The Department of Justice's Inspector General dropped a bombshell report on Washington, D.C. on Thursday which detailed their deep dive into the FBI’s handling of the Clinton e-mail probe. It found that former FBI Director James Comey was insubordinate, validating President Trump’s decision to fire him, but it also found that a small group of FBI agents had it out to get candidate Trump. Despite those facts, both ABC and CBS tried to downplay the role those agents played in the Russia investigation.
The over 500-page report made it clear that certain members of the FBI running the investigation were interested in ending Donald Trump’s bid for president. “He's not ever going to become president, right? Right,” frantically texted FBI lawyer Lisa Page. Her lover and FBI agent Peter Strzok reassured her that “no. no, he's not. We'll stop it.” The IG found that the text, among others, “implies a willingness to take official action to impact the presidential candidate's electoral prospects".
Strzok didn’t just work on the Clinton e-mail investigation, but he also was working on the Russia probe into the Trump campaign. During the report on ABC’s World News Tonight, chief Justice correspondent Pierre Thomas hid that fact from viewers. “The report saying that message ‘implies a willingness to take official action to impact the presidential candidate's electoral prospects,’ while conceding there's no evidence that actually happened,” he asserted after reading the text message.
On CBS Evening News, Face the Nation moderator Margaret Brennan tried to create daylight between Strzok’s influence on the Clinton investigation and the Russia probe. She declared that no side was vindicated by the report and insisted that the focus on Strzok was primarily by Trump supporters:
Trump supporters are focusing in, as well, on those text messages sent by FBI official that Paula mentioned because he briefly worked for and then was removed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team that’s investigating Russian contact with the Trump campaign (…) Well, there’s no direct impact on the actual investigation but there maybe when it comes to public perception of it and that could matter.
Brennan’s dismissal of Strzok’s role in the Russia probe contradicted CBS correspondent Paula Reid who noted, just a short time earlier, that “Peter Strzok, who led both the Clinton and Russia investigations, may have acted improperly.” Both ABC and CBS harped on the report’s claim that it found no political bias in the outcome of the Clinton probe but didn’t ask about Strzok’s bias affecting the investigation into the candidate he hated.
That’s where NBC Justice correspondent Pete Williams stepped in on NBC Nightly News.
During his report, he connected the dots on Strzok’s actions regarding Anthony Weiner’s laptop. “The report found no good reason why after more Clinton e-mails were found on the laptop of Anthony Weiner in late 2016, it took the FBI a month to start examining them,” he prefaced. “Struck chose to put more priority at the time on investigating Russia's election meddling. The report says, ‘we did not have confidence that Strzok's decision was free from bias.’” So, contrary to what Thomas was saying on ABC.
While ABC and CBS tried to separate Mueller’s investigation from the finding of Thursday’s damning I.G. report, the Daily Caller discovered a section of the report that talked about how an unidentified attorney on Mueller’s team enthusiastically messaged a colleague “Viva le Resistance.”
The relevant portions of the transcripts are below, click "expand" to read:
ABC's World News Tonight
June 14, 2018
6:34:20 PM Eastern
PIERRE THOMAS: President Trump has declared the FBI was trying to help Clinton all along.
DONALD TRUMP: She's being protected by a rigged system. It's a totally rigged system.
THOMAS: Still, the Inspector General concludes there was "no evidence" that the decision to clear Hillary Clinton "was influenced by political preferences" or bias.
The report's perhaps harshest criticism is directed at two senior FBI officials who exchanged blatantly anti-Trump text messages during the 2016 campaign, including two new ones we saw today for the first time. FBI attorney Lisa Page writing to FBI agent Peter Strzok in August of 2016: "He's [Trump's], not ever going to become president, right? Right?!" Strzok responds, "No. No, he's not. We'll stop it."
The report saying that message "implies a willingness to take official action to impact the presidential candidate's electoral prospects," while conceding there's no evidence that actually happened. Still, the Inspector General determined the messages "cast a cloud" over the investigation and impacted the reputation of the FBI.
CBS Evening News
June 14, 2018
6:31:50 PM Eastern
JEFF GLOR: Good evening. We're going to begin tonight with the investigation of an investigation. The Inspector General of the Justice Department has issued a long-awaited report of the FBI's handling of the Clinton e-mail investigation. It is very critical of former Director James Comey, saying he was insubordinate for not telling his bosses he planned to make a public announcement that he was not recommending charges against Clinton. The report did find the decision to not prosecute was proper. It also said some FBI agents showed anti-Trump bias, but that bias did not affect the case. It is a lot to unwrap.
[Cuts to video]
PAULA REID: The report criticizes former FBI Director James Comey for being insubordinate in bypassing his boss, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, in his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation but concludes that the Clinton investigation was not tainted by political bias.
6:33:54 PM Eastern
REID: The report also suggests FBI agent Peter Strzok, who led both the Clinton and Russia investigations, may have acted improperly. During its investigation, the Inspector General uncovered text messages Strzok exchanged with top FBI lawyer Lisa Page. In August 2016, Page texted Strzok asking "He [Trump], is not ever going to become president, right? Right?" Struck replied, "No, no he won't. We'll stop it."
6:35:10 PM Eastern
GLOR: We are joined by Face the Nation moderator Margaret Brennan. Margaret, there is a lot here. What's the political fallout?
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, neither Republicans nor Democrats can claim total vindication, because President Trump’s own FBI Director Chris Wray, you heard him, say there is no evidence of political bias towards either candidate that would have hindered the investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server. But partisans on both sides are embracing this rebuke of fired FBI Director's James Comey's conduct. Trump supporters are focusing in, as well, on those text messages sent by FBI official that Paula mentioned because he briefly worked for and then was removed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team that’s investigating Russian contact with the Trump campaign. That FBI official is being subpoenaed later this month.
GLOR: So what is the impact, now, on the Mueller investigation, Margaret?
BRENNAN: Well, there’s no direct impact on the actual investigation but there maybe when it comes to public perception of it and that could matter. The President can now point to criticism of Comey as vindication of his decision to fire him last year. After all, it was that action which spurred the hiring of a special counsel to investigate whether he was attempting to interfere with the FBI's Russia probe. So it's politically tangled, but it may be useful to the President and his supporters if they can argue he was within his right and cast all of this as a witch hunt.
According to the latest CBS poll, 53 percent of Americans called the Russia probe politically motivated. Democrats overwhelmingly say it's justified.
NBC Nightly News
June 14, 2018
7:01:26 PM Eastern
LESTER HOLT: Good evening and thank you for joining us. A bombshell report into the FBI's handling of the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation is out tonight blasting then FBI Director James Comey for insubordination in his handling of the case while providing plenty of ammo for all sides on the partisan war over the integrity of the FBI. The report by the Justice Department's Inspector General dinged Comey for breaching protocol but cleared him of political motivations but it did bring to light evidence that at least some FBI investigators did have politics on their minds. Our veteran Justice correspondent Pete Williams has details.
[Cuts to video]
PETE WILLIAMS: The report found no good reason why after more Clinton e-mails were found on the laptop of Anthony Weiner in late 2016, it took the FBI a month to start examining them. There is no evidence the FBI was biased in the slow response the report says, but it reveals in August, FBI lawyer Lisa Page texted about Trump, “he's not ever going to become president, right? Right?” And Peter Strzok a senior agent on the investigation responded, “no, no, he's not. We'll stop it.” Struck chose to put more priority at the time on investigating Russia's election meddling. The report says, “we did not have confidence that Strzok's decision was free from bias.”
PETER KING: This is really a black mark for the Department of Justice and for the top levels of the FBI, not the 99 percent of people who do a great job.
[Cuts back to live]
WILLIAMS: One other reason why the FBI may have been slow to move on those e-mails found on Anthony Weiner's laptop, Comey told the Inspector General he didn't know that Weiner was married to Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s closest aide. Tonight Comey says he disagrees with parts of the report but finds its overall conclusions reasonable.