Remember the old TV game show PASSWORD? It probably wouldn’t be much of a hit today because it was a quiet game that required some element of literacy and wit, but in its heyday it was a staple of daytime TV. Alan Ludden (the late husband of Betty White, for trivia fans) was the host, but each round began with an announcer saying in a low voice, “The password is…….”
So, here’s an idea: let’s play “PASSWORD 2019”! Of course, since it’s 2019, it has to be about politics, because in 2019, everything is about politics. I’ll be the announcer and say (ahem), “The password is...ACCOUNTABILITY”
What do you think the first clue should be? (And don’t say “Hillary.” There are just too many ways one’s mind can go from there, only some of which have to do with jail.) A good clue might be the word JUSTICE.
Of course, if the partner’s politics are left of center, he or she (or “ze”) might take the clue JUSTICE and guess something like SOCIAL, as in “social justice.” Someone in the middle or leaning right might guess LIBERTY, as in “liberty and justice for all.” But if I were the partner in this round, I think my first guess might very well be ACCOUNTABILITY. That’s the element of justice that has been at the top of my mind for many months –- and yours too, I’ll bet –- because it’s what has been conspicuously absent from our system of justice. We’ve seen quite a few people blatantly lie to Congress, leak classified and confidential material, destroy evidence, ignore evidence, “fix” investigations, and use fraud to obtain warrants in an attempt to affect the outcome of an election and, later, to bring down a duly-elected President of the United States. And nothing happens to them.
However, this is far from over, thanks in large part to ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes of California. He’s been like a dog with a bone on the issue of accountability, and after close to three years he’s finally tasting a bit of the meaty marrow. On Saturday, the WASHINGTON EXAMINER ran his piece “The Russian Collusion Hoax Meets Unbelievable End” (meaning the “Russia” part actually turned out to be associated with the Clinton campaign and its production of the dirty Steele “dossier”). And on Sunday, he announced that he is ready to go forward with eight criminal referrals related to the origins of the Trump/Russia investigation. “We’re prepared this week to notify the attorney general that we’re prepared to send those referrals over and brief him if he wishes to be briefed,” he said on FOX News. In other words, they’re so prepared that they’re prepared to be prepared!
He and his investigators have found as many as two dozen individuals who may be be subject to criminal referrals. All of them do involve classified or sensitive information, so he can’t go too far into detail.
Nunes broke down the referrals into three different categories during an interview with Maria Bartiromo. First, there are five of what he calls “straight-up” referrals, dealing with specific individuals and specific crimes such as lying to Congress, misleading Congress and leaking classified information. He didn’t name names but I’m sure we’re all thinking of the same group of individuals.
He said the other three are more complicated in that they include conspiracy to commit crimes. These primarily relate to the abuse of the FISA court and involve “numerous individuals.” Other acts of conspiracy relate to the manipulation of intelligence.
As closely as you and I have been following this, there’s apparently still a lot we don’t know due to its highly classified nature. As Nunes put it, “There’s so much left. Remember, the American people have only seen the pieces that have been declassified so far...[about abuse of the FISA court}...There’s still more information. I’ve said this before: This was their ‘insurance policy.’ A lot of people think the insurance policy was just the overall investigation of the Trump campaign. It’s actually much more conspiratorial than that.”
There’s a third category that Nunes called a “global leak referral,” involving the leaking of highly sensitive classified information to a very small group of reporters over the last “2-1/2-plus” years. He said they have “a pretty good idea” of who is behind these leaks. More investigation may be needed, however, to pin down additional leakers, as reporters were in the habit of citing anonymous sources (“current and former senior officials”). Nunes said there were individuals within the DOJ and FBI who wanted to be, in effect, “the next Deep Throat,” the person who, in his own mind, is “leaking classified information for the betterment of all society.”
Last year, a joint Republican-led task force from the Judiciary Committee and the Oversight Committee started investigating this, but at this point Nunes is looking to Attorney General Williams Barr (“a grownup is finally in the room”) to go forward and “do a clean-up.” Public support is growing thanks to a decision by task force member Doug Collins of Georgia to release numerous transcripts of congressional testimony (not the classified stuff) that justify our long-held suspicions of wrongdoing.
Nunes pointed out that Congress can only investigate, not indict, so Attorney General Barr will have to get the Justice Department involved in a criminal investigation (if he hasn’t done that already) before there can be...what’s that password? Right: ACCOUNTABILITY.
Incidentally, Bill Barr will be testifying before the House Judiciary Committee (chaired by Jerrold Nadler) on Tuesday. It’s a routine, public appearance, meant to deal with budgetary issues, but who knows if they’ll even talk about the budget? Democrats disappointed with Barr’s summary of the Mueller report will undoubtedly take the opportunity to give him grief about it, try to discredit him, and demand –- even through a completely unnecessary subpoena –- that the entire, unredacted report be made public, even though we know it concludes that there was no “collusion” (conspiracy) with Russia, and even though it contains classified material and not-to-be-released grand jury testimony.
Nunes said he wants the Mueller report to be made public, “but not just the Mueller report,” because some of the people who wrote it were involved in the conspiracies he’s including in these eight criminal referrals. As an example, he pointed out that Mueller’s lead attorney and another top lawyer were in the chain of custody for the Steele “dossier,” asserting that it was impossible for them not to have known it was just dirt from the Democrats. The report is written to fit their narrative, he said. (He calls it “the Mueller dossier.”) In fact, it’s MORE important to have the information underlying the report than it is to have the report itself. We need it all to get the complete picture.