Every Monday, the WoW! community and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher’s Forum, short takes on a major issue of the day, the culture, or daily living. This week’s question:What’s Your Reaction to the FBI IG Report?
Bookworm Room: The report seems like a proper, and rather ironic, companion piece to Comey’s July 5, 2016 press conference. Back then, Comey laid out facts that ought to have sent Hillary to prison for 100 years. Just as we were all expecting him to say, “So we’re going to arrest her,” though, he abruptly announced a nonexistent legal standard, assured us that Hillary didn’t mean to do something naughty under this new standard, and gave her a get out of jail free.
The IG report does the same. Horowitz blandly dismisses any FBI actual wrongdoing affecting the outcome of the Hillary investigation, but lays out facts that ought to send all of the FBI’s upper management for 100 years. The only exception to that bland dismissal on those ugly facts is . . . Comey. There’s irony for you.
I find delusional the IG’s definition of “bias.” Here’s the way it goes if you’re a lawyer, sizing up a jury: Everyone has biases, or filters, filters through which he or she views the world. In many situations, biases are are acceptable. For example, the fact that you are fond of cops because your dad was a cop is a fairly irrelevant matter in most areas of life. You might like donuts more than the next person, or follow a police-friendly feed on Twitter, but your preference (or bias or filter) does not affect justice or safety or honor. However, if you’re being sized up for a jury in a DUI case, and the defense is police malfeasance, your strong fondness for cops is an unacceptable bias. The defense attorney will act strenuously to ensure that you’re not on the jury.
Likewise, if you’re an FBI agent who loathes Trumps and loves Hillary, but your beat is organized crime in North Dakota, your political preferences in the run-up and follow-up to the 2016 election are irrelevant. However, if you have those same biases and you’re working on either the Hillary or the Trump investigation, those biases should presumptively disqualify you, in the same way that the cop lover shouldn’t be a jury on a case that has as its central issue police behavior.
Once Horowitz identified the blazing, oozing contempt that animated top FBI officials on the Hillary and Trump cases, that should have been game over. Just as Comey overreached by imputing a lack of intent to Hillary, so did Horowitz overreach by stating that, manifest bias notwithstanding, it was still possible that this bias did not affect the FBI agents’ behavior. It was not Horowitz’s responsibility to speculate about the effect of the bias. It was enough that the bias was there and that the FBI not only didn’t bar these agents from working the cases, it encouraged them. (And yes, I’m perfectly aware that the facts Horowitz adduced showed that the Fibbies repeatedly acted on their bias, all to Hillary’s benefit. I’m just challenging Horowitz’s own standards, rather than making a whole argument about his erroneous conclusions.)
I applaud Horowitz for honestly reporting the facts; I consider him a coward and a failure for refusing to reach the obvious conclusion to be derived from those facts: the Clinton investigation was completely, irreparably, and possibly criminally compromised by agents whose biases went to the heart of the case.
Patrick O’Hannigan: I agree with Bookworm’s answer to this question. Another thing that strikes me about the Inspector General’s report (which I’ve only read summaries of) is that IG Horowitz seems to have left his office some wiggle room, and his presumably careful word usage has so far gone unremarked. What I mean is that the conclusion that media outlets have been pegging their report stories to, namely, that there was allegedly “no political bias” in the FBI’s conduct in the run-up to and aftermath of the 2016 election, isn’t just a denial of the obvious; it’s also an evasion of Clintonian proportions, and the kind of thing that Barack Obama would have introduced by saying “let me be clear…”
If you fixate on that “no political bias” conclusion like a kitten chasing the red dot made by a laser pointer, you forget that senior FBI officials had other investigatory handicaps. That’s why the Inspector General’s report runs more than 500 pages. You don’t need “political bias” against Republicans to fuel talk of double standards. The players whose names have become tiresomely familiar to anyone following national news all had the functional equivalent of political bias. They suffered from personal animus against Donald Trump, or deranged hatred of the man and blistering contempt for the people who voted him into office.
In other words, the IG report makes it too easy to trip over that adjective, “political.” Hillary Clinton would have whined just as much about losing to Carly Fiorina or Ted Cruz as she has about losing to Donald Trump. and the upper echelons of the FBI would still have been populated by craven hacks willing to do her bidding, and people who think that Eric Holder and Barack Obama were right to weaponize the Justice Department against their ideological opponents. But there are other kinds of biases in play. too.
Rob Miller: It’s time we stopped kidding ourselves. The IG report struck me with its similarity to James Comey’s whitewash of Mrs. Clinton. ‘Mistakes were made, policy was violated but no evidence of political bias.’
Horse manure, when you have dozens of agents receiving gifts and incentives on the side from reporters to leak info that was designed to hurt the Trump Administration, when Comey and his wife were linked to Hillary financially. And sheer coverup when a FISA warrant was obtained under false pretenses to spy on an opposition campaign during an election year.
This was an attack on a sitting duly elected president.
With all respect to my esteemed colleagues, while I could be wrong I doubt Jeff Session is going to do diddley squat with this report. That’s exactly why he and Rod Rosenstein need to be fired forthwith and a new attorney general hired who will hire a special prosecutor to investigate Mueller’s bogus investigation, the many felonies Hillary Clinton committed as Secretary of State and FBI collusion in the cover up and in attempting to bring down President Trump.
Of, course, this all leads back to Barack Hussein Obama. He’s the only one who could have orchestrated this and given the orders to follow through. Since he’s no longer president, he is chargeable and indictable if evidence arises of his part in it from say, Loretta Lynch or others who can be squeezed to drop a dime on BO in exchange for not doing hard time in a federal penitentiary. Trump might choose to pardon him if he’s found guilty, but the truth would be out at least and his ‘legacy’ would be revealed for what it is as well. Yes, simply trying him would likely cause some civil unrest, but there’s a time tested and efficient remedy for that too, if necessary.
Famous But Incompetent started out as a fairly sleazy and corrupt home for chair warmers benefiting from political patronage. Then J. Edgar Hoover took over and changed it into an incorruptible entity feared by wrongdoers and noted for its dogged efficiency and success in its mission. If I were the president, I’d seriously consider putting together a new organization for the FBI’s mission, disbanding Famous But Incompetent, getting rid of the corrupt agents and other deadwood ASAP while keeping the agents with integrity… and finding another Hoover to run it.
If these swine are allowed to get away with this, we might as well not have a republic or even any laws anymore.
Dave Schuler: I thought this was the most significant passage in the IG’s report:
Comey’s description of his choice as being between “two doors,” one labeled “speak” and one labeled “conceal,” was a false dichotomy. The two doors were actually labeled “follow policy/practice” and “depart from policy/practice.” Although we acknowledge that Comey faced a difficult situation with unattractive choices, in proceeding as he did, we concluded that Comey made a serious error of judgment.
Following policy should be a shield from accusations of wrongdoing. Contrariwise, departing from policy is damning. The obvious conclusion is that Trump was right to fire Comey.
As John Kass pointed out in a recent column the “lack of political bias” finding is persiflage. If Comey and the other FBI officials who violated policy were doing so to protect the FBI, they failed miserably, accomplishing exactly the opposite of the presumed objective.
A more reasonable inference is that they were acting, not to protect Hillary Clinton, but to protect Obama. Since Obama clearly knew about Hillary Clinton’s pirate email server and lied about it, you couldn’t recommend Hillary Clinton to a grand jury without accusing Obama as well. Protecting the president by violating established policy is political bias.
Laura Rambeau Lee: What the FBI IG report told us was that what most reasonable people might consider to be political bias was determined to be a serious error of judgment but in no way affected the outcome of the investigation into the Hillary Clinton investigation… I mean “matter”. The IG report confirmed the political bias of FBI employees at the highest levels in the agency through their texts and emails, particularly FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok who steered both the Clinton email matter and the Trump-Russia investigation. And when it became clear that Trump would be the Republican candidate running against Hillary Clinton, Strzok sought to quickly wrap up the Clinton matter so they could invent and pursue a case against Trump to make sure that he would not be elected or that they would have a case for impeachment if he were to be elected.
The IG report does nothing to settle this matter in the eyes of most reasonable people. We know these two investigations have not received equal treatment under the law. We know the political biases of the investigators guided their actions, decisions, and judgment in both investigations. We know this because although the IG report deemed no political bias influenced the Hillary investigation, FBI Director Christopher Wray ordered anti political bias training for agents working in the FBI.
Don Surber: A reader who is a corporate compliance officer read the IG report with different eyes. He believes Horowitz did exactly what needed to be done. He gave his boss, Sessions, the facts and the tools to make his own decision about the FBI. Sessions has already selected John Huber of Utah to decide whether there should be prosecutions.
We shall see.
Well, there it is!
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