(Via USA Today)
WASHINGTON — In early January, news that the Justice Department’s inspector general launched an investigation into the government’s disputed handling of the Hillary Clinton email inquiry was quickly overtaken by the chaotic run-up to President Trump’s inauguration.
Nearly a year later, Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s wide-ranging review of the FBI and Justice’s work in the politically-charged Clinton case now looms as a potential landmine for Russia special counsel Robert Mueller.
For months, Horowitz’s investigation — which has amassed interviews with former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, former FBI Director James Comey and other key officials — had been grinding on in near anonymity. That is, until earlier this month when the inspector general acknowledged that Mueller was alerted to a cache of text messages exchanged between two FBI officials on his staff that disparaged Trump.
The communications, involving senior counter-intelligence agent Peter Strzok and bureau lawyer Lisa Page, were gathered in the course of Horowitz’s internal review of the Clinton case, which Strzok also helped oversee. Horowitz’s investigation is not examining Mueller’s operation. But the disclosures already have provided a hammer to Trump loyalists who are escalating their criticisms of the legitimacy of the special counsel’s inquiry.
Earlier this month, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein only highlighted the potential gravity of the inspector general’s work when they repeatedly urged Republican House committee members during separate hearings to withhold judgment about allegations of bias within the FBI until the internal Justice probe is completed.
Justice officials have indicated that a report is likely in the next few months.
“The inspector general’s investigation is very important,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., told Rosenstein at a Dec. 13 hearing. The deputy attorney general cited the probe multiple times as the reason for declining to respond to lawmakers’ questions about how the texts might affect Mueller’s probe.
“It is very encouraging to us that (Horowitz) is doing what I think is good, unbiased work,” the chairman said.
Once it’s completed, the inspector general’s review also threatens to give opponents fodder to unleash fresh criticism of the FBI – which Trump has singled out in scathing rebukes since Mueller’s indictment of former national security adviser Michael Flynn earlier this month. Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and pledged to cooperate with the special counsel, was the fourth Trump campaign official to be charged in the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
Chris Swecker, a former FBI assistant director, said the text communications unearthed by Horowitz have handed leverage to attorneys representing current and possible future defendants in the Mueller investigation, either in possible plea negotiations or at trial.
“Two star witnesses have been created for the defense,” Swecker said, referring to Strzok and Page whose communications could be introduced as evidence of an investigation biased against Trump.
Strzok was removed from the Russia investigation this summer immediately after Mueller was informed of the communications in which the agent described Trump as an “idiot” while expressing a clear preference for Clinton. Page, meanwhile, had completed her temporary assignment to the Russia inquiry and had returned to bureau headquarters when the texts were discovered.
Swecker said Mueller acted appropriately in dismissing Strzok, but fears that the damage has already been done.
“I never heard anything related to politics come out of (Mueller’s) mouth,” Swecker said, referring to his experience working closely with the special counsel when he served as FBI director.
“But none of this is good for Mueller or his reputation for fairness,” Swecker said. “Who knows what else the IG (inspector general) has.”
Mounting questions about the FBI’s continuing credibility – including Trump’s jab that the bureau’s reputation was in “tatters” – have landed hard at the agency. The FBI was sent reeling in May when Trump abruptly dismissed Comey for his handling of the Russia inquiry.
Wray, who took over in September, has publicly defended the bureau’s reputation in the wake of Trump’s attacks. He was joined late Tuesday by the FBI Agents Association, whose members issued a rare, collective defense of their own.
“Attacks on our character and demeaning comments about the FBI will not deter agents from continuing to do what we have always done – dedicate our lives to protecting the American people,” the group said in a written statement.
Pat Cotter, a former federal prosecutor, said the specter of Horowitz’s inquiry should have “zero effect on how Mueller and his team do their jobs.”
“But this is a political event, too,” Cotter added. “To the extent that this (agents’ conduct) will be used to discredit, distract or obfuscate the Mueller investigation, maybe it will work.”
For Horowitz, the Clinton email inquiry may be the most consequential investigation he has launched since his installment as Justice’s watchdog in 2012. But the former public corruption unit chief in the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office has not shied from controversy in the past five years.
Months after taking office, Horowitz issued a scathing account of a botched gun-trafficking operation that allowed an estimated 2,000 firearms to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartel enforcers.
The inspetor general’s review of the so-called “Fast and Furious” operation managed by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives recommended 14 federal law enforcement officials for discipline, resulting in a dramatic shakeup in leadership at the ATF. The operation was halted when two of the weapons were found at the scene of the 2010 slaying of border patrol agent Brian Terry.
A separate 2015 report authored by Horowitz’s staff found that U.S. Drug Enforcement Agents posted in Colombia had engaged in sex parties involving prostitutes who were supplied by local drug cartels. The review concluded that some of the 10 agents involved admitted attending the parties where a local Colombian police offer often stood guard, protecting the agents’ firearms and other property.
Less than a month after Horowitz’s report, then-DEA chief Michele Leonhart announced her retirement from the agency.
In the review of the Clinton email investigation, authorities are examining whether the Justice Department and FBI followed established “policies and procedures” when then-FBI Director Comey publicly announced that the bureau would not recommend criminal charges against Clinton related to her use of a private email server while she was secretary of State.
The inspector general is not evaluating the merits of the now-closed criminal inquiry or challenge the conclusions not to prosecute Clinton. Rather, it will focus on Justice and FBI policies that guided the probe.
Former Justice inspector general Michael Bromwich said that the office has a long established record as “a reliable and independent voice” that has held some of the most powerful institutions to account.
The disclosures of the agents’ text messages, he said, “has certainly re-focused the spotlight on investigation that many people may have forgotten about but remains an important piece of work that needs to be completed.”
More than once, Bromwich found himself at the center of a firestorm while inspector general. In 1997, Bromwich authored a damning review of the FBI’s crime laboratory on the eve of the federal trial of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. While McVeigh was ultimately convicted and executed, the lab had been heavily involved in examining evidence in that case.
“Michael (Horowitz) is a very solid guy with exactly the right background for the job. It’s a job that doesn’t make you many friends,” Bromwich said. “And I don’t think a lot of people will be happy when it’s over. But I think he is going to call it as he sees it.”
News flash! Women’s Lives Now More Than Bearable
This is a contentious time for feminism. In the age of #MeToo, Time’s Up, and the Weinstein effect, just a few of the many products of the fourth-wave feminist movement, women are continuing to push forward a certain narrative about men and the Western culture’s effect on women in general. It seems as if the conversation surrounding women and gender equality has seeped into virtually every realm of life: politics, culture, religion, and even medicine and technology. Fourth-wave feminists are expressing their distrust in men in many ways…celebrities are calling out sexual predators in front of public audiences, politicians are using sexual assault as a political tool, and students are marching and demonstrating. Corporations, eager to jump on the “let’s make a political statement” bandwagon, are even using sexual assault as a marketing tool, spouting controversial messages about toxic masculinity and the like. A prime example is the recent Gillette ad, which garnered more than 19 million views on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.
Many women are also writing about feminism. One example of this is an article, written last year in celebration of International Women’s Day, that has been circulating on social media for the past few months. The article, entitled “100 Easy Ways to Make Women’s Lives More Bearable” and authored by Dani Beckett, has been shared more than 300,000 times since its publication in March 2018. While we would not exactly call it “viral,” it is no secret that the article’s contents are becoming increasingly normalized, currently believed by a meaningful number of female millenials. Beckett’s article was published in Broadly, a subset of Vice Media, a digital media and broadcasting company that launched Vice, the Canadian-American print magazine that gave rise to Broadly. Broadly, a heavily leftist channel catering to women and designed to “provide a space for us to understand, express, and navigate our identities as we define who we are and where we’re headed next,” has quite a solid readership.
After I kept encountering the article on Facebook for several months, I figured it was probably worth a read, but before reading it, I could not help but linger on the title. How to make women’s lives more…bearable? Bearable means tolerable, able to be endured, not even touching the realm of pleasurable or happy. The title implies that women in this country are struggling so much that someone desperately needs to make their lives “more bearable.” In a country where the vast majority of workplace fatalities befall men, the chief victims of non-fatal violence are men, men make up three quarters of all murder victims, women are outperforming men at all levels of education (they even outnumber men at most medical schools), women win custody battles, and women legally win half the earnings and belongings in a household, apparently women’s lives are not yet bearable enough. I was confused, but intrigued, and proceeded to make my way down the long list of male-targeted demands, some of which are too good not to highlight.
The article is written in an incredibly patronizing tone, as if men in America need to be taught that forcing sex upon a woman is probably not a good idea, as if they apparently grew up in a society that conditioned them to rape. The first item on Beckett’s list is, “Before explaining something to a woman, ask yourself if she might already understand. She may know more about it than you do.” Well, is that not general logical advice for anyone? I know the point is to call men out for supposedly always trying to explain things to a woman, but if you are versed in the basic tenets of communication, then it must be the case that you know not to prematurely lecture someone on a topic you suspect they are already well-versed in, regardless of their gender. And let us suppose this is not the case and you have a habit of being didactical when not needed. Well, then this advice should certainly go for everyone, not just men. The point is, gender has nothing to do with it. There is no evidence that men are somehow more likely than women to try to explain something to women, simply because they are women, before considering whether those women might actually understand the topic. Fourth-wave feminists are pushing the narrative that men inherently feel entitled and better than women, so they feel it necessary to always explain things to a woman without thinking if she might already understand. It is a dangerous and baseless narrative to push forward. While it was certainly true fifty years ago when male professors would not even call on their female students in lecture, today, men DO listen to women, whether they like it or not. By virtue of the professional empowerment of women, which has become normalized in Western society, men listen to women explain things to them every single day. Consider this: women now hold 49% of total faculty positions in American colleges and universities. Women lecture, and men listen.
Beckett then states, “Related: Never, ever try to explain feminism to a woman.” Well, what if she’s wrong? Beckett would tell you, “Trust women. When they teach you something, do not feel the need to go and check for yourself. And especially do not Google it in front of them.” So, if she’s wrong, it doesn’t matter. No one cares about facts anyway. Women are so privileged that they now also have the right to be wrong and to lie without getting called out. This is an important reminder of “Believe all women,” the Left’s mantra during the infamous Kavanaugh controversy. If you feel the need to check something JUST because the person who explained it to you is a woman, then maybe you need to treat your misogyny and perhaps Beckett’s list is actually for you. But we live in a society where women are leaders in every sphere – politics, business, medicine, science, the law. At this point, men get it. The need to overpower women, of which remnants will perhaps always exist, has largely dissipated through the years as evidenced by the fact that women now control 60% of the wealth in the United States, for example. If men are such misogynists, why are they collectively not fighting tooth and nail to tear down successful women? Certainly some are, but it’s virtually impossible to prove patriarchy-enforcing men outnumber matriarchy-enforcing women. Instead of acknowledging that, fourth-wave feminists are resorting to feelings, as opposed to facts, to craft their man-hating narrative. What’s more, they are lowering their standards for women.
Clearly, men and women are different, no matter what radical feminists want you to believe. But even though they are different, every society is founded upon a standard set of basic principles and values that every human, regardless of identity, should be obligated to follow in order to preserve civility. Lying does not all of a sudden become okay for a woman if it’s not okay for a man because women should not get special privileges. That is why Dani Beckett is also mistaken in suggesting “Be kind to women in customer service positions. Tip them extra.” Because they are a woman? This sentiment points directly to the pinnacle of feminists’ hypocrisy. Feminists want women to be treated equally, which naturally entails holding them to the same standards as men. Regardless of whether you are a woman or a man, if you don’t do your job well, then you should not be tipped extra. Regardless of whether you are a woman or a man, your customers should be nice to you if you do your job well because that’s the right thing to do.
Next on Beckett’s list is a whole compilation of demands centered around how to describe women. She states, “Examine your language when talking about women. Get rid of ‘irrational, dramatic, bossy, and badgering immediately.” This implies that women cannot be any of these things, which they most certainly can. Or perhaps it implies that they can be some or all of these things but they should not be called out for it, which once again, means that according to Beckett, we should hold women to a lower standard. Let’s be clear, women should not get free passes just because they are women and their ancestors have suffered through years of misogyny and oppression. If feminists want true equality, then they should not be cutting women slack and lowering their standards for women out of pity. Women are perfectly capable of meeting those standards. Pushing forward women’s rights legislation should not be done out of a need to prop up identity politics. Women deserve equal rights not because they are women, but because they are humans.
If that was not enough, Beckett certainly has more! “Never comment on a woman’s body,” she says. When describing women positively, men should say she is “talented,” “clever” or “funny,” but not “gorgeous” “sweet” or “cute.” Men also cannot call her unique, and “unlike other girls” because all girls are awesome. Long gone are the days when it was flattering for a woman to be told she has a nice physical appearance. And long gone are the days when men were allowed to make their physical attraction, the very basis of biological reproduction, known to women. I am assuming Beckett wants men to assign more value to women than their physical appearance, which is understandable, but assigning more value to personality and assigning some value to physical appearance are not mutually exclusive acts. A 2017 study published in Evolutionary Psychological Science found that most women are likely to choose physical attractiveness over personality and intelligence in potential partners. For a group of people who supposedly hate double standards, fourth-wave feminists sure do love double standards.
And now we arrive at the scariest portion of Beckett’s list: the postgenderism demands. Beckett states, “If you read stories to a child, swap the genders. Cast women in parts written for men. We know how to rule kingdoms, go to war, be, not be, and wait for Godot.” Right, and that is exactly why the parts of Katniss Everdeen, Hermione Granger, Wonder Woman, Lara Croft, Daenerys Targaryen, Mulan, and many, many more have been written. To show that women can indeed rule kingdoms, go to war, and do pretty much anything. Fourth-wave feminists are called “fourth-wave” because they are not the first. The women of the past have already proven that women are powerful and can rule kingdoms. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel by going to extreme measures (i.e. swapping genders) to show something that everyone, barring exceptions, already knows. Perhaps, then, the point of swapping genders is not so much to normalize powerful, masculine women. It is, in fact, to get rid of gender roles altogether. My prediction is that postgenderism will pave the way for fifth-wave feminism.
So why is one article like this one so important? It’s maybe just the opinion of one woman. Except it’s not. Between 70 and 80 percent of college women currently identify as feminists. The contents of Beckett’s article are at least somewhat representative of the mentality of young women in America today, even if some shy away from the label “feminist.” I fear that this association we have started to develop between feminism and fourth-wave values, some of which are exemplified in this article, will only become stronger until, eventually, first and second-wave feminists are shut out entirely. Women who are pro-life are shut out entirely. Women who want other women to be held accountable are shunned and considered anti-feminist. Criticizing obesity, pointing to false allegations of sexual assault, challenging the misconceptions surrounding the pay gap, holding conservative views about female sexuality, and acknowledging core differences between men and women will become wholly incompatible with any definition of feminism. Women should be encouraged to be strong, not feed their victimization complexes. Women should be encouraged to listen to other women, even if they disagree. Fourth-wave feminist indoctrination should not be something we stand for if we want to actually help gender equality.
Trump to Enact Massive Change to Prescription Drug Pricing, Sources Say
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration late Thursday afternoon proposed an effort to increase transparency when it comes to prescription drug pricing by cutting the widely used practice of middlemen — one of the major cost-drivers of drug prices.
President Donald Trump is strongly considering signing an executive order to do just that, according to four people inside the administration who asked for their identities to be withheld for various reasons.
The executive order which has already been drafted by White House counsel Pat Cipollone, would allow manufacturers of drugs to offer discounted pricing to customers, but would legally, stop them from giving rebates to pharmacy benefit managers.
“If you can’t manage a campaign, how do you manage the country?”: Chuck Todd schools Bernie Sanders
In a segment Thursday on MSNBC, network host Chuck Todd slammed Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders for allowing sexual misconduct to occur inside his 2016 presidential campaign.
“Could this derail his chances of another presidential bid,” host Chuck Todd wondered before playing a video clip.
“Boy, that is a tough answer to defend of course,” Todd said referring to Sanders telling CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an interview that he didn’t know about ongoing sexual misconduct because he was “a little busy running around the country trying to…make the case.”
“Because if you’re running to be president of the United States…if you can’t manage your campaign, how do you manage the country,” Todd continued. “No potential 2020 candidates had a worse start to 2019 than Bernie Sanders”