Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are not all surprised by President Trump firing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson given their distant relationship and they hope Mike Pompeo can be effective as America’s top diplomat. They also unload on Hillary Clinton after her ugly overseas explanations that Trump won the red states by appealing to people who don’t want blacks to have rights or women to have jobs and that white married women backed Trump because they did what their husbands or bosses told them to do. And they slam liberal school administrators for actively supporting Wednesday’s National School Walkout to push for gun control.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are glad to see the inspector general at the Justice Department taking his job seriously as reports surface that his forthcoming report will be highly critical of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. While they sympathize with President Trump’s desire to fix trade imbalances, they fear new steel and aluminum tariffs will have a negative impact on American consumers and the economy. And they slam Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for announcing his opposition to a judicial nominee because the nominee is white and President Obama’s previous nominees were black.
The Justice Department announced the indictment of 13 Russians on charges of attempting to defraud the United States by meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign, but a former federal prosecutor says the charges may have a chilling effect on free speech here at home and around the globe.
On Friday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the indictments handed down from a grand jury connected to the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russian activities during the race for the White House.
While all 13 Russians face defrauding charges, some of them also face wire fraud and bank fraud charges as well.
However in addition to the indictments, Rosenstein also announced that any Americans participating in the operation did so unwittingly. Many media outlets immediately went wall-to-wall with breathless coverage of the news, but former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy isn’t sure what the bombshell is.
“I don’t think there was any doubt that the Russians were trying to meddle in our election because I think they meddle as much as they can in all our elections. In fact, this indictment says this particular scheme to meddle in the elections goes back about five years. So it’s long before there even was a Donald Trump campaign,” said McCarthy.
McCarthy further says there is a big gray area about what sort of foreign involvement in American politics is legal and what is not. In this case, he says the indictments suggest Mueller sees the Russian bot activity as an in-kind political contribution.
He also says the plan is deeply frowned upon by the Justice Department, which cannot properly register those involved in the plot as foreign agents since they operate anonymously. The State Department also has reason to be furious since the Russians came to the U.S. on visas, giving very different reasons for being here.
But while McCarthy urges the government to prosecute visa fraud as aggressively as possible, he says the Mueller indictments might create more problems than they solve.
“I don’t really understand the point of this. I don’t even know if these people are prosecutable. I don’t know that there’s a chance you actually get these people physically into a federal criminal court in the United States,” said McCarthy.
However, he says the long-term impact of this could create problems for the United States.
“It seems to sweep into it, potentially, a lot of behavior that Americans engage in and may result in retaliation on the part of foreign governments on activities that are pretty important to the spreading of American messages that we want to spread throughout the world,” said McCarthy.
And he says political involvement on the internet could also be greatly impacted by Friday’s actions.
“You’re talking about regulation of political expression of a variety that a lot of Americans engage in. It seems like they’re doing this as a sweeping prohibition on a theory that these government agencies have had their missions frustrated by the way that this scheme took place,” said McCarthy, noting that such freedom could be at risk all for a case that may never be tried.
McCarthy painted another unsettling scenario.
“Are we now saying that every time that somebody champions a candidate or a cause in social media that that’s an in-kind campaign contribution and that if you’re doing it anonynously or under a pseudonym that you’re defrauding the United States?” asked McCarthy.
“It would seem to me that that would be absurd, but it’s less absurd after reading this indictment than it would have been before,” said McCarthy.
In addition to the actual charges announced Friday, McCarthy says it is significant that Mueller and Rosenstein conclude that no Americans knowingly collaborated with Russian attempt to cause mischief in the campaign. They also pointed out that the bots stirred up partisans on both sides, certainly in the wake of the elections.
“It does say that to the extent Americans were involved in this it was “unwitting,” which means that if that’s the full extent of it, there obviously can’t be a collusion conspiracy because you can’t collude – I mean collusion is a nonsense word legally anyway.
“To be a criminal conspirator, you have to have an agreement to violate the law and that’s not something that someone can do unwittingly,” said McCarthy.
So much like every other development in this case, both sides of the Russia debate see vindication in Friday’s developments.
“Anybody who was interested in championing something that I think should have been beyond dispute – namely that the Russians tried to meddle in our elections – they get to say, ‘See, Russians meddle in elections.’
“And anybody who had a political interest in saying that Trump didn’t collude, they can now come away and say, ‘See, this thing shows there’s no collusion,'” said McCarthy.
Alexandra DeSanctis of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America give a quick preview of what they look forward to at the spectacle known as State of the Union before dishing out martinis. Then, they shake their heads as New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand first demands that President Trump resign over sexual harassment allegations and then immediately starts waffling when Meghan McCain brings up the Clintons. They also express disgust at Hillary Clinton after Clinton’s 2008 campaign manager reveals that she recommended that Clinton fire her faith adviser following credible accusations of harassment in 2007, only to have Hillary reject that idea and give the adviser a slap on the wrist. And they point out that stories of President Trump’s pettiness are driving away people who might otherwise be inclined to support him, the latest example being an ugly and pointless exchange between Trump and the recently ousted Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
Alexandra DeSanctis of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are deeply disappointed that the Senate is unlikely to pass a bill banning the vast majority of abortion past 20 weeks of pregnancy, but are heartened that most Americans support the restrictions, including a majority of Democrats and a majority of women. They also hammer “Fire and Fury” author Michael Wolff for his sleazy efforts to suggest that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley is having an affair with President Trump and they praise Haley for her clear and dignified denials. And they roll their eyes as the Grammy Awards telecast shoehorns Hillary Clinton reading an excerpt from “Fire and Fury” into the show, a move made even more baffling in this #MeToo environment by recent reports that the 2008 Clinton campaign took no action against Hillary’s faith adviser for sexual harassment.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Chad Benson of Radio America reflect on the progress we have made since the Manson era. How will Democrats respond now that a second accuser has come out against Al Franken? Hillary Clinton has not made progress in her decades-old complaint about the “partisan advocacy” of Fox News.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are glad to see many liberals suddenly coming to the realization that Bill Clinton’s behavior towards women was inexcusable and his accusers were treated badly when they came forward during his presidency, but they also note that this epiphany comes when Democrats want the moral high ground in the Roy Moore saga and when the Clintons are of no use to them anymore. They also welcome the idea of a special counsel to investigate Hillary Clinton, the Clinton Foundation, and Uranium One. And they note Rand Paul has hired a personal injury lawyer as the legal process unfolds against the neighbor who assaulted him, even as Sen. Paul asserts the two of them haven’t spoken in years.
David French of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America discuss former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Donna Brazile’s revelations that Hillary Clinton funded and controlled virtually every aspect of the 2016 Democratic primaries, concluding that the system was rigged against Bernie Sanders. They also pop some popcorn after Virginia election filings show the Ralph Northam campaign considered media work from the Latino Victory Fund an in-kind contribution, which seems to include the horrific ad showing a supporter of Ed Gillespie trying to murder dark-skinned children. And they are stunned and a bit amused as a departing Twitter employee briefly shuts down President Trump’s Twitter account.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America enjoy a late lunch today as they cheer the Justice Department for allowing the FBI informant to testify about his knowledge of a massive Russian bribery scheme to influence U.S. nuclear policy. They’re also exasperated as FBI files show people warned authorities about the Sandy Hook shooter’s fascination with mass killings and pedophilia and his specific statements about killing his mother and students. And they react to Kid Rock announcing he is not running for Senate and never had any intention of doing so, but Him explains why he thinks that explanation is bogus.
The revelation that Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee funded the ongoing production of the infamous anti-Trump dossier leads former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy to assert there are even more critical questions that need answers now.
On Tuesday, the Washington Post revealed that after months of denying any connection to the dossier, it is now confirmed that the Clinton campaign and the DNC provided part of the funding for the ongoing work into the dossier after the still unknown Republican who first started the project backed down.
The Post story points out the funding from the Democrats and the Clinton team ran from April-October 2016. It was only after the Democrats got involved that former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele was brought onto the investigation.
In addition, the report states the FBI briefly picked up the tab for the work on the dossier to continue even after Election Day. The bureau dropped the effort after Steele’s identity was made public.
McCarthy says some things are now clearer about this controversy.
“What we now know is that the source of all this, to the extent that it was funded, were obviously opponents of Donald Trump.
“Apparently, it was initially a Republican outfit or rival of Trump’s that started this ball rolling. Around April or so of 2016, the effort was taken up by the Clinton campaign and the DNC through a law firm called Perkins Coie,” said McCarthy.
As the Washington Post explained, the Washington-based research firm Fusion GPS was already working on the dossier when the Democrats and the Clinton campaign started funding the effort. Perkins Coie did the finances, paying Fusion GPS from the Clinton campaign and the DNC through the law office.
And McCarthy says that’s not the only odd role played by Perkins Coie in the sordid 2016 campaign.
“That…is the same law firm that retained Crowdstrike, which is the cybersecurity outfit that examined the Democrat National Committee servers when they learned that they were hacked, also around April of 2016. I think it’s a very interesting coincidence that these two scandals seem to be colliding at this point,” said McCarthy.
The reaction to the Democrats being deeply connected to the dossier is drawing an interesting response from the left. Just months after accusing Trump campaign officials of collusion and possible treason for being willing to meet with Russians at Trump Tower to get a look at opposition research on Clinton, they say there’s nothing to see in Clinton and the DNC funding an effort, based largely on Russian contacts, to torpedo Donald Trump.
“The first I learned of Christopher Steele or saw any dossier was after the election,” former Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon told the Post.
“But if I had gotten handed it last fall, I would have had no problem passing it along and urging reporters to look into it.Opposition research happens on every campaign, and here you had probably the most shadowy guy ever running for president, and the FBI certainly has seen fit to look into it. I probably would have volunteered to go to Europe myself to try and verify if it would have helped get more of this out there before the election,” said Fallon.
McCarthy says the differing responses are jarring.
“The media acts horrified that Trump would be doing opposition research on Hillary and with respect to this story on the dossier, we’re now supposed to see it as politics as usual. So there is a double standard in the coverage,” said McCarthy.
However, McCarthy is not letting the Trump team off the hook. He says they created their own public relations nightmare.
“The biggest problem the Trumps had is that they weren’t forthcoming about the reason for the meeting. When they were originally asked about it, they said there had never been any such meeting. Then when it turned out there was a meeting, they said it was about one thing and then when it turned out the New York Times had their emails, they came clean about what the meeting was about,” said McCarthy.
McCarthy says there are many critical questions going forward. For him, the most important issues concern the federal government use of a dossier funded by partisans to instigate surveillance on Trump associates.
“Specifically, there’s a claim that they’ve used information that was in this dossier that we now know was paid for by the Clinton campaign. The report is that they used information from that dossier in presenting their warrant application to the FISA court and then they were given authority to do this eavesdropping,” said McCarthy.
He says that may or may not constitute a scandal depending upon the facts.
“That’s not necessarily a scandal, as long as they corroborated whatever information from the dossier they used before they brought it to the court and as long as they had a good faith reason for the people they wanted to surveil were actually acting as Russian agents.
“If any of those things isn’t true, that would be a big problem,” said McCarthy.
He says another key question is what the court was told about how and where the feds go their intelligence.
“It would also be very useful to know what representations did they make about the source of the information that they got from the dossier, assuming they did that as reported,” said McCarthy.
The dossier story is just one headache for the Clintons and their associates. In the past week, reports also reveal special counsel Robert Mueller is now conducting a criminal inquiry into the Podesta Group, which has close ties to Clintons. John Podesta served as chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.
In addition, congressional hearings will soon be held to follow up on revelations that the FBI conducted an undercover investigation into the Russian bribery scheme to steer U.S. nuclear policy in Moscow’s favor, including the awarding of 20 percent of America’s uranium supply to the Russians. Despite years worth of evidence, the FBI did not intervene to stop the Uranium One contract.
McCarthy says there are two critical questions to be answered on that emerging story.
“I’d like to see testimony from this witness who’s been identified as they informant in that Uranium One deal, where Russia ended up getting 20 percent of our uranium reserves and the Clinton Foundation was grotesquely enriched,” said McCarthy.
He’s especially dumbfounded that the uranium deal was allowed to proceed.
“Not only how did it help the national security to allow Russia to acquire these reserves, but why was that allowed to be done when we had a pending provable, prosecutable racketeering investigation on the outfit that was acquiring the reserves?” said McCarthy.