Latvian Foreign Ministry Follow / Flickr devin nunes...
Latvian Foreign Ministry Follow / Flickr

The Jefferson Sessions Justice Department has agreed to hand over files on FBI operations to congressional Republicans. The decision, which comes in response to constant Republican claims that the FBI is prejudiced against Donald Trump, thrills Republicans. It gives them unfettered access to information they can use to paint the agency in any way they want, along with the opportunity to interfere with the Trump–Russia investigation directly. As Bloomberg reports …

The Justice Department’s decision to give congressional Republicans access to documents about FBI investigations risks exposing sensitive sources or material and poses a critical early test for bureau Director Christopher Wray, current and former U.S. law enforcement officials say.

It’s the latest setback for a law enforcement agency that has long held itself out as doggedly independent and above partisan politics …

It’s not unusual for people to claim that the FBI is secretive, overzealous, and just plain wrong. And considering the agency’s history, it would be impossible to claim that there was any period in which it was either genuinely nonpartisan or apolitical. But handing over the files on an FBI investigation in the middle of that investigation, risks the whole concept of the agency and questions whether the nation can have any “outside” agency if that agency can be gutted on demand.

As the Russia investigation continues to hang over the White House, Republicans in Congress have sought to turn the tables on the FBI by calling into question the fairness and methods of senior agents. They’ve been requesting documents and holding public hearings that focus on alleged wrongdoing or political bias by agents.

If the destruction of the FBI is the cost of protecting Trump … Republicans are willing to pay that cost.

James Comey was praised by Republicans, including Trump, until it was clear he wouldn’t drop the investigation and absolve Trump of involvement. Robert Mueller was praised by Republicans, including Trump, until it was clear he wouldn’t restrict himself to giving Trump a quick validation.

Facing a real investigation, mounting indictments, and clear evidence of conspiracy, obstruction, and money-laundering by Trump and multiple members of his team, Republicans had two choices: They could sit back, let the investigation reach its conclusion, and act to protect by the integrity of law and the stability of the nation. Or they could undercut the FBI, corrode the whole concept of justice, and demonstrate that they placed holding onto power infinitely ahead of any other concern.

Some officials view the department as capitulating to a small group of Republicans who are intent on helping President Donald Trump undermine the integrity of the FBI and, by extension, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump or any of his associates helped Russia interfere in the 2016 election.

Republicans have clearly gone for option B. Even if the number hungering for these files really is “a small group” within the party, the remainder of Republicans are doing nothing to slow or refute their attack on the FBI and the investigation. They’re content to sit back, while Devin Nunes, Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows, Chuck Grassley, and et tu Lindsey Graham actually drive in the knives.

And when they’ve “proven” the FBI can’t be trusted. They’ll need an alternative. 

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