FBI

Why FBI Directors Want to Be Autonomous and Unaccountable

Even if FBI directors might prefer to operate without guidance from presidents, but that set-up would render the FBI unaccountable.

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The best explanation of the firing of FBI director James Comey and of the subsequent investigation by special counsel and former FBI director Robert Mueller may just come from a social scientist who died years before President Trump took office.

When James Q. Wilson died in 2012, he was remembered primarily for his influential 1982 Atlantic article with George Kelling, "Broken Windows: The Police And Neighborhood Safety," advocating police tactics focused on maintaining order and reducing fear.

It turns out, though, that Wilson—whose colleagues in the government department at Harvard included Henry Kissinger and Daniel Patrick Moynihan—also wrote a whole book about the FBI.

That book, The Investigators: Managing FBI And Narcotics Agents, was published in 1978 by Basic Books and funded in part by a grant from Irving Kristol's company, National Affairs, Inc. It is based on in part on Professor Wilson's personal experience as an adviser to FBI director Clarence Kelley, who served from 1973 to 1978.

Its insights relevant to Comey and Mueller come in a chapter considering the motivation of FBI executives, and of government officials in general. Wilson writes, "In my view, it is the desire for autonomy, and not for large budgets, new powers, or additional employees, that is the dominant motive of public executives."

What does Wilson mean by "autonomy"? His book explains, "An agency is autonomous to the degree it can act independently of some or all of the groups that have the authority to constrain it." Autonomy comes "by acquiring sufficient good will and prestige as to make attacks on oneself or one's agency costly for one's critics."

This craving for autonomy applies not only at the executive level but also to front-line investigators, Wilson writes: "A detective wants, above all else, to be left alone and to be backed up."

For much of its history, Wilson writes, the FBI "enjoyed an almost unparalleled degree of autonomy." Wilson describes it as "extraordinary autonomy."

The nice thing about this "autonomy" theory of the FBI is that it potentially explains both the bureau's leaks about Hillary Clinton in 2016 and its reaction to Donald Trump in 2017 and 2018.

Remember, notwithstanding all the talk of anti-Trump texts by FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, Hillary Clinton has blamed Comey for her loss in the 2016 election. FBI leaks and public statements about investigations into Clinton's emails and the Clinton Foundation helped keep those stories in front of the electorate, especially after Bill Clinton's 20-minute meeting with President Obama's Attorney General Loretta Lynch aboard her government plane on a Phoenix runway.

The FBI is part of the Justice Department, which means that Lynch at least theoretically was Comey's boss. But autonomy means not really being accountable to any boss. Comey has told Congress that the Bill Clinton-Loretta Lynch airplane meeting contributed to his decisions to issue public statements about the email investigation during the presidential campaign.

Similarly, the Trump-Comey relationship cratered after Comey apparently felt pressure from President Trump to ease off an investigation of Trump's national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and to announce that Trump was not being investigated for colluding with Russia.

Mueller's investigation is being described as a defense of democracy, or as a defense of the rule of law, or as an investigation into possible obstruction of justice or a coverup. After I read Wilson's book, though, what the Mueller investigation looked like above all was precisely an effort by the FBI to defend its "extraordinary autonomy."

"Autonomy" of the FBI may have certain advantages. It would prevent politically motivated meddling into criminal investigations, the same way that the "independence" of the Federal Reserve prevents politically motivated interference with interest rates.

A fully autonomous FBI, though, is inconsistent with Article II of the U.S. Constitution, which states, "The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America." Even if FBI directors such as Comey or Mueller might prefer to operate without guidance from presidents or without guidance from attorneys general appointed by presidents, such a set-up would render the FBI unaccountable. Governments, the Declaration of Independence says, derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. Presidents Obama and Trump were elected. No one elected Comey or Mueller.

Wilson concludes his book with a warning. There have been, he writes, powerful law enforcement agencies in the world that operated without the constraints of political superiors or of public opinion. The record of such authoritarian secret police forces, "judged by the test of human liberty, is not promising."

Ira Stoll is editor of FutureOfCapitalism.com and author of JFK, Conservative.

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  1. The FBI and DOJ indeed try to act as if they were totally independent of any higher authority – particularly Congress.

    As evidenced by their repeated stonewalling, lying at Congressional hearings and heavily redacting documents given to Congress.

    There is nothing in the Constitution about a DOJ or FBI. They are subordinate to Congress and should be held to account for refusing to hand over requested documents and/or redacting huge amounts of them.

    1. They are subordinate to the Executive, who is coequal to Congress. They are not subordinate to Congress.

      1. Actually, as the funding agency, they are also surbodinage to Congress.

      2. They were created by Congress, numbskull.

        Congress is the preeminent branch, because theoretically it could eliminate all existing federal courts (other than the Supreme Court) if it so chooses or completely de-fund the executive. All branches are accountable to Congress

      3. One might ask who created the Department of Justice.


        On February 19, 1868, Lawrence introduced a bill in Congress to create the Department of Justice. President Ulysses S. Grant signed the bill into law on June 22, 1870. The Department of Justice officially began operations on July 1, 1870.

      4. They are subordinate to the Executive, who is coequal to Congress. They are not subordinate to Congress.

        Hmm. Exactly the argument Dick Cheney made when Congress started asking him for information he was disinclined to give.

        You fully supported Cheney stonewalling Congress back then, right?

        1. That’s part of the coequal part.
          There are many things the department has to share with Congress. There are many things they do not have to.

          1. There are many things the department has to share with Congress. There are many things they do not have to.

            And the department itself gets to choose?

            1. The courts do. If Congress wants to press a subpoena, the executive can fight it in court.

              1. Why would the courts be involved in such a dispute?

            2. The courts do. If Congress wants to press a subpoena, the executive can fight it in court.

            3. The courts do. If Congress wants to press a subpoena, the executive can fight it in court.

              1. So in other words no. And it is not independent but answerable to all three branches in other words.

              2. That’s not how it works at all

          2. “There are many things the department has to share with Congress. There are many things they do not have to.”

            They have to share anything they get a supoena to produce.

            They are not an independent entity.

            1. Subpoenas have limits. Internal deliberations, national security to name a couple.

              1. Actually they only have limits if the judge agrees with those limits, or if they run afoul of the 5th amendment.

              2. “Subpoenas have limits. Internal deliberations, national security to name a couple.”

                No, they don’t.

                The DOJ and FBI don’t get to make up their own rules as to what they will withhold based on their own
                unaccountable declarations of what is “national security”.

      5. “They are subordinate to the Executive,”

        I’ll remember that the next time I hear one of you leftists complaining about Trump “interfering” with Mueller’s investigation.

      6. They may not be subordinate to Congress, but as creatures created by Congress adn funded by Congress, they are indeed accountable to Congress.

      7. As part of the executive branch, the FBI and DOJ are subordinate to the President. And the Constitution gives Congress oversight authority over the executive branch as part of the checks and balances our founders created. Yes, government should be transparent to both the President, Congress, and to some extent to the public.

    2. They are subordinate to “We the People” unfortunately too many are complacent or apologists for their side. Once we have no standards and no accountability for one side, we have it for none at all.

  2. Why FBI Directors Want to Be Autonomous and Unaccountable

    To be fair, who wouldn’t want a job where they can be autonomous and unaccountable?

    1. Yeah – that was my reaction, too. I would love a job where I’m autonomous and unaccountable. Where do I sign up?

      1. Become a cop?

  3. The presidency is corrupt and criminal, not to mention ridiculous, and Congress is unwilling to do anything about it. The independence of the FBI is one of the few things keeping this country’s system of government from failing. It may not be ideal or constitutionally intended, but we have to work with the tools we have until the cancer is cut out.

    1. Can you name what crime he has committed or point to his corruption? No an independent FBI, accountable to no one is not even remotely desirable. Fuck you are a moron who has no grasp of liberty or justice. You just spout fucking puerile partisan talking points. Make accusations but assert them as facts. You lack any ability to make a reasonable statement and completely lack the self-awareness to realize that your arguments are infantile and simplistic.

      1. I take it you were not joining the drooling mob in chants of “Lock her up!”

        The investigation is ongoing. No doubt you’ll treat its findings with the objectivity they deserve.

        1. No doubt you’ll treat its findings with the objectivity they deserve.

          By leaping to the conclusion that he’s guilty of whatever crime you may fantasize about?

          1. Imagine it was all the same suspicions, but it was Hillary. Jesus you people.

            1. And?

            2. Imagine it was all the same suspicions, but it was Hillary.

              Okay – I’m game. Give me a list.

              1. Conspiracy with Russians to influence the election. Think you’d be so skeptical if it were her? Do you think I’d believe you if you said yes?

                You can acknowledge the seriousness of this matter. The only friends you’ll lose are dirty redneck Trump die-hards. You don’t want to be one of them, do you?

                1. So since the charge is “serious” Trump is not presumed innocent?

                2. Do you think I’d believe you if you said yes?

                  Nope.

                  You don’t want to be one of them, do you?

                  ^ The essence of your political thinking, right here.

                3. Tony|8.20.18 @ 7:12PM|#
                  “Conspiracy with Russians to influence the election.”
                  Not one shred of evidence; those are voices in your head.

                  “Think you’d be so skeptical if it were her? Do you think I’d believe you if you said yes?”
                  Irrelevant bullshit.

                4. Tony’s right.

                  I was on Facebook, it was October 28, 2016.

                  I put my Gary Johnson pic on my page.

                  And then, out of nowhere, a Russian robot appeared and attempted to brainwash me to vote for Trump.

                  I told him, your computer skills won’t work on me, I’m not voting for Hillary. I can tell you’re programmed to only brainwash Hillary supports into voting for trump.

                  He knew I knew so he gave up and went to the next facebooker

                5. Conspiracy with Russians to influence the election. Think you’d be so skeptical if it were her

        2. So it is still ongoing? So in other words you can’t name a single crime or corruption. Innocent until proven guilty fuck face. And I never once chanted lock her up. But because you are so simplistic you can’t understand just because I don’t support your fantasies doesn’t mean I support others fantasies. I do believe that she should have been charged and allow a jury of her peers to decide. There was adequate evidence to support a charge. You on the other hand seem to want to charge the President and then find evidence.

          1. Note I never said she was guilty, just that she should have been charged.

          2. When Mueller submits his findings, FOX News will have to report on it. Maybe then you’ll get a glimpse into the shitshow that’s going on with the administration right now. If you think Hillary’s private email account was bad, wait until you get a load of this.

            1. Or you’ll have to admit you were wrong. However, since I don’t have cable I don’t watch FNC (I have a Roku). But nice demonstrating my point, that despite no evudy you have already convinced yourself Trump is guilty. Of what you can’t say but you are convinced and will always remain convinced. Until Trump is charged (and convicted) he remains innocent. What part of this is so hard for you to understand?

              1. Unlike the drooling Trump masses, I actually support the concept of innocence until proven guilty in a legal proceeding. But it does look pretty bad. People have already been sent to prison. You really expect me to believe if Obama’s campaign chair were on trial for the vast and numerous alleged crimes of Manafort that you’d let Obama off the hook?

                1. Not one in connection to anything to do with the election. So how does it look bad. Because (and I will qualify this by saying I didn’t vote for Trump and campaigned against him) my review of the process has made me conclude that the case is extremely weak and nothing has come of it so far except some minor charges for non-related crimes and charges against foreigners that will likely never go to court.

                2. And stop lying you don’t support innocent until proven guilty you have admitted that you have already convicted Trump in your mind. How else do you explain the statement “when Mueller submit his report … You’ll see the shitshow thats going on in this administration” that is hardly the statement of someone who supports the concept of innocent until proven guilty.

                3. You really expect me to believe if Obama’s campaign chair were on trial for the vast and numerous alleged crimes of Manafort that you’d let Obama off the hook?

                  They were working TOGETHER at the time of the crimes. And Mueller wanted offer Podesta fucking immunity for the IDENTICAL crimes, you moron.

    2. “The presidency is corrupt and criminal, not to mention ridiculous, and Congress is unwilling to do anything about it.”

      I’ll take “Things Tony Never Said Between 2008 and 2016” for $500, Alex

      1. Things that were not true between 2008 and 2016. Who’s your bullshit artist of choice? Tucker? Fox & Friends? You guys should just tell me this so I know what I’m working with.

        1. You are aware that your boy created a secret kill list that neither Congress nor the Judiciary were privy to and then had his attorney general justify his authority to assassinate American citizens overseas without oversight, right?

          1. Bad Obama! Also, whatabout Obama! Happy?

            1. Exposing your blatant hypocrisy is not “whataboutism”, because that’s a made-up word used to cover up people’s blatant hypocrisy

            2. What about Trump!

          2. then had his attorney general justify his authority to assassinate American citizens overseas without oversight

            A justification so awesomely persuasive it had to be kept secret!

        2. So Obama going after actual journalists with actual power of the state is totally not as bad as saying mean things about them in public as merely one example out of hundreds.

          Got it. You sure are a true champion of the 1st amendment Tony. A real paragon of virtue.

          /sarc

          1. I couldn’t get two comments in without whataboutism showing its stupid face. Obama is not the subject, and your making him the subject makes you a partisan Trump leg humper.

            1. Fun fact: whataboutism is a made-up term. During 2008 and 2016 it was called “that’s Bush’s fault”

              1. I’m fine placing blame where it belongs.

            2. It’s not a whataboutism, it’s an illustration of your own hypocrisy on the matter and as such it’s direct evidence of it.

              For it to even be a whataboutism (tu quoque fallacy, if you’re not Russian anyway) I must use your hypocracy as a proof that your argument is wrong, but if the argument is that you are a hypocrite it’s not a fallacy.

              I’ve taught you this a dozen times or more Tony, yet somehow you continue to forget even basic information. It’s almost like you’re an idiot. ::rolls eyes::

              As an actual argument, Trump hasn’t gone after any journalists at all that we know of with the power of the state, making him superior in a direct comparison on this particular issue between Obama and Trump. See, now that’s an actual argument. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out later on that he has done so, but that’s not proof it’s speculation.

              1. Just a quick note of pedantic clarification:

                “Tu quoque” = fallacy of “you do it, too, therefore it’s okay that I do it”

                “Whataboutism” = practice of accusing your adversary, accurately or not, of something nefarious that you yourself are already doing, so that when you are exposed you preemptively make it look like your adversary is engaging in a “tu quoque” fallacy.

                1. Well, that is how it’s been used in court and the more literal definition anyway but in debate we were taught it works by the formulae you’d find on Wikipedia as well (more or less). Then again, we’d happily debate even what it meant so…I suspect debate arguments aren’t necessarily the best measure. It’s the one I know, though.

                2. Ah, no. The “tu quoque” fallacy is more, “you did it, so I didn’t.”; You’re asserting that, because your accuser did X, you didn’t do X. The reason it’s a fallacy is that you can both be guilty.

                  Whataboutism is the practice of screaming “whataboutism!” any time somebody tries to point out that your shit stinks, too. Functionally, that’s all it is: An attempt to prevent anybody from putting an accusation into context.

                    1. Whataboutism:

                      “While we’re here, basically anytime somebody invokes Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, or Barack Obama in a topic about Trump.”

                    2. That was kind of the point Poindexter. That you side only wishes to discuss Trump’s bad doings, but forgave your own side for equal or worse actions.

                    3. The important thing to establish is that only one side does bad things. Then it becomes a simple exercise of figuring out which one it is.

                    4. Define forgave. Did Obama do something impeachable? Bush tortured innocent people to death. Were you good with that? Trump wants to torture even harder. That OK?

                    5. Did Obama do something impeachable?

                      Does ordering the murder of an American citizen without due process count?

                    6. Locking up journalist using an archaich and constitutionally questionable law?
                      Possibly using the power of the IRS to silence opponents?
                      Interjecting him and the federal DOJ into multiple cases that were specifically state matters?
                      Not to mention the multiple times the courts slapped him down for exceeding his authority through the use of EO.

                    7. Try again but delete the lies. You don’t even know which ones are lies, do you?

                    8. Which ones were lies?

                    9. Did he lock up journalist using an archaich WWI anti-espionage law that many consider unconstitutional? Yes he did.
                      Was his IRS accused of using it’s power to shut up conservative PACS? Yes it was. Did some suspect him of being involved (with some evidence to back up those assertions)? Yes.
                      Did he get involved in local murder cases? Yes he did. Is murder not committed on federal property a federal case? Questionable at best, but likely no, not if we follow the 10A.
                      Did t-3 USSC (and lower federal courts)rule against him multiple times for exceeding his powers using EO? Yes they did.
                      So where did I lie?

                    10. Journalists weren’t locked up by the Obama DOJ.
                      Josh Wolf, Judith Miller, and Jim Taricani (home confinement) were all locked up, but before 2008.

                    11. He was accused of using the IRS.

                      Two IG reports, an FBI report, a DOJ report, and multiple Congressional reports all came to the conclusion that there was no targeting involved, some mismanagement, and no crimes.

                    12. So I didn’t lie, he was accused. That is all I said right?

                    13. Okay, so I stand corrected. He didn’t ajil them just threaten to jail them (Risen) and jailed there sources instead. Mea Culpa.

                    14. Okay, so I stand corrected. He didn’t ajil them just threaten to jail them (Risen) and jailed there sources instead. Mea Culpa.

                    15. *jail
                      *their

                    16. “Did Obama do something impeachable? ”

                      The war in Libya stands out, as well.

                    17. I remember when whataboutism was called “it’s Bush’s fault”

      2. Tony shows his writing skills with “The presidency is corrupt and criminal” rather than “Trump is corrupt and criminal”. But then, perhaps Tony really means it in which case he’s disparaging the office of president our founders created, and one might say our nation and government as well.

        And I agree with others who point out that there’s no evidence Trump has committed any crime, or colluded with Russia (which isn’t a crime), or conspired with Russia to break some US law either. I’ve seen no corrupt or criminal actions by Trump. One would think after 2 years of ongoing investigations (first by Obama’s administration, and later by Mueller) if they’ve found nothing, there is nothing. Just like Trump hater Strzok said there’s nothing there.

        On the other hand, there’s a huge amount of evidence Obama’s administration illegally and unethically manufactured reasons and fixed an investigation to first ensure Hillary won, then to try and frame Trump to remove him. It shows a two tiered justice system, which isn’t something our country should have. Imaging how the Democrats would be screaming if the DOJ and FBI went after them like they’re going after Trump. Many would be going to jail.

    3. Boy, you sure have changed your tune from openly fellating the idea of a king and emperor. Goodness, I wonder what changed?

      /sarc

      Not to mention that ‘independence’ in the realm of intelligence agencies simply means ‘power behind the throne’. I suspect you’re disappointed that the CIA hasn’t offed Trump and installed Hillary yet, since you’re a useful communist idiot.

      1. I’m the one arguing against letting the president literally do anything he wants with no legal checks until (hopefully, and presumably) the next election. Do you think the head of state should be able to commit crimes with impunity while in office, libertarian?

        1. No, you’re really not. You openly advocated for the exact opposite under a Democrat, so I doubt anyone will take you seriously now. You can’t even tell the difference between a real threat under Obama and a fake one under Trump, let alone a real one under Trump and a fake one under Obama.

          No one is as blind as the man who refuses to see.

          1. You openly advocated for the exact opposite under a Democrat

            Well, Obama had to ignore the Constitution, because Congress wouldn’t ever do the right thing!

          2. No I didn’t. I’m not taken to unquestioned following of politicians. You’re thinking of someone else. Perhaps the Obama worshiping fantasy creature in your head. No president, in fact, has been perfect in my eyes. Now how about you criticize one thing Trump has done besides his tweeting.

            1. Why should he?

            2. I’m curious to hear you say something critical of Obama. I have literally never heard you do so. Which isn’t to say you’re lying – I just have never actually heard you do so.

              1. Terrible dad jeans.

                1. Terrible dad jeans.

                  About what I thought.

        2. There is a process created to place legal checks on the President. It is called congressional authority to impeach. However, that requires evidence of wrong doing. Read the fucking constition!

          1. Constitution

          2. Impeachment can be started for basically any reason at all, but generally speaking Congress-critters are aware that if they impeach over some bullshit that they’ll probably catch hell for it in the next election (RE: Bill Clinton). Or at least that’s the conventional wisdom, in that ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ isn’t actually defined.

            1. Okay, I stand corrected. It should require evidence of wrong doing. However, because the Constitution does make impeachment (and removal) difficult, it does in essence require overwhelming evidence of wrong doing. This is why the Democratic leadership (Pelosi etc) try and tamp down any talk of impeachment. It would be political suicide short of overwhelming evidence (as it should be, innocent until proven guilty and all that).

              1. Impeachment is a political process. If you get a majority of the house and two thirds of the Senate to sign on, you could impeach because you don’t like the color of his tie.

                Nixon thought he could obstruct and fire the prosecutor. Trump is following his playbook. Witch Hunt, firing the prosecutor, using the executive branch powers to attack political opponents.

                Nixon’s interference in the executive branch operations was included under abuse of power. The President does not have unlimited power. He is charged by the Constitution to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

                1. First, to obstruct you have to prove a crime. So far Trump has not been charged with a crime. Secondly, Trump allowed the investigation to go forward even after firing Comey. In fact he allowed his attorney to meet with the lead investigator for over 30 hours and waved lawyer client confidentiality during those meetings. This doesn’t rise to obstruction. Also, since Nixon was never convicted of anything doesn’t support your assertions. Since the courts never ruled if a President can be charged with obstruction for firing someone in the DOJ we do not know how the courts will rule. As for impeachment being a political process, in spirit it is meant to be only utilized when a crime has been committed. And it is not a band thing that it is “political” because it means Congress will only undertake these powers rarely. Remember, a charge doesn’t mean shit without a conviction.

                  1. And the investigation into Nixon continued after Cox was fired. Nixon was still facing charges of abuse of power.

                    Second, you don’t have to have an underlying crime for obstruction. Otherwise, successful obstruction would be get off scott free. Second, Trump obstructed the investigation into Flynn, and there was a crime there.

                    Third, Don McGahn was not Trump’s attorney. He was the White House Council. That’s why John Dean could spill to prosecutors.

                    1. What crime did Flynn commit? Other than lying to federal officials, which he had guilty to (and that is questionable since they never mirandized him or offered to have a lawyer present- he was challenging it until Mueller threatened his son).
                      Also, the White House Counsel is the lawyer for the President. Dumb fuck. That is exactly what his job is.

                    2. And how do you obstruct justice without an underlying crime? By the very definition you have to have committed a crime in order to obstruct justice.

                    3. If no crime was committed, it is not justice being done but rather a malicious investigation. Ergo, calling it obstruction of justice is simply a means to allow prosecutors unlimited power. There is nothing just about charging someone with obstruction unless you have evidence of an actual crime.

                2. Happy Chandler|8.20.18 @ 4:34PM|#

                  They are subordinate to the Executive, who is coequal to Congress. They are not subordinate to Congress.

                  Happy Chandler|8.20.18 @ 5:58PM|#

                  Nixon’s interference in the executive branch operations was included under abuse of power. The President does not have unlimited power. He is charged by the Constitution to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

                  1. How does the President (the head of the executive branch) interfere in the operations of the executive branch? He hasn’t yet exained that bit of logic.

                    1. How does the President (the head of the executive branch) interfere in the operations of the executive branch? He hasn’t yet exained that bit of logic.

                      I think it would involve the idea of interfering in the operations that were specifically mandated by Congress, except that he also asserts that Congress has no authority over the DOJ. So, hard to say.

                    2. Except then we would get into the idea of separation bof powers. Does Congress have the power to dictate to the President how an executive branch entity is ran? I don’t mean the power sturcture (which would be part of the legislative powers) but it’s day to day operations and outside of the powers deaded to the Senate regarding advise and consent, do they have power to make personal decisions, e.g. firings?

                    3. Does Congress have the power to dictate to the President how an executive branch entity is ran?

                      In practical reality, yes. The President also has the power to ignore him, and Congress has the power to attempt to impeach him in retaliation.

                    4. himthem

                    5. I specifically mentioned personal decisions. However, I also doubt Congress has much authority to dictate day to day operations. For all practicality you are right, separation of powers has rarely be adjucated and we have little precedence to decide these issues.

                    6. Congress can impeach people. You may have heard that in the news lately.
                      Congress can investigate whether the President is taking care to faithfully execute the laws. See: Bush’s US Attorney firings.

                      From reductio ad absurdum: Could the President fire an FBI agent for investigating his friend for murder?

                    7. If he interferes in faithful execution of the laws. Read the fucking constition!

                    8. Does faithfully executing the law also include investigation of innocent people? You start from the assumption of guilt when you should be starting from the assumption of Innocence. As for impeachment I think I have mentioned that at length dumbass.
                      Who ever said that Congress couldn’t investigate the President? However, notice Congress took no actions against the President for firing the Attorney Generals. Because there is no legal precedence to do such. Period. What part of that is so hard to understand. That the Constitution does not grant Congress outside the advise and consent clause any power over executive personal decisions. And until the courts rule otherwise, stating it does it simply bullshit.

                    9. What part of your word salad is hard to understand? Most of it, really.

                      What do you mean Attorney Generals? There’s only one on the federal level. You make no sense. And, proper pluralization would be Attorneys General.
                      Do you mean US Attorney? There were contempt citations, many resignations, an investigation into officials conducting business on non-government emails, of which many were lost.

                      Flynn is guilty. Indicted, pleaded. There is no more presumption of innocence. He’s guilty.

                    10. First, I made a simple mistake. Yes I was referring to the US Attorney firings during the Bush administration. You still haven’t provided a single example of any court ruling that a President cannot fire anyone in the executive branch he/she wants to.
                      Also, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents. However, he was not mirandized, nor offered a lawyer, and those aforementioned agents didn’t feel he had lied. He was fighting it until Mueller threatened his son, and only then did he plea guilty. He has never been sentenced and the Judge has questioned the guilty plea and the Constitutionality of the underlying charge. Additionally, he has never been indicted for any crime related to the lying charge. So outside of a misstatement (which he maintains was not done on purpose) he has never been charged nor convicted of any crime.

    4. It may not be ideal or constitutionally intended, but we have to work with the tools we have until the cancer is cut out.

      Ah, the motto of every dictator who’s ever lived!

      1. Trying to prevent a dictatorship here.

        1. You’re doing a spectacularly poor job of it.

          1. To give a less glib response: study some fucking history for a change. What do you think the Praetorian Guard thought they were doing?

            1. I believe I’m being clear in acknowledging that the situation is less than ideal.

              1. It is in no way ideal at all. Less than ideal? Really? It is the farthest thing from ideal. It is the road to serfdom. Pure and simple.

                1. Maybe terrible idiots shouldn’t have saddled us with the most terrible idiot in the world as president. That’s the part that’s not ideal.

                  1. So you justify destroying American liberty because your side lost?

        2. Trying to prevent a dictatorship by granting power to a an unelected official who is not answerable to anyone? That seems reasonable.

    5. Totalitarian Tony cheers on an unaccountable Deep State.

      Shocked I am!

    6. They were so independent they were free to whitewash the investigation into their preferred candidate. Very dangerous indeed.

  4. It depends on how and why the independence happens.

    Hoover defended his extraordinary independence through blackmail and threats. He abused his independence to gain power over elected officials.

    Since then, law enforcement and justice have defended independence over investigation and prosecutorial discretion. Political leadership can and does set priorities and policies, but they should not get involved in individual cases generally. This happened in the US Attorney’s offices in the GWB administration. Same thing happened with Comey. While he did make managerial mistakes and was by no means a good director, that’s not what he was fired for. He was fired for not accepting political interference in case investigations. That’s why the SC was appointed.

    Interference in investigations was what brought Nixon down. Trump and his supporters are following the Nixon playbook to a T. Complaining about the length of the investigation, witch hunt, offering clemency in exchange for silence, and firing the investigator.

    1. Uhmm read the Constitution, the director is surbodinage to the President. He can fire him for whatever he wants. Do you truly believe that there is ever a time for a truly independent government official who is not accountable to anyone? Fuck you know what that is called, a tyranny. Jesus fucking Christ, you progressives don’t give a rats ass about liberty do you? All you care is that it is your bootheels we live under, not someone else’s. Fuck!

      1. But the president should be accountable to no one (presuming his party has no interest in holding him to account)?

        1. Except he is accountable to both Congress and the Supreme Court fuck head

        2. And assumptions are stupid on your part. If and when evidence is presented of a crime and congressional action is not taken then we can speak again. Until that point, you are just pulling shit out fo your ass.

          1. Nixon thought he could fire Cox with impunity.

            He was wrong.

            1. Was he convicted? Was it ever decided in a court? So your ebat argument is a charge that was never tried? That isn’t how it works.

              1. *best

              2. He resigned and was pardoned.
                Trump is pretty faithfully following the Nixon path.

                1. Wow, only in your fevered dreams.
                  So in other words he was never convicted and therefore you have no adjudicated precedence to support your assertion?

      2. Progressives care very much about liberty.

        They fear and despise it.

        1. Worse they are absolute enemies of it.

      3. From the Articles of Impeachment against Nixon:

        (5) In disregard of the rule of law: he knowingly misused the executive power by interfering with agencies of the executive branch: including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Criminal Division and the Office of Watergate Special Prosecution Force of the Department of Justice, in violation of his duty to take care that the laws by faithfully executed.

        Interfering in an investigation is a constitutional breach of duty.

        1. Except firing Come had no impact on the investigation. Also, since Nixon was never convicted (nor even tried) we have no evidence that they could have made that charge stick. So, no your evidence doesn’t prove anything. Especially considering the Constitution gave no authority to create a DOJ or FBI. So in other words your statement that it is a Constitutional breach is weak at best. How can it be a Constitutional breach if the Constitution doesn’t mention it?

        2. Are you stupid?

          A) Nixon was never impeached.
          B) The obstruction wasn’t the primary crime, but rather was in service to the primary crime.

          1. Then there is ^this. You can only be charged with obstruction if a crime was committed. If Trump is not charged with a crime there can’t be any obstruction.

            1. Well, I guess you could be charged but getting a conviction would be next to impossible.

              1. Talk to Scooter Libby. He was convicted of Obstruction, perjury, and false statements. There were no other charges brought.

                Also, Trump obstructed the Flynn case. There were charges. Unless you are making up a catch 22- if you obstruct successfully, there’s no underlying crime proven, so you can’t be charged with obstruction. If you are unsuccessful, then it didn’t obstruct, and you can’t be charged.

                Unfortunately, in the United States, neither of those two things is true. It’s illegal to obstruct an investigation even if there’s no crime. It’s illegal to obstruct even if the crime is proven through other means.

                1. And Scooter Libby was a travesty of criminal justice. It is the very definition of charging someone to justify a failed investigation.
                  A) Flynn was under investigation but he was never charged with the crime.
                  B) the investigation continued
                  C) We only have Comey’s word for it that Trump asked him to stop the investigation (Trump denies this)
                  D) there was more than adequate reasons to fire Comey for a variety of misdeeds
                  E) Comey wasn’t the lead investigator
                  F) the President has the power to fire anyone in the executive branch (no court has ever ruled otherwise).

                  1. I should have clarified myself, Flynn was never charged with anything to do with Russia, he was simply charged with lying to FBI agents (who felt he had innocently misstated facts not lied according to their report, he was also never mirandized or offered a lawyer, he was specifically told he didn’t need a lawyer present).

                2. No, no catch-22 required. How do you obstruct unless a crime was committed? You seem to be under the impression that an investigation is the same as a conviction.

                  1. Flynn pleaded guilty to a crime! You can’t plead guilty to a crime you’re not charged with.

                    There is evidence that Comey was fired with corrupt intent. It doesn’t matter whether there were reasons to fire him, if there was corrupt intent, it can be obstruction. In addition to Comey’s contemporaneous notes, there is the draft versions of the letter justifying the firing (which Mueller has). I’m sure some of the 30 hours that McGahn talked included discussions of the firing, and any notes or correspondence he may have.

                    Nixon thought he could fire Cox. It was one of the charges that led to him resigning and accepting a pardon. You sound like the people defending Nixon.

                    1. It was a minor charge and you have no evidence bit would have stuck. The fact is is that Cox was fired and no court had ever ruled Nixon didn’t have that power. A charge does not equal a conviction. Why is that so hard for you to grasp? Do you understand the 4-6 amendments?

                    2. Yes, there is a draft version of the letter, which listed multiple reasons for firing Comey. And Mueller has it. so you would think a year later Muller would be ready to make a charge? No?

                3. I’m not the one that compared to Nixon, so it’s not my fault the example was a bad one. Nixon was covering up his own actual crimes with more actual crimes. It’s pretty stupid to compare Trump to Nixon in this way.

                  Also, you might note that Flynn’s case proceeded without incident meaning the ‘obstruction’ angle is thin gruel for impeachment. Public statements and even private statements, not orders, would be a head scratcher on how it could be obstruction. It looks bad, but impeachment worthy? I think few people would say either Comey or Trump are particularly believable sources, but of the two of them Comey has a bigger axe to grind.

                  Personally, it’ll be amusing if the Democrats do impeach Trump. It’s one almost certain way to make sure they’re out of power for a decade or more.

                  1. Democrats are well aware of the possibility of backlash in a partisan impeachment attempt, and I predict it will be an unnecessary and damaging election issue for them (they always find one). You never know with the House, but I suspect impeachment won’t go forward unless Trump’s crimes are so undeniable that Senate Republicans have to get on board. Then there’s the variable that Trump is not Bill Clinton. This isn’t the actual witch hunt that was, and nobody has sympathy for Trump, and they certainly won’t if he’s found to be a traitor.

                    1. Which is how it is supposed to be, remember innocent until proven guilty. It is not Trump’s job to prove he is innocent it is Mueller’s job to prove beyond reasonable doubt he isn’t.

                  2. http://www.ajc.com/news/nation…..1CshNlW0H/

                    You can read the indictment! Where did the talking point that Flynn was never indicted come from???

                    At this point in the Nixon investigation, it was a near perfect match. Nixon argued that there was no underlying crime. He argued it was a witch hunt. He argued that the investigation had gone on too long. All of these were efforts to distract from a devastating investigation. That’s exactly what Trump is doing.

                  3. http://www.ajc.com/news/nation…..1CshNlW0H/

                    You can read the indictment! Where did the talking point that Flynn was never indicted come from???

                    At this point in the Nixon investigation, it was a near perfect match. Nixon argued that there was no underlying crime. He argued it was a witch hunt. He argued that the investigation had gone on too long. All of these were efforts to distract from a devastating investigation. That’s exactly what Trump is doing.

                    1. I never said he wasn’t indicted for lying to FBI agents. I stated it was a minor charge that has never been tied to a larger crime. I also question the validity of the charge and rather it was brought in a manner that is compliant with the Constitution (which the judge in charge of the sentencing has also questioned BTW).

                    2. Also, I would point out that the only evidence that Trump ever asked (ASKED not told) Comey to drop the investigation is from Comey himself. Trump denies those charges, so we are left with a he said/she said case. Again, this hardly proves Trump obstructed justice. There has been a number of unconfirmed reports that is why Trump fired Comey, but nothing substantiated by independent witnesses. Also, Trump did mention the “made up Russia thing” as one of the reasons, but you noticed he did not mention Flynn in that statement. He also has maintained that he fired Comey after recommendations from Rosenstein that laid out a variety of offenses Comey had committed. And, if Trump knows he is innocent and he suspected Comey knew he was innocent yet continued the investigation for political purposes (which is Trump’s assertion) isn’t that grounds enough for firing Comey? None of this rises to obstruction (especially considering Trump never took any actions to stop any investigation, he simply fired a bureaucrat with a very questionable record. Comey works at the pleasure of the President and he mishandled multiple things before and after the elections. He deserved to be fired. Or are you contending, that despite his inaptitude, he deserved to keep his job because he was nominally tied to the Russian investigation?

      4. “you progressives don’t give a rats ass about liberty do you?”

        Not merely liberty.

        They’re opposed to self government.

        Progressivism is the rule of an unaccountable ruling class.

    2. No executive agency is superior to Congress and they all answer to the president. Sorry, but un-elected bureaucrats cannot avoid accountability from elected representatives.

      1. Turns out J. Edgar Hoover didn’t do anything wrong or bad, he just had the misfortunate to be born in the wrong era.

        /Progressives

        1. Original post: Hoover was bad, and this is why.

          Response: Look, they say Hoover was good!

          Why can’t I put a :rolleyes” emoji here?

          1. Is the author of the piece a progressive? I don’t think Ira identifies as one.

            1. I was talking about my comment, which yours was in response to.

  5. the sentence under the title needs to lose the “Even if” or the “but”

  6. Shot: https://www.reason.com/blog/2018/03/07…..p-election

    Chaser: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2018/08/…..rence.html

    This is some 42 dimensional Russia fever dreams when the prostitute who holds the key to all fever dreams ends up giving her supposed evidence to a Russian oligarch.

    I WANT TO BELIEVE!

    1. Look, if you can’t trust a hooker from Russia that’s trying to avoid being shot in a gutter who can you trust?

      1. True. Can’t fault hookers

  7. “”Autonomy” of the FBI may have certain advantages. It would prevent politically motivated meddling into criminal investigations, the same way that the “independence” of the Federal Reserve prevents politically motivated interference with interest rates.”

    Well, technically, it would only prevent external politically motivated meddling into criminal investigations. It wouldn’t do anything about political meddling internal to the FBI.

  8. “Autonomy comes “by acquiring sufficient good will and prestige as to make attacks on oneself or one’s agency costly for one’s critics.””

    According to most sources, Jedgar-hoover had an alternative technique.

  9. Jeeze. Sorry to have missed all the straw-grasping by Tony and the other lefty imbecile.

  10. “Why FBI Directors Want to Be Autonomous and Unaccountable”

    BFYTW

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