FBI – Google News: GOP Access to FBI Files Rattles Agents Caught in Political Fight – Bloomberg – January 16, 2018 – Link
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|GOP Access to FBI Files Rattles Agents Caught in Political Fight|
The Justice Department’s decision to give congressional Republicans access to documents about FBI investigations risks exposing sensitive sources or material and poses a critical early test for bureau Director Christopher Wray, current and former U.S. law enforcement officials say.
Some officials view the department as capitulating to a small group of Republicans who are intent on helping President Donald Trump undermine the integrity of the FBI and, by extension, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump or any of his associates helped Russia interfere in the 2016 election.
It’s the latest setback for a law enforcement agency that has long held itself out as doggedly independent and above partisan politics, only to be besieged over the last two years by questions about its handling of politically sensitive investigations into Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Trump.
One agent said he’s now concerned that forms identifying FBI informants would be handed over to Congress. If that happened, he said, it would cause him to think carefully about whether to withhold sensitive information from future reports.
Another agent said recent statements about the bureau by Trump and congressional Republicans have made it more difficult for him to get informants to open up.
Trump has tweeted that the Federal Bureau of Investigations is “in Tatters — worst in history” and has said a senior official committed “treason.”
As the Russia investigation continues to hang over the White House, Republicans in Congress have sought to turn the tables on the FBI by calling into question the fairness and methods of senior agents. They’ve been requesting documents and holding public hearings that focus on alleged wrongdoing or political bias by agents.
FBI Chief of Staff James Rybicki is to be interviewed behind closed doors on Thursday by members of two House committees, according to two officials familiar with the plans.
The controversy over giving Republicans access to sensitive investigative materials has struck a nerve because it comes after months of rare, intense political scrutiny of the FBI, including former Director James Comey’s handling of the investigation into former Secretary of State Clinton’s use of a private email server.
In the midst of the 2016 presidential campaign, Comey angered Republicans by announcing that there wasn’t enough evidence to charge Clinton for mishandling classified information, a departure from normal procedures calling for the bureau to remain silent when crimes aren’t found. Then, he angered Democrats by briefly reopening the inquiry shortly before election day, a move Clinton contends cost her the election.
The actions by Comey, who was fired by Trump in May, and the criticism that followed began a shift for an agency that was long viewed as apolitical and whose leaders won support from both parties.
Unrest in Ranks
A dozen current and former officials — all from the career ranks of the FBI and Justice Department, as opposed to the president’s political appointees — spoke to Bloomberg News on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters and express their concerns.
Their views weren’t uniform but collectively represent unrest and morale problems within the ranks of agents, prosecutors and career officials in response to attacks on the integrity and leadership of the FBI and Justice Department.
Thomas O’Connor, president of the FBI Agents Association, said special agents “are focused on the Constitution and protecting the public” and “their work should be recognized, not denigrated.” The association represents 14,000 active and retired special agents.
“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,” O’Connor said in a statement. “The true story of the FBI cannot be reduced to partisan talking points.”
The FBI declined to comment for this story.
Meeting With Ryan
Tensions between Republicans and the Justice Department deepened in recent weeks as lawmakers demanded sensitive documents and agency leaders resisted turning them over. The standoff led to a dramatic meeting between House Speaker Paul Ryan, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Wray to discuss potential contempt of Congress charges for failing to turn over documents.
In the end, the Justice Department agreed to give lawmakers material they requested, though it’s unclear whether Republicans will get everything they want.
On Jan. 11, the Justice Department began giving two House committees what could amount to more than 1.2 million documents about FBI investigative decisions made in 2016, including related to the investigation into Clinton. Additional documents are expected to be provided in the coming days.
Current and former officials expressed a number of concerns. One agent said some officials working on Russian counterintelligence probes of any kind might now be hesitant to report their findings to superiors, given the political furor over the Mueller investigation.
A former senior agent said the credibility of the FBI is on the line, and close attention is being paid to how the situation is handled by Wray, who took over as director in August. Agents are waiting to see how assertive the director will be in defending them and other career officials and whether he’ll refuse to hand over documents that might compromise covert sources and operations, the former agent said.
Other officials said they’re worried about an effort by Trump and his allies to oust anyone seen as being disloyal to the president. During a hearing in December, Republican Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas named specific FBI officials and asked Wray whether they’ve ever openly displayed a bias against the Trump administration.
Republican criticism about Mueller’s probe intensified after the recent revelation that a top FBI agent assigned to the special counsel’s team sent anti-Trump texts in the summer of 2016. One exchange by the agent, Peter Strzok, with another senior official included remarks “that there’s no way” Trump would win the election but “we can’t take that risk.” Mueller removed Strzok after learning of the texts.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Jan. 11, Trump said the agent committed “a treasonous act” by plotting to overturn the election results. The president also called for Republican investigators in Congress to conclude their probes swiftly.
Wray hasn’t said anything publicly in response to Trump’s suggestion of treason. However, he has repeatedly defended the integrity and professionalism of the FBI workforce in speeches and congressional testimony.
The documents now being turned over were requested by Republican leaders of the House Judiciary Committee and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Some of the requested documents were outlined in a Nov. 3 letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Rosenstein. The documents sought appear to dovetail with areas that the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, is investigating, such as the handling of the Clinton probe. Horowitz plans to wrap up his investigation in March or April.
It’s uncertain whether the information being turned over might add to Republican claims of bias in favor of Clinton and against Trump during the presidential campaign, and even to efforts to undercut Mueller’s investigation.
“We want the information that Horowitz has,” Republican Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio said. He said interviews also are being arranged with seven FBI and Justice Department officials, as well as others.
— With assistance by Billy House
|James Kallstrom and Trump – Google Search|
|Wanted: An Honest FBI – Paywall News|
The bureau’s handling of the Trump and Clinton probes dispirits a veteran.
“I do not recognize the agency I gave 28 years of my life to.”
The speaker is James Kallstrom, the agency his beloved Federal Bureau of Investigation. Like current special counsel and former FBI Director Robert Mueller, Mr. Kallstrom served as a Marine officer in Vietnam. Unlike Mr. Mueller, Mr. Kallstrom came up through the FBI ranks, eventually becoming an assistant director and heading the bureau’s largest field office in New York. Over his career Mr. Kallstrom is credited with revolutionizing the bureau’s electronic surveillance, as well as leading big cases ranging from the probe into the 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800 to mob investigations such as the one that helped send the “Teflon Don”—Gambino crime boss John Gotti —to prison.
Today Mr. Kallstrom has emerged as a critic of the FBI investigations into Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Over coffee in Manhattan he tells me that “99% of FBI agents are dedicated professionals. But the leadership in Washington has harmed the bureau’s reputation.”
It isn’t so much the conclusions he objects to—though he has his doubts—as the irregular way the investigations have been conducted. If the FBI finds itself discredited, he says, it’s because of its own behavior and not any campaign against it.
Here are a few examples of what Mr. Kallstrom finds so alien:
James Kallstrom, then assistant director of the New York FBI office, in 1995.Photo: STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images
• Director James Comey testifies to Congress in September 2016 that he hadn’t decided to recommend against prosecuting Mrs. Clinton until after the FBI had interviewed her—but it later emerges he’d started drafting his statement clearing her weeks earlier.
• An FBI agent and FBI lawyer— Peter Strzok and Lisa Page —have an affair that opens them up to blackmail and poses a clear conflict of interest in working together. Even so, they fail to recuse themselves from the Mueller investigation.
• This same FBI duo exchange messages that later get Mr. Strzok dumped from Mr. Mueller’s team, here talking about an FBI “insurance policy” against Mr. Trump’s winning the election, there talking about how to keep hidden from colleagues what looks like a leak to the press.
• The FBI secures a FISA warrant to spy on a member of Mr. Trump’s campaign, which some news reports say relied in part on a dossier that was financed as opposition research for the Clinton campaign and which Mr. Comey himself described as “salacious and unverified.”
“I can’t tell you how foreign all this is to my experience,” Mr. Kallstrom says. “The FISA courts rely on the honesty and credibility of the investigators who sign those affidavits.”
The problem started, he suggests, when Mr. Comey allowed then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch to ensure the FBI investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s emails would go nowhere. He rattles off a list of irregularities disturbing to any investigator: the reluctance to go to a grand jury for subpoenas, the immunity deals granted Clinton associates, the farce of an FBI interview with Mrs. Clinton that had a dozen people in the room, including Cheryl Mills, who was permitted to attend as counsel when she was a potential co-conspirator, etc.
While the Justice Department, not the FBI, makes these decisions, Mr. Kallstrom says Mr. Comey did have an option: “That was the moment he should have held a press conference, to announce his resignation—and then explain to the American people why he would not stay and preside over a sham investigation.”
Mr. Kallstrom is not much more enthused about the new director, Christopher Wray. During his own recent testimony before Congress, Mr. Wray stonewalled—and suggested ridiculously that he couldn’t let Congress see classified material. “They act,” Mr. Kallstrom says, “like they work for someone from outer space rather than the president of the United States.”
Later Mr. Wray attempted an end run around the subpoena from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes for key documents and committee access to FBI officials. Fortunately Speaker Paul Ryan backed Mr. Nunes (and the House’s ability to exercise its oversight responsibilities), informing Mr. Wray that if he didn’t produce the documents and witnesses, he faced a contempt vote.
Which leaves America still in the dark about the two fundamental questions regarding the dossier at the heart of the Trump-Russia investigation: What—if anything—did the FBI verify from the Steele dossier, and did the bureau use any unverified material to get a warrant to spy on members of Mr. Trump’s campaign?
For those who grew up in proud FBI families, including this columnist, the disclosures about these investigations are dispiriting. As Mr. Kallstrom notes, it’s bad enough for the American people if a politician is bending the law. It’s far worse if the two top institutions responsible for upholding the law—the FBI and Justice Department—are found to have compromised themselves.
“The FBI gets its strength from the trust of the American people,” Mr. Kallstrom says. “When you lose that . . .”
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|Wanted: An Honest FBI – News Summed Up|
Wanted: An Honest FBI
“I do not recognize the agency I gave 28 years of my life to.”The speaker is James Kallstrom, the agency his beloved Federal Bureau of Investigation. Like current special counsel and former FBI Director Robert Mueller, Mr. Kallstrom served as a Marine officer in Vietnam. Unlike Mr. Mueller, Mr. Kallstrom came up through the FBI ranks, eventually becoming an assistant director and heading the bureau’s largest field office in New York. Over his career Mr. Kallstrom is credited with revolutionizing the bureau’s electronic surveillance,…
|9:45 AM 1/16/2018 FBI News Review|
12.11.17 FBI Today Is The American KGB and The Army of The Half-literate Hired Thugs M.N.
Investigate the investigators! Save America! Reform the FBI now!
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