By Steve Baldwin and Deroy Murdock
How odd: During the eight years of one of America’s shadiest presidencies, not one Obama Administration official went to prison. Or was convicted of a crime. Or even indicted. Sure, Rep. Darryl Issa (R – California) and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held plenty of hearings. But while they called countless press conferences, not one Democrat ever was held accountable for the numerous crimes exposed by this and other Republican-controlled congressional panels.
Let’s stroll down memory lane and see how the Democrats acted when they investigated real or fabricated Republican scandals.
When the Watergate “Plumbers” (so called because their clandestine job was to plug news leaks) broke into the Democratic National Committee to snatch campaign documents and bug the party’s headquarters, hellfire erupted. There was no evidence that President Richard Milhous Nixon knew about the June 1972 break-in in advance, nor did he authorize it. Regardless, he was forced to resign for covering up the crime after he learned about it.
Senate Democrats created a committee to investigate Watergate. Chaired by Senator Sam Ervin (D – North Carolina), it uncovered information that led to 69 people being charged with various crimes. Among them, 48 were found guilty. Sixteen of them served prison time including Attorney General John Mitchell, top presidential advisers John Ehrlichman and H.R. “Bob” Haldeman; White House Counsel John Dean, Special Counsel to the President Charles Colson, Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP) official James McCord, and “Plumbers” E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy.
Without diminishing the severity of Nixon’s crimes, it bears mention that the Watergate break-in did not compromise national security. No secrets were stolen or exposed. And the campaign documents obtained by the Plumbers were inconsequential; had the break-in not been exposed, the information from these documents most likely would have had little impact on the result of the pending presidential campaign: a massive re-election landslide for Nixon.
The other big Republican “scandal” on which Democrats pride themselves for exposing was the Iran-Contra affair, which plagued President Ronald Reagan’s second term. Reagan administration officials secretly sold arms to Iran and then used the proceeds to fund covertly the Contras’ resistance against Nicaragua’s Marxist-Leninist Sandinista regime.
Reagan’s national-security team was gravely concerned about the threat of the pro-Soviet Sandinistas. Among their worries: an airbase at Punta Huete, Nicaragua, on which Cuban engineers had consulted. Reagan’s aides fretted that the base could help the Kremlin project power in the Western Hemisphere, much as Moscow had attempted during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
“Pentagon officials have called the airport a potential Soviet base, saying it could threaten the mainland United States and endanger Pacific sea lanes, just as Cuba can endanger Atlantic sea traffic,” John Lantigua wrote in the September 10, 1984 Chicago Tribune.
In light of this and other risks that the Sandinistas posed, U.S. officials used Reagan’s executive power to fund the Contras in secret. Since the 1982 Boland Amendment prohibited congressional funding of the Sandinistas, some constitutional experts still maintain that the executive branch’s actions were well within the president’s national security powers, as set forth by the Constitution and confirmed by Supreme Court decisions, including 1936’s United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp.
Moreover, the man who led this classified effort was Lt. Colonel Oliver North, a National Security Council official who worked in the White House. Thus, the argument goes, his actions were protected beneath the umbrella of Reagan’s presidential authority.
After all, Reagan’s predecessor, Jimmy Carter, had used his executive influence to fund beneath the radar Angola’s anti-Communist resistance under freedom fighter Jonas Savimbi. Bipartisan congressional leaders were apprised of this campaign, and none complained.
Nonetheless, Democrats made “Contragate” a major scandal. They saw this as a perfect issue to sandbag the wildly popular Reagan and boost their own electoral chances. Critics accused Democrats of putting party first and national security last.
A three-judge panel appointed Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh to investigate Contragate. His probe slashed and burned Republicans for six years. Indeed, Walsh’s final report implicated dozens of people and groups that had nothing to do with Contragate. Numerous anti-Communist organizations said they were harassed, accused of crimes they did not commit, and forced to surrender thousands of documents.
As long time anti-communist leader Andy Messing told us, “When special prosecutor Walsh went after both me personally and my charitable foundation, the National Defense Council Foundation, it created a cascading effect involving the FBI, the IRS, and liberals in Congress and in the media. It cost over $100,000 in legal fees to defend myself from these baseless attacks.”
To people like Messing, Walsh’s investigation resembled a partisan ploy to cripple the conservative movement and ease Democrats into the White House.
Indeed, Walsh criminally charged 14 Republicans. Eleven were convicted, but two saw their convictions reversed on appeal. Among those convicted, President George H.W. Bush pardoned Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, former CIA official Duane Clarridge, CIA Covert Operations Chief Clair George, Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams, CIA official Alan Fiers, Jr., and National Security Adviser Robert McFarland. Oliver North also was convicted and sentenced to a three-year suspended prison sentence, two years’ probation, and a $150,000 fine. North performed some of the 1,200 hours of community service to which he was sentenced. However, with the aid of the American Civil Liberties Union, his case was dismissed.
Critics correctly were appalled that anyone in Reagan’s White House gave the ayatollahs anything more than a box of exploding cigars. The good news was that support for the Contras weakened Fidel Castro’s Mini-Mes in Managua. Crippled by the Contras, the Sandinistas finally held free elections, which they lost. Thanks to President Reagan, Nicaragua was liberated, and the Soviets yielded a strategic foothold in the Americas, from which they hoped to undermine the USA.
By comparison, the Obama Administration’s crimes battered U.S. national security and constitutional freedoms far more than did Watergate or even Contragate.
Bill and Hillary Clinton launched a foundation that operated as a massive funds-for-favors exchange. As author Peter Schweizer documents overwhelmingly in his book, Clinton Cash, on more than a dozen occasions, foreign entities paid money to the Clinton Foundation contemporaneously with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s approval of or non-interference with policies or regulations favorable to those overseas donors.
Moreover, Hillary illegally installed a private computer server in her home basement, to handle her State Department duties and, apparently, conduct her crimes outside the reach of inquiring minds. When investigators finally came calling, Clinton erased some 30,000 e-mails and then lied about this over and over and over again. Moreover, Clinton and her chief of staff, Huma Abedin, left classified information recklessly exposed to foreign hackers. Recall that secret documents slithered southward from the State Department, via Clinton’s server, through Abedin’s e-mail account, and then plopped into view of her husband, convicted child-sexter Anthony Weiner.
If not for the ethically compromised former attorney general Loretta Lynch — who famously entertained Bill Clinton on her official airplane just days before the FBI interrogated his wife — and the alternately accusatory and accommodating former FBI chief James Comey, Hillary and Huma likely would have faced felony charges under the Espionage Act and federal bribery statutes.
And yet, with America’s foreign policy up for auction, and state secrets fluttering around Washington like confetti on New Year’s Eve, members of the Stupid Party could not figure out how to investigate this. Incredibly, these probes, such as they are, remained in the hands of Comey, who mumbled something six months ago about how the FBI was continuing to investigate Hillary’s foundation.
However, now that President Donald J. Trump has fired Comey, no one seems to know if Hillary ever will be investigated. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed a special counsel – former FBI director Robert Mueller – to probe the diaphanous Russian/Trump collusion conspiracy theory. Likewise, there seems to be zero movement in any Republican oversight committee to investigate crimes from the Obama/Hillary era.
One wonders if Mueller’s appointment has erased all GOP motivation to scrutinize this lawlessness, especially since Mueller’s inquiry does NOT cover these far more substantial violations.
So, despite GOP control of all three branches of government, the only serious investigation is focused on Trump and the Russkies, while the Democrats’ real crimes apparently are ignored. Does anyone believe that if the Dems wield this much power after the next presidential elections, they would allow some flimsy anti-Democrat conspiracy to go under the microscope while almost energetically refusing to pursue real crimes by the GOP?
Why isn’t President Trump’s Justice Department itself investigating Hillary’s multiple felonies? And did the congressional oversight committees really decide to overlook the massive twin scandals of the century: Hillary’s oil-spill-style abuse of state secrets and her bribes-for-favors Clinton Foundation? Where did everybody go?
The Servergate and Clinton Foundation scandals deserve at least as much focus and outrage as Watergate received. As for Contragate, it at least arose from Reagan’s desire to crush the Soviet empire. The higher purpose behind the Clintons’ prostitution of U.S. foreign policy was to fleece their highest bidders.
Loretta Lynch’s predecessor, Attorney General Eric Holder, lied repeatedly about the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal in which southwestern gun stores sold some 2,000 weapons to dodgy buyers, supposedly so they could be tracked back to Mexican drug lords and other hoodlums. Alas, only about 700 were recovered. Some of the 1,300 firearms that went astray subsequently were used to murder hundreds of Mexican citizens and two American Border Patrol agents. No one at Obama’s ATF ever paid for this fatal mayhem. Holder was held in contempt of Congress for refusing to deliver relevant documents to Congressional investigators.
So what? Holder finished his service in peace and now thrives afresh as a private attorney. Holder’s wrist massage seems to be the only repercussion that any Obama official has suffered for his illegal actions.
That brings us to the IRS scandal. This was not just a few rogue IRS agents harassing a few conservative groups, as originally reported. This was the Obama Administration’s organized, concerted effort to intimidate and silence the entire Tea Party movement. Why? To neutralize them while Obama ran for reelection.
According to Judicial Watch, IRS agents abused nearly 500 center-Right groups and their leaders. They were swaddled in red tape and pummeled with questions about things as intimate as the books they read and how they prayed. Most of these groups were kept in limbo, waiting and waiting and waiting — sometimes for years — not knowing whether their applications for tax-free status were approved or rejected. This sapped their energies, hindered their fundraising, and curtailed their effectiveness before the November 2012 elections. For Team Obama: Mission Accomplished.
Many were told, illegally, that they could not engage in policy activity. This was a lie. Under the IRS code, 501(c) (3) groups specifically may educate Americans about the actions and public policies of Obama or any other public official. The IRS evidently gagged these groups so that Obama’s reelection could proceed in peace. Obama might have been a one-termer had the Tea Party movement been free to do what it planned: inform voters about Obama’s relentless assault on the constitutional freedoms of the American people.
This appears to be the first time that a president’s minions have used the IRS to suppress the free speech of an entire political movement in order to win an election. Numerous IRS officials lied to Congressional investigators about this autocratic campaign. Lois Lerner, the chief IRS official behind this illegal harassment, never paid the price for these misdeeds. After she came under scrutiny, and invoked the Fifth Amendment while testifying on Capitol Hill, she was placed on paid leave (i.e. paid vacation) and then allowed to retire with full pension, benefits, and $129,000 she had received in bonuses. Never mind that computer hard drives detailing this scandal were thrown into shredders designed to pulverize metal. Again, not even the GOP’s control of Congress could make Lerner or any other IRS official pay any price for the biggest abuse of IRS power in modern American history.
Finally, we come to today’s scandal involving the surveillance (colloquially called “wiretapping”) of President Trump and his campaign aides. The lingering question is: Did Obama’s national security advisor Susan Rice — or any other Obama officials — unmask the identities of Trump campaign or transition officials as they may have appeared in U.S. reports of foreign surveillance. If America’s national-security apparatus were abused for political purposes, felonies were committed. The Senate and House intelligence committees claim to be investigating this abuse. However, given the warm, fuzzy record of GOP “investigations,” most likely no one will be punished for any of this.
Already, Rice was “invited” to testify on this very scandal. She skinned up her nose at the “invitation” and blew off the Senate Intelligence subcommittee’s hearing. So far, Republicans who “run” the subcommittee have done nothing about Rice’s refusal to show up. Maybe they will subpoena Rice. But, then again, subpoenas are just so doggone mean. So, maybe they won’t.
Perhaps special counsel Mueller will investigate the unmasking, but there’s no guarantee that he will. Trump’s DOJ didn’t bother to specify Rice’s Big Sister actions within his mandate.
Between Watergate and Contragate, Democrats charged 83 Republicans with criminal conduct. Today, Republicans have not held even one Democrat accountable for the high crimes committed by the Obama Administration. But the Republicans do get “participation trophies” for all the headlines that they generated throughout their wide-ranging but toothless oversight hearings.
If Republicans really want to make Democrats pay for the crimes, they need to investigate these criminals themselves. Nothing prevents the Justice Department and Republican-led oversight committees from re-opening investigations into the IRS, Fast and Furious, and the Clinton Foundation/Servergate imbroglios. They should use their subpoena power and control of the executive branch to obtain documents that they could not secure under Obama. Indeed, as Judicial Watch’s legal watchdogs will confirm, Team Obama repeatedly broke federal law by hiding documents from congressional overseers. None dare call it obstruction of justice. It would be a crashing failure of leadership if Republicans cannot make anyone pay the price for eight straight years of Chicago-style malfeasance under Obama.
Americans have lost faith in government because, frankly, had private citizens committed crimes remotely similar to those perpetrated by the Clintons, Abedin, Holder, Lerner, Rice, and the rest of these crooks, they would be making license plates. Unfortunately, Republican ineptness has contributed to this excruciating disappointment. This helps explain why so many Americans believe the elite operate with a rule book to which regular folks have zero access.
Now that Democrats have declared total war on Donald Trump and his administration, Republicans immediately need to stop impersonating Labrador puppies who are desperate to play nicely with everyone who walks by. Unless the GOP wants to stand around while the Left incinerates the political landscape, they need to get in touch with their inner Rottweilers and start jailing criminal Democrats.
Steve Baldwin is a San Diego-based conservative activist and former Republican Whip of California’s State Assembly. Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor. Baldwin and Murdock served on the National Board of Young Americans for Freedom in the mid-1980s.