Victor Davis Hanson
Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday held a belated press conference to explain that he had personally approved the FBI’s raid of Donald Trump’s Florida residence to seize documents deemed U.S. government property.
A clearly agitated and nervous Garland sought to exude confidence in the raid. He went on to heatedly defend the professionalism and integrity of the Justice Department and FBI.
But almost immediately after his sermon, the Justice Department and its affiliates were back to their usual selective leaking (“sources say” . . . “according to people familiar with the investigation”) to liberal newspapers.
In no time, the Washington Post claimed the raid was aimed at finding Trump Administration documents relating to “nuclear secrets.” The now-familiar desired effect was achieved. “Presidential historian” Michael Beschloss quickly tweeted a picture of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, noting that in the past revealing such nuclear secrets had led to the death penalty. Former CIA Director Michael Hayden, previously known for comparing Trump’s border detention facilities to Auschwitz and falsely claiming the Hunter Biden laptop was Russian “disinformation,” replied: “Sounds about right.” That is, without any proof, it was legitimate to imagine that the former president of the United States, like the Rosenbergs, should be executed for passing nuclear secrets.
So, as intended, the Justice Department and FBI leaks touched off a round of intended liberal hysteria of the sort we saw during Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian collusion with Trump’s 2016 campaign aimed at disguising government misdeeds or overreach.
Sources Tell Us
Despite Garland’s pious assertions, we know the modus operandi of selective leaking from the career of Andrew McCabe. The disgraced former interim FBI director admitted to lying to federal investigators about his role in leaking to the Wall Street Journal. And the inspector general found McCabe lied on several other occasions about his efforts to leak to and massage the media. At this point, we should assume that “sources tell us” and “according to unnamed sources” are indications that the sources are Justice Department and FBI contacts who were given the green light to manipulate the news by their superiors.
Let’s put Garland’s decision to approve the raid on Mar-a-Lago in the context of the past seven years. The Justice Department and FBI in 2016 interfered in a presidential election in two major ways: They exonerated Hillary Clinton’s clearly illegal use of a private server and her destruction of subpoenaed data. The FBI hired Clinton operative Christopher Steele as an informant and gave its “Crossfire Hurricane” imprimatur to the entire Russian collusion hoax, feeding a 2016 left-wing mantra that Trump was a Russian “asset.”
In 2015, we learned that candidate Hillary Clinton, as Barack Obama’s secretary of state, had emailed classified government materials using her own private server, likely as a way of skirting Freedom of Information Act requirements.
In the thick of the 2016 campaign a year later, FBI Director James Comey reported that Clinton had, in fact, broken the law. Yet he assumed a role of federal attorney that was not his own, deciding Clinton’s wrongdoing should not lead to an indictment.
In that improper role, Comey, not U.S. attorneys, declined to hold Clinton accountable. We learned later that Attorney General Loretta Lynch had met secretly on an airport tarmac (“a brief, casual, social meeting”) with Bill Clinton.
Somewhere within this tangle of lies (both said they met only to talk about their grandchildren, not about whether the Justice Department would charge Hillary Clinton), we learned: 1) Lynch abdicated her role and simply let Comey play the role of investigator and prosecutor, and 2) Hillary Clinton had “bleached” thousands of emails, some of them under federal subpoena, and destroyed her communication devices and records—all federal felonies.
Trump won the election in 2016, but he never controlled the federal government. For 22 months, at a cost of $40 million, Robert Mueller investigated whether Trump had “colluded” with the Russians to take the White House. Ironically, there was ample evidence to show that Hillary Clinton may, in fact, have done exactly that.
After all, Clinton worked with the Democratic National Committee, which, in turn, hired the Perkins Coie legal firm, which hired Fusion GPS, which hired ex-spy Christopher Steele, who hired Russian disinformation source Igor Dyachenko, who used Moscow-based former Clintonite Charles Dolan to find dirt on Trump. Where Dyachenko and Dolan located their false dirt for Steele, no one knows for certain. Some Russian source is most likely the culprit.
In the end, the ruse was exposed. But in the process of exposing that scandal, the Justice Department’s inspector general found that FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith had altered an application for a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to make it appear Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page was a Russian agent. (In reality, Page was working with the CIA.) Clinesmith’s FBI superiors had signed off on that fraudulent document that contained legions of errors.
We learned also that two of the FBI investigators working for Mueller in 2017 were rank partisans and in their amorous exchanges before the 2016 election had texted about how to “stop” Trump amid slanders and slurs about his candidacy and supporters. Until they were “reassigned,” both had played key roles in investigating Trump.
We also learned that the FBI had “lost” key cell phone data under court request. We were told that the point man of Mueller’s “dream team,” “all-stars,” and “hunter-killer team”—as the Left gushed of the liberal legal ensemble—former Justice Department attorney Andrew Weismann, before, during, and after his tenure on Mueller’s team was a self-admitted anti-Trump partisan.
Mueller closed shop in 2019, finding no evidence of collusion, after putting two years of a presidency under a constant cloud of implied criminality. Mueller under oath admitted he knew nothing of the Steele dossier or the role of Fusion GPS in disseminating the fraud. No sane person could believe Mueller, given that the role of the dossier and Fusion GPS were the two chief catalysts leading to his own appointment. Was Mueller addled or simply not telling the truth?
The Walls Are Forever Closing In
Throughout this sordid nightmare, the FBI and Justice Department routinely leaked details the left-wing media serially blared were “bombshells” and evidence that the “walls are closing in.” All assured the public that Trump and his family would soon be behind bars for their ties to Russia and sundry other crimes
No one has been held accountable for these lies. James Comey hired the lying Christopher Steele as an informant. The FBI fired him when they discovered he kept leaking secret information to his own media friends. When Comey was finally called to testify by Congress, he swore under oath 245 times that he had no memory or knowledge of the questions asked.
Comey did admit, however, that after a private one-on-one conversation with President Trump, he immediately memorialized his version of the confidential discussion using FBI time and devices. He then acknowledged that he later leaked his version of events to the media through a third party. The goal was to prompt the appointment of a special counsel, eventually to be his friend Robert Mueller. Comey went to great but vain lengths to explain how leaking a government memo of a confidential presidential conversation, which was either classified or confidential, was not illegal.
Comey also later bragged publicly how he sent agent Peter Strzok on a preplanned mission to surprise National Security Advisor Michael Flynn in hopes of finding Flynn in violation of the Logan Act, a 1799 law that has never been prosecuted successfully. Nevertheless, the threat of prosecution was enough to take down a high-profile Trump appointee.
After Comey was rightly fired, his deputy Andrew McCabe assumed control of the FBI. Again, he lied serially to federal investigators. McCabe oversaw the notorious email investigation that exonerated Hillary Clinton—at the very time his wife was running for office in Virginia, aided by funding from a political action committee with ties to the Clintons. McCabe, remember, also purportedly discussed wearing a wire stealthily to monitor Trump, in hopes of recording embarrassing private conversations that would help convince the cabinet to remove him under the 25th Amendment.
In 2020, the FBI sat on the Hunter Biden laptop and its analysts helped feed leaks protecting Joe Biden’s presidential campaign from otherwise damaging disclosures.
Some of the laptop’s contents, however, were in the public domain prior to FBI confiscation, and they had variously suggested that Joe Biden and his family were likely involved in selling influence for sizable sums to foreign governments. The laptop evidence suggested, additionally, that Hunter Biden had committed a series of tax, drug, and sex felonies.
Yet somehow, 50 former CIA and other intelligence officials—among them prior intelligence heads John Brennan, Leon Panetta, Michael Hayden, and James Clapper—believed they had enough knowledge of the laptop on the eve of the election to assure the country it was “Russian disinformation.” Note that Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and other senators believe that an FBI agent and or analyst had deliberately mischaracterized the laptop as “disinformation” to protect Biden.
Merrick Garland can defend but cannot explain the strange role of the FBI informants. Aside from the infamous Steele, informants keep reappearing in almost every sensationalized political event. Twelve of them apparently were the de facto architects in a plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Their nefarious role is one of the reasons why two of the charged defendants were acquitted and two were not found guilty due to mistrials.
Nor could Garland explain the strange statement from New York Times reporter Michael Rosenberg: “There were a ton of FBI informants among the people who attacked the Capitol” on January 6, 2021.
There is also the strange asymmetry of the FBI. It routinely now resorts to pre-dawn SWAT raids, shackling the legs and hands of elderly men, and swooping in on would-be targets on the street. Trump associates Peter Navarro, Rudy Giuliani, and John Eastman have all been confronted by the FBI, and either arrested, had their offices searched, or had their phones seized, or all three. But so far only Roger Stone, the target of an FBI SWAT team—which CNN just happened to be on hand to cover—was charged and convicted of a crime.
Last week’s events at Mar-a-Lago are part of this pattern—raiding the home of the current Republican presidential frontrunner who would beat Joe Biden and Kamala Harris if the general election were held today.
The FBI: What Not to Do
So, to answer Merrick Garland’s scolding, how might the FBI not have lost the faith of the American people?
It might not have altered documents to ruin the life of an American citizen. When subpoenas arrived for phone records, it could have submitted them rather than wipe them clean.
Its directors might not have stonewalled Congress while under oath or lied to federal investigators or leaked confidential government memos to the press. The FBI did not have to mislead about the contents of a controversial laptop. There was no need to hire foreign nationals during a presidential election to supply dirt on one of the two candidates.
The attorney general did not need to meet secretly with the husband of someone under FBI investigation. Just as the FBI apparently did not need to raid Kevin Clinesmith’s home to find information about his doctoring of an email, or to put legs irons on Andrew McCabe for lying to a federal prosecutor, or to ambush Christopher Steele and grab his cell phone to ensure he stopped leaking FBI information and lying to the bureau, so too it had no need of shackling Peter Navarro or publicly seizing the phone of Representative Scott Perry (R-Pa.).
Finally, there are existential threats to the United States on the open southern border, from cartel drug runners and terrorists to child traffickers. For 120 days in 2020, Antifa and Black Lives Matter coordinated violent riots that led to over 35 dead, $2 billion in property damage, and over 1,500 law enforcement officers injured. A federal courthouse, a police precinct, and the historic St. James Episcopal Church in Washington were at various times torched. Rioters attempted to storm the White House grounds and sent the Secret Service scrambling to a secure bunker with the president.
All of the above were mostly ignored by the FBI. Yet these and other violence and illegality posed far more dangers to the American people than do the worried Virginia parents upset about the critical race theory indoctrination of their children.
Finally, Garland has failed to explain why he had sought out a particular federal magistrate to approve the warrant to raid Mar-a-Lago—a magistrate who earlier had recused himself from another case involving Trump. Apparently, Magistrate Bruce Reinhart felt that either his own past partisanship or prior legal work made it impossible for him to remain unbiased in cases involving the former president—except on the present occasion to empower the FBI to raid Trump’s home.
But again, Garland did give a spirited, almost angry defense of the Justice Department and FBI. He was in hot denial that they were anything but professional civil servants. Yet he did not explain why “nuclear secrets,” long sitting in a locked room at Mar-a-Lago, were suddenly putting the nation in harm’s way in a manner they had not eight or 18 months ago.
That raises the question whether Garland is disingenuous or simply naïve. After all, the American people have long trusted their FBI. They want to remain confident in its leadership. Yet it was not the public, but high-ranking Justice and FBI officials themselves—among them most recently Merrick Garland himself—who squandered that confidence. And they should now look inward rather than blast critics for what they have done to themselves and to the country.
23 thoughts on “Why Merrick Garland Is Losing the People”
All true, but where is the Republican party? I have yet to see a single campaign ad that spells out how Hillary Clinton paid for and authorized the Steele ‘Dossier,” and then seeded the lies to their Democrat operatives in the FBI and CIA as well as the press. The DOJ repeatedly prosecutes Trump for made-up crimes that were actually committed by Clinton. These are the plain facts and it would not be hard to explain them to voters of the lowest common denominator. NH voters for example, should be informed in no uncertain terms that their Senator, Maggie Hassan, has approved through her voting record the opening of the Southern border, the shameful retreat from Afghanistan, ending our energy independence and fueling the inflation spiral. We should see endless video of the explosion of the homeless addict, drifter population along with the message that this is the direct result of insane Democrat policies. Talk to Democrats and independents and you will quickly realize that many people are somehow never exposed to the truth and reality of reckless Democrat spending and their one-party, lawless dominance of the Federal government. Campaign messaging from the Republican party is as weak and feckless as the current occupant of the White House. There is no shortage of funds to produce campaign ads. Republicans need to stop bloviating and start acting to report the truth to people about what is really happening to them and their children’s future.
I feel your frustration. The Republicans are stymied since the Democrats call the shots in Congress and Executive branches. Any public pronouncements about the FBI & CIA by Republican Congesspeople are ignored or twisted by all media except Fox. As an example, take our horrible “Open Border” situation and how the media has handled that. Zzzzzzz
As for an ad blitz, it’s too early for them to affect voters that don’t vote for 2 1/2 months.
Here’s the best strategy at this point. Do what the old adage says: ‘”Keep your powder dry”. Let the public opinion pot simmer & boil for now. The Democrats and Biden have done a good job on their own driving the country into a ditch. Independent and minority voters are getting that message. The time to “roll” is October as voters start thinking about the mid-term elections.
AMEN to that!!
The subhumanity of Democrats makes introspection on their part impossible.
Really? I know former Democrats whose introspection led them to become Republicans. Were they never “true” Democrats if they had the introspective ability to change their minds?
Agreed–introspection is totally impossible…especially when running 100% on emotions and 0% on facts.
Never forgive, never forget. Just like Salman Rushdie.
I think what their really worried about is that Trump has hidden the Ark of the Covenant at his estate.
The behavior of the DOJ as a whole and the FBI in particular is truly nothing less than banana republic style partisanship. And as for Merrick Garland, who was portrayed as a moderate when he was appointed to the Supreme Court, it appears his inability to considered by the Senate and Donald Trump’s nomination of Gorsuch in his place has created a deep-seated animosity that is fueling a desire for retribution that will destroy the institution he leads in pursuit of his quarry.
Right on target.
I haven’t missed a VDH podcast once in the last 2 years, I dont have the time to sit a read like I did in college so I always feel lucky when I can listen to Professor Hansen discuss the worlds happenings amongst running errands family job at the gym etc etc.. Im a born n raised Southern Californian my once great state is unrecognizable now and if it wasn’t for aging family career etc etc I would move from my beloved home to look for a better place to raise my family, Im disgusted by the political elite democrat state media which no longer speaks truth to power only the powers “truths” VDH podcasts provide an island of hope for the truth in a sea of corrupt partisan hackery cover ups and propaganda, Thank You PROFESSOR YOUR TIME THOUGHTS AND DISCUSSIONS ARE SO IMPORTANT FOR OUR COUNTRY, GOD BLESS YOU AND YOURS
I grew up in SoCal as well (born in ’57) and used to feel like kissing the ground when I got off an international at LAX. Now I dread going back for even short visits.
Nobody does it better than Victor Davis Hanson.
Thank you for your insight. I have commented on all the platforms I use concerning this very topic, but you say it like no other. I really thought the gall of Mike Pence to say it was irresponsible to call on the defunding of the FBI. How long is anyone allowed to keep their job based on the deceit and corruption they have used “the ways justifies the means”. I like Pence, but after Nov6 I don’t care one iota to hear ANYTHING he has to say…that’s just me.
Best recap ever. I wish I could send it to my brainwashed liberal friends, but they won’t read it. They’d put their fingers in their ears and groan, “La la la la la la la la la la la”
thank you Victor for being the eloquent voice of sanity and truth.
Thank You professor Hanson for another valid description of the recent past.
It seems that the Obama, Clinton, Biden, Garland, Wray and the MSM team is in the process of creating another unreleased affidavit cudgel to beat the GOP /Trump with for these midterms like they did with Mueller dragging his investigation through the midterms of 2018. I wish the GOP had half the resolve, determination and smarts these Marxist schemers have regularly shown since the exposure of Lois Lerner.
Dollars to donuts the FBI raid affidavit gets sent to the same place as the Ukraine impeachment whistleblower, the leaker of the Roe/Wade preliminary brief and the many hours of January 6 video evidence the Speaker refuses to release.
I used to worry about China, but after realizing our economy is Chinas golden goose, I fear our drift into third world status and loss of liberty will come from our own elected politicians.
As per the headline, I don’t think at this stage it really matters whether Garland has lost the people or not. While a lot of people think this is just political harassment and abuse of power, but if the Dems don’t indict Trump that number will grow. So, the die has been cast. The Democrats have committed themselves to charging, trying and jailing Trump. In Garland they may have someone who can succeed at that. I don’t know what the political fallout will be other than it will be wild. But does anyone really believe that Trump can’t be convicted of a serious charge? Of course, the Republicans when they get the chance may then indict Biden, or perhaps Hillary.
Couldn’t have said it better.
Dershowitz recently called Garland “a decent man” . . . if so, might Garland yet acquire a backbone, make amends, and initiate some reforms?
Very good recap Victor!
IMO, the real problem with the “Clinton email” issue was why Republicans sat mute and paralyzed while all that was happening. What power did/do the Clintons have that has allowed them to escape accountability for their *many* crimes over the past 40+ years? How can Republicans get Congressional leaders who will fight instead of surrender?
“Republicans’ favorite exercise is running for the hills.”
Thank you Victor Davis Hanson ,the more I listen to your podcasts and read your articles i understand how little I know !