Authoritarian Tea-Publicans call for the prosecution of the political enemies of ‘Dear Leader’ Donald Trump (Updated)

Like the fog in the famous, ultra-short poem by the U.S. person Carl Sandburg, fascism may well come in “on little cat feet.”

The crypto-fascist Tea-Publican members of the GOP House Freedom Caucus are calling for the criminal prosecution of the political enemies of their “Dear Leader,” Donald Trump. This is what occurs in tin-pot dictatorships and  authoritarian banana republics.

Matthew Yglesias reports, 11 House Republicans call for prosecutions of Clinton, Comey, Lynch, and others The authoritarianism is coming from inside the House:

Eleven House Republicans — Ron DeSantis, Andy Biggs, Dave Brat, Jeff Duncan, Matt Gaetz, Paul Gosar, Andy Harris, Jody Hice, Todd Rokita, Claudia Tenney, and Ted Yoho — have signed a joint letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions calling for the criminal prosecution of Hillary Clinton and a variety of other Obama administration appointees, career FBI officials, and even Trump appointee Dana Boente, who is currently the FBI’s general counsel.

Arizona Reps. Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs have always been unfit to serve in any political office, and Arizona voters have both a moral and patriotic duty to remove these fringe radical extremists from office. These sorry excuses for a human being are a disgrace and an embarrassment to this state. As The Arizona Republic editorialized earlier this year, Our View: Rep. Paul Gosar is a disgrace to Arizona. Somebody please unseat him. The same goes for Andy Biggs.

The lead of the letter states that the authors are “especially mindful of the dissimilar degrees of zealousness that has marked the investigations into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, respectively.”

Clinton was, of course, extensively investigated by multiple committees of the US Congress as well as the FBI. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy went so far as to concede at one point that the only actual purpose of the Clinton investigations was to hurt her poll numbers, and though the FBI’s investigations exonerated Clinton, then-FBI Director James Comey offered, against DOJ guidelines, multiple instances of public commentary on her conduct that ultimately hurt her campaign.

Nonetheless, House Republicans suggest that she should be prosecuted on the theory that because the Steele dossier was paid for in part by a lawyer who worked for the Clinton campaign, the campaign was “disguising payments to Fusion GPS” in a way that violated federal campaign finance law.

But the issue here, to be clear, is not a particular zeal for campaign finance law. It’s a broad request that the full force of the US government be brought to bear against Trump’s political enemies. They want prosecutions of not just Clinton but also:

  • Former FBI Director James Comey (for what they allege to be a politically motivated failure to prosecute Clinton, as well as for the allegedly illegal act of leaking his own notes to a friend)
  • Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe (for the same “lack of candor” that was already the pretext for taking away his pension)
  • Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch (for not prosecuting the Uranium One deal)
  • FBI agent Peter Strzok and DOJ lawyer Lisa Page (for allegedly interfering with the Clinton email investigation)
  • Separately, it calls for prosecution of “all DOJ and FBI personnel responsible for signing the Carter Page warrant application,” which is Comey and McCabe plus former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates plus former US attorney (and current FBI general counsel) Dana Boente for allegedly violating Page’s civil liberties.

The point here is almost certainly not to generate any actual prosecutions so much as it is to try to muddy the waters in the media — creating a two-sided battle between and his “deep state” enemies rather than the reality that the Trump investigation has been led almost entirely by Republicans and career civil servants.

In other words, pursue the subject of every wild-ass conspiracy theory concocted by the sick minds of  the conservative media entertainment complex over the past three years. This propaganda media structure is the driving force of fascism in America.

it’s also an important signpost of where we stand in terms of Trump’s relationship to the congressional Republican Party. On policy issues, Trump has largely adopted Paul Ryan’s views. In exchange, mainstream GOP leaders like Mitch McConnell are shutting down legislation that would stop Trump from firing Robert Mueller, while fringier figures like the signatories to Trump’s letter are urging him to go further and mount politically motivated prosecutions of the opposition party.

Greg Sargent of the Washington Post adds, Republicans are actively interfering in the Mueller probe to protect Trump (read obstruction of justice):

In reality, Republicans are, under cover of fake oversight, actively working to interfere in the Mueller investigation, on Trump’s behalf.

Here’s the latest on this front: The Post reports that House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte is planning to issue a subpoena for release of the memos that former FBI director James B. Comey has made of his private conversations with Trump, which have been turned over to Mueller.

Those conversations include the ones in which Trump demanded Comey’s loyalty and pressed him to drop the probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, but there is a lot more in those memos we haven’t heard about. They are probably important evidence in Mueller’s efforts to establish whether Trump obstructed justice.

The Justice Department is already signaling reluctance to release these memos. Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who oversees the Mueller probe, has already told congressional Republicans that he wants more time to evaluate “the consequences” of giving them to Congress and worries about “publicizing them.”

Does anyone really believe Republicans are motivated by nothing but pure oversight impulses here? There are two other reasons they might want these memos. The first is to deliberately provoke Rosenstein into declining to provide them all — which could create a pretext to hold Rosenstein in contempt of Congress or even for Trump to fire him.

“The Deputy Attorney General should be aware that no matter what he gives to these members of Congress, it will never be enough,” Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told me this morning. “The point is to create a conflict with the Justice Department that would give the president grounds to get rid of Mueller or Rosenstein. They don’t care what damage they do to our institutions to protect the president.” Separately, Schiff is pushing a new bill that would create disincentives for Trump to pardon people involved in the investigation.

The second reason for getting these memos — and let’s not pretend this isn’t perfectly plausible — would be to selectively leak from them, to mislead the public by, say, creating phony impressions of misconduct on Comey’s part that could provide more fodder for Trump and his allies to delegitimize the investigation, possibly manufacturing further pretext to hamstring or kill it. Let me remind you that Republicans already tried a similar caper with the bad-faith-saturated Nunes memo.

Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney and law professor at the University of Michigan, told me that it could be “dangerous to interfere” in this manner with Mueller’s probe. If some info from the memos were to leak, she said, it could tip off other potential witnesses as to what Comey (himself a star witness) might have divulged to Mueller. They might shape their own testimony differently, McQuade said, once they “know the direction of an investigation and know what other witnesses are saying.”

A broader principle is at stake

There is a broader principle at stake here: We want such investigations to be generally insulated from political interference, to protect law enforcement’s integrity and independence. “This could have a chilling effect on Mueller’s team,” McQuade said. “If they know that every decision they make is going to be perhaps exposed to the public, it might change the way they do their work. We want them to be able to act independently, so they can make decisions based on objective facts and without worrying about someone twisting their actions in the eyes of the public.”

The complication here is that Congress, of course, is supposed to exercise oversight over law enforcement. But there comes a point at which this oversight, when exercised in obvious bad faith, crosses over into something else — that is, overt and deliberate political interference — and good-faith observers need to be able to say so. As former Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller put it to me: “The president is working with members of Congress to actively thwart his own Justice Department, because he wants it to stop investigating him.”

By the way: Does anyone think this would be happening if House Speaker Paul D. Ryan didn’t give this effort his tacit blessing? And is there any point at which Ryan, who is now the subject of much discussion summing up how his career will be remembered, will step in and put a stop to it?

These evil GOP bastards seek to destroy American democracy. Vote them out, before the darkness of fascism descends on America.

UPDATE: In tweets Sunday and Monday, Trump alleged, without citing any evidence, that Comey had committed “many crimes” and deserves to be jailed for leaking classified information and lying to Congress — allegations Comey denies. ‘This is not some tin-pot dictatorship’: Comey pushes back against Trump’s suggestion he be jailed:

Former FBI director James B. Comey is pushing back against President Trump’s suggestion that he should be jailed, saying in a new interview that Trump’s pronouncements on Twitter pose a “great danger.”

“This is not some tin-pot dictatorship where the leader of the country gets to say, ‘The people I don’t like go to jail,’” Comey told NPR in the latest in a series of interviews to promote his new book.

“The president of the United States just said that a private citizen should be jailed,” Comey said. “And I think the reaction of most of us was, ‘Meh, that’s another one of those things.’ This is not normal. This is not okay. There’s a danger that we will become numb to it, and we will stop noticing the threats to our norms.”

The White House and Republican National Committee, with a new RNC website called “Lyin’ Comey,” have launched a widespread smear campaign to undermine Comey’s credibility as he conducts a media book tour to promote his book, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership”. This is exactly what one would expect from the propaganda machine of an authoritarian regime.

UPDATE:  Some 250 (now over 400) former Department of Justice officials have signed a letter posted on Medium urging Congress to ‘forcefully respond’ if Trump fires Mueller:

Hundreds of former Justice Department employees are now urging Congress to “swiftly and forcefully respond” should President Trump fire Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, or Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who is overseeing the federal probe.

“It is up to the rest of us, and especially our elected representatives, to come to their defense and oppose any attempt by the President or others to improperly interfere in the Department’s work,” according to a statement signed by former officials who worked under current and previous administrations, some as far back as that of President Richard M. Nixon. The number of signatories has grown to more than 400 as of Sunday afternoon.

The former officials, many of whom said they served with Mueller and Rosenstein at the Justice Department, decried the recent attacks against the agency.

“We served [the Justice Department] out of a commitment to the founding American principles that our democratic republic depends upon the rule of law, that the law must be applied equally, and no one is above the law. … Those of us who served with these men know them to be dedicated public servants committed to these principles,” the statement said.

It further said: “We are therefore deeply disturbed by the attacks that have been levied against the good men and women of the Department. Not only is it an insult to their public service, but any attempt to corrupt or undermine the evenhanded application of the rule of law threatens the foundation of our Republic.”

“The President’s unprecedented attack on the Justice Department undermine the rule of law that lies at the heart of our democracy and has enabled our republic to flourish for nearly 250 years,” David Uhlmann, a University of Michigan law professor who worked at the agency for 17 years under three presidents, said in a statement Saturday. “We cannot allow the partisanship that has consumed our politics to erode the principle that no person is above the law.”

“The law is not a weapon in the President’s political arsenal,” said Joyce Branda, who served for 37 years under seven presidents,  most recently under the Trump administration, in a statement. “A President who fails to understand this and who cannot protect the Department of Justice from political interference is unfit to service.”

These are true American patriots.

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