Accuracy in Media

Hillary Clinton, the best-funded, most-prepared, most media-supported candidate in U.S. presidential political history, lost because the FBI had it in for her, according to a new story in The Atlantic.

This is the same FBI whose agents texted each other regularly about their hatred of then-candidate Donald Trump, who talked of “insurance policies” and working with people all over the world to bring him down, who closed an investigation into whether Hillary Clinton violated numerous federal laws with her homebrew server before even interviewing her, whose former director just admitted in a book that he told President Obama he dreaded having to go to work for Trump after Trump defeated Clinton to claim the presidency.

In “How the FBI Helped Sink Clinton’s Campaign: New reports reveal that decisions made by a number of officials, acting out of a variety of motives, injured not Trump’s candidacy – but that of his opponent,” Adam Serwer wrote that leaks from inside the bureau “influenced a series of late-October decisions that damaged Hillary Clinton’s chances in the 2016 election.”

Those leaks, from agents investigating the Clinton Foundation, brought criticism from the conservative press, which forced Comey to announce in late-October 2016 the bureau had reopened the investigation into Clinton’s use of the server and other matters, he wrote.

“In each case, FBI officials violated Justice Department policy against disclosing sensitive information about investigations close to an election, and in each case, they did so to the disadvantage of the Democratic candidate, while the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia remained safely confidential,” Serwer wrote.

“In aggregate, these choices produced a series of disclosures by FBI officials that were politically damaging for Clinton, even as the Bureau held its silence about its investigation of whether the Trump campaign was aiding an influence operation carried out by a hostile foreign power.”

FBI agents are not generally political, Serwer wrote, but frustration boiled over that the case they were making had not been taken seriously.

“’It was clear even at the time that the leaks put pressure on Comey to say something,’” he quotes Bruce Green, a former federal prosecutor and a law professor at Fordham University as saying. “Now he has hinted at that. He ought to just say so explicitly: He and our democratic process were hijacked by Trump-supporting FBI agents who disrespected the rule of law. Against that background, any claim that the FBI is somehow out to get the current administration ought to ring hollow.”

Serwer then tried to make the case “nearly all the elements” of Trump’s assertion that a “deep state” coalition of FBI officials and members of the intelligence community sought to bring him down “have unraveled.”

Trump claimed Comey had it in for him.

“But Comey kept quiet about the Trump campaign investigation ahead of the 2016 election,” he argues. “Trump claimed at the Obama administration ordered surveillance of Trump Tower” – an allegation that seems almost certain to be true but which Serwer says “remains unsubstantiated.”

The Lisa Page-Peter Strzok texts, which excoriated Trump and alluded to the “insurance policy” that would be cashed out if he won, were “taken out of context,” he asserts. The memo from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes included accusations that “other Republicans on the committee dismissed.” It links to a story that doesn’t actually say that.

Nunes also claimed, according to Serwer, that the investigation into Trump and Russia was based on the Fusion GPS dossier, “only to be forced to admit that the investigation began months earlier with Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos.”

This misleading claim is bandied often. The truth is the FBI’s attempts to obtain warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court were rebuffed until it presented the dossier to bolster its evidence claims.

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