The search is still on for a good martini this week. Today, Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America react to the Turkish military striking Kurdish targets just two days after the U.S. announced it would move forces out of the area so Turkey could attack one of our closest allies in the fight against ISIS. They also shudder at rape allegations against former “Today” show host Matt Lauer and at new revelations about the steps NBC executives took to downplay Lauer’s actions and stop journalist Ronan Farrow from releasing his Harvey Weinstein story that started the #MeToo movement. And they recoil as two NBA fans are removed from an NBA game in the U.S. for bringing signs and voicing support for Hong Kong.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America cheer Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for utterly rejecting the suggestion from NBC’s Savannah Guthrie that Russian meddling may have tipped the 2016 election to President Trump – and explaining what really did happen. They also welcome the U.S. Supreme Court siding with the Trump administration in requiring asylum seekers to apply for asylum in any country they enter on the way to the U.S. And they pop the popcorn as the Biden campaign takes a swing at Elizabeth Warren and Marianne Williamson complains that the Democrats are meaner to her than conservatives. Finally, they figure out ways to tolerate a three-hour Democratic presidential debate tonight.
New documents obtained by Judicial Watch reveal new information regarding the FBI’s investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server and raise questions regarding the agency’s handling of the matter. Matt Fisher reports for Radio America.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America pour three crazy martinis. They marvel at the pathetic attacks on Attorney General Bill Barr from Senate Democrats – from ad hominem attacks to slamming legal positions they held strongly until the past few weeks. They also groan as Hillary Clinton continues to insist the Russians actually changed votes to cost her the 2016 election. And they scratch their heads as Joe Biden insists China is not really a competitor to the U.S.
Alexandra DeSanctis of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America enjoy watching liberals freak out over the possibility of an independent presidential bid by former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who is much more closely aligned with Democrats than Republicans. A Notre Dame graduate, Alexandra also shares her insights into the presidential campaign of South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and why his message could resonate with Midwest voters. And they roll their eyes as CNN reporter Jeff Zeleny says the Mueller indictments have Hillary Clinton once again thinking about running in 2020.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America actually find amusement in Hillary Clinton’s craven pronouncement that Democrats will return to civility if they take back one or both chambers of Congress. They also shudder as Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who survived the congressional baseball shooting and a violent attack from his neighbor, predicts the intense confrontations will ultimately lead to a political assassination. And they get a kick out of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg becoming a Democrat again in anticipation of a 2020 presidential bid.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats announced a joint effort Friday, designed to track down and prosecute whoever is leaking classified information to the media, and former federal prosecutor Victoria Toensing says this problem can be addressed by putting the media on notice, limiting the number of people who see key documents and rooting out Obama holdovers from the National Security Council staff.
Toensing also urged caution before jumping to conclusions over Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s assembling of a grand jury into the Russia, probe but she fears serious mission creep is afoot and wonders why there still isn’t a grand jury investigating Hillary Clinton over her email scandal or examining the actions of the Clinton Foundation.
The issue of leaks jumped to the forefront again this week, after the Washington Post published classified transcripts of President Trump’s conversations with other world leaders during the first days of his administration.
Toensing says there is clear-cut criminal activity involved.
“It is absolutely prosecutable. It is a leak of classified information. What the Washington Post is doing is effecting President Trump’s ability to do his job, because the Washington Post is absolutely committed to bringing down this presidency,” said Toensing.
“You know ‘Democracy Dies in Darkness,’ their new label, their new motto? Well, democracy dies in fake news in publishing classified information, which provides no news value. What did we learn in the publishing of that transcript? Nothing,” said Toensing.
Toensing says the most important thing to come out of the Sessions-Coats press conference is the warning that journalists will get subpoenaed if necessary to expose those responsible for the leaks. She says they don’t need to be prosecuted to assist an investigation.
“They don’t have to go that far. They can subpoena them and bring them before the grand jury, remember? Patrick Fitzgerald did that in the Scooter Libby-Valerie Plame situation and there hadn’t even been a crime there we all know,” said Toensing, referring to the investigation into the alleged leaking of the identity of a covert CIA operative.
No one was ever charged for the leak, which came from Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. Libby was charged with perjury and making false statements.
While bracing for cries of suppressing the free press, Toensing says using reporters to track down leakers is a far cry from how former Attorney General Eric Holder treated the media during the Obama administration.
“They went after 20 [Associated Press] reporters. There was hardly a peep. AP peeped a little but there was not any massive outcry in the press,” said Toensing. “They subpoenaed their phone records from Verizon. AP didn’t even have notice that these subpoenas had taken place,” said Toensing.
“Eric Holder’s people went after James Rosen from Fox News an called him a co-conspirator, a criminal, and he was a flight risk. Look what the Obama administration did without much of a murmur,” said Toensing.
But while that debate plays out, how can the Trump administration zero in those responsible for leaking classified information? Toensing says it starts with tightening the inner circle.
“The Post also said these are notes from staff people and that they are routinely shared with a number of people. I think that ‘routinely shared” has got to stop. They’re going to have to limit the number of people who get these kinds of documents,” said Toensing.
Toensing also urges a detailed numbering system for all classified documents, so that investigators can zero in on what seems to be getting leaked to the media. She says some reporters may go to jail rather than give up their sources, but the government needs to start applying pressure.
“I think the message has to go out there. I think they have to start intimidating some of these people who have just been blatant in providing and publishing classified information,” said Toensing.
She is also frustrated by reports than many staff from the Obama National Security Council are still working there.
“That’s the president’s fault. The president has been told, I know, whom to get rid of. He hasn’t done so and he only has himself to blame,” said Toensing.
But Toensing is also increasingly leery of National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster given some of his recent decisions.
“He’s gotten rid of some very excellent NSC staff who seem to be more conservative, like hardliners against Iran, which I thought was a good idea. Evidently, McMaster doesn’t and he’s gotten rid of them,” said Toensing, who is also fuming over McMaster choosing to allow Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice to keep her national security clearance.
“That concerns me. If Susan Rice is talking, she’s lying. That has been her modus operandi throughout the whole Obama administration from Benghazi to Sgt. (Bowe) Bergdahl,” said Toensing. “I have not seen her take on any major issue that she did not provide false statements. So why he stuck up for her I have no idea.”
When it comes to the revelation that Mueller has convened a grand jury over the Russia probe, Toensing is less concerned at least for now. She says a leak may not even be responsible for this news.
“That could or could not be a leak because you could have a witness called before the grand jury or someone who was asked to provide documents who provided that information, and that is not a crime,” said Toensing.
But Toensing is bothered by some aspects, including how the Mueller investigation appears to be delving into areas far afield from the the original focus of the probe. She says the Justice Department should have avoided that problem at the outset.
“It should have been circumscribed by (Deputy Attorney General) Rod Rosenstein. He should have said, ‘For the purpose of investigating Russian collusion only.’ And if investigating only Russian collusion you come across a crime, well then that can be prosecuted. But expanding this to business dealings before Donald Trump even thought about running for president is certainly mission creep,” said Toensing.
Some Trump defenders are alarmed to see several top ranking FBI officials on the apparent witness list for the grand jury, asserting that they are allies of ousted FBI Director James Comey and thus unfair to the president.
“When I was a federal prosecutor, I would bring in federal agents all the time because they’re doing the investigation. We don’t know whether they’d be fact witnesses, which would be one thing, or whether they are coming in because they have done X,Y, and Z and they need to tell the grand jury about their investigation,” said Toensing.
Toensing says assembling a grand jury may be an appropriate move in this case, but she is still puzzled over the FBI’s failure to have one looking into the Hillary Clinton email scandal and for its unusual habit of offering immunity to key figures in exchange for documents.
She says it’s still a good time for a grand jury to look at all questionable activities by the Clintons.
“They should do so now because the foundation has not been examined. There are a lot of new emails now, acquired by Judicial Watch, showing that there was lots of play-for-play back and forth, (such as) million dollars coming in, can you get my friend an ambassadorship,” said Toensing.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are once again relieved that Hillary Clinton is not president after she once again blames everyone and everything but herself for losing to Donald Trump. They are also puzzled as a flurry of lobbying in favor of the climate deal takes place after Turmp supposedly decided to withdraw from it. And they react to former Vice President Joe Biden starting a new Super PAC and fueling speculation that he may run for president in 2020 in a primary that could feature many elderly Democrats.
While the media and politicians from both parties look for deeper reasons for President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James B. Comey, a former Justice Department official says the decision was long overdue and needed for obvious reasons.
Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Victoria Toensing says she and others in the the justice and law enforcement community urged Trump to dismiss Comey from day one.
“It just came too late, 109 days too late. Those of us in the swamp knew who the alligators were in the swamp, and we all tried to warn the White House and they didn’t listen to us,” said Toensing, who also served as a federal prosecutor.
And why did they implore Trump to fire him?
“Comey was a narcissist. It was all about Comey and he delighted in wanting to bring down powerful people if they were Republicans,” said Comey.
Toensing also points to how Comey, during his days as deputy attorney general in the George W. Bush administration, tapped his close friend, Patrick Fitzgerald to investigate the alleged exposing of a covert CIA operative.
That probe resulted in a criminal conviction for Lewis “Scooter” Libby, former chief of staff to former Vice President Dick Cheney. But that’s not who Fitzgerald really wanted.
“Throughout that investigation, Scooter’s lawyer was told consistently by the Fitzgerald people, ‘If you give up Dick Cheney, this will all go away.’ They were trying to bring down Dick Cheney, and you can bet your bottom dollar that Comey was talking with Fitzgerald while he was doing this,” said Toensing, who represents Libby in his quest for a presidential pardon.
On Tuesday, the Trump administration released its rationale for the Comey firing, focusing on his public announcement that no charges should be filed against Hillary Clinton in the wake of the FBI probe into her use of a private, unsecured server through which she sent and received classified information while she served as Secretary of State.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein accused Comey of usurping the authority of the attorney general in making such a pronouncement and for exposing Clinton’s misdeeds when he was effectively closing the investigation.
But Toensing says Comey made far more mistakes, starting with his repeated misstating of the statute in question. Comey insisted that intent to break the law was required to bring charges, while gross negligence is the standard laid out in federal law. She also savaged Comey for refusing to impanel a grand jury to probe Clinton and for allowing the same attorney to represent multiple witnesses in the case.
“That’s called a conflict of interest, because that lawyer can get all of her clients together and they can all read from the same music. You never do that,” said Toensing.
Toensing is also dismissing the intense reaction from Democrats, who she says are now appalled after calling for Comey’s head for months. She says the idea that Trump fired Comey because of the ongoing Russia investigation is ridiculous and so are any comparisons to Richard Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre.”
“In Watergate, there was a crime. There was a burglary. There was a break-in. What’s the crime here? What’s the crime? Do we have a crime? No, there’s no crime,” said Toensing, noting that Russian involvement in U.S. elections is nothing new.
“That’s been going on since Richard Nixon. Why is it all of a sudden an issue this time, just because Hillary lost? If Hillary had won, there would not be any inquiry into whatever the Russians did regarding this election process,” said Toensing.
Toensing is also upset with congressional Republicans, both for not doing more at recent hearings to point out that Russian interference in elections is not the same as collusion with the Trump campaign. She also says the past 24 hours show Democrats are far better at messaging than the GOP.
Finally, Toensing believes former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly would be an ideal successor to Comey at the FBI and is someone who has worked for Republicans and Democrats.
“He is a lifetime career cop. That’s what we need at the FBI now to gain confidence,” said Toensing.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America enjoy watching Hillary Clinton remain immersed in her state of denial, as Hillary takes responsibility for losing to Donald Trump but seems to blame everyone else. They also react to Pres. Trump tweeting about nuking the legislative filibuster and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying it’s not going to happen. And they ‘re almost speechless as the Democrat running for Congress in Montana invites skeptics of the liberal line on climate change to go into their garages and start their cars.