The FBI is supposed to be completely non-partisan. I don’t know exactly when it first became political, but it was long before President Trump was elected.
It was really apparent to me during most of Obama’s second term, but became far worse during the campaign. What is occurring today is nothing less than the crumbling of the foundations of an agency that for many years personified the finest in government service and law enforcement. There can be no strong foundation at the FBI when the pillars of leadership are corrupt.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation, which later became special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, possible collusion by Trump campaign associations and now much more.
Sessions’ deputy, Rod J. Rosenstein, a career prosecutor, has no job security either. It was he, after Sessions’ recusal, who recommended that Trump fire Comey. When Trump took his advice and fired Comey, he then appointed Mueller as special counsel to investigate Trump for firing Comey as part of the Russian collusion investigation.
Rosenstein retains his job, despite constant talk that he could be fired, but he must walk into the building each day and wonder if it will be his last on the job. Sessions has warned that he might leave his post if Rosenstein is fired.
Comey’s book tour is, as expected, a flop. He has enemies on both sides of the aisle. Democrats who believe he cost Hillary Clinton the presidency by reopening the investigation into her use of a private email server just before the election. Republicans dislike him because of his obvious roll in the plot to take down the president.
Comey’s book was an opportunity to make the case for his actions and past decisions, to sanitize his reputation much as possible. If that was his intent, he blew it. The things he says about his interactions with the president is just as damning to himself, as his prior testimony before Congress was. Those accounts are backed up by contemporaneous memos he made which have been shared with Congress and have now become public.
Any hope Comey might have had of being seen as objective in telling the story of the president’s response to the Russia probe and their interactions was undercut by some of his petty personal remarks in the book and by his using his book tour to attempt to destroy the President. Case in point is when he declared that he believes Trump is “morally unfit.” Comey is entitled to his opinions about the president, but by expressing them so soon, he has established that he was NOT a bi-partisan law enforcement official.
Comey’s loose lips is not by any means the FBI’s only problem. The agency is also in the middle of a damaging controversy involving Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director who was fired by Sessions a day before his scheduled retirement. He now faces the possibility of criminal charges for authorizing the sharing of information with the Wall Street Journal about investigations involving Clinton and, according to the department’s inspector general, later misleading investigators. Like Comey, McCabe also was helping to rig the election for Hillary, and when that failed, both were involved in the scheme to take down the president.
Restoring the FBI to its former status will not be easy, and it will take time, possible years. The degree that public confidence has been eroded by these events, and the fact that there are conflicting interpretations of what the problem is. It may be MANY years. Like so much else these days, the FBI is in danger of becoming one more partisan battlefield in an endless and consequential war.