The Corner

Politics & Policy

Cooking Up a Criminal Investigation, the Obama Way

President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry at a meeting in China in 2016. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

According to the standards now set by Obama-administration defenders, it would be no big deal if Donald Trump’s Department of Justice opened criminal investigations into high-profile Democrats such as John Kerry (now a member of Joe Biden’s campaign) who met with Iranians officials over the past four years in an effort to undermine the foreign-policy goals of the duly elected government of the United States. These are potential Logan Act violations, after all.

It would be no big deal, either, if Trump’s DOJ opened up investigations into Democrats who have ever taken any money from foreign powers, because these are potential FARA violations. Sure, only six such convictions have been pursued by the DOJ since 1966, but no one says your pretext has to be solid.

It would also fine if, three weeks before Election Day, the DOJ filled out surveillance warrant applications — applications that excluded vital exculpatory evidence — to spy on the Democratic Party’s presidential campaign.

If Joe Biden were to win the presidency, it would be no big deal if Trump’s DOJ snooped on the incoming national-security adviser John Kerry, taped his completely legal calls with foreign dignitaries, simply because Trump suspected that Kerry would disagree with his administration’s stance on Iran, a nation that threatens the sanctity of our democracy and murders hundreds of soldiers.

Then, once Kerry was spied on by the NSA, and unmasked by dozens of high-ranking partisan Trump officials — one of them a future presidential candidate — it would be no big deal if any of them illegally leaked Kerry’s name to the press. They would do this in an effort to smear Kerry and railroad him into a plea — not over any risible FARA or Logan Act abuses, but over an innocuous lie about a lawful call told during an ostensibly friendly conversation — so that the Trump administration could fortify a waning investigation into the Democratic Party.

It would be no big deal if that waning investigation itself was predominately based on a fictitious document paid for by the Republican National Committee. It would be no big deal we if we found out that Trump allies within multiple law-enforcement agencies had referred to the investigation — an investigation based on fictitious evidence paid for by the RNC — as an “insurance policy” against the incoming president. It would be a no-big-deal investigation if the entire thing was propelled by fabricated evidence in FISA warrant applications — and if nearly all FISA warrant applications contained serious errors.

For four years, Trump allies within the Biden administration would illegally leak misleading bits and pieces of their investigation to a compliant media, which then would dutifully smear Kerry and the Democratic Party as seditious operatives, fueling a massive faux scandal and creating enough pressure for an independent investigation that would paralyze the Biden presidency and convince half the nation that the election was stolen.

And when all the skullduggery is finally exposed, and prosecutors have not found enough evidence to indict a single person in the Biden campaign for any wrongdoing that’s related to the stated reason for the investigation, Republicans can demand that everyone just move on. No big deal.

David Harsanyi is a senior writer for National Review and the author of First Freedom: A Ride through America’s Enduring History with the Gun

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