Misguided Environmentalism Is the Root Cause of Devastating California Wildfires

 

thomas-fireCalifornia is in the midst of battling some of the worst wildfires in the state’s history, which have resulted in the wholesale decimation of forests, extensive destruction of property, and massive disruption of people’s lives.

Governor Jerry Brown recently characterized the dire situation by stating that these types of fires “could happen every year or every few years” and that Californians are simply “facing a new reality.”

A new reality? Hardly comforting words from the Golden State’s chronic political presence.

Certainly the “new reality” warrants a deeper investigation into what factors have been contributing to the escalation and what steps could be taken to mitigate and/or prevent future catastrophic events.

The fact of the matter is there has been a decided increase in unusually devastating fires over the last few decades. The wildfires that are occurring today are twice as large as they were forty years ago, and the fires themselves are much bigger, significantly more powerful, and consequently more dangerous.

The left claims that the mega fires are happening as a result of global warming. However, according to a recent Reason Foundation study, changes in climate cannot adequately account for the “pattern of fires observed over the past century.”

The United States Forest Service (USFS) is the agency responsible for managing the nation’s wilderness areas, which constitute almost two-thirds of U.S. forests. The USFS once had a great deal of success in mitigating the risk of major fires in the early part of the last century. Over the past few decades, though, forest management policy has become overly centralized and increasingly bureaucratic, while also presenting a growing detriment to public safety.

During the 1970s, after legislation was passed that claimed to protect the ecosystem, the USFS altered its policies in a manner that would have extremely serious consequences for those parts of the country that are concerned about wildfire hazards, particularly the Western part of the nation.

Decades of politicians employing central planning while pandering to environmentalist groups have resulted in overgrowth in the nation’s forests. Methods that had worked to lower fire danger were abandoned, and the USFS spent appreciably more money for significantly fewer results as it used its resources for questionable environmental practices.

Excess fuel in the form of overly dense wilderness areas became a mega fire hazard that created a danger to the public and to regional economies. Additionally, severe limitations on the harvesting of timber on federal land created dangerous conditions in forests that led directly to the massive fires of late. If the logging industry had been permitted to clear more wilderness areas, the fire threat would have been dramatically reduced.

The public needs to be alerted to the fact that when forests are too dense they become susceptible to the kind of explosive infernos that actually end up harming the ecosystem, killing wildlife and destroying habitats. Logging, controlled burns, and natural low-intensity wildfires not only assist in making mega fires less likely but contribute to the creation of healthier ecosystems as well.

Removing the wood fuels in naturally dry forests helps to greatly reduce the probability of high intensity fires while assisting the environment. It is imperative that the excess growth caused by decades of bad policy be removed. Dry forests, which were historically cleared by frequent, low-intensity fires, may need the careful implementation of controlled burns to protect the life and property of adjacent communities.

Republican leaders in Congress, who have been working along with the Trump administration, are attempting to reform the legal landscape that is plaguing America’s national forests. The congressional members are seeking to increase logging in order to thin out the overly dense and dangerous forest conditions that now exist.

In November the House passed legislation called the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017 in order to allow salvage logging and other forms of tree cutting on federal properties.

House Speaker Paul Ryan indicated that the bill was necessary to protect the nation’s federal forests “from the kind of devastation that California experienced.”

The bill would remove draconian environmental restrictions that have dramatically curtailed timber harvests on federal lands. The legislation is currently awaiting action in the Senate.

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Justice Politicized

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On a beautiful July day, a young woman was showing her father the piers of San Francisco. Without warning, a bullet entered her back. Holding his daughter in his arms, the last words the father would hear his daughter say were, “Help me, Dad.”

The woman’s name was Kate Steinle, and the man who would cause her life to come to a tragic end is named Garcia Zarate. Kate’s story will go down in history as being one of the most flagrant travesties of justice the legal system has had to endure.

Zarate had been deported from the United States five times. He had also repeatedly re-entered the country and was a felon seven times over.

Prior to the shooting, Zarate had just completed a nearly four-year federal prison sentence for illegally reentering the country. After he was remanded to San Francisco law enforcement on an outstanding warrant, which involved a minor charge that was ultimately dismissed, local officials released Zarate, ignoring a request from federal authorities to keep him in custody.

Zarate was acquitted by a San Francisco jury of first and second degree murder as well as the charges of involuntary manslaughter and assault with a semi-automatic weapon. The only charge of which he was actually found guilty was the one of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The prosecution argued that the defendant had fired the murder weapon intentionally. The defense claimed that the shooting was accidental, that Zarate found a stolen gun on the waterfront, and that the firearm had somehow fired itself.

Considering the facts, it is disturbing that the jury was able to exonerate Zarate in this way. He held the murder weapon (the handgun) in his hand. He pulled the trigger, and the bullet ended up robbing Kate of her life.

Even if the jury bought into the defense contention that Zarate did not intend to kill Steinle, reasonable deliberators would come up with a charge of second degree murder or involuntary manslaughter.

The whole idea that this homicide was one in which no one is responsible runs counter to the law and to common sense. The jury’s verdict omits individual fault for Steinle’s untimely death.

Zarate possessed a firearm illegally. He fired it into an area where other people were likely to be seriously injured or even die. His actions were reckless and could have yielded a verdict of second degree murder. The jury went further, however, by choosing to bypass his obvious criminal negligence, which would have, at a minimum, resulted in involuntary manslaughter. Apparently, non-judicial factors played into the jury’s deliberation.

Judge Samuel Feng had repeatedly admonished prospective jurors, asking them not to consider the politics that had thrust the Steinle case into national headlines.

Still, immediately after the verdict was announced, defense attorney Francisco Ugarte evidently could not wait to engage in politics.

“From day one, this case was used as a means to foment hate…I believe today is a day of vindication for the rest of immigrants,” Ugarte stated.

Defense attorney Matt Gonzalez and Public Defender Jeff Adachi also entered into the political fray by attacking the president, vice president, and attorney general.

The Steinle verdict was not due process but rather a politicized miscarriage of justice to further advance the highly illegal and dangerous “sanctuary” cities policies. The city of San Francisco had set up “sanctuary” rules, which stopped federal agents from removing a five-time deported criminal from the country.

Zarate had reentered the U.S. illegally and had additionally been in federal custody. However, he was handed over to the San Francisco sheriff in order to be prosecuted on a marijuana case. He was released weeks before Steinle was killed, and the sheriff did so without notifying federal authorities.

The “sanctuary” policies of cities such as San Francisco and states such as California prevent local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration agents. The tragic truth is that, if the policy had not been in place, Zarate would have been turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the Spring of 2015 and Steinle would still be alive.

Politicians who are supposed to foster public safety, but instead create rules that stop cooperation with federal law enforcement officers, are exposing their constituents to grave danger.

 

 

 

The Business Toll of Taking a Knee

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A once great institution is literally in the process of destroying itself.

For the longest time the National Football League was the top drawing sport on television. Now it looks as though it is willingly abdicating its ratings throne.

In the season just prior to the current one, 34 of the top 40 televised sports games were NFL football match-ups. Come the fall of 2017, however, the NFL’s popularity took a severe hit and so, too, did the league’s bottom line.

Regarding the current season, TV ratings have declined almost 20 percent, while the television networks have reportedly lost as much as 500 million in advertising dollars.

When compared with the previous year’s numbers, ratings for Week 11 dropped 6.3 percent. And the traditional prime time Thanksgiving NFL game ratings were 10 percent lower than last year.

Millions of football fans have opted to change the channel on the TV set, cancel season tickets, and/or protest in countless other ways over the disrespect of the national anthem that has been shown by many.

The ratings downturn has been accompanied by surprisingly small stadium crowds across the country. In cities populated by die-hard sports fans, the highly unusual sight of empty seats has become commonplace.

In the sports crazed town of Chicago, a recent Bears home game played to a Soldier Field stadium in which over 16 percent of the seats were unoccupied, which meant that more than 10,000 tickets went unused.

The league’s all-important brand, which has been decades in the making, appears to have been severely marred in mere months. The NFL in large part has Colin Kaepernick to thank. The unemployed quarterback kicked off a wave of national anthem protests by football players across the league.

Last season, rather than standing during a performance of the national anthem, Kaepernick knelt down; this was in violation of the written policy of the NFL.

At a time when his career was on the wane and his playing days were coming to an end, Kaepernick managed to make himself more conspicuous than other professional football players by ignoring league policy and, more importantly, insulting the NFL’s primary consumers.

According to the league’s game operations manual, “The national anthem must be played before every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the national anthem. During the national anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking.”

Despite the fact that the manual’s language could not be any clearer, Kaepernick’s act of disrespect to the league and to the country was not only condoned by the media elites, among others, but it was praised.

In one of the most absurd accolades to come along in the history of publishing, as part of its “Men of the Year” edition, with the subtitle “The New American Heroes,” GQ Magazine honored the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback with its “Citizen of the Year” title.

It seems as though young athletes are the ones who have really been led astray by the heaping of praise upon the undignified behavior.

–Four high school football players in Michigan were preparing to take a knee but were benched before they could carry out their plans.

–Two Texas high school players were thrown off their team after protesting during the anthem.

–Child football players in Illinois, on a team made up of boys who were 8-years-old and younger, were joined by their coach in kneeling during the anthem.

–After football players at a New Jersey high school knelt during the anthem, two referees walked from the game in disgust. The referees were subsequently suspended for the remainder of the season while the players escaped reprimand or punishment.

Protests by professional football players have continued to harm the NFL’s bruised image. During Week 12 of the most recent season, which was played over this past weekend, Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters failed to come out of the locker room; Philadelphia Eagles safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod raised their fists, as did Los Angeles Chargers left tackle Russell Okung; and Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills, safety Michael Thomas, tight end Julius Thomas as well as New York Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon all knelt down while the anthem played.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has come under fire for allowing the protests to grow and continue. This is the same Goodell who is reportedly demanding a $50 million salary and private jet service for life as part of his new contract. He is currently paid $30 million a year.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who used to be an ardent supporter of Goodell, is now leading an insurgency against the commissioner and has declared that he will sue the NFL if Goodell’s contract extension is finalized without the approval of all team owners.

Former University of Georgia, USFL, and NFL running back Herschel Walker has placed the blame for the NFL protests squarely on Goodell.

“I absolutely think the protests are so upsetting, and I blame the commissioner,” Walker told the New York Post. “I know people are going to be angry when I say it, but he should have stopped the protests at the very beginning.”

 

Al Franken’s Future

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The Harvey Weinstein revelations and their cumulative impact have given rise to countless Hollywood sexual misconduct scandals, which have altered the cultural atmosphere of our times.

A group of individuals with compelling stories of abuse have come forward with accusations against a number of the rich and famous, including one previously celebrated figure who is currently a member of the United States Senate, “Saturday Night Live” alumnus Al Franken.

Soon after Los Angeles radio anchor Leann Tweeden brought forward detailed allegations that, without her consent, Franken had forcibly kissed her with open mouth and subsequently offensively touched her while she slept, Franken issued multiple apologies and followed up with a request that an ethics committee investigation be conducted regarding his own wrongdoings.

“I understand why we need to listen to and believe women’s experiences,” Franken said. “I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate.”

Some of Franken’s defenders praised him for submitting himself to an ethics probe. However, from a public relations perspective, Franken had no choice but to take the action he did because of one powerfully strong piece of evidence, which has been widely distributed by the conventional and social media.

A photo depicting a smirking Franken placing his hands on the upper body of Tweeden as she slept is immediately recognizable for what it is, clearly incriminating in nature, and impossible to reasonably defend.

Despite claims by some defenders that the activity in the photo was merely a joke, when taking into account the context that Tweeden has set forth, it is highly likely that Franken intended the action and attendant photograph to be a deliberate provocation.

It is also highly likely that, under the circumstances, Franken has taken the ethics probe approach because it has historically provided a shield to members of Congress who have been accused of corrupt or abusive behavior.

Such an investigation opens up a path for the accused legislator to nurture the image of cooperation while slowing any pending resignation demands. Point of fact: Franken has already been asked by members of his own party to resign. The rules of the ethics committee were written by politicians and seem to have been designed to assist those embroiled in scandal.

Current Senate rules mandate that there be six members on the committee, evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, with the chairman being a member of the majority party.

After the committee finds that “there is substantial cause for the committee to conclude that a violation within the jurisdiction of the committee has occurred,” it will proceed to conduct a full adjudicatory review. An adjudicatory review normally consists of interviews and sworn statements and can also involve a public hearing. When the committee finishes its review, it will issue a final report to the Senate, which may include a recommendation of disciplinary action. Both the final report and recommendations may be kept confidential at the discretion of the committee.

The committee’s options, with respect to potential disciplinary action, are typically censure, payment of restitution, or expulsion. A censure of a senator is merely a formal scolding for misconduct. Payment of restitution is essentially a fine imposed in order to compensate the victim in a monetary manner. Expulsion is the more difficult option to carry out, since it requires a two-thirds vote in the Senate. Consequently, the Senate has not expelled a member in more than a century.

If we look to history, we see that ethics committee investigations do not usually end up with the accused senator being held fully accountable for his or her actions. In the early 1990s, after only a few months of investigation by the ethics committee, Republican Senator Dave Durenberger was censured and ordered to pay $120,000 in restitution. Durenberger did not run for reelection in 1994 and the next year pleaded guilty to charges of misuse of public funds while in office. He was sentenced to one year of probation.

During the same time period, the Senate ethics panel made the decision not to investigate Democrat Senator Brock Adams, who was accused of sexual harassment and rape. The Ethics Committee sent a letter to the National Organization for Women, which had actually called for the investigation, stating that the investigation would not be pursued for the following reasons: the incidents had occurred before Adams had taken office, the alleged rape had already been investigated by the U.S. Attorney, and the committee had not received a request to initiate proceedings from the alleged victim.

Brock denied the allegations and declined to tender his resignation; however he did end up dropping out of his reelection race.

Around the same time period, Republican Senator Bob Packwood, a public advocate for women’s rights, was accused of multiple instances of sexual harassment. The related ethics investigation lasted nearly three years. Only after the bipartisan committee voted unanimously to recommend that Packwood be expelled did the senator resign.

In 2009 Republican Senator John Ensign acknowledged having an extramarital affair with a campaign aide. The following year an ethics committee began to investigate whether the Senator tried to buy his former aide’s silence. Ensign resigned in 2011, while the investigation was still ongoing. After probing for twenty-two months, the committee concluded that Ensign broke federal laws, and it referred the case to the Department of Justice. The department decided not to prosecute.

Because it is a highly politicized internal Senate process, an investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee generally takes a significant length of time to complete and, unless evidence of misconduct is overwhelming, results in little or no accountability.

More likely than not, an ethics committee investigation of sexual misconduct on the part of Franken will provide a way for the Democrat senator to wiggle out of any repercussions for his reprehensible behavior.

Why Judge Moore’s Supporters Remain Loyal

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Despite the avalanche of recent coverage by the mainstream media over allegations against Judge Roy Moore, Alabama voters are not buying into reports that center on his purported distant past.

An ABC affiliate television station in Birmingham sent a reporter to the town of Columbiana seeking to elicit voter reaction to the Washington Post story, which claimed that the Republican nominee to the U.S. Senate had, in excess of 34 years ago, engaged in inappropriate conduct with young women. Judge Moore has categorically denied the allegations.

Television reporter Lauren Walsh was unable to find a single local resident who believed the Post report.

“Out of all the voters we spoke with…, we didn’t find one voter who believed the Washington Post report about Moore,” Walsh stated.

Meanwhile CNN, an outlet that has set itself up as a 24/7 broadcaster of negative news about the Trump administration, conducted its own research on the attitudes of Judge Moore’s supporters.

Perhaps the cable outlet was expecting similar kinds of responses to those of Republican establishment figures, including John McCain, Bob Corker, and Mitt Romney, in which the trio suggested that Judge Moore immediately exit the race.

But that did not happen. Instead CNN was forced to print the results of its inquiry of approximately a dozen Alabamians who diminished or outright dismissed the Post’s story.

One local pastor, Mike Allison, echoed a phrase about the mainstream media that has been reverberating in segments of the population for over a year.

“I don’t even believe the allegations,” Allison told CNN. “There’s lots of fake news going around these days.”

Allison additionally indicated that he will support Judge Moore “more than ever.”

Republican Tim Huddleston acknowledged that, if the claims were true, a candidate would be required to step aside. But he is dubious about the timing of this story.

“The problem you have is all of a sudden — whether you’re Democrat or Republican — you can’t come in 30 days before the election and say here are some unsubstantiated allegations,” Huddleston said.

At his first public appearance following the Post story, Judge Moore received a standing ovation from a crowd of supporters at an event at a library outside Birmingham.

It is predictable and wholly rational for Judge Moore’s backers to doubt the veracity of the Post story. The public has routinely witnessed the ugly pattern of last minute hit pieces, which arrive in the form of an “October Surprise.”

Judge Moore was expected by most to win in the very red state of Alabama, and the polls had been indicating he enjoyed a sizable double-digit lead.

Given the fact that every Senate seat is significant to the delicate balance of power in the upper chamber, if a Judge Moore loss could somehow be made to materialize, the Democrats would be better positioned to make headway in their efforts to “resist” the Trump agenda.

Decades-old allegations that are difficult to prove or disprove, is precisely why, when it comes to the law, that statutes of limitations are imposed as an integral part of due process.

The timing of this particular piece has the smell of classic last minute political opposition research. The media outlet that broke the story happens to be the Jeff Bezos-owned Post, which during the first year of the Trump presidency morphed into the print version of CNN and lost virtually all credibility with the Republican base, the very same voters who support Judge Moore.

The Post, which during the last presidential election had a platoon of reporters whose assignment was to do nothing other than dig up dirt on then-candidate Trump, has already given its endorsement to Judge Moore’s Democrat opponent.

One of Judge Moore’s accusers, Deborah Wesson Gibson, is a supporter of his opponent, just as is the Post. The newspaper failed to disclose this fact, as well as another important piece of information, which is that Gibson worked for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and as a sign language interpreter for Vice President Joe Biden. A photo of Gibson standing next to Biden was posted on her Facebook page and is displayed on her business webpage as well.

Much to the frustration of the mainstream media, Democratic Party, and certain members of the Republican establishment, the first poll issued after the Post story had circulated indicated that the race was tied.

Now an Alabama poll conducted two days after the Post piece hit has Judge Moore holding onto his double-digit lead, only dropping 0.2 percent since the allegations were reported.‬

Judge Moore has said that he will not leave the race but instead intends to fight back against the Post story.

Alabamians have little faith in the mainstream media, particularly the Post. On the other hand, Judge Moore is known statewide as an individual who after successfully running for office served as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.

As time passes, it is a distinct possibility that even more Alabama voters will support Judge Moore rather than a Democratic candidate, making the GOP Senate nominee still the favorite to win.

 

Hollywood Unravels

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Hollywood is experiencing a seismic displacement that is impacting its business, brand, and future prospects.

Since the disgusting serial behavior of Harvey Weinstein was made known to the public courtesy of the tenacious reporting of journalist Ronan Farrow, some of the most powerful members of the Hollywood community have been accused of various forms of sexual misconduct ranging from sexual harassment to criminal sexual assault.

The alleged perpetrators comprise a list of some of the biggest and most heralded names in Hollywood, including Ben Affleck (actor and Oscar winning director), Dustin Hoffman (Oscar winning actor), Kevin Spacey (Oscar winning actor), Jeremy Piven (Emmy winning television actor), James Toback (director and Oscar nominated screenwriter), and David O. Russell (Oscar nominated director).

For decades the Hollywood community has in large part ignored and even condoned the contemptible behavior of Roman Polanski (Oscar winning director) and Woody Allen (four-time Oscar winner).

New revelations related to Hollywood’s unseemly side seem to be pouring in by the hour. Now accusations against Spacey are opening up yet another horrific illegality that has been the subject of rumors in the town for years, the unspeakable crime of pedophilia.

Never before has a scandal this dark and pervasive draped the Hollywood community with such ill-repute. And never before has the Hollywood brand been sullied as badly as it has been during this past year.

Adding to the crushing weight of it all is the fact that the entertainment business is suffering damages in a dollar amount that is still impossible to calculate. Many of those who are currently accused of misconduct have potentially profitable current and future projects that have been cancelled or put on hold.

Some of the accused have careers that are, at a minimum, severely impaired. For others it is most certainly over.

As viewers of entertainment industry award shows are able to attest, Hollywood has set itself up as an agenda driven purveyor of cultural norms. Many entertainment figures are infamous for talking down what they view as “fly-over” country.

Middle America is the place that so-called progressives on the Left Coast use to bolster one another’s views with unfounded smug certainty. Even as Hollywood pitches its out-of-the-mainstream worldview, a twisted form of narcissism, self-idolatry, still rules the roost and blinding hypocrisy reigns. This is particularly evident when it comes to the outward display of self-congratulation via the award ceremony industry.

Movies about Hollywood itself seem to be the recipients of a disproportionate degree of attention, e.g., “The Artist,” “La La Land,” “Argo” and “Trumbo.”

The Left Coast is also in the ugly habit of deriding those who promote government reduction, self-defense rights, border enforcement, and the like. Judeo-Christian faith expression serves as fodder for snide comedic skits and perverse story plotlines. Intact marriages and loving families are the stuff of ridicule. And patriotism has been recast as divisive, outmoded, and worse.

There is a consequence to embracing a worldview that is devoid of time-honored values. What we have now in Hollywood is a frayed fabric that continues to unravel with no apparent way of mending.

Indictments Tainted by Conflicts of Interest and Media Leaks

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Robert Mueller recently received some sharp criticism for his role in conducting an investigation into purported Russian collusion. However, the disapproval of the special counsel seems to have come from an unexpected source.

The Wall Street Journal, which is known to be unfriendly to President Donald Trump, called on Mueller to resign.

The Journal opined, “The Fusion news means the FBI’s role in Russia’s election interference must now be investigated—even as the FBI and Justice insist that Mr. Mueller’s probe prevents them from cooperating with Congressional investigators.”

“Mr. Mueller is a former FBI director, and for years he worked closely with Mr. Comey. It is no slur against Mr. Mueller’s integrity to say that he lacks the critical distance to conduct a credible probe of the bureau he ran for a dozen years. He could best serve the country by resigning to prevent further political turmoil over that conflict of interest,” the Journal stated.

The discredited dossier, paid for by the Clinton campaign and the DNC to the opposition firm Fusion GPS, may have been used to launch the investigation that led to Mueller’s appointment.

Mueller is the same individual who was the FBI director that oversaw the agency’s investigation into the criminal behavior of Russian bribery, extortion, and money laundering that had the underlying purpose of obtaining control over America’s uranium supply.

Part of Mueller’s FBI probe at the time centered on Uranium One, the infamous entity involved in the sale of one-fifth of the U.S. supply of uranium. It is self-evident that any current investigation into Russian activities would be severely impacted by Mueller’s past. This special counsel evidently lacks the independence that is required in order to conduct an impartial probe and may additionally have conflicts when it comes to looking into the propriety of the FBI’s investigation of Russian criminality.

In this same time period when the Journal is applying pressure on Mueller and several scandals that implicate the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee are dominating much of the media, CNN is somehow the recipient of an exclusive breaking story indicating that charges have been brought by Mueller’s grand jury and an arrest may soon occur.

The cable news outlet cited anonymous sources that were “briefed on the matter.”

Sharyl Attkisson, former investigative journalist for CBS News, does not view the timing of the reports of the Mueller indictments as coincidental.

“Friday leak of grand jury indictments. If you’ve ready [read] The Smear, you probably believe it’s intended to dominate news coverage this weekend and drown out talk of Uranium One scandal. You’re pretty smart!” Attkisson tweeted.

Conventionally, an individual who is indicted by a grand jury is immediately notified; however, according to CNN, neither the defendant or the defendant’s lawyers have been notified.

The grand jury is an important part of our criminal justice system and is prominently featured in the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.

The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure specify that a prosecutor may not leak evidence, or even the existence of a grand jury’s investigation, to the press. A sealed indictment is an indictment that is sealed so that it stays non-public until such a time as it is unsealed.

In the rare case such as this when the indictment is sealed, the judge orders that the indictment be kept secret until the defendant is in custody or has been released pending trial. No person may disclose the indictment’s existence, except as necessary to issue or execute a warrant or a summons. Consequently, it is clearly illegal to leak information on a sealed indictment to the press.

In August of this year, leaks appeared in the press indicating that Mueller had impaneled a grand jury, and the possibility exists that an individual or group of individuals within Mueller’s office may be the source of information about the initial impaneling of the grand jury as well as the sealed indictments recently leaked to CNN.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made the criminal nature of such a leak clear.

“First off, it’s supposed to be kept a secret … There are very strict criminal laws about disclosing grand jury information. Now, depending on who disclosed this to CNN, it could be a crime,” the governor told ABC’s “This Week.”

Christie, calling upon his experience as a former prosecutor, emphasized how seriously grand jury secrecy is taken by those in the criminal justice system, stating that the public has to have “confidence in the fact that the grand jury process is secret and as a result fair… Again, we don’t know who leaked it to CNN. It would be a crime if prosecutors or agents leaked it.”

South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy, Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, appeared to lay the responsibility on Mueller for allowing the media to learn about sealed grand jury charges in the Russia investigation.

“In the only conversation I’ve had with Robert Mueller, I stressed to him the importance of cutting out the leaks,” Gowdy told “Fox News Sunday.”

“It’s kind of ironic that the people charged with investigating the law and the violations of the law would violate the law,” the chairman remarked.

Even though CNN did not indicate who had been charged, the number of individuals charged, or what charges had been filed by Mueller’s team, the cable network appeared to have some knowledge of whom the subject of the sealed indictment may be.

CNN reporter Pamela Brown indicated that the network knows more than they have reported concerning the identity of the individual or individuals targeted by Mueller’s indictment.

“We have a sense of who the charges are against, the person or people, but our understanding is that the person or people who have been charged have not been notified yet,” Brown said.

Leaking to the press would appear to be consistent with the heavy handed tactics Mueller’s team has been utilizing. In July the team reportedly told former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort that it planned to indict him. Subsequently, Manafort’s door lock was reportedly picked and an unannounced pre-dawn raid of his Virginia home was conducted.