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Commentary: For Trump supporters, DOJ IG report amounts to "Told ya so"

The new Justice Department inspector general's report on the FBI's handling of the Clinton email scandal is 568 pages long, but for Trump supporters it can be reduced to a single phrase:

"Told ya so."

For months, Team Trump has claimed that the Department of Justice under Barack Obama was motivated by politics when it came to investigating Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.  And while some on the Right have stretched that premise out to the "Deep State Conspirators Use UFO Tech To Erase DOJ Data" extreme, the IG report makes it clear that the Loretta Lynch/James Comey/Andrew McCabe DOJ and FBI were far too often motivated by crass partisanship rather than the pursuit of justice.

The report called the actions of two officials "antithetical to the core values" of the FBI and DOJ in this excerpt:

When one senior FBI official, (Peter) Strzok, who was helping to lead the Russia investigation at the time, conveys in a text message to another senior FBI official, (Lisa) Page, that 'we'll stop' candidate Trump from being elected — after other extensive text messages between the two disparaging candidate Trump — it is not only indicative of a biased state of mind but, even more seriously, implies a willingness to take official action to impact the presidential candidate's electoral prospects [emphasis added]. This is antithetical to the core values of the FBI and the Department of Justice.

There was also this exchange between FBI employees supposedly practicing impartial law enforcement:

10:51:48, FBI Attorney 2: "I am so stressed about what I could have done differently [regarding Clinton investigation]."
10:54:29, FBI Employee: "Don't stress. None of that mattered."
10:54:31, FBI Employee: "The FBI's influence."
10:59:36, FBI Attorney 2: "I don't know. We broke the momentum."
11:00:03, FBI Employee: "That is not so."
11:02:22, FBI Employee: "All the people who were initially voting for her would not, and were not, swayed by any decision the FBI put out. Trump's supporters are all poor to middle class, uneducated, lazy POS that think he will magically grant them jobs for doing nothing [emphasis added]They probably didn't watch the debates, aren't fully educated on his policies, and are stupidly wrapped up in his unmerited enthusiasm."

It goes downhill from there.

Opponents of the president and many in the mainstream media have largely dismissed this notion of an FBI corrupted by partisanship. Much of the media coverage has focused, not on the bad behavior by James Comey, but instead on Trump's (often over-the-top) criticisms of the FBI, the Justice Department and Special Counsel Rober Mueller.

And that in itself is additional proof of the Trump-supporters' primary premise that the institutions they are told they should trust—government, media, academia—are no longer trustworthy. Otherwise, how could they ignore such a juicy tale of corruption and scandal?

Start at the beginning: Hillary Clinton, with her history of problematic ethics, becomes secretary of state and, during her tenure, her family simultaneously ran an international foundation that collected hundreds of millions of dollars from foreign governments and businesses. As she's on her way out the door after four years in office, it's discovered she was doing classified government business on a personal email with a homebrew server—literally in her basement—and thousands of her emails were "disappeared" using a high-tech firm's "Bleach Bit" technology.

And that's just the prequel. Imagine where Shonda Rhimes could go from there.

Actually even Rhimes probably wouldn't have the audacity to put Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton on an airport tarmac at the height of the investigation, or allow an FBI agent who literally pledged to stop Donald Trump from becoming president to oversee his case.

FBI agents getting meals, drinks and tickets to sporting events from reporters? Agents sending "vive la resistance" messages making oversight decisions in Trump's case? Not to mention the new revelation of the 26-year-old New York Times reporter engaged in a romantic relationship with a 57-year-old Senate Intelligence Committee staffer—one of the committees overseeing the RussiaGate probe.

Plot twists like these would be laughed out of a script meeting.

Reading the IG report, one can imagine a MAGA hat-wearing Greek chorus in the background chanting, "If a Republican had done this….."  Rep. Trey Gowdy, the Republican former prosecutor who has been defending the DOJ and decried attacks on the FBI, raises that very point in his response:

"The treatment afforded to former Secretary Clinton and other potential subjects and targets was starkly different from the FBI's investigation into Trump campaign officials. Voluntariness and consent in the former were replaced with search warrants, subpoenas, and other compulsory processes in the latter. Many of the investigators and supervisors were the same in both investigations but the investigatory tactics were not."

In other words, the premise that motivated so many Trump supporters is proven true: The DC Establishment really was out to get Trump.

The actions of the FBI or DOJ may, in the end, be defensible. No legal line may have been crossed.  But for people who elected Donald Trump because they felt like their government viewed them as a problem to be solved and not as citizens to be served, the IG report confirms what they've feared all along.

  • Michael Graham

    CBSN contributor Michael Graham is a conservative columnist for the Boston Herald.