Discover more from PREVAIL by Greg Olear
The Federal Bureau of Investigation should be led by someone who WASN'T picked by a mobbed-up criminal.
The four-year occupation of the White House by a mobbed-up criminal has been so thoroughly normalized by the supine press that it is necessary, on occasion, to pull the camera way back and look, really look, at the big picture. This wide perspective helps neutralize the gaslighting.
Here’s what went down in 2016-17:
The Russian government engaged in an aggressive, multifaceted effort to influence the outcome of the 2016 election to help its longtime puppet, Donald John Trump, achieve the presidency.
After Trump realized the FBI had caught wind of his ties to Russia, he summoned the director, James Comey, to dinner à deux, where he demanded “loyalty”—which, in wiseguy parlance, meant that he wanted Comey to quash the investigation.
Comey refused, so Trump fired him, in the most craven, petty way possible.
The day after Comey was fired, Trump invited two senior Russian officials to the Oval Office, where he told them, between bursts of mirthful laughter, that he made the move specifically because of the FBI’s Russia investigation. He said something similar to Lester Holt of NBC News two days later.
After batting interim director Andrew McCabe around like a mouse for a few months, trolling his family, and screwing him out of some of his government pension, Trump named Christopher Wray, who had been the personal attorney of his good buddy Chris Christie, FBI director.
Points 1-4 can be distilled to this one sentence: Guy under criminal investigation fires guy in charge of criminal investigation. There is no reality in which that is not egregious obstruction of justice.
This is not some tinfoil-hat conspiracy theory. This is not something Nicki Minaj’s cousin’s friend posted on Swollen Balls Reddit. None of these facts are in dispute. It’s in the Mueller Report. It’s in Volume 5 of the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee Report (which I quote in #1, above). Trump himself admitted it. That’s what fucking happened, full stop. I’ll say it again: Guy under criminal investigation fires guy in charge of criminal investigation.
It took three months for Trump to find someone to replace Comey. Presumably, the Former Guy—no stranger to the inner workings of the Bureau—had but one criterium: Back off.
Add point #5 to our logline, and we get this: Guy under criminal investigation fires guy in charge of criminal investigation AND REPLACES HIM WITH A GUY HIS SHADY BUDDY RECOMMENDED.
So: The opening at the FBI was created for illicit reasons. The replacement was selected for illicit reasons. Why exactly are we keeping the new guy around? Because we don’t want to seem “partisan?” Because FBI directors traditionally serve for 10 years? What the actual fuck?
To be fair, Wray is clearly a smart guy. This isn’t a Betsy DeVos situation, where Trump put an absolute moron in the post to sabotage the organization. Nor is Wray one of the obviously bad Louis DeJoy / Matthew Whitaker / Ric Grenell types. But here’s the thing: Americans deserve better. The Federal Bureau of Investigation should be led by someone who wasn’t picked by a mobbed-up criminal. That’s just common sense.
And it’s not like Wray has distinguished himself. He scrubbed his bio of his past dealings with Gazprom, the notoriously corrupt Russian gas concern that was a major client at his old firm, ostensibly because he didn’t want people to know about his ties to Russian oligarchs. He did questionable shit with Christie’s cellphone during the Bridgegate scandal. And as Director, he seems more inclined to cover stuff up than expose criminals. Last week’s testimony of Aly Raisman and the other U.S. gymnasts was damning to Wray:
Then there’s the dereliction of duty in the Brett Kavanaugh investigation (if we can call it that). Yes, there exists a Memorandum of Understanding at the Bureau that lays out the parameters of which political figures it can investigate, and why, and how; former assistant FBI director Frank Figliuzzi explained all of this in 2018, as it was happening. Per that MOU—or what we know about the MOU; has anyone actually seen the entire document?— Wray was correct to deliver the 4,500 tips the Bureau received on the tip line to the Office of the President, which had requested it. But as director, Wray had the authority to go through those tips and follow up, if possible criminal activity was reported (more allegations involving sexual assault, for example, or gambling, or public drunkenness). I’m no legal scholar, but I’m pretty sure the Federal Bureau of Investigation is allowed to, you know, conduct investigations.
Furthermore, as Lincoln’s Bible pointed out to me over the weekend, how do we know what Trump did with those tips, if and when he got them? “It might just be me,” she said, “but I wouldn’t hand the names of 4,500 people/tips—who were giving up dirt on Kavanaugh’s potential crimes—over to a mobster.” Can we really be sure that Trump’s people didn’t retaliate? That it took Wray two fucking years to respond to requests by Senator Whitehouse about this does not exactly inspire confidence.
Finally, there’s this: Christopher Asher Wray is the epitome of straight white wealthy male privilege—a blue blood. He’s a Philips Academy boarding school kid, and, like his fellow Federalist Society confrère Brett Kavanaugh, a double graduate of Yale—undergrad and law school. He made bank representing shady characters at a boutique law firm. Obviously he’s a Republican. Why do we expect a guy like that to fight for the little guy? For the non-powerful? For women? For survivors of sexual assault? For democracy? Wray hasn’t had a single press conference regarding January 6, has made zero public assurances that that investigation won’t go the way of Nassar and Kavanaugh, has done nothing to show the American people that he’s not still Trump’s hand-picked errand boy—the mobster’s choice.
I get that Joe Biden is trying to honor those institutions and traditions that Trump spent four years trying to destroy. Not firing the FBI Director without a really solid reason is one of those traditions. But there is a solid reason: Wray was installed by a criminal trying to protect himself from investigation and indictment. I don’t care if he’s Atticus Finch; that alone warrants his immediate removal.
Photo credit: Official FBI photo, covered up.