Category: Columns

The Incredible Shrinking Merrick Garland

 

 

 

Below is my column in USA Today on the diminishing role of Attorney General Merrick Garland at the Justice Department after a series of controversies. As a well-known moderate, many of us had hoped that Garland could be a unifying presence at the Department; assuring a divided nation that justice would be pursued in an even-handed and apolitical fashion. Yet, in controversy after controversy, Garland has failed to take modest steps to make such assurances. After well documented cases of bias and false statements by FBI and DOJ officials in past investigations, there was a clear need for greater transparency and independence in investigations. Garland has consistently swatted away such options. This week, Garland stayed on that path and refused to release any part of the affidavit used as the basis for the search of Mar-a-Lago. This included the possible issuance of a redacted copy or even responses to specific concerns over the timing or basis for the search. While Trump has called for the release of the affidavit, Garland will not even release those sections dealing with the account of the prior discussions and agreements with the Team Trump. There is little proactive effort to anticipate or address such concerns as vividly shown in the last week.

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Why the Case Against Donald Trump Remains Incomplete

Below is my column in the Hill on the lingering questions concerning any prosecution of former President Donald Trump for the retention of classified or sensitive material. As previously discussed, the three referenced criminal provisions do not require classified status of documents to be the basis for prosecution. However, if the documents were declassified, it would make any prosecution very difficult, if not untenable, though the obstruction count could be based on affirmative false representations made to the government. The point is only that we still do not have sufficient information to judge the basis for the raid or the prospects for prosecution despite the often breathless coverage.  The affidavit remains key to ending this speculation and quelling conspiracy theories. That is why Attorney General Merrick Garland should call for its unsealing.

Nevertheless, figures like John Dean are saying that defenders of the former president will “have egg on their faces” when this case is done and presumably Trump is prosecuted. Perhaps, but what is clear is that there is no such risk in others claiming an array of proven crimes for six years that were never charged. Figures who pushed the debunked Russian collusion, incitement, or bizarre attempted murder claims are now claiming with the same certainty that conviction is finally at hand. Once again, before the eggs fly, the release of actual evidence would be useful.

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Five Lingering Questions In the Wake of the Mar-a-Lago Raid

Former President Donald Trump has waived any objections to the release of the warrant and property receipt after the filing of a motion by the Justice Department. The motion, however, did not seek the release of the most important document in this controversy: the supporting FBI affidavit. That is the document that would reveal what the FBI told the magistrate about the prior communications with the Trump team and the specific allegations of the status of the documents in question. Continue reading “Five Lingering Questions In the Wake of the Mar-a-Lago Raid”

The Mar-a-Lago Raid: Criminal Prosecution or Political Indemnification?

Below is my column in the Hill on the raid on Mar-a-Lago. Questions continue to grow over the necessity for the raid as opposed to the use of a subpoena or other means. According to the Trump counsel, the former president was given an earlier subpoena and complied with it and then voluntarily gave the FBI access to a storage area and agreed to add a specified lock on the room. It is not clear why a second subpoena would not have sufficed if there were other covered material under the Presidential Records Act.

There is also a report of a confidential informant or source used in the operation. The only thing clear is that, while the J6 Committee does not appear to have changed many minds, the raid has. Any possibility that Donald Trump might not run seems to be evaporated with any likely challengers in the wake of the raid. That could change as we learn more details but the raid has galvanized Trump’s supporters. Ironically, Newsweek reported that the FBI was hoping the raid with Trump out of town would be a “lower profile” option — a notion that borders on the delusional. The lower profile option is called a subpoena.

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“The Whole Enchilada”: Pundits Wrongly Claim the Mar-a-Lago Raid Could Disqualify Trump from Future Office

The FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago has unleashed a familiar euphoria among critics who have longed for–agents descending upon the President’s residence in a criminal operation. One MSNBC pundit declared that day of the “orange jumpsuit” may finally be at hand while another simply exclaimed “hallelujah.” It was a tad premature since we do not even know if classified material was found and, if so, whether there is a criminal case to be made from such a discovery. Continue reading ““The Whole Enchilada”: Pundits Wrongly Claim the Mar-a-Lago Raid Could Disqualify Trump from Future Office”

The Art of Scandal Implosion: The Political and Media Elite Prepare To Drop Hunter Biden in a “Controlled Demolition”

Below is my column in Fox News on the status of the Hunter Biden investigation and how it presents a challenge for many in Washington. Due to the continued work of a small number of media outlets like the New York Post, it is no longer possible to bury the story or continue the false claim that it is “Russian disinformation.” The hope now appears to be a “controlled demolition” where Hunter is indicted on limited grounds without causing collateral damage to the political and media establishment. Scandal implosion is as much an art as it is a science and could be the most brilliant achievement in this ongoing scandal.

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Is “Inconceivable” Provable? The Justice Department Needs More Than a Vizzini Charge to Prosecute Trump

Below is my column in the Hill on the ongoing federal grand jury investigation reportedly looking into January 6th and potential criminal charges against former president Donald Trump. If there is an indictment, it cannot be based on a Vizzini charge that it is simply “inconceivable” that anyone would believe that there was widespread election fraud. Notably, a new Harvard study has found that most people who went to the Capitol on January 6th did so in loyalty to Trump rather than to engage in insurrection. Millions continue to believe that the election was stolen. However, any case would likely be tried in Washington, D.C., which constitutes arguably the worst possible jury pool politically for the former president.

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Justice Thomas’ Withdrawal Exposes The Growing “Unavailability” of Diverse Opinions in Higher Education

Below is my column in USA Today on the withdrawal of Associate Justice Clarence Thomas from the faculty at George Washington University. The announcement merely said that Justice Thomas was now “unavailable” to teach. While the decision is being celebrated by both GWU and across the Internet, it is only the latest blow to free speech and the struggle to preserve a diversity of viewpoints in higher education. When the university announced earlier that it would not fire Thomas, I wrote a piece expressing doubt about how that victory would play out in the future to protect free speech on campuses. The cessation of teaching the course only magnifies those concerns. Such withdrawals raise the concern over the “unavailability” of a diversity of thought in higher education.

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Is Pro-Life Now Hate Speech?

Below is my column in The Hill on a shift in the rhetoric in the aftermath of the overturning of Roe v. Wade. From politicians to pundits, pro-life positions are being treated as virtual hate speech. The demonization of those with pro-life views is meant to cut off any debate on the basis or scope of abortion rights. It is the latest attack on free speech as critics seek to silence those with opposing views.

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Is the Clock Finally Running Out on Hunter Biden?

Below is my column in The Hill on the expiration of the grand jury in Delaware and reports that the Hunter Biden investigation is at a “critical stage.”  These lingering questions could have been avoided if Attorney General Merrick Garland had responded to new disclosures with the appointment of a special counsel. In 2021, emails and recordings from the laptop further fueled questions of whether President Joe Biden could have been a beneficiary of some of these dealings and how his early denials of knowledge appear demonstrably false. The failure to appoint a special counsel in this case is a textbook example of why such appointments are necessary to avoid such doubts about the scope or independence of an investigation.

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The Truth About Madison and Slavery

Below is my column in the Washington Times responding to the controversy over changes at the home of James Madison. While I have not been to Montpelier since the reported changes, I wanted to respond to the condemnation of Madison as “an enslaver.” He was indeed an enslaver but the truth is far more complex than presented by critics.

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Last-Chance Hearing: Jan. 6 Committee Has Yet To Establish A Criminal Case Against Trump

C-Span Screengrad

Below is my column in the Hill on today’s final scheduled hearing of the J6 Committee. While the Committee can continue to schedule new hearings, the eighth hearing highlights the fact a compelling criminal case against President Donald Trump has still not been made. Despite the prior promises of the members, the hearings have largely amplified what was previously known rather than introduce new “smoking gun” evidence. Even in the absence of a single dissenting member, the Committee has not been able to make the long-promised criminal case.

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“Be Aggressive and Go All the Way”: Abortion Could be Headed Back to the Supreme Court

Below is my column in the Hill on how the next round of post-Roe litigation is coming into sharper focus. At the center of this fight will be the question of who controls doctors in any given state.

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Democrats’ Second Amendment ‘Syndrome’ Plan: Plotting the Next Big Fight over Gun Rights

Below is my column in the Hill on the next round of litigation over the Second Amendment. New York and other states quickly moved to exploit the concurrence of Justice Brett Kavanaugh (who was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts) that state officials believe contains a loophole for greater gun limitations based not on the weapons but the places where they can be taken.

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