(Via USA Today)
WASHINGTON — In early January, news that the Justice Department’s inspector general launched an investigation into the government’s disputed handling of the Hillary Clinton email inquiry was quickly overtaken by the chaotic run-up to President Trump’s inauguration.
Nearly a year later, Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s wide-ranging review of the FBI and Justice’s work in the politically-charged Clinton case now looms as a potential landmine for Russia special counsel Robert Mueller.
For months, Horowitz’s investigation — which has amassed interviews with former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, former FBI Director James Comey and other key officials — had been grinding on in near anonymity. That is, until earlier this month when the inspector general acknowledged that Mueller was alerted to a cache of text messages exchanged between two FBI officials on his staff that disparaged Trump.
The communications, involving senior counter-intelligence agent Peter Strzok and bureau lawyer Lisa Page, were gathered in the course of Horowitz’s internal review of the Clinton case, which Strzok also helped oversee. Horowitz’s investigation is not examining Mueller’s operation. But the disclosures already have provided a hammer to Trump loyalists who are escalating their criticisms of the legitimacy of the special counsel’s inquiry.
Earlier this month, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein only highlighted the potential gravity of the inspector general’s work when they repeatedly urged Republican House committee members during separate hearings to withhold judgment about allegations of bias within the FBI until the internal Justice probe is completed.
Justice officials have indicated that a report is likely in the next few months.
“The inspector general’s investigation is very important,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., told Rosenstein at a Dec. 13 hearing. The deputy attorney general cited the probe multiple times as the reason for declining to respond to lawmakers’ questions about how the texts might affect Mueller’s probe.
“It is very encouraging to us that (Horowitz) is doing what I think is good, unbiased work,” the chairman said.
Once it’s completed, the inspector general’s review also threatens to give opponents fodder to unleash fresh criticism of the FBI – which Trump has singled out in scathing rebukes since Mueller’s indictment of former national security adviser Michael Flynn earlier this month. Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and pledged to cooperate with the special counsel, was the fourth Trump campaign official to be charged in the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
Chris Swecker, a former FBI assistant director, said the text communications unearthed by Horowitz have handed leverage to attorneys representing current and possible future defendants in the Mueller investigation, either in possible plea negotiations or at trial.
“Two star witnesses have been created for the defense,” Swecker said, referring to Strzok and Page whose communications could be introduced as evidence of an investigation biased against Trump.
Strzok was removed from the Russia investigation this summer immediately after Mueller was informed of the communications in which the agent described Trump as an “idiot” while expressing a clear preference for Clinton. Page, meanwhile, had completed her temporary assignment to the Russia inquiry and had returned to bureau headquarters when the texts were discovered.
Swecker said Mueller acted appropriately in dismissing Strzok, but fears that the damage has already been done.
“I never heard anything related to politics come out of (Mueller’s) mouth,” Swecker said, referring to his experience working closely with the special counsel when he served as FBI director.
“But none of this is good for Mueller or his reputation for fairness,” Swecker said. “Who knows what else the IG (inspector general) has.”
Mounting questions about the FBI’s continuing credibility – including Trump’s jab that the bureau’s reputation was in “tatters” – have landed hard at the agency. The FBI was sent reeling in May when Trump abruptly dismissed Comey for his handling of the Russia inquiry.
Wray, who took over in September, has publicly defended the bureau’s reputation in the wake of Trump’s attacks. He was joined late Tuesday by the FBI Agents Association, whose members issued a rare, collective defense of their own.
“Attacks on our character and demeaning comments about the FBI will not deter agents from continuing to do what we have always done – dedicate our lives to protecting the American people,” the group said in a written statement.
Pat Cotter, a former federal prosecutor, said the specter of Horowitz’s inquiry should have “zero effect on how Mueller and his team do their jobs.”
“But this is a political event, too,” Cotter added. “To the extent that this (agents’ conduct) will be used to discredit, distract or obfuscate the Mueller investigation, maybe it will work.”
For Horowitz, the Clinton email inquiry may be the most consequential investigation he has launched since his installment as Justice’s watchdog in 2012. But the former public corruption unit chief in the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office has not shied from controversy in the past five years.
Months after taking office, Horowitz issued a scathing account of a botched gun-trafficking operation that allowed an estimated 2,000 firearms to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartel enforcers.
The inspetor general’s review of the so-called “Fast and Furious” operation managed by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives recommended 14 federal law enforcement officials for discipline, resulting in a dramatic shakeup in leadership at the ATF. The operation was halted when two of the weapons were found at the scene of the 2010 slaying of border patrol agent Brian Terry.
A separate 2015 report authored by Horowitz’s staff found that U.S. Drug Enforcement Agents posted in Colombia had engaged in sex parties involving prostitutes who were supplied by local drug cartels. The review concluded that some of the 10 agents involved admitted attending the parties where a local Colombian police offer often stood guard, protecting the agents’ firearms and other property.
Less than a month after Horowitz’s report, then-DEA chief Michele Leonhart announced her retirement from the agency.
In the review of the Clinton email investigation, authorities are examining whether the Justice Department and FBI followed established “policies and procedures” when then-FBI Director Comey publicly announced that the bureau would not recommend criminal charges against Clinton related to her use of a private email server while she was secretary of State.
The inspector general is not evaluating the merits of the now-closed criminal inquiry or challenge the conclusions not to prosecute Clinton. Rather, it will focus on Justice and FBI policies that guided the probe.
Former Justice inspector general Michael Bromwich said that the office has a long established record as “a reliable and independent voice” that has held some of the most powerful institutions to account.
The disclosures of the agents’ text messages, he said, “has certainly re-focused the spotlight on investigation that many people may have forgotten about but remains an important piece of work that needs to be completed.”
More than once, Bromwich found himself at the center of a firestorm while inspector general. In 1997, Bromwich authored a damning review of the FBI’s crime laboratory on the eve of the federal trial of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. While McVeigh was ultimately convicted and executed, the lab had been heavily involved in examining evidence in that case.
“Michael (Horowitz) is a very solid guy with exactly the right background for the job. It’s a job that doesn’t make you many friends,” Bromwich said. “And I don’t think a lot of people will be happy when it’s over. But I think he is going to call it as he sees it.”
Neo-Con & Israeli Puppet Dan Crenshaw Lies About America First Patriots, Just Like He Did About Trump
Dan Crenshaw continued an onslaught of attacks against Nick Fuentes, Michelle Malkin, and America First patriots by labeling them “vehement racists, antisemites, & ethnic nationalists”. This is a far cry from the truth. He also went on again to call America First patriots as ‘antisemitic’ in a response to Michelle Malkin blocking him. Dan Crenshaw also supported Red Flag laws, something that also got him a lot of flack. He also criticized Donald Trump in 2016 on top of coming out in favor of same-sex marriage, all of which that has been questioned and exposed of Mr. McCain, oops, we mean Crenshaw.
It is very apparent Mr. Crenshaw has nothing but an ‘Israel First’ policy, constantly making linear conclusions between conservatism and support for Israel. Making his own opinion that if you don’t support Israel, you don’t support America. A very sick and warped view of America Politics in general, some would say traitorous. Dan Crenshaw represents the worse the establishment can offer so far, he must be unseated, exposed, and further more shammed from the conservative movement, along with all the other conservative grifters and Conservative Inc. types.
Matt is correct. They use slogans like “America first” to get conservatives to sympathize with them. But after personally dealing with them, it’s pretty obvious they are vehement racists, anti-semites & ethnic-nationalists.
Conservatives need to know the difference. https://t.co/9PHwWumnU0
— Dan Crenshaw (@DanCrenshawTX) November 19, 2019
I guess it’s offensive to point out that conservatives are 100% different than these misguided alt-right anti-semites?
— Dan Crenshaw (@DanCrenshawTX) November 19, 2019
Dan on Red Flag Gun Laws:
It’s clear that there has been some confusion about what conservatives would support when it comes to laws that try to better protect our communities. Let’s address this directly. Watch. pic.twitter.com/TRYjPIclEm
— Rep. Dan Crenshaw (@RepDanCrenshaw) August 10, 2019
Dan’s Facebook Post from 2016 denouncing Trump’s “hateful rhetoric”:
Conservative Inc. Coordinates Attack on Nick Fuentes and Michelle Malkin for being America First Patriots
Since the ‘Groyper War’ Phase 1 was a decisive victory following the November 14th ‘Change my Mind’ rip-off Charlie Kirk attempted to pull off, this late weekend we’ve seen a new onslaught of attacks from many mainstream Republican pundits, attacking Nick Fuentes and Michelle Malkin for their American First allegiance. Conservative Inc. is scared of the true conservatives exposing them and their big donor’s motives & hypocrisy. Even YAF (Young Americans Foundation) who even recently hosted Michelle Malkin, disavowed “holocaust deniers, white nationalists, street brawlers, or racists”. A slew of other clips and comments were made by Guy Benson, Michael Knowles, Stephen Miller, Bradon Tatum,Jordan Schachtel, & Matt Walsh.
Twitter threads about Fuentes and Malkin
There is no room in mainstream conservatism or at YAF for holocaust deniers, white nationalists, street brawlers, or racists.
Our full statement below: pic.twitter.com/b5EB7P53v3
— YAF (@yaf) November 17, 2019
The Cancel culture is alive & well—Michelle Malkin is their latest victim. If conservatism dies it’s not because of Trump, the alt-right or a faux Russia collusion. It’s because it’s filled with cowards who enable the delegitimization efforts of the Left https://t.co/1GfpDugUsV
— Denise McAllister (@McAllisterDen) November 18, 2019
Michelle Malkin identified a Holocaust denier & open anti-Semite, whose history she was well aware of, & repeatedly proclaimed to crowds that she would not disavow him. She then falsely ID'd him as a leader of a mainstream movement. Her conduct is insanely harmful & inexcusable.
— Jordan Schachtel (@JordanSchachtel) November 17, 2019
‘Groyper’ leader on segregation:
“Enough with the Jim Crow stuff. Who cares? ‘Oh, I had to drink out of a different water fountain.’ Big f—ing deal…oh no, they had to go to a different school…And even if it was bad, who cares?…it was better for them, it’s better for us.” pic.twitter.com/ZJ7LqpTHgL
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) November 18, 2019
Wait a second…
Are you telling me the guy who publicly supports Jim Crow, marched with Richard Spencer, says the Holocaust didn't happen, called for executions at CNN, and refers to people as "shabbos goy race traitors" might have a problem with certain racial minorities? https://t.co/BrOxub1r0y
— Michael Knowles (@michaeljknowles) November 18, 2019
Problems like that fucking green screen nerd Fuentes usually solve themselves. If Malkin wants to choose to be flushed with that turd, so be it.
— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) November 18, 2019
No, I went back and watched your shows. You come across as a racist. If this video is edited, post the unedited version were you don't sound like a white supremacis.
Don't complain about @charliekirk11 when you send your people after him.
— Brandon Tatum (@TheOfficerTatum) November 18, 2019
Hi @michellemalkin. Fuentes called me a "race traitor" and "f*ggot" because I "work for Jews." He also said that black people who complained about segregation needed to "grow up." How do you feel about these statements? And in what way are they "America First"? https://t.co/fz8qcXrRCl
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) November 18, 2019
Tweets Supporting Fuentes and Malkin
The Keepers of the Gate have spoken. #AmericaFirst is not "mainstream." My defense of unjustly prosecuted Proud Boys, patriotic young nationalists/groypers & demographic truth-tellers must not be tolerated. SPLC is cheering. https://t.co/yYyqocx1T5
— Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) November 17, 2019
When Ben Shapiro wrote his column advocating ethnic cleansing of Arabs, he was about the same age as Nick Fuentes is now.
Yet Shapiro, who expects a pass for his quasi-genocidal columns, offers no decency to those who have said the same type of fucked of shit he was saying.
— Mike Cernovich (@Cernovich) November 17, 2019
— The Hill (@thehill) November 17, 2019
Do you hear that? It's the sound of Kirk screaming. pic.twitter.com/vcT3ISeS6a
— Mister AntiBully (@MisterAntiBully) November 18, 2019
No Nation Is An Idea
The concept that “America is a timeless placeholder of ideas” is a common talking point that has been in circulation from both Conservative Inc., and the broader American Left for many years now. This saying is typically used as a divergence from addressing important policies as they pertain to mass immigration. Often, it is also used to stifle the growth of an American National Populist movement. Clearly, the unelected elites calling shots around the Western world seek to undermine valid and critical debate of the role of National Populism. Rather than emphasizing the importance of health, stable families, community, housing, and wages, our leaders have an obsession with growing GDP, doing the bidding of predatory crony capitalists who are constantly pushing to import cheap labor, and retaining power for generations to come.
The fact of the matter is, Americans (and humans in general) seek more than cheap, 4k television sets, quirky tupper-ware for last night’s leftovers, and salad shooters that break after a few uses. We are innately spiritual beings who long for community, order, and social cohesion. The United States of America is not an idea… actually, no nation is an idea. As further disorder ensues among the population, the elites have made sure to use their corporate-funded foot soldiers as a means to promote a very new, Neo-Liberal agenda. This agenda is the concept that the beautiful mountains, forests, and lakes of our Nation would mean absolutely nothing without this arbitrary term of “ideas.” The blood, sweat, and tears American workers shed producing automobiles in Michigan, the early mornings for the farmers of Iowa, and the dedicated fishermen of California, all mean nothing if this is but a plot of land where the British came to talk about the importance of small government.
Although we can appreciate the writings of philosophers like John Stuart Mill, John Locke, and Adam Smith, the “marketplace of ideas” means absolutely nothing to people who see the world completely different than you. It is apparent that the philosophy of our ancestors and founding fathers have changed the world. In an American context, the very concepts of things like liberty, freedom of speech, and the right to bear arms should be held in the highest regard. Among Conservatives and the American Right, these values are not even up for debate. Unfortunately, much of Conservative Inc. (who are just liberals who want to keep more of their money) do not recognize (or are blatantly ignorant to) the sacrifices made by the ones who came before them.
To put this into perspective, Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk previously stated, “I have loyalty to ideas.” Kirk says, “Of course I love the Grand Canyon. I love the Rocky Mountains. And I love Boston. And I love Chicago. But if all that disappeared, if all I had was ideas, and we were on an island, that’s America. That’s Israel. And that’s what people have to realize, America’s just a placeholder for timeless ideas. And if you fall too in love with, oh, the specific place, and all this…that’s not what it is.” What Kirk fails to recognize is that the physical reality of a Nation is what manifests those very ideas he holds so dear.
Nations are unique, with celebrations and folktales that those who inhabit the land feel relation to. Nations are made up of a people. Nations are traditions. Nations are land, resources, and landmarks. Nations are history – the good, the bad, and the ugly. No Nation is an idea.