What doesn’t the FBI want to see come to light in the memo? Are the questions Congress is looking to be answered not about details in the Russia probe but the nature of how the FBI operated? Are a few rogue officers ruining the the reputation that thousands have built up for years? Former Assistant FBI director, Ron Hosko joins Dan and Amy to discuss.
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Proft: Good morning, Dan and Amy. You know, I'm SO glad that former investigative reporter for CBS Sharyl Attkisson got out of the DC Press Corps so she can ask... Jacobson: The REAL questions? Proft: Yeah, all the RIGHT questions. She should actually be a member of Congress, she actually asks all the proper oversight questions. She does so again, as it pertains to the FBI, in an op-ed in The Hill. She writes, does Miss Atkisson, "What happens when federal agencies accused of wrongdoing also control the alleged evidence against them? What happens when they're the ones in charge of who inside their agencies, or connected to them, ultimately gets investigated and possibly charged? Those questions are moving to the forefront as facts play out in the investigations into our intelligence agencies' surveillance activities and in particular, the FBI's increasing public pressure on House Republicans," and as Kim Strassel argues in the Wall Street Journal, ultimately President Trump, to not allow that memo that Devin Nunes and his team crafted over the last several months, that four-page memo that's circulating, that's supposed to be made public as early as next week, about abuses at Jim Comey's FBI. Reports that specific individuals...that among the specific individuals named for abusing the surveillance programs...Comey, Rosenstein (Deputy Attorney General), Andy McCabe (Deputy Director, FBI). And so Stephen Boyd, the Assistant Attorney General sent a letter this week trying to put a chill on that, a chill on public release. But those questions that Sharyl Attkisson poses, namely who watches the watchmen, who investigates the investigators, seem to be increasingly relevant ones as time goes on. For more on this, we're pleased to be joined by Ron Hosko, he's a former assistant director of the FBI, now the president for the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund. Ron, thanks for joining us, appreciate it. Hosko: Yeah, it's good to be with you again. Proft: What about the Boyd letter and the reaction it's getting from journalists like Atkisson. What is it exactly that the FBI doesn't want to see come to light, why shouldn't it come to light, or doesn't the FBI have to do better than just the blanket cover story of impede...it would impede Mueller's investigation? Hosko: So...how long do we have? Do we have most of the morning? (Jacobson: We have an hour...forty-five minutes.) So, there's a lot of pieces to unravel in this, and for you to talk about. First, I think there is certainly internal review mechanisms for the FBI that each of us can doubt, because it is the organization looking at itself, and there's plenty of reason to think that that can fail for any organization, and that information can be concealed or covered up, or recreated, conveniently, for the organization. You know, I'm encouraged by the fact that the Department of Justice Inspector General, who in my own experience is VERY independent of the FBI, is very willing to criticize the FBI, has had the lead investigative role in looking at key pieces of the ongoing scandals. That is the Clinton Investigation...were politics involved in how that case was concluded? And the Inspector General does have full access to all the electronic communications of the participants, could bring in for an interview whomever they want, under oath, and build their report. And I hope with each passing day, you know, I hope that report gets made public sooner rather than later, and that Christopher Wray, the new Director, could take some action. Jacobson: Well, do you think the memo is a ploy to damage public confidence in the FBI? Hosko: I absolutely believe that. I...and here's the difficult part for us. First, we have the blurring of the lines between legitimate reporting and commentary punditry that you see on what were once traditional news channels or hear it on news channels...there's a blurring of the lines. And frankly we all know that the battle lines in this and in Hillary have been drawn, and the skirmish lines have moved and been fought over, but we generally know who the parties are. And the parties involved Congress, that is quite clear. And now we have a situation where you have Nunes, who seems to have gone off the rails in the past, and then come back on, and was accused of politicizing the House Intelligence Committee, now has a 4-page memo that the Democrats are saying "Let us see it, so we can respond to it." They've been, it sounds like, in some measure, denied reviewing it, accessing it...so they're gonna create their own memo, although they've seen the contents, obviously, because they're disputing the accuracy of the contents, saying "This creates a false picture", so they now, as of yesterday, they sound like they're gonna write their own memo, their counter-memo, that rebutts and undermines the value of...the accuracy of this Republican memo. Proft: Well okay, so...you have two political parties, and you have two political agendas. And you also have a law enforcement agency that seems to be hyper-politicized as far as I can tell, too. That's the FBI, just for starters since we're focused there. And I'm not just talking about the Strock and Lisa Page texts, which are extraordinary, particularly given their respective roles and senior positions at the FBI, and Strock's role, his material role, in investigations of both Clinton and Trump. Even setting that...that alone is enough, but even besides that, you have the FBI in Christo...even under Christopher Wray, that's been stonewalling Congress for documents, documents Congress thought they had assurances they were going to receive. Now the FBI is saying "We want to see a copy of the memo, and it's not fair that we're not seeing a copy of the memo!", the same FBI that's been stonewalling the House Intelligence Committee with respect to the production of subpoenaed documents. So, the FBI seems to be a hyper-political organization too. Hosko: Well, I agree with a lot of what you said, I would disagree with this; I would disagree with the notion that the FBI is. Look, the FBI is 35,000 agents... Proft: I mean at the leadership level. I'm talking about at the leadership level. Hosko: I mean, we really need to make sure we're defining our terms, because we're really talking about a relatively small group of people that are at the center of this discussion. I have been told that the FBI has bent over backwards in terms of document production to Congress on a lot of these issues, that Congress has lots of this stuff. They could certainly ask for more, and I think, you know, there sometimes is a kind of balancing act that has to be struck between co-equal branches of government, where yes, Congress has oversight authority over the FBI, that doesn't necessarily mean Congress gets to come in and take my entire case file on an ongoing criminal investigation. That's not how that works. Proft: No, but I...no, that's true. But what about things like how they obtained that FISA warrant in the first place? Did they use the Steele Dossier? What exactly was the nature of the relationship between the FBI and Christopher Steele over the last 18 months? Those to me seem to be pertinent questions that are....that are not related to the Russian collusion investigation directly, that are more related to how the FBI operates. Hosko: I agree with you. I agree with you totally. I think that is at the core of this inquiry, how did they use that? And I was...look, I worked mainly on the criminal side of the organization virtually my entire career, and I don't know precisely the steps to a FISA, although I've been involved in some of those in a portion of my career. But I'll tell you this...the FBI is not nothing if it's not...not a bureaucracy. And with a bureaucracy you have layers and layers and layers, and we are talking about using extraordinary intelligence collection techniques, like a Title 3...what we call a wiretap on the criminal side, or a FISA to collect your phone conversations, emails, on the national security side. There are a lot of layers, and the notion of an agent...let's say even somebody who's perceived as a politicized rogue agent like Peter Strock. The notion that he has the ability to take say the FISA...err, the Dossier, and type up an affidavit and run to the FISA Court, knowing that it is totally unvetted, unvalidated, the notion to me of him being able to that is ridiculous. Now, I'm not saying he DIDN'T do that, I'm just saying I know the layers and that involves internal lawyers looking at it, external lawyers from DoJ, who the presumption would be they colluded too, or they failed to do their job. Look, if all those systems failed, then change is BADLY needed at the FBI, new internal controls are badly needed. I don't think it went that way, but I do think, to your point, the FBI should produce some documents and some evidence to Congress that suggests HOW they proceeded. Jacobson: Do you think that this is a black eye for the FBI? I mean, I know your a former assistant director, but do you think...have you lost some trust in your own former agency? Hosko: Oh I have, I have. And it hurts me to have to say that. Is it a black eye? It IS a black eye. You know, one of the things that I think the FBI is not doing well right now is that they are on their heels in the PR battle for the high ground, or at least to clear the air that they're not involved with anything political. How do you do that when you have all these text messages between the lovebirds, which in my estimation and a lot of others is outrageous? Look, some of these actions have damaged the reputation that thousands of us worked to build over the years. The organization is largely...is very dependent on the trust of the public, and some of these questions call into question the organization. Though, I have to repeat, you know, there are agents in Chicago and Los Angeles and Kansas City working round the clock to prevent acts of terror (Proft: Yeah, of course!), and so we have to distinguish between the two. But it has tarnished our badges, and it's gonna take some time to recover. And I...but I...go ahead? Proft: Do you think Strock and Page should be gone? Jacobson: Yeah, what are they still there for? Hosko: Well look, you know, there are any...any...most agencies, good agencies, police department or otherwise, have internal due process. (Proft: Right, I understand.) You have to have evidence and a hearing and, and...due process, and so I think they're entitled to that. However, I think...I wish, and I've wished this with others, that Christopher Wray would be in the Inspector General's office demanding an early read on his findings, so that he, Wray, can act. And if that means somebody is fired, somebody is removed from the senior executive service, he takes swift decisive action, so that we all understand that he's taken swift decisive action to take out the cancerous part...do it. Do it. I wish he would do that, even if he did it prematurely in this case based on what has already been made public. I mean, this...the tryst, the adulterous affair, the volume of text messages, the politicizing, look...agents everywhere...I felt passionately about my cases when I worked in Chicago. I went after kidnappers and bank robbers and white collar thieves that would take your last penny. I was passionate that they were corrupt as hell and I wanted to put them in jail for as long a time as possible. We want agents to feel passionately about the subjects of their cases for the most part. But when your politics, your personal politics, impact...and you're talking about, you know, the highest profile corruption case...in some way corruption, political case, you need to divorce yourselves of that silliness, and you know these electronic records, those are...those impact a case. Your personal biases are discoverable, and they're gonna get turned over and they're going to impact the case. This is ridiculous on so many levels, it's unprofessional on so many levels. It's insulting to those of us who have done the job with fidelity, and those who are on the job doing it now, because it's raising doubt about their cases too. It's deeply troubling. Proft: Alright, he is Ron Hosko, former FBI Assistant Director, now President for the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund. Ron, thanks again for joining us, appreciate your insights as somebody who was on the inside of the agency, thanks very much. Hosko: Sure thing.