Trump tweets and it becomes a major issue.
Welcome to the new world.
On Thursday morning, FBI Director Christopher Wray was grilled by the House Judiciary Committee on the merits of a recent Trump tweet, where he declared the FBI in tatters.
This was in response to news that an FBI agent working with Robert Mueller’s investigatory team addressing Russian interference in the 2016 election had sent anti-Trump tweets to a girlfriend.
Mueller promptly fired the agent, identified as Peter Strzok. It was later discovered that Strzok was a blatant partisan, who also changed the language in former FBI Director James Comey’s statement on Hillary Clinton’s email scandal, from “grossly negligent,” to “extremely careless,” saving her from indictment.
When pressed, Wray did not waver in his defense of his department.
“There is no shortage of opinions out there,” Wray said. “What I can tell you is the FBI I see is tens of of thousands of agents, analysts and staff working their tails off to keep America safe from the next terror attack. The FBI that I see … is brave men and women working as hard as they can to keep people that they will never know safe from harm.”
He acknowledged that the bureau makes mistakes “like everybody who’s human” — and that, when mistakes do happen, the bureau launches rigorous independent review and holds individuals accountable if appropriate.
Trump and his loyalists have used news of Strzok’s misdeeds to declare Mueller’s investigation illegitimate.
When pressed specifically about Strzok, Wray declined to comment, nor would he comment on the way the Clinton email investigation was handled. He referred to an ongoing investigation by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz.
“I think it would not be appropriate for me to speculate about what the inspector general will or will not find,’’ Wray told Chairman Bob Goodlatte(R-Va.).
Still, it’s a question the committee wants answered.
“The question is how did this guy get on your supposed unbiased team in the first place when you consider this is the same guy investigating the Clinton server and had a hand in altering the FBI’s conclusion that the FBI was ‘grossly negligent’ so she could escape prosecution and stay in the race against Donald Trump?” demanded Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio).
In fact, Republicans would like to see a second special counsel appointed, just to investigate the FBI’s decision making process while conducting the probe into Hillary’s emails.
They would also like to get a look at Strzok’s emails to his girlfriend – senior FBI lawyer, Lisa Page.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) pointed out that since there is no policy within the FBI against having a political opinion, or with texting a girlfriend/boyfriend about those opinions, the fact that Strzok was bounced from his position with Mueller’s team seemed to indicate that those texts were more than simply expressing a partisan opinion.
Wray committed to working toward complying with the committee’s demands — noting that he had “no desire to frustrate” the committee — as long as it did not interfere with “a very active outside” investigation by the inspector general.
He noted that Strzok’s reassignment from Mueller’s team is “different than disciplinary actions.”
Strzok is a rotten apple, no doubt. There’s not a single thing to come out of this latest revelation about his existence or his activities that should be excused away.
Do his activities discredit the whole FBI or indicate that the bureau is “in tatters”?
No. They don’t.