Happy Friday! Join Jim and Greg as they welcome moderate Democrats stiff-arming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on her $3 trillion liberal wish list. They also defend CBS News reporter Catherine Herridge after a Biden campaign figure, other Democrats, and liberal media attack her for getting scoops on the Michael Flynn and Obama administration unmasking stories. And they shudder to think what four years of watching Joe Biden fail to complete a coherent paragraph would be like.
Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team are reportedly hesitant for Mueller to appear before the House Judiciary Committee. Concerns over political posturing from committee members may lead Mueller to decline the committee’s invitation. But House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler doesn’t plan to take no for an answer. Matt Fisher reports.
During an interview with Fox News’ Bill Hemmer on Friday morning, United States Attorney General William Barr offered more insight into his order for an internal probe into the Justice Department’s handling of the Russian investigation. Barr selected FBI prosecutor John Durham to examine the origins of the FBI and DoJ’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016, citing “strange developments” over the course of time between the 2016 election and the inauguration of Donald Trump.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America applaud three members of the Kennedy family for publicly rebuking Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and others for their roles in discouraging parents from vaccinating their kids. They also roll their eyes as House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler leads a vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress and declares the U.S. to be in a constitutional crisis. And they react to Denver voters narrowly approving a referendum protecting consumers of psychedelic mushrooms.
Former FBI Director James Comey is busy writing opinion columns and appearing on cable news town halls about the Mueller report, but a former top official at the bureau says Comey has three very good reasons to be worried as the Department of Justice examines how the Trump-Russia probe started in the first place.
Kevin Brock served 24 years in the FBI, including a stint as deputy director for intelligence. He was also principal deputy director at the National Counterterrorism Center. Brock is now head of NewStreet Global Solutions. He says Comey’s first problem is providing evidence that an investigation was warranted in the first place and Mueller’s report makes the case harder to make.
“If there no findings of any type of collusion as they say between the Russians and the Trump campaign, what was the FBI going on in the first place to initiate the case?” asked Brock.
During last week’s Senate testimony, Attorney General William Barr also wondered aloud why the FBI didn’t just contact the Trump campaign about any figures feared to be conspiring with Russia – or the suspicious campaign officials themselves.
Brock says launching a surveillance effort on American citizens without first going to them is highly unusual. According to Brock, under a preliminary investigation, the standard protocol is to warn Americans about who their foreign contacts really are and to encourage cooperation with the FBI.
And he says there are specific things you cannot do during a “PI.”
“You may not cast existing sources or start new sources and target that U.S. person. You may not appeal to the FISA court to get a warrant to intercept the communications of that person. You may not pull their financial records. It’s very limited in scope,” said Brock.
Brock says probing the the basis for a FISA warrant will also put the heat on Comey.
“Electronic surveillance of a U.S person is an incredibly invasive, investigative technique. I’ve referred to it as the nuclear option of intelligence collection. There is nothing that is more invasive of privacy than a FISA court-ordered warrant to monitor all of your communications,” said Brock.
Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe testified to Congress that the Steele dossier was a major component of the request for a FISA warrant. Brock says that premise was very flimsy.
“They relied heavily on this dossier that is clearly a political document. It should not have been the foundation of any warrant for intercepting an American citizen. That appears to be clear,” said Brock.
Listen to the full podcast as Brock also explains the evidence suggesting Comey knew full well he was part of a political operation rather than one focused on criminal justice and what he expects to learn in the forthcoming report from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz.
There were plenty of fireworks in Wednesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing featuring Attorney General William Barr, but former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy says the biggest pieces of news concern the investigation still to come about how the government’s probe of the Trump campaign got started in the first place.
According to McCarthy, the first interesting revelation deals with the infamous Steele dossier, which was a key premise for launching the FBI investigation into possible conspiring between Russia and the Trump campaign.
“They’re looking into not only the origination of the investigation and the origination of the FISA warrants, but, specifically with respect to the Steele dossier, whether we’ve been the victims of Russian disinformation,” said McCarthy, a contributing editor at National Review Online who previously served as a Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney.
He also says Barr revealed another curious fact on Wednesday.
“The attorney general said that he thought it was astonishing that the Obama administration had not given a defensive briefing to the Trump campaign,” said McCarthy.
According to McCarthy, Obama administration officials could have briefed legal experts (like former U.S. Attorneys Rudy Giuliani, Jeff Sessions, and Chris Christie) in the Trump campaign about concerns of Russian infiltration but decided to launch a full espionage probe instead. That suggests to McCarthy that Trump himself, and not associates, was the target of the probe.
As for the fireworks on Wednesday, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee hammered Barr for declaring no evidence of Trump-Russia collaboration when the Mueller report documents numerous different points of contact.
McCarthy says those contacts might be worth discussing but don’t amount to criminal charges, and that’s the only thing the Justice Department is concerned with.
“It doesn’t mean that other stuff is irrelevant. It could be highly relevant for political reasons, for intelligence reasons, for a variety of reasons. But a prosecutor’s job is not to delve into everything that might be interesting. A prosecutor’s job is to determine whether crimes happened,” said McCarthy.
In addition to accusing Barr of downplaying the conclusions of the report, Democrats also took a different course than they’ve been tacking on other issues. Today, Barr was accused of not challenging Mueller’s decision not to prosecute Trump. They also turned very negative on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, whom most on the left have vigorously defended for the past two years.
“I think there might be politics going on, I’m not sure. Like every other prosecutor, I don’t want to get out over my skis on this one,” mused McCarthy. “I have to decide is it Monday-Wednesday-Friday or is it Tuesday-Thursday because I have to decide. Is it a ‘We like Rod’ day or a ‘We want to run Rod out of Washington’ day.”
Listen to the full podcast to hear McCarthy explain why all the posturing by senators is largely irrelevant at this point and why the next few weeks will likely bring a whole lot more drama to this debate.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are exasperated as Democrats and the media breathlessly report that Robert Mueller disagrees with Attorney General Bill Barr’s summary of the report since the very same story confirms that Mueller did not find the summary inaccurate. They’re also disappointed as Juan Guaido’s effort to remove Nicholas Maduro from power in Venezuela appears to be a failure. And they applaud MSNBC for inadvertently explaining the purpose of our second amendment while watching Venezuela’s military crush protesters in the streets.
Former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy is urging partisans on both sides to calm down and lower expectations of what Attorney General Bill Barr is likely to find about how the 2016 probe of the Trump campaign got started and says Americans might be shocked at how tough it is to hold Julian Assange accountable for his alleged crimes against the U.S.
This week, Attorney General Barr told House and Senate lawmakers he did plan to investigate how government officials in the intelligence and law enforcement decided to launch a probe into possible conspiring between Russia and the Trump campaign during the 2016 elections.
Barr also admitted the government was “spying” on the Trump campaign, an assertion that was already well-established but Democrats still howled that Barr is simply doing Trump’s bidding.
In the podcast, McCarthy explains what the Barr investigation is likely to include, why Americans should neither assume that the attorney general is executing a political vendetta on behalf of Trump nor that lots of figures who investigated Trump will wind up facing charges.
However, McCarthy is scratching his head over how many Trump critics are apoplectic about Barr suggesting that the government was “spying” on the Trump campaign when we’ve known about electronic surveillance and human intelligence efforts for months. He says Democrats are being “hysterical” in response to Barr’s testimony.
“As a prosecutor for twenty years, in my cases the government informants were always called spies by the defense lawyers and we always called them informants. They always called them snitches, and we always called them witnesses for the state. Nobody in the jury every fainted when any of these terms were used,” said McCarthy.
He also explains why despite the big headlines over Julian Assange’s arrest, that the Wikileaks boss is unlikely to face much prison time in the U.S. – and may never see a courtroom in this country at all.
Listen to the full podcast here.