Posts Tagged ‘Bill Clinton’

Trump media three times more negative than for Obama, just 5 percent positive

December 28, 2017
The media’s coverage of President Trump has been overwhelmingly negative, more than three times more critical than the initial coverage of former President Barack Obama and twice that of former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.The Pew Research Center said that the early coverage of Trump was 62 percent negative. By comparison, Obama’s coverage was just 20 percent negative.

“About six-in-ten stories on Trump’s early days in office had a negative assessment, about three times more than in early coverage for Obama and roughly twice that of Bush and Clinton. Coverage of Trump’s early time in office moved further away from a focus on the policy agenda and more toward character and leadership,” said Pew.

The report about the harsh media coverage was included in Pew’s year-ending report titled “17 Striking Findings From 2017.

The media story reviewed the tone of coverage of Trump’s first 60 days in office and found that just 5 percent was “positive.”

By comparison, Obama’s coverage was 42 percent positive.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner’s “Washington Secrets” columnist, can be contacted at


Democrats Are Walking Into a Trumpian Trap — Living in the “House of Outrage”

December 15, 2017


Doug Jones supporters celebrate victory. Credit Bob Miller for The New York Times

Take a walk with me, dear reader, into the yard, down the street — anywhere, really, just so that we can step outside of our house of outrage. It’s a roomy house, with space for everyone from woke progressives to disillusioned conservatives. It’s a good house, filled with people united in a just and defiant cause. It’s a harmonious house, thrumming with the sound of people agreeing vigorously.

And lately, we’ve started to believe we’re … winning.

We breathed relief Tuesday night when Roy Moore went down to his well-earned political death, like Jack Nicholson’s Joker at the end of Batman. We roared when Robert Mueller extracted a guilty plea from a cooperative Michael Flynn, and the investigative noose seemed to tighten around Donald Trump’s neck. We cheered when Democrat Ralph Northam trounced Ed Gillespie after the Republican took the low road with anti-immigrant demagogy.

It’s all lining up. Democrats have an 11-point edge over Republicans in the generic congressional ballot. The president’s approval rating is barely scraping 37 percent. Nearly six in 10 Americans say the United States is on the “wrong track.” Isn’t revenge in 2018 starting to taste sweet — and 2020 even sweeter?

Don’t bet on it. Democrats are making the same mistakes Republicans made when they inhabited their own house of outrage, back in 1998.

You remember. The year of the wagged finger and the stained blue dress. Of a president who abused women, lied about it, and used his power to bomb other countries so he could distract from his personal messes. Of a special prosecutor whose investigation overstepped its original bounds. Of half the country in a moral fever to impeach. Of the other half determined to dismiss sexual improprieties, defend a democratically elected leader and move on with the business of the country.

Oh, also the year in which the Dow Jones industrial average jumped by 16 percent, the unemployment rate fell to a 28-year low, and Democrats gained seats in Congress. Bill Clinton, as we all know, survived impeachment and left office with a strong economic record and a 66-percent approval rating.

If nothing else, 1998 demonstrated the truth of the unofficial slogan on which Clinton had first run for president: It’s the economy, stupid. Prosperity trumps morality. The wealth effect beats the yuck factor. That may not have held true in Moore’s defeat, but it’s not every day that an alleged pedophile runs for office. Even so, he damn well nearly won.

1998 also showed that, when it comes to sex, we Americans forgive easily; that, when it comes to women, we don’t always believe readily; and that, when it comes to presidents, we want them to succeed. However else one might feel about Mueller — or, for that matter, Ken Starr — nobody elected them to anything.

Which brings us back to Trump. Democrats may like their polling numbers, but here are a few others for them to consider.

The first is 3.3 percent, last quarter’s annual growth rate, the highest in three years. Next is 1.7 percent, the core inflation rate, meaning interest rates are unlikely to rise very sharply. Also, 4.1 percent, the unemployment rate, which is down half a percentage point, or nearly 800,000 workers, since the beginning of the year. Finally, 24 percent, which is the rise in the Dow Jones industrial average since Trump became president — one of the market’s best performances ever.

Democrats will find plenty of ways to explain that these numbers aren’t quite as good as they sound — they are not — or that we’re setting ourselves up for a big crash — we might well be — or that the deficit is only getting bigger — it is, but so what? Politically speaking, none of that matters. Trump enters 2018 with a robust economy that will, according to the estimate of the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, grow stronger thanks to the tax bill.

What about the outrage over the president’s behavior? Kirsten Gillibrand and other Senate Democrats have called on Trump to resign following new accusations of sexual harassment and assault. Good luck getting him to agree. Tom Steyer and other liberal plutocrats want the president impeached and thrown out of office. Good luck electing 67 Democrats to the Senate.

Every minute wasted on that whale hunt is a minute the Democrats neglect to make an affirmative case for themselves.

Which leaves us with Mueller. All of us in the house of outrage are eager for the special counsel to find the goods on the president and Russia, obstruction, financial shenanigans, anything. The clues seem so obvious, the evidence so tantalizingly close.

Yet we should also know that the wish tends to be the father of the thought. What if Mueller comes up short in finding evidence of collusion? What if the worst Mueller’s got is one bad tweet that, maybe, constitutes evidence of obstruction? And what if further doubts are raised about the impartiality of the investigation? The president’s opponents have made a huge political bet on an outcome that’s far from clear. Anything less than complete vindication for our side may wind up as utter humiliation.

Dear reader, I too live in the house of outrage, for all the usual reasons. Just beware, beware of growing comfortable in it. As in 1998, it just might turn out to be a house of losers.

Donald Trump Is Not Constitutionally Immune from an Obstruction of Justice Charge

December 11, 2017

By DAVID FRENCH December 4, 2017 2:42 PM @DAVIDAFRENCH

National Review

Earlier today one of Donald Trump’s lawyers, John Dowd, made a rather remarkable assertion. He declared that the “President cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution’s Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case.”


This statement is wrong. To be clear, the president’s power under the Constitution limits the president’s vulnerability to obstruction of justice charges, but it does not end it.

For example, our own Andrew McCarthy wrote about some of those limits today: The FBI and the Justice Department are not a separate branch of government; they are subordinates of the president delegated to exercise his power, not their own.

Even on Comey’s account, Trump did not order him to shut down the Flynn investigation, even though he could have. Trump could have ordered an end of the Russia counterintelligence investigation, but he did not.

He could have pardoned Flynn, which would effectively have ended the FBI’s criminal investigation — beyond any possibility of review. We can stipulate that these would have been sleazy things to do, potentially damaging to national security, and still grasp that the president had the undeniable power to do them. Similarly, the president had undeniable power to fire the FBI director.

You can argue that his reason was corrupt, but the truth is that he didn’t need a reason at all — he could have done it because it was Tuesday and he felt like firing someone; he could have done it because he figured that the Justice Department’s criticism of Comey’s handling of the Clinton emails investigation gave him the political cover he needed to dispense with a subordinate he found nettlesome.

The point is that even if the president hoped that cashiering Comey would derail an investigation he was addled by, it was wholly in Trump’s discretion to fire the director. Moreover, firing the director did not derail the Russia investigation; it has proceeded apace under the director whom Trump appointed to replace Comey. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that the president cannot violate a federal statute by exercising powers guaranteed the president by the Constitution.

He is not, however, above the law when acting outside of his Constitutional authority. With that in mind, read the key language of the most relevant federal statute, 18 U.S.C. Section 1505: Whoever corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication influences, obstructs, or impedes or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede the due and proper administration of the law under which any pending proceeding is being had before any department or agency of the United States, or the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any inquiry or investigation is being had by either House, or any committee of either House or any joint committee of the Congress— Shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both. (Emphasis added.)

As the head of the executive branch of government, Trump has the power to fire an FBI director. He has the power to exercise the prosecutorial discretion to order federal law enforcement agencies to drop an investigation. He possesses an immense pardon power. He does not, however, possess the power to order any federal agency to reach a specific conclusion in its investigation.

In other words, he does not have the constitutional authority to “corruptly” put his thumb on the scales of an investigation to dictate that the investigation vindicate him or his associates. Thus, if Trump isn’t just seeking the end of the investigation but rather the total vindication of his campaign, he is barred from “corruptly” influencing the relevant proceeding (or Congressional investigation.) For example – and to hearken back to both the Nixon and Clinton impeachment counts – he can’t manipulate witnesses into giving false testimony (Clinton allegedly provided grand jury witnesses with false information knowing that they’d transmit that false information to the grand jury).

There are limits to his ability to conceal evidence. He obviously can’t direct subordinates to lie to the FBI. But what about his decision to terminate Comey? Clearly, if he terminated Comey because Comey failed to follow a lawful presidential directive – even if that directive was foolish or self-serving – then it’s specious to argue that a federal statute can criminalize the exercise of a constitutional power for a constitutionally-acceptable purpose.

For example, if Trump truly fired Comey for refusing to publicly declare the fact that Trump wasn’t personally under investigation, then that action may be unwise, but it is lawful. If, however, Trump fired Comey for not clearing Flynn because Trump wanted the FBI to vindicate his senior team, then Trump would have used his constitutional power as part of an effort to deceive the American people. Given the scope of the president’s constitutional authority over Comey, I still do not believe the firing alone can meet the legal definition of obstruction of justice.

However, since impeachment is a political process – not a legal adjudication of violations of federal statutes – evidence of malign intent could certainly transform the termination into an abuse of power sufficient to support an article of impeachment. In fact, given the various legal and constitutional complications involved in prosecuting president, I agree with Andy.

The likely course of action even if Mueller believes Trump violated criminal law isn’t a criminal indictment but rather a report articulating the grounds for impeachment. In such a case, however, the legal argument over an alleged statutory violation would be just as important as the political, historic, and constitutional arguments over the definition of high crimes or misdemeanors.

My own view is that there is yet insufficient evidence to bring an obstruction claim against Trump – either as an article of impeachment or as a count in a federal indictment. The Comey firing, however, should not be viewed in isolation. It may represent one key component of a comprehensive effort to corruptly influence relevant proceedings or investigations. Let’s not forget, Trump didn’t just fire Comey, he misled the American people about his reason for firing the FBI director.

Judging from his tweet this weekend, he also misled the American people about his reasons for forcing out Flynn. He also was reportedly directly involved in drafting a misleading statement about his son’s meeting with purported Russian operatives during the campaign.

His administration has time and again made false public statements about its Russian contacts.  As the Flynn guilty plea demonstrates, it’s one thing to mislead the American people, it’s another thing to lie to the FBI. As we’ve watched the administration get caught in falsehood after falsehood over the Trump campaign and transition team’s numerous contacts with Russian officials or purported operatives, it’s premature for any person to definitively declare that there exists insufficient evidence that Trump violated the law.

Any person making that declaration now is, at best, offering an educated guess. But there is one thing that we can definitively declare. Trump is not above the law, and that law includes statutes prohibiting obstruction of justice.

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Can a president obstruct justice?

December 11, 2017

Yes, but not by doing any of the things we know Trump to have done.

Speculation about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has turned toward obstruction of justice—specifically, whether President Trump can be criminally prosecuted for firing James Comey as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation or for earlier asking Mr. Comey to go easy on onetime national security adviser Mike Flynn. The answer is no. The Constitution forbids Congress to criminalize such conduct by a president, and applying existing statutes in such a manner would violate the separation of powers.

The Constitution…


Editorial: Yes, the president can obstruct justice, said Senate GOP

  • Quad-City Times editorial board

Yes, the president can obstruct justice. Just ask the nine Republicans still in the U.S. Senate, including Chuck Grassley, who voted “guilty” when then-President Bill Clinton was accused of obstruction in 1999.

And that’s true no matter how badly those very same Republicans now don’t want to talk about it.

The long-debated issue came to a head this past week when an attorney for President Donald Trump, John Dowd, summoned the ghost of Richard Nixon during an interview with Axiom.

 “… the president cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer and has every right to express his view of any case,” Dowd told the news site.

Dowd’s provocative statement follows a slew of charges filed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller against members of Trump’s inner circle, who just couldn’t seem to stop meeting with Russian operatives during the campaign. Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, a close Trump aide and political confident, recently pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. In response, Trump basically admitted on Twitter that he knew Flynn wasn’t honest with investigators when he canned former FBI Director James Comey, who refused to acquiesce to the president’s request to back off on the Flynn investigation, according to Comey’s congressional testimony. 

The legality of Dowd’s position has been debated for decades. The U.S. Constitution does not clarify if a sitting president can face prosecution. During the Watergate scandal, Nixon was listed as an “unindicted co-conspirator” during the court proceedings. But obstruction of justice was the first and key charge in the list of impeachable offenses drafted in the House. Nixon left office before the House could actually impeach him.

In 1999, Clinton’s administration was ablaze with the Monica Lewinsky scandal. The GOP-run House sent two indictments against the Democratic president to the Senate, including an obstruction of justice charge. The Senate failed to convict Clinton on either charge, splitting 50-50 when a two-thirds majority was required. But that also means 50 senators — universally Republicans — determined that a U.S. president can obstruct justice.

Of those 50, nine still sit in the Senate. They are Mike Crapo, Mike Enzi, Thad Cochran, Jim Inhofe, Orrin Hatch, John McCain, Mitch McConnell and Pat Roberts. Two more — Jeff Sessions and John Ashcroft — are, or have been, attorneys general in GOP administrations. 

In both instances, presidents were tried in Congress, not the courts. Still, each case represents a moment when a sitting president was charged, in a legal proceeding, with obstructing justice. But, unlike the court system, impeachment is a wholly political event. 

What’s clear is that congressional Republicans don’t want to talk about Dowd’s under-construction defense amid Mueller’s probe. Grassley’s vote in 1999 is a testament in black-and-white that, at least when the other side is under investigation, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee believes a president can obstruct justice. Yet, this past week, a straight answer was not to be had when Grassley’s staff were asked about Dowd’s assertion that, like a king, a president is immune from the rule of law. That silence was made even more notable in the wake of Sen. Diane Feinstein’s allegations that Grassley — with his desire to remake the federal courts for a generation in Trump’s image — has no interest in probing Trump too deeply. Instead, he’s more concerned with yet another probe of Hillary Clinton, on Wednesday blasting Democrats on the Judiciary Committee for resisting his push for yet another diversion from Trump’s legal perils. 

But a direct rebuke of Dowd’s assertion from the likes of Grassley and his peers is necessary, regardless of how badly Republicans want to protect the White House. Silence sets precedents that are sure to outlive us all. It would further erode basic democratic norms that separate republic from monarchy. It would, in very real terms, be another example of a Congress willing only to stand for the rule of law when it suits partisan ends.

Local editorials represent the opinion of the Quad-City Times editorial board, which consists of Publisher Deb Anselm, Executive Editor Autumn Phillips, Editorial Page Editor Jon Alexander, Associate Editor Bill Wundram and community representative John Wetzel.


On whether the president can obstruct justice

  • New York Times

You know you have a problem when you’ve been president for less than 11 months and you’re already relying on Richard Nixon’s definition of what’s legal.

On Monday morning, Axios reported that Mr. Trump’s top personal lawyer, John Dowd, said in an interview that the “president cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer” under the Constitution and “has every right to express his view of any case.”

This will come as news to Congress, which has passed laws criminalizing the obstruction of justice and decided twice in the last four decades that when a president violates those laws he has committed an impeachable offense.

In 1974, the first article of impeachment drafted by the House of Representatives charged President Nixon with “interfering or endeavoring to interfere with the conduct of investigations by the Department of Justice of the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the office of Watergate Special Prosecution Force.”

A quarter-century later, President Bill Clinton was impeached by the House for, among other things, having “prevented, obstructed and impeded the administration of justice” and for having “engaged personally, and through his subordinates and agents, in a course of conduct or scheme designed to delay, impede, cover up and conceal the existence of evidence and testimony.”

Now let’s see if those descriptions apply to President Trump.

On Saturday morning, in the wake of the bombshell guilty plea by Michael Flynn, the president’s former national security adviser, for lying to F.B.I. agents about his communications with Russian officials late last year, Mr. Trump tweeted, “I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI.”

Recall that the original justification for Mr. Flynn’s firing was simply that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence; otherwise he had done nothing wrong. That’s the case Mr. Trump made the day after Mr. Flynn’s firing, when he allegedly tried to shut down the F.B.I.’s inquiry into his campaign’s connections with Russian officials by telling James Comey, who was then the F.B.I. director, in a private Oval Office meeting, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go.”

In May, Mr. Trump fired Mr. Comey, telling Russian officials in the Oval Office the next day that firing Mr. Comey had relieved “great pressure” on him, and referring to Mr. Comey as a “nut job.” In an interview with NBC, Mr. Trump said, “When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.’”

It was bad enough for the president to attempt to interfere in any way with a law enforcement investigation of one of his top aides. But with Saturday’s tweet, Mr. Trump admitted that he knew Mr. Flynn had committed a federal crime at the time he fired Mr. Comey for refusing to stop investigating him. To most people with a functioning prefrontal cortex, it sure sounds like Mr. Trump is admitting to “interfering or endeavoring to interfere with the conduct of investigations” and to “impeding the administration of justice.”

Mr. Dowd confused the country further by saying he had drafted Mr. Trump’s tweet himself — a bizarre claim for a lawyer to make about a statement that incriminates his client. Then he outdid himself with his assertion to Axios that it is not possible for the president to obstruct justice. The argument, as far as it goes, is that the president is the nation’s highest ranking law enforcement officer and has the constitutional authority to supervise and control the executive branch, which includes making decisions about investigations and personnel.

But Mr. Trump didn’t just try to shut down some random no-name case; he tried to shut down an investigation into his own campaign’s ties to the Russian government’s efforts to swing the 2016 election in his favor. As that investigation keeps revealing, Mr. Trump’s top associates have repeatedly been untruthful about their contacts and communications with Russian officials.

In Saturday’s tweet, Mr. Trump also wrote, “It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!” If there were truly nothing to hide, if these talks with Russians were all just part of a normal presidential transition process, then why all the lying?

Any child could tell you the answer: People lie when they know they’ve done something wrong. Mr. Flynn and others in Mr. Trump’s campaign and transition team were secretly trying to undermine United States foreign policy as private citizens — which is not just wrong, but a criminal violation of the Logan Act. Worse, the policy being undermined was President Barack Obama’s punishment of a foreign adversary for interfering in an American election, and the underminers — Mr. Trump’s team — were the very people who benefited most directly from that interference.

For some historical perspective, Richard Nixon once again proves useful. In the closing days of the 1968 presidential campaign, Mr. Nixon ordered H. R. Haldeman, later his chief of staff, to throw a “monkey wrench” into the Vietnamese peace talks, knowing that a serious move to end the war would hurt his electoral prospects. Mr. Nixon denied that he did this to the grave; Mr. Haldeman’s notes, discovered after his death, revealed the truth.

Meanwhile, as the evidence of both subterfuge and obstruction continues to grow, Mr. Trump’s tireless spinners and sophists are working to convince the American public that it’s all no big deal. This is an embarrassing and unpersuasive argument, but it’s not surprising. At this point, they have nothing else to work with.

Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem Is Not a Disaster

December 9, 2017

But the Trump administration needs to walk a very fine line with Palestine and Arab states.

President Donald Trump holds up a proclaimation that the U.S. government will formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Dec. 6, at the White House. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump holds up a proclaimation that the U.S. government will formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Dec. 6, at the White House. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Few issues in the Middle East are more evocative than Jerusalem. Arab leaders’ public responses to U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital this week have been swift and negative, at least in part because they had little forewarning of what was coming and could not afford to look like they were conceding Arab, Palestinian, and Muslim rights in the city and its holy site.

The irony is that what the president said does not concede those rights and claims. His recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital reflects a reality that it is the seat of Israel’s government and that, for the Jewish state, Jerusalem will always be its capital — there is no other city that could be. For Palestinians, they too no doubt cannot envision any city but Jerusalem as the capital of their state, if and when it emerges from moribund negotiations. The president’s statement does not rule that out: On the contrary, he said that the United States is not taking a position on “the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders.” Those questions, he said, “are up to the parties involved.”

Given Arab and Palestinian concerns and the potential for Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, and al Qaeda to distort what the United States is doing to foment rage and violence, it is essential that the Trump administration’s message be clear and consistent about not prejudging the outcome of the status of Jerusalem. Maintaining message discipline has not been the hallmark of the Trump White House, but it is crucial now. No stray tweets allowed.

Maintaining message discipline has not been the hallmark of the Trump White House, but it is crucial now. No stray tweets allowed.

The stakes are too high, particularly if the president’s decision is not going to play into the hands of the enemies of peace.That means repeating and reinforcing President Trump’s main theme in his speech: that the United States is drawing a distinction between acknowledging the reality that Jerusalem has been Israel’s capital since 1949, and the need for negotiations to resolve all the respective claims that Israelis and Palestinians have, including questions related to Jerusalem. Israelis and Palestinians must resolve these issues directly and without outside interference.

There is a logic to this duality. Israel’s prime minister and parliament are located in the part of Jerusalem that is not contested, and there is an honesty in ending the fiction that the city is not the Israeli capital, which has gone on for close to 70 years. At the same time, given the centrality and potentially explosive nature of Jerusalem, it is vital not to appear to be pre-empting the ability of the parties to determine boundaries of the city and whether it will or will not be a capital for two states. Already Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has called for an uprising, and the violent riots today in the West Bank signal that anger over the president’s declaration can be further exploited — which also helps to explain Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s declaration that the United States can no longer play the mediator’s role.

Because there is an emotional lens through which all parties perceive Jerusalem, any decision can be misrepresented by extremists and produce violence. And if the United States appears to be closing the door on Jerusalem or simply adopting the Israeli position that all of Jerusalem should be under Israeli sovereignty, it may allow the jihadis and the rejectionists to hijack this highly sensitive issue. They, of course, will leap at the opportunity to create a provocation against the United States and against America’s Arab and Palestinian partners — especially Abbas and King Abdullah II of Jordan. The administration needs to keep in mind the pressures both of these leaders are likely to be under.

One practical step the Trump administration could take to reduce their ability to exploit the president’s decision is to have senior U.S. officials appear on every Arabic-speaking news outlet and explain what this decision is and what it is not. The announcement, they should underline, is about recognizing what no one questions: that any peace deal would end with Israel maintaining its capital in at least part of Jerusalem. That would help make clear the administration’s contention that it is not putting its thumb on the scale against Palestinian interests in Jerusalem — the United States continues to insist that the basic issues related to the future of Jerusalem, the questions of sovereignty, and competing Israeli and Palestinian claims must be subject to negotiations before there can be a peace agreement. Both elements of this message need to be a mantra, repeated to Arabic audiences by top U.S. officials in the weeks ahead, including by Vice President Mike Pence when he visits the region.

Both elements of this message need to be a mantra, repeated to Arabic audiences by top U.S. officials in the weeks ahead, including by Vice President Mike Pence when he visits the region.

This is the best hope for strengthening the hands of the Arab and Palestinian leaders who must resist the efforts by those like Hamas who will seek to distort the reality and claim that Jerusalem has been given away — and who clearly want to provoke violence and greater polarization. It can also begin to change the environment in a way that allows Abbas and his negotiators, such as Saeb Erekat, to walk back from some of their statements about ending the peace process and the American role in it.

Conveying this message is not just important to avert violence, but also to ensure that the plan that the Trump administration intends to present to the Israelis, Palestinians, and Arab countries is not dead on arrival. The reason former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama invoked the waiver was not because they lacked courage but because they believed this would deny the Palestinians and the Arabs the political space they needed to make hard decisions for peace, thus rendering its achievement more difficult. President Trump argued in his statement that they were wrong. If he wants to prove he is right, he will first need to make clear that their interests and rights have not already been conceded — and then present a credible peace plan, including on Jerusalem.

Dennis Ross is the former American envoy to the Middle East and counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

David Makovsky is the Ziegler Distinguished Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, where he directs the Project on the Middle East Peace Process. In 2013-2014, he served in the Office of the Secretary of State, where he was a senior advisor during the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. He just released a high-tech interactive map called Settlements and Solutions.


Roy Moore’s Liberal Enablers

December 5, 2017

If he wins, he can thank Al Franken and Jimmy Kimmel among others.

Bill Clinton and Al Franken during a rally at the University of Minnesota, Oct. 10, 2014.
Bill Clinton and Al Franken during a rally at the University of Minnesota, Oct. 10, 2014. PHOTO: JEAN PIERI/ASSOCIATED PRESS

When Alabamans go to the polls a week from now in a special election to choose their next senator, not even Mrs. Roy Moore will be rooting as hard for her Republican husband as the junior senator from Minnesota, Al Franken.

The reason is simple. Mr. Franken knows that if Mr. Moore takes his Senate seat, it becomes less likely the former “Saturday Night Live” comic will have to relinquish his. And therein lies a larger tale about how the liberal opposition to Mr. Moore may be backfiring.

Until this race, plausible accusations that a candidate had engaged in sexual conduct with girls as young as 14 would be enough to sink most any man. Coming as these charges do amid a national sexual reckoning that has already brought down many powerful men hitherto thought untouchable, they ought to be even more potent.

But Mr. Moore is not sinking. To the contrary, at last check the Real Clear Politics polling average gives him a 2.6-point lead. A CBS News poll released this past weekend has him up by 6 points.

If Mr. Moore does win, it will be despite calls by Republicans and conservatives for him to step aside. The calls have come from Republican leaders such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, among others.

Then again, the remaining GOP support, including that of Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey and now President Donald Trump, may carry more pull. Mr. Moore further benefits from the backing of the evangelical community, many of whose pastors have stuck with him.

But there’s another potent force in this race, which gets little media attention. These are the liberals who are enabling him. Let’s run through a short list:

• Bill Clinton . Remember the argument “It was only sex”? Or reporter Nina Burleigh saying she’d be happy to give then-President Clinton oral sex “just to thank him for keeping abortion legal”?

Some who backed Mr. Clinton now recognize that their unqualified support through all his lies and bad behavior leaves them in a poor position to lecture others about how to treat women, or why policy should not trump character. Now they are throwing Mr. Clinton under the bus to try to regain the moral high ground. How persuasive must Alabamans find this?

• Doug Jones. He is the Democrat in the race. When your rival is credibly accused of sexual misbehavior with underage girls, the race is yours to lose. And yet Mr. Jones is doing his best to do just that, over a classic Democratic blind spot: abortion.

Alabama is one of America’s most pro-life states. Mr. Jones might have expanded his appeal by opting for the Bill Clinton formula of “safe, legal and rare,” or supporting popular restrictions such as the ban after 20 weeks. Instead, Mr. Jones has opted for the Hillary Clinton view that abortion must be sacrosanct. If he ends up losing, abortion will be a big reason.

• Al Franken. On the hypocrisy front there’s plenty on all sides to go around. Still, it has to be hard for Alabama Republicans not to notice that they are being called on to reject their guy at a time when Democrats are keeping theirs.

• Jimmy Kimmel. Mr. Kimmel recently dispatched a comedian to heckle Mr. Moore at a rally at the Magnolia Springs Baptist Church. He succeeded in disrupting the event. Mr. Kimmel and Mr. Moore then got into a Twitter tiff after Mr. Moore suggested Mr. Kimmel put up his dukes, and Mr. Kimmel accepted.

Mr. Kimmel and his audience have had some good yucks at the expense of the local yokels. But again, just a guess that this may not be playing as well in Alabama.

• The national press corps. When Donald Trump tweets about “fake news,” the smart set groans. But just this weekend, ABC News suspended Brian Ross for reporting, falsely, that retired general Mike Flynn would testify Mr. Trump asked him to reach out to the Russians during the campaign, when it was in fact after he’d been elected president. At nearly the same time America learned that the top FBI agent on Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election had exchanged pro-Hillary/anti-Trump texts with an FBI lawyer with whom he was having an extramarital affair.

And then liberals wonder at a CBS poll finding that 71% of Alabama Republicans don’t believe the allegations against their candidate. They may well be wrong about Mr. Moore and his accusers, but is their skepticism really that difficult to understand?

Now we are entering the final week of the race. Perhaps sensing a Moore victory, President Trump Monday morning offered an unconditional endorsement, tweeting that “we need Roy Moore to win.” But Mr. Trump’s endorsement hasn’t always been dispositive: Remember, Mr. Moore is the GOP’s candidate because Alabama Republicans in the primaries rejected the man the president endorsed.

So if Mr. Moore does find himself Alabama’s newest senator next Tuesday night, it may be as much the fault of those who opposed him as those who supported him.

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The Left Changes Its Mind on Bill Clinton

November 22, 2017

It isn’t clear what is causing Democrats to re-evaluate their support for the former president.

Monica Lewinsky meeting President Bill Clinton at a White House function, released by the House Judiciary Committee, Sept. 21, 1998.
Monica Lewinsky meeting President Bill Clinton at a White House function, released by the House Judiciary Committee, Sept. 21, 1998.PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday became the latest liberal luminary to scurry away from Bill Clinton some 20 years too late.

“If it happened today there would have been a very different reaction,” said the mayor in reference to the White House sex scandal involving Mr. Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. “I don’t think you can rework history. I think if it happened today—if any president did that today—they would have to resign.”

The mayor’s comments follow those made last week by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who told the New York Times that she, too, now believes that Mr. Clinton should have resigned after his affair with Ms. Lewinsky was revealed. The senator used the “things have changed” explanation as well, then added that “in light of this conversation, we should have a very different conversation about President Trump, and a very different conversation about allegations against him.”

Put differently, Ms. Gillibrand wants Donald Trump held to a different standard than the one she and her fellow Democrats were willing to hold Bill Clinton to way, way back in the 1990s. Have the liberal politicians and journalists now changing their tune about Mr. Clinton grown a conscience, or do they merely want another pretext for attacking the current White House occupant? The political left had a teachable moment two decades ago and didn’t learn anything from it.

To be fair, some Democratic partisans know rank political opportunism when they see it and aren’t afraid to say so. “Senate voted to keep POTUS WJC,” tweeted Philippe Reines, a senior adviser to Mrs. Clinton when she was secretary of state. “But not enough for you @SenGillibrand? Over 20 yrs you took the Clintons’ endorsements, money, and seat. Hypocrite.” Much the same could be said about Mr. de Blasio, who served in the Clinton administration and managed Mrs. Clinton’s successful Senate run in 2000.

Besides the party affiliation of the current president, it isn’t clear what precisely has changed in the minds of people who want to re-evaluate their support for Mr. Clinton. Back in the 1990s, was it OK for a president to be fooling around with an intern? Was it OK for Mrs. Clinton to smear her husband’s accusers in an effort to cover up his serial tomcatting?

As far as Mrs. Clinton is concerned, nothing has changed. Asked about the current spate of sexual harassment charges against politicians, she defended her husband—“it was investigated fully, it was addressed at the time, he was held accountable”—along with Democratic Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, while slamming Mr. Trump and Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama. “Look at the contrast between Al Franken, accepting responsibility, apologizing, and Roy Moore and Donald Trump, who have done neither.”

If you want to know why that Senate special election contest remains so tight in deeply red Alabama, where Mr. Moore faces credible claims from multiple individuals that he’s had difficulty in the past keeping his hands off women in general and teenyboppers in particular, look no further than Mrs. Clinton’s remarks. Mr. Moore’s supporters are Mrs. Clinton’s “deplorables.” They’re those “bitter” people who Barack Obama said “cling to guns or religion.” Perhaps they don’t appreciate such condescension from the left and its media allies. Perhaps many of them bridle at the suggestion that they should hold Roy Moore to a higher standard than liberals held Bill Clinton.

Political hypocrisy is and always has been a bipartisan phenomenon. Mr. Trump faces more than a dozen accusations of sexual harassment and has been recorded bragging about his behavior. The GOP’s Never Trumpers maintained that the behavior of both Mr. Clinton and Mr. Trump was disqualifying. But there’s no shortage of Republican officials who criticized President Clinton’s antics and now want to give President Trump a pass out of political expediency. They want to treat the current president’s accusers like Hillary treated Bill’s. For shame.

Democrats have responded to the Franken allegations by calling for an ethics committee investigation, which is the surest sign that they want to slow-walk any inquiry. Mr. Franken is beloved by the Democratic donor class and one of his party’s most effective fundraisers. Few of his colleagues are eager to push him out the door, and an ethics committee investigation is a good way to keep him around for the foreseeable future.

The last time the committee took any serious action against a senator was in the 1990s, and it wasn’t in much of a hurry. In 1995 the ethics panel voted to expel Sen. Bob Packwood of Oregon, who’d been accused of sexually harassing some 19 women. On Tuesday, CBS fired Charlie Rose less than 24 hours after the Washington Post reported that several women had accused the veteran journalist of sexual misconduct. By contrast, the Senate investigation of Mr. Packwood took three years to complete.

Pakistan’s Afghan problem — Afghanistan unable to sustain itself — Pak-US relations worsen with every drone strike

November 8, 2017

By Dr. Qaisar Rashid

The US cannot push Pakistan to ‘do more’ beyond a certain extent if it wants to maintain cordial relations

India and Afghanistan are the two major beneficiaries of the mounting trust deficit between Pakistan and the US. There was time when Pakistan enjoyed American nearness, the facility is available no more.

Pakistan might have been successful in securing a guarantee from the US for not extending any role to India in Afghanistan other than economic, but Pakistan is overlooking the fact that, in the post-2001 phase, it was India’s economic investment in Afghanistan’s reconstruction contributing to the India-Afghanistan and India-US bonhomie. Moreover, in his recent visit to New Delhi, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said that Afghanistan would not be part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) unless Pakistan provided trade access to India as well.

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The Afghan President raucously demanded access of Afghanistan to India through Pakistan. He also gave an ultimatum that Afghanistan would not offer Pakistan access to Central Asia in addition to accusing Pakistan for providing sanctuaries, logistics, training and ideological basis to those attaching Kabul. On the other hand, he welcomed the new role of India in Afghanistan and a conditions-based approach of the US in the region. The Afghan president’s speech tells two things. First, Pakistan has failed to entice Kabul. Second, Afghanistan values its relations with India.

Pakistan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Khawaja Asif thinks that the time has come to make the US fix the allegation of its failure in Afghanistan not solely on Pakistan as it is also the failure of their strategy there being made by its army generals. Asif does not know that it is still premature to say if the US was looking for scapegoats or not as the failure or success was not the point of discussion. As per the bilateral security agreement between Afghanistan and the US, the latter is allowed to operate and stay in Afghanistan till 2024. In fact, Afghanistan is a multilateral reality. Afghanistan has not developed its physical infrastructure to the point it can sustain itself independent of any external factor.

Pakistan seems to have been looking at Afghanistan through its archaic ethnic glasses and not any political criteria. From the perspective of Kabul, there are two immediate objectives. First, to develop infrastructure, the area where India is helping Afghanistan. Second, to suppress the Taliban insurgency dissuading it to taking over Kabul, the area where the US is helping Afghanistan. Within this context, Pakistan is considered to be frustrating both these objectives.

The present situation in Afghanistan has developed over the years. In his speech on February 26, 1999, former US President Bill Clinton hinted at the threat coming primarily from amorphous dangers, the term reified subsequently into non-state actors. Clinton remained instrumental in squashing the amorphous danger spawning in Afghanistan, but he avoided sending his troops to crush the menace. From 1996 to 2001, al-Qaeda thrived there under the Taliban regime and the US was in the know of its presence.


At that time, attacks on US outposts in various parts of the world were the reflection of al-Qaeda’s global reach with Afghanistan as its operational centre. The remoteness and sovereignty of Afghanistan must be the two reasons for the hesitation exercised by the US to intervene initially. George W. Bush who was the US President during the September 11, 2001 attacks got infuriated at the audacity of al-Qaeda operatives to attack US mainland. It was already known to US policy makers that there existed a strong ethno-political link between the Taliban reigning over Kabul and Pakistan.

What saved the Pakistan’s skin was that it had been an active ally of the US since the 1950s. The war on terror broke out but Pakistan was given a status of respect by the Bush administration. Former US President Barack Obama had to violate this leverage and announce his AfPak strategy (not policy) in March 2009 to dwarf the regional size of Pakistan and to equate it with Afghanistan.

The strategy included Pakistan’s tribal areas into Afghanistan for operational purposes. At the operational level, the US preferred not to drop his soldiers on the ground but the US did sniff out more al-Qaeda operatives and their Taliban supporters from the tribal area of Pakistan. As always has been the case, war helps create new technology. Missile-laden drones are the biggest achievement, which has helped the US forces not only to keep their body count low but also to eradicate al-Qaeda operatives.

During the Bush regime, the US remained focused on the al-Qaeda in the tribal area of Pakistan; however, during the Obama era, the focus turned towards the Taliban operatives (i.e. Afghan Talibans) active in the tribal area to disrupt the Kabul regime. With the elimination of al-Qaeda, the US might have felt itself safe and this was one of the reasons for departure of its forces from Afghanistan in 2014. However, the next challenge is how to sustain the Kabul regime against the onslaught from the Afghan Taliban. To meet this objective all help is extended to Kabul to withstand the terrorist threat posed by the Afghan Taliban.

The arrival of US President Donald Trump not only increased the level of disrespect for Pakistan but also the level of threat. The Trump regime has shown signs of abandoning Pakistan in case it does not help stabilize the Kabul regime by eliminating the Afghan Taliban surviving somehow under its umbrella.

This is the latest tug of war between Pakistan and the US. Presently, the US is reminding Pakistan of the billion dollars Pakistan received and consumed in the name of its national security. In his meeting with Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi assured the US delegation that Pakistan was not sabotaging the war on terror nor had Pakistan abandoned it.

Pakistan provided a list to the US delegation containing names of the operatives and hideouts of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan in Afghanistan. The US might take it as a counter-offensive to its claims of paying Pakistan billions of dollars to augment Pakistan’s defence. The soothing aspect is that Pakistan has agreed to help Afghanistan experience a peaceful political settlement of its internal matters including a dialogue between certain groups of the Taliban and the Kabul regime.

In fact, it is the protraction of the conflict in Afghanistan taking its toll on Pak-US relations. Before Rex Tillerson’s visit, Pakistan showed its weakness by taking cover behind the presence of millions of Afghan refugees on its soil offering a sanctuary to those attacking Kabul.

Nevertheless, one thing is getting clear that the definition of safe heavens might be different for the US from what is being understood by Pakistan. The US is focusing on Afghan refugee camps as a supply depot of militants attacking Kabul, whereas Pakistan looks at Afghan refugees on humanitarian grounds and hence has shown its inability to take any action against them.

Apparently, it seems that the patience of the US is running out. Trump wants action either by Pakistan or by US forces including missile-laden drones. The base line is this: any attempt by the US to hit an Afghan refugee camp in Pakistan will spell disaster for Pak-US relations.

What you need to know about Hillary Clinton, Russia, and uranium

October 24, 2017

By Louis JacobsonJohn Kruzel on Tuesday, October 24th, 2017 at 11:57 a.m.

A 2016 campaign attack involving former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and her role in a uranium sale that involved Russia is back in the news.

With new revelations, increased media attention and reader requests, we decided to take another look. Because the details of the story are murky and based in part on anonymous sources, we won’t put any claims to the Truth-O-Meter.

Instead, we’ll explain what we knew previously, what new information has come to light, and what we still don’t know.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton.  CreditDrew Angerer/Getty Images

What we knew before

This complex tale involves a company with significant U.S. uranium assets, the Clinton Foundation, and a decision by several federal agencies to allow greater Russian influence in the United States’ uranium market.

It first emerged in the book Clinton Cash, a 2015 investigation by Breitbart News senior editor-at-large Peter Schweizer. The book looked into donations to the Clinton Foundation; an April 2015 New York Times article also documented the connections.

In 2007, Frank Giustra, a donor to the Clinton Foundation, sold his company, UrAsia, to another company, Uranium One, and unloaded his personal stake in it. The combined company kept Uranium One as its name but Toronto as its base. Under the terms of the deal, the shareholders of UrAsia retained a 60 percent stake in the new company.

Uranium One had mines, mills and tracts of land in WyomingUtah and other U.S. states equal to about 20 percent of U.S. uranium production capacity. Its actual production is a smaller portion of uranium produced in the United States, at 11 percent in 2014, according to

In 2009, Russia’s nuclear energy agency, Rosatom, bought a 17 percent share of Uranium One. In 2010, Rosatom sought to secure enough shares to give it a 51 percent stake.

On the one hand, Russia doesn’t have a license to export uranium outside the United States, so, as noted, “it’s somewhat disingenuous to say this uranium is now Russia’s, to do with what it pleases.”

That said, the possibility that a foreign entity would take a majority stake in the uranium operation meant that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, had to approve the deal. So did the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Utah’s nuclear regulator.

The membership of CFIUS includes the State Department, meaning that the Secretary of State would have had a voice. The panel also includes the attorney general and the secretaries of the Treasury (who chairs the committee), Defense, Commerce, Energy and Homeland Security, as well as the the heads of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

CFIUS did approve the proposal, and in 2013, Russia assumed 100 percent ownership of Uranium One and renamed the company Uranium One Holding.

Why would the United States allow the transfer of a uranium company?

As others, including a New York Times’ investigation, have suggested, the United States was still seeking to “reset” its relationship with Russia and trying to get the Kremlin on board with its Iran nuclear deal. But another factor may have been that, at the end of the day, the Russian deal wasn’t that big.

Russia’s purchase of the company “had as much of an impact on national security as it would have if they set the money on fire,” said Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear nonproliferation expert at the Middlebury Institute and former director at the New America Foundation, in an interview with PolitiFact last year. “That’s probably why (CFIUS and the NRC) approved it.”

Why some of the critics’ charges during the campaign went too far

In June 2016, we fact-checked a statement by then-candidate Donald Trump — who was running against Clinton for president — that Clinton’s State Department “approved the transfer of 20 percent of America’s uranium holdings to Russia, while nine investors in the deal funneled $145 million to the Clinton Foundation.”

We gave the statement a rating of Mostly False. While the connections between the Clinton Foundation and the Russian deal may appear fishy, there was simply no proof of any quid pro quo.

Trump’s allegation went too far in two ways.

One, Trump seemed to say that Clinton bears all of the responsibility for the deal’s approval. That is incorrect.

Clinton told a New Hampshire TV station in June 2015 that “I was not personally involved because that wasn’t something the secretary of state did.” And Jose Fernandez, who served as assistant secretary of state for economic, energy and business affairs under Clinton and represented the department on the panel, told the Times that Clinton “never intervened with me on any CFIUS matter.”

But even if you don’t take either Clinton or Fernandez at their word, the reality is that the State Department was just one of nine government agencies that signed off on the transaction.

Second, while we concluded that nine people related the company did at some point donate to the Clinton Foundation, we found that the bulk of the $145 million came from Giustra. Guistra said he sold all of his stakes in Uranium One in the fall of 2007, “at least 18 months before Hillary Clinton became secretary of state” and three years before the Russian deal.

We couldn’t independently verify Giustra’s claim, but if he is telling the truth, the donation amount to the Clinton Foundation from confirmed Uranium One investors drops from more than $145 million to $4 million.

The main exception is Ian Telfer, an investor who the New York Times found donated between $1.3 million and $5.6 million to the Clinton Foundation during and after the review process for the Russian deal.

So while Trump was within his right to question links between foundation donors and their ties to Uranium one, his specific charge was exaggerated.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post Fact Checker subsequently looked at a similar Trump statement: “Remember that Hillary Clinton gave Russia 20 percent of American uranium and, you know, she was paid a fortune. You know, they got a tremendous amount of money.”

The Fact Checker came to the same conclusion about Trump’s misleading language, giving Trump’s assertion its worst rating of Four Pinocchios.

Why this story is coming up again

After Trump won the presidency, the Uranium One story received relatively little attention — perhaps because Clinton is now a private citizen rather than serving as president. But that changed in the wake of a report published in the Hill newspaper on Oct. 17, 2017.

The article’s key finding was that by the time CFIUS was weighing the deal, the FBI had been investigating whether Russia was trying to gain influence in the U.S. nuclear industry. The report said that the FBI has already “gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States.”

The implication of the Hill article is that Clinton either did know, or should have known, about problems with the Russian bid for Uranium One before deciding whether to let it go forward. (Clinton, the FBI and the Justice Department did not provide a comment on this story.)

The article cited FBI, Energy Department and court documents showing that the FBI had gathered “substantial evidence well before the committee’s decision that Vadim Mikerin — the main Russian overseeing Putin’s nuclear expansion inside the United States — was engaged in wrongdoing starting in 2009.”

However, rather than bringing immediate charges in 2010, the article said, the Justice Department “continued investigating the matter for nearly four more years, essentially leaving the American public and Congress in the dark about Russian nuclear corruption on U.S. soil during a period when the Obama administration made two major decisions benefiting Putin’s commercial nuclear ambitions.”

What remains unclear after the newest report?

The relevance of the Hill report  for Clinton’s role would be whether she knew anything about this investigation at a time when she could have used her role in CFIUS to block the Russian deal. (It could also be relevant for the actions by then-Attorney General Eric Holder, whose department has a seat on CFIUS.)

For now at least, we aren’t aware of any evidence that Clinton knew anything about the FBI investigation. If anything, the Hill’s reporting suggests the opposite.

The Hill article quoted Ronald Hosko, who served as the assistant FBI director in charge of criminal cases when the investigation was underway, saying that he did not recall ever being briefed about Mikerin’s case.

” ‘I had no idea this case was being conducted,’ a surprised Hosko said in an interview,” the Hill article reported.

At least one key lawmaker — then-Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., who chaired the House Intelligence Committee at the time — also said he did not know about the investigation.

If the assistant FBI director at the time knew nothing of the investigation, then Clinton — someone in a different department and several rungs higher in the organizational chart — might not have known about it.

Stewart A. Baker, a partner at the law firm Steptoe & Johnson, was skeptical that such information would have reached the Secretary of State — “at least not until she was asked to weigh in on the transaction, and that would only happen if it were deeply controversial, which it was not. In my experience, the State Department was always one of the quickest agencies to urge approval of a deal, and they did that without checking with the Secretary.”

The vast majority of cases that CFIUS reviews are handled by lower-ranking staffers and appointees, added Stephen Heifetz, a partner at the law firm Steptoe & Johnson who specializes in CFIUS law.

“Even though the heads of the CFIUS agencies comprise CFIUS as a matter of law,” he said, “it is relatively rare to have a cabinet secretary directly involved in a CFIUS case.”

That said, several experts said they were surprised that word had not filtered up from the FBI.

The FBI “is well represented as part of the Justice Department’s CFIUS team,” Baker said. “It would be somewhat surprising to me if a company was under scrutiny as a buyer in CFIUS and simultaneously under investigation for criminal behavior by the FBI, but the criminal investigation was not known to the FBI’s representatives on CFIUS.”

In addition, it’s Justice Department policy to consolidate all Foreign Corrupt Practices Act inquiries within department headquarters in Washington, said Michael Koehler, a professor at Southern Illinois University School of Law and an expert on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. This makes word of those cases more likely to reach top officials than other types of investigations.

And the fact that the Mikerin case included a confidential informant makes it “more likely than not that top Justice Department or FBI officials either knew of the inquiry or should have known of the inquiry,” Koehler said.

Even if word had filtered up to CFIUS this way, it might not have been enough to scuttle the deal, Heifetz added.

“CFIUS often has cleared transactions when there is adverse information about foreign investors but no apparent risk to national security,” he said.

Ultimately, we don’t know enough to be able to say whether the apparent lack of information about the FBI investigation among higher ups was due to internal reporting failures or the more mundane reality that ground-level FBI investigations take time to mature and solidify.

But for now, there isn’t enough evidence to suggest that Clinton’s actions — ill-advised as they might have been — were any more problematic than it seemed they were a year ago.



Clinton Foundation Scandal Only Deepens — So Why Is Trump, Not Hillary, Targeted For Investigation? 

The Clinton Foundation Is Dead — But The Case Against Hillary Isn’t 

Is The Clinton Foundation Doomed? 

Complete coverage of the Clinton Foundation Scandal.

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Hillary Clinton and Vladimir Putin pictured together in 2012  AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel

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House committees announce probe into Russia uranium deal

October 24, 2017


The Hill

Two powerful House committees on Tuesday announced a joint investigation into the 2010 sale of a U.S. uranium company to a Russian company.

The two panels, the House Intelligence and Oversight and Government Reform Committees, will first probe whether there was an FBI investigation into the deal, approved when former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was secretary of State.

Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) on Monday cited “very, very real concerns about why we would allow a Russian-owned company to get access to 20 percent of America’s uranium supply.”

“It’s important we find out why that deal went through,” he said.

A confidential informant has come forward to the committees, according to Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), and the two panels are currently in discussions with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to release that individual from a nondisclosure agreement.

The renewed interest in the so-called Uranium One deal came after The Hill reported last week that the FBI had gathered solid evidence that Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks as part of an effort to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States.

They also obtained an eyewitness account — backed by documents — indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.

The company controlled land equal to about 20 percent of the U.S.’s uranium capacity, according to — although experts note that the U.S. doesn’t actually produce a significant amount of the world’s uranium stock.

The State Department did not take unilateral action but instead was one of a nine-agency review board, known as the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. The Clinton campaign has maintained that the then-secretary of State was not directly involved in the process.

Clinton told C-SPAN on Monday that renewed focus on Russian uranium deals approved during her tenure is nothing more than debunked “baloney” — and signals that Republicans are getting nervous about the federal investigation into Russia’s attempts to swing the 2016 election. That probe includes looking for any signs of collusion with the Trump campaign itself.

Intelligence Committee head Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) declined on Tuesday to say whether the committees expect to call forward Clinton to testify.

“It’s a little premature. Let us first determine whether or not there was an open investigation by FBI or DOJ and then we’ll get back to you with more information,” Nunes told reporters.

House leadership is fully behind the Uranium One probe, DeSantis said Tuesday. Republicans view the Uranium One probe as distinct from the broader House Intelligence Committee investigation into Russian election meddling, long stymied by partisan infighting.

Nunes, who stepped back from leading that probe this spring, said that he has as of yet had no contact with the White House on this investigation. Nunes in April faced accusations from Democrats of carrying water for Trump when he announced that he had briefed the White House on information that turned out to have come from staff on the president’s National Security Council.

Includes video:

Clinton Foundation Scandal Only Deepens — So Why Is Trump, Not Hillary, Targeted For Investigation? 

The Clinton Foundation Is Dead — But The Case Against Hillary Isn’t 

Is The Clinton Foundation Doomed? 

Complete coverage of the Clinton Foundation Scandal.

Related here at Peace and Freedom:

AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel

Hillary Clinton and Vladimir Putin pictured together in 2012  AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel

Putin always thought she was very smart.

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