Bruce Swartz, Textbook Swamp Dweller
The Inspector General’s Report from the Department of Justice (DOJ) features a heretofore unheralded costar by the name of Bruce Swartz, the assistant attorney general in the Criminal Division. Swartz was also the supervisor of the feckless Bruce Ohr, husband of Fusion GPS contractor Nellie Ohr and frequent breakfast buddy of Christopher Steele of Steele dossier fame.
Unreported by Inspector General Michael Horowitz, however, was Swartz’s starring role in another DoJ drama some 15 years earlier. Given the scant media attention the case received in 2004-2005, it is possible Horowitz did not even know about Swartz’s yeoman effort to save Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger from a lengthy sojourn in a federal Supermax.
“We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions to open the four individual investigations,” reported Horowitz. Had the IG been able to compare Swartz’s protection of Berger to his pursuit of one-time Trump adviser Paul Manafort, the evidence would have kicked him in the teeth.
As Swartz himself acknowledged, he had a Javert-like zeal to bring Manafort to justice. “Ohr and Swartz both told us that they felt an urgency to move the Manafort investigation forward,” reported Horowitz, “because of Trump's election and a concern that the new administration would shut the investigation down.” This urgency translated into frequent semi-covert meetings with the FBI lovebirds Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. Strzok told the IG that Swartz wanted him to "kick that [investigation] in the ass and get it moving."
Swartz continued to “weigh in” on the Manafort investigation even though it was clearly outside his jurisdiction. In December 2016, concerned that the DoJ’s money laundering division (MLARS) was not moving fast enough against Manafort, Swartz brought colleague Andrew Weissman into the act.
Swartz hoped to get the cooperation of an unnamed “foreign national” to help squeeze Manafort. According to Ohr, he and Swartz had “information that Manafort [was]... somehow... a possible connection between the Russian government and the Trump campaign."
Swartz admittedly did not advise DoJ leadership of his maneuverings. He claimed the meetings were on the hush-hush to keep the Manafort investigation from being "politicized." More likely, Swartz hoped to pressure Manafort into rolling over on Trump and did not want Trump’s people to know about his intentions.
The "unusual level of interest" in the Manafort case by Swartz, Ohr, and Weissman caught the attention of some of their colleagues. Reported the IG, “The former senior Department leaders we interviewed expressed serious concern about Swartz's assertion that not informing Department leadership about case-related investigative activities somehow protected the Department.”
Although Swartz did not officially join the Mueller team, Weissman did. The case against Manafort that had been languishing in the money laundering division now got the kick in the ass that Swartz and Weissman wanted. Mueller took over the case in May 2017 and in October 2017 Manafort was indicted on twelve charges, including money laundering, none of which had anything to with Russian collusion.
It seems likely that Swartz lied repeatedly to The IG’s office about the reasons for his unseemly meddling, and Horowitz more or less scolded him for it. Horowitz could have made a much stronger bias charge against Swartz had he been able to review Swartz’s handling of the Sandy Berger affair.
Here’s the background. In 2002, according to a subsequent House report, former president Bill Clinton “designated Berger as his representative to review NSC documents” in relation to the 9/11 inquiry.
In that capacity Berger made four trips to the National Archives. He did so presumably to refresh his memory before testifying first to the Graham-Goss Commission and then to the 9/11 Commission. Berger made his first visit in May 2002, his last in October 2003.
During those four visits Berger stole and destroyed an incalculable number of documents. “The full extent of Berger’s document removal,” reported the House Committee, “is not known and never can be known.”
Beginning with the third of Berger’s four visits to the Archives in September 2003, when Berger was first caught in the act of stealing documents, Paul Brachfeld, the Inspector General of the National Archives, tried to alert the Justice Department to the scope and seriousness of the theft.
Brachfeld wanted assurance that the 9/11 Commission knew of Berger’s crime and the potential ramifications of it. He did not get it. On March 22, 2004, two days before Berger’s public testimony, senior DoJ attorneys Swartz and John Dion got back to Brachfeld. They informed him that the DoJ was not going to notify the 9/11 Commission of the Berger investigation before Berger’s appearance.
The House report singled out Swartz as the one attorney most adamantly protective of Berger. Swartz refused to admit that Berger could have stolen documents in his first two visits despite Brachfeld’s insistence that he had the means and the motive to do so.
Frustrated, Brachfeld called DoJ’s Inspector General Glenn Fine on April 6 and again expressed his concern that the 9/11 Commission remained unaware of Berger’s actions. Again, nothing happened.
Brachfeld never did succeed in persuading the DoJ of the potential seriousness of Berger’s sabotage. As the House report concluded, “The lack of interest in Berger’s first two visits is disturbing.” The DoJ also declined to submit Berger to a polygraph exam as required by his plea agreement.
If these DoJ attorneys were “unacceptably incurious” across the board, one could write off their inaction to bureaucratic sloth. But at the same time Dion and Swartz were cosseting Sandy Berger, they were eagerly campaigning to out the rascal who blew CIA agent Valerie Plame’s imagined cover.
“Those who have worked with Dion say he will not shy away from advocating charges against any high-level Bush administration official if that's where the investigation leads,” read a hopeful AP piece.
Among the colleagues quoted was Dion’s immediate supervisor, Bruce Swartz. Even after Patrick Fitzgerald took over the Plame investigation, Dion and Swartz stayed on the team, Swartz reportedly as second-in-command.
Swartz, Fine, and Dion were all careerists held over from the Clinton administration. Although Dion has no obvious record of federal contributions, Fine and Swartz had only contributed to Democratic candidates in federal races.
Swartz is the textbook swamp dweller. From all appearances, no matter who sits in the attorney general’s chair, these seemingly respectable subversives protect the progressive deep state and punish those who would threaten it. Supplied leads by a complicit media and shielded by that same media from exposure, people like Swartz have been perverting justice for decades.
If proof were needed, Swartz and his boys recommended a $10,000 fine for Berger and three-year loss of security clearance for a crime that would have put a Republican in prison for decades. Happily for the Deep State, Berger regained his clearance just in time to serve as a Hillary Clinton adviser in the 2008 campaign.
Manafort did not fare quite so well. He was indicted by a federal grand jury in a city that gave Donald Trump 4 percent of its vote. Then, to prevent President Trump from dangling a federal pardon, the New York friends of the Deep State prosecuted Manafort on state charges.
True, the Russia collusion fears that inspired the Manafort investigation were imaginary, but the federal and state charges are very real. Manafort has descended into a Kafkaesque legal hell from which the 70-year-old will likely not emerge alive.
As to Sandy Berger, upon his death in 2015 former secretary of state Madeleine Albright called him “an exemplary public servant,” the Clintons gushed about how they “knew and admired him,” and President Barack Obama said, "I'm grateful to Sandy because, as President, I've benefited personally from his advice and counsel."
The final word, as always, went to the New York Times’ (glowing) obituary. Right after learning about his receipt of a global humanitarian award, the reader learned that Berger “stumbled after leaving the White House when he pleaded guilty to removing documents from the National Archives and destroying some of them.”
Ah, yes, those stumbles.