Just when you thought the media establishment couldn’t get anymore ridiculous, they rip their shirts off, say “hold my beer,” and put on a pair of water skis.
Last night, a Senate staffer was arrested for lying to the FBI (a crime we’ve been assured is most serious when it involves Robert Mueller’s team). RedState writer streiff covers it in great detail here and you should go there for all the details but I’ll post a quote as a summary.
A federal grand jury indicted the staffer, James A. Wolfe, 58, on three counts of making false statements in December about contacts with reporters, including providing sensitive information related to the work of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which he served as security director for 29 years.
The indication here is that James A. Wolfe was leaking classified information from Senate investigations to a reporter he was sleeping with. That reporter’s name is Ali Watkins of the New York Times. If you were wondering where so many of the 2017 leaks about the Senate investigation were coming from, this is the most likely source. Watkins was essentially caught red-handed because it is shown that her revealing of Carter Page’s name in early 2017 was a direct result of information given to her by Mr. Wolfe.
At least one case in which Wolfe is alleged to have improperly shared classified information involved the Russia probe. According to the indictment, a classified document was provided to the Senate committee in March 2017 that involved an individual identified as “Male 1.” Wolfe “received, maintained and managed” the document on behalf of the committee.
That night, Wolfe is alleged to have exchanged 82 text messages with a reporter and also spoken to her by phone. On or about April 3, an article was published under that reporter’s byline revealing the identity of Male 1.
As part of the leak investigation that ultimately snagged James A. Wolfe, federal prosecutors seized the text messages of Ms. Watkins in order to show he was lying when interviewed by the FBI in December of 2017.
This has got the media losing their minds over the use of her phone records, but before we get there let’s flashback to earlier this week.
It all started with Rudy Guiliani suggesting the President may have the power to pardon himself (a stupid think to say given it’s an irrelevant point). Despite there being no reason for the President to do so, the media at large went insane suggesting the President is placing himself “above the law,” a charge that falls on it’s face given the realities of impeachment, but hey, it’s the media.
HE'S NOT ABOVE THE LAW. NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW. IF HE'S ABOVE THE LAW THE REPUBLIC IS DEAD. HOW IS THIS HARD TO UNDERSTAND? pic.twitter.com/s7gORLYDZG
— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) June 3, 2018
JUNE 4, 2018. Mark the date. This is the day the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, declared himself above the law. To say this is ominous is an understatement. And craven Republicans will do nothing.
— Peter Daou (@peterdaou) June 4, 2018
Does anyone think for one second that the founders ever thought the head of the executive was or should be above the law? To think, we may actually have to pass a Constitutional Amendment to declare that a potus can’t pardon themselves. #sad https://t.co/njaWzy9C6A
— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) June 4, 2018
WH Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was also hounded about this in her press breifing on Monday and beyond…
“Certainly, no one is above the law,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters at her daily press briefing.
Sanders was asked three separate times if Trump believes he is above the law, and she reiterated the president’s belief that he would not need to use a pardon on himself because “he hasn’t done anything wrong.”
“Thankfully, the president hasn’t done anything wrong and wouldn’t have any need for a pardon,” she said.
As you can see, the media are super-serious about this. We can take no other message from their dogged responses and repeated assertion of the truism that “no one is above the law.”
Well, that all turned on a dime last night. With the revelation that a criminal leaker was caught and that a reporter’s text messages were used to corroborate his deeds, suddenly, the very basis of the Republic depends on the media being above the law.
Let’s start with some tweets…
— Sam Stein (@samstein) June 8, 2018
One of the most extreme attacks on press freedom under Obama was when DOJ obtained the phone records of various journalists to find their sources. The Right (and some on the left) went ballistic. Now the Trump DOJ is doing it. What will be their reaction? https://t.co/FiHtnUwOcK
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) June 8, 2018
This story concerns a reporter's work @BuzzFeedNews. We are deeply troubled by what looks like a case of law enforcement interfering with a reporter’s constitutional right to gather information about her own government. https://t.co/5nus2syio3
— Ben Smith (@benyt) June 8, 2018
A more official statement was given by the Freedom of the Press Foundation, who speak at large for the media.
All leak investigations — whether they directly target reporters or not — are a grave threat to press freedom. Whistleblowers are the lifeblood of reporting, and the Trump administration is directly attacking journalists’ rights by bringing these cases, ” the Freedom of the Press Foundation said in a statement.
In other words, the media should be above the law.
To start, this guy was not a whistleblower. He was leaking testimony and details about an ongoing investigation to a reporter he was sexually involved with. He wasn’t exposing that investigation’s corruption or any such nonsense. You also don’t receive whistleblower protections unless you actually go through the system setup to protect whistleblowers. That’s a non starter.
Secondly, the fact that the media can righteously lecture the country that no one is above the law on Monday but by the end of the week be vehemently saying that reporters should be above the law (to the point of saying law shouldn’t be enforced at all no less) is an incredible exercise in hypocrisy.
Ali Watkins, the reporter in question, has already lawyered up and he’s suggesting Ms. Watkins shouldn’t of even been subject to a subpoena of her records.
Ms. Watkins’s personal lawyer, Mark J. MacDougall, said: “It’s always disconcerting when a journalist’s telephone records are obtained by the Justice Department — through a grand jury subpoena or other legal process. Whether it was really necessary here will depend on the nature of the investigation and the scope of any charges.”
The same media who cheered non-stop for the over the top raid on Michael Cohen thinks its records should not be subject to criminal investigations. What exactly is all this based on? The U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of the press but it does not guarantee a reporter’s right to assist in breaking the law.
Keep in mind, this reporter is not being pursued for any wrongdoing herself. That rule of tradition (not law) is being honored in this situation by the Trump administration despite the protestations of media members. This is not the same thing as the Obama administration actually going after journalists under the Espionage Act, as it did with James Rosen. Of course, most in the media couldn’t muster up more than a weak rebuke when that happened because a Democrat was in power.
The media should make up it’s mind. You can’t virtue signal constantly that no one should be above the law when it’s convenient and then at the same time insist your profession should be above the law. It’s nonsensical. If they’d instead like to have a more nuanced discussion about the realities of the law, balancing freedoms with it, and constitutional remedies to various issues, we can do that, but they don’t want to actually have that conversation.
It’s more beneficial for them to shout “rule of law!!!” when it fits their narrative while ignoring the same rule of law when it doesn’t.