At our special educational forum on December 6, expert panelists offered specific recommendations to the incoming Trump administration and the new Congress for rolling back corruption and ushering in a new era of transparency in these areas: Freedom of Information Act reform, election fraud, pay-for-play politics, IRS targeting, immigration and border enforcement, executive order overreach, and more. You can view the complete video of the event here.
We had a tremendous line up: Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH), who is a member of both the Judiciary Committee and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee; Edwin Meese III, former United States Attorney General and Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow Emeritus at The Heritage Foundation; Mark Krikorian, Executive Director for the Center for Immigration Studies; Andrew McCarthy, Senior Fellow for the National Review Institute and former chief assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York; and Ramona Cotca, senior attorney at Judicial Watch.
I moderated the panel and outlined the challenges for the new administration:
The big decision for President-elect Donald Trump now is what to do with the Clinton scandals. He promised to drain the swamp, and he’s coming into a city that has a lot of park rangers for that swamp so it’s going to be a challenge. And, of course, now he has a Congress that is controlled by his own party, and so independent observers are going to be concerned that one party isn’t going to be able to police itself well in terms of the legislative branch analyzing the executive branch.
There needs to be a serious investigation of what went on with the national security implications, the government records implications, the pay-for-play implications with the Clinton scandals. It wasn’t just about Hillary Clinton. It was about President Obama’s misconduct, the FBI’s misconduct, the Justice Department’s misconduct, the State Department’s misconduct. It’s also about crony capitalism and cronyism with our corporate culture, giving money, obviously, to the Clinton Foundation. And of course you had the foreign influence peddling that was going on as well.
Congressman Jordan spoke first and joined our call to continue the quest for real accountability:
And so our task in the 100 days, real simple: reform welfare, incentivize work, get rid of Obamacare, secure the border, and then focus on the things that are going to help our economy. But, ultimately, in the end, so many people were focused in this election on adherence to the rule of law and making sure the Justice Department is focused on justice and not on politics. And right now, we know it’s the opposite.
And so we have to continue the investigations because we’re either going to have equal treatment under law or we’re going to have a double standard. And that’s why we need to hold people accountable. [IRS Commissioner] John Koskinen needs to be held accountable for his conduct. He was brought in to clean up with the IRS and he hasn’t done so.
Jordan also announced the House Freedom Caucus planned to file a resolution today to force a vote on impeaching Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen.
“John Koskinen needs to be held accountable,” Jordan said. “Later today on the House floor, we will make the motion to impeach Mr. Koskinen.”
Jordan and his conservative colleagues in the House did offer up the resolution to impeach Koskinen. True to form, the House Republican leadership opposed this and joined with Democrats to table the effort and send it back to committee to die. Only 72 members of the House voted to hold Koskinen accountable through impeachment.
My hero Ed Meese focused on the Justice Department:
There’s a lot to be done about the Justice Department, about the whole government. For example, the first threat to public safety that needs to be corrected is the attitude of this administration, which has been hostile to police throughout the entire eight years of Obama’s reign. And, as a result, the police officers feel both threatened and also disappointed.
The investigations of police officers and police departments by the so-called Civil Rights Division – I think one of the things that the president ought to do, the new attorney general is to take the investigations of police out of the Civil Rights Division entirely. That is, quite frankly, the worst cesspool of liberal lawyers in the entire government. And that’s something that absolutely has to happen.
Former prosecutor Andy McCarthy’s remarks reminded us just how much the rule of law suffered in the Obama administration:
We have to get back to the top two obligations of the executive branch, which are faithfully executing the laws and protecting the national security of the United States.
On the first, I was so glad that Congressman Jordan talked about Koskinen and the impeachment proceeding. I was actually proud to testify at that hearing. And impeachment, which gets everybody hackles up when the word gets mentioned, the framers thought impeachment was, as they put it, the indispensable tool that was given to Congress for purposes of reining in a rogue executive branch. And, you know, that was one of the main concerns that the framers had in drafting the constitution, to create a suitably, awesomely powerful presidency but yet be able to control it, particularly given the potential for illegality and damage done to the country.
The really tragic thing about the Justice Department in the last eight years is that we’ve gone from what we aspire the Justice Department to be, which is something that bolsters the rule of law, to what it’s become, which is something that realizes that the law can be used as a weapon and that the process is often the penalty.
Mark Krikorian, one of the leaders advocating for a rule-of-law approach on immigration, laid out an agenda to address the immigration crisis:
The contempt for the rule of law in this administration on immigration is just breathtaking. And there’s a lot of things that the new administration can do right away.
First is just changing the climate, because the assumption really under this administration is that immigration law is something to apologize for, that really everybody in the world is kind of allowed to come here. That’s the way these guys look at it, and that is obviously going to change at noon on the 20th of January. Specifically, there are the executive orders and memos and directives and edicts that the president has used to govern. And it isn’t just immigration. You saw it in EPA and health care and elsewhere, but with immigration specifically, this president basically has openly said, Congress won’t give me what I want so I’m just going to do it anyway.
In addition, Krikorian recommended immediate action in these areas:
- Turning off the flow of federal money to sanctuary cities and states;
- Curtailing the rampant release of criminal aliens;
- End the sloppy use of refugee law to admit people who aren’t truly refugees, and
- Tighten up the H-1B program for foreign workers.
Our own Ramona Cotca reminded us of the unfinished business of the past few years, particularly with regard to our Freedom of Information Act request and lawsuits concerning Benghazi and the IRS.
We’re trying to get records on a particular subject, whether it’s IRS targeting or Benghazi. But then our suits spiraling into all this litigation that’s happening because of the agencies’ not being forthcoming to the courts, and to us as a plaintiff, in telling us what they’re doing to search for the records, do they have the records, are the records being destroyed while we are pending in litigation? So that’s been our experience so far.
We’re going to continue doing what we have been doing It will be interesting to see if the culture actually changes from the agencies and also the attorneys representing the agencies.
As these patriots spoke, I couldn’t help but reflect on the past eight years. Barack Obama was a disaster for the rule of law.
I want to be hopeful, but I’ll join Ramona in waiting to see what we get in the new administration. I encourage you to watch the full discussion here.