Sunday, July 15, 2018

Trump Hits Another Home Run With Supreme Court Pick Brett Kavanaugh

The Daily Signal ^ | July 9, 2018 | John G. Malcolm and Elizabeth Slattery 

President Donald Trump announced on Monday night his nomination of D.C. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh, who was included in The Heritage Foundation’s original list of potential Supreme Court nominees, is a very promising choice.
The battle lines were already drawn before Trump made his announcement, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., declaring he would not vote for any of the individuals on Trump’s short list.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., promised the confirmation vote would happen this fall. Now, the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin the process of reviewing Kavanaugh’s judicial record and background, with a hearing coming later this summer.
Let’s take a closer look at Kavanaugh.
Born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Bethesda, Maryland, Kavanaugh is 53 years old, Catholic, and married with two young daughters (whose basketball teams he coaches). He obtained both his undergraduate and law degrees from Yale University. After law school, Kavanaugh clerked for 3rd Circuit Judge Walter Stapleton and 9th Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski.
Following a one-year fellowship in the office of Solicitor General Ken Starr, Kavanaugh clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court (along with fellow law clerk, and current Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch).
Kavanaugh next joined Starr at the Office of the Independent Counsel, where he led the investigation into the death of Vince Foster (an aide to President Bill Clinton) and was the principal author of the Starr Report to Congress on the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
He also served as a partner at Kirkland & Ellis, a prestigious law firm where his practice focused on appellate matters. Kavanaugh took on several pro bono matters, including representing Adat Shalom Congregation in its fight against Montgomery County, Maryland, which sought to halt construction of a synagogue, and representing 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez after immigration authorities decided to return him to Cuba.
Prior to his appointment to the bench, Kavanaugh served as associate counsel, senior associate counsel, and then staff secretary to President George W. Bush.
Kavanaugh is no stranger to a tough confirmation process. Although he was nominated to the D.C. Circuit (which is often regarded as a stepping stone to the Supreme Court) in 2003, the Senate did not confirm Kavanaugh until 2006, by a vote of 57-36. Four Democratic senators voted in favor of his confirmation, but none remains in the Senate today.

As Kavanaugh explained at a Heritage Foundation event in 2017:
I think Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Elena Kagan, both of whom had substantial White House experience, would probably say that their White House experiences likewise have made them better jurists. But at the time of my confirmation in 2006, it is fair to say that certain senators were not sold on that. They were not sold that the White House was the best launching pad for a position on the D.C. Circuit.
Indeed, one senator at my hearing noted that I had worked at the White House for more than five years and said in his remarks, this nomination “is not just a drop of salt in the partisan wounds, it is the whole shaker.” And this is true. After the hearing, my mom said to me, “I think he really respects you.” As only a mom can.
Approach to Judging
An outstanding writer, Kavanaugh has written approximately 300 opinions during his 12 years on the bench, many dealing with controversial topics that will likely come up during his confirmation hearing. Kavanagh has also written extensively on the separation of powers and statutory interpretation, and has co-authored a book on judicial precedent (along with Bryan Garner and 11 appeals court judges, including then-Judge Gorsuch).
Drawing from his experience working in the Bush White House, Kavanaugh argued in a 2009 article that Congress should consider enacting a law that would protect a sitting president from criminal investigation, indictment, or prosecution while in office. He explained:
The indictment and trial of a sitting president … would cripple the federal government, rendering it unable to function with credibility in either the international or domestic arenas. Such an outcome would ill serve the public interest, especially in times of financial or national security crisis.
Kavanaugh is a committed textualist. As Kavanaugh succinctly stated in a book review published in the Harvard Law Review, “The text of the law is the law.” He has reiterated this view in many of his opinions.
In Fourstar v. Garden City Group, Inc. (2017), he wrote, “It is not a judge’s job to add to or otherwise re-mold statutory text to try to meet a statute’s perceived policy objectives. Instead, we must apply the statute as written.” And in District of Columbia v. Department of Labor (2016), he write, “As judges, we are not authorized to rewrite statutory text simply because we might think it should be updated.”
Kavanaugh is a critic of Chevron deference, under which courts show considerable deference to executive branch agencies in interpreting arguably ambiguous statutes. In his view, “Chevron itself is an atextual invention by courts. In many ways, Chevron is nothing more than a judicially orchestrated shift of power from Congress to the Executive Branch.”
And in 2017, while delivering the Joseph Story Distinguished Lecture at The Heritage Foundation, Kavanaugh spoke eloquently about the judiciary’s essential role in maintaining the separation of powers and concluded:
Statutory interpretation is inherently complex, people say. It is all politics anyway, some contend. I have heard all the excuses. I have been doing this for 11 years. I am not buying it. In my view, it is a mistake to think that this current mess in statutory interpretation is somehow the natural and unalterable order of things. Put simply, we can do better in the realm of statutory interpretation. And for the sake of the neutral and impartial rule of law, we must do better.
His record as a judge reflects a skepticism toward Chevron deference. Indeed, Kavanaugh has written or joined dozens of opinions finding an agency’s actions unlawful as well as many dissenting opinions (some of which were ultimately vindicated by the Supreme Court) in which the court’s majority upheld agency actions.
For example, he dissented from his court’s ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency could disregard cost-benefit analysis when considering a proposed rule in Coalition for Responsible Regulation v. EPA (2012). The Supreme Court later reversed that decision, citing Kavanaugh’s dissenting opinion.
And in U.S. Telecom Ass’n v. FCC (2017), a case involving net neutrality, Kavanaugh dissented from the court’s refusal to hear the case en banc. He argued that the Federal Communications Commission was not entitled to Chevron deference because Congress had not explicitly delegated authority to the FCC to treat the internet like a public utility subject to regulation.
Other Notable Opinions
In terms of the separation of powers, Kavanaugh dissented in Free Enterprise Fund v. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (2008), arguing that limitations on the president’s ability to remove members of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board violated the Constitution. He stated that the “President’s power to remove is critical to the President’s power to control the Executive Branch and perform his Article II responsibilities.”
Similarly, in PHH Corporation v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (2016), Kavanaugh wrote the majority opinion holding that the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—an independent agency headed by a single individual who can only be removed for cause—was unconstitutional.
When the D.C. Circuit sitting en banc reached the opposite conclusion, Kavanaugh wrote a powerful dissentsuggesting that the Supreme Court might wish to reconsider its holding in Humphrey’s Executor v. U.S. (1935), which upheld the constitutionality of independent agencies.
Separation of powers was also at the heart of the 2016 per curiam (unsigned) opinion that Kavanaugh joined in al-Bahlul v. U.S., in which the court upheld the conviction before a military commission of Osama bin Laden’s driver for conspiracy to commit war crimes. While the majority declined to reach the issue of whether Congress had the authority to make conspiracy a triable offense before a military tribunal (because it is not an offense under the international laws of war), Kavanaugh wrote a concurring opinion stating that “federal courts are not empowered to smuggle international law into the U.S. Constitution and then wield it as a club against Congress and the President in wartime.”
This opinion echoed Kavanaugh’s earlier concurrence in al-Bihani v. Obama (2010), in which he argued that international law should not present a judicially enforceable limit on the president’s statutory authority to detain enemy combatants unless Congress expressly incorporates international law norms into U.S. law.
As for the Second Amendment, Kavanaugh wrote a dissenting opinion in Heller v. District of Columbia (2011)—a follow-on case to the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling acknowledging the Second Amendment’s protection of an individual right to keep and bear arms. Kavanaugh would have held D.C.’s ban on the possession of semi-automatic rifles unconstitutional, stating that “Heller and McDonald leave little doubt that courts are to assess gun bans and regulations based on text, history, and tradition, not by a balancing test such as strict or intermediate scrutiny.”
Anticipating the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Kavanaugh ruled in Emily’s List v. FEC (2009) that the commission’s regulations limiting independent political expenditures by non-profit organizations violated the First Amendment. Kavanaugh also wrote the majority opinion in South Carolina v. Holder (2012), upholding South Carolina’s voter ID law.
Kavanaugh has been criticized by some on the right for not going far enough in opinions he wrote involving religious liberty (Newdow v. Roberts and Priests for Life v. HHS), abortion (Garza v. Hargan), and Obamacare (Seven-Sky v. Holder).
In 2010 in Newdow, the D.C. Circuit rejected an establishment clause challenge to prayers offered at the presidential inauguration and to the inclusion of “so help me God” in the presidential oath. While the majority held that the plaintiffs lacked standing and therefore did not reach the merits of the case, Kavanaugh concurred, stating that he would have reached the merits (which is why he has been criticized by some conservatives) and squarely ruled against the challengers, finding that “both ‘so help me God’ in the Presidential oath and the prayers at the Presidential Inauguration do not violate the Establishment Clause.”
In 2015 in Priests for Life v. Burwell, the court held that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act did not prohibit the Obama administration from requiring religious non-profit groups who objected to the so-called contraceptive mandate to file forms with their insurers that would have facilitated contraceptive coverage, including abortifacients, for their employees.
In a dissenting opinion, Kavanaugh stated that he would have invalidated the mandate as a violation of the deeply held religious convictions of those organizations, arguing that even if the government could, for the sake of argument, establish a compelling interest in ensuring that women have access to contraceptive services, the Obama administration should still lose because there were less restrictive means available to accomplish that objective.
A Key Abortion Case
Somewhat unfairly, even entertaining this possibility triggered the objections of some conservatives, who sought to cast Kavanaugh as a weak champion of religious liberty. Kavanaugh’s position was ultimately vindicated by the Supreme Court in Zubik v. Burwell (2016).
Moreover, as far as Kavanaugh’s commitment to religious liberty, it is worth noting that during the recent oral arguments in Archdiocese of Washington v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, a case challenging D.C. Metro’s ban on religious advertising, including Christmas ads, Kavanaugh asked some tough questions of Metro’s lawyer, stating his view that the ban was “pure discrimination” and “odious” to the First Amendment.
In 2017, in Garza, Kavanaugh voted twice in favor of the Trump administration’s legal argument that an illegal immigrant minor in U.S. custody does not have a right to an immediate government-facilitated abortion on demand.
In the initial panel decision, Kavanaugh wrote for the majority, reversing the district court ruling in favor of the illegal immigrant minor. When the full D.C. Circuit reviewed the case and ruled in favor of the illegal immigrant, Kavanaugh dissented, stating that the court had “badly erred” in adopting a “radical extension of the Supreme Court’s abortion jurisprudence” and inventing “a new right for unlawful immigrant minors in U.S. Government detention to obtain immediate abortion on demand.”
His dissent fully endorsed the government’s “permissible interests in favoring fetal life” and “refraining from facilitating abortion.” In a separate dissent, Judge Karen Henderson concluded that as a noncitizen, the young woman had no right to an abortion.
Some conservatives have criticized Kavanaugh for not joining Henderson’s opinion. However, Kavanaugh not only didn’t need to go as far as Henderson did to rule in the government’s favor, the government’s attorneys had conceded that an unlawful immigrant minor is assumed to have a right to an abortion.
Finally, in 2011 in Seven-Sky, the D.C. Circuit upheld the constitutionality of Obamacare’s individual mandate under the Commerce Clause in a surprising opinion by Laurence Silberman, a Reagan appointee and a highly-respected conservative jurist.
Kavanaugh dissented, writing that the mandate was “unprecedented on the federal level in American history” and predicting that it would “usher in a significant expansion of congressional authority with no obvious principled limit” (forecasting the dissenting views of Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Anthony Kennedy in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius (2012).
Rather than taking the majority’s commerce clause argument head-on (which is what Kavanaugh’s critics would have preferred), he explained that it was premature to rule on the individual mandate’s constitutionality and that the case was not ripe for adjudication under the Anti-Injunction Act because the mandate had not yet taken effect, a defect which Kavanaugh believed deprived the court of jurisdiction to consider the case.
In evaluating each of these decisions, it is worth remembering that Kavanaugh sits on a court in which a majority of the judges were appointed by Democratic presidents and would certainly not be considered conservative jurists.
Moreover, a good conservative judge might well decide to fashion an opinion in a way designed to maximize the likelihood that a closely-divided Supreme Court would ultimately agree to hear the case and adopt his position, a strategy that Kavanaugh has effectively utilized on several occasions over the years. As Kavanaugh stated during his Story Lecture at Heritage, “[W]hen Justice Kennedy says something, I listen.”
In short, Kavanaugh has been playing the long game to advance an understanding of the laws and Constitution that is faithful to the text and original meaning.
Approach to the Law
In a 2017 speech at Notre Dame Law School, Kavanaugh spoke about Scalia’s impact on the law and the late justice’s view that federal judges “should not be making policy-laden judgments.” Kavanaugh remarked, “I believe very deeply in [the] visions of the rule of law as a law of rules, and of the judge as umpire. By that, I mean a neutral, impartial judiciary that decides cases based on settled principles without regard to policy preferences or political allegiances or which party is on which side in a particular case.”
He elaborated on what Scalia stood for as a judge:
[R]ead the words of the statute as written. Read the text of the Constitution as written, mindful of history and tradition. The Constitution is a document of majestic specificity defining governmental structure, individual rights, and the role of a judge. Remember that the structural provisions of the Constitution—the separation of powers and federalism—are not mere matters of etiquette or architecture, but are essential to protecting individual liberty. … Remember that courts have a critical role, when a party has standing, in enforcing those separation of powers and federalism limits.
Though Kavanaugh was speaking about Scalia, his words could very well describe his own approach to the law and his commitment to the Constitution.
Americans undoubtedly will learn more about Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court, and the important, but limited, role judges should play in our government as the confirmation process unfolds in the Senate.
While Schumer and other Senate Democrats have already announced their intention to block any nominee, they will have a hard case to make given Kavanaugh’s impressive record, fidelity to the Constitution, and respect for the rule of law.

Ignore The Protesters. The British People Love President Trump!

The Federalist ^ | 07/14/2018 | By Henry Jacobson 

Thanks to the exaggerated outrage of the mainstream media and the attention-seeking protests of London leftists, a narrative seems to have set in that the vast majority of British people oppose this week’s visit of President Trump. As a Brit myself, however, I am delighted to confirm this lazy slur could not be further from the truth.

In reality, the vast majority of British conservatives (and a good chunk of floating voters too) are coming to admire Trump. His unmistakable approach to politics – straight-talking, honest and completely fearless – is increasingly viewed with envy by British voters tired of backsliding career politicians. Brits look over the Atlantic and see a leader who actually puts his money where his mouth is – and gets results for it too.
To fully understand Trump’s popularity, you have to look at the current state of British politics. Over two years since the country voted to leave the European Union, we have seen virtually zero progress at delivering on the result of the referendum. Rather than battling with Brussels to return our sovereignty, end uncontrolled immigration, and give a better deal to British business, Theresa May’s government has been paralyzed by infighting, trying desperately to scrap together compromises which keep the establishment forces on side. Earlier this year, a British political journalist revealed that Trump often begins his calls with the Prime Minister by asking “are you out yet?” – and you can see why.
It’s no surprise that Brits are increasingly frustrated with the government’s mishandling of Brexit. What’s more interesting is that when you ask them what kind of leader they want to get us out of this mess, an increasing number are saying the same thing: someone like Trump. Brexit supporters observe how he deals with similar rubbish deals (the Iranian nuclear fiasco, for one) and they realize how much more can be achieved when leaders actually show some muscle.
Then there’s the fact that Trump remains the only international leader to publicly suggest offering Britain a new trade deal – something which is wildly popular with mainstream voters. While Brexit’s critics may paint the vote as insular and backwards, they forget that our biggest motivation for leaving Europe was to strike better trade deals elsewhere. As a businessman, Trump respects this. He has made loud and clear overtures in support of a big deal (unlike President Obama, who famously warned the Brits they would be “at the back of the queue” if they left the EU).
Of course, as with at home in America, Trump is consistently opposed by the liberal media here, who publish hyperbolic attacks on every decision taken by the administration (The Guardian newspaper – once a serious left-wing broadsheet – has even thrown its support behind a puerile campaign to fly a large balloon over London mocking the President as an overgrown baby). But like in America, the old elitist media does not represent public opinion and is increasingly losing ground to newer, more authentic voices.
Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, for example, now hosts one of London’s most popular radio shows. Tommy Robinson, a critic of radical Islam, amassed hundreds of thousands of followers with his campaigning videos, before being imprisoned for disrupting the trial of child sex offenders. James Delingpole, a former columnist for one of the UK’s most prestigious and patrician newspapers, now hosts his own acclaimed podcast, in which he interviews radical conservative figures from across the world.
As for the protests themselves, they are best ignored. Just two weeks ago, a similar march took place in London calling for the Brexit vote to be overturned. As with the anti-Trump marchers, the marchers were largely unrepresentative ideologues, many of whom represent special interest groups (the Trade Union movement, in particular). These virtue-signaling publicity stunts – a semi-regular occurrence in the capital – are frequently met with spontaneous heckles from ordinary Brits, keen to express their opposition.
In reality, more Britons are starting to wonder where we might find our own Trump figure. In the wake of Theresa May’s disastrous election (in which she almost handed the keys to 10 Downing Street to an unreconstructed socialist whose party has been accused of widespread antisemitism), Conservative Party activists began to rally behind Jacob Rees-Mogg as the man to shake British politics from its bureaucratic malaise.
On first inspection, Messrs. Trump and Rees-Mogg couldn’t be more different: one is a brash New Yorker with a penchant for skyscrapers and celebrity parties; Mr Rees-Mogg is a classically English gentleman known for his impeccable manners and unashamedly old-fashioned tailoring. But such superficial analysis misses the real similarities: both men are strong-willed disruptors, happy to lay waste to special interests rather than compromise on their conservative principles. Both, just as importantly, are hugely popular both with their activist base and with blue-collar working families.
To those of you back in America, ignore what you might hear elsewhere: Britain is growing ever keener on your president. And with President Trump and the First Lady set to dominate our television screens over the next three days, my own prediction is that this admiration will only grow stronger.

Henry Jacobson is an amateur journalist and Army reservist, currently working in college administration. His interests include free speech (an endangered notion on campus), foreign policy, and the shortfalls of the mainstream media.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

How to stand up to a liberal

The Daily Dose of Reason ^ | July 13, 2018 | Dr. Michael J Hurd

On a friend’s Facebook thread, I recently posted the following. It was in response to a rather sanctimonious rant saying things defending socialism since Venezuela isn’t the only socialist country in the world. Also, the person asked if the millions going without health insurance in America mattered.
Without the wealth that only free markets, free people and capitalism can create, there’s nothing to socialize. There’s nothing to redistribute. There’s nothing to steal or give away. Does that mean nothing to you? It should. Because in order to have wealth redistribution, you first have to get wealth! In order to socialize the means of production – which is what socialism is — we have to make everyone a ward and/or slave of the state. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” Those are Karl Marx’s words, and that’s the essence of socialism. The capable and the hard working are the slaves of the incapable and the lazy under socialism. Not everyone in need is lazy, but socialism legislates and institutionalizes laziness. It treats someone else’s income as a legal RIGHT, merely because they have more and for no other reason. That’s morally wrong; what YOU’RE proposing is morally wrong, so you cannot and will not shame me. You’re the one who should be on the defensive for what you’re advancing—not me.
Authentic compassion and kindness – not the government-mandated kind — should be left to private charity, and individual acts of kindness, or to well-run private charities — not to an inhumane, bumbling, incompetent and command-and-control slave state. Sadly, you’ve been brainwashed into thinking that this isn’t what you’re advocating, but it is.
As for health care: If we had a free market in medicine in the USA like we have a (relatively) free market for groceries, clothing, smart phones, computers and automobiles, the vast majority would be able to afford it. Not that health care should be cheap. Doctors and nurses train for years and have huge bills to pay off. At times, their work is thankless but it’s still life-saving. They save lives, for God’s sake. And you want them to be the equivalent of postal employees or bus drivers? They deserve every penny they get. If you want doctors to make the same as just about anyone else, or perhaps just a teeny bit more determined by some corrupt politician who makes more than any of us through trading favors, then good luck with the kind of health care you will receive when you need it most. Most of our health care in the US is government subsidized and controlled – even before Obamacare, in the form of Medicaid and Medicare. Those programs started in the mid-1960s! If you don’t like the state of medical care in the US, don’t blame it on capitalism. It’s more socialism than capitalism. And it has been for at least half a century. I am in health care, and have been driven out of the whole Medicare reimbursement system. It’s not the low pay so much as the demoralizing and dehumanizing regulations and rules, which often make no sense and are insanely contradictory. Try working in the medical field—I bet you don’t—and then see how highly you think of these government-run programs.
Western European countries are floundering economically the extent to which they have a welfare state. And they’re only able to have a welfare state the extent to which they have lots of free market capitalism. Check your assumptions.
With socialism, SOMEBODY is providing the loot, goods and services that you’re prepared to give away (it’s not yours, by the way, no matter how sanctimonious your tone.) So your moralizing and shaming do not move me. The fact is, you will never be able to nationalize anything without either the consent or the neurotic guilt of the people who hand it over to the dictators you love so much. Venezuela is the consistent embodiment of the socialism you’re advocating. You can’t just write it off as a freak occurrence. The same happened in Soviet Russia (1917-1991), for decades in China before it moderated to state-run capitalism, and Cuba. Why does socialism fail every time it’s tried? Why does it fail the degree to which it’s implemented? YOU, not myself, have to answer those questions before you throw us all into the servitude of a welfare state, whether on the scale of bankrupt European states (who depend on the U.S. to prop them via low tariffs and other favors) or the totally devastated former Communistic states, along with North Korea and Venezuela today. If you like those places so much—go live there!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Strzok Says FBI Agents Are Permitted to Engage in Some Adulteries

CNSNews ^ | July 13, 2018 | Staff 

Video at link.

Peter Strzok of the FBI (Screen Capture)

( - FBI Agent Peter Strzok, who worked on the Hillary Clinton email investigation and the investigation of possible ties between Russia and the Trump campaign testified under oath in a congressional hearing on Thursday that FBI agents can engage in some types of adultery.
Strzok was asked “what action” he would take if he found out one of his subordinates was conducting an “extramarital affair.”
“It depends,” said Strzok.
“If it was against the FBI’s regulation in terms of if it was somebody in their chain of command, above or below them, which is inappropriate or not allowed by regulation, I would tell them and report that,” Strzok testified. “If it was otherwise permitted in our regulations, I would probably talk to them and tell them: Hey, look, I am aware of this and you need to be aware and just take into consideration what you are doing and the appearance of it.”
When FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before the House Judiciary Committee on June 28 , he declined to say whether adultery created a “significant vulnerability” for an FBI agent. Wray and Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte had the following exchange:
Chairman Bob Goodlatte: "Mr. Wray, we have repeatedly asked FBI personnel whether the fact that an agent has an extramarital affair is a problem. I am not asking because I want to be the morality police, I am asking because it seems clear that an affair that is unknown to a spouse could be a significant vulnerability to an FBI agent, especially a counter-intelligence agent. Do you agree with that sentiment?"
FBI Director Christopher Wray: "Well, Mr. Chairman, we have a specific offense code and I don’t want to comment on any of the ongoing personnel matters that are going through the disciplinary process right now, which I think answering your question at this particular time might cause me to do."
Peter Strzok was a senior official in the FBI’s counterintelligence division. “Strzok was promoted to a Section Chief in the Counterintelligence Division in February 2016, and to Deputy Assistant Director (DAD) in the fall of 2016,” said the Inspector General for the Justice Department.
Strzok also engaged in an adulterous affair with FBI lawyer Lisa Page, who was a counsel to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and who, like Strzok, worked on both the Clinton investigation and the Russia investigation.
The report that the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Justice released last month about the FBI’s conduct of the Clinton investigation said:
“The text messages between Page and Strzok covered a wide range of topics. For example, we identified a large number of routine work-related communications. Many of the text messages were of a personal nature, including discussions about their families, medical issues, and daily events, and reflected that Strzok and Page were communicating on their FBI-issued phones as part of an extramarital affair. We found that this relationship was relevant to the frequency and candid nature of the text messages and their use of FBI-issued phones to communicate. Some of these text messages expressed political opinions about candidates and issues involved in the 2016 presidential election, including statements of hostility toward candidate Trump and statements of support for candidate Clinton.”
In his testimony Thursday before a joint hearing of the House Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Strzok addressed the issue of adultery and his own vulnerability to exploitation because of it with Rep. Karen Handel (R.-Ga.)
In this exchange, Strzok made his distinction between “extramarital affairs” that are prohibited under FBI regulations and those that are “otherwise permitted in our regulations.”
He also declared that he never could have been blackmailed because of his adulterous relationship with Lisa Page because his great “patriotism” would have prevented it.
When asked whether as someone holding a “high-level security clearance” he had ever discussed his adulterous relationship with anyone at the FBI, he did not directly answer the question. Instead, he said: They were well aware of it.”
Handel asked: “When did they become aware of it?”
Strzok responded: “Well, it was kind of made very public by the media after leaks in late last year.”
Handel said: “So, it was in the press. You didn’t proactively tell them.”
Strzok then replied: “Ma’am, I can tell you—Your premise, though, that it makes us susceptible to blackmail: I never, never could have been blackmailed or coerced by the nature of that relationship. That is not—the nature of my patriotism and the nature of what I believe in this country, you could not ever, nobody could have made that---“
Here is a transcript of the exchange between Rep. Handel and Strzok on his “extramarital affair” and its appropriateness for an FBI agent:
Rep. Karen Handel: "Suppose that you found out that one of your direct reports was having an extramarital affair with a colleague or with someone outside of the bureau. What action would you take?"
Peter Strzok: "Ma’am, it depends. If it was against the FBI’s regulation in terms of if it was somebody in their chain of command, above or below them, which is inappropriate or not allowed by regulation, I would tell them and report that. If it was otherwise permitted in our regulations, I would probably talk to them and tell them: Hey, look, I am aware of this and you need to be aware and just take into consideration what you are doing and the appearance of it."
Rep. Handel: "So, obviously you understand the gravity of the transgressions, engaging in the kind of behavior that you have been engaging in—especially with the extramarital affair. It opens up an agent to exploitation and even blackmail. Given the fact that you have and currently hold a high-level security clearance, did you ever discuss your relationship with Miss Page with HR or anyone around your security clearance?"
Strzok: "They were well aware of it by—well, they—"
Rep. Handel: "When did they become aware of it?"
Strzok: "Well, it was kind of made very public by the media after leaks in late last year."
Rep. Handel: "So, it was in the press. You didn’t proactively tell them."
Strzok: "Ma’am, I can tell you—Your premise, though, that it makes us susceptible to blackmail: I never, never could have been blackmailed or coerced by the nature of that relationship. That is not—the nature of my patriotism and the nature of what I believe in this country, you could not ever, nobody could have made that---"
Rep. Handel: "When you’re undergoing a security clearance, you are asked a question about that. There’s a reason that security clearances ask those kinds of questions. Did you ever advise Mr. Mueller of your relationship with Miss Page?"
Strzok: "I did not."
Rep. Handel: "Why?"
Strzok: "It didn’t strike me as relevant."
Rep. Handel: "You have a lot to learn about human resources. Wow. It is absolutely relevant. There should have been conversations. I find it interesting that there was no discussion that the two of you shouldn’t both be together on that investigation. Mr. Strzok, no reasonable person could not be concerned about your actions in this investigation. No reasonable person could not be concerned about this situation involving yourself. Mr. Chairman, I yield back."













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