The hidden side of politics

Mark Penn turns on Clintons, denounces Robert Mueller probe as ‘deep-state’ quasi-coup

Reported by Washington Times:

As a former chief pollster and campaign strategist for Bill and Hillary Clinton, Mark Penn has a long history of railing against special prosecutors and political investigations of the president.

But even though it’s 2018 and the partisan shoe is on the other foot, Mr. Penn hasn’t changed.

In some ways, he’s even harder-line now, publicly turning against the Clintons and accusing Robert S. Mueller of engaging in a “deep-state” quasi-coup on their behalf.

Mr. Penn has had numerous recent appearances on Fox News and other conservative outlets, essentially supporting President Trump’s claims about Mr. Mueller seeking to “bring down” the president using “storm trooper tactics.”

In a column posted Sunday evening on The Hill, he said the “scorched-earth effort … must now be stopped, preferably long before a vote in the Senate.”

He noted that “its prosecutions have all been principally to pressure witnesses with unrelated charges and threats to family, or just for a public relations effect, like the indictment of Russian internet trolls.”

He then made the explicit comparison with the Ken Starr investigation of the Whitewater real-estate deal, which eventually metastasized into the Monica Lewinsky probe.

“Unfortunately, just like the Doomsday Machine in ‘Dr. Strangelove’ that was supposed to save the world but instead destroys it, the Mueller investigation comes with no ‘off’ switch: You can’t fire Mueller. He needs to be defeated, like Ken Starr, the independent counsel who investigated President Clinton,” Mr. Penn wrote.

He spoke similarly in an appearance on Fox News in early May, cited by the New York Times, saying he had “spent a year working with President Clinton against Ken Starr and that effort … that was child’s play to what’s going on here.”

The former Clinton campaign chief also went beyond criticizing an unaccountable prosecutor broadening his scope just to get … something, anything — that’s an argument being made by some of the other longtime liberal critics of special-counsel, such as Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz.

But unlike Mr. Dershowitz, Mr. Penn also largely endorsed much of Mr. Trump’s “Crooked Hillary” and “deep state” narratives, even using the latter term himself.

He said the “highest echelons of the FBI and the Justice Department broke their own rules to end the Hillary Clinton ‘matter,’” sarcastically using that last word, reportedly preferred by then Attorney General Loretta Lynch so as not to even imply Mrs. Clinton might have committed a crime in her use of a private email account and server.

Mr. Penn also poured scorn on Ms. Lynch, who met Mr. Clinton privately as the email probe was wrapping up — she said to discuss grandchildren and other mundane matters.

“It is hard to see how a yearlong investigation of this won’t come down hard on former FBI Director James Comey and perhaps even former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who definitely wasn’t playing mahjong in a secret ‘no aides allowed’ meeting with former President Clinton on a Phoenix airport tarmac,” he wrote.

The Clinton team was “incredibly successful at creating a vast echo chamber around [an] unverified, fanciful dossier” from British former spy Christopher Steele.

Mr. Penn also suggested that “Clinton Foundation operatives” ginned up the Mueller probe, giving respectability and an avenue to what he called merely “a fourth-hand report from a Maltese professor.”

“How did the FBI know they should talk to him? That’s left out of their narrative. [Australian diplomat Alexander] Downer’s signature appears on a $25 million contribution to the Clinton Foundation. You don’t need much imagination to figure that he was close with Clinton Foundation operatives who relayed information to the State Department, which then called the FBI to complete the loop. This wasn’t intelligence. It was likely opposition research from the start.”

While such ruminations would be unremarkable from a Republican, they are not such coming from Mr. Penn.

Mr. Penn was chief pollster for Mr. Clinton from the aftermath of the Democrats’ crushing 1994 mid-term defeat through his rebound into a successful 1996 re-election bid and past the impeachment bid, which the Democrats repulsed in large part by attacking Mr. Starr.

He also helped Mrs. Clinton win her 2000 New York Senate race and was the chief strategist of her 2008 presidential bid early on, including the most-famous ad of the primary campaign — the “3 a.m. phone call” attack ad against then-Sen. Barack Obama.

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Source:Washington Times