It’s real complicated and ever so confusing. Everyone is mixing apples and oranges here. We are mixing criminal investigations with counterintelligence investigations. They are both investigations but are different kinds of investigations and the role of the president is different in each. The president should be hands off for criminal investigations, hands on for counterintelligence.
Let Andrew McCarthy explain:
“Criminal investigations are about prosecuting people who violate the penal law. Political officials are generally supposed to stay out of them because we are a rule-of-law society”
“Counterintelligence is an information-gathering exercise undertaken for one purpose and one purpose alone: to inform the president, through his subordinate intelligence officials, of information about threats to, and opportunities to advance, American interests.”
The question remains then, which investigation is the subject of the text messages? A separate issue altogether is whether the FBI brass broke the law using the dirty dossier in the FISA application and if they did, whether they did so with Obama’s knowledge or at Obama’s direction? What about those emails? Did Obama interfere in that criminal investigation (… er umm matter)?
The question of who knew what and when they knew it raises its ugly head once again.
Completely Missing the Point on Lisa Page’s Obama Text
An FBI intel briefing of the former president shows the silliness of the Trump obstruction inquiry.
From National Review: By ANDREW C. MCCARTHY, February 8, 2018 @ANDREWCMCCARTHY
Ever watch one of those games in which it looks like the road team is inadvertently doing everything it can to give the game away but the home team is too inept to capitalize?
Welcome to the “Trump-Russia” investigation and the pro-Trump media’s coverage of the latest “stunning” revelation: a text in which two top FBI counterintelligence officials discuss the fact that the president “wants to know everything we’re doing.”
This has much of the conservative media crowing: The text, commentators exclaim, shows that Obama lied four months earlier when he claimed — hilariously, to be sure — that he never interfered in law-enforcement matters.
Uh, guys, counterintelligence is not law enforcement. If Obama demanded an intelligence briefing, that indicates he was doing what he was supposed to be doing as president.
Your play here is not that Obama is a liar. It is that the president is supposed to “interfere” in intelligence investigations. That makes the Trump-Russia obstruction narrative patently absurd.
If I sound a bit snarky, please cut me some slack. Since a time well before Robert Mueller’s appointment as special counsel, I have been harping on the critical distinction between counterintelligence investigations and criminal investigations. It is often missed, even by lawyers if they are unacquainted with national-security law. You can’t blame people for being confused: Both kinds of inquiries are called “investigations,” just as apples and oranges are both “fruits,” but they are very different things.
Criminal investigations are about prosecuting people who violate the penal law. Political officials are generally supposed to stay out of them because we are a rule-of-law society — we want individual cases to be decided strictly by the law, not by political considerations.
There is not, nor should there be, complete independence between politics and this law-enforcement mission: Law enforcement is an executive political responsibility; the president is accountable for it; he sets the government’s law-enforcement priorities; prosecutors and investigators exercise the president’s power, not their own; and the president has undeniable constitutional authority to wade into investigations — even to the point of pardoning law-breakers. Still, by and large, the president should not interfere in criminal cases. If the president does interfere, he should do so transparently: Issue a pardon or order the investigation closed, and take the political heat for it; don’t stage-manage a farce to make it look like your crony is being exonerated by a real investigation when everyone knows you will not permit charges to be filed (see, e.g., the Clinton emails case).
Counterintelligence investigations, on the other hand, are not criminal investigations. They are not a rule-of-law issue or a judicial matter. The objective is not to prosecute someone who has violated the penal law, so we are not worried that political officials, rather than legal principles, control the outcome. That’s because counterintelligence is national security work, which is the principal duty of the political branches under the Constitution.
To be more succinct: Counterintelligence is an information-gathering exercise undertaken for one purpose and one purpose alone: to inform the president, through his subordinate intelligence officials, of information about threats to, and opportunities to advance, American interests.