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The FBI’s War On American Democracy

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James Comey’s illegitimate partisan intervention into the 2016 elections didn’t come out of nowhere:

Information is power, even if that information is false or misleading. A law enforcement agency does not need to arrest you or charge you with a crime to disrupt your life. It can simply release innuendo into the wild and watch your reputation — along with, potentially, your professional and social life — collapse.

Which, of course, is what various individuals within the FBI are doing to Hillary Clinton.

FBI Director James Comey’s decision to release damaging and vague information to Clinton’s enemies last Friday is, as I argued on Monday, a firing offense. As one former Justice Department official told the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, such a disclosure — especially because it appears to be based entirely on speculation and conjecture— “impugns the integrity and reputation of the candidate, even though there’s no finding by a court, or in this instance even an indictment.”

The FBI is not allowed to lay waste to a candidate’s reputation based on little or no evidence. Just so we are clear, there is a policy that Comey violated prohibiting disclosures relating to political candidates.

Yet Comey is hardly the only member of the FBI who doesn’t believe this rule applies to him. Wednesday evening, the Wall Street Journal published leaked information about an entirely separate investigation into former Secretary Clinton. One of the reporters on this story is Devlin Barrett, who Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall described as “the chief conduit of choice for anti-Clinton agents at the FBI.” And the details of this Clinton probe are almost too comic to be believed.

In 2015, Peter Schweizer, a reporter with the white nationalist site Breitbart News, published a book called “Clinton Cash” which alleged that President and Secretary Clinton used foreign connections to enrich themselves. The CEO of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign, Stephen Bannon, is the executive chairman of Breitbart.

Based on this book, which was published by a writer at a white nationalist site with close ties to the Trump campaign, some agents within the FBI reportedly decided to investigate Clinton. Schweizer was himself interviewed several times by these agents.

According to the Wall Street Journal, representatives from the FBI met with public integrity prosecutors and the head of the Department of Justice’s criminal division in February. The prosecutors reportedly were not impressed with this Breitbart-fueled investigation, and the DOJ instructed the FBI to “stand down.”

And yet, the agents persisted, even as senior executives within the FBI turned against them.

Evidently, if the FBI had a director with any integrity the insubordinate agents would have found themselves in a situation similar to a player who Bill Belichick doesn’t think is giving his best effort. Instead, he participated in the effort, selectively disregarding the FBI’s rules in a way that leaves no doubt about his partisan double standard.

None of this is an accident:

Deep antipathy to Hillary Clinton exists within the FBI, multiple bureau sources have told the Guardian, spurring a rapid series of leaks damaging to her campaign just days before the election.

Current and former FBI officials, none of whom were willing or cleared to speak on the record, have described a chaotic internal climate that resulted from outrage over director James Comey’s July decision not to recommend an indictment over Clinton’s maintenance of a private email server on which classified information transited.

“The FBI is Trumpland,” said one current agent.

This atmosphere raises major questions about how Comey and the bureau he is slated to run for the next seven years can work with Clinton should she win the White House.

If this doesn’t end the practice of Democratic presidents naming Republican daddies to important executive branch posts, I’m not sure what will. And even more outrageous is the possibility (however slim) that Comey’s next boss might be Donald Trump because of Comey’s indefensible actions.

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