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Good news: Trump was right, there was ‘wiretapping.’ Bad news: Manafort is probably toast

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Always the bad news first. Paul Manafort needs to pick up the phone, and call Scooter Libby.

Libby was tried, convicted, and sentenced to 30 months in prison for making false statements about his conversations with a reporter from Time Magazine in the fallout after the Valerie Plame “outing” affair. Ironically, the only person jailed in the whole CIA leak investigation was New York Times reporter Judith Miller. Libby never served a day–President George W. Bush commuted his 30-month sentence essentially on the day he would have reported to prison, all appeals of his sentence having failed.

Manafort is going to be indicted. The FBI had him under investigation since 2014, under a secret FISA warrant. At first, this was related to his work for Ukraine’s then-president and kleptocrat Viktor Yanukovych. In 2015, the investigation was shelved for lack of evidence. Then it began again at some point in 2016 with a new FISA warrant.

As streiff at Redstate noted (and he has experience with these kinds of intelligence matters), FISA warrants cover all forms of surveillance. Phones, email, video are all permitted forms of data collection (a.k.a “wiretapping”) for the subject of the warrant. Also, there are no limitations of where the surveillance could or would be carried out. That means Trump Tower is certainly not off limits.

What does this mean?

The good news. Donald Trump was right. The FBI surveilled Manafort while he was running the Trump campaign. Whatever documents Rep. Devin Nunes saw at the White House SCIF were likely the real thing. The investigation, according to CNN extended “at least into early this year.”

That means after Trump was elected. It means potentially after Trump was president.

It’s inconceivable that then-President Obama didn’t know about surveillance carried out against the president-elect’s campaign staff. It’s inconceivable that Obama didn’t know that Trump’s offices very well could have been under surveillance before the election, or Trump’s conversations with Manafort could have been intercepted afterwards. This entire narrative ties into the classified Comey briefing at Trump Tower. It ties into Trump’s paranoia about wanting Comey to publicly announce that the president was not under investigation.

In March, Politifact published a “timeline of Donald Trump’s false wiretapping charge.” Looks more like Politifact got some of it wrong now–while the president was not the target of the surveillance, it was likely done in Trump Tower, under his nose, and in offices he owns. Trump can claim he is vindicated (if people believe it is a different story). That’s the good news.

In fact, all of this serves to boost Trump’s version of the story, while leaving Manafort in the position of….Scooter Libby. That’s the bad news.

Brace for indictment

The New York Times called the FBI’s tactics against Manafort “shock and awe.” They picked the lock on his door. The FBI raided his home in the early hours of a July day while Manafort was still in bed. They took binders and papers, copied computer data, and photographed “expensive suits” as potential evidence. Then Robert Mueller called Manafort and told him to prepare for an indictment.

Given that President Trump likely knew that the FBI had surveillance on Manfort before Mueller’s appointment, he probably knew this was going to happen sooner or later. For Trump, sooner is better, to get the entire process behind him.

More bad news

We don’t know what Manafort might say to investigators after (if) he is indicted. He may be presented with evidence implicating other Trump campaign staffers, the president’s family, or the president himself. Manafort may “cut a deal” to avoid a state prosecution, immune from Trump’s pardon power. Mueller seems to have all his bases covered.

The only silver lining for Trump would be if he knew, for a fact, he said nothing or did nothing that could implicate himself. His children, on the other hand, may find themselves in a pickle.

Perspectives

BREAKING. Paul Manafort Was Wiretapped and Threatened With Indictment | streiif, Redstate 

https://www.redstate.com/streiff/2017/09/18/breaking.-paul-manafort-wiretapped-threatened-indictment/While Manafort has a residence in Trump Tower, it’s unclear whether FBI surveillance of him took place there.

This is nonsense. If he was targeted under FISA, he was under surveillance no matter where he was. There are no “safe zones.”

To get the warrant, Mr. Mueller’s team had to show probable cause that Mr. Manafort’s home contained evidence of a crime. To be allowed to pick the lock and enter the home unannounced, prosecutors had to persuade a federal judge that Mr. Manafort was likely to destroy evidence.

Report: Mueller warned Manafort to expect an indictment | TheHill

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/351268-nyt-mueller-warned-manafort-to-expect-an-indictmentThe right to pick a lock and enter Manafort’s home unannounced, even with a warrant in hand, means prosecutors had to convince a federal judge that Manafort would likely try to destroy evidence upon making themselves known.

Mueller has reportedly issued a series of subpoenas to pressure witnesses to testify before a grand jury. Manafort’s spokesman reportedly testified before a federal grand jury in Washington on Friday. As did one of Manafort’s former lawyers, during which Mueller claimed an exception to the attorney-client privacy rule.

The Times report came around the same time Monday afternoon that CNN reported the government wiretapped Manafort’s phone during and after the 2016 presidential election.

 

Mueller Reportedly Told Manafort To Brace For An Indictment

https://www.dailydot.com/layer8/mueller-manafort-indictment/This according to a New York Times report published Monday that details the aggressive tactics used by Mueller in his ongoing investigation into Russia’s antics during the campaign. Under warrant, the federal agents reportedly picked a lock and barged into Manafort’s house as he was in bed. The report called them “shock-and-awe” moves, used to move along a process historically prone to a snail’s pace.

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Final thoughts

Obviously, this is an enormous can of worms that just got opened and we’ve barely baited one hook. The questions, at this point, outnumber the answers a thousand to one. What we do know is that Paul Manafort is in trouble–but we’ve always know he was trouble. We know that Trump has a blind spot (or a soft spot) for Russians–but we’ve always known that too.

Mostly, the news here is that Robert Mueller is Eliot Ness. He’s very likely to get his man. Paul Manafort really needs to call Scooter Libby, and the sooner the better.

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Opinions

Conservative Picks for the Kentucky Primary

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Kentucky is the state that gave us Rand Paul. He is the biggest highlight, however he is not alone like Ben Sasse in Nebraska. Thomas Massie is also a strong Conservative. This primary has a chance to unseat a major swamp creature. Aside from this one race, there wasn’t much action to be had. Mitch McConnell shows that Kentucky does not have a rich history in holding bad politicians accountable. So if there are any Conservative victories in Kentucky, they should be celebrated vocally.

Best Pick: Geraldo Serrano
Worst Picks: Harold Rogers, Chuck Eddy, Andy Barr
Best Race: District 5
Worst Race: District 6

District 1

James Comer is more fiscally responsible than most RINOs, but he still voted for Omnibus. He is unopposed.

District 2

Bill Gutherie is an unopposed RINO.

District 3

Three Republicans look to win Louisville. The first is Vicky Glisson. She is running a limited issues campaign focused on drugs, healthcare, and a hint of fiscal responsibility. Next is Rhonda Palazzo, the most upfront Conservative in the race. She is a real estate agent and devout Christian. Her stance is overly simplistic, to a fault. Lastly is Mike Craven. His platform is also too simplistic. This race is a three way crapshoot in terms of determining the best candidate.

Conservative Pick: Rhonda Palazzo

District 4

Since 2012, Thomas Massie has been a solid Conservative. He is unopposed.

District 5

Harold Rogers is a decades experienced swamp creature, 33 years in the making. Gerardo Serrano is his challenger. Serrano has Rand Paul potential in both foreign and domestic policy, such as FISA. His website features a unique story of him and a county sheriff, where he held a sheriff accountable when the 2nd amendment was in danger. (The sheriff wasn’t a villain in the story).

I especially like his twitter handle. Geraldo Serrano is a strong candidate, and we desperately as a nation need to unseat swamp monsters such as Harold Rogers.

Conservative Pick: Geraldo Serrano

District 6

Andy Barr is another RINO with a horrendous spending record. He is being challenged by Chuck Eddy. This was a huge disappointment.

I don’t believe he realizes how much a massive walking contradiction he is.

Conservative Pick: None, Barr will undoubtedly win

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Opinions

Conservative Picks for the Georgia Primary

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Georgia is another state in the deep South that does very little to advance Conservatism in the country. Conservative Picks has thus far shown that the South is not as Conservative as stereotyped. Arkansas sends a bunch of RINOs and so too does Georgia. However, what is remarkable about Georgia is that none of the Republicans except for the awful Senator Iksakson are career politicians. He’s the only one exceeding 12 years other than Democrats, of which, he might as well be. Still, that is something to say about Georgia. The state has a lot of newer faces and most are sycophantic to Trump’s reckless spending agenda. Georgia has some strong Conservatives running to unseat incumbents. The Governor’s race was an additional focus of the Georgia addition because of previous coverage of the candidates involved.

Best Picks: Jody Hice, Shane Hazel, Philip Singelton, Hunter Hill
Worst Picks: Drew Ferguson, Rob Woodall, Rick Allen
Best Race: District 10
Worst Race: District 12

Governor

In the past NOQ Report has interviewed Hunter Hill. He is a strong candidate, with a goal to eliminate the income tax of the state, after fixing the budget. While Casey Cagle, the Lt. Governor is a favorite, forcing a runoff election is best for Conservatism in the state.

Conservative Pick: Hunter Hill

District 1

Earl “Buddy” Carter has been in the seat for three years and has proven to be a RINO with a Liberty Score of 48. He is unopposed.

District 2

This is a blue district. Herman West Jr. is unopposed in this primary.

District 3

After one year in office, Drew Ferguson has proven to be sycophantic to Trump’s reckless spending. The incumbent RINO has shown itself. However, he is being challenged by Philip Singleton. Singleton is campaigning on the exact shortcomings of Ferguson previously described. Fiscal responsibility is a pillar of his campaign as is not funding Planned Parenthood, something the incumbent has failed miserably at. The decorated veteran is also strong on immigration and for free trade.

Conservative Pick: Philip Singleton

District 4

This is another blue district and Joe Profit is unopposed.

District 5

There is no GOP contender.

District 6

Karen Handel is cut from the same cloth as Ferguson. She is unopposed.

District 7

Rob Woodall is yet another RINO. Challenging him is Shane HazelNOQ Report has actually been covering this primary for a while now. You can read his interview with editor Benjamin Wilhelm. Hazel is a strong Conservative and picked up a key endorsement from the Republican Liberty Caucus.

Conservative Pick: Shane Hazel

District 8

Adam Scott is another sycophantic RINO. He is unopposed.

District 9

Doug Collins has been in the game for seven years and is mediocre at best. He’s a spender. He is unopposed.

District 10

Jody Hice is a Freedom Caucus member and has only held the seat since 2014. His Liberty Score of 91 is the highest in Georgia. He has two opponents looking to force him into the runoff election. Bradley Griffin is the first opponent. He has one of the worst websites I’ve seen, functionally speaking. His platform is strong. In fact, it doesn’t seem as though he opposes Hice on any issue. The second opponent is Joe Hunt. The probably RINO warning is sounded at his campaign motto “Traditional Values and Sensible Politics.” It’s far too easy to find a social conservative but a real Conservative is more difficult. All signs point to Hunt running from the left such as his support for Net Neutrality.

Hice and Griffin are strong Conservatives, but Griffin lacks a record of action, of which Jody Hice is exceptionally strong. Because of that, voting for him is too great a risk. It would have been ideal for Griffin to have been in another District.

Conservative Pick: Jody Hice

District 11

Barry Loudermilk is like milk. He will only get worse over time. (This pun was unplanned.) He is unopposed.

District 12

Omnibus was one of a few times where Rick Allen remained fiscally Conservative. Eugene Yu looks to unseat him for the third time. Unsurprisingly, as a legal immigrant, his stance is strong. He also running as a fiscal hawk. We’ve seen this plenty of times before, but he doesn’t have any contradicting campaign talk on these matters. Rick Allen may have voted against Omnibus, but his record isn’t strong enough.

Conservative Pick: Eugene Yu

District 13

There is a race to turn the district red between Femi Akinkugbe and David Callahan. This was relatively easy to decide. Akinkugbe is for raising gun rights from 18 to 21. Callahan is a much stronger pick, having been involved with CPAC and a stronger stance on other issues. Interestingly enough, neither voted for Trump in the primaries. Akinkugbe voted for Rubio and Callahan for Fiorina. Either way, Akinkugbe isn’t a Conservative.

 Conservative Pick: David Callahan

District 14

Tom Graves is an incumbent RINO. He is unopposed.

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Culture and Religion

The Context of Life

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Man #1 shoots Man #2. As a result, Man #2 dies. Is Man #1 a murderer?

Obviously, it depends. Context matters. Did Man #1 fire in self-defense? Did he shoot Man #2 by accident? Was Man #1 part of a legally appointed firing squad or under a hypnotic trance? Was the weapon a prop gun that mistakenly contained live ammunition? There are many points to consider before we can definitively say that an instance of killing constitutes murder.

Let’s try another thought exercise: protesters are gunned down by a neighboring country’s military forces. Is this murder? Is it a breach of international law? Is it a gross violation of human rights?

Again, it depends. Context matters. Are these protesters peaceful, or are they, say, planting landmines, tossing grenades, hurling molotov cocktails, and threatening to invade the country that is firing back at them? Have these protesters sworn to murder and pillage their neighbors until they are eradicated from the earth, all in the name of radical religious zeal? Are upwards of 50 out of the 62 protesters killed members of a terrorist organization?

Here’s another one: are illegal immigrants animals?

That depends; are the immigrants in question members of a ruthless gang that rips the beating hearts out of its victims? Do these immigrants peddle drugs, commit brutal assaults, and routinely rape women? Given the context and Oxford’s alternative definition of “animal” — “a person whose behavior is regarded as devoid of human attributes or civilizing influences, especially someone who is very cruel, violent, or repulsive. Synonyms: brute, beast, monster, devil, demon, fiend” — I think we can deem that perhaps too kind a descriptor.

Some people, however, seem to reject the value of context when it goes against their narrative. For instance, on the issue of calling MS-13 members “animals,” singer John Legend tweeted on Thursday, “Even human beings who commit heinous acts are the same species as us, not ‘animals’. I’m in the hospital with our new son. Any of these babies here could end up committing terrible crimes in the future. It’s easy, once they’ve done so, to distance ourselves from their humanity. … Dehumanizing large groups of people is the demagogue’s precursor to visiting violence and pain upon them.”

While MS-13 undoubtedly deserves any visitation of violence and pain upon them, the most glaring hole in Legend’s argument is that mere hours ago, he wouldn’t have considered “any of these babies” to be the same species as him (except when it’s his own baby). And as an outspoken donor and supporter of Planned Parenthood, he wouldn’t hesitate to defend the visitation of violence and pain upon them. But because of arbitrary abortion arguments, Legend and countless other Leftists ascribe more humanity to murderous villains than preborn babies.

Ironically, the one issue where Leftists insist on considering context is the one topic for which nuance is largely counterproductive — the sanctity of life.

As mentioned earlier, not all killing is murder, nor is it always unjustified. The right to life is unalienable, meaning it is intrinsic and therefore cannot be given nor taken away by man. It can, however, be surrendered through certain violations of another person’s unalienable rights. This is why many conservatives support capital punishment for perpetrators of homicide and rape. But it’s critical to recognize that this position is taken in order to emphasize the dignity of life and the severity of seriously harming and/or violating it. Similar reasoning is what justifies depriving someone of their unalienable right to liberty after they’ve committed a crime — they’ve automatically surrendered that right based on their actions.

That single caveat aside, any attempt to contextualize the debate for life pushes the dialogue further down a nonsensical rabbit hole designed to cheapen the worth of the weakest among us, or, to borrow Legend’s term, “dehumanize” them. At every turn, the argument gets slipperier and slipperier.

The Left will say that all human life is precious, even murderers, but they don’t extend this philosophy to unborn babies.

“Context!” they scream. “Fetuses aren’t fully human, and they aren’t really alive.”

Even if we gave the Left that argument, we have to ask whether fetal life, though not fully developed, is still worth protecting.

But the Left can’t give a straight answer here either, because while they celebrate a woman’s choice to terminate her unborn child, they cry for the conservation of fetuses that aren’t even human, proclaiming their inherent dignity well before birth. Eagle and sea turtle eggs come to mind, among other examples.

Next, the Left tries to establish what differentiates a human before birth and a human after birth, or rather what about birth makes someone human, but their attempts at context again fall short:

On one hand, they say it’s about viability outside of the womb, but standards of what constitutes viability are fully arbitrary. A baby born at 37 weeks is no more viable than one at 41 weeks that refuses to pop out — but because it’s still in the womb, it’s still not a living human, apparently. A baby born at 25 weeks in a big city is more viable than a baby born at 35 weeks in the boonies. My one-year-old daughter couldn’t survive without constant care from someone else, and neither could many elderly folks.

Other pro-aborts claim that if there’s no heartbeat, there’s no life, yet I don’t see many of them rushing to pull the plug on grandpa because he’s hooked up to a pacemaker.

I’ve heard some say that a baby’s first breath is what makes it human — so what about those who require artificial sources of oxygen? And if air confers humanity, then why aren’t all air-breathing animals human? If it determines life, then what happens when I hold my breath? I have the potential to breathe again, just as a fetus, left alone, has the potential to be born through natural processes.

The same goes for the sentience test. People in comas still enjoy an unalienable right to life.

Under the law, a woman can abort her baby, but if a pregnant woman is murdered, the assailant is charged with double homicide. No context can sensibly explain this double standard.

Some on the Right are guilty of it too. When asked whether abortion is murder, many engage in a similar exercise to the example I presented earlier about whether a shooting death necessarily constitutes murder: “it depends, what are the circumstances?”

There is no nuance to this question. Either the intentional taking of innocent life is murder or it is not. What difference does it make whether the baby was the result of rape or incest? I’ve stated in this very article that rape sometimes requires taking a life — but the baby is not the guilty party. Either life is sacred or it is not, regardless of how it got there.

Others cite the safety of the mother as context, but this argument is likewise flawed. Pursuing a vital cure for a woman’s ailment that indirectly harms the baby isn’t the intentional taking of innocent life but an unfortunate externality, so it’s not murder. And the case for actively terminating a pregnancy to save a mother is virtually identical to a self-defense argument, but again, there’s a problem: a baby is not an aggressor. It does not violate a woman’s rights, and a woman cannot violate the rights of her baby.

And a baby either has rights or it doesn’t. “Unalienable” means a baby doesn’t magically receive rights the moment it exits the birth canal, nor are a human’s rights any less inherent because he or she is dependent on someone or something else to sustain them. From the moment of existence, all human life has worth.

Life is the only consistent position, and it is so straightforward that it requires no nuance. Life either has intrinsic value or it does not. Context matters in almost every discussion of politics. But on the question of life, what people think is context is just an excuse to kill.


Richie Angel is the Editor at Large of thenewguards.net. Follow him and The New Guards on Twitter, and check out The New Guards on Facebook.

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