Editor’s Note: The Lake Geneva Regional News presents “Party Lines,” a monthly discussion of political issues featuring side-by-side guest columnists from the local Democratic and Republican parties. The column below represents one side of this month’s discussion. Click here for the other side.
We can’t keep government free of corruption without legitimate investigations. However, when investigations are used for purely political purposes, we have a problem.
Here are some clues that an investigation is political: Is the subject from an opposition party or movement, especially during an election cycle? Does the investigation cause maximum media exposure and maximum stress and embarrassment to the subject? And most notably, how unusual is the investigation? Per case law, “Is the crime commonly (investigated and) charged? “
The Trump-Russian collusion investigation certainly meets these criteria. It was started by the Obama administration and officially began on July 31, 2016 (in the thick of the campaign cycle).
It lasted over two years with a steady stream of leaks from various sources, dramatically presented by the media as a “bombshell,” “tipping point,” “the end,” etc. (Better media exposure is hard to imagine.)
The process was made maximally distressing for some subjects. For example, Trump associate, 66-year-old Roger Stone, could have been asked to turn himself in. Instead, there was a humiliating predawn raid by armed agents in riot gear, filmed by CNN, who claimed “unusual activity at the grand jury” one day prompted them to stake out Stone’s home the next day, at dawn, to film the event.
The political nature of the Russian collusion investigation was made further obvious by its unusual nature.
“That Trump was some kind of Russian agent … taking orders from Vladimir Putin, who conspired with him to steal the 2016 election … no person in their right mind could believe that,” wrote J. Kavanaugh in the leftist publication Counter-Point.
What other presidents were investigated for colluding with a foreign government to steal an election? When have FISA court surveillance warrants been obtained using unverified opposition research from unreliable sources?
We find the same political clues in Wisconsin’s John Doe investigations of Gov. Scott Walker. They were started by Democrat John Chisholm, Milwaukee County district attorney. The first investigation began before the 2010 governor’s election and ran through the recall; the second in the lead-up to the 2014 election.
Although John Doe investigations have a gag rule on all parties, tantalizing leaks from the prosecution were frequent. Citizens were subjected to maximally distressing procedures. Homes and businesses were raided, and thousands of citizens’ emails collected. Officers, sometimes in bullet proof-vests with battering rams, appeared in predawn raids; victims were denied lawyers and warned that telling anyone was a crime.
In a typical instance, a 16-year-old boy, home alone, opened the door to officers with their guns drawn. His requests to call his parents, grandparents or an attorney were denied. Events like this are bound to cause maximum emotional stress to the victims.
Lastly, the investigation was not for a commonly charged crime. The topic of the second investigation was not even a crime, even if it occurred. Coordination between candidates and independent groups over issues is legal.
The whole investigation was so inappropriate that Democrat David Halbrooks, chairing the bipartisan Wisconsin Ethics Commission, called for D.A. Chisholm’s removal from office, saying, “raiding people’s homes at gunpoint for campaign finance … taking people’s emails ... without their knowledge. It is just wrong,”
The investigations of Walker and Trump attempted to overturn democracy and manipulate those involved in politics through fear of publicity, embarrassment, prosecution. They wasted legislators’ time and multiple taxpayer dollars.
Democrats and the media lost on the Trump collusion issue, but they have already started a second obstruction pursuit. They should remember what happened with the second investigation of Gov. Walker; nothing was found, and he was re-elected.
Please face it: Donald Trump won the presidency, and he will not be taken out of office. Get some work done, prepare for the next election and let democracy take her course.
Pamela B. Wolfe of the town of Geneva is a member of the Republican Party of Walworth County.