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Criticisms of Rep. Adam Schiff’s impeachment tactics have begun to bite. Fair-minded people have begun to ask why is it necessary to have secret witnesses, secret hearings, and leaks of distorted, out-of-context excerpts from transcripts,

Why is it necessary to block the president from sending representatives to attend these hearings so he can have equal access to any evidence? Why was it necessary for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Schiff to “parody” the transcript of the president’s call to the Ukrainian president? Aren’t parodies supposed to be funny? Shouldn’t the chairman be proceeding with sober deliberation and fairness instead of romping about with gleeful shtick?

If Schiff cannot take the proceedings seriously, what of the 218 representatives who voted against the resolution condemning Schiff? The resolution failed despite the undisputed truth of the allegations. Schiff did manufacture “a false retelling of the conversation between President Trump and President Zelensky.” Schiff did tell the American people, “We have not spoken directly with the whistleblower,” when his staff actually coached the “whistleblower” before he or she approached the inspector general.

And why are Democrats shutting out Republicans from the process?

2020 Democrats Stress the Need for Impeachment Fairness

Listening to the Democratic presidential primary debate last week, I heard something that made my ears prick up. The criticisms of the fairness of the impeachment inquiry have begun to resonate. The evidence: Some of the candidates and their fawning CNN enablers felt compelled at least to pay lip service to the importance of a fair process. I had to review the transcript to confirm that my ears were not playing tricks on me.

CNN moderator Anderson Cooper asked candidate Cory Booker, “Sen. Booker, you have said that President Trump’s, quote, ‘moral vandalism’ disqualifies him from being president. Can you be fair in an impeachment trial?”

Booker responded, “So, first of all, we must be fair. We are talking about ongoing proceedings to remove a sitting president for office. This has got to be about patriotism and not partisanship. Look, I share the same sense of urgency of everybody on this stage. I understand the outrage that we all feel. But we have to conduct this process in a way that is honorable, that brings our country together, doesn’t rip us apart.”

Another 2020 presidential contender, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, said, “If impeachment is driven by these hyperpartisan interests, it will only further divide an already terribly divided country. Unfortunately, this is what we’re already seen play out as calls for impeachment really began shortly after Trump won his election.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders added, “Mitch McConnell has got to do the right thing and allow a free and fair trial in the Senate.”

Cooper challenged Sen. Kamala Harris’ apparent pre-judgment of any potential trial of Trump, saying, “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that members of Congress have to be, in her words, fair to the president and give him a chance to exonerate himself. You’ve already said that based on everything you’ve seen, you would vote to remove him from office. Is that being fair to the president?” Harris must not have received the memo, because her answer dismissed any possibility of voting to acquit the yet-uncharged president.

Schiff’s Tactics Have No Defenders

Indeed, my survey of articles from left-leaning writers revealed no defense of the Schiff process. Nobody, and I mean nobody, seems willing to argue in favor of Schiff’s nakedly political process. The best the authors can muster is a half-hearted mumbling about fairness not being required.

Writing for Reuters, Jan Wolfe recently tackled the question, “Does the impeachment probe violate Trump’s civil rights?” Her short answer is “no,” but the way Schiff is running roughshod over the opposition is undermining the process. She notes, “Legal experts say because impeachment is a political, and not legal, process, the House has broad authority to set the ground rules for an inquiry. Allowing Trump’s lawyers to participate anyway could build public support and make it appear more fair, however, they said.”

Wolfe noted that “the House allowed Nixon’s defense lawyers to respond to evidence and testimony during his impeachment inquiry,” and that “Clinton was afforded similar protections.” She further acknowledged that both the Nixon and Clinton impeachment inquiries began with a full House vote.

The normally left-leaning Keith E. Whittington posted to the lawfareblog.com a prescient article in 2017 warning that “An Impeachment Should not be a Partisan Affair.” He warned Democrats, “Despite the difficulty, some measure of bipartisanship should be the goal before the impeachment option is taken seriously. In our current circumstances, that means Democrats should be cautious about moving forward with impeachment efforts without winning some support from Republican lawmakers.”

This Impeachment Effort Is Glaringly Partisan

Now in the future, Whittington finds himself in the uncomfortable position of propping up the partisan impeachment he warned against in 2017. He writes, “Is it constitutionally acceptable for the House speaker to initiate an impeachment by means of nothing more than a press conference? In short, yes.” True, but the full House has voted three times against impeaching Trump, and not once in favor. Schiff is effectively defying those votes. In contrast, House Resolution 803 authorizing the impeachment investigation of President Nixon passed 410-4.

Whittington now argues that the president has no rights in the impeachment process because, “Impeachment is the beginning of a constitutional process, not the end.” The president’s rights come with the Senate trial where, “Democrats do not have it within their power to remove the people’s choice of a president without Republican cooperation.”

But he does concede that the Schiff process could backfire if the effort attracts “few members of the other party to its cause,” or “the Democrats have pursued impeachment with unseemly zeal,” or “that an impeachment is not substantively justified and that the Democrats are grasping at straws.” Those are practically Schiff’s calling cards: partisan process, unseemly zeal, grasping at straws — yes, yes, and yes again.

To justify the impeachment farce, House Speaker Pelosi frequently quotes Thomas Paine, “The times have found us.” What a cynical distortion of our history. Democrats are not answering some clarion call of history. This is not 1776, and the elected president is not an unelected foreign king ruling over Americans.

The sneaky, one-sided Schiff procedures conspicuously advertise this project for what it is: just another naked power play to get Trump. The secrecy and partisanship keep the merits of the cause sheltered from sunlight to delay the inevitable disintegration that comes when the “evidence” is submitted to real scrutiny.

Adam Mill is a pen name. He works in Kansas City, Missouri as an attorney specializing in labor and employment and public administration law. Adam has contributed to The Federalist, American Greatness, and The Daily Caller.

Author: Adam Mill

Source: The Federalist: Democrats Are Embarrassed By Schiff’s Impeachment Tactics, And They Should Be

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) just released another bombshell opinion detailing how our FBI consistently abuses the awesome and powerful surveillance we entrust to it for legitimate law enforcement purposes.

The court outlined how the FBI repeatedly violated restrictions intended to protect Americans’ privacy by spying on Americans without having legitimate law enforcement or counter-intelligence purposes. Further, the FBI failed to keep adequate records, as required by law, to allow the court to review and hold the FBI accountable for these abuses.

Imagine a giant database of virtually everything that goes over the internet. If you access the private data of an American, you discover her darkest secrets. Search history will reveal an apparently happily married woman is actually searching for reviews of divorce attorneys; a priest who views the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition; a teenager sends a picture of herself to a boyfriend; searches for symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases; purchase of sex toys; drug use; pornography; medical history; or doubts about a long-term relationship.

Such secrets hold power over average citizens. The FBI routinely looks for secrets to pressure a potential witness into becoming an informant. But the vast power that comes with access to this information also corrupts.

Under J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI used its spying to intimidate Congress and even presidents. In our day, Sen. Chuck Schumer accidentally said out loud what everyone knows to be true, “You take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.” Indeed, China’s chief weapon of oppressing its people isn’t guns or prisons, it’s access to citizens’ private information. Authoritarian leader Vladimir Putin rose to power from the Russian intelligence community.

But in America, we have a Constitution and court supervision of surveillance. So long as the FBI complies with court-approved procedures, we can feel safe that intelligence agencies (including the FBI) will not abuse the awesome power that comes with this database.

They have courts in Venezuela and communist China too. They have laws on the books promising freedom and liberty. But when the courts and the legislature don’t stop the administrative state from spying on its own people, those protections mean nothing.

We’re now finding that the awesome surveillance power wielded by our FBI has been turned against Americans for unknown purposes. The FBI not only abused its power, it failed to comply with record-keeping requirements that would have allowed the courts to hold the offending agents accountable. Here are four things the FISA court found the FBI did in secret.

1. The FBI Hid Illegal Surveillance by Failing to Keep Records

The opinion notes that, when the FBI searched the secret, raw database, it failed to keep a log of this surveillance, making this spying unaccountable to constitutional review. The FISC wrote, “the Court finds that the FBI’s querying procedures do not comply with the requirement at Section 702(t)(l )(B) to keep records of U .S.-person query terms used to conduct queries of information acquired under Section 702.”

When the FBI turned up Americans in these searches, it is supposed to minimize details resulting from a warrantless search. The court further found that the procedures the FBI routinely followed violated the Fourth Amendment. In other words, this is not always a question of rogue agents fishing through Americans’ private data. The procedures themselves allowed FBI agents to violate Americans’ constitutional rights.

2. The FBI Violated Guidance from Its Own Office of General Counsel

As noted by the opinion, “Since April 2017, the government has reported a large number of FBI queries that were not reasonably likely to return foreign-intelligence intonation or evidence of crime. In a number of cases, a single improper decision or assessment resulted in the use of query terms corresponding to a large number of individuals, including U.S. persons.”

The time period of “April 2017” is important because it was April 2017 when the FISC issued this scathing opinion condemning past violations that the government promised to stop. It noted, for example, an element within the FBI (name redacted) “conducted queries using identifiers for over 70,000 communication facilities” and “proceeded with those queries notwithstanding advice from the FBI Office of General Counsel (OGC) that they should not be conducted without approval by the OGC and the National Security Division (NSD) of the Department of Justice.”

3. FBI Employees Electronically Spy on Americans for Improper Reasons

As noted above, much of the spying was done in a way that was “not reasonably likely to return foreign-intelligence intonation or evidence of crime.” Why is the FBI sifting through Americans’ private information if not to look for evidence of a crime or foreign-intelligence information?

On December 1, 2017, an element of the FBI (name redacted) “also conducted over 6,800 queries using the Social Security Numbers of individuals.” In some cases, FBI personnel ran queries for improper personal reasons, including searches on family members. The court excused this, noting, “It would be difficult to completely prevent personnel from querying data for personal reasons.”

4. Inadequate Records Prevent Accountability

The government speculated that many of the illegal searches of the private data of Americans happened “mistakenly” and that the FBI personnel “genuinely thought they had a sufficient basis for the queries.” But, as noted by the court, the government did nothing to corroborate this theory: “The Court has not heard from the personnel who conducted those non-compliant queries and is not well positioned to assess what courses of action they would have taken if they had been obligated to state in writing why they thought the queries were justified.”

In other words, the reasons for the spying were supposed to be logged so they could be later assessed. But without such records, the agents cannot be held to account.

The whole purpose of intelligence agencies is to protect our constitutional republic from foreign threat. Unfortunately, near-absolute power and secrecy have corrupted the intelligence community to the point that it now threatens our freedoms and ability to hold elections without interference from leaking and spying bureaucrats. When there’s a Hoover-style blackmail file on every candidate, judge, and person of influence, then elections stop mattering.

Adam Mill is a pen name. He works in Kansas City, Missouri as an attorney specializing in labor and employment and public administration law. Adam has contributed to The Federalist, American Greatness, and The Daily Caller.

Author: Adam Mill

Source: The Federalist: New FISA Court Opinion Reveals More Illegal FBI Spying On Americans

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