The Strzok-Page texts will be scrutinized by Americans for years to come. They’re the closest evidence we have to the thought processes going on inside the Department of Justice and FBI during the 2016 campaign season and as the special counsel began its investigation.
There’s one text that most people who find something seriously wrong with how the nation’s top law enforcement agencies have behaved point to in particular — one where Peter Strzok said that “we’ll stop” Trump.
According to The Hill’s John Solomon, that’s not where our gaze ought to be fixed, however. If you’re not familiar with him, Solomon is a veteran reporter who’s done some of the most important investigative journalism on the FBI and DOJ’s conduct involving the Trump/Russia investigation.
He’s the one who first reported that the FBI had been investigating Russian connections before they said they were (and that they hadn’t used their own protocols during the investigation) and that the Bureau had tried to pressure a Russian oligarch to give evidence about Russian collusion within Trump’s campaign even though the oligarch said they were “trying to create something out of nothing.”
In an op-ed for The Hill last month, Solomon said that we should instead be focusing our attention on a May 19, 2017 text from Strzok, which stated, “There’s no big there there.” To make matters worse, he notes their motives may not have been entirely pure — and not just because of their political beliefs.
“The date of the text long has intrigued investigators: It is two days after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein named special counsel Robert Mueller to oversee an investigation into alleged collusion between Trump and the Russia campaign,” Solomon wrote. “Since the text was turned over to Congress, investigators wondered whether it referred to the evidence against the Trump campaign.
“This month, they finally got the chance to ask. Strzok declined to say — but Page, during a closed-door interview with lawmakers, confirmed in the most pained and contorted way that the message in fact referred to the quality of the Russia case, according to multiple eyewitnesses.
“The admission is deeply consequential. It means Rosenstein unleashed the most awesome powers of a special counsel to investigate an allegation that the key FBI officials, driving the investigation for 10 months beforehand, did not think was ‘there.'”
And let’s keep in mind, neither Strzok nor Page were known to be great fans of either Donald Trump or his administration. These were people who would have eagerly pursued the case if they believed there was something there to pursue.
“By the time of the text and Mueller’s appointment, the FBI’s best counterintelligence agents had had plenty of time to dig. They knowingly used a dossier funded by Hillary Clinton’s campaign — which contained uncorroborated allegations — to persuade the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court to issue a warrant to monitor Trump campaign adviser Carter Page (no relation to Lisa Page),” Solomon wrote.
“They sat on Carter Page’s phones and emails for nearly six months without getting evidence that would warrant prosecuting him. The evidence they had gathered was deemed so weak that their boss, then-FBI Director James Comey, was forced to admit to Congress after being fired by Trump that the core allegation remained substantially uncorroborated.
“In other words, they had a big nothing burger. And, based on that empty-calorie dish, Rosenstein authorized the buffet menu of a special prosecutor that has cost America millions of dollars and months of political strife.”
Instead, Solomon said that “Team Strzok” fought to make something out of a horribly flawed document — the Trump dossier — even though they well knew there was “no big there there.”
That’s when the context of that May 19, 2017 discussion comes into play: “It turns out that what Strzok and Lisa Page were really doing that day was debating whether they should stay with the FBI and try to rise through the ranks to the level of an assistant director (AD) or join Mueller’s special counsel team,” Solomon wrote.
Strzok, apparently, didn’t want to be “one more AD like (redacted) or whoever,” instead preferring “An investigation leading to impeachment?”
“We should stop having this conversation here,” Page texted back, saying that they ought to consider “the different realistic outcomes of this case.”
“You and I both know the odds are nothing,” Strzok texted back. “If I thought it was likely, I’d be there no question. I hesitate in part because of my gut sense and concern there’s no big there there.”
Even though “the odds are nothing,” Strzok would join the special counsel investigation — until, of course, they started reading his texts. Then he was shuffled off to a role in HR.
Solomon says that Strzok’s arrant careerism should alarm every American, since it points to a deeper trend in the halls of our government — one that should color our judgments regarding Mueller and Rosenstein.
“Impeachment is a political outcome. The only logical conclusion, then, that congressional investigators can make is that political bias led these agents to press an investigation forward to achieve the political outcome of impeachment, even though their professional training told them it had ‘no big there there,'” he wrote. “And that, by definition, is political bias in action.”
“How concerned you are by this conduct is almost certainly affected by your love or hatred for Trump. But put yourself for a second in the hot seat of an investigation by the same FBI cast of characters: You are under investigation for a crime the agents don’t think occurred, but the investigation still advances because the desired outcome is to get you fired from your job.
“Is that an FBI you can live with?”
Whether or not the special counsel investigation wraps up before the election is anyone’s guess. However, Solomon’s argument needs to be taken into account by voters. The special counsel has not proved itself particularly adept at finding anything new where they’ve been searching since May of 2017, aside from the fact that a lobbyist foisted upon the Trump campaign as a campaign manager by the GOP establishment may have engaged in some shenanigans whilst lobbying for a Ukrainian strongman.
If that turns out to be it, what a terrible waste of resources this will have been for the American people. The Democrats and entrenched bureaucrats in the DOJ and FBI might not mind it as much, however. For both of those reasons, it’s time for this fishing expedition to come to a swift end.
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