Posted on

Newt Gingrich: Kamala Harris is an anti-Catholic bigot

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s choice as his vice presidential running mate — Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.— is the most openly anti-Catholic bigot to be on a national ticket in modern times.

Harris’ record is perfectly clear. She is openly anti-Catholic in confirming federal judges, wanting to prosecute the Little Sisters of the Poor, closing Catholic Hospitals that don’t join her union allies, and favoring taxpayer-paid abortions up until birth (in fact, she has twice voted against bills that would ensure that babies who lived through abortion procedures get medical care).

In many ways, Harris’ bigotry against Catholics is a perfect example of the modern radical left’s ideology of “intolerant tolerance” that I outline in my latest bestselling book, “Trump and the American Future.”

CATHOLIC LEADER ACCUSES KAMALA HARRIS OF BEING ‘RINGLEADER OF ANTI-CATHOLIC BULLYING’ IN DEMOCRATIC PARTY

The most explicit example of Harris’ anti-Catholic bigotry was her treatment of now-U.S. District Judge Brian Buescher during his Senate confirmation hearing.

Specifically, Harris questioned Buescher’s membership in the Knights of Columbus — a faith-based charitable organization that feeds the poor, assists in disaster relief around the globe, provides scholarships for struggling students, helps refugees fleeing violence and persecution, and carries out a host of other philanthropic efforts.

More from Opinion

Because the organization is Catholic, its leadership has opposed abortion and gay marriage on religious grounds. Harris needled Buescher on these two issues and insinuated that his membership in the organization (and ultimately his Catholic faith) should bar him from the bench.

Harris was eerily mirroring the bigoted questioning by Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., of now-7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett during her confirmation hearing in 2017.

As Alexandra DeSanctis wrote for the National Review: “Buescher eventually was confirmed … but the fact remains that Harris was guilty of reprehensible anti-Catholic bigotry, and there’s no reason to believe her views have changed.”

At the time, The Wall Street Journal raised a key question: “Ms. Harris’s embrace of religious intolerance is especially significant because in two years she could be the next U.S. President. What does it say about today’s Democrats that no one in the party of Al Smith and JFK sees fit to rebuke her?”

Harris is also part of a larger trend of anti-Catholic bigotry raging across the country.

Harris’ unconstitutional religious test for judicial service is just one example. Her anti-Catholic bigotry extended to vigorous support for prosecuting the Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of nuns that provides food and shelter to poor senior citizens across the world. Biden and Harris have said they would seek to bring the nuns back to court to force them to cover the cost of insuring contraceptives and abortion drugs to people working in their health care facilities.

The U.S. Supreme Court has already affirmed the Little Sisters’ First Amendment rights, yet the Biden-Harris team wants to relitigate the case.

Furthermore, as attorney general of California, Harris used her office’s power to close a number of Catholic hospitals on behalf of her political ally, the Service Employee International Union.

Six Catholic Daughters of Charity-run hospitals in California were driven to insolvency by onerous union contracts and sparse Medicaid payments. A larger health care system had bid to buy the hospitals and assume its liabilities. However, the SEIU opposed the deal because it wanted an agreement to be able to organize workers in every one of the buyer’s 15 other hospitals as part of the sale of the six Catholic hospitals.

In California, the attorney general has the power to OK or nix acquisitions of nonprofit hospitals. Attorney General Harris was happy to put six hospitals out of business for her union allies.

Harris added a multitude of unprecedented staffing requirements and specific medical service requirements to the sale. Naturally, her malicious meddling killed the sale, leaving thousands of employees out of work and potentially millions of residents without nearby hospitals.

As The Wall Street Journal editorial board warned: “Hospital workers, patients and taxpayers paid a fearsome price for Ms. Harris’s intervention on behalf of the SEIU. As troubling was Ms. Harris’s use of her authority to help a political supporter and punish a business she didn’t like. She was in the vanguard of the new progressive state AGs who use prosecutorial power against opponents. Watch for this in the Harris Administration.”

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR OUR OPINION NEWSLETTER

Harris is also part of a larger trend of anti-Catholic bigotry raging across the country. This disturbing trend prompted Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., this week to urge Attorney General William Barr to ramp up prosecution efforts against vandalism and other attacks.

As the Catholic News Agency reported: “In recent weeks, several Catholic churches have faced attacks and acts [of] desecration. Last month, church in Ocala, Florida was set aflame while parishioners inside prepared for morning Mass. A California mission founded by St. Junipero Serra was also burned in a fire and is being investigated as an arson case, while several statues of Serra have also been pulled down. A statue of the Virgin Mary was beheaded at a parish in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In Boston, a statue of Mary was set on fire, and in Brooklyn, a statue was tagged with the word ‘IDOL’ in black spray paint.”

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

The consequences of Harris’ openly anti-Catholic bias will be felt as other anti-Catholics draw encouragement from her bigotry to increase the activism and intensity of their assaults on Catholic institutions and Catholic personalities. If left unchecked, it will doubtlessly spread to attacks on other religious people and organizations that don’t hold to radical Democratic ideology.

So, this bigot is the person Biden thinks should be next in line to be president. This says a lot about the strength of his own Catholic background under the pressure of the atheist and anti-religious left.

To read, hear, and watch more of Newt Gingrich’s commentary, visit Gingrich360.com.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE FROM NEWT GINGRICH

Posted on

Mueller report: FBI lawyer ‘altered email’ to wiretap Trump aide

Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

President Trump has consistently dismissed the Russia allegations as a “witch hunt”

An ex-FBI lawyer is expected to admit falsifying a document that was used as part of the inquiry into alleged Russian interference with the 2016 US presidential election.

Kevin Clinesmith’s plea deal comes as prosecutors investigate the origins of the investigation by Robert Mueller.

His inquiry found no criminal conspiracy between Moscow and the Trump campaign, though it did not clear the president of obstructing justice.

Mr Trump says it was a “witch hunt”.

What did the ex-FBI lawyer do?

Mr Clinesmith is due to accept responsibility for altering an email used to obtain permission to wiretap a Trump campaign aide.

The email from another FBI official was changed to suggest that the aide, Carter Page, had never been a CIA “source” – whereas Mr Page was in fact a CIA informant.

The document was cited in support of the contention that there was “probable cause” to suspect Mr Page was “a knowing agent” of Russia.

The charges against Mr Clinesmith – who during his time at the FBI had been critical of Mr Trump – stem from a US justice department investigation into the origins of the Mueller inquiry.

Mr Trump hailed the reported guilty plea.

“The fact is they spied on my campaign and they got caught and you’ll be hearing more,” the Republican president said on Friday.

Why is the Mueller report being investigated?

The review of the Mueller investigation which began last year is being overseen by US Attorney General William Barr and run by US federal prosecutor John Durham.

He was tasked with determining whether the collection of intelligence on the Trump campaign in 2016 was lawful.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionThe Mueller report – in 60 seconds

Critics have accused Mr Barr of launching a review more in the interests of the president than the interests of justice.

Mr Trump has previously accused the FBI investigators who first launched the probe into his election campaign of treason.

Was there a ‘deep state’ conspiracy against Trump?

Mr Trump has cited the surveillance of his aide as part of a supposed deep state plot against him that he says was orchestrated by President Barack Obama.

A justice department inspector general report in December 2019 did find “serious performance failures” in the FBI counterintelligence inquiry, but no evidence of political bias.

The report found “17 significant errors or omissions” in the FBI applications to spy on Mr Page.

However, the watchdog said there was “no documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced” the opening of the counterintelligence investigation.

What was the Mueller report?

The 448-page report did not conclude that there was a criminal conspiracy between Moscow and the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 US presidential election.

However, it did detail 10 instances where Mr Trump possibly attempted to impede the investigation.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionDid the president refuse to be interviewed? Yes, says Mueller.

The report concluded that Russia had interfered in the election “in sweeping and systematic fashion”.

That interference took the form of an extensive social media campaign and the hacking of Democratic Party servers by Russian military intelligence, the report said.

Timeline of key events in Mueller inquiry

Posted on

Kevin Clinesmith: Former FBI Lawyer to Plead Guilty in Durham Probe

Attorney General William Barr testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, May 1, 2019. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

We can end the speculation. Yesterday, Attorney General Bill Barr indicated in an interview that, on Friday, there would be an announcement, significant but not earth-shattering in nature, about the Durham investigation into Trump–Russia probe that was launched by the Obama administration during the 2016 campaign. Now, the Associated Press is reporting that former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith will plead guilty today to a felony false-statement charge.

The announcement of the plea was made by Clinesmith’s defense lawyer. Clinesmith will plead guilty on Friday in federal district court in Washington, D.C.

Clinesmith altered a key document that was germane to the FBI’s surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Page was subjected to eavesdropping, on the authority of four 90-day warrants that the FBI obtained by filing submissions, under oath, to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). During the course of the investigation, which the FBI codenamed “Crossfire Hurricane,” the CIA informed the bureau that Page had been a CIA informant. This was highly relevant, since the FBI and the Justice Department were portraying Page to the FISC as a clandestine agent of Russia, not a government source who was providing information about Russia to a U.S. intelligence agency.

Prior to the fourth and final warrant application, an FBI agent who was involved in submitting the application to the FISC asked for confirmation that the bureau had checked with other intelligence agencies to ensure that Page was not working for any government agencies. Clinesmith found an email informing the FBI that Page was working for the CIA. He altered it to say that he was “not a source” for the agency. As a result, this misrepresentation was made to the FISC, which granted the surveillance warrant.

Clinesmith’s misconduct was spelled out in Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz’s report last year on investigative irregularities in the Trump–Russia probe.

Durham’s investigation is continuing.

The guilty plea is consistent with the approach to the investigation on which Barr has insisted, which I further describe in an essay in the current edition of National Review magazine. The attorney general maintains that there will be no esoteric charges based on extravagant constructions of criminal law in order to make cases on officials connected to the Trump-Russia probe. Rather, only straightforward, “meat-and-potatoes” charges supported by proof beyond a reasonable doubt will be filed. The objective is to achieve accountability for clear law-breakers while keeping the Justice Department, to the extent possible, insulated from politics.

Clinesmith’s crime is about as straightforward as it gets. To the contrary, Barr has thus made it known that neither President Obama nor Vice President Biden is a subject of Durham’s investigation, notwithstanding that there is evidence the Obama White House was complicit in the investigation of the Trump campaign and the withholding of information about the investigation from the then-incoming Trump administration.

To the extent the investigation uncovers government abuses of power that are not clear violations of criminal law, Barr’s public comments and testimony since being sworn in as attorney general in early 2019 indicate that the Justice Department will produce a narrative report. This is warranted, particularly when misconduct has been engaged in by officials of the Justice Department and its component agencies (which include the FBI).

Posted on

AG Barr: Expect “a development” today with Durham’s Investigation

This is a developing story…

Attorney General William Barr said in an interview with Sean Hannity on Thursday that the public should expect some development today with respect to U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation.

Barr said that the development would not be “earth-shattering,” but would be “an indication that things are moving along at the proper pace as dictated by the facts in this investigation.”

“There are two different things going on, Sean,” Barr said. “I said the American people need to know what actually happened, we need to get the story of what happened in 2016 and ’17 out. That will be done.

Posted on

Seattle councilwoman rips departing police chief, calls Trump, Barr support ‘revealing’

In a long statement and series of Twitter messages Thursday night, a Seattle councilwoman tore into the city’s soon-to-depart police Chief Carmen Best, claiming it was “no accident” that “right-wing” figures such as President Trump and Attorney General William Barr were sorry that Best planned to step down.

“They recognize the service [Best] has provided the capitalist class in pushing back against the Black Lives Matter movement at the height of its power,” socialist Councilwoman Kshama Sawant wrote, according to Seattle’s KIRO-TV.

Best, who has been Seattle’s police chief since August 2018, revealed in an email Monday that she planned to retire, effective Sept. 2. Her announcement came after the Seattle City Council voted to slash the police department budget, including Best’s own salary.

SEATTLE MAYOR APPEALS RECALL DECISION THAT COULD SEE HER REMOVED FROM OFFICE

“I hate to see her go,” Sawant quoted Trump as saying about Best. The president made the remark at a news briefing Tuesday, according to a White House transcript.

“In the face of mob violence, she drew the line in the sand,” Sawant quoted Barr as saying about the departing chief. Barr also made the comment Tuesday, according to the Justice Department website.

The council’s Monday action came as backers of the “Defund the police” movement across the U.S. seek to reduce or even eliminate funding for the nation’s police departments, pointing to what they say is a history of police mistreatment of African-Americans and other minority groups.

In her statement Thursday, Sawant claimed the council’s cut of $3 million from the city’s police budget – expected to result in the loss of 100 officers through layoffs and attrition – represented a 2% reduction but was a far cry from the 50% slash that some Democrats on the council had promised protesters weeks earlier.

But that 2% cut “was too much for Best,” Sawant wrote.

“Best also cried foul at the City Council curbing bloated police executive pay to allow the funds to instead be used for Black and Brown community needs, saying the 7 percent cut to her over quarter-of-a-million-dollar ($294,000) salary, ‘felt vindictive and punitive,’” Sawant wrote.

Before the proposed cut, Best’s salary was 45% above the national average for police chiefs while nine of the city’s top police executives were paid higher salaries than all 50 U.S. governors, Sawant claimed, according to KIRO.

‘Earthquake in American politics’

The councilwoman claimed that Best and other police chiefs around the U.S. have stepped down in recent weeks because the Black Lives Matter movement “has been nothing short of an earthquake in American politics, exposing the endemic racism and police violence of U.S. capitalism and putting mayors, police chiefs and political establishments across the country on the defensive.”

Sawant, 46, is a native of India and former software engineer who has served on Seattle’s city council since 2014, representing the Socialist Alternative party.

In early July, Sawant called for the overthrow of capitalism, including the seizure of Fortune 500 companies.

Kshama Sawant speaks in Seattle, Nov. 4, 2013. (Associated Press)

On Tuesday, Best described the council’s budget cut as a betrayal of the city’s police department, which had been working to emerge from federal oversight after the U.S. Justice Department in 2012 detected a pattern of unconstitutional use of force.

“The council gave us $1.6 million to make sure we hire the best and the brightest and the most diverse and brought them on,” Best said Tuesday. “And less than a year later, we’re going to just turn them all away. It feels very duplicitous. I have my convictions. I cannot do that.”

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Seattle has been among the top cities for frequent protests and rioting since the May 25 death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.

In late July, Best lashed out against rioters after an explosive device left an eight-inch hole in a wall of a city police precinct building.

“What we saw today was not peaceful,” Best said at the time, according to the Seattle Times. “The rioters had no regard for the public’s safety, for officers’ safety or for the businesses and property that they destroyed.”

Posted on

Suspected leader of MS-13 in the U.S. is arrested by FBI

On May 20, in the border district of San Ysidro, Mexican authorities quietly turned over a 49-year-old member of MS-13 to the FBI.

The handoff of Nelson Alexander Flores came with none of the ceremony that typically accompanies the capture of MS-13 gang members. There was no photo-op, no press conference, nothing like the recent spectacle in the Oval Office, when President Trump and his attorney general announced they would seek the death penalty against an MS-13 member accused of killing two teenage girls with baseball bats and machetes and charge another with terrorism.

In driving a hard line against illegal immigration and crime in the country’s big cities, Trump has sought to cast MS-13 as his administration’s foil, a direct threat to the American public that has seeped out of Los Angeles and El Salvador and into the nation’s heartland. MS-13 is “an evil group of people,” Trump said in the Oval Office, “sick” and “deranged.” Atty. Gen. William Barr, standing alongside him, likened the gang to “a death cult.”

Yet Flores, known by the nickname Mula, has never been accused in any of the macabre slayings for which MS-13 has become known. Instead, law enforcement officials said in interviews, he filled a quieter, more essential role in the organization supplying MS-13 cells with narcotics, smuggling juvenile MS-13 recruits into the United States and sending money back to the gang’s leadership in El Salvador. The officials requested anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss investigations into Flores and his associates.

Crucially, the officials said, Flores serves as a liaison with the Mexican Mafia, the crime syndicate that acts as an arbiter in the Southern California underworld that MS-13 occupies. For these reasons, he is perhaps the gang’s most influential member outside of its leadership in El Salvador, the officials said.

Flores is under indictment in Ohio, charged with extortion and money laundering. He has yet to enter a plea. A lawyer who represented Flores during an initial appearance in San Diego federal court didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The Times traced Flores’ story, rising from an obscure MS-13 cell in Nevada to being groomed in prison by the Mexican Mafia to establishing and operating a base of operations in Tijuana, through a review of court records and interviews with law enforcement authorities.

Born in El Salvador, Flores was a child when the country descended into civil war. Two of his sisters were killed in terrorist attacks, and when Flores was 15, marauding fighters robbed the family’s home and shot his mother in the stomach, his attorney wrote in a sentencing memo.

He left El Salvador at 16 to live with his brother in Reno, where he joined a gang, his lawyer acknowledged in the memo. While she didn’t identify the gang by name, authorities said it was MS-13.

Founded in the 1980s in the dense, impoverished districts just west of downtown Los Angeles, MS-13 metastasized when the U.S. government deported much of its membership to El Salvador in the 1990s. The gang is now entrenched in the small Central American country, leeching its economy through extortion and driving up its homicide rate, which ranks among the highest in the world.

In 2000, Flores himself was deported after serving a prison term in Nevada for a felony firearms conviction. He reentered the United States illegally and made his way to Columbus, Ohio, his attorney wrote in court papers.

Investigators in Columbus first noticed MS-13’s presence in the mid-2000s, an FBI agent wrote in support of a search warrant. Flores was a leader in an MS-13 clique in Columbus, a law enforcement official said. He and other alleged MS-13 figures shook down victims in Columbus, then wired “some, if not all” of the money to members and associates in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, according to an indictment and an FBI agent’s affidavit.

MS-13 leaders in Central America used the funds to buy weapons and support the families of gang members who had died or been incarcerated, the agent, Thomas J. Gill, wrote.

By appearances, however, Flores seemed a hard-working man with a new wife and a child on the way, according to a sentencing memo and letters submitted to a judge.

He juggled three legitimate jobs in Columbus, working for a painting company, a metalworking plant and a flooring contractor, who described Flores in a letter to the court as a “well-mannered, respectful and punctual employee.” Employed at the metalworking plant under the name David Aguilar and a fake Social Security number, he made $12 an hour and sent money to his ailing mother in El Salvador, according to his sentencing memo and payroll documents filed in court.

His double life fell apart in 2004, when he got in a minor traffic accident and told the Columbus police his name was Toni Pachecho, a federal agent wrote in an affidavit. The police learned his real name and found there was a warrant issued for his arrest, the affidavit said. He was turned over to immigration authorities, charged in federal court with illegally reentering the country and sent to prison for nearly six years.

Far from serving as a deterrent, those years in the federal Bureau of Prisons opened new vistas of criminal opportunity for Flores, who to this point was essentially a midlevel manager for a backwater chapter of MS-13, law enforcement officials said.

While incarcerated in Kentucky, Flores met a particularly influential member of the Mexican Mafia — Jose Landa-Rodriguez, a native of Michoacan and chieftain of the South Los street gang, one official said. Landa-Rodriguez, known as Fox Tapia, groomed Flores to work with the Mexican Mafia, the official said.

MS-13, like nearly every Latino street gang that operates in Southern California, answers to the Mexican Mafia. A syndicate of about 140 men, most of them incarcerated, the Mexican Mafia exacts “taxes” — its term for extortionate cuts of drug sales and other street-level crimes — from the gangs beneath its umbrella, including MS-13. In exchange, the Mexican Mafia offers protection in the jails, prisons and streets it controls.

After finishing his prison term, Flores was deported. By no later than 2014, he had made his way north to Tijuana, where he began working with Robert “Peanut Butter” Ruiz, a Mexican Mafia member and ally of Landa-Rodriguez, law enforcement officials said.

Investigators in L.A. caught a glimpse of Flores’ operation while probing a series of killings between 2013 and 2015. Their focus had narrowed on the Park View clique of MS-13, and they obtained court approval in 2015 to monitor the clique’s phone calls, court records show.

Investigators listened to conference calls between Park View members, MS-13 leaders in Salvadoran prisons and representatives of MS-13 chapters nationwide, including in Houston, Virginia, Fayetteville, Ark., and Mendota in California’s Central Valley, a law enforcement official said.

Authorities learned that Flores was smuggling juvenile MS-13 recruits and narcotics into the United States, three officials said. Flores was also overheard instructing the Park View clique to deliver rifles to Tijuana, which he intended to ship south to MS-13 fighters battling Salvadoran security forces, one of the officials said. The plan never materialized, as far as investigators could tell.

Ten reputed Park View members and associates were swept up in 2015 and charged with murder, attempted murder and extortion. Their cases, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, remain open. Flores wasn’t charged in the investigation.

It is unclear when Flores was apprehended in Mexico, but he did not enter U.S. custody until May. He made an initial appearance in federal court in San Diego before his case was transferred to Columbus. He faces an indictment returned there in 2017, while he was living in Tijuana, charging him with extortion and money laundering.

Posted on

Nervous Mike Pence Stammers When Asked About Debating Kamala Harris

Vice President Mike Pence tried to sound confident about debating Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), but his answer showed clear nervousness.

Pence said on Fox News, “I just have to tell ‘ya. You know I, I like the match-up. You know, it’s on, Sean. I can’t wait to get back out there. I’ll be in Iowa tomorrow.”

Video of Pence on Hannity:

Pence did not sound confident at all. MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace reported that team Trump is afraid of Harris, and they think that she will chew up and spit out Mike Pence in a debate. Pence is not a good debater, and the 2020 vice presidential debate will be a different world in comparison with debating Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and his dad jokes in 2016.

Trump and Pence know that they are in big trouble, and they seem to have zero idea what to do about it. Pence is going to be debating someone who took apart both a Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, and Attorney General William Barr.

Vice President Pence also sounded like a guy who wasn’t one hundred percent sure that he isn’t about to be replaced on the ticket.

Kamala Harris is coming, and “Mayo” Mike Pence has no chance of stopping her.

For more discussion about this story join our Rachel Maddow and MSNBC group.

Follow Jason Easley on Facebook

Posted on

Why Mike Pence Should Be Worried About Debating Kamala Harris

The story of the political career of Kamala Harris can be told, in part, by videotape. Ms. Harris has risen to public attention — and more important, risen to the attention of Joseph R. Biden Jr., who picked her as his running mate on Tuesday — because of a series of often dramatic moments during congressional hearings, town halls and primary debates. Here are five of them, with our commentary.

Adam: This was in many ways the pivotal moment of Ms. Harris’s presidential campaign — “that little girl was me” — and it shows why Mike Pence is probably worried about facing her in a vice-presidential debate. She is incredibly sharp and piercing. Her challenge to Joe Biden over his opposition to busing during the June 27, 2019, primary debate shows her training as a prosecutor. It’s one of those attacks that you don’t see coming until it’s too late (though I’m not sure there was much Mr. Biden could have done in response. He was left, as you probably recall, struggling). What I found striking about this is that even though we can assume it was a prepared attack, it didn’t feel canned, as so many debate lines do. (Go and Google “Klobuchar-Debate-Jokes.”)

Shane: It didn’t, and that has been one of Ms. Harris’s great strengths on the debate stage, in Congress and even while giving speeches: sounding authentic and of the moment, even when her remarks are deeply prepared. Prosecutors, after all, carefully craft and memorize their arguments. The corollary is that she is often less forceful and formidable off-the-cuff.

Adam: You make a good point about her training in Congress. You could see that. She doesn’t lapse into mind-numbing Congress-speak, right? (Please say yes.)

Shane: Yes — I mean, people forget, with the speed of news cycles these days, but she hasn’t been in D.C. that long! Her opening line in the debate sequence was just devastating. One of the more cutting “but”s in the English language is the one that comes after “I do not believe you are a racist.”

Adam: And the split-screen didn’t help; everyone was watching Mr. Biden. But I have a question for you: If it showed her as such a good debater, why did her campaign collapse? Did she come across as insincere or as the calculating politician to regular people who don’t make a profession out of watching debates?

Shane: Oh, go for the simple questions, Adam.

Adam: Hey, that’s my reward for going first! Take it up with the editors.

Shane: The shortest version is that for all of the peaks she generated — her big announcement rally, the debate moment — Ms. Harris did not find a sustainable lane in a primary where Mr. Biden occupied the political center and Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren locked down the left. Oh, her campaign was troubled by intense infighting and she ran out of cash. Also: She dropped out early, when she could have limped along longer. Her vice-presidential selection shows why: Exiting gracefully gave her a bump that stumbling out of Iowa in fourth place would not have.

Adam: If Ms. Harris’s challenge to Mr. Biden on school busing was a high point in her campaign, could these moments from 2019, about Ms. Harris’s view on health care policy, have been a low point?

Shane: Hmm, I don’t think these were exactly a low point. But I do think they revealed one of her candidacy’s greatest shortcomings: It wasn’t clear where she stood on health care, one of the most fundamental issues of the cycle. And interestingly, her campaign had to perform some cleanup after both of these moments — downplaying her suggestion that you could just get rid of private insurance in January and then, in June, saying she had misheard the question at the debate.

Adam: I suspect we are going to see the raise-your-hand clip quite a bit over the next three months. As you noted, she said that she misheard the question, and thought she was being asked if she would give up her private insurance. I’m not sure that anyone else on the stage heard it that way, but granting that: Her initial tentativeness has a “no, you go first” feeling to it, which could play into criticisms of her that she is cautious and holds her finger in the wind. And it sure plays into the effort by the Trump camp to paint her as liberal.

Shane: Well, here’s the irony: I think these exchanges, and the fact that she later backtracked from them, show how she was not, in fact, stridently liberal on this issue. Still, if Democrats have already rewatched the Biden debate moment and dreamed about her filleting Mr. Pence, the Trump campaign has to be just as happy with the Tapper clip. It is already using it as a cudgel to hammer their message of Ms. Harris as a radical.

Adam: Exactly. Next!

Shane: This was another instance of Ms. Harris flashing her prosecutorial experience: She stumped Attorney General William Barr, who was testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee in May 2019, from the very first question. It was very specifically worded to be very broad: “Has the president or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone?” In other words, had anyone ever suggested an investigation into anyone. Mr. Barr sputtered and stalled. “It seems you’d remember something like that,” she followed with the dagger.

Adam: This was better than Perry Mason. I mean the new one.

Shane: So why is she the vice-presidential nominee instead of the presidential one? I don’t think there is an equivalent clip of Joe Biden in 2019.

Adam: Or in any year. That goes back to our earlier discussions. She has had good moments — and not so good moments — as a candidate. When she’s in her comfort zone, the prosecutor confronting a tough witness, she is very powerful. When she is on a debate stage talking about health care or an issue that has confounded the party, perhaps not so much (and in that, she’s like many first-time presidential candidates). But whatever your politics, this exchange — “Yes or no please, sir” — is pretty arresting television.

Shane: This wasn’t a one-time thing with a sitting attorney general. Back at the start of the Trump administration, she questioned Jeff Sessions so forcefully he interrupted to say, “It makes me nervous.”

Adam: I bet even President Trump was applauding that Harris-Sessions exchange.

Shane: Representative Tulsi Gabbard had made it clear ahead of this July 2019 debate that she planned to attack Ms. Harris, but the laundry list of accusations she unloaded was still jarring — everything from prison labor to marijuana to the death penalty. And Ms. Harris basically didn’t respond to the specifics. What impact did that have?

Adam: Ms. Gabbard raised many of the criminal justice issues that have given many on the left wing of the party pause about the senator from California. Her answers there seemed — well, not quite ready for prime time. Presumably her answers would have gotten sharper if she had stayed in the race. But considering the reaction to her selection so far, it doesn’t seem to have hurt her. I’m guessing that this is not a line of attack that the former governor of Indiana is going to be inclined to use at the vice-presidential debate.

Shane: You never know! The Trump campaign has tried to attack Mr. Biden both for locking up people of color with the 1994 crime bill, and supporting the defunding of police now (which Mr. Biden does not).

Adam: Well, this one is a little-bit of a head-scratcher. For almost seven minutes — including the time when they stopped the clock because of protests in the audience and points of order from panel members — Ms. Harris kept pushing Brett Kavanaugh, appearing at his U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings in September 2018, about whether he had ever spoken to anyone at the law firm founded by President Trump’s personal lawyer about the Robert Mueller case. “Be sure about your answer sir,” she said, as Mr. Kavanaugh looked perplexed. “I’m asking you a very direct question. Yes or no.”

Shane: It was very dramatic.

Adam: Though ultimately unresolved. Mr. Kavanaugh never did answer the question, saying he did not know everyone at the law firm so he could not say. From watching this, it sure seemed as if Ms. Harris had something in mind. (You know that adage about attorneys, right: Never ask a witness a question that you don’t know the answer to.) But if she had someone in mind, she never mentioned the name during the hearing. Did it ever come out? Was there a there there?

Shane: The short version is no. Mr. Kavanaugh later would say he didn’t speak to anyone at the firm. Ms. Harris would tell reporters, “I have good reason to believe there was a conversation.”

The loudest grumbles about her Kavanaugh grilling came from Republicans who accused her of dirtying him with innuendo. But now Mr. Kavanaugh is on the Supreme Court and Ms. Harris is the Democratic nominee for vice president.

Posted on

Michael Flynn’s likely win for Trump and for corruption

It’s now pretty clear what’s going to happen in the case — the saga — of Michael Flynn, President Trump’s first national security advisor, who had to resign after only 23 days in office. He’ll escape justice, at the president’s behest.

Charged by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III in November 2017 with lying to the FBI about his contacts with a Russian official, Flynn pleaded guilty and twice confirmed his guilt in detailed answers under oath to the court.

But with the case ready for sentencing, Atty. Gen. William Barr decided the prosecution should be dropped, a result the president had been calling for by tweet. On May 7, the Department of Justice filed a motion to dismiss the case, saying that conviction no longer served the interests of justice and suggesting that Flynn’s lies were essentially benign.

The career prosecutor on the case withdrew in protest; no prosecutors on the case would sign the motion. Their view, no doubt, is that the crimes Flynn confessed to are very serious. Former Deputy Atty. Gen. Sally Yates was on Capitol Hill last week explaining it again: Flynn cozied up to Russian officials behind the back of the Obama administration (which was still then in power), undermined U.S. Russian policy and then lied about it. His conduct was material to a counter-intelligence investigation, and it subjected him to the possibility of blackmail by a foreign power.

In response to the DOJ’s sudden change of heart about Flynn, District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan called for a hearing, and because the government no longer was presenting arguments against Flynn, he appointed another lawyer to take on that task. Rather than wait for the hearing, Flynn’s lawyer ran to the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to seek a “mandamus” order telling Sullivan to drop the case immediately.

A mandamus (literally “we command,” in Latin) writ short-circuits the normal course of legal proceedings, and for that reason courts of appeals won’t grant it unless a party can show that the lower court is violating a “clear and indisputable” right and the harm can’t be remedied on later appeal.

A three-judge panel of the D.C. court first ruled for Flynn, in a 2-1 opinion written by Trump appointee Neomi Rao, and issued the mandamus. But the full circuit court voted to vacate that ruling and hear the case anew. That “en banc” hearing happened Tuesday.

Over four hours of questioning, the judges made it clear that Rao’s opinion would be permanently consigned to the dustbin. Sullivan is entitled to convene a hearing on the dismissal; if the ruling goes against Flynn, he or the government could bring an appeal.

Even the lawyer representing the DOJ’s position, Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall, appeared to recognize the strong current he was swimming against. Wall began to offer answers along the lines of, “We think X, but if the court disagrees, it should still say Y in the opinion.” The “Y” he wanted was language that would constrain Sullivan’s room to maneuver in a hearing on the dismissal.

Wall argued that it would be improper to let Sullivan second-guess the department’s reasons for seeking a dismissal (which Wall coyly suggested turned in part on nonpublic information) or to call witnesses. Instead, the hearing should focus only on the legal sufficiency of the government’s motion to dismiss.

The judges sounded receptive. I expect them to decline to issue the mandamus but using words emphasizing that Sullivan has only a very narrow path forward.

Flynn could petition the Supreme Court to rule that the mandamus order was appropriate after all. If he and his lawyer are wise (something they haven’t consistently been in the course of the case), they’ll take what the Court of Appeals offers instead. The Supreme Court would be very unlikely to take the case, and Flynn would remain in legal limbo while the case continued to drag on.

So Sullivan’s actions will have been vindicated, but he won’t be able to stick his neck out too far. Unless the hearing in his courtroom produces something remarkable, he will probably grant the DOJ’s dismissal rather than risk getting slapped down on appeal.

The likely bottom line: Nearly three years after he pleaded guilty in a righteous prosecution, Flynn — a man who compromised U.S. national security and then lied about it — will walk.

As for the rest of us, we’ll be shown once again that the best remedy for partisan and corrupt conduct at the Department of Justice is at the ballot box.

Or, as in Barr’s ultra-cynical formulation: “History is written by the winners.”

@HarryLitman

Posted on

‘Safe’ is not the word to describe Kamala Harris. Here’s why

Can someone please tell me why so many people are describing Joe Biden’s history-making choice of Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate in the 2020 presidential election as “safe”?

“Bold,” “exciting,” “groundbreaking,” even “controversial” are all terms that come more quickly to mind — Harris is a woman, Black, the daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica, a stepmother and married to a white guy. Characteristics which, taken separately or in combination, she shares with precisely none of the previous 48 previous American vice presidents.

Like Elizabeth Warren and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, she comes from the growing school of “I really do not have time for your bull” female politicians, which sits well with some and not so much with others.

Over the course of her career as a prosecutor and California’s attorney general, she has made decisions that alienated both progressives and conservatives. As a senator, she has been a fierce and vocal opponent of the Trump administration, ruthlessly grilling attorneys general Jeff Sessions and William Barr and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. During her 2019 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, her biggest moment on the debate stage came when she criticized Biden for his willingness to work with segregationists against busing to integrate schools.

In other words, Kamala Harris is many things, but the label “safe” — with its subtext of “conventional” — seems a diminishment of each and every one.

In a country now defined by catastrophe (literally, via daily charts of state and county COVID-19 infection and death rates), with exacerbated preexisting conditions of racial and class division and increasing global isolation, “safe” can sound like compliment. We’d all like to feel safe right now, and Biden has been leveraging his “steady the boat” mien for months now.

And, as many have pointed out, the lack of uproar can be construed as progress; people are seeing her for who she is rather than for what she represents. Despite all the “first ever” boxes she checks, Harris is a career politician; her experience on the national stage and centrist inclination can make Biden’s choice seem, the inevitable Twitter storm notwithstanding, a bit boring.

In a good, “we’ve come a long way” sense.

But have we? Have we really come a long way?

I know everyone loves “Hamilton” and Beyoncé’s “Black Is King” and, yes, there have been loads of white folks showing up at the recent Black Lives Matter protests. But there have been a lot of “All Lives Matter” protests as well, and a quick scan of Congress and the White House reminds us that the highest offices of federal government, including the elected bits, remain overwhelmingly white and male.

Have we really come so far that the prospect of Vice President Kamala Harris seems possible enough to be taken for granted?

In seeing all the muted “exciting but safe” media coverage, it’s difficult not to think back to a time — why, it was just four years ago — when so many considered Hillary Clinton’s election an inevitable milestone. Historic, yes, but inevitable. So much so that early complaints about the sexism displayed by some Bernie Sanders supporters, many Trump supporters and more than a few members of the media (for the record, Clinton smiled plenty) were dismissed as absurd echoes of a distant time.

Except they were not. Sexism is alive and well, and if it was not the only reason Clinton was not elected our president in 2016, it was a major factor.

Racism is even more widely tolerated — what else could possibly be driving all the “let’s defend the indefensible” arguments over police brutality, blatant political gerrymandering and (and it really defies all non-racist rationality) the legitimacy of the Confederate flag? National pride? Please.

So I think we need to be careful about downplaying Biden’s choice of Harris with the word “safe.” For one thing, she is more than 20 years younger and much more dynamic than he, so unlike other presidential candidates we could name, he’s not looking for a neutral backdrop, which is courageous enough.

And Harris is no yes-woman. Last spring, when multiple women accused Biden of inappropriate touching, she said, “I believe them, and I respect them being able to tell their story and having the courage to do it” — and later had no problem calling out Biden, who prides himself on the work he has done for civil rights, on his onetime opposition to busing, in a very personal way.

“There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day,” she said in one of the Democratic debates’ most memorable moments. “That little girl was me.”

In what version of this politically divided country is a woman of color who is known to speak her mind being named a major-party candidate for vice president considered “safe”? Because such a person has simply never existed before in our version.

Was her selection a politically necessary step? Perhaps. But so was the Declaration of Independence. From which people like Kamala Harris were excluded. Just like they’ve been excluded from the vice presidency and the presidency.

She may have been the most obvious choice on Biden’s short list, but that short list was pretty damn extraordinary to begin with. And having Harris on the presidential ticket is nothing short of revolutionary.