Much has been made by Donald Trump and the Republicans of the text messages between FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page. That those text messages were inappropriate cannot be denied. But they were inappropriate not because of the political opinions they expressed – personnel of the FBI are entitled to their private political opinions – but because they were made on FBI devices. But just as jaywalking should never be made a capital crime, neither is the political capital Republicans have made of those text messages justified. It is a question, as is so often the case in matters like this, of context.
When it comes to protecting the Republican narrative there is always something they don’t want you to know, always something they have to hide. That is why Republicans are so interruptive, that is why they filibuster. All political liars do this, though, and with the exception of the likes of Kellyanne Conway, few have mastered it quite so well as Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.
It was during the Senate intelligence committee’s questioning of Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz, that Chairman Graham excoriated Page and Strzok after quoting several of their text messages when he said, “These are the people that made the decision that Clinton didn’t do anything wrong and that a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign was warranted.” That, of course, is a deliberate lie. Strzok and Page were not the ones who made the decision to investigate the Trump campaign. That decision was made by people higher up.
We know this because of the honest questioning of Inspector General Horowitz by Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein and Illinois Senator Dick Durbin. “The investigation also uncovered text messages between other FBI employees expressing support for candidate and president Trump,” Feinstein noted. “So FBI employees held political views that were both favorable and unfavorable toward the candidate at that time.” Senator Durbin clarified the matter when he said, “He [Chairman Lindsey Graham when speaking of Page and strzok] went on to say that these were the people in charge. When I read your [Inspector General Michael Horowitz’] summary of your findings, you didn’t find either of them in charge, did you?” To which Horowitz replied, “On this investigation we did not.”
FBI employees are allowed to have their own political opinions, they are allowed to be voters, they are allowed to be Democrats or Republicans or Independents. That is what it means to live in a free society. If it doesn’t apply to everyone it applies to no one. Except when it comes to Donald Trump. If you are not for him you are “scum.” If you don’t agree with everything he does and everything he says you are a “no Trumper.” You may be as biased in his favor as you please, and many FBI agents were and are, and they got away with it. But if you say or do anything critical of him he will destroy your life. He will call you a traitor. He will mock you publicly. He will defame you in front of huge crowds of violent, gun-wielding lunatics at any number of his Nuremberg-style rallies. This man of hate will hurt you if you don’t love him. He is that kind of monster, and his followers, defenders, protectors and enablers are those kinds of monsters too.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.