Plagued by an unusual degree of probity, Peter Strzok made a very serious mistake, one which probably will harm this nation for years, if not decades, to come.
That wasn't in Thursday's nine-hour marathon in front of the House Oversight Committee, nor was it in texting a colleague and girlfriend nasty things about the corrupt businessman who would become President of the United States of America. Following the hearing, NBC News reported- nine paragraphs into its article-
Strzok noted that he was one of a very small number of people with knowledge of the fact that the FBI had launched a counterintelligence investigation involving the Trump campaign.
“This information had the potential to derail, and quite possibly, defeat Mr. Trump. But the thought of exposing that information never crossed my mind,” he said.
If it didn't, it should have. Strzok had the opportunity to blow the whistle on Donald Trump's campaign, to remind the American people that Hillary Clinton wasn't the only major presidential candidate being investigated.
But he didn't. He says he didn't think of doing it, but that probably is a case of modesty, and not one of false modesty or humblebrag. More likely he did not want to go down the Comey road, violating Justice Department guidelines by informing Congress eleven days before the 2016 presidential election that the inquiry into Hillary Clinton emails was being re-opened.
Two wrongs don't make a right, according to folk wisdom. However, in this case, balance would have been more appropriate than adhering strictly to rules violated by FBI director Comey- not once, but twice.
While announcing there was insufficient cause for criminal charges, James Comey handed Donald Trump a potent campaign issue by judging Hillary Clinton "extremely careless" in her handling of emails. Four months later, he gave the Republican another gift when he advised that a batch of H. Clinton emails- later found to be ones previously reviewed- had been found on the laptop of Anthony Weiner, husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
Bypassing CNN's Jim Acosta in favor of taking a question from Fox News' John Roberts at a news conference with UK Prime Minister Teresa May on Friday, President Trump remarked “CNN’s fake news, I don’t take questions from CNN. CNN is fake news, I don’t take questions from CNN."
Roberts later issued a statement defending former colleague Kristen Welker of NBC News, as well as CNN against the "blanket condemnation of the network as 'fake news." However, that was not before Jake Tapper, noting "other networks came to the defense of Fox News WH correspondents during the Obama years," cogently observed “Lesson for the kids out there: no one should ever try to do the right thing with the expectation it will ever be reciprocated.”
It is a lesson FBI agent Peter Strzok, armed with information which probably would have sunk the Trump campaign in a very close campaign, never learned. Otherwise, we may have been spared election of a far-right, demagogic nationalist determined to tear apart both the nation and the Atlantic Alliance. Ironically, we then would have been spared the rantings and ravings of jackals determined to convince voters (against all evidence) that Strzok actually was trying to impede the election of their hero, Donald J. Trump.
Guided by remarkable professionalism and integrity in 2016, Peter Strzok's decision not to violate standard procedure may have devastating repercussions for the nation and the world. Or as Jake Tapper surely understands, no good deed goes unpunished.