In the calm before the storm that is the release of the Mueller report (at this writing, we’re still waiting), it’s been interesting to compare and contrast various media reports and musings. A relatively straightforward news account from THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ends with this:
“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) has made clear that barring a bombshell revelation in the Mueller report, she doesn’t expect her caucus to launch impeachment proceedings. ‘Impeachment is divisive for the country,’ Mrs. Pelosi said in an interview last week. ‘I set a very high bar to cross that threshold because, really, people want us to address their financial securities or insecurities, and that’s our responsibility.’”
Setting aside the question of whether we want the Democrats in Congress addressing anything about our financial lives (short answer: OH DEAR, NO!), let’s contrast this passage with the ending of a REUTERS piece (thankfully identified up front as “Analysis,” but still) on the same subject:
“[Frank] Montoya, the former FBI agent [quoted earlier in the piece] said it should fall to Congress to decide whether the conduct found by Mueller warranted punishment such as the impeachment process in Congress to remove a President from office. ‘History suggests,’ Montoya said, ‘the impeachment process does not rely on establishing wrongdoing beyond a reasonable doubt.’”
In other words, never mind whether or not you have the evidence; go for it, Congress! That’s how REUTERS reporters Nathan Layne and Mark Hosenball end THEIR piece. (Also never mind that in the only modern-day impeachment to hit the floor of Congress, that of William Jefferson Clinton, there absolutely was evidence that established beyond any doubt at all that he had lied under oath. I digress.)
This piece, when viewed in terms not just of what it says but what it doesn’t, reads similarly to what we know the Mueller report is going to be, in that so many exculpatory details –- the ones you and I know because we’ve been following closely since 2016 –- are left out.
Take this paragraph: “To be sure, the investigation documented numerous contacts between Trump campaign figures and Russia, a willingness on the part of the campaign to accept help from Moscow, and no indication that the campaign told the Kremlin to keep out of an American presidential race.”
What it doesn’t say: There’s nothing wrong with having “contacts” with people who are Russians. Any campaign is going to have “willingness” to find out what it can about the other side, and there is nothing illegal about that, either. (However, it is illegal to pay foreign sources, which it seems Hillary’s campaign and the DNC –- apologies for the redundancy –- DID, through the law firm Perkins Coie and the opposition research firm Fusion GPS, who were working with Russians and Russian experts.) And if they want to say there’s no indication that the campaign told the Kremlin to back away, there’s also no indication that the FBI informed Trump of its suspicions that the Kremlin was trying to infiltrate his campaign. In fact, there is indication that the FBI deliberately chose not to tell him.
Now, doesn’t that give a much more accurate picture?
Going on, in REUTERS: “No criminal conspiracy was documented, according to Barr. But tantalizing court statements by members of Mueller’s team and evidence disclosed in various prosecutions by the special counsel had suggested on several occasions during the 22-month investigation that a different conclusion had been possible.”
Really? The most recent of the “tantalizing court statements” came in early February of this year, loooooooong after it was known by Mueller that the FBI investigation into “Trump/Russia” was based almost entirely on a hoax, and it was delivered by none other than head prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, who said in a closed-door hearing that Mueller was still investigating contacts between Paul Manafort and his Russian business partner, whom they alleged had tied to Russian intelligence. These contacts pertained to the issue of Mueller sharing some poll information with him and also to the conflict in Crimea (I’m really condensing here). The point is, if Weissmann genuinely thought this was significant, it apparently turned out not be, as assertions about Manafort’s interactions with his partner were corrected in a court filing three weeks later.
Here’s another gem: “There are also witnesses like Papadopoulos, the first former Trump aide charged by Mueller who initially cooperated but became increasingly critical of the special counsel, especially after completing a two-week prison term in December.”
What it doesn’t say: George Papadopoulos became “increasingly critical” after he started putting two and two together and suspected that he had been unwittingly caught up in a hoax strategy by the FBI to investigate the Trump campaign, with shadowy international figures obviously planting information with him about Russia having damaging information on Hillary. I don’t know about you, but if that had been done to me, it would certainly make me “increasingly critical.” But this piece, like so many others, doesn’t even scratch the surface of information that would be exculpatory. The Mueller report is almost certain to read just the same way.
To anyone who’s been closely following the FBI/special counsel story --- as in, not relying on the mainstream press --- a piece like this is horribly frustrating to read. Every few sentences, one’s mind rebels, thinking, “What about THIS?...you forgot THAT!...no, that’s not quite right...yes, Comey said that, but he is coming from some other planet.” And so forth. One typical claim is that numerous people associated with the Trump campaign have been convicted or pleaded guilty, minus the qualifier that none of the crimes involve Trump and/or “collusion” with Russia.
The REUTERS piece, when boiled down, says to us, “Wow, there was a LOT to justify the Mueller investigation –- such tantalizing stuff! –- but it hasn’t panned out, though in the final analysis that doesn’t matter because it should fall to Congress to decide on impeachment, and they don’t need evidence of wrongdoing to go forward.” For what it’s worth (not much), here’s the piece in its entirety...
A great palate-cleanser after reading this is Maria Bartiromo’s FOX News show, which this Sunday morning featured Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, the congressman who’s been releasing transcripts of the closed-door congressional testimonies of such major players as Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Nellie Ohr and, most recently, James Baker, who revealed that he had argued strongly in favor of indicting Hillary. (Guess James Comey didn’t think of his own top legal counsel as a “reasonable prosecutor.”)
The emerging story –- that the DOJ protected Hillary –- is the kind of material that the mainstream media simply won’t touch, at least until they absolutely have to. Imagine their resentment towards Attorney General Bill Barr right now for forcing the issue, when all he’s really doing is stating the obvious and daring to say it needs to be looked into. Heresy.
Bartiromo also interviewed North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows of the House Oversight Committee on the subject of another upcoming report (expected in 4-6 weeks), this one from Inspector General Michael Horowitz. He and Rep. Jim Jordan recently met with the IG, and they anticipate seeing criminal referrals from him that “correspond with what Chairman Nunes has already put forth.” Especially compelling is the role the media played in the FBI’s strategic leaking, and Meadows expects the IG report to specifically address that. He also expects AG Barr to go beyond the IG’s scope to look at roles played by individuals at other agencies such as the DOJ and State Department.
It seems that journalism has become so twisted around that the only place we can get to the pertinent facts is in conservative opinion journalism, backed up by conscientious reporters such as Catherine Herridge at FOX News. John Solomon, for example, is listed at THE HILL as an opinion writer, not as an investigative reporter. I’ve noted before that this is probably fine with him, as it allows him to connect some dots that a hard news writer might not feel free to do. And so far, the evidence we’ve seen has proven him right. It’s proven us right, too.