Accuracy in Media

With news this week the Department of Justice had reopened investigations into the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton’s private email server, the mainstream media has suddenly become concerned with the politicization of the U.S. justice system.

Talking Points Memo was the latest to put forth this line. From President Trump’s calls to “lock her up” on the campaign trail to his demands that Hillary and her former aide Huma Abedin go to jail for various offenses to his criticism of Attorney General Jeff Sessions for failing to protect him from the Mueller investigation, he seems willing to bend the justice process to his will, the story suggested.

“Taken together, the developments suggest a concerted effort by the Trump administration and its allies to push back against Mueller’s intensifying probe, by marshaling the full power of the federal government against the president’s political opponents. That poses a direct threat to the independence and impartiality of the justice system, former DOJ officials told TPM.”

To some, the developments posed even more of a threat – a threat to our very system of government. The story quoted Ken McCallion, a former federal prosecutor who also has represented foreign political leaders targeted by authoritarian governments, saying, “If we are slowly sliding from a fully democratic country to a more totalitarian, pseudo-democratic one, one of the signs of that will be politicization of the decisions of the judicial process.”

The left is most worried about the revived investigation into the Clinton Foundation and whether the Clintons accepted donations or speaking fees in exchange for policy considerations to be addressed when Hillary Clinton became president.

“That’s in part because it was first reported by The Hill’s John Solomon, who has been digging into the foundation for over a decade and whose work has frequently pleased conservatives.”

Even as evidence mounts that top FBI officials were out to get Trump by whatever means necessary, Talking Points Memo suggests Trump’s public statements are essentially orders to begin investigations.

“The FBI’s hierarchical nature means that if an investigation originated from the top down, it would be difficult for agents to resist it, a former Obama Justice Department lawyer told TPM.”

The nation has been through bouts of politicization of the Justice Department before and survived. Eric Holder, attorney general for the first six years of the Obama administration, was quoted in a 2008 speech saying the Justice Department was “going to be looking for people who share our values.” And he did, setting off what one writer called politicized hiring practices “nearly unprecedented in scope.”

Holder’s politics – and the politics of his party – dictated a great deal of what the department did. It dictated that Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, did not commit an act of terrorism but rather one of workplace violence.

It dictated obtaining phone records of reporters and editors at the Associated Press and tapping the phone of both former Fox News reporter James Rosen and his parents. It dictated presidential pardons for two Weather Underground members and said a U.S. attorney in Tennessee telling a Muslim group social media posts inflammatory toward them could constitute actionable violations of civil rights.

It dictated, according to John Lott, a scholar who studies the issue, Holder supporting every gun control measure ever put before him and telling a Democrat women’s group he needed to launch a public campaign to “really brainwash people into thinking about guns in a vastly different way.”

It meant trying terrorists as criminal defendants rather than enemy combatants, eliminating the term ‘radical Islam’ from the Washington vocabulary and carrying out Operation Fast and Furious, in which his department gave guns to Mexican drug dealers – one of whom ended up using the gun to kill a U.S. Border Patrol agent.

The Justice Department reopened the Clinton investigation because it had not finished it earlier. Talking Points Memo’s piece admits as much, saying the investigation went on hiatus so as not to interfere in the election – a consideration that itself is politically motivated.

The mainstream media doesn’t have a good reason to call for a shutdown of these investigations. But from the look of this story, the media and its handlers in the Democratic Party are beginning to think they need one. 





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