Category Archives: US Constitution

Harvard: I thought it’s motto included ‘veritas’?

When I voted for Donald Trump, it was not because he was the most wonderful guy. It was the only vote I understood that would be committed to protect Americans from what is happening right now. Where are all the freedom-loving, Constitution protecting Democrats? mrossol.

By William McGurn Jan. 18, 2021

Rep. Elise Stefanik at a rally in Fort Drum, N.Y., Jan. 17.PHOTO: ADRIAN KRAUS/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Elise Stefanik grew up in a working-class family in upstate New York, where her father and mother ran a small plywood distribution business. After getting accepted to Harvard, she became not only the first Ivy Leaguer in her family but also the first to graduate from college.


“I’ll never forget what my dad told me the summer before my freshman year,” she tells me. “He said, ‘Elise, I can’t tell you what to expect or what’s going to happen because I never had this experience. I know you will do well and we will be proud of you. All I ask is that you remember where you came from.’ ”

He was right: His daughter would make him proud. Two days before she graduated from Harvard in 2006, she received a job offer from the George W. Bush White House (where I was a colleague). Afterward she helped on various Republican campaigns before returning home for a stint with the family business.

Then, in 2014, she ran for Congress—and won—in New York’s 21st, a mostly rural, upstate district between Albany and Canada. At the time she was 30, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

But now she’s not good enough for Harvard.

On Jan. 12, the Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School booted her off its senior advisory committee after first trying to get her to go quietly. Dean Doug Elmendorf put it this way: “In my assessment, Elise has made public assertions about voter fraud in November’s presidential election that have no basis in evidence, and she has made public statements about court actions related to the election that are incorrect.” It came days after a petition had demanded her removal for “enabling violence at our Capitol” and undermining both democracy and the Constitution.

It’s an extraordinary sanction for an institution dedicated to free and open inquiry, one that doesn’t seem to be used against Harvard liberals. Now there’s a new, student-driven petition demanding Harvard “take a stand for representative democracy and against violent white supremacy” by stripping Ms. Stefanik of her Harvard degree—along with other Republican alumni, including the Kennedy School’s Rep. Dan Crenshaw (class of 2017), and the Harvard Law School’s Sen. Ted Cruz (1995) and White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany (2016).

These moves at Harvard are all the more extraordinary because, unlike Mr. Trump, Ms. Stefanik has not used language about a “rigged” or “stolen” election. Though she has spoken about voting irregularities, it’s been in the context of constitutional issues such as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s overriding powers reserved for the state Legislature to extend the voting deadline.

In a floor statement delivered the day the Capitol was stormed, Ms. Stefanik decried the violence as “un-American” and demanded those responsible be “prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” But she defended her objection to certifying electors, saying it reflected the concerns “tens of millions of Americans” had about “unconstitutional overreach by unelected state officials and judges ignoring state election laws. We can and we should peacefully and respectfully discuss these concerns.”

As a private institution Harvard has the right to decide who serves on its advisory committees. But shouldn’t an institution whose motto is “Veritas” at least have the decency to back up its accusations by listing the specific offenses that rendered Ms. Stefanik unfit for Harvard life?

Alas, Harvard’s truth squads target only Republicans. Rep. Adam Schiff, for example, is a graduate of Harvard Law School. As the top Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, Mr. Schiff falsely insisted for years that he had “more than circumstantial evidence” of Mr. Trump’s collusion with Russia.

Laurence Tribe is a Harvard law professor whose Twitter feed during the Trump years suggested a man unhinged. Even BuzzFeed noticed: “Why Is A Top Harvard Law Professor Sharing Anti-Trump Conspiracy Theories?” it asked.

As for confirming presidential electors, in January 2001 then- Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. objected to the formal recording of the Electoral College votes that gave George W. Bush his victory. Mr. Jackson was then an adviser on the same Harvard board as Ms. Stefanik.

Four years later, when Mr. Bush was re-elected, some Democrats objected to counting the results for Ohio, which had tipped the election to Mr. Bush. Mr. Jackson, still on the Institute of Politics committee, was again among the objectors. There doesn’t seem to have been any move by Harvard to give him the heave-ho.

Back then, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi explained the Democrats’ objections this way: “Our very democracy depends again on the confidence of the American people in the integrity of our electoral system. So, my colleagues, please don’t talk about this, about a conspiracy theory. It’s not about that. It’s not about conspiracy. It’s about the Constitution of the United States.”

Fair enough. But when Ms. Stefanik says it, Harvard casts her out. Is there any leader at Harvard willing to protest the embarrassment Dean Elmendorf has inflicted on the entire university by indulging the progressive mob that wants a congresswoman canceled?

How about it, President Lawrence Bacow?


Graham Releases Russia Probe Docs, Calls Crossfire Hurricane ‘Incompetent and Corrupt’

The Epoch Times – January 16, 2021

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Thursday released interview transcripts from an inquiry into the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe, code-named Crossfire Hurricane, claiming the documents show incompetence and corruption at the heart of the investigation.

Graham, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, released hundreds of pages of transcripts from the committee’s inquiry into the origins of the Crossfire Hurricane probe, saying in a statement that he believes the effort “was one of the most incompetent and corrupt investigations in the history of the FBI and DOJ.”

The transcripts come from 11 closed-door hearings that the Graham-led committee carried out between March and October of 2020, including interviews with Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI officials.

One of the transcripts relates to an interview with an unnamed FBI agent who once headed one of the FBI’s field office’s investigations into Russian organized crime and later became British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s primary contact and handler. The transcript shows the agent believed that Steele’s infamous dossier, which was paid for by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign, was “political.”

“I mean, it was obvious,” the FBI agent said when asked whether he believed the dossier was political in nature.

“It was completely obvious to all of us, whoever was involved in these conversations, what the purpose was of the information was—to be used by one political party or another,” the agent said.

He was asked whether concerns were raised about whether the dossier may have been tainted by Russian disinformation.

“That’s always a concern, particularly dealing in that universe,” he said, adding that he had no knowledge of how the Crossfire Hurricane team was corroborating the information in the dossier.

According to earlier reporting by The Epoch Times, the FBI relied heavily on news articles and open sources in its efforts to corroborate claims in the Steele dossier.

Epoch Times Photo
A page from a transcript of a Judiciary Committee interview with an unnamed FBI agent, released on Jan. 15, 2020. (Senate Judiciary Committee)

The agent insisted that “in no way, shape, or form” were any of his decisions relating to Steele or the connections he made between Steele and the Crossfire Hurricane team political, adding that he had not seen any evidence that political bias impacted the Trump-Russia probe.

While he said he couldn’t “speak to the purpose of the investigation,” he said he had seen no evidence suggesting that the Crossfire Hurricane investigation was part of a campaign to damage President Donald Trump politically or that the FBI “waged a coup against President Trump.”

In a report released in December 2019 (pdf), Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz found that the FBI had sufficient cause to justify opening the probe and he did not find evidence of political bias in the agency’s decision to launch the investigation.

“We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced” the decision to open the Crossfire Hurricane probe, the report says. “We found that Crossfire Hurricane was opened for an authorized investigative purpose and with sufficient factual predication,” it added.

At the same time, Horowitz found “at least 17 significant errors and omissions” in the FBI’s case for surveilling former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Although Horowitz said in the report that his team didn’t find evidence of intentional misconduct on the part of case agents who applied for the surveillance warrants, “we also did not receive satisfactory explanations for the errors or problems we identified.”

While Horowitz found that Steele’s questionable dossier played a “central and essential role in the decision to seek a FISA application for Carter Page,” he also said his investigative team found the dossier “played no role” in launching the Crossfire Hurricane probe.

Epoch Times Photo
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz testifies at a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Dec. 11, 2019. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Following the release of Horowitz’s report, then-Attorney General William Barr disputed his findings that the investigation was properly predicated, as did U.S. Attorney John Durham, who has been appointed as a special counsel to pursue a separate investigation into whether Crossfire Hurricane was launched correctly and lawfully.

Graham criticized the leadership of the FBI under former Director James Comey and former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, arguing it was “either grossly incompetent” or said “they knowingly allowed tremendous misdeeds.”

“There was a blind eye turned toward any explanation other than the Trump campaign was colluding with foreign powers,” Graham said. “At every turn the FBI and DOJ ran stop signs that were in abundance regarding exculpatory information.”

Graham contended the Crossfire Hurricane “investigation was pushed when it should have been stopped and the only logical explanation is that the investigators wanted an outcome because of their bias.”

Comey and McCabe have repeatedly rejected the allegations that the Crossfire Hurricane probe was improperly predicated, although McCabe acknowledged “unacceptable” failures in surveillance warrant applications and Comey admitted to “real sloppiness” in the conduct of the probe.

The South Carolina senator said he would continue to push for reforms of counterintelligence investigations and warrant applications, and said he hopes for bipartisan backing on these matters. He also urged FBI Director Christopher Wray to “continue the reforms he has started.”

“It is hard to believe that something like Crossfire Hurricane could have happened in America,” Graham said. “The bottom line is that going forward we must have more checks and balances when it comes to political investigations. We must have more meaningful sign-offs on warrant applications, and we need to restore the trust to the American people in this system.”

The Crossfire Hurricane probe, which morphed into former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, found no evidence of a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the results of the 2016 election.


What Legislative Powers Are Left for Impeachment to Defend?

Donald Trump’s presidency has visited unique miseries on U.S. governance, some of his making and many the doings of his opponents. But his parting infliction of chaos is the most illuminating.

The key is to understand the nature of President Trump’s offense, and precisely why the Senate may yet find it difficult to convict him for it despite Wednesday’s impeachment in the House. The offense for which he is almost certainly impeachable was the speech he gave the day of the Capitol Hill riot that incited a mob to obstruct Congress’s deliberations.

This must be the closest a president has ever come to the sort of infraction the Founders had in mind when they wrote the impeachment clause. Much of their political thought was stimulated by the English Civil War of the 1640s, sparked by Parliament’s attempts to defend its privileges against King Charles I (whose head parliamentarians ultimately claimed). That conflict between crown and Parliament has preoccupied English-language political philosophy ever since. Less time separated America’s founding generation from those events than now stands between us and the founding.

But what will Congress do about it? The Founders provided for political impeachment and conviction as the remedies for a dangerous executive. But to work, the mechanism requires a legislative branch deeply invested in and jealous of its powers and prepared to go to the political mat to defend them.

No wonder the current impeachment drive may falter, since today’s Congress is anything but protective of its unique institutional role. The House speaker who pushed forward impeachment this week is the same Nancy Pelosi who famously admitted in 2010 that Congress would have to pass the Affordable Care Act “so you can find out what’s in it.” Whatever figurative point she thought she was making, the statement was literally true: Most of what Congress did was hand executive agencies vague instructions to write new regulations, the full content of which would be as much of a surprise to legislators as anyone else.

This congressional abdication of lawmaking authority to executive agencies has become routine over the past few generations and under both parties. But if the speaker took no issue with handing the executive branch control over one-sixth of the economy, what congressional privileges does she think are left for her to protect from it now?

At other times Mrs. Pelosi has shunted legislative authority over to the mob. She said in July that “people will do what they do” when asked whether the City Council should have been consulted before rioters tore down a statue of Christopher Columbus in her childhood hometown of Baltimore. Apparently she thinks so little of legislative institutions that she believes they shouldn’t even decide which statues occupy public land.

Once the article of impeachment wends its way to the Senate, it will be in the hands of Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, whose respect for the division of powers is similarly suspect. He’s the one who warned Supreme Court justices they would “pay a price” if they ruled in a way he didn’t like on an abortion case. Not only was this an attempt to bully the judicial branch, but an abdication of the legislature’s privilege to write statutes. Mr. Schumer pressed the Supreme Court to use its ruling to craft de facto laws that Democrats can’t pass in Congress.

All of this matters now because greater institutional confidence would have helped the House to draft articles with a better chance of securing stronger bipartisan support—and a Senate conviction. The heart of the matter, and the House’s articles of impeachment, is the assault on the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Yet Democrats couldn’t resist the temptation also to include, both in the article and in their floor speeches Wednesday, complaints about what a sore loser Mr. Trump has been these past two months, and extraneous matters such as a phone call to Georgia’s secretary of state that didn’t impede Congress’s prerogatives.

Those items take up space amounting to roughly one page out of the four in the article of impeachment the House passed. They also make it hard for Republicans to support because they are political complaints. The president’s offense is institutional, but a House that every day loses a bit more of its self-awareness now can view Mr. Trump only through the lens of partisan distaste. If one thing could give Senate Republicans a rosier view of the president, it was this sort of chicanery.

The perverse irony is that this means Mr. Trump was right all along. His promise to “drain the swamp,” targeted at Washington’s unelected and crony technocrats and political operatives, was nothing if not a pledge to restore power to elected officials (by which he meant primarily himself).

Now if he escapes conviction in his final days in office, it will be because the elected lawmakers who should have benefited most from this bog clearance have so thoroughly forgotten their constitutional role that they can’t defend it from the president.

Appeared in the January 15, 2021, print edition.

Source: What Legislative Powers Are Left for Impeachment to Defend? – WSJ