We’ll know soon enough exactly what’s in this thing (to the extent that it’s not redacted).
In the meantime, it’s interesting to note what leaks are coming out and how they are being spun. Keep in mind that this report is hundreds of pages long. To this point though we’ve only received two very clearly targeted leaks that at least appear to be trying to get out ahead of possible damaging headlines.
The media are of course playing along with great glee.
The first is this one…
“While we did not find that these decisions were the result of political bias on 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,” Inspector General Michael Horowitz said in the report’s conclusions, which were obtained Thursday by Bloomberg News.
The “no political bias!” line is being put in headlines all across the media as we speak. What’s missing here is the multitude of context that’s in the report at large and of course the fact that the IG only deals in facts. It’s completely logical that he wouldn’t find Comey admitting to his biases or lack thereof. How do you even prove political bias in this situation without direct admission?
What is important, and what the report will actually deal with are the actions of Comey and their effect on the FBI. What his motivations are will then have to be surmised by those who can think critically given the evidence at hand. The IG is not going to state definitive motivation because he can’t assume, even if an assumption is perfectly logical.
We also got this leak about the Page/Strzok texts…
But Horowitz said in the report to be issued Thursday that “we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that improper considerations, including political bias, directly affected the specific investigative actions we reviewed.” Still, he wrote that “the conduct by these employees cast a cloud over the entire FBI investigation.”
Again, you see the IG dealing in facts. It’s not surprising that he found no “documentary or testimonial” evidence of bias changing their work. That’s just a fancy way of saying the dynamic duo didn’t outright admit their biases affected their investigation. That’s to be expected.
That doesn’t absolve them of their actions nor does it mean their biases weren’t a factor. There’s no doubt the media will use that line as vindication though.
Even given that the IG can’t speculate, it sometimes feels like we are living in the Twilight zone with the inability to state the obvious. How can texts like the below exist and then it be said there was no bias? Come on…
I don't think FBI agents should be barred from expressing opinions, but how can anyone argue that they weren't professionally biased when they say things like "we'll stop it?" https://t.co/h55GZLoncv
— David Harsanyi (@davidharsanyi) June 14, 2018
In regards to Comey, despite the IG not being able to definitively charge him with political bias, are we to ignore to most logical explanation simply because Comey didn’t admit it in a memo somewhere? Comey wasn’t breaking protocol and whitewashing the investigation for no reason.
Expect these kinds of targeted leaks to continue until the full report is out in order to soften the impact of the findings. Furthermore, expect the media to latch onto single paragraphs like the ones above to push their narrative instead of focusing on what is going to be dozens of pages excoriating the behavior of various DOJ and FBI officials.
There will be a lot more “Republicans seize” stories in the next few days than stories actually criticizing Obama administration officials by honestly reporting on the findings.
On this same note, Congressional members are demanding the unrevised copies of the report to ensure the conclusions (like those we see leaked here) weren’t altered or softened during the multi-week comment period after Horowitz’s completion. We’ll see how that plays out.