Here’s Monday’s “comment of the day,” from Kendra Strecker, who sent it on the heels of Friday’s public hearing with FBI agent Peter Strzok and my suggested follow-up questions:
“Mike, I have 4 dogs, 2 cats and about 14 deer I pick up “poop” from daily and I can say this, I WOULDN’T WANT TO BE THE GUY WHO HAS TO CLEAN UP THE “POOP” IN THAT ROOM!! Another thing I’d like to say, If President Trump (whom I support 1000%) would JUST ORDER ALL THE DOCS RELEASED, maybe we wouldn’t have to go through this “poop” at all!!”
Yes, Kendra, there was plenty of poop flying around in that hearing room, not just from the witness but from all those who were trying every legal or procedural trick in the book to help him avoid answering questions. Never mind the smell of the testimony and general behavior in that room must have been been disgusting. I think we can all give a hearty amen to that.
Legal expert Andrew C. McCarthy at NATIONAL REVIEW called this hearing before the House Judiciary and Oversight committees a “farce” and “an elaborate game of chicken.” That’s an evocative choice of words, because if you’ve ever had to shovel out a chicken coop (I have), you know about bad smells. If my readers’ comments are any indication --- and, gosh, it seems as though they would be --- it’s extremely obvious to all what is going on, and it’s making us sick to death. Ironically, now that The Swamp has been partially exposed, its efforts to remain hidden are revealing even more of the murk.
At the same time, as McCarthy points out, Congress isn’t able to do much about it. While on paper they have the power to compel production of evidence and to hold witnesses in contempt, that power isn’t working in practice. They can’t hold witnesses in contempt until they have the will and the votes. One problem is that the President keeps politicizing Mueller’s investigation by calling it a “witch hunt” and tying it to the Clinton email and “Trump/Russia” probes. Yes, given the strong pro-Hillary taint of Mueller’s team, the term “witch hunt” seems applicable. And, yes, the investigations ARE tied, largely through the involvement of smarmy swamp dweller Peter Strzok in all three. But this accusation by the President gives the Democrats ammunition for their claim that in attacking the FBI and DOJ, Trump is just trying to undermine Mueller.
So, we have Strzok –- a real piece of work –- who won’t answer questions (though he says he would LOVE to). We have FBI lawyers, who are directing him not to answer questions. We have DOJ officials, who are complicit in the FBI’s order to Strzok not to answer questions. Republicans are furious about all of this, but if they slap any of these swamp monsters with contempt charges, they know the response will be that they are just trying to stop Mueller from investigating “the attack on our democracy.”
As for Trump putting an end to this by simply firing the stonewallers and/or calling for the release of the documents being kept from congressional committees, he has no doubt been advised by his attorneys to stay away from any possible charges of obstruction, period. (Though questionable, that advice is understandable; after all, the main justification for the Mueller special counsel was simply Trump’s firing of then-FBI Director James Comey, who richly deserved the boot.) The committees are focused on the FBI and DOJ coverup and haven’t been giving Trump a hard time about his failure to act. That’s starting to change, though; House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes called Sunday for him to declassify. McCarthy points out that if the President were a Democrat, Republicans would be behaving differently –- pounding him relentlessly to just declassify everything.
It’s not possible to get to the truth without the real threat of contempt charges and the ability to get documentation BEFORE the questioning. Strzok and all the other swamp creatures get to answer just the questions they want to, and there’s really no way to cross-examine them. Something has to change, and I’m not sure how that’s possible unless Trump declassifies the documents relevant to the origin of the FBI investigation.
I got another great comment from reader Paul Russ, about the need to fire Peter Strzok. After Lisa Page’s continued testimony on Monday, I plan to address this very issue, because (if my understanding is correct) Page is no longer employed by the FBI while Strzok technically is. We have to wonder: does Page get to have a row of FBI attorneys sitting behind her, as Strzok had, to shield her from questions? Rep. John Ratcliffe told Maria Bartiromo on Sunday that there were “significant differences in her testimony from Agent Strzok as it relates to these text messages, what she thought some of them meant, and she gave us new information that he either wouldn’t or couldn’t, that confirms some of the concerns that we have about these investigations and the people involved.”
The flip side of firing Strzok is that the Inspector General can question only those who are currently working in government. But maybe Horowitz is through questioning both of them and will also obtain their congressional testimony. Anyway, here’s Paul’s comment:
“After today’s testimony by FBI agent Peter Strzok before a congressional committee, it is obvious why Strzok has not been fired from the FBI. He is being represented by FBI attorneys who want to control the narrative. Strzok and the FBI attorneys are colluding with the FBI to protect the FBI.
“If Strzok were fired by the FBI, he would need independent counsel. In this situation, Strzok would be more likely to tell the truth, to provide information about his superiors and those who worked for him and would be more likely to detail DOJ involvement. He would do these things given his legal exposure from which he is now still protected by the FBI and others who have a vested interest in a continuing coverup.
“Time to fire Strzok.”