Trump’s Tweets On Clinton Sympathizing FBI Officials Only Scratches the Surface of the Problem
Yesterday, the New York Times announced that the FBI’s deputy director for counterintelligence, Peter Strzok, was removed from Robert Mueller’s investigation because he exchanged texts with the woman with whom he was having an extra-marital affair that were critical of Trump and supportive of Clinton during the campaign. (I covered Strzok’s removal back in August.)
The article, and the companion article in the Washington Post, are both disingenuous in the extreme. They try to frame Strzok’s removal from the probe as some marker of Robert Mueller’s high-mindedness–so hopefully we’ll all forget the Democrat donors on his team. That story is nonsense. Strzok wasn’t just removed from Mueller’s investigation, he was totally fired from his position and moved to a do-nothing job in human resources. And that isn’t going to happen for a private text betweet a couple of co-workers who were sharing bodily fluids. Plus, Mueller doesn’t have the authority to remove FBI personnel from their positions in the agency, which is what happened here.
President Trump took notice this morning:
I think Trump has this down pretty well.
Strzok, as deputy director for counterintelligence, plays a key role in everything going on right now. He oversaw the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server. His office is the one that decided it would not require the DNC to cough up the email server for forensic examination and allowed a private company to be hired by the same guy who hired Fusion GPS. His office is the one which would have received and handled any attempts at verification of the Trump dossier. The FISA warrants sought against members of Trump’s campaign and his transition team would have emanated from Strzok’s office.
Strzok’s day-to-day supervisor would have been deputy director Andrew McCabe. This is the guy who is currently under IG investigation for violating the Hatch Act and whose wife took over $700K from Clinton-affiliated groups in her run for a state senate seat in Virginia as a Democrat.
There are two good articles on the whole story. The first is from Byron York, Nunes blows up, threatens contempt after FBI stonewalls House on Russia investigator demoted for anti-Trump bias.
House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes has issued an angry demand to the FBI and Department of Justice to explain why they kept the committee in the dark over the reason Special Counsel Robert Mueller kicked a key supervising FBI agent off the Trump-Russia investigation.
Word of the messages and the affair were news to Nunes, even though the committee had issued a subpoena that covered information about Strzok’s demotion more than three months ago. The committee’s broadly worded subpoena for information related to the so-called Trump dossier went to the FBI and DOJ on Aug. 24. In follow-up conversations on the scope of the subpoena, committee staff told the FBI and DOJ that it included information on the circumstances of Strzok’s reassignment.
On Oct. 11, Nunes met with deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein. In that meeting, Nunes specifically discussed the committee’s request for information about Strzok.
In an Oct. 31 committee staff meeting with the FBI, bureau officials refused a request for information about Strzok.
On Nov. 20, the committee again requested an interview with Strzok. (Three days earlier, on November 17, Strzok met with the Senate Intelligence Committee.)
On Nov. 29, Nunes again spoke to Rosenstein, and again discussed Strzok.
On Dec. 1, the committee again requested to speak with Strzok.
After each occasion, the FBI and DOJ did nothing. Now, in what appears to be an orchestrated leak, both the Post and Times published the reason for Strzok’s demotion, along with concerns that the revelation might help President Trump. “Among federal law enforcement officials, there is great concern that exposure of the texts they exchanged may be used by the president and his defenders to attack the credibility of the Mueller probe and the FBI more broadly,” the Post reported. The Times reported that “the existence of the text messages is likely to fuel claims by Mr. Trump that he is the target of a witch hunt.”
I don’t know why anyone would look at this goat-rope led by Mueller and think it was anything but a totally above-board effort to find evidence of collusion between the Trump camp and Russia before the election. That is just a shocker to me.
“By hiding from Congress, and from the American people, documented political bias by a key FBI head investigator for both the Russia collusion probe and the Clinton email investigation, the FBI and DOJ engaged in a willful attempt to thwart Congress’ constitutional oversight responsibility,” Nunes said in a statement Saturday afternoon. “This is part of a months-long pattern by the DOJ and FBI of stonewalling and obstructing this committee’s oversight work, particularly oversight of their use of the Steele dossier. At this point, these agencies should be investigating themselves.”
To add insult to injury, at just the moment the leaked stories appeared, the Justice Department out of the blue notified Nunes that it would meet some of the committee’s demands for information that it had been refusing for months. That didn’t make the chairman happy, either.
“The DOJ has now expressed — on a Saturday, just hours after the press reports on Strzok’s dismissal appeared — a sudden willingness to comply with some of the committee’s long-standing demands,” Nunes said in the statement. “This attempted 11th-hour accommodation is neither credible nor believable, and in fact is yet another example of the DOJ’s disingenuousness and obstruction.”
As a result, Nunes said he has instructed committee staff to draw up a contempt of Congress citation for Rosenstein and for FBI Director Christopher Wray. The chairman promised to take action on the citation before the end of December unless the FBI and DOJ meet all the committee’s outstanding demands.
Two senior Justice Department officials have confirmed to Fox News that the department’s Office of Inspector General is reviewing the role played in the Hillary Clinton email investigation by Peter Strzok, a former deputy director for counterintelligence at the FBI who was removed from the staff of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III earlier this year, after Mueller learned that Strzok had exchanged anti-Trump texts with a colleague.
A source close to the matter said the OIG probe, which will examine Strzok’s roles in a number of other politically sensitive cases, should be completed by “very early next year.”
This sounds much more correct. Mueller removed Strzok from the probe because a significant IG investigation into Strzok’s handling of “politically sensitive cases” was looking very ugly. We can guess what at least two of those investigations are. That explains how his private text messages came to light. They were swept up by a subpoena or search warrant issued as part of the IG investigation.
House investigators told Fox News they have long regarded Strzok as a key figure in the chain of events when the bureau, in 2016, received the infamous anti-Trump “dossier” and launched a counterintelligence investigation into Russian meddling in the election that ultimately came to encompass FISA surveillance of a Trump campaign associate.
What Mueller is doing with this leak is damage control. If an IG investigation is sufficiently serious to merit the removal of a top tier FBI supervisor, there is much more there than a rogue text. Mueller had on his team, guiding the investigation, the guy who investigated Hillary Clinton’s email, who received the Trump dossier, who oversaw FBI contact with the author of the dossier, who sought to pay the author money for more work, and who authorized FISA warrant applications against members of the campaign of a candidate for president and president-elect. But all of that, we’re told, is perfectly innocent.