I thought that headline might grab your attention.
Obviously, you are reading this, so it worked. These words, usually in all caps with multiple exclamation points such as “A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!!!”, have dominated a certain oval office occupant’s twitter feed for months now, most recently at 4AM this morning. But is it in fact a “witch hunt”?
The definition according to Merriam-Webster describes (informal) a witch hunt as “a campaign directed against a person or group holding unorthodox or unpopular views.”
So before I get into more factual information, lets dissect that for a minute. Our current president was elected into office by a majority electoral vote. Therefore I would immediately state that our president must apparently not have unpopular views. True, he is most definitely unorthodox, but I don’t think anyone on either side of the isle would argue that this alone would create the chaos that has ensued in recent months or create the necessity of said witch hunt.
The fact of the matter is that this president brought this on himself. His first big mistake was the firing of James Comey. This was a huge misstep, and opened the door to the appointment of the special prosecutor, Robert Mueller. Duh Oh!
Far and wide, even for armchair legal analysts, this action (or reaction) certainly gave the appearance that there was some serious obstruction of justice going on. Serious enough for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself, and for Rod Rosenstein to appoint Mueller in the first place. Probable cause.
Further to this is the continual ranting about the alleged witch hunt. An innocent person would just let the investigation play out and cease with the ranting. True, it may not be comfortable, but if you don’t have anything to hide, then you would just want it to be over and done with.
So this is a huge red flag, and with every rant, legal professionals take it more seriously as a sign of something not being “quite right.” It harken’s back to the days of Watergate. Nixon did the same thing: he was purging everyone who was questioning his actions, and lo and behold, there was indeed a crime committed.
Let’s move on though. Let’s talk about the Justice Department, and the raid on this president’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen. This was an extraordinary raid, given that legal offices are seldom raided due to the fabled “attorney-client privilege” (something decided by a judge, by the way). And importantly, the special counsel did NOT authorize the raid. His office simply passed information to the Southern District of New York, and the US Attorney in THAT office made the decision to authorize the raid, Geoffrey S. Berman.
Simply put, what this means is that there was enough evidence for Mr. Berman and his team to suspect there may have been a crime committed. Probable cause, folks. Not a witch hunt. Good, solid investigation, and obviously after multiple arrests and at least one conviction, there is merit to that investigation.
So does this really mean a witch hunt? Some kind of a partisan escapade bent on taking down a president? Nope, sorry.
Allow me to put that into perspective. Robert Mueller – again, who did not authorize the raid – is a lifelong Republican. Rod Rosenstein, the US Deputy Attorney General, is a lifelong Republican. And lastly, Mr. Berman is also a Republican, appointed by the Trump administration. Importantly, these guys are all lawmen. And that is an important distinction to keep in mind.
Despite all of the rhetoric about a “corrupt” FBI or Justice Department, anyone who has ever known anyone who worked with the Bureau, or the Justice Department, will tell you this is absolutely the most absurd accusation anyone could ever make. These are proud, ethical people who worked for years to attain their positions, and there is simply no short cut. They approach everything from an independent, legal point of view. The law.
Why can I say this?
I’ve been fortunate enough to have been brought up in a family rich with educators and legal professionals. My grandfather, Walter Riddick, Sr., was a judge that served on the Eighth Circuit. I’m extremely proud of this. My uncle, who was a father figure to me in many ways, was a US Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas for nearly 30 years.
Being around my uncle and understanding his ethic and his values taught me a lot. People who work in Justice do so for a great love, respect and devotion to the law. My uncle prosecuted many, many cases over those years, and I can assure you there was not a partisan bone in his body. He did what he did for the law, period. Fairness and justice, and a sense of doing the right thing. And to be clear, while his lawyer friends were out making six and even seven figure incomes in private practice, my uncle’s salary was under 100K a year (today it is about 140K a year). Obviously, people who pursue careers in Justice do not do it for the money.
So take a logical minute, and use your logical brain, and ask yourself: why would a career lawman such as Mueller, who has been 100% upstanding and respected by both major parties, risk his career on an extremely unpopular mission – Russian collusion – and put up with being the target of nonstop attacks by this oval office? It is very simple. Because it is his JOB. Nothing more. And I suspect he will see it through to the best of his abilities. The man needs to do his job. End of story.
In actuality, I think every time I hear the words “witch hunt,” it makes me believe that Mueller is the target of this president and his closest cronies, and the very obvious reason for that is because there are murky things that the president is terrified of having out in the open, and I don’t mean porn stars (he seems to be immune to all that). Generally speaking, and you know I am right, the guiltier the dog, the louder that dog barks, and it will always bark first. And continued nonstop barking only antagonizes the situation and makes that dog look that much guiltier. Read me?
It is only a matter of time before this president really loses his temper and crosses a bridge that will be burned to the ground (attempting to fire Mueller, or firing Jeff Sessions, Rosenstein, or both), because once that bridge is crossed, there is no turning back. My gut feeling is that either that is going to happen, or there truly is something out there that is going to be really, really bad, and he will have to face the music (if he doesn’t start WWIII first).
And likely, this all is likely to be a financial web that goes back years, if not decades, and our president probably thought (incorrectly) that no one would ever find out. The tax records come to mind. It is only a matter of time before those records are examined, if not already.
The only thing I can hope for is that our Congress comes together and recognizes the crisis, and puts aside the partisan nonsense. While we are having to deal with all of this crap, Russia is steadily hacking us, influencing us, feeding us misinformation, and therefore, our enemy is not each other, or Republicans or Democrats, but those who seek to undermine our democracy.
So every time there is a tweet with the words “witch hunt,” ask yourself why this man is even spending time on this rather than dealing with very important national and international issues and rising above those accusations.
If I were him, and I were innocent, I would ignore all of it, just let them do their jobs, and I would do mine.