About that DOJ witch hunt

Jonathan Bernstein links to a lot of other good summaries in his summary, but I thought his was actually the best of the bunch:

But while I agree with Lake that some Democrats “might want to show a bit more humility” about law enforcement and national-security operations after this report — which turned up a number of significant flaws in how the FBI handled the probe — I disagree with his assertion that Republicans are merely “challenging its findings.”

That’s not the main thing happening. In fact, what a lot of Republicans from the president on down are doing is flat-out lying about a report that debunked conspiracy theories that they’ve been running with for a long time. [emphases mine] As it turns out, while the FBI made errors that suggest some serious reforms are in order, those errors weren’t motivated by partisan politics or efforts to undermine Trump. Nor did they lead to the investigation, which began — as everyone in the fact-based universe knew long ago — with a tip about Russia’s meddling from a foreign official.

Here’s how Wittes puts it:

Today, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz declared in more than 450 pages that the “Witch Hunt” narrative was nonsense. Yes, the investigation had problems—some of them serious. But the problems were not political in character. There was no effort to “get” candidate Trump. There was no “insurance policy.” There was no coup. There was no treason.

There was, rather, a properly predicated investigation that began when the FBI has always said it began and because of the information the FBI has always said triggered it. The investigation used proper investigative techniques. And while there were errors along the way, a degree of sloppiness that warrants addressing seriously, the inspector general does not find that any authorized surveillance was illegal.

Trump didn’t challenge these findings; he simply lied about the report, saying that it showed “an overthrow of government, this was an attempted overthrow — and a lot of people were in on it.” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise said, “The IG report proves Obama officials abused their FISA power to trigger an investigation into @realDonaldTrump’s campaign,” when in fact the report said no such thing.

Challenge the findings of an investigation? Absolutely legitimate. Spin the parts that are good for your side? Everyone in politics does that. But to say up is down, day is night, apples are vegetables and baseball is played by horses on a chessboard? No. That’s not part of a healthy democracy. 

Trump, and Republicans in general, have been dead wrong about this investigation. And if they insist on claiming otherwise, it’s up to the media to make clear that they’re simply not telling the truth — and that none of the nefarious things they’ve been alleging actually happened

Again, the report says that the FBI made significant errors.  I hope that Congress takes the need for reform and better oversight seriously. It’s just that the errors made didn’t launch the investigation, and they weren’t a plot against Trump.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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