The reason it comes across as a cover-up is because the inspector general for the FBI is like a company’s HR department.
Mollie Hemingway has read the full inspector general report and wrote up her observations. She begins her discussion of the IG report by explaining why it was always likely to be, as Sebastian Gorka said to Sean Hannity, “a 560-page cover-up” of the FBI.
Hemingway doesn’t call it a cover-up. In fact, the IG report reveals a great many scandals! But she points out it is written to “help” the FBI “improve.” That assumes people merely failed somehow to live up to the FBI’s principles, not that they intentionally betrayed those principle. Or that those principles are merely cover for criminal abuse of power.
The best way to understand an inspector general (IG) report is less as a fiercely independent investigation that seeks justice and more like what you’d expect from a company’s human resources department. Employees frequently think that a company’s human resources department exists to serve employees. There’s some truth in that, but it’s more true that the human resources department exists to serve the corporation.
At the end of the day, the HR department wants what’s best for the company. The FBI’s IG Michael Horowitz has a good reputation for good reason. But his report is in support of the FBI and its policies and procedures. As such, the findings will be focused on helping the FBI improve its adherence to those policies and procedures. Those who expected demands for justice in the face of widespread evidence of political bias and poor judgment by immature agents and executives were people unfamiliar with the purpose of IG reports.
The IG is also a government bureaucrat producing government products that are supposed to be calm and boring. In the previous report that led to Andrew McCabe’s firing as deputy director of the FBI and referral for criminal prosecution, his serial lying under oath was dryly phrased as “lack of candor.” In this report detailing widespread problems riddled throughout the Clinton email probe, the language is similarly downplayed. Yet Horowitz fills the report with details of poor decision-making, extreme political bias, and problematic patterns of behavior.
She goes through some of the major evidence of bias and bad behavior and then ends her observations where she began them: with the institutional agenda of our FBI bureaucracy. Specifically, Hemmingway points out the nature of FBI Director Christopher Wray’s press conference.
It’s not just Comey’s usurpation of authority and failure to comply with practices. Multiple people were involved in his condemned decisions. Others were cited for bad judgement in recusal decisions or failure to adhere to recusals. Political bias was rampant in the team of people who handled both the Clinton and Trump email probes. So were leaks, accepting gifts from reporters, incompetence, and other problems.
Instead, Wray issued a strawman defense of employees, bragged about the high number of applicants to the agency, and talked about the low percentage of recruits who were accepted.
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