Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is concerned that Attorney General William Barr and U.S. Attorney John Durham will not bring any prosecutions against members of either the Justice Department or intelligence agencies for spying on the Trump campaign, transition and administration in 2016 and 2017. The investigation falsely accused President Donald Trump and members of his campaign of being Russian agents until after the 2020 election so as to not unduly influence American politics.
Grassley wrote on Twitter, “IF NO PROSECUTIONS TIL AFTER ELECTIONS SAD SAD //just think Flynn Mueller Impeachment/ The deep state is so deep that [people] get away [with] political crimes/Durham [should] be producing some fruit of his labor…”
Grassley’s frustration is well placed. The Obama administration launched its investigation of the Trump campaign in 2016 and then secretly carried that investigation over into the Trump administration after the President was elected. Within months Special Counsel Robert Mueller was appointed, but it would not be until July 2019 that he would finally produce a report that found the central premise of the entire investigation was false.
In 2019 Mueller and his team reported, “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” and “the evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference.”
Afterward it took Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz six more months before his review of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation would be complete in Dec. 2019.
Surely, it contained bombshells, including the fact that the primary source used by former British spy Christopher Steele was not questioned by the FBI until Jan. 2017 after the dossier had been published by Buzzfeed, and then he contradicted Steele’s allegations about Trump being a Russian agent.
Also, the FBI knew Carter Page was a CIA agent reporting on Russians in Aug. 2016, but hid it from the FISA court in order to get the spying warrant against the Trump campaign.
Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has since stated that had he known then what he knew now, he “would not” have renewed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants in 2017.
Astonishingly, none of these revelations were ever included in the Mueller report, nor did they cause Mueller to conclude and dismiss the investigation at a much earlier time.
Mueller’s delay is what makes today’s investigation and potential prosecutions now exceedingly problematic, especially now that we are into the heart of the 2020 election season. If prosecutions happen now they will be viewed politically.
But here’s why now may be better than later.
No matter when Barr and Durham bring charges, they will be viewed politically. Moreover, if they are brought after the election, in the event Trump loses, they will be leaving the Justice Department in precisely the same position the Obama Justice Department left it — with an ongoing major national security investigation into ostensible political opponents being carried over into the new administration.
One presumes former Vice President Joe Biden has already discounted such an investigation. Heck, he’s called on Barr to resign. While there was a lot of pressure on the Trump administration to allow the Justice Department and then Mueller to fully investigate Russian election interference, would the same thing really happen in a Biden administration? C’mon.
The American people are already losing faith in the justice system. Even when the Justice Department opts to dismiss the case against former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, and the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals orders to the case to be dismissed, Judge Emmet Sullivan drags his heels.
It’s a two-tiered justice system, plain as day. One set of rules for Republicans complete with kangaroo courts and false charges, and another set of rules for Democrats that makes them all but untouchable. We elect presidents to faithfully execute the laws, and it can be said that President Trump did not really have the chance to hold these bad actors to account, and now he might never have that chance.
This is a level of corruption that must not be allowed to stand and must never happen again.
The American people have a right to know what happened in 2016, and to know it before they vote, precisely because it could prove determinative politically. Was the investigation into Trump by Obama-Biden well predicated or was it not?
If nothing else Durham should produce a report akin to the Mueller report that lays out the facts of what has been discovered based on grand jury testimony and other documents that have been discovered.
There is the possibility that the nation’s surveillance laws were not even violated, and that what took place was fully authorized because it occurred with the FISA court’s approval. If so, we need to know that so we can debate reforms now — while there’s an opportunity to hold candidates not only for President but critically Congress who also stand for election to account.
Voters need to know how and why the Obama-Biden administration was spying on its political opponents, the opposition party, the Trump campaign, in the days before the election on false charges of being foreign agents, and why the investigation was secretly carried over into the Trump administration afterward on the most specious of grounds.
This is not merely a sad state of affairs, as Sen. Grassley stated. This a mortal danger to our constitutional republic and the two-party system and appears the tip of the spear in a bid for one-party rule and to deny the American people their choice in 2016. The peaceful transfer of power was anything but. If there is no accountability now, these false charges against political opponents will happen again — only it will be worse next time.
Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.
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