It is looking more and more like FBIGate is a bigger scandal than Watergate. The lead editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal (paywall) states that
Russia has sown distrust in the U.S. political system—aided and abetted by the Democratic Party, and perhaps the FBI….Democrats paid for Russians to compile wild allegations about a U.S. presidential candidate. Did someone say “collusion”?…The more troubling question is whether the FBI played a role…All of this also raises questions about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation….Mr. Mueller is a former FBI director, and for years he worked closely with Mr. Comey. It is no slur against Mr. Mueller’s integrity to say that he lacks the critical distance to conduct a credible probe of the bureau he ran for a dozen years. He could best serve the country by resigning to prevent further political turmoil over that conflict of interest.
Last night on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show, Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said
[I]f you had an unverified dossier paid for by political opponents, in this case, the Democratic party, that the FBI is taking and using to open investigations into a campaign or into other Americans, we are on a slippery slope. I imagine this is what you see in third world countries where the party in power uses the intelligence services for their political gain.
The Federalist‘s Mollie Hemingway provides a ten-point summary of key points in the dossier scandal.
The House has just adopted the Senate budget plan by a 216-212 vote. This will allow Republicans in Congress to move ahead with their plan for $1.5 trillion in tax cuts over the next decade. But the final outcome isn’t assured if Republicans wrangle over the details as they did over their failed efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
“Its adoption launches what GOP leaders hope will be several weeks of intense legislating, culminating in House passage before Thanksgiving,” the Washington Post writes.
“The budget measure cleared Congress over the loud protests of House members from high-tax states like New York, New Jersey and California, who worry that the blueprint will doom the current deduction for state and local taxes — a deduction of great importance to taxpayers in their states,” the New York Times reports.
Today’s Washington Times reports that
The IRS admitted in court Wednesday that it wrongly targeted tea party and other conservative groups for intrusive scrutiny, placing specific blame on former senior executive Lois G. Lerner, and entered into a settlement designed to make sure that kind of political targeting never takes place again.
The filing, made in federal court in Washington, D.C., amounts to a stunning apology from the Trump administration for actions taken under President Barack Obama, when hundreds of tea party and conservative groups were singled out for intrusive screening, forced to wait years for their applications to be approved, and subjected to outrageous questions.
Nevertheless, we remain astonished that both the Obama and Trump Justice Department refused to prosecute Mrs. Lerner. Her actions, protected by higher-ups, had consequences, including the re-election of President Obama in 2012. Mrs. Lerner’s stonewalling of Tea Party tax applications knocked them out of playing a role in the election. All it would have taken would have been a 2% shift in the votes in four states to have given Republican candidate Mitt Romney the presidency.
What is to prevent future partisan lawbreaking by officials if they are allowed to take the Fifth Amendment, retire with full pension, and face no consequences beyond a verbal scolding, as Mrs. Lerner was? Will FBIGate have a similar ending or will the guilty do some serious jail time, as the Watergate conspirators did?
Conservative firebrand Ann Coulter — like Breitbart, publisher of her latest fusillade — (1) doesn’t do nuance and (2) has a preferred rhetorical stance of calling out the President for not fulfilling his campaign promises. She particularly singles out Trump’s alleged failure to address the opioid crisis. But that complaint looks to be rendered moot by the President’s expected speech today declaring the opioid crisis a national health emergency.
House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi is skeptical: “Show me the money.” But given the President and Congress’s $36 billion dollar giveaway of taxpayer money for hurricane and fire relief, can opioid relief billions be far behind?
With federal programs, it seems that the larger the taxpayer moneys thrown at a problem, the greater the likelihood of waste and graft. Think of the $100s of billions of dollars thrown away to “rebuild” Iraq with no auditing and nothing to show for the giveaway. And now this from Puerto Rico.
Nevertheless, the flagship publication of the Never Trump faction, Bill Kristol’s Weekly Standard, is giving a hearty accolade for the administration’s deregulatory achievements.
Administration Mideast policy is beginning to come into focus. The gist of it is (1) finishing off ISIS in that region and (2) pivoting to contain — if not roll back — Iran. Key to this strategy will be whether Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is able to push through his highly ambitious reform plan to create a moderate, diversified, future-looking Saudi Arabia without stumbling on overambitious projects.
One opening for U.S. policy would be to work with the Russians to buoy up the defeated Kurds. Turkey’s Erdogan is unhappy that his sometime Russian ally is not as 100% anti-Kurd as he is. But the Russians have energy investments in the Kurdish region.
Far East policy
The one aspect of U.S. foreign policy in the Far East that is also coming into focus is strengthened strategic ties between the U.S. and India. To do so, the U.S. will need to work hard to soften India-Pakistan enmity. An economically and militarily strong India is crucial to providing a counterweight to growing Chinese dominance in southern and southeastern Asia.
But President Trump may have erred in skipping the November 14th Asian Summit in the Philippines during his 12-day trip to Asia.
Hat tips: Eaglebeak and Nicomachus