There is great impatience, even frustration, over the slow roll out of the results of Inspector General Horowitz’s investigation of the FBI’s use of FISA. From what we already know from the public record, there was clear abuse and even criminal conduct by former FBI Director Jim Comey and his Deputy, Andy McCabe. They claimed in a filing with the FISA court that the Steele Dossier was verified. Yet, Jim Comey subsequently testified under oath before Congress that the so-called Dossier was “unverified.” Okay Jimmy, which is it?
We have some clues that Horowitz is not doing a whitewash. Reports last week, based in part on the whining of people reportedly linked to Comey and McCabe and others at the FBI and DOJ, stated that persons substantively discussed in the report were given the chance to review their portion of the report but they had to do so after signing a Non-Disclosure Agreement and were not permitted to submit written responses.
Then we have Attorney General Barr’s speech last Friday to the Federalist Society. You can read the full transcript at The Conservative Treehouse. It is magnificent. Barr understands that there has been an attempted coup against the Presidency of Donald Trump. Here are some key excerpts:
As I have said, the Framers fully expected intense pulling and hauling between the Congress and the President. Unfortunately, just in the past few years, we have seen these conflicts take on an entirely new character.
Immediately after President Trump won election, opponents inaugurated what they called “The Resistance,” and they rallied around an explicit strategy of using every tool and maneuver available to sabotage the functioning of his Administration. Now, “resistance” is the language used to describe insurgency against rule imposed by an occupying military power. It obviously connotes that the government is not legitimate. This is a very dangerous – indeed incendiary – notion to import into the politics of a democratic republic. What it means is that, instead of viewing themselves as the “loyal opposition,” as opposing parties have done in the past, they essentially see themselves as engaged in a war to cripple, by any means necessary, a duly elected government.
A prime example of this is the Senate’s unprecedented abuse of the advice-and-consent process. The Senate is free to exercise that power to reject unqualified nominees, but that power was never intended to allow the Senate to systematically oppose and draw out the approval process for every appointee so as to prevent the President from building a functional government.
Yet that is precisely what the Senate minority has done from his very first days in office. As of September of this year, the Senate had been forced to invoke cloture on 236 Trump nominees — each of those representing its own massive consumption of legislative time meant only to delay an inevitable confirmation. How many times was cloture invoked on nominees during President Obama’s first term? 17 times. The Second President Bush’s first term? Four times. It is reasonable to wonder whether a future President will actually be able to form a functioning administration if his or her party does not hold the Senate. . . .
The costs of this constant harassment are real. For example, we all understand that confidential communications and a private, internal deliberative process are essential for all of our branches of government to properly function. Congress and the Judiciary know this well, as both have taken great pains to shield their own internal communications from public inspection. There is no FOIA for Congress or the Courts. Yet Congress has happily created a regime that allows the public to seek whatever documents it wants from the Executive Branch at the same time that individual congressional committees spend their days trying to publicize the Executive’s internal decisional process. That process cannot function properly if it is public, nor is it productive to have our government devoting enormous resources to squabbling about what becomes public and when, rather than doing the work of the people. . . .
One of the ironies of today is that those who oppose this President constantly accuse this Administration of “shredding” constitutional norms and waging a war on the rule of law. When I ask my friends on the other side, what exactly are you referring to? I get vacuous stares, followed by sputtering about the Travel Ban or some such thing. While the President has certainly thrown out the traditional Beltway playbook, he was upfront about that beforehand, and the people voted for him. What I am talking about today are fundamental constitutional precepts. The fact is that this Administration’s policy initiatives and proposed rules, including the Travel Ban, have transgressed neither constitutional, nor traditional, norms, and have been amply supported by the law and patiently litigated through the Court system to vindication.
Indeed, measures undertaken by this Administration seem a bit tame when compared to some of the unprecedented steps taken by the Obama Administration’s aggressive exercises of Executive power – such as, under its DACA program, refusing to enforce broad swathes of immigration law.
The fact of the matter is that, in waging a scorched earth, no-holds-barred war of “Resistance” against this Administration, it is the Left that is engaged in the systematic shredding of norms and the undermining of the rule of law. This highlights a basic disadvantage that conservatives have always had in contesting the political issues of the day. It was adverted to by the old, curmudgeonly Federalist, Fisher Ames, in an essay during the early years of the Republic.
Bill Barr’s speech is a reminder that we still have men and women of integrity and wisdom battling in the public sphere to uphold the essence of our Republic. Barr’s speech laid down a very clear marker of how he sees this battle for the soul of America. He is a man grounded in the law and committed to upholding it. He understands that justice must be blind and applied without bias if the fabric of this country is to remain intact.
We will know in the coming weeks if Barr delivers. I think he will. I have bet a bottle of fine bourbon with a wise hero of our Republic that high level people will be indicted. I hope for the sake of our country I am right. And if I am right, I am still going to buy that hero a bottle of fine bourbon.