The Federal Reserve Conspiracy

The Federal Reserve Conspiracy by Antony C. Sutton

“Another fine and extremely well researched work by Antony C. Sutton. An expose’ of the people and forces behind the takeover of the US economy by the Federal Reserve system, on behalf of the oligarchs. A must for anyone interested in the inner workings of US politics and economics, and the concealed reasons for current events. This is the first book that details hour by hour the events that led up to passage of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 – and the many decades of work and secret planning that private bankers had invested to obtain their money monopoly.”

Antony C. Sutton, D.Sc. was born in London, England, in 1925, spent most of his life in the United States and has been a citizen for 40 years.

With an academic background in economics and engineering, Sutton has worked in mining exploration, iron and steel industries before graduate school at UCLA. In the 1960’s he was Professor of economics at California State University, Los Angeles, followed by seven years as a Research Fellow at Stanford University.

  • Print Length: 88 pages
  • Publisher: Dauphin Publications Inc.
  • Publication Date: September 16, 2014
  • ASIN: B00NO83CDM
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What Russia Collusion Investigation … And What Started It?

“‘Fox News anchor Chris Wallace burst viewers’ bubble,” crowed the Daily Beast. The media–Democrat complex was popping its buttons because Fox News’s highly regarded anchor had delivered his audience the purportedly devastating and unimpeachably factual news that the Trump–Russia investigation did not begin with the infamous Steele dossier.1

Wallace was reacting to a clip of Rush Limbaugh’s observation, in a then-recent Fox News interview, that the Obama Justice Department and the FBI “began an investigation based on a phony dossier created and written by associates of Hillary Clinton”—the Steele dossier. No, Wallace countered, “The Trump investigation did not start with the FISA warrant and Carter Page and the dossier.” To the contrary, “It started in June and July of 2016 when George Papadopoulos had spoken to a Russian agent and spoke to an Australian diplomat and said he had heard they had information on—dirt on Hillary Clinton.”

I am a Chris Wallace fan, and was one long before I became a contributor at Fox News. The Fox firmament is fairly described as right-leaning, and its primetime options are laden with opinion programming. The network’s best product, though, is its straight news coverage. Wallace is at the top of the class: a fact-driven journalist who prizes getting it right over getting it Right. Still, his snapshot of the Trump–Russia investigation’s Origin Story—a tale designed to defy accurate rendering—was woefully incomplete.

The Origin Story has been the subject of cacophonous debate, foreign intrigue, spy games, stonewalling, and media scripting. In a sense, in scoffing at the claim that everything flows from the Carter Page FISA warrant, which was substantially based on the Steele dossier, Wallace and others have to be right. No investigation ever starts with a FISA warrant.

A good deal of gumshoe effort is generally needed to get an investigation to the point where a warrant may be sought. The warrant permits what is still called “wiretapping” and “bugging,” the lexicon of a bygone technological time. In Justice Department lingo, such monitoring is known as “elsur,” short for electronic surveillance. Today, it involves eavesdropping not just on people’s phone calls and back-room meetings; there are emails, texts, social media posts, and the like—torrents of communications by wire, cable, satellite, and all manner of complex telecom. Caught in the mix are providers from the legacy phone companies, to newer telecoms, to such social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Gone are the days of simple analog technology transmitting waves of sound by hard wire; modern communications technology zooms packets of digital data, disassembled and reassembled across vast global networks. Now, investigators are vexed by apps that scramble the packets in order to defeat eavesdropping, to say nothing of the legal and technological challenges posed by millions of seemingly indiscriminate communications racing through the internet’s “upstream,” which we’ll encounter in Chapter 5.

The pejorative term for intruding on these communications is spying. To get a judicial warrant permitting it, whether in a criminal or a counterintelligence probe, is no layup. Such a warrant is sought at an advanced stage of an investigation because agents must work hard to corroborate the factual claims on which they will ask a judge to base the legally mandated probable cause finding. Further, Congress has prescribed numerous approval hoops, including sign-offs by top officials at the FBI and Justice Department. These agencies and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, in turn, impose additional vetting procedures. As a practical matter, a proper application may not be made to the court until a considerable amount of investigative grunt work has been done.

Even those, like my friend Rush Limbaugh, who stress the foundational role of the so-called “dossier” and the Carter Page FISA warrant, acknowledge that, although the FBI began receiving Christopher Steele’s reports (eventually compiled into the dossier) in July 2016, no warrant was sought until October, three months later. The problem is not that the FBI did not try to verify Steele’s information; it is that the Bureau was not able to verify it (in addition to having good reasons to know that parts of it were ridiculous, that Steele’s credibility was suspect, and that Steele himself did not claim that his information was accurate—just worrisome and worthy of further investigation). That said, to concede that the Trump–Russia investigation did not begin with the dossier-fueled spying on Page is not an admission that it commenced in the early summer of 2016, due to reports about Papadopoulos. In truth, by then it had been going on for several months—since at least the latter half of 2015, not long after Donald Trump entered the GOP nomination chase and before most anyone had ever heard of George Papadopoulos.

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A Sweetheart Plea Helps the Uranium One Case Disappear

“Even though the FBI had an informant collecting damning information, and had a prosecutable case against Mikerin by early 2010, the extortion racket against American energy companies was permitted to continue into the summer of 2014. It was only then that, finally, Mikerin and his confederates were arrested. Why then? Months earlier, in March 2014, Russia annexed Crimea. Putin also began massing forces on the Ukrainian border, coordinating and conducting attacks, ultimately taking control of territory. Clearly, the pie-in-the-sky Obama reset was dead. Furthermore, the prosecution of Mikerin’s racketeering scheme had been so delayed that the Justice Department risked losing the ability to charge the 2009 felonies because of the five-year statute of limitations on most federal crimes.

Still, a lid needed to be kept on the case. It would have made for an epic Obama administration scandal, and a body blow to Hillary Clinton’s presidential hopes, if in the midst of Russia’s 2014 aggression, public attention had been drawn to the failure, four years earlier, to prosecute a national-security case in order to protect Russia’s takeover of U.S. nuclear assets … in a transaction that had significant ramifications for Clinton Foundation investors.

And lo and behold: The case disappeared without fanfare, much less a public trial. Think about that: The investigation of Russian racketeering in the American energy sector was the kind of spectacular success over which the FBI and Justice Department typically do a bells-’n’-whistles victory lap: the big self-congratulatory press conference followed by the media-intensive prosecutions—and, of course, more press conferences.

Here … crickets.

The Justice Department and FBI had little to say when Mikerin and his co-conspirators were arrested. They quietly negotiated guilty pleas that were announced just before Labor Day. It was arranged that Mikerin would be sentenced just before Christmas. All under the radar.

How desperate was the Obama Justice Department to plead the case out? Mikerin was arrested on a complaint describing a racketeering scheme that stretched back to 2004 and included extortion, fraud, and money laundering. Yet he was permitted to plead guilty to a single count of money-laundering conspiracy.

Except it was not really money-laundering conspiracy.

Under federal law, that crime carries a penalty of up to twenty years’ imprisonment, not only for conspiracy but for each act of money laundering.33 But Mikerin was not made to plead guilty to this charge. He was permitted to plead guilty to an offense charged under the catch-all federal conspiracy provision, Section 371, which criminalizes agreements to commit any crime against the United States—an offense carrying a penalty of zero to five years’ imprisonment.34

The Justice Department instructs prosecutors that when Congress has given a federal offense its own conspiracy provision with a heightened punishment (as it has for money laundering, racketeering, narcotics trafficking, and other serious crimes), they may not charge a section 371 conspiracy. That statute is for less serious conspiracy cases. To invoke it for money laundering caps the sentence way below Congress’s intent for that behavior. It signals to the court that the prosecutor does not regard the offense as major.

Yet, that is exactly what Rosenstein’s office did, in a plea agreement his prosecutors co-signed with attorneys from the Justice Department’s Fraud Section—then run by Andrew Weissmann, later Mueller’s top deputy in the Trump–Russia investigation.35

As we’ll see at many junctures, it’s a small world.

Mikerin thus faced no RICO charges, no extortion or fraud charges. The plea agreement is careful not to mention any of the extortions in 2009 and 2010, before CFIUS approved Rosatom’s acquisition of U.S. uranium stock. Mikerin just had to plead guilty to a nominal “money laundering” conspiracy charge. Insulated from Congress’s prescribed money-laundering sentence, he got a term of just four years’ imprisonment. The deal was a steal for him. It also spared the Obama administration a full public airing of the facts.36

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Uranium One – Keeping Congress in the Dark

“Meanwhile, congressional opposition to Russia’s potential acquisition of American uranium resources began to stir. As Peter Schweizer noted in Clinton Cash,32 four senior House members steeped in national-security issues—Peter King (R., N.Y.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.), Spencer Bachus (R., Ala.), and Howard McKeon (R. Calif.)—voiced grave concerns, pointing out that Rosatom had helped Iran, America’s sworn enemy, build its Bushehr nuclear reactor. The members concluded that “the take-over of essential US nuclear resources by a government-owned Russian agency … would not advance the national security interests of the United States.” Republican senator John Barrasso objected to Kremlin control of uranium assets in his state of Wyoming, warning of Russia’s “disturbing record of supporting nuclear programs in countries that are openly hostile to the United States, specifically Iran and Venezuela.” The House began moving a bill “expressing disfavor of the Congress” regarding Obama’s revival of the nuclear-cooperation agreement Bush had abandoned.

Clearly, in this atmosphere, disclosure of the racketeering enterprise that Rosatom’s American subsidiary was, at that very moment, carrying out would have been the death knell of the asset transfer to Russia. It would also likely have ended the “reset” initiative in which Obama and Clinton were deeply invested—an agenda that contemplated Kremlin-friendly deals on nuclear-arms control and accommodation of the nuclear program of Russia’s ally, Iran. Nothing, however, would be allowed to disturb the reset. It appears that no disclosure of Russia’s racketeering and strong-arming was made to CFIUS or to Congress—not by Secretary Clinton, not by Attorney General Holder, and certainly not by President Obama. In October 2010, CFIUS gave its blessing to Rosatom’s acquisition of Uranium One.”

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Collusion with Russia: Uranium One

“That, naturally, is where the Clinton Foundation came in. And while Skolkovo is not a pretty story, Uranium One is even worse, involving the surrender to Putin’s regime of fully one-fifth of the United States’ uranium-mining stock, an outrage concealed by the tanking of a criminal investigation into the American subsidiary of Russia’s state-controlled nuclear energy and uranium-mining conglomerate, Rosatom.

Once again, Peter Schweizer’s Clinton Cash has exposed much of this scandal, this time supplemented by excellent reporting from The New York Times.28 Significant background of the story predates the Obama years, involving more of Washington’s history of “collusion with Russia.”

The United States government has been conducting uranium commerce with Russia since the Soviet Union imploded. In 1992, the Bush administration agreed with the nascent Russian federation that U.S. nuclear providers would be permitted to purchase uranium from Russia’s disassembled nuclear warheads (after it had been down-blended from its highly enriched weapons-grade level). Uranium is a key component of nuclear power, from which the United States derives about 20 percent of our total electrical power, generated by approximately ninety-nine commercial reactors operating at sixty-one nuclear power plants in thirty states. Relatively speaking, our country does not have vast uranium resources. We currently produce only about 7 percent of the uranium we need and must import the rest; in 2017, for example, Russia accounted for 18 percent.29

In 2005, under the guise of the Clinton Foundation’s mobilization to address the incidence of HIV/AIDS in Kazakhstan (where the virus was nearly nonexistent), Bill Clinton helped his Canadian billionaire pal Frank Giustra convince the ruling despot, Nursultan Nazarbayev, to grant coveted uranium-mining rights to Giustra’s company, Ur-Asia Energy. Ur-Asia had no background in this highly competitive but potentially lucrative business. Nazarbayev, a former Communist party apparatchik, has ruled Kazakhstan for almost thirty years, and is notorious for human rights abuses and looting the treasury.30

In the months that followed, Giustra gave an astonishing $31.3 million to the Clinton Foundation and pledged $100 million more. With the Kazakh rights secured, Ur-Asia was able to expand its holdings and attract new investors. One was Ian Telfer, who also donated $2.35 million to the Clinton Foundation. Ur-Asia merged with Uranium One, a South African company, in a $3.5 billion deal. Telfer became Uranium One’s chairman. The new company proceeded to buy up major uranium assets in the United States.

Meanwhile, as tends to happen in dictatorships, Nazarbayev turned on the head of Kazakhstan’s uranium agency (Kazatomprom), who was arrested for selling valuable mining rights to such foreign entities as Ur-Asia/Uranium One. This was likely done at the urging of Russia, the neighborhood bully. Rosatom, the Kremlin-controlled nuclear energy and uranium extraction conglomerate, was hoping to grab the Kazakh mines—whether by taking them outright or by taking over Uranium One.

The arrest, which happened a few months after Obama took office, had Uranium One’s Clinton Foundation investors deeply concerned that the Kazakh mining rights would be lost. Uranium One turned to Secretary Clinton’s State Department for help. As State Department cables disclosed by WikiLeaks show, Uranium One officials wanted more than a U.S. government statement to the media; they pressed for written confirmation that their mining licenses were valid. The State Department leapt into action: An energy officer from the U.S. embassy immediately held meetings with the Kazakh regime. A few days later, it was announced that Russia’s Rosatom had purchased 17 percent of Uranium One. Problem solved.

Well, not quite. Rosatom was only fleetingly satisfied. Russia wanted a controlling interest in Uranium One. That would mean a controlling interest not just in the Afghan mines but in the U.S. assets that Uranium One had acquired—amounting to 20 percent of total U.S. uranium stock.

On this point, much of the anti-Clinton (and pro-Trump) coverage in conservative media has misaimed its focus.31 The tendency is to hype the U.S. uranium assets and the fact that uranium can be used to make nuclear bombs. But Russia did not need our uranium for weapons purposes—no more than Newcastle needs our coal. Rather, to generate wealth, Putin’s regime has long sought to develop and exploit its capacity as a commercial energy producer. The Kremlin was no doubt delighted at the opportunity to grab American uranium stocks: as I’ve already noted, we do not produce enough uranium for our domestic electricity needs, so anytime Putin takes from us something we need, it potentially becomes a leverage point for him and thus a problem for us. But in the greater scheme of things, the U.S. assets were a comparatively small objective next to the Kremlin’s real target: the copious Kazakh stocks Uranium One owned.

Still, because Russia’s move on Uranium One implicated significant U.S. uranium assets, federal law required approval by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. CFIUS is a powerful tribunal, composed of the leaders of 14 U.S. government agencies involved in national security and commerce. In 2010, these included not only Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who had cultivated a reputation as a hawk opposed to such foreign purchases, but Attorney General Eric Holder. This is important because, at the very time the Uranium One transaction was under consideration, the Justice Department and the FBI were conducting an investigation of Rosatom’s ongoing U.S. racketeering, extortion, and money-laundering scheme.

The Russian commercial agent responsible for the sale and transportation of uranium to the United States is a subsidiary of Rosatom known as “Tenex” (formally, JSC Techsnabexport). Tenex (and by extension, Rosatom) has an American arm called “Tenam USA,” based in Bethesda, Maryland. Around the time President Obama came to power, the Russian official in charge of Tenam was Vadim Mikerin. The Obama administration reportedly issued a visa for Mikerin in 2010, but a racketeering investigation led by the FBI determined that he was already operating here in 2009.

As Tenam’s general director, Mikerin was responsible for arranging and managing Rosatom/Tenex’s contracts with American uranium purchasers. This gave him tremendous leverage over the U.S. companies. With the assistance of several confederates, Mikerin used this leverage to extort and defraud the U.S. contractors into paying inflated prices for uranium. The proceeds were then laundered through shell companies and secret bank accounts in Latvia, Cyprus, Switzerland, and the Seychelles Islands—though sometimes transactions were handled in cash, with the skim divided into envelopes stuffed with thousands of dollars. The inflated payments served two purposes: they enriched Kremlin-connected energy officials in the United States and in Russia to the tune of millions of dollars; and they compromised the American companies that paid the bribes, rendering players in U.S. nuclear energy—a sector critical to national security—vulnerable to blackmail by Moscow.

To further the Kremlin’s push for nuclear-energy expansion, Mikerin sought to retain a lobbyist. Naturally, he planned not only to use the lobbyist’s services but to extort kickbacks, just as he did with U.S. energy companies with which he dealt. Aided by an associate connected to Russian organized-crime groups, Mikerin found his lobbyist—a man named William Douglas Campbell. Mikerin’s solicitation in 2009 made Campbell uncomfortable, worried that he’d end up on the wrong side of the law. He contacted the FBI and revealed what he knew. From then on, he became the Bureau’s informant, and the Justice Department ultimately relied on his information to arrest and prosecute Mikerin and his conspirators.

Interestingly, at the time Campbell started cooperating, the FBI was led by director Robert Mueller, the special counsel who investigated whether Trump had colluded with Russia. The case against Russia’s subsidiary, Tenam, was centered in Maryland, where the U.S. attorney was Rod Rosenstein—President Trump’s deputy attorney general through most of Mueller’s Trump–Russia investigation.

Thanks to Campbell’s work, the FBI was able to understand and monitor the racketeering enterprise almost from the start. By mid-May 2010, it could already prove the scheme and three separate extortionate payments Mikerin had squeezed out of the informant.

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Collusion with Russia: The Obama Reset

“That brings us to the Obama years, the era of the “Russia Reset”—announced with great ceremony by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, brandishing a red plastic “Reset” push-button that she presented to her counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Oops: the button was mislabeled Peregruzka (the Russian word for “overcharge”) rather than Perezagruzka (reset). As investigative journalist Claudia Rosett observes, the Kremlin still keeps the button on display in a museum at the Foreign Ministry, “less a souvenir of U.S.–Russia camaraderie than a symbol of American folly.”20

Even as Putin continued his Georgian occupation Obama kicked off the Reset by shelving Bush’s plans for missile-defense installations in Eastern Europe.21 Further courting the Russian dictator, the president revived the civilian nuclear power agreement in 2010, insisting that the pact advanced U.S. national security. It was just the beginning of the administration’s promotion of Russia’s key industrial sectors, improving our declining but dangerous rival’s military and cyber capabilities and fortifying its capacity to extort the European nations and former Soviet republics that rely on Russia for their power needs.

Why? Because “Trade with Russia Is a Win-Win.” That was the headline of Secretary Clinton’s June 2012 Wall Street Journal op-ed, applauding Russia’s formal entry into the WTO.22 It was crucial, she explained, because Russia was just a great place for Americans to do business, and our commerce could now blossom since the Obama administration had made Moscow “a normal trading partner.” Sure, the Putin regime posed many challenges, but Clinton maintained that “it is in our long-term strategic interest to collaborate with Russia in areas where our interests overlap.”

Collaborate? That sounds almost like collu—well, never mind.

Obama and Clinton somehow decided that one of these collaborative areas should be technology. Under the secretary’s guidance as point person of the Obama administration’s “U.S.–Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission,” the State Department teamed up with Russia’s Foreign Ministry to help erect Moscow’s version of Silicon Valley—Skolkovo. It’s unlikely Putin could believe his good fortune: The project was like an espionage operation in broad daylight, openly enhancing Russia’s military and cyber capabilities.

The Defense Department’s European Command put it this way:

Skolkovo is an ambitious enterprise, aiming to promote technology transfer generally, by inbound direct investment, and occasionally, through selected acquisitions. As such, Skolkovo is arguably an overt alternative to clandestine industrial espionage—with the additional distinction that it can achieve such a transfer on a much larger scale and more efficiently. Implicit in Russia’s development of Skolkovo is a critical question—a question that Russia may be asking itself—why bother spying on foreign companies and government laboratories if they will voluntarily hand over all the expertise Russia seeks?

Recognizing Russia’s “current pursuit of external aggression and internal repression,” which marked what it generously regarded as the Kremlin’s “previous course toward democracy and cooperation with the West,” EUCOM stressed caution against “the risks that Russia could leverage transferred scientific knowledge to modernize and strengthen its military.”23

Ya think? The U.S. Army’s Foreign Military Studies Program at Fort Leavenworth concluded that Skolkovo was a “vehicle for world-wide technology transfer to Russia in the areas of information technology, biomedicine, energy, satellite and space technology, and nuclear technology.” Moscow has made it unabashedly clear, moreover, that “not all of the center’s efforts are civilian in nature”: the project was deeply involved in military activities, including the development of a hypersonic cruise missile engine.24 As investigative journalist John Solomon notes, the FBI ended up warning several American tech companies that entanglement with Skolkovo risked wide-ranging intellectual property theft. The agent in charge of the Bureau’s Boston field office even took the extraordinary step of publishing a business journal op-ed, depicting Skolkovo as “a means for the Russian government to access our nation’s sensitive or classified research development facilities and dual use technologies with military and commercial application.”25

Why would our government do such a thing? At the time this was all going on, Clinton’s State Department issued its annual country-by-country findings on the state of civil liberties. Russia was found to be using technology “to monitor and control the internet.” The State Department elaborated that official corruption was rampant, security services engaged in sweeping surveillance of communications, journalists were under siege, dissidents were arbitrarily detained—and some even tortured and killed.26

What was Secretary Clinton thinking?

As we’ve seen, most of the time, she was thinking about the Clinton Foundation, and money (I’d say not in that order, but it’s pretty much the same order). Putin’s regime dangled billions of dollars to invest in Skolkovo companies. Secretary Clinton immediately went to work attracting both corporate contributors and businesses deemed worthy of Russian investment.

The investigative journalist Peter Schweizer has done yeoman’s work exposing the grimy interplay between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department. By 2012, the last year of Secretary Clinton’s tenure, 60 percent of the “key partners” identified for the Skolkovo venture (seventeen out of twenty-eight) had “made financial commitments to the Clinton Foundation, totaling tens of millions of dollars, or sponsored speeches by Bill Clinton.” Russians tied to Skolkovo also gave to the Clinton Foundation, including Viktor Vekselberg, a billionaire confidant of Putin’s who was chosen to run the Skolkovo Foundation.27

There is symmetry here. Again, no one would sensibly say that Secretary Clinton wanted to make Russia a more capable adversary—and as things turned out, I’d wager that strengthening the regime’s cyber proficiency would be something she’d regret (if she were given to that kind of introspection). But it is like the irresponsible mishandling of top-secret information, and the storing and transmission of any sensitive government information, classified or otherwise, on a non-secure server system: it’s not that Clinton didn’t know what she was doing or that she didn’t apprehend the risks; it is that she had other priorities and threw caution to the wind—pretty much the textbook definition of gross negligence. She wasn’t alone: this was not Secretary Clinton’s administration, but President Obama’s. He calculated that abetting and appeasing Russia was a price worth paying for “help” on the Iran deal and in Syria. And while there is some reason to believe Clinton was marginally harder on Russian aggression than Obama, it is a simple thing to rationalize doing the wrong thing when making waves is hard. So, you convince yourself that building Russia into a modern economy will somehow change the nature of the regime (instead of enriching and fortifying it). Plus, there was money to be made.

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Collusion with Russia: A Bipartisan Affair

“Let’s put aside the time-honored international sport of meddling in other countries’ elections. Let’s stick with collusion with Russia: a quarter-century long, Bipartisan Beltway melody, right up until on November 8, 2016.

Cro-Magnon blowhards like myself have never warmed up to Moscow. So we’ve complained about the New Thinking, regardless of whether it was incumbent Republicans or Democrats delusionally portraying Russia as a perfectly normal country with which to do business, make lots of money, and even ally ourselves.12

Washington, however, has preferred to stay delusional.

The unsustainability of the Communist system, under the pressure of Reagan’s military build-up and support of anti-Communist movements, made the Evil Empire’s disintegration inevitable. Yet, gifted a historic opportunity to dance on the grave of Soviet tyranny, our government’s bipartisan foreign-policy establishment punted. Rather than call the culprits to account and make an enduring record of the hundreds of millions killed and enslaved, successive administrations embraced and propped up Moscow as a force for global stability. The Soviet Union hadn’t quite finished crumbling when President George H. W. Bush gave his infamous “Chicken Kiev” speech, trying to persuade Ukraine not to break away from Moscow.13 It was a harbinger of things to come: Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama all enticed Ukraine to give up its means of self-defense on the false assurance that we would—with Russia’s help!—protect it from aggression—an assurance premised on the pie-in-the-sky theory that there would, of course, be no Russian aggression.14

Given Ukraine’s prominence in the Trump–Russia collusion narrative developed by the Hillary Clinton campaign, it is worth recalling Bill Clinton’s collusion with Russia in the “Trilateral Statement”: a joint declaration between Clinton and Boris Yeltsin, along with Britain, purporting to guarantee Ukraine’s security. Why would Kiev need to keep its nuclear arsenal when its neighbor, Moscow, had reformed? The Iron Curtain was history, history itself was supposedly at its happy democratic ending, and it was now all about paying out the “peace dividend.”15 Throughout his eight-year tenure, Clinton flaunted his warm relationship with Yeltsin, committing to support Moscow with financial assistance, including subsidies to adjust decommissioned military officers and nuclear scientists to the new order. In 1997, the U.S. president prevailed upon our G-7 allies to make it the G-8 by admitting Russia, giving it greater influence over global trend-setting by the world’s leading economies, despite the fact that Russia was not one of them.16

Then there was President George W. Bush peering into Vladimir Putin’s soul and finding a “trustworthy” ally. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joined our new “strategic partner” in an agreement to help Russia amass the technology, material, and equipment needed to improve its nuclear research and power production—for “civilian” purposes only, of course. Bush enthusiastically seconded Clinton’s proposal that Russia be admitted to the World Trade Organization, even though its corrupt economic policies and practices undermine the market-based norms the WTO is meant to fortify.17

Meanwhile, up-and-coming Democratic Senator Barack Obama was working bipartisan magic with Senate Republicans, pushing Kiev to think bolder than just giving up its nukes; Ukraine needed to surrender its conventional arsenals, too. But wait, what about protection from possible Russian invasions? Please … that was foreign-policy thinking for a bygone time.18

Naturally, Putin humiliated the Bush administration and Congress’s bipartisan Russia accommodationists by invading Georgia, annexing swaths of its territory in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The White House quietly withdrew the ballyhooed U.S.–Russia Civilian Nuclear Power Agreement from congressional consideration.” 19

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The Clinton Emails Caper

“Upon becoming President Obama’s secretary of state, Clinton improperly set up a private, non-secure system for email communications. It featured her own personal server, stored in her home and, later, maintained by a private contractor headquartered in Colorado. Secretary Clinton used this private email system for all of her official State Department communications, notwithstanding that doing so (a) violated government regulations (which, as the department head, she was responsible for enforcing); (b) violated governmental record-keeping and record-production obligations imposed by federal law; and (c) made it inevitable—due to the nature of her responsibilities—that streams of classified information would flow through and be stored in the non-secure system.

This lack of security meant that top-secret intelligence—some of it classified at the highest levels, some of it involving Clinton’s communications with the President of the United States and other top national-security officials—became accessible to people who were not cleared to see it. Accessible not just to those lacking security clearance, but also to hostile actors, including foreign intelligence services and anti-American hackers.

When asked, nearly two years after leaving office, to surrender copies of her emails (by an Obama State Department under pressure from congressional investigators and Freedom of Information Act claimants), Clinton caused tens of thousands of her emails to be destroyed. Not just deleted. Destroyed. As in: purged with a special software program (“BleachBit”) designed to shred electronic documents. The aim was to prevent their being recovered. Ever. By anyone.

In all, Clinton undertook to destroy over thirty thousand emails, even though some of them had been demanded by congressional subpoena. And this would not be a Clinton story if we failed to note that, in the time-honored family tradition, Hillary lied her head off about the substance of the destroyed emails: We were to believe that, in thousands upon thousands of email exchanges, one of the busiest public officials and most obsessively political creatures on the planet had lolled her days away gabbing about yoga routines, family vacations, and her daughter’s wedding.

The FBI was eventually able to reassemble portions of the tens of thousands of purged emails. “Several thousand,” the FBI’s then-director James Comey reported, were “work-related,” and at least three of them were classified.1 We will never have a final count because, in extirpating her correspondence, Clinton and her subordinates took extraordinary measures to defeat forensic investigation. And why not? After all, if you had discussed some earth-shattering development in yoga—perhaps a secret breakthrough in utthita trikonasana!—you wouldn’t just delete that, right? You’d want to make certain that all the king’s horses and all the king’s men—and all the prying FBI agents, the nosy congressional committees, and those ferrets down at Judicial Watch—couldn’t put those emails together again.

Doesn’t everybody BleachBit their deleted emails?

Even the emails Clinton deigned to turn over were rife with classified intelligence. They also contained other government information that, though not classified, is supposed to be kept on the government’s secure system because it is sensitive.

Mrs. Clinton’s misconduct appears to have transgressed several federal criminal laws. Among the most obvious are those making it a felony to mishandle classified information, convert and destroy government records, and obstruct congressional investigations. Plainly, while the classified information offenses are the most egregious, they are not the only crimes—just the only ones we ever heard much about.

Why? It was a brilliant play, really. Clinton-friendly government officials and media spoke only about the classified information in the emails Clinton surrendered. That she massively destroyed records of State Department business, and that the purge occurred after a congressional investigative committee issued a preservation letter and a subpoena, were largely ignored. It was a simple strategy: First, focus obsessively on classified information issues so that other misconduct would fade into trivia and irrelevance; second, find ways to undermine the classified information allegations so that the emails debacle would disappear as a source of potential criminal jeopardy; and finally, maintain that the lack of criminal charges erased Clinton’s national security recklessness and rules-don’t-apply-to-me arrogance as campaign issues.

President Obama took care of undermining any classified information prosecution. He had a deep interest in doing so: he had knowingly communicated with his secretary of state through the private system, and he had misled the public about it—claiming to have learned about Clinton’s private email practices from news reports, like everyone else. All of that could be neatly buried in two steps. First, invoke executive privilege (without calling it that—too Nixonian) to seal the Obama-Clinton emails from public view. Second, ensure that the Clinton emails case would never be prosecuted: if Clinton was never accused of criminal conduct, then Obama’s role as a minor participant would not become evidence in a criminal case.2

In April 2016, on national television, the president made clear that he did not believe an indictment should be filed against former Secretary Clinton, who, by then, was the inevitable Democratic presidential nominee. Obama explained that, in his considered judgment, Clinton meant no harm to national security. Plus, the intelligence involved, though technically categorized as “classified,” was not really, you know, the super-secret stuff—“There’s ‘classified,’” Obama scoffed, “and then there’s classified.”3 It was a classic Obama straw man. The criminal provisions pertinent to Clinton’s case did not require proof of intent to harm the United States, only that she was trusted with access to intelligence and nevertheless mishandled it, either intentionally or through gross negligence.4 Moreover, no one was accusing Clinton of trying to damage national security. That is a different, more serious criminal offense that was not on the table. It was as if Obama were claiming that a bank robber was somehow not guilty of the bank robbery because she hadn’t murdered anyone while committing it.

Of course Mrs. Clinton hadn’t set out with a purpose to harm the country. Her purpose, with a 2016 presidential bid in the works, was to conceal her communications as secretary of state from Congress and the public. Hillary Clinton had been under criminal investigation before—indeed, when she was first lady in 1995, she was very nearly indicted for obstruction and making false statements by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr.5 Mrs. Clinton knew that leaving a paper trail, especially one that documents conversations, is how shady characters get themselves jammed up with the law.

During her tenure, the State Department had an intriguingly cozy relationship with the Clinton Foundation, the enterprise through which Mrs. Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, had become fabulously rich by monetizing their outsize political influence. Do you suppose that maybe, just maybe, that could be a better explanation than yoga routines for why, when it came to her stored emails, Clinton decided to scorch the earth and poison the wells?

Several bureaucrats and military officials have been prosecuted and severely disciplined for failing to safeguard the national-defense intelligence to which they were given privileged access. None of them wanted to harm the nation. Lack of malevolent motive was no defense, however, because it formed no part of the offense they were cited for committing. Yet, for the putative Democratic nominee, the Obama administration effectively rewrote the law.

There was no way on God’s green earth that the Obama Justice Department was ever going to authorize a prosecution involving conduct that would embarrass the president. Nor was it ever going to indict Obama’s former secretary of state—certainly not after Obama, revered by Democrats and pundits as a first-rate lawyer, had pronounced her not guilty, had provided a legal rationale for exoneration, and had endorsed her as his successor. There was no way an indictment was going to be approved by Obama’s attorney general, Loretta Lynch—the same Loretta Lynch who rose to prominence when she was appointed to a coveted U.S. attorney post by, yes, President Bill Clinton. The same Loretta Lynch who knew she stood a good chance of remaining attorney general if there were a President Hillary Clinton.

Approve an indictment? Lynch did not even allow the FBI to refer to its probe of Clinton as an investigation. She instructed Comey to describe it as a “matter,” as if the issue were a parking ticket, or maybe a yoga routine. “I guess you’re the Federal Bureau of Matters, now,” a colleague tartly ribbed the director.6 The Bureau could run down all the, er, matters it wanted (within severe limits imposed by the Justice Department). Hillary Clinton was not going to be charged, period. Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer who worked on the Clinton emails investigation (and who became a notorious figure during the Trump–Russia investigation), told congressional investigators that the Obama Justice Department repeatedly rejected the FBI’s efforts to make a case against Clinton for mishandling classified information.7

Wonder of wonders: The “no intent to harm the United States” rationale President Obama had glibly posited in insisting Clinton had done nothing wrong was echoed in the ensuing months by his subordinates. Justice Department officials leaked to their media friends that Clinton was unlikely to be charged because there was scant evidence of intent to harm the United States.8 Meanwhile, very shortly after Obama’s public statements about Clinton’s case, FBI Director James Comey and his closest advisors began drafting remarks exonerating Mrs. Clinton. Over a dozen critical witnesses, including Clinton herself, had not yet been interviewed. Salient evidence had not yet been examined. No matter. With the end of the story already written, the rest was just details. When Director Comey finally announced that Clinton would not be indicted, his rationalizations were indistinguishable from Obama’s.

Comey took a page out of Obama’s book. The director acknowledged that “several thousand work-related emails”—i.e., records of the United States Department of State—were among the thousands of emails Clinton had cordoned off from the government’s filing system, deleted, and ultimately destroyed. He claimed, however, that prosecution was not warranted because the Bureau “found no evidence that any of the additional work-related emails were intentionally deleted in an effort to conceal them.” As implausible as that rationalization was (Comey did not address the many motives Clinton might have to conceal documents she had gone to extraordinary lengths to cordon off from State Department recordkeeping), it was legally irrelevant. Just as the classified information laws do not require prosecutors to show a motive to harm the United States, the statute criminalizing the theft or destruction of government records does not require proof of a motive to conceal the records. Government officials, particularly those trusted to run government departments, are not allowed to embezzle or destroy records, period.9

Comey’s public exoneration of the former secretary of state took place right after Independence Day, with Election Day on the horizon. It was a press conference, held a little over a week after a shameful tarmac tête-à-tête between Attorney General Lynch and former President Clinton, and just three days after a perfunctory interview of Mrs. Clinton during which the Justice Department permitted Clinton’s co-conspirators to sit in as her lawyers. The press conference was a breathtaking departure from Justice Department rules: The FBI director cleared Clinton on the charges even though the Bureau has no authority to make charging decisions (that’s the Justice Department’s job). Yet he did so only after excoriating Clinton in a detailed factual description of her misconduct. This, notwithstanding that law-enforcement officials are generally barred from commenting publicly on the evidence against uncharged persons—in fact, they routinely refuse even to acknowledge the existence of any investigation.

Notably, there was no excoriation of the president. Nor even mild criticism. Initially, the Bureau planned a mention of Clinton’s communication with “President Obama” from the territory of a foreign adversary (i.e., a place where an unprotected communication could easily be hacked). In the editing process, the reference to Obama was changed to “another senior government official.” When Comey finally made his public remarks, though, he omitted the episode entirely.” 10

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Clinton’s Problem: Clinton

“Thus “exonerated,” the former first lady was on her way to the Oval Office—this time as president. Or so she thought—as did the Obama White House, the Justice Department, the State Department, the FBI, the intelligence agencies, every progressive activist from Boston Harbor to Silicon Valley, and every political pundit from the Beltway to the Upper West Side. Alas, there was just one problem—a problem the president and his myrmidons could not fix for Mrs. Clinton.

That problem was Mrs. Clinton.

As would have been manifest to less politicized eyes, she was an atrocious candidate. Clinton was the same fundamentally flawed, deeply dishonest, broadly unpopular candidate she had been in 2008, when she couldn’t convince Democrats to support her. You may recall this as the reason there was a President Barack Obama in the first place. You say, “Hey, wait a second. Donald Trump was fundamentally flawed, deeply dishonest, and broadly unpopular, too.” Maybe so, but if hammering away at an opponent’s malignance is the path to victory, shouldn’t you perhaps nominate a candidate who doesn’t mirror his defects?

The only differences between the “It’s My Turn” Senator Hillary! of 2008 and the “Stronger Together” Secretary Clinton who expected a 2016 coronation was that she now had hanging around her neck the Benghazi debacle, a desultory tenure as secretary of state, a shades-of-2008 inability to convince Democrats that she was the preferable candidate (this time, not in comparison to a charismatic young progressive, but to a seventy-five-year-old self-proclaimed socialist who had joined the Democratic Party about five minutes ago), whispers that her health was deteriorating, and an email scandal that smacked of both national-security recklessness and rules-don’t-apply-to-me arrogance—precisely the kind of controversy that reminded Americans of how exhausting the last scandal-plagued Clinton administration had been.

The Obama administration’s exoneration gambit came up snake-eyes because of Clinton herself. Democrats can con themselves (and attempt to con everyone else) into believing that her failure is due to Vladimir Putin’s perfidy or Trump’s demagoguery. In the real world, though, Clinton lost because of her epic shortcomings. Trump acolytes maintain that their man is the only Republican who could have beaten Hillary Clinton. In truth, Democrats are right to wonder whether they managed to nominate the only candidate who could have lost to Donald Trump.

In the event, the American people disrupted Plan A. By a hair … not even with a popular majority. Democrats incessantly remind us that Mrs. Clinton “won the popular vote” (which is like a losing football team bragging that it gained the most yards, when the relevant metric is scoring the most points). Have you noticed, though, that Democrats and their media echo-chamber avoid saying Clinton won a popular majority? She didn’t. Every presidential election has a winner because the Constitution’s design assures it. This time around, though, no candidate could claim to be most people’s preference. Clinton amassed nearly three million more votes than Trump, but that was good for just 48 percent of the popular vote. A majority of American voters preferred someone else; or, in the minima de malis terms of the 2016 election, a majority of Americans opposed Clinton.11 Of course, looking at it that way, Trump was opposed by an even larger majority of Americans. Yet his 46 percent share consisted of sixty-three million voters, perfectly enough dispersed to win thirty states. These included the rustbelt battlegrounds of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, where, had there been a shift of just 77,744 votes—about half a percentage point—we would not have been talking about a populist revolt, but about how a longtime pillar of the Washington establishment had cruised to the victory confidently predicted by all the polls.12

Trump’s haul was enough to cobble together a win in the Electoral College. That is the Constitution’s metric, and rightly so. The increasingly left-leaning power centers of the Democratic party want an electorate that reflects New York and San Francisco; our fundamental law, by contrast, demands one that reflects America, broadly. The Electoral College system invests our entire, richly diverse country, not just its urban centers, in the contest to lead our government. Columnist George Will states the matter with characteristic clarity: “[T]he Electoral College shapes the character of majorities by helping to generate those that are neither geographically nor ideologically narrow, and that depict, more than the popular vote does, national decisiveness.”” 13

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