Attorney General William Barr and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin faced blistering attacks this week as they resisted being steamrolled by House Democrats to turn over Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s complete report and President Trump’s tax returns without proper review of the issues involved.
It seems like anyone who stands in the way of the new investigative zeal of the Democrats can look forward to personal attacks, no matter how outstanding his or her record of public service.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who pushed the two-year dry-hole investigation of nonexistent Trump-Russia collusion conducted by Mueller, accused Barr of “perpetuating conspiracy theories.”
Schumer’s accusation came after Barr testified Wednesday before a Senate committee that “I think spying did occur” by federal law enforcement authorities against the Trump presidential campaign in 2016. Barr said he would review what happened to determine if the action was proper.
President Trump threw his support behind the attorney general in comments to reporters Thursday.
“I think what he (Barr) said was absolutely true,” the president said. “There was absolutely spying into my campaign.”
“I’ll go a step further,” Trump added, “and say it was illegal spying. Unprecedented spying.”
Some $40 million and two years were spent on a scorched-earth investigation by Mueller and his team of prosecutors that was based on a salacious and unverified dossier funded by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
In the end, Barr reported in a letter summarizing the findings of the Mueller probe: “The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
So the FBI was, without doubt, spying on the Trump campaign because of this belief. The right question to ask, as Barr put it, is whether that surveillance was justified or was an abuse of power.
Barr isn’t chasing conspiracies by asking what led to this long and costly investigation.
Throughout this controversy, folks have ignored unpleasant facts. It is absolutely on the record that there was surveillance of Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page and that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant itself says that FBI officials undertook surveillance of Page because they believed he was an agent of Russia.
The warrant states clearly that “the FBI believes that the Russian government’s efforts are being coordinated with Page and perhaps other individuals associated with Candidate #1’s campaign.” Candidate #1 was Trump.
In other words, surveillance – also known as spying – was authorized not because, as some news articles asserted, there was interest in Carter Page for years. The surveillance was authorized because Page – perhaps along with others on the Trump campaign – was suspected of being a foreign agent while working on the campaign.
We still don’t know if Page was the only Trump campaign official under surveillance. Some reports say as many as four campaign aides were being surveilled.
In addition, we know that informants were used to try to entrap people working on the Trump campaign. And we know the identities of Trump campaign officials and transition officials who communicated with foreign leaders were unmasked by Obama administration National Security Adviser Susan Rice and others. Rice has offered varying explanations for this unmasking, after first denying it occurred.
Does this amount to a fair characterization that the Trump campaign was spied upon? Or is this simply a “conspiracy theory?”
The available evidence – and we only have some of it – shows the FBI was telling the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court definitively that it was initiating wiretaps because FBI officials believed multiple people in the Trump campaign were working as foreign agents.
So the FBI was, without a doubt, spying on the Trump campaign because of this belief. The right question to ask, as Barr put it, is whether that surveillance was justified or was an abuse of power.
Now let’s ask another question. Was the all-out investigation of the Trump campaign and its officials as foreign agents based on reality, or was it simply a wild conspiracy theory?
Given that neither Page nor anyone else was ever charged and that the two-year investigation shows that the Trump campaign turned down overtures for assistance from Russia, it now can be said rather definitively that it is the Russia-Trump collusion accusations that can more accurately be described as “propagating conspiracy theories.”
These are the facts and no amount of partisan spin is going to change them.
It is time the tables were finally turned and the former officials who have been parading around collecting book royalties, speaking fees, and contributor fees from CNN should now face the heat for their actions, which were at best unjust and possibly criminal.
There is so much partisan noise here that it will likely take some indictments and convictions to put down the false narrative that fueled this investigation and that is being perpetuated.
Barr, who unlike Mueller faced Senate confirmation, has a far more spotless record than the special counsel. And yet not one Democrat reacted to Barr’s testimony by saying that if the attorney general thinks there was spying, all the facts of that assertion should be reviewed.
Instead, Democrats in Congress heaped scorn and invective against Barr. Much of the media put the word “spying” in quotes or outright dumped on the attorney general, as though he was claiming he had seen little green men landing from Mars.
And on the same day Barr was under attack for his truthful testimony, House Democrats were – without any justifiable reason – pushing their demands for President Trump’s tax returns.
Even if Congress had a right to see the Trump tax returns, the law provides lawmakers would have to keep them confidential. But everyone knows members would immediately leak the returns to the media.
This hunt for the president’s tax returns, even if they are finally handed over to the House, is likely to be a wild goose chase. Will there be a Form 1099 showing Trump collected payments from Russian President Vladimir Putin?
C’mon, this is just a political fishing expedition that will set a dangerous precedent and if sustained could be used against any political opponent for any reason.
This Orwellian farce has to end. House Democrats are spewing endless investigation propaganda lapped up by the 40 percent of the country, keeping us deliberately polarized not over issues but over investigations.
Unfortunately, it seems the only way to stop this continued reckless behavior is to flip the tables on the Democrats and start the long-awaited investigation of the investigators, which is what Barr said Wednesday he will do.
Of course, you can then expect Sen. Schumer to issue a statement saying “investigations like this are unnecessary and undermine the unity of our country.” And like any good member of the Ministry of Truth, he will do this with a straight face.