Justice Department Inspector General
I caught some flak this week for agreeing with Rod Rosenstein that FBI and Justice Department officials should be able do their jobs in spite of holding strong personal opinions. Everyone has opinions, but it is the duty of those in charge to make sure they don’t skew investigations and conclusions. Based on the revelations of the last few days, I have done a 180.
The infamous texts between the FBI agent in charge and his mistress originally revealed clear bias and disgust with Trump. It was not the best display of judgement to have that in writing when deeply involved in the most sensitive political investigation in decades, but maybe that was OK if their job performance wasn’t impacted. Then comes disclosure that they participated in a meeting in Andrew McCabe’s office (that would be the same McCabe who was the number two FBI guy whose wife received $700,000 in campaign contributions from Hillary Clinton’s BFF, Terry McAuliffe, while he was supervising the Hillary email investigation), in which they discussed a “plan” to save the country from a Trump presidency. They note that while Hillary is likely to win, they “can’t take the risk” that Trump might prevail and apparently hatched some kind of “insurance” plot to deal with it. There might be more innocent explanations, but it’s hard to interpret this any other way than a move against Trump.
The FBI guy adds that he has the ability to impact this at several levels. Really? Maybe that’s just a guy bragging to impress his like-minded mistress, but this sounds a tad ominous to me. They even discuss which phones to use while texting so that their communications can’t be tracked. If what they were texting about was so innocent, why the need to cover it up? Or is the rationale even more simple? Under Barack Obama and Eric Holder, it seemed perfectly acceptable for the intelligence community and the Justice Department to be politicized and supportive of the Obama agenda, so maybe it was merely a career-enhancing move for the texters to look for ways to undermine Trump since the odds were huge that another Democrat would be in the White House shortly.
And what about the mere fact that the FBI guy (who was very senior, involved in every aspect of the Hillary/Trump/Flynn investigations, and the top FBI counterterrorism guy) is having an affair with another FBI employee and putting sensitive stuff in writing on his work phone? Anyone who has read a James Bond novel and has a passing acquaintance with NSA capabilities knows how reckless this is, subject to foreign intercepts, and fodder for blackmail. Granted, Robert Mueller demoted him to HR when this came to light (where perhaps he could be in charge of recruiting more Trump haters), but what was he doing in this position in the first place? I’m not sure whether his actions were grossly negligent or perhaps just extremely careless; maybe when he appears before Congress it can ask him about all this.
Speaking of which, the original James Comey draft of the Clinton exoneration letter was disclosed Thursday. The focus had been on why he was drafting it weeks before he even interviewed Hillary and her team and why certain language was changed. But now we see that indeed the description of her actions was changed from gross negligence to extremely careless to avoid mirroring the statute phrase. And the potential access of classified information on her server by foreign actors was changed from “likely” to “possible.” Who was involved in making the changes and who had ultimate authority to finalize the document remains a mystery. But here’s a thought: We also were aware that in several of Hillary’s emails, some involving classified information, Obama was a recipient under an alias. So he had to know then that classified information was being sent on an unsecure server, and that could make him an accomplice to security violations if Hillary were indicted. Perhaps the meeting on the tarmac involved a bit more than chats about grandchildren, with Bill Clinton reminding Loretta Lynch that such a move against Hillary would lead to the mutually assured destruction of her boss. Best as I know, the FBI hasn’t turned over its files on the subject to Congress; and I don’t recall Bill or Loretta testifying under oath about the meeting. Might be instructive to do both.
Then there’s the additional disclosure on the “Trump dossier” (as I’ve noted before, the term “dossier” is way too formal for such a discredited document, so let’s call it a “report”). To review the bidding, Team Hillary and the DNC gave about $10 million to their lawyers, who used the money to hire Fusion GPS for opposition research, which hired the former UK spy to lead the charge, who paid “Russians” to create false info on Trump. That report was then shopped to several “news” sources as well as the FBI, and portions leaked out. It is unclear whether the FBI used the report in dressed-up fashion to justify FISA warrants to spy on Americans, mostly Trump associates. But if true, it would be a huge deal. When asked about “this” under oath, Comey very artfully stated that the FBI complied with all laws in this regard. Technically, that may be true, since Obama loosened access rules in the waning days of his term, but it’s still an egregious invasion of U.S. citizens’ privacy and possibly illegal. It would be nice to follow the money to see what really happened. And all that would take would be subpoenas of bank records, but so far no one has gone there.
Then we learn that the number four guy in the Justice Department was communicating directly with Fusion and its British spy while this was all going on and not telling anyone. He has since been demoted. It gets worse. His wife was employed by Fusion, using her expertise in “Russian matters” to gather info on Trump. She also suddenly found a keen interest in ham radios, applying for a license at the same time. This could be just a new hobby, but ham radio frequencies are less likely to be monitored by the NSA and would allow her to communicate more freely with the Hillary campaign. It might be coincidence or it might be black helicopter stuff, but all it would take to find out would be a subpoena of NSA files on her radio messages.
The players all seem to be hiding behind the DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General review, saying they can’t comment since it might compromise that investigation. And yet they decided to release a few hundred text messages out of what they say are 10,000. If they are selectively releasing stuff like this, which could be seen as a huge violation of the texters’ privacy, why not release everything — money trails, docs and all the texts? It’s possible that because the texts were between two FBI officials having an extramarital affair, they could contain material not likely to get a “G” rating, but why not let the relevant congressional committees send a couple of reps to see it all and confirm which personal texts should be withheld? It doesn’t add up that both oversight bodies can’t work in parallel, unless the IG, FBI and Justice want to build a throw-under-the-bus case against the designated texting dartboards. But that would be too convenient and might be a head fake to distract from other more sinister actions like illegal FISA Court access and unmasking of U.S. citizens. But can someone in Congress please just ask the right questions?
Letting the black helicopter theories fester is really bad for the image and integrity of the federal law enforcement and justice communities. No one wants that. But each day these theories allow the helicopters to be grounded, as they become more clear, believable and troubling. I don’t know much about the Justice IG, and in spite of calls for Sessions to step up, perhaps it’s best for Trump and Sessions to remain hands-off, particularly if the internal IG work is headed where it appears to be. That’s putting a lot of faith in the IG, but for now, it’s the correct course, and with the continuing info drip, an urgent one.