September 30, 2020
By Mike Huckabee
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HOTHEADS IN CLEVELAND
Hotheads In Cleveland: I always dread having to talk about who “won” a presidential debate because that concept is meaningless. These things aren’t even debates in any classical sense, and both sides will always argue that their “candidate” won. Last night was particularly frustrating to call a winner on because, frankly, it was difficult even to listen to. With both candidates and the moderator constantly yelling over one another, the only real winner was the maker of Excedrin. I know you don't want to bring a knife to a gunfight, but both of these guys brought bazookas.
If you’re a masochist, here’s the entire debate on YouTube.
Here are five “highlights”…
And for more entertaining background and commentary, the live blogs by PJ Media and Townhall.com…
As for which candidate helped himself the most (and this is totally divorced from issues like honesty, accuracy for vision for America, which barely came up), I hate to say it, but it’s probably Biden, by a hair. Both candidates have already nailed down their bases. Trump voters will vote for Trump, and Democrats would vote for a lampshade as long it wasn’t Trump. This debate needed to sway whoever those unicorns are who remain undecided.
For that, Biden had the lowest bar to clear (proving he could be awake and lucid for 90 minutes in the P.M. hours), and he cleared it, although he got wobbly at times. Trump needed to strike a more controlled “presidential” tone and prove he wasn’t the Twitter bully he’s depicted as, but his combativeness only played into that image.
I know him personally, I’ve campaigned with him, and I’ve interviewed him multiple times. I know that he's very intelligent and he can be charming, thoughtful, gracious and diplomatic. That was the Trump I wish had been at the debate last night. Unfortunately, he brought his WWE persona (perhaps that’s why Chris Wallace was as effective as a WWE referee.) Maybe he intended to throw Biden off-kilter (which did happen at several points), but overall, I think it hurt more than helped.
All the constant loud crosstalk also caused him to miss several big opportunities and distracted from the moments where he did score on Biden. It would’ve been more effective just to let Joe talk and then correct his multiple whoppers clearly. One commentator said Biden came across as old and weak, and Trump seemed to be heckling him. It wasn’t a good image for either of them.
In fact, the worst damage Biden suffered came not from attacks by Trump but things he said (or questions he dodged) himself, and all the hubbub made it easy to miss those. But I’m sure they’ll be excerpted for commercials. I also hope nobody was playing a drinking game every time Biden said the word “plan,” or you’re probably in the morgue now.
Trump inexplicably missed his chance to correct some of Biden’s repetition of blatant lies about him (like the “very fine people” among the white nationalists fake news) and should have focused more on how his economy really is better for all Americans than the Obama/Biden era. It was good that he mentioned they had the slowest recovery since the Depression, but it would’ve been nice to mention that he presided over the first rising wages in many years. He also missed an opening by not laying into Biden’s claim that he would repeal the Trump tax cut (which Dems always claim was “for the rich,” as they do for every tax cut, but repealing it would actually put a big tax hike on the middle class) and raise the capital gains tax by 7 points, both of which would slam the economy. And his vow to create thousands of good-paying “green jobs” by spending trillions of tax dollars should’ve given everyone a chilling sense of déjà vu.
Trump also should’ve been stronger in denouncing rightwing extremists. His comment about the Proud Boys is already giving the media their anti-Trump talking point. It’s ridiculous that he should constantly be asked to do this, but he could’ve pointed out that he’s already done it repeatedly, including when he “totally condemned” the ones in Charlottesville in the fake quote Biden keeps repeating. He could have asked how many times he has to condemn rightwing radicals before Biden finally condemns violent leftist radicals like Antifa who actually are destroying our cities.
Speaking of that, one of Biden’s worst moments came when he claimed that Antifa is not an organization, it’s “an idea.” So good news, Americans: your cities aren’t being burned, your businesses looted and your cops killed by an organized group of far-left radicals. That’s just being done by an amorphous concept!
Biden also might have hurt himself with the far left in his base by distancing himself from the Green New Deal (which he denied his “plan” was, then immediately called it that) and the pact with Bernie. When he was asked why, if he is the Democratic Party as he claimed, he didn’t call blue state mayors and governors and tell them to call up the National Guard and stop the rioting, his excuse that he’s just an out-of-office private citizen was astonishingly weak.
And his silence spoke volumes, both when pressed on whether he would pack the SCOTUS and to name one police organization that has endorsed him. Biden also didn’t come across as having a particularly presidential temperament. He allowed himself to get angry and lash out, calling Trump a “liar,” “racist” and “clown,” and telling him to “shut up,” which doesn’t show much respect for the office. And his claim that the allegations of shady financial deals by his son Hunter have been “debunked” was laughable. “Debunked” is another term I don’t think Democrats understand. They keep applying it to topics they don’t want to talk about without first going through the pesky step of actually debunking them.
Of course, nobody came out of this one unscathed. Chris Wallace is also taking heat from both sides for allowing it to become an uncontrolled shoutfest, although it’s not clear how he could’ve stopped it.
One Trump-supporting pundit who has more fortitude than I do watched it again and claims to have counted over 35 interruptions of Trump by Wallace but none of Biden.
In a way, it’s a sad reflection of where America is in 2020. Not even the two Presidential candidates can talk for 90 minutes without yelling and calling each other names. I think Ari Fleisher got it right when he said, “We’re not electing gladiators and this shouldn’t be a food fight. I think this was a train wreck tonight. Both candidates – too much interruption, too much back-and-forth. And that’s just not good for the country...I just think when you come to a debate you should air the differences, occasionally interrupt, get the extra point in, poke your opponent, but this was way over the top tonight, by both candidates.”
If there is another debate (and Dems are already pushing for Biden to refuse to do any more), let’s hope it’s a Zoom conference. With a mute button.
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REMEMBER SWINE FLU
Here’s why Biden wants to talk about COVID-19 but not swine flu, which happened under his and Obama’s watch, and which his own campaign health advisor said could’ve killed millions of Americans thanks to their lax response, if it had happened to be more contagious. Well, a lot of people did catch it (including my writer Laura Ainsworth, who’s still suffering from scarred lungs years later) and some people did die of it…including 13 times more children than have died of COVID-19.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
With liberal politicians such as California Gov. Gavin Newsom using their magic pens to declare that all cars will be electric by 2035, it’s time for someone to remind them that they claim to believe in “Science!” and not the power of wishes. This article points out that with the rapid advances in fuel efficiency and emissions reduction – and the seldom-discussed massive costs, pollution and environmental damage from building a whole new power generating infrastructure to charge hundreds of millions of battery-powered cars – it’s likely that by 2035, gas-powered cars could be more efficient and less polluting than EVs. And they would cost far less, meaning people wouldn’t need government subsidies to buy one.
The problem: all those scientific advances hinge on manufacturers knowing that there will be a market for their cars so they will continue research and development. But why would they put all that R&D money into improving a product that politicians have already declared will be banned by 2035? In that regard, liberals enacting their fantasy about magically-charged electric cars into law may actually kill the development of a superior and less expensive technology.
This is why it’s better to let markets make decisions than politicians who know as much about automotive technology as they do about ethics.
MODERN DAY MIRACLE
Check out this amazing story about a Columbian woman who escaped from a viciously abusive partner, was missing for two years, and was recently found alive, floating in the ocean over a mile off the coast. She had been adrift for eight hours and was suffering from exhaustion and hypothermia, but she was alive. She told her rescuers, “I was born again. God did not want me to die.”
CORRECTION: REVEALED: SPECIAL COUNSEL PLAYED GAME OF "COLLUSION 'CLUE'"
(Correction: our editor wishes to apologize for pulling a "Joe Biden" with Agent BARNETT's name in this piece when it ran originally, adding that 3AM might have been the time for performance-enhancing drugs. Also, Amy Coney Barrett had been in the news all day. We promise never to refer to her as Amy Comey Barrett. Please enjoy the corrected version in its entirety.)
I don’t know if Maria Bartiromo had something in her eye during this weekend's edition of SUNDAY MORNING FUTURES, but it sure looked like a small tear running down her cheek as she reported that, according to her sources, John Durham’s report on the “Trump/Russia” investigation would not be out until after the election.
Durham’s office reportedly had concerns that delivering his conclusions this close to the election would be considered too politicizing, but I strongly disagree. I’m with Sen. Ron Johnson, who appeared on her show later in the hour. We’ve long been saying that it’s the withholding of information until after the election that should be seen as politicizing, not the releasing, as voters deserve all the information they can get before casting their ballots. Sen. Johnson said essentially the same thing on Sunday.
One of Bartiromo’s guests, Sen. Lindsay Graham, did have encouraging news: the Senate Judiciary Committee intends to call William Barnett, the FBI agent who opened the Michael Flynn case –- after being personally selected by Joe Pientka, who supervised “Crossfire Hurricane” –- and learned over time that it was all about “getting Trump.” Sean Davis and Mollie Hemingway have a new report on the interview with Barnett conducted just under two weeks ago by U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen, who was appointed by Attorney General Bill Barr to review the special counsel’s handling of the Michael Flynn case.
One thing that stood out to me in reading this was that Barnett said special counsel agents would actually joke about it being a game of “Collusion ‘CLUE.’” In this game, he said, investigators choose any character, in any location, conducting any activity, and pair this person with another character and interpret it as evidence of collusion. Hilarious.
Barnett is essentially a whistleblower now –- not the kind Democrats like –- and the transcript of his interview with Jensen, or at least the summary, was obtained by Flynn lawyer Sidney Powell and filed with Judge Emmet Sullivan. (If Durham isn’t going to release any report before the election, we’re dependent on this sort of process to get the facts out.)
Barnett said in his interview that there was never any basis for the Trump/Russia “collusion” theory. He told DOJ investigators that “the handling of the probes [Flynn and Paul Manafort] troubled him so much that he threatened to quit working on it in one case, and threatened to go to the Inspector General in another."
In 2016, when Barnett was first assigned to the case, he thought that reading through the evidence would give him a better understanding of why the investigation into Trump’s “collusion” with Russia was launched. But after about six weeks, he still couldn’t figure it out. He characterized their theory as “groping.”
Barnett is the agent who moved to close the Flynn case due to lack of evidence. He’s the one who was told by Peter Strzok that the “7th Floor” wanted to keep it open and that Flynn should be investigated for a Logan Act violation. (Recall that then-Vice President Joe Biden was present at the January 5 Oval Office meeting during which this was discussed and, according to Sally Yates, was the one to bring up the Logan Act.) Barnett was not familiar with the Logan Act –- who was? –- but after researching it, knew that it didn’t apply to Flynn, who was not a private citizen but the incoming national security adviser.
Read the Davis/Hemingway piece for details of how Barnett was cut out of Strzok and Pientka’s “ambush” interview with Flynn. Apparently, Barnett was left out of other meetings as well, as the Flynn probe was directed “from the top down,” meaning all the direction was coming from senior officials. (My speculation is that by then, they would've liked to have him off the case but were worried about what he might say publicly.)
By February, 2017, Barnett had had his fill and asked to be removed from the case. In his interview, he said that the Flynn investigation “was problematic and could result in an IG investigation.” (He didn’t need a crystal ball for that one!)
Ironically, it was the supervision by top officials that had made him think it must be legal, as uncomfortable as it made him. Barnett added that one analyst who was “very skeptical of the Flynn collusion investigation” ---name not provided, but it wasn’t Barnett --- was indeed removed from the Flynn investigation. (Surely Jensen has interviewed that person.)
When the Flynn investigation was made part of Robert Mueller’s special counsel probe in May, 2017, Barnett told team member Jeannie Rhee that there was “no evidence of a crime” committed by Flynn. She dismissed his concerns. He said he didn’t want to be involved in the special counsel, but Peter Strzok urged him to move over there. Davis and Hemingway report that Barnett “decided to work at the special counsel office in the hope his perspective would keep them from ‘group think.’”
Once Barnett was working with the special counsel, he could see the “group think” in action --- what he characterized as “GET TRUMP.” The investigation was run in the opposite way of how an FBI investigation would be. He said, “There was always someone at SCO (special counsel’s office) who claimed to have a lead on information that would prove the collusion, only to have the information be a dead end.” It happened over and over.
Incidentally, Barnett never wiped his phone, though he testified that other members of the special counsel would joke about wiping theirs.
The notes from Barnett’s interview ended with this: “Barnett believed the prosecution of Flynn by SCO was used as a means to “get TRUMP.”
It seems there might be much more behind Durham’s delay than we even imagined. RedState.com has some interesting observations on that.
This report came in after Maria Bartiromo’s show, and I hope she’s had a chance to read it. This writer doesn’t think that Jensen and Barr were prepared for what has been revealed by Barnett about the political calculations involved in the Russia Hoax investigation. There is speculation that Barr is extremely upset that Mueller, now aging and perhaps fading a bit mentally, was being used as cover by Andrew Weissmann and others to overstep wildly in their desire to “get Trump.”
Something had to trigger Barr’s decision to have Barnett interviewed by Jensen. It’s possible that this has to do with Judge Emmet Sullivan’s (mis)handling of the Michael Flynn case, as it shows the case to be even more obviously politically motivated than we knew. The message to Sullivan: “Sure, you idiot, go ahead and keep this case open. The longer you keep it open, the more we’ll reveal.”
And apparently there is more. What we’ve seen has to do with “Crossfire Razor,” the investigation into Flynn. The rest is known only to investigators. It seems that the information that Jensen got from Agent Barnett may indeed be a game-changer. Even so, it’s wrong to keep it under wraps, for whatever reason, until after the election. Two words: interim report.
BIBLE VERSE OF THE DAY (KJV)
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