Sessions: Clinton probe report will reassure US

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions says the Justice Department inspector general's report on the Clinton email investigation will "reassure the American people" that some concerns that have been raised are not true.

Posted: Jun 15, 2018 5:28 AM
Updated: Jun 15, 2018 5:28 AM

It turns out the FBI wasn't a bastion of "Deep State" liberal sympathizers who violated their sacred oaths to uphold the Constitution in order to swing an election for Hillary Clinton. Quite the opposite. It appears that actions taken by the FBI may have actually hurt Clinton and helped Donald Trump.

After a nearly 18-month investigation, the Department of Justice's Office of Inspector General has released a voluminous report detailing its review of actions taken by DOJ and FBI leadership before and after the 2016 election. It found no political impropriety in that leadership after a thorough probe that included interviews with over 100 current and former government officials.

This is a major finding. It stands in stark contrast to the unending litany of allegations lodged against the DOJ and FBI by President Trump and his political allies, who continue to promote the narrative that the President was the target of insubordinate bureaucrats ensconced in the national security apparatus, and working to undermine his administration.

People inside the FBI refer to the 2016 election cycle as a 500-year flood for the organization, something an agency can neither fully prepare for nor quickly recover from.

As someone who worked inside the organization under former Director James Comey and lived the political rollercoaster of 2016, I am still amazed when I stop to reflect on the series of unfortunate events that befell the organization, seemingly at once.

We had a major political party nominee for president under criminal investigation; our boss -- the attorney general (Loretta Lynch) -- meeting privately on an airplane with the spouse (Bill Clinton) of the subject of an investigation (Hillary Clinton); an FBI Director stepping outside the DOJ chain of command to publicly announce the conclusions of an investigation, and then later reopen and then again close the case days before the election. Amid all this, we had two FBI officials (Lisa Page and Peter Strzok) engaged in an extramarital affair exchanging politically charged text messages that damaged the agency's reputation, and a deputy director (Andrew McCabe) who would later be terminated for lying.

On top of all of this, we were in the middle of one of the most contentious and polarizing election cycles in modern history, with a soon-to-be victor whose campaign would become the subject of a counterintelligence investigation, and who would embark on a campaign to destroy the reputation of America's premier law enforcement agency in order to undermine the credibility of any eventual investigative findings.

Talk about a 500-year flood.

To be clear, the IG report this week did not hand out gold stars for everyone involved. It uncovered serious instances of bad judgment and departures from institutionalized protocols and norms.

Former Director Comey was admonished for his decision to step outside the Justice Department chain of command, publicly announcing his conclusions in the Clinton investigation, and then notifying Congress in October 2016 that Clinton was once again under investigation. Comey wrote in his recent book that his primary concern was ensuring the independence of the FBI, and that the decision was not one between action or inaction, but, rather, a choice between speaking or concealing information from the American people.

The bureau was also faulted for its delay in reviewing newly discovered Clinton emails on the laptop of disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner, D-New York, as well as a pattern of numerous officials throughout the agency maintaining unauthorized access to members of the press.

Perhaps the most damning aspect of the report, however, pertains to newly discovered text messages exchanged between former FBI lawyer Page and special agent Strzok, who were reportedly having an affair while working on investigations of both the Clinton and Trump campaigns. In one exchange about Trump's prospects of becoming president, Strzok reassures Page that, "we'll stop him."

The careless judgment exercised by Page and Strzok has caused immeasurable damage to the reputation of the FBI, but the fact is it is nearly impossible that these two could have affected any investigation based on their own political leanings. The FBI is an organization built on redundancy, and a robust system of accountability up and down the chain of command ensures no employee's personal views can effectively impact their work. This is because evidence and investigative decisions in high-profile cases are handled by large groups, not in individual silos.

So, what then is next for the FBI and our institutions of justice? In normal times, the organization would study an IG report, incorporate its findings into new best practices to improve operations, and then steadily work to recoup any trust lost with the American people following any revelations of potential wrongdoing.

In a press conference Thursday at FBI Headquarters, FBI Director Christopher Wray did just that, assuring the American people that the FBI would remain true to its principles, resist improper outside influence, and work to ensure lessons are learned from 2016. In normal times, this is all that would likely be needed.

But these are not normal times. Although I have no doubt the FBI will learn from the IG's findings and recommendations, one would be foolish to assume the relentless attacks on the organization by the White House will end soon.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation continues to move closer towards the President's inner-circle. This could well open new fronts of attack by partisans in survival mode, to discredit our justice system and make it through the next election cycle.

The FBI would just as soon close this chapter in its history, but it remains the target of a sustained campaign to undermine its reputation. Apart from the 2016 Clinton investigation, the President and lawmakers like House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-California, have more recently accused the agency of abusing its authority in conducting surveillance on the Trump campaign and its associates.

These allegations, although spurious at best, nevertheless sit before the same IG, who will have to determine whether to launch yet another investigation into the actions of law enforcement. For the men and women of the FBI, the 500-year flood continues.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 37210

Reported Deaths: 1495
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Hennepin12048782
Ramsey4777222
Stearns231219
Dakota224890
Anoka2155107
Nobles16616
Olmsted107615
Washington104840
Mower9322
Rice8277
Scott6844
Clay58037
Kandiyohi5661
Wright4535
Blue Earth4422
Todd4002
Carver3611
Lyon3052
Sherburne3035
Freeborn2890
Steele2231
Watonwan2150
Benton2123
St. Louis17415
Martin1615
Nicollet15512
Cottonwood1340
Goodhue1278
Winona12015
Crow Wing10412
Pine1030
Chisago971
Otter Tail921
Le Sueur911
McLeod850
Carlton830
Dodge830
Unassigned8237
Polk812
Chippewa761
Isanti650
Itasca6412
Waseca620
Douglas610
Meeker591
Morrison591
Becker550
Jackson550
Faribault540
Murray540
Sibley532
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Brown312
Pipestone311
Wabasha310
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Rock290
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Renville282
Fillmore270
Houston250
Swift211
Norman200
Wilkin203
Redwood170
Wadena150
Aitkin140
Big Stone140
Cass142
Kanabec141
Koochiching141
Marshall120
Grant100
Lincoln100
Pope100
Roseau100
Clearwater70
Mahnomen71
Lake60
Hubbard50
Traverse50
Lac qui Parle40
Stevens40
Red Lake30
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 30173

Reported Deaths: 718
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk6275178
Woodbury320144
Black Hawk218058
Buena Vista170511
Linn123882
Johnson12318
Dallas122329
Marshall103519
Story7463
Pottawattamie71911
Scott70410
Wapello70230
Crawford6752
Muscatine62444
Dubuque60922
Sioux4610
Tama45829
Wright3771
Louisa36013
Jasper32117
Plymouth3134
Dickinson2592
Warren2581
Washington2349
Hamilton1871
Webster1702
Boone1421
Cerro Gordo1381
Clarke1272
Clay1270
Allamakee1264
Mahaska11517
Shelby1110
Clinton1041
Poweshiek1048
Pocahontas931
Carroll911
Bremer906
Des Moines862
Henry853
Franklin840
Cedar801
Taylor790
Emmet780
Cherokee751
Monona740
Floyd682
Marion680
Hardin650
Guthrie644
Sac630
Benton621
Jefferson580
Osceola580
Jones560
Harrison530
Humboldt531
Butler522
Buchanan511
Iowa510
Lee502
Monroe506
Hancock490
Calhoun482
Delaware481
Lyon400
Madison402
Clayton393
Davis391
Mills360
Palo Alto360
Winneshiek360
Grundy350
Fayette340
Mitchell340
Kossuth330
Lucas304
Greene280
Howard280
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Jackson270
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Ida230
Cass210
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Keokuk201
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