Controversial FBI official Peter Strzok has been fired by the FBI — joining former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe in the ignoble distinction of being terminated by an agency that rarely jettisons its own. The firing creates an obvious dissonant element to the Democratic defense of Strzok as someone unfairly hounded by the Republicans. The terminations of McCabe and Strzok are based on the view of officials who viewed their conduct as unacceptable and, in McCabe’s case, potentially criminal.
One notable controversy was raised by Strzok attorney Aitan Goelman, who maintained that Deputy Director David Bowdich “overruled” the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility to remove him. The suggestion is that career officials did not view Strzok’s conduct as warranting such action.
Strzok was with the FBI for 21 years. It did not take time for Trump to tweet out the news:
Donald J. Trump
Agent Peter Strzok was just fired from the FBI – finally. The list of bad players in the FBI & DOJ gets longer & longer. Based on the fact that Strzok was in charge of the Witch Hunt, will it be dropped? It is a total Hoax. No Collusion, No Obstruction – I just fight back!
…..Will the FBI ever recover it’s once stellar reputation, so badly damaged by Comey, McCabe, Peter S and his lover, the lovely Lisa Page, and other top officials now dismissed or fired? So many of the great men and women of the FBI have been hurt by these clowns and losers!
Strzok was removed from the special counsel probe last year after the discovery that his incendiary text messages with FBI lawyer, who had an affair with Strzok.
I am interested in the basis for Strzok’s attorney claiming that the deputy director “reversed the decision of the career FBI official responsible for employee discipline who concluded, through an independent review process, that a 60-day suspension and demotion from supervisory duties was the appropriate punishment.” There should be some explanation from Goelman as to whether that is true and, if so, the basis for such a reversal. Generally, the recommendation of the OPR carries considerable weight in such matters. However, the ultimate decisions rests with officials like Goelman on whether the findings warrant more serious sanctions.
The constant badgering of the media by President Donald Trump as “the enemy of the people” appears to have taken root within the Republican party if a recent Ipsos survey is accurate. The new public opinion survey found that 43 percent of self-identified Republicans said that they believed “the president should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior.” Such a power would eviscerate the core protection of a free press in our system and fundamentally alter our constitutional guarantees.
Below is a slightly longer version of my Hill column on my recent hike in the Cleveland National Forest outside of Santa Ana, California. It was the beginning of the heat emergency that is still gripping the area with massive fires and dangerous conditions. I have stayed in contact with my new friends at the Orange County Fire and Rescue and they were kind enough to send some pictures of the rescue. I am told that their biggest problem is that people often do not want to be rescued because they are afraid to be hit with a bill for the rescue. They do not charge. They just want people out of harm’s way and safe.
I have previously criticized the charging for rescues in parks because it is discourages people from calling for help. I also view this is one of those essential jobs for the government that is supported by the public through their taxes. Of course, I never thought I would end up being the guy dangling from a helicopter. As I have previously written, these incredible heroes deserve our support and greater funding in doing their critical work as first responders. These men and women are truly inspirations in how they put themselves in harm’s way for others. Where the natural instinct is to run from danger, these people run toward it to help others. They show an unflinching and unyielding courage day in and day out.
In the meantime, I am currently on vacation with my family and we have repeatedly thought of the Orange County Fire and Rescue on this trip. As I spend time with my family, I remember that image of Jim Slikker descending into that ravine. I will never forget it or the debt that I owe him and the Orange County Sheriff’s Fire and Rescue team.
Below is my column in USA Today on the most recent claim that the tweets of President Donald Trump concerning the Special Counsel are acts of obstruction. Once again, there is a blind eagerness to claim a prime facie criminal case against Trump. However, the implications of such a charge are enormous. It would mean that a subject or target of an investigation could be criminally charged for publicly denouncing the prosecutors or their investigation. While it is certainly true that a president is not just any investigatory subject and has powers that do mean a menacing meaning to such tweets, it would radically extend the scope of obstruction into more ambiguous areas. In the end, this is still the exercise of free speech in this context.
The Justice Department received well-deserved pushback yesterday in the trial of Paul Manafort from U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis who noted that it’s not a crime to be rich in America. The Justice Department has been trying every possible way of introducing pictures and witnesses detailing Manafort’s “extravagant lifestyle” in the jury trial. This includes such items as his $15,000 jacket that’s “made from an ostrich.” On style values alone, many of us would be tempted to convict on the Ostrich jacket but that is hardly what Manafort is charged with. Nevertheless, the government got plenty by using lifestyle witnesses to confirm Manafort’s use of direct wire transfers from his many foreign accounts — a practice that was recalled as exceptionally rare by the witnesses.
There are patdowns and then there are patdowns. This one was particularly memorable for North Carolina sheriffs after they found $100 worth of steaks down the pants of a guy pulled over on a moped. My question is what happened to the ribeyes: evidence locker or spontaneous grill taste and testing? I certainly hope that they did not end up back on the store shelf after being down a guy’s pants as he rode down the highway on a moped.
Randa Jarrar, a professor of English at California State University at Fresno, became an infamous character when she previously celebrated the death of former first lady Barbara Bush. The horrific tweets by Jarrar led to calls for her termination, which I previously opposed on free speech grounds. Now, Jarrar is back after calling for the resignation of all white editors everywhere because The Nation published a poem that some viewed as “ableist.” In the meantime, the editors of the liberal magazine have been on a public campaign of self-flagellation over the publishing of the short poem.
New reports in Jacksonville, Florida show a man chasing customers in a convenience story with a live gator chased. Strangely it is the wildlife officials who announced that they are investigating (as they should) but not the local police. Last time I check, assault was still a crime and brandishing an alligator would appear to fit the definition.
The much-discussed $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media by Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. is now in serious question after the discovery of undisclosed facts and relationships. A hearing has been called and many believe that Sinclair will drop its bid to avoid the highly damaging adjudication of these issues. On Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission unanimously voted that undisclosed facts by Sinclair was enough cause for concern that it should be reviewed independently by an administrative judge. That hearing designation order raised the concern that, in light of the new information, the deal may “not be in the public interest.”
Angelique Sanchez, 26, may have serious difficulty in pursuing a new job in Aurora, Colorado. Sanchez was cited for property destruction after she allegedly put a urine sample in a 7-Eleven microwave — resulting in it exploding. She was found waiting for a physical and urinalysis at a health clinic a half-mile away.