Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America discuss the recent charges brought against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and dismiss his claim of being a journalist. They also cross the pond to the UK, where Prime Minister Theresa May is resigning over the Brexit debacle and size up the race to replace her. Finally, they collectively cringe at what may be the most embarrassing book interview of all time, as a British host politely points out feminist Naomi Wolf based a major portion of her book on an incorrect assumption about historical records.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America celebrate the arrest of the founder of Wikileaks leader Julian Assange, the man responsible for the largest publication of classified material in history that risked compromising American troops and operations. They also remember all the times the media pushed disgraced attorney Michael Avenatti as a serious candidate for 2020 after Avenatti was indicted on 36 charges of tax dodging, perjury, and theft from clients. And they wonder what lessons have really been learned in Virginia after Democrats in the state apologize for rushing to judgment on Ralph Northam.
Longtime Trump associate Roger Stone was arrested Friday and hit with a seven-count indictment, but former Justice Department official Victoria Toensing is aghast at how Mueller arrested the longtime political operative and says even if the Trump campaign was trying to get information from Wikileaks about Hillary Clinton’s hacked emails, that it is not a crime.
Before dawn Friday, a large presence of armed FBI personnel and police surrounded Stone’s Florida home, knocked on the door and ordered him to let them in. Stone later appeared in federal court on Friday. He will be arraigned in Washington next week.
Toensing, who served as a deputy assistant attorney general and a federal prosecutor, says the tactics used to arrest Stone were grossly excessive.
“That is so corrupt. That is reserved for terrorists and drug dealers who are going to flee if they know they’re going to be arrested. This is not done for a process kind of crime. I am so offended as a former Justice Department person.
“Where was (FBI Director) Chris Wray? Where was (acting Attorney General) Matt Whittaker? How could they have allowed this?” said Toensing.
“This is how conservatives and Republicans are treated, whereas people like (Hillary Clinton associate) Cheryl Mills, who a federal judge said the other day was clear she she had committed perjury, they get immunity,” said Toensing.
Toensing is also demanding that incoming Attorney General William Barr address what she considers the problem of rogue special prosecutors. She says special counsels regularly tell defendants to testify how the prosecutors want in order to make their legal headaches go away.
“Independent counsels and special counsels have got to stop. I would hope that one of the first things that Bill Bar does is rewrite the regulations for the special counsel,” said Toensing.
Listen to the full podcast to hear Toensing give multiple examples of defendants harassed by special counsels for refusing to falsely implicate their superiors in criminal activity and to hear her explanation for why it wasn’t a crime even if Stone and the Trump campaign tried to find out what was in the stolen Clinton emails.
David French of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America dissect the Mueller indictments of Trump ally Roger Stone and how the latest revelations should concern the president. They also comb through the indictment and marvel at Stone’s intimidation tactics, which David likens to a rejected script for a mobster film. And they slam the New York Times for trying to pile on Christian education by begging young people to #exposeChristianschools.
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.
The leaking of CIA methods and the ongoing debate over whether the intelligence community is trying to undermine President Trump have thrust a part of our government into the spotlight that greatly prefers to operate in the shadows.
In the first few weeks of the Trump administration, much attention has been paid to the litany of unnamed sources offering information to the media that casts the president in a negative light, possibly even in cahoots with Russia. In addition, Trump has accused President Obama of keeping him under surveillance during the campaign.
The latest headline material for the intelligence community centers on Wikileaks releasing CIA documents which reveal methods of spying on subjects, including the use of smart phones, televisions and other devices.
When it comes to the exposure of CIA secrets, there is the immediate and the long-term fallout.
“Our intelligence service may no longer be able to access information they need to prevent an attack. So that’s as serious as it gets,” said Herbert E. Meyer, who served as special assistant to then-CIA Director William Casey during the Reagan administration.
Meyer also served as vice chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council. Most recently he’s founder of Storm King Press and the author of the updated booklet, “Why Is the World So Dangerous?”
The long-term damage of CIA secrets and methods being exposed is also sobering.
“This discredits the CIA and the intelligence service. We’re living in an age when rumors go all over the place and news is unchecked. You can never tell the difference between a fact and an allegation. So once again, the idea is out there that the CIA is spying on everybody,” said Meyer.
“That does an enormous amount of damage to our credibility as a country and to citizens. So it’s really very, very damaging, whatever the facts (in the Wikileaks case) turn out to be,” said Meyer, who says rooting out leakers at the CIA isn’t very difficult.
Meyer admits there are endless new ways to track people than when he was serving at the CIA, but he says the agency always adhered to strict privacy policies unless it had good reason for surveillance.
“There was obviously a clear line. We looked overseas. If it was something here in the United States, the FBI dealt with it, said Meyer. “So the line was a little thicker, a little brighter then. But in all fairness to everyone, it’s a different world now.”
But even worse than the leaking, according to Meyer, is the intelligence community’s obsession with simply gathering information.
“Since 9/11, our intelligence service has been making a fundamental mistake. They came to the conclusion that 9/11 happened because they didn’t have enough information. To some extent that was true, but you know, it’s never enough. It’s a trap. If you’re not careful, you try to know everything about everything and you wind up knowing nothing about nothing,” said Meyer.
Meyer likens that approach to constantly shopping for groceries to make a dinner but never actually making the dinner.
As for the intelligence community regularly leaking sensitive material to a media eager to paint the president in a bad light, Meyer says that happened all the time during the Reagan years.
“About twice a week,” said Meyer. “There’d be a conversation on the seventh floor of the CIA and the next day it would be in the Washington Post. Absolutely amazing (and) that’s nothing new,” said Meyer.
But while Meyer says there are certainly intelligence personnel who do not like the president, there is not a grand conspiracy to bring down the president.
“It’s not ‘deep state.’ That’s sort of an overdramatic version of it. The same thing is happening at the EPA. It happens at the agriculture department. The people like us don’t pay as much attention to that,” he said.
When it comes to whether the Obama administration spied on Trump or his campaign, Meyer is mystified by the drawn-out intrigue.
“This is a classic case of what’s wrong with Washington, D.C. You can never get to the bottom of anything. You can never get anything straight. It’s like trying to read a book while someone throws sand in your eyes,” said Meyer.
He says Trump could resolve this quickly.
“The president has access to every document in the executive branch. There’s nothing that you can keep from a president. So why doesn’t President Trump simply call the directors of the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA and say, ‘Get in here with everything you’ve got on this and let’s take a look,'” said Meyer.
“The president also has the absolute authority to declassify anything. If he wanted to, he could declassify the nuclear launch code. So why can’t we get our hands on this stuff? Why can’t we just see it? If there was a FISA request that was denied last spring, somebody wrote the requests, somebody signs it. The document exists. Let’s see it.
“If there was a FISA request that was approved in October, let’s see that. If anything was approved and there are tapes, recordings [or] transcripts, let’s see them,” said Meyer.
Meyer says he expected obfuscation from the Obama administration but Trump should handle this differently.
“We have a president who is, in effect, on our side as opposed to the last president. So why doesn’t he just get his hands on it and says, ‘Here’s what there was’ or ‘There was nothing.’ I don’t understand why this takes more than 10 minutes to get straight,” said Meyer.
“Remember, we never got to the bottom of Benghazi, but that’s because the people in the White House were trying to keep us from getting straight answers. Why can’t we get straight answers now? That’s what I don’t understand,” said Meyer.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America enjoy WikiLeaks expose the Democratic panic after Pres. Obama publicly said he only learned of Hillary Clinton’s email server through the media. They also unload on both Megyn Kelly and Newt Gingrich for their exhausting and devolving debate on Tuesday night. And they shake their heads as Mike Pence is sent to Utah to shore up that state for the GOP ticket.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of National Review enjoy Marco Rubio’s demolition of Patrick Murphy in the Florida U.S. Senate debate. They also discuss the real threat of voter fraud and the extent we know it’s happening as Donald Trump warns of a rigged election. And they have fun as Politico’s Glenn Thrush is caught by Wikileaks referring to himself as a hack to John Podesta and asking Podesta not to tell anyone Thrush allowed him to look over his story and make changes.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America react to Liberty University students denouncing Jerry Falwell, Jr. for making the school synonymous with Donald Trump. They also discuss reports of Trump pulling mostly or entirely out of Virginia, making his road to victory more difficult. They have fun with the Clinton team’s contradictory explanations for all the embarrassing emails coming out from Wikileaks. And they they note Bob Dylan’s winning of the Nobel Prize for Literature.