The latest twist in the ongoing “Ukrainian mania” possessing America’s news media is the indictment of Ukrainian businessmen Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman on federal charges of funneling money to American political campaigns in order to influence U.S. policy on Ukraine. You are supposed to believe, through innuendo (of course) that they have some sinister, clandestine, personal ties to the president. The siege of Donald J. Trump must continue — facts be damned!
Pundits and politicians are struggling to figure out which Ukrainians are which, what’s the difference between Burisma and Naftogaz, and why, according to new documents released by a Ukrainian MP, Burisma funneled $900,000 to Joe (no, not Hunter) Biden for lobbying activities. Well, maybe the press would rather ignore that one.
Parnas and Fruman have been in the public eye before. And Rudy Giuliani identified them as his clients last May, when the Ukraine issue first started to percolate. The timing of the new indictment is highly suspicious, coming as it does when Democratic California Rep. Adam Schiff is trying to make an impeachment case over President Trump’s July 25 phone call to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, who, like Trump, says the conversation was completely benign.
It seems to follow the standard deep state playbook, as we saw during the Mueller investigation of the Russian collusion hoax; round up peripheral characters on unrelated charges with a view towards putting the screws to them in pursuit of something, anything, that might remotely connect them to the president. Squeeze someone under indictment hard enough and they’ll say virtually anything — especially when the full weight and force of the Department of Justice is leveled against you, your family and associates.
William F. Sweeney, Jr., FBI chief in New York, sought to head off those suspicions of political manipulations by claiming “these allegations are not about some technicality, a civil violation or an error on a form. This investigation is about corrupt behavior, deliberate lawbreaking.”
Well, we will see whether that is true or not. But it is noteworthy that according to Gallup, only a quarter of Americans have confidence in the criminal justice system. And previously strong supporters of law and order issues are now highly skeptical of a federal justice system and intelligence community that permitted — even designed and launched — seditious coup plots at the highest levels against the institution of the presidency.
We might feel better about things if these plotters had been punished in any meaningful way. Yes, some eventually lost their jobs, but this is hardly penalty enough for sedition. It allowed the ringleaders to go on book and speaking tours, and take sweet gigs as paid contributors to news outlets that approved of what they were doing anyway. No substantive legal action has been taken. There have been no predawn raids on their homes; no sweeping warrants and subpoenas; no legal squeeze plays against family and friends; no grand juries deciding their fates; nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Has Robert Mueller had to answer for alleged perjury he committed when he testified under oath that he was not seeking the job of FBI director in the spring of 2017, when in fact he was? Why isn’t the so-called Ukraine “whistleblower” facing charges for omitting contact with Schiff’s congressional staff on the form he filed — as required? Isn’t it a crime to make false official statements and lie to the Intelligence Community Inspector General? But it seems like minute attention to process crimes is completely lacking when it comes to people targeting the President Trump.
Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok, both determined Trump-haters, had the audacity to file suits alleging their firings were wrongful and politically motivated. Set aside for a moment that the chief executive can fire any senior federal employees he wants, for practically any reason — but saying the motive was political, when they actively plotted against a president solely because they disliked his politics, is the height of hypocrisy.
It is puzzling in the extreme why the Justice Department and the intelligence community not only have been able to conduct a consequence-free war against the president, but have been treated as though this is a normal state of affairs. It is not. These agencies are executive organs, and the senior leadership works there at the pleasure of the president. If they are engaged in skullduggery, they need to be fired immediately. If they have broken the law, they need to be held accountable. The main President Trump keeps having to deal with these internal problems is that the DOJ has not demonstrated that there will be sure, specific consequences for this behavior.
The arrest of DIA analyst Henry Kyle Frese may be instructive in this regard. Frese, whose Twitter feed showed utter contempt for the president, was busted for slipping classified information to his live-in girlfriend CNBC reporter Amanda Macias. This case was so flagrant and Frese was so sloppy that maybe investigators simply could not ignore it, but it would be comforting to believe that maybe someone in the Justice Department actually has the interests at the country at heart. Then again, Hillary Clinton’s violations of classified document handling laws were far more egregious, and she has never been called to account.
Judicial Watch may rectify that by taking Clinton’s sworn deposition in the coming weeks, depending on a court ruling due soon.
The disparity of treatment — the double-standard of “law enforcement” and “justice” in the United States — has the country teetering on the precipice of being a failed state. Whatever the country’s historical defects and shortcomings — citizens at least had a chance to get justice through the courts. Nothing guaranteed — just a chance. Increasingly — that’s become a sad, bitter joke. Average Americans no longer believe it.
As the 2020 election approaches, it is important for the attorney general to take the steps necessary to restore some measure of public confidence in federal law enforcement. There must be a reckoning for the crimes of 2016 and 2017, and an end to the slow-motion anti-Trump coup.
Chris Farrell is director of investigations and research for Judicial Watch, a nonprofit watchdog group. He previously worked as a counterintelligence case officer.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.