Of Course: CNN Frets White House Will ‘Seize’ Upon I.G. Report, ‘Take’ a ‘Victory Lap’ Over Findings

Moments after Thursday’s long-awaited release of the Department of Justice Inspector General report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation, a CNN Newsroom panel dismissed it as a “mild” report in which “[t]he other shoe didn’t drop” and will provide “[p]lenty of ammunition for both sides.” However, they fretted that the White House will “seize” on its findings and “take” a “victory lap” considering some of the findings. 

Senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin went first, telling host Brooke Baldwin that there’s “[p]lenty of ammunition for both sides” because “[i]f you think the FBI didn't like Hillary Clinton and didn't want to see here elected president and was biased against her, you can find that in this report” and vice versa concerning Donald Trump and his supporters.

 

 

Chief political analyst Gloria Borger observed that “what we're seeing in the reaction here is a very partisan reaction and predictable” and that there was no widespread political bias at the FBI.

Law enforcement analyst and walking Notable Quotable Phil Mudd diagnosed the report as having coming out with a whimper (click “expand” for more)

The other shoe didn't drop. I mean, we knew a lot of the facts here. Very poor judgment exercised, in my view, by the Attorney General — former Attorney General Loretta lynch. Really poor judgement James Comey, stupid e-mails between FBI participants in the investigation. We knew all that. The other shoe, which I anticipated, didn’t happen. That is, the inspector general, I thought, would come out and say and then I saw some of this bias reflected in activities at the core of the investigation that questioned the integrity of the investigation. Didn’t happen. I expected a sledge hammer. We just got the same kind of hammer you use to nail in a painting on the wall. I don’t — I didn’t — I was surprised at how mild it was. 

Borger replied later that FBI employees are “allowed to have opinions but you check it at the door” and “[t]hat did not happen, but the inspector general did not take it to the next step and say that there was a conspiracy, that it was pervasive throughout the FBI, that it did affect either the Hillary Clinton investigation or it did run over into the Russia investigation, which the President has said is rigged because these same people were investigating him.”

Right on cue, Baldwin then used a phrase that the liberal media love to use when something bad happens to the left (though probably only behind the phrases “pounce” and “seize”) (click “expand”):

Which is exactly where I wanted to go next because we had this first press we're going to see Sarah Sanders in that white house briefing room momentarily. You know, let me just go out on a limb, everyone, and assume that they're going to take this victory lap, right? We keep hearing these words witch hunt from the President. You know, she'll say it's justified, but I think also... it's so important not to conflate. You know, Comey can screw up, violate the Department's norm on the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation but that has nothing to do with the legitimacy of the Mueller-Russia investigation. 

“Right. Although it will be easy for Sarah Sanders and the President to combine those two events,” Toobin replied.

Going to the White House for reaction, lead carnival barker and chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta complained that the White House press briefing was pushed back because “I think they're loading more cannon balls into the cannons over here to respond to this I.G. report.”

Acosta added:

Obviously this is a big embarrassment for the FBI to have these texts going back and forth, talking about stopping Trump during the 2016 election. That — that is obviously an embarrassment for the FBI and the White House is likely to seize on that and say this is an example of what the President is up again and justifying all the President's tweets up until now saying that the Justice Department and the FBI have been biased against him. 

To see the relevant transcript from June 14's CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin, click “expand.”

CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin
June 14, 2018
2:09 p.m. Eastern

JEFFREY TOOBIN: Plenty of ammunition for both sides. If you think the FBI didn't like Hillary Clinton and didn't want to see here elected president and was biased against her, you can find that in this report. If you think that the FBI was dias against Donald Trump and there were agents there he hated him and didn't want him to win, you can find that there. It's not a good for the FBI. It’s certainly not a glowing report under either of those scenarios but I doubt many people whose minds haven't been made up will be changed by what's disclosed today. 

BROOKE BALDWIN: Gloria? 

GLORIA BORGER: Well, I think what we're seeing in the reaction here is a very partisan reaction and predictable. You know, the Democrats are saying that Hillary Clinton was badly treated and the Republicans are saying, you know, wait a minute, James Comey did not adhere to protocol and, therefore, the President, a, was right to fire him and I'm sure we'll hear more about that from the President himself and however, the inspector general could not have been more clear about the fact that he says there was no conspiracy here within the FBI and we'll see how that plays with the president, who has said, yes, there's a conspiracy and it has moved over to the Russia investigation. 

BALDWIN: Phil? 

PHIL MUDD: The other shoe didn't drop. I mean, we knew a lot of the facts here. Very poor judgment exercised, in my view, by the Attorney General — former Attorney General Loretta lynch. Really poor judgement James Comey, stupid e-mails between FBI participants in the investigation. We knew all that. The other shoe, which I anticipated, didn’t happen. That is, the inspector general, I thought, would come out and say and then I saw some of this bias reflected in activities at the core of the investigation that questioned the integrity of the investigation. Didn’t happen. I expected a sledge hammer. We just got the same kind of hammer you use to nail in a painting on the wall. I don’t — I didn’t — I was surprised at how mild it was. 

BALDWIN: Well, okay. You see mild. You also referred to the text messages as stupid. So, Phil, I just want to say with you on that because that was the first time we really saw in the text, the language between, you know, Page and Strzok. Again: “[Trump's] never going to become president, right?” “No. No, he won't. We'll stop it.” I mean, how damaged — first of all, how damaged do you think law enforcement agencies are because of this coming out.

MUDD: Well, I could tell. Anybody serving at the FBI and I expected Christopher Wray, the FBI Director, who’s supposed to speak at 5:30 today will address this, you cannot say that on a government phone. The point here is not that Americans including those working at the places like the FBI either despise Hillary Clinton or despise Donald Trump. A lot of people did. The point is you can't exchange those messages on the phone, but you're going to go back to the question of then did the inspector general then say I saw that kind of language as pervasive enough that it affected the investigation as a whole and he very clearly said that didn't happen. 

BALDWIN: Right. That's the question as to whether or not these two and their views clearly were emblematic of an agency. But you know conservatives are going to say how could this not be political motivated?

BORGER: Well, look, I — I think that the — that the e-mail exchange was kind of dumb and, you know, following up on what Phil said, it shouldn’t. It shouldn't have happened. It's not as if — you know, when you serve on a jury, you're allowed to have your opinions going into a jury, but you kind of check them at the door. When you work at the FBI, you know, you're allowed to have opinions but you check it at the door. That did not happen, but the inspector general did not take it to the next step and say that there was a conspiracy, that it was pervasive throughout the FBI, that it did affect either the Hillary Clinton investigation or it did run over into the Russia investigation, which the President has said is rigged because these same people were investigating him. So, you know, the inspector general stopped short of doing that but that will not stop political opponents from saying it. 

BALDWIN: Which is exactly where I wanted to go next because we had this first press we're going to see Sarah Sanders in that white house briefing room momentarily. You know, let me just go out on a limb, everyone, and assume that they're going to take this victory lap, right? We keep hearing these words witch hunt from the President. You know, she'll say it's justified, but I think also, Jeff Toobin, you've been so great on this, it's so important not to conflate. You know, Comey can screw up, violate the Department's norm on the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation but that has nothing to do with the legitimacy of the Mueller-Russia investigation. 

TOOBIN: Right. Although it will be easy for Sarah Sanders and the President to combine those two events. I mean, remember, one of the main issues in the Mueller investigation is did President Trump obstruct justice by firing James Comey in order to interfere or stop the Russia investigation? The President, from the very beginning, has said — or he said a lot of different things but — but the subsequent justification for firing has always been, no, I fired him because he was incompetent, because he screwed up the Hillary Clinton investigation. This — this report gives him ammunition to say, see, James Comey deserved to be fired, independent of the Russian investigation. 

BALDWIN: Let’s just remind — 

TOOBIN: I’m sorry. Go ahead.

BALDWIN: No, let's remind everyone, I think, on your point. Let’s remind everyone what the President has said on his firing of James Comey. Roll the sound. 

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP [on NBC Nightly News, 05/11/17]: Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey, knowing there was no good time to do it and, in fact, when I decided to just do it, said to myself, I said you know, this Russia thing with trump and Russia, it's a made-up story. It's an excuse for the Democrats having lost an election that they should have won. [SCREEN WIPE] [on 10/31/16] That was so bad what happened originally and it took guts for Director Comey to make the move that he made in light of the of the kind of opposition he had where they’re trying to protect her.

BALDWIN: So, Toobin, I think, part of your point — you know, and I want to come back to you, but Trump can say, see, thank me for firing Comey, but not only do we know he cited the Russia probe in the Lester Holt interview and he told Russians in the Oval Office as such, he saw that last clip, he praised Comey's actions during the campaign. Go ahead, Toobin, and then Gloria.

TOOBIN: And the answer is that was then. You know, I mean, consistency is not something we can expect from — from Donald Trump. The point he will make now is, see, an independent authority said James Comey made mistakes. I fired him. I was justified in doing it. 

BORGER: You know, but the Democrats — the Democrats are going to read this and they’re going to say James Comey made mistakes and who did it impact the most? It impacted —

BALDWIN: Hillary Clinton. 

BORGER: Hillary Clinton because of the ill-advised press conference he gave, calling her careless, because days before the election, he decided to reopen part of the e-mail investigation, because he did not follow protocol with Loretta Lynch, then Attorney General. All of these things, Democrats are saying that hurt Hillary Clinton and, by the way, the Justice Department also knew they were investigating Donald Trump at the same time and the American public never heard about it. 

(....)

JIM ACOSTA: Well, they just pushed the briefing back to 2:45, Brooke, So, I think they're loading more cannon balls into the cannons over here to respond to this I.G. report. Obviously this is a big embarrassment for the FBI to have these texts going back and forth, talking about stopping Trump during the 2016 election. That — that is obviously an embarrassment for the FBI and the White House is likely to seize on that and say this is an example of what the President is up again and justifying all the President's tweets up until now saying that the Justice Department and the FBI have been biased against him. 

NBDaily FBI Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats CNN CNN Newsroom James Comey Justice Department Brooke Baldwin Gloria Borger Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Peter Strzok
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