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By Robert A. Vella

Investigative bias

There have been five major political scandals over the last half century involving U.S. presidents – Watergate in the 1970s, Iran-Contra in the 1980s, Whitewater/Monica Lewinsky in the 1990s, the Iraq War in the 2000s, and Russian collusion in the 2010s.  Four were criminally investigated by the Department of Justice, one of those was also investigated by a presidential commission, while one was investigated by Congress.  To see if partisanship affected the outcome of the investigations, I’ve listed the principal investigators and their political party affiliations for each (R = Republican, D = Democrat).  For criminal investigations, I focused on the Attorney General, Independent Counsel, and Special Counsel offices.  For the presidential and congressional investigations, I focused on the commission/committee members.  I invite readers to draw their own conclusions after examining this information and comparing it to the respective outcomes.

Watergate

Attorney General:  John Mitchell (R), Richard Kleindienst (R), Elliot Richardson (R), Robert Bork (R), William Saxbe (R)

Special Counsel:  Archibald Cox (D), Leon Jaworski (D)

Outcome:  President Nixon forced to resign, numerous criminal convictions, Republicans lose many congressional seats and the next presidential election to Jimmy Carter.

Iran-Contra

Attorney General:  Edwin Meese (R)

Independent Counsel:  Lawrence Walsh (R)

Tower Commission:  John Tower (R), Edmund Muskie (D), Brent Scowcroft (R)

Outcome:  President Reagan’s competence is scrutinized during his second (and final) term as president, a few criminal convictions but investigation limited by the destruction of evidence by U.S. Marine Corps officer Oliver North and National Security Advisor John Poindexter, Republicans hold the White House in the next election as V.P. George H. W. Bush becomes president.

Whitewater/Monica Lewinsky

Attorney General:  Janet Reno (D)

Independent Counsel:  Ken Starr (R), Robert Ray (R)

Outcome:  President Clinton is impeached for obstruction of justice but is not removed from office, very few criminal convictions, Democrats gain some congressional seats in the 1998 midterms but lose the next presidential election to George W. Bush which was controversially decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore.

Iraq War

United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence:  Pat Roberts (R-KS), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Mike DeWine (R-OH), Kit Bond (R-MO), Trent Lott (R-MS), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Charles Hagel (R-NE), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), John Warner (R-VA), Jay Rockefeller IV (D-WV), Carl Levin (D-MI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Evan Bayh (D-IN), John Edwards (D-NC), and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)

Outcome:  President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are heavily criticized for leading the nation into a war under false pretenses (i.e. that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and had links to al-Qaeda) but the sharply divided Senate committee instead blamed the U.S. intelligence community, Republicans hold the White House in 2004 but lost control of both chambers of Congress in 2006 and the presidency in 2008 to Barack Obama.

Russian collusion

Attorney General:  Jeff Sessions (R), Matthew Whitaker (R), William Barr (R)

Special Counsel:  Robert Mueller (R)

Outcome (still in progress):  President Trump is widely castigated as an incompetent and irrational leader under the influence of foreign interests (e.g. Russian President Vladimir Putin), numerous criminal convictions, Republicans suffer big losses in the U.S. House of Representatives as well as in state elections across the country during the midterms of Trump’s first term as president.

Trump loses

From:  Court deals Trump second blow this week on health care

WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Thursday struck down a Trump administration rule that allows small businesses to band together and set up health insurance plans that skirt requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

The rule is “clearly an end-run around the A.C.A.,” said the judge, John D. Bates, of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia.

The ruling was the second big defeat this week for President Trump on a top-priority item on his health care agenda as he has sought to use the courts to obliterate his predecessor’s signature achievement. Another judge on Wednesday blocked Medicaid work requirements in Arkansas and Kentucky.

Nominee withdrawals

From:  Trump’s pick for top DOJ job to withdraw over ties to abortion rights group

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s pick to take over the No. 3 position at the Justice Department has decided to withdraw her name from consideration amid opposition to her years-old ties to a national organization of women lawyers that supported abortion rights, a department spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Jessie Liu opted to take herself out of contention for the role of associate attorney general after Senator Mike Lee, a Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, opposed her affiliation with the National Association of Women’s Lawyers, said a person familiar with her decision.

Comey memos

From:  Judge orders Justice Dept. to turn over Comey memos

A federal judge has ordered that the Justice Department and FBI submit James Comey’s memos in full to the court under seal, in a court case brought by CNN and other media organizations for access to the documents memorializing the former FBI director’s interactions with President Donald Trump.

Much from the memos has been released publicly, but some parts remain redacted. The Justice Department has said these redactions obscure information about intelligence gathering regarding foreign relations — and some parts could reveal whether foreign surveillance was used to gather information about former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

As recently as early this month, the Justice Department argued that release of other information in the Comey memos could hurt the then-ongoing Mueller investigation.

Nuke option

From:  McConnell moves to ‘nuclear option’ for confirmation of Trump nominees

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has set up debate next week to make it easier for Republicans to confirm President Donald Trump’s nominees.

The Kentucky Republican came to the floor Thursday afternoon to complain about the difficulty Republicans have faced confirming a variety of Trump nominees and announced that, “the Senate is going to do something about it.”

[…]

While McConnell filed cloture to limit debate on proceeding to the resolution to establish a new standing order through the regular process Thursday, it’s widely expected that no compromise will be reached with Democrats and the GOP will move ahead anyway, using the “nuclear option” to effectively change the rules of the chamber with just a simple majority vote.

Guilty plea

From:  NSA contractor pleads guilty to retaining top secret data

A US government contractor accused of stealing vast quantities of highly classified information over more than two decades has pleaded guilty, the Department of Justice said.

Under the terms of an agreement with prosecutors, Harold Martin, 54, agreed to plead guilty to the willful retention of national defense information but not espionage, a statement said Thursday.

He will likely be sentenced to nine years in prison at a hearing on July 19.

[…]

Investigators did not establish whether he had transmitted this information to anyone and his motives were not made public.

Environmental news

From:  Alaska temps expected to soar 40 degrees above normal

“Startling” is a word you don’t often hear from an Alaskan meteorologist with over three decades of experience, especially in a place used to wild swings in weather. But this month’s warmth in the state is out of bounds, even for Rick Thoman.

The climate expert at NOAA’s Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy used the word when stating that the month of March — for Alaska as a whole — will be the 29th month since January 2013 to be ranked in the warmest ten percent since 1925.

And it’s likely to get even warmer as we round out the month. On Saturday, villages along the northern coast of Alaska, right on the Arctic Ocean, are expected to spike to 40 degrees Fahrenheit above normal.

From:  1,100 mutilated dolphins wash up in France

A record number of mutilated dolphins have washed up on the shores of French beaches in 2019, alarming animal welfare groups globally. France is now attempting to take action, although animal rights groups said it isn’t enough. According to the Associated Press, 1,100 dolphins have been found on the beaches of France’s Atlantic coast since January. The dolphins were not only dead but had been badly mutilated, many with their fins cut off.

The massive amount of deaths is being blamed on the industrial fishing industry. Animal welfare groups worldwide have expressed concern, and France’s ecology minister has launched a national campaign to protect them in the future.

[…]

Autopsies performed by La Rochelle University’s National Center for Scientific Research show “extreme levels of mutilation.” Activists said this is because fisherman often cut body parts off of suffocated dolphins caught in their nets in order to preserve the nets.

13 thoughts on “Investigative bias, Trump loses, Nominee withdrawals, Comey memos, nuke option, guilty plea, and more

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