The FBI Is in Crisis. It’s Worse Than You Think
The Justice Department’s Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, will soon release a much-anticipated assessment of Democratic and Republican charges that officials at the FBI interfered in the 2016 presidential campaign. That year-long probe, sources familiar with it tell TIME, is expected to come down particularly hard on former FBI director James Comey, who is currently on a high-profile book tour. It will likely find that Comey breached Justice Department protocols in a July 5, 2016, press conference when he criticized Hillary Clinton for using a private email server as Secretary of State even as he cleared her of any crimes, the sources say. The report is expected to also hit Comey for the way he reopened the Clinton email probe less than two weeks before the election, the sources say.
The report closely follows an earlier one in April by Horowitz, which showed that the ousted deputy director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, had lied to the bureau’s internal investigations branch to cover up a leak he orchestrated about Clinton’s family foundation less than two weeks before the election. (The case has since been referred to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington, D.C., for potential prosecution.) Another IG report in March found that FBI retaliation against internal whistle-blowers was continuing despite years of bureau pledges to fix the problem. Last fall, Horowitz found that the FBI wasn’t adequately investigating “high-risk” employees who failed polygraph tests.
There have been other painful, more public failures as well: missed opportunities to prevent mass shootings that go beyond the much-publicized overlooked warnings in the Parkland, Fla., school killings; an anguishing delay in the sexual-molestation probe into Olympic gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar; and evidence of misconduct by agents in the aftermath of standoffs with armed militias in Nevada and Oregon. FBI agents are facing criminal charges ranging from obstruction to leaking classified material. And then there’s potentially the widest-reaching failure of all: the FBI’s miss of the Russian influence operation against the 2016 election, which went largely undetected for more than two years….
Last May, McCabe, then the FBI’s deputy director, sat down at the table in his seventh-floor office for a meeting with two agents from the inspections division. The agents had some questions about the Clinton Foundation leak just before the election. It was a quick meeting. McCabe, an FBI veteran who rose through the ranks over a 21-year career, told them he had “no idea” where the leak came from. The agents left after just five minutes or so, according to the Inspector General’s April 13 report.
McCabe had offered that same basic assurance months earlier to his boss, then director Comey, investigators said, and had angrily lit into FBI officials under him, suggesting the Clinton leak had come from their offices and telling one senior agent in Washington to “get his house in order.” But as it turned out, McCabe knew exactly where the leak had come from. He personally authorized it, Horowitz’s investigators found, to counter charges that he favored Clinton. (His wife received $467,500 from the PAC of a Clinton ally, then Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, in a failed 2015 bid for state office.)……
The concerns about FBI testimony in a major terrorist prosecution underscore a larger question: Are people less likely to believe what the bureau says these days? In January, a federal judge threw out all the criminal charges against renegade Nevada cattleman Cliven Bundy, his two sons and a supporter who had been in an armed standoff over unpaid grazing fees. Judge Gloria Navarro accused the government of “outrageous” and “flagrant” misconduct, citing failures by both prosecutors and the FBI to produce at least 1,000 pages of required documents. The judge said the FBI misplaced–or “perhaps hid”–a thumb drive revealing the existence of snipers and a surveillance camera at the site of the standoff.
This development generated a significant buzz in conservative circles, with the implication being that perhaps Flynn might not have pleaded guilty in light of certain evidence.
We also know that the FBI agents who interviewed Flynn – one of whom was anti-Trump counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok, did not think Flynn was lying to them – something James Comey was recently caught lying about himself.
Fox‘s Judge Andrew Napolitano thought Sullivan’s decision at the time was a complete bombshell.
“Why would he we want that after General Flynn has already pleaded guilty? That is unheard of. He must suspect a defect in the guilty plea. Meaning, he must have reason to believe that General Flynn pleaded guilty for some reason other than guilt.” –Andrew Napolitano
And as we noted yesterday, some have suggested that Flynn pleaded guilty due to the fact that federal investigations tend to bankrupt people who aren’t filthy rich – as was the case with former Trump campaign aide Michael Caputo, who told the Senate Intelligence Committee “God damn you to hell” after having to sell his home due to mounting legal fees over the inquiry.
“Your investigation and others into the allegations of Trump campaign collusion with Russia are costing my family a great deal of money — more than $125,000 — and making a visceral impact on my children.”
Let’s not forget about the time Mueller’s team at the FBI massively screwed up the 2001 anthrax case after 9/11 – ruining the life of SAIC employee Steven Hatfill when it mysteriously leaked that he was the FBI’s prime suspect. Mueller assured Congress in a closed-door January, 2003 session that Hatfill was their man based on shaky evidence which was later deemed unreliable. Effectively, he needed a scalp. Hatfill was professionally and financially ruined until he sued the US Government for $5.8 million.
“It’s like death by a thousand cuts,” Hatfill, who is now 56, says today. “There’s a sheer feeling of hopelessness. You can’t fight back. You have to just sit there and take it, day after day, the constant drip-drip-drip of innuendo, a punching bag for the government and the press. And the thing was, I couldn’t understand why it was happening to me. I mean, I was one of the good guys.” –The Atlantic