Observations On The Inspector General’s FBI Report

The long-awaited report by the Justice Department’s  inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, does not conclude that the FBI’s decision not to prosecute Hillary Clinton was improper or politically motivated.“We found no evidence that the conclusions by department prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations,” the report says “Rather, we concluded that they were based on the prosecutor’s assessment of facts, the law, and past department practice.” This is sufficient to support the spin of journalists and pundits who want to stick to the narrative that the FBI is an honorable, unimpeachable model of professionalism.

The rest of the report, however, undercuts that interpretation considerably. I have only jumped through it, and need to go through the report again, carefully. I can make some confident observations right now, however.

1. James Comey deserved to be fired even more than I already thought. The reports says he was insubordinate. It reveals that Comey had already decided to take no action against Clinton in the Spring of 2016, though he didn’t announce his decision until July. It reveals that the investigation did not follow department policies and protocols. His draft statement on Hillary said she’d been “grossly negligent, which would have required an indictment. Comey changed it to “extremely careless.” Comey also had originally written that it was  “reasonably likely” that Hillary had been hacked  to “possible.” The draft had also noted that President Obama had exchanged emails with Hillary on her private server; that was redacted.

OK, the IG could not state with certainty that bias was at the root of Comey’s conduct. It is not his job to speculate, but I can: whatever the motivation, Comey did not do his job without considering political consequences, despite his assurances to Congress to the contrary. The cumulative effect of his decision-making was to undermine public trust in the institution he led.

2. The IG’s report renders the argument that President Trump firing Comey was an obstruction of justice even more ridiculous than it appeared already.  Leaving such a bumbling manager—and that’s giving him every benefit of the doubt–in office would undermine the FBI, as well as leave a crucial law enforcement agency in the control of a subordinate who was untrustworthy and incompetent.

3. Comey and other agents improperly used personal email to conduct official business. Hillary is already trying to use this to excuse her own conduct. Someone tell Hillary that they weren’t running for President, and didn’t lie about it for nearly a year.

4. FBI agents were leaking to the news media regularly. They also accepted favors and gifts from journalists. This was unethical, illegal, unprofessional and disloyal. I do not want to hear any more indignant protests about how it is seditious to suggest that the agency is fully capable of political bias and corruption. It is corrupt. It cannot be trusted, under Comey, and now.

5. There may not be decisive evidence of bias, but there was certainly evidence. Five agents authored and sent pro-Clinton and anti-Trump texts , some referencing undermining Donald Trump. The IG report states that the five agents “appeared to mix political opinions with discussions about the Midyear investigation.” One texted, “no one is going to pros[ecute] [Hillary Clinton] even if we find unique classified” after the discovery of Weiner’s laptop. Another text read, “We’ll stop it,” referring to Trump’s possible election. Agent Peter Strzok, now infamous for his provocative and anti-Trump texts with his lover in the Justice Department while serving on the Mueller team, texted regarding the investigation, “For me, and this case, I personally have a sense of unfinished business.” An FBI attorney significantly involved in the Russia investigation also texted  to a colleague,“Viva le Resistance.”

6.Based on the report, the Trump administration has every reason to distrust the motives and integrity of the FBI and the Mueller investigation, if not Mueller himself. Any citizens, journalists, Trump critics and commenters here who still refuse to admit that this is a fair and unavoidable conclusion only destroy their own credibility and pretext of objectivity.

 

 

39 Comments

Filed under Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement

39 responses to “Observations On The Inspector General’s FBI Report

  1. Michael

    Good and reasonably well summarized review by Christian Science Monitor. I suggest reading it. Conclusion : “But the nuanced findings provide no conclusions to support either Republicans or Democrats who want to claim total vindication.”

    • “Total vindication” is such an extreme standard that it smacks of equivocation. The report describes a badly run, badly managed, politically compromised organization that has abused its public trust. That’s enough for me.

  2. Aleksei

    Cat’s out of the bag now, officially. It will be fun to follow the spin that will accompany. I don’t want sound like a tin foil hatter, but this reeks of soft coup-ism, some velvet revolution style stuff. If President Trump were to engage in Saturday Night Massacre activity, I think he would be in good standing, besides the usual wailing and gnashing of teeth from the press. I would even expect that the American people would support the president in such an undertaking. Digging up the deep state, draining the swamp, and the other associated phrases to go along with it.

  3. adimagejim

    This is the stuff which truly undermines our republic.

    Top bureaucrats and politicians are too biased, too big, too powerful and too rich on our debt to be trusted.

    • (sigh) The Swamp telling the Swamp that everything is just fine, nothing to see here.

      I am disheartened by the double standards and two tiers of justice.

    • Mrs. Q

      Have you read Throw Them All Out by Peter Schweizer? It’s a doozy.

      • adimagejim

        These are the events which systemically, culturally poison a nation. Can we throw them all out as restorative revolutionaries? If it is an evolutionary process how do we stay on our true task over time? Challenging.

  4. Glenn Logan

    This is a nice companion piece to your commentary, Jack. In it, Sharyl Atkisson points out that for decades, government agencies, especially the FBI and other intel agencies, have used redactions unethically in an outrageous attempt to deny congress their constitutionally mandated oversight role, and to hide information from Americans.

    I agree with all of your conclusions above. Horowitz is being careful about the political bias question, because none of the evidence is enough to reach such a damning conclusion, even if it is more than enough for me to be totally skeptical of the FBI’s non-partisan claims.

    There will be much more, and it will all be bad — for the FBI and the country.

    • Glenn Logan,
      Senator Johnson may have uncovered some drips leaking from the once impenetrable seal of bureaucracies that could end up being a tidal wave if the floodgates are flung open.

      I really hope they vigorously pursue this line of investigation into the practice of redacting that which it should not be redacted. In the short run, it might further undermine the credibility of the agencies doing the redacting. In the long run, a few prominent heads rolling because of intentional redacting of unethical, maybe illegal, and apparent politically bias activities that have long been hiding behind the veil of ever powerful bureaucracies will help drain the swamp in a good way.

      Only time will tell.

  5. Really good evaluation Jack.

    I too can’t wait for all the spin.

    As the resistance begins to realize that they really don’t have a “legal” leg to stand on to get Trump out of the White House they are going to have to resort to some other tactic. I wonder what’s next from the delusional throngs of consumed anti-Trunmp’ers? When the anti-Trumpers minds are fully consumed by Trump is evil, we cannot have an evil President, and evil must be destroyed eventually they are going to feel like cornered animals and end up with last resort tactics.

    Batten down the hatches.

    • Steve-O-in-NJ

      I give it a year before some kook like the guy who tried to massacre the GOP baseball team tries to assassinate him. I’ll be very interested in hearing who tries to spin that.

      • Steve-O-in-NJ wrote, “I give it a year before some kook like the guy who tried to massacre the GOP baseball team tries to assassinate him.”

        Wacko’s are fools, they come and go and they are not likely to succeed in such a fools errand. The real problem are the intelligent ones with political motives. Anyone who has political motivations knows full well that directly targeting the President of the United States is a fools errand, there’s a wide range of softer targets that can inflict serious damage upon the Presidents ability to do his job. I’m sure I’m not the first security minded person that has thought of that; security around the Presidents family, extended family, senior staff and their families, etc, etc really needs to be increased.

        • I hope you are right, Z. All I can think of is the Secret Service having hookers to drunken parties under Obama.

        • Anyone who has political motivations knows full well that directly targeting the President of the United States is a fools errand, there’s a wide range of softer targets that can inflict serious damage upon the Presidents ability to do his job. I’m sure I’m not the first security minded person that has thought of that …

          You are definitely not the first security minded person that has thought of that. Michael Collins not only realised it a hundred years ago, he put it into practice – to great effect.

          • Steve-O-in-NJ

            Michael Collins had inside sources that enabled him to target the actual security people – once. Had the Free State Treaty not been signed, a new intelligence apparatus (The Igoe gang) was in place that he hadn’t successfully penetrated. This is all the more reason for a possible purge of the FBI and other services. No US president has ever been assassinated by members of his own security services (one by a Civil War bitter-ender, one by a disgruntled job-seeker, one by an anarchist, one by a disaffected marine who wanted to join the USSR, all with varying degrees of mental illness). An attempt by FBI deep-staters or others would, I think, go beyond even soft coup. That’s a hard coup, and I think that would be the first domino tipping over toward the collapse of democracy here. We think of these kind of coups as only happening in the Third World, but it was only about a century ago that Michael Collins was waging asymmetrical war against the British government, not too much less than one when Mussolini grabbed control in Italy by force, and not much more than one that the king and crown prince of Portugal were assassinated in their own capital, leading to the collapse of the monarchy there. Can’t happen here?

            • Can, and will, happen here, if the Elite (who the Deep State think they are) cannot regain control any other way.

            • Michael Collins had inside sources that enabled him to target the actual security people – once. Had the Free State Treaty not been signed, a new intelligence apparatus (The Igoe gang) was in place that he hadn’t successfully penetrated…

              Either you misunderstood me, or I misunderstood you. Certainly, only special circumstances allowed The Big Fellow to target the Cairo Gang of counter-terrorists in Ireland, but that isn’t the thing.

              The thing is, a rope frays at the end. There is always someone low level enough to be both visible and accessible. That is why the following story of those days is illustrative, whether strictly factual or not:-

              There were two brothers, whom we may conveniently call Pat and Mike (though Arnold, Leopold and Mario are better attested names). When Pat went to the next parish west, which some know as Boston, he stayed in touch with Mike, who stayed behind in their ancestral village. One day, Pat posted Mike a present, of a sort that he could get there: a loaded pistol. So Mike took it round the snug, where he and others wondered what they could do with it.

              “Let’s shoot the British!”, suggested one.

              “There aren’t any around here”, pointed out another.

              So, after a pause for reflection, the first one said, “Well, there’s always the postman, he’s part and parcel of the whole of them”.

              So they all went and waited around the corner from the pillar box, and when the postman came, they shot him.

              And that’s how the troubles came to that part of the four fields.

    • adimagejim

      Trump represents the evil they see in those who support the Constitution.

      It is we, even though we may not like the current President, who are the (evil) problem. Getting rid of Trump is the needed signal to the rest of us to submit or face unpleasant consequences.

  6. adimagejim

    Though I have not read it directly, I am given to understand the cabal also refers to Vice President Pence as stupid.

    As someone who has personally interacted with Mike Pence on dozens of occasions, he is far from stupid. You’ll need more than luck and innuendo to be rid of him.

    • Steve-O-in-NJ

      They don’t call him stupid because they think he displays behaviors that are objectively stupid. They call him stupid because he displays behaviors that are objectively very conservative, and to the liberals, who are always the smartest people in the room, that is interchangeable with stupid. Many call him evil, due to his less than progressive attitude toward the LGBT community. Although he is probably the most conservative major political figure with regard to that attitude, conservative and evil are only interchangeable in the most closed of minds.

      The attitude on the left is frequently that displaying hatred or contempt for someone, or calling names, or engaging in cheap political theater with them as the subject, somehow renders them powerless. In the past Jack referred to similar behavior on the right, like Mark Levin’s lexicon of insults, as “niggerization,” cheap insults that attack anyone’s ability to appear as themselves rather than a cartoon or caricature. Frankly, I think the hatred that the left is spewing lately goes a step beyond niggerization, and enters the realm of demonization. A nation is getting close to existential troubles if its own people are demonizing their elected leaders and thinking they are doing the right thing by doing it.

      • I think some of them do call him stupid because of his behaviors. I think most of them call him stupid because he talks and writes like a failing middle schooler rather then an educated President of the United States.

        “The attitude on the left is frequently that displaying hatred or contempt for someone, or calling names, or engaging in cheap political theater with them as the subject, somehow renders them powerless.”

        Is this really much different than Trump’s, and many others, method? Yes, the left does do it, in many cases poorly. But that’s not a one-sided strategy sadly (though they are louder at it overall).

        • It’s exactly the same—except that it has never been acceptable, civil or healthy, never been escalated down to the level of street-level vulgarity, and never so hateful from mainstream media or major political figures. “He does it too”–though he doesn’t, not to that level–is not a justification or an excuse, or a mitigation. This is unprecedented. Nobody said Fuck Obama on national broadcast TV, or called his daughter a cunt, or carried a representation of his severed head, or showed him being murdered in a play in Central Park, or called him a cockholster. And tha treatment of an occupant of the White House, and someone half the country voted for, is widely taken as disrespect of them personally and the institution of the Presidency, hence the nation itself. You can’t shrug it off as “they do it too.”

          • That’s the point. It’s used by both sides, badly. I would say the left is worse at it, mainly in the number of people who do it. Or at least the number of people who publicly do it, or publicized in doing it. I think we all can agree that De Niro was completely wrong in what he did. Though you can still buy these shirts:

            https://www.cafepress.com/mf/31071870/fuck-obama-long-sleeve_long-sleeve-tshirt?productId=323509827

            And no Obama severed heads, they were too busy making him out to look like a monkey of some sort in pictures to get to that point. Not to mention all the “monkey man” quotes that went on.

            It is wrong, just unfortunately it’s wrong by a lot of people. And they’re wrong on both sides, and this isn’t something that just started now. The bad part is it IS getting much worse. The question is how do we find a way to dial it back, considering we’re generally not in agreement with those currently doing it.

            • This is BAD whataboutism, Steven. A commercially available t-shirt is the equivalent of a national celebrity saying “fuck the President” on a CBS broadcast? The most virulent anti-Obama celebrity was a B-level Country Western singer, (and maybe Trump himself,) and he got nowhere close to what we have seen and heard in the last two years from mainstream critics. The attacks on Obama were approximately on the same scale as the attacks on Bush, but were reacted to with accusations of racism, because that’s the Democratic group-division game.

              The assault on Trump is across the board, non-stop, unrestrained hate. It’s dangerous, it will damage the Presidency permanently, and isn’t even working…just dividing the nation and the public.

              • Certainly the publicness of it is worse. That’s partly why I think the left is worse at it. I certainly heard plenty of people during those 8 years saying or writing things about Obama. Some of them were crude insults (even if some of them were technically correct). I don’t find that person being a celebrity makes any difference to me. Mainly because I’m one of the rational people who couldn’t care less what a celebrities opinion is on a topic. I don’t hold them to any higher regard then anyone else. Plus as most celebrities are liberals, you wouldn’t expect there to be many attacks by them to a Democrat (so it’s a skewed result). And of course they threw the racism charge about things against Obama. As you said, that’s the game plan for many minorities on an attack against them. Though I think they were probably right about some of them. ( Making a black person out to be a primate of some sort is still smacking of racial issues. As is calling one “Monkey Man”).

                One other difference with Trump though is that he also attacks, and insults, and bullies. Some of his staff do so as well, which makes things worse. And it is also across-the-board and non-stop. Which will likely damage the Presidency more then any loony-lefties will ever be able to do. He’s making a mark on what is acceptable for Presidential behavior. Which side will stop first…. I’m not sure. But you are right, it is dividing the country.

        • adimagejim

          I was referring comments allegedly made about Pence, not Trump.

  7. Phlinn

    Jack, at one point when discussing HRC and the appearance of impropriety, you noted an executive order which you summarized as “Don’t make smoke”. Does that order apply to the FBI here?

  8. The main thing I got out of this report and follow-up is that those who are anti-Trump and critical of him will use it to find things to confirm their biases that he’s as bad as they believe, and that those who already think the FBI is corrupt and politically bias will use it to confirm their bias that it’s as bad as they thought they were.

    • How can the IG report confirm anything about Trump? And the report confirms the belief that the FBI is corrupt and biased because there’s a lot of evidence that it’s corrupt and biased.

      This is one of those “a pox on both your houses” comments. Drive me crazy. If everybody is wrong, nobody is. It’s an excuse to avoid making distinctions that have to be made.

      • Other Bill

        A fucking men.

      • It will confirm to those people that are Anti-Trump that anything in there, no matter how small, or how it could be interpreted, will be used by Trump, and any rabid followers, to claim he is innocent and the object of an unjustified witch-hunt.

        I don’t see there being all this wave of corruption and biasness in there. I do see incompetence, and a few bad mistakes being made in there. The two biggest factors being Comey making incompetent decisions in terms of trying too hard to not give appearance of biasness, and Strzok, whose texts once revealed put a stain on his work. Comey was justifiably fired for incompetence, Strzok was re-assigned.

        After that there are items that could be interpreted or spun based on the ways that someone wants to see to confirm biasness that already exists. In the end the report by the IG concluded that the results of the investigation were correct based on what was discovered, and not based on personal biasness. Or are you saying the IG was biased as well?

        • 1. No FBI employee should leak to the press or accept gifts. You (and everyone else) make light of this because it’s assumed, and common. It is outrageous.
          2. Five agents, not just the tow love birds.
          3. Strzok was in both investigations, and in a significant role. See: Mark Furmin. All it takes is one to taint an investigation.
          4. “Good enough” is not the standard in law enforcement.

          • 1. They shouldn’t. And yes, it is made light of because everyone does it. And not just in the FBI, in all business, partnerships, corporations and governmental offices. When you get a large group of people together there are those who are going to not be able to keep it secret. Either for personal gain or because they just can’t keep their mouths shut. Does any of these leaks mean that people are making final decisions based on biasness? There is nothing to say that. People line their pocket, or brag to feel important, or try to impress a girl/guy. They’re unethical, personally corrupt on the leaker, but doesn’t mean an organization follows it, agrees with it (no management likes leaks), or makes decisions based on it. We also don’t know who did the leaking, was it someone for the left or a Trump supporter putting out info to show Clinton did things to sabotage her, or both.

            2. Five. Big deal, out of how many? Dozens, Hundreds? Many of these quotes are said with no context to them whatsoever. “No one will prosecute Clinton” for example, could be anything. A trump supporter upset that they won’t get rid of her, someone mad that their boss won’t be brave enough to do anything, someone realizing that even finding classified docs won’t be enough evidence to show proof to get an indictment, etc. Saying “Viva le Resistance”, is that a sign of biasness, is it sarcasm against the left, is it anger at the left, are they joking, who knows. Saying those are a sign of biasness is, well, a sign of biasness in what you think they mean by it.

            3. And when his tweets were found he was re-assigned as it looked improper. So he’s not even involved in the Mueller investigation except for a short period. We don’t have any evidence it actually affected the investigation outside of some personal wishes and fears of his. The IG doesn’t think so based on their result.

            4. Correct. “Innocent unless proven guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt” is the standard in law enforcement. Unfortunately it seems the FBI has already been pronounced guilty, even with plenty of shadows of doubt.

            • “Innocent unless proven guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt” is the standard in law enforcement.

              Not a lawyer, but pretty sure that is a lie. Or you are mistaken? “Beyond reasonable doubt” is my understanding… any of our lawyers care to chime in?

              The FBI itself (not the political hacks) are not being judged by most Americans. Just the appointees and hacks who abused their power against American citizens.

        • I don’t see there being all this wave of corruption and biasness in there. I do see incompetence, and a few bad mistakes being made in there.

          OH. MY. GOD.

          They changed their assessment to fall short of the legal requirements. Why would they do that, short of bias? Hillary is a felon who has not been convicted yet. If I had done any small point that she got away with, I would be in jail. If I talk about obsolete tech from the 80s that was covered in my TS oath today, they can put me in jail. You know this.

          “Or are you saying the IG was biased as well?

          The Swamp told the Swamp that ‘all is well, nothing to see, move along…’

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