By Roger Aronoff:
The injustice here, and the double standard, is that there was never a media frenzy like this during the Obama years…
Following President Donald Trump’s generally well-received speech in Saudi Arabia to an audience that included the heads of 55 Muslim-majority countries, the concern on the part of many in the media was whether or not this would relieve some of the pressure he is under back home. Bob Schieffer of CBS News acknowledged on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” that Trump sounded “presidential” during his speech. But even that was challenged by substitute host John Berman, who questioned whether Schieffer might somehow be “normalizing” President Trump.
Schieffer responded that that wasn’t his intention, but that he was just doing what a reporter does: “I’m not trying to normalize him in any way. I’m trying to do what reporters do…report and try to emphasize what I think was important here.”
But the specter of scandal was also present. Schieffer argued that Trump’s situation back home shared striking parallels with Watergate, during which then-President Richard Nixon was forced to resign from office. Part of that parallel was last week’s appointment of a special counsel, former FBI director Robert Mueller, to oversee the investigation within the Justice Department, coupled with the fact that Trump had recently fired FBI Director James Comey. The latter invited the comparison to Nixon’s firing of special prosecutor Archibald Cox.
Charles Blow of The New York Times senses “blood in the water,” and writes about what he sees as Trump’s “authoritarian desire for absolute control.”
The irony of the appointment of the special counsel is that the last time one was appointed, it was by then-deputy attorney general James Comey, the recently fired director of the FBI. He appointed his pal, Patrick Fitzgerald, who already knew the answer to the underlying impetus for the investigation. In that case, Fitzgerald knew that the person who leaked the name of Valerie Plame to Robert Novak was Richard Armitage. But Armitage was never prosecuted. Instead, they went after Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff Scooter Libby for trumped up perjury charges. That, I believe, was a travesty of justice. Libby should never have been prosecuted, nor found guilty.
Mueller already knows that, after nearly a year of investigations, no evidence has emerged of collusion between Trump, or his associates, and people connected to the Russian government. Were there meetings and conversations? Yes. But collusion to influence the outcome of the presidential election? Not according to former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, who has stated publicly that he has seen no such evidence. That is the same James Clapper who said he was speaking for the entire intelligence community when he concluded in a report released in January that the Russians had meddled in the election with the express purpose of helping to elect Trump as president.
Did Russia meddle in our election? Perhaps. But what exactly does that mean? They’ve been doing it for decades. Did President Obama meddle in Britain’s election on Brexit? Did he intervene in Israel’s election against the sitting prime minister? Yes, absolutely. So where was the special counsel for that?
As in the Libby case, we now move on to trying to catch someone in a perjury trap, or obstruction of justice. But having a special counsel appointed is the scalp that the left was looking for. This can keep a cloud over the Trump administration for its entire run. It certainly fuels the left’s obsession to continue to bring up impeachment and Watergate on a constant basis. In contrast, some argue that this is the best thing that could have happened to Trump, since it takes the investigation out of the headlines—but it is already being treated as a full-fledged scandal.
Back in January, after it was revealed that the FBI had picked up intercepts of conversations between the Russian ambassador to the U.S. and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, then-national security adviser to then-President-elect Trump, The Washington Post reported that the FBI had “not found any evidence of wrongdoing or illicit ties to the Russian government.”
Why not look into Hillary Clinton’s substantial business and financial ties to the Russians? We’ve done that, with the heavy lifting performed by Peter Schweizer, the author of Clinton Cash. The Clintons profited through high-price speeches and donations, as even The New York Times acknowledged, that came from the principals of the Canadian company Uranium One to the tune of more than $100 million dollars to their foundations, while Hillary’s State Department office was signing off on effectively giving Russia 20 percent of American uranium reserves. Clinton campaign manager John Podesta sat on the board of Joule Unlimited, which received $35 million in investments from Russia. And then there’s Skolkovo, Russia’s version of Silicon Valley. Again, money to the Clinton foundations from both Russian and American companies favored for the project. And the payoff? Hillary received nearly three million more votes than Trump. But she fell short on the votes that counted—the electoral votes.
And why wouldn’t the Russians want Hillary as president? The Obama/Hillary administration brought Russia back to power in the Middle East, handed Iraq to Iran, and freed a hundred plus billion dollars to Russian ally Iran in an unsigned disaster of a non-deal. Plus, all of her emails for four years as secretary of state sat unprotected on an unsecured, home-brew server, for anyone to hack. So where is the special counsel to look into that? When is a Republican-led Senate or House committee going to look into that collusion?
Following his firing by Trump, Comey had notes emerge in the pages of The New York Times claiming that Trump said something to him that the media have interpreted as obstruction of justice, based on the words Comey reportedly wrote down: “I hope you can let this go. He’s a good guy.” As recently as early this month, Comey said under oath before a Senate committee that he’d never been told to stop an investigation for a political reason, saying it “would be a very big deal. It’s not happened in my experience.” That was before he was fired.
Besides, as former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy points out, based on the Obama precedent, in which he weighed in on an active FBI investigation into Hillary’s mishandling of classified material, Trump would certainly be off the hook.
Initially, Rod Rosenstein composed a memo which justified Comey’s firing based, in part, on his mishandling of the Hillary Clinton investigation into her use of a private email server. But Trump fueled the outrage towards him when he told NBC that he had decided to fire Comey anyway. “What I did is, I was going to fire Comey, my decision,” Trump told NBC News’ Lester Holt. “I was going to fire regardless of recommendation. He made a recommendation. He’s highly respected…But regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey.”
The injustice here, and the double standard, is that there was never a media frenzy like this during the Obama years, nor a special counsel appointed or even contemplated. Republicans wither and crumble in the face of media pressure, and the indignation of leftist Democrats and media types who were unconcerned about Obama’s scandals and abuses of executive power.
Many people think that Trump will be gone soon, somehow, whether through impeachment or resignation. HBO’s Bill Maher made a bet last week on his show that Trump will be out of office by the end of the year. The climate of hate created by the left, including the media, clearly exceeds anything we’ve seen before towards any other president, and that is saying a lot.
© Copyright by Roger Aronoff, 2017. All rights reserved.
Email Roger: Roger.Aronoff@aim.org