Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove, The Other McCain and Bacon Time for the Rule Five links! Also, check out last week’s post on Glibertarians, this one another installment of my Profiles in Toxic Masculinity.
Moving along: According to that notorious right-wing rag, the New York Times, the “Russia collusion” investigation may be about to get very, very interesting. Excerpts, with my comments:
Justice Department officials have shifted an administrative review of the Russia investigation closely overseen by Attorney General William P. Barr to a criminal inquiry, according to two people familiar with the matter. The move gives the prosecutor running it, John H. Durham, the power to subpoena for witness testimony and documents, to convene a grand jury and to file criminal charges.
This is a very interesting step, and takes this entire investigation into new ground. In fact, this transition fairly screams “we found something.”
The opening of a criminal investigation is likely to raise alarms that Mr. Trump is using the Justice Department to go after his perceived enemies. Mr. Trump fired James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director under whose watch agents opened the Russia inquiry, and has long assailed other top former law enforcement and intelligence officials as partisans who sought to block his election.
And yet the Noo Yawk Times said next to nothing when President Obama weaponized the IRS against his political opponents.
No, this isn’t President Trump “using the Justice Department to go after his perceived enemies.” This is the Justice Department, for once, doing their damn jobs.
Mr. Trump has made clear that he sees the typically independent Justice Department as a tool to be wielded against his political enemies. That view factors into the impeachment investigation against him, as does his long obsession with the origins of the Russia inquiry. House Democrats are examining in part whether his pressure on Ukraine to open investigations into theories about the 2016 election constituted an abuse of power.
The list of shenanigans pulled by the Justice Department are manifest, beginning with FISA warrant abuse and continuing through a laundry list of biased agents seeking a “contingency plan” in the event of a 2016 Trump victory. Were the party affiliations reversed, the NYT would be RRHHHEEEEEing for an investigation; but then, it’s been quite a while since the NYT even pretended to be objective.
The move also creates an unusual situation in which the Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation into itself.
The Times might have the beginnings of a point here. Eventually one supposes an independent prosecutor should be appointed. But this needs to be fleshed out, and any guilty of shenanigans held accountable; the American people have very little faith in the FBI or the Justice Department at present, and some of that faith may well be restored if any wrongdoing is, for once, dealt with.
Last Friday on Fox News notorious right-winger Geraldo Rivera weighed in:
“I predict in the next week or two, you’re gonna see a run on criminal defense attornies in Washington, D.C. by people further up the food chain in the previous administration,” said Rivera on “Fox & Friends,” questioning what former President Barack Obama and his inner circle knew about the probe into Trump’s campaign.
“Did Barack Obama know that the intelligence agencies were seeking to delegitimize his successor? At what point did he know? What did he authorize? What role did he play? he asked.
Rivera took issue with the New York Times’ reporting about Durham’s probe on its front page Friday. He said that below the headline, the Times “minimizes” the story by writing that there is “fear that Trump is using the Justice Department to chase perceived enemies.”
“Immediately they undercut the motive for the investigation. They don’t care about the fact that the power of the intelligence agencies was used to undermine the President of the United States. They care that they’re going to get caught for the exaggerations and the lies,” he said, stressing that the Mueller probe did not find that Americans colluded with Russians to interfere in the 2016 election.
The investigation’s new status means Durham can subpoena witnesses, file charges, and impanel fact-finding grand juries.
Some former DoJ and Obama Administration officials should be shittin’ and gittin’ around now.
But then, as I’ve noted repeatedly in these virtual pages, equal treatment under the law is effectively a dead letter in the United States nowadays.