By Bruce L. Castor
Bruce L. Castor, Jr. is a lawyer based in Southeastern Pennsylvania. He served as a prosecutor and elected/appointed government official for over 30 years before joining the private sector. Routinely listed as among America’s top lawyers, Mr. Castor helped lead the team that successfully defended President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in 2021 before the U.S. Senate.
Epoch Times: How can we trust our federal government now?
Mr. Castor Jr.: We can’t trust the federal government. I’m sure the federal government is involved in all sorts of deceptions designed to advance American foreign and domestic policy objectives. Most Americans expect their federal government to be involved with “sneaky” activities to catch criminals, foreign spies, or otherwise enhance goals ultimately in the national interest of the United States. Likely, Americans grant their government great leeway when the government is attempting to keep all Americans safe and secure from threats at home or abroad. I know I do.
Here, however, where the Justice Department has used those powers permitted it by law and, ultimately, by the goodwill of the American people, to advance the aims of one segment of the public (Hillary Clinton and the Democrats) at the expense of a different segment of the public (Donald Trump and the Republicans), that popular goodwill becomes used up or thwarted. The Justice Department and the FBI, of course a subset of that Department, was not “sneaky” in order to benefit ALL Americans.
Instead, by favoring one group of Americans over another, the Justice Department that we hope advances the well-being and confidence in “the system” of every U.S. citizen, decided some Americans are by definition of higher priority [to] the government than another group of Americans. Using the State Department for example, someone loses their passport while traveling abroad, we expect the U.S. Embassy in that country will help any American who knocks on the door. The actions detailed in the Durham report, if applied to [the] State in this example will cause every American to wonder if they fall in the “favored group” who will get a new passport, or are they in the group that will end up rotting in a jail cell in a foreign land.
With this report on the Justice Department and FBI, no longer will people trust their government to look out for the greater good of every one of its citizens. Rather, the public will conclude that the Justice Department–and by extension the U.S. government–have concluded some Americans are simply “so bad” that traditional notions of due process and fair play simply can be ignored because of the “so bad” exception to “equal justice under law.” That’s the justification I see out there as a matter of routine that the ACLU, every “liberal” person or group from when that word was not, itself, a bad word, and the media that exists only because of the First Amendment civil liberty guaranteed there. Supporters of President Trump and his ideas are “so bad” that any abrogation of normal American freedoms that we have all been promised as our birthright no longer apply. The Durham report shows that the Justice Department made a value judgment between different “kinds” of Americans. In so doing, no thoughtful American can trust the Department, because the First Amendment right to be an individual and associate with like-minded individuals, according to the Justice Department and FBI, is only allowed if the Department finds an individual or associated group of individuals’ thinking to be unobjectionable to the human beings making up the Justice Department and its affiliate/subordinate, the FBI.
Epoch Times: What should happen at the FBI?
Mr. Castor Jr.: Ideally, Congress would empower a specific federal court with a very narrow mandate while carefully limiting the jurisdiction that went with this new power to appoint a special prosecutor with full subpoena power, authority to use a grand jury, issue search warrants, seek approval for wiretaps, grant immunity to compel testimony where the 5th Amendment acts as a bar to obtaining information, and essentially exercise the full panoply of powers a federal prosecutor ordinarily has, but supervised closely by the appointing court and with tight Congressional oversight.
This special prosecutor would have as his or her mandate the authority, indeed the responsibility, to investigate the FBI from top to bottom and make recommendations to the appointing court and Congress on how the FBI must be overhauled to provide the kind of supervision needed to deter the FBI from abusing its authority again. Criminal violations discovered by the special prosecutor should be prosecuted according to law.
In the meantime, those judges who were lied to during the course of the Russian Collusion investigation ought to initiate contempt proceedings against anyone involved in misleading the court. Congress should create specific civil causes of action against individuals in the FBI and the Justice Department for anyone those entities injured as a result of the reckless misuse of investigatory and prosecutorial power. Not for making innocent mistakes, which sometimes happens as the FBI and Justice Department go about doing their jobs.
Mistakes without malice are different that what is described in the Durham report. The causes of action would be only for those circumstances where members of the Justice Department/FBI engaged in willful misconduct that resulted in hurting people. In the absence of Congress being presently constituted in such a way that it could implement these ideas, the relevant committees of the House and Senate should convene hearings whose purpose would be to find ways to hold the FBI/Justice Department accountable to the American people without infringing on the power of the Executive Branch of government by maintaining the mandates of the Separation of Powers doctrine.
Epoch Times: Should Hillary Clinton’s role be further investigated?
Mr. Castor Jr.: Her personal part in all this needs to be investigated by Congress and a summary of her conduct considered by a grand jury supplemented by direct testimony that would determine whether criminal charges against her are warranted.
She seems no longer relevant in the minds of most Americans, but anything she did that would rise to the level of a crime needs to be pursued to act as a deterrent to other officeholders and political candidates in the future bent on using dirty tricks to win elections.
Certainly, it was unprecedented that the head of a police agency like the FBI, in this case then-Director Comey, would take it upon himself to decide the federal government would not prosecute Secretary Clinton. He astonishingly made that announcement without the approval of a federal prosecutor like the attorney general.
As a career prosecutor myself, I was flabbergasted when that happened. It would be like when I was a Pennsylvania district attorney, one of the police chiefs announced Pennsylvania would decline to prosecute someone. That is not the chief’s call. That was my call when I was a district attorney, and it was well within my power to reverse that decision because I spoke for the Commonwealth, not that police chief. Curiously, the then-U.S. attorney general chose not to reverse Director Comey, thereby tacitly ratifying his decision.
Epoch Times: Do you think other corrupt schemes are currently afoot?
Mr. Castor Jr.: I am certain that corrupt schemes are presently being hatched and are growing at all levels of government even today. What the country needs is a reestablishment of trust and faith in its institutions.
The courts and Congress can address this, and I think those branches of government are trying to do so and having some success.
The country needs leaders it can trust will always try to do what is best for all our citizens. Traditionally, confidence in the nation’s inherent “goodness” has been symbolized by the president of the United States. People might not always agree with the president’s decisions or even how he communicates those decisions, but the people have respected that the person holding the office understands the job and the stakes, and truly wants what is best for America.
As an example, does anyone who claims to love the United States, actually think it is a “good idea” that hundreds of thousands of people enter the country illegally bringing heaven knows what with them in terms of crime, drugs, disease, etc.? Of course, absolutely nobody thinks that is a good idea, and yet it is happening. Why? Because the potentially negative political optics (don’t let the Democrats look bad) is given higher priority than doing what is obviously right by closing the border tight, and later creating a system for reviewing immigration applications that admit persons who “better” America, or who face violence and death if returned to their home countries.
In the case of that second group, they need to be housed humanely while figuring [out] what to do with them. But the doors need to be closed and then cracked open a tiny bit once a policy has been thought through that allows legal immigration in the bests interests of America.
The president has failed to inspire confidence in his leadership on immigration, the economy, entitlements, school debt relief, and to a lesser extent national security and foreign policy. Like the question about unrestricted immigration and nobody thinking that is a good idea, does anybody actually think the president is not suffering from a cognitive impairment? That nobody seems to be talking about it does not inspire trust in the government or the media.
Any of us fortunate enough to have known parents, grandparents, or other relatives or friends that lived into the 80s and 90s, doubtless they loved (or continue to love) them, but know very well the signs of aging-related cognitive decline.
My own father was a well-known and highly respected Philadelphia lawyer. Almost 50 years with one of the premier law firms in the nation. He is now almost 94. It has been at least 25 years since I would have let him represent me in a court case. Of course, schemes are afoot now, and it does not need to be the president, current or in the future, that restores faith in the federal government. It can be a leader in the U.S. House like the speaker or an important committee chair.
Or a leader in the Senate, or even a judge or retired judge, named by Congress to bring confidence to the public by investigating, or a special prosecutor with judicial and congressional oversight and, ideally, the blessing of the sitting president. Our federal government at least appears to have its priorities out of whack. Where doing the right thing for the right reason takes a back seat to political considerations.
The Durham report has shone a light on this “priority imbalance.” Americans will never trust their government again while individual rights and freedoms—what we boast are our American norms of justice and fair play, are prioritized over attaining and extending political power by all means necessary inside a federal government that people think has chosen to favor one group of American patriots over another group of American patriots.
The lack of trust in government comes from a pervasive belief, reflected in the Durham report, that the government does not see “we the people.” It sees, instead of the inclusive “we,” a division of “them” and “us,” the polar opposite of representing all Americans. Justified by the belief that one group of Americans is “so bad” that any means necessary to defeat that group is warranted, no matter how far doing so strays from the promise of the “Great American Experiment.”