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Peter Strzok, the FBI agent whose opposition to Trump and support for Hillary were revealed in his text messages to his like-minded mistress, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, pulled a surprise move over the weekend. His attorney sent a letter to House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, saying that Strzok is willing to testify without immunity or invoking the Fifth Amendment and answer any questions. The attorney writes, “Pete is central to this story. We should let the American people see who he really is.” (I think the text messages gave us a pretty good idea of who he is, as did the transparent attempts to hide them for so long.) Continuing: “He thinks that his position, character and actions have all been misrepresented and caricatured, and he wants an opportunity to remedy that.”
I assume we will hear more of the claim that those texts represented his personal, private political views and never influenced his professional decisions in any way. We might also hear another excuse that’s been floated: that the anti-Trump texts were merely cover for the affair, so if his wife saw them, it would appear that he and Page were just talking politics. Or that he was just saying those things to comfort his distraught girlfriend. In other words, despite the obvious bend-over-backwards-to-exonerate-Hillary investigation and the bend-any-rule-to-ensnare-Trump investigation, we can believe that he was a completely honest professional of good character because the evidence that he wasn’t was a lie concocted either to cover up the affair he was having behind his wife’s back or to keep his mistress in a good mood. That may require more bending than even the most flexible minds can handle without snapping.
A couple of updates to stories from last week:
President Trump said he wouldn’t sign the compromise version of a House immigration reform plan, which threw GOP leaders for a loop after they put in a lot of effort to create a bill that would draw enough support to pass. But the White House walked that back, with an unnamed senior official saying that Trump just misunderstood the question. A statement was issued saying that Trump will sign either bill, both of which contain funding for a border wall. More details here:
Also, I linked to an article by legal expert Paul Rosenzweig explaining why the witness-tampering evidence against former Trump campaign official Paul Manafort seemed awfully “thin.” He’s written an update admitting he must have been mistaken, since the judge ordered Manafort jailed. He notes that the judge said she “struggled” with the decision, and he doesn’t cite any details that he got wrong. But he assumes the case must be stronger than he assessed it to be, at least in the mind of the judge. Considering some rulings we’ve seen from judges recently, I wouldn’t be so quick to assume that the law or evidence had anything to do with it, but here’s the link to his update just the same.
If you listen to certain prominent news sources (or get all your news from social media in the form of Democratic Underground memes), you might believe that America is a horrible place, filled with violent, narrow-minded, Republican-voting bigots who hate immigrants, which is loosely defined as everyone who is here and wasn’t born here, whether they followed the law and actually became an immigrant or just came across the border illegally. It’s no wonder all the more tolerant, welcoming countries like Germany and France lecture us so much about our shortcomings.
If any of that sounds true to you, then prepare to have your mind blown by reality. According to the Pew Research Center, America has taken in more refugees than any other nation on Earth: about 3 million since 1980. In fact, that’s more than all the other nations combined. And there were no cutbacks or biases during Republican Administrations; during a 10-year period beginning under Bush in 2002, there was an increase in the number of immigrants granted refuge from African and Middle Eastern nations. There’s more at the link, all of it destructive to the popular narrative.
It was no surprise when “Saturday Night Live” was blasted and abandoned by Republicans because of its unfunny, relentlessly anti-Trump sketches. But then, even liberal media outlets such as Vice.com started to complaint that it wasn’t comedy anymore, just propaganda. Former cast members, including Rob Schneider and Joe Piscopo, also weighed in on how the show had let its obvious bias kill the humor. But its defenders dismissed all that criticism and scoffed that the older cast members were just out of touch.
Well, try this: the show has become so biased and predictable that even one of the current cast members has spoken up in hopes of changing it. And that cast member is female and African-American, so if "SNL's" writers try to dismiss this criticism as “white male privilege,” it will be funniest thing they’ve come up with since the 2016 election.
A while back, when everyone was caught up in the debate over whether President Trump should sit down for questioning from Robert Mueller, I suggested a list of questions that Mueller should be asked by Trump. Now that DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz is about to sit for questioning by congressional committees, I thought I’d be similarly helpful with a list for Congress to use. Devin Nunes surely doesn’t need my help on this, but, just for fun, here goes...
1. Soon after Peter Strzok was named head of the FBI’s Trump/Russia probe, he texted Lisa Page that Trump won’t be President and that “we will stop it.” Did you infer that he meant they’d stop Trump from getting elected, or did you think he might have meant something else, such as, “We will stop meeting for five-hour lunches”?
2. When some of the Strzok-Page texts were made public, Strzok was demoted and now works in Human Resources. He also maintains his security clearance. If his appearance of bias was so detrimental to the FBI that he had to be removed from his job, do you see any irony in the fact that he’s now in Human Resources? And what about the “appearance” of his continued security clearance?
3. How did you even get those Strzok-Page texts when the FBI told Congress they were not obtainable? Did you hire a family of Pakistani IT professionals to hack them?
4. According to the report, Hillary’s classified emails were obtained by foreign governments and intelligence entities. How many consecutive life sentences would be given to a submariner whose personal pictures on board his sub were similarly compromised?
5. Peter Strzok was in charge of the FBI’s investigation of Trump “collusion” for its first nine months. If bias is not to affect the eventual determination by the special counsel --- or the public's perception of that determination--- shouldn’t the work of the team led by Strzok be tossed out?
6. You say that there is no evidence in your report that anyone’s bias affected the conclusions reached by the FBI. Question: Have you read the report?
7. How did Peter Strzok get the job of lead investigator in the Hillary email case? Was Hillary herself not available to run it?
8. Will Strzok finally be fired from the FBI by Christopher Wray, or will he be kept on and offered the exciting new anti-bias “training”?
9. When “Agent 1” texted “Agent 5” the message “I’m with her,” did you infer that he was talking about Hillary Clinton, or did you think he might have been talking about some other female presidential candidate, such as Carly Fiorina, Geraldine Ferraro or Roseanne Barr?
10. Why was no recording or transcript made of Hillary’s FBI interview? Given the large budget for the FBI, couldn’t they have laid in a supply of pens and paper or found just one recording device? Will there be “training” for office supply managers?
11. Why was Hillary never asked about Bill’s meeting with Loretta Lynch on the tarmac five days before her interview? Were investigators simply hesitant to ask her about ANY private meeting Bill had with ANY woman?
12. If Comey was acting entirely on his own in being “insubordinate” and deciding not to charge Hillary, why was his statement to that effect passed around for editing and tweaking by numerous other FBI officials before she was interviewed? Do you see this as collusion against Trump or simply a commendable display of teamwork?
13. As you know, the DOJ and FBI have refused to give Congress key documents related to the FISA applications and spying on Trump campaign associates, even though they’ve been under subpoena for many months. We know you're looking into that now, so have they given you access to those documents?
14. If so, have you read them?
15. Um, what do they say?
16. Please, can you print us a copy?
17. If you saw Strzok’s “we’ll stop it” text a month ago, why did you keep it from Congress all this time? Were you concerned we might somehow conclude Strzok WAS trying to stop it, before we could see from your report that he really wasn’t?
18. You worked hard on this report, and it is very long. But its conclusion is so preposterous that even Trey Gowdy has come back to life. Have you thought about entering one of the healing professions?
19. Since you have condemned James Comey for “insubordination,” and we know he has lied and leaked to the media, do you think he’s a good star witness in Mueller’s case against Donald Trump, or in any case against anyone at any time?
20. You wrote, “We found no evidence that the conclusions by the prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations; rather, we determined that they were based on the prosecutors’ assessment of the facts, the law, and past department practice.” May we at least conclude from that sentence that the prosecutors might want to plead insanity, as they can't tell right from wrong?
21. (Bonus question) When you wrote that sentence, were you high?