Showing posts with label FBI. Show all posts
Showing posts with label FBI. Show all posts

September 28, 2019

The File on Trumps' Late McCarthy Lawyer ROY COHN Released By FBI

The FBI on Friday released nearly 750 pages of documents from the bureau’s file on controversial lawyer Roy Cohn, whose clients included President Donald Trump when Trump was a fledgling real estate mogul in New York City.

“Where’s my Roy Cohn?” Trump has been quoted lamenting when he was faced with political and legal pressures.

Cohn was at least the first of two personal lawyers for Trump to be disbarred. The second was Trump’s more recent attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, who gave porn star Stormy Daniels hush money to keep her quiet about an alleged sexual tryst with Trump.
GP: Donald Trump Roy Cohn Trump Tower Opening
GP: Donald Trump Roy Cohn Trump Tower Opening
Roy Cohn (L) and Donald Trump attend the Trump Tower opening in October 1983 at The Trump Tower in New York City.

(Sonia Moskowitz | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images)

The FBI on Friday released nearly 750 pages of documents from the bureau’s file on the late Roy Cohn, the controversial, hyper-aggressive lawyer whose high-profile clients included President Donald Trump when Trump was a fledgling real estate mogul in New York City.

“Where’s my Roy Cohn?” Trump has been quoted lamenting when he was faced with political and legal pressures.

Cohn was famous — and infamous — for his work for Sen. Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin in the 1950s investigating suspected infiltration by communists in U.S. government agencies, as well as his role prosecuting Soviet spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were executed for stealing American atomic secrets.

In the Rosenberg case, Cohn later admitted to conversations with the trial judge outside of the presence of the Rosenberg lawyers — a serious ethical breach by both Cohn and the judge.

The Big Apple bon vivant Cohn also was an associate of the admitted Republican dirty trickster Roger Stone, another Trump ally.

Stone currently is under indictment for lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstructing justice, charges related to his alleged efforts to get WikiLeaks to release emails stolen from Democrats during the 2016 presidential campaign. He has pleaded not guilty in that case.

The release of the FBI’s Cohn files comes on the heels of a new documentary that uses Trump’s quote “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” as its title.

The vast majority of the FBI files include details of an investigation into Cohn for perjury, conspiracy and obstruction of justice in connection with a grand jury probe of an alleged $50,000 bribe Cohn paid the then-chief assistant U.S. attorney in Manhattan to keep several stock swindlers from being indicted in 1959.

Cohn was found not guilty after a trial in that case in 1964.

A number of the files were sent directly to J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI’s director at the time, and reflect the bureau’s painstaking efforts to acquire information about trips by Cohn to Las Vegas in 1959, and other evidence, in connection with the bribery case.

One memo that was sent in July 1962 to both Hoover and then-Attorney General Robert Kennedy details the claim by a source of the FBI’s Las Vegas office.

The source said that gamblers in that city, worried about “extreme pressure” being applied by the federal government on the Nevada gambling industry, had approached the Justice Department’s criminal division chief “to determine whether he would ‘trade Las Vegas’ for ‘Roy Cohn.’”

The Justice Department’s division chief “flatly rejected” that approach, the source told the FBI.

A small part of the files released Friday include a letter that Cohn sent Hoover in 1969 when Cohn was being prosecuted on other federal criminal charges, for which he ultimately was acquitted.

Cohn’s clients after his acquittal included Trump, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, and Carmine Galante and “Fat Tony” Salerno, suspected Mafia chieftains. He also numbered among his celebrity friends President Ronald Reagan’s wife, Nancy.

“Trump introduced himself to Cohn, who was sitting at a nearby table, and sought advice: How should he and his father respond to Justice Department allegations that their company had systematically discriminated against black people seeking housing?”″ The Post reported.

“My view tells them to go to hell,” Cohn said, according to the Post. “And fight the thing in court.”

Cohn eventually filed a $100 million countersuit against the Justice Department for its allegations against Trump’s company. After that suit failed, Trump settled the Justice Department’s claims out of court.

Cohn died in 1986 from complications of AIDS, less than two months after being disbarred for professional ethics violations.

Despite years of using rumors about the homosexuality of his foes to smear them, Cohn himself was gay. He claimed until his death that he had liver disease, not AIDS.

Cohn’s closeted sexuality, ruthlessness against alleged communists and role as a bete noire of the left in the United States led to him being featured as a prominent character in Tony Kushner’s landmark play, “Angels in America.” Al Pacino portrayed Cohn in the HBO adaptation of that drama.

NBC archive footage shows Trump partying with Jeffrey Epstein in 1992
Cohn was one of two personal lawyers for Trump to be disbarred, in his case for a range of misconduct.

The second was Trump’s more recent attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, who is serving a three-year federal prison term for crimes that include ones related to a hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about an alleged sexual tryst with Trump in the mid-2000s.

Trump denies having sex with Daniels or with another woman, Playboy model Karen McDougal, who received another hush money payout before the 2016 election that was facilitated by Cohen.

Earlier this week, a relative of Cohn’s wrote a column for Politico Magazine entitled “I’m Roy Cohn’s Cousin. He Would Have Detested Trump’s Russia Fawning.”

“My cousin Roy Marcus Cohn—counsel to Senator Joe McCarthy, consigliere to Mafia bosses, mentor to Donald Trump—had almost no principles,” the column by David Marcus said.

“He smeared Jews even though he was Jewish. He tarred Democrats even though he was a Democrat. He persecuted gay people even though he was gay. Yet throughout his life, he held fast to one certainty: Russia and America were enemies,” Marcus wrote.

“Roy often told me the Kremlin blamed the U.S. for Russia’s failure to prosper, so Russian leaders were bent on destroying our democracy. If Roy had lived another 30 years, I’m sure he’d be pleased to learn that his protégé was elected president. But I am equally sure Roy would be appalled by Trump’s obsequious devotion to ex-KGB officer Vladimir Putin.”

— Additional reporting by CNBC’s Kevin Breuninger.

August 13, 2019

Some Times There is a Story That Makes You Smile: Kidnapped Boy 5 Saved by FBI Agent, Now 22


Special Agent Troy Sowers wanted something simple for his retirement from the FBI. "I asked for coffee and doughnuts," he said. 
Instead, he got a surprise: a visit from the baby boy he rescued from a kidnapper 22 years ago on one of his first assignments in the FBI. 
In 1997, Sowers was new on the job at the FBI's Tacoma Resident Agency when a woman posing as a doctor kidnapped a newborn baby boy from St. Clare Hospital in Lakewood, Wash. 
Sowers and his colleagues began an arduous, 19-hour search for the infant. After the kidnapper was apprehended by police, she led Sowers to the baby boy. Hours before her arrest, the kidnapper had left the infant in a cardboard box behind a convenience store. 
Sowers is retiring from the FBI as special agent in charge of the bureau's field office in Knoxville, Tenn. At his retirement ceremony on Friday, his colleague, Knoxville Assistant Special Agent in Charge Sherri Onks, held up a photo of a Marine. 
The FBI reports

Rembert said it was a privilege to meet the man who saved his life. "I was just really ecstatic, that they would come to me 22 years later," Rembert said. 
Rembert, now a corporal in the Marines based out of Camp Lejeune, said he didn't learn about the kidnapping until he was about 5 years old. 
"I was happy to tell him that I'm living a good life, and I'm going to continue living a good life," Rembert told the FBI. "His efforts that day, and all of his efforts since, made a difference."
Sowers said meeting Rembert was a great surprise. "I'm proud of anybody that serves others above themselves," said Sowers. "The fact that he is now doing that makes that case even more special."

September 29, 2018

Thank To Sen Jeff Flake White House Orders An FBI Investigation to Find Facts About Judge Kavanaugh

Trump's statements appear to have backed off a bit from the defiant attack on Democrats for a "search and destroy strategy" against the nominee that he tweeted Thursday night.

Speaking to reporters at the White House before a meeting with Chile's President Sebastián Piñera, Trump said that undecided senators must do what makes them "comfortable" regarding his nomination, adding that he had "no message whatsoever" for the senators who now face a vote to confirm Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court Justice.

"They have to do what they think is right," he said. "There is no message whatsoever. They have to do what they think is right. They have to be comfortable with themselves and I’m sure that’s what they want."
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday voted to advance Kavanaugh's nomination, but only after Republican Sen. Jeff Flake called for a one-week delay on a final vote to allow the FBI to investigate the sexual misconduct allegations.

 GOP Sem Jeff Flake, with the weight of the Senate on his shoulders

Republican Sen. Jeff Flake after speaking during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sept. 28, 2018.
Flake said he would oppose moving forward with Kavanaugh's nomination in the full Senate if Republicans try to bring it up before then.
Asked about the delay, Trump said, "I’m going to let the Senate handle that."
"They’ll make their decisions," he added. "They’ve been doing a good job and very professional. I’m just hearing a little bit about it because I’ve been with the president of Chile and we're talking about some very important subjects. I’m sure it will all be very good."

"I guess the vote was a positive vote but there seems to be a delay. I’ll learn more about it as the day goes on. I just heard about it because we were together."
Look at Senator (R) Jeff Flake. His face shows all the turmoil he is going through and his disagreement at all the political wrangling. Getting an FBI investigation should be the least to ask about of an appointment of this magnitude when there is a credible testimony from a credible witness about Kavanaugh's behavior and maybe lying under oath.
Thanks to Se. Flake, there will be an FBI investigation and this locomotive will be delayed one more week or so until the FBI is done.

April 16, 2018

ComeyTells The Nation What Most of Us Already Know, "Trump is a Serial Lier"

Photo: Ralph Alswang/ABC via Getty Images

In an exclusive interview with ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on "20/20" tonight, former FBI director James Comey said that Trump is "morally unfit to be president" and that the American public was "duty bound" to vote him out of office in 2020. 
His key line: “You cannot have, as president of the United States, someone who does not reflect the values that I believe Republicans treasure and Democrats treasure and independents treasure. That is the core of this country. That’s our foundation. And so impeachment, in a way, would short-circuit that.”
More hot quotes from Comey in the ABC interview, some first obtained by the NYT:
  • On impeaching Trump: "I think impeaching and removing Donald Trump from office would let the American people off the hook and have something happen indirectly that I believe they're duty bound to do directly. People in this country need to stand up and go to the voting booth and vote their values."
  • On Charlottesville: "A person who sees moral equivalence in Charlottesville, who talks about and treats women like they are pieces of meat, who lies constantly about matters big and small and insists the American people believe it, that person's not fit to be president of the United States, on moral grounds."
  • On Trump's intelligence: "I don't buy this stuff about him being mentally incompetent or early stages of dementia. He strikes me as a person of above average intelligence who's tracking conversations and knows what's going on."
  • On the most salacious allegations in the Steele dossier: "I honestly never thought these words would come out of my mouth, but I don't know whether the current president of the United States was with prostitutes peeing on each other in Moscow in 2013. It's possible, but I don't know."
  • On investigating Hillary Clinton's emails: "Of course, at the time, I had no idea that I could make both halves angry at us, but we'll come to that later. But the deputy director who was a great deputy director and a longtime special agent, looked at me and said, 'You know you're totally screwed, right?' And I smiled. And I said, 'Yup. Nobody gets out alive.'
  • On his comment that Clinton exercised "extreme carelessness:" "I wasn't trying to go easy on her or hard on her. I was trying to be honest and clear with the American people. What she did was really sloppy."
  • On Trump's reluctance to criticize Vladimir Putin: "I can understand the arguments why the president of the United States might not want to criticize the leader of another country...But you would think that in private-- talking to the F.B.I. director, whose job it is to thwart Russian attacks, you might acknowledge that this enemy of ours is an enemy of ours. But I never saw. And so I don't know the reason. I really don't."
  • On his plane-ride home after being fired from the FBI: "I took a bottle of red wine out of my suitcase that I was bringing back from California, a California pinot noir, and I drank red wine from a paper coffee cup...And then I-- as-- we got close to the airport in Washington, I asked the pilots could I sit up with them, 'cause I'd never done it...And-- and then we shook hands with tears in our eyes and then I left and get driven home."
  • On possible obstruction of justice: "I woke up in the middle of the night and the thought hit me like a lightning bolt, like, 'Wait a minute. If there are tapes, he will be heard on that tape in the Oval Office asking me to let it go. There is corroboration or could be corroboration for the thing we thought we'll never be able to corroborate...'Of possible obstruction of justice. Somebody's gotta go get those tapes."
  • Published on Axios

February 1, 2018

Nunes Memo } What Is It and Why FBI Opposes The Declassification and Release?

Q: How Did some members of Congress got hold of a classified FISA application on the investigation of the FBI which caused Nunez to write this memo. He didn't release the memo because it needed to be unclassified and since the FBI would not do declassifiy it,  to Trump it came to Unclassifiy it if he was going to release which he says he will .

Nunes “seemed to go out of his way to defend Trump,” the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake wrote, “in a way few others did.”
Perhaps the clearest example arose after Trump tweeted in March that President Obama had “wiretapped” Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential campaign. The heads of both the NSA and the FBI categorically denied that any such wiretapping had occurred. But Nunes quickly came to Trump’s defense, holding a press conference to announce that “the intelligence community incidentally collected information about US citizens involved in the Trump transition.”
What this actually meant is that some Trump transition personnel had been in contact with foreigners legally under surveillance, and their conversations were intercepted as part of that surveillance (that’s what “incidentally collected” means). This, needless to say, did not vindicate Trump’s claim that the Obama administration was spying on his campaign headquarters.
However, the timing of Nunes’s press conference and the confusing way in which Nunes presented the information made it seem like he was trying to provide cover for Trump. The president himself said Nunes’s revelation “somewhat” vindicated his tweets.
Then it turned out that Nunes got his information from the Trump White House itself. Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the National Security Council’s senior director for intelligence, uncovered the information; Michael Ellis, a White House attorney who worked for Nunes prior to the Trump administration, personally took it to Nunes.
To recap: Nunes released information in such a manner as to make it look like Trump’s claims of being persecuted by law enforcement were true — and did so after secretly getting the information from the Trump White House. The situation proved to be such an embarrassment that Nunes was forced to recuse himself from the intelligence committee’s investigation into Russia for eight months during a House ethics investigation into his conduct.
So when news broke in mid-January that Nunes had been working in secret to prepare a memo on FBI surveillance of the Trump campaign, the initial sense among intelligence experts was that it would be a repeat of the wiretapping debacle — Nunes misrepresenting intelligence to support President Trump’s political position.
But many of Nunes’s colleagues in the House saw it as damning proof of anti-Trump animus at the FBI. They started a public campaign, backed by conservative media, to #ReleaseTheMemo. This culminated in Monday’s vote by the intelligence committee, along party lines, to begin the process for formally releasing it.

2) What does the Nunes memo allege?

Trump's ex-adviser Carter Page gives presentation in Moscow
Carter Page
 Artyom Korotayev/TASS/Getty Images

The full contents of the memo obviously aren’t public yet. But several officials familiar with its contents told the New York Times that it focuses on surveillance of Carter Page, a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser with business ties to Russia and open sympathieswith the Kremlin’s foreign policy. The key allegation, according to the Times and other outlets, is that the surveillance of Page was improperly authorized — and potentially politically motivated. 
In July 2016, while advising the Trump campaign, Page flew to Moscow and met with Russian officials. This raised eyebrows among US intelligence officers, to say the least. So the FBI and DOJ put together an application to a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court — a court that approves surveillance warrants pertaining to national security and foreign intelligence — to start watching Page. The court granted the application.
The Nunes memo reportedly alleges that this surveillance was not properly vetted by the court; specifically, that it relied on the now-infamous Steele dossier, the document prepared by former British spy Christopher Steele alleging the existence of a conspiracy between Donald Trump and the Russian government.
“The memo’s primary contention,” the Times writes, “is that FBI and Justice Department officials failed to adequately explain to an intelligence court judge in initially seeking a warrant for surveillance of Mr. Page that they were relying in part on research by [Steele].”
Steele’s research was, partially and indirectly, financed by the Clinton campaign — which the memo alleges is a major problem. Not only did the FBI spy on a Trump adviser on the basis of partisan opposition research, the argument goes, but they weren’t fully honest with a judge about doing so.
There are lots of problems with the memo’s alleged line of reasoning. For one thing, Steele is a respected investigator, and some of his dossier’s less explosive allegations have so far proven to be true. The FBI’s surveillance application may have relied on Steele’s findings, but if that’s true, it doesn’t necessarily discredit the application.
For another thing, the memo’s claims are impossible to evaluate without seeing the underlying intelligence it was based on. Nunes could have highlighted the FBI’s citation of Steele without mentioning other, more concrete sources the agency listed.
“The memo won’t actually answer the underlying question, which is whether there was sufficient independent evidence to support the underlying FISA application,” Steve Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas, said. “Only the application materials can conclusively shed a light on that.”
Finally, the idea that FBI agents would act in such a way — and a FISA judge would let them — strikes a lot of legal observers as absurd. The FISA process certainly can and has been abused — that’s something civil libertarians have been warning about for a long time. 
But this particular method of abuse would require an implausibly vast conspiracy, for reasons former FBI special agent and current Yale Law professor Asha Rangappa lays out in a detailed post on FISA procedures at Just Security:
The Nunes Memo reportedly alleges that at least a dozen FBI agents and DOJ prosecutors fabricated evidence, engaged in a criminal conspiracy to commit perjury, lucked out on being randomly assigned Judge Low Blood Sugar who looked the other way, and — coincidentally — ended up obtaining evidence that justified extending the initial FISA surveillance. ...
If Nunes has in fact singlehandedly uncovered this vast criminal enterprise, it’s hard to know what’s more astonishing: That a government bureaucracy managed to pull it off — or that Nunes has exposed it all in a scant four-page memo.
So if the Times’s description of the memo’s “primary contention” is accurate, then there are good reasons to be skeptical of it even beyond Nunes’s personal history of misusing intelligence.

3) Does the Nunes memo implicate anyone important?

Deputy A.G. Rod Rosenstein Addresses The State Of The Net Conference
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
 Mark Wilson/Getty Images

There’s a second part to the memo, according to the Times report, focusing on the reauthorization of surveillance of Page in 2016. This part is vital because it directly implicates Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — the man currently supervising special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
In late spring of 2017, the FBI petitioned to renew its surveillance warrant on Page. According to the Times, the memo claims Rosenstein personally signed off on the renewal application.  
The reason this matters, the Times writes, is that “Republicans could potentially use Mr. Rosenstein’s decision to approve the renewal to suggest that he failed to properly vet a highly sensitive application for a warrant to spy on Mr. Page.” But it’s actually deeper than that. 
The memo already seems to imply that the Russia investigation is a corrupt partisan hatchet job. By bringing Rosenstein into it, it also ends up indicting the guy currently in charge of the Russia investigation — suggesting he’s at best incompetent and at worst corrupt. Theoretically, this would be cause for Trump to dismiss Rosenstein.
Trump currently can’t fire Mueller without Rosenstein’s say-so; Rosenstein said in December that there is no “good cause” to fire Mueller. If he were to fire Rosenstein based on the memo, he might be able to get to Rosenstein.

4) Why do House Republicans want to release it so much?

State of the Union
Rep. Matt Gaetz with Trump.
 Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Ostensibly, Republicans in the House have been pushing to release the memo because they believe it outlines surveillance abuses the American people need to know about.
“Let’s have a great debate about its consequences and the opportunity it presents to make things better, so these things never happen again,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said in a January 30 speech on the House floor.
But experts on the FISA system, even civil libertarians critical of the way law enforcement uses it, are skeptical. They note that these Republicans aren’t proposing any changes to how FISA works, or even suggesting that the system in general needs reform to stop any future abuses. 
“There’s a conspicuous lack of interest in drawing any policy conclusions from what they purportedly consider a major institutional scandal,” Julian Sanchez, an expert in privacy law at the libertarian Cato Institute, said. 
Instead, the motivation seems purely political. Many of the most vigorous supporters of #ReleaseTheMemo, like Gaetz, have also called on President Trump to fire Robert Mueller. “I think the president should’ve fired Mueller long ago,” Gaetz said in a December interview with Vox.
These are people who seem to either genuinely believe that the Russia investigation is a partisan witch hunt targeting the president or believe there’s some political advantage to be gained from championing an anti-FBI crusade near and dear to both the president’s and Fox News’s heart. 
Either way, experts say the motivation behind the memo’s release seems pretty clear — it’s a way of waging war on the Russia investigation specifically and the FBI in general.
“The release of the memo and the fabrication of a set of ideas around the memo empowers Trump to go after the FBI,” Ryan Goodman, a former Defense Department special counsel and current editor of Just Security, said. “The ultimate goal is undermining the Mueller investigation. There doesn’t seem to be another reason for the president to be so obsessed with Rod Rosenstein and to be gunning for him.”

5) Why do the FBI and Democrats oppose it? 


The FBI and Democrats don’t like the Nunes memo for one big reason: They think it’s full of lies. 

On Wednesday, the FBI put out a strongly worded statement signaling the agency’s worry with the memo’s accuracy:
The FBI takes seriously its obligations to the FISA Court and its compliance with procedures overseen by career professionals in the Department of Justice and the FBI. We are committed to working with the appropriate oversight entities to ensure the continuing integrity of the FISA process.
With regard to the House Intelligence Committee’s memorandum, the FBI was provided a limited opportunity to review this memo the day before the committee voted to release it. As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the top Democrat on the House Select Intelligence Committee, said after the statement that he sided with the FBI. “I think the FBI is exactly right. I have the same grave concerns over it.” He added that he knew of the FBI’s concerns before he voted against the memo’s release.
Schiff and his fellow Democrats on the committee also went the extra step of compiling a 10-page memo of their own. It reportedly asserts two things. First, that the FBI didn’t abuse its FISA power when requesting the Page warrant. Second, and more importantly, that the Nunes memo is simply an effort to help the White House discredit the Mueller probe. 
On Monday, Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) asked Nunes if his staffers worked with the White House on his memo. Nunes originally answered the question by saying “as far as I know,” no one collaborated with the White House. Ultimately, though, he refused to answer the question — perhaps suggesting that there may actually have been some collusion there.
The House Intelligence Committee, however, voted not to make the Democratic memo public. But late on Wednesday, Schiff tried another gambit — arguing that Nunes “substantively” altered the memo in between voting to release it and sending it to Trump and that the altered memo would require another House vote. It’s too early yet to tell if this argument will fly.

January 17, 2018

The FBI Crumbles To A Few Congressional Republicans Looking to Exonerate Trump

When you have bias men on the President's party looking at sencitive information you can make sure of:   (1) Leaks (2) No more secret cources

The Justice Department’s decision to give congressional Republicans access to documents about FBI investigations risks exposing sensitive sources or material and poses a critical early test for bureau Director Christopher Wray, current and former U.S. law enforcement officials say.  
Some officials view the department as capitulating to a small group of Republicans who are intent on helping President Donald Trump undermine the integrity of the FBI and, by extension, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump or any of his associates helped Russia interfere in the 2016 election.
It’s the latest setback for a law enforcement agency that has long held itself out as doggedly independent and above partisan politics, only to be besieged over the last two years by questions about its handling of politically sensitive investigations into Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Trump.
One agent said he’s now concerned that forms identifying FBI informants would be handed over to Congress. If that happened, he said, it would cause him to think carefully about whether to withhold sensitive information from future reports.
Another agent said recent statements about the bureau by Trump and congressional Republicans have made it more difficult for him to get informants to open up.
Trump has tweeted that the Federal Bureau of Investigations is “in Tatters -- worst in history” and has said a senior official committed “treason.” 
As the Russia investigation continues to hang over the White House, Republicans in Congress have sought to turn the tables on the FBI by calling into question the fairness and methods of senior agents. They’ve been requesting documents and holding public hearings that focus on alleged wrongdoing or political bias by agents.
FBI Chief of Staff James Rybicki is to be interviewed behind closed doors on Thursday by members of two House committees, according to two officials familiar with the plans.
The controversy over giving Republicans access to sensitive investigative materials has struck a nerve because it comes after months of rare, intense political scrutiny of the FBI, including former Director James Comey’s handling of the investigation into former Secretary of State Clinton’s use of a private email server.
In the midst of the 2016 presidential campaign, Comey angered Republicans by announcing that there wasn’t enough evidence to charge Clinton for mishandling classified information, a departure from normal procedures calling for the bureau to remain silent when crimes aren’t found. Then, he angered Democrats by briefly reopening the inquiry shortly before election day, a move Clinton contends cost her the election.
The actions by Comey, who was fired by Trump in May, and the criticism that followed began a shift for an agency that was long viewed as apolitical and whose leaders won support from both parties.

Unrest in Ranks

A dozen current and former officials -- all from the career ranks of the FBI and Justice Department, as opposed to the president’s political appointees -- spoke to Bloomberg News on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters and express their concerns.
Their views weren’t uniform but collectively represent unrest and morale problems within the ranks of agents, prosecutors and career officials in response to attacks on the integrity and leadership of the FBI and Justice Department.
Thomas O’Connor, president of the FBI Agents Association, said special agents “are focused on the Constitution and protecting the public” and “their work should be recognized, not denigrated.” The association represents 14,000 active and retired special agents.
“Attacks on our character and demeaning comments about the FBI will not deter agents from continuing to do what we have always done -- dedicate our lives to protecting the American people,” O’Connor said in a statement. “The true story of the FBI cannot be reduced to partisan talking points.”
(The FBI declined to comment for this story)

Meeting With Ryan

Tensions between Republicans and the Justice Department deepened in recent weeks as lawmakers demanded sensitive documents and agency leaders resisted turning them over. The standoff led to a dramatic meeting between House Speaker Paul Ryan, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Wray to discuss potential contempt of Congress charges for failing to turn over documents.
In the end, the Justice Department agreed to give lawmakers material they requested, though it’s unclear whether Republicans will get everything they want.
On Jan. 11, the Justice Department began giving two House committees what could amount to more than 1.2 million documents about FBI investigative decisions made in 2016, including related to the investigation into Clinton. Additional documents are expected to be provided in the coming days.
Current and former officials expressed a number of concerns. One agent said some officials working on Russian counterintelligence probes of any kind might now be hesitant to report their findings to superiors, given the political furor over the Mueller investigation.
A former senior agent said the credibility of the FBI is on the line, and close attention is being paid to how the situation is handled by Wray, who took over as director in August. Agents are waiting to see how assertive the director will be in defending them and other career officials and whether he’ll refuse to hand over documents that might compromise covert sources and operations, the former agent said.

Bias Alleged

Other officials said they’re worried about an effort by Trump and his allies to oust anyone seen as being disloyal to the president. During a hearing in December, Republican Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas named specific FBI officials and asked Wray whether they’ve ever openly displayed a bias against the Trump administration. 
Republican criticism about Mueller’s probe intensified after the recent revelation that a top FBI agent assigned to the special counsel’s team sent anti-Trump texts in the summer of 2016. One exchange by the agent, Peter Strzok, with another senior official included remarks “that there’s no way” Trump would win the election but “we can’t take that risk.” Mueller removed Strzok after learning of the texts.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Jan. 11, Trump said the agent committed “a treasonous act” by plotting to overturn the election results. The president also called for Republican investigators in Congress to conclude their probes swiftly.
Wray hasn’t said anything publicly in response to Trump’s suggestion of treason. However, he has repeatedly defended the integrity and professionalism of the FBI workforce in speeches and congressional testimony.

Inspector General

The documents now being turned over were requested by Republican leaders of the House Judiciary Committee and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Some of the requested documents were outlined in a Nov. 3 letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Rosenstein. The documents sought appear to dovetail with areas that the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, is investigating, such as the handling of the Clinton probe. Horowitz plans to wrap up his investigation in March or April.
It’s uncertain whether the information being turned over might add to Republican claims of bias in favor of Clinton and against Trump during the presidential campaign, and even to efforts to undercut Mueller’s investigation.
“We want the information that Horowitz has,” Republican Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio said. He said interviews also are being arranged with seven FBI and Justice Department officials, as well as others.
By Chris Strohm and Greg Farrell in Bloomberg
— With assistance by Billy House

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