The Department of Justice's inspector General should carefully examine the conduct of FBI Director James Comey that has greatly affected the presidential campaign.
He should also examine news stories that quote "FBI sources" making politically inflammatory background comments to various media on various matters that would affect the presidential election.
I have additional thoughts about the Comey matter that I will not discuss until after the election. Whatever the merits of Comey's actions, and other FBI-related actions that affect the election, it is a sad and dangerous day for America when the FBI has lost its credibility for impartiality, objectivity and fairness with a very large number of Americans.
For today, I simply call for a formal and thorough examination of these issues by the Inspector General. This would provide Americans, when the results of the investigation are announced, with an objective, professional, nonpartisan, apolitical and thorough assessment of the FBI's highly controversial role that has dramatically and unfortunately affected the election, no matter who wins next Tuesday.
Readers should know that it is possible that an Inspector General investigation of these matters has already begun. It is also possible that it has not begun. The Inspector General does not disclose whether or not investigations are being conducted until a conclusion is announced from those investigations that have been conducted.
Here are some of the questions I propose the Inspector General ask:
1. Was it appropriate under Department of Justice and FBI practices and guidelines for Comey to publicly opine, when he announced he would not recommend bringing a case against Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton lawyer's indictment reveals 'bag of tricks' Attorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty Attorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation MORE, about his personal opinions regarding the case he chose not to bring?
2. Was it appropriate for Comey to parade from congressional committee to congressional committee, several of which were pursuing partisan vendettas against Clinton at taxpayer expense, and at those hearings continue to opine about the matter and further impact the election results?
3. Was it appropriate for FBI personnel not to inform Comey earlier about the existence of emails from Anthony Weiner's laptop (Weiner is the husband of Clinton's close aide, Huma Abedin), taking weeks to do so? Also, shouldn't FBI personnel have set about immediately determining whether the emails required additional inquiry into Clinton?
4. Was it appropriate for Comey to publicly announce, through letters to multiple congressional committees only days before the presidential election vote, the existence of Clinton-related emails about which he knew nothing at the time?
5. What is the appropriate standard, based on current guidelines and historical practice, for Comey to aggressively intervene in a hyper-tense presidential campaign, only days before the vote, in a way that any director would know would help one candidate and hurt another candidate?
6. Was there a double standard when Comey opposed public references to the Russians engaging in espionage and cyberwar that were directed only against the Democrats — because such public references might have affected the election — while taking the exact opposite approach and radically impacting the election by going public about emails he had not seen in ways that inflamed and distorted the presidential campaign?
7. What about evaluating various background comments to major media by unnamed FBI sources that also prejudiced the presidential vote — which almost always helped one presidential candidate and hurt another presidential candidate — whether or not those FBI-sourced background comments were true or false?
I have always had great respect for Comey personally, and the FBI institutionally. I am deeply troubled by the extreme and unprecedented actions taken by Comey in recent days, however, and the extreme and unprecedented manner in which Comey and unnamed FBI sources talking to the media have had an extreme and unprecedented impact on the presidential campaign, benefiting one political party and one presidential candidate.
It is a terrible day for America when large numbers of our people have lost confidence in the impartiality of the FBI, which is the case today, which will be hard for Comey and the bureau to rectify anytime soon.
The starting point for restoring public confidence in the FBI, and protecting the FBI and the American people from the dangers of any potential abuses, is for the inspector general to review this entire situation with professionalism, detachment, independence and nonpartisanship based on the laws, practices and guidelines designed to protect the equal and nonpolitical enforcement of the law in America.
I will forward this column to the Office of Inspector General through the appropriate channels, as any American can.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Chief Deputy Majority Whip Bill Alexander (D-Ark.). He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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