All 57 Members of Buffalo Police Department’s Emergency Response Team Resign

Every member of the Buffalo Police Departments Emergency Response Team, tasked with responding to riots and other peace keeping situations, resigned Friday. Ever.single.member.

According to The Buffalo News, the law enforcement officers have not resigned from the police force, only the special tactical unit responsible for crowd control.

The mass resignation comes after two officers were suspended without pay after video captured a 75-year-old man being pushed to the crowd after he confronted officers attempting to clear an area. The man approached officers and appeared to swat at one, who then pushed him out of the way. After the two officers were suspended, the union notified “rank and file members Friday that the union would no longer pay for legal fees to defend police officers related to the protests which began Saturday in downtown Buffalo and have continued on and off, according to one source.”

The notification upset the union, ultimately promptly the mass resignation.

More from The Buffalo News:

The union representing Buffalo police officers told its rank and file members Friday that the union would no longer pay for legal fees to defend police officers related to the protests which began Saturday in downtown Buffalo and have continued on and off, according to one source. The union is upset with the treatment of the two officers who were suspended Thursday.

“Our position is these officers were simply following orders from Deputy Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia to clear the square,” said Buffalo Police Benevolent Association President John Evans. “It doesn’t specify clear the square of men, 50 and under or 15 to 40. They were simply doing their job. I don’t know how much contact was made. He did slip in my estimation. He fell backwards.”

A video posted by WBFO late Thursday night showed the officers pushing the man before he fell backward and hit his head on the sidewalk. He was taken to Erie County Medical Center, where he was in stable but serious condition early Friday morning.

It was not clear how the Buffalo Police Department will deal with the manpower issue. State police, Erie County Sheriff’s Office, as well as other local law enforcement agencies have been helping with the response to protests and unrest.

“I don’t know what the city is going to do,” Evans said. “They have not called me.”

Mayor Byron Brown said in a statement: “The City of Buffalo is aware of developments related to the work assignments of certain members of the Buffalo police force.  At this time, we can confirm that contingency plans are in place to maintain police services and ensure public safety within our community. The Buffalo police continue  to actively work with the New York State Police and other cooperating agencies.”

Evans said: “We stand behind those officers 100%.”

The PBA will pay for any defense costs for the two officers, Evans said, but not for any members of the Emergency Response Team or SWAT in regards to the protesting.

Evans said the two officers, whose names have circulated widely social media, have been harassed.

The actions of the officers drew swift condemnation from people across the nation, including Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

“It’s just fundamentally offensive and frightening,” Cuomo said Friday morning.

Watch the video here. WARNING: Graphic content.

Auto Defensas Para Ti y Mi!

Is “Defunding the Police” Libertarian?

I have become increasingly cognizant of a tendency of many libertarians to conflate “libertarian” with “antigovernment.” There are a variety of groups and movements in the U.S. who hate “the government” for their own reasons, but aren’t by any stretch of the imagination libertarian. If you hate the U.S. government because you think is it’s controlled by “Zionists” who are trying to destroy European American culture by organizing an alliance of Third World immigrants and native African Americans, you will likely support dramatic cuts in government; but you are not libertarian, because if you thought “your people” were in control, you would happily have a massive, unlibertarian federal government………….

There are plenty of police reforms that could be enacted from a libertarian perspective that would improve matters. Qualified immunity reform is libertarian. Holding police accountable for misbehavior is libertarian. Reducing the power of police unions is libertarian. Getting rid of overtime and pension abuse is libertarian. Banning no-knock raids is libertarian. Reducing bloated police department bureaucracies is libertarian.

Broader reforms that would reduce the need for police and reduce police/civilian encounters are also libertarian. Getting rid of victimless crimes, especially the drug war, and certain categories of criminal business regulation that should be handled civilly is libertarian. Getting rid of taxes that lead to black markets that in turn lead to police/civilian encounters is libertarian. Abolishing laws that allow local governments to put people in jail for failure to pay civil fines is libertarian. Separating forensic science services from prosecutors’ offices is libertarian. Holding prosecutors accountable for misconduct is libertarian. Finding alternatives to prison for certain categories of offenders is libertarian.

By contrast, “defunding the police,” if that just means willy-nilly cuts, is not libertarian………..

If defunding the police means getting rid of the police entirely, without any remote prospect of alternative means of protecting lives, safety, and property suddenly arising in its place (and in the current legal environment, the anarcho-capitalist dream of private protection services replacing police is impossible, even if it were somehow practical), is both crudely antigovernment and stupid.

Politics as usual doesn’t stop for mere riots


This morning, [yesterday .ed] the Senate Judiciary Committee called Rod Rosenstein to testify about operation “crossfire hurricane,” the Mueller investigation, and related matters. I watched as much of it as I could stomach — a little less than two hours.

Rosenstein is a snake. He recommended that James Comey be fired (albeit for a different reason than the one Trump mentioned in an interview about Comey’s termination) and then made the firing of Comey the grounds for bringing in a special counsel.

Moreover, he selected Robert Mueller for the job even though President Trump had just rejected Mueller for the position of FBI director. Mueller was thus a disappointed office seeker.

Rosenstein gave Mueller a ridiculously broad writ to investigate, and stood by as Mueller hired one Trump-hating Democrat after another to staff his project. And Rosenstein declined to recuse himself even though he was a player in the firing of Comey — an important element of what he asked Mueller to investigate.

Rosenstein was snake-like again this morning. Most of the questions directed at him by Republicans had to do with his rubber stamping of applications to spy on Carter Page — applications that contained lies the Democrats had paid to procure and that were based on Russian disinformation.

Rosenstein told the Committee that he is “accountable” for this outrage, but not “responsible.” Pressed as to what he means by “accountable,” he said, in effect, he means appearing before the Committee to say he’s not responsible.

The Committee Democrats were their usual nauseating selves. They used their time mostly to (1) complain about the fact that the hearing is taking place and (2) bray about how Russia threatens our democracy.

But our democracy is threatened when partisans in the FBI who want to defeat a presidential candidate, and then want to “resist” the elected president, repeatedly lie to a court so they can spy on that candidate’s campaign. And, for all the noise about Russia, it doesn’t matter to Committee Dems that disinformation from Russians was at the heart of the FBI’s lying to the court and to others.

Of course, it doesn’t matter to them. The Russian disinformation was accumulated in a project paid for by Democrats.

The threat to our democracy, if any, posed by (1) the release by Russia of emails that reveal what Democrat operatives really think and (2) some posts dropped into the vast cesspool that is social media, pales in comparison to an effort by the FBI, predicated on Russian disinformation, to spy on and slander a presidential campaign — and later the elected president.

Yet the Democrats say there’s nothing to see here.

There’s plenty to see. However, the Senate Judiciary Committee isn’t the best vehicle for dealing with it.

John Durham is.

Catch and Release: Rioters Jailed in St. Louis and New York Set Free by Local Prosecutors

Even as US police crack down on riots and looting, authorities from St. Louis to New York City are simply releasing everyone arrested in connection with the unrest, due to the reform championed by social justice activists.

Retired police captain David Dorn was gunned down by looters and four active duty police were shot in St. Louis, Missouri, as protests over last week’s death of George Floyd in Minnesota turned into violent riots on Monday. The 25 people arrested in connection with the unrest were released by circuit attorney Kim Gardner, however.

“It’s unfathomable that every single person arrested that night has been released,” state Attorney General Eric Schmitt told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s stunning.” Schmitt vowed to do everything he can to prosecute the rioters.

Gardner is the first African-American circuit attorney in St. Louis, elected in 2016 with substantial assistance of Democrat mega-donor George Soros, following the unrest in nearby Ferguson. In 2018, she led a probe against the Republican Governor Eric Greitens, eventually dropping the charges after he resigned from office.

Berwyn Police Request Help From National Guard Amid Threats of Looting, Riots

According to police in suburban Berwyn, authorities have requested assistance from the Illinois National Guard after a series of social media posts called for rioting and looting in the Cermak Plaza district.

In a release posted to the police department’s Facebook page, Berwyn officials say that the department received intelligence from the FBI and the Illinois State Police about potential rioting and looting in the area.

As a result, the department said the Illinois National Guard will allocate personnel and equipment to the area for “quicker mobilization in case they need to be utilized.”

“There is a validated playbook for dealing with riots”

Mayor Moron Destroys America’s Major Cities
When you reward bad behavior, expect more of it.

Can you make this stuff up?

Here is the city’s message in full, issued May 28, after several days and nights of rioting. Here is the final sentence:

The city urges everyone to exercise caution and stay safe while participating in demonstrations, including wearing masks and physical distancing as much as possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The city has made hundreds of masks available to protesters this week.

Protesters? Earth to Minneapolis Mayor Moron: Rioters torching whole sections of your city are not protesters. Many are professional agitators from out of town. Locals who loot stores are opportunists, many of them career criminals. The city’s message took zero notice of these elementary realities.

Mayor Moron’s contribution to the city’s full message was this: “We need to offer radical compassion and love that we all have in us. I believe in this city and I know that you do, too.”

There is a validated playbook for dealing with riots. It is a tale of two riots in the awful summer of widespread racial unrest in 1967. Eugene Methvin’s 1991 National Review “riot primer” laid out the playbook:

In a nutshell: Riots begin when some set of social forces temporarily overwhelms or paralyzes the police, who stand by, their highly visible inaction signaling to the small percentage of teenaged embryonic psychopaths and hardened young adults that a moral holiday is under way. This criminal minority spearheads the car-burning, window-smashing, and blood-letting, mobbing such hate targets as blacks, or white merchants, or lone cops. Then the drawing effect brings out the large crowds of older men, and women and children, to share the Roman carnival of looting. Then the major killing begins: slow runners caught in burning buildings and-as civic forces mobilize-in police and National Guard gunfire.…

The time to halt a riot is right at the start, by pinching off the criminal spearhead with precise and overwhelming force. The cops will usually be caught flat-footed (no pun intended) by the initial outbreak. But they need to spring into a pre-arranged mobilization that should always be as ready in every major city as the fire-department or hospital disaster-response program.

Methvin compared two July 1967 riots. In Toledo, rioters began smashing things, throwing rocks at police cruisers. The authorities resounded instantly and decisively, arresting the thugs, with order restored within 36 hours. No one died. Not so in Detroit, where the authorities decided to allow rioters to let off steam. Five days of violence followed, with more than 40 fatalities and more than 1,000 injured. Property damage was estimated at over $40 million, in 2020 dollars, roughly $300 million. It was the worst rioting in America since the 1863 New York City draft riots, not to be exceeded in scale until the 1992 Rodney King riots.

And there is a lasting loss for failing to do so. South Central Los Angeles never recovered from the double blow of the 1965 Watts and 1992 conflagrations. Detroit and Newark never recovered from the destruction of 1967. Washington, D.C., never fully recovered from the riots after the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr……………….

They Screwed General Flynn For THIS? Read The Transcripts Of Flynn-Kislyak Calls (Embedded)

Brand new DNI Ratcliffe sent the transcripts of phone conversations between Flynn and Kislyak that were declassified by Rick Grenell to Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., on Friday. They released it to the public (see below). A reading of the transcripts is more evidence that the FBI, DOJ, and President Obama screwed General Flynn and started and advanced the Russia hoax for absolutely nothing.

The released phone calls include a Dec. 23, 2016 call between Flynn, Kislyak, and Russian diplomat Aleksandr Pchelyakov, a Dec. 29, 2016 call between Flynn and Kislyak; a Dec. 31, 2016 call between Flynn and Kislyak; a Jan. 12, 2017 call between Flynn and Kislyak; and a Jan. 19, 2017 voicemail from Kislyak to Flynn.

As for the most significant issue about the call, the Obama administration’s Russia sanctions because of election interference they were discussed but not in the way the liberal media described three years ago. Flynn tried to keep things from getting out of hand. Flynn urged the Russians that if they had to reciprocate, do not make it bigger than what the Obama administration did, otherwise it would force a cycle of escalating tit for tat responses.

The Dec. 23 call began with a discussion of the anti-Israel UN Security Council vote that happened later that day. The anti-Israel team of Barack Obama & John Kerry directed UN Ambassador Samantha Power to abstain when UNSC resolution 2334 came to a vote rather than veto the anti-Israel resolution in the UN Security Council. Since the abstention allowed the resolution to pass, the Obama action had the same effect as an anti-Israel UN Vote

True, Egypt wasn’t pressing for a vote, the U.S. was because Barack Obama wanted to smack the Jewish State one more time.  As the call continued, Flynn urged the Russians not to overreact to any penalties Obama may impose because of the Russian election interference.

On the Dec. 29 call, he reiterated that position in a more specific way and reminded the Ambassador that the two countries wanted to stay friends so they can solve their common Middle East problem (ISIS?).

Flynn did talk about the sanctions, but he didn’t say anything about removing them, he actually helped the Obama team by urging the Russkies not to overreact. For that, the FBI and DOJ tried to ruin his life.

The full document is below.

Flynn-Kislyak calls release… by Jeffrey Dunetz on Scribd

Only now?

FBI Director Wray opens internal investigation into how bureau handled Michael Flynn case

The FBI announced Friday that Director Chris Wray has ordered an internal review of the handling of the bureau’s investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

“FBI Director Christopher Wray today ordered the Bureau’s Inspection Division to conduct an after-action review of the Michael Flynn investigation,” the bureau said in a statement.

The review will be handled by the bureau’s Inspection Division, the FBI said. That division is similar to an internal affairs office in a police department.

Police to New Jersey gym that opened in defiance of order: “Have a good day.”

BELLMAWR, N.J. – A gym in southern New Jersey has reopened for business in defiance of a state order that shut down nonessential businesses to help stem the spread of the coronavirus.

People began gathering outside the Atilis Gym in Bellmawr several hours before it reopened at 8 a.m. Monday.

“We are and only were here for everybody’s safety today. We planned for the worst and hoped for the best, and it seems like that’s what we have out here today,” the officer said to the owners and surrounding crowd.

“Formally, you are all in violation of the executive order. On that note, have a good day. Everybody be safe,” the officer said before walking away as the crowd erupted in cheers.

Actually the prosecutor probably determined that further prosecution persecution would be detrimental to his political future.

Charges dropped against Florida pastor who held church services despite coronavirus restrictions

Prosecutors in Florida have dropped misdemeanor charges against a Florida pastor who defied the state’s stay-at-home order to continue church services.

Evangelical megachurch leader Rodney Howard-Browne of the River at Tampa Bay Church had the charges of unlawful assembly and violating quarantine orders during a public health emergency dropped Friday. Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren said the arrest was appropriate that it only came “after repeated efforts to gain cooperation in other ways were not successful.”

“In deciding whether to criminally prosecute violations of stay-at-home orders, compliance is our North Star,” Warren said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “Each case is unique, and each one will be assessed based on the facts and the law. But, in general, if the person who was arrested poses no ongoing threat to public health, then our tendency will be not to prosecute the case beyond the arrest.”

Warren said that since the pastor was arrested, he has “maintained responsible social distancing” and has engaged with community leaders about how to move forward during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our office has determined that further prosecution or punishment would not provide increased protections for our community and is not needed to achieve any additional change in Pastor Howard-Browne’s behavior,” he said.

Howard-Browne was arrested in late March after he repeatedly flouted Florida’s social distancing restrictions and continued to hold crowded church services……….


This is about a ‘Fusion Center’. While the concept of having one place receive information, mold it into a product,  and then determine where best to send it onward is good, the information available makes these organizations extremely susceptible to misuse when someone with corrupt intent gets on the inside and has the opportunity to access it.

State police illegally collected data, trooper claims in whistleblower suit

A division of the Maine State Police illegally gathered and handled personal data about Mainers, according to an employment discrimination lawsuit filed in federal court by a state trooper.

George Loder, 50, of Scarborough is suing the Maine Intelligence Analysis Center, and its supervisors, claiming he was demoted after he told his bosses that the center was collecting and maintaining data illegally, including information about people who had applied to buy guns from firearms dealers, those who legally protested and those who worked at a Maine international camp for Israeli and Arab teens. The center is responsible for sharing information with other law enforcement agencies.

The complaint does not say with which agencies the center may have shared the information other than the state police. It also does not say when the center began collecting it. Loder expressed his concerns to supervisors in November 2017.

Loder alleges that staff at the center illegally gathered and kept information gleaned from social media about people who legally protested in September 2018 against Central Maine Power Co.’s proposed transmission corridor stretching from the Quebec border to Lewiston.

State police maintain a database that can be searched to determine if a person is prohibited from purchasing a gun. Applications to purchase firearms are supposed to be destroyed after the sale is approved but the center stored that information in the database, the suit claims………..

Data collection on the camp’s employees ended in May 2018, the complaint said…………

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, alleges that the state police violated the Whistleblower Protection Act and illegally retaliated against him. It also names Col. John Cote, the head of the state police, which oversees the center, and supervisors Lt. Scott Ireland and Sgt. Michael Johnston.

Loder filed a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission and received a right-to-sue letter before the agency was able to investigate and issue its initial findings……….

Fast and Furious was advertised as a ‘sting’ operation that purportedly flopped, but is now generally recognized as actually a corrupt, politically motivated operation to make more gun control legislation look necessary.

My Spanish is so rusty, I’ll defer to our correspondent in our South America bureau for further elucidation.

Mexico details note to U.S. over Obama-era gun-running row

MEXICO CITY, Mexico’s foreign minister on Monday posted a video online detailing a diplomatic note to the U.S. embassy requesting answers about a gun-running sting under the Obama presidency, keeping a spotlight on the controversial issue.

In the video, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard cited former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder as saying Mexican authorities knew about the 2009-2011 scheme known as ‘Fast and Furious.’

Representatives for Holder did not immediately reply to a request for comment. Nor did the U.S. embassy in Mexico City.

It was the first time Ebrard or President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador had made direct reference by name to a key U.S. figure connected to the program since the issue resurfaced in Mexico a week ago.

In a bid to curb cross-border gun smuggling, the U.S. scheme allowed people to illegally buy arms in the United States and take them to Mexico so that the weapons could be tracked and lead law enforcement officials to crime bosses. Some of those guns were subsequently blamed for the fatal shootings of both Mexican and U.S. citizens.

The current Mexican government has zeroed in on the program to highlight possible corruption under previous Mexican administrations amid a debate over how much they knew about the U.S. operation.

Holder, who served as U.S. Attorney General under Barack Obama between 2009 and 2015, had previously issued a statement via the U.S. embassy in Mexico contending that “Mexican authorities” knew about the program, Ebrard said.

“The (Mexican) government requests that it be provided with all the information available regarding the ‘Fast and Furious’ operation,” Ebrard said in the video posted on Twitter.

Lopez Obrador first brought up the gun-running program last Monday when answering questions about Genaro Garcia Luna, a former Mexican security minister who was arrested in the United States in December on drug trafficking offenses.

Garcia Luna served under former President Felipe Calderon from 2006-12, spearheading a crackdown on drug cartels. Lopez Obrador has used his arrest to argue that corruption was rampant in past Mexican governments.

Some critics of Lopez Obrador contend that he has done U.S. President Donald Trump a favor by raising questions about Garcia Luna as the U.S president prepares to fight a November election against Joe Biden, who was vice president from 2009 to 2017 under Obama.

Lopez Obrador’s supporters say he has focused on the issue to illustrate hypocrisy among his domestic adversaries.

Calderon, a longstanding political rival of Lopez Obrador, said last week there was no agreement between Mexico and the United States to permit illicit entry of arms.

‘Fast and Furious’ followed earlier sting operations that began under Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush.

If Flynn is not made whole, justice will still be incomplete.

Where Does Lt. Gen. Flynn Go To Get His Reputation Back?

After a jury found former Reagan administration Labor Secretary Raymond J. Donovan innocent of politically motivated fraud charges in a case that dragged on for four years, costing him his job and much of his fortune, he famously asked: “Which office do I go to to get my reputation back?” Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who underwent a similar ordeal, must be wondering the same thing.

Donovan was charged in September 1984, conveniently just before the presidential election. If those who brought the charges thought they would ruin Republican Ronald Reagan’s reelection chances, they were very wrong. Reagan carried 49 states and just under 59% of the vote; former Vice President Walter Mondale garnered just below 42%, carrying only his home state of Minnesota and, of course, Washington, D.C.

Just as the timing in Donovan’s case was no accident, nor was it in Flynn’s case. Yes, he copped a plea, admitting that he lied to the FBI. What’s rarely mentioned is that the legal maneuvers were draining his life savings dry, and his son had been threatened with prosecution for good measure.

So he admitted to doing something he didn’t do in an investigation of a crime he didn’t commit. And Deep State operatives got their first major scalp of President Donald Trump’s administration by taking down Flynn, the president’s national security adviser, after just 24 days in office.

Thankfully, after a document dump this week of exculpatory material that Rep. Adam Schiff and other Trump-hating congressional Democrats tried to hide despite a court order, it’s now beyond any doubt that Flynn was targeted, set up and entrapped. Based on the overwhelming evidence of misconduct, the Justice Department decided to drop the whole case. Just like that, it’s done.

In their motion, the DOJ prosecutors found that “‘pursuant to the Principles of Federal Prosecution and based on an extensive review and careful consideration of the circumstances, that continued prosecution of this case would not serve the interests of justice.”

Or, as Attorney General William Barr told CBS News:

This was not a bonafide counterintelligence investigation. They were closing the investigation in December, they started that process and on Jan. 4 they were closing it. They initially tried some theories of how they could open an investigation which didn’t fly and then they found out they had technically not closed the earlier investigation and they kept it open for the express purpose of trying to catch, lay a perjury trap for Gen. Flynn. They didn’t warn him the way we would usually be required by the department. They bypassed the Justice Department. They bypassed the protocols at the White House and so-forth.

Pretty much dead on. These were charges that never should have been brought. They were purely, and solely, political in nature, an attempt to entrap Flynn, a decorated and respected Army career officer, in order to undermine Trump and perhaps even get him impeached.

Those who pushed this travesty, along with the phony Russian collusion investigation, deserve to be fired and imprisoned for their crimes.

Did anyone with more than 2 brain cells to rub together ever think that he wasn’t in on this from the beginning?
“Remarkably Scandal Free Administration” my Gluteus Maximus.

Obama knew details of wiretapped Flynn phone calls, surprising top DOJ official, declassified docs show.

President Obama was aware of the details of then-incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn’s intercepted December 2016 phone calls with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, apparently surprising then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, according to documents released Thursday as exhibits to the government’s motion to dismiss the Flynn case.

Obama personally had warned the Trump administration against hiring Flynn, and made clear he was “not a fan,” according to multiple officials. Obama had fired Flynn as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014.

On January 5, 2017, Yates attended an Oval Office meeting with then-FBI Director James Comey, then-Vice President Joe Biden, then-CIA Director John Brennan, and then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, according to the newly declassified documents, including an FD-302 FBI witness report. They were discussing Russian election interference, along with national security adviser Susan Rice and other members of the national security council.

After the briefing, Obama asked Yates and Comey to “stay behind,” and said he had “learned of the information about Flynn” and his conversation with Russia’s ambassador about sanctions. Obama “specified that he did not want any additional information on the matter, but was seeking information on whether the White House should be treating Flynn any differently, given the information.”

previous memo from Rice stated that Biden also stayed behind after the main briefing had ended.

At that point, the documents showed, “Yates had no idea what the president was talking about, but figured it out based on the conversation. Yates recalled Comey mentioning the Logan Act. …”………..

The Justice Department on Thursday moved to drop its case against Flynn, in a stunning development coming after internal memos were released raising serious questions about the nature of the investigation that led to Flynn’s late 2017 guilty plea of lying to the FBI as his legal fees mounted. One of the documents was a top official’s handwritten memo debating whether the FBI’s “goal” was “to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired”; other materials showed efforts by anti-Trump ex-FBI agent Peter Strzok to pursue Flynn on increasingly flimsy legal grounds.

Justice Department Calls Church Service Restrictions Unconstitutional
Officials single out Gov. Northam for criminally charging pastor for holding services.

Attorney General William Barr’s Justice Department has been a consistent advocate of religious freedom throughout the coronavirus lockdown. In its latest move, it is signaling that governors likely never had the authority to restrict church gatherings.

Officials on Sunday filed a statement of interest supporting a Virginia church that sued Gov. Ralph Northam for capping congregations at 10 people. It says that unless Northam can prove that his 10-person limit is applicable to all gatherings, then he is violating the First Amendment freedom of speech and religion clauses.

Here are the facts of the case. On Palm Sunday, pastor Kevin Wilson of Lighthouse Fellowship Church in Chincoteague convened a service with 16 people present in a building that typically seats more than 200. All congregants sanitized their hands upon entering and maintained a six-foot social distance, according to the church’s suit.

To make its point clear, the church included in its filing photos of many people shopping while social distancing at Walmart, Lowe’s, and other big stores.

Midway through the service, several police officers wearing masks entered the church and asked to speak with Wilson. They issued him a citation and told everyone else gathered that if they returned for an Easter Sunday service, they would all receive citations, too.

In Virginia, the punishment for violating Northam’s stay at home order is a $2,500 fine or up to one year in prison. Wilson called off his Easter service.

But because Wilson does not have the capacity to broadcast his service online, forgoing the service meant that Easter at Lighthouse was essentially canceled. And even if he was able to stream the service, many of his congregants don’t have internet and wouldn’t be able to watch anyway.

This situation, the church alleged, was grounds for suit because Northam’s order does not take into consideration the fact that some churches need to meet in person to continue their public practice of faith. Preventing them from meeting, it said, is tantamount to preventing them from a free exercise of religion. Furthermore, it added, the order is weighted unfairly against churches because it allows businesses to remain open in a modified fashion — but still with more than 10 people in a building at once.

To make its point clear, the church included in its filing photos of many people shopping while social distancing at Walmart, Lowe’s, and other stores. It also included a photo of Northam himself, speaking at a press conference and surrounded by many more than 10 people, all of whom were social distancing. Under Northam’s order, these are considered essential gatherings — and Lighthouse argued that church should be included in that category.

The Justice Department found the photos and Lighthouse’s arguments compelling. After all, if people can be trusted to social distance at stores, DOJ officials wrote, then why not at churches, too?

“The orders, by exempting other activities permitting similar opportunities for in-person gatherings of more than 10 individuals, while at the same time prohibiting churches from gathering in groups of more than 10 — even with social distancing measures and other precautions — has impermissibly interfered with the church’s free exercise of religion,” DOJ officials wrote. “Unless the Commonwealth can prove that its disparate treatment of religious gatherings is justified by a compelling reason and is pursued through the least restrictive means, this disparate treatment violates the Free Exercise Clause, and the orders may not be enforced against the church.”

Although the statement does not take a position on whether or not churches such as Lighthouse are wise to meet in person, it asserts that Northam (or any other governor, for that matter) shouldn’t take a position either.

This opinion is consistent with Barr’s last intervention in a coronavirus-related religious freedom lawsuit. In April, Barr himself filed a statement of interest supporting a church in Mississippi that had sued Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons for shutting down its drive-in services.

Barr said that if drive-in fast food restaurants such as Sonic are allowed to remain open, then drive-in churches should be treated the same way. Simmons, he said, was not only violating the First Amendment, but also the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a federal law that prevents governments from imposing “special restrictions on religious activity that do not also apply to similar nonreligious activity.”

“It is unclear why prohibiting these services is the least restrictive means of protecting public health,” Barr wrote of the drive-in services. “Especially if, as alleged in the complaint, the city allows other conduct that would appear to pose equal — if not greater — risks.”

Barr’s words had an almost immediate impact: Simmons revoked his order the next day at the direction of Gov. Tate Reeves (R). And, in a series of court decisions handed down in the next few weeks, judges ruled in favor of drive-in services in similar lawsuits across the country.

It remains to be seen if the Justice Department’s support for in-person services will have the same practical impact as its support for drive-ins. Many governors, judges, and even church leaders are risk-averse — especially as states move toward reopening — and do not want sudden outbreaks because they flung open the church doors too soon.

Even if Lighthouse’s lawsuit fails, the Justice Department’s argument vindicates frustrated churchgoers. It’s not just unfortunate that so many states are restricting religious services more stringently than other gatherings. It’s unconstitutional.

FBI railroading Americans, but we knew that here in Boston.

Who would have ever believed that James Comey and Andrew McCabe might be arrested before Donald J. Trump?

As the president said Thursday of this greatest scandal in American political history: “I wish I knew then what I know now.”

Every day, in every way, this catastrophe of corruption by the FBI’s “human scum,” as the president so rightly describes them, metastasizes into something ever more appalling.

Did these effete, crooked cops ever stop railroading their fellow American citizens and obstructing justice?

And yet the Democrats and the media, but I repeat myself, just keep saying, nothing to see here folks, move along.

They’ve gone from covering the news to covering up the news.

According to one account Thursday, the “news” networks spent 2,284 minutes over the years promoting the Russian collusion hoax from start to finish.

But here’s the amount of airtime they’ve devoted to these latest revelations about the FBI’s pervasive top-to-bottom corruption in promoting the hoax:

CNN, ABC and CBS: a combined zero mentions. MSNBC: one mention, at 5:14 a.m., NBC: one mention, at 3:41 a.m.

The New York Times, which handed itself a Pulitzer Prize for years of “reporting” Russian collusion that didn’t exist, now argues that President Trump wants prosecutions of the crooked FBI agents so he can “weaponize” their criminal behavior for the campaign.

So it was totally OK for the feds to try to frame Trump and everyone around him, but to want someone brought to justice for it is just politics — weaponizing and seizing and pouncing on those wonderful Democrats in the FBI and the CIA?

Thursday, the Associated Press was still couching these latest revelations about the FBI’s frame-ups as something that Michael Flynn was “claiming” and “contending.”

One of the pro-Deep State blogs “claimed” and “contended” that the newly-revealed handwritten notes about Flynn were no big deal, because the briefers at the J. Edgar Hoover Building often brainstorm on how to best destroy anyone who gets in their way.

Which everyone in Boston, at least, has known for decades. But isn’t that the problem, that this has been going on forever?

New stuff is coming out daily, and since it’s Friday, we’ll likely be getting more dirt late this afternoon. As the Justice Department said Wednesday, as it was releasing 11 more pages, “additional documents may be forthcoming.”

Here’s the smoking gun from Wednesday, in the handwritten notes of one of the members of the lynch mob, (very) Special Agent Bill Priestap. The leaders of America’s most corrupt law-enforcement agency were discussing how best to railroad a decorated three-star general and combat veteran:

“What is our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?”

Get him fired? Think about that. Is that now part of the FBI’s mission statement, getting people they don’t like fired, especially people like Gen. Flynn, who had already been canned once, by Obama, for trying to clean up the endemic corruption of the Deep State?

You have to ask yourself, if this is what these FBI crooks would put in writing, what levels were they stooping to that they wouldn’t dare make notes on?

Bottom line: the Deep State got Flynn before he could get them. Which was probably to have been expected, considering the warnings of Sen. Chuck Schumer about how “really dumb” it is for anyone to think they can go up against the Deep State.

“Let me tell you,” he said, the same month the G-men began framing Flynn. “You take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”

So now Flynn finds himself still possibly looking at a prison sentence. By some accounts he owes up to $6 million in legal bills, and his career is ruined. So Schumer was right.

On the other hand, you could argue that Flynn has gotten off easy, compared to others who’ve crossed the Deep State. Just ask Jeffrey Epstein.

Poor Flynn. He just didn’t understand. He grew up watching Efrem Zimbalist Jr. on Sunday nights on ABC as Inspector Erskine. All the FBI agents drove Fords and fought bad guys.

He didn’t realize that the FBI were the bad guys.

If only the Famous But Incompetent G-men had been nearly as obsessed with trying to run down that lead from the Russians that the Tsarnaevs were planning a terrorist attack in Boston, or that tip to the FBI hotline from the Parkland High School shooter’s aunt that he was going to kill a bunch of his classmates.

But no, they were too busy trying to frame Gen. Flynn and Donald Trump and Roger Stone and Carter Page and George Papadopoulos … .

Whatever happened to the American Civil Liberties Union?

The ACLU doesn’t seem to have the slightest interest in this attempted coup against the duly elected government of the United States.

I remember when the FBI was coming after everybody in Somerville. One day an alderman I knew from Union Square told me sadly:

“Do you know what it’s like to see it actually printed out, at the top of a criminal indictment, ‘The United States of America v. Francis P. Bakey?’ ”

No, Frank, I don’t what that’s like, and I hope I never do. But I pray that every one of these crooked FBI agents find out, sooner rather than later.

The FBI Set Flynn Up to Preserve the Trump–Russia Probe
[The] Perjury trap was not score-settling. To investigate the president, it was a practical necessity to sideline his chosen national-security adviser.

Michael Flynn was not the objective. He was the obstacle.

Once you grasp that fundamental fact, it becomes easier to understand the latest disclosures the Justice Department made in the Flynn case on Thursday. They are the most important revelations to date about the FBI’s Trump–Russia investigation, code-named Crossfire Hurricane.

The new disclosures, in conjunction with all we have learned in the last week, answer the all-important why question: Why was Flynn set up?

The answer to the what question has been clear for a long time: The FBI set a perjury trap for Flynn, hoping to lure him into misstatements that the bureau could portray as lies. In the frenzied political climate of the time, that would have been enough to get him removed from his new position as national security adviser (NSA), perhaps even to prosecute him. On that score, the new disclosures, startling as they are to read, just elucidate what was already obvious.

But why did they do it? That has been the baffling question. Oh, there have been plenty of indications that the Obama administration could not abide Flynn. The White House and the intelligence agencies had their reasons, mostly vindictive. But while that may explain their gleefulness over his fall from grace, it has never been a satisfying explanation for the extraordinary measures the FBI took to orchestrate that fall.

Concealing Information ‘as It Relates to Russia’
To understand what happened here, you have to understand what the FBI’s objective was, first formed in collaboration with Obama-administration officials. That includes President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Flynn’s predecessor, national-security adviser Susan Rice, with whom then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates and then-FBI director James Comey met at the White House on January 5, 2017 — smack in the middle of the chain-of-events that led to Flynn’s ouster. Recall Rice’s CYA memo about the meeting: “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” (emphasis added). Rice wrote those words on January 20, at the very time the FBI was making its plan to push Flynn out.

But how could the FBI sustain an investigation targeting the president when the president would have the power to shut the investigation down?

That is why Flynn had to go………….

The perjury trap was set for Flynn out of necessity. If the Justice Department had informed the White House about recordings of Flynn and Kislyak discussing sanctions, and the FBI then asked for permission to interview Flynn, the bureau knew permission was sure to be denied. Flynn would be untouchable, and free to discover the entirety of the Obama administration’s extensive but secret effort to depict Trump and his minions as Russian operatives — an effort the FBI was determined to keep pursuing.


Much of the FBI’s Treatment of Mike Flynn Was Business as Usual, and That’s the Scandal
Agents regularly attempt to catch suspects in lies to threaten them with prosecution, even when they can’t prove underlying crimes.

Michael Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general and the former national security adviser to President Donald Trump, is back in the news after his attorneys released documents purporting to show that FBI officials considered trying to get Flynn to lie in order to prosecute him or get him fired. Flynn resigned in February 2017. In December 2017, he pled guilty to charges that he intentionally lied to the FBI about his connections and communications with a Russian ambassador.

The documents, released by Flynn’s attorneys on Wednesday, show handwritten notes that discuss strategies for interviewing Flynn. One note asks “What is our goal? Truth/admission or to get him to lie so we can prosecute him or get him fired?” Fox News reports that the notes were written by Bill Priestap, the former head of FBI counterintelligence.

Fox highlights that question in its reporting but also contextualizes it: This document appears to show the author (again, Fox reports it is Priestap, but that has not been confirmed by the FBI or the Justice Department) questioning the tactic and suggesting that the FBI show Flynn the evidence against him rather than trick him into a lie. The author of the FBI document worries that “if we’re seen as playing games, [White House] will be furious.” At the end of the list, the author wrote, “protect our institution by not playing games.”

Much of that context is lost in an online uproar over a supposed “perjury trap” meant to bring down Trump by first bringing down Flynn. Whether or not there were individuals or factions within the agency that wanted to attack Trump, what the FBI did to Flynn is normal FBI behavior for interviewing suspects. They’ve been doing it for decades. (Remember Martha Stewart?)

This is not a defense of the FBI. What the agency did to Flynn was wrong, not because he worked for Trump, but because it is wrong to induce an otherwise not-guilty person to break the law. And it’s something FBI interviewers do regularly so that they can use their dishonesty as leverage when there’s little evidence of actual criminal behavior. Ken “Popehat” White, Reason contributing editor and a former federal prosecutor who is now a defense attorney, has written extensively about the FBI’s tactic of luring suspects into lies. After Flynn pled guilty, White used his plea deal to explain precisely why no one should sit down for an interview with FBI agents without extensive preparation.

On Wednesday, White tweeted out a useful thread explaining precisely how the FBI gets away with this and how federal laws could be reformed to eradicate the practice. Federal statute 18 USC 1001 makes it a crime to lie to the feds on a “material” matter, even if the FBI already knows the truth, aren’t misled, and the lie doesn’t affect the investigation. This incentivizes the FBI to play these games in the first place, to try to trick suspects into a lie that could be used against them. White argues that if people truly care about these tactics, they should lobby Congress to change the federal statute that makes the practice legal.

Trump appears ready to do his part in getting rid of the practice:

Framing what happened to Flynn primarily as a “deep state” conspiracy to take down Trump obscures the reality that this is a routine and completely legal FBI practice that will continue unless there are serious statutory reforms.