Schiff, Nadler and Mueller Have Reincarnated McCarthyism
I was listening to a book recently, which covered Robert F. Kennedy’s metamorphosis from supporter to foe of the infamous McCarthy hearings during the “Red Scare” of the 1950s, and was struck by the striking parallels to the current targeting of President Donald Trump and his associates.
Current House Democrats like Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who are currently launching multiple investigations following the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report, would do well to learn from RFK’s experience.
Though a lifelong Democrat, Kennedy took a position on Republican Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations as an assistant counsel early in his legal career in 1952.
McCarthy was a friend of the family and Kennedy strongly believed in the committee’s mission of rooting out communists and Soviet sympathizers believed to be lurking within the federal government.
There were legitimate concerns at the time that the Soviets (Russians) were actively trying to undermine the U.S both at home and abroad.
The Senate hearings were taking place in the aftermath of the criminal trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were convicted in 1951 and later executed for spying on behalf of Moscow, including handing over vital nuclear weapons technology.
A pivotal moment in McCarthy’s hearings came in 1954 when the Wisconsin senator targeted the U.S. Army.
Kennedy had left his position working for the lawmaker the previous year (having only served for six months) because he was disgusted by the tactics being employed by the senator and lawyers, and the baseless accusations being made against American citizens.
In February 1954, during the McCarthy-Army hearings, Kennedy returned to the committee, but this time working for the Democratic minority.
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The televised hearings served to greatly discredit the committee’s work. According to Kennedy biographer, Larry Tye, RFK spent the proceedings feeding questions to Democratic senators meant to undermine the allegations being made by McCarthy.
The Army’s chief counsel, Joseph Welch, confronted McCarthy after the senator accused the attorney of trying to hire an alleged communist sympathizer for his legal staff, saying to McCarthy the man would “always bear a scar needlessly inflicted by you.”
When McCarthy persisted in the line of questioning, Welch fired back, “Let us not assassinate this lad, further. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency sir, at long last. Have you left no sense of decency?”
“Mr. McCarthy, I will not discuss this further with you,” he added. “And if there is a God in Heaven it will do neither you nor your cause any good. I will not discuss it further.” The gallery erupted in applause at Welch’s takedown of McCarthy.
According to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., in his 2018 book, “American Values: Lessons I Learned from My Family,” his father would ultimately help draft the censure resolution against McCarthy for conduct unbecoming a senator, which passed the Republican-controlled chamber in December 1954, by a vote of 67-22.
McCarthy was stripped of his chairmanship and his reign of intimidation and terror ended.
Schiff, Nadler and Mueller and his investigators would do well to revisit this history. They have engaged in McCarthy-like tactics during the last many months.
Rep. Michael Conaway of Texas read parts of a letter to Schiff signed by all nine of the GOP members, stating they have “no faith” in his leadership in light of his past and present promotion of a “demonstrably false narrative” that the president and his campaign colluded with Russia.
The Republicans recounted Schiff’s repeated public statements “implied knowledge of classified facts supporting the collusion allegations.”
They reminded the California Democrat that in addition to the Mueller investigation, the Intelligence Committee “conducted a thorough investigation related to the 2016 Russian efforts to interfere in the elections,” finding no evidence that Trump or his campaign colluded with Moscow.
Interestingly, the chairman would not commit to looking into whether the Steele dossier is the product of Russian disinformation, “a theory that has gained traction in the wake of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report,” The Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross reported.
“In an interview with Fox’s Chris Wallace, Schiff largely refused to discuss the dossier, a remarkable shift for the Democrat, who endorsed Steele’s unverified allegations about Trump associates during a public House Intelligence Committee hearing more than two years ago,” Ross wrote.
“Schiff favorably cited dossier author Christopher Steele by name six times during his opening remarks at an Intelligence Committee hearing on March 20, 2017.”
Like Schiff, Nadler is on the investigate-Trump warpath.
“The Special Counsel’s report, even in redacted form, outlines substantial evidence that President Trump engaged in obstruction and other abuses,” his subpoena reads in part.
Nadler has also called for Mueller to testify before the Judiciary Committee. The New York Democrat is also demanding a fully un-redacted Mueller report and all of its underlying evidence.
Finally, Mueller himself engaged in McCarthy-like strong-arm tactics during his investigation.
Trump associates — like retired Army General Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos — were smeared and forced to plea to process crimes that had nothing to do with Trump’s alleged collusion with Russians.
“You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort,” U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III told Mueller’s team. “You really care about what information Mr. Manafort can give you to lead you to Mr. Trump and an impeachment, or whatever.”
Ellis pressed Mueller prosecutor Michael Dreeben about how the charges brought against Manafort — stemming back over a decade — can legitimately be tied to the special counsel’s mandate to investigate Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election.
“Our investigative scope does cover the activity” in the indictment, Dreeben told the judge.
“Cover bank fraud in 2005 and 2007? Tell me how!” Ellis fired back.
In another inexplicable move, the report generated by Mueller’s team, which had no known Republicans, stated they could not “exonerate” Trump of obstructing justice. Quite a statement, given they found he had not colluded with Russia. In other words, the president had nothing to hide!
I graduated from law school and passed a couple of state bar exams, but it doesn’t take three years of legal education to know ithat n the United States the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
“This is unbecoming behavior for a prosecutor and an outrageous shifting of the burden of proof: The constitutional right of every American to force the government to prove a crime has been committed, rather than to have to prove his or her own innocence,” he wrote.
While Andrew McCarthy is right on the money, history has not treated Joseph McCarthy kindly.
According to RFK, Jr., his father was often questioned how he ever could have worked for the Minnesota senator.
Kennedy had detailed defense for his actions at the ready, but many times, his son related he simply responded, “I was wrong.”
It’s time to bring this McCarthy-like targeting of Trump and his associates to an end.
The question is will Schiff, Nadler and other congressional Democrats be big enough to follow in the footsteps of a liberal icon and admit they are wrong?
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