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In breaking news, the Senate Homeland Security Committee has voted to authorize subpoenas for what looks to be all the major Obama-era officials who played roles in the “Russia hoax.” (I take that back; didn’t see Obama or Biden on the list. But Sidney Blumenthal is there.) The time really has come to bring this incredible abuse of investigative power to the forefront.

For now, it’s been interesting to look at a few takes on Wednesday’s Rod Rosenstein testimony. Dan Bongino, in his Thursday podcast, agreed with me that it was a total debacle, that the former deputy attorney general “humiliated himself.”

Like me, Bongino knew he was watching a “slithering snake” try to slip out of taking real responsibility for signing a warrant application full of false information. In fact, he highlighted the same piece of testimony that I did yesterday. Rosenstein: “I approved the submission of it, and four federal judges signed off on it too, Senator [Josh Hawley of Missouri], because, like me, they believed the information had been verified and was accurate.” [NOTE: The FISA judges HAD no personal responsibility for verifying the information contained in the application; they were working with what was given to them by HIM.] It’s fun to see how this plays out in print:

Hawley: “Did they have a duty to verify the information?”

Rosensnake--I mean, "stein": “No, the agents had a duty to verify the information.”

Hawley: “So you did NOT have a duty to verify the information? It was your name on the application.”

Rosenstein: “Well, I had a duty to make sure it had been verified.”

Hawley: “Did you rubber-stamp it?”

Rosenstein: “Senator, the attorney general or the deputy general---”

Hawley: “Just answer my question---”

Rosenstein: “---hubbada-hubbada-hubbada---”

Hawley: “You said to Sen. Cruz that you didn’t rubber-stamp it. You also testified today that you didn’t read it---”

Rosenstein: “No, I didn’t say---”

Hawley: “So, I’m curious, would you like us to have your testimony read back to you? You said I can’t say that I read it, I don’t think I read every page. I mean---”

Rosenstein: “Yes, I did say that. Yes.”

Hawley: “Okay, so you didn’t rubber-stamp it but you didn’t read it.”

Rosenstein: (smiling) “Senator, I have to explain the process.”

Hawley: “Oh, I think we’re familiar with the process; the OIG gave us the process. By the time it got to you, you had 17 critical errors, falsehoods, omissions, leading a federal court to say they’d never seen anything like this and they can’t trust anything else the FBI says, and you sign off on it...Let me ask you this: Who are we to hold responsible? You’re saying it’s not you---”

Rosenstein: “No, no, I’m saying, Senator, I am accountable for it. The question is, why did it happen? [NOTE: Wrong; the question is, who do we hold responsible?] Now, I’m no longer in the Department, but there are people who are there that I expect will figure out why it happened and fix the problem...” [NOTE: he knows good and well why it happened.]

Hawley: “Do you have any theories about what the problem might be?”

Rosenstein: “I only know what the Inspector General’s report reflects...”

So there you are. The top official at the Department of Justice (after Jeff Sessions’ recusal) is making lame excuses for failing to use his authority to oversee what Bongino rightly calls “the most consequential counterintelligence investigation in modern U.S. history.” Rosenstein’s signature on that document was supposed to MEAN SOMETHING; otherwise, the FBI agents assigned to the case would’ve just sent it on to the FISA Court.

Then there’s this:

Hawley: “Wouldn’t you agree with me that a process that is so corrupted that it resulted in abuse of a federal court in an ex parte proceeding [one in which the target has no legal counsel] during a presidential campaign is a threat to American democracy –- is a threat to the integrity of our elections? Would you agree with that?”

Rosenstein: “It’s certainly a threat to the judicial system and the FISA process, but, uh, I need to explain to you, Senator, that when you’re running an organization of 115,000 people, you’re not gonna be able to personally verify the information---”

Hawley: “I know, and that’s why you can’t be held responsible---”

Rosenstein: “---No, no, I AM responsible---”

Hawley: “So at the end of the day, it’s nobody’s fault. The FISA Court has been misled...but nobody’s to blame for it.”

Rosenstein is trying to have it both ways: he didn’t read the document, at least not all of it, but he didn’t rubber-stamp it, either. It can’t be both. He says he’s accountable while trying to make it seem as if he weren’t because his job is just too big. Bongino came away with the same impression I did: that this is not a stupid man, but someone smart enough to know that looking stupid and naive can help keep him out of jail.

Not surprisingly, John Solomon had some good commentary, too.

While I highlighted the questioning by Ted Cruz that forced Rosenstein to admit he wouldn’t sign the FISA warrant given what we know today, Solomon focuses on a key question from committee chairman Lindsay Graham that also forced him to admit there was nothing to the “Trump/Russia” investigation:

Sen. Graham: “So the whole concept, that the campaign was colluding with the Russians, there was no ‘there’ there in August of 2017, do you agree or not?”

Rosenstein: “I agree with the general statement.”

In less weaselly terms, that means YES. Recall that Peter Strzok had expressed concern to Lisa Page many months earlier that there was no ‘there’ there when he was debating whether or not to be on the special counsel team. But now, there’s no debate about the lack of evidence.

On the other hand, Rush Limbaugh pointed out on Thursday that in the wake of this fiasco, the left is doubling down and intensifying its efforts. He says even with strong evidence that the Obama administration ran a coup against the Trump campaign/transition/presidency, “do not think that it’s over.

“The coup to oust Donald Trump is ongoing.”

He noted that most of America is not nearly as up to speed on this as they should be, and they’re still getting all their news and information from anti-Trump liars. “As more and more evidence is forthcoming and...the more persuasive it is to more and more people, the greater the Democrat media freak-out is.” And all the other craziness going on now is a reflection of the get-Trump insanity.

Rush included Gen. Mattis’s vicious, nonsensical anti-Trump op-ed in THE ATLANTIC as well, as an example of the derangement, saying that even though there’s no evidence Mattis was part of the coup, he “represents the opposition to Donald Trump.”

The objective we must have now, Rush concludes, is to defeat all these forces arrayed against the Trump administration. “We are in a battle for the future of America, as founded.” I can’t say it better than Rush did in this monologue, so I hope you’ll read the transcript in full.

No safe spaces

June 5, 2020

Comic/podcaster Adam Carolla is blasting Walmart for its decision not to carry the DVD of “No Safe Spaces,” the excellent and chilling documentary that he and Dennis Prager created about the efforts to silence free speech, particularly by the left on college campuses. Carolla pointed out the irony that Walmart won’t carry a movie "about the importance of allowing Americans to share ideas freely.” He said, “You can't make this stuff up. It's a free country, and Walmart is free to ban our movie, but our fans are also free to let Walmart know how they feel about that."

In its defense, Walmart says they’re carrying the book based on the film, but DVD space is based off “data-driven customer insights” and its $1.3 million box office shows it doesn’t have enough commercial appeal. However, most documentaries don’t make nearly that much (“No Safe Spaces” was the top-earning political documentary of last year), and since it’s hard for them to find theater screens, they depend on DVDs and streaming to reach an audience.

I hope Walmart will reconsider this decision. In light of what we are seeing now across the country – the burning and looting instigated by some of the same radical elements discussed in the film, who are expanding from campuses to entire cities, and, yes, looting big box stores – it’s imperative that everyone in America see this documentary to learn who and what we’re dealing with, how we allowed it to get to this point, and why it must be stopped before free speech is silenced permanently.

To learn more about the film, stream it now or order the DVD online, go to https://nosafespaces.com

Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who signed off on the last renewal of the FISA warrant application to spy on Carter Page, appointed Robert Mueller, determined the “scope” of the special counsel investigation of Trump and his colleagues, and supposedly supervised Mueller and his team, tried hard in testimony Wednesday to distance himself from all that happened in what has been dubbed “Spygate.”

He was smiling broadly at times, perhaps because he thought he was succeeding in his aim. And maybe he was, at least partially. But with his effort to save his own skin, this slippery attorney actually succeeded in showing us that there WAS a coup against the President. Nothing else makes sense.

If we weren’t living in “these uncertain times” --- a phrase I can’t wait to see retired --- Rosenstein’s testimony would be "the" story right now. Even the mainstream media might have to cover it a little. At the moment, it’s easy for them to bury it. But this was just the first of many hearings, and John Durham continues to investigate. Step by step, the revelations continue to prove we were right.

In his long-awaited testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Rosenstein’s strategy was to present himself as someone who trusted his colleagues to give him correct information, so much so that he didn’t bother to read “every word” of the FISA application before signing it, even though in this case his signature was his personal stamp of verification of "every word" to the FISA court.

Sen. Lindsay Graham, chairman of the committee, was having none of it. Neither was Sen. Ted Cruz, who skewered Rosenstein for including Flynn in the “scope” memo in August of 2017 after the FBI had concluded on January 4 that there was no evidence against Flynn and that the case should be closed. He went on to bring up that infamous meeting held the very next day, January 5, in the Oval Office. Going through the timeline, he told Rosenstein that there were only two possible conclusions: “either that you were complicit in the wrongdoing, which I don’t believe was the case, or that your performance of your duties was grossly negligent.” Much more; this is a must-watch video if you’ve not already seen it.

You’ll notice in the video that Rosenstein isn’t smiling anymore. It was really Cruz, by giving Rosenstein the benefit of the doubt as he did, who showed point-by-point what had been going on deep within the FBI. (Were you aware of THIS? Were you aware of...THIS?) Rosenstein comes across as a naive fool, but that's likely a choice he has made, finding it preferable to coming across as someone who should be wearing an orange jumpsuit.

"Why did you let this pile of partisan lies consume the country for two years?” Cruz asks. Rosenstein tries in vain to change direction, saying that “there was a lot going on at the Department of Justice” during those years, that he and Jeff Sessions were making “significant changes” that weren’t “just about the Russia investigation," as if that had any bearing here.

David Marcus at the NEW YORK POST has a magnificent write-up of the day’s testimony and its significance.

Sen. Graham asked Rosenstein the big takeaway question of the day: “If you knew then what you know now, would you have signed the warrant application?”

Rosenstein was ready: “No, I would not.”

No, he would not. If it was wrong for Rosenstein to sign the renewal based on the facts they had, then it was wrong to apply for the warrant in the first place. From the start, there was never any evidence on Carter Page. They used that first warrant as a pretext for all the spying to come.

So that’s it. It was all a fraud, started with a piece of partisan, fictional oppo “research” paid for by (who else?) the Hillary Clinton campaign. It was perpetrated against Donald Trump, his associates, and the country at large. We went through years of needless torture over NOTHING. Think of all the histrionics, the obsession, the endless “Russia, Russia Russia!” paranoia, leaping from the front page of THE NEW YORK TIMES, and consuming almost all major media, day after day after day. The many millions of dollars wasted. The enormous waste of time –- Congress’s time, everybody’s time. Trump’s presidency was practically stalled. That was the idea, of course.

Think of the lives and careers that were ruined, particularly that of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a man who served his country for 33 years. As it turns out, he didn't lie after all, and the FBI didn't even ask him the question (concerning sanctions on Russia) they later accused him of lying about! Then there's Carter Page, who had actually helped the FBI in the past yet was accused by them of being a Russian agent. The President himself was being investigated for conspiracy with Russia --- which would be treason --- when there was no evidence of that at all. Of course, if Hillary had (shudder) been elected, all evidence would have been swept away, shredded, hit with hammers and Bleach-bitted, and the spying on political enemies would have metastasized.

Think of the lack of focus we had on really important things --- particularly China, which was hiding the spread of a deadly contagion from its own virology lab while Congress was busy with its kangaroo-court impeachment fiasco.

The irony of this is that Vladimir Putin must have had a really good laugh about it, every day. He did want to see chaos over here, and in their zeal to get rid of Trump, our own Justice Department and the American media gave it to him.

Mr. Marcus is clearly as angry about this as I am. “What is becoming clear,” he says, is that the Department of Justice wanted to prevent, then destroy, a Trump presidency. These were not open-minded officials being led by the facts; they were manipulating the facts and hiding exculpatory evidence to bring down Trump and his associates.”

I would add that this is what Rosenstein was trying to distance himself from today. He has to appear ignorant of all of it or be part of the conspiracy. If he does know more than he’s letting on –- which seems likely; Cruz gave him more benefit of the doubt than I would –- it’ll be up to John Durham and his team of investigators to prove he does, through the testimony of others or some revealing text or email. Also, U.S. Attorney John Bash is now looking more closely at the unmasking process, particularly as it was used against Michael Flynn.

More subpoenas are set to be issued this week. Clapper, Brennan, Comey, and McCabe are expected to be among those subpoenaed by the Senate.

Democrats tried to say on Wednesday that these hearings are being held to weaken Biden’s run for president. Trust me, if this were about Biden, we’d have plenty to investigate HIM for, and that wouldn’t be pretty, either.

UPDATE: On Wednesday, Andrew McCabe issued a statement essentially calling Rosenstein a liar for suggesting that FBI officials misled him. Details here.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsay Graham read it aloud near the close of the hearing and allowed Rosenstein a chance to respond. Rosenstein said he hadn’t actually said “misled.” He’d said McCabe hadn’t been “fully forthcoming.”

Personally, I doubt either one of them has been “fully forthcoming.”

Apparently, there’s a longstanding feud between McCabe and Rosenstein, starting around the time President Trump fired then-FBI Director James Comey. The WASHINGTON POST wrote about this two years ago, and it adds a fascinating dimension to the story.

McCabe is the one who said in a memo that Rosenstein had talked in a meeting about wearing a wire and using the 25th Amendment to get rid of Trump. Rosenstein reportedly responded later that he had been joking. Then-FBI general counsel James Baker was not present but heard about the comments after the meeting and thought Rosenstein was serious.

At that time, each man had his own reasons for wanting the other to step away from the “Trump/Russia” case. And today, they’re telling different stories about what went on. A prosecutor’s dream. I have a feeling this is going to get good.