And an Inconvenient One
Now that I’ve had a few days to think about it, I’d like to weigh in on the recently released Justice Department’s IG Report regarding the opening of the investigation into the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election.
First, I want to state that I did not read the entire Report. I did, however, read a substantial amount of it. Enough, in my opinion, to come to a few conclusions, that is.
The Most Important Truth
For years now, we’ve heard the President of the United States whine and stomp up and down that the whole thing was a witch hunt. That everyone was out to get him, and the deep state had it in for him from the very beginning.
Let me state unequivocally that the IG Report found no such outcome. They found NO evidence that political bias was the reason for beginning the investigation. Over one million documents and 100-plus witnesses and interviews showed no such thing.
What the Report did find, however, was that the origins of the investigation complied with the attorney general guidelines as it pertains to predication.
Predication, as per AG guidelines refers to allegations, reports, facts, or circumstances indicative of possible criminal activity or a national security threat, or the potential for acquiring information responsive to foreign intelligence collection requirements.
In other words, they had every reason to believe that someone may have been collaborating with the Russians from the Trump campaign. Initially, a tip from a friendly foreign government thought to be Australia, alerted U.S law enforcement that Trump campaign aid George Papadopoulos declared that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton and wanted to share it with the campaign.
Combining the Papadopoulos information with Wikileaks releasing of the hacked DNC emails provided more than enough reason for the FBI to begin an investigation, according to the Report.
What Trump and the right-wing would like you to believe is that the whole thing started due to the infamous Steele Dossier. Not accurate, even though the Dossier did provide some of the underlying evidence for the opening of the investigation—just not the single reason as they’ve continued to claim to this very day.
Much was also said about the political bias of FBI agent Peter Stzrok and agency lawyer Lisa Page. Somehow, because these two had a dislike for Trump, and they most certainly did, they must have been up to no good. Again, the Report found no such thing. The Report found that neither Page or Stzrok played any role in the substantive preparation or approval of any of the FISA applications concerning Carter Page.
Did they dislike Trump? Yes. Did they act in such a manner that it affected how they did their jobs? No. The Report even showed text messages from a couple of agents involved in the process that exhibited a pro-Trump bias. But did they do anything to hamper the investigation in any way? No, they did not.
We all have something in common with those FBI employees—we’re human, which means that we’re also allowed to have an opinion. Nothing says that you can’t have a political opinion and work for the FBI. If you let those views to affect your work, however, that’s another story entirely. That was not proven anywhere in this Report.
And Now An Inconvenient Truth
As a progressive, it’s easy to use right-wingers as poster children for bad behavior. After all, the leader of their party is Donald Trump, and he’s about to become the third president in history to be impeached.
But, no matter where you fall on the political spectrum, we should always try to be fair. If there’s wrongdoing, no matter what or who may be responsible, we need to call it out once and for all. And let’s face it, much of this Report does not show the FBI in a good light—especially as it pertains to the FISA warrant and Carter Page.
It appears that some of the agents in charge did not adequately follow proper protocol in providing what could have been favorable information to him. Much of the information derived from the Steele Dossier and some of that information turned out not to be accurate.
Mr. Page worked for another agency within the U.S government, and that information was left out in the FISA application. As the IG Report pointed out, while there’s no way of knowing if the FISA court would have rejected the request to surveil Mr. Page, it also could not rule it out. The bottom line? They should have included the information.
The fact is, the FBI screwed up here. And Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department IG, minced no words when expressing his alarm. Mr. Horowitz provided several remedies and recommendations, and FBI Director Christopher Wray accepted the findings in totality–with implementation beginning already.
I have no reason to believe Mr. Horowitz is a bad actor here. He seems genuine and non-partisan, as does Mr. Wray. So when these guys seem to be on the same page, that’s a good thing for democracy. Wray himself has expressed grave misgivings over the FBI’s mishandling of these sensitive matters and has vowed to get it right.
In my view, we learned two things as it pertains to the Report. There was NO political bias as it related to the origins of the investigation; the FBI committed serious errors, especially concerning the FISA warrant and Carter Page.
That’s it, folks. We’ll continue to hear the Trump mantra that everyone’s out to get him. We can’t let them change the narrative to what the Report found.
We’ve already heard from Attorney General Bill Barr. He doesn’t like the results, so he’s going to try and dig up dirt to please his boss. When that fails, he’ll keep looking. If we thought the 2016 election was corrupt, we haven’t seen anything yet. This crowd will stop at nothing to get Trump reelected in 2020.
Let’s never forget, though, that the facts are on our side. Facts, for the party of Trump? Never mind.