Reps. Gowdy and Goodlatte react to the IG’s Report on FBI

BY
Hagmann P.I.
ON
June 14, 2018

By Peter Barry Chowka

On Special Report with Bret Baier on Thursday evening at 6 PM ET, House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) were interviewed by Bret Baier about their reaction to the Inspector General’s report on the FBI that was finally released earlier on Thursday. Shortly after the broadcast ended, Fox News provided a transcript of the segment.

The video of the Gowdy – Goodlatte – Baier interview can be watched here.

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS HOST:  Let’s get reaction now from the chairmen of two major House committees looking into all of this.  Trey Gowdy is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and Bob Goodlatte chairs the House Judiciary Committee.

Gentlemen, thanks for being here.

Chairman Gowdy, first to you.  Just of broad overview, what strikes you about this report?  What hits you when you look at the 568 pages?

REP. TREY GOWDY (R-SC), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM COMMITTEE:  Just what a dark day it is for the FBI and the DOJ, two institutions of our country desperately needs and we desperately have to be able to have confidence in them.  And this level of bias and animus, not only did they want to stop the Trump campaign, he wanted to stop the Trump presidency.  This is an FBI —

BAIER:  You’re talking about Peter Strzok.

GOWDY:  Peter Strzok, the FBI agent who was on Hillary Clinton’s investigation and arguably the lead Russia investigator not only wanted to stop his campaign, but once he wanted, got on the Mueller probe because he wanted to impeach him.  That is a level of animus and bias that everyone should reject.

And, Chris Wray, I’m sorry, you’re wrong.  Chris, there are consequences.  The consequences are that your fellow citizens question whether or not they can have confidence in the world’s premier law enforcement agency and that’s coming from someone who has defended them a lot throughout his career.  This was a bitterly disappointing report.

BAIER:  Chairman Goodlatte?

REP. BOB GOODLATTE (R-VA), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE:  Well, first of all, this report shows that there was special treatment given to Hillary Clinton in the investigation of her case.  There is not a standard procedures followed in investigating her, and there was special treatment given.  There is no doubt that this was not a proper process and the report shows time and time again how Director Comey and others made mistakes, errors in judgment, or deliberate.  People can draw their own conclusions.  But it was on improperly handled.

And as Trey said, you then put that up against how the investigation has been handled into the so-called Trump-Russia collusion, and you have contrast that is shocking in terms of how they handled one presidential campaign compared to another.  It’s got to be investigated further, changes have to be made.  I will compliment Director Wray on some of the personnel changes that have been made, I will compliment him on say that there are some sobering lessons learned from this.  We need to see changes made so that in 2020, we don’t see another presidential campaign handled like this.

BAIER:  So, when you hear Republicans and people that have been looking into this and say, this 568 pages is — there is just not a lot they are, or that Horowitz left something on the table, how do you respond to that?

GOODLATTE:  This is a very thorough investigation.  He takes minutia and examines each piece carefully, draws his conclusions, and I commend him.  I think it’s a well-done report.

Now, I never expected him to find every single thing as some critics have said, but he did find all kinds of irregularities there.  When you couple that with the Strzok page text, including this new one that has come out recently where part of it was redacted, by the way, and we only recently learned the whole sentence about how —

BAIER:  The second part —

GOODBLATTE:  — he was going to stop Donald Trump from being president of the United States.  That is improper for the FBI.  And quite frankly, this is the world’s premier law enforcement organization and it’s besmirching the reputation of tens of thousands of brave men and women who keep us safe, prevent terrorist attacks and fight crime every single day.  And a handful of people in the hierarchy of the organizations have caused serious damage.

BAIER:  All right.  Let’s put up the August 8th, 2016, that is the one where Page says Trump is never going to be president, right?  Right?  And Strzok texts back, that part was redacted in the documents you received.  No, no, he’s not.  We’ll stop it.

Here’s another part that we believe.  November 22nd, 2016, FBI attorney one, isn’t making rethink your commitment to the Trump administration?  I think that’s Lisa Page.  Attorney two, hell no, viva le resistance.  And we believe that’s Peter Strzok.

Let me play this sound bite, Congressman Gowdy, from Jim Comey, in his interview here in SPECIAL REPORT.  I asked about the Strzok-Page texts, and if he knew now what he knew then, what he would do.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR:  I’d have removed both of them from any contact with significant investigations —

BAIER:  So, shouldn’t their work —

COMEY:  — including, including those involving anybody connected to President Trump, but beyond that.  It’s such poor judgment.

BAIER:  So, shouldn’t their work product then be questioned?

COMEY:  Sure, it’s a reasonable to ask.  They were bad-mouthing everybody, including candidate Trump.

BAIER:  So, Peter Strzok interviews Hillary Clinton, deals with the Bleach Bit and of the server, and Cheryl Mills, all of that, interviews Michael Flynn and he’s integral in this whole case.

COMEY:  But he’s one of many other people involved in all the things you just ticked off.  When I saw the text, I was deeply disappointed in them, but I never saw any bias.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER:  Any bias.

 Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) on Special Report with Bret Baier, Fox News June 14, 2018

GOWDY:  Well, he’s not reading the same texts I’m reading.  I mean, Peter Strzok said that the vote should be 100 million to zero.  He can’t think of a single solitary American that should vote for Donald Trump to be president.  He said he’ll stop it as a candidate.  He talked about impeachment once he won.

Actually, Director Comey unwittingly just prove the point of the question you asked him on follow-up.  Would you have kept him on investigation had you known what you know now?  And he said no.  OK, why not?

Because bias is that insidious, that is that pervasive.  It colors your ability to do what we need the FBI to do, which is to be fair and fact-centric.  So, of course, you’re going to fire him the day you learn.

In my head, I go back.  When did you start working on the case?  That’s when you should have been fired.

So, whatever he did on either of these investigations, Bret, it has to be viewed through the prism that he can’t think of a single solitary person that should vote for this man to be president.

BAIER:  So, Strzok’s attorney says this was taken out of context.  It didn’t affect his decisions.  Some people say, what happens in the context of those texts, did they know something about the Russia information, and that’s what they are referring to?  Do you think that this changes at all in context, or in a vacuum, it’s just damning?

GOWDY:  It changes a lot going forward, because I don’t know how my fellow citizens are going to be able to have confidence — I mean, Russia did something to our country in 2016.  It was serious, it deserved to be investigated and it deserved to be investigated by a fair FBI agent who was not talking about impeaching the person that he was investigating.

His lawyer is just wrong, that by a state impact something.  He was so hyper-focused on Trump that he ignored at the Weiner-Abedin emails and it caused Jim Comey to have to send a letter a month later than he should have sent it.

The other point, Bret, is this: why is it our job to prove that Strzok’s is biased in his decision-making?  I got a better idea, Strzok, you come before Congress, you come before the American public and prove to us that your manifest animus towards Donald Trump did not affect your decision.

BAIER:  Let me ask one more question.  Hold on one second.  OK, go ahead.

GOODLATTE:  But Trey said — because Trey is exactly right, we have been requesting that he be produced as a witness for quite some time.  And if that agreement is not reached, we will shortly issue a subpoena for him to appear.

BAIER:  Speaking of that, there are also documents that you want that you still haven’t received.  I mean, this process is going on —

GOODLATTE:  We have set up a better process.  We’re making progress.  We actually have a room down at the Department of Justice where they are producing tens of thousands of documents and are investigators are producing those, identifying the ones that we want produced.  They are producing them.

So, we’re making progress in that regard, but we also have other documents they have not produced and that we are making progress on that.  We have meetings coming up shortly on how to get those additional documents requested, produced.  It’s — the American people have a right to know.  The Congress is their representatives, these documents have to be produced.  There is no reason not to produce them.

BAIER:  Chairman Gowdy, the last time you talked about the FBI inner workings, it was about this allegation of spygate and all of that.  You said at the time, that you thought that the president and others thought the FBI was doing what he was supposed to be doing.  In the context of this, and you are animated about what you’re learning out of this I.G. report.

Does it change your perspective of how this is all progress even when it comes to the Russia investigation?

GOWDY:  Bret, I’m animated because Russia tried to undermine the fundamentals of our democracy in 2016.  And I think anyone who heard what any law enforcement agency heard in summer of 2016, every one of my fellow citizens would say, you go find out whether that’s true or not.  You go find out whether or not a foreign, hostile country is going to mess with our election.

What my fellow citizens also expect is for the agent that does the follow-up to be free of taint and bias, like 99 percent of the FBI agents are.  It just so happens that the one picked to follow up and lead the Russian investigation has manifest animus and can think of a single person to vote for Donald Trump.  So, those two are inextricably intertwined.

Most of my fellow citizens would say, yes, I want to know what Russia was doing to us in 2016, but also want the person that’s finding out, is investigating it to be free of bias and free of taint.

BAIER:  And they would say, Mueller, fire that guy.

GOWDY:  And he did fire him.  And God only knows what damage he was done before Mueller fired him.  This is what’s so pervasive about bias, Bret, it doesn’t matter what Mueller comes up with.  Some people are going to believe that Strzok’s level of animus was so high that you can’t remove the taint.  That’s why bias is so destructive in a justice system.

BAIER:  Chairman Goodlatte, this is what I hear, on email, on Twitter, on Facebook, they hear us reporting on these 568 pages and they have been waiting for months and months.  And they hear what is coming out of it, who is going to pay for something that was done wrong in their mind.  And investigation after investigation, it seems like it comes to a head and then nothing happens.

GOODLATTE:  Absolutely.  Hundreds of classified emails, or handled improperly in violation of the law, and no one has been held accountable in that regard.  Now, we see that the whole process of that investigation was handled with extreme bias and a whole host of questionable actions, and people need to be held accountable.  Some of those people are no longer employed at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice, that’s a good thing.

But we’re going to continue to follow through until we’re sure that changes have been made so that these things can’t occur in the future and we don’t have a 2020 that looks anything at all like 2016 in terms of this kind of mishandling of investigations of the highest level of importance, when you’re talking about the two candidates for president of the United States.

So, Trey and I are going to have a joint hearing next Tuesday where we’ll have the inspector general and we’ll be able to go into this 560-page report and ask manifold questions.  The following week, we have already requested the deputy attorney general of the United States, Mr. Rosenstein, and the FBI Director Christopher Wray to come forward and talk to us and answer our questions based upon that report.

BAIER:  All right.  Other quick nuggets here, in this I.G. report, it says definitively that Hillary Clinton’s emails were hacked by foreign actors of some kind.

GOWDY:  Let me tell you why that’s important, because when —

BAIER:  Despite all the denials.  I mean, we went through all of the stages that it wasn’t happening.

GOWDY:  Well, we got a little window into that when Jim Comey — one of Jim Comey’s original memo drafts had that language in there and it was edited out.  Let me tell you why it’s important.  There are two reasons they cite for not prosecuting Hillary Clinton.  Number one, that she didn’t have specific general intent, and number two, she didn’t expose it to foreign actors.

We now know one of those reasons is bogus.  And had they done a good job of interviewing her, had they not made up their mind six weeks before they went to interview her, perhaps I could have found evidence of an intent to commit a crime.

But they didn’t look for it.  They made up their mind before they ever interviewed her about, but — that is really important that Horowitz, and others, some of our colleagues that unlocked the fact that those emails were exposed to foreign actors.

BAIER:  Most of the rank-and-file FBI agents thought, if I did this, I’d be prosecuted.  That’s in the I.G. report.

 Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) on Special Report with Bret Baier, Fox News June 14, 2018

GOODLATTE:  Absolutely.  And we found other precedents where people were prosecuted for similar actions, contrary to what the FBI director concluded.

BAIER:  The Weiner investigation case was slow-walked?

GOWDY:  No question, because Peter Strzok was so obsessed with Donald Trump in the fall of 2016, they sat on emails, and by the time Comey got to ‘em and sent the letter, we were on the eve of an election.  But in September when they learned about this, he did nothing because he was hyper-focused on Trump.

GOODLATTE:  And if I were a Democrat or an independent or any American, I’d be concerned about how Director Comey handled that aspect of it, which is also criticized by the inspector general.  Why would you handle the way you release that information?

BAIER:  Let me play that sound bite.

GOODLATTE:  Days before —

BAIER:  Let me play that.

GOODLATTE:  — the election.

BAIER:  This is SOT 1 from Jim Comey.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER:  Weeks went by without any action.

COMEY:  I do know that New York and FBI headquarters became aware that there may be a connection between Weiner’s laptop and the Clinton investigation, weeks before it was brought to me for decision.  I don’t know whether they could have moved faster, and why the delay.

BAIER:  So, was it the threat that the New York agents were going to leak that it existed really what drove you to the not concealed part?

COMEY:  I don’t know why there was — if there was a slow activity, why it was slow for those first couple of weeks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER:  There was at least one agent who says that he knows that they wouldn’t be prosecuted anyway.

GOWDY:  Well, I — a couple of points on what Director Comey said.  He used the word “index”, he didn’t properly index the fact that Huma Abedin was married to Anthony Weiner.  He may have be the only person in the western hemisphere that did not know they were married.  That’s one of his excuses.

It took a prosecutor or an agent from the Southern District of New York called into Washington specifically saying, what in the hell are you doing and what is taking so long?  That’s what finally got him to move.  McCabe wasn’t moving and Strzok wasn’t moving.

BAIER:  Some of Strzok and Page’s text messages may still be missing.  I.G. says that.

GOODLATTE:  We’ll keep looking for them.  He’s actually done a good job.  He’s the one who found the first big batch of missing text messages, and made those available back to the department, which made them available to us.

But yes, I think we have actually benefited in a multitude of ways from this investigation.  It’s filled and a piece of the puzzle but it also resulted in more information coming to us just in the last few days and weeks when you think about that.

BAIER:  All right, wrap this up.  Winner and loser in this I.G. report in your mind?

GOODLATTE:  Well, unfortunately, I think that Trey is right, that the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a whole is a loser and I hope that Christopher Wray is taking his sobering lesson to heart that he can do great things to restore the public’s trust in this very important organization, which we all should trust.  And I think 99 percent of the time, we should.  Absolutely.

GOWDY:  The winner is Michael Horowitz, because he proves that you can be fair, fact-centric and conduct a series of investigation.  The loser is every one of my fellow citizens who wants an FBI and a Department of Justice that they can believe in.  All of us have all lost when we have a department and a bureau that we cannot have confidence in.

BAIER:  Chairman Gowdy, Chairman Goodlatte, we appreciate your time and will continue to follow-up.

GOWDY:  Thanks.

GOODLATTE:  Thanks, Bret.

BAIER:  Thank you.

Peter Barry Chowka is a veteran reporter and analyst of news on national politics, media, and popular culture.  He is a frequent contributor to American Thinker.  Follow Peter on Twitter at @pchowka.

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