We Are Winning
The Democrat machinery and the media could barely contain their glee last week, and for a time the CliffsNotes version looked pretty bad for Donald Trump. We had his former campaign manager being convicted of tax and bank fraud; his former lawyer and/or fixer pleading guilty to similar charges and also pleading guilty to campaign-finance violations and implicating Trump as a co-conspirator; the CFO of the Trump Organization being granted immunity; and the “fixer’s” lawyer and PR guy claiming his client had dirt on Trump collusion with Russia that he would be willing to trade with Robert Mueller for a deal.
You would never know the stock market is at record highs, unemployment is below 4%, minority unemployment is at record lows, unemployment for women is the lowest in decades, consumer confidence is the highest in 20 years, and a new trade deal with Mexico is being cut.
Then the details started to appear. The Paul Manafort conviction had zero to do with Trump or Russia. The best spin the media could produce was that this showed Trump surrounds himself with shady characters. The Michael Cohen campaign-finance plea deal was just that — a plea-in-return-for-a-sweeter deal that contained no indication that there was even a crime involved, much less one that Trump was connected to. This remains a legal fog with zero confirmation.
Cohen’s lawyer then spent the next few days backtracking on his claim that Cohen had the goods on Trump and Russia and admitted lying about not being the media source for what turned out to be untrue assertions on Russian collusion. Maybe the GoFundMe efforts to raise money so Cohen could “continue to tell the truth” could be diverted to the lawyer so he could “begin” to tell the truth. It turns out the Trump CFO was granted immunity months ago, apparently for the narrow purpose of confirming the payments Cohen made during the campaign.
Democrats even went with triple-bank-shot logic on Trump and Brett Kavanaugh. Ready for this? Trump is guilty of a campaign-finance felony and will be impeached. He has chosen Kavanagh because he supports the contention that a sitting president can’t be indicted and will have Trump’s back when the day of reckoning comes. And since Trump is now a crook and an illegitimate president, he should not be allowed to appoint a Supreme Court judge for life.
Forget the fact that there is no legal agreement on whether what Cohen did (and by extension, Trump) was even a crime; the legal weight on the indictment of a president tilts no, making Kavanagh more in the legal mainstream. Even if the case actually went to court and worked its way through the system, by the time the Supremes got it (and Kavanagh could opine), it will be around 2030, and Trump will be on the beach in Florida, long gone from the White House. I guess that’s the best Democrats can do now that the anti-Kavanagh fervor has dissipated and the votes to confirm appear more likely.
You know you are winning when Democrats trot out some usual suspects to try to out-wacko each other, either to get attention or grasp at straws or both. Yesterday’s New York Times had an op-ed from Paul Krugman claiming Trump is heading the U.S. toward fascism (really not sure he took a second to actually look up the definition of the word, but that’s just me). He cites as proof some purported restrictions on voting in a couple of states, the fact that Trump has not released his tax returns, and, of course, the unpardonable sin of Trump nominating a Supreme Court judge who believes presidents are immune from prosecution. Maybe he missed that part in the Constitution where presidents can be impeached.
But the gold medal goes to former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who opined that if there is evidence (not even conviction, just evidence) that Trump colluded (not sure what that means either) with Putin to steal the 2016 election, then impeachment is not sufficient punishment. The entirety of the Trump presidency must be “annulled.” For those wondering where the basis for this resides, I refer you to Article 43, Section 4, paragraph 19 of the Constitution — you know, the one Reich just invented. That would mean everything Trump did as president would be unauthorized, and I guess would be undone. And no, I am not making this up. Even the most reliable of Democrat extremists ran for the hills on this one.
On top of all that, Democrats were faced with what might be their worst election nightmare this week. On the heels of the lowest black unemployment on record, along come Tiger Woods and Jim Brown (for the Millennials in the crowd, that would be the greatest NFL fullback of all time and a leading minority rights activist), who joined Kanye West (for the old folks in the crowd, he is a famous rap artist) in backing Trump. For a party that needs 90% or more of the black vote to have a chance at the polls, this was not exactly its finest hour.
Back to Mueller and the Russia probe. There was a closed-door hearing yesterday between the House Oversight Committee and Bruce Ohr. That would be the number four guy in the Justice Department who was involved in funneling Trump dossier material from Christopher Steele to the FBI after the latter had fired Steele for unauthorized leaking and whose wife worked for Fusion GPS, which was the opposition research firm hired by Hillary Clinton through her law firm to dig up dirt on Trump, and did so through unverified Russian sources. You can’t make this up.
You know you are winning when The New York Times finds it necessary to publish a puff piece on Ohr the very day the guy is hip-deep in what looks like a conspiracy among Hillary, the FBI, and the Justice Department to nail Trump. It is truly remarkable to discover that Ohr is a dedicated public servant who has fought the Russian mafia for decades. He is an experienced investigator and far from corrupt. He has won many awards, is well liked by his colleagues and subordinates, and is kind to puppies.
The fact that he continued to act as a cutout for unverified Trump material from a discredited intermediary is portrayed as nothing unusual. The FBI does it all the time when it really needs information, but the source is radioactive. Ohr was just doing a service to his country, and it is beyond the pale that Trump continues to blast him for it. Furthermore, while his wife may have been employed by Fusion GPS, she of course did not work on the dossier and had no idea that Fusion was drumming up unverified Russian sources for what ultimately was used for FISA applications to spy on Team Trump.
Everyone is shocked that even the hint of an inappropriate connection among Ohr, his wife, Fusion, and the FBI is being tossed around by Trump and his cronies. Be ready for the phrase “I have no recollection of that, congressman” to be the highlight of yesterday’s hearings along with the “how dare you accuse me of wrongdoing; don’t you know who I am?” offense being the best defense. Hey, it worked for a while with Peter Strozk, and maybe the GoFundMe money that was going to Cohen and Davis will be diverted to Ohr.
The backdrop to all of this is the pending inspector general report on how the FBI and Justice Department conducted the Trump investigation, including the FISA process. I’ve been scratching my head on why Trump won’t declassify everything related to this. If the stuff that’s managed to find its way into public domain unredacted so far is any hint of what’s behind the curtain, it would likely be devastating for the FBI and Justice Department and go a long way to clearing Trump and shutting down Mueller. My best guess is that Trump is holding off until the midterms get closer so there will be more impactful political results.
Moreover, Sessions is a player in the movie. This perhaps is not so good for stemming the downward spiral in public confidence in our law enforcement institutions, but it’s likely good politics.
Ohr is only the latest in a long line of senior FBI and Justice Department officials who forgot what they are in business for. The double standard on Hillary is just the most visible example. It will be interesting to see if anyone runs with the ball now that there is a source claiming the Chinese hacked Hillary’s private email server with all the classified stuff on it. That would inevitably lead to Obama, and no one wants to go there, so that’s a story for another day.
According to my limited sample of acquaintances in the FBI and Secret Service, this all dates back to 9/11, when the FBI changed its role from a law enforcement entity concerned with investigating facts and prosecuting crimes to an intelligence agency dealing in judgments, estimates, and political spin. Power became centralized in the senior cadre, and putting hands on the scale to gain favor with political bosses became the résumé-enhancing job number one — not unlike what The New York Times did to journalism when, during the 2016 campaign, it gave permission for its “news” reporters to inject their anti-Trump opinions into news articles because it was for the greater good.
Changing the FBI and Justice Department cultures back to their historical missions is hopefully one outcome of this sordid exercise. Trump is clearly a disrupter, and that is the main reason those who were hoping for personal gain by playing the classic Hillary quid pro quo game of using public office as a road map to riches are so arrayed against him. In spite of the media efforts to spin it otherwise, what has happened in the last couple days, and what may come out with the inspector general and declassification dumps, show we are winning. Stay tuned.