Monday, January 28, 2019
Books: "Obstruction of Justice" On The Deep State
Obstruction of Justice: How The Deep State Risked National Security to Protect the Democrats
By Luke Rosiak; with a foreword by Newt Gingrich
Regnery Publishing; hardcover; $28.99; available Tuesday, January 29
Luke Rosiak, an investigative reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation who, prior to that, was an investigator for the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, examines this national security breach of the Democrats in the new book Obstruction of Justice.
It’s like something out of a spy novel: In the heat of the 2016 election, an unvetted Pakistani national with a proclivity for blackmail gained access to the computer files of one in five Democrats in the House of Representatives.
Imran Awan and his family lifted data off the House network, stole the identity of an intelligence specialist, and sent congressional electronic equipment to foreign officials. And that was only the beginning. Rosiak looks at the work he and his family did in Congress, in Pakistan, and in a series of shadowy business dealings in the United States.
Rather than protect national security, Congress and the Justice Department under former President Barack Obama, who were already embarrassed by the Wikileaks hacking of DNC emails and Hillary Clinton's private server, schemed to cover up a politically inconvenient hack and an underlying fraud on Capitol Hill involving dozens of Democrats’ offices.
The DOJ, at Democrats' behest, engaged in a full-scale cover-up campaign of witness intimidation and evidence-tampering, a pattern that became all too familiar following their conduct in the Clinton and Russia probes. While this was going on, they were inappropriately back-channeling details of the "investigation" to prominent Democrats and the Awan family's defense team. They were nearly able to get away with it, thanks to a compliant Washington press corps willing to protect its political allies.
Combining tenacious investigative reporting and high-tech investigative techniques, Rosiak began ferreting out the truth, and found himself face to face with the “Deep State.”
Rosiak examines the cover-up, mainly just how far the Swamp will go to protect its own. There is an inside look at the Pelosi playbook of what her office will do to manipulate investigations, observing how Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats fooled the Department of Justice, the media, and even Republican leadership to sabotage the investigation into what Newt Gingrich calls possibly the biggest congressional scandal in history. Newt writes the foreword for Obstruction of Justice.
It didn't get any better when Donald Trump became President, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions and House Speaker Paul Ryan played key roles in allowing the scandal to proceed. Certain congressional aides used blackmail and extortion against those who would expose their ties to foreign governments. Congress allowed IT systems administrators who handle sensitive networks to work remotely from Pakistan, and still have not changed the rules.
Rosiak writes of what happened when Republicans took over in 2017, "The Democrats' brazen public denial of the existence of any cyber breach was made possible by one thing: Republican leadership's bizarre silence. They had agreed to call it a 'theft investigation,' and didn't say a word about the case. Was it any wonder that this was largely being ignored by the media, who assume that if even Republicans aren't making hay of a Democrat scandal, there must be nothing to it?
"The fact was the Democrats had their act together and Republicans didn't. Massive turnover among Republicans meant they had to rely on Democrats for institutional knowledge. The chairman of the Administration Committee, Representative Candice Miller, left office after 2016 - at the peak of the Awan investigation - to become, of all things, a water authority commissioner in Michigan. At the same time, Speaker Ryan's internal affairs fixer, Kelly Craven, had left to work for the Indiana attorney general and was replaced by Jennifer Hemingway, who was coming in cold to the Awan case. Even Chief Administrative Officer Kiko assumed his post only in September 2016. All of this meant that if someone wanted a comprehensive overview of the Awan investigation, he was forced to turn to Representative Bob Brady, who had been the top Democrat on the Administration Committee for many years.
"Replacing Representative Candice Miller was Gregg Harper, a Mississippi Republican who was elected more for his blandness than for Deep South, small government zeal. It was hard to dislike someone so harmless. The Committee on House Administration was perhaps the least prestigious panel in Congress, but one where a chairman could presumably avoid scandal and demonstrate his capacity for genial bipartisanship. It was perfect for him. Chairman Harper thought of himself as a 'company man,' that company being the House of Representatives. Chairman Harper was so risk-averse that the prospect of a fifty-year old man consuming high-end tobacco products might as well have amounted to shooting heroin in an orgy. When he agreed to retain the committee's top Republican staffer Sean Moran as staff director, Sean - who enjoys an afternoon cigar - took to hiding behind behind the bushes on the Capitol lawn, wearing gloves to keep the aroma off his hands lest he get in trouble.
"Neither Representative Brady not Jamie Fleet, his top staffer, were so timid. Though the committee's most interesting mandate is overseeing the integrity of federal elections, the FBI was investigating Representative Brady's own campaign for paying his opponent $90,000. The opponent said he struck a deal with Representative Brady for a payoff in exchange for dropping out of the race. Two of Representative Brady's campaign consultants pleaded guilty to making false statements since the payment was disguised in campaign finance records. A lobbyist put out a murder hit on one of the consultants in an attempt to prevent him from turning state's witness to additional, unrelated political misconduct. And Jamie - who got his start as a campaign consultant to Representative Brady - continued to pull political strings.
"During the summer of 2017, Chairman Harper's office got a call from a Washington Post reporter working on an article about the Awan affair. Chairman Harper could assume the reporter had the Democrats' spin, and now it was up to Chairman Harper whether to weigh in and shape the narrative. He was considering it until he got a message that made clear that this investigation was being controlled from on high. Tom Hungar, the Paul Ryan-appointed House general counsel who was the institutional lawyer for the House and represented it in cases against the executive breach, made it clear that Chairman Harper was not to speak to the media about the case.
"Hungar filtered all the evidence before it got to the FBI or prosecutors to check if constitutional privileges like the 'speech and debate clause' applied. Hungar had not screened any evidence from the Awan case until they were banned from the House in February, meaning that for months after key evidence was discovered, no FBI agents or prosecutors had seen it.
"While the House general counsel muzzled the Republican committee chair from speaking to the media, those rules did not seem to apply to the minority party, and Jamie Fleet, a mere staffer, spun freely to the media.
"The resulting article in the Washington Post claimed, comically, that the data illicitly uploaded off of congressional servers was 'homework and family photos.' Readers were expected to believe that Imran Awan's friend, Rao Abbas, broke into the House Democratic Caucus server to upload thousands of Imran's eight-year-old daughter's digital homework assignments, and then all the relatives logged in five thousand times to download them. Who knew elementary school was so rigorous these days?"
Obstruction of Justice is one of the most comprehensive books you will read on the "Deep State" in this country. It reads like a classic James Bond story, but the one key difference that in every one of those, the bad guys are caught and get the justice they deserve. It is not yet clear that anyone will pay for one of the most serious cyberbreaches of United States national security in history.