Former federal prosecutor unveils the lawlessness in the Obama administration at the Freedom Center's Texas Weekend.
Editor's note: Below are the video and transcript to Andy McCarthy’s speech at the Freedom Center's Texas Weekend, held June 17 - 18, 2015 at the Ritz-Carlton in Dallas, Texas.
Andy McCarthy: I mentioned that it was the beginning of Ramadan, but it’s also -- If I had to designate a theme for the month, I think the theme would probably be material support to terrorism, and I say that because it was a year ago that the book that Mike was kind of enough to mention, Faithless Execution, was published.
And I had the fortuity -- Fortuity for me. Catastrophe for the country. But I had the fortuity when the book came out to have it published on the same day that President Obama traded five Taliban commanders for the release of a soldier who turns out to have been a deserter, at best.
And I remarked, at the time that the book came out, that the problem for a writer trying to write a book about lawlessness in the Obama administration and the shredding of the Constitution in the Obama administration is that, at a certain point in time, the writer has to stop writing, so that they can, you know, put together the book and bind it and publish it and get it to the stores.
The Obama administration rolls merrily along, so by the time the book actually came out, I hadn’t written a word in about three months, so I was probably about 12 impeachable acts behind.
And we thought that maybe the book should come out in pocket parts. You know, maybe every month we would update it, but that was what was happening last June, and this June we have another just amazing exhibition of material support to terrorism by the administration.
Within the context of the Iran negotiations, which in and of themselves are an atrocity, it was about a week ago that the State Department quietly announced that it was withdrawing financial support, American financial support to a civil society organization in Lebanon, which was -- this is a civil society organization that basically exists for one reason and one reason alone, and that is to be a democratic alternative to Hezbollah.
So we are actually, in our State Department and in the White House -- Remember at the beginning of the Obama administration the now director of the CIA saying that one of the things that they were trying to track down, so that they could meet with, were the moderate members of Hezbollah?
Well, flash forward seven years later, we’re now trying to wipe out an organization that’s actually dedicated to human rights and civil liberty for the benefit of Hezbollah, which, other than Al-Qaeda, is the organization that has murdered more Americans than any other on the planet, and it’s all being done to appease Iran.
So the Iran negotiations are so outrageous that this one is one that kind of flew under the radar screen, but the support of Hezbollah, like the support of the Taliban, is about as outrageous a dereliction of duty as a commander in chief and a president can commit.
And the reason I mention dereliction of duty in this context, I remember when the Taliban commanders were released, the big debate in Washington was over whether the president had violated a law which required him to give notice to Congress 30 days before releasing certain categories of prisoners, including Taliban prisoners, from Guantanamo Bay.
And, actually, that particular law was the kind of law that national security conservatives used to object to in the Bush days, out of recognition that the president is commander in chief of the armed forces during wartime and is in charge, and has traditionally, under American law, been in charge of the disposition of enemy combatants and prisoners of war during wartime, there was a very good argument that the administration could have made that the law that Congress enacted, this 30-day notice requirement, was probably unconstitutional.
But that was so beside the point. We’re talking about in wartime, at a time when the enemy is conducting offensive operations against the United States, the commander in chief turns over five commanders to the enemy.
The way the Framers would have addressed that -- Well, it would have actually been unimaginable to the Framers, but if they had had a very robust imagination, the way they would have addressed that was not as a legal matter, not as a small matter of, you know, did the president run afoul of a 30-day notice statute. They would have addressed it in terms of dereliction of duty. They would have addressed it in terms of impeachment.
I made a lot of my friends in the Republican Party, and even in some conservative circles, very unhappy writing a book about impeachment, particularly in an election year. The week the book came out, the Democrats actually raised a bunch of money off it. You know, as soon as the book came out the big announcement went out that they were trying to impeach our president, and they did manage to get a decent pile of cash on that for a few days, misrepresenting, actually, what the argument was in the book.
In the book, I actually say that we don’t have a political case yet, or at least at that point, to impeach the president, and that before you go down the road of impeachment, you have to make the political case because impeachment is a political remedy. It’s not a legal one.
Now, there was no prospect, and it certainly seems, at this point, that there’s no prospect, for making a political case that Obama should be impeached, such that it would grip the country’s attention and support and actually obtain that end.
So why write the book? What’s the point? What’s the -- You know, I guess it’s sort of like when I talk about this we should be playing, I Can Dream, Can’t I? in the background, right?
I still think there’s a very good reason for writing the book, and it was the reason that I did it in the first place, and it’s not about the likelihood or the plausibility of impeaching this particular extraordinarily lawless president. It’s to make the point that we are in a particular kind of government with a particular kind of governing framework, and the Framers put impeachment in the Constitution as a necessary check on executive power, on executive overreach.
And the point is you can take impeachment off the table. That’s a completely tolerable, sensible, understandable political position to take. If the country is not ready to impeach a president, to start calling for the president’s impeachment, to start filing articles of impeachment is a political suicidal move to make.
But the thing that we need to understand is that while the Framers put decisive checks on presidential excess in the Constitution, there were only a few of them, and if you take them off the table, then, there is no way to stop presidential excess.
The Framers basically gave us, in the Constitution, really two tools for Congress to reign in the president. The two tools are impeachment and the power of the purse. A third tool, which they spent a good deal of time talking about in the debates over the Constitution, was the ballot box, the election process itself.
That did not go over well. Some people among the Framers -- it was a very minority position -- thought that as long as we had elections, we didn’t need to bother with things like impeachment, because you could always remove the president, and the majority of the Framers shot back that, obviously, somebody who is innately corrupt would have their greatest incentive toward corruption in the process of trying to maintain power.
So it was deemed that the ballot box would not be a sufficient check on what the Framers spent probably as much time as they spent on any subject, and that was the fear that the powerful office of presidency that they were creating could be abused and that they could end up with just the kind of monarchic government that they had broken away from not so long before.
So the two checks that the Framers essentially gave to Congress to reign the president in were the power of the purse and impeachment.
We’ve taken both of them off the table. I mean, the Congress has basically forsworn not just impeaching the president, but anything that might cause a shutdown of the government, and if you tell the opposition, if you tell the president ahead of time that you’re going to compete with him, you’re going to fight with him on issues of policy, but you tell him going in, but we’re not going to do anything that would shut down the government, you have essentially said that we are not going to use the power of the purse to reign you in when push comes to shove.
So you have the power of the purse, and that’s gone by the boards. And they’ve also forsworn impeachment, again, a sensible political position to take, for sure, but what it means is you have taken the only two tools that we have in the system to check presidential lawlessness, and once you’ve taken those off the table what that means is the only checks on what the president can do is what he personally thinks he can get away with and what his political incentives are.
And we now have a president who is in the last two years of his administration, who has no more elections to worry about, has no real reasons, no incentives to rein in his behavior and has essentially told the country that he’s going to govern as unilaterally as he needs to govern or as he thinks he needs to govern in order to get his agenda imposed.
And if what the opposition says is, we’re not going to shut down the government, and we’re certainly not going to think about impeaching him, then we’re really at the mercy of what the president himself thinks he has the political will and the political invulnerability to get away with.
So my main point in writing the book was simply to try to make the point that if we want to combat presidential lawlessness, then we either have to come up with new tools or we have to revive the tools that we have because we are operating within a system that is actually inviting the president to be lawless.
And for that reason I think -- You know, Mike mentioned that the talk today is supposed to be about what the president has done to shred the Constitution, and if we had a little more time -- probably, you know, another couple of days -- I could catalogue the things that he’s done which are either unconstitutional or at least illegal or fall in the category of dereliction of duty, but, really, that’s not the problem.
You know, the Framers spent a lot of time on presidential power precisely because they anticipated Barak Obama. Barak Obama is the president that they worried about when they debated principles in the drafting of the Constitution. What do we do if the president does X, Y and Z? They assumed a lawless president, which is what you do when you’re trying to figure out what checks will work to balance and to rein in a president who goes beyond what his constitutional portfolio is.
So you can’t shred the Constitution by yourself as a president. The only way the Constitution gets shredded is if the president acts illegally and his opposition becomes supine.
The Framers’ assumption was that we would have lawless presidents and lawless executive branch officials. That’s why they put impeachment in the Constitution. Madison said impeachment was an indispensable remedy.
They understood that if you concentrated the kind of power that they would need to concentrate in the executive branch to fix the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation and allow a powerful-enough president who could react swiftly and decisively to threats against the United States, if you were going to create a powerful office like that, you were going to have a potential for massive, massive abuse of power. So what they spent most of their time on is what do we do about that when it happens, because, inevitably, it will happen.
So the thing in the equation that’s seemingly unspoken, particularly on our side, but is just as real as the president’s lawlessness is the failure of his opposition to combat his lawlessness, because the assumption that the Framers made was that Members of Congress, representing different constituencies across the country, would have more of an institutional fealty to the institution of Congress than they would to political parties. And, as a result, they would defend the institution and they would defend the powers of the institution, the prerogatives of the institution and so on. They would make sure that a president did not abrogate to himself or arrogate to himself the powers of the legislature.
What they didn’t anticipate, I think, was the modern left, or it’s probably a mistake to say that they didn’t anticipate it. They thought that they had put in enough of an array of checks and they thought that they had conquered the problem of factionalism enough that the Congress would have the incentive to fight off the president in his lawlessness.
Unfortunately, I think that turns out to be a miscalculation, and, you know, it’s interesting that the last speaker, who I thought was just terrific -- God, I wish I could have done that when I was 21. That was impressive. But, you know, he talked about community organizing from the right, because community organizing from the left has become such a phenomenon.
If we think about it, you know, there’s a pretty straightforward reason why that’s the case. The classical model of a republic, the thought of a republic was that it would be relatively small, and the idea was that it would be homogenous, particularly in its culture and in its values.
The Framers, to the extent that they had a really radical idea about republics, was to turn on its head this classical understanding of what a republic was. What Madison thought, and what the other Framers thought was that the more the merrier. The bigger the country, the bigger the populace, the more factions, and the more factions we had, the less likelihood there was that power could be arrogated to one or accumulated in one particular place.
And what the Constitution, what our governing framework really is all about is dividing authority. Their ingenious idea was that we don’t need to rely on the goodness of our representatives. We don’t need to rely on the fact that they’re altruistic and they love the country and they’ll always do the right thing. In fact, we’re going to assume that they’ll often do the wrong thing.
But if we incentivize everybody to protect their institution and we incentivize everybody to protect their power and we efficiently balance the powers of the different actors in the government, whether it’s the executive, the legislature and the courts or the states versus the federal government and we disperse the power big enough among enough factions, that we will actually have a more efficient republic and one that’s built on more sensible expectations about human behavior.
What community organizing has done is really turn that on its head, because, now, instead of various factions, what you’re having is very efficient pulling together of coalitions, especially on the left, to the point where they walk in lockstep on almost everything.
So you have a very united movement on the left, and you have -- to the extent you have factional infighting, you have it on the right. And I think a lot of what we’re seeing in the way of their ability to push their agenda and our inability to stop it is reflected by that efficiency that they have in organizing their, quote/unquote, community.
Let me talk about a couple of specific aspects of presidential lawlessness and what the Framers were trying to get at. There’s a misunderstanding about what an impeachable offense is, and I would have thought that it was a misunderstanding that was sort of popular within lay people or among lay people in the country.
It’s actually a misunderstanding that has seeped into government itself, particularly in the Congress, and that is this idea that because the standard for impeachment in the Constitution is high crimes and misdemeanors that you can’t impeach a president unless he’s guilty of a crime or a misdemeanor of the kind that I used to prosecute back when I was in the U.S. Attorney’s Office. That’s not what high crimes and misdemeanors is at all.
In fact, high crimes and misdemeanors is a term of art. It’s actually borrowed from British law. There was a contemporary example for the Framers at the time that they were writing the Constitution. The famous impeachment trial in England of Lord Hastings was underway at the time that the Framers gathered in Philadelphia to write the Constitution. That impeachment was actually led by Edmund Burke, and Burke charged Hastings with high crimes and misdemeanors.
And what the Framers explained in the debates is that they are not what we think of as conventional penal criminal offenses. What Hamilton called them were the offenses of public men, that they are political in nature, not necessarily legal. So, yes, legal offenses will qualify. You know, ordinary felonies, if committed by executive branch officials, will quality as high crimes and misdemeanors, but that’s not really what the concept was getting at. The concept is getting at political wrongs, as Hamilton put it.
The idea is much more akin to what we find in the military justice system than in the civilian justice system, so that things like dereliction of duty, betrayal of the public trust, those are -- dishonesty with the public, dishonesty with the Congress -- those are the types of offenses that the Framers thought of as high crimes and misdemeanors warranting impeachment. They assumed that impeachment wouldn’t be done frequently, but it would be done without much hesitation if there were egregious enough departures from the fidelity that the president owed to the public.
And, in particular, what they were very concerned about was offenses by the president that went against the governing framework that is laid out in the Constitution, and, obviously, what that most concerns is the separation of powers.
So to the extent that the president tries to accumulate the powers of the other branches of government, that would have been something that the Framers would have been very concerned about and would have considered easily an impeachable offense.
Interestingly, one of the examples that Madison gives of what an impeachable offense would be in the debates over the Constitution was let’s say the president was negotiating a deal with a foreign country and wasn’t forthright with the Senate about what the terms of the negotiations were or tried to rig the approval of a treaty by calling into session only senators who were likely to approve the deal. It didn’t even occur to the Framers that the president would negotiate a deal in secret with an enemy of the United States and not share any of that with Congress or the Senate.
What’s going on today with the Iran negotiations would have been unimaginable, inconceivable to the Framers, but that was the idea. The idea was if the president betrayed the public trust that would be an impeachable offense. And, again, the Framers thought that it was essential to be able to remove a president who conducted himself that way.
So with respect to the Iran negotiations, I think that we’re seeing -- And, again, as I said at the beginning, we’ve now gotten to the point in the Obama presidency where we’re down to the end and he has no incentive to do anything other than impose his agenda. So what are we seeing with the Iran negotiations?
My way of looking -- I know everybody has a different way of looking at it, and I know Bret Stephens had some characteristically sharp things to say about it. My way of looking at it is this: If Obama was actually on Team Iran, like actually overtly playing for the other side, what would he do differently than what he’s done up until now?
And I must tell you, I don’t see it. I think that if he had been overtly on Team Iran it would have been more difficult for him to accommodate Iran the way that he has. So we’ve gone from somebody who ran as a candidate who promised to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon who has put them on a glide path that he’s basically paved for them to get nuclear weapons, he says, within 10 years.
For all we know, when you listen to what particularly Secretary Kerry says about the willful ignorance we’ll have over the extent of their program up until now, it’s going to be closer to 10 minutes, than 10 years.
So I think that it’s hard to sort out, after almost seven years of this, what the worst of it is. Iran may end up being the worst of it because it may have the most lasting consequences.
I actually spent the second half of the book laying out, in the way that a prosecutor lays out an indictment, what Articles of Impeachment against President Obama might look like, and that was just what we had up until, you know, March of 2014. It’s a much thicker indictment now.
It’s hard to fathom which -- or calculate which is the most outrageous of what we’ve seen, and, sometimes, as you turn the pages, you just say, Gee, I forgot about that, but that was unbelievable.
You know, Fast and Furious, actually a Border Patrol agent killed, thousands of weapons given to criminals, known criminal gangs in Mexico, and those weapons have been responsible for numerous felonies, including violent felonies, and, predictably, the killing of an agent. Almost not even spoken of anymore. It’s almost like it never happened, because there’s been so much other lawlessness that’s been piled on top of it.
I started -- I lay out about eight different Articles of Impeachment, and they all have subparts. It’s all, you know, sort of prosecutor stuff, if any of you have seen any of our thicker indictments.
But I started it out with the president’s failure to carry out what his perhaps most essential and straightforward duty is in the Constitution, which is to faithfully execute the laws. And Exhibit 1 on that was Obama Care, which, of course, we’re going to get a very important Supreme Court decision about in a week or two.
I don’t think that’s necessarily the most egregious one, Obama Care, which is the president’s own law, but which he has unilaterally amended some 40-plus times now, but prosecutors like to have a slam-dunk count at the beginning of the indictment because the theory is that if you get the jury to say guilty once the likelihood that they’ll say guilty again and again and again is more likely.
So I don’t think even the president’s sympathizers can dispute the fact that he has not faithfully executed the laws, but, to me, the most egregious of all these transactions is Benghazi, which I don’t look at just in terms of what happened on September 11th, but we take back over a year before that happened to the president’s unilateral, unauthorized war in Libya, which, obviously, was going to aid, abet and materially support anti-American jihadists, and going from there forward, you have a pattern for months of attacks by the jihadists on Western targets, including the very installation that ultimately was attacked on September 11th.
As the threat ratchets up, the administration actually withdraws more security, even though other countries are pulling their people out. Then you have the night of the attack where Americans are under siege and the commander in chief takes no action whatsoever to protect them, and they follow that up with not only lying to the country about who carried it out and why, but I think an episode that really hasn’t gotten enough attention is the fact that they trumped up a prosecution against the producer of the video in order to bolster, in the eyes of the American public, the fraud that the video had caused the atrocity, and, in the eyes of the Islamic nations, to bolster Obama’s impression that the United States was enforcing sharia suppression standards.
So I think in that one episode in Benghazi, taken from beginning to end, you have all the infidelity, all the dereliction of duty, all the offenses, in terms of fraud and in terms of dishonesty with the public, that there, in that small compass, is what the administration has really been all about from beginning to end.
I wish I could put a happier face on it and say that I think that, you know, we’re about to turn the tide. I’m afraid my message is the opposite of that, which is I’m afraid things get worse from here. I think in the -- You know, we have a president with enormous power. We have an opposition that’s told him they’ll do nothing significant, nothing material to prevent him, and the only thing standing as an obstruction between him and his agenda is his own sense of what he can get away with and how audacious he wants to be and how politically invulnerable he feels. And that being the case, I think we’re in a very dangerous time.
And on that happy note, why don’t I take some questions. (Applause.)
Andy McCarthy: The question is what about a convention of the states, an Article 5 convention under the Constitution?
Mark Levin, for example, has been a very strong proponent of this. There’s a number of people who I have great respect for who think it’s a bad idea, because they’re convinced that the left will mobilize and they will basically hijack the convention and rewrite the Constitution of their dreams.
I’m persuaded by Mark’s argument that they won’t be able to do that because unless you got basically 75 percent approval of the states, they can’t do anything. I mean, they can go in there and try to impose, you know, FDR’s second Bill of Rights and then some, but they can’t impose it unless they have majority support, substantial majority support in the country for it.
So I’m not as concerned as some are about the left hijacking a constitutional convention. And I must say that if we expect -- even if we elect the right people, if we expect them to go to Washington and change Washington, I think we’re kidding ourselves.
Washington is never going to fix Washington from within, because whatever the operating assumptions were at the time of the framing, we now have a permanent political class, and, basically, a professional political city. And I think one of the big problems with it is not only that you now go to Washington and expect to stay there as a career, and it becomes a very lucrative career somehow on public service salaries, but also there’s a revolving door that kind of solidifies the whole abuse.
So you have, you know, people floating from government positions into lobbying positions into media positions, and then they step from one to the other, and it becomes so much about protecting the Washington way that I actually think, in some ways, the reasons that we can’t get some of our people to fight is there’s no more comfortable position probably in the country than being in the minority if you have a safe seat in Washington. And basically you don’t have to govern. You don’t have to do anything, but, at the same time, you’re in the permanent political class. You have a lot of perks. You have a lot of patronage. You have a lot of power, and they have a great incentive not to rock the boat.
So I think the only way Washington ever gets stripped down is if it comes from without, rather than within. I mean, you could send Ted Cruz and, you know, clone him 50 times and I still don’t think it’ll change Washington. I think the pressure to change Washington has to come from the states, and the only way that happens is the convention, under Article 5, the only peaceful way it happens.
Andy McCarthy: Sure it’s plausible. There’s a movement -- Look, it’ll take --
Andy McCarthy: Yeah, well --
Andy McCarthy: The question is is it plausible? The answer is, yes, they have the same issues in Washington, but it’s 50 different sets of issues, which is a lot easier to deal with than one big insoluble problem.
And the problem with it, I think, is that you could do it, but the momentum to build for it is going to take a long time. It’s not like we’re going to have an Article 5 convention six months from now. I think if there’s going to be a ground swell for this it’s going to take some time, and, in the meantime, the damage that’s being done is -- it gets worse and worse each day, and I think it’ll get harder and harder to turn it around.
Let’s talk for a second about prosecutorial discretion, cause it’s really important. Prosecutorial discretion is a -- what used to be an unremarkable principle that the administration has converted into a license to mutilate the Constitution.
So here’s what prosecutorial discretion really is. When I was a prosecutor, I was a federal prosecutor, and we had state prosecutors as well right across the street. Sometimes the feds and the states have concurrent jurisdiction. So, for example, the federal government and the state governments can enforce the narcotics laws, right?
So we had an arrangement. Basically, the federal government would concentrate its resources on big narcotics crimes, for the most part, so international drug trafficking, interstate drug organizations and the like, and they would leave smaller drug crimes, local drug crimes to the district attorneys, things like possession of narcotics and small distributions. That’s prosecutorial discretion. That’s a division of resources. It’s not the federal government saying possessing narcotics is no longer a crime. What they’re saying is, We’re not going to use our resources, because our resources are finite. We’re going to try to target them at the bigger problem and leave it to the states to deal with the smaller problems.
It’s a resource allocation doctrine, and it used to be totally uncontroversial. What Obama has done is taken it as a license not to enforce the laws. So when he doesn’t enforce the federal immigration laws, he’s not saying, We don’t have the resources to enforce these types of immigration offenses. What he’s saying is, I disagree policy-wise with Congress that this should be a crime, and, as a result, we’re going to give de facto amnesty by the Justice Department not using its resources to go after these different issues, and wherever Obama has a policy disagreement, he doesn’t enforce the law.
On the other hand, whenever he has a dissenter, like Dinesh D’Souza, or the, you know, the poor guy who was the producer of the video, those guys get hammered. I mean, Dinesh D’Souza, who openly and, I think, contritely admits that he made a terrible mistake, committed a technical campaign finance violation that was worth about $15,000. He was prosecuted by the Justice Department on two felony counts, and they pushed for a jail sentence.
The Obama -- They didn’t get the jail sentence, thank goodness, but the Obama 2008 campaign was guilty of in excess of $2 million, provable, in campaign finance violations. The Justice Department let them settle it with an administrative fine of $350,000, which was $150,000 less than Dinesh D’Souza had to post to get out on bail.
So what this administration has done, in terms of abusing and politicizing the Justice Department, is among the worst and the most scary things that it’s been guilty of in the last seven years, and I do expect it will -- Like everything else, it’ll be ratcheted up as they need to ratchet it up.
I almost would put nothing past Obama, but I don’t worry about that because I think, from the left’s perspective, things are gliding in a direction that they like, and what I think Obama has been more interested in doing -- and I think Bill Whittle actually talked about this at lunch -- is appoint a lot of judges. You know, try to get a good ground game going everyplace, so that they do better in congressional elections, which they do do in presidential years, as opposed to the off years.
But what they’re really interested in, by the time Obama leaves office, he will have appointed about 400 judges to the federal courts. These are lifetime appointments. He may not get another Supreme Court nominee, but, you know, federal district judges -- A judge told me one time, and I think this is true, I asked him, Wouldn’t you like to be on the Court of Appeals? And he said, No. Cause you think in the way, you know, the judicial [regimen] goes, you have district judges and appellate judges and Supreme Court judges, district judges are lower on the totem pole.
Actually, district judges have real power because they’re a majority of one. You know, you could be a high-ranking Supreme Court justice, but if you’re in the minority, you’re rulings are essentially meaningless. Whereas, federal judges rule on everything, and you can’t appeal everything, so most of the rulings they make actually stand.
So there will be no better projection of Obama’s agenda than the district judges that he has managed to seed through the federal system. And notice -- You know, we always hear -- Remember the famous Nancy Pelosi thing, you know, We have to pass it to find out what’s in it? All of these mega-bills that they’ve passed -- and you can’t even know what the law is if you’re passing bills that are more than, you know, 40 pages long, let alone thousands of pages long, but all of these bills are laced with ambiguity. That’s quite intentional. The idea is the things that they weren’t confident that they could get across the finish line they’ve punted to the courts to do the rest of the job for them.
And the way the rest of this works is you appoint lots and lots of judges. You get a lot of quote/unquote, public-interest litigation and what they can’t impose by writing statutes and regulations, they will impose by judicial (inaudible) [case].
Unidentified Speaker: We can take one more, one more question --
Andy McCarthy: Sure.
Andy McCarthy: -- Libyan guns to Syria.
Andy McCarthy: Right. I’m going to say -- There’s no reason I should be reluctant about this, because I’m not saying anything I haven’t written. I don’t think the Republicans want to get to the bottom of Benghazi.
Q: Why? (Inaudible)
Andy McCarthy: It’s important to remember that Obama’s Libya war was not just Obama’s Libya war.
Andy McCarthy: If anything, Senator McCain and the faction that he influences in the Senate and the House were more gung ho for Libya than Obama was.
I don’t think -- Now, you’ll notice that the Benghazi Commission that’s being run by Gowdy, which I had high hopes for, but, you know, I think they’ve gone about it in a terrible way, frankly. I mean, a lot of it they kind of let the investigation sit for a long time, and what they’re doing they’re doing privately.
You know, so we heard that Sidney Blumenthal was in there for hours the other day. You know, he’s trying to run the investigation like a prosecutor. Right? He’s not investigating a crime. This is a -- What we talked about at the beginning, impeachment’s about -- And this is not an impeachment issue, but it’s the same sort of thing. It’s political accountability. You have to have that in public. The idea is not that he’s going into the grand jury to try to build a Rembrandt of a case so that when he finally indicts it, you know, he’s going to have a bulletproof case to take to trial. The idea is supposed to be public hearings where we get accountability and we get people to answer questions that they haven’t wanted to answer.
But even within the context of how he’s investigating it, they are hyper-focused on September 11th and what happened afterwards. And my feeling about it is you can’t understand what happened in Benghazi without going back to the Libya [lore] and everything that happened after it. I don’t think they want to touch that with a ten-foot pole, because they have their fingerprints on it just like Obama does.
So between the fact that they have an incentive not to want to investigate it aggressively, and the fact that Romney, when it dropped in his hands in the middle of the stretch run of the campaign, when you had the worst foreign-policy president, you know, a guy who makes Jimmy Carter look like Winston Churchill, this falls into Romney’s lap right on the stretch run, commander in chief unbelievably derelict in not protecting Americans, and he decided to drop the whole thing.
And I think (inaudible) people say, You know, no one had more of an incentive than Romney did, if this thing was really a debacle, to go after Obama for that. They don’t know that, you know, Romney’s sitting around with a bunch of genius advisors telling him, Look, we gotta make the election just about the economy, and all this other stuff.
You remember the third debate, the foreign policy debate? His strategy for the debate was there’s going to be as little sunshine as I can allow between me and Obama. So we have a terrible foreign-policy president, an unbelievably awful foreign-policy president, and I thought, at the end of the debate, that Romney was going to endorse him. (Laughter.)
But I just think, relative to Benghazi today, I think it’s very hard to tell the public, especially when it means something, right when an event happens that the way the administration handled it isn’t worth making a big deal about, and then come back to them two years later and say, This is the worst thing that ever happened, and that’s what we’ve done.
So glad to make your day, and thanks for having me. (Applause.)