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A Shadow of Things to Come?

There’s a story coming out of Mexico this week that is an interesting development on what was already an interesting story. 

Emilio Lozoya Austin, former head of the Mexican State Oil Company, is facing corruption charges in a country notorious for its officials getting away with such things.  Specifically, he is being charged with money laundering, bribery, and criminal association.  The charges in this case were originally filed in 2019 but Mr. Lozoya wasn’t arrested until July of this year.  His arrest happened in Spain under an international warrant.  He did not fight extradition and has been placed in home detention as the case against him proceeds.

Now, here’s where things get interesting.  In a 60-page statement to the prosecutors, Mr. Lozoya made it known that if he was going down, others were coming with him.  In this statement (leaked to Mexican Media), he levelled accusations of corruption against dozens of elected and appointed Mexican officials.  Included in this list are not one, not two, but three former Presidents of Mexico.  Additionally, there are five former senators and two former Presidential candidates and several state governors among the names.

Included among the Presidents he pointed to are Pena Nieto (served from 2012-2018), Filipe Calderon (served from 2006-2012), and Carlos Gortari (served from 1988-1994).  Escaping any accusations in this document are Mexico’s current President Lopez Obrador and his associates. 

In fact, President Obrador stands to gain from these accusations.  In recent months, his poll numbers had been lagging for several reasons.  Among these are a perceived poor response to the Coronavirus Pandemic, an economic downturn, and increased violence from the drug gangs.  With legislative elections scheduled to take place next year, his unpopularity threatened to drag down his party’s performance.  But with high profile figures in the opposition parties being fingered for corruption, potential disaster is being replaced by hope. 

For his part, Obrador has wasted no time in calling for his two immediate predecessors (Nieto and Calderon) to be questioned by law enforcement authorities.  Despite bad blood between him and these former Presidents, Obrador insists he is not seeking revenge.  “We are not persecuting anyone.  What we want is for the corruption to end, an end to this official banditry.”

The full story can be found in the L.A. Times, here.

While this story is interesting in its own right, it takes on a different dimension that should attract American audiences as well.  That’s because the script we see being played out on the Mexican political scene has a lot of the same elements to the script we see playing out in our own nation’s capital.  The recent development we’ve seen in Mexico is a development a lot of people hope to see in America.

For those of you who missed it, U.S. Attorney John Durham (under direction from Attorney General Bill Barr) has been engrossed in an investigation over the past few months regarding the potential misuse and abuse of American intelligence and law enforcement agencies against the Trump campaign in 2016.  This investigation has been expanded in several ways to include the reasons behind the Russian Collusion investigation that has nipped at President Trump’s heels for several years.

There have been two recent developments in this story.   One is a guilty plea from former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith for falsifying documents in order to obtain a FISA warrant to wiretap Carter Page who worked for the Trump campaign in 2016.  The other development is an interview with former CIA Director John Brennan set for today (Friday).  The potential charges here would be devastating for the United States.  They would constitute the use of intelligence and law enforcement organizations to control the outcome of an election. 

John Durham seems unlikely to stop with these two.  While there are many possibilities of who he may question next, two prominent names are on the list.  These are former FBI Director James Comey and former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper.

The current case in Mexico, while only superficially similar on the surface, provide us a glimpse of two possibilities that may come from the Durham investigation.

The first of these is that it’s possible that someone questioned or charged in the course of this investigation may, like Mr. Lozoya, decide he’s not going down alone.  Brennan, Comey, and Clapper were all heavily involved in the Obama administration and it is hoped, by many on the right, that any forthcoming charges against these men will implicate Obama or Biden or another official from the Obama era.  Already we know that both Obama and Biden were aware on some level of the unmasking of General Flynn (you can find that information here), against whom charges were dropped recently.

If it is indeed found that Obama, or Biden, or Hillary Clinton for that matter knew of or even directed these agencies in question to act against their political rivals, it would be an abuse of power unlike anything this country has ever seen. If these agencies acted to influence or control the outcome of an election without the knowledge or direction of these political figures, then it is still a devastating development in that these organizations acted outside of civilian authority to install their own leader, much like Rome’s Praetorian Guard would choose the next Emperor.

Another possibility is that findings from Durham’s investigation may become public knowledge in time to influence the November elections.  Like Mexico’s President, Trump is facing a myriad of issues that are, at best, making his job more difficult or, at worst, hurting him politically.  And these are coming at a time when he is asking voters to send him back to the White House for another term.  Many of these issues are, in fact, the same issues that President Obrador is facing.  The pandemic and its economic down turn are two of these.  Another is violence in the streets. While President Trump isn’t facing unchecked violence from the drug cartels, he is facing violence and riots from left wing groups like Antifa and Black Lives Matter.  These things are, and should be, issues that both candidates address in the coming months.  But if, as many on the right hope, Durham exposes massive corruption from the opposition party, they may become smaller issues in the minds of the voters.

Ultimately, no one knows exactly what will come from the investigation going on in Washington.  It may be a bombshell that changes the political trajectory of the nation, or it may be that a few minor flunkies take the fall while the big fish swim free.  My suspicion is that crimes and corruption did take place, but ultimately no one responsible will go down for it.  I just don’t see that kind of justice taking place in America any more.  But at the same time, no one could have predicted the current developments in Mexico.  It should be a lesson that the unthinkable can happen.  As much as I might think that the way things are is the way they will always be, the truth is that change is the only constant and maybe, just maybe, what we see going on in Mexico is a shadow of things to come in America.

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