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February 2018

The Man Who Wanted to ‘Know Everything’ A 2016 text from the FBI offers a window into Obama management. James Freeman

A 2016 text message between two FBI officials who worked on both the Clinton email investigation and the Russia inquiry says that President Obama “wants to know everything we are doing.”

It’s not clear from the September 2, 2016 text message between then-Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page whether it was a general comment about Mr. Obama’s oversight of the FBI or a description of his interest in a particular matter.

And it doesn’t automatically mean Mr. Obama was up to no good. The FBI and the rest of the Justice Department work for the President, although this fact can be easy to forget while consuming much of contemporary media coverage. But hands-on management by Mr. Obama could explain a lot about both the Clinton email investigation and the Obama administration’s electronic surveillance of a Trump associate.

Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page were conducting an extramarital affair, which created a dangerous vulnerability to blackmail given that they worked on counterintelligence matters. So they were not exactly model employees. Further, their texts showing extreme bias against the President and his voters are part of a highly disturbing record of electronic communications. When presented with content from their text messages, Special Counsel Robert Mueller dismissed Mr. Strzok from his team conducting the Russia probe.

Chairman Ron Johnson (R., Wisc.) and his colleagues on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs had to learn about the texts in a news account and have lately been prying them out of Justice.

This week Mr. Johnson’s majority staff has released a new tranche of text messages and reports on what they’ve found:

Although sometimes cryptic and disjointed due to their nature, these text messages raise several questions about the FBI and its investigation of classified information on Secretary Clinton’s private email server. Strzok and Page discussed serving to “protect the country from the menace” of Trump “enablers,” and the possibility of an “insurance policy” against the “risk” of a Trump presidency. The two discussed then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch knowing that Secretary Clinton would not face charges—before the FBI had interviewed Secretary Clinton and before her announcement that she would accept Director Comey’s prosecution decision. They wrote about drafting talking points for then-Director Comey because President Obama “wants to know everything we’re doing.” Strzok and Page also exchanged views about the investigation on possible Russian collusion with the Trump campaign—calling it “unfinished business” and “an investigation leading to impeachment,” drawing parallels to Watergate, and expressing Strzok’s “gut sense and concern there’s no big there there.”

It is the entrance of President Obama into the Strzok-Page drama that raises the most interesting questions. Both the decision to abandon the normal Justice process to exonerate Hillary Clinton and the decision to seek warrants to surveil the political opposition certainly don’t look like calls that get made by middle management. Of course many Americans would hope that such decisions are never made at all. But given their extremely unusual character they would almost certainly require sign-off from a very senior official.

Again, there is very little context for the comment about President Obama wanting to “know everything” about the FBI. But it does perhaps suggest an answer as to why, for example, former FBI Director James Comey would assume a power he did not hold in deciding that Justice prosecutors would not charge Mrs. Clinton for her mishandling of classified information.

When explaining all the perfectly good reasons for firing Mr. Comey last May, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wrote about this incident and about Mr. Comey’s bizarre public statements regarding Mrs. Clinton’s conduct:

In response to skeptical questions at a congressional hearing, the Director defended his remarks by saying that his “goal was to say what is true. What did we do, what did we find, what do we think about it.” But the goal of a federal criminal investigation is not to announce our thoughts at a press conference. The goal is to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to justify a federal criminal prosecution, then allow a federal prosecutor who exercises authority delegated by the Attorney General to make a prosecutorial decision, and then – if prosecution is warranted – let the judge and jury determine the facts.

Dartmouth Students Enraged Over Op-Ed Criticizing Student Life Board Being 80% Female By Tom Knighton

College progressives these days are obsessed with gender parity: they say there aren’t enough women seeking STEM degrees, for example.

But they do say they want “parity.” So it must be progressive to criticize a lack of gender parity when men are underrepresented, right?

A Dartmouth op-ed recently criticized the school’s hiring of primarily women to fill roles on the student life executive board at the school. Student Ryan Spencer made a bid to be part of the board, a bid that ultimately failed. Of the 19 current members, only four are male. In other words, 80 percent of those hired for the board are female.

Spencer took to the pages of The Dartmouth to take issue with the disparity. He stated his disbelief in claims that merit was the deciding factor, not gender.

Spencer has a valid point, of course. If the numbers were flipped, wouldn’t feminists be outraged? Wouldn’t people be demanding a change? Of course they would. They’d launch protests over the exclusion of so many women — and maybe with good cause.

However, there are no protests planned in Spencer’s defense. Instead, the outrage is all directed at him.

McConnell, Schumer Strike 2-Year Budget Deal to Avert Shutdown By Bridget Johnson

WASHINGTON — The day before what would have been another shutdown, Republicans and Democrats struck a 2-year, nearly $400 billion budget deal that upon passage will segue into Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) promised DACA debate.

The deal removes sequestration budget caps for two years, increases defense spending and also boosts funding for domestic programs that were priorities for Democrats, such as opioid addiction programs. It also raises the debt ceiling until 2019.

It was unclear if the Senate deal will get enough support when it goes to the House.

“The compromise we’ve reached will ensure that, for the first time in years, our armed forces will have more of the resources they need to keep America safe. It will help us serve the veterans who have bravely served us. And it will ensure funding for important efforts such as disaster relief, infrastructure, and building on our work to fight opioid abuse and drug addiction,” McConnell said on the Senate floor this afternoon.

“This bill is the product of extensive negotiations among Congressional leaders and the White House. No one would suggest it is perfect,” he acknowledged. “But we worked hard to find common ground and stay focused on serving the American people… and the agreement will clear the way for new investment in our nation’s infrastructure — a bipartisan priority shared by the president and lawmakers in both parties.”

McConnell noted that after passage, the Appropriations committees “will have six weeks to negotiate detailed appropriations and deliver full funding for the remainder of fiscal year 2018.”

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he and McConnell “worked well together for the good of the American people.”

“We had serious disagreements, but instead of just going to our own separate corners, we met in the middle and came together with an agreement that is very good for the American people and recognizes needs that both sides of the aisle proffered,” Schumer said on the floor. “…After months of fiscal brinkmanship, this budget deal is the first real sprout of bipartisanship. And it should break the long cycle of spending crises that have snarled this Congress and hampered our middle class.”

Byron York: Scheming, speculation behind scenes as Democrats push intel memo by Byron York

This time last week, there was growing tumult in Washington over the memo produced by House Intelligence Committee Republicans alleging “FISA abuse” in the Trump-Russia investigation. There were dire warnings that the release of the GOP memo would endanger national security, that doing so would be “extraordinarily reckless” without proper FBI and Justice Department review, and that the FBI had “grave concerns” about “material omissions of fact” that would “fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”

The GOP memo survived a starkly partisan process in the Intelligence Committee. Republicans voted unanimously to make it public, while Democrats voted unanimously against making it public. It was released last Friday with President Trump’s approval.

Now, another memo is in the pipeline, this one produced by the committee’s Democratic minority, and things are much quieter.

First, in a sharp contrast to last week, Republicans joined Democrats to vote unanimously to release the Democratic memo. Second, there haven’t been high-profile warnings about endangering national security. And third, there haven’t been alerts that the memo has critical omissions.

All that raises eyebrows among some Republicans on Capitol Hill who have read the Democratic memo. They say it contains much more classified information than the Republican memo did. The GOP paper was written so that it had a minimum of classified information in it, they explain, and indeed, after inspecting it, the FBI asked for just one small change.

Newly-released Strzok-Page lovebird text messages: ‘potus wants to know everything we’re doing’ By Thomas Lifson

Tick, tick, tick… we’re getting closer and closer to the “What did the president know and when did he know it?” moment in the biggest political scandal in American history. What looks like a sitting president authorizing the use of the vast spy apparatus of the federal government on the opposing party candidate for president would, if proven, be far bigger than Watergate – a mere burglary intended to spy on the opposition. Pay attention because you may want to tell your children or grandchildren what it was like watching this all unfold in 2018.

Up until the present moment, Barack Obama has been missing in all the discussions of surveillance misbehavior. And most curiously, Obama has been almost invisible, staying quiet, and not using his expensive Washington, DC mansion (shared with Valeire Jarrett) as a base for leading the opposition to President Trump, as many of us expected him to do. He is the only president I can remember who didn’t get out of DC when his term in office expired, yet he has been as invisible as if he were Truman retired to Independence or Eisenhower retired to Gettysburg. He hasn’t even spoken out about the opposition to his presidential monument planned for public park land in Chicago, My optimistic guess is that he realizes his peril and is dummying up.

In a move calculated to infuriate the Democrats, the latest batch of text messages between senior FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page was leaked to Fox News first, and there are some striking revelations. Officially embargoed until 6 AM Eastern Time today, FNC was ready with the first item to reach the nation, followed minutes later by an AP dispatch, which headlined that the lovebirds admired James Comey. The Washington Post and other outlets saw fit to go with the innocuous emphasis. No kidding!

MY SAY: LOWER CASE treasonous

The latest Trump tweet to have knickers in a knot is due to my president’s use of the word “treasonous” to blast the Dem-wits’ behavior during the State of the Union speech.

Maybe the word is overblown. I was once accused of treason by my sons when I applauded a Boston victory over the New York Knicks…..

Daniel Greenfield has the perfect take on the issue: A Double Standard on Treason,

Before the memo was released, Senator Cory Booker was quick to throw around accusations of treason.

“I might say tantamount to treasonous in the sense of: when you violate the intelligence community’s mandates around classified documentation and what should be released, you could be betraying or, especially if you’re revealing sources and methods or giving some color to sources and methods, you are actually endangering fellow Americans in the intelligence community and our ability to source intelligence,” Senator Booker had insisted. “So, to me, this is something that could be potentially viewed as treasonous.”

Then once the Nunes memo was released, and not even the biggest CNN or Washington Post hack could find a single piece of classified information there that would endanger a mouse, Booker packed up his tent for the next show, complete with squeezing tears out with an onion.

But as the media once again waxes outraged about accusations of treason, let’s revisit it.

Senator Booker, like so many of his leftist colleagues, was using accusations of treason to suppress a political debate. That’s exactly what the Dems were falsely accusing Bush of. And it’s exactly what they’re guilty of.

Senator Cory Booker has never apologized for his accusations of treason. And that’s a sure bet that he will repeat them. But the double standard on treason says that only leftists can accuse others of treason. They are the experts.

Death of Democracy? – Part I by Denis MacEoin

“The result of 25 years of multiculturalism has not been multicultural communities. It has been mono-cultural communities… Islamic communities are segregated.” – Ed Husain, former Muslim extremist.

This approach, giving social-services, is based on the belief — oft-refuted — that Muslim extremists (both Muslims-by-birth and converts) have suffered from deprivation. It also greatly rests on the naïve assumption that rewarding them with benefits — for which genuinely deprived citizens generally need to wait in line — will turn them into grateful patriots, prepared to stand for the national anthem and hold hands with Christians and Jews.

The British government has shown itself incapable of enforcing its own laws when it comes to its Muslim citizens or new immigrants. Rather than stand up to our enemies, both external and internal, are we so afraid of being called “Islamophobes” that we will sacrifice even our own cultural, political, and religious strengths and aspirations?

For many complex reasons, Europe is in an advanced state of decline. In recent years, several important studies of this condition have appeared, advancing a variety of reasons for it: Douglas Murray’s The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam, James Kirchik’s The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues, and the Coming Dark Age, as well as Christopher Caldwell’s ground-breaking 2010 study, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West. Soeren Kern at Gatestone Institute has also been detailing the steady impact of immigration from Muslim regions on countries such as Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

It is clear that something serious is happening on the continent in which I live.

The threat is not restricted to Europe, but has a global dimension. Michael J. Abramowitz, President of Freedom House, writes in his introduction to the organization’s 2018 report:

A quarter-century ago, at the end of the Cold War, it appeared that totalitarianism had at last been vanquished and liberal democracy had won the great ideological battle of the 20th century.

Today, it is democracy that finds itself battered and weakened. For the 12th consecutive year, according to Freedom in the World, countries that suffered democratic setbacks outnumbered those that registered gains. States that a decade ago seemed like promising success stories—Turkey and Hungary, for example—are sliding into authoritarian rule.

Rod Rosenstein Should Not Be Fired, but Should He Be Recused? by Alan M. Dershowitz

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein should not be fired. He is a distinguished public servant with a bipartisan reputation for fairness. But there is a real question whether he should be recused from participating in any investigation by the special counsel of alleged obstruction of justice by the president.

Five facts are indisputable. First, Rosenstein is currently supervising Robert Mueller, who he appointed to be special counsel to investigate the Russia matter and all ancillary issues. Second, these ancillary issues include any possible obstruction of justice growing out of the Russia investigation. Third, President Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey may be an important building block in any possible obstruction case against the president. Fourth, Rosenstein played a central role in that firing, having written the memorandum justifying the president’s action. Fifth, Rosenstein would be an important — perhaps the most important — witness in any investigation of the reasons behind the firing.

The question is whether a lawyer should both supervise an investigation and be an important witness in that very investigation. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself because he might have been a witness or subject of the Russia investigation. Rosenstein might be a more central witness in any obstruction of justice investigation by the prosecutor who he is supervising.

A Year of Achievement The case for the Trump presidency By Victor Davis Hanson

As President Trump finished his first full year in office, he could look back at an impressive record of achievement of a kind rarely attained by an incoming president — much less by one who arrived in office as a private-sector billionaire without either prior political office or military service. As unintended proof of his accomplishments, Trump’s many liberal opponents have gone from initially declaring him an incompetent to warning that he has become effective — insanely so — in overturning the Obama progressive agenda.

Never Trump Republicans acknowledge that Trump has realized much of what they once only dreamed of — from tax reform and deregulation to a government about-face on climate change, the ending of the Obamacare individual mandate, and expansion of energy production.

Trump so far has not enacted the Never Trump nightmare agenda. The U.S. is not leaving NATO. It is not colluding with Vladimir Putin, but maintaining sanctions against Russia and arming Ukrainians. It is not starting a tariff war with China. The administration is not appointing either liberals or incompetents to the federal courts.

A politicized FBI, DOJ, and IRS was Obama’s legacy, not Trump’s doing, as some of the Never Trump circle predicted. Indeed, the Never Trump movement is now mostly calcified, as even some of its formerly staunch adherents concede. It was done in by the Trump record and the monotony of having to redefine a once-welcomed conservative agenda as suddenly unpalatable due to Trump’s crude fingerprints on it.

On the short side, Trump has still not started to build his much-promised border wall, to insist on free but far fairer trade with Asia and Europe, or to enact an infrastructure-rebuilding program. Nonetheless, Trump’s multitude of critics is unable to argue that his record is shoddy and must instead insist that his list of achievements is due mostly to the Republican Congress. Or they claim he is beholden to the legacy of the Obama administration. Or they insist that credit belongs with his own impressive economic and national-security cabinet-level appointments. Or that whatever good came of Trump’s first year is nullified by Trump’s persistent personal odiousness.

At the conclusion of Trump’s first year, the stock market and small-business confidence are at record highs, and consumer confidence has not been higher in 17 years. Trump’s loud campaign promises to lure back capital and industry to the heartland no longer look quixotic, given new tax and deregulatory incentives and far cheaper energy costs than in most of Europe and Japan.

The Clinton Dossier Exposing the collusion between the DOJ and the Clintons. Daniel Greenfield

There were many damning revelations in the Nunes memo released by a House Intelligence Committee vote. But the most damning of them all doesn’t raise questions about process, but about motive.

The memo told us that the FISA application would not have happened without the Steele dossier. The document known as the Steele dossier was a work product of the Clinton campaign. Not only was Christopher Steele, the former British intel agent who purportedly produced the document, working for an organization hired by the Clinton campaign, but he shared a memo with the FBI from Cody Shearer, a Clinton operative, listing some of the same allegations as the ones in his dossier. That memo has raised questions about whether Steele had been doing original research or just dressing up a smear by Shearer.

A redacted memo by Senate Judiciary Committee members Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham also states that there was a second Steele memo based on information that Steele had received from the State Department and which had been passed along by “a friend of the Clintons.” Victoria Nuland, a Clinton protégé and top State Department official who helped cover up the Benghazi attack, recently went on a media tour in which she revealed that Steele had passed along his material to State.

Shearer and Nuland are both Clinton associates. Under President Clinton, Nuland had been Strobe Talbott’s Chief of Staff. Shearer was Strobe Talbott’s brother-in-law and his connection to the Clintons.

Not only was the Steele dossier a work product of the Clinton campaign, but the State Department, which had been run by Hillary Clinton and staffed by many of her loyalists at the top, had been used to route information to Steele from the Clintons, and then route information back from Steele. Clintonworld had not only paid for the Steele dossier, but influenced its content and passed it around.