Wednesday, November 16, 2022

It's the FBI, Not the Congressional Progressive Caucus



Deceitful! Duplicitous! Underhanded! (Also, standard operating procedure.)

Chatting with writer Julie Kelly, who identifies as "Ultra MAGA," Laura Ingraham refers to a New York Times article headlined  "FBI Had Informants in Proud Boys, Court Papers Suggest."

Ingraham shows a clip from a hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee in which Louisiana Republican Clay Higgins asks FBI Director Christopher Wray "Did you have confidential human sources dressed as Trump supporters inside the Capitol on January 6 prior to the doors being open?"

Once Wray replied "again, I have to....," Higgins interjected "should be a 'no'."

Well, of course he did. In the article cited by Ingraham, we learn

The F.B.I. had as many as eight informants inside the far-right Proud Boys in the months surrounding the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, recent court papers indicate, raising questions about how much federal investigators were able to learn from them about the violent mob attack both before and after it took place.

The existence of the informants came to light over the past few days in a flurry of veiled court filings by defense lawyers for five members of the Proud Boys who are set to go on trial next month on seditious conspiracy charges connected to the Capitol attack....

In a sealed filing quoted by the defense, prosecutors argued that hundreds of pages of documents related to the F.B.I. informants were neither “suppressed” by the government nor directly relevant to the case of the Proud Boys facing sedition charges: Enrique Tarrio, the group’s former leader; Joseph Biggs; Ethan Nordean; Zachary Rehl; and Dominic Pezzola.

If the Federal Bureau of Investigation did not use these methods, it might as well shut down. As one of hundreds? (thousands?) of examples, consider that sometime before his death, FBI Special Agent James Ingram recounted the success of the agency in undermining the Ku Klux Klan in the 1960s. He stated

[W]e infiltrated the Klan in many ways. We had female informants. … And we had police officers that were informants for us...

When you look back, the FBI can be proud that they stopped the violence [of the KKK]. We had the convictions. We did what we had to do from Selma, Alabama to Jackson, Mississippi to Atlanta, Georgia....

In the words of Special Agent Rollins, “…the FBI broke the back of the Klan in Mississippi. And eradicated it…

Although that was before Ingraham's time, she should know that the FBI is not in the habit of conspiring against the right-wing and its causes. To the contrary, in the runup to the 2016 election

On October 24,  a smiling Rudy Giuliani told Fox News “We got a couple of surprises left... I call them early surprises in the way we're going to campaign to get our message out, maybe in a little bit of a different way. You'll see. And I think it'll be enormously effective."

There was no discernible change in campaign message or tactics but The New York Times on November 3, 2016 recounted that

Since August of 2016, Rudy Giuliani has publicly claimed that F.B.I. agents were telling him that Mrs. Clinton should have been criminally charged for the email server.

“It perplexes numerous F.B.I. agents who talk to me all the time,” Mr. Giuliani said during an August interview with Chris Cuomo on CNN. “And it embarrasses some F.B.I. agents.”

Two days later, CNN revealed

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani now denies that he was told by FBI agents that the bureau was reviewing newly discovered emails potentially related to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server before the review was publicly revealed.

Earlier, he had suggested that he was told by FBI agents about the review before it became public.

Giuliani, a top Donald Trump surrogate and adviser, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room” Friday that the FBI’s announcement “came as a complete surprise, except to the extent that maybe it wasn’t as much of a surprise.”

“I got it all from former FBI agents. Tremendous anger within the FBI about the way, number one, Jim Comey’s conclusion (to not recommend criminal charges in July) and, number two, the way they believed they were being obstructed by what they regard as a pretty corrupt Obama Justice Department,” Giuliani said. “Cutting off a grand jury investigation, cutting off subpoenas.”

But earlier Friday, Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor, said he had “heard about” a forthcoming FBI announcement before it became public.

“This has been boiling up in the FBI. I did nothing to get it out. I had no role in it. Did I hear about it? Darn right I heard about it,” Giuliani said on “Fox and Friends.” He continued, “I can’t even repeat the language I heard from the former FBI agents.”

A week earlier – before Comey’s disclosure to Congress – he told Fox News there was a “pretty big surprise” coming, though he did not provide further details. He told Blitzer the surprise was an upcoming advertising campaign: “I knew that was going to come as a big surprise.”

I don't, and didn't, buy it. (A DOJ investigation was inconclusive.) No dramatic "upcoming advertising campaign" materialized. However, as a former US Attorney for the Southern District, Giuliani had a lot of friends in the FBI's New York field office and three days after he tipped off Fox News, Comey said that emails relevant to the investigation of Clinton's private email server were discovered on the computer of the estranged husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin. 

A few days later, the FBI director explained that he met with agency investigators (who) "said we found a lot of new stuff," but that most of the emails were ones previously seen. Clinton was cleared. Nonetheless, by then the inaccurate announcement that new, relevant emails had been found already had been "enormously effective."

With Republicans in charge of the House of Representatives beginning in January, there will be investigations, including of the FBI and probably of its role in the insurrection, to feed the GOP rage machine, undermine President Biden, and pave the way for a new Trump presidency.  There is much to question of the agency's operations, including in the 2016 election and its willing failure, and subsequent coverup, to investigate credible allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.  

If Republicans want to investigate the FBI, Democrats should insist that there be a real, comprehensive inquiry. Hoist the GOP by their own petard.

 

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