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Attacking the Agents, Protecting the Bureau

June 18, 2018

Even if you hate Donald Trump; even if you believe former FBI Director James Comey acted honorably, albeit mistakenly, in investigating Hillary Clinton’s emails; even if you believe that politics was not part of the FBI’S investigations of Trump and Clinton, the report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz will cause enormous and lasting harm to the bureau.

Click here to read what the police brass say about NYPD ConfidentialThe report appears to show Comey as an out-of-control egomaniac, and it suggests the possibility that his decisions decided the presidential election, which can never be allowed in a democracy.

The report also suggests that the Obama administration, which was supposed to be supervising the bureau, was run like an amateur hour, where Attorney General Loretta Lynch allowed herself to be compromised by Bill Clinton.

It was her meeting with Clinton on a parked plane on an airport tarmac — all staff barred — that led Comey to conclude he had to take the unprecedented step of calling out Hillary’s email abuses, fearing Lynch would not do so.

“Lynch should have fired him on the spot,” said a law enforcement source, knowledgeable about the FBI. “Obama should have fired Lynch for the Clinton plane meeting.”

Where Horowitz floundered, perhaps purposefully, is his conclusion that the anti-Trump biases of five top bureau officials did not translate into anti-Trump, pro-Hillary investigative decisions. The starkest of these biases is this exchange between FBI lawyer Lisa Page and her then-boyfriend Peter Strzok, the agent leadingthe investigation into possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia:

“[Trump’s] never going to become president, right?” Page asks Strzok.

“No, no, he won’t,” Strzok answers. “We’ll stop it.”

Yet Horowitz concludes that these individual agents’ biases did not “directly affect the specific investigative actions in the case.” That conclusion is difficult, if not impossible, to accept.

Horowitz is no stranger to NYPD Confidential. Twenty-five years ago as an assistant U.S. attorney in Manhattan, he led the drug corruption investigation into the 30th Precinct, what was known as “The Dirty Thirty.”

In the book “NYPD Confidential: Power and Corruption in the Country’s Greatest Police Force,” he explained how he broke the NYPD’s so-called blue wall of silence: “You have to know where their [cops’] bank accounts are, where they’ve hidden their money. Then you have to let them know you aren’t bluffing. When you lay it on the line and tell them what will happen if they don’t cooperate, they’ll think long and hard.”

Click here to read the New York Times profile of Leonard LevittHis federal bosses, engaged in a jurisdictional duel with then-Manhattan D.A. Robert Morgenthau, sought numbers and Horowitz provided them. First, he indicted the most serious malefactors, the drug-dealing cops, then flipped them to turn on lower-level cops for lesser and, some say, the most minor of crimes. In all, 36 cops were convicted, to say nothing of some long-ignored NYPD collateral damage: two precinct suicides plus a rookie cop who locked himself in the precinct bathroom with his gun to his throat before top NYPD brass rushed to the precinct to talk him down.

As tough a prosecutor as Horowitz can be, his past willingness to please his bosses might explain his willingness to protect the FBI now. Whether this will be successful is unclear. Clinton and many Democrats now hate the FBI. So does Trump, and many of his supporters. It could be only a matter of time before the bureau is formally neutered, maybe even having its role in domestic security lessened.


THE FALTERING FEDS
. Federal prosecutors in New York served up their second nothing-burger last week in their long-running NYPD corruption probe with the non-jail time sentencing of Deputy Chief Michael Harrington.

The feds had charged him in 2016 with all sorts of crimes, including accepting bribes from businessmen Jeremy Reichberg and Jona Rechnitz, donors to Mayor Bill de Blasio. But he ultimately pleaded guilty to a minor one of misusing department resources. Harrington got two years’ probation and 180 hours of community service.

Click here to read the Washington Post article on NYPD ConfidentialHarrington is the second player in what was considered to be a major NYPD scandal to have his charges whittled down. The first was stockbroker Murray Huberfeld, originally charged with paying a $60,000 bribe to former corrections union head Norman Seabrook in a $20 million bribery scheme. That was reduced to mismanaging his hedge fund, quite a difference. Sentence: 6 to 12 months in prison.

Prosecutor Martin Bell seemed frustrated enough with Harrington’s sentence that he read into the record part of an NYPD Confidential column of March 12 that said, referring to the feds and the captains’ union whose board refused to pay Harrington’s multi hundred-thousand dollar legal fees: “They destroyed his finances and his reputation, And for what? For nothing.”

Bell disagreed. “This was not nothing,” he said. “It was something important.”

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