Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Is Blumenthal Becoming Roy Cohen?

Blumenthal and Schumer

The papers are full of news reports concerning Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s long awaited investigation. Both Republican and Democrat antagonists in the apparently never ending President Donald Trump soap opera are claiming vindication. Briefly, the Horowitz report makes and defends two primary claims: 1) that the OPENING of the Trump investigation was justified, and 2) that the prosecution of the investigation on the part of the FBI had been mishandled.

Attorney General William Barr and the State Attorney from the District of Connecticut, John Durham, have been roundly criticized by U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal, who has praised the Horowitz report in extravagant terms as an “authoritative objective report [that] completely demolishes President Trump’s false claims and right wing conspiracy theories that the Russian investigation involved political bias or other improper motive[s]. It explodes President Trump’s fictitious narrative about a ‘witch hunt’ or deep state cabal causing a well-founded federal inquiry. Clearly, there was a legitimate, factual basis to begin (emphasis mine) this investigation.”


The Horowitz report does claim that the FBI had sufficient reason to BEGIN an investigation, but it also found that the quality of the investigation, after it had begun, was wanting. Horowitz was severely constrained by the limits of his investigation. Durham’s investigation will be more comprehensive and, unlike Horowitz, Durham is invested with prosecutorial authority. He can summon Grand Juries and criminally prosecute offenders.

Connecticut news reports seemed to paint a partisan target on Durham’s back after he and Barr briefly and inoffensively disagreed with Horowitz concerning the legal justification of the Trump investigation. Complimenting Horowitz on the “comprehensive work that went into the report prepared by Mr. Horowitz and his staff,” Durham noted in a rare public statement, that his own separate investigation was “not limited to developing information from within component parts of the Justice Department. Our investigation has included developing information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside the U.S.”

In his own public remarks, Barr ventured into a specificity that set Blumenthal’s teeth on edge. Barr, summarizing points made by Horowitz in his report, pointed out that “in the rush to obtain and maintain FISA surveillance of Trump campaign associates, FBI officials mislead the FISA court, omitted critical exculpatory facts from their filings, and suppressed or ignored information negating the reliability of their principal source.” And pointedly, Barr noted, “The inspector General found the explanations given for these actions unsatisfactory.”

So then, even the IG’s report is critical of actions taken in the course of the investigation AFTER it had been, as he supposed, legitimately opened.

If Blumenthal’s remarks seem to objective journalists to be a mess of overheated partisan pottage, sometimes appearances are on point.

Blumenthal’s remarks these last few years on a variety of investigatory probes have been overheated. He is well on his way to carving out a niche for himself as the Roy Cohen of the Democrat left. Cohen, people will remember, was Senator Joe McCarthy’s legal bulldog. Blumenthal invites us to suppose that because of his association with Barr, Durham is somehow tainted. “Blumenthal,” a Hartford paper notes, “recently complained that his [Durham’s] work for Barr had tarnished his reputation.” Blumenthal has not yet laid eyes on Durham’s report, which is ongoing. Proximity to persons previously tarnished by partisan bulldogs such as Blumenthal does not tarnish reputations; if that were the case, Horowitz’s report would itself be tarnished by his close working relationship with Barr, who has been tarnished by Blumenthal's unjust depreciations. Blumenthal is in danger of becoming little more than a Democrat Party partisan hack. Only a few years ago, Blumenthal and his Connecticut cohort in the Senate, Chris Murphy, were effusive in their praise of Durham.

This is Blumenthal’s recommendation of Durham for the position of U.S. State Attorney for the district of Connecticut: “I know John Durham well, having known and worked with him over many years. He is a no-nonsense, fierce, fair career prosecutor. He knows what it means to try some of the toughest cases against career criminals. He knows what it means to try to stop the opioid crisis in this country. He knows what organized crime does to the fabric of our society. He is exactly the kind of person we should have in this position.”

That commendation, one suspects, may not be cited in future reports involving Blumenthal and Durham, who is -- to quote Blumenthal when Durham had yet to be thrown into Blumenthal’s acidic bath of contumely -- "exactly the kind of person we should have in this position."



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