Former President Barack Obama’s eight years in the White House were marked by four huge scandals, each of which uniquely contributed to the unprecedented level of corruption now being exposed in the FBI’s Russia collusion investigation.
The four scandals include:
1.) Fast & Furious (2011), which exposed the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) selling high-powered rifles and other firearms to individuals known to be straw buyers for Mexican drug cartels.
2.) Benghazi (2012), the terrorist attack that killed four Americans in a U.S. consulate in Libya, including J. Christopher Stevens, the country’s ambassador to Libya, and the Obama administration’s false explanation of it.
3.) IRS targeting (2013), in which the federal tax agency’s illegally singled out Tea Party, conservative, and evangelical nonprofit applicants for illegal harassment during the 2010 and 2012 election campaigns.
4.) Hillary email (2015), which included hundreds of emails containing highly sensitive classified information to and from then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on her private server, which was compromised by multiple foreign powers and hackers.
Official wrongdoing seen separately in each of these four scandals came together to create the current FBI scandal.
Defying Congress: When then-Attorney General Eric Holder was held in contempt of Congress on June 28, 2012, he became the first sitting member of a presidential cabinet to be so voted. The vote was the result of Holder’s refusal to turn over Fast & Furious documents sought by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
The committee, led by its chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), wanted to know why hundreds of an estimated 2,000 weapons — including AK-47s and .50 Calibre sniper rifles — whose sale to straw purchasers was sanctioned by DOJ, were turning up at crime scenes in Mexico and the U.S. After months of negotiations between Issa and DOJ failed, Holder simply refused to provide the requested documents.
Lying to America: For days after the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, Obama, national security adviser Susan Rice, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Powers, among many others in the administration, claimed the four Americans who died were victims of a spontaneous protest of an obscure internet documentary critical of Muslims.
Rice notably repeated that claim on the five most-watched morning news programs on the Sunday following the Sept. 11, 2012 attack in Libya. Clinton also repeated it to relatives of the four men killed when their bodies were returned to the U.S. for burial.
In fact, U.S. officials knew soon after the start of attack, which included two highly coordinated waves and lasted nearly 12 hours, that the Libyan terrorist group Ansar al-Sharia was behind it. Clinton even told daughter Chelsea in an email during the attack that it was mounted by “an al-Qaida-like group” of terrorists.
Weaponizing law enforcement: When Congress approved and Obama signed Obamacare into law in 2010, debate over it had already sparked the Tea Party protest movement of mostly conservative and populist middle-class Americans, many of whom had never before participated in the political process other than voting.
To combat the movement, IRS senior executive Lois Lerner in 2010 began imposing extremely intrusive demands for information on Tea Party, conservative, and evangelical nonprofit applicants and delaying decisions on their applications for tax exemption.
That illegal harassment continued through Obama’s successful re-election campaign in 2012. Four years later, the IRS admitted its conduct was wrong and apologized.
The Lerner operation helped Obama’s re-election campaign, according to a 2017 study by four scholars from Stockholm University, Harvard’s Kennedy School for Government, and the American Enterprise Institute. They calculated that IRS targeting cost Republicans as many as 8.5 million votes in 2012 in an election that saw Obama defeat Mitt Romney by 5 million votes.
Double standard for Justice: Congressional investigators, according to The Hill, found passages in FBI documents stating that the “sheer volume” of classified information that flowed through Clinton’s insecure emails was proof of criminality as well as an admission of false statements by one key witness in the case, the investigators said.
“The name of the witness is redacted from the FBI documents, but lawmakers said he was an employee of a computer firm that helped maintain her personal server after she left office as America’s top diplomat and who belatedly admitted he had permanently erased an archive of her messages in 2015 after they had been subpoenaed by Congress.”
Even so, former FBI counterintelligence chief Peter Strzok made a key change in the draft of then-FBI Director James Comey’s July 2016 statement to the nation on the bureau’s Hillary email investigation: Strzok changed the words “grossly negligent” to “extreme carelessness.”
Because federal law requires prosecution of federal officials, regardless of their title, for “gross negligence” in handling classified information, Strzok’s change, which Comey approved and told the nation of, effectively gave Clinton a free pass just months before voters went to the polls to decide between her and Donald Trump.
Even Comey’s revelation of new Clinton emails 11 days before the polls opened and his second absolution two days before the voting couldn’t deflate her seemingly invincible status on Election Day; she was overwhelmingly favored to defeat Trump.
Nearly three years after Clinton’s grossly negligent mishandling of classified information was first reported, she still has a security clearance that gives her access to … classified information.
And then came the Steele dossier: Strzok eventually joined special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation in May 2017 into allegations that aides to President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign against Clinton colluded with Russian interests.
But then a second messaging scandal broke, this one involving thousands of texts sent on FBI cellphones to and from Strzok and his lover, then-FBI lawyer Lisa Page. Their messages revealed deep, bitter, determined opposition to Trump and provided a map of their influence on the Hillary email and Russia collusion probes, the latter led by special counsel Robert Mueller, beginning in May 2017.
Strzok was removed from the Mueller probe and demoted to the FBI’s human resources department, while Page left the bureau entirely. Their departures from the active investigations, however, did nothing to change the facts about a profoundly dirty document at the heart of the Russia collusion investigation.
That document is the dossier prepared by former British spy Christopher Steele, based on material gathered in great part from Russian intelligence sources and described by former FBI Director James Comey as “salacious and unverified.”
The dossier painted an extremely negative portrait of Trump and was funded by Clinton’s 2016 campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC), which she then controlled. The funding was channeled to Steele via the Perkins Coie law firm to Fusion GPS, a Washington, D.C.-based opposition research firm.
The dossier is at the heart of the Mueller probe because the FBI made it the primary basis for four applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Act seeking permission to spy on former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page.
The FISA court approved the surveillance, but the FBI concealed from the judges the fact the dossier was funded by Clinton. The FBI also assured the court that the information in its applications for surveillance authority was credible and verified. Mueller has indicted multiple people but not Page.
Virtually all that has come out about the Steele dossier, the FISA warrant, the Strzok/Page texts and protection Clinton from prosecution, along with the key facts in the four preceding scandals listed, resulted from three sources.
Most prominent at every stage have been congressional investigations, especially by the House Judiciary Committee, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Republican leaders on those panels have brought pressure through subpoenas, contempt citations, and impeachment threats. Also prominent was the June 9 report from the DOJ’s inspector general, whose office exhaustively documented the virulent hatred for Trump in the Strzok/Page text messages.
Finally, the nonprofit government watchdog Judicial Watch has adroitly used Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits to obtain court orders forcing release of key documents in all of the scandals covered in this post. The Judicial Watch document archive is a rich resource for those interested in fully understanding these scandals.
Just as Holder refused to turn over Fast & Furious documents sought by Congress, the DOJ and the FBI have done the same thing regarding the Hillary email and Russia collusion investigations.
Just as Obama, Rice, Powers and Clinton lied about Benghazi, so did Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (appointed by Trump), former FBI Director James Comey (appointed by Obama), and former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe (promoted by Comey) — when they signed the FISA applications and thereby certified the credibility of the material included in the documents.
Just as Lerner weaponized the IRS against the Tea Party, using the FISA process and the Steele dossier to enable surveillance of Page was a raw exercise of federal law enforcement and intelligence resources in an effort to harm Trump and thereby help Clinton.
Finally, just as the double standard of justice protected Clinton, the FBI investigation of the Russian collusion allegations led to the Mueller probe against Trump, even though it was Clinton who paid for Russian dirt on Trump.
That may be the ultimate example of a double standard in American justice.