While President Donald Trump was getting a royal welcome in the UK, arrangements were being made by U.S. investigators to interview former UK spy Christopher Steele, presumably about his role in creating the much-discredited Steele dossier.
What were some takeaways from Attorney General William Barr’s recent TV interview, and what about talk of impeachment? And what was the rationale behind President Trump’s threat of a 5 percent tariff on Mexico if it doesn’t do more to stem the tide of illegal migrants into America?
Epoch Times senior editor Jan Jekielek spoke with Trump 2020 campaign advisory board member Jason Meister to offer some perspective on these and other pertinent questions.
Jan Jekielek: So let’s talk—the United Kingdom. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. President Trump just got a royal welcome in the UK. He’s calling it the greatest alliance the world has ever known, UK-U.S. Yet, at the same time, from what we’re hearing—from the Times of London, at least—Steele has agreed now to answer questions about how he worked with the FBI. There’s an idea that there were current and former other UK intelligence operatives sort of involved in this creation of this false Russia collusion narrative. Fascinating juxtaposition. What’s your take on all this?
Jason Meister: You’re right, the UK is our longest and strongest ally and the president did get a very warm welcome from the royal family. So as an American citizen, I felt very proud to see my president and the beautiful and very intelligent first lady get such a warm welcome from the royals. But it is interesting and fascinating, at the same time that the president is visiting the UK that we’re having this Christopher Steele situation, and that he’s now willing to take interviews, and provide statements, and participate in the investigation. We do need to get to the bottom of the dossier—the Steele dossier that the DNC [Democratic National Committee] and Hillary Clinton’s campaign paid for leading up to the 2016 election. It is the biggest political scandal in American history, and the American people have to understand how it came about?
I think that the fact that this country was torn apart for the last two years over a completely unverified dossier that was authored by Christopher Steele, and paid for by Hillary Clinton and the DNC is what we’ve litigated the 2016 election based on, is atrocious. And I think that the American people need to get to the bottom of that and figure out: How did an unverified dossier authored by Christopher Steele, paid for by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC, get into the hands of the FISA courts so that the Obama administration could then spy, wiretap, phone tap, email tap the opposition candidate running for president of the United States of America. It sounds like something that would happen in a third-world country. It doesn’t sound like America.
It’s one thing to talk about immigration, to talk about national security, to talk about trade wars, to talk about any host of issues, but to have this be something that we’re litigating about—a completely paid for fake dossier. It’s not the country I want my children to be raised in.
That is an important thing as American citizens for us to get to the bottom of. And I think the beginning of that needs to start with Christopher Steele, because he was the author of the dossier.
Mr. Jekielek: So in this vein, Attorney General William Barr, he’s doing his own investigation. He’s brought new investigators into the mix to basically look into these origins of the Russia collusion narrative and so forth. He recently did an interview on CBS. Did you—I don’t know if you had a chance to—see that—
Mr. Meister: Yes, I did.
Mr. Jekielek: Anything you can remark on from that?
Mr. Meister: Sure. I think he did an excellent job. And I think what he really did in that interview is sort of articulate Mueller’s decision to come out and make the statements that he made. And what really happened was Mueller issued about 2,800 subpoenas, almost $40 million, 500 witnesses, 500 search warrants. There was a very thorough report. The Mueller report … was shared with the American people. It was somewhat redacted, but it was shared with the American people, and it found no collusion, no underlying conspiracy. And he punted on obstruction. And he basically punted it to the acting attorney general, Barr. And by doing that, he really abdicated his duties. Mueller’s job was to either find a crime or not find a crime. He’s not an op-ed writer for The New York Times. He doesn’t have a show like Rachel Maddow to provide his opinion. And that’s all his statements were, they were opinions.
His job as a prosecutor is to come up with a crime and indict or not indict. And he couldn’t find a crime because the entire premise … of the entire Russia hoax was the Steele dossier, which was totally unverified, paid for by Hillary Clinton and the DNC. And that’s why we need to get the bottom of it. The American people have to understand how the election was—was almost taken out of the hands of the voters. Thankfully, the American voters overcame all of that and voted for the [person] who’s currently president, President Trump. But it was very close to being taken out of the hands of the voters. We need to get at the bottom of it.
Mr. Jekielek: Just to clarify, when you say Mueller was giving his opinion, are you talking about the press conference or you’re talking about the Mueller report?
Mr. Meister: I’m talking about his statements following the report, there was really no reason for Mueller to issue any statements. He issued a report. It was 400-plus pages. It was very thorough. Again, he had 2,800 subpoenas. It cost the American taxpayers nearly $40 million. This took two years, right? So this was a very thorough report. There was no reason for him to provide his opinion, this contextual opinion. That was really just to throw something to the Democrats and to me, as an observer, it showed the bias by Mueller that he was out to get to the president.
And that’s where I think we, again, we need to get to the bottom of this entire situation. We can never let this happen again. We live in a country whereby we have a democracy. We live in a republic and we have a rule of law, and we can’t have people breaking those laws and not being prosecuted for the laws that they break.
Mr. Jekielek: I was talking about this in another recent interview, actually. It’s almost as if there’s always this, you know, let’s say there was a report and there’s some sort of conclusions, but then there’s something left which leaves that kind of cloud of ambiguity. People have called it different things. “Cloud” was what [former federal prosecutor] Sidney Powell called it. What do you make of this cloud of ambiguity? Or do you agree, I guess, is the first question.
Mr. Meister: I think that there is some ambiguity and I think that it was purposeful. I think it was planted by Mueller to confuse people to think that there was some type of obstruction when there really wasn’t. There was no collusion, there was no underlying crime. So how do you obstruct an investigation of a crime that didn’t exist to begin with? The president was getting harassed, as he said, and he’s articulated many times; this really was presidential harassment. I have never seen anything like it in my life. I’ve never seen a president get harassed by the other side, the Democrats. … They really effectively took two years of his presidency away. And even during those years, the amount that he accomplished with that over his head is just unbelievable.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s astounding.
Mr. Meister: He didn’t stop working. He didn’t stop working even though he was getting harassed, and he was under investigation for a crime that he knew he never committed. If you look at the economy, look what he’s done with the Korean Peninsula, with the trade issues—he’s been one of the most effective presidents in modern history, even with an investigation into a crime that he did not commit.
Mr. Jekielek: So I’m just going to read from a tweet that you put out after this Mueller press conference because this is an [inaudible] of another angle. And you said, “If a prosecutor does not see sufficient evidence and decides not to prosecute, he does not reverse the burden of proof [by]saying he can find no proof of innocence.”
Mr. Meister: Mueller effectively, in that news conference, reversed the burden of proof, which is that you’re innocent until proven guilty in America. He effectively said that he cannot find innocence in the obstruction charge, and that’s why he punted it to the attorney general. That is not the burden of proof. You can’t, because you don’t find guilt, say that you didn’t find innocence. We are all, as Americans, innocent until proven guilty. So what I’m saying is that Mueller effectively reversed the burden of proof, which is unacceptable in America.
Mr. Jekielek: There seemed to be a number of members of Congress that, even after this large Mueller report, this extensive work being done, they almost seem to want to relitigate this extensive investigation that has happened already. And it’s almost like this innocent-until-proven-guilty reversal—
Mr. Meister: Right.
Mr. Jekielek: … until proven innocent is giving them some kind of ammo for this?
Mr. Meister: I don’t think it’s that they have ammo. I think it’s that the Democrats have put all their eggs in the Russia collusion hoax bucket and they can’t … they’ve buried themselves in it for the last two years: $40 million. They have no way out of it. So they’re just tripling down. It’s what … if they try to impeach the president, it’s … only going to backfire. They’re going to lose—it’s going to guarantee reelection in 2020 if we didn’t already have that, based on his record. But I think that you won’t see Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer pushing for impeachment for that very reason. They understand. They’re too smart. They know that by relitigating this and pushing impeachment, it will only guarantee the president’s reelection in 2020.
Mr. Jekielek: There’s a lot of what has been called resistance against the president. I think a lot of folks are actively calling it that, you know, “#resistance.” You see that on Twitter a lot. What do you think the impact on the country has been of that? Because everything we’ve just discussed is essentially an element of that, right?
Mr. Meister: I think that, unfortunately, the Democrats and the resistance movement has really ripped this country apart over the last couple of years, and it was all based on a fraudulent dossier–the Steele dossier, which is what we were talking about earlier in this interview. It’s very unfortunate that we live in a country that, in 2019, we’re not just talking about issues like immigration and the humanitarian crisis that’s going on at the border, but we’re relitigating a democratically elected president of the United States from years ago. That’s an unacceptable thing. Where we are in this country, where the debate is—it’s unacceptable. We live in a democracy, and if people go out and vote for a president, you can’t relitigate that election. You have to accept the results of the election. Hillary Clinton said it best at one of the debates. She said: “Will he accept the results of the election?” She should ask herself that question.
Mr. Jekielek: How will all this investigating that the attorney general is doing—declassification, this deeper inquiry into the origins of the Steele dossier. What is the impact of all of this on 2020?
Mr. Meister: I actually think it’s going to have a huge impact on the 2020 election. The frontrunner right now is Joe Biden. Joe Biden was No. 2 in the Obama administration; he was vice president. So he was in the room when there was a discussion about the FISA warrants and a lot of the Steele dossier conversations–surrounding the dossier conversations. So what did Joe know? Did Joe know that President-elect Trump, or— before even President-elect Trump—candidate Trump was being spied on, that his campaign was being email tapped, wiretapped, phone tapped, you know. What did Joe know and how does that … that’s going to have a huge impact, once we start to peel the onion back and understand who knew what, when, and why. I think that’s going to have a huge impact on Biden as the frontrunner.
I also think it’s going to have an impact in general. It’s going to have a negative impact on the Democrats because as we start to learn about what actually unfolded—that the Democrat National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign paid for this fake dossier, and every Democrat that’s running has been pushing a Russia collusion hoax for the last two-plus years, it’s going to have an impact on their credibility. It’s going to have an impact not only on their credibility, but it’s going to have an impact on the mainstream media’s credibility. I mean, how can the American people trust the candidates that are running for president and the media that’s been pushing a complete hoax, based on an unverified paid-for fake dossier? I think it’s going to have a very big impact on 2020.
Mr. Jekielek: At the same time, there’s all sorts of investigations right now being launched out of the House, on the president’s family—different financial dealings trying to get tax returns, everything else. What do you think those investigations are going to find?
Mr. Meister: I think that the Democrats have not learned how to deal with and how to run against this president and his record. And for that reason, they want to just bury him and his administration in investigations. In a way, they’re trying to obstruct his ability to govern. Fortunately, for the American people, the president has been very effective in governing, despite all these investigations.
The tax issue is ridiculous. He doesn’t legally have to disclose his taxes. He is under audit, as he said multiple times. This is just another charade by the Democrats to bury him in more investigations. It’s another hoax, and it’s going to go nowhere; he’s not going to provide his taxes. And the American people don’t care because they care more about securing the border, they care more about protecting our trade deficits, and they care more about all the things that the president’s doing, the economy, wage growth, GDP growth, all the things that the president’s doing. They care more about those things than they do about his taxes; that’s why he got elected.
Mr. Jekielek: So let’s jump to another very pertinent issue, which is the border crisis. I think most people now tend to agree there is a border crisis. There’s just some debate about what exactly that means or whose fault it is and this kind of realm. Recently, the president has announced that unless Mexico does its share—this is me reading, you know, kind of paraphrasing what he said–unless Mexico does its share to prevent the influx there’s going to be a 5 percent tariff, I think starting next Monday. And, you know, more, if further work isn’t done on their side. What do you make of this?
Mr. Meister: Look, I think this is precisely one of the reasons why President Trump was elected. This is an issue that’s going on at the border that both Democrats and Republicans have failed to figure out, to solve. And it is a humanitarian crisis we have. It’s projected that we’re going to have a million people crossing the border this year illegally alone. Last year, there were a million pounds of narcotics that crossed the border. And so this tariff that the president is placing on Mexico is really his unconventional approach. It’s the business acumen that’s in the White House. And, basically, he’s putting Mexico on notice and saying, you need to participate in securing the border. And, by the way, Mexico has a very good ability to do that. And they do know how to enforce border security. And so I think that they can’t withhold this tariff. And so they’re going to have to get involved. And another thing that I think this tariff does, is it puts the Democrats on notice who have not worked with the president on securing the border and protecting American citizens. So I think this tariff does a number of things, and I think that it’s a very effective way to put Mexico on notice.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s an unconventional method. So it’s not about trade?
Mr. Meister: It’s not about trade, it’s about national security. It’s about solving a crisis at the border that’s been going on for decades that both Democrats and Republicans have failed to deal with. And this president has made it his mission to fix this situation and secure our border.
Mr. Jekielek: So switching gears a little bit, as well. All of these Google, Facebook—the social media giants right now—there’s a number of investigations that are basically happening around bias. There’s [inaudible] against Google, there’s even some looking into antitrust and so forth. What do you make of these investigations?
Mr. Meister: I think it’s very important. The new public square today is social media; that’s where people voice their opinions. This bias against conservatives must stop. I know that there’s been shadow banning, there’s been tremendous bias, and it’s been leaning in favor of the liberals and the Democrats. And, look, social media has a huge impact on our elections. To me, this is suppression of voters. It’s taking people’s First Amendment away. So I think that there has to be an investigation. We need to put an end to the bias that’s going on within social media.
President Trump wouldn’t have been elected if it wasn’t for his ability to articulate and go directly to the American people via Twitter, via Facebook. He’s used social media to his advantage. And he should be able to communicate to the American people without getting the social media giants being biased against him, [or] for that matter, any conservative, whether it be just a regular American citizen or someone running for office.
Mr. Jekielek: So are you saying you’re seeing some kind of backlash to his success of using social media in 2016?
Mr. Meister: There’s no question that there’s a backlash, because the liberals—Silicon Valley at large—realize that their vehicles, their platforms were what helped get the president elected because he had this platform to speak on, and they’re now trying to prohibit, shadow ban, conceal conservative voices on the world stage. It’s a very troubling thing because like I said earlier, it’s the new public square. You can’t silence opposition because you disagree with it. You have to allow for a diverse group of opinions and public discourse.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.