…my administration has already removed more than 1,500 VA. employees who failed to give our veterans the care they deserve. —DJT
So tonight I call on Congress to empower every cabinet secretary with the authority to reward good workers and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust, or fail the American people.–DJT
In the early 19th century, positions in the federal government were held at the pleasure of the president—a person could be fired at any time. The spoils system meant that jobs were used to support the American political parties, though this was gradually changed by the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of 1883 and subsequent laws. By 1909, almost two-thirds of the U.S. federal workforce was appointed based on merit, that is, qualifications measured by tests. Certain senior civil service positions, including some heads of diplomatic missions and executive agencies, are filled by political appointees. Under the Hatch Act of 1939, civil servants are not allowed to engage in political activities while performing their duties.– Wikipedia
Does an incoming presidential administration need to staff the government with persons loyal to the new president? There is danger in that idea.
- Watching the PBS series on Queen Victoria, I learned that if there was a thief in the Queen’s kitchen who ccouldn’t be identified, the entire staff would be replaced.
- From Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn’s novel, The First Circle, I leaned that if the spy in the Soviet Foreign Ministry couldn’t be identified, there was a simple solution–shoot them all.
- From Ryszard Kapuscinski’s Travels with Herodotus, I learned that the Persian Shah’s retreating army might have been cut off from home at the straits and destroyed, but the local rulers, “the tyrants,” were appointed by and owed their loyalty to the Shah. Thus the opportunity was missed.
- President G. W. Bush reportedly hired many lawyers for the Justice Department Civil Rights Division from Regent University (they could be presumed to lack enthusiasm for enforcing civil rights legislation).
- President Trump in his first State of the Union Address bragged that the VA had fired more than 1,500 employees and asked Congress to give Cabinet Officers more authority to fire people.
Now President Trump may seek to fire all FBI employees or perhaps use “extreme vetting” to weed out Democrats and others who might not “have his back.” He isn’t the first tyrant to suggest such a measure.
5 Things we learned this past Friday
1. The FBI and DOJ lied to the FISA Court about the grounds for a warrant on Trump foreign policy advisor Carter Page. According to the memo, the Fusion GPS dossier, compiled by Christopher Steele and paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, was the central basis for the FISA warrant against Page. But that dossier was obviously biased — and that information was never turned over to the FISA court. The memo states, “The application does not mention Steele was ultimately working on behalf of — and paid by — the DNC and Clinton campaign, or that the FBI had separately authorized payment to Steele for the same information.” Furthermore, the FBI did not independently verify the claims of the Steele dossier in any serious way before seeking the FISA warrant. Those involved in the application include current deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, which is likely why President Trump refused to rule out firing him today.
2. The media helped garner the warrant. The Carter Page FISA application apparently cited a Yahoo News article that was based on leaks from Steele to the news outlet. But that was not independent corroborating evidence of the Steele dossier — it was a repetition of the information Steele was disseminating. Steele was later suspended and terminated from the FBI for “an unauthorized disclosure to the media of his relationship with the FBI.”
3. Steele didn’t like Trump, but this information wasn’t included in the FISA application either. According to the memo, Steele told associate deputy attorney general Bruce Ohr that he was “desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.” Ohr didn’t report that in the FISA application, nor was information that Ohr’s wife worked for Fusion GPS on compiling opposition research on Trump revealed to the FISA Court.
4. Most importantly, the Carter Page application was NOT the launching point of the Trump-Russia collusion investigation. This is the most important point. If the Page FISA warrant had been the centerpiece and launching point of the investigation, Trump might have grounds to shut the whole thing down — Trump could claim, rightly, that the FBI, DOJ, and Hillary campaign worked together to trump up these charges, and then weaponized our intelligence and law enforcement community against him. But the memo itself states that “The Page FISA application also mentions information regarding fellow Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos. …The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016 by FBI agent Pete Strzok.” The memo points out that Strzok was also anti-Trump, but provides no evidence that the Papadopoulos investigation was biased — and that would be hard to prove, since Papadopoulos has now pled guilty to lying to the FBI. So the notion of the Mueller investigation as a sort of “fruit of the poisonous tree” springing from Page is undercut by the memo.
5. This memo doesn’t endanger national security. It’s nearly impossible to see how this memo endangers national security. Democrats can’t express a clear reason. The FBI can’t. The DOJ can’t. Which makes it look as though they were all covering their asses in an attempt to avoid culpability for an attempted political hit on Trump.
So, here’s where we are: the FBI and DOJ clearly cut corners in an effort to push forward the Trump-Russia investigation. They worked with Fusion GPS materials to do so, and didn’t tell the FISA court. And then they apparently fibbed to the American people about the supposed risks to the intelligence community if the public found out about their original lies by omission. But the Page warrant isn’t the entirety of the investigation, and attempts to take down the entire investigation based on this memo will be a wild oversell.