Category: Law and Judiciary

The Cards Are Falling Faster Now

The Cards Are Falling Faster Now

It’s always nice to be right. It’s especially nice to be right about developments of great import and which have been the subject of machination and obfuscation at the highest levels. In all modesty, I can’t think of a single key point I’ve made on the conspiracy to undo the results of the 2016 elections on which I’ve been wrong, but I’ll resist the urge to spike the ball. But now we’re finally seeing so many of the underpinnings of what has gone on for the past three-plus years peeled bare so that there can’t be any further doubt about the intent by one side of the political spectrum, utilizing the levers of power of the nation, to deprive Donald Trump of the fruits of his electoral victory.

It’s just under 14 months since I described a secret attempt by those in power, aided and abetted by many in the mainstream media, to undermine the nation’s electoral process and to thwart the election of a single person – Donald J. Trump – to the presidency, and to stymie his ability to govern once elected. I called for the identification, investigation, and prosecution of those involved in what amounts to the greatest and most far-reaching conspiracy in U.S. history. At the time I called it a ‶silent coup attempt.″ I think now we can dispense with the word ‶silent″ and just call it what it is – a coup attempt.

If you look up the definition of coup d’état in a range of dictionaries, you’ll see that common elements of definitions say it is a sudden and decisive change of government, often by illegal or violent means, and usually by a small group already having a power base within the government. The attempt to remove Trump from office meets all the elements of those definitions.

Now, thanks to the actions of Attorney General Bill Barr and acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell, we get to see the actual words, actions, and sworn testimony of those involved in this attempted coup. Through these revelations, we also get to see the lies told, the possible sources of the leaks made to the media, and the motivations of the key actors. And more clearly than ever, we see how the attempt to undermine Trump leads directly back to his predecessor, former President Barack Obama.

Seeing Behind the Cover-Up

Most clearly we see how top officials in the FBI deliberately baited National Security Advisor Lt., Gen. Michael Flynn, a Trump confidante, into a perjury trap in an attempt to use him to get at Trump. There is evidence that this was done, if not with the knowledge of the former Chief Executive, with his tacit approval. Like a Mafia boss, Obama surrounded himself with plausible deniability while his henchmen carried out the hit.

You can read the words in the memos and recovered text messages yourself. But it’s not just me, or numerous other commentators, saying Flynn was deliberately railroaded into pleading guilty to a charge of perjury. Read what former FBI Special Agent James C. Gagliano says about it and how he lays out how it was done and how those involved deviated from standard FBI procedure to achieve their ends.

When you’re done reading that, there is Mollie Hemingway’s detailed timeline on the Federalist on how the railroading of Flynn, whom Obama despised since he had the temerity to oppose several of Obama’s key initiatives, began on Jan. 4 at the FBI and then was brought to the White House the next day. At the Jan. 5 meeting with Obama were most of the key players – FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, and Vice President Joe Biden. Also present was Sally Yates, Deputy Attorney General at the time who briefly became Acting Attorney General under Trump.

Yates later told the Mueller investigation that Obama opened the conversation that day by saying he had learned about Flynn’s conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and, “It was not clear … where the President first received the information.” Yates told the Mueller team that she was so surprised by what she was hearing that she was having “a hard time processing it and listening to the conversation at the same time.”

Yates also believed the information the FBI had supposedly developed on Flynn should be shared with the incoming administration, which Comey resisted, making up his own rule book in defiance of DOJ hierarchy and procedure and even of law.

Part of what shocked Yates was the extent to which Flynn’s identify and conversations, which as a U.S. citizen were not meant to be revealed in counter-intelligence activities conducted against non-U.S. actors, had been unmasked by so many people within the administration. That list includes more than 30 names, including all those at the Jan. 5 meeting, except Obama himself, as well as then Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power and Obama Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, and some U.S. ambassadors and lower level government officials. Whether any of these unmaskings, hundreds of them, as unsettling as they are, had a political intent or were illegal is a matter of debate and conjecture at this point. But what seems to be clear is the leak of supposedly derogatory but classified information concerning Flynn to David Ignatius of The Washington Post, and which formed the basis of Ignatius’s column on Jan. 12, 2017, clearly is illegal. The question is, who within the cast of characters leaked it?

Lest there be any doubt that all this subterfuge traces back to Obama, there is Susan Rice’s email to herself, drafted as Trump’s inauguration was under way on Jan. 20, 2017. It is so obviously a “CYA” move by Rice, herself confirmed as a bold-faced liar by her untrue statements made repeatedly to the American public following the Benghazi fiasco of Sept. 2012, to write this on the morning the administration was to change, and two weeks after the Jan. 5 meeting:

President Obama began the conversation by stressing his continued commitment to ensuring that every aspect of this issue is handled by the Intelligence and law enforcement communities ‘by the book’. The President stressed that he is not asking about, initiating or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective. He reiterated that our law enforcement team needs to proceed as it normally would by the book.”

By the book. Right. And Rice, like so many other of the miscreants in the conspiracy, revealed her own perjury when she previously claimed that she knew of no surveillance of incoming Trump administration officials. She is now saying that she wrote the email at the direction of Obama White House Counsel Neil Eggleston.

Applying Occam’s Razor

There is one thing about the whole Russia hoax (as it has been revealed to be from the Mueller investigation through these latest releases of names and messages) that never made sense to me. I’m a big believer in Occam’s Razor which, in simplest terms, says the most logical explanation for something is usually the correct answer.

The question that has occurred to me all along, a question I’ve asked both as a former diplomat and also as just someone who applies common logic to issues, is why the Russians would prefer Trump over Hillary Clinton. It was Hillary who presented her Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, with the stupid “reset button” (which looked disturbingly like the red button to trigger nuclear missiles and which misspelled the Russian word for “reset” so it read “overcharge”) on March 6, 2009. And Obama himself who, on an open microphone on March 26, 2012, told outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to convey to returning Russian President Vladimir Putin that he would have more flexibility after his re-election.

Obama: “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.”

Medvedev: “I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.”

It’s also clear that Obama knew of Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 elections (nothing unusual since they’ve been doing it for nearly a century now) by at least late summer 2016, and the entire sum of his efforts to get them to stop it was telling Putin, “Vladimir, cut it out.” Meanwhile, he chose not to inform Trump of what was suspected about Russian meddling.

If all that is not enough to raise questions, there is the whole saga of the hacking of the DNC computer servers in the lead-up to the 2016 elections, and how the FBI never was allowed access to those servers by the DNC, which turned forensic analysis of the hack over to CrowdStrike, a company tightly within the Democratic Party orbit. Without going into all the gory details of that saga, you can learn more than you want to know about it here. Among other suspicious developments, which point more to an inside job, U.S. security surveillance, or a third-party hacker than clandestine Russian government hacking, is that intel and forensics experts concluded the data likely was taken off the DNC computers faster than could have been possible by remote hacking. In other words, the data likely was pulled off onto a fast local device, like a flash drive or CD-ROM.

Occam’s Razor tells me that either the Russians were screwing around in general – it’s long been the intent of Russia and the Soviet Union that preceded the current federation – or that they were more likely to be supportive of Hillary than of Trump. Now Occam wasn’t a partisan of any major political party, but his logic sure makes sense to me.

No More Hearings or Reports

I think at this point we’re past settling for more hearings or reports. It’s time for prosecutions of the guilty parties in this conspiracy. While Sen. Lindsey Graham, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has scheduled hearings covering the FBI investigation into alleged Russian electoral interference and the Trump campaign to begin June 1, a criminal investigation into these same issues has been under way for some months by U.S. Attorney John Durham, appointed to the case by AG William Barr. Numerous commentators supposedly in the know keep telling us that indictments are likely to be forthcoming soon, and other reports point toward the end of this summer.

On thing is clear: Time is running short. Admittedly, criminal investigations and prosecutions can take time. That’s understood. But with just months remaining before the November elections, it’s essential that prosecutions begin sooner rather than later. Not only is it inevitable that there will be charges that the DOJ is attempting to skew the elections – by the same people who have worked hard for more than three years now to cripple the Trump administration – but if by chance Trump fails to win reelection, the entire legal drive to convict the guilty parties in this most sordid and unsavory chapter in U.S. political history will be ditched, and we’ll never learn of the true depth of corruption within the FBI, the intelligence community, and the Obama White House. This would be a tragedy for the country.

Assuming there will the indictments, how high will they go? Certainly there is indication that some mid-level officials, such as former FBI Counterintelligence Chief Peter Strzok and former FBI Deputy Director and Mueller Deputy Andrew McCabe, might be included in them. If there is to be any semblance of justice, higher ups, including Comey, Brennan, and Clapper, should be included, too. If you’re still naive enough to believe in an even-handed application of justice, the perjuries, abuse of power, and leaks of classified and official information that have gone on involving these parties are certainly sufficient to charge them.

But what about above that level? A prosecution of Hillary, for her security violations and mishandling of classified material and her obstrucion of justice? Of Obama, for being the source of so many of the misdeeds that went on and for looking the other way as violations racked up? Of Biden, for his deceits in trying to cover up his involvement in the political pogrom carried on against Trump, or for allowing his influence to benefit his son’s enrichment in Ukraine and in China? If you’re expecting justice to reach that high, I have a bridge to sell you. As I’ve said all along, it’s not going to happen. Barr has already said he doesn’t plan to charge Hillary or Obama with anything criminal, and that certainly extends to Biden as well.

As many and as fast as the cards have fallen, the top actors are going to be allowed to skate. And they’ll do so under full cover of the media umbrella that most of the mass media offer them, that political-media complex I’ve described. Some of us know that, had we done even a fraction of what these people have done, we would be behind bars. But that application of justice apparently doesn’t extend to the top levels of political actors in the country.

I’ve been right about the other key facts of the matters that have dogged the country the past three-plus years, and as much as I’d prefer to be wrong about this last one, I just don’t see it. But it would be gratifying to see even some of the key bad actors where they truly belong.

Photo credits: Featured image: Rob Carr, AFP, Getty Images, used under Fair Use

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

The Holidays are past and the presents opened and put away (or returned), the wrapping paper disposed of, and New Year’s resolutions forgotten. But there is one gift that keeps on giving.

If you’re one of the 15 people in the nation watching the impeachment show going on in the Senate, and you still have any brain cells remaining, you probably recognize what gift I’m talking about.

Whichever side of the impeachment issue you come down on, you can see the show taking up time and space in the Senate for two weeks now as a gift. If you think Trump is the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler or Josef Stalin (not content to compare the President to their likes, now Dem apparatchiks are comparing a key member of his defense team to them on national television this week), you’re hearing all your conspiracy theories given voice by the House Impeachment Managers. And to you, that is a gift. On the other hand, if you see through the glaring holes in the Dems’ impeachment case, holes ably presented by the Defense team, you see the President’s rising approval ratings and improving chances in the upcoming election, and can only rejoice in this post-holiday gift being handed him.

Maybe the only people who don’t see the impeachment trial as a gift are the Democratic senators running for President – Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar – who have to keep to their seats in the Senate chamber instead of roaming the snowy fields of Iowa in pursuit of votes in the Iowa caucuses, set for Monday night.

I’ve written in this space before about how the Dems have taken swing after swing at the President, and how each one was a miss. The impeachment show is their latest swing, but one preordained from the outset to fail. The chances of getting 67 senators to vote to remove the President is about as likely as the earth reversing its rotation. It seems the hapless Dems can’t win for losing, and yet they refuse to take the out and retire to the bench. The power of hatred (or political avarice, if you want to be kind about it) runs deep.

If you have any doubt that the Dems want to carry this charade on as long as possible, you just have to consider their persistent call for additional witnesses in the Senate trial. Just as they tried to do in the Kavanagh confirmation hearings, they’d like to drag in anyone that might have anything negative to say about Trump – the leading figure being former National Security Adviser John Bolton, previously the butt of their disdain – while trying to block anyone who might shed any light on the political underpinnings of the impeachment or the possible corruption of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Never mind that they had every opportunity to call Bolton or whatever witnesses they wanted in their investigation in the House and effectively blocked every witness the Republicans wanted to call. Or, as the Defense team pointed out, the House Managers played video clips in the Senate trial of no fewer than 17 witnesses giving testimony in the House inquiry and presented more than 28,000 pages of documents, and to argue for more witnesses at this stage of the game was essentially reopening the investigation.

What Happens Now?

Whether the show goes on for another day or two or stretches out into weeks will largely depend on the vote of a few wobbly Republican senators who might vote in favor of motions brought by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Last week Schumer tried to gum up the works by introducing a boatload of amendments to Senate impeachment rules at the outset of the trial, and every one of the motions was rejected along solid party-line votes, 53-47 (with just one Republican senator crossing the line on only one amendment). If that happens again on Friday, it’s likely Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will move for a quick vote on acquittal and this whole production could be over in time for the Super Bowl on Sunday.

It’s a fool’s errand to predict what some individual senators will decide, but here is my tentative prediction: Motions to call witnesses will fail, the acquittal vote will be held, either Friday night or on Saturday, and the President will be acquitted, with all but one or two Republicans, and even two or three Democrats crossing the aisle, voting for acquittal. Falling far short of the 67 votes needed to remove the President from office, the impeachment will be over. And then the country can get back to normal business. Right?

Wrong. The nation’s business is the last thing the Dems are interested in pursuing, despite their high rhetoric. As it is, the President scored two huge policy victories while the impeachment show was underway – the new USMCA North American trade pact replacing NAFTA and the first-stage trade deal with China – but if you blinked, you might have missed news of those. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi even did her shameless best to steal the stage on the USMCA, trying to claim it as her own after sitting on the bill, which wouldn’t even have existed were it not for Trump’s initiative, for months.

No, regardless acquittal of the President, the Dems won’t let the nation’s business get in the way of their hatred for Trump. They, with their media lackeys, will continue to paint the President as the Devil Incarnate. I wouldn’t be surprised if they try another impeachment attempt when this one fails in their unbounded effort to steal the 2020 elections. It really isn’t any wonder that Congress’s job-approval rating languishes in percentages in the lower 20s and high teens.

But there’s that gift that keeps on giving. Amid all the sturm und drang, Gallup polling shows Americans the most confident about the economy that they’ve been in 20 years, and other key indicators, such as record low unemployment, historically record low black and Hispanic unemployment, growing real income, and dropping opiod deaths, are all positive for the President. As the Democratic Party appears more in disarray by the day, with the party establishment doing what it can to once more keep Bernie Sanders from getting the nomination, as it did in 2016, and fractures between the more radically Leftist wing of the party and the so-called moderate faction widening, Trump has to be encouraged by all this.

The wrapping paper might be put away, but that gift the Dems have given him just keeps on giving.

[Update February 1, 2020: The first part of my prediction came to pass on Friday, January 31, when the Senate voted 51-49 not to call for witnesses. The vote was on a strictly party-line basis, with the exception of senators Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine who crossed the aisle to vote with the Dems. The second part of my prediction, that the vote to acquit the President would be held Friday night or on Saturday, was close, but no cigar. The House Managers and the White House Defense will make final arguments on Monday, and a number of senators also want to bloviate about reasons for their vote, one way or another, so the final vote on acquittal and the end of the impeachment trial has been set for Wednesday, February 5. Meanwhile, the President will give the State of the Union address Tuesday evening. Should make for interesting viewing to see interaction between the President and those who would remove him from office.]

Photo credit: Nick Fewings / Unsplash, used with permission.

Waltzing Merrily Over a Cliff

Waltzing Merrily Over a Cliff

“I  don’t care whether you’re driving a hybrid or an SUV. If you’re headed for a cliff, you have to change direction.”

Barack Obama

That might be a warning that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would be advised to heed as the Democrats in Congress push relentlessly ahead in their quest to undo the election of President Donald Trump. On the flimsiest of charges, they appear intent to proceed with impeaching the President, a move born of their hatred for Trump and doomed to fail. As they waltz merrily over the cliff, they are bolstering Trump’s approval ratings and almost certainly aiding his reelection chances.

Depending on what media you pay attention to, you might either, a) think the case against Trump is ironclad and he is nothing short of a tyrant and reprobate, or b) that he’s been railroaded by political animus and blind prejudice. There is plenty of agida stirred up on both sides, largely fostered by selective picking and choosing of what to focus on by various media sources, not to mention plenty of outright lying (I say that having heard it with my own ears) and obfuscation by more than a few supposed journalists.

For instance, as just one example, if your source for news (I use the term advisedly) is CNN, you never would have heard the opening statement of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, a Republican, at the committee’s Dec. 11 session with Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz, nor would you have heard Horowitz’s mention of the 17 clear errors and omissions committed by the FBI in seeking the FISA court order that began the whole Russia affair that was scurrilously pinned on Trump. All you would have heard were statements by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein eliciting responses from Horowitz that seemed to indicate all was done properly, which – if you somehow heard the rest of what Horowitz had to say — it decidedly wasn’t. You also would have gotten the full opening statement of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat and one of the leaders of the anti-Trump mob, in the impeachment hearings his committee was conducting.

I’ll be doing a separate analysis of Horowitz’s findings and report in a future posting. For now, let’s just quote what Horowitz had to say about the claim by former FBI Director James Comey – who now has passed from unbridled arrogance to perhaps certifiable narcissism – that the IG’s report vindicates him in his role in initiating the investigations of Trump.

The activities we found here don’t vindicate anybody who touched this,” Horowitz said.

Another Big Swing, A Bigger Miss

At the risk of sounding redundant, the current episode is just the latest in the Dems’ ineffectual attempts to take out Trump. I laid out the basic game plan in my three-part series, “Another Swing, Another Miss.” In Part I I detailed how the Dems’ repeated efforts to unseat Trump amounted to one strike after another. In Part II I detailed how there is indeed a Ukraine scandal, being used as the pretext for the impeachment effort, but the scandal lies not with Trump but with former VP Joe Biden and his son Hunter. And in Part III I described the much bigger, but little reported on, scandal involving the Bidens and China. Now we’re going to see how three strikes aren’t enough for the Dems’ to give it up and how they are following their anti-Trump obsession right over the political cliff.

The process took a step closer to the cliff’s edge earlier on the day I am drafting this as the committee headed by Nadler, the Wiffer-in-Chief, voted entirely along party lines to move two articles of impeachment to the full House for a final vote, ostensibly in the coming week. This followed a contentious 14-hour committee debate that ended suddenly at Nadler’s order at 11 p.m. last night, prompting Republican members to call the process a “kangaroo court” and Nadler’s order “Stalinesque.”

After ridiculous Democrat charges of “bribery” and even “treason” as hearings were under way in the House Intelligence Committee, headed by the shifty Rep. Adam Shiff, the final two articles are nothing less than anti-climatic. The best they could come up with is “abuse of power” – based on the allegations that Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine in order to seek an investigation of his presumed political rival, Joe Biden – and “obstruction of Congress” – based on the President’s refusal to cooperate with the House investigations, which he has termed a “witch hunt.” While the Constitution says a President can be removed for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” there is no federal or state statute against either charge.

Given further that the White House released the full transcript of the July 25 telephone conversation between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in which there was no indication of the quid pro quo Dems’ have insisted was present, and the right of a President to demand an investigation of suspected corruption in conduct of foreign affairs, the first article appears DOA. As for the second article, disputes between an Administration and Congress over executive privilege are legion throughout the life of the republic. This Administration’s refusal to turn over documents or permit members of the Administration to testify would not be the first stand-off between the two co-equal branches of government. Ultimately, the courts could rule on the matter, though the Supreme Court, the third co-equal branch, has been reluctant to wade into such matters.

Let’s not forget that former Attorney General Eric Holder was found in contempt of Congress, too, and the total penalty for him, under the Obama Administration, was a big zero.

Speaker Pelosi, not known for coherent statements, was even more incoherent than usual in trying to defend the articles the committee came up with.

I myself am not a lawyer,” babbled Pelosi. “Sometimes I act like one. Not as often as I act as a doctor. I practice medicine on the side without benefit of diploma, too.” Huh? But wait, she wasn’t done. “This is a decision that was recommended by our working together with our committee chairs, our attorneys and the rest.” Not done yet. “And they (the articles) are … uh … a continuation of a pattern of misbehavior on the part of the President. People are realizing, when they see what that was, they think, the public thinks, that they should be determining who the President of the United States is, not some foreign power.” Well, yeah, and that “public” is who elected Trump as President, isn’t it? The same “public” whose vote you’re trying to undo because you don’t like how it turned out? And finally, “It’s no use having the discussion here. This is a discussion we will take to the floor of the Senate.”

Going Over the Cliff

And that’s where the whole process goes over the cliff. Given that it takes 67 senators to vote in favor of removing the President from office, that there are 53 Republican, 45 Democratic, and 2 independent members of the Senate, and a vote will be almost entirely along party lines, there is no chance the President will be removed from office.

There has been some backing and forthing between Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over whether it will be a long trial with lots of the witnesses, like Hunter Biden and Adam Schiff, that Trump has said he’d like to call, or a quick process, that McConnell seemed to favor. In reality, it is Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts who would actually preside over the trial and will have a lot to say about its conduct. Regardless, the end result is fait accompli. As McConnell has said, “The case is so darn weak, coming over from the House, we all know how it’s going to end. There is no chance the President is gonna be removed from office.”

Meanwhile, polls have been showing that a majority, albeit a slight majority, of Americans now are opposed to impeachment, and even more opposed to removing him from office, and Trump’s favorability ratings have been rising through all this. At least one major poll, Rasmussen’s daily tracking poll, as of Dec. 13 puts Trump’s approval at 49% (it recently was up to 51%), three points above where President Obama was at the same point in his first term.

None of this can inspire confidence among Dems given that the outlook for 2020 becomes ever more problematic for them. Some major polls are now showing Trump beating all or most of the Democrat presidential front runners in key battle ground states. Throw in the massive Conservative victory in the UK on Dec. 12, and there is plenty of grounds for Pelosi and the left-leaning Dems, to whom she seems to have capitulated, to take heed of Obama’s warning on what to do when they’re headed for a cliff.

Photo Credits: Nancy Pelosi: Unknown; Donald Trump: Reuters. Both used under Fair Use.

Another Swing, Another Miss Part III

Another Swing, Another Miss Part III

This is third part of a posting, Another Swing, Another Miss, that I initially put up on Oct. 2. Part II appeared on Oct. 4 and, ostensibly, this will be the final installment in the series. If the points made in these postings aren’t clear to you by the time you’ve gotten through this third part, we’re both wasting our time.

In the first part I predicted that the Democrats’ latest attempt to pin something, anything, on President Trump would fail, as did all their previous times at bat against him. In that part I promised to explain what “there” there is in the Ukraine imbroglio, the latest incarnation of the Dems’ attempt to undo the results of the 2016 election – a “there” not with Trump, but with former VP and current presidential contender Joe Biden. I kept that promise in the second part and then went on to say there is a much bigger “there” in which Biden and his son Hunter are involved.. Now, in this part, I will explain that biggest “there” of all, which involves China.

If you haven’t read the first two parts in the series yet you should now, and then go on to read this part. All this will make much more sense to you if you understand what leads up to it.

A Profitable Family Outing on Air Force Two

On Dec. 4, 2013, then-Vice President Joe Biden, son Hunter Biden, and Finnegan Biden, Hunter’s daughter and Joe’s granddaughter, stepped off of Air Force Two into the chill winter air of Beijing. They were greeted by children bearing flowers before being whisked off to meetings with top Chinese leaders. With the trappings of a family outing – all, of course, on the U.S. taxpayer’s nickel – the Bidens had arrived on what turned out to be not just a high-profile state visit, but a most lucrative few days for Hunter.

Hunter, Joe, and Finnegan Biden tour Hutong Alley during December 2013 visit to Beijing. What back alley deals did Hunter make during the visit? Photo by Andy Wong – pool/Getty Images. Used under Fair Use.

Ten days after the visit, during which Hunter Biden’s meetings with high-ranking Chinese officials went largely unreported, Rosemont Seneca Partners, the hedge fund in which the younger Biden is a principal, concluded a deal, initially valued at $1 billion but later expanded to exceed $2 billion, in which Bohai Capital, a subsidiary of the Chinese government-owned Bank of China, agreed to invest in Rosemont Seneca. Together, they formed a new entity called Bohai Harvest RST.

Remember in Part II of this series I asked you to remember the name “Bohai”? Well, there you have it: Bohai – the name of the innermost gulf of the Yellow Sea – represents the Chinese government’s investment in the private fund headed by the son of the then-VP of the United States. The other principal in the fund was Christopher Heinz, the stepson of then Secretary of State John Kerry. Together Bohai Capital and Rosemont Seneca formed Bohai Harvest RST (BHR). The RS stands for Rosemont Seneca and the T stands for the Thornton Group, headed by James Bulger, the nephew of notorious Massachusetts gangster Whitey Bulger. James Bulger’s father, younger brother of Whitey, Billy Bulger, longtime leader of the Massachusetts state senate and ally of John Kerry, serves on the board of the Thornton Group.

So, what you have is the Chinese government making a major investment in a fund headed by the sons of some of America’s most connected officials. While Chris Heinz later denied any involvement with the Chinese deal or with Bohai Harvest RST, Hunter Biden’s role in the fund and the deal has been well documented, largely through the work of investigative author Peter Schweizer. The body of Schweizer’s work has been widely quoted and recognized for its in-depth quality and accuracy, most prominently including his previous book, Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How Foreign Governments and Businesses Made Bill and Hillary Rich. Now some sources, like Politifact, reported that Bohai’s investment in the fund was much less than originally envisaged, topping at “just” $425 million. But that number comes directly from Hunter Biden’s attorney, George Mesires. It is challenged by another investigative reporter, John Solomon, who says that the BHR web site showed Bohai’s investment in the BHR venture at more than $2 billion, before the fund suddenly took down the site as the Biden controversy emerged recently. So much for the “fact checking” done in this case. But we risk getting lost in the weeds. The point is, a deal worth a significant sum of money coming from the government of one of America’s prime competitors went to the son of the Vice President of the U.S. on the heels of a high-level state visit.

The Chinese venture also comes into play in the Ukraine story since, as we noted in Part II of this series, Burisma Holdings paid a reported $3.4 million to a company named Rosemont Seneca Bohai LLC. When you have money behind you, you can cast a very wide net, unhindered by oceans or national boundaries.

One might consider that, just as Hunter Biden had no experience with Ukraine or the energy sector when he made his lucrative deal with Burisma, he had no experience with China (other than a couple of visits preceding the Dec. 2013 trip to meet with top Chinese financial executives) or investment banking when he struck the even more lucrative deal with the Bank of China in formation of BHR. Keep in mind as well the point I made in Part II, that it’s not just impropriety that is the issue, but even the appearance of impropriety that public officials should avoid, an imperative seemingly lost on Joe Biden.

Now here is a little quiz for you: If you think this China deal was completely coincidental and not indicative of Hunter Biden’s leverage of his father’s position and influence, as some members of Congress and of the mass media would have you believe, I’d ask that you rate yourself on a scale of 0-10, where “0” equates to “I am hopelessly naive,” “5” equates to “I am profoundly dense and incapable of connecting the dots,” and “10” equates to “I am a staunch Democratic stalwart and believe only Trump and Republicans can do anything wrong.”

Not Just Some Gaffe: “You Know, They’re Not Bad Folks, Folks”

As questionable as the ethics of Joe Biden might be in allowing his son to leverage his position as VP in the deals Hunter Biden engineered in China and Ukraine, it’s important to consider how his son’s financial pursuits appear to have influenced the senior Biden’s view of global realities, particularly in regard to China. This is particularly critical given Biden’s bid to fill the highest office in the land.

In May of this year, Biden made a statement at a campaign stop in Iowa that boggles the mind of anyone even remotely familiar with the strategic threat China poses to the U.S. and, in fact, the world.

China is going to eat our lunch?” rhetorically asked the former VP and man that would be president. “Come on, man. They can’t even figure out how to deal with the fact that they have this great division between the China Sea and the mountains in the east, I mean in the west. They can’t figure out how they are going to deal with the corruption that exists within the system. I mean, you know, they’re not bad folks, folks. But guess what, they’re not competition for us.”

It’s a bit ironic that Biden refers to corruption in China, but even that mention is embedded in the bigger muddle represented by those six sentences. And lest you write this off as just another of Biden’s gaffes, consider that, a couple weeks later at a campaign stop in New Hampshire, Biden doubled down on his earlier remarks.

What are we doing? We’re walking around with our heads down, ‘Woe is me,’ ” Biden told the crowd gathered to hear him. “No other nation can catch us, including China. I got criticized for saying that. I’ve spent as much time with Xi Jinping as any world leader has.”

Joe Biden, right, shares the stage with John Kerry, in front of the flag of Singapore. Photo by AP. Used under Fair Use.

There might be some element of truth in that last claim, but the time Biden spent with China’s president certainly didn’t seem to provide him with any clarification of Xi’s intents or those of the country he heads. Criticism of Biden’s comments came from across the political spectrum, ranging from former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to Bernie Sanders, one of Biden’s competitors for the top office.

I’ll stick with the language in our national security strategy and our national defense strategy, which identifies China as a strategic competitor,” said Randall Schriver, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asia. And FBI Director Christopher Wray recently said that China “ . . . in many ways represents the broadest, most complicated, most long-term counterintelligence threat we face.”

Even Trump, who regularly is accused by his detractors of not being fully conversant with global geopolitics, chimed in with the obvious: “For somebody to be so naive, and say China’s not a problem — if Biden actually said that, that’s a very dumb statement.” Indeed.

The issue of Chinese investment in Hunter Biden’s equity group becomes a problem for the U.S. when one looks at some of the investments made by Bohai Harvest RST. These include investment in a technology the Chinese government can use to surveil and repress its Muslim minority, as well as in an automotive firm, mining companies, and various technology ventures. Just one of those investments was the $600 million acquisition of Henniges Automotive, an American automotive supplier developing dual-use technologies with military applications, which was headquartered in Michigan. BHR took a 49 percent stake in the venture, with the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), a Chinese state-run military contractor, acquiring the majority and controlling interest in the company.

But c’mon, folks! Why should Americans be concerned about transfer of these kinds of technologies to the Chinese? You know, they’re not bad folks! And why would a $2 billion-plus deal to his son’s benefit color the senior Biden’s view of the Chinese? I mean, Hunter’s other antics and failings (I’m being exceptionally kind not to call them misdeeds – this piece is well worth reading if you want to learn more about those) haven’t affected Joe’s support of his younger son. Why should anything else do that? And after all, the administration Joe Biden was part of didn’t see any problem in delivering $400 million in cold hard cash to the murderous regime in Tehran. So what’s to see here, folks?

Go along to get along might be Biden’s motto. Money makes the world go ’round, doesn’t it?

Pelosi’s Invention

So now, getting back to where all this started, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Intel Committee Chair Adam Schiff want to Impeach Donald Trump for wanting to look into Joe Biden’s role in his son’s profitable business dealings in Ukraine and China. In any sane world this would appear to be beyond the bounds of reason, much less decency. But this isn’t a sane world. Rather, it’s the whack-o and thoroughly corrupt world of U.S. partisan politics.

Actually, while Schiff, who has his own questionable Ukraine connections, has been annointed head of the “impeach Trump” bunch in the House (keep in mind that impeachment usually falls to the House Judiciary Committee, headed by the incompetent Jerry Nadler, not the Intelligence Committee), Speaker Pelosi has held back from actually calling for impeachment. Her solution is to create what she calls an “impeachment inquiry.” Keep in mind that there is no Constitutional provision for anything called an “impeachment inquiry.” Nor is there any law that provides for such a thing. The whole concept is Pelosi’s invention. Ostensibly this is her way of bowing to pressure from within her caucus and to keep up harassment of the President, of continuing to throw whatever accusations, no matter how specious or lacking in basis, at him, all of which will be dutifully reported by the sycophantic mass media, while avoiding putting the whole matter to a vote.

It’s obvious to Pelosi that, lacking anything of real substance, even if the House votes to impeach Trump, there is absolutely zero chance that the Republican-controlled Senate would convict him and remove him from office, especially given polls that show little public support for impeachment. Such an outcome would represent a political embarrassment to Pelosi and a potential disaster to the Democrats, and one that would come in an election year that could not just doom the Dems’ hope to re-take the White House but even their chances of retaining control of the House. It also helps detract from the utter lack of anything of substance coming out of the Democratic-controlled House, leading to public approval ratings of Congress at and below an abysmal 19 percent level. Thus, we have this so-called “impeachment inquiry.”

Joe and Hunter Biden at Georgetown-Duke basketball game with the senior Biden’s boss, Barack Obama. Photo by Nick Wass/AP. Used under Fair Use.

In the midst of the ongoing firefight I think it would be naive not to expect the power-hungry Hillary Clinton from trying to exploit the whole morass and climb back on to the wagon she hopes will lead to her nomination as the Democratic candidate in 2020 and, ultimately, the presidency, which she sees as her birthright. Never mind how this might play out with voters. This is a matter of Hillary’s imperial, even divine, vision she has for her place in history. She already has been making her presence known after relative silence over the past three years. Again, the reality that whether it benefits Hillary or not, the current brouhaha will blow back on Joe Biden is not lost on Pelosi. As I earlier postulated, I think Pelosi and other influential Dems have realized that Biden can’t beat Trump and so are trying to knock him out of the race. It will be interesting to see what is thrown at him by his fellow contenders at the next Democractic Presidential Debate on October 15.

Meanwhile, wrongdoing by Hillary, other Dems, including those highly placed in the Obama administration, as well as by those within the FBI and the intelligence community, are under investigation by Attorney General Bob Barr and federal prosecutor John Durham. It’s entirely possible that Pelosi and Schiff are pushing things forward so they can beat Barr to the punch. And Barr and Durham’s punch looks like it could be devastating to the Dems.

Of course lots of things might change in the coming weeks and months. Little is a given in politics, all the less so in the overwrought atmosphere presently prevailing. But all things being equal, this is how things look at this juncture, and thus my prediction that, for all the hoopla, the current wailing and gnashing of teeth will equate to one more swing and one more miss for the Dems as they flail about in their attempt to bring down the duly elected President of the United States.

Set your alarm for Nov. 3, 2020, and stay tuned to this space meanwhile, if you can bear to watch as more of this pathetic drama plays out.

Featured image: Joe, Finnegan, and Hunter Biden deplane from Air Force Two in Beijing. Photo by Telegraph.co.uk. Used under Fair Use.

Another Swing, Another Miss Part II

Another Swing, Another Miss Part II

This is a continuation of a posting, Another Swing, Another Miss, that I put up on Oct. 2. If you haven’t read it yet you should now, and then go on to read this part. What follows here will make much more sense to you if you understand what leads up to it.

In the first part I promised to explain what “there” there is where Joe Biden is concerned in the Ukraine imbroglio which certain members of Congress are attempting to pin on President Trump. I will explain the Ukraine “there” in this segment, which serves as a preface to what, in my estimation, is a far greater “there” where Biden and his son Hunter are involved: China.

Now, let’s look at where the Ukriane “there” that is, is. And it lies with the Bidens, Joe and Hunter, and Hunter’s associates, including the stepson of former Senator and Secretary of State John Kerry. Reverting back to the senior Biden’s braggadocio about his threat to the Ukrainians, with which I began Part I, Biden claims it was the consensus of the U.S. government that the prosecutor that was the object of his threat, Viktor Shokin, was corrupt and had to go. But recent investigations by reporter John Solomon found that Shokin has sworn to a European court, under oath and penalty of perjury, that he was in fact investigating Burisma Holdings, the energy exploration and production company that had taken Hunter Biden onto its board.

In his statement to the court, Shokin said, “The truth is that I was forced out because I was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into Burisma Holdings, a natural gas firm active in Ukraine and Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was a member of the Board of Directors. On several occasions President Poroshenko asked me to have a look at the case against Burisma and consider the possibility of winding down the investigative actions in respect of this company but I refused to close this investigation.”

Consider that Hunter Biden had no experience either in the energy sector or in Ukraine, and yet he was brought on as a board member and hired as a consultant and paid up to $50,000 a month for this “expertise,” with much larger sums going to his private equity firm. This came within weeks’ of his father being named by Barack Obama as U.S. “point man” to the Ukraine. Even The New York Times reported in December 2015 that Burisma and its oligarch-billionaire founder, Mykola Zlochevsky, were under investigation by the Ukraine Prosecutor General’s office. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Plausible Deniability?

Joe and son Hunter Biden, right, play golf with Burisma board member Devon Archer, far left, in August 2014. Used under Fair Use.

It’s a general principle that liars often trip themselves up because they can’t get their stories straight. While Joe Biden insisted he had no knowledge of this son’s business dealings and never discussed them with his son, Hunter said he did discuss them with his father – albeit only once, according to Hunter. And then, lo and belold, Fox News political commentator Tucker Carlson this past week revealed an August 2014 photo of the senior Biden golfing with son Hunter and fellow Burisma board member and Hunter business associate Devon Archer. Archer had joined the Burisma board in April 2014, with Hunter Biden coming aboard the Burisma board the following month. Ever hear of “plausible deniability”? Apparently that’s what the senior Biden was hoping for until the plausibility of his denial got blown.

But wait! It gets better!

Hunter Biden and the stepson of then Secretary of State John Kerry, Christopher Heinz, had formed Rosemont Seneca Partners, a $2.4 billion private equity firm, with Archer, a former college roommate of Heinz, who was the managing partner. The New York Times has reported that, after adding Archer and Biden to its board, Burisma paid $3.4 million to a company known as Rosemont Seneca Bohai LLC (remember that last name, “Bohai,” which forms the basis for the bulk of the Biden iceberg). Apparently one of the three business associates, at least, saw the potential conflict of interest in this arrangement. Shortly after Biden and Archer’s association with Burisma was announced, Heinz, who had been a major fundraiser for his stepfather, sent an email to two of Kerry’s top aides at the State Department insisting he had no involvement with the Burisma deal. The conservative think tank Citizens United obtained a copy of the email through a FOI request.

“This email raises a lot of questions,” Citizens United President David Bossie said to the Washington Examiner. “Why would Chris Heinz distance himself from Hunter Biden’s decision to join Burisma’s board in an email to John Kerry’s senior staff at the State Department? It’s time for Joe Biden to answer questions about his family’s business in the Ukraine and what his own role was in those dealings.”

Added Bossie, “These are questions that congressional oversight committees should be demanding answers to.” Should be, but so far haven’t, choosing instead to pursue Trump.

Archer would subsequently resign from Rosemont Seneca and Burisma when he was arrested by federal agents in May 2016 on charges of defrauding a Native American tribe. A federal judge later overturned Archer’s conviction on the charges, citing insufficient evidence. But meanwhile, part of the investigation of Burisma being conducted by Prosecutor Shokin, whom the senior Biden managed to have fired, involved looking into the role the company played in the loss of $1.8 billion of the $3 billion in aid the U.S. provided to the Ukraine under the Obama Administration. And any responsible member of Congress, or any citizen, really, would question that the President of the United States would want this matter investigated? Really?

Joe Biden reminding former Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko that Poroshenko was paying for lunch, at the Nuclear Security Summit held in Washington in March 2016. Former SecState John Kerry, left, looks on. It was more than a lunch that Biden’s son managed to take out of Ukraine. Photo by Jonathan Ernst, Reuters. Used under Fair Use.

The official rules governing State Department employees require not just the avoidance of impropriety, but even the appearance of impropriety in their dealings. I wonder how much the former Vice President thought about the appearance, much less the substance, of what was going on as he dragged son Hunter along on his official coattails. As a Foreign Service officer, I used to have misgivings when someone or other would offer to buy me lunch. I’d usually reciprocate the gesture, anyway, and it would have taken a lot more than a bowl of pasta or a plate of grilled fish to influence me in execution of my duties to look after the interests of the U.S. taxpayer. But I guess not having a well placed daddy, as Hunter Biden did, might have deprived me of entrée into opportunities much more lucrative than a lunch.

We’re not even getting into the role that Ukraine played in the Hillary Clinton campaign and its attempt at smearing candidate Trump in the 2016 campaign. Or the Ukraine connections of House Intel Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, so intent on skewering and bringing down Trump using the President’s conversation with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, which we dealt with in the Oct. 2 posting, as pretext. Or what John Brennan, CIA Director under Obama, was doing in Ukraine, traveling under a false passport in April 2014. All that may have to wait for other days and other postings.

The intricately interwoven net of connections and corruption involving highly placed members of the Democratic Party that come together in Ukraine defies any ability to diagram it. You, gentle reader, may wonder why the second poorest country in Europe should figure so highly in U.S. politics. It is more than that Ukraine is a surrogate in the West’s antagonism with Putin’s Russia. What is more salient is that the country is one of the world’s most corrupt. Transparency International gives Ukraine a rating of 32 points out of a perfect score of 100, ranking it as the 120th most corrupt country out of 180 ranked. Corruption is endemic in the former Soviet republic, which The Guardian rates as “the most corrupt nation in Europe.” What better place to pursue corrupt schemes than where the ground has already been prepared and sown?

Now you may recall how I asked you, higher in this piece, to remember the name “Bohai,” as in Rosemont Seneca Bohai LLC, the company in which Hunter Biden is a principal and which was paid $3.4 million by Burisma Holdings. That is the link to an even bigger “there” there for the Biden father-son duo than the Ukraine deal, and it leads us to a much bigger actor on the world stage: China. Stay tuned for Part III along the trail as we go from Kyiv to Beijing and the biggest payday yet for the younger Biden.