Three days after an exhaustive government watchdog report on the FBI’s Hillary Clinton email investigation, Republicans and Democrats — unsurprisingly — still see it differently. Totally differently. As in two different universes.
The report from Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz, running more than 500 pages, uncovered deep-seated hostility toward then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. This hostility among key bureau officials in the probe relates to Clinton’s use of a private email server and address and her handling of classified information as secretary of state.
Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace asked Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C., pictured above right) if the IG report exonerates Trump, as the president has claimed.
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“It certainly helps him, Chris,” Gowdy said Sunday. “I mean, keep in mind, the same people, the same players, that were involved in the Clinton probe later moved to the Russia probe.”
Trump kept up the offensive in framing the report by Horowitz, taking to Twitter on Sunday after several tweets on Saturday.
“WITCH HUNT! There was no Russian Collusion,” he tweeted. “Oh, I see, there was no Russian Collusion, so now they look for obstruction on the no Russian Collusion. The phony Russian Collusion was a made up Hoax. Too bad they didn’t look at Crooked Hillary like this. Double Standard!”
The hostility documented in the IG report infamously includes a pre-balloting text message from FBI supervisor Peter Strzok vowing to “stop” Trump’s election. Later, he texted that he doubted Trump would win the election before adding, “I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”
That is “textbook bias,” said Gowdy, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “I have never seen this level of bias,” he added. Republicans generally contend the bias accounts for the FBI’s decision to absolve Clinton.
Robert Driscoll, a former deputy assistant attorney general, echoed Gowdy’s point on the Fox News show “America’s Newsroom HQ.”
“I gotta say, as a former DOJ — even a political appointee — I was stunned by the breadth of the misconduct shown in the report, and by some of the bias that was evidenced by the agents,” he said. “I think it’s unfortunate. I think it’s a sad day for the FBI and the DOJ. It taints more people than were involved in that.”
Gowdy said he supports independent counsel Robert Mueller’s efforts to get to the bottom of Russian interference in the 2016 election campaign.
“But there’s no evidence that Donald Trump did it with them, and [former FBI Director] Jim Comey would be about the sorriest witness that I could imagine a prosecutor could have,” he said.
WITCH HUNT! There was no Russian Collusion. Oh, I see, there was no Russian Collusion, so now they look for obstruction on the no Russian Collusion. The phony Russian Collusion was a made up Hoax. Too bad they didn’t look at Crooked Hillary like this. Double Standard!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 17, 2018
Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, referenced on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Clinton’s campaign “basket of deplorables” denunciation of half of Trump’s supporters.
“The same day, an FBI agent, according to the IG report, referred to Trump supporters in … Ohio as …. ‘retarded.’ Are we comfortable with that?” she asked. “Who is that person? Does that person still work at the FBI? Are they still getting government resources? Do they have a top-secret clearance?”
Conway said the IG report may not have proven that bias determined the outcome of the probe, but she added that the bias itself is not in doubt.
“The people certainly were biased at the tippy-tippy-top,” she said. “Jim Comey got a hero’s welcome for some silly book on leadership, morality and loyalty.”
Conway blasted FBI agents who reportedly accepted gifts from reporters.
“There are many disconcerting things in this report, and I know people are running around, cherry-picking it, according to their own political point of view,” she said.
But Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking minority member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (shown above left), acknowledged on “Meet the Press” that the text messages between Strzok and his girlfriend — former FBI lawyer Lisa Page — were inappropriate.
“We would, I hope, take solace in the fact, though, that the IG found that none of this had an effect on the decision-making of the bureau,” he said.
Schiff seemed more concerned about potential wrongdoing by agents in the FBI’s New York field office, who found Clinton emails on a laptop computer belonging to disgraced Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner, whose wife is a top Clinton confidante.
“That’s ongoing, so we don’t know the answer yet about whether that ultimately affected the revelation of the emails on Anthony Weiner’s laptop,” he said.
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Schiff also criticized the chairman of his committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who said last week on “The Ingraham Angle” that a “whistleblower” had informed him about the laptop prior to the election.
“This is the first that we’ve heard about it, and it is deeply disturbing because if this was shared by New York field agents with Devin Nunes, was it also shared with [former New York Mayor] Rudy Giuliani?” he said.
Schiff also questioned whether Nunes “coordinated” with the Trump campaign.
But Gowdy, on Fox News, urged reporters and the public not to turn a blind eye to the motives of Schiff, who wants to be chairman of the committee, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who wants to return as speaker of the House, the post she held from 2008 until 2011.
“They want Bob Mueller to do what Peter Strzok and Hillary Clinton could not do, which is beat Donald Trump,” Gowdy said.