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Bad Week For The FBI-- I Wonder How Badly Has The Trump Criminal Menagerie Damaged The Bureau

Gangsta President by Nancy Ohanian

That former FBI lawyer Lisa Page filed a lawsuit against the FBI, for illegals sharing private text messages between her and former FBI agent Peter Strzok with the media, isn't the worst thing that happened to the FBI this week. On Monday, handpicked Trump FBI Director Christopher Wray undercut a theory pushed by Trump and the media and congressional Trumpists that the government of Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election.

That caused an infuriated Trump to attack him, insisting Wray is, basically, a doofus. "I don’t know what report current Director of the FBI Christopher Wray was reading, but it sure wasn’t the one given to me. With that kind of attitude, he will never be able to fix the FBI, which is badly broken despite having some of the greatest men and women working there!"

The underlying problem is that Trump thinks the FBI and the Justice Department and the American government work for him rather than for the country. In fact, Trump thinks he is the country. L'etat c'est moi. That's what people mean when they refer to him as a would-be tyrant and as an authoritarian and fascist. It's why I was so upset when Pelosi botched the impeachment so badly with her two politically-motivated and utterly pathetic articles.

I'm not sure how accurate the assertion that Horowitz's report cleared the FBI is, but it sure didn't paint the Bureau in the colors Barr and Trump wanted, not that that's stopping Barra and Trump from claiming the report proven exactly hat they wanted to see it prove. What a shit-show!

Tuesday Pete Williams and Ken Dilanian reported on Willaims' interview with William Barr, the Attorney General who actually does function as Trump's private attorney.

Williams and Dilanian wrote that "Barr said he still believes the FBI may have operated out of 'bad faith' when it investigated whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, and he contends the FBI acted improperly by continuing the investigation after Donald Trump took office," essentially dismissing DOJ inspector general Horowitz's findings "that there was no evidence of political bias in the launching of the Russia probe, and insisting that "his hand-picked prosecutor, John Durham, will have the last word on the matter."

Disorganized Crime by Nancy Ohanian

Barr's blistering criticism of the FBI's conduct in the Russia investigation, which went well beyond the errors outlined in the inspector general report, is bound to stoke further controversy about whether the attorney general is acting in good faith, or as a political hatchet man for President Trump.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz, after reviewing a million documents and interviewing 100 people, concluded that he "did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions to open" the investigations into Trump campaign aides.

But Barr argued that Horowitz didn't look very hard, and that the inspector general accepted the FBI's explanations at face value.

"All he said was, people gave me an explanation and I didn't find anything to contradict it…he hasn't decided the issue of improper motive," Barr said. "I think we have to wait until the full investigation is done."

Barr said he stood by his assertion that the Trump campaign was spied on, noting that the FBI used confidential informants who recorded conversations with Trump campaign officials.

"It was clearly spied upon," he said. "That's what electronic surveillance is... going through people's emails, wiring people up."

Barr portrayed the Russia investigation as a bogus endeavor that was foisted on Trump, rather than something undertaken by career civil servants who were concerned about whether a foreign power had compromised a political campaign.

"From a civil liberties standpoint, the greatest danger to our free system is that the incumbent government use the apparatus of the state … both to spy on political opponents but also to use them in a way that could affect the outcome of an election," Barr said. He added that this was the first time in history that "counterintelligence techniques," were used against a presidential campaign.

Barr said that presidential campaigns are frequently in contact with foreigners, contradicting the comments of numerous political professionals who have said for two years that there is rarely, if ever, a reason for a presidential campaign to be in touch with Russians.

Barr added, "There was and never has been any evidence of collusion and yet this campaign and the president’s administration has been dominated by this investigation into what turns out to be completely baseless."

But the biggest outrage, Barr said, is that the FBI's "case collapsed after the election and they never told the court and they kept on getting these renewals."

The inspector general report does not say the FBI's Russia case collapsed after the election. It does say that the FBI interviewed some of the sources for the dossier written by a British operative, who raised questions about his reporting. But by then, the investigation had moved well beyond anything in the dossier.

In fact, FBI officials told the IG they knew the dossier was raw intelligence that could be filled with inaccuracies. They relied in part on information from it to obtain a warrant to conduct surveillance on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, who had previously been the target of recruitment by Russian intelligence. The inspector general criticized the FBI for 17 errors and omissions in the applications for surveillance.

But after the election, there was a different set of counterintelligence concerns that Horowitz did not address in his report and Barr did not mention in the interview: Trump fired FBI Director James Comey and told Russian officials in the Oval Office that doing so relieved pressure on him over Russia.

That led then-acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe to open a counterintelligence investigation into Trump, the results of which have never been disclosed.

In indictments and the report written by special counsel Robert Mueller, prosecutors identified, by one count, 272 contacts between the Trump team and Russia-linked operatives, some of which have never been explained.

Mueller also determined that during the election, Trump was trying to negotiate a business deal in Moscow that would have required the approval of the Russian government.

Mueller said he did not establish coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, but he also said the Trump team strategized about how to benefit from the fruits of Russia's election interference, particularly the disclosures of hacked Democratic emails.

The recent trial of Trump operative Roger Stone showed the extent to which the Trump campaign was trying to get information from Wikileaks, which had been identified as working closely with Russian intelligence.

Barr mentioned none of that. He said the basis for opening the Russia investigation was "flimsy" because it stemmed solely from a report of a statement by a young aide, George Papadopoulos, who said he was offered Democratic emails by a Russian agent and didn’t report the conversation to the FBI.

"They jumped right into a full-scale investigation before they even went to talk to the foreign officials about exactly what was said. … They opened an investigation into the campaign and they used very intrusive techniques," Barr said.

The inspector general report said the decision to open the investigation was unanimous within the FBI and the Justice Department, a group of mostly career officials.

Durham will now investigate their actions, Barr said.

On Monday, Durham added his voice to Barr's criticism of the IG report, saying, "Last month, we advised the inspector general that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the F.B.I. case was opened."

Barr said Durham's much-criticized statement was appropriate.

"It was necessary to avoid public confusion," he said. "It was sort of being reported by the press that the issue of predication was sort of done and over. I think it was important for people to understand that Durham's work was not being preempted and that Durham was doing something different."

Now... how dangerous to this country is William Barr. Super-dangerous. Tuesday, Walter Shaub, the former head of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics called Barr a "threat to democracy" he may try to help Trump steal the 2020 election. I'm going to put Shaub's Tweet Storm into narrative form:

As Attorney General, Barr is a threat to democracy. He has distorted facts and misled the public. He appointed Durham to run a concurrent investigation because he knew the Inspector General would debunk his conspiracy theories, and he needed someone he could control.

Durham revealed much about his own character when he issued a transparently political message challenging the IG's report before completing his investigation. Barr, who deceived the public about the contents of the Mueller report, has similarly tried to undermine the IG report.

Barr's crackpot theory boils down to the idea that the last administration tried to sabotage Trump's candidacy by keeping its investigation of Trump's campaign completely secret while colluding with Jason Chaffetz to leak information about its investigation of Hillary Clinton.

Barr bizarrely argues it'd be bad if a president abused his power to sabotage a rival's campaign with an investigation. The notion that Obama came anywhere near doing this is the debunked lunacy of pizzagate enthusiasts, but it's exactly what the "transcript" shows Trump did.

Barr's comments also suggest a plan to take personnel actions against individuals tied to the investigation of Trump. Whether action is warranted or not, an Attorney General commenting on personnel actions that must be taken by lower level managers suggests the fix is in.

Whether he ultimately intervenes in personnel matters is almost beside the point. His remarks were intended to intimidate the DOJ attorneys and FBI agents investigating others associated with the president. And there's something far more ominous that his remarks have signaled.

Barr, who traveled the world looking for ways to defend the politician he serves instead of the rule of law, has also signaled he may use the criminal investigative apparatus of the state to go after perceived enemies of his boss—weaponizing it as a tool of a political party.

Even the mere suggestion that he would do this is a direct assault on democracy and a betrayal of the public trust. It is extremely dangerous and may chill legitimate investigations. It's the stuff of autocracies. It must not be tolerated. It cannot be tolerated in a republic.

(Barr even talks like an authoritarian. He said he'd ignore any ethics guidance he disagreed with. He ignored the 1st amendment and blamed "secularism" for society's ills. He told certain "communities" [wink] they need to show more respect or live without police protection.)

In this context, it's important to remember that Trump fired Sessions the day after the election because he would not stop the Russia investigation. A president firing someone for failing to treat him as though he is above the law should have been viewed as an impeachable act.

It's important not to make the same mistake twice. Some people underestimated Barr's ruthless partisanship before. No one should do that again. Like Trump, Barr is capable of doing anything he can get away with-- and that includes interfering in the 2020 election, if we let him.

Source: 
Down With Tyranny

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