

President Trump’s impeachment was silly from the go but now, wait, the none too stable geniuses of the Democrat delegation to the House of Representatives are going to “hold” the Articles of Impeachment until they are assured of a fair trial in the Senate.

Did I mention Trump is a very lucky man?

I don’t think he was in any danger of conviction by the Senate but, if the Dems are dumb enough to hold the Articles – and if McConnell is willing to sit on his hands rather than setting his own rules – the Democrat Party’s vote will simply bleed out. Either Trump is a “clear and present danger” to the Constitution of the United States or, well, we can wait a couple of weeks, until the New Year, maybe March, to save the virtue of America.

The Democrats had one thing going for them, sheer, blind hate for Trump. Pause and that’s gone.

The Constitution will be just fine. If RBG keels over in the next few months the “impeached” President of the United States will do his Constitutional duty and nominate her successor. And Mitch will see that successor through the Senate.

The Dems are so screwed.

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Interesting Day

#1 UK Election. Polling puts Boris 9.5 points up. But “polling” ain’t what it used to be and national polls in a 600+ seat race are more than a little useless. Boris is counting on voters a) wanting the end of the waffling on Brexit, b) not wanting Corbyn anywhere near Number 10. I think he is right on Brexit but I am less convinced that Corbyn is that toxic. Corbyn is certainly anathema to the old-time conservative voter, but to the kids, the ethnics and the tribal, Corbyn is not so scary. In fact, his old school Marxism and refusal to condemn terrorists, whether Irish or Islamic, puts him in stark contrast to the smoother, Blairite, Labourites. Corbyn is not a moderate and there is a sizable fraction of the voting population who will see that as a good thing. We’ll know soon.

#2 The Impeachment Follies. The Democrat’s lame attempt to impeach President Trump has dropped any pretence of bi-partisanship or basic procedural fairness. The articles themselves disclose no crimes, high or low, and are being torn apart in Committee. This weekend I suspect the GOP will be aggressive in attempts to get more moderate Democratic Representatives to either vote against or abstain when the Articles come before the full House. Given that the chances of the Senate convicting, never very good to begin with, collapse with these weak accusations, smart Democrats are surely looking for a way out. Censure is one alternative. Another is to actually defeat the Articles as they stand.

The biggest problem the Democrats have is that Trump is absolutely sure he did nothing wrong and nothing that the Democrats have managed to come up with shakes that position. Worse, the eternally combative Trump actually seems to be enjoying the process. He always knew he would be impeached if the Dems got control of the House and so he is well prepared to counter punch. The GOP may find Trump distasteful but they have rallied round and there is no appetite, on the Articles at least, to impeach a sitting President eleven months from an election.

It is great fun, however, watching the Republicans on the Committee bringing up Hunter Biden’s coke habits and uttering the taboo name of the “whistleblower” who wasn’t. Apparently, the betting is that Mitch McConnell wants any trial in the Senate to be short and sweet with very little investigation or exposure of the Democrats or the deep state they represent. However, the Congressional Republicans are having a grand time smearing the Bidens and underscoring the Democrat’s arrogant disregard for even the minimum procedural fairness. I can imagine Nancy Pelosi hoping that toad Nadler will get this over with quickly.

#3 Andrew Scheer. I didn’t vote for Scheer and I have no interest in the man. His resignation from the CPC leadership for whatever reason is a reasonable outcome of a disastrous campaign. His unfitness to lead was underscored by his willingness to hire Warren “Lying Jackal” Kinsella to go after Bernier with a bogus PPC=Racist campaign.

The CPC will now go through a year or two of trying to figure out how to “move to the center”. How to win the hearts and minds of assorted urban ethnic groups and how to appeal to women. They have plenty of mushy, urban, centerists – of both sexes and all genders – to choose from.

Unfortunately, the likely criteria for winning the CPC leadership will be a) can beat Trudeau, b) will not scare the ethnics, gays, ladies and the easily spooked Millenials. The idea that there might actually be conservative principles such as balanced budgets, limits on immigration, respect for provincial rights and support for a growing Canadian economy, will be largely absent from the CPC beauty contest coming to a city near you.

This is, frankly, a huge opportunity for the Peoples Party and Max Bernier. The brain trust at the CPC, fresh from its success in hiring Warren Kinsella, is going to go all in for the reddest, most inclusive, most climate friendly leader it can possibly find. The logic will be that you have to win in Toronto and places like Alberta and Saskatchewan are always going to be safe CPC territory.

Max needs to present a principled, conservative, platform and start rallying the real conservatives on the Prairies, in the interior of British Columbia and in the many parts of Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes where Liberals and Liberals-lite are unwelcome options.

Could have had Max…and there is no reason why we can’t.

Update: So Boris won bigly. A working majority, many seats taken from Labour. Corbynism rejected and the pound went parabolic. Corbyn manage to lose bigger than Michael Foot – who was a lot smarter and far more fun, though deeply on the left. Momentum is saying it was a “Brexit” election and they are not wrong. But it was a rejection of Corbyn’s waffle on Brexit and his radical leftist positions and the base anti-Semitism the Labour party has fallen victim to. It was also an embrace of the intelligence and wit of Boris. Now he has his own mandate. He can get Brexit done and move on to the real issues facing the United Kingdom.

Andrew Scheer remains “resigned” (eventually). The red and pink Tories are lining up to take the position. The possible candidates are all of pinkish hue and interest me not a bit. I don’t think you beat the Liberals by being a slo-mo Liberal. Max has a huge opportunity.

But the winner of the interesting day was Jerry Nadler adjourning the Judiciary Committee without a vote on the Articles of Impeachment. The scuttlebutt is that he did this to ensure he gets on TV when the Committee passes those Articles.

Perhaps.

Or perhaps Nancy Pelosi has been counting votes and realizes that those Articles enjoy a bare majority of votes in the House. Or worse. They are remarkably dumb and Pelosi has noticed that Trump seems to be saying, “Oh please, Mr. Fox, don’t throw me into the brambles.”

Trump, along with Boris, likes jokes. He enjoys making fun and he has a fabulous sense of humour. It is one of the things which distinguishes the happy warriors on the right from the earnest, po-faced, scolds of the left.

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Losing Touch

I have been paying a bit of attention to the impeachment hearings conducted by the Intelligence Committee of the US House of Representatives. I was politically aware when the Nixon hearings occurred and followed the Clinton impeachment. In both cases the public was engaged and, while there were obviously partisan considerations, the elected officials seemed to take their responsibilities seriously.

Taking responsibilities seriously means a number of things: first and foremost, due process and a respect for evidence. Second, being clear about what is being alleged. Third, looking for a measure of bi-partisan support for the process. Fourth, a sense of fairness.

There is no legal requirement for any of these things. After all, impeachment we are endlessly told, is a political not a legal process. However, because the process is so deeply political it is unlikely to succeed without a political consensus supporting it. At the moment it looks very much as if the parade of witnesses in front of the Schiff committee have failed to create a strong, or even partial consensus in favour of impeachment.

Polling on fairly complicated questions is equivocal but it can give a sense of where the country is comfortable. For there to be any chance that sufficient Republicans in the Senate will vote for impeachment, the polls would have had to turn in favour of impeachment. Probably by a large margin. This has not happened and the fantastically one sided hearings under Chairman Schiff have not helped.

Which raises a huge problem for the Democrat party. To dyed in the wool Democrats the fact Trump is in office at all is an abuse of that office and impeachment on any grounds whatsoever makes total sense. They cannot imagine how this could be anything but self-evident. Which has meant that they were deeply careless in constructing their impeachment case. They paid no attention to what actually was the “impeachable offence” they were going after. They rigged the rules so that only their witnesses were heard and rigged them even further by creating a procedure designed to put the minority at a significant disadvantage cross examining those witnesses. They were blatant about this rigging.

The perception of unfairness, once established, is difficult to deal with but this was not the worst error the Democrats made. The worst error was believing that a startlingly insignificant bit of Presidential action (or inaction) the proof of which was ambiguous at best would galvanize the American People to demand Trump’s removal. There is no coming back from this misjudgment. All the more so because the action was so boring.

No one outside bureaucratic circles in Washington is the least bit interested in what Trump may have said or implied to some guy with an unpronounceable name who is the President of Ukraine which most Americans could not find on a map. There is no “blue dress”, no “18 minute gap” – there are just assorted, rather self-important, bureaucrats who overheard or heard from a colleague that the American President behaved inappropriately.

Of course, the President in question, has a talent for cutting to the chase and when he released the transcript of his call with the President of Ukraine, the air went out of the Democrats’ impeachment balloon.

The House of Representatives is on its Thanksgiving recess which means that the Representatives will be back in their districts. The media frenzy will die down and Congressmen and women are going to be talking to their constituents. If the impeachment hearings had been successful they would be hearing support for a vote on articles of impeachment. However, given the shambles of Schiff’s show, the best the Democrats can hope for is indifference, the worst will be independents telling them to forget impeachment and to get on with the business of the nation.

At a guess, following Thanksgiving, Nancy Pelosi will be looking for a way to end the whole impeachment show. She has very few good alternatives. She might well lose a vote on articles of impeachment. She could likely win a censure motion but that will not satisfy the rabid base. Perhaps her best bet would be to allow a low key report from the Intelligence committee to go to the Judiciary committee and then sit on it for a couple of months before announcing that it was up to the American people to throw Trump out in the next election.

No matter which way Pelosi jumps, losing touch with the American people on the question of impeachment is going to hurt the Democrats politically. It has solidified Trump’s base, annoyed independents and called into question the Democrats’ judgement which could cost them seats in Congress and the Senate. Plus, though this will only become clear in the next few weeks, it has fatally compromised Democratic front runner Joe Bidden.

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Consequence

I am old enough that I watched the Nixon Impeachment and the Clinton Impeachment. In both cases, it was hard to argue that there was not evidence of misuse of office. That evidence was marshalled by serious people in a set of televised hearings which, regardless of which “side” you were on, underscored the gravity of the accusations and the procedural, if not political, propriety of the process. In each case, there was a formal vote in the House of Representatives to commence the proceedings. The minority party was granted its full rights to put its side of the case.

This does not appear to be the intent in the Impeachment of Donald Trump. For details, it is well worth reading Sundance at The Conservative Treehouse.

This time out, the Democratic majority in the House seems willing to proceed on the allegations of an unidentified “whistleblower” who claims to have been told by others that Trump exerted pressure on the Ukrainian government to investigate Crowdstrike and whether or not Joe Biden exerted pressure (as he said he did) on the Ukrainian government to fire its Prosecutor who was looking into the affairs of a company which had hired Biden’s son, Hunter, for $50,000 a month to be a director on a Board which rarely met.

Trump – unlike Nixon or Clinton – believes that he has done nothing wrong and has released notes on the call as well as the whistleblower’s complaint. People will see what they want to see in these documents but there is a distinct absence of the smoking gun.

Which, apparently, does not matter to the Democrat majority in the House. Impeachment is a political act and the Democrats are apparently willing to use their majority to pass Articles of Impeachment irrespective of whether they in any way disclose a high crime or misdemeanour. The quaint legalisms of evidence, witnesses and actual misconduct have been thrown aside in an all out political hit on Trump.

I don’t think it will work. Partially for the reasons outlined by Conrad Black in his brilliant piece on why Trump will win big in 2020, partially because there is no public appetite for Impeachment.

With Nixon and, to a lesser degree, Clinton the public was scandalized by the President’s behaviour in office. With Trump, “un-Presidential” behaviour has already been priced in. Leaning on the Ukrainians, properly or improperly, is unlikely to fire up public indignation in the same way as a massive cover-up of a two-bit crime or Presidential blow jobs did. It’s a tough world and Trump is willing to throw America’s weight around. For his base this is a plus, for a significant majority of Americans it is very likely a non-issue, for Democratic partisans, it is just one more “outrage” in a string of outrages going back to Trump putting ketchup on his steak.

Impeachment is political and if Trump and his people are smart they are going to make it very costly for Democrat Representatives in areas where Trump is strong to turn up on the day the Articles of Impeachment are presented for a vote. This is good old retail politics. Taking the Trump rally machine into marginal Democratic districts and calling out the Representative. Astro-turfing the hell out of their emails and phone lines. Cutting deals with those Democrats one by one so that Pelosi gradually sees her majority dwindle and, perhaps, disappear entirely. (And Trump now has a pretty good idea of how to work with the US Senate and hold the 33 Republicans he needs to simply crush the Impeachment.)

This is the sort of straight, counter punching, fight Trump is good at. It gives him licence to let loose on the Democratic “leadership” for wasting the country’s time and not doing their legislative jobs. Trump will treat his Impeachment as a campaigning opportunity. He’ll be able to do this because the Democrats are proceeding with such an obviously political, obviously bad faith, evidence-free, hatchet job.

The consequence of the Democrat’s phoney Impeachment will, at a minimum, be the end of the Biden campaign and a huge reduction in interest in the ongoing Democrat Presidential Campaign. It will highlight the radicalization of the Democratic Party.

Trump’s road to victory in 2020 became a lot smoother when Pelosi’s intelligent, politically astute, resistance to Impeachment collapsed in the face of a confected complaint of the purest hearsay about Presidential actions which a large part of the country, now that they know about them will likely support.

Plus, and this is when it gets fun for Trump, between now and Christmas, there will be an Inspector General’s Report on the mis-use of FISA warrants to surveil the Trump campaign, the case against General Flynn will likely collapse and at least a few of the people involved in the ongoing FBI/DOJ/IC campaign against Trump will be indicted. With luck, some of those will cut deals to implicate higher-ups and, by Spring, the whole scummy Obama administration will be in the frame.

Trump will be insufferable and will ruthlessly mock the dim Democrats who thought this thin gruel would power a serious Impeachment.

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Impeachment for the Hell of it

Asking a foreign leader for assistance in an ongoing investigation is neither a high crime nor a misdemeanour. Releasing the transcript of that conversation and the so-called “whistle blower’s” complaint about that conversation is not a cover-up.

President Trump is an exceptionally lucky man. A less lucky man would be facing an intelligent opposition led by people of integrity who had at least some clue as to the workings of the American Constitution. Instead, he faces a group of idiots convinced that the impeachment provisions of the Constitution are there so the House of Representatives can kick a President out of office for pretty much any reason at all.

The spectacle of the Democratic Party “impeaching the “motherf*cker” out of pique will, I suspect, pretty much ensure Trump’s re-election. All of the potential Democratic nominees will have to at least pretend to support the bogus effort. Which will leave them trying to pretend that somewhere at the bottom of the pile of horseshit there really is a pony.

The by-catch on this lame effort is Joe Biden. Corrupt or not, Biden is going to have to explain how, somehow, his son secured a Ukrainian sinecure for which he was entirely unqualified. Bluster will not do it as he’ll have the other Democratic candidates gunning for him. I am not sorry to see Biden sink but, realistically, he was the Democrat with the best chance of beating Trump.

When the Republicans impeached but did not convict Bill Clinton it was a hugely partisan affair. However, the actual articles of impeachment – lying under oath and obstruction of justice – had been thoroughly investigated and there was little doubt that Clinton had actually done the deeds. A Democratic minority in the Senate, along with several Republicans, found Clinton not guilty. It was a partisan impeachment and a partisan acquittal.

Which the Trump impeachment most certainly is in the House of Representatives. However, the huge difference is that, unlike Clinton, Trump has not actually done anything wrong. He has not lied, he has not covered up. Which will make the baying of the House Democrats sound all the more partisan. Clinton spent a lot of political capital defending himself, Trump will likely accrue political capital simply by pointing out the worthlessness of the charges against him and the nastiness of his accusers.

There is every chance that, as the hollowness of the accusations becomes apparent, Democratic members of the House in close races will actually be harmed by the sheer partisanship of the attacks on the Presidency. Flipping the House and retaining the Senate are now well within Trump’s reach.

Of course, Trump now has the opportunity to let justice takes its course with the various FBI, DOJ and IC people who were involved in the Russia fraud and, with them, the nasty pieces of work who abused their positions to exonerate Hillary on her emails and misused the spying capacity of the United States to surveil Trump and his campaign.

Trump is a very lucky man indeed.

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Wheels within wheels

Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, Donald Trump, Kim DarrochMuch outrage at the leaked cables of the British Ambassador to the United States, Sir Kim Darroch. The Intercept, bless its crusading heart, suggests that the cables may have been leaked to force the replacement of Sir Kim with a more Brexit friendly Trump whisperer. Which may be true. But if you want to go deep consider this.

Boris Johnson is about to win the leadership of the Conservative Party and with it the Prime Ministership. Unfortunately for Boris, our old pal Nigel Farage has whipped up a Brexit Party which will almost certainly take enough seats to produce a Tory, or, God forbid, Labour minority. Nigel is the Brexit Party as he was UKIP and he is a real problem for Boris.

The one position on Earth which Nigel Farage wants is to the Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the United States.

Now Boris who for all his looney behaviour is no one’s fool needs to nobble Nigel without actually appearing to do so. Dangling the plum of the Washington Embassy in front of Nigel’s, easily turned, head might be just the thing to get Nigel to come to a deal on terms favourable to the Johnson Conservatives. (Basically, run hard in Labour held Brexit supporting constituencies and go easy on all but the most remoaner Tories.) Nigel gets Brexit and a seat at the table in Trumpworld. Boris gets to be the Prime Minister in full without having to worry too much about the Brexiteers going a little bonkers every so often.

Win/win.

So who leaked the cables?

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Being smarter about Iran

It is always a mistake to read ZeroHedge before finishing your first cup of coffee. I made that mistake today and came across this article Jerusalem Post: U.S. Bombing Of Iran “Will Be Massive But Will Be Limited To A Specific Target”.

The article outlines all the ways that this approach to war with Iran would be folly and while I don’t necessarily agree with all the points made, the general point that massive force however strategically deployed will almost certainly produce results that the US and the rest of the world will not like one little bit. While you can bomb the Hell out of Iran, Iran has a number of retaliatory options rangine from the possibility of an EMP hit (they may have a rudimentary nuke) to closing the Strait of Hormuz to using Hezbollah sleeper cells in the US to hit critical infrastructure. While I have no doubt the US could beat Iran in a straight war, it would be long, bloody, politically suicidal for Trump and nasty for ordinary Americans.

Worse, it would be a strategic error. If the US leaves its current sanctions in place the Iranian economy will grind to something of a halt. Support for the current Iranian regime, already shakey, will decline. Yes, the current regime will continue with its provocations – I have no doubt it was Iranians who put holes in the sides of two tankers. But, so what?

Exciting as a hot war with Iran would be for assorted policy wonks, it would be an expensive exercise in futility compared to a longer term cold war with some clever extras.

First off, the Americans should make it very clear to the Iranians and the world that while they are committed to freedom of navigation, they are not interested in massive responses to minor incidents. If there is to be any response at all to the tanker mines (if that is what they were) it should be very local indeed. Find the boat in the video and sink it (or one very much like it – no need to be too picky).

Second, using US cyber assets – such as they are – it is time to see just how effectively infrastructure can be disrupted rather than destroyed. A sense of humour would be a huge asset here. Being able to cut into TV broadcasts is one thing, telling jokes at the Ayatollah’s expense is another.

Third, the Israelis did a very good business in the selective assasination of Iran’s nuclear scientists. A similar tactic against Iranian civil and military officials engaged in terrorism or attacks on shipping would be throughly demoralizing for the Iranian regime.

Fourth, use US, Arab, Iranian and Israeli inteligence assets to mount a serious campaign of exposure against the corruption of the clerics and Revolutionary Guard. There is a lot of evidence that a great deal of the wealth in Iran since the Islamic Revolution has flowed to these two groups. Expose that and conduct a campaign world wide to freeze and seize those assets.

Fifth, roll up Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Guard operating outside Iran. Again, this need not be a shock and awe operation. Just the relentless raiding of rocket storehouses, arms depots, command and control infrastructure where ever it is located. Yes, there will be some unexplained explosions in southern Lebannon and in Syria. But there may be raids in South America and in the US and Canada. This would have the double effect of blunting Iran’s capacity to attack outside its borders and would, consequently, improve the safety of various civilian populations.

Sixth, and this should be done in any event, get to work hardening and creating redundancies in key infrastructure. A few years ago someone, who was never caught, was shooting up transformers at remote electrical substations in the US. The fact is that the grid in the US remains open to cyber attack, EMP attack, a guy with a 50 cal sniper rifle and a Carrington Event: how quickly it can recover is a matter of preparation.

President Trump has suggested that the Iraq and Afghani wars were expensive wastes of time. A war with Iran would be much more expensive and just as much a waste of time. The US and its allies have plenty of tools to fight a cool war of attrition which would be relatively cheap, have clearly defined goals and which, over time, would neuter the hardliners in Iran.

If Trump wants more people to think he is indeed “a stable genius” he’ll resist the temptation to get into an overt shooting war with Iran. Instead, he and his allies will fight from the shadows and beat the Iranian hardliners without dropping a single, traceable, bomb. (There maybe some Hellfires here and there.)

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Could have

Joe Biden, at 78, is taking the last run.

He may very well win the Democratic nomination. Nate Silver thinks his numbers and support profile looks good.

Timing is, however, everything. Had Biden run last time he would likely have beaten Trump simply because he was not Hillary and no one actually hates him. But he didn’t.

We are in for a year of really nasty campaigning in the clown car which is the Democratic nomination. Biden, and the rest of them, will go negative early and often and The Donald will egg them all on. The poor person who emerges as the candidate will have been savaged by their own party. And every bit of it will be kept in the GOP oppo files.

I was somewhat sorry to see Biden come into the race. He has earned a graceful retirement and now he is going to be shredded by very nasty, very toxic, people who are not grateful for his service. He will almost certainly lose despite using a base pleasing lie (Charlotteville) to kick off his campaign.

He’s too white, too male and too old to satisfy the 2020 Democratic Party.

Which is a bit sad but also more than a little real.

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Over Reach

Nancy Pelosi and the MSM are breathlessly announcing the demise of the hated Trump. He caved on the shutdown/border showdown and now it is just a matter of time before he resigns, is impeached or neutered by the fearsome force which is the Democratically controlled House of Representatives. And even if he limps home to finish his term, there is just no way for him to get re-elected after this debacle. And Russia – Pelosi is more than happy to suggest Trump is Putin’s puppet.

I didn’t think much of Trump calling off the shutdown. No doubt he had his reasons and he is pushing the idea that it is a three week hiatus; but the fact is that Trump lost that round and losing is not something which Trump is very good at. I don’t hold out much hope that the Dems will suddenly see the light on the border in three weeks and vote the funds. Nor do I think that going the “Emergency” route is likely to work simply because there will be a judge somewhere who will enjoin the Emergency declaration.

Nope, Trump needs to do something which is immune to Congressional funding and which is a much less juicy judicial target. That something is, frankly, building the wall by Presidential fiat. The how is to use Department of Defence and Department of Homeland Security funds and get going. The “Wall” itself is a not particularly good idea – there are more sophisticated ways of controlling the Southern border – but it is a huge symbol of determination. It needs to get started and if that means an end run around Congress, Trump’s predecessor did that same sort of end run to get ObamaCare up and running.

However, the Wall per se is not going to be enough to turn it around for Trump. He actually needs to take the fight to the Democrats and to the deep state itself. The indictment of Roger Stone (for “crimes” which have nothing to do with Russian collusion but rather having to do with lying to Congress – a crime everyone from James Comey to Lisa Page and Andrew McCabe have committed from inside the FBI/DOJ) means it is time to start laying out the criminal conduct of the FBI/DOJ. It means it is time to re-open the question of Hillary’s emails and how the FBI entirely mishandled that case.

The Democrats are going to spend the next two years throwing muck at Trump. It will do Trump no good at all to sit on the evidence of ongoing Democratic Party/FBI/DOJ criminal actions.

At the same time, we will have the pleasure of watching the Democratic Party nominate a Presidential candidate. My clever middle son suggests that their best bet will be the sort of candidate who I would not vote for in a million years. (My older son is too busy gloating to give the matter much thought.) The list of potential Democratic Party Presidential nominees I would not vote for is very long indeed. But Sam’s point is well taken. If the Democrats want to beat Trump they can’t work on the basis that virtually any candidate can get the job done. After all, the most qualified (and entitled) candidate of her generation lost.

Trump is going to spend the next six months to a year shoring up his base as the cliche goes. But as he does that he is also going to be picking away at key Democratic Party support. A few points in the black community, a few more with Hispanics, done right Trump could be formidable.

This is particularly true if the Democrats have a real donnybrook of a nomination fight. In a field with Irish Hispanics, fake Indians and Jamaican East Indian gals who slept their way to the top, the entertainment potential is Huge. And there is nothing more vicious than an identity-driven, virtue signalling, fight on the left. Particularly when most of the contenders have come up in an environment in which any sort of accommodation or concession will be seen as betrayal. The Twitter brigades will be out in full force and there will be no need for Russian bots to thoroughly demoralize the many losing sides in the Democratic race.

Trump was certainly hurt by the shutdown/border retreat.

But, if you are going to shoot a lion you better be damned sure to kill the lion. Trump’s retreat was not a mortal blow, the question is whether it was a flesh wound or something more serious. We’ll see over the next few weeks and then the next year.

The hyenas in the Democratic Party and the MSM have, I suspect, once again over-reached.

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The Strange Case of General Flynn

“Lying” to the FBI is a crime in the United States. It is a crime which requires intent.

As Andrew McCarthy over at NRO points out, Flynn has pled guilty to making false statements to the FBI and that, in itself, closes the door on claims that he is innocent of the charge.

However, that assumes that the charge was proper in the first place. And there, even McCarthy admits, things get murky. Murky enough that Judge Emmet G. Sullivan has demanded that the Special Counsel turn over all its records of what went on with Flynn. Special Counsel turned over documents on Friday. There were two documents of note: first a 302 (the FBI’s record of interviews) for Peter Strzok’s interview seven months after the Flynn interview, second, notes made by Andrew McCabe at the time of the Flynn interview. Notably absent in the Special Counsel’s document pile was the 302 which actually recorded the Flynn interview.

Canada’s own Stephen McIntyre of Climate Audit fame, takes a long Twitter look at the circumstances of Flynn’s plea deal and the actual requirements for even the least formal FBI interview. McIntyre notes that, at the time of the interview, Flynn had legal representation on other matters which, in turn, made him a “represented person” for FBI/DOJ purposes.  (There is also the rather good argument that any senior White House staffer is automatically “represented” by White House counsel in any matter involving the DOJ. A fact acknowledged in an MSNBC interview by former FBI Director Comey:

“Describing how it is usually done, Comey said, “If the FBI wanted to send agents into the White House itself to interview a senior official, you would work through the White House counsel, and there would be discussions and approvals and who would be there.”

Recalling his decision to bypass those steps, Comey said, “I thought: ‘It’s early enough, let’s just send a couple guys over.’”)

Taking advantage of the early days of an administration to sandbag a senior official goes some distance towards tainting the investigation itself. However, ignoring DOJ/FBI policy with respect to represented persons is likely more significant.

At this point virtually all commentators agree that General Flynn will not be going to jail. But would still leave him with the taint of a felony conviction.

Judge Sullivan is in a position to vacate the plea agreement altogether if he sees evidence of prosecutorial misconduct.

Sending agents on a fishing expedition, telling the fish not to bother with legal counsel (when the fish is already represented), either failing to record or losing the contemporaneous record of the interview, substituting an interview with one of the interviewing agents for the contemporaneous record, and indicating – on such records as you do submit that the agents did not think Flynn was lying or intending to mislead the agents, all add up to more than ample grounds for Judge Sullivan to vacate.

However, given Judge Sullivan’s record, he may not stop at simply vacating the plea agreement. He is perfectly capable of going after the actual investigators and prosecutors who so badly abused the process to indict Flynn in the first place. (cf. Ted Stevens)

There is a pretty good argument that losing the Flynn plea deal to a Judge’s findings of prosecutorial misconduct would be the end of the line for the Mueller “investigation”. It is very clear that Mueller has not found much – if anything – in the way of evidence of direct Trump/Russia collusion. The ancillary crimes of Cohen and Manafort have nothing to do with Russia and little to do with Trump. Writing up a report for the incoming Democrat-controlled House of Representatives along the lines of “Orange Man Bad” is really all Mueller has left to do.

However, with Mueller gone, it will be time to start digging on exactly how the DOJ/FBI behaved on various files. Were it up to me I would start with the FISA application for the surveillance of Carter Page who Mark Styen likes to refer to as “the most innocent man in America”. Competent counsel can work outwards from there, charging as they go. Apparently, it is illegal to mislead the FISA court in sworn documents.

Should be interesting as there is a lot more “there” there, than there has been in the Mueller fishing trip.

Update: Well worth reading Mark Wauck Mueller’s ‘Enterprise’ Witch Hunt

Update #2: Margot Cleveland over at The Federalist takes a look at the dockets and suggests that the original 302 may have been filed under seal. There is a very good chance she’s right simply because Special Counsel would be nuts to refuse to submit documents in its possession at the order of the Judge. Especially this Judge.

 

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