Fred Henneke, Attorney & Counselor-At-Law
I am deeply troubled by the actions of the FBI in sending an informant to gather information from/about persons identified with or assisting the Trump campaign. I understand the informant was not tasked with reporting on the campaign per se; I understand that the three targets had previously come under FBI scrutiny for their Russian connections; I understand that the informant was not sent under orders from the Obama White House or the Clinton campaign; I understand that the use of informants is a common practice by ALL law enforcement agencies, not just the FBI. No harm, no foul, Right? NO! The mere fact that agents of the administration of one political party sent a paid informant to cozy up to persons working for the political campaign of the other party is Wrong and totally contrary to the fundamental values of our Nation. Done in secret as it was, there was no opportunity for oversight by the people’s elected representatives (assuming they could be dragged from their all consuming drive for re-election). The American miracle is based firmly and unalterably upon free and open elections; anything that threatens or demeans that principle cannot be tolerated.
I am also troubled by the fact that the investigation into any Trump campaign connection with Russia or Russian agents was kept from the American people. The investigation into Ms. Clinton’s emails and security breaches was front page news for months. Did it impact the election? BIG TIME. Would the knowledge that the FBI was looking into the Trump campaign’s connections with Russia in the summer of 2016 have been significant. I can only believe so. At what level, and by whom was that decision made?
Special Counsel Mueller has been looking into Russian interference with or activities in the 2017 presidential campaign now for just over a year. The legitimate Senate investigation, and the partisan House investigation, have both concluded that there was no “collusion”, The intelligence agencies have concluded that there was definitely Russian interference but no collusion..Mr Mueller has indicted scores of persons and companies, with confessions from a few, as to various crimes of a financial nature, but no evidence of collusion has surfaced. Up until now, Mr. Mueller has had a free reign to investigate where the evidence led. How much longer should his investigation continue? I suggest that the appropriate lame-duck members of Congress such as Trey Gowdy, Bob Corker, or Charlie Dent, be given the authority to meet with Mr. Mueller to evaluate the status of his investigation and suggest an outside end date. If there is evidence of actual crimes, such as those Mr. Manafort is charged with, that evidence can be forwarded to the appropriate prosecutors for evaluation and action. A final report can be written and delivered to Congress. I am loath to see this special investigation drag on for years as did Ken Starr’s investigation into the Clintons. There is no hope of meaningful bi-partisan legislation by Congress that actually addresses the enormous problems facing American as long as this investigation continues.
Finally, I was dismayed to learn that the so-called Freedom Caucus in the House prevented an omnibus agriculture spending bill from being voted upon because Speaker Ryan refused to bring their preferred immigration bill to a vote. This agriculture spending bill was a Republican priority, containing work requirements for the food stamp program for the first time. But the Freedom Caucus decided to not pay nice in the sand box. I have this image of Jim Jordan sneaking up to the Speaker’s seat, grabbing his gavel and trying to run away with it, clutching it tightly to his chest, as the Speaker and others tried to pry it lose. “if I can’t get my way, I will ruin it for everyone else”. Is this what our democracy has become – legislation, or no-legislation, by blackmail? There are times I fear we are on the way to becoming the largest banana republic in history.