- - Tuesday, June 18, 2019

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

“Know what I was most proud of?” former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said last week during a campaign event. “For eight years, there wasn’t one single hint of a scandal or a lie.”

Maybe his memory is going (he is 76 years old, after all). But I can think of a bunch of scandals — right off the top of my head — that occurred during the two terms in office for the Obama-Biden administration. Here are a few of the biggest, in no particular order:

Benghazi scandal

Terrorists stormed the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith were killed, as were CIA contractors Tyrone S. Woods and Glen Doherty. President Obama slept through the attack and then headed to Las Vegas for a fundraising event. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly said it wasn’t a terror attack, but an investigation later found Clinton told daughter Chelsea — in an email that very night — that al Qaeda was responsible. Mrs. Clinton later deleted 30,000 emails, and famously uttered in a hearings months later: “What difference at this point does it make?” A scandal, to be sure, and not the only deadly scandal, at that.

‘Fast and Furious’ scandal



Also known as the “ATF gunwalking scandal,” Operation Fast and Furious involved the Arizona Field Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms allowing licensed firearms dealers in the U.S. to sell weapons to illegal buyers. The brilliant plan was for those buyers to sell the weapons to Mexican drug cartel leaders, and U.S. officials would then track the guns and arrest the bad guys. Some 2,000 weapons were sold; just more than 700 were ever recovered — and no high-level cartel figures were ever arrested. Instead, some of the weapons were used in crimes on both sides of the border, including when U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in December 2010. In the end, Attorney General Eric Holder became the first sitting member of the U.S. Cabinet ever to be held in contempt of Congress. No scandals? Please.

Trump campaign spying

Then, of course, there’s the Obama-Biden administration spying on the Trump campaign. Officials in their administration secured wiretapping warrants — with suspect backing — to spy on Mr. Trump, who they feared might just pull off the win in 2016. “I think spying did occur,” Attorney General William Barr testified before Congress in April, adding that “I’m not talking about the FBI necessarily, but intelligence agencies more broadly.” The authorization to spy on the campaign was approved by a secret court based on a bogus dossier funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign. After his win, the dossier was used to impose a special counsel to investigate the spurious allegations that Mr. Trump colluded with Russia to influence the election. Special counsel Robert Mueller, after a 22-month probe, found no collusion whatsoever. “Anything the Russians did concerning the 2016 Election was done while Obama was President. He was told about it and did nothing! Most importantly, the vote was not affected,” Mr. Trump tweeted after Mueller’s report was released in April by the Justice Department.

IRS ‘tea party’ scandal

In 2013, the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative political groups, many connected to the tea party movement, applying for tax-exempt status. Judicial Watch, a watchdog group, secured documents showing that the handling of tea party applications was directed out of the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. “The documents also show extensive pressure on the IRS by Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) to shut down conservative-leaning tax-exempt organizations. The IRS’ emails by [Director] Lois Lerner detail her misleading explanations to investigators about the targeting of Tea Party organizations,” the group wrote. Those documents also showed IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman visited the White House nearly 160 times while the IRS was actively targeting tea party groups. Scandalous, right?

Secret Service scandal

In 2012, several members of the U.S. Secret Service got snagged in a prostitution scandal in Cartagena, Colombia, while preparing for a visit by Mr. Obama. What’s more, a member of the White House advance team — aiding in the preparations for the president’s visit to the Summit of the Americas — was also implicated in the scandal. At first the White House said no staffers were involved, but when evidence emerged to the contrary, the White House sought to cover it up. “We were directed at the time … to delay the report of the investigation until after the 2012 election,” David Nieland, the lead investigator on the Colombia case for the homeland security agency, told Senate staffers, according to The Washington Post. Sure sounds like a scandal, doesn’t it?

Oof … we’re running out of room, there are so many scandals. Here are a few more.

⦁ In 2012, Mr. Obama’s Department of Justice wiretapped at the phones of at least 20 reporters at The Associated Press, monitoring “both the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters” and the main line used by reporters in the House of Representatives. The DOJ also investigated the activities of Fox News reporter James Rosen in what it said was a potential crime in a probe of classified leaks. Scandal.

⦁ In 2016, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch refused to answer questions from Congress about the Obama administration paying $1.6 billion to Iran. The whole operation was shady — and secret — and just happened to coincide with the release of four hostages. No members of Congress knew about the deal. Big scandal.

⦁ Then there was the huge scandal that the PolitiFact called “The Lie of the Year”: “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.” How is “The Lie of the Year” not a scandal?

And there are more, plenty more. But if Mr. Biden can’t think of a single scandal, maybe President Trump is right. Maybe Mr. Biden really isn’t mentally fit for the presidency. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

⦁ Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @josephcurl.

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