December 10, 2019 - Tuesday
The FBI Report: More than Meets the Spy
December 10, 2019
At 476 pages, the inspector general's report isn't exactly light reading. And that's just fine with Democrats, who are hoping most Americans will simply take the media's word on it. As usual, most people's opinion "greatly depends," Jonathan Turley points out, "on which cable news channel you watch." The Left wants everyone to believe that the Justice Department's investigation of the Trump campaign was above board. But there's a lot more to the story of who's been naughty and who's been nice.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) summed it up this way: "Let's assume for a moment that it started out okay," he said of the probe. "It sure didn't end that way." Maybe everyone in the Justice Department wasn't abusing power, Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) agreed, but enough were to taint the entire process. Regardless of the good intentions some may have had, "This is what the investigation was about," Congressman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) insisted, "pg. 361: [the inspector general] found 'serious factual errors and omissions in the FISA applications ... that undercut certain allegations in the applications.' That, alone," he argues, "is indefensible."
The media, meanwhile, is only focused on a tiny part of the report, which suggested that the investigation met the low threshold it needed to be launched. (A claim both the attorney general and key Justice officials dispute.) "This is akin to reviewing the Titanic and saying that the captain was not unreasonable in starting the voyage," Turley explains. But the real question, he argues, "is what occurred when icebergs began appearing. [Inspector General Michael] Horowitz says that investigative icebergs appeared very early on, and the Justice Department not only failed to report that to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court but removed evidence that its investigation was on a collision course with the facts."
The reality is, there were "serious performance failures," as Horowitz puts it, with how the FBI got the warrants to spy on the Trump campaign. "We identified multiple instances in which factual assertions relied upon in the first FISA application were inaccurate, incomplete, or unsupported by appropriate documentation..." In other words, Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) insisted, "[c]ertain higher ups at the FBI and DOJ did not want Donald Trump to be president -- and manipulated the facts to fit their coup."
And here's the irony, Davidson told listeners on "Washington Watch." "When Donald Trump said that he believed the Obama administration had been spying on his campaign, people laughed at him and said, 'You know, you just don't really understand how this works and all that.' [But] he understood what was going on. And frankly, the question [becomes]: Is that the kind of work we want our FBI engaged in?
Just think about all the resources at the FBI's disposal, the Ohio congressman pointed out. They used taxpayers dollars, tools, and agency privileges "to target a political rival. And it still didn't work. It didn't stop him from getting elected, and it hasn't worked [in removing] him from office... [I]s that really the kind of framework we want to start using for our political campaigns?" he asked. Can you imagine the reaction if President Trump used the full force of government to snoop around a Democratic candidate?
"It's called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) for a reason. We're focusing on foreigners trying to protect the United States of America from enemies of our country. And that system was used and abused to target an American citizen -- and not just an American citizen, but an American candidate for president. And then, later, the actual president of the United States... It really is hard to imagine that this would have carried on in a normal course of events for actual security concerns. It was carried on because of personal animus of key actors towards the president, United States."
That's not what reasonable people expect from the FBI. No government office -- least of all the intelligence community -- should be working to undermine a candidate or president. If the American people take anything away from this report, let it be this: a politicized government agency is a danger to democracy. A danger we can't afford to ignore.
Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC Action senior writers.