A top senator is accusing the FBI of keeping Democrats in the dark about the agency’s disclosures to Republican-led Senate committees, revealing that the FBI later made a mea culpa and pledged not to repeat the apparent violations of congressional oversight norms.
Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray on Monday that the bureau was improperly providing documents and other information to Republicans, sometimes without even informing Democrats of their existence.
“I am deeply concerned that by violating its own policies the FBI is again succumbing to political pressure from Republicans to damage the Democratic presidential candidate,” Wyden wrote in his letter, obtained by POLITICO.
“Providing documents to committee majorities without disclosure to the minority is unacceptable,” Wyden later added. “Providing access to documents for review by Republican staffers without notice to, or inclusion of, Democratic staff is also unacceptable.”
Wyden’s letter is the latest salvo in the ongoing partisan battle over Senate Republicans’ investigations targeting top Obama administration officials, including the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden.
The senator cited an Aug. 7 letter from the FBI’s
congressional affairs director stating that the agency has “surged resources in
order to expedite the processing” of the GOP requests for information related
to the Trump transition team. According to Wyden, the letter also states that
the FBI’s compliance is due to “extraordinary and unique circumstances, and
should not be construed as precedent setting in any regard.”
(That’s a tip-off. The majority opinion in Bush v. Gore insisted the ruling was “'limited to the present circumstances' and could not
be cited as precedent.” The claim failed to diminish the recognition that partisanship
dictated the decision.)
Four years ago, under a different director, the FBI also chose sides, albeit not from the top. The Washington Post on November 4, 2016 noted
Rudy Giuliani told Fox News’s Martha MacCallum on Oct. 26 that Donald Trump had “a surprise or two that you’re going to hear about in the next two days.”
“I’m talking about some pretty big surprise,” he said.
Two days later, FBI Director James Comey revealed to Congress that his agents had resumed their investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, after agents in an unrelated case discovered emails that could potentially be relevant to the server case.
Giuliani is a former U.S. attorney and New York mayor whose former law firm represents the FBI Agents Association, as the Daily Beast points out. But does he have inside sources at the bureau who might have given him a heads-up about what was to come?
Giuliani is a former U.S. attorney for the famous Southern District of New York. He had major contacts in that office. Yet
In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Giuliani said no, and that he in particular had no heads-up on Comey’s big reveal. He said his cryptic prediction of a surprise was about a Donald Trump advertising blitz in the final days of the campaign, and he had not talked to current FBI agents in the last eight to ten months.
Giuliani had been given no inside information. And I am Barack Obama writing this blog under a nom de plume. A Donald Trump advertising blitz in the final days of the campaign was the "pretty big surprise?" If it were, Giuliani wouldn't have kept it under wraps. But re-opening an e-mail case against Hillary Clinton warranted secrecy.
Once Director Comey announced the new investigation, Hillary Clinton's numbers dropped. The effect subsided until Comey revealed these were emails which already had been examined, at which time new attention was drawn to the (trumped up) issue and Clinton tumbled further. It is unlikely that Russian interference in the election had as much influence on the outcome as did FBI malfeasance or mischief.
When we hear that the FBI is "violating its own policies" by "again succumbing to political pressure from Republicans to damage the Democratic presidential candidate," there should be little surprise. The agency is not a hotbed of liberal Democrats- or any Democrats- and Republican Christopher Wray is vulnerable to pressure from agents.
President Trump made it obvious that he fired Director Comey because of the Mueller investigation, an admission which we all were told was a dangerous legal and political mistake. James Comey is a private citizen and Donald Trump is still President. Christopher Wray has noticed.