Law & the Courts

The FBI’s Corrupt Cops

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, December 11, 2019. (Erin Scott/Reuters)
The falsified documents and the many errors all disadvantaged one side. That’s not bias?

White-collar criminals should hope for one thing this Christmas: that they get to live under the Horowitz rules.

Michael Horowitz has testified that he found no evidence of political bias on the part of the decision makers who, under the Obama administration, relied on hilariously implausible “evidence” and falsified evidence of their own in order to launch a federal investigation of the Trump campaign. Rather than political bias, Horowitz says, the investigation uncovered a series of “basic and fundamental” errors. Democrats are cheering that aspect of the report, because they believe that Horowitz’s words can be used to silence charges that the investigation of the Trump campaign was, as the president charges, part of a politically inspired “witch hunt.”

Here’s Horowitz in his own words:

Errors were made by three separate, hand-picked investigative teams; on one of the most sensitive FBI investigations; after the matter had been briefed to the highest levels within the FBI; even though the information sought through the use of FISA authority related so closely to an ongoing presidential campaign; and even though those involved with the investigation knew that their actions were likely to be subjected to close scrutiny.

No bias, just honest incompetence. Or so we are expected to believe.

Imagine an investigation of racial bias in a bank, with investigators discovering a long series of serious errors and departures from ordinary standards and practices, violations of business norms, etc., not by a single loan officer but by three separate business units overseen by the highest levels of management — with all of those errors disadvantaging African-American mortgage borrowers. Would we need texts and emails documenting active racial bias on the part of the bankers to conclude that there was racial bias at play? If we found that a police department had violated its own standards on a regular basis in its treatment of African-American suspects but uncovered no texts or emails documenting racial intent, would we be satisfied that no racial bias existed?

Of course not.

And, in the case of the Obama administration, using investigative agencies as political weapons fits a well-established pattern of behavior. Under the Obama administration, the IRS abused its powers for political purposes: Conservative nonprofits were targeted for investigation and harassment. So was the National Labor Relations Board. So was the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. In fact, this is part of a pattern of behavior among Democrats both inside and outside of the federal government: New York State has just been forced to abandon a political jihad against Exxon, which Democrats attempted to prosecute for indulging wrongthink on global warming, using securities law as a pretext. Democratic prosecutors have abused their powers to harass and intimidate climate-policy critics including policy nonprofits such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute. That isn’t a conspiracy theory — New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (later driven from office) organized the campaign and announced his intentions in the New York Times.

The FBI’s actions in the Trump matter were outrageous, with agents going so far as to alter documents included as part of the FISA warrant process.

Focus in on that for a moment: The Federal Bureau of Investigation under the Obama administration sought to launch an investigation of the rival party’s presidential campaign in order to spy on it under powers reserved for national-security purposes. (FISA stands for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.) In order to activate those powers, the FBI had to go to a federal court for permission, which it did — with falsified documents in hand. If the FBI attorney who altered that document avoids seeing the inside of a federal prison cell, it will be a grave disservice to justice.

What makes this even worse is not that there was no good reason to be suspicious of the relationships between Trump’s circle and the Russians but that there was. In that sense, Obama’s investigation of the Trump campaign is a mirror image of Trump’s efforts to strong-arm the Ukrainians into investigating Hunter Biden: The underlying issue was very much worth looking into, and that makes the fact that the process was distorted by petty, corrupt opportunism even more offensive. Trump & Co. may be as crooked as a barrel of snakes, but that does not mean that those who investigated them weren’t crooked, too. Nor does it absolve the FBI and the Obama administration from their wrongdoing.

In a free society, there is very little that is as dangerous as a corrupt cop. The FBI under the Obama administration falsified documents in order to get legal permission to spy on a Republican presidential campaign. But there was no “bias.”

Only corruption.

 

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