theodore M I R A L D I mpa ... editor, publisher, writer

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Get Ready for ‘OBAMAGATE’ to Become ‘ObamaBidengate’

Barack Obama and Joe Biden
Barack Obama and Joe Biden
Getty Images


 Michael Goodwin

One of Joe Biden’s strengths among Democrats is his eight-year stint as Barack Obama’s vice president. It was, the former veep often says proudly, the Obama-Biden administration.
Suddenly, Republicans are happy to agree as they probe the previous administration’s role in the false Russia-collusion charges and the phony Michael Flynn prosecution. Already, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley has included Biden in his version of the infamous question, asking: “What did Obama and Biden know and when did they know it?”
President Trump calls it “Obamagate.” Any day now, I expect to see that changed to “ObamaBidengate.”
The 2020 race doesn’t lack for the sharp contrasts that usually decide elections. Trump’s personality and policies are one set, his response to the pandemic and the economic fallout another.
But the world’s greatest counterpuncher won’t play defense only and the entry of the Russia-Flynn scandal into the mix gives the president a big new hammer. Count on him to use it.
Biden got his first taste of the ­potential problems in an ABC interview Tuesday. Let’s just say his ­answer needs work. Lots of work.
George Stephanopoulos, who generally gives Dems the kid-glove treatment, cited Grassley’s question and asked Biden what he knew about the Flynn probe.
“I know nothing about those moves to investigate Michael Flynn,” Biden quickly answered before saying the issue was a Trump diversion from the pandemic.
Uncharacteristically, Stephan­opoulos pressed him, noting that Biden attended the Oval Office meeting on Jan. 5, 2017, where the FBI’s plan to question Flynn was discussed.
Biden appeared confused, saying he thought the initial question was about Flynn’s prosecution, before giving a new, tangled answer. “I was aware that there was — that they asked for an investigation, but that’s all I know about it, and I don’t think anything else,” he said before again complaining it was all a diversion.
Hmmm. So he was at the meeting but doesn’t know anything about the shocking and most important thing discussed.
That’s not gonna fly.
Biden can’t have it both ways. ­Either he was a fully involved vice president, or he was mere standby equipment. And if he was the former, as both he and Obama have repeatedly insisted, then he must answer for one of the dirtiest scandals in American history.
The corruption of the Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA and the State Department for partisan purposes in 2016 and 2017 is unprecedented. All the more so because law enforcement officials gave misleading information to the FISA court to get warrants to spy on Trump associates.
Watergate, by comparison, really was a third-rate burglary with a clumsy cover-up. It almost seems ­benign next to the Obama administration’s effort to tip the 2016 election to Hillary Clinton, then sabotage Trump with leaks of classified information.
Even in that context, the prosecution of Flynn stands out as an extraordinary breach of law and public trust. Special counsel Robert Mueller charged Flynn with lying to agents despite fundamental flaws in the interview, especially in the deceptive approach. And documents released when Attorney General William Barr pulled the plug on the case show the FBI withheld exculpatory evidence from Flynn’s first lawyers.
As Barr noted, Flynn committed no crime and, additionally, no jury would ever have convicted him given the government’s repeated misconduct.
Far from closing the matter, Barr’s decision and comments open both Obama and Biden to new suspicions.
One key area that Grassley and others in the Senate are focused on involves a Susan Rice memo to herself dated Jan. 20, 2017, that references the Jan. 5 Oval Office meeting. After some CYA language about ­Obama insisting everything be done “by the book,” Rice takes a curious turn, writing: “From a national security perspective, however, President Obama said he wants to be sure that, as we engage with the incoming team, we are mindful to ascertain if there is any reason that we cannot share information fully as it relates to Russia.”
Think about that. She writes this on the day Trump is being inaugurated and is talking about information the new president cannot know.
Given what we have learned since, that sentence certainly looks like an acknowledgment that there already was a deep-state crew that would not be answerable to the new president. And, in fact, would be working against Trump.
Certainly, FBI Director Jim Comey, who was staying in the job, was part of this crooked crew, but who else was?
The next section of Rice’s memo remains classified. Then she wrote, “The President asked Comey to inform him if anything changes in the next few weeks that should affect how we share classified information with the incoming team. Comey said he would.”
There is no way to read those words other than as part of a plot to upend Trump’s presidency. And it involves the top players in the ­Obama administration.
It’s worth noting that Rice’s ­bizarre memo, which she emailed to herself, has been in the public record since at least early 2018, yet we don’t know much more about it now than we did when Grassley first released it. In those days, the Mueller probe was grabbing the media spotlight and each day, there were breathless reports that evidence of smoking-gun collusion between Trump and Russia was just around the corner.
Even some Republicans were reluctant to back Trump, lest the Russia charge prove to be true. It wasn’t, of course, but the Democrat-media complex successfully flogged it for nearly three years and used it to take the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterms.
In fact, it’s now fair to say that Russia, Russia, Russia was a diversion and the Obama-Biden plot against the president was the real transgression.
So Grassley’s question finally must be answered: What did Obama and Biden know and when did they know it?
‘One’ nation divided 
At the start of the pandemic, a common cry was that “we are all Americans and we are all in this together.”
Ah, the good old days.
A CNN poll finds that even the coronavirus can’t end the polarization. It reports that among Republicans, 71 percent say the worst is behind us and 26 percent say the worst is yet to come.
Among Democrats, the numbers are reversed: 23 percent believe the worst is behind us while 74 percent say the worst is yet to come.
A tragic question
Reader Frank Young writes from North Carolina with a question that will hit home with many New Yorkers. “My mother died last month, April 16th, in her Queens nursing home, New Glen Oaks Nursing Home, of complications of the virus,” he says. “Is there information about the admission and readmission of infected patients for her home?”
So far, the answer is no. Those records must exist for all nursing homes, but have not been made public and Albany probably wants to keep it that way.

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