Dispatch June 7, 2018

The DOJ IG Report and the Case for Obstruction

The Department of Justice Inspector General’s forthcoming report will further cement the case that Trump has sought to obstruct the Russia investigation.

According to an ABC News story yesterday, the report will show that the Jim Comey and others in the FBI repeatedly violated DOJ policy during the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, harming Clinton’s campaign and benefiting Trump’s.

This should put to rest the obviously false charges made by Trump and Trump supporters that the FBI was biased against him.  According to ABC News:

  • Comey is faulted for defying authority and taking actions in the email investigation that violated DOJ policy and were undertaken over the objections of department officials or without even consulting them.
  • Comey is specifically faulted for failing to consult with senior DOJ officials prior to the July 5, 2016 press conference announcing that no charges would be filed.
  • Comey is also criticized by the IG for releasing the October 28, 2016, letter — which may have cost Clinton the election — even though he was told by DOJ it would violate department policy on making public statements close to an election and commenting on an ongoing investigation.
  • The IG is also expected to assess how information regarding the Clinton investigation was routinely leaked, including to then-Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani, so much so that a Guardian article cited an agent who described the bureau as “Trumpland.”

The FBI was not biased against Trump. The report shows that the FBI’s actions hurt Clinton an explanation Trump was happy to deploy when he could use it to justify firing Comey or Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

  • We know that Trump did not fire Comey because of treating Clinton unfairly. Trump kept demanding an investigation into Clinton even after he fired Comey, and he’s admitted at least twice that he fired Comey to stop the Russia investigation.
  • The Trump administration deployed the Clinton rationale a second time to fire Andrew McCabe. The president declared against all evidence that McCabe was biased against him, but Attorney General Jeff Sessions ultimately fired McCabe for allegedly leaking to the press about the Clinton email investigation.
  • Back when he thought the IG report might help him, Trump was continually pressuring Sessions to hurry it along; now, Trump is already beginning the process of sowing doubt about its conclusions.

Even though it shows the opposite, Trump is taking steps to claim the IG report proves the Justice Department is biased against him and protecting Clinton. It’s clear that Trump didn’t believe his official justification for firing Comey at the time and doesn’t believe it now.

All of Trump’s interference with the Justice Department, from firing Comey to pressuring Sessions to resign to demanding this IG report, has had one motivation: stopping the Russia investigation at all costs.