December 14, 2017
Donald Trump may never get a fair shake from the media, but from the FBI's liberals? Based on yesterday's House Judiciary hearing, that's a long shot too. The prejudice of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team has been staggering, as thousands of new text messages spell out agents' disgust with the man who would become president. "This is unbelievable," a frustrated Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the Justice official in charge of the Russia probe. No wonder there's a lack of trust in Mueller's investigation, he and other Republicans lashed out.
By making the pre-election messages between the FBI's Peter Strzok and Lisa Page public, Americans got a taste of the serious damage Obama's holdovers can do. Both agents were open about their resentment for the then-candidate, swapping praise of Clinton and insults of Trump in a text string that casts an even longer shadow over Mueller's investigation. "Omg, [Trump's] an idiot," Strzok says in agreement with Page, who had much stronger words for the president (too profane to repeat). "God, Trump is a loathsome human," Page replies at one point. "Maybe you're meant to stay where you are because you're meant to protect the country from that menace," she tells Strzok, months before both were called on to dig deeper into any role Russia might have played in the election.
Like most members of the committee, Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) was appalled. "We are now beginning to understand the magnitude of this insider bias on Mueller's team... DOJ investigations must not be tainted by individuals imposing their own political prejudices," he warns before asking, "Aren't DOJ attorneys advised to avoid even the 'appearance of impropriety?'" While Rosenstein tries to tamp down concern, insisting, "It's our responsibility to make sure those opinions do not influence their actions," he told Goodlatte, unconvincingly. But, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) blasted back, "[These] are not just political opinions. This is disgusting political bias, and there's no way that it could not affect a person's work."
The whole reason for appointing an independent investigator is to prevent this kind of political favoritism! Instead, the agents did an impressive job -- not proving Donald Trump guilty, but proving his suspicions right. "Tainted (no, very dishonest?)," the president tweeted about Strzok, who was removed from the investigation when the texts were discovered. "Led Clinton email probe." The president was referring to even more damning evidence on Strzok, who, before running point on the Russia investigation, "was responsible for changing the wording of the official FBI report... [from] 'grossly negligent,' which is legalese that under the statute constitutes a crime, and replacing it with the words 'extremely careless,' which allowed the Justice Department avoid charging Hillary Clinton," Fox News reports.
"Rather than wearing stripes like a referee," Congressman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) half-joked, "the Mueller team ought to be attired with Democratic donkeys or Hillary t-shirts..." At the very least, Rosenstein ought to halt the probe until he investigates his investigators. As Fox News points out, the corruption runs deep.
"Another Mueller deputy is Jeannie Rhee, the former personal attorney of Ben Rhodes, the Obama deputy national security adviser. She also provided legal counsel to the Clinton Foundation and was also a generous donor to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign."
"In yet another disturbing case, another person on Mueller's legal team, Aaron Zebley, turns out to have been until 2015 the lawyer for Justin Cooper. Who is Cooper? Oh, just the IT staffer who set up Hillary Clinton's unauthorized server at her home. After Hillary Clinton's email scandal broke out, Zebley was identified as the person who smashed Clinton's BlackBerries with a hammer in fear they would be subpoenaed."
"But the most disturbing case yet is that of Bruce Ohr, who was until recently the fourth-ranking Justice Department official. Ohr has been demoted, now that's it's been learned he had unauthorized contacts with Fusion GPS [where his wife worked], the dirt-digging outfit responsible for the Clinton-funded, anti-Trump 'dossier.'"
Speaking of Clinton, Goodlatte suggests, if you want to investigate someone, why not her? Calling on the DOJ to re-open its case on her private email server, the Virginia congressman insists the two scandals go hand in hand. "These text messages prove what we all suspected: high-ranking FBI officials involved in the Clinton investigation were personally invested in the outcome of the election and clearly let their strong political opinions cloud their professional judgment."
Meanwhile, Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) pointed out in the hearing, there's another problem in the intelligence community that very few people are talking about: the breach of American privacy. Essentially, when our agents are tracking a foreign terrorist, an American sometimes gets crossed up in that communication. And although it's incidental to the main investigation, they're supposed to be "masked," or protected from anyone finding out their identity or the contents of their conversations. The Obama administration changed all that, leaking classified information about people (like Michael Flynn) who were involved with the Trump campaign. "The unmasking is a felony," Poe points out, "and I want to know how many times those people have been prosecuted as well."
With the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act up for renewal, Rep. Poe asked Rosenstein to shed some light on how many times the agency has searched Americans' personal data. On last night's "Washington Watch," Poe was obviously annoyed with the response he got. "They continue to say, 'We don't know. We don't have any idea.' [But] they do know, and they can find out. Their IT experts can make a search and find that out -- how many times they've flagged an American in that massive data they have. And even the Washington Post said that 90 percent of the data they have, which is supposed to be on foreign terrorists, is on somebody else -- like Americans!"
Like us, he thinks that if members of Congress knew how the system was being abused, they wouldn't reauthorize the Act. "I think that's why they're stonewalling giving us the information -- because it may be a lot of times they've searched the database on Americans." Balancing the country's privacy with our national security interests has always been a difficult task. But Americans shouldn't have to sacrifice their civil liberties because liberals relaxed policies on illegal immigration, for instance. We may be living with the consequences of those decisions, but that doesn't justify making another poor decision on top of them. "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety," Benjamin Franklin warned, "deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.