Schweizer noted that in Washington “policy is personnel,” so the slow pace of Trump administration appointments has hindered the president’s ability to implement his policies while keeping much of the hostile Obama-era bureaucracy in place.
“If Hillary had won, the bureaucracy – the sort of faceless people that are making all kinds of decisions about regulation, about taxation, about the tax-exempt status of organizations – those people have a lot of power. There’s no question that the composition of the regulatory state, of the Deep State, would have been very different had Hillary Clinton been elected rather than Donald Trump,” he said.
“For people of whatever stripe who say it doesn’t matter who is president, nothing changes, everything is the same, that simply is not the case,” he argued. “There is just so much going on below the surface that we never see and hear about, but affects us dramatically.”
Schweizer reviewed the case of Peter Strzok, the senior FBI official discovered to be strongly biased against President Trump while serving in both Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and the Hillary Clinton email probe.
“People, when they think about law and the legal profession, I think they oftentimes forget that it is a profession of language,” he observed. “Language is key, because laws are written with certain language, and that language is supposed to mean something.”
“In this particular case, the Hillary Clinton probe, the facts were pretty clear that Hillary Clinton had set up this server, and there was all sorts of classified information that was being passed around on an unsecured server,” he continued. “The question became sort of a legal one, of why did this happen, was there intentionality in what Hillary Clinton did? It certainly seemed to me there was. She set up this server, she had been briefed on what the law said.”
“But language here becomes key, so when the Comey probe was looking at the Hillary Clinton emails one of the big questions came down to, was she just being careless or was there negligence? I’m certainly not an attorney, but I think most people would say and would assume that language is different, and what recklessness means or what negligence means is that there is intentionality. It’s really bad, people know what they’re doing, and they don’t care. If somebody is being careless, even ‘extremely careless,’ maybe they’re just doing it because they’re not paying attention,” Schweizer said.
“What this FBI official did was take Comey’s original memo – and remember, I don’t think Comey would be confused with somebody who was out to get Hillary Clinton – but his original memo that Comey circulated declared that Hillary Clinton had been ‘grossly negligent,’ that that’s what she had demonstrated. This FBI official shaded that language to ‘extremely careless,’ which of course changes the legal consequence for what she did,” he explained.
“In other words, what Comey had originally written, that Hillary Clinton was grossly negligent, that calls for criminal prosecution because you’ve committed a crime. But the language being changed to ‘extremely careless’ now suddenly means that’s not something you can be prosecuted for. There are other examples of where the language is shaded,” he said.
“What makes this so interesting is of course that it’s now been found that this FBI official was sending anti-Trump tweets to somebody else that was involved in the investigation or worked at the FBI, who was a trial attorney, expressing his opinions on Trump,” Schweizer noted. “Look, if you work in the FBI you are allowed to have opinions, but those opinions can shade and affect the manner in which you look at things. That’s really something that needs to be taken into account.”
“Reverse this for a second,” he suggested. “Imagine if this FBI official was wearing a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat and sending that picture around to everybody. Everybody would look at that and say, ‘This is not the guy that should be investigating Hillary Clinton.’ The reverse applies here. Here’s somebody who clearly didn’t like Trump, didn’t like his candidacy. That makes a huge problem, because he is investigating Donald Trump’s opponent in the 2016 election, and the decisions made there will have huge consequences.”
Schweizer pointed out that after the election, Strzok became “one of the lead investigators looking at General Flynn.”
“On the face of it, this makes sense. This is an individual who has a background in counterintelligence, is very knowledgeable, apparently, on both China and Russia,” he noted.
“We don’t know exactly what he was asked, but it’s enormously important and consequential. In the case of Flynn, it’s very interesting. They may not have known this at the time that they were questioning Flynn and starting out, but essentially what he is now charged with, lying to the FBI, involves basically a meeting or a discussion that he had with the Russian ambassador that was completely legal, and was actually very standard,” he said.
“In other words, this was a phone conversation with the Russian ambassador after Trump had been elected president,” Schweizer elaborated. “Flynn was having conversations with foreign officials including the Russian ambassador, which is standard practice during any transition. President Obama did it. Before that, President George W. Bush did it. Every president in the modern era has done this to sort of smooth the shift, the change in policy, from one administration to the other.”
“It again raises this question of intentionality and the magnitude, or the lack of magnitude, in what Flynn actually did,” he proposed. “That, I think, is what’s so paradoxical about this: you essentially have a lead investigator who looks at Hillary Clinton setting up a server, sending all these classified emails, but basically concludes that this is not intentional negligence – but then on the other hand leads an investigation and leads to a charge that General Flynn lied to the FBI over, apparently, a conversation that was of little consequence and was completely legitimate. That’s why I think we’re at the point to investigate this.”
Marlow noted that Mueller’s investigation was originally tasked with uncovering collusion with Russia to affect the outcome of the 2016 election, but the charges against Flynn involve statements and actions after the election was over, during the transition period.
“This is the ultimate in mission creep, right?” Schweizer agreed. “We talked about this from the beginning, Alex. I believed always from the beginning that this needed to be investigated from the standpoint that if the Russians were trying to meddle in our election, how bad was it, and was there anybody trying to help them?”
“But we have gone well beyond that,” he continued. “There is no longer, I think, any serious case that anybody is making that the collusion that was imagined or implied eight months ago, that there’s anything remotely close to that that appears to have occurred. Now we’re at the point where you’re talking about trying to charge people or prosecute people based on things that are legitimate functions, Flynn’s meeting or discussions with the Russian ambassador being an example.”
“I’m certainly not an attorney, I don’t want to step into the issue of obstruction of justice. I certainly think presidents need to abide by the Constitution, but I also think it was certainly within Trump’s power to relieve the FBI director, and that’s what he did. The consequence of that, of course, was that we now have an independent counsel. I think the failure to make a good choice there will haunt this administration,” Schweizer judged.
Schweizer praised the investigative reporting of John Solomon at The Hill on the Uranium One scandal, which was a major component of Schweizer’s bestselling book Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich. Solomon’s latest report revealed that the Justice Department failed to interview a key FBI informant before filing criminal charges in 2014.
“It’s very puzzling why you’re not thorough in interviewing somebody who was an FBI informant, who was on the inside, who had direct knowledge of the sorts of things that were occurring in this uranium corruption case,” he said.
“I think there is going to be more fallout,” he anticipated. “On a personal note, this is kind of a sad consequence for me, because there are so few institutions in the United States today that I seem to have much faith in. Certainly, I do in the American military. The FBI was one of those for a long time. In what we’ve been talking about as it relates to the Flynn investigation, the Hillary Clinton email investigation, and now this, it really shows that there are some major problems with the FBI, and its lack of thoroughness, and its focus in a lot of these investigations.”
“I think we expect to see more missteps and errors that occurred in this Uranium One investigation. That’s why, as we’ve talked about before, we need to reopen this and really figure out exactly what happened with this transference of Uranium One to the Russian government,” he urged.
“I just can’t help but notice a pattern here: that the left destroyed the DOJ under Obama, they’re destroying the FBI, they’re destroying the NFL, they’re destroying Hollywood,” Marlow observed. “Is there anything the left creates, or does the left merely just infect and destroy?”
“It’s so interesting. If you look back at the Sixties, Seventies, and Eighties, the left used to be based on this sort of sunny, rosy view of the future that was essentially arguing that if you give us power and you give us the reins of government, we are going to build a much better society, and we’re going to get rid of all these terrible things that we see,” Schweizer replied.
“I certainly was not somebody who bought into that, but usually when you met people from the left, yeah, they were kind of angry but they were also optimistic,” he recalled. You now have a left that is increasingly nihilistic, and is increasingly destructive, and has seemingly become more about simply tearing down institutions and tearing down practices, rather than any kind of positive vision for the future.”
“I think that reflects in the declining fortunes of the left. I think they’re a movement without a vision. They can tell you all sorts of things they think are terrible and need to be destroyed, but they don’t have a vision, at least a vision anybody is buying, for how we can build a better society in the future. That’s a dramatic, and I think very troubling, turn for the political left,” he said.