Attorney General Jeff Sessions really wants to keep his job. That’s the only way one can reasonably interpret the latest twist in the Trump-Russia scandal.
Sessions has buckled under the mounting pressure from both his boss, President Trump, and Trump’s enablers and co-conspirators in Congress and launched an investigation into the FBI.
Not Russia. Not Cambridge Analytica. Not White supremacist terrorism after the string of bombings in Austin, Texas. No, your U.S. Department of Justice is now investigating the FBI for potential abuses it may have committed when it sought a search warrant for one-time Trump campaign official, and long-time suspected Russian collaborator, Carter Page.
While the move is one that could potentially help the president, Trump has previously expressed frustration about assigning the investigation to the Inspector General.
Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse. Will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey etc. Isn’t the I.G. an Obama guy? Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 28, 2018
What Trump really wanted a new special counsel – a mirror image of Robert Mueller – to investigate the FBI because discrediting the FBI’s pursuit of a FISA warrant to surveil Carter Page during the campaign is central to the counter-narrative that he and his Republican abettors are desperately trying to make stick.
They contend that the entire investigation into collusion and cooperation between Russian intelligence and the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election stemmed from that warrant. And so, their theory goes, if they can just get someone with any kind of authority to declare that the FBI broke the law, or simply violated DOJ or FISA protocol to convince a judge to issue that warrant, it will give President Trump the ammo he needs to fire the special counsel once and for all.
The Office of the Inspector General just might be the rubber stamp they think they need. According to a statement released by the Department of Justice, the OIG “will review information that was known to the DOJ and the FBI at the time the applications were filed from or about an alleged FBI confidential source. Additionally, the OIG will review the DOJ’s and FBI’s relationship and communications with the alleged source as they relate to the FISA applications.”
“If circumstances warrant,” the statement continues, “the OIG will consider including other issues that may arise during the course of the review.”
Trump hasn’t responded yet to this latest development, and given his previous objections to Sessions’ handing over this central task to the OIG, there’s no way to be certain how he’ll react.
In the meantime, Sessions futile quest for approval from Trump and warding off his long rumored sacking will continue to reach new depths of dubious desperation and comical corruption, like investigating his own FBI.