Decoding the Horowitz Report on 'bias'
We are in the midst of a spin battle over the inspector general's report issued yesterday. Because inspectors general cannot release their reports without giving those named within it a chance to contest it, and must be able to defend every single word of it, they must stick to facts and completely documentable conclusions. Inductive reasoning, looking at large patterns of facts and drawing conclusions, does not survive such a process. The result is a report that is written in a kind of code.
Kimberly Strassel of the Wall Street Journal decodes the Horowitz Report on bias in a tweet thread on the subject. Her first tweet demolishes the "no bias" meme being pushed by Democrats, including the mainstream media:
1) Don't believe anyone who claims Horowitz didn't find bias. He very carefully says that he found no "documentary" evidence that bias produced "specific investigatory decisions." That's different #IGReport— Kimberley Strassel (@KimStrassel) June 14, 2018
That is carefully worded as a defense. A second tweet elaborates:
2) It means he didn't catch anyone doing anything so dumb as writing down that they took a specific step to aid a candidate. You know, like: "Let's give out this Combetta immunity deal so nothing comes out that will derail Hillary for President." #IGReport— Kimberley Strassel (@KimStrassel) June 14, 2018
But, as she points out, there is abundant evidence of bias throughout the report.
3) But he in fact finds bias everywhere. The examples are shocking and concerning, and he devotes entire sections to them. And he very specifically says in the summary that they "cast a cloud" on the entire "investigation's credibility." That's pretty damning. #IGReport— Kimberley Strassel (@KimStrassel) June 14, 2018
For example, senior FBI people weeping about Trump's electoral victory, and the already infamous Strzok-Page text messages about stopping Trump:
"[Trump's] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!"
"No. No he won't. We'll stop it."
(Even Chris Cillizza of CNN moans that this gives Trump "all the deep state ammo he wanted.")
Yet this get-Trump group was chosen to switch to the investigation of purported Russian influence:
4) Meanwhile this same cast of characters who the IG has now found to have made a hash of the Clinton investigation and who demonstrate such bias, seamlessly moved to the Trump investigation. And we're supposed to think they got that one right? #IGReport— Kimberley Strassel (@KimStrassel) June 14, 2018
As a number of prominent Trump-supporters have claimed, this may well discredit the entire investigation by Robert Mueller. "Fruit of the poison tree," as the legal doctrine is called.
As Ed Timperlake noted on these pages today, a huge issue is the culture of the top levels of the FBI, where people of deep bias seem to have been selected for top positions. The specific miscreants mentioned in the report (many of them yet to be publicly identified) have corrupted those below them. There is a severe problem in this organization:
5) Also don't believe anyone who says this is just about Comey and his instances of insubordination. (Though they are bad enough.) This is an indictment broadly of an FBI culture that believes itself above the rules it imposes on others. #IGReport— Kimberley Strassel (@KimStrassel) June 14, 2018
There is also evidence of actionable misbehavior:
6) People failing to adhere to their recusals (Kadzik/McCabe). Lynch hanging with Bill. Staff helping Comey conceal details of presser from DOJ bosses. Use of personal email and laptops. Leaks. Accepting gifts from media. Agent affairs/relationships.— Kimberley Strassel (@KimStrassel) June 14, 2018
And (if you believe this) laughable incompetence by Comey:
7)It also contains stunning examples of incompetence. Comey explains that he wasn't aware the Weiner laptop was big deal because he didn't know Weiner was married to Abedin? Then they sit on it a month, either cuz it fell through cracks (wow) or were more obsessed w/Trump— Kimberley Strassel (@KimStrassel) June 14, 2018
Given that the firing of Comey was used as justification for appointing his good friend Mueller as special counsel, it is time for apologies, and maybe firing of Mueller (my conclusion, not Strassel's).
8) And I can still hear the echo of the howls from when Trump fired Comey. Still waiting to hear the apologies now that this report has backstopped the Rosenstein memo and the obvious grounds for dismissal.— Kimberley Strassel (@KimStrassel) June 14, 2018
With the New York A.G.'s lawsuit against the Trump Foundation providing a counter-narrative for residents of the blue bubble to use to keep their spirits up, the MSM want to move on. But spin matters less than facts in the long run. This report is the first of three, and the facts already uncovered are damning enough that if grand juries are not already empaneled re-investigating the evident crimes of Hillary Clinton in her handling of classified emails, appointment of a special counsel is justified.