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23.02.2018

In the Russia probe, what if no one is guilty?.

Political debates in Washington have risen to fever pitch: The Democrats are traitors for failing to applaud the State of the Union, Trump is a tyrant in serious need of treatment. But I want to top everyone with the most shocking suggestion of all. What if, in all the craziness about Russia, no crime was...
Time: 20:57     Date: 11.02.2018
Last US News - Opinion: In the Russia probe, what if no one is guilty?. NY Post 24 - US News

Start with the Trump campaign advisers who sought a reset with Russia. (That would include me.) But that’s just a belief about foreign policy, which can’t be a problem unless political differences are criminalized.

Next, consider the Trump campaign people who met with Russians, like George Papadopoulos. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer. He told a Russian that the Trump administration would want a reset. But that was scarcely news. Trump had announced the same thing in a public speech.

Then there are the campaign workers who wanted to hear dirt about their opponent from a foreign source. You’re going to tell me they’ll not want to hear it? Don Jr. had a meeting with a Russian national for that purpose, but the meeting lasted only a few minutes. When the Russian wanted to talk about foreign adoptions, she was kicked out.

If that was a problem, what do you say about the DNC’s involvement in the Fusion dossier? They paid for the entirely implausible info, then saw it spread. On a culpability scale, that’s a lot worse. Except I don’t think it’s all that culpable, in the end. It’s politics, not paddy-cake.

Turn it up a notch, and consider the hypothetical Trump campaign officials who offered a quid pro quo. If the Russians release dirt of Hillary, we’ll do a reset. Does such a person exist? We don’t know. What’s interesting is the unproven assumption in the press that such a deal was offered. No evidence that we know of, but that doesn’t seem to matter.

Moreover, it’s easy to believe that no such deal was offered. It was known that Trump wanted a reset from the get-go. The Russians must have thought he’d be easier to deal with than Hillary.

That’s enough to explain what happened — the revelation of Hillary’s e-mails, with love from Russia, apparently.

Let’s move on to the Trump official who, after the election, promised a quid pro quo. That would be ex-national security adviser Mike Flynn. Leaving aside the Logan Act, what’s wrong with that? Flynn wasn’t challenging Barack Obama’s authority as president. He was just saying things are going to be different come Inauguration Day. Isn’t that exactly the kind of bargaining that is part and parcel of diplomacy?

Next consider the role of the FBI. I don’t fault them for wanting the info Fusion had, or even bringing it to the attention of the FISA court. Here’s the point. The members of the FISA court aren’t the patsies everyone seems to assume they are.

Sure, the hearings are ex parte, which means nobody’s arguing from the other side. But for that reason, FISA proceedings are very different than those of a regular court. The judges ask probing questions and seek to evaluate the basis for any assertion. Where did you get that, they ask, and just how credible is it. That’s why I assume that the court was well aware that much of the Fusion dossier hasn’t been substantiated from other sources.

The FISA court hasn’t spoken up about any of this. From its silence, I infer that they don’t have a problem with the way the order was sought. Nor do I.

There’s a simple explanation for the madness. It’s the hoariest of procedural tactics to avoid substantive questions: the burden of proof. On one side an irrefutable presumption that Trump is a criminal. With an equal and opposite burden for the other side.

That’s how they do religious wars.

F.H. Buckley teaches at Scalia Law School and is the author of “The Republic of Virtue: How We Tried to Ban Corruption, Failed, and What We Can Do About It.”

Opinion

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Opinion

Last US News - Opinion: Supreme Court case could deal major blow to unions in New York. NY Post 24 - US News
Supreme Court case could deal major blow to unions in New York.
On Monday the US Supreme Court will hear Janus v. AFSCME. At issue are the constitutionality of laws in 22 states — including...
Last US News - Opinion: Here’s proof our courts work as partisan forces. NY Post 24 - US News
Here’s proof our courts work as partisan forces.
PITTSBURGH — Last week, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court stepped over the line by redrawing the entire state’s electoral...
Last US News - Opinion: Celebs will sully the teen fight for gun control. NY Post 24 - US News
Celebs will sully the teen fight for gun control.
As many of us heard testimonies from the survivors of the Parkland massacre, it felt like we were living in an alternate...
Last US News - Opinion: Why the city seems helpless to shut down Harlem’s ‘hate sign’. NY Post 24 - US News
Why the city seems helpless to shut down Harlem’s ‘hate sign’.
In the bitter struggle to force Harlem’s Atlah church to take down a sickeningly gay-bashing, illegal sign, the city’s...
Last US News - Opinion: When it comes to the Parkland teens, one side is horrible — and the other’s tawdry. NY Post 24 - US News
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In the wake of the horrific slaughter in Parkland, Fla., a cadre of energized and understandably traumatized teenagers has...

Living

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PITTSBURGH — Last week, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court stepped over the line by redrawing the entire state’s electoral...
US Living News: Celebs will sully the teen fight for gun control. NY Post 24 - US News
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PARIS — French customs officers have found an impressionist painting by Edgar Degas stowed on a bus, more than eight years...
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NYC’s 9-foot-tall, trippy new art installation.
A new art installation just rolled into the Garment District: six 9-foot-high wheels, which passers-by can crawl into and...
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Business

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The Chinese government just took control of the Waldorf Astoria — but it doesn’t seem to be interested in revamping the...
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The biggest riddle on Wall Street is about the man in the middle of it. Investors on Friday scrambled to interpret the first...
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Citi’s credit-card customers will receive $335 million in refunds after the bank failed to lower their interest rates in...
Last US Business News: Brands ending discounts and benefits for NRA members. NY Post 24 - US News
Brands ending discounts and benefits for NRA members.
Three car rental brands owned by Enterprise Holdings Inc will end discount programs with members of the National Rifle Association...
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The Chinese government on Friday seized control of insurance giant Anbang – the free-spending owner of New York’s...
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Metro

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Sport

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