CIA nominee Gina Haspel reportedly sought to withdraw her nomination last Friday but was convinced to continue by the White House. I have previously written extensively on my views the torture program implemented under the Bush Administration and why it was a clear violation of international laws and treaties. As I wrote recently, CIA nominee Gina Haspel has featured greatly in that torture program. Nevertheless, various Democrats continues to express a willingness to consider making her the head of the Central Intelligence Agency. In the meantime, Sarah Sanders has echoed the talking point that Senators will be hypocrites if they do not vote for the first woman to be nominated for this post. The problem is that she is also the first person nominated with an admitted history of torture, even though she continues to mislabel the programs as “enhanced interrogation.”
Former FBI Director James Comey continues to market his book – and himself – as a lesson in “ethical leadership.” However, the historical record is proving increasingly at odds with Comey’s account and image. After months of spins and swerves by defenders, a consensus is emerging that Comey is indeed a leaker. The most damaging evidence, however, comes not from Comey’s critics but Comey himself. Indeed, Comey v. Comey could be the most telling conflict in this still unfolding scandal. However, at issue, is not simply whether Comey will be viewed as a leaker or a liar, but a perjurer.
Below is my column in The Hill on the speech by French President Emmanuel Macron and his calling for the United States to join France in a crackdown on “fake news.” Our members were either clueless or complicit in this thinly veiled call for speech regulation on the Internet. However, there is growing pressure from Europe for the United States to abandon its long commitment to free speech — a call that is being heard by a rising number of academics and politicians. I love the oak (which has disappeared) but the advice in far more invasive for this country.
I ran a column yesterday discussing one of findings of the House Intelligence Committee dealing with James Clapper. The report was largely well-supported and was even critical of Trump’s calling for Wikileaks and the Russians to release hacked material. However, one element of the Democratic rebuttal also struck me as equally credible. The Democrats objected, among various shortcomings in the Committee investigation, that a critical call was never pursued by the majority. The timing of the call strikes me as raising a legitimate question and, absent countervailing facts from the majority, would seem to constitute a glaring omission. It is not clear why the majority did not try to determine the identity of the “blocked caller” before the infamous meeting of Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and Russians in Trump Tower.
Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the greatest danger for President Donald Trump in the raids on his personal attorney’s office, home, and hotel room. Michael Cohen’s real threat may be as bait — either by design or default. It is the perfect Wolf Pit and Trump could prove the ultimate prize if he is not restrained in his reaction to the raid. The most significant blows for his Administration has been the result of Trump’s responses to events. The most obvious was his disastrous decision to fire Comey in the middle of the Russian investigation. Already, the Cohen raid has reportedly pushed Trump away from speaking with Mueller. Cohen has already maximized the damage to himself and his client. He may now have derailed the effort of Trump’s D.C. legal team to prepare him for a sitdown with Mueller on four categories. At the same time, Trump is reportedly back to threatening that he might fire Mueller or Rosenstein or Sessions. Despite the overwhelming view of experts and Republican leaders that such a move would highly damaging to his Administration and could trigger impeachment proceedings, there is still a palpable fear that that Trump could take such a self-defeated course.
Here is the column:
The Joint Committee on Taxation in Congress has issued a new report on tax burdens across the United States. The Committee used data from the Tax Policy Center and divided the public into five income groups. What they found was that the top 20 percent of earners paid 87 percent of the taxes in the country. The remaining 80 percent covered 13 percent of the burden. The data could challenge the common mantra of politicians that the top earners do not pay their fair share. Though the concentration of wealth should be considered (and a recent study found that one percent of the world’s wealthiest individuals control two-thirds of the world’s wealth), the figures in the United States shows an increasing tax burden in the top 20 percent range. We have previously discussed such studies and the disconnect between the rhetorical and the statistical in tax debates.