Despite obviously having been tempted to shut down the “Russian collusion” investigation when he saw friends and supporters charged with lying to the FBI, aides to U.S. President Donald Trump managed to persuade him to hold his fire.
Although many of us wondered about this during Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s long investigation, now that the former FBI director has delivered his report concluding there was no collusion the answer is pretty obvious. The president’s closest advisors knew that, whatever else had gone on, no hanky-panky with the Russians could be proved.
It must have been very hard to keep the notoriously impulsive Mr. Trump in check, but the effort was obviously worthwhile from the president’s point of view and that of his Republican Party.
Under the circumstances, lots of Americans, including plenty with a low opinion of both Mr. Trump and the Republicans, will probably be willing to forgive him if he uses his presidential power to pardon his convicted cronies in the last days of his administration, whenever those turn out to be.
I want you, my dear Alberta readers, to keep that little drama from south of the 49th Parallel in mind as you contemplate the startling news yesterday that Jeff Callaway and five other people are seeking an emergency court injunction to shut down the Alberta Election Commissioner’s investigation into his 2017 campaign to lead the United Conservative Party on the counterintuitive grounds that a general election campaign is no time to investigate illegal financing of an election campaign.
“Requiring Albertans to attend such interviews during the election period interferes with their Charter right to participate in the electoral process, despite that the activity being investigated occurred prior to the election period, and there is no urgency to the investigation,” they argue.
There is no more appropriate time in the view the Office of Election Commissioner Lorne Gibson, so it will oppose the application by Mr. Callaway and company on Monday afternoon, a position that would seem like common sense to most of us.
The CBC reports that in addition to Mr. Callaway, his wife Nicole Callaway, Jennifer Thompson, Darren Thompson, Bonnie Thompson and Robyn Lore are listed as applicants in the documents filed with the Calgary Court of Queen’s Bench yesterday. All of them indicated in the filing they have been contacted by the Office of the Election Commissioner.
Mr. Callaway’s campaign, of course, is the one that has come to be known as the “Kamikaze Mission,” widely seen as having been intended only to knock off UCP Leader Jason Kenney’s chief rival for his present job, former Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean.
The CBC also revealed that lawyers for Mr. Callaway and company had demanded that investigators for the Office of the Election Commissioner not hand their findings over to the RCMP, which is conducting a separate investigation of the campaign. To do so would mean their Charter rights against self-incrimination were not protected, they argued. The Election Commissioner’s staff disagreed with that as well.
Both Mr. Callaway and Mr. Kenney have denied the allegations that led to the investigation, which has so far identified five people it said illegally donated money that was not their own to Mr. Callaway’s campaign and levied $15,000 in administrative penalties against Cam Davies, Mr. Callaway’s former communications director, for obstructing an investigation.
It is fair to wonder what would happen to the Election Commissioner’s investigation if the court agrees to delay it until after the election, the UCP wins and Mr. Kenney becomes premier. Would there even be an Office of the Election Commissioner, let alone a sensitive and potentially embarrassing investigation into the activities of Mr. Kenney’s friends?
Granted, many of us thought Mr. Trump likely had colluded with the Russians during Mr. Mueller’s investigation, but he never did shut it down, did he?
If Mr. Callaway, Mr. Kenney and the UCP want us to believe their denials, shouldn’t they do as Mr. Trump did and hold their fire until the investigation is done?
Derek Fildebrandt should be invited to the TV leaders’ debate
Yesterday’s other startling story was the news that almost everyone, including supposedly impartial news organizations, doesn’t want Freedom Conservative Party Leader Derek Fildebrandt to take part in the televised leaders’ debate scheduled for next Thursday.
Sorry, but Mr. Fildebrandt is the leader of a party planning to field a significant slate of candidates and that already has an MLA, the leader himself, in the House. The argument he should be excluded because the FCP ran no candidates in 2015 is fatuous. I don’t recall the UCP running any candidates then either.
There will doubtless be more to say about this when we know more about what’s actually going on.
In the mean time, regardless of strategic considerations, political sympathies or Mr. Fildebrandt’s ability to entertain, he obviously belongs in the debate on April 4.
I loved the point one of the commenters made in the CBC story: Is Jeff Calloway still doing things Jason Kenney wants done but doesn’t want to be seen doing them himself?
Make no mistake about it. This Russiagate thingy has been a massive fraud since day one, on a par with the Iraq WMD hoax. For nearly three years a gang of media mobsters have peddled a vast conspiracy theory, based on the flimsiest of evidence. There’s much more evidence Trump colluded with Saudi Arabia and Israel but that’s another story. Lost in all this is the fact that DC is a vast cesspool of foreign lobbyists, all trying to influence the course of American democracy. The Russians are just bit players.
Most damaging of all is any attempt by Trump to engage the Russians diplomatically in an effort to reduce tensions has been seen as more evidence that Trump is in Putin’s pocket. The “progressive liberal left” has been most guilty of this which is insane.
Here in Canada we are seeing the fallout. Concerns are being raised over foreign “meddling” in our upcoming elections. Is this a slippery slope to censorship? Any uncomfortable opinions can be labeled as foreign influence and therefore suppressed.
I agree that the media created a bete noir over Russia. I would add that the Democrats used this to avoid examining their own culpability in their 2015 loss; to wit, that they ignored the suffering of the working class since the 2008 recession, have abandoned organized labour, and assaulted the welfare state that protects people from the excesses of the 1%. That said, I don’t think we’ve heard the last of the Meuller report – let’s see what’s actually in it (at least the stuff they don’t redact) once they release it.
Jeff Callaway is not even a candidate, so there’s no logical reason this should even be a legitimate argument—not that it should, even if he were a candidate. This is about protecting Jason Kenney and the UCP’s reputation.
When participants to alleged crimes look to stall criminal investigations it usually means only one thing — guilty as charged. Either that or a massive cover-up is underway to prevent voters from learning the truth about Jason Kenney’s involvement in the “Kamikaze Caper.” Either way — it stinks.
P.S. I agree Fildebrandt should be included in the debate and so should a media rep from The Edmonton/Calgary Star be part of the media panel questioning candidates. The Star has had excellent election coverage — balanced and non-partisan.
The Mueller Report has not been released to the public so you cannot know whether Trump has been cleared or not.
True. I’m just taking Billy Barr’s word for it. DJC
I’m cranky! Let’s see this Rachel go up against a three headed cannibal! I’m thinkin’ that’s likely what Jason needs to get over on her, but what a new stain! That boy? Oooo… There’s a dogs hide leg that’s measuring the distance between him and integrity!
Gee, if Jeff Calloway is going to be in a courtroom anyway, maybe we could get him to raise his right hand and go sit in the witness box for a few minutes. That is all that would be needed to clear up this mess.
Typical of the fascist party; cheat and lie to sabotage their “ally” and then play victim when they get caught.
These are the actions of purely selfishly motivated pathological liars that didn’t earn a single good thing they have. Kenney is yet another spoiled man child like Ford, Trump, Harper or Bush Jr, incapable of real empathy humility or evidence based decisions.
Mr. Callaway’s arguments seems outrageous to me, but if accepted criminals everywhere will rejoice. “Your honour, you can’t investigate me now because it would interfere with my right to vote or participate in the election”. Hopefully a judge will see the ridiculousness of this – employees get a couple hours or so to vote, so unless Mr. Callaway is being held in the remand center without bail or interrogated for a number of days on end, I don’t see how he is being so impeded. If he does expect to be sent off to the remand center shortly or grilled for a very long period of time, I think the UCP has a more serious problem on its hands. I don’t believe Mr. Callaway is even a candidate, so I doubt having to appear for occasional questioning, if that, over the next few weeks will be an undue hardship.
This ploy does seem to have a whiff of desperation about it. I get the impression Callaway and perhaps others in the UCP (can we call them unnamed or un-indicted co-conspirators at this point?), seem worried that more of the truth will come out shortly in the course of the investigation , than about the cloud of suspicion that already hangs over them. Usually honest people are eager to clear their names as soon as possible – just saying.
I do wonder if this ploy is in response to a concern that something damning may come out in the very near future. In any event, usually justice delayed is not a good thing. I suppose saying an election is no time to have a criminal investigation ranks up there with another famous statement made by a former Prime Minister that an election is no time to discuss serious issues.
David, you have hit upon another acronym! UCP: Un-indicted Co-conspirators Party.
Personally, I continue to prefer the Used Car Party – at least so far.
It’s always fair to wonder whether Canadian politicians of the right will ape their American equivalents. The two are kin and the examples too numerous not to conclude they experience the same struggles in political life; after all, the globalized world is their common stage and script which transcend their coincidental ethnic similarities but leaves their hegemony mythologically guaranteed. Lately, Canadians have been appalled that certain provincial and federal politicians have seemingly been reading from Donald tRump’s playbook because those pages contain appeal to racism; the feeling’s been recently sharpened by tragic evidence that the contagion spreads from Greater to Lesser Anglosaxmaniacs and, a fortiori, must do so more potently here, closer to the heart of white supremacism.
But sometimes I wonder which ape apes whom.
Before tRump —and in spite of 9/11 and resultant US military foreign wars—islamiphobia wasn’t politically acceptable rhetoric and, while it has obviously become fair ball under tRump, it did not precede one Stephen Harper’s measured, but increasingly overt, anti-Islamic rhetoric starting with legislation banning “barbaric practices” and culminating in the electorally fatal “niqab” ploy. Queebec’s highly contentious Muslim head-covering “debate” brought anti-immigrant conservatives out of the Habitant woodwork even before that.
Now, I don’t really think tRump is any more of a student of Canadian politics—as cutting edge as it is—as he is of any politics at all, and I suspect he came to his own odious anti-Islamic rhetoric all by himself (even if by unrecognized coincidence of circumstance that affects all western conservative parties these days), but Haper’s precedents need mention because at least some of—and probably most of—the anti-immigration (anti-immigrant) rhetoric Canadian neo-right politicians have been using of late was learned primarily from him (and taken to the extreme by some of his wouldbe successors during their party leadership bids), not tRump.
tRump might have normalized such hate-inciting rhetoric, allowing Canadian politicians to deploy it themselves— but they learned it from Harper.
But who knows? Maybe—in increasingly dire political circumstances—tRump is watching KeKKenney very closely, very closely to see what happens with Callaway. We’ll have to wait and see which ape is aping whom. We’ll ave to wait and see.
Here is my latest backgrounder on the Kenney scandals – The Jason Kenney Scandals Part 2 Vote Fraud and identity Theft –
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