Since we learned of the unprecedented raid on Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago compound last week, millions of Americans have questioned the political neutrality of the Department of Justice. Federal law enforcement is facing a legitimacy crisis—at least in the eyes of half the country—thanks to the fake and overhyped scandals it drummed up during the Trump years.
So MSNBC’s Morning Joe invited the former FBI official Peter Strzok to assure viewers the bureau was on the level. "Absolutely the American public should trust what the FBI is doing," he said Monday.
You may remember Strzok from such FBI scandals as Russiagate, the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, or his affair with FBI lawyer Lisa Page. As the man in charge of investigations into the two candidates in the 2016 presidential election, he was constantly texting Page about his hatred for Trump. Asking this man to vouch for the integrity of the FBI is like putting Bernie Madoff in charge of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Strzok’s commentary is a microcosm of the mainstream media’s approach to coverage of the Mar-a-Lago raid, about which we still know precious little— except, we are told, that the integrity of our law enforcement officials shall not be questioned!
"The FBI is not the enemy," was the headline of the Washington Post’s lead editorial. The New York Times over the weekend labored to link a nutjob who shot up an FBI office in Ohio with, you know, the "bellicose, dehumanizing, and apocalyptic" language of people like us. It’s extraordinary to hear that sort of tut-tutting from the same crowd that insisted for most of Trump’s presidency that he was a fascist and a Kremlin agent.
Strzok would know something about that—in fact, he’s free to run his mouth on television because the FBI canned him after the Justice Department’s inspector general concluded his anti-Trump texts cast a cloud over the bureau’s investigation into Trump. Strzok personally interfered with the agent overseeing the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn to stop him from closing the file after the evidence against him didn’t pan out.
And his team pushed to include opposition research paid for by the Clinton campaign in an application for a secret surveillance warrant on former Trump adviser Carter Page. That debacle led to the nullification of two of the four warrants and a scathing inspector general’s report that "identified multiple instances" in which the factual assertions the bureau made in the application for the Page warrants "were inaccurate, incomplete, or unsupported by appropriate documentation, based upon information the FBI had in its possession at the time the application was filed."
Perhaps, when we know all the facts, we will find that the FBI raid on Trump’s Florida home was justified. Until then, we reserve our right to question the integrity of the federal law enforcement officials who have demonstrated their willingness to behave like political hacks and abuse the power with which they are entrusted to punish their political opponents.