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.
How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
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.
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.
The 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.
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.
President Trump was right about:
✔️Paris Accord scam
✔️US overpaying UN
✔️High corporate tax#Manafort
— #ThePersistence (@ScottPresler) September 19, 2017
Is there an accusation that the FISA warrant on Manafort was illegally obtained? Serious question.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) September 19, 2017
How is this story a win for Trump? Even if Trump was right in his tweet, Manafort might go to jail and Trump might have been on tape.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) September 19, 2017
1. Trump WAS apparently tappppppppped at Trump Tower (via Manafort).
2. Trump's campaign manager may go to prison. https://t.co/uceLOmhJIp
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) September 18, 2017
"Obama tapped my phones!"
Paul Manafort was tapped.
Totally the same. pic.twitter.com/psgNM5GXrN
— Jay Caruso (@JayCaruso) September 18, 2017
Grassley asked if there's any update on bringing Manafort before Senate Judiciary: "Their lawyers haven't communicated with us."
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) September 18, 2017
THREAD: Why news that Mueller obtained a search warrant for Facebook content may be the biggest news in the case since the Manafort raid.
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) September 16, 2017
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.
It isn’t Never-Trump or Always-Trump destroying conservatism, it’s Sometimes-Trump
One of the craziest—or should I say laziest—accusations leveled against me by Trump’s die-hard loyalists whenever I dare to call him out for breaking a campaign promise, getting caught in a lie, or promoting unconstitutional non-conservative ideas, is that I’m a liberal. Sometimes, they go so far as to accuse me of working for George Soros.
As I’ve said many times in response, I don’t work for Mr. Soros, but since money’s been a little tight at the Strident Conservative lately, if anyone has his number, I’d appreciate it if you’d send it my way.
It’s a sad reality that these pathetic taunts are what passes for political discourse in the Age of Trump. Gone are the days when differences could be civilly discussed based on facts instead of emotion.
Another sad reality of this behavior is that it’s a sign that the end of conservatism is near, as Trump’s small army of loyal followers attempt to rebrand conservatism by spreading the lie that he is a conservative and, using binary logic, accusing anyone who opposes him of being a liberal.
This rebranding effort has had an impact. Last week, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel warned Republican hopefuls that anyone who opposed Trump’s agenda would be “making a mistake.”
Complacency is our enemy. Anyone that does not embrace the @realDonaldTrump agenda of making America great again will be making a mistake.
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) June 14, 2018
McDaniel’s threat was issued following the GOP primary defeat in South Carolina by conservative Mark Sanford after he was personally targeted by Trump himself. Sanford’s crime? Disloyalty to the NY Liberal.
Mark Sanford has been very unhelpful to me in my campaign to MAGA. He is MIA and nothing but trouble. He is better off in Argentina. I fully endorse Katie Arrington for Congress in SC, a state I love. She is tough on crime and will continue our fight to lower taxes. VOTE Katie!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2018
Another source of damage to conservatism has come from evangelicals and the so-called conservative media. In the name of self-preservation, they choose to surrender their principles by promoting the lie that Trump is a conservative. Some of these voices have taken to labelling conservatives who oppose Trump as Never-Trump conservatives, or worse, branding them as liberals and/or Democrats, as was recently written in a piece at TheFederalist.com:
“Trump may be an unattractive and deeply flawed messenger for contemporary conservatism. But loathe though they might be to admit it, what’s left of the Never-Trump movement needs to come to grips with the fact that the only words that currently describe them are liberals and Democrats.”
Then there are those who have adopted a Sometimes-Trump attitude about the president, where everything Trump does is measured using a good Trump/bad Trump barometer. While it has become fashionable for Sometimes-Trump conservatives to stand on their soap boxes condemning both Never-Trump conservatives and Always-Trump faux conservatives, I believe that this politically bipolar approach to Trump is the greatest threat of all to Constitutional conservatism in America.
Sometimes-Trump conservatives have accepted the lie that it’s okay to do a little evil in exchange for a greater good. Though they may fly a conservative banner, their lukewarm attitude about Trump is much like the attitude we see in the Laodicean church mentioned in the Book of Revelations (3:15-16).
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
Trump is a double-minded man unstable in all his ways (James 1:8). When lukewarm Sometimes-Trump conservatives choose to overlook this reality, they end up watering-down conservatism to the point that it has no value or power to change America’s course.
As lukewarm Sometimes-Trump conservatives point to the Always-Trump and Never-Trump factions as the reason for today’s conservative divide, remember that it’s the unenthusiastic, noncommittal, indifferent, half-hearted, apathetic, uninterested, unconcerned, lackadaisical, passionless, laid back, couldn’t-care-less conservative imposters in the middle who are really responsible.
Originally posted on The Strident Conservative.
David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative. His daily radio commentary is distributed by the Salem Radio Network and is heard on stations across America.
Conservative Picks for the Nevada Primary
Nevada is full of competition. There are no shortage of quality candidates in Nevada, only quality politicians. Nevada isn’t a strong blue state or red state. It usually sides with the winner in a presidential election. In fact, given Trump’s upset, it was surprising Nevada wasn’t one of the states where polling was wholly inaccurate. Nevada is home of Las Vegas, the country’s fastest growing metropolitan area. So the future political leanings of the state are up in the air. This primary features vacancies which offer a nice opportunity to grow conservative ideals among the population.
Best Picks: Danny Tarkanian, Joel Beck
Worst Picks: Mark Amodei, Cresent Hardy
Best Race: District 3
Worst Race: District 4
Dean Heller is an incumbent Republican and in all likelihood will keep his nomination. Heller is running on a rather unimpressive Senate record showing that he is part of the problem, not the solution. There are four challengers but only a few are worth talking about. The first is Sarah Gazala. She is somewhat running as a conservative, but her emphasis on education shows that she isn’t the right fit for the Senate. A local office would be a better calling. Then there’s Vic Harrell. The only discernible fact about Harrell is his devotion to Trump. This zeal isn’t wrong but it doesn’t make him a good candidate. The strongest challenger is Tom Heck. Heck ran and lost in 2016 in a tight race. It’s very possible Heck could maintain the seat, and probable that he would do a superior job.
Conservative Pick: Tom Heck
Two challengers seek to red pill this district. The first, Joyce Bentley, has a decent platform and is like to side with Trump on several key issues. The issue is whether she will deviate when necessary. The second is Freddy Horne. He is likely the more viable candidate here having a history of running a campaign, but its a moot point in this district.
Conservative Pick: Joyce Bentley
Mark Amodei has held the seat for a while and is a RINO. He faces three challengers. Sharron Angel is the first. She was a failed Senate candidate in 2016 losing to Heck. She seems as though a strong Conservative. But she may be a weak candidate. Joel Beck is a veteran running on a solid small government platform. He has a more thorough understanding of veterans issues and immigration than most. Beck would be an outstanding defender of the Constitution.
Conservative Pick: Joel Beck
This vacated seat has caused a feeding frenzy of an election. but this race is between Scott Hammond and Danny Tarkanian. Hammond is a State Senator with a decent record and the backing of the NRA. But from this article which he promoted, he doesn’t seem to be a strong defender of liberty, though its hard to get a clear picture with the bias writing. In a rare instance of strategic planning by the Trump administration with regards to the 2018 race, Team Trump convinced Tarkanian to seek the House as opposed to the Senate. Danny Tarkanian, being a team player, obliged. Nothing wrong with that. Playing along earned him a Trump endorsement. And while Heller gets by with one less challenger from the right, Tarkanian has a better chance at reducing government spending as he campaigns heavily on. Overall, Tarkanian may be a sycophant, but Hammond is more likely a RINO climbing the ladder.
Conservative Pick: Danny Tarkanian
Congressman Ruben Kihuen will not seek reelection as the result of a sexual harassment scandal. This presents a golden opportunity to flip this blue seat. Many Republicans have entered but there is no clear frontrunner. First up is Jeff Miller. He’s running to prevent Nevada from becoming East California. With all the candidates, the Las Vegas Review-Journal made this one easy. The former Congressman refused to answer. If Cresent Hardy believes he’s too big to answer yes or no questions, he probably thinks he’s too good to talk to his constituents. The only thing that is concerning is the question on DACA recipients.
Conservative Pick: Jeff Miller
Conservative Picks in the South Carolina Primary
South Carolina is one of the nation strongest overall states for Conservatism. Out of nine representatives, eight of which Republican, only two are complete RINOs (Joe Wilson and Lindsey Graham). Conservatism is strong in South Carolina just as it is in North Carolina. This primary presents a good opportunity to maintain and grow. Trey Gowdy is exiting, presenting a good chance for an upgrade at the position. Since the GOP took the Whitehouse, Gowdy stopped being fiscally Conservative, and is an unfortunate voice of support for the expensive Mueller investigation.
Best Pick: Mark Sanford
Worst Pick: Katie Arrington
Best Race: District 4
Worst Race: District 7
After five years, Mark Sanford has been a solid Conservative. He is being challenged. His main opponent is Katie Arrington. Arrington is a full blown Trumpist. If she had a shred of Conservatism in her she would be satisfied with the performance of Sanford. But instead she is challenging him because he, like most decent Conservatives, has been reasonably critical of Trump. Arrington’s fanaticism is not worth the risk of losing Sanford.
Conservative Pick: Mark Sanford
Joe Wilson is an unchallenged product of the swamp. He is running to complete his second decade.
Jeff Duncan is a steadfast Conservative who didn’t compromise under Obama and has remained strong under Trump. He is unchallenged.
There are numerous candidates seeking to fill Trey Gowdy’s shoes. The first of which was written about back in February, Mark Burns. I had a lot to say about Trump’s top pastor:
I remain optimistic about Mark Burns joining the ranks of Congress. Previously, Burns announced he was praying about challenging Lindsey Graham, a notorious warmongering RINO. But it appears either prayer or opportunism has landed him in a different race. Due to his political amateurism, not many of his positions are clear. Oddly enough, he has suggested Federal takeover of public school security. Though his heart seems in the right place, his position shows a lack of localism which small government believes in. It’s safe to speculate that Mark Burns isn’t all that fiscal conservative which isn’t unfamiliar.
On social issues, however, Pastor Mark Burns could be a strong tool for conservatives, so long as he can graduate from being a Trump surrogate. Burns has a more unifying persona than a lot of Republicans adding the possibility of broadening the base. On the issues of race and abortion, Pastor Mark Burns is a powerful voice. Though a strong personality does not make one the best candidate, Burn has tremendous potential to make a difference in DC.
I have a poll under Zakrey Bissell poll for June 7th 2018 to June 12th 2018 for #SC01 Republican Mark Sanford 70% Republican Katie Arrington 30% and poll for #SC04 Republican Lee Bright 50% Republican Mark Burns 30% Republican William Timmons 15% Republican Dan Hamilton 5%
— Zakrey Bissell (@BissellZakrey) June 8, 2018
Another formidable candidate is Lee Bright. He has the backing of Steve King (IA) and Thomas Massie (KY). Massie is a strong Conservative so this endorsement means something. Bright’s political career was put on hold when he got primaried in 2016. To be frank, he got voted out probably for being a nutjob. This guy is all rhetoric and no substance. He will maybe vote the right way, but he is not a leader on Conservative legislation. Furthermore he is a weaker candidate due to his propensity to act a fool. Bright isn’t likable but he at the end of the day, he wouldn’t be a RINO.
Then there’s William Timmons. He has the endorsement of Marco Rubio which indicate that he is the RINO in this race. Timmons campaigns on fiscal responsibility but champions Trump for it who has not been fiscally responsible this year. Either he’s pandering or misinformed. Either way, it’s an indication he will e a big spender. His attack ads on Dan Hamilton are baseless, though he is likely correct that Hamilton is not that Conservative. But Timmons record isn’t Conservative either.
Conservative Pick: Mark Burns
Ralph Norman is unopposed. He’s actually been solid in his brief tenure.
Gerhard Gressmann is the only Republican running.
Tom Rice has been a halfway decent Congressman but not without fault. He is being challenged by Larry Guy Hammond. Hammond is running from the right but not with a level head. Tom Rice isn’t fantastic, but populism won’t do the job better. And Hammond is more populist than Conservative. His website offers no real solutions. It merely trashes the state and asks for money.