Harry Truman famously said that “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” Trump campaign counsel Don McGahn appears to have given the same advice to international businessman Carter Page, who is at the center of the Russian influence scandal. While Page was referenced as an adviser during the campaign, McGahn sent him a letter telling him to stop calling himself “an advisor” — current or former. In other words, he was now not just a non-adviser. Page was now a non-entity for the purposes of the Trump team. As continued denials this week of any role of Page confirm, he has now joined a rather lamentable group in Washington: political orphans who wander the Beltway without a home or a friend. They are our untouchable class; people who move from high-profile existences to utter non-entities in the space of a news cycle. Continue reading
Below is my column in the Hill Newspaper on the investigation of former Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill), who attracted notoriety for his use of a Downton Abbey motif for the decoration of his office. Obviously a preference for haughty interiors should not be enough to generate a massive criminal investigation. However, the prosecutor in this case has pursued Schock with utter abandon, including trampling over long-established protections accorded to Congress. Regardless of the merits of the fraud allegations against Schock, the investigation raises troubling questions of constitutional law and Congress should hold hearings into the violation of Article I.
We previously discussed the controversy over a painting by a constituent of Democratic Rep. William Lacy Clay that depicted police as pigs in Ferguson, Missouri. As we discussed, the House had a right to remove the art and eventually did precisely that. However, before that decision from the House, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R., Cal.) took down the painting. Clay called for criminal charges. When the painting was rehung, another Republican member removed it. At the time, Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said “We may just have to kick somebody’s ass and stop them. Then the architect stepped in and barred the hanging of the picture. A lawsuit challenged the actions of the House of Representatives and I expressed my great skepticism over the merits of such a case. It appears that U.S. District Judge John D. Bates agrees with that assessment. In a ruling yesterday, Bates rejected the claim that the Architect’s actions were unlawful in removing the painting by David Pulphus, a student artist from Missouri. Pulphus joined Rep. William Clay, in the legal challenge.
The attack on the Syrian airfield has sent the polls for President Donald Trump into a sharp rise and he has been praised by various Democrats. Others have called for the commitment of thousands of troops. No one seems interested in speaking of the absence of congressional authorization. Indeed, when Sen. Rand Paul objected to the lack of congressional consent, Sen John McCain denounced him as a non-entity in the Senate who does not listens. Below is my column on the mounting attacks on Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D, HI) from Democrats after she called for the release of evidence on the culpability of the Syrian government in the recent gas attack on a village. Even though some (including a recent MIT professor) have questioned the evidence, Gabbard’s desire to see the evidence was viewed as inexcusable. It appears that war, like Saturn, devours its young.
Below is my recent column in The Hill Newspaper on the Rice controversy. Media spins for Rice continue including MSNBC “AM Joy” host Joy Reid describing the softball interview with Andrea Mitchell as a type of “Government for Dummies” lecture: “She was on with our own Andrea Mitchell yesterday trying to explain how government works, for those that don’t know.” Of course, unmasking political opponents (if the allegations are proven to be true), would not be how the government is supposed work. Nor is alleged lying about knowing nothing about the unmasking in prior interviews — a curious conflict with Reid’s take that Rice was trying to explain how government works. This was Rice’s second or third explanation.
The controversy occurs after the Washington Post gave Rice a retroactive “Four Pinnochios” for her claim that the Obama Administration got rid of all chemical weapons in Syria. (That is not the first time that Rice has been accused of false statements on national security issues, as discussed below). None of this seems to matter in the coverage of the most recent controversy involving Rice. It appears that Trump is the temptation that many journalists simply cannot resist. It is a Faustian bargain: media is so intent on pursuing Trump that they have lost any sense of their own navigational beacons of objectivity and neutrality.
In a blow to environmentalists and animal rights supporters, President Donald Trump has signed a new law that revokes the Obama Administration’s rule against “predator control” hunting on Alaska’s refuges. The rule prevented hunters from killing bears as they hibernated in their dens or killing wolf cubs in dens. It also bars hunting from helicopters.
I have been discussing how the Congress is again willfully ignoring its constitutional duty on the declaration of war as our intervention in Syria expands. Democratic leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have fallen over each other to praise the attacks even though Congress never authorized the action. Hillary Clinton was calling for attacks in Syria just hours before the attack, as she did in Iraq, Libya and other past conflicts. The United States just attacked a foreign nation that had not attacked the United States. It was done with little consultation and no authorization from Congress. However, as with prior wars, the attacks remain politically popular so Congress is silent with the exception of a few members like Sen. Rand Paul. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) however has gone further to denounce Paul as simply “wrong” and virtually mock him as a nonentity in calling for such congressional authority. He is alone in the Senate, McCain insisted, in his demand that Congress fulfill its Article I duties. It is a sad moment for those who believe in a textualist or formalist approach to constitutional powers. All of those textualists who proudly embraced Neil Gorsuch are now apparently living constitutionalists as the subject turns to yet another war.