We’re seeing the unfriendly-to-the-FBI stuff beginning to appear. Just hours ago, we were told the report found no political bias in the FBI’s actions but that is a somewhat less than accurate characterization of the DOJ IG Michael Horowitz’s findings.
The report is a blistering public rebuke of Comey, who has spent recent months on a book tour promoting his brand of ethical leadership. Inspector general Michael Horowitz accused Comey of insubordination, saying he flouted Justice Department practices when he decided only he had the authority and credibility to make key decisions and speak for the Justice Department.
Some senior bureau officials, the report found, exhibited a disturbing “willingness to take official action” to hurt Trump’s chances to become president.
The inspector general concluded that Strzok’s text, along with others disparaging Trump, “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.”
The messages “potentially indicated or created the appearance that investigative decisions were impacted by bias or improper considerations,” the inspector general wrote.
Strzok told investigators he believed the message “was intended to reassure Page that Trump would not be elected, not to suggest that he would do something to impact the investigation,” according to the report. Both he and Page generally defended their messages as instances of sharing personal opinions that did not affect their work.
“I’m an American. We have the First Amendment. I’m entitled to an opinion,” Page told investigators.
(uhhh…on a government phone…and in light of the Hatch Act…that’s not how any of this works)
Page and Strzok are not the only FBI officials assigned to the Clinton email probe who were found to have exchanged personal messages indicating either an animus against Trump or frustration with the fact that the FBI was investigating Clinton. The report identified five officials with some connection to the email probe who were expressing political views, faulting them for having brought “discredit to themselves, sowed doubt about the FBI’s handling of the midyear investigation, and impacted the reputation of the FBI.” The midyear investigation refers to the Clinton email probe.
“The messages cast a cloud over the FBI investigations to which these employees were assigned,” Horowitz alleged. “Ultimately the consequences of these actions impact not only the senders of these messages but also other who worked on these investigation and, indeed, the entire FBI.”
The inspector general wrote that it had referred the information regarding the five individuals who exchanged politically-charged messages “to the FBI for its handling and consideration of whether the messages … violates the FBI’s Offense Code of Conduct.”
“Under these circumstances, we did not have confidence that Strzok’s decision to prioritize the Russia investigation over following up on the Midyear-related investigative lead discovered on the Weiner laptop was free from bias,” the report said.
The report determined that several FBI investigators — including Comey — also broke bureau protocol by using “personal email accounts for official government business.”
The inspector found five instances in which Comey either drafted official messages on or forwarded emails to his personal account, and at least two instances in which Strzok used his personal email for official business — including one “most troubling” instance on October 29, 2016, when he forwarded “an email about the proposed search warrant the midyear team was seeking on the Weiner laptop” from his FBI account to his personal email.
And now Trey Gowdy has weighed in. Gowdy, almost alone among House Committee Chairmen, has been more than willing to carry water for investigators and prosecutors in instances that appear, at least to the initiated members of the law enforcement community, as abusive.
“I am alarmed, angered, and deeply disappointed by the Inspector General’s finding of numerous failures by DOJ and FBI in investigating potential Espionage Act violations by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
This report confirms investigative decisions made by the FBI during the pendency of this investigation were unprecedented and deviated from traditional investigative procedures in favor of a much more permissive and voluntary approach. This is not the way normal investigations are run.
The investigation was mishandled. The investigatory conclusions were reached before the end of the witness interviews. The July 5th press conference marked a serious violation of policy and process. And the letters to Congress in the fall of 2016 were both delayed in substance and unnecessary in form.
Moreover, the treatment afforded to former Secretary Clinton and other potential subjects and targets was starkly different from the FBI’s investigation into Trump campaign officials. Voluntariness and consent in the former were replaced with search warrants, subpoenas, and other compulsory processes in the latter. Many of the investigators and supervisors were the same in both investigations but the investigatory tactics were not.
Former Director Comey violated Department policy in several significant ways. The FBI’s actions and those of former Director Comey severely damaged the credibility of the investigation, the public’s ability to rely on the results of the investigation, and the very institutions he claims to revere.
The report also conclusively shows an alarming and destructive level of animus displayed by top officials at the FBI. Peter Strzok’s manifest bias trending toward animus casts a pall on this investigation. Bias is so pernicious and malignant as to both taint the process, the result, and the ability to have confidence in either.
The law enforcement community has no greater ally in Congress than me. But continued revelations of questionable decision making by FBI and DOJ leadership destroys confidence in the impartiality of the institutions I have long served, respected, and believed in.
This is not the FBI I know. This is not the FBI our country needs. This is not the FBI citizens and suspects alike deserve.
It is now urgently incumbent on Attorney General Sessions and Director Wray to take decisive action to restore Americans’ confidence in our justice system.”
The comparison of how Clinton was treated to the way the Trump campaign was treated should get the attention of Mueller. As I pointed out yesterday, Congressional leaders are falling out of love with the Mueller investigation and already a majority of Americans think the investigation is political payback. The fact that Strzok and Page were the lead FBI personnel on the Mueller investigation until their texts became known calls into question the degree to which the Mueller investigation was able to be impartial.
When Gowdy starts talking about Mueller’s investigation being tainted, there is a very serious problem.
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