While US Focuses on Confederate Statue Removal, Federal Investigations Fade into Background
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By John Ubaldi
Contributor, In Homeland Security
For weeks, the United States has seen relentless media coverage of the removal of Confederate statues across the South. Some individuals have even called for the removal of the Jefferson Memorial because Thomas Jefferson, our nation’s third president, was a slave owner. But amid all the public hue and cry, it’s curious to note we have heard little about the several ongoing federal investigations.
The most prominent of these is the Special Counsel investigation headed by former FBI Director Robert Mueller. He is looking into possible collusion between President Trump and some of his 2016 presidential election campaign associates, including Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and the Russian government.
Special Counsel Moves on Trump Collusion Probe
Under Mueller’s direction, the FBI raided the home of Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. Also, Mueller convened a grand jury and assembled a team of 16 lawyers who are well seasoned in criminal investigations, especially one which is as complex as this one has become.
So far, Mueller hasn’t tipped his hand about the investigation’s findings. There have been no leaks from his office as to what direction he is headed.
We don’t know how expansive Mueller’s investigation will be. We also don’t know if it will overlap with the ongoing House and Senate probes that could be directly or indirectly linked to the Special Counsel investigation.
Russian Influence in 2016 Presidential Election Remains Unclear
Since the fall of 2016, the country has been inundated with stories that Russia hacked the server of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). But as far as we know, federal investigators have yet to gain access to the server in question or to verify the hacking claim beyond any doubt.
The only specialists who have even seen the server are employees of CrowdStrike, an Irvine, California-based private cybersecurity company hired by the DNC to investigate the alleged security breach.
As the Washington Times reported in July, “Some critics say CrowdStrike’s evidence for blaming Russia for the hack is thin. Members of Congress say they still believe Russia was responsible for the hacking, but wonder why the DNC has never allowed federal investigators to get a look at the key piece of evidence: the server.”
Was There Collusion among Justice Department, DNC and Clinton Campaign?
As Mueller moves forward with his investigation, Congress is also moving forward with its probe into a meeting between Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton on an airport tarmac in Phoenix, Arizona. The brief meeting came amid the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server that contained classified documents.
Earlier this month, The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) reported, “The ACLJ just received
The Daily Caller, a fellow conservative media outlet, reported that “several of Lynch’s emails were included in 413 pages of DOJ documents provided to the conservative groups Judicial Watch and the American Center for Law and Justice. Both groups had filed lawsuits for records regarding Lynch’s controversial meeting with President Bill Clinton at the Phoenix airport last June 27.”
It was also learned that Lynch used the pseudonym “Elizabeth Carlisle” when she corresponded with DOJ press officials. Her correspondence involved formalizing talking points on how to handle media requests about her controversial meeting with Bill Clinton.
Will Mueller Investigate Hillary Clinton’s Russian Deal?
How deep will the Special Counsel’s probe go? Will Mueller also look into Hillary Clinton’s role as Secretary of State with regard to Russia’s uranium deal, for which her husband was paid $500,000 from the Kremlin-controlled investment bank Renaissance Capital? Subsequently, those people who were involved in the uranium deal allegedly donated millions to the Clinton Foundation.
Other Investigations Remain Active Despite Receiving Less Public Attention
The Trump-Russia collusion probe has garnered the lion’s share of attention. Other, less well-known investigations have remained in the background of public awareness.
These lesser-known investigations include the FBI seizure of smashed hard drives last month from the home of Florida Democratic Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair.
The hard drives were part of a criminal probe into potential illegalities regarding the House IT network by Pakistan-born Imran Awan and his relatives. Awan was an aide to Wasserman Schultz.
House Probe Investigates NSA Unmasking of Americans
Another less notable investigation is the House Intelligence Committee’s probe into U.S. citizens’ names being revealed in various NSA intelligence reports during the Obama administration.
Identifying U.S. citizens who are communicating with foreign governments or foreign principals for genuine intelligence purposes is legal. However, revealing the identity of ordinary U.S. citizens accidently caught in NSA communications intercepts or for partisan political purposes is not permitted under any circumstances.
Amid the media focus on the removal of Confederate statues and street names and the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, these federal investigations will continue until they are completed. While there are people inside and outside of Washington who may find joy in the Trump-Russia collusion probe, they must also be careful; they too might find themselves snared in a criminal investigation.