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GOP Did Russia’s Bidding, Americans Aren’t Smart Enough to Understand Strzok

GOP Did Russia’s Bidding, Americans Aren’t Smart Enough to Understand Strzok


After almost six hours of testimony Thursday in the long-awaited public hearing of disgraced FBI official Peter Strzok, CNN’s The Situation Room featured a panel with glowing, Barack Obama-esque praise for Strzok while accusing Republicans of having conducted an “odious” hearing for “show” that did the bidding of Russia. One panelist even said the American people weren’t smart enough to understand Strzok.

Former NSA attorney and CNN analyst Susan Hennessey gushed that Strzok offered “the most robust defense of the FBI that we’ve heard from a sitting FBI official and so I think that was really remarkable” in schooling Republicans who “refused to acknowledge that every person has political beliefs.”

“Every person has political opinions. That’s different from bias, that individuals who work for the federal law enforcement or the federal government put those opinions — they leave those opinions at the door and they do their job in a nonpartisan apolitical manner,” she added.

Chief political analyst Gloria Borger also offered Obama-like praise for Strzok, dubbing his testimony an “incredible defense of the FBI” that possibly left some at the FBI wishing he were their chief messenger in rebuilding their reputation.

Phil proud shitholer Mudd agreed, equating Strzok investigating Trump to his past life in counter-terrorism surveilling potential terrorists, but admitted that his mistake was pontificating “on a government phone” because “you can’t do that.”

Perhaps the most deranged line in the entire panel discussion was Mudd channeling his inner Jonathan Gruber and knocking the intelligence of the American people (click “expand” to see the whole exchange) while Borger laughed and piled on:

MUDD: I completely agree with Mr. Strozk on this, Americans don’t understand this. You’re talking about hundreds of people involved in this investigation, regardless of whether you believe him or not, you’re thinking that he can walk into the FBI Hoover Building [BORGER LAUGHS] and say: “Let me figure out a way to manipulate another 200 people.” It’s impossible.

(….)

BORGER: But if he was so biased, why didn’t he leak it? I mean, if he really wanted Trump to lose, he had the car. He could have leaked it and said there’s the counter intelligence investigation going on about Donald Trump and Russia. 

The Guardian’s Sabrina Siddiqui brushed off the hearing because it’s been some time since Strzok was kicked off the Mueller probe and that Thursday proved “congressional hearings have devolved into exercises in partisan theater.”

At the top of Siddiqui’s mind, however, was that this hearing was a “distract[ion] from the real issue at hand, which is Russian interference in the election.” Later in the segment, she reupped those concerns and accused Republicans of having no concern for the American justice system because of their concerns about Mueller investigation.

Hennessey jumped back in and ruled that “the mere fact that we are having this conversation shows the attacks on the bureau are actually working” because Republicans have “created the doubt in lots of Americans minds about whether or not federal law enforcement are executing the law or whether they are, you know, settling political grudges and that itself is such an incredibly corrosive thing.”

I would have loved to have seen her thoughts when Democrats cast aspersions on the intelligence community during the Bush administration.

Borger and Hennessey then smugly engaged in more condemnations of only Republicans and not Democrats (click “expand” for more):

BORGER: It was for show. The whole thing was for show. We didn’t learn a lot new. The whole thing was odious, in a way, because it was, you know, just trying to kind of push him up against a wall and say you were in a rush to clear Hillary Clinton. You wanted to go after Donald Trump and the Democrats saying just the opposite. You could have gone after Donald Trump and you didn’t. So, what did we learn? 

HENNESSEY: Look, I think at the end of the day if you can’t depend on the facts you try and discredit the investigation. If you can’t discredit the investigation, you discredit the investigator and this is sort of their — they’re trying to discredit Pete Strzok individually. Even that has failed although I do think it has long term — long term harm to independent law enforcement in the country. 

Blitzer bluntly concluded by bear-hugging Strzok’s talking points: “And if the Russian intention was to sew dissent here in the United States from their perspective mission accomplished. We saw that underscored today.”

Earlier in the reaction, Blitzer welcomed on Democratic Virginia Congressman Gerry Connolly for a largely-soft interview with Bltizer wondering “why was the public hearing necessary” and commenting that “it was really acrimonious,” “really angry,” “very partisan,” and “very bitter.” Of course, those claims were meant to be leveled against Republicans, not Connolly’s Democratic colleagues.

To see the relevant transcript from CNN’s The Situation Room on July 12, click “expand.”

CNN’s The Situation Room
July 12, 2018
5:12 p.m. Eastern

WOLF BLITZER: Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly of Virginia is joining us. He’s a member of the Oversight Committee as well as the Foreign Affairs Committee and you were there, Congressman. Thanks very much for joining us. As you know Strozk — he already testified before lawmakers behind closed doors with about 11 hours. Why was the public hearing necessary? 

(….)

5:18 p.m. Eastern

BLITZER: It was really acrimonious. It was really angry. It was very partisan, very bitter. Have you ever seen a hearing like this in the years you have been in the House of Representatives? 

VIRGINIA DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSMAN GERRY CONNOLLY: I have seen some tense hearings but I’ve never witnessed anything like this, Wolf. This was truly a low, low moment for the legislative branch of the United States government and frankly —

BLITZER: So, what’s going to be the impact as far as the American public is concerned as those who watched the hearing today. What do you think the fallout is going to be? 

(….)

5:20 p.m. Eastern

SUSAN HENNESSEY: So, it’s remarkable that Strzok has — that is actually the most robust defense of the FBI that we’ve heard from a sitting FBI official and so I think that was really remarkable. Look, what he is trying to explain and what at least the Republicans on the committee sort of refused to acknowledge that every person has political beliefs. Every person has political opinions. That’s different from bias, that individuals who work for the federal law enforcement or the federal government put those opinions — they leave those opinions at the door and they do their job in a nonpartisan apolitical manner and what’s Strzok is really getting at is we don’t just trust FBI agents to do that. There actually is a whole structure, a very elaborate set of rules and principles in order to ensure if anybody wanted to violate that really sacred commitment, they wouldn’t be able to do so. So, I think he is underscoring, you know, how far off base these accusations are. 

GLORIA BORGER: Well, you know, the whole irony is that the FBI is mad at Strozk because they believe that his texts were inappropriate and that he shouldn’t have done it and whether or not it reflects bias in his investigation they are saying, you know, it was a bad thing to do so he gave this incredible defense of the FBI and I bet there are people from the FBI — you could answer that — who are thinking: “You know, I wish we had a — the defense was great. I wish we had different messenger.”

PHIL MUDD: I agree. You say that is what people at the FBI do. I remember counter-terrorism cases. You go home and say that guy we’re watching in Peoria is scum. You come into the office that day and say what are the facts? Can we prove in a court of rule that he wants to explode a bomb? Can we prove that beyond a reasonable doubt? This guy gave a defense of the FBI, but I’m going to guess, having served at the Bureau, a lot of people are sitting back, saying he profoundly embarrassed us and one thing he ought to do is step back in front of the public and say I’m sorry. I should never have done that on a government phone. Off hours, all Americans are doing that stuff. On hours, on a government phone, you can’t do it. 

BLITZER: You used to work at the FBI for a while. You were dispatched from the CIA, but is it realistic to think that someone involved so deeply in a criminal investigation can remove his or her personal opinions the way he describes that? 

MUDD: Sort of. I mean, when you go into the office and I was watching his defense, you have to sit and say whether you like — let’s take Paul Manafort, for example, who’s already been involved in this obviously for many months. Whether you like Paul Manafort or not, whether you think he’s dirty or not can we go into a courtroom and say he’s got dirty money? That’s a fact, so at some point, whether or not you have emotional views, you got to question what the facts are. The second question and I completely agree with Mr. Strozk on this, Americans don’t understand this. You’re talking about hundreds of people involved in this investigation, regardless of whether you believe him or not, you’re thinking that he can walk into the FBI Hoover Building [BORGER LAUGHS] and say: “Let me figure out a way to manipulate another 200 people.” It’s impossible.

BLITZER: But he did that in a very senior role.

MUDD: Oh sure, but you can’t walk in and say: “Well, I don’t care what the investigators say about what they found in the investigation. I’m going to twist it to make it anti-Trump.” I don’t see how you can do that.

BORGER: But if he was so biased, why didn’t he leak it? I mean, if he really wanted Trump to lose, he had the car. He could have leaked it and said there’s the counter intelligence investigation going on about Donald Trump and Russia. 

BLITZER: But if he had leaked it, wouldn’t that have been a crime? 

MUDD: That would be a crime. I mean, I agree, this is happening. This kind of commentary among 150 million Americans that is anti-Hillary or anti-Trump. His mistake was not what he said because I don’t think it would have affected the investigation. His mistake was using a government phone to do this. 

BLITZER: Sabrina?

SABRINA SIDDIQQI: It’s also important to remember that Peter Strozk was reassigned from Robert Mueller’s investigation a year ago when these texts were first uncovered and the Inspector General report that was recently released did condemn the texts as having been inappropriate but did not find any evidence of widespread bias within the agency again against then-candidate trump and I think today’s hearing really reinforced that the congressional hearings have devolved into exercises in partisan theater. There wasn’t a lot of new information that was learned today and he already testified behind closed doors for close to 11 hours. So, this was little more of an opportunity from lawmakers to grandstand and, frankly, to distract from the real issue at hand, which is Russian interference in the election, especially when President Trump is poised to sitdown in — next with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

HENNESSEY: And I think the mere fact that we are having this conversation shows the attacks on the bureau are actually working. This created the doubt in lots of Americans minds about whether or not federal law enforcement are executing the law or whether they are, you know, settling political grudges and that itself is such an incredibly corrosive thing. I really think this hearing was evidence of how successful this campaign has been. 

BLITZER: You know, there was some news, Phil. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee had this exchange with Peter Strozk about his concerns early on in the Russia investigation. 

PETER STRZOK: I think trying to keep this at a level not talking about open investigations — so the predicating information, the information we had which was alleging a Russian offer of assistance to a member of the trump campaign was of extraordinary significance. It was credible. It was from an extraordinary sensitive and credible source. 

BLITZER: What did you make of that? 

MUDD: That’s the most significant point in the entire day. As someone who used to watch these investigations, let me tell you what he’s saying. The focus of America is misguided. The focus has been entirely on whether or not there are charges related to Russia. If you are an investigator or analyst, you’re looking at this and saying whether it’s a gang case, whether it’s a drug case, do we have credible information that leads us to believe a federal law was violated? And he’s saying it’s not the dossier. It’s not some weird stuff from left field. It is credible information from a reliable source. Regardless of whether Mueller comes out with charges, that is the critical point. Should they have investigated it or not and the answer is yes.

BORGER: And they tried to get out of him, well, who is the credible source. It is clear it wasn’t the dossier, but somebody was asking, well, was it Papadopoulos because that’s clearly not credible. And then he had an FBI lawyer back behind him saying, you know, we can’t — we can’t discuss this and what was stunning was all of these Republicans trying to sort of get him to reveal sources which, of course, they knew that he would not be able to do. It was for show. The whole thing was for show. We didn’t learn a lot new. The whole thing was odious, in a way, because it was, you know, just trying to kind of push him up against a wall and say you were in a rush to clear Hillary Clinton. You wanted to go after Donald Trump and the Democrats saying just the opposite. You could have gone after Donald Trump and you didn’t. So, what did we learn? 

HENNESSEY: Look, I think at the end of the day if you can’t depend on the facts you try and discredit the investigation. If you can’t discredit the investigation, you discredit the investigator and this is sort of their — they’re trying to discredit Pete Strzok individually. Even that has failed although I do think it has long term — long term harm to independent law enforcement in the country. 

SIDDIQUI: And if this hearing foreshadowed anything, it is whatever the outcome of Robert Mueller’s investigation will be, most Republicans, certainly Republicans in the House, are more than willing to play cover for the President and to try and further his narrative that there was some sort of conspiracy within the FBI and they’re far more interested in supporting this President than they are focusing on the real issue at hand, which is that there’s no plan in place to respond to Russian aggression whether here in the U.S. or in Europe and the president’s own intelligence chief has testified that there has not been significant actions to prevent further meddling in U.S. elections, including November’s midterms

BORGER: Well, you know, they didn’t attack Mueller which was sort of interesting to me. The closest they got to an attack on Mueller was you mean you just met with him for 15 minutes and you didn’t talk to him about you bias or your affair or whatever it was. And you know Mueller better than almost anyone and can you imagine Mueller just called him in and said: “Those texts….bye.” Right? 

MUDD: I — the Director would have said: “That’s very nice. Have a nice day. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out You’re done.”

BORGER: Exactly.

BLITZER: And if the Russian intention was to sew dissent here in the United States —

MUDD: Yeah.

BLITZER: — from their perspective mission accomplished. We saw that underscored today. 



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