MICHAEL GOODWIN: ‘FBI head proves Washington has a vendetta against Trump’

New York, N.Y. (New York Post) — As FBI Director Christopher Wray started giving his response to the blistering report on the Hillary Clinton investigation, I hoped he would accept the findings as proof that the agency lost its way and must be shaken to its foundation. By the time he finished talking, I felt ­naive for daring to hope.

Wray’s performance was worse than disappointing. It was infuriating proof that it will take more than one election to change the corrupt culture of Washington.

Wray replaced the ousted James Comey, whose conduct in the Clinton probe was shredded by Inspector General Michael Horowitz. Investigators demonstrated with new details that the self-right­eous Comey was insubordinate and duplicitous, and even used private email for government business while he investigated Clinton over her private, ­unsecured server. Talk about arrogance.

The report ends forever the illusion that Comey was a noble public servant. He served only himself and is now so toxic to both parties that it’s unlikely he will ever get another government job. Hallelujah.

But the FBI didn’t stink only from the head. The report paints an agency run amok, with numerous examples of serious misconduct by leaders, agents and ­lawyers.

We learned of more outrageous texts from Peter Strzok, the top agent who worked on both the Clinton and Russia investigations. In one, Strzok promised his lover, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, that “We’ll stop” Donald Trump from becoming president.

Horowitz found another unidentified FBI employee who, in a message to a colleague, echoed Clinton’s “deplorables” slur by calling Trump supporters “all poor to middle class, uneducated, lazy POS that think he will magically grant them jobs for doing ­nothing.”

Yet another one sent “heads up” emails to Clinton campaign boss John Podesta and lobbied to get his kid a job on the campaign. The report also found numerous agents having improper media contacts, with some accepting gifts.

The mystery of leaks is a mystery no more. The FBI was a giant faucet.

Except to Christopher Wray, who acted as if the disturbing findings were just another day at the office. While saying the report shows “we’ve got some work to do,” he stressed its limited scope.

“It’s focused on a specific set of events back in 2016, and a small number of FBI employees connected with those events,” he said. “Nothing in the report impugns the integrity of our workforce as a whole, or the FBI as an institution.”

Right — and otherwise, Mrs. Lincoln, did you enjoy the play?

Both Comey and his top deputy, Andrew McCabe, were fired, agents are being investigated for partisan conduct, Congress is in an uproar about FBI stonewalling of documents and public trust is plummeting. But Wray is the consummate company man as he sings the agency’s praises while suggesting the dirty doings are no big deal.

“The report did not find any evidence of political bias or improper consideration actually impacting the investigation under review,” he boasted, then diminished the improper behavior as mere “errors of judgment, violations of or disregard for policy, and decisions that, at the very least, in hindsight, were not the best choices.”

Arrrrgh!

His bias bar is so low, it would never pass muster in an ordinary criminal trial. Imagine a case where the defendant is black and all the jurors have identified themselves as white racists. Would it be considered a fair trial if they found the defendant guilty just because they didn’t make racist comments during deliberations?

By circling the wagons, Wray shows he is unprepared to carry out big changes. That makes it three strikes at Justice, as Wray joins Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein as Trump’s biggest whiffs.

They are worse than weak links. They simply don’t see themselves as being part of the same administration.

Sessions’ recusal from the Russia probe turned Trump’s fate over to Rosenstein, who is acting much as Comey acted — above accountability.

He and Wray are withholding key documents that House Republicans want about the suspect FBI probe of Trump. Rosenstein threatened to subpoena House members and their staff for daring to question his actions, a chilling abuse of power that reveals his disdain for legitimate oversight.

Despite its otherwise good work, the inspector general report becomes part of the problem by refusing to second-guess Comey’s approach to the Clinton case, saying his choices were matters of discretion that fell within guidelines. Yet the approach Comey chose smacks of politics, with Clinton given every benefit of the doubt and remarkable deference.

Moreover, political bias doesn’t need to be confessed to when President Barack Obama said publicly that Clinton did nothing wrong while the probe continued. Similarly, Horowitz faults then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch for meeting with Bill Clinton before the conclusion, but calls it only “an error in judgment.”

Another shortcoming is outside the report’s scope, but can’t be ­ignored. The kid-glove treatment Clinton got stands in sharp contrast to the harsh way Trump and his team are being treated in the Russia probe.

Guilty pleas and indictments, capped by Paul Manafort’s jailing Friday, show special counsel Robert Mueller is playing prosecutor hardball even though he works under the same Justice Department rules Comey used to give Clinton a free pass. Political bias is the only way to explain the ­disparity.

Some 19 months after Trump was elected, the schism his triumph reflected is hardening. Instead of giving all Americans reasons to trust their government, Sessions, Rosenstein, Wray and Mueller act as if they are the law and everybody else should shut up.

Endless conflict will be their ­legacy.

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‘THE DEEP STATE IS REAL’: FISA memo proves collusion between media and shadow government, says Post’s Michael Goodwin

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The deep state is alive an well, says New York Post Michael Goodwin, and Friday’s release of the FISA memo (https://drive.google.com/file/d/1CXFnepvQamNJyuhSsVQazBO7p3-ZxVOL/view) proves it.

“Now that we know what the declassified House memo says about government misconduct, we also know what it means: The Washington swamp — the deep state — is bigger, more vicious and more dangerous to American liberty than even a cynic could have imagined,” Goodwin wrote in an opinion piece for Fox News (http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2018/02/05/michael-goodwin-fbi-memo-proves-deep-state-is-real-and-press-is-part-it.html). “Because of the memo and previous revelations, we know that swamp creatures are embedded in the top of the FBI and the Department of Justice. Some used their power to try to tip a presidential campaign based on their personal politics.”

They conducted a sham investigation of the Democratic candidate and misled federal judges to spy on at least one associate of her Republican challenger,” Goodwin continued. “To block exposure of their misdeeds, these officials falsely claimed that national security would be damaged. Add that despicable lie — issued in the name of the FBI itself — to their shameful records.”

However, Fox News legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano says the much-anticipated release of the controversial memo turned out to be much ado about nothing.

“The president has claimed total vindication. That’s the president being the president. … I understand why he says things like that, it gins up his base and it may help him politically, but legally it’s of no moment,” Napolitano said during an appearance of “America’s Newsroom” (http://insider.foxnews.com/2018/02/05/judge-napolitano-fisa-memo-mueller-probe-republicans-underdelivered-trump-not-vindicated). Still, says Napolitano, in fairness, he’s also calling for the Democrats’ version of the controversial memo to be made public.

“I want it to come out. I want to see who on [the intelligence] committee is spinning,” Napolitano said.

Despite Napolitano’s playing down of the memo’s importance, most lawmakers and legal analysts have gone on record in agreement with Goodwin.

The abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by senior Obama administration officials is “worse than Watergate” House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said of the matter.

“The facts contained in this memo are jaw-dropping and demand full transparency. There is no higher priority than the release of this information to preserve our democracy,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), a member of the Judiciary Committee, which oversees the DOJ and the FBI, said in agreement.

“You think about, ‘is this happening in America or is this the KGB?’ That’s how alarming it is,” Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) told Fox News.

Regardless of which side you’re on, the key question in regard to FISAGate, as it’s come to be known, is what happens next?

There is a great deal of speculation that President Trump may, in response to the memo, fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversaw one of the renewals of FISA warrants on Carter Page.

However, as warned in an editorial for the National Review (http://www.nationalreview.com/article/456089/memo-released-what-should-come-next), doing so may cause a semi-collapse of his Justice Department, causing Republicans to undo the political headway they’ve have made in recent weeks.

No matter which direction the president takes, one thing is for certain. Critics on both sides of the fence will be ready and eager to pounce.

In an interview with the Washington Post (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/17/us/politics/robert-mueller-special-counsel-russia-investigation.html), former federal prosecutor Peter Zeidenberg said, “Rosenstein is in charge of the Mueller probe. He picked Mueller and has testified under oath that he won’t fire him absent clear misconduct. So if Rosenstein goes, Trump would pick a new deputy attorney general who would no doubt be much more compliant to Trump.”

But should the president choose to take that path, rest assured that Democrats will utilize the decision to call for impeachment.

“I cannot possibly imagine the president terminating Bob Mueller,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) said in June. “It just cannot happen.”

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