If you listen to one story this week, maybe it should be this one. This report addresses what may be the key issue in America today. You ignore at the risk of losing our country. mrossol
The story you won’t hear on most news outlets..
Finally America has its George Smiley, the fictional master spy from the John le Carré novels. Smiley knew the importance of a spy agency being willing to get to the bottom of its own major cock-ups.
Attorney General William Barr has been given power by Donald Trump to declassify classified material. He told CBS that stories offered by the FBI about its investigation of the Trump campaign don’t “hang together.” The same could be said for a more consequential enigma of the 2016 election, concerning the alleged Russian intelligence that lay behind the FBI’s intervention in the Hillary Clinton email case.
Remind yourself what happened: James Comey, on his sole initiative, held a press conference to announce that, though Mrs. Clinton had behaved improperly, she did not merit prosecution. Except it wasn’t his decision to make: It was the Justice Department’s We know that Mr. Comey secretly explained his action by invoking still-classified Russian intelligence. In his memoir, he refers to a development “unknown to the American public to this day.” In fact, we know from news leaks that a Russian intercept of some kind cited a Democratic Party email that referred to an alleged conversation in which Attorney General Loretta Lynch promised to bury the Hillary Clinton investigation.
On the surface, the Russian intelligence indicated political corruption at the Justice Department and yet Mr. Comey rejected this self-advertised significance. He didn’t investigate. He didn’t tell the Justice Department. He used his possession of the classified intercept as his classified justification for intervening to free Mrs. Clinton from the email matter in time for the Democratic Convention.
The questions about this episode are many. Mr. Barr could start by releasing the classified appendix of the Justice Department’s own inspector general’s review (whose existence the media uniformly ignores). Even this would probably not tell us the back story of the Russian intercept, which likely came to the FBI from the CIA. In what sense was it authentic “intelligence”? Was it a Russian plant? What advice did Obama intelligence chiefs John Brennan and James Clapper give Mr. Comey about its provenance and significance? Most dubiously of all, how did it actually justify Mr. Comey’s intervention?
He has said he worried the information would leak and discredit the Justice Department but it still could have leaked. How did he improve matters in a way that benefited his country? In fact, by his actions, didn’t he guarantee that the information would eventually become public (though perhaps not before the election)?
Let me be plain: It seems possible the CIA and FBI concocted, based on questionable (at best) Russian “intelligence,” a pretext to do what they wanted to do anyway and finesse the Hillary email problem. The gallumphingly anomalous factor should only deepen your suspicion. Mr. Comey reopened the Hillary case shortly before Election Day, a step he says he took believing Mrs. Clinton would still win. Why do this except to dilute a post hoc impression that your original intervention had been designed to help Mrs. Clinton and keep Donald Trump out of the White House?
Similar questions arise from the FBI’s use of the Steele dossier and its peddling to a U.S. court what it knew was a false and implausible story about Carter Page. Here as well the FBI seems quite possibly to have been abusing its intelligence role for domestic political ends.
People of high ethical character don’t prate about their high ethical character. Mr. Comey prates. He would not be the first neurotic to publicly idealize those qualities he lacks. He would not be the first to dress up his shallow, devious, impulsive and expedient decision-making—the only kind he’s capable of—in high moral purpose. He likes to quote Reinhold Niebuhr. It was Niebuhr who said public men like Mr. Comey become experts in “unconscious and conscious identification of their special interests with general interests and universal values.”
And yet the colossal dumbness of it all is what sticks in mind now: To attach the FBI’s reputation to the partisan and juvenile Steele dossier; to meddle so clumsily in a presidential election as to end up producing the opposite of your desired result.
Here’s betting the pieces of the 2016 story won’t fall into place until the FBI and CIA intervention in the Hillary email case is recognized as one of those pieces. Will Mr. Barr pursue these matters as energetically as he has intelligence-agency actions directed at the Trump campaign? He hasn’t said. Mr. Trump may be unenthusiastic about an inquiry that would incidentally highlight Mr. Comey’s bumbling contribution to his victory. And yet the full story might support his claim that his victory was partly a triumph over a hostile, incompetent and corrupt establishment. The way to start clearing the air is by releasing the classified portion of the inspector general’s report on Mr. Comey’s actions in the Hillary Clinton email case.
By Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.
From “A Senate Seat Is Not Worth Roy Moore” by Timothy P. Carney, Washington Examiner, Nov. 14:
Imagine a well-intentioned honest liberal Democrat granted the power of clairvoyance in 1998. If he could look ahead to 2017, and see the consequences, what do you think he would tell his party about former President Bill Clinton? What would he say as the party leaders lined up feminist Gloria Steinem to write an op-ed defending Clinton, despite the affair with an intern half his age and the flood of charges of sexual assault or harassment?
Maybe he would say, “Guys, let’s not establish the principle that character doesn’t matter in public office. Let’s not mock those objecting to sexual impropriety as mere prudes. Let’s not rush to ‘move on’ from President Clinton’s crimes. If we do, we will suffer later.”
It’s not a stretch to suggest that the Left’s fierce, ruthless, and successful defense of Bill Clinton—and the virulent attacks on his critics and victims—paved the way for Trump’s presidency.
Just so, there will be long-term consequences to any conservative embrace of that same nihilistic worldview that gripped the 1990s Democrats. And for conservatives, the consequences will be even worse, because conservatism as a philosophy requires boundaries, norms, and traditions that such a worldview cannot sustain.
This is worth the read. And you should give it consideration.
By Eric Metaxas
This question should hardly require an essay, but let’s face it: We’re living in strange times. America is in trouble.
Over this past year many of Donald Trump’s comments have made me almost literally hopping mad. The hot-mic comments from 2005 are especially horrifying. Can there be any question we should denounce them with flailing arms and screeching volume? I must not hang out in the right locker rooms, because if anyone I know said such things I might assault him physically (and repent later). So yes, many see these comments as a deal breaker. But we have a very knotty and larger problem. What if the other candidate also has deal breakers? Even a whole deplorable basketful? Suddenly things become horribly awkward. Would God want me simply not to vote? Is that a serious option?
What if not pulling the lever for Mr. Trump effectively means electing someone who has actively enabled sexual predation in her husband before—and while—he was president? Won’t God hold me responsible for that? What if she defended a man who raped a 12year-old and in recalling the case laughed about getting away with it? Will I be excused from letting this person become president? What if she used her position as secretary of state to funnel hundreds of millions into her own foundation, much of it from nations that treat women and gay people worse than dogs? Since these things are true, can I escape responsibility for them by simply not voting?
Many say they won’t vote because choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil. But this is sophistry. Neither candidate is pure evil. They are human beings. We cannot escape the uncomfortable obligation to soberly choose between them. Not voting—or voting for a third candidate who cannot win—is a rationalization designed more than anything to assuage our consciences. Yet people in America and abroad depend on voters to make this very difficult choice.
Children in the Middle East are forced to watch their fathers drowned in cages by ISIS. Kids in inner-city America are condemned to lives of poverty, hopelessness and increasing violence. Shall we sit on our hands and simply trust “the least of these” to God, as though that were our only option? Don’t we have an obligation to them?
Two heroes about whom I’ve written faced similar difficulties. William Wilberforce, who ended the slave trade in the British Empire, often worked with other parliamentarians he knew to be vile and immoral in their personal lives.
Why did he? First, because as a sincere Christian he knew he must extend grace and forgiveness to others, since he desperately needed them himself. Second, because he knew the main issue was not his moral purity, nor the moral impurity of his colleagues, but rather the injustices and horrors suffered by the African slaves whose cause he championed. He knew that before God his first obligation was to them, and he must do what he could to help them.
The anti-Nazi martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer also did things most Christians of his day were disgusted by. He most infamously joined a plot to kill the head of his government. He was horrified by it, but he did it nonetheless because he knew that to stay “morally pure” would allow the murder of millions to continue. Doing nothing or merely “praying” was not an option. He understood that God was merciful, and that even if his actions were wrong, God saw his heart and could forgive him. But he knew he must act.
Wilberforce and Bonhoeffer knew it was an audience of One to whom they would ultimately answer. And He asks, “What did you do to the least of these?”
It’s a fact that if Hillary Clinton is elected, the country’s chance to have a Supreme Court that values the Constitution—and the genuine liberty and self-government for which millions have died—is gone. Not for four years, or eight, but forever. Many say Mr. Trump can’t be trusted to deliver on this score, but Mrs. Clinton certainly can be trusted in the opposite direction. For our kids and grandkids, are we not obliged to take our best shot at this? Shall we sit on our hands and refuse to choose?
If imperiously flouting the rules by having a private server endangered American lives and secrets and may lead to more deaths, if she cynically deleted thousands of emails, and if her foreign-policy judgment led to the rise of Islamic State, won’t refusing to vote make me responsible for those suffering as a result of these things? How do I squirm out of this horrific conundrum? It’s unavoidable: We who can vote must answer to God for these people, whom He loves. We are indeed our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.
We would be responsible for passively electing someone who champions the abomination of partial-birth abortion, someone who is celebrated by an organization that sells baby parts. We already live in a country where judges force bakers, florists and photographers to violate their consciences and faith—and Mrs. Clinton has zealously ratified this. If we believe this ends with bakers and photographers, we are horribly mistaken. No matter your faith or lack of faith, this statist view of America will dramatically affect you and your children.
For many of us, this is very painful, pulling the lever for someone many think odious. But please consider this: A vote for Donald Trump is not necessarily a vote for Donald Trump himself. It is a vote for those who will be affected by the results of this election. Not to vote is to vote. God will not hold us guiltless.
Mr. Metaxas, host of the nationally syndicated “Eric Metaxas Show,” is the author of “If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty” (Viking, 2016).