The Week in Review

Everything you need to know about June 28-30 and July 1-2

Here’s everything you need to know about what happened this week:

RIP Donald Rumsfeld:

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld died this week. He was 88-years-old.

From National Review:

Best remembered as George W. Bush’s secretary of Defense, he had a very long public career characterized by his tremendous drive, energy, work ethic, unswerving patriotism, and cold-eyed understanding of how Washington and the world work.

Born in Chicago in 1932 and raised in Winnetka, Ill., during the Depression and the Second World War, Rumsfeld was old enough to remember Pearl Harbor and his father’s volunteering for the Navy. He came to Washington in the Eisenhower years after his own service as a Navy pilot and was elected to Congress in 1962. Rumsfeld was part of an insurgency that installed Gerald Ford in House Republican leadership in 1966. It speaks volumes of how the Republican caucus has changed that Ford and Bob Dole were then seen as the right wing of the party. As a congressman, Rumsfeld supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964, was one of the moving forces behind passage of the Freedom of Information Act, and was an early supporter of ending the draft and establishing an all-volunteer military.

After leaving Congress for the Nixon administration, Rumsfeld would hold many posts and be at the center of many storms. Among other jobs, he was a two-time secretary of Defense (the youngest and second-oldest man to hold the job), White House chief of staff, ambassador to NATO, and head of Nixon’s ill-conceived Cost of Living Council. Ronald Reagan entrusted him with a role as a special envoy to the Middle East, with the unenviable task of extricating the United States from Lebanon; Ford leaned on him during the Mayaguez crisis in Vietnam in 1975. He was Dick Cheney’s mentor in the Ford years. He went on to be a pharmaceutical CEO during his time between Republican administrations.

[…]

His legacy is inextricably tied to the long-running debates over the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2006. Here, unfortunately, he was too late to acknowledge the seriousness of the insurgency in Iraq, and the deep divisions between his Pentagon and Colin Powell’s State Department contributed to a damaging dysfunction at the heart of the Bush administration. The Iraq war didn’t turn around until Rumsfeld stepped down and the administration embraced a new strategy that defeated Al-Qaeda in Iraq and brought relative stability to the country (if only temporarily).

The Supreme Court Upholds Arizona’s New Voting Laws:

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week in favor of two Republican-backed Arizona voting laws designed to ensure election integrity. A lower court had ruled the laws violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Critics also alleged the laws were racially discriminator.

The Washington Examiner reports:

The decision, delivered by a 6-3 court split on partisan lines, found that neither law violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and that they were not enacted with racially discriminatory intent. Justice Samuel Alito wrote the court’s majority opinion. Justice Elena Kagan led the liberals in dissent.

The laws require two things. The first is that a ballot be thrown out if it was cast in a precinct other than the one matching the voter’s home address. The second is a ban on “ballot-harvesting,” a practice in which third-party carriers collect absentee ballots and deliver them for counting.

Alito wrote in his opinion that because the laws gave voters an “equal opportunity” to vote, they were not discriminatory. He criticized the dissent for taking another tack, which focused on the fact that after the laws were enacted, they had a “disparate impact” on minorities, many of whom were voting in the wrong district or participating in ballot-harvesting.

The Supreme Court’s ruling this week will obviously prove a major roadblock to Attorney General Merrick Garland’s lawsuit against the state of Georgia over its new Republican-led voter laws.

Bill Barr vs. Donald Trump:

A recently published excerpt from ABC News’s Jonathan Karl’s forthcoming book, Betrayal, reveals what former Attorney General William Barr really thought of then-President Donald Trump’s efforts to challenge the results of the 2020 election. Put most simply, Barr thought it was all “bullshit.”

Karl reports:

[Justice Department Chief of Staff Will Levi had] been urging Barr to contradict Trump’s assertions. But Barr had said nothing publicly to indicate that he disagreed with the president about the election. In fact, the week after the election, he gave prosecutors the green light to investigate “substantial allegations” of vote irregularities that “could potentially impact the outcome” of the election. The move overturned long-standing policy that the Justice Department does not investigate voter fraud until after an election is certified. The theory behind the policy is that the department’s responsibility is to prosecute crimes, not to get involved in election disputes. Barr’s reversal of the policy was interpreted by some as a sign that he might use the department to help Trump overturn the election.

But Barr told me he had already concluded that it was highly unlikely that evidence existed that would tip the scales in the election. He had expected Trump to lose and therefore was not surprised by the outcome. He also knew that at some point, Trump was going to confront him about the allegations, and he wanted to be able to say that he had looked into them and that they were unfounded. So, in addition to giving prosecutors approval to open investigations into clear and credible allegations of substantial fraud, Barr began his own, unofficial inquiry into the major claims that the president and his allies were making.

“My attitude was: It was put-up or shut-up time,” Barr told me. “If there was evidence of fraud, I had no motive to suppress it. But my suspicion all the way along was that there was nothing there. It was all bullshit.”

The Department of Justice ended up conducting no formal investigations of voter fraud, but as part of Barr’s informal review, he asked the U.S. Attorney in Michigan about Trump’s claim that mysterious “ballot dumps” in Detroit had secured Biden’s victory in the state.

[…]

Barr also looked into allegations that voting machines across the country were rigged to switch Trump votes to Biden votes. He received two briefings from cybersecurity experts at the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI. “We realized from the beginning it was just bullshit,” Barr told me, noting that even if the machines somehow changed the count, it would show up when they were recounted by hand. “It’s a counting machine, and they save everything that was counted. So you just reconcile the two. There had been no discrepancy reported anywhere, and I’m still not aware of any discrepancy.”

Following the release of the book excerpt, Trump published a statement condemning Barr.

“I lost confidence in Bill Barr long before the 2020 Presidential Election Scam,” Trump said. “Barr was a ‘swamp creature’ who was devastated when the Radical Left wanted to impeach him. He, and other RINOs (you see it all the time!), always fold. If he becomes ‘less’ for President Trump, maybe they will leave him alone.”

The statement adds, “It takes a very strong and special person to go against the ‘mob.’ Bill Barr was not that person. Despite evidence of tremendous Election Fraud, he just didn’t want to go there. He was afraid, weak, and frankly, now that I see what he is saying, pathetic.”

Tucker Carlson vs. the NSA:

Fox News host Tucker Carlson alleges the NSA has been spying on him and his producers in an effort to get him removed from the air.

“Yesterday,” Carlson said this week, “we heard from a whistleblower within the U.S. government, who reached out to warn us that the NSA, the National Security Agency, is monitoring our electronic communications and is planning to leak them in an attempt take this show off the air.”

He added, “The whistleblower, who is in a position to know, repeated back to us information about a story we’re working on that could only have come directly from my texts and emails. There’s no other possible source for that information, period. The NSA captured it without our knowledge for political reasons. The Biden administration is spying on us. We’ve confirmed that.”

The NSA, for its part, denies any such action.

“Tucker Carlson has never been an intelligence target of the Agency and the NSA has never had any plans to try to take his program off the air,” the agency said in a statement. “NSA has a foreign intelligence mission. We target foreign powers to generate insights on foreign activities that could harm the United States.”

It adds, “With limited exceptions (e.g. an emergency), NSA may not target a US citizen without a court order that explicitly authorizes the targeting.”

As always, the burden of proof is on the accuser. Carlson has yet to produce hard evidence to back his claim. The NSA’s rebuttal should likewise be taken with a grain of salt. After all, it’s not as if it’s above spying on U.S. citizens. Also, the intelligence community has lied to us before about this exact issue.

Bill Cosby Walks:

Disgraced comedian Bill Cosby is a free man after serving barely three years of his three-to-10 year sentence for drugging and sexually assaulting a woman in 2004.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled this week that Cosby’s 2018 conviction was secured through unconstitutional means. Having found there were “vast” violations of the 83-year-old actor’s due process rights, the court moved to vacate his conviction and sentence.

Cosby testified years ago in a civil case where he was publicly assured the criminal case was resolved. Later, in separate criminal trials, prosecutors used his civil case testimony against him.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court referred this week to the timeline of events and the manner in which prosecutors secured a conviction against Cosby as an “unconstitutional ‘coercive bait-and-switch.” It’s unconstitutional because using Cosby’s testimony from the civil case in subsequent criminal trials ultimately deprived the disgraced actor of his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

“We hold that, when a prosecutor makes an unconditional promise of non-prosecution, and when the defendant relies upon that guarantee to the detriment of his constitutional right not to testify,” the court said, “the principle of fundamental fairness that undergirds due process of law in our criminal justice system demands that the promise be enforced.”

Moreover, the court adds, “Interactions between a prosecutor and a criminal defendant … are not immune from the dictates of due process and fundamental fairness.”

It’s a rotten thing Cosby is a free man, but it’s a good thing the court ruled in favor of his constitutional rights.

Boy Scouts Settle:

The Boy Scouts have reached an $859 million settlement with thousands of victims alleging sexual abuse, the largest settlement in of its kind in U.S. history.

Reuters reports:

In a filing on Thursday with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, the Boy Scouts (BSA) said the settlement with the Coalition of Abused Scouts for Justice and two other groups covers claims by about 60,000 abuse survivors.

It said the accord provides a framework for a global resolution of abuse claims and could allow it to emerge from Chapter 11 protection “late this year.”

[…]

Thursday’s settlement requires a judge’s approval and could face opposition from insurers that would be on the hook for payouts.

In a court filing, affiliates of American International Group Inc, Chubb Ltd, Travelers Cos and other insurers said the Boy Scouts excluded them from negotiations and gave victims’ lawyers too much of a say in crafting a settlement.

[…]

Founded in 1910, the Boy Scouts filed for Chapter 11 in February 2020 after being hit with hundreds of sexual abuse lawsuits.

These lawsuits were filed after several U.S. states, including New York, began letting people sue over alleged sex abuses that occurred decades earlier.

The bankruptcy filing covered the national organization, not the local councils.

Pelosi Announces Eight Jan. 6 Commission Members:

House Speak Nancy Pelosi this week announced her first picks for the forthcoming Jan. 6 commission, which is supposedly going to uncover what, exactly, happened on the day of the Capitol riot.

The commission will be led by Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi. He will be joined Democratic Reps. Zoe Lofgren, Adam Schiff, and Pete Aguilar of California, Stephanie Murphy of Florida, Jamie B. Raskin of Maryland, and Elaine Luria of Virginia. Most notably, Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming will also sit on the commission, much to the consternation of Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who allegedly threatened to strip any GOP lawmaker who accepted a role in the group of their committee assignments.

The final Jan. 6 commission will have 13 total members. Pelosi is expected to announce the remaining five members soon.

Death Toll in Florida Condo Collapse Climbs:

One week after a condominium building in Florida partially collapsed, the confirmed death toll has climbed to 18. An additional 145 people remain unaccounted for, officials said.

Search and rescue efforts are still ongoing.

This Week’s Losers:

  • The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: New York Times Magazine’s Nicole Hannah-Jones demanded UNC give her full tenure, even despite her obvious lack of relevant qualifications. After pressure from journalists, academics, and Hannah-Jones’s own legal team, the university caved, giving the 1619 Project founder everything she demanded. Have fun with your new conspiracy theory-loving, race-obsessed crank, UNC.
  • Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota: At some point, the congresswoman is going to have to learn the art of knowing when to shut up, especially when she has thoughts on Jews and Israel, which is often. Silence is golden.
  • Rumsfeld: He has gone off to the great known known.
  • Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka: I just learned her last name is pronounced “Chewbacca.” I am not making this up. She is challenging Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. If Tshibaka’s ad campaigns don’t include lines such as “Let the Wookie win,” then I don’t know what we’re doing anymore.

This Week’s Winners:

  • The Pennsylvania Supreme Court: It’s rotten that Bill Cosby is a free man, but the state’s highest court did the right thing when it overturned an unconstitutionally secured conviction. The law is for everyone, even the worst among us.
  • Florida state lawmaker: The response to the condo collapse has been tremendous. Republicans and Democrats alike have reacted to the tragedy with cool heads and steady leadership. Search and rescue teams were deployed almost immediately after disaster struck, and the coordinated response between state lawmakers and local officials has been nothing short of superb. It’s a rare moment of bipartisan excellence.

T. Becket AdamsT. Becket Adams
Senior commentary Washington Examiner. Former “S.E. Cupp Unfiltered” contributor. Bylines in RealClearPolitics, Business Insider, And another thing Subscribe

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal

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