I’m not sure how far I can go with this metaphor, but let’s give it a try.
Scandal is afoot on Farmer Cong’s farm. A hen, (who we shall call “WB”) wishing to be anonymous for fear she will be the next target of the Fox (she is literally a chicken after all), has reported to Deputy Icig a great crime. It seems the Fox, in league with his friend, Weasel Giggily, have raided Farmer Cong’s chicken coop and made off with two hens. To be sure the reporting hen did not actually see the deed done, she was asleep. However, other hens, who were awake at the time, have told WB of the fowl deed. What’s more, alleges WB, Fox has taken steps to conceal the crime, placing all information about the henhouse on “lock down,” something that has never happened before.
Despite WB not being an eyewitness, and possibly not liking foxes, Deputy Icig finds WB’s claim credible and of immediate priority. He gives the news to his boss, Officer Dee Ni. Officer Dee Ni must now decide whether to pass on WB’s report to Farmer Cong himself. This should be an easy call for Officer Dee Ni because, as it turns out, Farmer Cong has a strict rule that if Deputy Icig deems a farm related report credible, and of immediate priority, that it must be reported almost immediately to Farmer Cong.
However, notwithstanding Farmer Cong’s strict rule, Officer Dee Ni does pass WB’s report to Farmer Cong. Instead Officer Dee Ni decides he must first ascertain whether a claim of Canidae Privilege applies. So Officer Dee Ni proceeds to ask . . . the Fox if he is authorized to turn the report over to Farmer Cong. The Fox says, no, arguing that possible henhouse invasions are not a farm matter, but rather a henhouse matter.
Officer Dee Ni then asks if possibly the Fox violated the law against wrongful intrusions into homes. This is important because if this crime possibly occurred the investigation should be promptly referred to the Farm Board of Inspection (FBI). Of course Officer Dee Ni asks the Fox this question. The Fox says it is not this crime because the henhouse is a “public area” under the law and hence cannot be broken into. Other potential (more serious) law violations, such as absconding with hens, are not asked about and not investigated. The Fox orders no investigations of anything to do with WB’s complaint.
Farmer Cong later calls Officer Dee Ni to task for not promptly giving him WB’s report, as Cong’s strict rules require. Farmer Cong is incredulous that Officer Dee Ni asked the very subject of the investigation whether he should do so.
In response, Officer Dee Ni, shrugs his shoulders and points out that the Fox is also the sheriff and that he believed he is required to get the permission of the sheriff when there might be a question of Canidae Privilege. “He’s the only sheriff on the farm” says Officer Dee Ni, “what else could I do?”
Amazingly, we just watched this scenario play out on national television as Acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Joseph Maguire testified to Congress. He was asked to explain why he did not forward to Congress, as the law plainly requires, the whistleblower complaint. Let’s briefly look at two of the allegations in that complaint. In general, it is alleges:
“the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election. This interference includes, among other things, pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the President’s main domestic rivals. The President’s personal lawyer, Mr. Rudolph Giuliani, is a central figure in this effort. Attorney General Barr appears involved as well.”
If further alleges a cover up, by the White House, including White House counsel in the cover up, of the illegal solicitation to interfere in our election.
“In the days following the phone call, I learned from multiple US officials that senior White House officials had intervened to ‘lock down’ all records of the phone call, especially the official word-for-word transcript of the call that was produced — as is customary — by the White House Situation Room. This set of actions underscored to me that White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call.
“White House officials told me that they were ‘directed’ by White House lawyers to remove the electronic transcript from the computer system in which such transcripts are typically stored for coordination, finalization, and distribution to Cabinet-level officials.
“Instead, the transcript was loaded into a separate electronic system that is otherwise used to store and handle classified information of an especially sensitive nature. One White House official described this act as an abuse of this electronic system because the call did not contain anything remotely sensitive from a national security perspective.”
Okay, from just those two quotes we can identify four different people or entities who the Whistleblower alleges engaged in the illegal acts or the cover up.
- President Trump.
- Rudy Giuliani.
- William Barr (Attorney General and head of the Department of Justice).
- White House Counsel.
Acting DNI Maguire got these Whistleblower allegations against these four people or offices. He got it from the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) who deemed them credible and urgent. Maguire was required to forward (the law says that he “shall” do so) these allegations to Congress within seven days of his getting them. He did not.
Instead, he asked Numbers 3 and 4 on the above list if it was okay for him to forward the allegations against them to Congress. He actually asked those accused by the Whistleblower if it was okay to tell Congress about the allegations against them. This really happened. Unsurprisingly, those so accused said, “no.” Their doing so stalled the report going to Congress for nearly a month.
It also provided those accused of a cover up, notice that they had been accused of a cover up, and a month’s time to possibly cover up their cover up.
Acting DNI Maguire said he asked the White House Counsel because he wanted to make sure there was no claim of executive privilege. The DNI’s office has its own attorneys, but he didn’t ask them. He asked the accused.
Maguire also asked the Department of Justice whether there should be a criminal referral to the FBI for a potential campaign financing violation. Campaign finance law prohibits candidates from getting campaign assistance from foreign nations.
Barr’s DOJ told Maguire there was no such potential violation because no money was offered. This narrow interpretation defies the language of the campaign financing statute which much more broadly prohibits campaigns from receiving “anything of value” from foreign nations. As, the Mueller Report concluded:
The phrases “thing of value” and “anything of value “ are broad and inclusive enough to encompass at least some forms of valuable information . . . in the public corruption context , “ ‘ thing of value’ is defined broadly to include the value which the defendant subjectively attaches to the items received” . . . candidate-related opposition research given to a campaign for the purpose of influencing an election could constitute a contribution to which the foreign-source ban could apply. A campaign can be assisted not only by the provision of funds, but also by the provision of derogatory information about an opponent. Political campaigns frequently conduct and pay for opposition research. A foreign entity that engaged in such research and provided resulting information to a campaign could exert a greater effect on an election, and a greater tendency to ingratiate the donor to the candidate, than a gift of money or tangible things of value. — Mueller Report, pp. 186–187.
Since the entire point of the ban against foreign help is to prevent a candidate from being “ingratiated” to a foreign power, that objective is equally applicable to valuable information as it is cash.
Nonetheless, the DOJ decided this statute was not even potentially violated thereby blocking any FBI investigation of that question. Since Maguire only asked asked about that law, no investigation was allowed into other possible laws that might have been violated.
Tyrants stay in power by controlling the very mechanisms that could investigate their misconduct and suppressing any such attempt. I’ll leave it at that.