Saturday, June 16, 2018

Consider the lilies: Update

From the 1952 Mosfilm production of Nikolai Gogol's Revizor, commonly known in English as The Inspector General.

One good reason why the FBI Inspector General's report has so little to say about the rogue agents in the New York field office who leaked information about the Clinton email investigation to Fox News, Rudolph Giuliani and James Kallstrom, and others and manipulated Comey into his very bad decisions—the investigation is ongoing, as Mother Jones reports:
The FBI leaked like a sieve in 2016, and those disclosures helped Donald Trump, according to a newly released inspector general’s report on former FBI Director James Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. The 500-page report from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz suggests anti-Clinton leaking from the bureau’s New York office likely influenced Comey’s decision to announce the resumption of the email probe less than two weeks before the presidential election—a step that may have thrown the race to Trump. The FBI could be in for a bloodbath over these leaks: Horowitz says his office plans to report on multiple investigations into extensive “unauthorized media contact by FBI personnel.”
Josh Marshall is still inclined to doubt that they've taken it seriously, and I have to say the Mother Jones story seems kind of thin; the multiple investigations promised in the report aren't necessarily the ones that need to be done:
In addition to the significant number of communications between FBI employees and journalists, we identified social interactions between FBI employees and journalists that were, at a minimum, inconsistent with FBI policy and Department ethics rules. For example, we identified instances where FBI employees received tickets to sporting events from journalists, went on golfing outings with media representatives, were treated to drinks and meals after work by reporters, and were the guests of journalists at nonpublic social events. We will separately report on those investigations as they are concluded, consistent with the Inspector General (IG) Act, other applicable federal statutes, and OIG policy.
It certainly wouldn't cover leaking to Congressional bad actors like Devin Nunes, in a really startling story Marshall relates that Nunes told on himself on Laura Ingraham's show:

Last night on Fox News Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) said that in late September 2016 “good FBI agents” from the New York field office told him and members of the House Intelligence Committee (HPSCI) that they’d found new Clinton emails on Anthony Weiner’s laptop. Nunes presented these agents as “whistleblowers” and that can be the case when government employees believe they’ve uncovered wrong-doing. But the timing suggests they more or less immediately went to congressional Republicans, about six weeks before the election. The emails were discovered on September 26th. They were talking Nunes in “late September.” That means they had to be “whistleblowing” in four days or less. That sounds more like politicized leaking of details of an on-going investigation than anything that could pass as whistle-blowing. If the “good FBI agents” went to Nunes and other congressional Republicans one or two days after the laptop was discovered that means they didn’t allow any reasonable amount of time to decide the top officials in DC were dragging their feet. They were clearly trying to force the matter.
Nevertheless, there really is more in the report than I'd realized, especially in testimony on a meeting between Loretta Lynch and James Comey, 31 October 2016, where they discussed the New York field office directly; I'd failed to find it, but tweeter @nycSouthpaw didn't.

Comey's recollection of the meeting in testimony to the IG's review:
And she went over and sat down. And then...she said, “How are you doing?” I said, “I’m doing okay.” I said, “Look this is really bad, but the alternative is worse.” And then she said, “Yeah would they feel better if it had leaked on November 6th?” And I just said, “Exactly Loretta.” Because I hadn’t made the disclosure to Congress because of the leaks—the prospect of leaks, but it actually consoled me because really you’re not that important because even if you hadn’t sent a letter to Congress, which was the right thing to do, it probably would have leaked anyway that you were going for a search warrant on this stuff and she obviously saw it the same way and said, “Right, would they feel better if it had leaked on November 6th?” I think she said. And I said, “Exactly.”
And then she said a nice thing, “I hope you’re holding up.” And then she said—so we get up and start walking to the door. She’s in front of me and then she turns around and says, “Try to look beat up.” And so then she opens the door, we walk out, her staff is all out in the hallway and I walk out.
And then somebody puts it out within moments that the Attorney General had taken me aside to give me a woodshedding or something...
Lynch's recollection, a good deal more elaborate, somewhat repunctuated by me:
I don’t recall my exact words, but I remember saying, "You know, I know that you were aware that I did not think you should do this. But, it is done now, and we have to deal with the aftermath of it...." And I said, "This has not followed what was at least conveyed to me you thought you were going to do." And...I made the point that it was immediately described as the investigation was reopened, the full investigation was reopened.
And he said, you know, "I was very clear...I was very careful not to say that." And I had heard over the weekend that he had been surprised or disappointed, or perhaps both, that the letter was being characterized in that way. Because that was not what he wanted to say, not what he intended to say. And I said, "I understand that that wasn’t your intention, but that’s how it was taken...." I said, "in many ways, it’s the exact opposite of what you wanted to have happen." And I said, "and I think it’s caused a huge problem for the Department because we have this perception now that we are essentially trying to harm one of the candidates...."
And I raised the possibility. I said "I think you ought to think about sending another letter, a clarifying letter. You’ve already done this now. You have created a misimpression as to what is going on.... You need to clarify this and say that essentially you want to make it clear that this is not a reopening of the investigation. That should be conveyed in there somewhere."
Sounds like "a woodshedding or something" to me, to tell the truth. And then the New York office came up, though Comey doesn't seem to remember that either:
Now, I knew that the laptop had been handled in a case out of New York. And so I said, "You know, we have to talk about the New York office...and the concern that both you and I have expressed about leaks in the past." And I said, "Do you think that this was the right way to deal with the issue, the concern about leaks?..."  He didn’t have much of a response. But we were having a conversation.... And I said, "You know, I’ve talked, you and I have talked about that before.... [McCabe] and I have talked about them before...."
And then I said, "Now, we’ve got to talk about the New York office in general." And he said, "Yes." And I said, "We both work with them. We both know them. We both, you know, think highly of them," I said, "but this has become a problem." And he said, and he said to me that it had become clear to him, he didn’t say over the course of what investigation or whatever, he said, "It’s clear to me that there is a cadre of senior people in New York who have a deep and visceral hatred of Secretary Clinton." And he said,  "It is, it is deep. It’s..." and he said, he said it was surprising to him or stunning to him.
You know, I didn’t get the impression he was agreeing with [the New York office's Clinton hatred] at all, by the way. But he was saying it did exist, and it was hard to manage because these were agents that were very, very senior, or had even had timed out and were staying on, and therefore did not really feel under pressure from headquarters or anything to that effect. And I said, "You know, I’m aware of that...."
I don't see how the IG's office can fail to be following up on this.

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