Wednesday, December 11, 2019



Glad to see I called it (19 November):
A lot of faithful Trumper paranoids have been looking to this report [Inspector General Horowitz's report] to prove to the world that the Trump-Russia investigation was actually a conspiracy among the "angry Democrats" who are naturally in charge of the FBI's counterintelligence activities to take down Trump's presidency (it had to wait for Trump to become president to go into real action, though you'd think it would be more efficient to just stop him from winning, but apparently the sinister cabal was expecting Hillary to win, like everybody else, and this conspiracy roping together the forces of the FBI, CIA, intelligence services of UK, Italy, and Australia, and possibly the White House, was just an "insurance policy"), and they've been waiting for this thing to come out with increasing excitement.
Not that any of this is going to happen. As with his report on Andrew McCabe, Horowitz will make an attempt to be pissy about some of the people Trump is after but nobody is going to be anywhere near locked up, because they didn't do anything wrong (Marcy Wheeler has suggested there may have been cut corners in the warrant on Dr. Page, but added that whatever they did has been done much more abusively to many, mostly Muslims, in recent years, and it's kind of ridiculous to single out this particular case of somebody who obviously needed to be watched and who had practically no remaining connection with the Trump campaign at this point anyway).
Well, almost. Actually the FBI did 17 things wrong, apparently, by the (just possibly a tad self-serving) account of former director James Comey:

The Russia investigation was complicated — not surprisingly, the inspector general found mistakes, 17 of them, things the FBI should have done differently, or better. That’s always unfortunate, but human beings make mistakes. Inspector-general reports are valuable because they offer the chance to learn. Horowitz also concluded that a low-level FBI lawyer doctored an email as part of the administrative process leading to the renewal of the application for electronic surveillance of the former campaign adviser. Although it is not clear what difference that made...
But nothing that invalidated any of the decisions in question or indicated that they were affected by political bias.

Which isn't to say the errors weren't serious, because apparently they were more than just Horowitz being pissy. Documents used to justify the Page surveillance were interpreted as more significant than they really were. Since Page really did need to be monitored, it doesn't matter in the particular case, but it does matter. The Bureau must not be allowed to abuse suspects as it has done so many times in the past, cutting corners in such a way as to deny due process. The Comey Bureau, petrified of being perceived as politically biased, managed not to be, but it didn't avoid being unethical and slipshod, and you have to ask yourself what unknown victims have been mistreated in their normal work, criminal investigation and counterintelligence both. Reform is needed. (More from Emptywheel.)

Nevertheless, this is an important moment, and I think you shouldn't let that stuff distract you. The allegations of conspiracy against the FBI team that did the Russia investigation (including many of the same people who did the Clinton email investigation) are false. Not that bias wasn't discovered, but it wasn't where Republicans were hoping to see it:

It was among a bunch of Clinton-hating freaks (who may indeed have conspired to force Comey into the public revelation of the "reopened investigation" of the emails at the end of October 2016). But Horowitz didn't of course investigate that.

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