Sex, Lies, and Betrayal at the FBI
If Jeff Sessions and Christopher Wray want to clean house at the FBI, they’ll be well advised to pack a good lunch. Cleaning this house will be an all-day job. The agency under James Comey has been more corrupt than we thought.
The long-awaited findings of the inspector general at the Justice Department were finally released Thursday, and it reveals clearly that officials high up in the food chain were out to protect Hillary Clinton by any means necessary.
The inspector general discovered a smoking gun, and, if we are to believe our eyes, couldn’t see clearly whether there was a bullet in it. Peter Strzok, the FBI official who was a major player in the investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s private email server reveals just how the FBI was conducting the investigation. It is not reassuring reading.
Three months before the election, when it was just beginning to dawn on Washington that Donald Trump might not be the clown that just about everyone in the media was saying he was, Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer and Mr. Strzok’s off-campus lover, was so worried that Mr. Trump might be elected, she couldn’t wait for reassurance in pillow talk. She sent a semi-desperate text message to the lover.
“Trump’s not ever going to become president, right? Right?”
Mr. Strzok replied: “No. No, he’s not. We’ll stop it.”
Michael Horowitz, the inspector general, reassures us all. “We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that improper considerations, including political bias, directly affected the specific investigations we reviewed.”
And this: “While we did not find that these decisions were the result of political bias on [James Comey’s] part, we nevertheless concluded that by departing so clearly and dramatically from FBI and department norms, the decisions negatively impacted the perception of the FBI and the department as fair administrators of justice.”
This is how things work in the swamp. Swamp creatures live by a unique moral code. Nothing to see in the swamp. Just move along, please.
Jeff Sessions warned a day ahead of the release of the inspector general’s report that glib explanations might not satisfy a public appetite for small-j justice. “If anyone else shows up in this report to have done something that requires termination, we will do so.” Mr. Sessions, who speaks with a welcome lack of bombast, sounds like he meant it.
But back in the swamp, Mr. Comey himself quickly established the first line of defense, in an op-ed for The New York Times, that the swamp was innocent of everything, a version of “who are you going to believe, me or your eyes?”
“First,” he wrote, “the inspector general’s team went through the FBI’s work with a microscope and found no evidence that bias or improper motivation affected the investigation, which I know was done competently, honestly and independently.”
Mr. Comey was obviously reading something else. Here’s the text of the inspector general himself: ” these text messages also caused us to assess [Mr.] Strzok’s decision on October 16 to prioritize the Russia investigation over following up [on the Hillary Clinton inquiry] the investigative lead discovered on the [Anthony] Weiner laptop. We concluded that we did not have confidence that this decision by Strzok was free from bias.”
The inspector general concluded, he says, that “when one senior FBI official, Strzok, who was helping lead the Russia investigation at the time, conveys in a text message to another senior FBI official, [Miss] Page, that ‘we’ll stop candidate Trump from being elected’ — after other extensive text messages between the two, disparaging Trump — it is not only indicative of a biased state of mind but, even more seriously, implies a willingness to take official action to impact the presidential candidate’s electoral prospects. This is antithetical to the core values of the FBI and the Department of Justice.”
Some core. Some values. You don’t have to read between the lines to see that, try as the inspector general does, to give as much help as he can to Mr. Comey and the Justice Department, he concludes that Donald Trump, mean, crude, vulgarian as the swamp may think he is, is nevertheless right about how the prevailing political establishment was out to cook the election result.
This is scandal and outrage beyond bias. The FBI, which only yesterday was one of the most respected and highly regarded agencies of the government, has become regarded as perhaps one of the most corrupt because it can destroy anyone — even a presidential candidate — once it commits the resources of the federal government to the cause.
The KGB never persecuted better. Robert Mueller, friend and protector of James Comey, has been chasing the wrong rabbit.
• Wesley Pruden is editor in chief emeritus of The Times.
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