A series of new revelations about the FBI under James Comey has provided more evidence that partisan agents may have abused their agency positions for political purposes during the Hillary Clinton email investigation and 2016 presidential campaign.
Top FBI agent Peter Strzok, the public now knows, was removed from the Mueller investigation after a Department of Justice Office of Inspector General (IG) investigation revealed damning text messages between Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page.
The messages show Strzok and Page praising Clinton, discussing whether Strzok could use his position to protect the country from Donald Trump — whom they described as “that menace” — and referring to an unnamed “insurance policy” in case Trump beat Clinton.
“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office – that there’s no way he gets elected – but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40” Strzok said of Trump in one message to Page. “Andy” referred to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who has close ties to Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a longtime Clinton ally. (RELATED: McAuliffe Helped Campaign Of FBI Official’s Wife)
Strzok is reported to be the agent who officially signed into existence the Russia investigation that now plagues the Trump administration.
During the Clinton investigation, Strzok led the interviews of top Clinton aides Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin — neither of whom faced consequences for making false statements in those interviews.
Comey drafted a letter exonerating Clinton months before the investigation ended, and months before the FBI ever interviewed Clinton and her aides.
Comey’s draft originally described Clinton’s handling of the server as “grossly negligent” — a term that carries legal significance but was later charged to “extremely careless.”
Strzok, who later conducted those interviews, is reportedly the agent who watered down the investigation’s conclusion months before it was finished.
Strzok, Boston Herald columnist Adriana Cohen notes, “was also the agent who interviewed Hillary Clinton last summer without recording it or putting her under oath, thereby shielding her from a process prosecution or perjury trap — not afforded to others — namely Trump associates, including Michael Flynn, who is now facing perjury charges.”
In other words: the heart of the Clinton investigation ran through an FBI agent, Strzok, who was rooting for her to beat both Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.
Former FBI Assistant Director Chris Swecker, who has been vocally supportive of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, said last week that the Strzok-Page scandal “casts a cloud over much of the Clinton investigation, in my opinion, the e-mail investigation.”
Swecker noted that Strzok “was a very key agent in so many different things” and said the scandal showed “disarray that is left over from the Comey era.” Swecker made that assessment before the contents of the texts (which exhibited more political bias than many onlookers had expected) became public.
The Wall Street Journal ran a scathing editorial on Thursday that called for more congressional oversight of the Russia investigation following the texts’ publication.
“The man who should be most disturbed by all this is Mr. Mueller, who wants his evidence and conclusions to be credible with the public,” the editorial concluded. “Evidence is building instead that some officials at the FBI—who have worked for him—may have interfered in an American presidential election.”
Documents released by Judicial Watch raise further questions about the neutrality of senior FBI agents during the Clinton investigation.
The documents reveal that FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was troubled by a report in True Pundit — an anonymously written, pro-Trump website — that cited an FBI source accusing McCabe and other FBI officials of soft-pedaling the Clinton investigation because they were rooting for her to win.
The emails show McCabe viewed the source’s account — which described the FBI leadership as politically biased actors in favor of Hillary Clinton — as knowledgeable of the FBI’s inner workings.
McCabe’s wife sent him the article in an email, which he then forwarded to Comey. “FYI. Heavyweight source,” McCabe wrote to Comey.
“McCabe was one of the few people who backed Comey’s decision not to refer Hillary Clinton to the Justice Department for indictment,” the source told True Pundit. “McCabe and Comey are both lawyers. They aren’t street agents. They’re more political. We wanted her (Clinton) indicted. They did not.”
That account, which McCabe believed must have come from a “heavyweight source,” described the deputy director as one of the few FBI insiders to support Comey’s leniency towards Clinton, a decision the source claimed was influenced by his wife’s political campaign.
Comey disagreed, saying it must have been a lower-level staffer who heard “rumors.”
Congressional Democrats sent a letter on Monday demanding the agency release any documents of “animus” against Clinton, specifically citing the leak to True Pundit as evidence of an anti-Clinton bias within the FBI.
“The letter suggests that True Pundit — an anonymously written pro-Trump website — received information from FBI agents frustrated with the agency’s handling of the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server,” Politico reported.
McCabe, who became acting FBI director after Trump fired Comey, conceded in May that “there were folks within our agency that were frustrated with the outcome of the Hillary Clinton case and some of those folks were very vocal about those concerns.”
That statement followed reports that some rank-and-file FBI agents were upset with the way the agency’s leadership, including Strzok and McCabe, had handled the Clinton investigation.
FBI agents previously told The Daily Caller that Comey “stood in the way” of the Clinton investigation’s advancement. (RELATED: FBI Agents Say Comey ‘Stood In The Way’ Of Clinton Email Investigation)
Comey himself had hinted at concerns that the Department of Justice was interfering with the Clinton investigation.
He testified in June that Loretta Lynch, the former attorney general under Barack Obama, pressured him to downplay the Clinton email server investigation and only refer to it as a “matter.” Lynch’s spin, Comey said, matched the Clinton campaign’s “inaccurate” talking points on the subject.
“I don’t know whether it was intentional or not but it gave the impression that the attorney general [Lynch] was looking to align the way we talked about our work with the way the political campaign was describing the same activity, which was inaccurate,” Comey said. (RELATED: Lynch Successfully Pressured Comey To Mislead Public Using Clinton Campaign’s ‘Inaccurate’ Talking Points)
Comey also said that he was concerned about Lynch’s secret tarmac meeting with former President Bill Clinton.
When asked by Texas Sen. John Cornyn if it would be fair to say Lynch had a “conflict of interest” in the Clinton email investigation, Comey answered in the affirmative: “That’s fair.”
After the secret tarmac meeting became public, Lynch said she would accept the FBI’s recommendation in the investigation. However, she never recused herself from the probe altogether, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions did in the Russia investigation.
Another DOJ official, Peter Kadzik, secretly helped the Clinton campaign navigate the email investigation.
Kadzik tipped off Podesta to several new developments in the Clinton investigation, telling him “heads up.” Emails show Podesta circulated the warning to other campaign officials with the message: “Additional chances for mischief.”
Kadzik was only exposed when WikiLeaks published Podesta’s emails in October 2016.(RELATED: Strzok’s Texts And The Clinton-Trump Investigations — A Definitive Timeline)