Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are glad to see red state Democrats push back against Hillary Clinton’s suggestion that she lost those states because of racism and misogyny but also get a kick out watching the Democrats squirm. They also discuss the rough confirmation road ahead for Trump CIA nominee Gina Haspel as a result of her involvement in the enhanced interrogation program during the George W. Bush administration. And they slam Viacom for going dark on all if its cable channels for 17 minutes Wednesday morning in solidarity with the national school walkout event promoting gun control, including kids’ channels like Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. Of course, they then feel compelled to offer their assessments of Nick Jr staples “Bubble Guppies” and “Paw Patrol.”
Tillerson Gets Tossed, Hillary’s Ugly Excuses, Schools Embrace Walkouts
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.
McCabe in Trouble, Trump’s Tariffs, Schumer Plays the Race Card
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.
Free Speech and the Russia Indictments
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.
Gillibrand’s #MeToo Mess, Hillary Nixed Firing of Harasser, Trump’s Worst Enemy
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.
America Backs 20-Week Abortion Ban, Wolff’s Haley Smear, Hillary’s Grammy Cameo
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.
Manson is Gone, New Accusations Against Franken, More of Same Old Hillary
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.
Dems Turn on Bill Clinton, Special Counsel for Hillary? Paul’s Puzzling Attack
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.
Hillary Rigged the System, Northam’s Troubling Ties, Trump’s Twitter Turned Off
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.
FBI Informant Cleared to Testify, Sandy Hook Shooter Warnings, Kid Rock Bails
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.