In 2016, for the first time in our nation’s history, we saw a politically corrupt FBI and Department of Justice actively attempt interfere in the presidential election in a way which would have given Vladimir Putin a multi-day thrill up his leg (this is a family site). Not only did the FBI completely whitewash a totally legitimate investigation into Hillary Clinton’s signature move of storing Top Secret material in a privately owned server with no apparent physical or cybersecurity measures and which was scoured by every foreign intelligence service with the ambition to make an attempt, it used a document that was little more than an adventure novel-in-progress to begin conducting active operations against the Trump campaign. It did so without any notification (or so we’re told) of anyone in the Department of Justice.
What made the FBI’s actions, especially those in regards to the Trump campaign, such a signal event was that they ran in direct opposition to written guidance from the Department of Justice which required affirmative approval of any investigative act involving a candidate or campaign during a primary or general election.
The reason why we should not want any candidate–federal, state, or local–coming under investigation during an election year, barring some substantial felony, should be pretty obvious. Why we wouldn’t want that decision made a lower levels should be equally obvious. Because the culture of the FBI as it developed under the maladministration of James Comey…a culture that I don’t think Christopher Wray has either the will, skill, or motivation to change…was one of seeing that agency as a law unto itself that scoffed at mere written guidance,
Late last week, Attorney General Bill Barr took a much needed step towards ensuring 100-percent positive control over all investigations that could end up being political hits disguised as a legitimate law enforcement activity:
Attorney General William P. Barr issued new restrictions on Wednesday over the opening of politically sensitive investigations, an effort meant to avoid upending the presidential election as the F.B.I. inadvertently did in 2016 when its campaign inquiries shaped the outcome of the race.
The order by Mr. Barr, announced in a memo reviewed by The New York Times, comes after a scathing report by the inspector general that showed how F.B.I. agents did not follow protocols and falsified information in their bid to investigate Carter Page, a former Trump campaign associate.
In the memo, Mr. Barr established a series of requirements governing whether investigators could open preliminary or full “politically sensitive” criminal and counterintelligence investigations into candidates or their donors.
No investigation into a presidential or vice-presidential candidate — or their senior campaign staff or advisers — can begin without written notification to the Justice Department and the written approval of Mr. Barr.
The F.B.I. must also notify and consult with the relevant leaders at the department — like the heads of the criminal division, the national security division or a United States attorney’s office — before investigating Senate or House candidates or their campaigns, or opening an inquiry related to “illegal contributions, donations or expenditures by foreign nationals to a presidential or congressional campaign.”
While a lot of folks on the left are rubbing poo in their hair in rage because the fangs have just been drawn and claws clipped of the investigative beast and forestalled anymore ‘insurance policies,’ this is very good and very practical direction for a federal department that has become something of a Democrat fiefdom.
By requiring a personal sign-off on candidates, their senior staff, or major donors, Barr has made it impossible for Department of Justice and to tip the scales of elections. While we all are familiar with the illegal rampage by the FBI in 2016, we shouldn’t forget the 2008 election where the FBI and a US Attorney’s office were actively involved in kneecapping Alaska Senator Ted Stevens just three months prior to the election by way of a totally made up federal corruption indictment. By putting senior staff and major donors off limits, without personal sign off by the Attorney General, he has closed down another avenue used to dirty up candidates.
This new policy is a win for the rule of law and a victory over unelected bureaucrats who an use their power to investigate and indict to prevent elections and to punish candidates they oppose.