Right Opinion

Justice and Due Process

Bill Wagner · Dec. 11, 2017

I would still love to get to Jerusalem, but doubts about the integrity of the justice system and sexual harassment issues keep interfering.

I caught some of the testimony by the new FBI head last week, and he was very impressive. He deferred a lot of the key questions about Hillary/Trump/Russia/Mueller matters to the Justice Department inspector general (IG), so the outcome now rests with that person. But I think that’s appropriate, and at least the FBI guy promised that if something surfaced that indicated bias or political interference, he would revisit. And that included the Hillary emails.

It may have sounded trite, but his defense of the vast majority of FBI personnel in response to a question about what he thought of Trump’s “in tatters” comment came across as heartfelt and is likely an accurate summary of the FBI state of play. It’s the small cadre of those at the top, not the rank and file, who are the problem. I only know two FBI folks and have a relative that is a retired Secret Service agent, so it’s a small sample. But those people are the type of high integrity Boy Scouts that we would hope are representative of our justice system.

But the hits keep coming. We now know that a senior Robert Mueller chap sent a congratulatory note to the acting attorney general after Trump fired her for refusing to carry out a valid executive order on the travel ban, praising her courage in defying her boss. That may have solidified his spot on the Never Trump team, but the poor judgement and appearance of bias of putting that in writing should have been enough to have him bounced from Mueller’s staff.

Furthermore, we also have a senior Justice Department official who was found to have been communicating directly with the Trump dossier creators. Of all the eyebrow-raising stuff we have seen come out of the FBI, Justice and Mueller, this may be the worst by far. I could give the FBI guy who tweeted anti-Trump messages to his mistress a pass. Again, it was poor judgement, but you don’t check your opinions at the door when you join the FBI; you just have to be careful not to let them influence your job. But the possibility that Justice and the FBI used a phony dossier prepared by paid consultants of Clinton and the DNC and sourced from Russian operatives to get FISA warrants to spy on U.S. citizens associated with the competing campaign is really scary stuff. If that turns out to be the case and is not addressed, we can kiss trust in our justice system goodbye. And for those still pining for Hillary Clinton in the White House, think about how institutionalized the corruption would be as her administration looked the other way. The Justice IG can’t move quickly enough.

On the sexual harassment front, the pendulum seems to be swinging out of control. On top of the amazingly ruthless and self-serving and politically expedient Democrat throwing of Al Franken under the bus, we get two more. First, Harold Ford, who has been fired from Morgan Stanley and removed from his analyst spot on MSNBC because, according to the Huffington Post, he allegedly harassed and grabbed a woman several years ago and caused her to be distraught and shocked. The woman is not identified. Ford vehemently denies the charges and has vowed to sue. Has it come to this? Ford has a decent reputation and nothing remotely close to this behavior is anywhere on his record, but all it seems to take is a media report based on an unidentified source from many years ago to wreck a reputation and career.

And then there’s the GOP congressman who is resigning under pressure from Paul Ryan. His crime appears to be that he made a couple of his women staffers uncomfortable by discussing the inability of his wife and him to have kids and his consideration of a surrogate mother. That’s the extent of what is showing up in the media, with zero context and no due process. It is entirely possible that he presented the topic in a threatening quid pro quo manner, although he denies doing anything of the sort. He already has twins via another surrogate, so the topic could have been simply raised as a conversation or a request for ideas, not a solicitation. But we will probably never know because the GOP made him toast before any explanations could be investigated.

These are just a few examples of events that could have perfectly innocent explanations. But in today’s “ready, fire, aim” atmosphere, the mere accusation of impropriety seems to be enough. Not only is this patently unfair, it trivializes sexual assault and real harassment by lumping any remotely related actions into the same boat. Due process, not political calculation, should be paramount. If this continues in the current direction, it will greatly diminish legitimate workplace interaction, particularly between men supervisors and women who work for them. Men won’t take risks to mentor women, and women will be the ultimate losers. To be sure, absolutely destroy men who assault women or harass them in the workplace, but let common sense prevail.

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