When Hate Becomes an Agenda

When a party, an ideological movement, and an entire political agenda is based on hatred, people and policies become warped. The left-wing loathing of Trump has now tainted almost every Democrat's agenda and unhinged most of the party's major players.

Impeachment has turned into a cruel caricature of a rare constitutional remedy for presidential criminality. Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz's report proved a compendium of FBI lying, fraud, and vendetta. There is not a single prominent figure in Horowitz's lengthy report who has not left a written or video trail of anti-Trump bias (James Comey, Peter Strozk, the Ohrs, Lisa Page, Kevin Clinesmith) or has had some sort of questionable financial relationship with the Clintons or their affiliates (Alexander Downer, Andrew McCabe).

Meanwhile, the progressive presidential field is in a sort of collective meltdown, as candidates begin recalibrating and trading accusations as they fear their own early anti-Trump agendas have little public support.

The prior subtext to impeachment — if not smeared or stopped, Trump will win in 2020 — was spoken only by hardcore leftists like U.S. Representatives Alexander Green (D-Texas) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Now it is shamelessly voiced by leaders in the party such as Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), with the twist of fears that Trump will "rig the election" (after Special Counsel Robert Mueller, of course, found that he had not done so in 2016, and Horowitz found that Trump's campaign aides were largely targeted by the FBI and CIA hierarchy) unless he is impeached.

Again, the common denominator in all these catastrophes is an existential hatred of Donald Trump — his person, his family, his successes, his agenda, and his supporters. The two writs for impeachment are simply: 1) We loathe Trump 2) He will sabotage our agenda if we don't impeach and remove him.

Comey's Ruination of the FBI

James Comey and his team essentially ruined the reputation of the FBI Washington establishment for a generation, in a way that even J. Edgar Hoover could not. Comey at least had Hoover's negative example as a warning against the abuse of power. Instead, he sought to outdo Hoover in skullduggery — and now continues in his orphaned status to harm the bureau through shrill preemptive accusations against the innocent.

His legacy is now to be regarded as the most unprincipled FBI director in history — one who warped a number of investigations he directed from the Hillary Clinton email cache to Crossfire Hurricane.

Horowitz's report on FISA abuse, neatly summarized in Appendix A with the FBI response in Appendix B, is a litany of FBI deceit. The bureau's lawyers and agents altered documents, withheld and misrepresented evidence before a FISA court, peddled an unverified opposition research dossier among government and the media, sought to deprive Carter Page of his constitutional rights, and engaged in character assassination of his person — and we have not yet heard from federal prosecutors investigating these and other misbehaviors.

The Horowitz report is simply the endnote to three years of rank criminality that have led to the firings, retirements, reassignments, and demotions of most of the FBI's top Washington echelon: James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Lisa Page, Peter Strzok, William Priestap, James Rybicki, James Baker, along with Josh Campbell, James Turgal, Greg Bower, Michael Steinbach, John Giacalone, and Kevin Clinesmith. Comey, McCabe, and Clinesmith were criminally referred to the Justice Department by various inspector general reports, respectively for leaking, deceiving federal investigators, and altering a document presented to a FISA court.

Page and Strzok were both fired from the Mueller investigation. Their texts — including, one assumes, an entire corpus of exchanges that remains missing and was apparently destroyed by FBI employees — are a repository of conflicts of interest, unprofessionalism, and unadulterated hatred of Trump and his supporters. Clinesmith, who likely committed a felony by doctoring an email submitted to a FISA court, openly cheered on "le (sic) resistance."

When Hate Becomes an Agenda

Comey bluntly lied to the president when he reassured Trump that he was not under investigation even as he oversaw the FBI peddling dissemination of the fraudulent Steele dossier. In addition, we know that Comey deliberately leaked at least one of his own secret memos of presidential conversations to the media for the expressed purpose of seeing a special prosecutor appointed that resulted in the selection of his friend Robert Mueller.

Comey likely would have been guilty of a felony for leaking such secret government documents had not a team of FBI cronies, including Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, retroactively classified his leaked presidential memos as "confidential" rather than feloniously "secret."

The FBI deliberately leaked false information to Yahoo News apparently to rush the dossier's lies into the public domain before the 2016 election. The FBI used at least four undercover sources who were recording conversations with unsuspecting targets. It edited or ignored exonerating written memos about FBI questioning of suspects like Michael Flynn. James Comey confessed that his certainty that Hillary Clinton would win the 2016 election had massaged the way he conducted his exoneration of the Clinton email scandal. Thanks to the FBI, the reputation of the FISA court has been stained to the point that some in Congress are calling for its suspension.

A suddenly amnesiac Comey on over 245 occasions under oath said he could not recall or did not know when asked direct questions by House members. He lied about not knowing that the dossier was unverified. He lied when he said there was other key evidence presented to a FISA court beside the dossier. He lied when he said the FBI had followed procedures in applying for FISA writs to surveil Carter Page.

Schiff, Nadler, and the Destruction of Impeachment

If Adam Schiff were a private citizen, he likely would have been indicted by now, too. He serially lied throughout the Mueller investigation by falsely announcing impending bombshells and indictments, based on his supposed exclusive knowledge of damning classified information.

Schiff hijacked the impeachment inquiry and rigged the rules of examination by holding hearings in secrecy in the House basement, characterized by threats to Republican colleagues not to leak incriminating cross-examinations of witnesses, even as initial exculpatory statements were leaked to the press.

Schiff lied when he read into the congressional record a "version" of the transcript of the Trump Ukrainian phone call that was full of errors and fantasies. When caught in his deceit, he pleaded it was a "parody."

Schiff lied about the circumstances of the so-called whistleblower. Schiff never called him as a witness as promised. He lied about the whistleblower's relationship with his own staff. He lied about the timeline, contacts, and trajectory of the whistleblower's journey from his own office to the filing of a complaint with the inspector general. And he probably lied about his own supposed ignorance of the whistleblower's identity — evident when he stopped congressional questioning of Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman on grounds that it would expose the whistleblower's identity.

Schiff's minority House Intelligence Committee final report was full of untruths. The Horowitz report exposed them by demonstrating that Schiff lied when he wrote that the Steele dossier was not central to requests to a FISA court, that the dossier was verified, that the FBI did not omit key information to the court, and that Carter Page's testimonies were not misrepresented by the FBI.

Schiff may be the first known congressional representative to use his office to subpoena the phone records of his own colleagues, of journalists, and of a president's personal attorney, and then to selectively publicize names from his huge trove of metadata in an attempt to embarrass his political enemies. Why he has not been censured is commentary on the current condition of the House of Representatives. His public impeachment inquiry hearing brought in no new evidence, and no new fact witnesses, but simply consisted of repetition of prior hearsay testimonies.

Jerrold Nadler somehow has overshadowed his earlier disastrous overseer role of the Robert Mueller hearings, in which a befuddled Mueller essentially testified that he knew little or nothing of Fusion GPS, the Steele dossier, and the very reasons why he was selected in the first place to investigate Trump "collusion."

In his impeachment hearings, Nadler called in only lawyers for testimony, and stained his requests by inordinately selecting far more liberal activists than conservatives or centrists. He, too, produced no new testimony, no new fact witnesses, no new evidence. Stanford Law Professor Pamela Karlan resorted to attacking 13-year-old Barron Trump, and this more or less summed up the level of Nadler's witnesses' jurisprudence.

Nadler talked of all sorts of impeachable offenses — quid pro quo, bribery, and treason — only later to cite no specific acts of treason, bribery, or impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors in his formal writs of impeachment. Nadler epitomized the lethargy and monotony of his hearings by nodding off while chairing the committee. Another member, prone to sanctimonious lectures, was caught watching golf on his laptop during the somnolent proceedings.

The legacy of Schiff and Nadler is to completely discredit impeachment itself. It will now become passé — as a common, rank tool of the opposition majority party in the House to undermine a first-term president on the eve of his reelection bid.

Future impeachment will be entertained without bipartisan or public support, without a special counsel report, and without any presidential evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors. The House Intelligence Committee will handle impeachment so the majority party can retreat to the basement, leak its goods to the press, and forbid the minority party to do the same. Impeachment will become like Athenian ostracism: simply a tool to banish a leader whether he be prominent, successful, or merely an object of envy and hate.

Given the current criteria of the Trump impeachment, Barack Obama easily would have been impeached: in Fast and Furious, the Iran nuclear deal, and Benghazi, Obama stonewalled congressional requests or kept critical information from the public and Congress. On illegal immigration, Obama simply made up or ignored laws in the manner earlier that he said to have done so would be antidemocratic and monarchial.

Every impeachment charge against Trump far more easily could have been lodged against an imperial Obama presidency — without mentioning that Obama ultimately may be found to be knowledgeable of the entire CIA, FBI, and Justice Department surveilling of an opposition campaign and sabotage of a presidential transition. In sum, the Democrat boomerang on impeachment will make Harry Reid's reverse torpedo on the filibuster look minor.

The Democratic Candidates

The Democratic field's reason to be is now the hatred of Trump. The Democratic debates so far have been characterized by two themes: 1) no candidate shall appear to the left of any other candidate 2) no candidate shall be outdone by any other in expressing hatred of Trump.

Such antipathies have translated into the most far-left Democratic agendas in modern memory: Medicare for all, health care for illegal aliens, the Green New Deal, open borders, a wealth tax, a 70-90 percent top income tax rate, slavery reparations, free college tuition, and late-term abortions if not permissible infanticide. None of these issues warrants 51 percent public support; all are the wages of Trump hatred.

Nihilism is the theme: abolish ICE! Abolish student debt! Abolish the Electoral College! Abolish border security! Abolish the idea of Medicare for seniors! These are the highbrow versions of left-wing street nihilism from toppling statues to wiping out murals and the names of buildings and streets.

The antipathy to Trump has unhinged the candidates themselves to the point that so-called prior moderate candidates (such as Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Corey Booker, Kamala Harris) either sought to shed their prior records and careers or went full socialist as in the case of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Joe Biden's decline is representative of the collapse of his party. As vice president and Obama's point man on Ukraine, Biden sought to hold up U.S. aid to Kyiv until the government fired a prosecutor who later testified he was looking into the criminality of the energy company Bursima, on whose board the vice president's son Hunter served without any expertise in either energy or Ukraine in general. Biden lied when he said he was never warned by his staff of possible conflict of interest and yet demonstrated his ignorance by suggesting he would need such outside counsel to see the obvious.

Much of the checkered career of Hunter Biden is a sad story of past monetizing the Biden name, such as it was. Biden himself is on the verge of blowing up his third presidential bid, the prior two imploding due to his lies about his résumé, plagiarism, and racially tinged commentary about Barack Obama.

Biden's third try has amplified these past pathologies: he has returned to past adolescent braggadocio in his he-man stories about wishing to take Trump behind the gym and beating him up, about prior heroics bearing a chain to stand down supposed inner-city thugs, about youthful threatening of an owner of a donut shop, and on and on.

Biden continues his squeezing and hugging of young teenage girls; despite the fact that women have gone on record that they find Biden's unwelcome touching creepy. His past racist characterization of Barack Obama, Indian-Americans, inner-city youth (from whom he said he learned of "roaches"), were continued as vice president with his "put y'all back in chains" demagoguery. On the campaign trail, Biden shouts down reporters, and calls an 83-year-old retiree a "damn liar" and challenges him to a pushup contest — to media applause that Biden displayed a rare display of being "feisty."

In all these cases, Trump has so infuriated his opponents that, rather than find arguments to convince a majority of Americans that the president's policies were flawed, his enemies instead become ever more radical and angrier as antidotes to Trump.

In their downward spiral, they are destroying themselves and many of our institutions along with them.

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About the Author

Victor Davis Hanson
Victor Davis Hanson is an American military historian, columnist, former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He was a professor of classics at California State University, Fresno, and is currently the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush.