PowerLine -> Comey drafted Clinton exoneration memo before Crooked Hillary was interviewed?

Powerline John Hinderaker at HoaxAndChange

PowerLine -> Comey drafted Clinton exoneration memo before Crooked Hillary was interviewed?

Daily Digest

  • Senators say Comey drafted Clinton exoneration memo before she was interviewed
  • Trump Gives $1 Million, Still Can’t Win
  • Expecting Defeat In Supreme Court, Public Sector Unions Try to Slow Exodus of Members
  • (DHS) Magical mystery tour: Doing the work the Star Tribune won’t do (4)
  • Trump gets high marks for hurricane response
Senators say Comey drafted Clinton exoneration memo before she was interviewed

Posted: 31 Aug 2017 03:28 PM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)

Senators Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham say they have reviewed evidence that James Comey drafted a statement to announce the closure of the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server months before key witnesses, including Clinton herself, were interviewed. In a letter to current FBI director Christopher Wray, the two Senators characterize Comey’s approach as “conclusion first, fact-gathering second,” adding “that’s no way to run an investigation.”

Grassley and Graham base their concern primarily on the transcript of an interview of Comey’s then-chief of staff by the Office of Special Counsel in June of this year. In the key passage, the chief of staff says that in the early spring of 2016, Comey “emailed a couple of folks,” to ask, “knowing the direction the investigation is headed, what would be the most forward leaning thing we could do, information we could put out about it?”

In this connection, “he sent a draft around of what [the information] might look like.” The draft went through “many iterations” and was circulated to select members of senior FBI leadership.

In his testimony, the chief of staff acknowledged that, at this point, Hillary Clinton had not yet been interviewed. However, he agreed that “there was an idea of where the outcome was going to go.” A pretty clear idea, apparently.

In fact, Clinton was one of 17 witnesses the FBI would ultimately interview but had not yet gotten to when Comey drafted his statement. Others included her trusted aide Cheryl Mills and Bryan Pagliano, the IT guy who installed and maintained the secret server.

It may be going too far to say Comey had decided Clinton should not be charged before the FBI wrapped up its interviews. Conceivably, testimony from Clinton or other witnesses could have caused him to reach a different conclusion than the one he thought he was headed towards and had written up in the draft. He always had the option of tossing his drafts and writing up a different outcome.

It should also be noted that Comey’s decision was based mainly on a reading (or misreading) of the applicable law that rendered it very difficult to make out a criminal case against. It was reasonable for Comey to doubt that the upcoming interviews would produce evidence that could meet the stringent legal standard he had adopted.

Finally, let’s keep the context in mind. Clinton was set to become the Democratic nominee for president. The sooner the public knew whether she would be criminally prosecuted, the better for the country. Thus, it was reasonable for Comey to want to be in a position to communicate this information as soon as he made a final decision.

Nonetheless, it is reasonable for Sens. Grassley and Graham to be concerned that Comey jumped the gun, especially given that drafts of his statements letting Clinton off the hook apparently circulated among members of senior FBI leadership. It’s quite possible that his view of the likely outcome came to the attention of those still investigating the facts and conducting interviews. This could taint their work.

It’s one thing for Comey to form a preliminary view of the likely outcome of a matter still under investigation and even to jot that view down. It seems like quite another to circulate draft “exoneration” memos within the agency, as Comey elected to do.


Trump Gives $1 Million, Still Can’t Win

Posted: 31 Aug 2017 02:45 PM PDT

(John Hinderaker)

On Tuesday, reporters asked press secretary Sarah Sanders whether President Trump had contributed to Hurricane Harvey relief. A reporter asked again yesterday:

Q You said yesterday you would check if the President or the First Lady had made a personal donation to hurricane relief. Have you gotten anything back on that?

MS. SANDERS: No, I know they’re looking into some different options.

Today the White House announced that President and Mrs. Trump are donating $1 million to Harvey relief. But there is no satisfying the White House press corps. The Associated Press can’t report on the president’s contribution without taking a dig at him:

The White House says President Donald Trump is pledging $1 million in personal funds to Harvey storm relief efforts.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made the announcement at a briefing Thursday.

And she says he’s calling on reporters to help decide which specific organization he will give to.

So far, so good. But now the AP interjects commentary, in a weaselly passive voice:

Trump has been criticized in the past for giving far less of his income to charitable causes than many other multi-billionaires.

Did the AP ever criticize miserly contributions to charities by Barack Obama, Joe Biden, or John Kerry, or ever report on the fact that conservatives are consistently more generous, on the average than liberals with similar incomes? Of course not. Trump pledges $1 million, and for the AP it is just another opportunity to take a partisan shot at him. In other words, it’s business as usual.


Expecting Defeat In Supreme Court, Public Sector Unions Try to Slow Exodus of Members

Posted: 31 Aug 2017 10:42 AM PDT

(John Hinderaker)

A case titled Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31 is on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on a petition for a writ of certiorari. The 7th Circuit’s opinion in the case is here. It is widely expected that the Court will grant certiorari. The case raises issues substantially identical to those in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association.

In Friedrichs, decided last year, the Court split 4-4 following the death of Justice Scalia and therefore left standing a 9th Circuit decision adverse to the plaintiff, a California school teacher. In Janus, like Friedrichs, plaintiffs are asking the Court to overturn the ruling in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education and bar public employees from being forced into unions, or from being required to support unions via the fiction of “fair share” contributions. It is widely believed that Rebecca Friedrichs would have won her case had Scalia lived, and that, with Neil Gorsuch now sitting in place of Scalia, Janus and his co-plaintiff will win, Abood will be overturned, and public sector unions will be dealt a very serious blow.

Public sector unions are the main source of support for Democratic Party candidates and liberal policies. Campaign finance is much-debated, but in my opinion, there is only one real campaign finance scandal: the fact that unions are able to use the force of law take money from people unwillingly and spend it on politics, in ways of which many members disapprove. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Mark Janus, that corrupt practice will finally come to an end. It could be the most significant development in American politics in a very long time.

The public sector unions are bracing for defeat. In Minnesota, where I live, the most powerful political force, by far, is Education Minnesota, the state’s teachers’ union. Education Minnesota is beginning a campaign to trick teachers into signing up for the indefinite future so that they will not be liberated by the anticipated Janus decision. Tom Steward has the story at Center of the American Experiment’s web site:

The state’s most powerful public employee union—Education Minnesota—has quietly begun laying the groundwork to prevent the potential loss of thousands of members and millions of dollars, depending on the outcome of a landmark labor rights case widely expected to go before the U.S. Supreme Court next term.
Education Minnesota recently asked its local union representatives to get all 86,000 teachers to sign a “Membership Renewal” form that automatically renews payment of union fees every year unless the teacher remembers to opt out in writing. …

“The teachers’ union is betting that most teachers will just sign the card without reading it, or understanding what it means—and just keep paying,” said Kim Crockett, Vice President of Center of the American Experiment.

This is the language that the union wants its members to agree to. I find it almost incredible:

I agree to submit dues to Education Minnesota and hereby request and voluntarily authorize my employer to deduct from my wages an amount equal to the regular monthly dues uniformly applicable to members of Education Minnesota or monthly service fee, and further that such amount so deducted be sent to such local union for and on my behalf. This authorization shall remain in effect and shall be automatically renewed from year to year, irrespective of my membership in the union, unless I revoke it by submitting written notice to both my employer and the local union during the seven-day period that begins on September 24 and ends on September 30.

(Emphasis added.) Thus, the union seeks to deprive its members of the rights they likely will be accorded by the Supreme Court. (It is worth noting that virtually all teachers in Minnesota, and likely in some other states, are involuntary union members. It would be hard to find a Minnesota teacher who has ever voted to be represented by a union.) Can the union’s stratagem possibly work? I am retired from the law business, but the word “consideration” occurs to me. Still, I am told that labor law is often so favorable to unions that devices like this one may effectively preserve union dominance even after the Supreme Court has set public employees free.

Similar campaigns to frustrate the rights of public employees are being waged, or soon will be waged, in non-right to work states across the country. The stakes are very high. More at the link.


(DHS) Magical mystery tour: Doing the work the Star Tribune won’t do (4)

Posted: 31 Aug 2017 04:42 AM PDT

(Scott Johnson)

I set forth the chain of events that sparked my interest in the 2016 MSP International Airport tour for Somalis only in the post “(DHS) Magical mystery tour (and why I need a lawyer).” Last year I sought information from the Department of Homeland Security Office of Civil Rights (OCR) under the Freedom of Information Act. OCR provided a few heavily redacted pages and rebuffed the administrative law judge when he requested an explanation of the redactions.

Theresa Bevilacqua of Dorsey & Whitney’s Minneapolis office answered my plea for help. Theresa has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security Office of Civil Rights (OCR) on my behalf in federal court in Minneapolis.

I thought at the time the lawsuit was filed that the Star Tribune might take an interest. If asked about it, I had planned to respond that we are only doing the work the Star Tribune won’t do. However, the Star Tribune hasn’t asked.

Because the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official to whom I spoke last year directed me to OCR, I neglected to file a separate FOIA request with CBP. On Ms. Bevilacqua’s advice, I did so. In response to my FOIA request, CBP produced 29 redacted pages (posted via Scribd in part 3) with claimed FOIA exemptions stamped over the redactions. CBP also withheld 31 pages in their entirety.

I disputed the applicability of the FOIA exemptions cited by CBP in an administrative appeal of the CBP’s response to my FOIA request. Late Tuesday afternoon I received the results of my appeal. Although my disagreement with the claimed exemptions was rejected in its entirety, the appeal has resulted in a much fuller production of documents. Redactions have been undone in part and additional documents have been provided from those previously withheld.

My interest in this matter has been reportorial. I believe it to be a matter of public interest reflected in the attention that many Power Line readers have given to it. I have now posted the letter apprising me of the disposition of my appeal together with the documents produced pursuant to it below via Scribd. I invite interested readers to sort through the documents and readers with more knowledge than I to help us understand them in comments below or by email to [email protected].

As I mentioned in part 3 of this series, I attempted to follow up on CBP’s response to my FOIA request by inquiry to CBP public relations. CBP spokesman Kris Grogan advised me: “Every year CBP conducts numerous events and programs around the country in which civic, religious and community leaders, as well as interested residents, are afforded an inside look at how CBP secures the border at and between ports of entries. CBP is committed to fostering a positive relationship within the communities we live and serve.”

I asked these follow-up questions of Mr. Grogan: Can you tell me what other groups receive annual tours of the secure areas at MSP Airport such as this one? How can I get myself invited? Do you have any reason to think that invitees who don’t pass vetting (such as the disinvited imam) don’t get information from the vetted guests?

Grogan failed to respond in any manner. Something tells me that they really don’t want us to know much of anything about what’s happening here. They certainly aren’t making it easy to find out.

However, a faithful Power Line reader has alerted me to the MSP Airport tour offered this coming October 12 by CBP to members of the Minnesota State Bar Association’s Immigration Law Section. I signed up for it earlier this week. Assuming I pass the CBP’s vetting, I will report on the tour from the inside — once again, doing the work the Star Tribune won’t do.

357627568-CBP-2017-AP-077218 copy by Scott Johnson on Scribd


Trump gets high marks for hurricane response

Posted: 30 Aug 2017 07:50 PM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)

Our friend Tevi Troy is an expert on presidents responding to disasters. He wrote a book — “Shall We Wake the President? Two Centuries of Disaster Management from the Oval Office — about it.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Tevi gives President Trump high marks for his administration’s response to Hurricane Harvey. “Washington’s disaster authorities appear to be in sync with the state on roles and responsibilities; the Federal Emergency Management Agency and its leader, Brock Long, deployed resources as Harvey approached; and the government response as a whole appears well coordinated,” he says.

Tevi cites Rear Adm. W. Craig Vanderwagen, a former career emergency manager who is plugged into the Harvey response effort. In an email to Tevi, he wrote: “Early read is that Executive Branch is performing well under this President.”

Why has the response been successful so far? Tevi suggests two reasons.

The first is personal. The president “has surrounded himself with leaders experienced in this area,” most notably Gen. John Kelly who served as Secretary of Homeland Security before becoming Trump’s chief of staff.

Trump has been slow to fill important positions in various government departments and agencies. However, this has not been the case at DHS. Moreover, Long, Trump’s selection to head FEMA, is an experienced hand in emergency management.

Preparation has been the other key to success. According to Tevi:

Mr. Long began preparing for the next disaster the day he was sworn in, when he presided over a cabinet-wide tabletop exercise on emergency management. Frank Cilluffo, a homeland security aide in the Bush administration, says this showed the White House was taking disaster readiness seriously. “Training is everything here,” he told me. “You want to make mistakes on the practice field, not in the actual event.”

Then in early August, weeks before Harvey showed up on the radar, Mr. Long hosted the president and other cabinet officials at FEMA for a briefing on the coming hurricane season.

As noted, when Harvey approached, Long began deploying resources and did so wisely.

Tevi also applauds the Trump’s communications efforts. He finds that the president’s tweets about the storm “have been informative and responsible, with a tone appropriate to the human tragedy,” but he advises Trump to stop tweeting about non-essential matters — e.g., the Arpaio pardon — until the storm passes.

Tevi commends Trump for leaving the non-Twitter communications to the government officials directly involved in the response. By doing so, he promotes message discipline and ensures that the message is coming from people with standing to appeal to Americans across the partisan divide.

You can tell Trump is handling the Hurricane Harvey emergency well. The best the anti-Trump media has been able to come up with by way of criticism is to attack his wife for wearing high heels when she boarded the airplane for Texas.


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