There have been exciting developments in the "Russia investigation". There always are, because that is the nature of open-ended money-no-object investigations. But, to me, the most interesting development was the testimony of Michael Caputo, who appeared just before me on Tucker Carlson's show last night. Mr Caputo was, briefly, a very minor Trump campaign aide - and so his life has been destroyed. As he told the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday:
In 2009, my wife and I moved to my hometown of East Aurora, New York to have a family. Making far less money back home, we had a far better quality of life. That is, until the Trump-Russia narrative took off. Today, I can't possibly pay the attendant legal costs and live near my aging father, raising my kids where I grew up.
Your investigation and others into the allegations of Trump campaign collusion with Russia are costing my family a great deal of money – more than $125,000 – and making a visceral impact on my children.
That's chump change for most senators and their vast entourages - and barely a rounding error in most of the budgets they approve. It's also considerably less than, say, my own legal bills after the scofflaws at CRTV broke my contract and put me through a year of "binding arbitration" that Cary Katz and his sleazy business partners ("Governor" Pete Wilson of California, etc) are now refusing to be bound by (having lost the case). But, for most Americans, 125 grand in legal bills for a case you're not even a party to is a big chunk of change.
And somewhere or other is a guy for whom blowing, say, 75 grand on lawyers is catastrophic, and they're trying to turn him to sell-out Caputo so they can turn Caputo to sell-out whoever's next up the chain. And they've got all the time in the world to bleed you dry.
Mr Caputo did something very unusual yesterday. He named names - or at least one name, from the Gulf Emir-sized retinue that attends each senator:
How many of you know Daniel Jones, former Senate Intelligence staffer for Senator Dianne Feinstein? Great guy, right? Most of you worked with him. One of you probably just talked to him this morning.
Of course, very few of us in flyover country knew Daniel until recently. Now we know that he quit his job with your Senate committee not long ago to raise $50 million from ten rich Democrats to finance more work on the FusionGPS Russian dossier. The one the FBI used to get a FISA warrant and intimidate President Donald Trump, without anyone admitting — until months after it was deployed — that it was paid for by Hillary Clinton.
In fact, good old Dan has been raising and spending millions to confirm the unconfirmable – and, of course, to keep all his old intel colleagues up-to-speed on what FusionGPS and British and Russian spies have found...
We know from the news that he's been briefing Senator Mark Warner, vice chairman of this committee. Which one of you works for Senator Warner? Please give Danny my best.
Great. So a Senate Intelligence Committee staffer is - what's the word? - colluding with Russian spooks to keep the story alive. And he leaks more than those Moscow hookers:
I saw some of his handiwork just last month. Remember this lede paragraph, from McClatchy on April 13?
'The Justice Department special counsel has evidence that Donald Trump's personal lawyer and confidant, Michael Cohen, secretly made a late-summer trip to Prague during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to two sources familiar with the matter.'
That's your pal Dan, isn't it?
It's unclear from the transcript whether any pals of Dan confirmed this. But Mr Caputo certainly has their number:
I mean, you're all in this together. You're the swamp.
What America needs is an investigation of the investigators. I want to know who is paying for the spies' work and coordinating this attack on President Donald Trump? I want to know who Dan Jones is talking to across the investigations – from the FBI, to the Southern District of New York, to the OSC, to the Department of Justice, to Congress.
Forget about all the death threats against my family. I want to know who cost us so much money, who crushed our kids, who forced us out of our home, all because you lost an election.
I want to know because God damn you to Hell.
(If you would like to read Mr Caputo's full statement, well, oddly enough I can only find it in a non-American publication - The Daily Mail.)
To reprise my old line: The process is the punishment. That's particularly true at the federal level, where as a matter of policy they first wipe you out - drain your savings, empty your retirement account, nuke the kids' college fund ...and then dangle a deal in front of you in exchange for you pleading guilty "only" to a process crime, like lying to the lyin' liars who run the FBI. It is an awesome thing to behold - particularly by comparison with, say, military justice, where the US has been holding 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed for almost four times as long as the First World War and still can't manage to bring him to trial.
In a sane system, he'd have been convicted and hanged in a fortnight. Instead, his lawyers are now arguing he's been brain damaged by the United States. Who knows? But, given that the US has been nursemaiding him for over fifteen years, it's not unreasonable to argue that, whatever medical ailments afflict him, they developed during Uncle Sam's leisurely custody of him.
Thus American justice in the 21st century: It can ruin a no-name Trump campaign volunteer in nothing flat. But it can't try a guy who murdered three thousand innocents in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, another two hundred in the Bali nightclub bombing, plus Daniel Pearl in Pakistan ...and has confessed to all this and more.
It's all a joke: civilian, military; federal, state; criminal, civil; family, probate. As my old boss Conrad Black likes to point out, the United States has as many lawyers as the rest of the world combined. One entirely inevitable consequence of that malign distortion in the labor market is that far more aspects of life are litigated, and, when they are, the natural tendency of the system is for everything to take far longer than it would anywhere else. So what counts is not plaintiff or defendant, but which party is in the position to inflict the most pain on the other - whether that's a lavishly endowed government or a billionaire scumbag reduced to suing his own company to avoid paying a court judgment. Whatever it takes for as long as it takes.
And yet despite this being the most litigious society on earth huge numbers of Americans remain oblivious to the vast amount of human wreckage piled up: Every day on cable news, I hear some Democrat telling the host that, if these former minor Trump aides have nothing to hide, then they have nothing to fear from investigation-without-end: We need to let the law do its job, and let the process play itself out.
I heard the same thing six years ago, when Michael Mann, the hockey-stick huckster and climate mullah, sued me for defamation: "Well, if Steyn's innocent, he'll get his day in court and the process will play itself out." That was 2012, and my day in court is no nearer than it was, and a First Amendment that protects my right to a 270-word blog post only after a decade of my life and an eight-figure sum isn't, as a practical matter, in terribly good health, is it?
When the process plays itself out as lethargically and ruinously as this, the process itself is the problem - as Michael Caputo has discovered.
I wish him well, and I wish those toying with him as they've toyed with Carter Page and others are indeed damned to Hell.
~Tomorrow, Friday, I'll be in Lakeland, Florida for the annual Reagan Patriots' Day dinner, with special appearance by Mr Snerdley. Then I'll be in New York for the gala fundraiser for CAMERA, an invaluable institution for the truth on what's happening in the Middle East. More details here - and please note the admission price is considered a tax-deductible donation, and you can get $50 off if you enter promo code MARK.
This weekend is also the first anniversary of The Mark Steyn Club. We will have some special celebrations all month long. But the important, critical element of the Club is its members - and I'm very touched by all those who signed up on that first weekend just under a year ago who are so eager to re-subscribe they took the plunge a few days early. It means an awful lot to me to know you value what we do here - transient politics, civilizational collapse, audio fiction, video poetry, live music. I promise we shall be here long after CRTV is gone. For more information on the Steyn Club, see here - and don't forget our limited-time Gift Membership.
Oh, and we have a grand competition: As you may know, Cary Katz and CRTV have decided to re-sue me, this time for a mere $5 million. Their legal complaint includes as part of Exhibit C my January Song of the Week essay on "Oh Happy Day" - which doesn't mention Katz but which he claims nevertheless is derogatory and defamatory of him. So we're running a competition to help Katz's unfortunate lawyer find something actionable in that "Happy Day" column. First prize is a year's subscription to CRTV, and second prize is (all together now) two subscriptions. Email your entries here, and we'll be announcing the winner next week.