Daily Archives: December 16, 2018

DECEMBER 16 THE WONDER, THE MYSTERY, THE MAJESTY

And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.

—Matthew 17:6

“Awesome wonder and overpowering love” in the presence of that ancient Mystery, that unspeakable Majesty, which the philosophers call the Mysterium Tremendum, but which we call our Father which art in heaven….

The evangelical rationalism which tries to explain everything takes the mystery out of life and the mystery out of worship. When you have taken the mystery out you have taken God out, for while we may be able to understand Him in some measure, we can never fully understand God. There must always be that awe upon our spirits that says, “Ah, Lord God, Thou knowest!”—that stands silent and breathless or kneels in the presence of that awful Wonder, that Mystery, that unspeakable Majesty, before whom the prophets used to fall, and before whom Peter and John and the rest of them fell down as if dead, before whom Isaiah recoiled and cried, “I am a man of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5). WMJ005-006

Lord, the disciples heard Your voice and fell on their faces before You, as did Isaiah when he caught a glimpse of Your glory. May I be overwhelmed today with a glimpse of the Mysterium Tremendum. Amen. [1]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

December 16 Peace on Earth?

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.

Luke 2:14, nasb

As we hear so often at Christmas, the beginning of [Christ’s] earthly life was heralded by angels who announced peace on earth (Luke 2:14).

There never really has been peace on earth, in the sense we think of it. Wars and rumors of wars have characterized the entire two millennia since that first Christmas, and all the time before it.

That announcement of peace on earth was a two–pronged proclamation. First, it declared the arrival of the only One who ultimately can bring lasting peace on earth (which He will do when He returns to bring about the final establishment of His earthly kingdom).

But more important, it was a proclamation that God’s peace is available to men and women. Read the words of Luke 2:14 carefully: “‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.’”

Who are those with whom He is pleased? The ones who have yielded their lives to the authority of His government.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 377). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

Worldview and Apologetics in the News

Want to Give a Book for Christmas? Here’s My Top Ten List for Books on the Authority of Scripture

The ignored story of ‘America’s biggest serial killer’

A Short Primer on the Bible and Homosexual Practice

‘We have more evidence than we need’ to prove Christianity, apologist says

Korn’s Brian ‘Head’ Welch recalls overcoming addiction, finding God in new doc

As Last Abortion Center in Nashville Closes, Tennessee Doctor Reveals Why Life is Winning

Is a Virgin Birth Possible? That Depends on God’s Existence

Petition Calls Deadpool/Jesus Poster ‘Religious Discrimination’

Lauren Daigle and homosexuality: Why we should all be prepared to answer the question

Courage and Godspeed,

Chad

Last week’s edition is here.

Source: Worldview and Apologetics in the News

Obama Vows To Fight President Trump

Former President Obama is set to go to the streets with President Donald Trump.

Figuratively anyway.

The 44th President of the United States is irate that his signature law, Obamacare, was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge on Friday and he has vowed to fight on.

The former president took to Twitter on Saturday to tell his fans that the fight is not over.

There are two things you need to know today about health care.

First, today’s the last day of open enrollment. That means it’s the deadline to make sure you and the people you love have health insurance in 2019. So head over to HealthCare.gov to get covered!

Second, you might have heard about a federal court decision on a Republican lawsuit trying to strike down the Affordable Care Act in its entirety. That can be a scary thing to hear, particularly if you or someone you care about has a pre-existing condition. And that’s why it’s so important for you to know that last night’s ruling changes nothing for now. As this decision makes its way through the courts, which will take months, if not years, the law remains in place and will likely stay that way. Open enrollment is proceeding as planned today. And a good way to show that you’re tired of people trying to take away your health care is to go get covered!

A lot of good people are fighting to ensure that nothing about your care will change. The ACA protects your pre-existing conditions, no matter how you get your insurance. Young people can stay on their parents’ plans until they’re 26. Preventive care like checkups, mammograms, and contraceptive care are still covered. Mental health care is still covered. Women can’t be charged more just for being a woman. All of that is guaranteed by the ACA as long as it’s the law.

Do you support the judge’s decision?

But all of this should also be a reminder that Republicans will never stop trying to undo all that. If they can’t get it done in Congress, they’ll keep trying in the courts, even when it puts people’s pre-existing conditions coverage at risk. The only way to convince them to stop trying to repeal this law, and start working to make health care better, is to keep voting, in big numbers, in every election, for people who’ll protect and improve our care.

So go get covered today at HealthCare.gov!

The fight is not over. That is correct.

It will likely head to the Supreme Court.

But the chances of it being saved this time are microscopic as President Trump destroyed the thing that saved it.

It was a genius move after Congress denied his idea to repeal and replace.

President Trump got rid of the individual mandate, the tax on the uninsured that saved it in the Court.

It was argued that the mandate made it a tax and Congress is charged with levying taxes with made it legal.

No individual mandate, no tax.

No tax, not constitutional.

It is 4D chess and President Trump is a master.

Source: Obama Vows To Fight President Trump

Number of Americans believing Christmas should be about Christ declining

A new study from LifeWay Research found two-thirds of Americans (65 percent) say, “Christmas should be more about Jesus,” down from 79 percent in 2014. | (Photo: Pexels)

While the majority of Americans believe the Christmas season should be more about Jesus, that number is steadily decreasing, a new study has revealed.

The study from LifeWay Research found two-thirds of Americans (65 percent) say, “Christmas should be more about Jesus.” The study of 1,004 Americans conducted in September found that Christians (81 percent) are more likely to agree with that statement compared to other religions (35 percent) and nonreligious (28 percent).

However, those looking for more Christ in Christmas are significantly fewer than four years ago. A 2014 LifeWay Research study found 79 percent of Americans at that time said Christmas should be more about Jesus.

While the biggest drop occurred among members of other religions and the nonreligious, fewer Christians believe Christmas should be more about Jesus as well, the survey found. In 2014, 92 percent of Christians agreed, marking an 11 percent drop in 2018.

Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, said the research shows there is “less cultural expectation for celebrations of the Christmas holiday to include the religious aspect.”

When asked if it’s offensive when someone says “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” around a third of Americans (32 percent) agreed, compared to 40 percent of Christians. A similar number (33 percent) say the same about using “X-mas” instead of “Christmas.”

Interestingly, Americans age 50 and older are almost twice as likely to say they find “Happy Holidays” offensive than those age 50 and younger (42 percent to 22 percent). Overall, frequent religious service attendees are more likely to be offended by “Happy Holidays” (47 percent) than those who do not attend church.

“It’s likely that Christians and older Americans are nostalgic for previous years or reluctant to acknowledge that not everyone celebrates Christmas this time of year,” said McConnell.

“Many have the idea that most Americans are the same or that we share one culture of baseball, apple pie and Christmas, but that’s not the case,” he continued. “And when we encounter someone who believes differently from us, that can be jarring and even seem offensive for some.”

“Christians may be better served finding a way to wish their non-Christian friends and family … all the blessings possible during the season in which believers celebrate God blessing Earth with His Son,” he said.

The Lifeway Research study corroborates a December 2017 report from the Pew Research Center which found that of the 90 percent of Americans who celebrated Christmas that year, 55 percent viewed it as a religious holiday, down from 59 percent who responded to an identical poll in 2014.

Fewer than half of respondents (46 percent) said they saw Christmas as “more of a religious holiday” than a “cultural holiday,” down from 51 percent four years ago.

The Pew survey also found that just 57 percent of Americans believe the main elements of the biblical account of the birth of Christ, down from 65 percent in 2014. The four elements of the Christmas story as told in the Bible are: that Jesus was born of a virgin mother; that three Magi came to visit, bearing gifts; that an angel announced the baby’s birth; and that the infant was cradled in a manger.

Based on their findings, Pew concluded that “some of the ways Americans think about and commemorate Christmas appear to be moving in a more secular direction.”

In a recent op-ed, conservative Jewish radio personality Dennis Prager warned that if “current trends continue,” saying “Merry Christmas” might be a “thing of the past.”

“If so it’s a shame, a further coarsening of the culture — and worse,” he said. “It is yet another an example of the removal of religion, specifically Christianity, from a country that has long been the most religious major industrialized democracy in the world.”

The elimination of the word “Christmas” should worry Christians, he said, because it represents the Left’s attempts to create a “thoroughly secular society.”

“Most people do not realize that the Left believes in secularism as fervently as religious Christians and Jews believe in the Bible,” he said. “That’s why ‘Merry Christmas’ bothers secular activists. It’s a blatant reminder of how religious America is — and always has been. That’s why I predict activists on the left will sooner or later seek to remove Christmas as a national holiday.”

Source: Number of Americans believing Christmas should be about Christ declining

Sunday Talks: HPSCI Chairman Devin Nunes Discusses Flynn Case… — The Last Refuge

House Permanent Sub Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) Chairman Devin Nunes appears on with Maria Bartiromo to discuss the current state of issues with Michael Flynn.

Chairman Nunes draws attention to the latest documents (released Friday). One of the documents is written by Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe who noted that Flynn was aware the FBI had the content of a phone call between himself and Russian Ambassador Kislyak, prior to the FBI interview. Therefore it is highly unlikely Flynn would lie about the content of that Kislyak phone call.

Most people forget the background of how the Mueller probe was constructed. FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and FBI chief legal counsel James Baker selected most of the special counsel investigators; those two then recommended to Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein that he hire Robert Mueller as special counsel lead.

Comey was fired. The remaining ‘at-risk’ corrupt FBI leadership (McCabe and Baker), positioning to defend their own interests, selected the “small group”; then Mueller was selected and brought on his additional team members. The entire  purpose of the special counsel operation was to cover-up the DOJ/FBI activity.

https://www.scribd.com/embeds/395717844/content?start_page=1&view_mode=&access_key=key-iJuQoywUHIdWAEmbjBQJ

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via Sunday Talks: HPSCI Chairman Devin Nunes Discusses Flynn Case… — The Last Refuge

‘The Everybody Conspiracy’: Nearly Every Part of President Trump’s Life is Under Investigation

President Donald Trump speaks to media he visits Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018, during Wreaths Across America Day. Wreaths Across America was started in 1992 at Arlington National Cemetery by Maine businessman Morrill Worcester and has expanded to hundreds of veterans’ cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and beyond. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Investigations now entangle Donald Trump’s White House, campaign, transition, inauguration, charity and business. For Trump, the political, the personal and the deeply personal are all under examination.

Less than two years into Trump’s presidency, his business associates, political advisers and family members are being probed, along with the practices of his late father. On Saturday, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke became the fourth Cabinet member to leave under an ethical cloud, having sparked 17 investigations into his actions on the job, by one watchdog’s count.

All of this with the first special counsel investigation against a president in 20 years hanging over Trump’s head, spinning out charges and strong-arming guilty pleas from underlings while keeping in suspense whether the president — “Individual 1” in prosecutor Robert Mueller’s coded legalese — will end up accused of criminal behavior himself.

The scope of the scrutiny has shaped Trump’s presidency, proving a steady distraction from his governing agenda. So far, much of it has been launched by federal prosecutors and government watchdogs that eschew partisanship. The intensity is certain to increase next year when Democrats assume control of the House and the subpoena power that comes with it.

Although Trump dismisses the investigations as politically motivated “witch hunts,” his high-octane Twitter account frequently betrays just how consumed he is by the scrutiny. He’s also said to watch hours of television coverage on milestone days in the investigations.

“It saps your energy, diverts your attention and you simply can’t lead because your opponents are up in arms against you,” Cal Jillson, a Southern Methodist University political scientist and historian, said of the scrutiny. “It weakens your friends and emboldens your enemies.”

Almost midway through his term, Trump is struggling to deliver on his central campaign promises. He may end the year without a Republican-led Congress giving him the $5 billion he wants for a border wall. And he’s previewed few legislative priorities for 2019.

Even if he had, it’s unlikely the new Democratic House majority would have much incentive to help a president weakened by investigations rack up wins as his own re-election campaign approaches.

Perhaps not since Bill Clinton felt hounded by a “vast right wing conspiracy,” as Hillary Clinton put it, has a president been under such duress from investigation.

This jeopardy has come with Trump’s party in control of Congress and the Justice Department driving at least three separate criminal investigations. They are the Mueller probe looking into possible collusion, obstruction of justice or other wrongdoing in contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia; the New York campaign-finance case involving hush money paid to Trump’s alleged lovers; and now a case from New York, first reported by The Wall Street Journal this past week, examining the finances and operations of Trump’s inaugural committee and whether foreign interests made illegal payments to it.

Behind those matters is a battery of lawsuits or inquiries from state attorneys general and other parties tied mainly to Trump businesses.

At best, the investigations are overshadowing what has been positive economic news. At worst, the probes are a threat to the presidency, Trump’s family and his business interests.

The deep diving will only grow in the new year when Democrats take over the House. They are expected to launch their own investigations and could pursue impeachment, though party leaders caution they could face a political backlash by taking that step.

Even if Trump avoids impeachment, the Democratic investigations will create headaches. Administration officials will be called to testify before Congress and lawmakers will seek a trove of documents, probably including Trump’s tax returns, which he has refused to make public.

A bare-bones White House staff may struggle to keep up. A tally by the Brookings Institution finds more than 60 percent of Trump’s top aides have left in the first two years, a turnover rate exceeding the previous five presidents. In addition, 10 Cabinet secretaries have departed, more than Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Clinton lost in two years. The shake-ups now have left Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s budget chief, doing double duty indefinitely as the president’s chief of staff.

That combination makes it hard to imagine a president effectively engaged in policy, even if — as in the case of Clinton — the drawn-out investigations lead to an impeachment that fails to remove the president.

“The modern presidency is extraordinarily complex and demanding so you need the president’s full attention,” Jillson says. “Where your attention should be, you’re also thinking about meeting with your lawyers.”

As the investigations mount, few Republicans have dissociated themselves publicly from Trump. But privately, some lawmakers do worry that the investigations will damage his re-election prospects and their own chances in 2020 House and Senate races.

The federal campaign finance probe has put GOP lawmakers in a particularly awkward position. Prosecutors — as well as Trump’s longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen and a tabloid company that has long been an ally — assert that Trump directed hush payments to keep women quiet about alleged affairs in the closing weeks of the 2016 campaign. Such a payment would violate campaign finance laws. Cohen was sentenced this past week to three years in prison.

Underscoring the balancing act for Republicans, outgoing Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah initially stated that he didn’t much care about Trump being implicated in Cohen’s crime, then thought better of his words.

“I made comments about allegations against the president that were irresponsible and a poor reflection on my lengthy record of dedication to the rule of law,” Hatch said in a statement Friday.

Five people in Trump’s orbit have pleaded guilty to charges in the continuing Mueller probe. Among them, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates were Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, for a time in Trump’s presidential campaign. George Papadopoulos, a lower-level campaign adviser, was sentenced to 14 days in prison and is out. The others are Michael Flynn, who was Trump’s first national security adviser in office and is to be sentenced Tuesday, and Cohen, who is expected to begin his sentence in March.

In addition, the special counsel’s office says Flynn, in giving 19 interviews and turning over a mountain of documents, has assisted in a criminal investigation that has yet to be revealed.

In other words, there’s no end in sight.

Trump is also exposed to legal peril beyond that from federal prosecutors. Among the lawsuits or investigations:

—Democratic attorneys general in Maryland and the District of Columbia and congressional Democrats are challenging the Trump Organization’s business transactions with foreign and state government interests, such as those at his Washington hotel, citing the constitutional ban on presidents taking payments from such sources without congressional consent.

—Summer Zervos, once a contestant on Trump’s TV show, has sued Trump for defamation for accusing her of lying. She alleged in 2016 that he made unwelcome physical contact with her. He’s failed several times to derail the case.

—New York tax officials are looking into whether Trump or his charitable foundation misrepresented tax liability. In addition, the New York tax department said it is “vigorously pursuing all appropriate avenues of investigation” after a New York Times report found Trump and his family, going back to transactions by his father, Fred Trump, cheated on taxes for decades. The report said Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father, much of it through dubious tax maneuvers. Trump called the report “a very old, boring and often told hit piece on me.”

—New York authorities allege in a lawsuit that Trump illegally tapped his charitable Trump Foundation to settle legal disputes, help his campaign for president and cover personal and business expenses, including the purchase of a life-size portrait of himself for $10,000.

Stanley Renshon, political scientist at the City University of New York and a psychoanalyst, says all of that adds up to a lot of people, not just the left, “trying to make his presidency untenable.”

It is, perhaps, vaster than the right-wing “conspiracy” the Clintons endured, Renshon says. “I call it the everybody conspiracy.”

SOURCE: CALVIN WOODWARD and JULIE PACE, AP

Source: ‘The Everybody Conspiracy’: Nearly Every Part of President Trump’s Life is Under Investigation

DEEP STATE CROOKS: Mueller Took Down Strzok’s 302 Report AFTER STRZOK WAS CAUGHT in Text Messages PLOTTING AGAINST TRUMP — The Gateway Pundit

Mueller’s Spcecial Counsel team of 13 angry Democrats scrubbed Peter Strzok’s phone and then turned it over to the Office of Inspector General investigators AFTER Peter Strzok was fired from the special counsel.

Peter Strzok was fired from the Special Counsel after text messages surfaced showing that he had a strong hatred for Donald Trump and his supporters.

Peter Strzok was reassigned in the summer of 2017 to the FBI’s human resource department after his dismissal from the Mueller witch hunt in July 2017.

His lover Lisa Page reportedly resigned from the Special Counsel in May 2017 – two weeks before Strzok was fired from the special counsel.

Lisa Page’s phone was scrubbed and not turned over to OIG until September 2018.

Via The Donald page on Reddit:

Strzok’s anti-Trump lover Lisa Page’s phone was also scrubbed clean.

Now this…

The only known 302 report provided by Robert Mueller to Judge Emerson this week was a report created on July 19, 2017, six months after the setup of Flynn by FBI agents in the White House in January.

Peter Strzok and Lisa Page were caught sharing messages from 2016 where they show a coordination between the FBI and DOJ to destroy Trump with strategic leaks to the media.

Attorney Lisa Page reportedly resigned from the Special Counsel in May 2017 — two weeks before Strzok was fired from the special counsel.

The 302 report Mueller handed over to the judge in Michael Flynn’s case is marked July 19, 2017.

This means Mueller was taking the talking points from a man they knew was extremely biased against President Trump and in affair with anther Deep State official. They had fired him from the Special Counsel around this time period or before.

Dirty Cop Robert Mueller took the 302 report from Strzok AFTER he was caught plotting against Donald Trump. And it appears the 302 report interview took place AFTER his lover quit and he was fired from the special counsel.

Then the Mueller witch hunt scrubbed his phone clean before turning it over to investigators.

via DEEP STATE CROOKS: Mueller Took Down Strzok’s 302 Report AFTER STRZOK WAS CAUGHT in Text Messages PLOTTING AGAINST TRUMP — The Gateway Pundit

Mueller’s ‘Enterprise’ Witch Hunt

The guidelines that govern FBI investigations are the key to understanding the Deep State’s assault on the Trump administration. The FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane case is a sort of “umbrella” investigation, one that subsumes investigations on given individuals, such as Carter Page. The whole issue of the precise nature of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation has arisen once again, in the context of disgraced former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony last week before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI). I think it will prove helpful to revisit this topic because, as I hope to show, there are important consequences that flow from this.

What kind of investigation is Crossfire Hurricane?

Back on March 20, 2017, then FBI Director Comey testified before HPSCI regarding Russian “active measures” during the 2016 election. Chairman Nunes characterized the committee’s work as concerned with Russian “active measures” during the 2016 presidential election, but the Democrats stated that it was all about “collusion” between the Trump campaign and “the Russians.” In his testimony Comey confirmed for the committee that the FBI’s investigation, which we now know as Crossfire Hurricane and which began in late July 2016, was concerned with “any coordination between people associated with the Trump campaign and the Russians.”

This is important, because in Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Rod Rosenstein’s letter of May 17, 2017, in which he appointed Robert Mueller as Special Counsel (SC), Rosenstein’s authorization closely tracks Comey’s testimony: [Emphases added throughout]

The Special Counsel is authorized to conduct the investigation confirmed by then-FBI Director James B. Comey in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on March 20, 2017, including any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of Donald Trump; …

There are several important bits of information that we need to take special note of in this.

  • First, Mueller is not starting up a new investigation — he’s taking over an already existing investigation, the same one that was confirmed by Comey two months earlier.
  • Second, and very importantly, Mueller’s investigation is not authorized as a general investigation into Russian “active measures” (i.e., interference, meddling) in the 2016 campaign but instead is rather narrowly focused on “coordination between people associated with the Trump campaign and the Russians.”

In other words, Rosenstein did not authorize Mueller to investigate coordination between people associated with the Clinton campaign and the Russians–only the Trump campaign.

In his testimony last week, which included testy exchanges with Republican Congressmen including Trey Gowdy, Comey hewed closely to his previous testimony. Specifically,

  • he categorically denied that the investigation was an investigation of “the Trump campaign or Donald Trump himself;”
  • he confirmed, however, that the investigation was of “four Americans” who “did not include the candidate;”

All this is made explicit in a key document: The HPSCI Report on Russian Active Measures, dated March 22, 2018. There we read:

The Committee’s investigation also reviewed the opening, in summer 2016, of a FBI enterprise counterintelligence investigation into [REDACTED] Trump campaign associates: [REDACTED] Carter Page, [REDACTED] Because of “the sensitivity of the matter,” the FBI did not notify congressional leadership about this investigation during the FBl’s regular counterintelligence briefings. Three of [REDACTED] original subjects of the FBI investigation have been charged with crimes and the Committee’s review of these cases covers the period prior to the appointment of Special Counsel in May 2017.

Finally we learn exactly what kind of investigation Crossfire Hurricane was: it was an “enterprise counterintelligence investigation … Trump campaign associates.” One of those associates was Carter Page and the other three are easily guessed from the context

What exactly is an “Enterprise CI Investigation”?

Fortunately, there’s no need for guesswork here. The relevant FBI and DoJ documents that explain what an “enterprise” investigation is are available to the public: FBI Domestic Investigations And Operations Guide (DIOG) (Section 8) and The Attorney General’s Guidelines for Domestic FBI Operations (pp. 23-24).

An “enterprise” is simply “an organization or group.” Naturally, an enterprise can be a highly structured, formal organization such as a presidential campaign. On the other hand, an enterprise can also be an informal grouping of individuals — possibly without any formal organizational affiliation or possibly affiliated with some formal organization. So, for example: A group of four Americans associated with the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump, even though not constituting a legal entity and acting for purposes other than those of the Trump campaign, might in certain circumstances be regarded as forming an “enterprise” of their own. What would those circumstances be? DIOG 8.2 Purpose, Scope and Definitions, explains that:

Enterprise defined:

An enterprise is a group of persons associated together for a common purpose of engaging in a course of conduct. The term “enterprise” includes any partnership, corporation, association, or other legal entity, and any union or group of individuals associated in fact, although not a legal entity.

Associated in fact defined:

The term “associated in fact” means the persons have an ongoing organization, formal or informal, and that the persons function together as a continuing unit.

The purpose of these distinctions is simply this: The First Amendment protects Freedom of Association, our freedom to group together in associations or … enterprises. The idea is to safeguard our constitutional rights against the likes of, well, the FBI and DoJ — the government. And so the FBI, in opening enterprise investigations, must be careful not to violate those constitutional protections.

Let’s apply these principles to our fact situation.

Here we have four Americans — call them Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Carter Page, and George Papadopoulos — all associated in one way or another with the Trump presidential campaign. If they should “associate together for a common purpose,” for example, to conspire with the Russian government to engage in criminal activity to secure the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, why, they will constitute an enterprise. They would be “associated in fact”, “functioning together as a continuing unit”, “engaged in a common purpose.” What we would need to do, as investigators, to start an investigation on their enterprise would be, in the words of the AGG, to establish:

“an articulable factual basis … that reasonably indicates that the group … may be … be engaged in planning or preparation” of their scheme.

Easy? As it happens, I’ve done this in both the national security and criminal fields and, no, it isn’t necessarily easy. The reason is simply that, by their very nature as associations, enterprises whether legal or criminal in purpose, behave in similar ways. Without getting into the details, I will flatly assert that, absent source information, the FBI would not have been able to come up with an “articulable factual basis” for launching an enterprise investigation in this situation.

So, imagine the good fortune of the FBI. It turned out that they had a trusted and, supposedly, reliable source of information on Russia: Christopher Steele. He happened to be working for the Clinton campaign, doing opposition research as a contractor for Glenn Simpson’s Fusion GPS, but the FBI was willing to use his reports (later compiled into his famous “dossier“) and to repeatedly vouch for his reliability. In those reports we read such things as:

– Former top Russian intelligence officer claims FSB has compromised Trump …

– A well developed conspiracy of cooperation between [Trump] and the Russian leadership …

– Further evidence of extensive conspiracy between Trump’s campaign team and Kremlin …

– Agreed exchange of information established in both directions …

– … managed on the Trump side by the Republican candidate’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, who was using foreign policy advisor, Carter Page, and others as intermediaries …

Spice this up a bit with informant tittle tattle gleaned from undercover approaches to Trump campaign members, and especially the verifiable fact that Page actually did travel to Russia, and that apparently was sufficient to pass muster as “an articulable factual basis” for an enterprise CI investigation.

What’s the purpose of an Enterprise Investigation?

But, what’s the point of having an enterprise investigation? Wouldn’t it be possible to simply investigate each individual who was involved in the conspiracy? Wouldn’t that amount to the same thing? Not necessarily. Recall that the purpose is to safeguard Freedom of Association. If the FBI were to start going after random members of the Trump campaign people might get the wrong idea. They might think the FBI was targeting the Trump campaign itself, or Trump himself, rather than some rogue operatives. DIOG has that covered:

The purpose of an Enterprise Investigation is to examine the structure, scope, and nature of the group or organization including: its relationship, if any, to a foreign power; the identity and relationship of its members, employees, or other persons who may be acting in furtherance of its objectives; its finances and resources; its geographical dimensions; its past and future activities and goals; and its capacity for harm.

There’s our answer. The opening of an enterprise investigation covers the FBI’s tail legally. If questioned on why they appear to be targeting other individuals in the Trump campaign beyond the original four, they can respond that they’re simply trying to identify all the members who are “associated in fact.” It might take some imagination, but creative investigators will find justifications to start looking at more and more people in the campaign.

And that takes us back to Comey’s claim that the FBI wasn’t investigating the Trump campaign or Trump himself. Technically, that’s true. I don’t expect anyone will ever discover an FBI file captioned “Trump Presidential Campaign,” or “Donald J. Trump, aka, The Donald.” But no one who has perused the text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page can doubt who the real target of Crossfire Hurricane was. Nor can anyone who has perused the list of Mueller’s prosecutors — chock full of donors to the Clinton campaign — entertain any doubt as to their target. Everything points in the same direction: Trump. But this enterprise investigation device allows Mueller’s witchhunt to continue, even after three of the original four targets have pleaded to totally unrelated charges and the case against Carter Page has become little more than a sick joke. They’ve been replaced by Jerome Corsi, Roger Stone, Donald Trump Jr., maybe Jared Kushner.

About Rosenstein’s authorization of a Special Counsel

Let’s return to Rod Rosenstein’s letter authorizing the SC. On its face, it may appear to be perfectly on the up and up. The SC is, in effect, simply piggy backing on Crossfire Hurricane. Crossfire Hurricane was already up and running, and Rosenstein took its predication and handed it off to Mueller. But there are a number of problems with that.

The first problem is that Rosenstein’s rationale is threadbare at best: “to ensure a full and thorough investigation of the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.” Why could that not be accomplished by the FBI, the nation’s lead CI agency, an agency set up to investigate such matters, and the agency whose agents would, in any case, be tapped to do the investigating?

There’s another problem with that rationale. While it sounds somewhat reasonable, in fact it doesn’t jibe with the actual authorization that follows. As we have seen, the Crossfire Hurricane enterprise CI investigation that Mueller took over was not simply an investigation into “the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.” It was specifically an investigation into four Americans associated with the Trump campaign, and Rosenstein’s letter specifically refers to this fact by stating as clarification: “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of Donald Trump.” The letter, in effect, assumes as warranted what in fact needs to be demonstrated: that any Russian “interference” was mediated through the Trump campaign.

And that is the major problem. The Rosenstein letter assumes the validity of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation’s predication. But we have witnessed numerous FBI officials acknowledge that the main source of the predication — the Steele dossier — had never been verified in any of its details. To rely solely on the supposed reliability of Steele as a source is, as I have argued, unwarranted in general. It is even less warranted when we bear in mind that Steele was doing opposition research for the Clinton campaign, as an employee of Glenn Simpson’s Fusion GPS. For the FBI to state, as it did in its Carter Page FISA application (Section III. B), that Simpson never told Steele what the motivation was for Simpson’s research into Trump’s “ties to Russia” is simply insulting to anyone’s intelligence and part of a clear fraud on the FISA court.

At a minimum, Rosenstein should have offered some statement in his letter certifying that he had reviewed the relevant investigative documents and had found upon review that they presented “an articulable factual basis” that would warrant hobbling the new administration in this way. Rosenstein’s failure to provide such assurances leads inevitably to the suspicion that hobbling the new administration was exactly what he had in view — a suspicion that is only strengthened by the recent revelations concerning Rosenstein’s meetings with Andrew McCabe regarding measures designed to actually remove Trump as president. One wonders whether such issues were discussed before the authorization of the SC, as they surely have been since.

What is to be done?

An FBI investigation is not a forever thing; the plug can be pulled, for cause. The case agent should be constantly reviewing his findings to be sure that the investigation is still warranted, and the prosecutor who is assigned to the case should be doing the same thing. If they realize at some point that the original predication has turned out to be incorrect, then that’s the point at which the case should be terminated. The case should not be continued as simply an investigation of a person, in which new theories are constantly being tried out in the hopes of making something stick.

It appears to me transparently clear that that point has long since passed with Crossfire Hurricane. After more than two years the evidence that the original predication was bogus — a political hit job dressed up as a “narrative” that I call the Russia Hoax — seems overwhelming. Further proof can be found in the shameful convictions that Mueller has obtained against Flynn and Papadopoulos, which amount to the criminal equivalent of jaywalking and have nothing to do with Russia. The conviction of Manafort, while in a different category, is also totally unrelated to the predication for Crossfire Hurricane. As for the monstrous injustice that has been perpetrated against Carter Page, words fail me. Where, now, is the “enterprise”?

The true scandal in all this is the perversion of our justice system. President Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, William P. Barr, has in public remarks extending at least a year back, expressed criticism of Mueller’s handling of the Special Counsel’s office in its hiring, as well as support for some of President Trump’s expressed views — if not the Trumpian style. He is certainly aware of the difficult political situation he would be stepping into. The hope is that he will enter office with a determination to recover for the FBI and DoJ the respect and reputation that they show no signs of regaining under the leadership they have had for the past two years. If Barr is to accomplish this, he will need to take the Special Counsel bull by the horns and conduct a searching inquiry into the origins and legitimacy of Crossfire Hurricane, respecting no person or institution in pursuit of the public good.

Image credit: Donkey Hotey

Source: Mueller’s ‘Enterprise’ Witch Hunt