Back to the usual format day with good, bad, and crazy martinis. Join Jim and Greg as they applaud Sen. Perdue for pointing out how stunningly weak the Democrats’ charge of obstruction of Congress against President Trump truly is. They also hammer the media for horribly biased coverage of Monday’s pro-second amendment rally in Virginia, including CNN’s assertion that gun rallies are fertile ground for white supremacists to recruit new members. And they have fun with the New York Times ending its insanely hyped endorsement process by backing two different candidates before Jim explains why they probably did it.
Andrew C. McCarthy served as Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. He led the successful prosecution of the “Blind Sheikh,” Omar Abdel Rahman, and his accomplices in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and other plots to attack New York City landmarks.
Now a contributing editor and columnist with National Review, McCarthy has tracked every step of of the Trump-Russia investigations. His new book is “Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency.”
In the first part of our conversation, McCarthy explained to Greg Corombos how the investigation really started, the role of then-CIA Director John Brennan, and how President Obama must have known and quite likely approved the investigation.
In the book, McCarthy says there is no evidence whatsoever of conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. If that’s true, then why did the Mueller investigation take almost two years to complete?
“When you look at the indictments Mueller filed, it’s quite clear not only that there wasn’t a Trump-Russia conspiracy but that they affirmatively knew there wasn’t a Trump-Russia conspiracy,” said McCarthy.
Listen to the full podcast as McCarthy also offers a compelling case that Mueller and his team knew there was no conspiracy more than 18 months before releasing their report earlier this year.
Former Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III offered his highly anticipated testimony on Wednesday, but the day turned out differently than Democrats or Republicans anticipated.
Democrats clearly tried to assert that Mueller would have indicted President Trump for obstruction of justice of Justice Department policy did not forbid the indictment of a sitting president. Republicans were determined to point out that the scope of the Mueller investigation was too narrow and ought to include an examination how how the surveillance of Trump campaign officials began in the first place.
What no one expected was the Mueller performance. The former FBI director appeared to lack a strong command of his investigation and even admitted he did not oversee it on a day-to-day basis. He often searched for answers in a manner that shocked analysts on both sides of the aisle.
But what is the impact of Mueller’s testimony? Did Democrats make the case that Trump only avoided prosecution because of a loophole? Did Republicans succeed in showing that a much broader investigation is warranted? Why is Mueller’s shaky performance a big deal? What is the next big step in this saga? And is either side worried about ongoing Russian efforts to meddle in elections?
We discuss all of these questions and more in our conversation with former Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew C. McCarthy, now a contributing editor and columnist at National Review Online and a contributor for the Fox New Channel.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller stepped down Wednesday saying the work of his team is done. And while partisans on all sides latched on to different comments from Mueller’s statement, former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy says Democrats got everything they could have reasonably hoped for.
President Trump and his allies exulted that Mueller repeatedly insisted the report he issued in April serves as his full testimony and that he didn’t want to distract from that. But Democrats are seizing on two parts of the statement as fuel for impeachment – both related to Mueller’s refusal to exonerate or indict Trump for obstruction of justice.
“If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” said Mueller.
Mueller further stated that he was constitutionally barred from indicting Trump due to a long-established policy from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, or OLC .
“It explains that under longstanding department policy , a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional,” said Mueller.
Mueller’s pronouncement that OLC policy precludes him from charging Trump flies in the face of testimony from Attorney General William Barr, who stated that Mueller told him and then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that he was not relying on the OLC precedent in refusing to make a decision on obstruction charges.
McCarthy, who served as Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, says both men may be telling the truth. He says Barr is referring to a March meeting with Mueller that took place weeks before the Mueller report was submitted to the Justice Department.
“It was at that meeting that Mueller first alerted the attorney general, the deputy attorney general and others that he was not going to make a decision on obstruction. I think it was at that point that Barr asked him – and he said that Mueller was emphatic on this – whether the OLC guidance was the rationale for not making a decision and Mueller evidently said no, that that was not the reason,” said McCarthy, who suspects Mueller changed his mind on the basis for the rationale during the intervening weeks.
Nonetheless, McCarthy says House Democrats now have more ammunition to push further down the road to impeachment, even though key leaders are not calling for that yet.
“He doesn’t want to testify, but he did give Democrats as much as they could hope for from his testimony, I think, by saying, ‘If I thought there was no crime here, I would’ve said so,’ and it’s up to you Democrats who run Congress to decide what to do about it,” said McCarthy.
Listen to the full podcast to hear McCarthy’s fascinating dissection of how Mueller and Barr appear to differ on what is required for a president to obstruct justice, whether Trump’s worst impulses are criminal even if his subordinates did not obey him, and much more.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America discuss Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s public statement that is only going to inflame the political tensions in Washington. President Trump and Don Jr. are both throwing cold water on another possible Roy Moore run for U.S. Senate. And Jim and Greg examine the Democratic Party’s tightening of the rules for presidential candidates to qualify for the primary debates.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of the Trump campaign conspiring with Russia to influence the 2016 campaign but is apparently more ambiguous about whether the president obstructed justice during the investigation.
According to the letter Attorney General William Barr sent to Congress, Mueller ultimately made no recommendation on whether to there was a prosecutable case on obstruction.
Former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy says Mueller probably realized quite early in his investigation that there was no evidence of Trump and his team colluding with Russians, but McCarthy believes Mueller dropped the ball on obstruction.
“That was his only job,” said McCarthy. “Really, if you think about it, his only job was to do what he refrained from doing, which is to draw a traditional prosecutorial conclusion about whether there is enough evidence to indict or not.”
“Mueller was derelict in not drawing a conclusion on the obstruction aspect of the investigation,” he added.
He also shed light on what the job of a prosecutor is.
“Prosecutors never exonerate anyone. What prosecutors do is they make a decision about whether to charge or to decline to charge, based on whether there’s enough evidence and whether a case meets – in this case – Justice Department standards,” said McCarthy.
McCarthy also believes the Mueller probe was launched on the faulty theory that Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May 2017 because he must have something to hide and not because he wanted to exercise powers granted to him in the Constitution.
In addition, McCarthy says the prosecution has delivered it’s report and now the defense ought to get a turn, meaning there ought to be a robust investigation of the former Obama administration officials at the FBI, Justice Department, CIA and elsewhere that pushed the idea Russia and the Trump campaign were in cahoots.
Listen to the full podcast with a legal analyst who actually had this story right from the beginning, as McCarthy elaborates on what should come next, whether Trump critics will find any success continuing the probe in Congress or in the courts, and the damage the media did in pushing the Trump-Russia narrative.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are glad to see the Mueller report conclude that neither Donald Trump not anyone else in his campaign conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 elections. They also get a kick out of Trump critics frantically moving the goalposts to claim the new attorney general is doing Trump’s bidding or that the real action is in Congress or with the federal prosecutors in New York. And they shake their heads at the overall performance of the mainstream media in covering this story since the last presidential campaign.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America discuss California Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s CNN interview, in which she states that the Senate Judiciary Committee should investigate former Attorney General Loretta Lynch for potentially politicizing the Hillary Clinton investigation. They also react as Feinstein goes on to change the Democratic Party narrative from collusion with Russia to President Trump’s obstruction of justice. And they express little sympathy for Wisconsin Democrats accusing Republicans of partisan redistricting and Jim unloads on liberals who consistently claim an act is unconstitutional if it does not fit with their agenda.
Democrats, media figures, and even some Republicans suggest President Trump’s alleged request for former FBI Director James Comey to end an investigation into fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn amounts to obstruction of justice, but a former federal prosecutor says what we know thus far does not rise to that level and is no different than Barack Obama’s efforts to exonerate Hillary Clinton.
Andrew C. McCarthy led the prosecution of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and others for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and plots to blow up other New York City landmarks. In his latest column for National Review, McCarthy says those purporting outrage now said virtually nothing when President Obama arguably took more egregious actions with respect to Clinton.
“In a few ways, the Obama situation with Hillary Clinton is worse than what we’ve heard about here. What Obama did was make a very public statement, which is obviously a statement to his subordinates as well as everyone else, that he didn’t want Mrs. Clinton prosecuted and didn’t think she should be prosecuted,” said McCarthy in an interview discussing his column.
“He articulated a legal theory for why she shouldn’t be prosecuted, this claim that she wasn’t trying to harm the United States and that her classified emails, while they exhibited carelessness on her part, were really a small part of a much larger overall picture and had been exaggerated out of proportion,” said McCarthy.
He says that same logic was used again a few months later.
“Lo and behold three months later, when Director Comey announced his view that Mrs. Clinton shouldn’t be prosecuted, he adopted precisely the legal reasoning Obama had announced three months before,” said McCarthy.
McCarthy’s analysis follows the breathless reporting of an alleged Comey memo following a February 14 meeting with Trump at the White House. According to the memo, Trump cleared the room before engaging Comey on the Flynn investigation.
Trump reportedly told Comey, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” M
McCarthy says that tidbit alone is a far cry from constituting obstruction of justice.
“I don’t think we’re close to being there yet because even though I am sure that then-Director Comey must have found the conversation with President Trump to be awkward and inappropriate, I don’t think there’s anything corrupt about it,” said McCarthy.
First of all, McCarthy says it’s hard to draw any sweeping conclusions from a few scraps of a conversation.
“The most important thing about obstruction of justice is context. We don’t really have context here. We have one statement that’s mined out of what must be a larger memo,” said McCarthy.
He says there needs to be concrete evidence of corruption to pursue obstruction of justice allegations.
“Corruption is the heart of obstruction of justice. The person has to act intentionally, knowing that what he’s doing is wrong, and intend to subvert the truth-seeking process,” said McCarthy.
Trump critics suggest the subsequent firing of Comey after the director refused to back off the Flynn case is evidence of obstruction. McCarthy says you need a lot more than that.
“I think the corruption that would be involved would be if you were to pressure the FBI to drop an investigation, rig that result and then use it to suggest the person had been exonerated when you knew that you had actually rigged the result and not allowed the FBI to do an investigation,” said McCarthy.
Furthermore, McCarthy says Comey’s actions over the subsequent three months shows he did not consider Trump’s comments as an attempt to obstruct justice.
“Obviously, Comey, who is a highly-decorated and highly-experienced former prosecutor and FBI director and who well knows what obstruction of justice is, he clearly didn’t feel like he’d been obstructed. If he had, I’m certain he would have resigned and then gone up and down the chain of command and perhaps to Congress to report why he was resigning,” said McCarthy.
“Instead, he ended the conversation. He did write the memo. The investigation of Flynn continues. In fact, we now here that there’s a grand jury in Virginia, so he must not have perceived that he’d been obstructed. Obviously they weren’t obstructed because they’re proceeding with the investigation,” said McCarthy.
For the same reason, McCarthy says the wringing of hands and panting for impeachment inside the beltway is greatly overblown.
“Democrats will say that Trump fired Flynn because of the Flynn investigation and because of the fact that it hadn’t been closed down and that he did it as a signal to the FBI and the Justice Department that he doesn’t want Flynn proceeded against. That’ll be their interpretation of it,” said McCarthy.
“The reason I think that’s a loser, even though I understand why they’re making the argument, is that the investigation is continuing,” said McCarthy.
“There’s a lot more to the relationship between the president and the FBI director than a single criminal case, even against a one-time aide of Trump’s in the administration. There could be a million reasons why the president might want to fire the FBI director,” said McCarthy.
McCarthy says Democrats have been trying to bring down Trump since the day after the election, and perpetual outrage is often an effective way of preventing much from getting accomplished.
“In the long term, what they’re looking at is trying to make it impossible for him to govern so the parts of his agenda, to the extent that they object to them, can’t be implemented and also make it look like his government – and he’s helping them with this by the way – is so chaotic and so in over its head that it helps their electoral prospects in 2018 and 2020,” said McCarthy.
While McCarthy notes that Republicans have a long history of not defending their party’s president during times of controversy, at least compared to Democrats, he sees no actual traction for impeachment despite the growing demands from the left.
“I see the fervor (among Democrats) to want to get a president impeached, but I don’t see any grounds for doing it. Given what Republican numbers are at the moment, I don’t see any prospect of it,” said McCarthy.