Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden’s near half-century in the political arena brings lots of baggage to his campaign. The most damaging may turn out to be the very thing he emphasizes the most — his vice presidential role.
He may want to walk back his repeated “Obama-Biden administration” references now that Attorney General William Barr has resolved to get to the bottom of alleged spying on the Trump campaign.
The New York Times confirmed the attorney general’s claims that the Obama administration repeatedly surveilled Trump campaign members. He added, “I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal.”
How high did the spying conspiracy go? An Aug. 5, 2016, message from former FBI counterespionage expert Peter Strzok to former FBI lawyer Lisa Page indicated that “the White House is running this.” But running what, exactly?
A possible clue may be a Jan. 20, 2017, email then-National Security Advisor Susan Rice sent herself, describing a White House meeting held two weeks earlier.
“On January 5, following a briefing by IC [intelligence community] leadership on Russian hacking during the 2016 Presidential election, President Obama had a brief follow-on conversation with FBI Director Jim Comey and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates in the Oval Office,” the email said. “Vice President Biden and I were also present,” she added, according to a Feb. 8, 2018, letter written to Rice by GOP Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
“President Obama said he wants to be sure that, as we engage with the incoming team, we are mindful to ascertain if there is any reason that we cannot share information fully as it relates to Russia,” Rice’s email said.
It’s unfathomable that the January 5 meeting would have been the first time Biden was brought in. And we now know that alleged Russian hacking was the pretext used to spy on members of the Trump campaign.
Rice’s self-serving email didn’t mention that the Trump campaign was targeted as a part of the Russian probe, but several investigations are underway that may provide answers:
- DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s probe into the FISA warrants, giving the FBI the OK to spy on American citizens as a part of its Russia investigation.
- Barr’s own probe into what led the FBI to launch its counterintelligence operation against Trump campaign members.
- A probe by U.S. Attorney John Durham, appointed by Barr to look into the origins of the Russia investigation.
- Sen. Graham, as Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, indicated that investigating the original investigation would be a priority for his committee.
Tick-Tock. Many people may pay a “Barr tab” before the party’s over, but could Biden be one of them?
University of Chicago political science professor emeritus Charles Lipson tells Newsmax “there are two main effects of the burgeoning spying scandal” as it relates to the former vice president.
“The first is that anything that tarnishes the Obama presidency tarnishes all Democrats and tarnishes Biden most of all,” he says.
“Second, the spying involved alleged national security issues. That is Biden’s purported wheelhouse.”
Lipson’s use of the word “purported” is significant. Although Biden claims expertise as a onetime chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he’s been "wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades."
Lipson says that as details of the spying story unfold, it’ll become more difficult for Biden to distance himself from the escalating scandal and still “run on his centrality as an actor in the Obama foreign policy establishment.”
Lipson, who’s also a frequent RealClearPolitics contributor, adds that the spying scandal highlights the most striking difference between Biden and President Donald Trump.
While Trump campaigned and now governs as a Washington establishment outsider, “Joe Biden is the quintessential insider,” Lipson observes.
“What ties together a lot of these issues — spying on the Trump campaign, profits that his son may or may not have made based on official connections and the like — all strengthen the position of people who are running as outsiders.”
Therefore, “the more Washington looks corrupt and incompetent, the worse it is for Biden, and the better it is for Trump.”
Lipson emphasizes that “we have no way of knowing” whether Biden was involved with or was even aware of the alleged Trump campaign spying, the scandal nonetheless places him squarely on the horns of a dilemma.
“It’s disastrous for him if he did know and if the spying was not legal.” Conversely, “if he says he didn’t know, that’s not exactly good news for him either,” as it would indicate that he didn’t have Obama’s trust.
And Biden may be answering that question by repeatedly referring to the previous White House as “the Obama-Biden administration.”
Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to BizPac Review and Liberty Unyielding. He’s also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter, who can often be found honing his skills at the range. To read more of his reports - Click Here.
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