Incompetence (again) in the bureau
April 21, 2018
(Editor's Note: Guy Farmer is on vacation).
The continuing incompetence and possible corruption of the Federal Bureau of Investigation are troubling, as that agency seeks to discredit and delegitimize the Trump presidency. I formerly had a great deal of respect for the FBI, and feel great sadness over the manner in which it has been used and abused for political purposes in the last few years.
What makes this timely is the national book tour of former FBI Director James Comey, trying to build sales of his book "A Higher Loyalty: truth, lies and leadership." Early reports are it was written to demonstrate that Comey's decisions were made with good intentions. There's that word again: remember Comey telling us Hillary didn't "intend" to break the law?
Writing in the UK Independent, Andrew Griffin (who previewed an advance copy of Comey's book) calls it "strange, shocking and significant", but his review doesn't deliver on any of those descriptions. What we learn, instead, is Comey himself is strange, and apparently uncomfortable in his own skin. We also learn leadership to Comey has to do with physical appearance, and his negative reaction to President Trump is strongly influenced by the President's tanning booth complexion and "small hands," as well as Comey's conviction the President wanted to be seen on national TV kissing the FBI Director.
We know the FBI under Comey and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was uninterested in delving into matters that could damage Hillary Clinton, like her use of a personal email server to circumvent national security laws, foreign political donations, or the meeting between Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton. We also know that "equal justice under the law" is irrelevant to Comey when Hillary is the possible subject of an FBI investigation.
Meanwhile, the investigation being directed by former FBI Director Robert Mueller on "collusion" with the Russians goes ever further afield, and its focus has disappeared in favor of efforts to besmirch the President for marital infidelity with an "actress" whose professional name is "Stormy" (not because of any interest in weather forecasting).
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Mueller, it will be remembered, was Comey's predecessor as FBI Director, and was Comey's choice as the person to head a special investigation into Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. Mueller was previously FBI Director during the shockingly inept investigation into "Whitey" Bulger, a Boston mob boss who was ultimately jailed, along with four other defendants who were later exonerated and paid multi-millions of dollars for loss of personal liberty.
Mueller was also the FBI director during that agency's pursuit of Dr. Steven Hatfill, convinced — wrongly, as it turned out — of Hatfill's responsibility for the Anthrax attacks of 2001 that resulted in a handful of deaths. That FBI investigation was noteworthy for numerous leaks to the press, and ultimately resulted in a $5 million settlement to Dr. Hatfill for mental distress inflicted upon him by the FBI.
Mueller's highly partisan investigative team has leaked repeatedly to the press, invaded Paul Manafort's house at midnight, and raided the home and office of Trump's personal lawyer, yet uncovered no Russian collusion.
The FBI under both Mueller and Comey is responsible for serious and costly errors in judgment, both before and during this current dustup with President Trump. Both Mueller and Comey have damaged the reputation and effectiveness of the FBI. Mueller continues to direct the "Russian collusion" investigation that has wandered far afield from its original mandate, and Comey is schmoozing uncritical media outlets to sell personal propaganda.
The FBI will only be able to redeem itself when it's seen as apolitical, something that won't happen with Mueller and Comey representing it.
Fred LaSor worked closely with American intelligence officers in a long federal career.