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Democrats turn the tables on GOP, demand probe of bias at FBI

Two top Democrats on the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees are demanding documents from the Justice Department that they say could reveal evidence of “politically motivated misconduct” at the FBI meant to damage Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. Jerry Nadler of New York and Elijah Cummings of Maryland, ranking members of the judiciary and oversight committees […]

By Caroline Orr - December 11, 2017
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Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings.

Two top Democrats on the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees are demanding documents from the Justice Department that they say could reveal evidence of “politically motivated misconduct” at the FBI meant to damage Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Jerry Nadler of New York and Elijah Cummings of Maryland, ranking members of the judiciary and oversight committees respectively, made the document request on Monday, in a move that turns the tables on Republicans, who have accused both the FBI and special counsel Robert Mueller’s office of being tainted by political bias against Donald Trump.

“Our committees are now engaged in an investigation of allegations of politically-motivated misconduct at the FBI,” the Democrats wrote in a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. “The facts point to a coordinated effort by some in the FBI to change the course of the Clinton investigation by leaking sensitive information to the public, and by threatening to leak additional information after the investigation was closed.”

The documents they are seeking include possible leaks to True Pundit, an anonymously written right-wing website, during the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s email server. In the letter, Nadler and Cummings asked for information that could show whether True Pundit’s reporting, which cited sources within the FBI, influenced the bureau’s decision to reopen the email investigation less than two weeks before the election.

Now, Nadler and Cummings are demanding to know more about those sources, which they say could reveal an anti-Clinton bias within the FBI. Recently released emails show that True Pundit’s reporting was on the radar of senior FBI officials, including deputy director Andrew McCabe and then-Director James Comey, who discussed the potential source(s) of the leaks.

In the letter, Nadler and Cummings cited instances in which Trump allies and campaign officials appeared to have insider information about the email probe. They specifically mentioned comments made by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Trump ally and campaign adviser who claimed that the FBI had given the Trump campaign advanced notice about the bureau’s announcement regarding the reopening of the Clinton email probe in October 2016. 

They are also seeking information about whether any other former Trump campaign aides like Michael Flynn may have had insider knowledge about the email probe.

Interestingly, Nadler and Cummings also requested that the DOJ hand over all “documents and communication” that may reveal whether True Pundit has any ties to the Russian government, Russian-backed media outlets RT and Sputnik, or WikiLeaks.

The demand for information flips the script on Republicans and right-wing media figures, who have spent weeks accusing Mueller and the FBI of being biased against Trump in the ongoing Russia investigation. 

Trump has led the charge, with repeated attacks on the FBI, DOJ, and special counsel Mueller, as well as calls to investigate Clinton for nonexistent crimes. Republicans have backed him up by calling on Mueller to resign, while former White House adviser (and Nazi sympathizer) Seb Gorka went as far as calling for Mueller himself to be investigated. 

As the probe closes in on Trump’s inner circle, Trump’s  allies in the media have ramped up their attacks, seeking to discredit and delegitimize the investigation and everyone involved with it. Between Oct. 30 — when news broke about the first three indictments — and Nov. 3, Fox News’ Sean Hannity and guests on his show made at least 18 statements trying to link Mueller to the debunked Uranium One scandal, and 14 statements accusing Mueller of having “conflicts of interest.”

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. According to one analysis, Hannity has made at least 183 statements since May accusing Mueller of having a “conflict of interest” that would prevent him from fairly conducting the probe. 

If the GOP and right wing media want to go down that road, Democrats are signaling that they’re happy to go along for the ride, but terms and conditions apply. The tables have been turned, and now it’s Trump and his allies who are under the microscope. 

Be careful what you wish for, because sometimes you might just get it — and more.


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