For reasons inexplicable to me, the corporate media has always tried to make a hero out of Christopher Wray. Most of the Democratic establishment has refused to criticize him and Biden has decided to allow him to remain as FBI Director.
But, in a giant departure from the way Wray is talked about by the corporate news media and the Democratic party, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island, last night on MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, told the truth. It was a breath of fresh air. Democrats ought to try it more often.
Whitehouse told Hayes that in Wray’s testimony before the Senate, he was “less clear” than Merrick Garland that the Justice Department would follow the investigation of the January 6, insurrection wherever it may lead.
Whitehouse was particularly concerned that the investigation would be dumped on the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. Were this to happen, Whitehouse argued, there would be real questions of whether the investigation would go further than low level participants to “upstream investigations” of people who were actually driving the crime. Whitehouse seemed to feel confident that Garland would pursue these “upstream” investigations.
When asked directly by Hayes if he thought Wray was a “straight shooter,” Whitehouse issued a scoffing laugh. “If so, that would be a new phenomenon.”
“I’ve spent three years trying to get him to answer questions and he has hidden behind every conceivable dodge” continued Whitehouse. “We have unanswered questions from 2017.”
According to Whitehouse, in hearing after hearing during the Trump administration, Wray failed to answer questions not only submitted by Democrats, but those submitted by Republicans. In seven of nine hearings Wray participated in, the committee got no answers.
“He (Wray) participated in or ran a massive traffic jam that stopped answers to huge numbers of QFRs (questions for the record)…and to all of our letters. At the same time, he set up this side road where they could run” lots of documents into the Republicans to do the Cross Fire Hurricane investigation.
Whitehouse said he still wanted to know why questions got “jammed into the traffic jam” while “Trump friendly” questions got high speed treatment. He wanted to know “why were we stonewalled all those years…what was the method, on whose instruction was that done, what was the scheme, what was the plan, why did it happen, all that.”
And Whitehouse, quite rightly, pointed out that the FBI under Wray engaged in an absurd exercise characterized as an “investigation” of the charges against Brett Kavanaugh.
Whitehouse said it was necessary to go back to “the FBI investigation of Bret Kavanaugh and whether that was real or fake and what happened with that so called tip line FBI ran, because as best as I can tell…all the information (from the tip line)…got dumped straight into the bin.” None of it got reviewed “pursuant to standard FBI procedures for reviewing the information that comes in through a tip line. It was more a tip dump than a tip line. And understanding if that happened, why that happened on whose direction, presumably from the White House.”
Whitehouse concluded: “If this guy (Wray) presided over a fake FBI investigation, we need to know that.”
I would like to point out that Sen. Chris Coons, Democrat, helped set up that FBI investigation. He and Christopher Wray need to be held to account.
Joe Scarborough, both-sideser in chief and head MSNBC misogynist is at it again this morning joined by his usual kiss ass crew. He got in a little trouble yesterday by repeatedly asking guests whether it was necessary to impeach Trump. The dreadful Mika told him to stop and he responded like the petulant bully he is, by berating her and trying to embarrass her on national television.
This morning, he and Peter Baker are trying to figure out how “we” can work with the Republicans like James Langford, who have suddenly had an attack of conscience over trying to overthrow an election.
But, for Scarborough and Baker, that’s just a minor blip. Sedition? Just apologize and Scarborough will find a way to launder your reputation (if you are a Repubican).
Baker’s contribution to this was to lament the fact that, in his words, both sides have decided to go back into their partisan corners. Equal corners, right? One side is providing the rationale for sedition and the other is trying to restore democracy, but they are both equally to blame.
On to other matters.
On Ari Melber’s MSNBC show last night, Eugene Robinson (Mr. Mild Manners himself) said that the Republicans created this division and now they are buying body armor.
AOC was evidently so afraid when the attack was going on, she was fearful of going into a safe room with Republicans. She thought they might lead the attackers to her. It was not an unreasonable suspicion since one of the members of the House was texting out the location of Nancy Pelosi.
Lindsey Graham characterized the impeachment proceedings as “sheer hatred.” I can’t wait to find out why Graham did a 180 turn to support Trump. Maybe if Trump gets more and more frustrated, he will start to spill the dirt.
Rep Madeleine Dean, who will be one of the impeachment managers said “Lindsay Graham knows better.” “You too” she said referring to Graham, “are complicit…”
Trump evidently brought Bannon back into the sedition circle. Roger Stone was the one who came up with the “Stop the Steal” rallying cry.
Tony Schwartz is saying that Trump is now moving “between rage and delusion.” And that Trump has unleashed forces that we may well see become more powerful in the future.
Peter Strzok, former FBI, expressed “frustration and anger” at the lack of preparedness at the Capitol. If you look at other events, Strzok argued: “The government can secure the capitol when it wants to and that didn’t happen here.” Strzok said that the tour groups that evidently went through the Capitol the day before the assault needed to be “looked into.”
Elizabeth Newmann, former Assistant Secretary for Threat Presentation and Security Policy at DHS, explained that the Terrorist Watch List is a separate list from the No Fly List and is broader, larger. She says it includes “suspected white supremacists.” But, she also said, this list functions more as an alert system than a surveillance system. If, for example, someone got arrested, law enforcement could run the name and the person would show up as on this Terrorist Watch List. But, there is no ongoing surveillance on these people. So, they could all decide to go to Washington at the same time and go and there would be no automatic alert because of this list.
Last night, Rachael Maddow was commenting on the absurdity of having people on this list, but not knowing that they were all converging on the same problematic location. The only way law enforcement could know this is if these people were under constant surveillance and I’m not sure that’s what we want.
A number of people are already pointing out on Twitter and in articles that this siege of the Capitol may well end up working to the disadvantage of legitimate protest. As always, it’s easy to argue for more surveillance of individuals when they are opposed to you politically. But, these same surveillance measures can be turned quickly against legitimate protest.
I heard no discussion yesterday of the way in which a person might be put on this Terrorist Watch List. Once on this list, are you ever taken off? What surveillance measures can the government take after you are put on this list? These are questions we need to answer.
Newman, after explaining the list, went on to say that there was “no excuse for the lack of preparation” at the capitol. She pointed out that that the Executive Branch, while reluctant to tell another branch of government what to do, has a “duty to warn” of dangerous situations. They, for example, should have issued a “Joint Intelligence Bulletin.” They did not. “They knew that violence was planned” Newman continued. “You always assume the worst, prepare for the worst…”
Petef Strzok expressed disappointment that we had not heard from Director Wray. He wondered whether the FBI attempted to warn other agencies but was prevented from doing so. Strzok didn’t say by whom.
Anna Palmer noted that since the COVID outbreak, the Capitol had been like a “ghosttown.” She noted the extensive security measures for even going into the Capitol as a reporter. “It’s been months since people were even around” she noted. These tours were highly unusual.
Biden has named Jamaal Bowman head of the DNC. It has not escaped notice that Bowman is against Medicare For All.
And, lastly, in Georgia…
I had an interesting exchange with a friend on Facebook. He commented that when the FBI asked all these low-level attackers who are being arrested if they had any coordination or contact with Congressmen or Trump, they would flip and implicate them.
I responded: True, if the FBI agents ask them.
Now, as usual, he took exception to this. Most people, especially those who have worked around law enforcement accept a law enforcement ethos. They resist any aspersions on the integrity of the force, even confronted with daily evidence to the contrary.
He responded in a curious way. First he said that I shouldn’t paint all agents with a “broad brush.” Seemed to me that he was painting them with a broad brush, just assuming that the FBI would be trying to turn offenders on higher ups. Why this assumption is made, I don’t know.
We have just witnessed years of the most curious behavior on the part of the FBI and the Justice Department in recent memory. Why did James Comey make public the absurd reopening of the investigation of Hillary Clinton right before the 2016 election? Why did he within the past few days argue publicly that Biden should pardon Trump? What was going on in the New York City office of the FBI in 2016 that almost lead to a work stoppage? These are just a few threads that need to be followed up here. In addition, why was the Justice Department so easily compromised by Jeff Sessions and then Bill Barr? Why was the Mueller investigation so limited as to make it meaningless?
I’m sorry, but I just don’t think we can assume that all those FBI agents out there are crusaders for justice especially when it comes to investigating people at the top of the food chain. (See Jesse Eisinger’s “The Chickenshit Club.)
Then, my friend said that the last time he talked to me I was (overly) concerned “dismayed” with voter suppression in Georgia, and Georgia had become the beacon of election security. Georgia, he said had become the “honest election state that is saving democracy. What truly happened?”
Now, I have no idea what this last paragraph has to do with FBI agents working overtime to get dirt on powerful Congressmen, but there you are.
I find the statement amazing. I fully realize that the media, prone as they are to simplistic narratives, is trying to make heroes out of Raffensperger, Sterling and Kemp, but anybody who reads should know that Georgia is far from a beacon of hope.
Brian Kemp’s government spent a fortune on a fancy new voting machine system. And they conducted a propaganda operation by replacing all the “I voted” material with “I secured my Vote.” It was all a propaganda operation. I did poll worker training in Georgia before the general and I left at lunch and didn’t go back. It was obvious to me then that the new system was unwieldy and full of holes. The measures taken to “secure the vote” were geared toward security threats in the 19th century. Nobody could answer questions about hacking into the system.
Even though the media has touted “paper ballots” as an indication of transparency, in Georgia, they are not really “paper ballots.”
The ballots are marked by a machine. Then, the voter gets a sheet of paper which has his choices printed on it. The voter is supposed to check these choices to make sure they are right. But, the scanners that count the votes do not even register the words printed on the ballot. They count a bar code at the bottom of the ballot. The voter cannot read the bar code. The poll workers cannot read the bar code. I don’t think anybody outside of the Voting Machine company can read the bar codes. It’s protected by law. What kind of state of affairs is that?
Before the general election, Brian Kemp’s government made a decision that any recount in Georgia would be done by simply feeding the same ballots (with the same bar codes) through the scanners again.
In short, Georgia spent a fortune on a voting system that is impenetrable. They regularly send out “experts” who claim that the system cannot be hacked. But, Jennifer Cohn, Jonathan Simon and the Coalition for Good Governance have repeatedly offered evidence that at best, we don’t know this.
In addition, Kemp is the king of voter suppression. That’s how he won a race against Stacey Abrams for governor. Raffensperger and Sterling were in the voter suppression game up to their eye balls. Kemp, Raffensperger and Sterling are like the guys who are willing to drive the getaway car, but not willing to go into the liquor store with the gun.
Just in case you hadn’t heard…Kyle Rittenhouse is out on bail and sitting in a bar drinking and yucking it up with the Proud Boys. Reality Winner has COVID and in still in jail. I know she’s not receiving her mail because I have a box of returned letters.