Demo­crat Ker­rey pro­poses par­dons if in­ves­ti­ga­tion finds no Rus­sia col­lu­sion

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY JEFF MORDOCK

For­mer Demo­cratic Sen. Bob Ker­rey says Pres­i­dent Trump would be right to par­don any­one en­snared in the spe­cial coun­sel’s Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion if it turns out there was no con­spir­acy to un­der­mine the 2016 elec­tion.

What’s more, Mr. Ker­rey, a Medal of Honor re­cip­i­ent and for­mer pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, said his party is suf­fer­ing “a delu­sion” in its ob­ses­sion with the soon-to-be-re­leased re­port by spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller — and con­vic­tions that have arisen from the in­ves­ti­ga­tion are tainted.

“If there is a man or woman who was con­victed and sen­tenced for not telling the truth about a col­lu­sion that never hap­pened, I’d like them to be par­doned,” Mr. Ker­rey, 75, told The Wash­ing­ton Times in an in­ter­view.

A for­mer gov­er­nor of Ne­braska, Mr. Ker­rey rep­re­sented the state for two terms in the U.S. Sen­ate. His com­ments are at odds with those from Democrats on the na­tional stage, who have ques­tioned At­tor­ney Gen­eral Wil­liam Barr’s sum­mary of the spe­cial coun­sel’s find­ing that there was no con­spir­acy be­tween the Trump cam­paign and Rus­sia.

More point­edly, many Democrats say they see clear ev­i­dence that Mr. Trump il­le­gally tried to ob­struct the spe­cial coun­sel’s work and cite the con­vic­tions Mr. Mueller has se­cured against

a num­ber of Trump as­so­ciates who lied to in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

Mr. Ker­rey said that is un­fair. “I know what kind of power a prose­cu­tor has,” he said. “They have a gun to your head, and they know most of th­ese cases never go to trial. So you have a choice of spend­ing the rest of your life in prison or pleading guilty and maybe do­ing a year.”

His sup­port for pres­i­den­tial par­dons is par­tic­u­larly strik­ing be­cause other Democrats have ac­cused Mr. Trump of abus­ing the power.

Mr. Ker­rey said he would like to see a bi­par­ti­san, in­de­pen­dent panel of prom­i­nent peo­ple in­ves­ti­gate the ori­gins of the Rus­sia probe and rec­om­mend who should be par­doned.

The panel also could de­ter­mine whether an FBI di­rec­tor’s 10-year term is suf­fi­cient to keep the bureau free from po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence, rec­om­mend rules to pre­vent po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates from at­tempt­ing to in­flu­ence the bureau via tweets or other com­mu­ni­ca­tions, and spec­ify the cri­te­ria for the FBI to open an in­ves­ti­ga­tion, he said.

In ad­di­tion, the panel could ex­am­ine crit­i­cal mo­ments of the past few years, such as for­mer FBI Di­rec­tor James B. Comey’s July 2016 press con­fer­ence in which he out­lined Hillary Clin­ton’s mis­deeds with re­gard to her email server while an­nounc­ing that she wouldn’t be charged, or for­mer At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions’ de­ci­sion to re­cuse him­self from the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“When Comey did his press con­fer­ence, he ba­si­cally gave Don­ald Trump his ‘lock her up’ ap­plause line, and you have all the prob­lems with Ses­sions say­ing he has to re­cuse him­self,” Mr. Ker­rey said. “All of that cre­ated prob­lems.”

It’s tough to find other Democrats will­ing to ques­tion the ori­gins of the spe­cial coun­sel’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Mr. Ker­rey said he is rais­ing his voice be­cause the na­tion has be­come so par­ti­san and frac­tured that it has be­come im­pos­si­ble for the Amer­i­can peo­ple to learn the truth.

The in­de­pen­dent panel can cut through the noise and de­ter­mine whether the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was ever jus­ti­fied, he said.

“I think the pub­lic needs to have an in­de­pen­dent group eval­u­ate what hap­pened,” Mr. Ker­rey said. “You can go back as far as you want, eval­u­ate what went wrong and make rec­om­men­da­tions of what to do to en­sure the pub­lic can trust the re­sults. Maybe they come up with noth­ing needs to be changed, but I doubt that.”

Mr. Ker­rey said the panel should be mod­eled af­ter the 9/11 Com­mis­sion. He was one of the five Democrats who worked with five Repub­li­cans to study what went wrong with U.S. in­tel­li­gence lead­ing up to the 2001 ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

Mr. Ker­rey said one of the com­mis­sion’s most valu­able ser­vices was dis­pelling con­spir­acy the­o­ries and ru­mors that arose in the af­ter­math of the ter­ror­ist at­tacks. He is hop­ing a sim­i­lar com­mis­sion will do the same.

Sen­ate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Lind­sey Gra­ham, South Carolina Re­pub­li­can, has said he wants to es­tab­lish a spe­cial coun­sel, sim­i­lar to Mr. Mueller, to re­view unan­swered ques­tions about the FBI’s de­ci­sion-mak­ing sur­round­ing the key ac­tors in the 2016 elec­tion.

But Mr. Ker­rey said the coun­try is too par­ti­san to en­dure an­other spe­cial coun­sel in­ves­ti­ga­tion, es­pe­cially af­ter Mr. Mueller’s kept the na­tion tied in knots for 22 months.

Mr. Ker­rey saved his harsh­est crit­i­cism for Rep. Adam B. Schiff, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat, chair­man of the House Per­ma­nent Se­lect Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence and one of the most vo­cal pro­po­nents of the Rus­sian col­lu­sion nar­ra­tive.

Mr. Ker­rey, who served on the Sen­ate Se­lect Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence, said Mr. Schiff has politi­cized a panel that must be free of par­ti­san politics.

“Per­son­ally, I would love to hear Schiff say, ‘Enough. There are other com­mit­tees that can look at this, and we need to get back to the com­mit­tee’s mis­sion of mak­ing sure the De­part­ment of De­fense is spend­ing its money cor­rectly,’” Mr. Ker­rey said. “He could gain a lot of cred­i­bil­ity with the Amer­i­can peo­ple if we go back to the time when that com­mit­tee was non­par­ti­san.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

COOLER HEAD: For­mer Sen. Bob Ker­rey of Ne­braska is speak­ing out against fel­low Democrats who are politi­ciz­ing the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

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