Who says it couldn’t happen here?
Call me a sentimentalist, but I liked the days when FBI agents went undercover as subversives better than today when subversives go undercover as FBI agents.
“Maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace,” FBI agent Lisa Page texted colleague and lover Peter Strzok. “I can protect our country at many levels,” Strzok responded.
Presumably, these “levels” included Strzok changing language in FBI director James Comey’s report on the Hillary Clinton server scandal that initially described her actions as “grossly negligent” to “extremely careless,” an alteration that removed verbiage potentially triggering an indictment. Strzok also signed the document that launched the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and personally interrogated former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn.
Why did a partisan so emotionally invested in the presidential election play such a “Where’s Waldo?” role in all of the recent high-profile investigations? Strzok was everywhere even if we only spotted him after much delay.
“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way he gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,” Strozk wrote Page about a conversation about Trump in the office of current FBI director Andrew McCabe. “It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”
In January, the Justice Department’s inspector general launched an investigation into a possible conflict of interest involving McCabe’s failure to disclose donations to his wife by arguably the closest political ally of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Terry McAuliffe. The governor of Virginia recruited McCabe’s wife, Jill, to run for state senate in the commonwealth and donated $467,500 from his political action committee into her coffers.
The Department of Justice demoted Bruce Ohr last week for hiding secret meetings with Fusion GPS, the opposition research outfit that paid, with money received from Hillary Clinton’s campaign, for the so-called “dossier” smearing Donald Trump with outlandish allegations based, in some instances, on second- and third-hand information. Fusion GPS hired Ohr’s wife to investigate Trump.
Like McCabe, Page, and Strzok, the lawyers working for special counsel Robert Mueller strangely — or perhaps not so strangely — exhibit an extremely partisan bent. According to Politifact, they gave $62,043 in donations to Democrats and $2,750 to Republicans in campaigns for federal offices.
People unaffected, or even pleased, by the feds intercepting private conversations of associates of the Republican presidential candidate in the midst of a campaign vehemently denounce these invasions into the privacy of these public servants, as though texts on tax-funded Justice Department cell phones or the political donations of federal lawyers should remain off limits to eyes.
“Publication of someone’s private texts — even if they are conducted on government phones — is an astonishing breach of privacy…. FBI officers and lawyers are American citizens with the same free speech rights as the rest of us,” Eli Lake writes at Bloomberg.
That op-ed, posted without an accompanying laugh track, highlights the inability of partisans to apply the same standards to their enemies that they reserve for their allies. This gets to the heart of why stacking the team investigating the president with people who despise him represents an abuse of power. It’s not merely the wrong optics. It’s wrong.
“Bought all the president’s men,” FBI agent Lisa Page texted her beau. “Figure I needed to brush up on watergate.”
Alas, she gleaned the wrong lesson. The Watergate scandal involved a presidential administration illegally snooping on the opposition party’s presidential candidate. Sound familiar?
The investigation into Donald Trump’s administration began long before the existence of Donald Trump’s administration. In Strzok’s words, it served as “insurance” in case the American people made the wrong choice. In third-world countries, they call this a coup d’état.
But we don’t do such things in America, right? Right?
It’s later than you think.
Gene Hackman, The Conversation (1974) (YouTube screenshot)