Two powerful GOP Senators sent a letter Thursday to FBI Director Christopher Wray requesting all the records from the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane team, which investigated the now debunked theory that President Donald Trump’s campaign conspired with Russia during the 2016 election.
Sen. Ron Johnson, Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, who have been investigating the circumstances surrounding the FBI’s investigation and alleged malfeasance in obtaining Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Warrants to spy on then Trump campaign official Carter Page, made the request in a letter.
The senators stated in the letter that “on January 28, 2020, we wrote to Attorney General Barr and requested the declassification of four footnotes in the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report about the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Crossfire Hurricane investigation.”
“Since then, we received declassified versions of those and other footnotes, and they reveal disturbing facts about the FBI’s investigation: the Crossfire Hurricane team’s investigative file included at least two intelligence reports stating that key parts of the reporting from Christopher Steele—reporting that “played a central and essential role” in the decision to request FISA orders —were part of a Russian disinformation campaign,” the pair added.
The Senator’s noted that the information in the now-declassified footnotes from Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s December report investigating the FBI’s probe into the Trump campaign “also directly contradicts statements provided by FBI officials in the OIG report.”
The footnotes revealed that former senior Obama officials, including members of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane team knew the dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele during the 2016 election was Russian disinformation to target Trump and his administration.
Further, those partially declassified footnotes reveal that those senior intelligence officials were aware of the disinformation when they included the dossier in the Obama administration’s Intelligence Communities Assessment (ICA).
Johnson and Grassley said they were “deeply troubled by the Crossfire Hurricane team’s awareness of and apparent indifference to Russian disinformation, as well as by the grossly inaccurate statements by the FBI official in charge of the investigation and its supervisory intelligence analyst.”
Further, the recently declassified footnotes raise numerous other issues of “significant concern.”
“What other parts of the FBI’s investigation were infected by Russian disinformation? …The FBI knew that Russian intelligence was targeting Christopher Steele’s company, that Steele relied on sources affiliated with Russian intelligence, and at least two of Steele’s reports were described as the product of a Russian disinformation campaign. Because these facts show the intention, means, and ability to plant Russian disinformation in Steele’s reporting, they suggest that the prevalence of such disinformation in the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation may have been widespread.”
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Biden Administration Proposes Rule to Fortify Federal Bureaucracy Against Republican Presidency
In a strategic move, the Biden administration has unveiled a proposed rule aimed at reinforcing the left-leaning federal bureaucracy, potentially hindering future conservative policy implementations by Republican presidents. This move has raised concerns about the efficacy of democratic elections when a deep-seated bureaucracy remains largely unchanged, regardless of electoral outcomes.
Key points of the situation include:
Presidential Appointees vs. Career Bureaucrats: Of the 2.2 million federal civil workers, only 4,000 are presidential appointees. The vast majority, made up of career bureaucrats, continue in their roles from one administration to the next. This continuity is facilitated by rules that make it exceedingly difficult to discipline or replace them, resulting in a bureaucracy that tends to lean left politically.
Union Political Affiliation: A striking 95% of unionized federal employees who donate to political candidates support Democrats, according to Open Secrets, with only 5% favoring Republicans. This significant political skew among federal workers raises questions about the potential for political bias in the execution of government policies.
Obstructionism and Challenges for GOP Presidents: Some career bureaucrats have been accused of obstructing Republican presidents’ agendas, leading to policy delays and challenges. For example, during the Trump administration, career lawyers in the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division declined to challenge Yale University’s discrimination against Asian American applicants, prompting Trump to seek legal counsel from other divisions. The case was subsequently dropped when Joe Biden took office.
Biden’s Countermeasures: President Biden has taken steps to protect the bureaucracy’s status quo. In October 2020, Trump issued an executive order aiming to reclassify federal workers who make policy as at-will employees, but Biden canceled it upon taking office.
Proposed Rule and Congressional Actions: The rule unveiled by the Biden administration seeks to further impede a president’s ability to reinstate Trump’s order. Additionally, some Democrats in Congress are pushing to eliminate the president’s authority to reclassify jobs entirely. This has been referred to as an attempt to “Trump-proof the federal workforce.”
Republican Candidates’ Pledge: GOP candidates such as President Donald J Trump, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Ron DeSantis have pledged to address this issue. According to reports from Fox News, Ramaswamy has gone further, advocating for the elimination of half or more of civil service positions, emphasizing the need for accountability.
Debate on the Merit of the Civil Service: While Democrats and their media allies argue that civil service protects merit over patronage, critics contend that the system has evolved into a form of job security for federal workers with minimal accountability. Federal employees often receive higher salaries and more substantial benefits than their private-sector counterparts.
In summary, the Biden administration’s proposed rule and broader actions to protect the federal bureaucracy have sparked a debate over the role of career bureaucrats in shaping government policy.
Republican candidates are vowing to address these concerns, highlighting the need for accountability and ensuring that government agencies work in alignment with the elected president’s agenda. This ongoing debate raises important questions about the relationship between the bureaucracy and the democratic process in the United States.
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