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Truth Commission

On my first day in office, I will request that the attorney general (or acting attorney general) establish an independent, nonpartisan Truth Commission under the laws and procedures for establishing a special counsel investigation.

This commission will be structured in a way to insulate it as much as possible from political concerns. Its role will be to learn the truth without regard for party or political consequences, and to prosecute criminal activity and corruption in our government.

This commission’s initial charge will be to perform a complete, unbiased review and prosecute wrongdoers in relation to several recent political controversies. Too many cases of fraud, abuse, and other criminal activity among our high-ranking political officials have gone unpunished. It’s time that we hold our leaders to the same standard we hold every other citizen.

Matters to be investigated in this first round of investigations are detailed below. The findings of the commission should be made public (with minimal necessary redaction).

Use of Torture

  • Investigate the authorization and use of waterboarding and other torture techniques during the global war on terror, in violation of both U.S. law and the Convention Against Torture treaty.
  • Prosecute those who authorized illegal torture, including members of the Bush administration and the military and intelligence services, possibly including former Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet and others.
  • Prosecute those who committed the acts of torture. “I was just following orders” has not been accepted as a valid defense for committing crimes against humanity since World War II.
  • This investigation should also extend to members of Congress in both major parties who were briefed on, and consented to, these illegal programs.

Warrantless Surveillance

  • Investigate the authorization and use of warrantless domestic surveillance during the global war on terror, in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
  • Prosecute members of the Bush and Obama administrations and the intelligence services who authorized illegal surveillance.
  • Prosecute those who committed illegal acts of surveillance (again, “just following orders” is not a defense).
  • Prosecute former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper for perjuring himself before Congress by denying the existence of this domestic surveillance program.
  • (Note that, separately, I intend to pardon Edward Snowden. He committed no crime by blowing the whistle on this illegal program.)

IRS Targeting

  • Investigate the targeting of conservative political organizations by the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
  • Prosecute any members of the Obama administration and federal service who authorized illegal targeting, particularly including former director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Unit Lois Lerner.
  • Prosecute those who performed improper reviews of these organizations (i.e., who followed illegal orders).
  • Prosecute former IRS Commissioner John Koskinen for authorizing the destruction of evidence under subpoena and for perjuring himself before Congress.
  • Prosecute any others who lied under oath in relation to this matter.

Holder Contempt Finding

  • Investigate and act upon the bipartisan resolution that found former Attorney General Eric Holder to be in contempt of Congress.
  • This finding was referred to former U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald Machen, who took no action. Investigate this dereliction of duty.
  • Prosecute Holder for failing to comply with congressional subpoenas and for perjuring himself before Congress.
  • Investigate whether anybody in the Obama administration, including Holder and Machen, obstructed justice by protecting Holder from prosecution. Prosecute them if appropriate.

Comey and Clinton

  • Investigate the failure of former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey to recommend the prosecution of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for violations of law relating to classified material and public recordkeeping.
  • Prosecute Clinton for the above mentioned violations. Others were being prosecuted at this time for far lesser crimes. (More on this issue on the corruption page.)
  • Prosecute Comey for lying to Congress about the state of the review of emails found on former Representative Anthony Weiner’s computer, which could not have been completed in the time claimed.
  • Investigate whether Comey, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, or other members of the Obama administration obstructed justice by protecting Clinton from prosecution. Prosecute them if appropriate.

Russian Election Interference

  • Investigate the failure of the Obama administration to detect and prevent ongoing interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election by Russian intelligence services.
  • Review Volume II of the report by Special Prosecutor Bob Mueller and independently make the prosecution or declination decisions that Mueller failed to make regarding possible obstruction of justice by members of the Trump campaign and administration.
  • Prosecute any members of the Trump campaign and administration who are determined by this review to have illegally obstructed justice.
  • Investigate the development of the “Trump dossier” by Christopher Steele, those who funded its development, and whether it was improperly used to obtain search warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court. Prosecute those responsible, if appropriate.

Other Matters

  • The Truth Commission would have a broad authority to investigate other criminal matters that it uncovers in the course of investigating the controversies described above.
  • Congress should consider a formal authorization for a standing Truth Commission, which would have the authority to perform complete, independent investigations of future political controversies without interference by Congress or presidential administrations.