Last week in double standards: Obama v. Trump
Correction to the essay below: Lynch did not recuse herself. See https://caucus99percent.com/content/apology-caucus99percent-re-loretta-l...
First, let me be clear: I do not trust or support Trump, any more than I trust or support Hillary. I just dislike substituting partisan posturing for governing and for journalism.
A recent essay of mine posited that Obama should have appointed someone (or "someones") independent to look into whatever needed looking into regarding Hillary Clinton. I also wrote that both Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former FBI head James Comey should have declined to proceed. Had Republicans requested that Obama appoint someone independent? Yup. Was anyone independent appointed, even after AG Lynch recused herself (and her entire department)? Nope. Did a single Democrat demand appointment of someone independent at that time? Nope. Did mainstream media make a huge deal of the failure to appoint someone independent at that time? Nope.
Did Democrats demand that Comey be fired immediately after Comey sent a letter to Congress about reopening the investigation of how Hillary handled her emails? Yup. Was media's hair on fire over the impropriety of the Democrats' demand? Nope. Did Democrats nonetheless demand appointment of an independent investigator to investigate Trump for firing of Comey, which Democrats themselves had previously demanded? Yup. Is media's hair on fire because Trump has not appointed anyone independent yet? Yup. Are Democrats refusing to approve appointment of a new FBI director until Trump appoints an independent official to investigate Trump's possible connections to Russia? Yup. Is media's hair on fire over Trump not appointing someone to investigate his connections to Russia, too? Yup.
As an aside, IMO, Trump is correct that Comey has not been doing a good job. First, Comey's job is enforcement, not Attorney General or U.S. Attorney, and certainly not judge and jury. Therefore, Comey should have insisted on an independent person to head the investigation and he should not have made any legal determinations about guilt or innocence. That was not his job, just as that is not the job of a cop. Moreover, Comey applied the wrong legal standards up and down the line. He found Hillary had indeed mishandled classified info, but said this should not be prosecuted because Hillary had no intent to violate the law.
Intent to violate a law is irrelevant. You can be prosecuted for violating a law even if you have no clue that the law even exists. ("Ignorance of the law is no excuse" is a saying with which most of us are familiar.) Further, Comey's testimony before Congress was clear that Comey considered the image of the FBI and the importance of the investigation subject (Hillary), neither of which should be considered in legal matters. (Hence the blindfold on the statue of Justice!) So, Comey's legal conclusions in the matter were not his job and apparently also outside his competence.
Comey was not even any great shakes at supervising an investigation, which is his job. He testified, under oath, that Huma Abedin had forwarded thousands of emails to her husband, Anthony Weiner, including some that were classified. (Weiner's role was to print them.) It took quite a few questions from Senators to get Comey to admit that Weiner did not have the proper clearance to receive these emails and, if Weiner had read them, Weiner would have violated the law. This issue did not seem to have occurred to Comey previously. When pressed as to whether Wiener had in fact read the emails, Comey replied "I don't think so." This suggests that Comey, who was supposed to be investigating this situation, had not even bothered to assure himself that Weiner had not read classified emails.
Besides, Abedin obviously knew that her husband did not have the proper clearance. Wasn't sending classified emails to someone Abedin knew was not cleared to receive them a violation of law by Abedin? However, even the Republican Senators did not raise that issue, let alone the Democrats (or Comey). Is media's hair on fire because of any of that? Nope. Media's hair is on fire only because Trump fired Comey, as both Republicans and Democrats had previously demanded, and because Trump has not yet appointed a special investigator to look into Trump's motive for the firing or to look into Trump's contacts with Russia.
Next, we have Trump tweeting that, before Comey leaks details of the Trump-Comey dinner conversation to the press, Comey better hope that Trump did not have tapes of that conversation. I took this tweet troll to mean that Comey better not vary from the truth when talking to media about the conversations. Media took it to mean Trump definitely did have tapes and had better turn them over to Congress! Not only that, but I was suddenly hearing the words "threat," "Nixonian threat," "obstruction of justice (with which both Nixon and Clinton were charged in impeachment papers)" and I was seeing pictures of Trump and Nixon, the only U.S. President ever to resign, side by side on TV. Wowza. Talk about smearing by association. Talk about false equivalency.
While taping someone without their consent or a warrant is itself wrong, President Nixon was not forced out of office because he taped people without consent or a warrant and certainly not because Nixon warned someone to tell the press the truth, lest the speaker's words vary from a recording. Let's review, folks, shall we? The Nixon White House ordered and/or knew of a host of illegal activities, such as a burglary and using the power of the White House, including the Internal Revenue Service, to get at Nixon's political enemies (aka, abuse of power). And then, Nixon participated in the cover up of these activities, which cover up included erasing eighteen minutes of one of his tapes. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watergate_scandal The only similarity between that situation and this one is that Trump mentioned tapes (as a possibility). No underlying crime or cover up. Yet media and politicians are treating them as almost identical situations. Whiskey.Tango.Foxtrot.
As for the alleged threat to Comey: In essence, Trump warned Comey, "If you mischaracterize our conversations to the press, I may be able to embarrass you by proving you mischaracterized them." If that "threat" had the already-fired Comey shaking in his boots, Comey probably should not have headed an agency like the FBI. However, this essay is about double standards. So...speaking of Watergate, does anyone remember the kerfuffle about whether the idea of the sequester had originated with Democrats or Republicans? Or with Congress or "the White House?"
The White House, including Obama, repeatedly denied having been the source. Robert Woodward, journalist of Watergate fame, insisted that the idea of the sequester had come from the White House. Then Woodward claimed that a senior White House official warned Woodward that Woodward would regret reporting that the sequester had originated with the White House because that was not correct. When Woodward reported this, media treated him like a paranoid in search on an asylum with a comfy fainting couch. When Trump tweeted about proving Comey wrong, media set its hair on fire about the "threat." FYI, the warning or "threat" to Woodward came from Gene Sperling, then Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, positions Sperling held under President Obama as well as under President Clinton--and Sperling later claimed that the sequester had been Obama's idea.
What's more significant? Warning a fired FBI head that the White House may be able to prove him wrong if he misrepresents his conversation with Trump or the White House warning a journalist not to report the source of the sequester idea lest the White House prove him wrong? Oh, and who is getting to be media's go to source for supposedly unimpeachable info about Trump and Comey? James Clapper, the guy who is famous for testifying to Congress under oath with the "least untruthful" lie about mass surveillance.
Will politicians ever feel an obligation to govern for our benefit, instead of only engaging in partisan antics? Will mainstream media ever return to at least pretending to fulfill the function that the Framers thought worthy of First Amendment protection?