Tag: James Comey

Wither the FBI

What?

Suddenly renewed activity on an FBI Twitter account publicizing Freedom of Information Act releases has prompted an internal bureau review of the propriety of such activity so close to the Nov. 8 election, according to a source involved in the matter.

In emails obtained by Government Executive sent to an ex-investigative reporter who filed complaints, the deputy at the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility on Tuesday revealed that the complaint about possible political favoritism in tweeting has been referred to the FBI’s Inspection Division.

Here’s the story. Last week, the FBI’s FOIA account, which had been silent for over a year, started tweeting out documents relating to investigations of Donald Trump’s father, the Clinton Foundation and Clinton’s pardons. I admit that I was a bit bumfuzzled by why they would suddenly do this. And a lot of people felt, especially in the wake of the Comey letter, that the FBI was trying to influence the election by dishing dirt on Clinton.

In fact, the FBI has become a focal point of controversy over the last week, with wild and frequently anonymous claims that the FBI is massively pro-Trump, is trying to tip the election and despises Clinton along with counter-claims that the FBI is favoring Clinton by not recommending charges, holding back on critical documents that implicate her and dragging its heels on the e-mail investigation. My impression — and this is just me spitballing — is that there are politicized factions within the FBI right now, vying to craft a narrative. And journalists, eager for access, are lapping up whatever they’re saying.

This would be not be the first time the FBI has played politics. Under Hoover, the COINTELPRO program infiltrated and disrupted political groups they didn’t like. This culminating in spying on MLK, discovering he was cheating on his wife and sending him a letter urging him to kill himself. They’ve also played politics on a smaller scale, famously tarring Richard Jewell as a terrorist so that people wouldn’t be afraid of further attacks at the ’96 games (an accusation that almost certainly contributed to his death at a young age).

But this is the first time I’ve seen both side making credible accusations that the Bureau is trying to influence an election. This is … not good. This indicates Comey is either doing this on purpose or has lost control of his own bureau. I would say there should be an investigation, but, given the time constraint, that would mean either Clinton or Trump doing it, neither of whom can be trusted. Probably the best thing would be for Obama to appoint a bipartisan investigation team (comprised of former FBI officials or, better yet, former officials from another federal law enforcement agency) to figure out what’s going on here. Because the FBI should not be playing politics. They should be doing their damned job.

Of Course Not

The FBI has recommended that the DOJ not seek charges for Clinton’s e-mail scandal. Here is Comey’s statement. I expected this, as did most people. Law are for plebs, not monarchs. Although I expected maybe a few low-level grunts to be the fall guys.

Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case. Prosecutors necessarily weigh a number of factors before bringing charges. There are obvious considerations, like the strength of the evidence, especially regarding intent. Responsible decisions also consider the context of a person’s actions, and how similar situations have been handled in the past.

In looking back at our investigations into mishandling or removal of classified information, we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts. All the cases prosecuted involved some combination of: clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice. We do not see those things here.

Now maybe this would be acceptable if it came from someone who was not James Comey, who has pressed felony charges in far less clear circumstances. Comey admits that Clinton deliberately set up her own e-mail servers to shield her e-mails from FOIA. He admits she mishandled classified evidence, enormous amounts of it, including at least seven piece of Top Secret information and that there is no way she couldn’t have known this information was classified. He admits she tried to conceal what she did. But he focuses heavily on intent, which is something the FBI never focuses on with the rest of us.

Inadvertently breaking the law can get you indicted. Covering up what you did, even if you didn’t break the law, can get you indicted. But Clinton, who deliberately broke the rules and tried to cover it up, won’t even get a wrist slap. And people wonder why Trump is so popular.