Former FBI Deputy Director and Acting Director Andrew McCabe deserves to be prosecuted on charges of lying to investigators.
Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen has rejected a request by McCabe to block such a prosecution, Fox News reported Thursday after U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jessie Liu recommended prosecuting McCabe.
This is the right decision by Rosen and Liu. The American people need to be reassured that the rules the FBI applies to the rest of us apply equally to its own agents and lawyers.
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz released a report last year concluding that McCabe lied to then-FBI Director James Comey, to other FBI agents, and to officials of the Office of the Inspector General about leaks to a Wall Street Journal reporter.
McCabe made unauthorized disclosures about the FBI’s investigation into the Clinton Foundation. He then lied about it when questioned, including under oath to the inspector general, Horowitz’s report said.
According to the inspector general’s report, “law enforcement sensitive information” about the Clinton investigation was disclosed in an Oct. 20, 2016, Wall Street Journal article. Until that article was published, the FBI – as is its normal procedure – had refused to confirm whether there was an ongoing investigation.
McCabe disclosed a communication he had received from an Obama Justice Department official expressing his concerns over the FBI investigation into the Clinton Foundation during the election, the inspector general’s report found.
The IG report said that when McCabe was asked by Comey about the article, he told Comey that he had had not authorized the disclosure and didn’t know who did.
McCabe repeated that lie to agents from the FBI’s Inspection Division and to the Office of the Inspector General when questioned about it. Only in a second round of questioning by the inspector general did McCabe finally admit that he was responsible for the disclosure.
It isn’t just that McCabe lied to investigators, including when he was under oath. The IG also says that McCabe engaged in “misconduct” because the disclosure was “designed to advance his personal interest at the expense of department leadership.”
But the real point is this: lying to a federal agent is a felony under 18 U.S.C. §1001. That is the exact statute under which Special Counsel Robert Mueller – and the Justice Department – prosecuted former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn for lying to FBI agents who interviewed him about conversations he had with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. when Flynn was part of the Trump transition team.
You can violate this law even if you are not under oath at the time you were interviewed – and Flynn wasn’t under oath when he was questioned.
This makes McCabe’s behavior arguably even worse. McCabe was under oath when he was questioned by the IG and, moreover, he held the second-highest post in the most powerful law enforcement agency in the federal government.
McCabe, more than an ordinary citizen, knew the importance of this law and the fact that he had a duty to tell the truth when he was being questioned about unauthorized leaks that could compromise an open law enforcement investigation. To believe he misremembered or temporarily forgot is not credible.
Holding McCabe to account sends a loud and clear message: no one is above the law. If he wasn’t prosecuted, the message would be that the laws that are applied to citizens, politicians and military officers don’t apply to high-ranking FBI agents and the Justice Department.
Not only would that be legally indefensible, but providing that kind of immunity to law enforcement officials would be dangerous. They, even more than the rest of us, must be accountable for their actions and must adhere to both the spirit and the letter of the law. Anything else will inevitably lead to corruption and abuse of power.
McCabe is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But charging him is the right thing to do.
A Christian legal group that specializes in religious liberty has asked the Supreme Court to reconsider the case of a florist who declined to provide flower arrangements for a same-sex wedding.
In June, the Washington state Supreme Court again ruled against Barronelle Stutzman, a businesswoman and great-grandmother who has said her faith did not allow her to contribute her talents to a regular customer’s wedding to another man.
“Barronelle serves and hires people from all walks of life,” Kristen Waggoner, senior vice president of the U.S. legal division of Alliance Defending Freedom, said Wednesday in a written statement.
“What she can’t do is take part in, or create custom floral arrangements celebrating, sacred events that violate her religious beliefs,” Waggoner said. “Because of this, the Washington Supreme Court upheld a ruling that threatens Barronelle with personal and professional ruin.”
Waggoner argued on Stutzman’s behalf before the state Supreme Court in 2016.
The U.S. Supreme Court had vacated the state high court’s ruling against Stutzman and ordered it to reconsider her case in light of last year’s Masterpiece Cakeshop decision. In that case, the court ruled that a Colorado civil rights panel was hostile toward Colorado baker Jack Phillips, who declined to make a custom cake to help celebrate a same-sex marriage.
Washington state’s high court came back with the same decision on Stutzman, “repeating verbatim much of what it said in its original decision,” according to Alliance Defending Freedom, which now wants the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider the case.
Stutzman, 74, of Richland, Washington, faces fines for violating Washington’s anti-discrimination law by declining to provide and arrange the flowers from her shop, Arlene’s Flowers, for the gay customer’s wedding.
Waggoner said Stutzman’s Christian beliefs on marriage shouldn’t interfere with her right to exercise her religious freedom.
“Regardless of what one believes about marriage, no creative professional should be forced to create art or participate in a ceremony that violates their core convictions,” she said. “That’s why we have taken Barronelle’s case back to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Stutzman’s case goes back to March 2013, when customer Rob Ingersoll asked her to provide floral arrangements for his wedding to Curt Freed. Another florist provided the service.
A Supreme Court ruling allowing the Trump administration to implement a new asylum policy will help unclog the system and benefit those with “legitimate asylum claims,” one of the nation’s top immigration officials said.
The new asylum policy “requires those coming to the southern border of the United States who want to seek asylum to have first sought it in a country they passed through and have been rejected,” Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said during an interview Thursday at an Axios event in Washington.
Cuccinelli, speaking to Mike Allen, executive editor of Axios, noted that the new rules from the departments of Justice and Homeland Security don’t apply to migrants from Mexico. But, he said, the change raises the bar for others who travel through Mexico to reach the U.S.
“Frankly, from all over the world, [asylum-seekers] funnel through [the southern border],” Cuccinelli said. “So what they are doing is overwhelming the system. We can’t get through people with legitimate asylum claims.”
The Supreme Court’s decision Wednesday evening allowed the Trump administration to proceed as legal challenges go forward in lower courts.
Cuccinelli, a former Virginia attorney general who President Donald Trump appointed June 10, said his agency has faced constant lawsuits over its actions.
“Anything that we’ve done since I’ve gotten there, I believe there’s been a very strong legal foundation for it. However, we immediately get sued,” he said. “It’s sort of a joke in the office.”
Suing the government to prevent policies, rules, and laws from being executed has become a common tactic, Cuccinelli said.
In fact, he was the first state attorney general to sue the federal government over Obamacare.
“My pessimism rolls in when I see rather nakedly political decisions from the bench,” Cuccinelli said of what he considers activist judges.
As an example, he cited the so-called temporary protected status, an immigration status that allows individuals from other countries to live and work in the United States for a limited time.
Cuccinelli said that by law temporary protected status can’t be a gateway to permanent resident status for immigrants, but a federal court said it could.
Because of this kind of judicial overreach, he said, the Trump administration is less willing to grant temporary protected status to those fleeing the wreckage of Hurricane Dorian.
On the other hand, Trump’s demands for Mexico to take stronger action in securing its own southern border have made his job easier, Cuccinelli said.
“We have never had better cooperation from Mexico with as serious as a problem as we have right now,” he said. “They used to have a program where they would give you a 20-day pass to go through Mexico to get to the United States. They’re now defending their southern border.”
New York’s public schools announced Thursday afternoon that they will excuse students who plan on attending various climate strikes throughout the city.
“@NYCschools will excuse absences of students participating in the #ClimateStrike on Friday 9/20,” the NYC Public School’s Twitter account notes. “Students will need parental consent. Younger students can only leave school with a parent.”
“We applaud our students when they raise their voices in a safe and respectful manner on issues that matter to them,” the account adds. “Young people around the world are joining the #ClimateStrike this week—showing that student action will lead us forward.”
The school’s account retweeted Mayor Bill de Blasio, who posted a tweet Thursday morning announcing the decision.
The New York Democrat published a tweet earlier in the day praising kids who wish to give up a day to protest climate change.
“We have ten years to save the planet. TEN YEARS. Today’s leaders are making decisions for our environment that our kids will have to live with,” said de Blasio, who is one of roughly 20 Democrats running for president.
Activists with a group called ActionNetwork helped kickstart the the so-called climate strike, which is scheduled to take place Sept. 20 through the 27th.
“Scientists say we have 10 years to stop the climate crisis,” ActionNetwork noted in a statement on its website, mirroring the point de Blasio made in his tweet. “And yet, for the last 40 years, our political leaders have done almost nothing to protect our generation’s future.”
De Blasio has not responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment about whether the mayor plans on attending one of the strikes.
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