Mid-Day Digest

Jul. 13, 2018

THE FOUNDATION

“It is of great importance to set a resolution, not to be shaken, never to tell an untruth. There is no vice so mean, so pitiful, so contemptible; and he who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and a third time, till at length it becomes habitual; he tells lies without attending to it, and truths without the world’s believing him. This falsehood of the tongue leads to that of the heart, and in time depraves all its good disposition.” —Thomas Jefferson (1785)

IN TODAY’S EDITION

  • Peter Strzok’s theatrics on Capitol Hill only underscore his contempt.
  • House Republicans were having none of Strzok’s defiant attitude.
  • Trump pardons the Hammonds, victims of “an overzealous appeal.”
  • Papa John’s founder is finally taken down by a “social justice” lynch mob.
  • Daily Features: Top Headlines, Memes, Cartoons, Columnists and Short Cuts.

IN BRIEF

Peter Strzok’s Contemptuous Testimony

Jordan Candler

Yesterday, FBI agent Peter Strzok strove to exonerate himself before the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees despite evidence of political predilection. His pro-Hillary Clinton favoritism was presented in a recent Department of Justice Inspector General report, which noted that Strzok “negatively impacted the perception of the FBI and the department as fair administrators of justice.” Furthermore, Mark Alexander reminds us, “He was [former FBI Director James] Comey’s lead investigator in the Clinton email investigation and helped Comey write up his exoneration of Clinton before her softball FBI interview.”

Strzok dug himself into all sorts of trouble with what appears to be a personal vendetta. Yet he told the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees that “not once in my 26 years of defending my nation did my personal opinions impact any official action I took.” He added, “Like many people, I had and expressed personal political opinions during an extraordinary presidential election. Many contained expressions of concern for the security of our country — opinions that were not always expressed in terms I am proud of.”

Recall the infamous text in which Strzok indicated, “We’ll stop it [Trump].” Yesterday, Strzok explained: “You need to understand that was written late at night, off-the-cuff, and … [after] candidate Trump insult[ed] the immigrant family of a fallen war hero. My presumption, based on that horrible, disgusting behavior, [was] that the American population would not elect somebody demonstrating that behavior to be president of the United States.” He further bellowed, “The suggestion that I, in some dark chamber in the FBI, would somehow cast aside all of these procedures, all of these safeguards, and do this is astounding to me. It couldn’t happen.”

Oh, it could happen alright. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) retorted, “He thinks calling someone destabilizing isn’t bias. He thinks protecting the country from someone he hasn’t even begun to investigate isn’t bias. He thinks promising to ‘stop’ someone he is supposed to be fairly investigating from ever becoming president isn’t bias.” The Federalist’s Sean Davis adds, “Strzok — who slept with an FBI co-worker behind his wife’s back, texted that he wanted to stop Trump, that he was an f—ing idiot, and that Trump voters were ignorant hillbillies — just claimed that he held himself to the highest possible standard while investigating Trump.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel chimes in: “The question every American should ask is this: How would you feel if he’d expressed such disgust toward you, and was also investigating you?” This was echoed by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), who stated, “Imagine if you were under investigation and the investigator hated you, disparaged you in all manner of ways, and fraternized with another employee working on the case who also hated you.”

Yet Strzok had the audacity to complain, “I have the utmost respect for Congress’s oversight role, but I truly believe that today’s hearing is just another victory notch in Putin’s belt and another milestone in our enemies’ campaign to tear America apart.” Perhaps Strzok should spend more time evaluating how much he and his former boss, Comey, have contributed to tearing America apart.

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Peter Strzok’s Bias Exposed

Thomas Gallatin

Here is a telling exchange that sets the tone for the entirety of yesterday’s hearing, demonstrating Strzok’s defiant attitude:

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC): “Your testimony is: Bob Mueller did not kick you off because of the content of your texts; he kicked you off because of some appearance he was worried about.”

Strzok: “My testimony — what you asked and what I responded to — is that he kicked me off because of my bias. I’m stating to you it is not my understanding that he kicked me off because of any bias – that it was done based on the appearance. If you want to represent what you said accurately I’m happy to answer that question, but I don’t appreciate what was originally said being changed.”

Gowdy: “I don’t appreciate having an FBI agent with an unprecedented level of animus working on two major investigations during 2016.”

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) pointed out the obvious, stating, “Let me tell you, when you have text messages, Mr. Strzok, the way you do, saying the things you did, you would be better off coming in and saying ‘That was my bias.’ You have come in here and said ‘I have no bias.’ And you do it with a straight face. And I watched you in the private testimony you gave, and I told some of the other guys, ‘He is really good. He’s lying — he knows we know he’s lying and he could probably pass the polygraph.’” Then, after referencing Strzok’s affair with FBI lawyer Lisa Page, Gohmert adds, “Credibility of the witness is always an issue.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) asked Democrats to consider the legitimacy of Republicans’ concern regarding Strzok’s bias, stating, “To my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, please replace President Trump’s name with your own name in a small sample of things Mr. Strzok has said. Envision how you would feel if you found out that the chief agent investigating you as a member of Congress was making these comments: ‘F—k Trump,’ ‘Trump is a disaster,’ ‘Just went to a southern Virginia Walmart. I could smell the Trump support,’ or, perhaps most alarmingly and revealingly, ‘We’ll stop it’ — referring directly to Mr. Trump’s candidacy for president.”

Goodlatte made another important point early in the hearing, stating, “Mr. Strzok and others inside the FBI and [Justice Department] turned our system of justice on its head. And that’s why we are here and why it matters. We don’t want to read text message after text message dripping with bias against one of the two presidential candidates.”

No real new information was gleaned from this at times circus-like hearing (thanks in large part to the childish interruptions by Democrat committee members who were clearly intent on obstructing the proceeding). However, it was useful in exposing the degree of arrogant animus that Strzok has toward Congress and Republicans in particular. He is clearly a politically motivated individual who is either a liar or deluded or both. And unlike Strzok’s claims, the reason the American public’s confidence in the integrity of the FBI has eroded is because of the blatant displays of bald-faced hypocrisy from senior members within the agency.

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Top Headlines

  • In UK, Trump throws fuel onto Britain’s fiery political debate over Brexit (Fox News)

  • What to know ahead of the Trump-Putin summit (The Daily Signal)

  • Nikki Haley: Cut off North Korea’s oil supply (Washington Examiner)

  • Three Democrats introduce “Abolish ICE” proposal, then say they’ll vote no (The Daily Wire)

  • Trump’s state approval ratings and the Senate (Washington Examiner)

  • Surprise: Senate schedule longest in 47 years, summer break “shortest in decades” (Washington Examiner)

  • Migrant children being used as “commodity to circumvent a loophole,” border agent says (Fox News)

  • GOP moderates hint at smooth confirmation ahead for Brett Kavanaugh (The Hill)

  • University of Kansas flies defaced American flag as anti-Trump “art” (MRCTV)

  • Humor: More protective MAGA helmets now available for Trump supporters brave enough to go out in public (The Babylon Bee)

  • Policy: Before judging Trump, NATO allies should do some soul-searching (The Daily Signal)

  • Policy: Despite its dark past, Berlin continues to appease a regime seeking to murder six million Jews (The Washington Free Beacon)

For more of today’s news, visit Patriot Headline Report.

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TODAY’S MEME

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For more of today’s memes, visit the Memesters Union.

TODAY’S CARTOON

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For more of today’s top cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.

BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.

FEATURED ANALYSIS

A Pardon Too Late

Michael Swartz

The names aren’t familiar ones, so people who read the headline about President Trump pardoning the Oregon tandem of Dwight Hammond Jr. and his son Steven may have been scratching their heads over the move. After all, arson and destruction of federal land isn’t an insignificant crime — and the pair even admitted they did it. In 2001 and 2006, the Hammonds deliberately set fires, but they were blazes originally set on their land — one to eliminate an invasive species and the other to protect against further damage from a lightning-sparked wildfire. These fires ultimately blazed beyond their control and burned about 130 acres of federal land.

However, when it’s learned that their pardon was the result of “the previous administration … fil[ing] an overzealous appeal that resulted in the Hammonds being sentenced to five years in prison,” that may make one sit up and take notice.

It began when the reduced sentence given by a judge who deemed the prescribed punishment sought by federal prosecutors to be “grossly disproportionate” wasn’t enough. Even as the pair served and completed that sentence without incident, the government appealed to the Ninth Circuit to impose a five-year sentence based on the anti-terrorism statute that the judge discounted in his sentencing. But the saga gets better: Add to this the allegation that the federal government was deliberately trying to get the Hammonds to give up their land, which lies adjacent to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, and a different picture begins to emerge. “In recent years the feds have revoked grazing permits, mismanaged water to let ranchlands flood, and harassed ranchers with regulatory actions” in the area of the refuge, claims a Wall Street Journal editorial.

But while the Hammonds aren’t household names, a nation was captivated by one reaction to their resentencing. In the winter of 2016, a group of protestors described by media reports as an “armed anti-government militia” embarked on a “takeover” of a government building. (The building in question was the headquarters of the Malheur refuge, which was left vacant for a few days beforehand as a precaution because of an influx of militia members openly entering the area.) In the Malheur “standoff,” protestor spokesman Robert “LaVoy” Finicum was the lone victim, shot dead by law enforcement during the offsite arrest of five protest leaders. (In turn, Finicum’s death is leading to its own day in court, as an FBI agent is awaiting trial on obstruction of justice charges stemming from the shooting.) Included in the group arrested that fateful day were two sons of Nevada’s Cliven Bundy, a fellow rancher who had his own run-in with the federal government two years earlier.

Ironically, neither the elder Bundy nor the Hammonds wanted anything to do with the protest or takeover. “Remember: It’s not about me,” Dwight Hammond told a local news station just before he returned to prison in 2016. “It’s about America, and somehow we have to get the wheels back on this wagon because they are flying off.”

More evidence that the wheels were flying off was presented when the first militia contingent brought to trial, a group that included the Bundy sons, was acquitted on conspiracy charges in October 2016. It was a “disappointing” verdict in the eyes of Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, who complained the defendants “did not reflect the Oregon way of respectfully working together to resolve differences.” Vox reporter German Brown was even more caustic in his reaction, calling the Oregon verdict “white privilege in action.”

Yet where was all this reaction to an overzealous federal government prosecuting someone whose land just happened to be very desirable for the expansion of a federal refuge and who was on the hook to them to the tune of $400,000 to pay a civil settlement — for damage that the trial judge asserted “might” be $100 in value?

If you said crickets, you were close to correct. Gov. Kate Brown declined comment on the pardons, while Vox writer Libby Nelson criticized Trump’s usage of pardons “as a cudgel in the culture war.” But Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum wailed that the Ninth Circuit “followed the Rule of Law” by imposing the maximum sentences that Trump, “who has not set foot here since he was elected,” set aside with his pardon. One can ask: Where was the “Rule of Law” in deciding a fire set to protect one’s private property from a larger fire on government land was a terrorist act?

Trump’s reprieve was welcomed by the Hammonds and their supporters, who got to see their 76-year-old patriarch and his 49-year-old son after they served a combined seven years in prison. “It’s just a blessing that President Trump heard the words of the people and heard the cries of the people and looked into it and made his own decision as well. So very thankful for that,” supporter BJ Soper told a local television station. Based on “the cries of the people,” it’s an open question whether the pardon by Trump relieves at all the long-standing tension between those who wish to use their private property as they see fit and a federal government that owns or controls well over half the land west of the Mississippi River. We already know how far some people will go, so can this keep them back from the brink a little longer?

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MORE ANALYSIS FROM THE PATRIOT POST

OPINION IN BRIEF

Marc A. Thiessen: “President Barack Obama called NATO allies ‘free riders,’ and President George W. Bush urged allies to ‘increase their defense investments,’ both to little effect. But when Trump refused to immediately affirm that the United States would meet its Article 5 commitment to defend a NATO ally, NATO allies agreed to boost spending by $12 billion last year. That is a drop in the bucket: [a McKinsey & Co. study] calculated that allies need to spend $107 billion more each year to meet their commitments. Since polite pressure by his predecessors did not work, Trump is digging in on a harder line: On Thursday he suggested NATO members double their defense spending targets to 4% of GDP. This is not a gift to Russia, as his critics have alleged. The last thing Putin wants is for Trump to succeed in getting NATO to spend more on defense. And if allies are concerned about getting tough with Russia, there is an easy way to do so: invest in the capabilities NATO needs to deter and defend against Russian aggression. Trump’s hard line also does not signal that he considers NATO irrelevant. If Trump thought NATO was useless, he would not waste his time on it. But if allies don’t invest in real, usable military capabilities, NATO will become irrelevant. An alliance that cannot effectively join the fight when one of its members comes under attack or runs out of munitions in the middle of a military intervention is, by definition, irrelevant. NATO needs some tough love, and Trump is delivering it. Thanks to him, the alliance will be stronger as a result.”

SHORT CUTS

Insight: “The function of the prosecutor under the federal Constitution is not to tack as many skins of victims as possible against the wall. His function is to vindicate the rights of the people as expressed in the laws and give those accused of crime a fair trial.” —Justice William O. Douglas (1898-1980)

Ouch: “I can’t help but wonder when I see you looking there with a little smirk, how many times did you look so innocent into your wife’s eye and lie to her about Lisa Page?” —Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) to Peter Strzok

Braying Jenny: “Many people say that [Rep. Jim Jordan] did know [about sexual abuse at Ohio State University]. And by his own standard he should have known. … Jim Jordan had a duty to protect them. They say he failed.” —Nancy Pelosi (Fifteen ex-wrestlers say he didn’t fail.)

Right — so stop plotting obstruction (part I): “There is no way we can prevent the Senate from meeting [on Brett Kavanaugh]. There’s been some discussion about that, but it just wouldn’t happen.” —Chuck Schumer

Right — so stop plotting obstruction (part II): “Some of the people who have come up to me at parades and said, ‘Shut 'em down, do this, do that,’ [which] reflects a limited understanding of how the Senate operates.” —Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)

Political theater: “A woman said, ‘How do you feel about assault rifles?’ And I said they should be banned. … [A]nd I just said to her, ‘I want you to know Cindy, I cannot say that.’ And she said, ‘Well, I want you to,’ and I said, ‘I won’t win.’” —New York’s 21st Congressional District candidate Tedra Cobb

And last… “What liberals don’t understand is that it matters very little whether or not the rest of the world likes us, as long as they respect us.” —Allie Beth Stuckey

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