In her weekly Wall Street Journal column today (behind the Journal’s paywall), Kim Strassel draws on the work of Senator Ron Johnson to unearth the role of the FBI in the 2016 presidential election. Kim first discusses the questions raised by Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s letter to Senator Johnson earlier this week. She notes that the letter raises the question of when it first learned of FBI counterintelligence officer Peter Strzok’s mind-boggling text messages with FBI lawyer Lisa Page: “Was it before Mr. Mueller was even appointed? Did FBI leaders sit by as the special counsel tapped Mr. Strzok? In any case, we know from the letter that the inspector general informed both Messrs. Rosenstein and Mueller of the texts on July 27, and that both men hid that explosive information from Congress for four months.”
Kim then turns to “this week’s other revelation of jaw-dropping FBI tactics [that came] from a separate letter from [Senator] Johnson.” I haven’t been able to find copy of the letter online. Here is Kim’s account of the revelation in Senator Johnson’s letter:
In November 2016, the Office of Special Counsel—a federal agency that polices personnel practices and is distinct from the Mueller probe—began investigating whether former FBI Director Jim Comey violated the Hatch Act, which restricts political activity by executive-branch officials, while investigating Hillary Clinton’s private server. The office conducted interviews with two of Mr. Comey’s confidantes: FBI chief of staff James Rybicki and FBI attorney Trisha Anderson.
Sen. Johnson in September demanded the full, unredacted transcripts of the interviews. But it turned out the FBI had refused to let the Office of Special Counsel interview them unless it first signed unprecedented nondisclosure agreements, giving the FBI full authority to withhold the information from Congress. The bureau has continued to insist the office keep huge swaths of the interviews secret from Congress, including the names and actions of key political players. (The Office of Special Counsel closed its investigation in May.)
In his letter this week, Mr. Johnson demanded that Mr. Wray authorize the release of the full transcripts and other documents. Even the redacted ones have revealed important information, for instance that Mr. Comey was drafting his Hillary Clinton exoneration statement well before she was interviewed. Congressional investigators believe the unredacted versions contain pertinent information about the actions of former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and key investigators such as Mr. Strzok.
Mr. Johnson has given the FBI until Dec. 27 to come clean. Congress and the public have a right to know what went on in the Comey investigation, and the FBI and Justice Department seem to be attempting desperately to hide their actions.
Curiouser and curiouser.