Buried Beneath that Comey Report: Rogue Agents Loyal to Rudy Giuliani Were Eager to Sink Hillary Clinton
I think everyone remembers that Rudy Giuliani played a significant role in the Trump presidential campaign, and was especially visible during the last month or so. On Oct. 25, 2016, he made a couple of TV appearances in which he hinted broadly that the campaign had an October Surprise coming.
On "Fox & Friends" he was asked if Trump had anything planned other than "inspiring rallies" and he said "yes" (at the 8:50 mark). When asked what that was, he responded this way:
“Heh-heh-heh,” Mr. Giuliani laughed. “You’ll see.”
Appearing to enjoy his own coy reply, Mr. Giuliani resumed chuckling: “Ha-ha-ha.”
“When will this happen?” Ms. Earhardt asked.
“We got a couple of surprises left,” Mr. Giuliani said, smiling.
Later that day he appeared on another show and gleefully reiterated his claim. You can see it at the two-minute mark in the following video:
Two days later, then-FBI director James Comey sent his notorious letter.
On Nov. 4, Salon's Sophia Tesfaye reported that Giuliani went on "Fox & Friends" again and openly bragged about that gambit:
— Bridge Project (@BridgeProject21) November 4, 2016
He said he had expected it three or four weeks previous to that, and had been hearing about FBI agents who were upset that Hillary Clinton wasn't being charged since July. He was angry that the Trump campaign couldn't get ahold of Clinton's medical records.
This was four days before the election. That appearance prompted Reps. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and John Conyers, D-Mich., at the time the ranking members of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the Judiciary Committee (respectively), to ask the inspector general of the Department of Justice to investigate the leaks Giuliani was bragging about receiving. The result of that investigation was assumed to be included in the now-famous I.G.'s report released last week. It was not.
This is odd and unlike this I.G., Michael Horowitz, who has a reputation for thoroughness. It's particularly odd since within the report there is considerable evidence of hostility to Hillary Clinton among the group of FBI agents based in or around around the New York office, but Horowitz doesn't summarize any of it or offer any conclusion. Some analysts have assumed this means there is an ongoing investigation, but there is no official word to that effect. This question has just been left hanging out there, unresolved.
On Monday the House Judiciary Committee will hear testimony from Horowitz. One hopes the Democrats will be prepared to ask him about all this.
That isn't all the evidence by any means. Consider the big Bret Baier "scoop" on Fox News days before the election, when Baier claimed that sources had told him Clinton would be indicted after the election:
Baier had to apologize for that report later, admitting that his supposed FBI sources"were wrong. But it was already out in the ether: Trump made it a central theme of his rallies, which were carried live by the networks so millions of people could hear them. As Kellyanne Conway said on MSNBC when asked if Trump would correct his claims, "Well, the damage is done to Hillary Clinton. No matter how it's being termed, the voters are hearing it for what it is, a culture of corruption."
It seems to have worked exactly as "someone" hoped it would.
Last Friday night, House Intelligence Committee chair Devin Nunes, R-Calif., once again proving that he's a few pecans short of a fruitcake, did it again. He told Laura Ingraham that he had received leaks from Trump-supporting FBI agents as well:
In light of IG's failure to look at leaking/anti-Clinton bias among agents in NYC field office, this seems quite relevant. Nunes says "good FBI agents" told him about Weiner laptop in late September 2016. pic.twitter.com/BU6ysY7Xwn
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) June 15, 2018
The Intelligence Committee's ranking Democrat, Adam Schiff of California, said on Sunday that he'd never heard anything about that before. So if this was a "whistleblower," the chairman forgot to share the evidence with his colleagues on the committee. Giuliani, meanwhile, has been on a tear, saying the whole top echelon of the FBI needs to be replaced with his friends, the "honest" New York FBI agents.
Horowitz's report concluded that the FBI played it straight in the Clinton email investigation, even as it showed that a couple of the investigators were hostile to Trump and that Comey was insubordinate and showed poor judgment. Whether Comey admits this or not, the report clearly suggests that his judgment was influenced by this cabal of FBI agents who were pressing for him to "lock her up."
The Republicans have been working the refs hard, and it's fair to conclude they may have worked Horowitz too. He focused on all the specious accusations of an anti-Trump conspiracy and left the more damning evidence of the FBI's successful sabotage of the Clinton campaign hovering between the lines.
Naturally, all this information about the FBI agents scheming to sabotage the Clinton campaign is being ignored in the press, in favor of the sensational text message from Peter Strzok to his girlfriend Lisa Page, after she lamented that Donald Trump might become president: "We will stop him." As Yogi Berra said, it's like dÃ©jÃ vu all over again. Once again the Trump team's actual misconduct is downplayed while petty misdeeds that feed the Trump narrative of grievance and victimization are emphasized.
Strzok and Page are famous names now. We’ve read their texts. We know some of the most intimate details of of their lives. Who are the FBI agents whose “hatred” of one candidate prompted the Comey letter? What’s in their chat history? Will we ever get that part of the story?
— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) June 16, 2018
A cabal of FBI agents in the New York office loyal to Rudy Giuliani apparently hectored their bosses, leaked to the press, and urged former agents go on television to put the Department of Justice and the FBI under pressure to act harshly against Hillary Clinton, even when if was outside the norms, rules and laws of the department. They were successful beyond their wildest dreams.
The media obliged them:
Extensive CJR analysis latest to make the case: NYT, our greatest press organization, owes itself & readers serious reckoning w email-centrism of its 2016 coverage.
It mattered and deserves real look.https://t.co/t0DWxZStnO pic.twitter.com/tOGtGDyOdD
— James Fallows (@JamesFallows) December 7, 2017
Ongoing reminder: a story whose back story the NYT might usefully explore, for its benefit and ours.
Ran one week before election. pic.twitter.com/wGRKsDT9iT
— James Fallows (@JamesFallows) December 2, 2017
The media have done no serious introspection on this issue, and the dynamic continues to this day. There's a lot of critical coverage of Trump but reporters will leap at any chance to "balance the scales," no matter how ludicrous. We have seen that once again this past week as the GOP handed the media the Strzok text as if they'd just just found the Ark of the Covenant.
The Republicans will be happy to spoon feed the press buckets of "oppo" to fill journalists' desire to be even-handed as soon as the next presidential campaign begins. The end result will be just as much a distortion of the facts as this inane narrative that poor Donald Trump was the victim of an FBI plot to deny him the presidency, when the truth is that he won the election at least in part because the FBI sabotaged his opponent.
It's enough to give you a migraine. That's the idea.