Sunday, February 25, 2024

The Smirnov Indictment Does Not Vindicate the Bidens

BY ANDREW C. MCCARTHY

President Joe Biden and son Hunter Biden disembark from Air Force One at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, N.Y., February 4, 2023. (Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters)

There is already extensive evidence, having nothing to do with Smirnov, of corrupt Biden-family influence-peddling.

Biden Justice Department prosecutor and special counsel” David Weiss’s job is to protect President Biden. That is the thing we must always bear in mind, including in the peculiar case of Alexander Smirnov, whom Weiss has just indicted and imprisoned in a transparent attempt to knock down an allegation House Republicans foolishly ran with when it was both uncorroborated and not essential to their illustration of the Bidens’ sleazy relationship with Burisma, the corrupt Ukrainian energy company.

Another thing to remember: According to Democratic Party dogma, all evidence of the Biden family influencing-peddling business — and of the president’s being up to his neck in it — is Russian disinformation. It’s a laughable assertion, but Democrats touted it like there was no tomorrow during the 2019 Trump–Ukraine impeachment. It’s their story and Weiss is helping them stick to it.

As I pointed out in a column yesterday, the indictment filed against Smirnov by Weiss last week is one of the most peculiar charging documents you’ll ever encounter. It was filed in the Central District of California, headquartered in Los Angeles — you may remember it as the district in which Weiss, cross-his-heart, really, really wanted to indict Hunter Biden on tax charges but, he told investigating IRS and FBI agents, was blocked from doing so by the Biden-appointed U.S. attorney, E. Martin Estrada. At least that was the story until the outraged IRS agents went public. At that point, Weiss needed a new story to avoid embarrassing his boss, Attorney General Merrick Garland, who would not have tolerated such obstruction unless it was exactly what he wanted when it came to Hunter Biden. So Weiss reset: Gosh darn, it was all a big misunderstanding.

But, of course, there is no misunderstanding: The Biden Justice Department did not want to indict Hunter Biden, despite a wealth of incriminating evidence. That’s why Weiss sat on his hands for years as the statute of limitations gradually made charges disappear — especially charges arising out of influence-peddling from 2014–16, when Joe Biden was vice president.

It’s also why Weiss initially tried to close the Hunter probe without charges until the IRS whistleblowers’ revelations made that politically impossible. At that point, recall, Weiss tried to disappear the case with a sweetheart plea deal so preposterous, so in defiance of normal Justice Department practice, that he and Hunter’s lawyers couldn’t slide it past an alert federal judge who asked a few basic questions that turned out to be unanswerable.

Only when the plea bargain blew up did Garland, in a “Clean Up on Aisle Five” move, appoint Weiss as special counsel. It was a Biden DOJ classic: The point of a special counsel is to bring in a lawyer from outside the government because the DOJ has a conflict of interest that prevents it from prosecuting the case ethically; so, in violation of the special-counsel regulations, Garland appointed not only a lawyer from inside the government, but Weiss himself — the very lawyer from inside the Biden Justice Department whose prior years of undermining the case perfectly illustrated that the Biden DOJ was hopelessly conflicted, protecting the president rather than enforcing the law.

And then, naturally, Weiss did his part. First, he indicted Hunter on gun charges — only after delaying so long that Hunter now has a potential Second Amendment defense that would not have been legally available to him years earlier, when Weiss should have been charged him. Subsequently, he indicted Hunter on the tax charges (at least some of the ones that were still left after Weiss made sure the worst of the Burisma-related crimes were now time-barred). Based on this, as night follows day, the media–Democrat complex crowed: See what an honest, ethical DOJ and “special counsel” we have here — indicting the president’s son without fear or favor! And that sure has fooled enough of the gullible and partisan that Weiss’s reputation-rehab project is at least a partial success.

But it’s a joke.

With the 2024 election on the horizon, there was no politically feasible way around these indictments once the sweetheart bargain imploded. Not only does the gun case involve serious felonies for which ordinary Americans are incarcerated (even if the gun in the indictment is different from the — uncharged — gun that naked, drugged-out Hunter is depicted brandishing in infamous photos mined from the “Laptop from Hell”). The Biden-Democrat firearms obsessions could not withstand a second attempt by the Biden Justice Department to make Hunter’s case go away. The best Hunter’s lawyers can do is grouse that if the defendant’s name weren’t Biden, he wouldn’t have been charged. That’s only true if they mean “charged in 2023”; in a normal case, if the accused caught in illegal possession of a gun or two in 2018 were not the president’s son, he would have been convicted and sentenced to prison by 2019.

As for the tax charges, Weiss has done what he could do for Hunter, in particular, by sitting on his hands while the statute of limitations lapsed on the most serious offenses. Hunter, however, is incidental. The objective here is to maintain the fiction that Joe Biden has nothing whatsoever to do with the Biden family business of cashing in on his political influence — no matter how many meetings and phone calls Joe had with Biden family business partners, and no matter how many rides Joe gave Hunter on Air Force Two to seal deals with CCP apparatchiks.

In that vein, perhaps you detected something intriguing about Weiss’s indictment of Hunter for not paying taxes on the money he “earned” by touting his father’s government power: The name “Joe Biden” does not appear in it — not even as “unidentified Highly Influential Father No. 1,” as we’d expect from one of those hilarious let’s-not-name-names DOJ charging documents. In the Weiss charging materials we’ve seen so far (including a statement of facts he obviously delegated Hunter’s lawyers to write), the president’s ne’er-do-well son earns big money as a high-end lawyer and business tycoon. Joe Biden? Nope, never heard of him.

But, alas, they sure knew who Joe was at Burisma . . . which brings us back to Smirnov.

He is the source for the notorious 1023 report (a standard FBI form memorializing an interview of a confidential informant). In that document, Smirnov, an informant with a track record of providing solid information, reported that he’d been told by Burisma boss Mykola (“Nicolay”) Zlochevsky that Zlochevsky had paid $10 million in bribes to Joe and Hunter Biden. The head Burisma honcho was further said to have described the transactions as so byzantine it would take agents a decade to trace the funds.

According to the new indictment, in a 2017 interview by his handling agent, Smirnov merely noted en passant that Zlochevsky had put Hunter on Burisma’s board of directors; he made no mention of the sensational bribery allegation. Three years later, when he was reinterviewed in June 2020, Smirnov dubiously claimed to remember it. The indictment says Smirnov maintained that he learned of this bribery scheme circa 2015–16, in meetings and phone calls with Zlochevsky and other Burisma execs, some of them in the presence of two other business associates he identified. Smirnov is also said to have reported that Zlochevsky’s stated objective — in the bribe and in paying Hunter millions of dollars to sit on the board — was to induce then-vice president Biden to pressure the Ukrainian government into firing Viktor Shokin, the prosecutor who was investigating Bursima. (By his own account, Biden did get Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to fire Shokin — although Biden apologists insist this was because the prosecutor, not Biden, was corrupt.)

Now, there is no doubt that House Republicans, led by James Comer and Jim Jordan (chairmen of, respectively, the Oversight and Intelligence Committees) got out over their skis on this one. They only knew about the 1023 form; they did not know Smirnov’s name and could do no background investigation of him. FBI director Chris Wray resisted their demands to surrender the 1023, acceding only when threatened with contempt. Wray warned the House that the information in the report was uncorroborated. Now, that could mean the FBI did not do enough follow-up, but it could also mean the Bureau tried but couldn’t either verify or disprove the claims.

On that score, if the allegations in Weiss’s indictment of Smirnov are true, what we appear to have here is an episode of galactic government incompetence.

Weiss’s false-statement theory is that the Biden-incriminating conversations Smirnov had in 2015–16 could not have happened because the travel documents and available witnesses prove that Smirnov was not introduced to Burisma execs until 2017 — when Biden was already out of office and Shokin had already been fired. It will be interesting to see how that shakes out. Smirnov may have shown up for his 2023 reinterview thinking it was a normal debriefing, of the kind he’d been through countless times; but Weiss’s investigators appear to have set up the session so they could make a false-statements case on him — i.e., get him to repeat his alleged 2020 misinformation, then charge him. Yet the indictment does not indicate that any of the interviews of Smirnov were recorded or transcribed. When it is alleged that a person lied in an un-transcribed interview, the government has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt exactly what the witness said; when the FBI and Justice Department could easily have arranged for a recording to avoid any ambiguity about that, yet chose not to, juries tend to wonder why.

Parsed carefully, the form 1023 summary of Smirnov’s statements, and similar recitations in the indictment, are not crystal-clear on what exactly Smirnov said versus what the FBI interviewers assumed he meant as they understood the context. And as I pointed out Friday, there is no indication that investigators gave Smirnov notice that they suspected him of lying, much less confronted him directly on what they now allege are false statements. (Had he been confronted and then plausibly contended there was a misunderstanding, that would have made it difficult to charge him — and it sure looks like Weiss wanted to charge him.)

As I also pointed out, the indictment does not explain why Weiss took no action for three years after learning of Smirnov’s explosive allegations. Similarly, it does not explain how, given that Smirnov provided the germane travel documents in 2020, it took some three years for the Federal Bureau of, yes, Investigation to figure out that the documents proved Smirnov was lying. Nor does the indictment give us an inkling as to why Smirnov, who doesn’t seem to be an idiot, would have given the Bureau documents that, to hear Weiss tell it, patently disproved his story.

In any event, what cannot be gainsaid is that the Bureau has a track record — or, at least, some of its agents since disciplined or pushed out by Wray have a track record — of working with Democrats to suppress derogatory information about Biden, customarily dismissing it as (sing it with me!) Russian disinformation. Wray clearly tried hard to warn Comer, Jordan, and other Republicans not to put too much stock in Smirnov’s unverified claims, but today’s Trumpy GOP doesn’t trust the FBI (including the director appointed by Trump) — not without justification, given the Bureau’s collusion with the Clinton campaign and other Democrats to portray Trump as a Putin operative from 2016–19, then its role in inducing social-media platforms to whitewash Biden-corruption reporting in 2020. Ergo, ignoring Wray, Republicans grabbed the Smirnov 1023 form and ran with it.

Why was this foolish? Because there is already extensive evidence, having nothing to do with Smirnov, that the Bidens acted corruptly in connection with Burisma.

To be clear, corruptly does not necessarily mean illegally. Democrats conflate the two (as politicians jammed up in corruption cases tend to do). They gruffly insist that Republicans have failed to prove that Joe Biden did anything wrong. Given the weighty evidence of lucrative influence-peddling, however, what they must mean is that Republicans have not established that Joe Biden did anything provably felonious. They can’t credibly say it wasn’t sleazy (not that that stops them from saying it), because it was sleazy by any measure.

In 2014, Zlochevsky was widely reputed to be thoroughly corrupt — which was not news to then-vice president Biden, who headed up what is referred to without a hint of irony as the Obama administration’s anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine and elsewhere. Despite this, the vice president’s son, Hunter, was slotted onto Burisma’s board in early 2014 (i.e., right after the Russia-friendly Ukrainian regime of which Zlochevsky was part was pushed out, inducing Zlochevsky to flee).

On the day Hunter joined Burisma, its CFO, Vadym Pozharsky, sent him an “urgent message” email about the aggressive investigations Zlochevsky was facing from the Ukrainian government. “We urgently need your advice,” Pozharsky pleaded, “on how you could use your influence to convey a message/signal, etc., to stop what we consider to be politically motivated actions.” Over the ensuing years, Zlochevsky lavished millions on the vice president’s son, who had no relevant expertise. Just in case the Burisma assessment of Hunter’s value-added wasn’t clear enough, Zlochevsky slashed Hunter’s retainer in half as soon as Joe Biden left the vice presidency in 2017.

Hunter’s business partner, Devon Archer, was also planted on Burisma’s board. Archer, a Democratic activist close to then–secretary of state John Kerry, is a convicted fraudster (Hunter was implicated but not charged in the case). On April 16, 2015, Hunter and Archer arranged a dinner at Washington’s chic Café Milano for some of their important business partners to meet Vice President Biden. Among them was Pozharsky, who later thanked Hunter “for inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent [sic] some time together.” (Alas, Zlochevsky couldn’t attend, being on the lam and all.)

The good feelings ebbed when it dawned on Burisma that Hunter and Archer were not producing the relief Zlochevsky needed. On November 2, 2015, as preparations were being made for a Burisma board meeting in Dubai (where Zlochevsky was holed up), Pozharsky emailed Hunter, Archer, and Biden confidant Eric Scherwin, bemoaning the “lack of concrete tangible results that we set out to achieve in the first place.” In particular, the Burisma CFO carped that planning documents he’d just gotten from Hunter failed to

offer any names of top US officials here in Ukraine (for instance, the US Ambassador) or Ukrainian officials (the President of Ukraine, chief of staff, Prosecutor General) as key targets for improving Nicolay’s [i.e., Zlochevsky’s] case and his situation in Ukraine.

Pozharsky allowed that it was often unwise to put such things in writing. But he stressed that it was vital “that all parties in fact understand the true purpose of the engagement and all our joint efforts” — an obvious reference to Hunter’s engagement by Burisma. Pozharsky then addressed the imperative of achieving our “final goals,” demanding a list of “concrete deliverables”: the names of high-ranking, influential current and former American government officials who could come to Ukraine imminently for the “ultimate purpose to close down for any cases/pursuits against Nicolay [Zlochevsky] in Ukraine.”

In early December, Hunter and Archer were in Dubai for the Burisma board meeting. At the same time, on December 4, Scherwin had an email exchange with Vice President Biden’s communications director at the White House, Kate Bedingfield. After Scherwin suggested talking points on how the Obama/Biden administration should respond to press inquiries about the curious role of the vice president’s son on the board of a reputedly corrupt Ukrainian energy company, Bedingfield assured Scherwin that the “VP signed off on these.”

Meanwhile, in Dubai on the same day, Pozharsky phoned Hunter after the board meeting to say that Zlochevsky urgently needed to speak with him. The two top Burisma execs thus hustled over to the Four Seasons resort to meet with Hunter and Archer. When they got there, after complaining again about the strain of the investigations, Zlochevsky bluntly put Hunter on the spot: “Can you ring your dad?” Hunter did as the man paying him the big bucks asked, calling his father.

Moments later, the vice president of the United States came to the phone. Hunter put his father on speaker and explained that he and Archer were sitting together with “Nikolay and Vadym.” No further elaboration about the Ukrainians’ names was needed: remember, Pozharsky had supped with Vice President Biden at the Café Milano and, well, everyone knew exactly who “Nicolay” Zlochevsky was. While the conversation mainly stayed at the level of pleasantries, Hunter stressed that the two Ukrainians “need our support.”

By the way, that information comes from that notorious font of Russian disinformation, Devon Archer.

It was just a few days later that Vice President Biden flew to Ukraine, where he duly pressured President Poroshenko to fire the prosecutor, Shokin, who was investigating Zlochevsky and Burisma. Biden warned that if Shokin was not fired, U.S. financial aid desperately needed by Kyiv would be withheld.

By the way, that information comes from that notorious font of Russian disinformation, Joe Biden.

Shokin was indeed fired in October 2016. When it finally happened, there was delirium at Blue Star Strategies, a lobbying firm with powerhouse Biden and Clinton ties. Hunter Biden had brought Blue Star in to champion the cause of Zlochevsky and Burisma, including to the U.S. government. On October 11, 2016, Scherwin emailed Blue Star’s Sally Painter gushing, “We won and in less than a year. Yea!!!” Painter gleefully responded, “Thanks. U brought us in so take a victory lap.”

Blue Star had not registered with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Now, you may be thinking: Isn’t it a felony to lobby the government on behalf of foreign concerns, such as Burisma and Zlochevsky, without registering under FARA? Well, yes. But see, that’s not a problem here, no siree, because “special counsel” David Weiss and the Biden Justice Department first allowed Blue Star to register retroactivelysix years after the fact, and then quietly notified Blue Star that it was no longer a subject of the investigation.

But hey, at least Weiss is gonna nail Alexander Smirnov, right?

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Cellphone Data May Just Cook Fani Willis and Nathan Wade's Goose About Start of Relationship

By Nick Arama | RedState.com

Alyssa Pointer/Pool Photo via AP

The evidence was already not looking good for Fulton County DA Fani Willis and her story about when her relationship with special prosecutor Nathan Wade began. There was prior testimony from her former good friend Robin Yeartie that the relationship began in 2019, before what both Wade and Willis told the Court. That was bad enough. 

The defense, including former President Donald Trump, is arguing that the two and the DA's office should be disqualified from the case because of the relationship. The couple was forced to admit there was a romance, but both claimed it began in 2022 -- after Wade had been hired in Nov. 2021. 

Now there's more evidence that just may cook Willis and Wade's goose on the issue and earn them a lot of trouble. The Trump team revealed in a filing with the Court that they have cellphone data they obtained from AT&T pursuant to a subpoena. According to the data in the filing, Wade appeared to have made at least 35 visits to the Hapeville neighborhood where Fani Willis was living before the district attorney hired him.

Trump’s lawyers relied on data collected from Wade’s cellphone and cellphone tower transmissions which they said tracked his movements. It could contradict Wade’s testimony last week in which he said he had visited Willis at her condo in Hapeville no more than 10 times before he was hired in November 2021. It also indicates Wade twice arrived in the area late at night and left early the next morning in the months before Willis and Wade said their relationship became romantic early in 2022.

Both Wade and Willis testified last week that they did not spend the night together at the Hapeville condo.


 Check the timing and when he's in the area. 

On one occasion, on Sept. 11, 2021, Wade’s phone left the Doraville area and arrived in the vicinity of Willis’ Hapeville address at 10:45 p.m. The phone remained there until 3:28 a.m. and could later be seen arriving in East Cobb at 4:05 a.m., shortly before Wade sent a text to Willis, the affidavit said. 

Similarly, Wade’s phone left the East Cobb area the night of Nov. 29, 2021, after receiving an 11:32 p.m. call from Willis, the affidavit said. It arrived in Hapeville at 12:43 a.m. and remained there until 4:55 a.m., the affidavit added.

Then there's the number of calls and texts. There was an affidavit from investigator Charles Mittelstadt.

The affidavit says Willis and Wade called each other more than 2,000 times during the first 11 months of 2021 and exchanged just less than 10,000 text messages.

That was all during the time they claimed they weren't having a romantic relationship. 

Two thousand phone calls and almost 10,000 text messages? That's an incredible amount of communication. 

This has to up the likelihood that they get disqualified. As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes, this also could also bring them lots of trouble. If it's determined that they lied under oath, it could constitute perjury and their careers could be in jeopardy. 

Friday, February 23, 2024

Wellness Check on Leftists After the NY Times Does the Unthinkable in Finally Fact Checking Joe Biden

By Sister Toldjah | RedState.com

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

As my RedState colleagues and I have documented many times at this site, professional fact-checkers simply stink - not because they are charged with fact-checking but because so many of them are in the tank for Democrats. As a result, they tailor their purported "fact checks" accordingly, which means the "fact check" is... not really a fact check at all.

Like their media allies, fact-check organizations - despite their laughable spin to the contrary - have established themselves for the past couple of decades as little more than mouthpieces/apologists for leftists and leftist causes, with the examples too numerous to list here, though we'll point out a couple of them for good measure.

Fact-checkers have so often gone to bat for Democrats over the years that it's become expected of them in Democratic circles, as natural as breathing.  In fact, it's so rare that fact-checkers hold a Democrat's feet to the fire that when they do, conservatives take notice if for no other reason than to express their pleasant surprise to see it happening for a change.

As one might imagine, though, sometimes those once-a-year fact checks of Democrats coming from the mainstream media and their hired "truth seekers" can cause panic, with some on the left needing some smelling salts and access to fainting couches in order to make it through the day.

Such was the case this week after the New York Times did the unthinkable in fact-checking Joe Biden, noting that "At recent public and campaign events... Mr. Biden has made some misleading statements about the economy, jobs and taxes."

Though it was about as harsh on Biden as one would expect coming from the liberally biased Snoozepaper of record (read: not at all), it was simply too much for the likes of Claire McCaskill, the former Democratic Senator from Missouri who is known for her occasional bizarre and non-sensical rants, which makes her a perfect fit in her role as political analyst at MSDNC MSNBC.

On the Thursday "Morning Joe" episode, McCaskill whined to co-hosts Joe Scarborough and his side-kick Mika Brzezinski about the Times daring to do what had so rarely been done before in fact-checking Biden. Further, she demanded the paper stop fact-checking him at all until they had also fact-checked Biden's presumptive general election GOP opponent, Donald Trump:

MCCASKILL: So the only blemish on the great country of America worldwide is, in fact, Donald Trump and can I make a suggestion? I move that every newspaper in America quits doing any fact-checks on Joe Biden until they fact-check Donald Trump every morning on the front page. It is ridiculous--

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Yeah.

MCCASKILL: --that the New York Times fact-checked Joe Biden on something. I mean, he vomits lies, Trump vomits lies. Every day—

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Literally.

MCCASKILL: over and over and over again and it’s just ridiculous that the New York Times is doing a fact-check on Biden while they let Trump -- while they're numb to the torrent of lies coming out of Trump's mouth.

 Not mentioned in the Brzezinski/McCaskill anti-Times/Trump hatefest was Brzezinski's (and Scarborough's) extensive role in elevating Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, but I digress.

As it turns out, McCaskill wasn't the only one acting fauxfended over the Times' recent coverage of Joe Biden, as pointed out by 538 site founder Nate Silver in an "X" (formerly Twitter) post.

Leaving aside the fact that the Times is all over Trump on any given day (contra to claims from the Biden admin), I'd say that as bad of a look that it was for McCaskill and Oates to be crying foul over the rare instance of the Gray Lady throwing some mild criticism Biden's way, it's an even worse indictment of the MSM and their fact-checking arms. 

Why? Because McCaskill and Oates essentially said the quiet part out loud-- by inadvertently making the exact points conservative critics have long argued about the media's biased, one-sided, political agenda-driven nature.

Thanks much, Claire.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Biden Imprisons His Rivals Until They Die, Too

By John and Andy Schlafly | Townhall.com

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

The hue and cry about the recent death of Putin critic Alexei Navalny in a Russian prison overlooks that Biden and the Deep State are trying to imprison Trump until he dies, too. Anti-Trumpers in our country have been misusing the legal system with a vengeance ever since Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Trump compared Navalny’s death, while under a three-decade prison sentence, to the relentless lawfare to imprison and bankrupt himself. Some scoffed at that comparison, but Biden and his minions are trying to treat Trump as Putin reportedly mistreated Navalny.

Trump posted on Truth Social, “The sudden death of Alexei Navalny has made me more and more aware of what is happening in our Country. It is a slow, steady progression, with CROOKED, Radical Left Politicians, Prosecutors, and Judges leading us down a path to destruction.”

President Trump properly commuted the 14-year sentence of Democrat Rod Blagojevich, but Biden has not pardoned or released any of the Trump supporters who have received even longer sentences for non-violent activity. While pro-Trump protestors are imprisoned in a Gulag as Navalny was in Russia, Biden and his media supporters applaud.

Biden’s prosecutors demanded a 33-year prison sentence for Enrique Tarrio for a January 6-related protest even though Tarrio was not even at the Capitol that day. Tarrio received a 22-year sentence, while other Trump supporters were sentenced to more than 15 years and it seems likely some will die in prison as Navalny did.

The Republican-controlled House in Congress lacks initiative, merely reacting to demands by liberals for massive foreign aid. The GOP House should condition their vote on any Continuing Resolution on a termination of all funding for the prosecutions against Biden’s political rivals.

In globalist-controlled England, the second-highest target of the Deep State has his final hearing before its top court before he is extradited to the U.S. Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, is being sought by U.S. prosecutors for what would be a show trial here followed by life imprisonment.

Federal espionage charges pending against Assange for exposing lies by the government carry a maximum prison sentence of 175 years which means that Assange, like Navalny, would probably die in a U.S. prison. To persuade a British judge to approve extradition, the Feds absurdly represented that they might allow Assange to serve out his sentence in his native Australia.

Assange has always lived outside of the U.S. and is a citizen of Australia, so this is an abuse of globalist power for the Deep State to insist on bringing him here for a trial. He and his wife predict that he’ll die in jail here if the British High Court allows the extradition.

Wikileaks published information showing how much the federal government has been lying to the American people. That should not be a crime, but embarrassing the Feds is, in their view, the most heinous crime of all.

It was Assange and Wikileaks who published 20,000 leaked emails from high-level officials at the Democratic National Committee in the summer of 2016, which proved that Democrats had lied in pretending not to be siding with Hillary Clinton. Democrats then insisted without evidence that Russian hackers trying to help Trump were the source of the emails, another lie that Assange rebuked.

That leak helped discredit Hillary Clinton during her campaign for president, and was considered to be a reason she lost to Trump. Assange has been a target for a political prosecution ever since, and globalists persuaded the UK Home Secretary Priti Patel to approve in 2022 his extradition to the U.S.

Biden’s Secretary of Homeland Security, the recently impeached Alejandro Mayorkas, has personally prevented Biden’s political rival RFK Jr. from receiving customary Secret Service protection despite multiple criminal intrusions of his home and an armed thug pretending to be a U.S. Marshal showing up at an RFK Jr. campaign event. Yet anti-Trumpers have remained silent about this mistreatment by Biden of his rival.

This is another issue that the GOP-majority House could hold a vote on, and enact a resolution calling on Biden to provide Secret Service protection for his political rivals. RFK Jr. is polling at 7% nationwide which is more than enough to justify providing him with the same protection that presidential candidates have typically received in prior elections.

Northwestern law professor Steven Calabresi calls the recent New York judgment of $355 million plus interest against Trump and his family “a travesty and an unjust political act rivaled only in American politics by the killing of former Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton by Vice President Aaron Burr.” When liberals complain about a regime misusing its power against a rival, then they should look first at how Biden is doing this.



Wednesday, February 21, 2024

A Black History Reflection: Satchmo and the Jewish Family

BY BRUCE RAEBURN

Louis Armstrong never forgot the employers who nurtured him as a boy

Look at any picture of Louis Armstrong relaxing with an open shirt collar and you are very likely to see a Star of David hanging around his neck. Where did that come from? It’s an expression of his lifelong gratitude and devotion to the kindnesses shown him by the Karnofsky family when he was a seven-year-old boy in New Orleans.

How Louis encountered “the Jewish Family” (as he referred to them in writing) should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the “crazy quilt” character of some New Orleans neighborhoods, in which people of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds commingle on a daily basis, often living next door to each other. Such was the case when Louis moved from Jane Alley, “back o’ town,” to Franklin and Perdido Streets, in the Third Ward. South Rampart Street was only a couple of blocks away, teeming with pawnshops, tailoring establishments, restaurants, bars, and saloons. The resident proprietors of the pawnshops, and many of the tailors, were Jewish — the Finks, Fertels, and Karnofskys being the most prominent among them — but the neighborhood also included a Chinatown.

Running amok on the streets as he was wont to do, little Louis took it all in, and his relationship with the Karnofskys (which began with his first job) was pretty much a foregone conclusion from the time he moved into the neighborhood. Among other things, they shared a similar lifestyle, right down to the basics: for example, everybody in the neighborhood had to use privies (yes, outhouses); everyone was poor in material goods but rich in spirit, and their fortune was in the streets; and if you were eating out for a special occasion, you went to a Chinese restaurant, where they had soul food (“lead beans and lice” said Louis) along with the usual Cantonese fare. What Armstrong admired about his Jewish benefactors was that they were industrious and stood together in the face of oppression — which was something they encountered at every turn, like their black neighbors. They were “all in this together,” but some folks were more together than others. As Louis said later, “I came up the hard way, the same as lots of people, but I always help the other fellow if there’s anyways possible.” After he made it, he kept a bankroll that could choke a gator, precisely to make good on that promise. He learned that from the Karnofskys.

Louis really did start at the bottom. His job for the Jewish family was collecting refuse (bottles and rags mostly) and delivering coal to the prostitutes in Storyville. He usually accompanied Morris or Alex, two of the Karnofsky sons, on the junk wagon and played a tinhorn to attract customers. One day they passed a pawnshop and Louis saw a burnished B-flat cornet on sale for five dollars in the window. Five bucks might as well have been a million, but Morris advanced him two dollars and he saved the rest at 50 cents a week until he could raise the money to buy the horn. (That’s something else they taught him, how to save, which as most of us know, is a hard lesson, often learned more than once in a lifetime.) Morris never let Louis forget that he had talent and applauded him as he attempted to make his first horn sing.

“They could see I had something in my soul,” Louis said. And the Karnofskys also made sure that he had something in his stomach. Louis loved the food he ate at their home. As he put it: “My first Jewish meal was at the age of seven. I liked their Jewish food very much. Every time we would come in late on the little wagon from buying old rags and bones, when they would be having supper they would fix a plate of food for me, saying ‘you’ve worked, might as well eat here with us. It is too late, and by the time you get home, it will be way too late for your supper.’ I was glad because I fell in love with their food from those days until now. I still eat their food — matzos. My wife Lucille keeps them in her breadbox so I can nibble on them any time that I want to eat late at night. So tasty — DEElicious.”

Louis worked for the Karnofskys until he was about twelve, by which time he was “a little large for the job.” We all know what happened to him after that — he became the first super star of jazz — but what about his mentors? As Louis tells it “they came into larger businesses. They had invested their saved earnings, and before one realized it, they had New Orleans all sewed up.”

Well, in point of fact, the youngest son, David, grew up to be a master tailor, and he kept in touch with his family’s most famous protégé, often attending Louis’s performances in New York. And there’s more. Later generations of Karnofskys abbreviated the surname to Karno (which it may have originally been in their native Russia), and some of them became powerful nightclub owners in the French Quarter. Nick Karno had La Strada, The 500 Club, The Famous Door, Court of Two Sisters, and other prime real estate devoted to music. 


So maybe this relationship was more reciprocal than it’s usually made out to be, because it seems to me that Louis gave the Karnofskys something, too — an appreciation for the creative power of jazz. That’s a gift that keeps on giving.

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Bruce Boyd Raeburn, Ph.D., is director of the Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane University.