After a week of silence on whether Republicans should refuse to consider President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Senator Mark Kirk is speaking out.
In a Chicago Sun-Times op-ed posted moments ago, Kirk argues that, in the spirit of honoring the late Justice Antonin Scalia, Republicans should place the Constitution before their party.
“I recognize the right of the President, be it Republican or Democrat, to place before the Senate a nominee for the Supreme Court and I fully expect and look forward to President Obama advancing a nominee for the Senate to consider,” he writes.
“I also recognize my duty as a Senator to either vote in support or opposition to that nominee following a fair and thorough hearing along with a complete and transparent release of all requested information. The Senate’s role in providing advice and consent is as important and significant as the President’s role in proposing a nominee.”
By the same token, he urges the president to put forth a nominee who rejects partisanship and extremism.
“My sincerest hope is that President Obama nominates someone who captures the sentiment he spoke about before the Illinois General Assembly this month – a nominee who can bridge differences, a nominee that finds common ground and a nominee that does not speak or act in the extreme.”
Kirk’s words mark one of the more significant breaks from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s swift call to block consideration for the president’s nominee; though a handful of senators up for reelection, such as Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, have shied away from McConnell’s strategy, his conference is by and large standing behind him. But for Kirk, arguably the most vulnerable Republican in the 2016 Senate field, the stakes are high, and his team spent the last several days mulling his words carefully. In the interim, Illinois representative Tammy Duckworth, the Democrat who is likely to be Kirk’s opponent in November, blasted the senator’s silence, calling on Kirk to “immediately level with the people of Illinois, and let us know whether he supports the Constitution, or if he’ll be a rubber stamp for Mitch McConnell’s obstructionist and unconstitutional gambit.”
Kirk has spent his career crafting a moderate political profile in the upper chamber, and has angered Republicans for regularly crossing the aisle, such as when he voted to maintain funding for so-called sanctuary cities. A more tempered stance on the current SCOTUS fight, however, shields him from Duckworth’s criticisms, and could help him preserve his appeal to independents – who, in the battleground state of Illinois, will be key come November.
GOP senators, if you give whichever Constitution-shredding libfascist Obama nominates a hearing, much less a vote, we are gone. Out of the GOP. Finished. And that means you’re finished too.
The “we” is us conservatives, and we are not in the mood for any pompous, delusional Senate-speak about how you can’t do what we elected you to do and defy Obama. You need to take a stand and shut him down. And we don’t care how much heat you have to take from the mainstream media and your distinguished commie colleagues across the aisle.
Man the hell up.
Our enemies keep blabbing about your alleged “duty” to act. Yeah, you have a Constitutional duty all right – to the freaking Constitution.
The reaction of Mitch McConnell was a pleasant surprise. After rolling over again and again, it seems to have dawned on Mitch that we conservatives are done with a submissive Senate going Gimp every time Obama demands something. Spending, Obamacare, illegal immigration – the GOP hasn’t been seemed to be able to draw a line, much less hold one, and we conservatives have been wondering why we even bothered to retake the Senate in 2014. But now our right to freely exercise our religion, our right to keep and bear arms, and even our right to criticize politicians like Hillary Clinton are at stake. There’s nowhere left to retreat to. Back, meet wall.
This is it. This is the moment you need to stop pretending the Senate is some sort of collegial debating society and realize that this is a life and death struggle for the future of our country. If the left gets its way, America is in serious trouble. And so are you, because if the GOP Senate can’t even stop the left from turning the Supreme Court over to the kind of people who run safe space universities, then what damn use is a GOP Senate?
We’ll be gone from your flailing party. We’ll check out, and then you’ll check out of the cloakroom for good. The revolt is already barreling down the highway; your weakness will only supercharge it. Do you think Donald Trump is some sort of accident? He’s the result of you and the rest of the GOP talking a big game about liberal abstinence and then getting to D.C. and giving it up to the first smooth talking establishmentarian you meet at the bus station.
You should be afraid, because this is about your careers. And remember, K Street’s not going to need you quite so much when there’s a big Democrat Senate majority after you betray us again – you might have to (gasp!) go get your sorry rears real jobs.
Supersize this, squishes. Are you feeling me?
But most of you are smart enough to understand that and to cultivate a healthy fear of losing your cushy sinecures – the majority of you seem to get that you don’t want to go home and run on not having stopped the SCOTUS nominee who just gave the thumbs up to trucks rumbling through your constituents’ neighborhoods with a speaker blaring, “Bring out your guns!”
But we can feel how much you truly want to submit, to adopt that chin-stroking pose of thoughtful pseudo-wisdom on some Sunday morning show and disclaim about your solemn duties and how the president’s candidate deserves careful consideration and blah blah blah blah blah. You know you’re in for mainstream media hell if you take a stand, and there’s nothing you hate more than having to actually defend conservatism rather than basking in the warm glow of strange new respect by going along and getting along with the liberal narrative. But most of you are also canny enough to see that this time is different, that this time you won’t be able to walk some weaselly tightrope where you avoid liberal establishment hate while not alienating your conservative voting base quite enough for it to toss you out of office.
Everyone knows fussy little Lindsey Graham would love to reach across the aisle and hug some guy on the other side, but he knows that South Carolina voters can tolerate only so much cavorting with the enemy. John McCain’s got an election in November and Arizona voters are watching, so he’ll hold fast even though we can see he’s aching to maverick all over conservatives again.
But then there are fools like Dean Heller of Nevada, who decided to respond with a joke when failing to commit to blocking whoever Obama nominates:
“‘The chances of approving a new nominee are slim, but Nevadans should have a voice in the process. That’s why I encourage the President to use this opportunity to put the will of the people ahead of advancing a liberal agenda on the nation’s highest court. But should he decide to nominate someone to the Supreme Court, who knows, maybe it’ll be a Nevadan,’ said Senator Dean Heller.”
Hey Heller, you’re hella unfunny. Do you think attacks upon Nevadans’ First and Second Amendment rights are comedy gold? Let me help you, and every other spineless senatorial sissy, with what you need to say:
“President Obama has spent over seven years disrespecting and disregarding the Constitution. He and his liberal soulmates have expressed nothing but utter contempt for the separation of powers and for our most basic rights. I will not stand by and allow them any further opportunity to infringe upon our freedoms. So my advice to Obama is not to bother nominating anyone to replace Justice Scalia, but if he does so then I shall withhold my consent. I will not support hearings on, or a vote on, or confirmation of, any Obama Supreme Court nominee, ever. Period.”
That’s how you do it. And unless Heller does, in two years I and others will be supporting and donating to his primary opponent – who I hope will be Adam Laxalt, the current Nevada Attorney General and a real conservative. But here’s a little secret – I hope Heller doesn’t come out clearly for what Hugh Hewitt has hashtagged #NoHearingsNoVotes. I hope he keeps trying to please the liberal media instead of his constituents. Why? Because I want us conservatives to destroy the budding career of some RINO next cycle, to select one wavering weakling and boot him out of office for the crime of defying us. The British used to occasionally shoot one of their admirals in order to encourage the others to greater bravery and resolve. We GOP conservatives should adopt this innovative incentivization strategy and each cycle cull the weakest from the herd, just to make sure that these Capitol Hill cretins remain more afraid of our wrath than the Washington Post’s.
No hearings, no votes – or you’ll be hearing from us, and you won’t be getting our votes.
The Republican party has been attempting to commit suicide for as long as I can remember, yet, despite its best efforts, it has somehow managed to avoid shooting itself in the head. However, if its leaders decide to confirm Barack Obama’s next Supreme Court nominee, the GOP will bleed out all over the floor, and there’s nobody anywhere who will be able to stop the hemorrhaging.
Simply put, allowing the most corrupt and incompetent president in the history of the republic to replace the recently-departed Antonin Scalia with another Sonia Sotomayor would be criminally negligent on the part of Mitch McConnell and his crew, and even the moderate, Republican rump-swabs at Fox News know it.
The time has come for these go-along-to-get-along asshats to finally take a stand in defense of liberty, justice and the U.S. Contitution, and if they should fail to do so, they will prove once and for all that they never really did give half a shit about their country.
So, do the high mucky-mucks of the GOP have a death wish? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.
Competing Democrats debate each other one night. Republican rivals take their shots at each other a couple of nights later. An air of frenetic normalcy sets over primary season: The country is $20 trillion in the red and under heightened terrorist threat, yet pols bicker over the legacy of Henry Kissinger and the chameleon nature of Donald Trump – another liability the mogul is marketing as an asset. It is business as usual.
Except nothing about the 2016 campaign is business as usual.
For all the surreal projection of normalcy, the race is enveloped by an extremely serious criminal investigation. If press reporting is to be believed – in particular, the yeoman’s work of Fox News’s Catherine Herridge and Pamela K. Browne – Hillary Clinton, the likely nominee of one of the two major parties, appears to have committed serious felony violations of federal law.
That she has the audacity to run despite the circumstances is no surprise – Clinton scandals, the background music of our politics for a quarter-century, are interrupted only by new Clinton scandals. What is shocking is that the Democrats are allowing her to run.
For some Democrats, alas, any criminality by the home team is immaterial. A couple of weeks back, The Donald bragged, as is his wont, that he “could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” Trump was kidding (at least, I think he was). Unfortunately, the statement might have been true had it sprung from Mrs. Clinton’s lips.
In a Democratic party dominated by the hard Left, the power Left, what matters is keeping Republicans out of the White House, period. Democrats whored themselves for Bill through the Nineties, seemingly unembarrassed over the lie it put to their soaring tropes about women’s rights, good government, getting money out of politics, etc. They will close ranks around Hillary, too. After all, if she was abusing power while advancing the cause of amassing power – er, I mean, the cause of social justice – what’s the harm?
More-centrist Democrats realize there could be great harm, but they seem paralyzed. The American people, they know, are not the hard Left: If Mrs. Clinton is permitted to keep plodding on toward the nomination only to be indicted after she has gotten it, the party’s chances of holding on to the White House probably disappear. By then, there may not be time to organize a national campaign with a suitable candidate (as opposed to a goofy 74-year-old avowed socialist).
So these Democrats play Russian roulette: hopefully assuming that the FBI won’t dare recommend criminal charges with the stakes so high; that the Obama Justice Department won’t prosecute if charges are recommended; that Obama will figure out a way to intervene with a pardon that won’t do Clinton too much damage, and that the public can be spun into thinking an investigation led by Obama appointees and career law-enforcement officers is somehow a Vast-Right-Wing-Conspiracy plot dreamt up by Republicans.
Many of these Democrats know that the right thing to do for their party – and country – is to demand that Mrs. Clinton step aside. They also know that if they do the right thing, and Clinton wins anyway, there will be vengeance – Hillary being the vengeful sort. So mum’s the word.
Their silence will not change the facts.
To take the simplest of many apparent national-security violations, it is a felony for a person “being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any… information relating to the national defense” to permit that information “through gross negligence… to be removed from its proper place of custody” or to be “delivered to anyone in violation of his trust” (Section 793(f) of Title 18, U.S. Code).
Mrs. Clinton was entrusted with national-defense information and knew that working with such classified intelligence was a substantial part of her duties as secretary of state. Despite this knowledge, she willfully, and against government rules, set up a private, non-secure e-mail communication system for all of her government-related correspondence – making it inevitable that classified matters would be discussed on the system. This was gross negligence at best. And the easily foreseeable result is that classified intelligence was removed from its secure government repository and transmitted to persons not entitled to have it – very likely including foreign intelligence services that almost certainly penetrated Mrs. Clinton’s non-secure system.
The penalty for violating this penal statute is up to ten years’ imprisonment for each individual violation. Mind you, there are already 1,600 reported instances of classified information being transmitted via the Clinton server system, and the latest indications are that at least twelve, and as many as 30, private e-mail accounts are known to have trafficked in our nation’s defense secrets. Many of these account holders were certainly not cleared for access to the information – and none of them was permitted to access it in a non-secure setting.
Fox has also reported that the FBI has expanded its investigation to possible public-corruption offenses – the cozy connections between the State Department, the Clinton Foundation, and Clinton-connected businesses; the question whether Clinton Foundation donors received favorable treatment in government contracts. Such allegations could fill a book. Indeed, investigative journalist Peter Schweizer has written just such a book: Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich.
It’s a hair-raising story, but corruption cases are tough to prove. Comparatively, classified-information offenses are straightforward: There is a paper trail and secret intelligence either ended up someplace it was not supposed to be or it didn’t. Corruption cases, by contrast, can involve complex transactions and the gray area between grimy political deals and actionable quid pro quo. They hinge on proving the state of mind of the players, which can be challenging.
So I want to pass over that for now and think about something rarely mentioned in the Clinton caper: the unknown e-mails. What has been revealed about Mrs. Clinton’s disclosed e-mails has been so shocking that we often forget: There are 30,000 other e-mails that she attempted to destroy. We do not know what’s in them, so it is only natural that we have focused instead on what is knowable – the e-mails that have been disclosed. But there have been media reports that the FBI, to which Mrs. Clinton finally surrendered her private servers some months ago, has been able to retrieve many of the “deleted” e-mails, perhaps even all of them.
Mrs. Clinton told us she destroyed these e-mails because they were private and unrelated to government business. Basically we are to believe that one of the busiest, highest-ranking officials in our government had time to send tens of thousands of e-mails that were strictly about yoga routines, her daughter’s bridesmaids’ dresses, and the like. This, from the same Mrs. Clinton who looked us in the eye and insisted that none of her e-mails contained classified information.
Anyone want to join me in indulging the possibility that many of the deleted e-mails involve government business?
I ask because, wholly apart from any classified information crimes, there is another penal law defining an offense that is very easy to prove: the federal embezzlement statute (Section 641 of Title 18, U.S. Code). This provision targets anyone who, among other things,
embezzles, steals, purloins, or knowingly converts to his use…, or without authority… conveys or disposes of any record… of the United States or of any department or agency thereof…; or …conceals, or retains the same with intent to convert it to his use… knowing it to have been embezzled, stolen, purloined or converted.
As with the afore-described crime of mishandling classified information, the penalty for violating this statute is up to ten years’ imprisonment for each instance of theft.
To the extent Mrs. Clinton’s e-mails involved government business, they were not private – they were government records. When she left the State Department, however, she took these government records with her: She didn’t tell anyone she had them, and she converted them to her own use – preventing the government from complying with lawful Freedom of Information Act disclosure demands, congressional inquiries, and government-disclosure obligations in judicial proceedings, as well as undermining the State Department’s reliance on the completeness of its recordkeeping in performing its crucial functions.
I believe that Clinton has already violated the embezzlement law with respect to the 30,000 e-mails she finally surrendered to the State Department nearly two years after leaving. But for argument’s sake, let’s give her a pass on those. Let’s consider only the 30,000 e-mails that she withheld and attempted to destroy but that the FBI has reportedly recovered. Does anyone really doubt that this mountain of e-mail contains State Department-related communications – i.e., government files?
In a better time, responsible Democrats would already have disqualified Mrs. Clinton on the quaint notion that fitness for the nation’s highest office means something more than the ability to evade indictment for one’s sleazy doings. But now we have a candidate who may not – and should not – be able to meet even that lowly standard. No self-respecting political party would permit her to run. Obviously, a plea to do the right thing is not a winning appeal to today’s Democrats. But what are we left with if appeals to self-interest also fall on deaf ears?
Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s nominee for attorney general, is facing questions about why she let multiple bank employees who funneled millions of dollars to the Iranian government, Middle Eastern terrorists and Mexican drug cartels walk away without criminal prosecution.
Sen. David Vitter, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today launched an investigation into the matter. He cited the concern as a reason to delay Senate confirmation of Lynch, who was nominated to replace Eric Holder as the chief law enforcement officer in the United States.
“If Loretta Lynch and [the Justice Department] swept under the rug a serious money laundering scheme involving Mexican drug cartels and terrorist organizations, we need to know a heck of a lot more about it,” Vitter told The Daily Signal.
“This is especially true since American citizens may be completely unaware that their identities – including names and Social Security numbers – were compromised in this fraud.”
While serving as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Lynch, along with the Justice Department, oversaw a massive lawsuit against British banking giant HSBC. Bank officials and other employees faced accusations of laundering more than $200 million through its U.S. bank. The employees allegedly opened fake accounts using customers’ private information.
Federal prosecutors accused HSBC of “illegally conducting transactions on behalf of customers in Cuba, Iran, Libya, Sudan and Burma – all countries that were subject to sanctions enforced by the Office of Foreign Assets Control at the time of the transactions.”
Instead of criminally prosecuting those individuals responsible, Lynch helped negotiate a $1.92 billion dollar settlement with HSBC in December 2012.
During her confirmation hearing for attorney general last month, Lynch said she has been “very aggressive” in pursuing white-collar crime.
“At the outset, no individual is ‘too big to jail.’ And no one is above the law,” she told Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.
But in the case of HSBC – one of the most high-profile white-collar crimes to date – no one ever went to jail.
The Daily Signal has reached out to the Justice Department for comment on the lawsuit.
Some, like Vitter, perceive the settlement as nothing more than a “slap on the wrist.” He said: “A simple monetary fine is the equivalent of a slap on the wrist, and would cast serious doubt on Ms. Lynch’s capacity to serve as our top law enforcement official.”
After being tipped off by a WND reporter who has closely followed the case since its onset, Vitter and his staff yesterday spoke with whistleblower John Cruz, a former HSBC manager who took more than 1,000 pages of bank account records and recordings related to the money laundering before being fired.
Following that conversation, Vitter became suspicious about the settlement. For that reason, he plans to delay Lynch’s confirmation process until he has answers.
“There is a very credible whistleblower… who said folks at HSBC knew what was going on, actively were helping use fake bank accounts to help this happen on behalf of drug cartels and terrorists,” Vitter told the Judiciary Committee earlier today.
“That’s pretty serious to end up having a resolution with a pure money fine.”
Attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch could be facing new confirmation problems in the U.S. Senate after being tied to the world’s biggest banking scandal, involving HSBC, which used its power to temporarily shut down WND.com as the news site was breaking a series of stories on the mega-bank’s money-laundering practices – practices that resulted in more than $1.2 billion in fines
According to court papers filed Wednesday, Eric Holder’s Department of Justice appears to be stonewalling the release of documents that could implicate Lynch in a massive cover-up of Obama administration involvement in international money-laundering of Mexican cartel drug money.
In 2012, Lynch, as the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, oversaw the investigation of drug-related international money laundering allegations against London-based HSBC Holdings LLC.
WND published a series articles documenting charges HSBC laundered billions of dollars that traced back to the Mexican drug cartels, culminating with a $1.256 billion fine paid to the U.S. government to end the investigation and avoid the filing of criminal charges.
The federal government’s unwillingness to prosecute HSBC was exposed by a former HSBC vice president and relationship manager in New York, John Cruz, who called the bank a “criminal enterprise.” Cruz was ignored by law enforcement authorities until he brought to WND 1,000 pages of customer account records that document his claims.
Cruz called the $1.92 billion fine the U.S. government imposed on HSBC “a joke” and filed a $10 million lawsuit for “retaliation and wrongful termination.” Whistleblowers in India and London joined Cruz in charging the HSBC settlement amounted to a massive cover-up.
In response to WND’s reporting of Cruz’s evidence, HSBC lodged a complaint that blocked Internet access to one of the WND stories, and senior reporter Jerome Corsi was fired by the New York City investment firm he had worked with for two years as a senior managing director, Gilford Securities.
WND also reported on evidence Holder’s Justice Department did not investigate money-laundering charges in deference to bank clients of his Washington-based law firm, where he was a partner prior to joining the Obama administration.
In addition, WND reported HSBC was engaged in a systematic scheme to defraud citizens of India who live abroad out of billions of dollars in investment accounts.
‘Continuing to cover up’
In a telephone interview Friday, Cruz said the Obama administration “is continuing to cover up its role in the HSBC money laundering scandal.”
“The IRS has blocked every legal effort I have made to be credited as a whistleblower in the HSBC billion-dollar settlement,” Cruz said. “It is impossible that the Obama administration did not know HSBC was laundering drug money for the Mexican cartels, because the documentation I had showed the laundered money passed through the federal wire-transfer services.”
Cruz charged the 1,000 pages of customer account records show HSBC relied on identity theft, capturing legitimate Social Security numbers that were then used to create bogus retail and commercial bank accounts. Through the accounts, HSBC employees systematically deposited and withdrew hundreds of millions of dollars on a daily basis, apparently without the knowledge of the identity-theft victims.
“When an individual finds out they got a loan they never knew about, 5 percent of that loan went to the accounting firm that made up the phony tax returns and the other 95 percent of that loan went to the manager,” he explained.
“One manager was involved in the transaction, another manager was involved in notarizing the transaction, and senior management was involved where they signed off permission to give the loans even when the loans get rejected by underwriting.”
In an attempt to make his charges public, Cruz in 2011 published a book titled, “World Banking World Fraud: Using Your Identity.”
On July 17, 2012, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, released a majority and minority 330-page staff report titled, “U.S. Vulnerabilities to Money Laundering, Drugs, and Terrorist Financing: HSBC Case History.” It documented HSBC’s role in illegally laundering hundreds of billions of dollars of drug money for the Mexican cartels and for terrorist-affiliated Middle Eastern groups.
“In an age of international terrorism, drug violence in our streets and on our borders, and organized crime, stopping illicit money flows that support those atrocities is a national security imperative,” said the committee’s chairman at the time, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich.
Levin said HSBC “used its U.S. bank as a gateway into the U.S. financial system for some HSBC affiliates around the world to provide U.S. dollar services to clients while playing fast and loose with U.S. banking rules.”
HSBC paid the $1.256 billion fine in December 2012 in an deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department for violations of the Bank Secrecy Act, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Trading with the Enemy Act.