By Dr. Tom Borelli originally posted at Conservative Review.
The election of President Trump exposed the deep state bureaucracy. After being caught abusing power, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI are engaged in multiple efforts to stonewall Congressional oversight, running out the clock in the hope that Democrats will win control of the legislative branch in the fall.
The entrenched bureaucracy knows Democrat control of Congress will stop the hemorrhaging of damaging and embarrassing information regarding the outrageous behavior of its deep state operatives. Dreams of Representative Adam Schiff, D-Calif., running the House Intelligence Committee give the deep state hope.
To buy time, the DOJ is fighting Republican Congressional leaders, resisting document production regarding its Russia investigation and cloaking its devious activities by redacting huge segments of documents under the guise of national security.
In the latest round of the struggle, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., is issuing a threat to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt of Congress over his department’s failure to deliver documents on a timely basis. Nunes is not alone. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is also concerned over the pace and responsiveness to questions and document production of the DOJ.
There is an unmistakable pattern in the way the DOJ and the FBI are seeking to run out the clock. The law enforcement bureaucracy is slow-walking document production requests and is also abusing its authority to classify information in order to hide the contents from Congress and the public.
The House Intelligence Committee’s report on Russia is a case in point. The recent finding that both former FBI Director James Comey and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe did not believe Michael Flynn lied to FBI investigators during his brief tenure as President Trump’s national security adviser was verified when their comments were unredacted from the committee’s report. When the report was first released, the statements by Comey and McCabe to Congress were hidden.
The redaction of Comey’s and McCabe’s views were clearly not a national security matter, but the finding that top former FBI officials didn’t think Flynn lied raises serious questions regarding his guilty plea in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation over making misleading statements.
Unnecessary redactions hiding damaging information about FBI conduct also occurred in communications between FBI agent Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page. A friendship between Strzok and Judge Rudolph Contreras – the judge who presided over Michael Flynn’s guilty plea – was originally hidden from Congress by redacted text messages between Page and Strozk.
Unredacted text messages revealed that Strozk and Page were excited that Contreras was appointed to the FISA court and plotted to hold a social event where they could include the judge and talk with him in a group setting to avoid triggering a conflict of interest.
The Federalist obtained the unredacted text messages and concluded, “In records provided by DOJ to Congress, the exchanges referencing Contreras, and plans to meet with him under the guise of a cocktail party, were completely redacted by federal law enforcement officials. Staging dinner parties to collude with a federal judge is not a national security matter, but seeking to hide it reveals a political damage-control motive.
The FBI is also working the clock on document requests made by Grassley. In January, Grassley wrote to FBI Director Christopher Wray seeking information regarding communications between Strzok and Page, including whether the agency sought information from their personal phones and email accounts. The FBI finally got around to replying to Grassley on May 3 and said the agency did not search personal email accounts or phones for communications between Strzok and Page.
The FBI added that it was not required “to collect and/or retain all communications between its employees.” Importantly, released text messages between Strzok and Page show that the two used personal accounts for work-related activities.
That the FBI took months to tell Grassley to take a hike is ridiculous, but it provides additional evidence of bureaucratic arrogance that conflicts with the constitutional authority of congressional oversight.
The public certainly has a right to know the content of work-related information on the personal devices and email accounts of Strzok and Page, but the FBI is clearly not concerned about investigating itself.
The clock is indeed ticking, and now is the time for President Trump and Congress to get a handle on the DOJ and FBI before time runs out.
Dr. Tom Borelli is a contributor to Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @tomborelli.