The Justice Department Office of the Inspector General’s report released Aug. 29 clearly stated that James Comey violated and abused FBI policies in managing memos in which he supposedly documented confidential conversations with the president. This is a revelation that most of us have known for quite some time.
However, Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz has yet again glossed over some major problems.
It appears that the main reason Horowitz concludes former FBI Director James Comey only violated his FBI Employment Agreement and DOJ/FBI “policies” was because the documents he kept, disclosed, and leaked to improper parties were not considered truly classified. That apparently keeps them from being serious enough to prosecute. So, who made the decision that they were not classified? The answer would be outrageous if it were not virtually farcical.
In the early pages of the report, Horowitz repeatedly tells us that “the FBI reviewed,” “the FBI designated,” and “the FBI determined” (four times on page 2 alone) that these memos or documents “did not contain classified information.” Who was making these critical determinations at “the FBI” that helped save Comey? You would have to flip over forty pages further into the report to get to that information.
Horowitz tells us at page 42 and 43 that there were four people involved in that review and decisions, but the two of those four who were most experienced in making those determinations were named Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. If you will recall Horowitz, in his previous report, found basically hundreds of pages to document appalling bias against Trump, as well as monstrous love for and desire to see Hillary Clinton elected president.
There were no more devoted Clinton fans and Trump haters than Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. In that prior report though, Horowitz concluded those hundreds of pages of bias by telling us that the unmitigated love for Hillary Clinton and unbounded hate for Donald Trump fortunately did not affect the outcome of any of their investigations.
In law school, we were taught that some things are so clear and blatant between cause and effect that no direct proof is needed of causation. It is called the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur: “the thing speaks for itself.” It would seem that when there is the unfathomable love for Hillary Clinton and hate for Donald Trump, and every conclusion from the investigations are completely consistent with those biases, there IS powerful evidence that the biases affected the outcomes and speak for themselves. But our paragon of virtue, Horowitz, found the outcomes were not affected by the biases. How convenient.
Horowitz’s convenience in the last report has now devastated the propriety of his newest report. If you are concerned as I was that Page and Strzok’s opinions should be nowhere near the investigation into James Comey’s improprieties and potential crimes, Horowitz attempts to assuage our concerns.
On page 42, Horowitz tells us that “Strzok characterized Baker, the Unit Chief, Page, and himself as ‘a logical subset to sit and go through’ the Memos and review them for classification.”
We’re told that that former FBI General Counsel James Baker had experience working with National Archives which had “sensitized” him to classified documents, and another unit chief whose name appears to be missing there admitted that she did not get involved in classification decisions very often. That is why we are supposed to be warmly comforted that Strzok and Page were assigned that job. They had the experience at it and Horowitz has the nerve to say, they “relied heavily on their experiences in the Clinton email case.” which now helped them to exonerate Comey by saying his information was not classified.
Are those “experiences” supposed to make us ignore the fact that this classification review process “differed from the FBI’s normal process” which usually required sending the documents to the agency “whose equities are at issue”? In this case, the State Department was not allowed to do an evaluation because of the “the urgency” of completing that classification review. In more than two years since this Strzok-Page review, the inspector general could have found a fresh set of eyes to re-evaluate this material. Surely there are plenty of Clinton supporters still at the State Department he could have used.
If you are tempted to point to Horowitz’s statement that former FBI Assistant Director for the Counterintelligence Division E.W. ‘Bill’ Priestap could make the final classification decision to show that normal process was followed, the next sentence tells you otherwise. The unnamed unit chief told Horowitz that “the final classification decision was BROUGHT TO Priestap” (emphasis added).
However, Priestap, who reportedly made several trips to the United Kingdom to gin up the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, didn’t execute the final decision. Instead, we learn on page 46 that he directed the conveniently unnamed unit chief to hand write the classification levels on the memo in her own handwriting, effectively finalizing the decision that should have been solely made by Priestap, who may have been so involved in the effort against President Trump that it does not matter. However, we’re told that Strzok is the one who placed the markings on “all seven memos.”
In this latest report, Horowitz continues a myth that he began in his first report: employees with gargantuan biases did not allow those biases to affect their decision-making at the highest echelons of the FBI.
Sadly, seeing that their own inspector general continues to gloss over malevolent abuses, it is apparent that the Department of Justice and FBI are a long way from reclaiming their reputations for integrity that so many great FBI agents around the country deserve to see.
Americans need to wake up. When no one is prosecuted for the most treasonous effort to throw an election, then oust a sitting president, and it is from within the Justice Department, we are very near the end of our constitutional form of government.
Rep. Louie Gohmert represents Texas a Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.