The Corner

Politics & Policy

Nagging Questions for the Special Counselors …

1) If the FISA Court orders to explore the purported Trump-Russian collusion were predicated on phony Steele/Fusion GPS documents and suppositions that prove largely untrue (Comey himself testified under oath that he could not verify their contents), then are subsequent transcripts of court-approved surveilled conversations somewhat poisoned? And, if so, not permissible to be used in collation with later sworn FBI statements to prove inconsistencies, lying, or obstructing? Would someone like Flynn eventually have grounds to appeal his confession?

2) Given the overwhelming progressive consensus by summer 2016 that Trump was not going to be president and that his likely post facto blame for his defeat would fall on deaf ears (Obama before the election had both predicted that Trump would not win and that he would have no grounds to complain of outside interference in the results), why did the amateurish Clinton-created Fusion GPS dossier win such a shelf life, to be peddled around the FBI, discussed by the Obama White House, bandied about by the intelligence agencies, and worked on by the spouse of a DOJ high official?

Was the dossier seen as some sort of insurance, or an amusing trifle without consequences — given that a Clinton administration would have no interest in learning whether there was any impropriety among those who trafficked in it (or rather gratitude for doing just that), and who probably would be working for Hillary Clinton anyway?

3) In an era in which “diversity” is a national mantra, why didn’t Mueller’s law team reflect much geographical, institutional, political, ideological, and career diversity?

Surely there were hundreds of blue-chip attorneys with DOJ or FBI experience, who lived outside of New York and Washington, who did not go to Ivy League law schools, who did not work in Mueller’s former firm or even New York or D.C. firms, who were reticent about expressing preferences in the 2016 election, who did not give, say, over $100 to a presidential candidate, who were never involved in prior investigations of Hillary Clinton, and who had never represented or had contact with the Clinton Foundation or Obama officials.

Or was the political frenzy of early 2017 such that collusion was seen as a slam dunk, and many of the current and former elite of the DOJ, the FBI, and Mueller’s firm wished to get in on the hunt to show how a “dream team,” “army,” and “all-stars” could take down the obviously hemorrhaging Trump? In any case, in a politically charged era of accusations of a deep-state, ideologically driven, incestuous swamp, Mueller’s team has almost proved a caricature.

4) To what degree, if any, in 2018 will reinvestigations about the improper transmissions of classified emails by Hillary Clinton and her staff — or the use of the likely bogus Fusion/GPS document to obtain FISA warrants, or the unmasking and leaking of names of U.S. citizens surveilled — fall under Mueller’s purview? And if not, why not? And if not, how can critics of the entire notion of a special counsel, then want a special, special counsel to investigate the “real” collusion?

5) In 2018, the charge of “blaming the FBI” as somehow unpatriotic or subversive will probably vanish, with the reality that a politicized FBI hierarchy, not its critics, let down the rank and file and endangered the sterling reputation of a hallowed agency.


Probably because of cumulative reports that the FBI director confessed that he deliberately leaked to journalists his confidential work notes (written on government time) of conversations with the president, to leverage a special-counsel appointment (which went to his close friend Robert Mueller); that the same director changed the wording of an initial finding of wrongdoing on the part of Hillary Clinton to avoid suggestions of criminal intent (on the written suggestion of a subordinate with clear pro-Clinton sympathies); that a deputy FBI director continued in an investigation of Hillary Clinton at the very time his wife was running for state office, a campaign fueled in part by extremely generous donations from a Clinton-related PAC; that two high FBI officials conducted a clandestine extramarital affair using government-issued communications both to manage their affair and to express disdain and venom for the very object of their current investigations; that these two FBI employees were reassigned and their reassignments were not announced to the public until months after their departure and were revealed in a manner that did not disclose either the reasons for their departure or the relationship between both departures; and that the Obama administration’s FBI, at some point and for some reason, abbreviated its investigation into the so-called Uranium One matter, possibly owing to worries over damage to the 2016 Clinton campaign.

Perhaps each of these problems involves extenuating circumstances and a backstory that makes them less damaging. But taken as a whole, they point to a careerist FBI hierarchy that did not adhere to standards of professionalism that their subordinates in the field most certainly do adhere to.

The FBI’s current problems are not in their stars, but in themselves.


NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Case for Trump.

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