It was a ridiculously odd “coincidence” that about 30 phones used by members of Robert Mueller’s special counsel team were completely erased before being turned over to John Durham’s investigators. But the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, headed by Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, voted Wednesday to authorize over two dozen subpoenas, and this destruction of government records will definitely be on the agenda.
It’s really kind of funny to read POLITICO’s report on this, as their methods are as transparent as Saran Wrap. Consider that in the opening paragraph, they term this effort “part of a highly partisan, Republican-led investigation targeting former Obama administration officials’ role in the presidential transition period.” Why, it’s “targeting President Trump’s political foes less than 50 days before Election Day.” The story does quote a Republican, though. Mitt Romney.
Democrats called the committee’s probes “inappropriate fishing expeditions,” which I have to say is something they know quite a lot about. Ranking Democrat Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan sent a letter to Sen. Johnson on Monday formally objecting to the subpoenas, accusing Republicans of just trying to help Trump's bid for re-election.
How about calling these efforts what they really are, a possibly last-ditch effort to find out the TRUTH of what has gone on to undermine Donald Trump ever since he announced his candidacy for President? If Democrats (shudder) take the Senate in the coming election, ALL investigations will be shut down faster than you can say "Chuck Schumer." This could be a case of now or never for justice to be done.
At the same time, Sen. Johnson has apparently acknowledged that his committee's effort would help Trump. According to POLITICO, he told a radio host that the probe “would certainly help Donald Trump win re-election and certainly be pretty good, I would say, evidence about not voting for Vice President Biden.” If this raises your hackles, I would point out that deliberately putting off finding the truth until AFTER the election is, in effect, influencing the election --- just in the other direction, by CONCEALING the truth from voters, who deserve to know. That observation applies to John Durham’s findings as well.
"Our investigation is focused on uncovering and revealing the truth," Sen. Johnson said, “but Democrats seem intent at every turn to frustrate and interfere with our oversight efforts.”
This could get interesting. Those targeted with subpoenas include former CIA Director John Brennan, former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former FBI counsel Lisa Page, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, former Obama chief of staff Denis McDonough, former FBI agent Joe Pientka, former FBI director of counterintelligence Bill Priestap, former UN ambassador Samantha Power, former White House national security adviser Susan Rice, former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith (who has already pleaded guilty to making a false statement after altering a document to lie about Carter Page), former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former top lawyer for the FBI James Baker, top DOJ official Bruce Ohr, Cambridge University professor and FBI “confidential human source” Stefan Halper, and former Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew. There’s also James Baker, head of the Office of Net Assessment at the Defense Department, which had hired Stefan Halper as a contractor.
Oh, and last but not least, Sidney Blumenthal. Fun times!
Some of the subpoenas do involve Ukraine and Joe and Hunter Biden, as Johnson wants to formally investigate claims made by Andriy Derkach, described by POLITICO as “a pro-Russian Ukrainian lawmaker who was just sanctioned by the Treasury Department for election interference.” In fact, the Treasury Department called him a Russian agent. That must be why Jacob Lew is being subpoenaed.
In another bit of unintentional hilarity, Sen. Chuck Schumer did the (for him) laughably predictable thing and brought up “Russia Russia Russia!” Have you noticed this is always his fall-back? He sought to pass a resolution “calling for a cessation of any Senate investigation or activity that allows Congress to act as a conduit for Russian information." Message to Sen. Schumer: Your act is getting stale.
For a less slanted take on the story than POLITICO’s, I recommend this one.
In related news, the Senate Judiciary Committee has been (finally) busy setting up hearings as well, with chairman Lindsay Graham (finally) announcing that Comey has agreed to testify without a subpoena about “Crossfire Hurricane.”
The scheduled date is September 30. Graham said on Wednesday’s HANNITY show that Comey “will be respectfully treated but asked hard questions.” (I assume they’ve figured out how to get around Comey’s sneaky refusal to renew his own security clearance.) They’re also in negotiation with McCabe and Strzok. (“He’s selling a book,” Graham joked about Strzok. “We will see if he will come without a subpoena.”)
Mueller, however, has already declined to appear voluntarily. He says he “doesn’t have enough time.” He might have a point; judging by his previous testimony, there’s not enough time in the world for him to familiarize himself even with his own report, which it seems someone else wrote and put his name on. But I’d say go with a subpoena for him and anyone else who tries to weasel out. It sure would be nice to get their comments on all those curiously “wiped” phones.