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James Kallstrom: FBI leaders showed a shocking failure of judgment in the Clinton and Trump investigations

FOX News logo FOX News 2/12/2018 James Kallstrom
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Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

One of the most distressing recent developments in American government is the trend toward virtually everyone and everything being politicized.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation was a notable exception to this. During the 27 years I served there, I never once witnessed political bias that affected in any way our ability to conduct fair and honest investigations based on the rule of law and the integrity that it demands.  

But times have changed. The memo recently released by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., reveals yet more shocking details about the failed leadership and judgement at the highest echelons of the FBI concerning the flawed investigation into Hillary Clinton and the farcical investigation of Donald Trump.

This should trouble every American, because the ability of the FBI to effectively protect our nation and citizens is directly connected to the regard and respect that the American people have for the bureau.

During the years I served, the FBI neutralized Soviet spy rings, dismantled La Cosa Nostra and other organized crime networks, and pursued the FALN (a Puerto Rican terrorist group) and Weather Underground responsible for waves of bank robberies and bombings. Today the FBI is at the forefront of countering rampant cybercrime, radical Islamic terrorism and an array of other threats.

One of the FBI’s most important tools to protect the homeland and investigate crimes – especially in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks – is its ability to lawfully intercept communications through wiretaps and other means.

If Congress and the courts believe the FBI is abusing this surveillance power, they may become less willing to allow the FBI to use it. This would gravely jeopardize our national security.

But that could now happen. The Nunes memo revealed that in 2016, senior FBI leaders and Department of Justice officials used a discredited intelligence document (the infamous “Steele dossier”) in making their case to a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court that it should authorize surveillance of Trump campaign official Carter Page.

Here’s what we know about this Steele dossier: its “research” was financed by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. It author, Christopher Steele, was a known antagonist of then-candidate Trump.

FBI leadership knew all this at the time, and yet the Steele dossier (a collection of memos) appears to be the primary basis upon which they hoped to convince a FISA Court that they had both probable cause and national security grounds to surveil Page, a U.S. citizen.

It’s a travesty of justice and it begs the question of why then-FBI Director James Comey and others would take such a clearly irresponsible step.

We can’t know what was in their hearts and heads, but it’s obvious to me that the original sin that allowed this to happen was the Obama administration’s weaponization of the Justice Department and U.S. intelligence agencies for political ends.

I say it’s obvious because around the same time the Obama Justice Department was effectively inventing criminal charges against several members of the Trump campaign, it was ignoring the widespread and longstanding criminality of Hillary Clinton and her political operation.

The investigation into Clinton’s private server violated most every investigative standard the FBI is supposed to follow. For starters, Comey never empaneled a grand jury, which has the power to compel testimony and the release of records.

In addition, broad immunity was granted to those close to Hillary Clinton, even though many offered little to no information of value.

Comey also prepared a memo exonerating Clinton weeks before she was even interviewed.

And then of course, there was the infamous Phoenix airport meeting: when then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch violated every standard of propriety and common sense by meeting in private with former President Bill Clinton while his wife was under active investigation.

Alone, any of these missteps could be explained away as a mistake or a coincidence. But together, they paint a more troubling picture of a small group of top officials at the FBI and Justice Department that sacrificed their integrity and politicized an institution that must always operate above politics.

The great shame of this scandal is that the embarrassing actions of a few have sullied the reputation of the entire FBI and the thousands of dedicated FBI field agents who have nothing to do with this mess and who continue to do their jobs with exceptional courage, integrity and dedication.

For the FBI’s reputation to be restored, we need accountability from the leaders who failed the bureau and a thorough accounting of how and why this great American institution lost its way.

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