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Inspector general report could convince even skeptics of FBI's anti-Trump bias

I’ve long been a skeptic of the conspiratorial claims surrounding the actions of the so-called “deep state” during the 2016 campaign. While I believe that the FBI acted in political fashion to exonerate Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGroups seek to get Black vote out for Democrats in Georgia runoffs Biden's political position is tougher than Trump's Valadao unseats Cox in election rematch MORE, I never believed that the FBI deliberately targeted the Trump campaign; the evidence just didn’t seem to be there.

After all, Trump could merely declassify such evidence if it existed; he could fire everyone involved. And why didn’t these “deep state” actors release damning information about Trump during the campaign, if they were so committed to stopping his campaign?

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I’m rethinking that position pretty seriously after the release of the Department of Justice (DOJ) inspector general’s report.

 

Now, I’m not making the case that there was a broad-based, well-organized conspiracy inside the FBI to stop President TrumpDonald John TrumpPennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down GOP bid to stop election certification Biden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Sunday shows preview: US health officials brace for post-holiday COVID-19 surge MORE. But it is obvious, from the available evidence, that (1) certain high-ranking actors inside the FBI felt the necessity to stop Trump from becoming president, and were willing to act under color of authority to do so; and (2) the leading actors inside the FBI assumed that Hillary would be president, and tailored their actions based on that assumption.

These claims are well-supported in the inspector general (IG) report.

First, it’s obvious that certain officials inside the FBI hated Trump — but more importantly, saw it as their mission to stop Trump from obtaining the presidency. Peter Strzok, who led both the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server and into allegations of Trump-Russia election collusion, texted his paramour, fellow FBI agent Lisa Page, that he would “stop” Trump from becoming president. The IG report found that this text “is not only indicative of a biased state of mind but, even more seriously, implies a willingness to take official action to impact the presidential candidate’s electoral prospects.” That text was sent on Aug. 8.

Within days, Strzok texted Page: “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office – that there’s no way he gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”

According to Strzok, this was his attempt to accelerate the Russia investigation — but that doesn’t let him off the hook. It demonstrates clearly that he wanted to use the FBI in extraordinary ways to stop Trump’s campaign. 

And there’s evidence from the IG report that Strzok succeeded in altering the FBI’s decision-making process based on his hatred for Trump. The IG report points out that the FBI knew about Anthony Weiner’s laptop containing Hillary Clinton emails in late September; they sat on that information for a full month before doing anything.

Why were they so distracted? According to the IG report, Strzok and other FBI members decided to prioritize the Russia investigation above the Hillary investigation. The IG refused to discount bias in that decision: “we did not have confidence that Strzok’s decision to prioritize the Russia investigation over following up on the (Clinton)-related investigative lead discovered on the Weiner laptop was free from bias.”

Then there was the assumption that Hillary Clinton would win — and ought to win. Strzok obviously believed Hillary ought to win; he discounted the investigation into her emails because of it. After completing the Clinton investigation and swiveling to the Russia investigation, he texted, “damn this feels momentous. Because this matters. The other one did, too, but that was to ensure that we didn’t F something up. This matters because this MATTERS.”

In other words, the Hillary investigation mattered only insofar as Strzok and his fellow agents could safely claim objectivity in exonerating her; the Trump-Russia investigation mattered because it would stop Trump or uncover serious wrongdoing.

FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyCarter Page sues over surveillance related to Russia probe Top Republicans praise Trump's Flynn pardon The new marshmallow media in the Biden era MORE also made serious decisions regarding the Clinton email investigation predicated on his assumption that she would win. He didn’t track down the Weiner laptop lead for a month — and when he did, he decided to reveal the information to Congress because, according to the IG, he believed “that candidate Clinton was going to win the presidency and that she would be perceived to be an illegitimate president if the public first learned of the information after the election.”

Even in determining how to pursue the investigation, Comey assumed that Clinton was innocent and had to be cleared forthwith, since she would be president.

All of this stinks. It doesn’t mean that the Mueller investigation will come up with nothing, or that Trump has been exonerated. It does mean that just because Trump was paranoid didn’t mean that someone wasn’t out to get him. Top players in the FBI did allow their politics to infuse their decision-making.

The great irony, of course, is that their ardent desire for a Clinton presidency, combined with their belief in her inevitability, may have cost her the Oval Office.

Ben Shapiro (@BenShapiro), a lawyer and conservative commentator, is founder and editor in chief of The Daily Wire. The author of seven books, he hosts a daily political podcast, “The Ben Shapiro Show.”