After hyperventilating about the latest Trump-Russia story and claiming that Donald Trump Jr. talking to Wikileaks and Julian Assange was yet more evidence of “collusion,” on Tuesday, the Morning Joe crew were horrified to learn of the possibility that the Justice Department might appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Bill and Hillary Clinton for engaging in pay-for-play corruption with the Russian government. Host Joe Scarborough was especially troubled by this development. He declared that investigating the politically powerful Democrats for criminal activity was a “horrific” violation of “constitutional norms” and “the rule of law.” He even insisted that going after people for possibly breaking laws is “what Joseph Stalin would do.”
The segment in question began with co-host Mika Brzezinski reading a teleprompter detailing the latest on the Justice Department’s potential future actions:
BRZEZINSKI: So, uh, one more story here to get to, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken what could be the first steps toward a possible investigation into alleged international dealings by the foundation bearing Bill and Hillary Clinton's name. NBC News has obtained a letter to the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Republican Bob Goodlatte, from Assistant Attorney General Steven Boyd saying that Sessions has asked top Justice Department prosecutors to look into certain issues recently raised by Republican lawmakers and evaluate whether a special counsel should be appointed. Boyd's letter didn't specify the nature of the allegations against the Clinton Foundation, but in a letter calling for the investigation, Goodlatte discussed Wikileaks disclosures concerning the Clinton Foundation and its potentially unlawful international dealings. That includes the sale of Canadian uranium interests to a Russian company in 2010 while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State. There have been allegations that the deal resulted in donations being made to the Clinton Foundation. Along with Republican lawmakers, some conservative media outlets [showing NYT Clinton Uranium headline on screen] have also been raising the alleged issues for months.
SCARBOROUGH: [frustrated tone] No.
BRZEZINSKI: Boyd would not confirm or deny whether the Justice Department is currently investigating any of the matters referenced. The letter was sent one day before Jeff Sessions is scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on the possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
It has not just been “conservative media outlets” that have raised concerns about the Uranium One story. Indeed, some of the most significant investigative reporting about the Clinton-Uranium One scandal has come from mainstream publications like The New York Times (as shown on screen while Brzezinski was speaking) and The Hill. Their reporting alone has raised serious questions about potential violations of laws related to international corruption, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which “prohibits giving or promising to give anything of value to a foreign official to obtain or retain business.” Whether or not the Clintons did this would obviously require some sort of real inquiry by an independent group of legal experts, but Scarborough was extremely upset by the idea that such a thing would even be proposed, let alone happen:
Mike, we’re gonna have -- first of all, we’re gonna get how horrific this is -- what a horrific precedent this would set if Donald Trump goes after his political opponent this way – uses the Justice Department, pressures the Justice Department, pressures the Attorney General to do this. This is what happens -- this is what Joseph Stalin would do. This is what tyrants have done for years, is sic their people on political opponents. But, just the underlying charge, uh, the claim here that somehow the Clintons benefited from this deal going through, it’s an absence of malice moment where, you know, Paul Newman leans back in his chair and says: Prove it. They're not gonna prove anything here. There's no smoking gun here. There's no nothing here that's going to prove that the Clintons somehow got money. I mean, it might look bad, but putting a special prosecutor out there is going to uncover absolutely nothing and set a horrific precedent.
Scarborough’s comparison of President Trump to Stalin was absolutely disgraceful. According to Soviet sources, under Stalin’s regime, around 20 million people were killed by means of Gulag concentration camps, deliberately inflicted famines, political purges, the forced collectivization of farms, and other similar genocidal methods.
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If Trump and Sessions investigate the Clintons for breaking laws through exactly the same mechanism that the Trump campaign is being investigated by Bob Mueller, how exactly is Trump acting like Stalin? Has Mueller been acting like Stalin by investigating Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, etcetera? Well, apparently not, at least according to Joe Scarborough:
You know, Mika, there have been times in this troubled presidency that people have stood up and actually put the constitutional republic first. You saw that with Jeff Sessions recusing himself because it was the right thing to do. You saw that with Rod Rosenstein recusing himself and appointing Bob Mueller because that was the right thing to do. And in doing that, regardless of everything else these guys have done or will do, those were shining moments where they put the country and the Constitution first. Now it's “game on” in the Justice Department and it's time for those professionals inside the Justice Department to do the same thing: Stand up for the rule of law, stand up for the Constitution of the United States, stand up for constitutional norms, and show the world why we are different than tyrannical countries across the globe whose leaders prosecute their political opponents.
Oh, okay, so when Democrats investigate Republicans, that’s upholding “the rule of law” and “the Constitution,” but when Republicans investigate Democrats, that’s what a “tyrant” would do.
At least that’s all cleared up now.
Meanwhile, on CNN's New Day, legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin similarly claimed that any investigation of the Clintons would be "what happens in authoritarian countries."