Fred LaSor: More questions about the FBI
June 28, 2018
Once again we are reading bad news about the FBI. The recently-released Inspector General's report describes how some FBI agents broke the law, yet the director appeared the next day to say he could find no evidence of political bias in the agency. Political commenter Andrew McCarthy says that "claim insults our intelligence." And the revelation that FBI personnel took "gifts" from journalists only underscores McCarthy's assessment.
FBI Director Christopher Wray's reaction to the IG report was a defense of wrong-doing, not a description of house-cleaning, which shows why the FBI isn't the well-respected, trustworthy agency it once was. Or more specifically, the people at the top of the FBI are not. Many FBI personnel apparently believed, as nearly all of Washington, D.C., did, that Hillary Clinton had the election in the bag and would head the government they worked for. It made sense for them to defend and protect her. Except, of course, that they are supposed to defend the Constitution, and by extension, the people of America.
I have written about the FBI before, regretting politicization of their top leadership. Lady Justice is clearly peeking under her blindfold, and Hillary Clinton is very much the beneficiary. I think it's uncanny that Peter Strzok's name was attached to so many investigations that became highly political. And that he and Lisa Page, with whom he was having an intimate relationship, were so biased against Trump they were willing to employ FBI resources in an attempt to influence the election.
The Inspector General's report acknowledged FBI-Director James Comey had broken DOJ protocol by using a personal email account of his own. We know President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and many officials in his government had also used personal Gmail accounts. Again, one can only surmise they were hiding something from the American public.
Wray held a press conference after release of the IG report saying the report focused on a narrow set of employees connected to a specific set of events in 2016. "Nothing in the IG's report impugns the integrity of our workforce as a whole, or the FBI as an institution," Wray told us. Then he said the entire agency will undergo "impartiality training." Not the "narrow set of employees" he referred to earlier – the entire FBI workforce. There's a disconnect there. If everyone in our most elite, most powerful law enforcement agency needs retraining, numerous firings at the top are called for in order to change the culture.
Mr. Strzok was escorted from the FBI building last week, about 18 months too late and regrettably not in handcuffs. He has since promised to testify to Congress without invoking his Fifth Amendment rights, a level of bravado he might regret.
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The FBI has been slow to release to Congress information surrounding the Clinton email matter. From internal texts, we can now understand that was an effort to protect Hillary, especially in September 2016 when the New York FBI office discovered 140,000 emails involving Hillary or people around her on Anthony Weiner's laptop. Comey claims he did not know Weiner was married to Huma Abedin, Hillary's closest aide.
The FBI delayed informing Congress about Weiner's laptop nearly two months, leading to Comey's devastating press conference only a week before the election. Had the information come out when it was discovered, it would have been forgotten by the time of the election. The FBI's delaying tactics probably changed the electoral equation, exactly opposite of what they intended.
The IG report, and Wray's reaction to it, don't clear the air. The FBI needs a new director who's more concerned with the agency's future than its past.