Let no one say Peter Strzok failed to prove interference into the U.S. presidential election by an intelligence agency.
The more zealously Strzok pursued the idea of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, the more convinced observers became that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), to include disgraced former acting director Andrew McCabe, attorney Lisa Page, and agent Peter Strzok, actively sought to hijack the 2016 presidential election.
When the police tell the babysitter, “We’ve traced the call… it’s coming from inside the house,” it frightens all the more because a peril within catches one off guard more than stranger danger. Peter Strzok scares more than Vladimir Putin because we expect the boogeyman to appear in foreign lands. When the monster comes from inside the house, pants-wetting time arrives.
Russia interfering in your country’s election does not terrify as much as your country becoming Russia. Strzok changing “grossly negligent” to “extreme carelessness” in James Comey’s report on the Hillary Clinton email scandal, his role in securing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant to spy on an American citizen volunteering for a campaign that he opposed, and his use of a former foreign intelligence agent’s dirt-digging — funded by the Clinton campaign — on Trump to open investigations strike as if not all KGB tactics than at least Banana Republic ones.
While Strzok never uncovered anything quite so damning as Russian agents vowing to “stop” Hillary Clinton or crafting an “insurance policy” should their interference not succeed, he nevertheless remained convinced in his opening statement Thursday to the joint House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committee “that Russian interference in our elections constitutes a grave attack on our democracy.”
Indeed, it does — and has. During the last hundred years, an American agent of the Soviet Union named Earl Browder ran for president numerous times, the Russians bribed Congressman Samuel Dickstein, ironically the founding father of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, into doing their bidding, the Russians infiltrated the administration of Franklin Roosevelt with scores of its agents, and the Russians effectively ran the presidential run of former vice president Henry Wallace. The discipline shown to stop hitting snooze after a century and finally wake up to the fact that Russians meddle seems a welcome development. But acting as though this old news, rather than the FBI using its power to aid a favored candidate, comes as the revelation seems preposterous.
In his testimony, Strzok refused to answer questions about the Mueller investigation. He cited possible FBI investigations in refusing to answer various questions relating to the bureau. He refused to share his text messages. He claimed that “if I were permitted to answer, I would,” as though legal advice from a bureaucracy trumps a U.S. Congress subpoena. The deep state imagines itself a fourth branch of government that supersedes the older three branches.
Under subpoena by the representatives of the public, Strzok showed the same contempt for democracy he displayed in 2016, when the unelected bureaucrat imagined it his duty to use his position for political purposes to save the American people from themselves. His former FBI colleague and lover Lisa Page showed similar contempt in ignoring a subpoena to appear before a congressional committee this week. Best to let Strzok testify publicly to get their stories straight.
When Strzok deigned to respond to questions, his responses raised more questions. He said “I don’t recall” in regard to sending the text vowing that “we’ll stop” Trump’s election. Later he claimed to remember much, such as sending it late at night in the context of “Trump insulting the immigrant family of a fallen war hero.” He maintains that the American people, and not the FBI, served as the antecedent to the first-person pronoun. The answer did not come with a laugh track.
An FBI agent who used foul means to spy on private citizens lamely cries foul that the Inspector General and Congress publicizes the text messages he sent on a taxpayer-funded FBI phone. Even if one were to accept the dubious premise that Strzok’s politics did not bias him as an investigator, his misuse of a government communications device buttresses the idea that he found Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server — accessed by foreign spies — to store classified material a nonissue (and certainly not “grossly negligent”). In the upside-down world of the deep state, what public officials do in public office should remain private but what private citizens do to elect the candidate of their choice merits state surveillance and spying.
Strzok led the FBI investigation into Clinton’s emails and the accusation that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians. Robert Mueller selected him to work on the special counsel’s investigation. What made the full-throated partisan totally inappropriate for work on any of these investigations made him the perfect pick to his FBI superiors and Mueller. What they did, more so than anything that Strzok did, represents the real scandal.