Scattered signs emerged this week that Republican leaders and activists would continue scorched-earth legal tactics against Hillary Clinton and other Democrats — even as President-elect Donald Trump called for a smooth presidential transition.
Jason Chaffetz, the Utah congressman finishing his first term leading the powerful House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, made clear the partisanship of the presidential campaign "is not going to go away," as the Washington Post reported in Top House Republican says he’ll continue probe of Hillary Clinton’s private email server.
“It would be totally remiss of us to dismiss [the email investigation] because she’s not going to be president,” Post reporter Lise Rein quoted Chaffetz (shown in an official photo) as saying of the Democrat's defeated nominee. “I still have a duty and obligation to get to the truth about one of the largest breaches of security at the State Department,” he said. “Tens of thousands of documents still have not been turned over to Congress.”
Meanwhile, Trump's leading surrogates Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani, both former federal prosecutors, were well positioned to help implement the chants of "Lock her up!" that they helped lead against Clinton at Trump's campaign rallies nationwide. This was despite the ostensible comity after the election that others in the Trump campaign are voicing.
On the Fox News Bill O'Reilly Show, Giuliani called for continuing investigation of Clinton. “There’s one tradition in America, right? Election is over. We forget about it," Giuliani said. "There is another tradition in America, which is ‘equal justice under the law,’” Giuliani said. “And it would depend on how bad the violations are.”
Today, we survey these developments and conclude that a radical right infrastructure that thrives on using the legal system to investigate and prosecute Democrats is not likely to stop.
Demonizing the Clintons goes hand-in-hand with besmirching an Obama presidential legacy that has had fewer financial scandals than most. The attacks go a long way to ensuring success for a Republican Party that verged on disintegration just a week ago, at least in the minds of many centrist pundits now proven wrong.
Here is a vital point almost never reported by the mainstream media:
The modern GOP and radical right have a track record of never-ending investigations that demonize and immobilize their Democratic targets. The Whitewater-style special prosecutor investigations throughout the 1990s resulted in relatively little evidence against them personally, aside from the last-ditch and unrelated Monica Lewinsky scandal.
But the continuous probes and headlines kept the Clintons on the defensive and forced hordes of staffers to hire expensive defense counsel for no valid purpose while taxpayers spent millions. Parallel to that was the continuous clamor that Clinton was not the nation's legitimate president because he did not win 50 percent in a three-candidate race, which had its parallels in the "birther" claims that Obama was born in Kenya.
In a similar technique, the Bush Justice Department (including then-New Jersey U.S. Attorney Chris Christie) indicted vast numbers of Democrats on sometimes flimsy evidence, thereby destroying the opposition particularly in Southern and swing states.
Former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, one of the Deep South's most popular Democrats, is still imprisoned after being framed for 1999 "corruption" that was not even a crime, properly considered, as we and others have often reported.
Not coincidental is that one of Siegelman's first persecutors and prosecutors was Alabama Attorney Gen. William Pryor, who announced an investigation, aka "fishing expedition," during Siegelman's first month in office in 1999 to try to find corruption.
Authorities never investigated the obvious corruption of Siegelman's trial judge Mark Fuller, chief federal judge in Alabama's middle district of Montgomery. Fuller is shown smirking in chambers in a photo by freelancer Phil Fleming immediately after the Siegelman verdict avoided a hung jury on corruption charges in Siegelman's second trial. Fuller was a Republican partisan forced to leave the bench in 2015 because of a wife-beating scandal.
Partisan Prosecutors, Judges
Fuller's financial, sexual, and political corruption made him a pawn of the get-Siegelman forces. We reported this in several front-page Huffington Post stories beginning in 2009, including Siegelman Deserves New Trial Because of Judge’s ‘Grudge’, Evidence Shows….$300 Million in Bush Military Contracts Awarded to Judge’s Private Company.
The former Alabama prosecutor Pryor went on to join the federal appellate court in Atlanta that repeatedly rubber-stamped Fuller's outrageous decisions, including the judge's refusal to recuse himself for the appearance of conflict of interest.
In the political realm, one of Fuller's key backers until the wife-beating scandal has been Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, who has maintained a power base in Alabama since his election in 1997 to the Senate after being attorney general. Sessions has become one of Trump's most important campaign surrogates and advisors, and has joined the transition's executive committee.
A similar endless-prosecution strategy used against Hillary Clinton and the Obama State Department could smear and sideline for years not only Clinton but large numbers of colleagues. If investigations continued without indictments partisan investigators would never have to submit proof to public scrutiny.
The public has seen that previously this campaign. Clinton critics almost always seek more investigation of them even when FBI or Republican-led congressional investigations fail to find wrongdoing. The system must be rigged, they say, unless guilt is found.
Nice Words, For Now
Trump met with President Obama in the Oval Office Nov. 10, as shown by the White House photo above right. Although Trump's words were conciliatory his election was based on harsh attacks on Democrats.
Christie, New Jersey's governor (shown below left) and a former U.S. attorney leading all federal criminal and civil litigation in that state, has led the Trump transition team for months until Vice President-elect Mike Pence assumed the top transition job and Christie became a deputy.
Giuliani, New York City's mayor during the 9/11 attacks in 2001, is a former No. 3 official at the Reagan Justice Department. In a CNN appearance, Giuliani openly promoted his credentials to become the next attorney general. That was a typically in-your-face, New York-style Giuliani violation of Washington protocol that office-seekers push their interests more privately.
Most important as a continuing legal threat to Clinton and other Democrats: The nation's far-right has built a powerful and financially successful propaganda apparatus that operates outside government for the most part. It uses scorched-earth legal investigations to feed material to pundits, which leads to political success for so-called leaders and big money (such as via federal contracts for intelligence services) or ideological rewards for the elites guiding the system.
That apparatus is not going away just because Trump, some of aides and many Democrats want to play nice now that he has won. Indeed, Trump's Campaign CEO Stephen Bannon, Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway and Deputy Campaign Manager David Bossie are each previous hirelings of the secretive billionaire hedge fund tycoon Robert Mercer, who has also funded the ultra-right Breitbart commentary site that Bannon led before turning around Trump's campaign in late summer.
Breitbart, founded by the late Andrew Breitbart, is a radical right (or "alt-right") outlet that makes even the Murdoch-run conservative Fox News look moderate.
It is possible that pressures may arise from the Mercer-Bannon level of the campaign to moderate the Breitbart site's invective against Clinton. But few such restraints exist for the vast array of other pundits who either make their money by demonizing Clinton and other Democrats or create harsh imagery for fanatical religious or other reasons. Trump himself called Clinton a devil during the campaign. A satanic smear is not just insulting but may constitute a powerful signal to religious zealots, who abound in ways rarely reported by the mainstream media.
One popular theme in the '90s, one blogger noted this week, was that the Clintons were working with the UN to cede American sovereignty. Behind the plot was the antichrist. One bit attached to that grand conspiracy theory was the trope of U.S. government boxcars outfitted with guillotines ready to decapitate God-fearing Christian Americans. The same rumor resurfaced prior to the 2016 election, according to a Boston Globe news story about fearful West Virginians worried about calamities under a Clinton presidency.
In the Washington Post story this week, The election is over. Who’ll get the big contract to write the book about it? recapped the sales power of inflammatory commentary. “During the last six to eight months of the campaign," wrote the Post's Karen Heller, "what was really striking was the consistency of profoundly anti-Hillary books by Dick Morris, Dinesh D’Souza and Ann Coulter at the top of the bestseller list,” he says. “Those books represented a kind of plebiscite, while books critical of Trump had astonishingly little impact.”
One-sided books are merely a part of the interplay of punditry, litigation and scandal that foster the partisan landscape likely to continue.
For the second time in 16 years, the Democrat won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College vote that, like gerrymandered congressional districts, ensures Republican control of the federal government far exceeding ballot results. Even so, one Internet meme being circulated in religious circles Friday warned in inflammatory fashion and with no evidence that Hillary Clinton was determined to steal the Electoral College vote by recruiting electors whose vow is to vote for Trump.
Alarmist fears and propaganda campaigns are a familiar topic for our non-partisan Justice Integrity Project. We began eight years ago by investigating a pattern of political prosecutions by the George W. Bush Justice Department that were inadvertently exposed by the "U.S. Attorney" firing scandal in late 2006.
Here's what had happened: Although the nation's 90 plus U.S. attorneys are politically appointed they are supposed to administer justice fairly after appointment. Then nine of these appointments were ousted in 2006 were ousted for political reasons, which turned out to come from top Bush administration officials who wanted more prosecutions of Democrats on thin evidence and exoneration of Republicans from serious wrongdoing.
We found that the Obama administration failed to expose or otherwise fight the worst of these abuses.
Upon investigation, the reasons hinged on the political nature of the Obama administration despite its rhetoric to the contrary, and its vulnerability to pressure for its own deep secrets. Like most successful presidential candidates in recent years, Obama's public resume obscured important parts of his past. The omissions have largely hidden his ties to intelligence agencies and to financiers who preside in secret over the presidency, agencies like the CIA, and nearly every other supposedly independent one can imagine.
That line of inquiry has led us far afield from the specifics of prosecutions. Instead, we were expanded into related areas of media, scandal, the appointment power of presidents for judges, prosecutors and national intelligence officials who pick contractors. That ultimately leads to the financial puppetmasters whose government contractors and other holdings control the entire process.
In surveying this landscape up close from our office on Pennsylvania Avenue in the nation's capital, we draw on extensive experience in law and media to conclude that almost anyone, particularly in public life, can be prosecuted if investigated long enough.
Longtime Boston litigator Harvey Silverglate documented that truth in his iconic 2009 book Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Indict the Innocent. This is not to suggest that everyone is equally culpable legally or morally, of course. Instead, it just means that the public should remain aware that cases can be trumped up against almost anyone, as the late conservative commentator and former state prosecutor Tony Blankley commented in introducing Silverglate in 2009 at a Cato Institute forum entitled, The Criminalization of (Almost) Everything.
Here and Now
Let's proceed to current controversies:
The conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch has emerged as a prominent player in hounding Democrats, and the Clinton family in particular, with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits and calls for impeachment. This litigation and parallel media campaign feed the worst fears of conservative audiences with scandal-oriented findings that appear to carry legal cachet.
Judicial Watch used this formula to great effect during the 1990s presidency of Bill Clinton and the ongoing special prosecutor investigations and impeachment effort.
Early in the Bush administration, Judicial Watch Founder and CEO Larry Klayman sought to continue such activity to at least some degree under the Bush-Cheney administration but was ousted after apparently failing to understand that such righteous indignation was primarily for Democratic targets, not Republicans.
So, Klayman's successor Fitton, a more astute Washington player, has been presiding over a vast litigation, fund-raising and scandal-mongering apparatus that has been heavily devoted for years to smearing Hillary Clinton, her campaign, and various other vulnerable entitles in the Obama administration.
The Judicial Watch mailing list for years has delivered to me and many other reporters vast quantities of newsletters, legal documents and propaganda delivered with a patina of objectivity along with fund-raising appeals.
We at the Justice Integrity Project also attend Judicial Watch events to hear and otherwise interact with speakers. Tom Fitton is shown at right taken by our Justice Integrity Project at the Judicial Watch 2015 Leadership Summit devoted to investigating Clinton and calling for her prosecution.
Judicial Watch does do some important work. Its unique database provides the best financial disclosures of all federal judges. But even that useful information service reveals flaws in our system of oversight. The federal government and/or less partisan bodies should be making this kind of information more available. A partisan organization should not be the go-to site for basic information on government records needed to assess conflicts of interest.
More currently, this week's bulletin from Judicial Watch aptly boasted: Judicial Watch Changes History.
"Judicial Watch supporters," Fitton explained, "can take satisfaction that the American people resoundingly rejected Hillary Clinton corruption. Our work exposing her email had consequences. We did not do this work to prevent Hillary Clinton from winning the Oval Office; we did it to hold her, her aides, and her co-conspirators in the Obama administration accountable to the law."
Judicial Watch deserves credit for creating an impact, as stated. But impact should not be confused with fairness. The group is a partisan attack machine and rarely provides the other side of the story regarding its targets.
Instead, Judicial Watch, its invited speakers, and similar groups have relentlessly smeared the Clintons as extraordinarily corrupt and unlikeable.
You won't find any of them, for example, repeating a basic fact: That Clinton has been picked for 20 of the past 23 years (including 2015) as America's "most admired woman" in Gallup's annual poll, or that she was re-elected to a second term as a New York senator with nearly two-thirds of the vote.
A Trump Impeachment By Republicans?
The point of this, however, is not to argue that Clinton and her colleagues are innocent of wrongdoing, or that Judicial Watch needs to change its ways. Instead, we suggest that almost anyone prominent can be investigated and demonized ad infinitum, and that many organizations have the resources and motives to continue inflaming the public with scant balance.
Indeed, one of the few independent pollster analysts to predict a Trump victory, historian and author Dr. Allan Lichtman of American University, predicts also that America's power structure will impeach Trump within six months because of its preference Vice President-elect Mike Pence. The Washington Post featured Lichtman (shown in a file photo) and his soothsaying in ‘Prediction professor’ who called Trump’s big win also made another forecast: Trump will be impeached.Needless to say, the power structure's post-election preference for Pence over Trump should not be the basis for a criminal prosecution or impeachment in a justice system worthy of the name.
Partisan 'Criminalization of Almost Everything'
President Barack Obama speaks with staff in the Oval Office, Nov. 9, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Judicial Watch, Judicial Watch Changes History, Tom Fitton, Nov. 11, 2016. Donald Trump’s remarkable victory on Election Day is still sinking in. The corrupted leadership of the FBI and Justice Department didn’t want to do much with what we exposed. And certainly Congress, led by a weak Republican leadership, didn virtually nothing on the Clinton email issue. But, the American people didn’t ignore our work, and denied Hillary Clinton the presidency as a result.
One expert called Judicial Watch one of the great “disruptors” of our new media age:
Judicial Watch is a conservative gadfly, yes, but it is acting more like a newsroom staffed by lawyers – a scary thought, to the government at the very least. With an ample, donor-funded war chest, the nonprofit is taking journalists to school in deploying one of their most valued weapons, the Freedom of Information Act, doing so more effectively than any news organization in recent memory. Mainstream news organizations are happy to take its costly court-won revelations and run with them. So it’s not surprising that its President, Tom Fitton, nominated Judicial Watch for three Pulitzer Prizes last year (It was disqualified because it was ruled to be an advocacy group, Fitton told the Pulitzer-laden New York Times).
(By the way, the Pulitizer people dishonestly rejected our application not because we were unworthy of a prize, but because Judicial Watch is conservative.)
There is no doubt that Judicial Watch changed history with its Clinton email investigations. The election results show that corruption matters to the American people. At a minimum, President-elect Trump should commit to a transparency revolution. The Trump administration and new Congress must focus on restoring the rule of law and accountability after the eight years of a lawless Obama administration. Corruption in government is an overwhelming problem. We expect, but won’t rely upon, DC politicians to do the right thing. Judicial Watch will continue its independent investigations and lawsuits in order to hold politicians of both political parties accountable to the rule of law.
Cato Institute, The Criminalization of (Almost) Everything, Book Forum, Oct. 1, 2009. Featuring Harvey Silverglate, Author of Three Felonies a Day; and Tim Lynch, editor of In the Name of Justice and Director of Cato’s Project on Criminal Justice. Moderated by Tony Blankley, executive vice president of Edelman, Inc., and columnist at the Washington Times.
Three Felonies a Day: America’s criminal codes are now so voluminous that they bewilder not only the average citizen but also the average lawyer. Our courthouses are so clogged that there is no longer adequate time for trials. And many of our prisons are now operating well beyond their design capacity. Two new books raise the question of whether the American criminal justice system has become dysfunctional. Harvey Silverglate’s new book, Three Felonies a Day, argues that the typical American professional is likely unaware that he or she violates federal law each day because of the breadth and dangerously broad scope of the Code of Federal Regulations. As a result, scores of people — doctors, lawyers, journalists, businesspeople — are vulnerable to sudden, arbitrary prosecution. Cato’s Tim Lynch, editor of In the Name of Justice, maintains that the runaway growth of the criminal law has been accompanied by the dilution of constitutional rights and safeguards. Please join us for a discussion of these disturbing trends and what might be done about them.
Moderator Tony Blankley: Vagueness really is the enemy of liberty. It allows deans, prosecutors, it allows them to do whatever they want, to whomever they want. And as long as there’s no one to stop them, then this is just a steamroller....If you are prosecuted for something you had no idea was a crime that’s a violation of due process.
Clinton, Trump Investigations
Washington Post, Trump team backs off some sweeping campaign pledges, Jose A. DelReal, Nov. 11, 2016. President-elect, aides suggest softer stances on border wall, health-care law. Donald Trump said in an interview published Friday that, after speaking with President Obama on Thursday, he may seek to amend the Affordable Care Act rather than repeal it. Trump also avoided saying whether he would follow through on a campaign vow to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
Washington Post, Rudy Giuliani just used CNN to campaign for attorney general, Callum Borchers, Nov. 10, 2016. Donald Trump was the cable news candidate (during the Republican primary, anyway), so perhaps it's only fitting that his potential cabinet appointees would campaign for jobs on TV, too. Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump's bulldoggiest surrogates, used a CNN interview Thursday morning to tout his qualification to be attorney general. Giuliani initially indicated he would take the job if he couldn't point to three other lawyers who would be just as good.
Fox News, Attorney General prospect Giuliani leaves door open to Clinton prosecution, Staff report, Nov. 10, 2016. Despite the conciliatory tone struck in President-elect Donald Trump’s victory speech early Wednesday morning, the man who could run his Justice Department left the door wide open to prosecuting Hillary Clinton. Rudy Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor, New York City mayor and a name on Trump's short list for attorney general, said Wednesday on Fox News' “The O’Reilly Factor” that Clinton was a legitimate target to be investigated and disputed that any prosecution would be political “payback.”
“There’s one tradition in America, right? Election is over. We forget about it. There is another tradition in America which is ‘equal justice under the law,’” Giuliani said. “And it would depend on how bad the violations are.”
FBI Director James Comey said on Sunday that recent revelations in the investigation into Clinton’s private, homebrew server did not cause him to change his recommendation to the Department of Justice to not pursue charges against the former secretary of state.
Trump, then the Republican presidential nominee, first raised the prospect of prosecuting his Democratic opponent during an Oct. 9 debate.
“If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation because there has never been so many lies, so much deception,” Trump told Clinton.
But in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, with the election clinched, Trump gave kudos to Clinton for running a tough campaign, leaving out of his remarks any mention of the various scandals that often peppered speeches at his previous rallies.
“I mean, she fought very hard,” Trump said to a crowd who, just hours earlier, had chanted “Lock her up!” when Clinton appeared on a TV screen. “Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country. I mean that very sincerely.”
Also complicating a prospective prosecution is the possibility that President Obama, on his way out of the Oval Office, could preemptively pardon Clinton for any federal crimes she may have committed (state and civil offenses would be exempt from such a pardon). The act would be reminiscent of President Ford pardoning President Nixon “for all offenses against the United States” during Nixon’s term in office after Nixon had resigned in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal.
Doing so would be a double-edged sword for Obama.
“So, the president can offer the pardon but the pardon carries an implication of guilt; if she accepts the pardon, her acceptance carries a confession of guilt,” Chapman University Law Professor Ronald Rotunda told FoxNews.com in an email.
Rotunda, however, noted that a pardon of just Clinton would leave any co-conspirators – potentially including former President Bill Clinton and top aides and foundation officials – open to prosecution. And if Clinton hypothetically confessed her guilt in the U.S., Clinton Foundation trustees around the world would also be at risk, according to charity fraud expert Charles Ortel.
Then there’s the potential battle over whether such a wide-ranging, non-specific presidential pardon is even legal. Ford’s pardon of Nixon was not challenged in court; however, Trump or Giuliani, who has been named as a leading attorney general candidate in numerous reports, could seek to do so.
Should Obama pardon Clinton, however, it could also prove beneficial for Trump, sparing the new president from having to undertake a messy and divisive legal fight so early in his administration. But Giuliani said the legal system, not Obama, should make the ultimate call.
AP via Washington Post, Trump lawyers to begin settlement talks on Trump University, Elliot Spagat, Nov. 10, 2016. Donald Trump’s attorneys on Thursday agreed to enter settlement talks in a class-action fraud lawsuit involving the president-elect and his now-defunct Trump University, raising the possibility of a quick end to the 6 ½-year-old case just before it goes to trial.
Daniel Petrocelli, Trump’s lead attorney on the case, also asked to delay the trial to early next year, saying Trump needed time to work on the transition to the presidency. “The good news is that he was elected president. The bad news is that he has even more work to do now,” Petrocelli told U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel. The lawsuit alleging Trump University failed on its promise to teach success in real estate begins in San Diego on Nov. 28 before Curiel, an Indiana-born jurist who Trump accused of bias during the presidential campaign for his Mexican heritage.
Washington Post, Trump’s lawyers seek to delay fraud case — until after he is sworn into office, Roxana Popescu and Rosalind S. Helderman, Nov. 10, 2016. Attorneys for president-elect seek to push back Nov. 28 Trump University trial because he needs to get ‘up to speed’ on new job. Attorneys for President-elect Donald Trump went to court Thursday to ask that a civil fraud suit against Trump scheduled to begin in less than three weeks be delayed, a reminder of the unusual complications facing Trump as he shifts from businessman to commander in chief.
Trump’s attorneys said he will be too busy with the presidential transition to participate in the Nov. 28 trial involving his defunct real estate seminar program, Trump University. They asked that the trial be postponed until February or March, after he has taken office. They made their request before Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the jurist Trump harshly criticized during the campaign as biased because of his Mexican heritage.
Curiel expressed concern about the wisdom of a delay given that Trump will assume the presidency Jan. 20. Curiel said he will probably issue a ruling by Monday. The hearing came just two days after Trump’s victory, reflecting the continuing legal challenges facing an incoming president whose businesses are the subject of multiple pending civil suits.
Washington Post, Trump’s Justice Dept. could see less police scrutiny, more monitoring of Muslims, Matt Zapotosky, Wesley Lowery and Mark Berman, Nov. 10, 2016. His positions put him at odds with the current Justice Department.
- Trump campaign redirects, then restores, mention of Muslim ban from website
- ‘The wall is going to get built’: Immigration hard-liner joins Trump team
- How will President Trump shape crime and policing policy?
Washington Post, Top House Republican says he’ll continue probe of Hillary Clinton’s private email server, Lisa Rein, Nov. 9, 2016. "It would be totally remiss of us to dismiss [the email investigation] because she's not going to be president," Jason Chaffetz said of the defeated Democratic nominee. While President-elect Donald Trump pledged in his victory speech to “come together as one united people,” a top House Republican said Wednesday he will continue to investigate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state.
Jason Chaffetz, the Utah congressman finishing his first term leading the powerful House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, made it clear the partisan bitterness that marked the presidential campaign is not going to go away. “It would be totally remiss of us to dismiss [the email investigation] because she’s not going to be president,” Chaffetz said of the defeated Democratic nominee. “I still have a duty and obligation to get to the truth about one of the largest breaches of security at the State Department,” he said. “Tens of thousands of documents still have not been turned over to Congress.”
Last week, senior Republican lawmakers were openly discussing the prospect of impeaching Clinton for setting up a private email server for official State Department business, even though the FBI concluded after two investigations that she should not be criminally prosecuted. Impeachment, of course, was a GOP dream if Clinton won.
But Chaffetz said he has a “duty” to find thousands of Clinton’s communications that have not been made public to determine if they contain classified information. He also said some State Department employees who helped set up the email server in her New York home could lose their security clearances. Chaffetz said his committee will probably call State Department employees to do transcribed interviews with lawmakers, and may hold hearings.
“Do I anticipate calling Hillary Clinton to testify?” he said. “No.” But other State Department staff could be dragged, again, into an investigation that to many seemed closed.
Democrats said it’s time to put the email controversy to rest: Clinton lost. “It is extremely disappointing that Chairman Chaffetz plans to continue investigating Secretary Clinton for years to come,” Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the Oversight Committee’s top Democrat, said in a statement. “After everything our country has just been through — and particularly given that Donald Trump and Paul Ryan have both called for healing our nation’s divisions — I think the American people deserve more from Congress than to continue squandering taxpayer dollars on these baseless Republican accusations and partisan attacks.”
During its investigation, the FBI recovered thousands of emails the agency believed Clinton had not turned over to the State Department but which were work-related. Judicial Watch, a conservative legal group, has filed dozens of civil open-records lawsuits against the agency for Clinton-related documents. Justice Department lawyers have said these emails will eventually be made public — but it will take years for most of them to be cleared under public-records laws and released.
Chaffetz said that’s too long, and predicted that “a Trump administration would be cooperative in getting these floodgates to open as they should.” Trump said last month he would appoint a special prosecutor to examine Clinton’s use of a private email server. Such a prosecution would have to be pursued by his attorney general, who would have to agree with his assessment that the email practices violated criminal laws governing mishandling of classified information.
“After everything our country has just been through — and particularly given that Donald Trump and Paul Ryan have both called for healing our nation’s divisions — I think the American people deserve more from Congress than to continue squandering taxpayer dollars on these baseless Republican accusations and partisan attacks.”
Trump said last month he would appoint a special prosecutor to examine Clinton’s use of a private email server. Such a prosecution would have to be pursued by his attorney general, who would have to agree with his assessment that the email practices violated criminal laws governing mishandling of classified information.
Warnings On Trump Transition
Washington Post, Why neither Christie nor Giuliani should be the next attorney general, Danielle Allen, Nov. 10, 2016. The nation’s next top law enforcement official must have a record of integrity and public service. Danielle Allen is a political theorist at Harvard University and a contributing columnist for The Post.
The president-elect is at work on identifying appointees for his new administration. Both New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani have been floated as possibilities for the role of attorney general. Neither appointment would serve the work we most need at the Justice Department: a restoration of impartiality, fairness, nonpartisanship and thoroughgoing avoidance of conflicts and the appearance of conflict.
A Christie aide and an appointee have just been convicted in the “Bridgegate” scandal over the closing of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, N.J. Christie, who was not himself indicted, claims he did not know about the lane closings, but three people contradicted him under oath: Bridget Kelly, Christie’s deputy chief of staff when the closings occurred; Bill Baroni, a top Christie appointee at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; and David Wildstein, a political ally of the governor’s and also a senior official at the Port Authority at the time of the scandal. According to the New York Times, “It was impossible for even casual trial observers not to discern, from witness after witness, the evident viciousness and grubbiness of the governor and his administration.”
Lawfare, We Need Comey At the FBI Now More Than Ever, Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes, Nov. 10, 2016. A lot of personnel decisions will involve tough calls. Here’s one key personnel decision, however, that is absolutely clear: FBI Director James Comey must remain in place.
Media News, Issues, Trends
Washington Post, The election is over. Who’ll get the big contract to write the book about it? Karen Heller, Nov. 10, 2016. Given this year’s saturation coverage of the race, Hillary Clinton’s penchant for privacy, Donald Trump’s banishment of some reporters, and the dominance of social media, editors say that the challenge will be to offer fresh information, extraordinary insights or a new way of recounting recent history.
Several publishing executives mentioned wanting a prescriptive interpretation, akin to J.D. Vance’s best-selling Hillbilly Elegy, about rural Rust Belt Ohio, a region that voted enthusiastically for Trump. “Everyone wants to read a supersmart voice on how we fix the social mobility problem,” says one editor of multiple political books who, like many publishing officials, was unwilling to speak on the record. Publishing is a competitive and secretive business; houses don’t want to tip their hand as to whom they’re hoping to sign.
Editors expect journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, who wrote Game Change and Double Down, juicy accounts of the 2008 and 2012 elections, to write a third volume. (The first book was the rare campaign book made into an Emmy-winning television drama.) The Bloomberg Politics managing editors declined to comment on their plans. The election results could weigh heavily on the outcome of forthcoming titles. Bernie Sanders’s “Our Revolution,” to be published Tuesday, may be received differently in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s defeat. Fox News host Megyn Kelly’s memoir, “Settle for More,” which is to be released that same day and which reportedly sold for $6 million, may also be affected by Trump’s success and, by extension, that of Kelly’s former boss, Roger Ailes. Kelly alleges that Ailes, who advised Trump after leaving Fox, sexually harassed her when he was running the network.
Editors are looking for breakout stylists to make sense of the election. “Someone like Hunter Thompson, although this campaign is way too Hunter Thompsonesque and beyond what he could do,” says Macmillan’s John Sterling, who has edited Elizabeth Warren, Al Gore and Jimmy Carter. “The real story is what happens to these two parties” now that the election is over. A bit of distance and perspective helps. “This is not a traditional trajectory. Because it’s such a stunning result, it’s going to take a bit of time,” Osnos says. The “American intelligentsia is in a state of advanced shock, while the great American masses have just exercised their prerogative.”