Credibility of Anonymous Sources Comes Into Question

Trump hounded the media over their use of anonymous sources, sending them into a frenzy. However, now the media is highlighting the fact that Devin Nunes isn’t revealing his intelligence sources to anyone, including his own committee, in the Russia investigation.

So which is right? Should there be a different standard for the media and government officials regarding anonymous sources?

On Fox News’ show Media Buzz President Trump stated, “They [the media] shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody’s name. Let their name be put out there.” A correspondent on the show responded by saying, “There is a big difference between anonymous sourcing and anonymous quotes. You need to have anonymous sources. His point that journalists are making up anonymous sources is absolutely wrong.”

The New York Post quoted Nunes saying, “We will never reveal those sources and methods.” In response to Nunes’ statement, the Huffington Post published an article with the subtitle, “Nunes is supposed to lead a credible investigation into Trump administration contacts with Russia.”

I think it’s a complete double standard on both sides. Trump wants the media to stop using anonymous source but he’s said nothing about Nunes’ sources. Whereas, the media has refuted Trump’s allegation that anonymous sources are made up and now they are arguing that Nunes’ anonymous sources aren’t “credible.”

Both Trump and the media need to take a step back and look at the inconsistency in their positions. Either accept that anonymous sources are a good way to find information, allowing people to speak without fear of retribution, or reject it across the board on the basis that they are not reliable or credible.

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Same Shoe, Different Foot

Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, has been called on by many Democrats to recuse himself from the investigation into whether Trump and constituents were in contact with Russia during the 2016 election. The reasoning behind this stems from the fact that Nunes, “is too close to President Trump to conduct an impartial inquiry,” as stated by Democratic representative Adam Schiff and reported by the New York Times.

Schiff also told CNN, “We’ve reached the point, after the events of this week, where it would be very difficult to maintain the credibility of the investigation if the chairman did not recuse himself from matters involving either the Trump campaign or the Trump transition team of which he was a member.”

nunesAll of Schiff’s comments, however, have created quite a double standard for himself. He has asked Nunes to recuse himself because of the statement above, yet he never recused himself when he was on the Select Committee on Benghazi.

Why does this matter?

Schiff was a part of the committee that investigated Benghazi, which included examining whether or not Hilary Clinton acted appropriately in the events preceding the attacks. At first this might seem unconnected if you don’t know all the details but Schiff was and is known to be a big Hillary Clinton supporter.

The Los Angles Times quoted Schiff saying, “Proud to support such a brilliant and experienced public servant; with all the national security challenges we face, we couldn’t have a more capable Commander-in-Chief than Secretary Clinton.” The New York Times also reported that during the Benghazi hearings, “Mr. Schiff accused Republicans of pursuing a kind of prosecution against Mrs. Clinton in an attempt to damage her presidential campaign.”

In the long run Schiff has no right to tell Nunes to recuse himself from the Trump-Russia investigation since he didn’t recuse himself nor did the Republican members ask him to recuse himself from the panel investigating Clinton. They are/were both in situations investigating people they supported. If Schiff thought he could be impartial when evaluating Clinton’s actions leading up to Benghazi then why can’t Nunes be impartial in the Trump Russia investigation?

As the New York Times reported when Nunes was asked about whether or not he would recuse himself, “Pressed about concerns from Democrats, he added, ‘That sounds like their problem.’”

Get it Together

Over the weekend the new health care act that was supposed to replace Obamacare didn’t even make it to a vote. Some are blaming the hard-right group called the House Freedom Caucus who, unlike most of their fellow Republicans, would not support the bill. AP News’ Hope Yen reported, “The Freedom Caucus is a hard-right group of more than 30 GOP House members who were largely responsible for blocking the bill to undo the Affordable Care Act, or ‘Obamacare.’”

On March 9th the Twitter account for the Freedom Caucus tweeted, “We promised #FullRepeal. The sooner we act, the sooner we can pass a market-based, patient-centered replacement.” They clearly support change, but this weekend proved they may not be willing to compromise. So are they really committed to acting sooner than later?

USA Today’s Eliza Collins reported that some, “Members of the group had previously raised concerns about the House bill, saying it wasn’t conservative enough and threatening to vote against it.”

Health care is one of the most important issues in today’s political limelight in my opinion and it’s going to be difficult to pass a bill that takes it a complete 180 right away Which, is what the Freedom Caucus seems to be suggesting.

As Greg Walden, GOP Rep was quoted saying by on CNN, “Health care is very important to all Americans. We want to get it right and we’ve been taking our time to do that.” In order for that to happen though there needs to be gradual change and compromise. Perhaps this was a wakeup call to the Freedom Caucus. Rep. Mark Meadows R.N.C. Chairman of the Freedom Caucus noted, “…he regretted not spending more time with moderate Republicans and Democrats ‘to find some consensus.’”

Lawmakers Need to Establish a Standard

Lawmakers wanted answers and the Department of Justice wanted more time but which is more important. As discussed in my previous post I talked about Trump and the DOJ being given a deadline to produce evidence of wire-tapping. However the investigation into whether the Trump administration had ties with Russia during the 2016 presidential election seems to be endless.

The question remains, which is more important, producing some information quickly or allowing sufficient time to gather all the evidence they believe is needed to support a conclusion. CNN’s Manu Raju, Tom LoBianco and Ashley Killough spoke to a top Republican on the committee responsible for both of these investigations and asked him about the issue, referencing Trump’s wire-tapping claims. “Grassley said he was frustrated that officials haven’t been as forthcoming as lawmakers would like, and said his committee hasn’t been given the respect it deserves for its oversight of the executive branch.”

President_Trump_2Another statement obtained by CNN expressed direct discontent with the Trump administration and the amount of evidence that they had gathered about the wire-tapping claim. Senator Lindsay Graham was quoted as saying, “He needs to answer the letter and give the nation some information about what’s going on here.”

Yet when asking representatives about whether Trump’s aides spoke with Russian officials during the election CNN reporters were given much broader, less direct answers. “We’re not
privileged to talk about the contents of the investigation but, you know, I think we need to be very precise when we talk about this.”

Although recent news has indicated Trump tower was not wire tapped, the apparent double standard regarding what and how issues are investigated is likely to continue to be an issue for this administration. I believe both ways of looking at the issues can be the right way but there needs to be more unification in how the lawmakers handle these types of matters. Lawmakers should establish a standard. Either, they want information and answers based on such information as soon as possible or they need to give investigators time to be able to thoroughly go through every possible fact, being able to provide what may be a more thorough conclusion. Limited time may mean limited information and possibly incorrect or only partially correct conclusions.

Deadline for Some, Unlimited Time for Others

President Trump and the Justice Department have been given a strict deadline to produce evidence regarding Trump’s claims of wiretapping. However, I have yet to see any mention of a deadline given to the investigators of the Trump-Russian investigation.

Let’s recap. On March 4, 2017 President Trump tweeted out, “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory.” The Justice Department was given a deadline, which they followed with a request for an extension. The House Intelligence committee granted the extension giving them until March 20th. FoxNews.com reported all of this early last week on March 13th.

On the other hand, claims that Trump and his associates have had ties with Russia and the investigation of these claims began circling back in January. Spencer Ackerson of The Guardian reported on, “the January assessment that the Russians had interfered in the US presidential election in an attempt to benefit Trump.”

Both of these investigations have sparked hundreds of news stories, creating unease at the thought either could be true. What needs to be discussed is why one investigation has a deadline while the other, which has been going on for months, has none.

Violence: Becoming the Way Society Copes

Rallies and protest marches in the United States seem to be occurring more frequently and becoming commonplace in 2017. It seems as if every other week there is a new protest or rally and people fill the streets chanting phrases in protest or support of one thing or another. Some of these have been small, some large, some peaceful and some violent. Today I’m talking about the Pro-Trump rallies happening around the country.

As Americans we all want our constitutional freedom respected and we have a right in this county to speak out and fight for our freedom of speech, religion, and everything else under the sun. Yet, there are those who react with violence when the opposition speaks out on what they believe.

Now I’m not pointing the finger at everyone, the vast majority want peace and truly do believe in our first amendment right of freedom of speech. However, a week ago today on March 4, 2017 there were hundreds that threw the notion of freedom of speech out the window. March 4 was a day set aside for “March 4 Trump” rallies which were, “planned in about 50 cities nationwide, including New York, Nashville, Tennessee, Austin, Texas, and Denver, Colorado,” as stated by Azadeh Ansari of CNN. Unfortunately as Ansari continued to say, “Most rallies were peaceful, but in some cities, counter-protesters attended the events, leading to confrontations.”

I am completely baffled by the fact that anti-Trump rallies went on relatively uninterrupted. Yet, when pro-Trump rallies took place they were met with a significantly higher level of anti-trump opposition and violence. Yes, both sides were arrested and found with weapons as reported by CNN but that’s not the point. We as a nation need to respect everyone’s freedom of speech and that means not attacking others for their beliefs just because they are not in line with your own. One reporter even went so far as to call them, “Pathetic Pro-Trump Rallies”.

In my opinion this opens the door to a behavior that is frightening, that violence is an acceptable means of exercising our freedom of speech. It isn’t, and the perpetrators should be arrested. These pro-Trump rallies were meant to be an opening for the other side to voice why they think Trump is a good choice and can lead our country. Their voice is just as important as the voice of those who don’t support Trump.

Feminists Attacking Feminists

Emma_Watson_2012Women have fought for equal rights for as long as I can remember. This year even started out with giant women’s marches across the world. However, I believe that the term feminism is misconstrued a lot of times. Feminism is supposed to mean equality of the sexes but instead it seems as if some have taken it too far and made it seem as if women are asking for special treatment.

This became apparent when actress Emma Watson posed for a Vanity Fair photo shoot virtually topless. After being attacked and told she couldn’t be a feminist and pose virtually topless at the same time Watson answered back. Her strong response was noted by Huffington Posts’ Graeme Demianyk and exclaimed, “Feminism is about giving women choice. Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with. It’s about freedom, it’s about liberation, it’s about equality.”

If a male athlete can pose nude and be labeled as strong and masculine then why can’t a female pose nude and be labeled as strong and feminine. This is a double standard that I think women and men need to be aware of. We need to fight for each other’s choices not tear them down when we don’t agree with them.

The New York Times Screwed the Pooch

The New York Times might have cost themselves some of their own credibility this time. The last couple of days have been buzzing about Trump’s accusations that the Obama administration wiretapped Trump’s phones during the election campaign. Along with all the accusations came thousands of reactions from the public as well as news outlets.

These news outlets included USA Today, CNBC, CNN, as well as The New York Times. This past Sunday a New York Times article by Charlie Savage started off by saying,

“‘President Obama was tapping my phones in October,’ an accusation for which he offered no evidence, has set off another spasm surrounding his young administration.”

Yet, not even 2 months prior to the previous article, The New York Times published another article in January titled, “Intercepted Russian Communications Part of Inquiry Into Trump Administration.” What’s even more interesting is at the bottom of the January article it states in grey lettering,

“A version of this article appears in print on January 20, 2017, on Page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Wiretapped Data Used in Inquiry of Trump Aides.”

This referenced article seems nowhere to be found other than pictures here and there that people have taken and posted (click here to see example).

What does this say about The New York Times? It seems as if they pick a side and run with whatever fits their narrative at that point in time. When the wiretapping story fit the narrative, they ran with it. Now, because they seem to be anti-Trump, they are contradicting their own story. I don’t understand how such a large news source can contradict itself so quickly. It’s no wonder that there is a growing distrust of the media.

Session-Lynch: recusal and lack thereof

Jeff Sessions has recused himself. Why? In the last week or so it came to the public’s knowledge that he had been in contact with the Russian ambassador during the 2016 election. Why does this matter? There has also been an ongoing investigation into whether Russia helped Trump with the election and might’ve helped him get votes. This means that Sessions is now being looked at as a subject of interest in the investigation as to whether his meetings with the Russian ambassador were strictly to do with his dealings as a Senator or if they were tied to the election.

However people have stated that recusing himself was not enough. Stephen Colbert made himself perfectly clear when he used a couple expletives on his last show as reported by Matt Wilstein of the DailyBeast.com. It’s not just Colbert though, Andrew Rafferty recounted in his article on NBC News Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi saying,

“Attorney General Sessions’ narrow recusal and his sorry attempt to explain away his perjury are totally inadequate.”

Conversely with everyone fussing over Jeff Sessions, it seems as if they are completely forgetting about a similar instance that happened with Loretta Lynch and the Clinton investigation back in June of 2016. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the subject, Lynch, who was the Attorney General serving under President Obama, met with Bill Clinton as his wife, Hilary Clinton, was being investigated for the, “use of a private email server,” as stated on Politico.com.

Amanda Terkel and Sam Stein stated in their article with the Huffington Post that Sessions called for Lynch to recuse herself. In the article Sessions is quoted saying,

jeff-sessions“When a high public official is accused of serious wrongdoing and there is a sufficient factual predicate to investigate, it is imperative the investigation be thorough, with dispatch and without partisanship.”

Yet Politico.com stated that Democrats didn’t think anything of it and just pushed it under the rug saying it was “innocent”. I don’t see how this isn’t a double standard. Yes, it took Sessions a while to come forward with the details and recuse himself but he did and admitted that to be fair in the investigation he needed to separate himself. Yet nobody jumped down Lynch’s back to double and triple check that she didn’t do anything wrong, instead it was basically ignored, or at least that’s what it seems like. Session’s needed to recuse himself just as Lynch should’ve done but it seems extreme to say that recusing himself isn’t enough.

(Photo courtesy of CreativeCommon.com with open copyright)

Attorney General Under Fire

This presidential election has encompassed a wide array of legal and political issues. However one that has yet to come to an end is the investigation into whether US politicians were in contact with the Russians during this past election. This has become such a big deal because people are continuing to question whether the Russians had something to do with President Donald Trump being elected.

At the moment Jeff Sessions is in the hot seat. It has come to the public’s attention that he was in contact with the Russian ambassador. Those meetings though were said to have been entirely appropriate for Sessions’ job as Senator. The Huffington Post’s Laura Barron-Lopez and Michael McAuliff discussed how Sessions recused himself yesterday, Thursday March 2, from any investigations dealing with Russian involvement in the election. However now NBC News’s Andrew Rafferty is stating that the Democrats are not satisfied, recusal is not enough.

We’ve been here before when Loretta Lynch was asked to recuse herself during the Clinton investigation. Unlike Lynch, Sessions did recuse himself but some are still not satisfied and want him to give up his job all together. Again, let’s consider: treatment of Lynch vs. treatment of Sessions.