- The Washington Times - Monday, August 22, 2022

Last week, former Vice President Mike Pence gave a speech in New Hampshire calling on Republicans to stop criticizing the FBI after the unprecedented raid of Mar-a-Lago, former President Donald Trump’s Florida home.

“Our party stands with the men and women who stand on the thin blue line at the federal and state and local level, and these attacks on the FBI must stop,” Mr. Pence said. “Calls to defund the FBI are just as wrong as [Democratic] calls to defund the police.”

Mr. Pence thus walked squarely into the liberal media’s trap — validating their narrative that somehow questioning the FBI’s motives is un-American, while whitewashing the agency’s past abuses and undermining any effort for oversight and reform.

How dare anyone criticize the federal government’s premier law enforcement agency and its dedication to justice? Really?

What about those 13 U.S. gymnasts, who were mostly underage at the time USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar sexually abused them, and their cries for help to the FBI? Their pleas were ignored by the bureau for nearly two years.

“This incredible systemic breakdown shows that there is needed change in the way that the FBI responds to cases of abuse,” Grace French, a target of Nassar’s abuse and the president of The Army of Survivors, told USA Today last year. “We need to continue to pursue accountability for the institutions that allowed athletes and children to continue to see Nassar long after reports were made. They left us at the disposal of a predator.”

Then there are cases of gross national security breaches.

Remember the rogue FBI employee with a top-secret clearance who traveled to Syria without the bureau’s knowledge and married a prominent ISIS terrorist, one she had been assigned to investigate? Or when the bureau had to admit it missed opportunities to stop Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon bomber, after he left the country to join “bandit underground groups” in Dagestan and Chechnya?

The agency also missed warning signs for the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooter and declined to open an investigation on the eventual Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan, in part because the bureau was concerned about the political correctness of investigating an American Muslim in the military.

And regarding meddling in U.S. elections — the FBI has done a bang-up job as of late.

Democrats certainly had no problem criticizing the bureau in 2016.

John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, was furious after then-FBI Director James Comey announced the bureau needed to review additional emails possibly tied to the Democratic candidate’s server in October 2016, after apparently closing the case earlier in the summer.

“This is something that has been tossed into the middle of the campaign. We would have preferred that that not happen, but now that it has happened, we would prefer that Mr. Comey come forward and explain why he took that unprecedented step,” Mr. Podesta told CNN.

The Clinton campaign called Mr. Comey’s move “a blatant double standard” in justice. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi openly questioned if Mr. Comey was “in the right job.”  Sen. Al Franken said Mr. Comey should face Senate hearings, and Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen called for Mr. Comey’s resignation. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said Mr. Comey cost Democrats the presidential election and control of the Senate.

That same year, the bureau used the Clinton-campaign-funded Steele dossier, filled with lies and innuendo, as the basis for an investigation on the eventual president. An FBI official falsified information on a surveillance warrant to spy on Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page. Text messages between agents (and lovers) Peter Strzok and Lisa Page showed clear favoritism toward Mrs. Clinton and complete contempt for Mr. Trump. Then, when Mr. Comey was fired by Mr. Trump, he intentionally leaked conversations with the president to spark a special counsel’s investigation.

All of it was a farce. None of it was real. However, the Russia-collusion narrative overshadowed the majority of Mr. Trump’s term in office, eroding his political capital.

Now, RealClearInvestigations is reporting that the very same FBI unit leading the Mar-a-Lago probe into possibly mishandled classified documents includes the same cast of characters who were involved in the Russian hoax. Although Mr. Strzok “was fired after the disclosure of his vitriolic anti-Trump tweets, several members of his team remain working in the counterintelligence unit,” RCI reports.

Meanwhile, the FBI conducted a raid on journalist James O’Keefe’s home, seeking to retrieve the diary of President Biden’s daughter, Ashley Biden. How is this a national security concern? Agents strip-searched, cuffed and shackled Peter Navarro, Mr. Trump’s former trade advisor, in his arrest for not complying with the House Jan. 6 committee, which seems more than a touch excessive. The bureau all but engineered a kidnapping plot against Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in order to gin up fears about right-wing militia groups.

The FBI works for the American public. In order for us to trust this law-enforcement agency, it needs to demonstrate competency and apply the law equally and without favor. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case, and that’s why the public’s confidence in the bureau has plummeted in recent years.

So yes, Mr. Pence, it only makes sense to ask questions and demand transparency. The FBI’s record is not beyond reproach. 

• Kelly Sadler is the commentary editor at The Washington Times.

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