The FBI’s Trump ‘Insurance’
More troubling evidence of election meddling at the bureau.
By The Wall Street Journal The Editorial Board
Dec. 13, 2017 7:22 p.m. ET
Democrats and the media are accusing anyone who criticizes special counsel Robert Mueller as Trumpian conspirators trying to undermine his probe. But who needs critics when Mr. Mueller’s team is doing so much to undermine its own credibility?
Wednesday’s revelations—they’re coming almost daily—include the Justice Department’s release of 2016 text messages to and from Peter Strzok, the FBI counterintelligence agent whom Mr. Mueller demoted this summer. The texts, which he exchanged with senior FBI lawyer Lisa Page, contain expletive-laced tirades against Mr. Trump. Such Trump hatred is no surprise and not by itself disqualifying. More troubling are texts that suggest that some FBI officials may have gone beyond antipathy to anti-Trump plotting.
“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office—that there’s no way [Trump] gets elected—but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,” Mr. Strzok wrote Ms. Page in an Aug. 15, 2016 text. He added: “It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”
What “policy” would that be? The “Andy” in question is Andrew McCabe, the deputy FBI director. FBI officials are allowed to have political opinions, but what kind of action were they discussing that would amount to anti-Trump “insurance”?
In another exchange that month, Ms. Page forwarded a Trump-related article and wrote: “Maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace.” He thanked her and assured: “Of course I’ll try and approach it that way.” Mr. Strzok, recall, is the man who changed the words “grossly negligent” to “extremely careless” in James Comey’s July 2016 public exoneration of Hillary Clinton’s emails.
The McCabe meeting came on the heels of the FBI’s launch of its counterintelligence probe into Trump-Russia ties. July is also when former British spook Christopher Steele briefed the FBI on his Clinton-financed dossier of salacious allegations against Mr. Trump. The texts explain why Mr. Mueller would remove Mr. Strzok, though a straight shooter wouldn’t typically resist turning those messages over to Congress for as long as Mr. Mueller did.
Meanwhile, we’re learning more about the political motives of Mr. Mueller’s lieutenant, Andrew Weissmann. Judicial Watch last week released an email in which Mr. Weissmann expressed his “awe” and praise for Sally Yates, after the then acting AG and Obama holdover refused to implement Mr. Trump’s travel ban.
This should trouble anyone who cares about the integrity of the Justice Department. Ms. Yates had every right to resign at the time if she felt she couldn’t implement Mr. Trump’s order. But she had no authority as an executive branch official to defy a legitimate presidential order. Mr. Weissmann’s support for her insubordination was a declaration that he is part of the “resistance.” This should be unacceptable in a ranking FBI official, much less someone charged with conducting a fair-minded investigation.
Public confidence isn’t helped by the continuing Justice and FBI refusal to cooperate with Congress. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who supervises Mr. Mueller, toed the Mueller-FBI line on Wednesday before the House Oversight Committee. He repeated FBI Director Christopher Wray’s preposterous excuse that he can’t answer questions because of an Inspector General probe. And he wouldn’t elaborate on the news that Nellie Ohr, the wife of senior Justice official Bruce Ohr, worked for Fusion GPS, which hired Mr. Steele to gin up his dossier.
The man who should be most disturbed by all this is Mr. Mueller, who wants his evidence and conclusions to be credible with the public. Evidence is building instead that some officials at the FBI—who have worked for him—may have interfered in an American presidential election. Congress needs to insist on its rights as a co-equal branch of government to discover the truth.
Appeared in the December 14, 2017, print edition.