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ANALYSIS

Here’s How Republicans Accidentally Paved the Way for Mueller’s Findings to Be Released — and Even Dumped Online

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Republicans set the stage — in 2016 — for the eventual release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s evidence.

When the FBI decided during the election campaign not to charge Hillary Clinton over her email handling, then-Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) ordered investigators to turn over thousands of documents they had turned up during the probe, wrote watchdog lawyer Molly Claflin for The Daily Beast.

“It’s ‘trust, but verify’ is how it works,” Chaffetz told Claflin. “You don’t get to decide what I get to see. I get to see it all.”

At the time, Chaffetz was chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Claflin was counsel to senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

The FBI did turn over the Clinton investigation findings, including classified records and emails found on her private server, and the FBI also turned over classified surveillance warrants related to the Trump-Russia probe last year — when congressional Republicans demanded them.

“Rather than trust law enforcement agencies to make apolitical investigative decisions, Republicans determined that Congress’ oversight role includes checking the law enforcement agencies’ work,” Claflin said. “Once the FBI agreed, and released the underlying evidence considered in its law enforcement investigation to the legislative branch, the FBI changed the rules for its dealings with Congress.”

“That genie will not go back in the bottle,” she added.

Claflin, who now serves as chief oversight counsel for the American Oversight government watchdog organization, said the FBI publicly posted online summaries of all interviews conducted in the Clinton email probe, so there’s no reason the same cannot be done in its investigation of President Donald Trump’s campaign ties to Russia.

“Anything less will send the signal that the FBI and the Justice Department will respond to document requests based on the party that makes them,” she said, “rather than based on any theory of consistency or serving the public interest.”

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ANALYSIS

Right Wing Pundit’s Claim Conservative SCOTUS Justice Alito Is Also Considering Retiring Sets Off Court Watchers on Both Sides

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Could the two most-conservative Supreme Court justices retire before the November election? Rumors are swirling. Here’s why.

Buried within Washington Post national political reporter Robert Costa’s analysis Wednesday that Trump supporters are hoping “to use conservative anger at Justice Roberts” as an “energizing moment” for the President’s troubled campaign, is the news that far right Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is “privately seen by Trump’s aides as the most likely to retire this year.”

The potential retirement of Justice Thomas, who by most measures is the most conservative jurist on the nation’s top court, set off a firestorm on social media among some court-watching conservatives and liberals – even though Costa noted that “Thomas has not given any indication” he is retiring.

Costa’s reporting was, he says, seen by far right wing pundit Hugh Hewitt, who told his “radio audience this morning that he hears from several leading conservatives that Justice Alito, 70, is considering retirement, and adds that he also hears the Alito family is ready to leave Washington, D.C.”

Hewitt, in his usual self-aggrandizing way, told his listeners, “I’m hardly a ref, but I got a column in the Washington Post, and so they start working me about, ‘You know this person would be great if Alito quit.'”

Whether or not Alito is considering retirement, the mere prospect of not just one but possibly two Supreme Court seats opening before the election is giving conservatives hope, and liberals terror.

Not even trying hard to hide their excitement, some on the religious right are especially ecstatic President Donald Trump might get to place one or two more radical jurists on the Supreme Court.

An attorney for the far Christian-right law and anti-LGBTQ advocacy firm First Liberty Institute responded with thinly-veiled glee, couching his happiness as concern for Justice Alito’s family.

The Justice Correspondent for The Nation, Elie Mystal, responded to a legal correspondent for New York’s local Fox station, implying Alito might be more likely to retire than Thomas.

Vox Senior Correspondent Ian Millhiser, who literally wrote the book on the Supreme Court, also puts more weight in Alito retiring:

Of course, on the left, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is also of retirement age and has (successfully) faced health issues.

Whoever is President at 12:01 PM ET on January 20, 2020, may have an opportunity to move the court fully one way or the other.

 

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ANALYSIS

Experts Are Not Buying Trump’s Claim for Why He Called Off Strike on Iran in Mid-Air

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“These are not strategically sophisticated people”

Many agree President Donald Trump made the right call when he called off the strike on Iran, in retaliation for their downing of a $130 million unarmed, unmanned U.S. Military surveillance drone.

But he is the one who ordered the strike in the first place, so there’s no “credit” there.

Friday morning the President took to Twitter to defend his actions, saying he stopped the assault 10 minutes before the actual strike was about to happen.

Why?

“I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General.”

(The drone was actually downed early Thursday morning, not Monday.)

Many are asking, how was this not a part of the decision-making process before he gave the order to strike?

Others just point-blank don’t believe it wasn’t.

One, a CNN political analyst, says there’s a lot of speculation it was Fox News’ Tucker Carlson’s comments that led Trump to back off – Carlson advised against the strike.

Here’s what some others are saying.

Contributor to The Nation:

CNN national security analyst:

NY Times White House correspondent who co-authored the story about Trump calling off the strike in mid-air:

Former Special Counsel at the Dept. of Defense:

CNN Chief National Security Correspondent:

Former Postdoctoral Research Fellow at The Fletcher School at Tufts University and at the University of Pennsylvania, focused on international security and foreign policy, and emerging technologies and urban warfare:

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‘PROJECTION OF INCOMPETENCE’: WHITE HOUSE OUT OF CONTROL, COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF NOT IN CHARGE – EXPERTS SPEAK OUT

IN A 12 HOUR SPAN TRUMP THREATENED IRAN, BACKTRACKED, ORDERED A STRIKE OVER DOWNED DRONE, CALLED IT OFF IN MID-AIR

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ANALYSIS

‘Projection of Incompetence’: White House Out of Control, Commander-in-Chief Not in Charge – Experts Speak Out

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Americans and much of the world either went to bed Thursday night or woke up Friday morning to the news that President Donald Trump ordered a strike against Iran over a downed drone, then called it off in progress, mid-air.

Calling off the strike was the fourth critical action he took in the span of less than 12 hours. Ordering the strike was the third action. Saying a rogue Iranian military official probably was to blame was the second, and threatening Iran, possibly with military action was the first.

That was Thursday.

By late Thursday night The New York Times had broken the news of the strike that wasn’t.

But additional reporting reveals many disturbing facts, leading to one unmistakeable conclusion: this is a White House out of control, with a Commander-in-Chief not in charge.

Take a look, for example, at this disturbing report from CNN’s Alexander Marquardt, a Senior National Correspondent focusing on National Security. He makes clear Trump’s not the one calling the shots, and is only making decisions to fend off internal bickering and power plays in his administration.

A Fellow at the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center notes that the CIA is not supposed to be in the business of making policy decisions.

A professor at the U.S. Naval War College who is an expert on Russia, nuclear weapons, and national security affairs sums up what’s going on:

Then there’s this warning from former Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes:

Former Republican U.S. Congressman David Jolly delivers a breathtaking blow:

Here’s a professor of international relations, political scientist, and journalist:

And if you think this episode is over, Newsweek reports it very well may not be.

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