Fred LaSor: Who meddled more in our elections?
We’re learning from congressional investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election just how much President Obama weaponized executive branch agencies. Remember the IRS delaying, and sometimes denying, tax-exempt status to nonprofit political organizations that appeared to support conservative candidates and policies? Lois Lerner was the fall-guy for the IRS, although she retired with full pension and has subsequently refused to testify before Congress about IRS activities leading up to Obama’s re-election in 2012. We need to recognize she’s clearly defending Obama, her ultimate boss.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tax and Firearms acted criminally by encouraging Arizona firearms dealers to break the law by selling weapons to unqualified purchasers. Operation Fast and Furious was allegedly to trace illegal weapons sales across our southern border, but it was clearly an attempt to misrepresent legal gun sales, and eventually resulted in the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and Attorney General Eric Holder’s being held in contempt of Congress.
And the FBI was weaponized by Director James Comey, who allowed abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to eavesdrop on opposition party candidates and their campaigns. Writing in The National Review this week, contributing editor Andrew McCarthy is puzzled the FISA Court granted multiple warrants to spy on one-time Trump advisor Carter Page without knowing more about Christopher Steele and his “dossier.” McCarthy suggests the FISA Court call in the warrant’s drafters and request more information.
Now House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes has promised another memo on weaponization of the State Department, to be followed by one examining the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency. I have great respect for employees and officers of our intelligence agencies with whom I worked overseas. They put in long hours under frequently dangerous circumstances, with little recognition for their efforts. But their bosses clearly stepped over the line in supporting Hillary.
Former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper both ignored restrictions on involvement in domestic politics with regular appearances on news programs to discuss intelligence investigations into the Trump campaign, and to claim “17 intelligence agencies agree” the Trump campaign had illegal contact with Russian officials. You no longer hear about the concurrence by the 17 intelligence agencies because it was untrue, but you still hear Clapper and Brennan speaking out against the Trump campaign and supposed contacts with Russians. They’re definitely out of bounds.
Sens. Grassley and Graham also divulged a short email by Susan Rice to herself on Jan. 20, 2017, at 12:15 — minutes after Trump’s inauguration — about a meeting with President Obama two weeks earlier. Rice’s email recalls President Obama’s instructions regarding investigation into Russian electoral interference: “President Obama began the conversation by stressing his continued commitment to ensuring that every aspect of this issue is handled by the intelligence and law enforcement communities ‘by the book.’ The president stressed that he is not asking about, initiating or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective. He reiterated that our law enforcement team needs to proceed as it normally would by the book.”
Grassley and Graham thought that email “odd.” So do I. Why would the national security advisor memorialize presidential instructions to obey the law? Is that a new policy? To quote Hamlet’s mother, “The lady doth protest too much.”
CIA Director Pompeo this week told the Senate Intelligence Committee he expects the Russians to meddle in the 2018 election. After Obama’s weaponization of the executive branch and attempts to damage 2016 candidates Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump (it’s the Chicago way, after all), one wonders if we should be more concerned about Russians or Obama.
Fred LaSor worked closely with American intelligence officers in a long federal career. He is troubled by the way their bosses are damaging their reputation.