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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Is There Ever a Good Time to Investigate Bidens?

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Given the voluminous flow of money collected by various Bidens trading on the family name—and the systematic suppression of this story by the American media—readers can be forgiven for not cheering a prosecutor who declined to press a related investigation during last year’s presidential campaign. Readers also have every right to ask what exactly is being done in 2021 to serve the cause of justice. Ben Schreckinger writes in Politico:

Last summer, federal officials in Delaware investigating Hunter Biden faced a dilemma. The probe had reached a point where prosecutors could have sought search warrants and issued a flurry of grand jury subpoenas. Some officials involved in the case wanted to do just that. Others urged caution. They advised Delaware’s U.S. Attorney, David Weiss, to avoid taking any actions that could alert the public to the existence of the case in the middle of a presidential election.

“To his credit, he listened,” said a person involved in the discussions, reported here for the first time. Weiss decided to wait, averting the possibility that the investigation would become a months-long campaign issue.

Reasonable people can debate whether prosecutors should ignore the calendar and always pursue the facts—or make every effort to avoid creating investigative news in the middle of a political campaign. But even if one prefers the latter, which is often presented as appropriate policy, one must also recognize how often—and how egregiously—federal officials have violated this principle.

The recent history goes well beyond the federal officials who ginned up the empty collusion case against

Donald Trump

as he was running for president in 2016—and then managed to keep the fantastical case alive through the next congressional election cycle. It goes beyond former FBI Director

James Comey’s

bizarre public exoneration of

Hillary Clinton

in 2016 and subsequent public reopening of her case, both of which violated government protocol.

Remember 2008, when Justice Department attorneys concealed evidence to secure guilty verdicts against Republican Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska less than two weeks before Election Day? The previously popular senator then lost a close race to Democrat Mark Begich, who went on to provide the 60th Senate vote to enact Obamacare.

The Stevens convictions were set aside and it was only after a federal judge ordered an independent report that voters learned the depth of prosecutorial abuse. A 2012 Journal editorial noted some of the appalling details:

The government’s seven-count indictment for false statements accused Stevens of accepting free home renovations… and then not reporting these gifts on federal disclosure forms.

Mr. Stevens and his wife said they had paid $160,000 for the renovations and as far as they knew that was the total cost of the work. What the prosecutors learned in interviewing witnesses—but never shared with the defense—is that even the foreman on the job site shared the Stevens’ understanding that they had been appropriately billed for all the work. Instead of sharing this evidence supporting Stevens’s defense, prosecutors selectively quoted the foreman to make it appear as if he had said the opposite, and they used his comments to falsely attack Stevens.

As for today’s U.S. attorney in Delaware who refrained from pressing the Biden case last year, Mr. Weiss seems to be a dedicated public servant. This week’s Politico account spends many paragraphs explaining what a straight shooter he is. It all sounds very plausible and let’s hope it’s true. But a year after Mr. Weiss held off on the Biden inquiry, is there any evidence of a vigorous new search for the facts? The news from Main Justice is not entirely reassuring. Politico notes:

In December, Hunter Biden hired Chris Clark, a partner at the national firm of Latham & Watkins, as his defense attorney.

In January, upon taking office, Biden appointed Nicholas McQuaid to be the interim head of the Criminal Division of the Justice Department. Until his appointment, McQuaid had also been a partner at Latham, where he had worked on some cases with Clark. Justice Department conflict of interest rules would require McQuaid to receive a waiver to participate in oversight of the Hunter Biden probe. A DOJ spokesman, Joshua Stueve, declined to say whether McQuaid had received a waiver or recused himself from the case. Clark did not respond to a request for comment.

When is a good time to investigate Biden finances?


Biden, Trump and


Former President Donald Trump may face an uphill climb proving in court that social media giants are acting on behalf of the government when they deny him the ability to use their platforms. But the Biden White House seems eager to help him make the case. Mr. Trump recently explained his argument in a Journal op-ed:

… Big Tech and government agencies are actively coordinating to remove content from the platforms according to the guidance of agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Big Tech and traditional media entities formed the Trusted News Initiative, which essentially takes instructions from the CDC about what information they need to “combat.” The tech companies are doing the government’s bidding, colluding to censor unapproved ideas.

This coercion and coordination is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has held that Congress can’t use private actors to achieve what the Constitution prohibits it from doing itself. In effect, Big Tech has been illegally deputized as the censorship arm of the U.S. government. This should alarm you no matter your political persuasion. It is unacceptable, unlawful and un-American.

Nearly unbelievable were the Thursday comments from White House press secretary

Jen Psaki,

who almost seemed to be making an opening argument for Mr. Trump as she unapologetically described Biden administration efforts to dictate coverage decisions and disclosure rules to Silicon Valley media. Here’s an excerpt of Thursday’s press briefing from the official transcript:

Q … Can you talk a little bit more about this request for tech companies to be more aggressive in policing misinformation? Has the administration been in touch with any of these companies and are there any actions that the federal government can take to ensure their cooperation, because we’ve seen, from the start, there’s not a lot of action on some of these platforms.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, first, we are in regular touch with these social media platforms… We’ve increased disinformation research and tracking within the Surgeon General’s office. We’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation…

There are also proposed changes that we have made to social media platforms, including Facebook, and those specifically are four key steps.

One, that they measure and publicly share the impact of misinformation on their platform. Facebook should provide, publicly and transparently, data on the reach of COVID-19 — COVID vaccine misinformation. Not just engagement, but the reach of the misinformation and the audience that it’s reaching.

That will help us ensure we’re getting accurate information to people. This should be provided not just to researchers, but to the public so that the public knows and understands what is accurate and inaccurate.

Second, that we have recommended — proposed that they create a robust enforcement strategy that bridges their properties and provides transparency about the rules. So, about — I think this was a question asked before — there’s about 12 people who are producing 65 percent of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms. All of them remain active on Facebook, despite some even being banned on other platforms, including Facebook — ones that Facebook owns.

Third, it’s important to take faster action against harmful posts. As you all know, information travels quite quickly on social media platforms; sometimes it’s not accurate. And Facebook needs to move more quickly to remove harmful, violative posts — posts that will be within their policies for removal often remain up for days. That’s too long. The information spreads too quickly.

Finally, we have proposed they promote quality information sources in their feed algorithm. Facebook has repeatedly shown that they have the levers to promote quality information. We’ve seen them effectively do this in their algorithm over low-quality information and they’ve chosen not to use it in this case. And that’s certainly an area that would have an impact.

So, these are certainly the proposals. We engage with them regularly and they certainly understand what our asks are.

Will judges understand these asks to be government coercion?


In Other News

‘Top Quality Service’ Is Our Mission
“NJ woman trying to prove she’s alive after 7 year-battle with IRS,” Fox Business, July 15

That’s Our Mission, Too!
“As millions of Americans received unemployment payments to get through the crisis, scammers developed a new way to steal cash… Unlike standard consumer debit cards, government-prepaid cards often lack a chip — instead they use outdated magnetic stripe technology — making them easier for hackers to penetrate,” CNBC, July 16

Customer Service Is Job One
“Department of Labor admits it overcharged unemployed Pennsylvanians millions of dollars,” Spotlight PA, July 9

It’s Who We Are
“Thousands of Michiganders asked to repay COVID unemployment benefits due to error,” WXYZ-TV, July 14

A Commitment to Quality
“Florida to pay $17.5 million for improper reporting of SNAP benefits,” Tampa Bay Times, July 14

Sure, Not Every Agency Will Work Perfectly
“Cities ‘Game’ Federal Program Meant to Reduce Flood Risk,” Scientific American, July 14

And Not All Government Aid Reaches the Intended Recipients
“NASA senior executive committed covid-19 loan fraud to pay his credit card bills,” Washington Post, July 16

But It’s About Helping One Person at a Time
“Baton Rouge man builds levees to protect property from flooding, city sues him,” WBRZ-TV, July 14


James Freeman is the co-author of “The Cost: Trump, China and American Revival.”


Follow James Freeman on Twitter.

Subscribe to the Best of the Web email.

To suggest items, please email best@wsj.com.

(Teresa Vozzo helps compile Best of the Web. Thanks to Monty Krieger.)


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