• Was It All Just Pilot Error? IG Report Says No Political Bias Found in FBI Investigation of Clinton Email

    June 21, 2018

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    Posted in: Democracy, Trump



    What everyone will agree on: Comey and the FBI interfered with the election. What everyone will not agree on: Everything else.

    It will be easy to miss the most important point amid the partisan bleating over what the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General report on the FBI’s Clinton email investigation really means. While each side will find the evidence they want to find that the FBI, with James Comey as Director, helped/hurt Hillary Clinton’s and/or maybe Donald Trump’s campaign, the real takeaway is this: the FBI influenced the election of a president.

    In January 2017 the Inspector General (IG) for the Department of Justice, Michael Horowitz (who previously worked on the 2012 study of the Obama-era gun operation Fast and Furious), opened his probe into the FBI’s Clinton email investigation, including statements by Comey made about that investigation at critical moments in the presidential campaign. Horowitz’s focus was always to be on how the FBI did its work, not to re-litigate the case against Clinton. Nor did the IG plan to look into anything Russiagate.

    In a damning passage, the 568 page report found it “extraordinary and insubordinate for Comey to conceal his intentions from his superiors… for the admitted purpose of preventing them from telling him not to make the statement, and to instruct his subordinates in the FBI to do the same… 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.” Comey’s drafting of a press release announcing no prosecution for Clinton, written before the full investigation was even completed, is given a light touch though in the report, along the lines of roughly preparing for the conclusion based on early indications. We also learned Comey ironically used private email for government business.

    Attorney General Loretta Lynch herself is criticized for not being more sensitive to public perceptions when she agreed to meet privately with Bill Clinton aboard an airplane as the FBI investigation into Hillary unfolded. “Lynch’s failure to recognize the appearance problem… and to take action to cut the visit short was an error in judgment.” Her statements later about her decision not to recuse further “created public confusion and didn’t adequately address the situation.”

    The report also criticizes in depth FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who exchanged texts disparaging Trump, and then moved from the Clinton email to the Russiagate investigations. Those texts “brought discredit” to the FBI and sowed public doubt about the investigation, including one exchange that read “Lisa Page: “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Rights?! Peter Strzok: “No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it.” Another Strzok document stated “we know foreign actors obtained access” to some Clinton emails, including at least one secret message.”

    Page and Strzok also discussed cutting back the number of investigators present for Clinton’s in-person interview in light of the fact she might soon be president, their new boss. Someone identified only as Agent One went on to refer to Clinton as “the President” and in a message told a friend “I’m with her.” The FBI also allowed Clinton’s lawyers to attend the interview, even though they were also considered witnesses to a potential set of crimes committed by Clinton.

    Page and Strzok were among five FBI officials the report found expressed hostility toward Trump before his election as president, and who have been referred to the FBI’s internal disciple system for possible action. The report otherwise makes only wishy-washy recommendations, things like “adopting a policy addressing the appropriateness of Department employees discussing the conduct of uncharged individuals in public statements.”

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions indicated he will review the report for possible prosecutions. The IG previously referred former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe for possible prosecution after an earlier report found McCabe leaked to the press and later “lacked candor” when speaking to Comey and federal investigators. Sessions fired McCabe him in March 2018.

    But at the end of it all, the details really don’t matter, because the report found no political bias, no purposeful efforts or strategy to sway the election. In aviation disaster terms, it was all pilot error. An accident of sorts, as opposed to the pilot boarding drunk, but the plane crashed and killed 300 people anyway.

    The report is already being welcomed by Democrats — who feel Comey had shattered Clinton’s chances of winning the election by reopening the email probe just days before the election — and by Republicans, who feel Comey let Clinton off easy. Many are now celebrating it was only gross incompetence, unethical behavior, serial bad judgment, and insubordination that led the FBI to help determine the election. No Constitutional crisis. A lot of details in those 568 pages to yet fully parse, but at first glance there is not much worthy of prosecution (though IG Horowitz will testify in front of Congress on Monday and may reveal more information.) Each side will point to the IG’s conclusion of “no bias” to shut down calls for this or that in a tsunami of blaming each other. In that sense, the IG just poured a can of jet fuel onto the fires of the 2016 election and walked away to watch it burn.

    One concrete outcome, however, is to weaken a line of prosecution Special Counsel Robert Mueller may be pursuing. To say Comey acted incompetently during the election, albeit in ways that appear to have helped Trump, does not add to the argument he is otherwise competent, on Russia or any other topic. An FBI director willing to play in politics with an investigation is simply that, an FBI director who has abandoned the core principles of his job and can’t be trusted. Defend him because it was all good natured bad judgment doesn’t add anything healthy to the question of competency.

    Mueller has just seen a key witness degraded — any defense lawyer will characterize his testimony as tainted now — and a possible example of obstruction weakened. As justification for firing Comey, the White House initially pointed to an earlier Justice Department memo criticizing Comey for many of the same actions now highlighted by the IG (adding later concerns about the handling of Russiagate.) The report thus underscores one of the stated reasons for Comey’s dismissal. Firing someone for incompetence isn’t obstructing justice; it’s the boss’ job.

    It will be too easy, however, to miss the most important conclusion of the report: there is no longer a way to claim America’s internal intelligence agency, the FBI, did not play a role in the 2016 election. There is only to argue which side they favored and whether they meddled via clumsiness, as a coordinated action, or as a chaotic cluster of competing pro- and anti- Clinton/Trump factions inside the Bureau. And that’s the tally before anyone brings up the FBI’s use of a human informant inside the Trump campaign, the FBI’s use of both FISA warrants and pseudo-legal warrantless surveillance against key members of the Trump team, the FBI’s use of opposition research from the Steele Dossier, and so on.

    The only good news is the Deep State seems less competent than we originally feared. But even if one fully accepts the IG report’s conclusion all this — and there’s a lot — was not intentional, at a minimum it makes clear to those watching ahead of 2020 what tools are available and the impact they can have. While we continue to look for the bad guy abroad, we have already met the enemy and he is us.



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    Copyright © 2018. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity. Follow me on Twitter!

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  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...

      1

      Famous but incompetent.

      06/21/18 5:31 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      2

      This is the same crew that botched the anthrax terrorist attack investigation, if you believe the guy who headed it. Incompetence or conspiracy, you decide.

      06/22/18 7:49 AM | Comment Link

    • Doc Scheffler said...

      3

      Don’t confuse the executive summary and the conclusion with the report. The executive summary and the conclusion were written by the deep state, not the IG. Take the 30 hours to read the actual report. This is actually one of those rare moments in history where we the people can actually read the actual IG report.

      FBI and AG are waiting for the indictments by Huber to take actions. It would be pretty embarrassing to announce your “head of cleanup” and then watch him be indicted 90 days from now. It would make all future attempts to clean up the mess worthless.

      Take the time now to read the report (which is the first of three investigations) and stand by for Huber’s actions.

      06/22/18 7:52 AM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...

      4

      I agree, and I did read the whole report. The contents do not clearly support the “conclusions.” That wasn’t what I was focusing on in my article, but it is the theme of another article that needs to be written, perhaps via some indictments. Good eye.

      06/22/18 8:17 AM | Comment Link

    • Doc Scheffler said...

      5

      Thanks for the response. I felt required to write the first time because your headline for the article doesn’t match the reality, and quite frankly you are kind of famous for being one of the more reliable posters out there.

      I’m saddened by the responses that I see all over the web on the release of the IG report. This is unprecedented in my life time, and I’m older than you! An investigation of our government released for the citizens to actually read! Heck, we’re still fighting for info on JFK, Bobby and MLK. This is a rare event in the history of America and Sessions and Horowitz were adamant that this be released for Americans to read.

      06/23/18 8:40 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      6

      Who gives a shit what Comey did. The reality is there is no real difference between the two. Whether Hillarious or Demented won, we lose and the Wall Street War Party wins…every fucking time.

      Meanwhile, while we are fighting for deckchairs on the US Titanic, the whores in congress voted for an increase in the military budget larger than the entire military budget of Russia. Hillary would have voted for it and authorized war in Syria by now.

      06/23/18 9:23 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      7

      Which is it PVB- the FBI interfered with or influenced the 2016 election? There is a huge difference in my mind but I’m a fellow who believes the FBI has always been “involved” with national elections.

      A side take: in the 2012 election 127 million voted- 97 million abstained. Obama got 66 million and Romney 60 million. Obama stayed POTUS with just 66 million out of 224 million Americans of voting age choosing him. I find that sort of a funny when we refer to the USA as a representational democracy?

      06/23/18 2:47 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      8

      JP,

      Representational Democracy? Try failed, as in a bankrupt state. Really, it is representational of a morally bankrupt people. We are bankrupt, people. Really, if the American people truly understood this, it would change both the country and the world. It means that the dollar is sprinting down a path toward worthless. If the Pentagon is hiding spending that dwarfs the amount of tax dollars coming in to the federal government, then it’s clear the government is printing however much it wants and thinking there are no consequences. Once these trillions are considered, our fiat currency has even less meaning than it already does, and it’s only a matter of time before inflation runs wild. Sell the bonds, granny.

      It also means that any time our government says it “doesn’t have money” for a project, it’s laughable. It can clearly “create” as much as it wants for bombing and death. So why can’t our government also “create” endless money for health care, education, the homeless, veterans benefits and the elderly?

      If we weren’t morally bankrupt, that is.

      06/23/18 10:15 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      9

      Trump is dropping the debt bomb on US

      Every year, the federal government collects about $2.5 trillion in revenue and spends it all. It borrows another $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion and spends it all. To avoid paying back any of the $27 trillion it will owe, the federal government will need to spend about $1 trillion a year in interest payments.

      That $1 trillion is 40 percent of the revenue collected by the federal government; that’s 40 cents on every dollar in tax revenue going to interest on old debts — interest payments that are legally unavoidable by taxpayers and voters.

      Will the taxpaying public tolerate this much longer? What would happen if taxpayers stopped paying taxes because 40 percent of what they’ve been paying has produced nothing for them? Would investors stop lending money to the government because of fear that the government could not pay them back? The Constitution requires the government to pay its debts. But when it is run by morally bankrupt people, that is the real fake news.

      06/23/18 10:26 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      10

      Bauer- maybe we’ll “forgive” our own debt to ourselves? That tactic will work nicely for the elite but the rest of us will have to get by with less while paying much much more.

      06/24/18 1:31 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      11

      JP,

      Forgive US our debts as we forgive those who owe US, and lead US not into foreclosure… Right. Then Demented is surely the man of our times. He stands for everything this country is: Morally and financially bankrupt. As they say, talk is cheap, especially that of the hypocrites who feign Christian family values. The unspoken truth is Demented and his demented followers are fighting a second civil war, a losing battle to make Amerika White again. While Demented’s wet dream is to deport all those brown-skin insects that infest our neighborhoods and contaminate our bodily fluids, that ship has sailed. The whites are destined to be a permanent minority.

      If you think Sarah and the Hitlerjungen DHS bitch are having a bad day, just wait. The uncivil war is just getting started.

      06/24/18 11:18 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      12

      Forget about the FBI report and due process and send the Demented sonofabitch straight to jail.

      06/25/18 3:23 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      13

      Speaking of reports without political bias, the U.N. special rapporteur report put focus on poverty in the United States, which noted that more than 40 million Americans still live in poverty, 30 million have no health insurance, and 140 million struggle to pay for basic living expenses. This is one morally decayed country. And we worry what Comey’s motive was.

      06/25/18 10:45 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      14

      Like Comey’s report on Hillary’s home server use Mueller might choose to report that there was no treasonous or illegal collusion with the Russians but instead only highly reckless behavior by Trump.

      06/28/18 11:10 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      15

      Hillary the Queen should have gone to jail. Trump from Queens should go to jail. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Dumbocrats really fear the result in Queens may be just the beginning of their end. Time to clean House, starting with Peelousy.

      06/28/18 1:17 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      16

      Bauer- we agree that the crimes of both “parties” are so intertwined that an honest investigation is unlikely. The ruling elite fears the ugly truth might jar awake and then anger the sleep walking proles.

      06/28/18 4:13 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      17

      The victor in Queens wants to put I C E on ice.

      SEATTLE (AP) — A former chief counsel for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Seattle was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison for stealing the identities of people facing deportation and using them to run up bills totaling $190,000.

      Raphael Sanchez resigned when he was charged in the four-year scheme in February. He had overseen immigration proceedings in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington since 2011 as the agency’s top lawyer in the region.

      06/28/18 4:39 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      18

      JP,

      Matt Taibbi agrees:

      “A common theme in most of the backlash against Ocasio-Cortez is this idea that allowing the “fringe” inside the tent will lead to total chaos and alienate the great “middle” that supposedly decides elections. It’s incredible that leaders in both parties still seem to believe in this concept.

      They don’t seem to realize that the vast changes ushered in by decades of economic catastrophes – the disappearance of the manufacturing economy and the busting of two giant speculative bubbles, among other things – has left America, and most western democracies for that matter, as top-heavy nations run by increasingly small groups of wealthy political and business leaders, surrounded by massive disenfranchised populations with little or negative net worth.

      A common media trick in the last two years has been to describe any political movement that purports to represent that growing second group as emotional, irrational populism – dumb energy that needs to be subdued by the enlightened “middle” for the sake of order, peace, happiness, etc.

      What all of this ignores is that voters are making different choices because they’ve concluded that the “accomplished” politicians were the ones hustling them. What else are people supposed to think, when they hear long-serving elected officials somberly insisting that we can’t afford health care or higher education just days after a bill boosting our already unnecessarily massive defense budget by $82 billion passed 85-10 in the Senate?

      If we can afford to spend more than the next 10 countries combined on defense, why can’t we afford higher education? Really? Who’s hustling whom?

      Attempts to paint victories by people like Ocasio-Cortez and Jealous as being anything like the rise of Donald Trump are nuts, of course. A xenophobic, reactionary, science-denying white-power movement has nothing in common with a campaign to give people health care and clean energy. If anything, they’re complete opposites. It’s asinine.

      The only thing the two movements have in common is that both are dangerous to the very tiny group of ineffectual politicians who’ve been running both parties for decades now.

      When pundits talk about this or that new idea being a “threat to democracy,” that’s what they mean – a threat to a few thousand hacks who’ve had a very long turn at the helm, and don’t want to let go. That’s really what all this pearl-clutching is about. Not all new ideas lead to the next Trump, no matter how much people try to scare you into thinking so. “

      06/29/18 9:09 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      19

      I’m speaking only for myself- it seems to me that all the palace operatives assumed Hillary would be POTUS and acted accordingly. Where was the intelligence community to point out that Hillary’s personality was repulsive to millions of American voters? America’s buddy the Shah had the same dismissive bearing and the intelligence community missed the Iranian revolution as well.

      07/1/18 2:10 PM | Comment Link

    • Joe said...

      20

      A little late to the party here, in part because I’ve been slowly plowing through the report. So far, I have to agree that the summary conclusions don’t match the facts presented (which are truly frightening,) which strikes me as rather odd – not because shenanigans like this don’t happen (they do, all the time,) but because this time it’s there for anyone who can read to see. Interesting theories above as to why the disconnect was left in (or crafted into?) the final report – for something this important, I really can’t believe the Bureau’s IG (who’s no amateur) couldn’t have done a better job at damage control using the usual tricks (i.e. put all the juicy stuff into a classified annex etc.)

      07/3/18 11:44 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      21

      What everyone will agree, those not on the take with Putin, is Benedict Trump has been selling US out cheap. His rushed summit with his boss is timed to get whole with Putin before Mueller slams his ass in the slammer.

      07/3/18 9:31 PM | Comment Link

    • Joe said...

      22

      So Rich, not to derail this thread, but let me ask you this …

      How many times have we (the United States, which presumes you’re a US citizen) fired Cruise missiles into Syria since Trump was elected? How many Russians and (Russian surrogate) Syrians did those Cruise missile strikes cause? How was any of this the act of of President controlled by the Kremlin? Feel free to roll out your best conspiracy theories – I’m all ears!

      07/4/18 12:23 AM | Comment Link

    • Joe said...

      23

      Woops – meant to ask “How many Russians and Russian surrogate Syrians did those Cruise missile strikes kill?” (Not “cause” – because those would be some truly weird Cruise missiles.) Question stands – please enlighten me.

      07/4/18 12:30 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      24

      Joe,

      Don’t follow the missiles. Follow the money. Trump is just another whore for the Wall Street War Party.

      07/4/18 8:14 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      25

      Gee, I, Joe, am a real American. I assume you aren’t some Russian troll,. Please denounce Putin as the corrupt shitbag he is to prove your bona fides. Trump sure as hell cant.

      Just to let you know, “Joe”, I actually fought in the war on terror and actually accomplished something. Now tell me something about you.

      07/4/18 8:28 AM | Comment Link

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