Scandal-less or Scandalous?

The mainstream media have been incessant on pointing out that Barack Obama’s presidency was completely scandal-free, apart from comically making light of his biggest misdemeanour – wearing a tan suit.

Where to start?

The Obama Department of Justice (DoJ) hardly acted in the spirit of its namesake. Nor have many other agencies or departments under his presidency. Some would also criticise the Trump DoJ of same.

Perhaps most noteworthy for us was the ruling by U.S. District Court Justice Andrew S. Hanen which forced Obama DoJ officials to mandatory ethics training over a period of 5 years for willfully ignoring a court order to stop undocumented immigrants from receiving work permits. Hanen claimed he had been misled by DoJ lawyers as to when the Obama administration would implement the directive. Hanen wrote,

The misconduct, in this case, was intentional, serious and material…In fact, it is hard to imagine a more serious, more calculated plan of unethical conduct.

Who could forget Attorney-General Loretta Lynch’s chance meeting with former President Bill Clinton on an airport tarmac in Phoenix just days before she was due to testify about his wife’s handling of classified material over personal emails? Bill Clinton justified it as,

I just wanted to say ‘hello’ to her and I thought it would look really crazy if we were living in a world where I couldn’t shake hands with the Attorney General, you know, when she was right there…Look, it’s 100 degrees out there. Come up and we’ll talk about our grandkids.”

Lynch suggested that they discussed Clinton’s golf game that day, the Orlando nightclub shooting, Brexit and the health of former Attorney General Janet Reno. Sure, the American public can buy that. No one could possibly imagine Hillary Clinton parsed their lips that day.

Or the time the Obama DoJ secretly obtained phone call and email records from the Associated Press (AP). The records, covering all of April and May 2012, covered more than 20 separate phone lines. These records included all outgoing calls of made from work and personal phone numbers of individual AP reporters, as well as the general phone lines of AP bureaus. So much for the constitutional rights of freedom of the press.

Or the debacle of Operation Fast & Furious. This was a plan conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to find the leaders of Mexican drug cartels by selling arms illegally to nefarious dealers in the hopes it would lead back to them. 2,000 weapons went across the border but the ATF admitted they never bothered to track them. One of the guns ended up killing the brother of the former attorney general of the state of Chihuahua. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and ICE Agent Jaime Zapata were killed by weapons released by the ATF. 300 Mexicans died or were wounded by Fast & Furious guns as well.

In 2012, the House Oversight Committee requested 1,300 pages of key documents it claimed the DOJ had withheld in relation to Fast & Furious and held then AG Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. Obama declared that the documents were protected under executive privilege despite the White House’s stringent denial of involvement. 

Who could forget the National Security Agency’s (NSA) spying scandal? Section 702 empowers the NSA to spy on foreign powers. By doing so it is permitted to retain and use intercepted data that was collected on Americans under strict privacy protections. If any information was wrongly collected it is supposed to be destroyed immediately. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) claimed that Americans were having their information spied upon without a warrant. The NSA admitted that it had been slow to warn other intelligence agencies when such information was wrongly disseminated. It was supposed to warn any agency in possession of such data inside of 5 days. It averaged 19 days with the worst turn around recorded at 130 days.

Obama officials were also caught red-handed monitoring the conversations of members of Congress who opposed the Iranian nuclear deal in 2015. It is consistent with throwing Netanyahu under the bus in his final days of office. 

How soon we forgot the IRS scandal targeting conservative organisations. The IRS was forced to publicly issue a sincere apology to these conservative groups for “heightened scrutiny and inordinate delays.

The outcome of the Linchpins case, which exposed the IRS, revealed that it was wrong to apply federal tax laws based only on an entity’s name, political viewpoints or positions on societal issues. The judge ruled that the IRS must act fairly, and using any form of politically based discrimination in administering the tax code is a violation of First Amendment rights.

The former FBI Director Jim Comey admitted in the Russia probe that he “was overconfident in the procedures that the FBI and Justice had built over 20 years. I thought they were robust enough. It’s incredibly hard to get a FISA. I was overconfident in those…There was real sloppiness, 17 things that either should’ve been in the (FISA) applications or at least discussed and characterized differently. It was not acceptable…I was wrong.

Hardly a scandal-free presidency. The fish rots at the head.

Which brings us to #Obamagate.

What did Obama know and when with respect to the Russia-collusion probe? Why were FISA warrants signed based on the FBI knowing full well it was based on fabricated evidence, including the Steele Dossier, which John Podesta testified was ultimately paid for by the DNC and the Clinton campaign? Why did then FBI Chief of Counterespionage Peter Strzok talk of insurance policies should Hillary Clinton lose and have a stream of disparaging texts showing his utter contempt of Trump? How could he possibly be independent in his work with such personal bias? Why did Strzok’s lover, Lisa Page state in September 2016 that “POTUS wants to know everything we’re doing.” Just an innocent pillow text?

Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell responded to a congressional request yesterday to declassify a list of Obama administration officials who had requested the unmasking of National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn from Nov. 8, 2016 to Jan. 31, 2017. They included,

  1. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power
  2. White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough
  3. Vice President Joe Biden
  4. FBI Director  James Comey
  5. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper
  6. CIA director John Brennan
  7. Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew
  8. Deputy Chief of Mission to Italy and Republic of San Marino Kelly Degnan
  9. U.S. Ambassador to Italy and the Republic of San Marino John R. Phillips
  10. U.S. Treasury Office of Intelligence and Analysis Patrick Conlon
  11. Acting Assistant Treasury Secretary Arthur McGlynn
  12. Acting Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary Mike Neufeld
  13. Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Sarah Raskin
  14. Under Secretary Treasury Nathan Sheets
  15. Acting Under Secretary Treasury Adam Szubin
  16. U.S. NATO Advisor Robert Bell
  17. U.S. Representative to the NATO Military Committee Vice Admiral John Christenson
  18. U.S. NATO Office of the Defense Advisor Policy Advisor for Russia Lt. Col. Paul Geehreng
  19. U.S. NATO Defense Advisor James Hursh
  20. U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission to NATO Lee Litzenberger (now Ambassador to Azerbaijan)
  21. U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO Ambassador Douglas Lute
  22. U.S. NATO Political Office Scott Parrish
  23. Deputy Secretary of Energy Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall
  24. U.S. NATO Political Advisor Tamir Waser
  25. U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Tefft
  26. U.S. Ambassador to Turkey John Bass
  27. Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Intelligence Integration Michael Dempsey
  28. Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence Stephanie O’Sullivan

Obama’s name is absent. Why so many people from the Treasury? How could so many people from Obama’s inner circle have known about the now exonerated Flynn but not the President? Note these were 28 individual requests rather than a single memo passed between people. Looks from the outside to be an abuse of power by eavesdropping on a political opponent. One of those individuals is now running for President.

On the surface, this surveillance looks like a far more impeachable offence than any Ukrainian quid pro quo nonsense that recently transpired.

Obama’s reaction after Flynn’s acquittal made him sound uncharacteristically offbeat and garbled in his message.

Say what one will about Trump’s character and behaviour but one has to question the ethics of the former administration. Seems more scandalous than scandal-less.

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