On the radio show I used to do, a stunningly deep-voiced announcer would occasionally bring us out of a commercial break by intoning: “He’s conservative...but he’s not mad at anybody about it.” And it’s true, I took a good-natured approach to politics and the topics of the day, without the seething vitriol and intolerance that we get blasted with all too often and just don’t need.
But I think it’s time to get mad. And it’s time to junk the special counsel law and find other ways to investigate REAL wrongdoing. I say this because now that you can stick a fork in the Mueller report because it’s done, people whose lives were ripped inside out by Robert Mueller’s special counsel are coming forward and talking about what they went through. These aren’t just the major players; some of them were way out on the periphery of the story, just normal people living their lives (or trying to), victims of what can only be called a (yes) witch hunt, a fishing expedition, a search-and-destroy mission.
Or, as Paul Sperry described the process earlier this month in a piece for RealClearPolitics, scorched-earth tactics.
Many thanks to Scott Johnson at PowerLineBlog for drawing attention to Sperry’s article, “’Scorched Earth’: Mueller’s Targets Speak Out,” which came out on June 6 but didn’t get the notice it should have. (Even the Huckabee team didn’t see it when it was first posted, and we don’t miss much!) Sperry talked to ten people, some of whom have been publicly connected by name to the investigation –- George Papadopoulos, Carter Page –- and some of whom were simply unfortunate enough to have crossed paths with someone investigators wanted to crack.
What they went through should not happen in this country. Almost all of them used the term “scorched earth” when talking to Sperry to describe Mueller’s tactics, which they said damaged their physical, mental and financial health. They had to hire high-priced Washington attorneys to help them avoid Mueller’s carefully crafted perjury traps. Some said Mueller’s agents tried to pressure them into saying things that would have given the appearance of collusion. The agents demanded to know if they had spoken to anyone with a “Russian accent.” (I am not kidding.) They threatened to throw them into jail “for life.” They threatened to go after their wives or girlfriends.
When journalist Art Moore saw two men in suits show up at the door of his Seattle home, he thought they must be Jehovah’s Witnesses. But they were FBI agents –- cyber experts –- sent there by Robert Mueller to interrogate him. They grilled him on the spot (no lawyer) for about 90 minutes, trying to find out if Trump had any connection to the Wikileaks release in 2016 of thousands of Hillary’s hacked emails. Apparently, they thought that because Moore was an editor for the news site WND.com, he might have information to share with them about former WND correspondent Jerome Corsi, who was friends with Trump and had communicated with Roger Stone.
Moore later said they were clearly on a fishing expedition, and a kind of desperate one at that. The agents assured him that he wasn’t a target of the investigation, but he believes the special counsel secretly looked into his personal emails, texts and phone records. Others who spoke to Sperry said the same thing, with some adding travel records such as hotel and flight information to the list. They said investigators were literally poking around in their garbage cans.
Some have formally complained to the Justice Department that their privacy was violated. Others have filed legal complaints. Jerome Corsi is suing Robert Mueller personally for millions of dollars (he says secret grand jury information about him was illegally leaked to the press). Others want an criminal investigation into prosecutorial misconduct.
Sperry said it wasn’t clear if Attorney General Bill Barr’s investigation of the “Trump/Russia” probe would be examining the conduct of Mueller’s team. Let’s hope it does. But Democrats in Congress have grabbed Mueller’s baton and are ready to run with it. The ten people Sperry talked to said it was “chilling” that, after all this, Congress is now talking about re-interviewing the witnesses. It’s a nightmare that just won’t go away.
California Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of (believe it or not) the House Intelligence Committee has sent letters even to some of the peripheral witnesses Sperry talked to, demanding more documents as well as their testimony before his panel.
It’s apparently not enough that Robert Mueller interviewed over 500 people, traveling all around the country and even overseas. There were nearly 500 search-and-seizure warrants and more than 2,800 grand jury subpoenas. There were 230 orders for communications records and for the use of “pen records” on nearly 50 people –- these are devices that record dialed phone numbers. In other words, this investigation was extremely broad and invasive. Yet as invasive as it was, NO AMERICAN has been charged with conspiring with Russians. The whole thing was a sham from the start, based on a fake “dossier” paid for by Hillary Clinton and (as we learned just yesterday) a likely-fake “black ledger” leaked by a Ukrainian official to help Hillary Clinton.
Then there’s the story of Jerome Corsi. Over a two-month period, the 72-year-old Corsi was interrogated six times by a team of the special counsel’s investigators and lawyers inside a windowless room in an unmarked FBI building in Washington, DC. Sperry writes that some of the sessions lasted as long as eight hours, and that Corsi was left alone for long periods, with no phone, laptop or even a magazine to read, as they observed him from another room. He couldn’t even leave to go to the bathroom without being accompanied by an armed agent.
And guess who one of his interrogators was? Jeannie Rhee, who might be best known as one of the attorneys who defended the Clinton Foundation in a fraud case. There were actually three prosecutors assigned to his case, and they just kept trying to make a connection between Corsi and Wikileaks. He said they tried to get him to admit that he and Roger Stone knew Julian Assange, and when he wouldn’t, they yelled at him and threatened him with prison.
Much more of their abuse of Corsi is detailed in the story. In total, he was grilled for more than 40 hours, with his legal bills totaling more than $100,000. He said they used “gestapo tactics” to harass his friends, family and news sources and that the stress caused him to have a nervous breakdown.
Sperry’s article details the shameful treatment experienced by others as well, from household names such as Roger Stone (remember the spectacular raid on his house, covered by CNN?) to more peripheral characters such as Jason Fishbein, who was unlucky enough to have once done some legal work for WikiLeaks. Fishbein is described by Sperry as “a small fish caught in Mueller’s dragnet,” who nevertheless had to shell out $20,000 in legal fees and was never charged with anything. He called the Mueller investigation “a political hatchet job.”
Even a self-described never-Trumper named Sam Patten was caught up, because he had done some consulting work with Paul Manafort in the Ukraine and helped a Ukrainian client obtain tickets to Trump’s inauguration. They selectively prosecuted him for failing to register under the FARA law, and he ended up with $140,000 in legal bills. Patten said that they were using this charge to try to squeeze him to get information about “this (bleep-bleep) story about collusion.”
Mad yet? This story should have every American who cares about civil liberties STEAMING, and I hope you’ll read the whole thing. As former Trump campaign official Michael Caputo put it, “Ruining lives was blood sport for them.”'Scorched Earth': Mueller's Targets Speak Out | RealClearInvestigations