How Did the FBI End Up in This Mess?
The fact that the FBI has lost its way has been on public display for at least five years now. Truth be told, it probably strayed off course way before that. But during the Trump Presidency, it became too obvious to ignore. It has been involved in everything from the creation of an “insurance policy” against the peaceful transition of power, to the targeting of parents as domestic terrorists for the sin of disagreeing with school boards. How did our “premier law enforcement agency” stray so far from its motto of fidelity, bravery, and integrity?
Simply put, the FBI’s current state is the result of horrible leadership. Any organization with a solid culture of ethics can survive a bad leader, but the FBI has had 20+ years of ethically challenged leadership. Over time that leadership influences hiring, firing, promotions, and training. Given enough time under bad leadership, even the strongest foundation of ethics will crumble, and be replaced by a culture of corruption -- as we’ve seen with the FBI.
A significant shift in the culture of the FBI happened under Robert Mueller. Mueller came up through the ranks of the DoJ -- holding the positions of Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney, and Deputy Attorney General. He was appointed to lead the FBI, by President George W. Bush, in 2001, just one week prior to 9/11.
Almost immediately upon being sworn in as the director, Mueller began politicizing the bureau by bringing in outside people to staff high-level positions. One of those people was the execrable Andrew Weismann, who at the time had just been in the headlines for his own scandals. Yet that was just fine by Mueller. He appointed Weismann to be the special counsel to the director in 2005. The ethically challenged Weismann eventually became the FBI general counsel in 2011, to provide legal guidance throughout the FBI, and nobody saw any problem with that.
Yet it is what Robert Mueller did after leaving the FBI that provided a window into his ethical principles. In 2017, Muller was appointed special counsel to lead the investigation into Trump/Russia collusion. Within two months of joining the investigation, Mueller learned that the whole thing was a hoax perpetrated by Hillary Clinton and the DNC. Did he expose the hoax and its perpetrators? Nope. He continued the investigation for over three more years and allowed it to influence a mid-term election. If he was so void of ethical principles as a special counsel, is it hard to believe that he was equally unprincipled as the FBI director?
James Comey was also a product of the prosecutorial side of the DoJ. Like Mueller before him, he was a U.S. Attorney and Deputy Attorney General. James Comey is a man of unquestionable integrity -- according to James Comey. In fact, peers and subordinates gave him the nickname “The Cardinal” due to his sanctimonious self-regard.
Director Comey decided to run the Clinton email investigation out of FBI headquarters, rather than a field office so that it could be overseen by such giants of virtue as Peter Strzok and himself. Under Comey’s guidance, it was a unique investigation. No grand jury was used, no subpoenas were served, key witnesses were given immunity, and the investigators themselves destroyed the evidence. Comey then went on national television and laid out how all of the elements of a felony had been committed by Madame Secretary “Dirty Tricks.” But then surprise, surprise -- no indictment would be sought because Hillary really didn’t mean it. It turns out that “The Cardinal” is not only a paragon of virtue, he’s also a mind reader.
With that broadcast, Comey unveiled the partisan FBI for all of the world to see. Corruption had officially arrived at the FBI, and “The Cardinal” wasn’t even hiding it.
But Comey didn’t stop with his election interference by simply giving Hillary a pass. He also began painting an image of criminal behavior by the Trump campaign. After Wikileaks began publishing excerpts of purloined DNC communications, the DNC alleged that its email servers had been hacked by Russia, working in collusion with the Trump campaign. The DNC refused to surrender its servers to the FBI for forensic analysis but assured the FBI that its contractor -- Crowdstrike -- had investigated and confirmed the allegations. Did Comey’s FBI subpoena the servers? Nope. Did Comey shut down the investigation because the supposed victim was refusing to cooperate? Nope. He took one political party’s word that it had been victimized by another political party. No evidence was needed, it was just accepted as fact. Just like that, the Trump/Russia collusion hoax was off and running.
Comey didn’t just fail to stop the hoax; he was an active participant. In his first meeting with President Trump, “The Cardinal” assured the President that he didn’t do “weaselly” things. He then did the most weaselly thing possible, he bypassed the White House counsel’s office and sent two agents to set a perjury trap for the newly appointed National Security Advisor -- General Michael Flynn. They told the general it was an informal discussion to coordinate national security. It was actually a formal interrogation, planned to catch Flynn in a misstatement, and was done without mirandizing him first. Lie to the President -- check. Violate White House protocol -- check. Lay a trap for an unsuspecting peer, with no evidence of a crime -- check. Brag about it on TV -- check. Sure -- nothing weaselly about that.
Comey was eventually fired by Donald Trump, but only after substantial damage had been done.
Christopher Wray also came up through the ranks of the DoJ, holding the positions of Assistant U.S. Attorney, Associate Deputy Attorney General, and Principal Deputy Attorney General. Donald Trump appointed him to lead the FBI upon the termination of James Comey. To say that Wray has been a disappointment would be a monumental understatement.
He was caught lying to congress. That would be a felony for those keeping score at home. He told Congress that the FBI had no involvement in the investigation of murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich. However, later it was discovered that the FBI had in its possession Rich’s laptop and thousands of pages of investigatory notes, all discovered via a freedom of information request. In fact, the FBI had possessed that evidence for three years, all the while claiming it had no such evidence. This is significant because there are credible allegations that Rich may have been involved in the DNC email hack -- the hack that the FBI had previously blamed on the Russians and Donald Trump.
Lying to Congress pales in comparison to what Wray has been up to during the first year of Biden’s administration.
- Wray has been in full cooperation with the DoJ initiative to target protesting parents as domestic terrorists.
- Wray approved the FBI raid to seize working documents of reporters employed by Project Veritas.
- Wray has dispatched hundreds of agents across the country to identify and interview anyone who attended the January 6 protest in Washington D.C.
- A high-level whistleblower is even alleging that resources are being redirected from Islamic terrorism to “white supremacist” investigations, with the definition of “white supremacist” being somewhat flexible.
What do these actions have in common? They are all unconstitutional acts of government intimidation of citizens for exercising their 1st Amendment rights. Clearly, neither ethics nor fidelity to the Constitution is guiding principles at Wray’s FBI.
A common denominator among all of these directors is that none came from the policing or investigating side of law enforcement. They all came from the prosecution side. They all made their mark as political appointees of various presidents. Leadership of the FBI was the plumb assignment that each was given as a reward for pleasing various political sponsors. The last three FBI Directors are all the embodiment of D.C. swamp creatures.
Placing political creatures in charge of a supposedly nonpartisan agency inevitably leads to partisan behavior. As long as the FBI is going to play politics, it might as well play for the team that stands for ever-increasing government size and power -- the Democrats.
After 20+ years of such leadership, the culture at the FBI has changed. Is the oath of office still meaningful to agents? The fact that there have been few whistleblowers to the various scandals involving the FBI speaks volumes. Far too many agents are just following orders, not testing those orders for constitutionality, as their oath requires.
That is the heart of the problem. Bad leaders can be replaced overnight. A corrupted culture requires years to rebuild.
This is part one of a three-part series on FBI corruption.
Quentin Smith is a military veteran and retired FBI Special Agent who served in the bureau for nearly 29 years and now lives in Idaho.
John Green is a political refugee from Minnesota, now residing in Idaho. He currently writes at the American Free News Network (afnn.us). He can be followed on Facebook or reached at email@example.com.
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