Looking to spin the report of the Department of Justice’s Inspector General, the mainstream media has taken to making the case the Deep State, which it doesn’t believe in for the most part, acted to help Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.
No amount of quotes from FBI agents promising each other “We’ll stop this” and that an “insurance policy” exists to keep Trump from taking office seem to matter.
“DOJ Watchdog Report Takeaway: FBI Hurt Hillary Clinton, Not Donald Trump,” read the headline on HuffPost. “It’s a message that might get lost as Trump and his supporters weaponize a new inspector general’s report.”
The story, by Ryan Reilly, begins, “The Justice Department’s internal watchdog just served up a hefty dose of reality to President Donald Trump and his allies.”
Reilly wrote “Trump and his supporters have been waging war against the FBI and Justice Department” and even admits, “The new report is sure to give them fresh material.”
But “One takeaway from the document stands out: Despite Republican suggestions that anti-Trump forces within the FBI worked against Trump, the bureau’s public actions during the campaign hurt Clinton and helped Trump.”
Reilly provides the typical examples that follow this suggestion – Comey’s “unusual July 2016 news conference in which he faulted Clinton’s ‘extremely careless’ handling of classified information but said no reasonable prosecutor would pursue charges” and his “decision to send two letters to Congress in the final days of the 2016 campaign, setting the media aflame with speculation that Clinton could be indicted.”
That “takeaway” misses a few important points. The decision not to prosecute Hillary came just days after the meeting between Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton on the tarmac of the Phoenix airport.
Other revelations in the case indicate the wording Comey used – “extremely careless” rather than “grossly negligent” – was chosen because “grossly negligent” is the legal standard by which she would have been prosecuted.
“A source familiar with the FBI decision tells CNN that Comey and his FBI colleagues were ‘playing with language throughout’ the process, but consistently held the belief that they needed to condemn Clinton’s handling of classified information while asserting they would not bring charges,” wrote Jake Tapper of CNN last November.
Comey also has testified he used the term “matter” rather than “investigation” to apply to what the FBI was doing with regard to Clinton at the behest of the attorney general to help Clinton’s electoral prospects. Comey later said he was “confused and concerned” about that order.
And telling the public she would not be prosecuted gave her a boost in the polls and installed her as a prohibitive favorite to win the election.
As for the letters at the end of the campaign, the Department of Justice Inspector General’s report found the FBI knew about the emails on the laptop shared by former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D.-N.Y.), and his wife, senior Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, in late September and attempted to keep this information from the public.
But it was discovered by others, which forced the FBI to reveal the existence of the emails and, later, to disavow them. As Reilly wrote, Comey revealed in his memoir that hiding the emails until after the vote “would have made her election ‘illegitimate.’”
The public actions may have worked to Trump’s benefit, but they clearly were attempts to help Clinton.
He then offered what might be considered a fitting epithet on the entire affair.
“If the ‘deep state’ really was trying to stop Trump’s election, it did a terrible job,” he wrote. “Trump was elected president.”