The FBI did Russia's dirty work
WASHINGTON -- A recent CNN story framed Attorney General Bill Barr's criticisms of the FBI's behavior in the Russia probe as "attacks," which could have a "chilling effect" on law enforcement. The metaphor makes it sound as if an innocent institution is getting mugged.
But the "rank behavior," as Barr put it during an interview with The Wall Street Journal, chronicled in Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz's report, released Monday, make clear the FBI could use a good freeze.
Yes, the IG report concluded political bias did not launch the investigation into possible coordination between the Kremlin and Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign.
And yes, I've heard the argument from intelligence and law enforcement veterans who say it would be have been a dereliction of duty not to investigate when they first had an inkling Russia fed dirt on Hillary Clinton to the Trump team during the 2016 campaign.
The problem is: Why didn't they wrap it up in, say, January 2017 -- after it became clear that the so-called dossier spit out by former British intelligence officer and paid Democratic opposition researcher Christopher Steele was a sham?
As the IG report made clear, officials who assessed Steele's credibility did so with "medium confidence" and found Steele's reporting was "minimally corroborated."
During a January 2017 interview to assess Steele's credibility, Steele's primary source contradicted his claim that a sensational rumor about Trump watching prostitutes urinating in a Moscow hotel had been confirmed.
Also, Steele had claimed his top source had been speaking with a former senior Russian official for a while. The source told the FBI they'd never met. Still, the Russian probe continued.
Too many journalists seem to have forgotten that the intelligence community is not supposed to spy on Americans. So, of course, CNN didn't broadcast Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Lindsey Graham's opening statement on the IG report. It's not news.
What really angers the folks at CNN? Barr's use of the word "spying." (Too accurate.)