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The Strzok/Page texts and investigator objectivity

The Strzok/Page texts and investigator objectivity

Can partisans be neutral?

The recently-released Strzok/Page text messages reveal a pro-Clinton and anti-Trump bias on the part of Strzok and Page that got them removed from their respective positions. The texts made it difficult for them to be seen as part of an objective investigation of the very people for whom they had such strong feelings.

And yet the public’s trust in the integrity of such investigators rests on the idea that they can, and will, put aside such feelings entirely because most investigators are going to have political opinions and biases.

If the Strzok/Page emails had just been about their feelings towards Clinton and Trump, it would be difficult to say for sure whether those feelings influenced that pair’s actions and decisions during the course of their respective investigations. But the texts also contain statements that indicate the possibility that one or both of them may have done something (or at least planned and discussed doing something) to act on their biases to prevent Trump’s election.

For example, there’s plenty of speculation (see this, for example) on the meaning of the following text message sent from Strzok to Page: “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way [Trump] gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk.”

What was the “path”? What was the “risk” they couldn’t take? Was Strzok just saying that Page had said Trump’s election was impossible and that he disagreed and thought it possible? Or was he saying there was something they were going to try to do to prevent the possibility of his election? We may never know.

And the mystery is not just limited to that text—which Strzok sent to Page “just after he was handpicked to supervise the FBI’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.” Another more basic question is whether their bias (especially that of Strzok, who had a multiplicity of roles) influenced the course of the investigations of Trump and of Clinton’s emails in other ways, as well as the handling of the Trump dossier or of Flynn. Neither their removal nor their texts have given us an answer.

The initial group of Strozok/Page texts were only discovered because the two were indiscreet enough to use their agency phones to send them. If they had used private phones instead, we probably still would not know about the extent of their bias and they would have continued to work on the cases from which they were removed, and would probably have been assigned to future investigations as well. That is not reassuring. After all, their texts were only discovered as part of a DOJ IG investigation ordered by the Democrats after the 2016 election in order to investigate whether Comey had been unfair to Hillary when making recommendations about her emails:

Ironically, Democrats pushed for the investigation. Many Clinton supporters blamed then-FBI Director James Comey’s actions during that investigation for Clinton’s election loss…

…[The DOJ’s IG Michael Horowitz’s] office obtained the Strzok texts after asking the FBI to produce communications from bureau-issued phones for a select group of employees who worked on the Clinton email probe.

Horowitz apparently found that first batch of Strzok/Page texts with their “politically oriented” messages to be of interest, and on the strength of that his office subsequently requested and obtained more of their communications from their agency phones, this time covering the entire period of the Clinton investigation (up to November 30, 2016). After the FBI handed those over and the DOJ had studied them, more texts were again requested, all the way up to July 28, 2017.

It would take a great deal of effort and skill and self-awareness to be objective in the face of opinions as strong as those expressed by Strzok and Page. Objectivity is a goal, and I believe some people can achieve it. But to do so would take some struggle and a great deal of integrity and devotion to the idea that objectivity is of overwhelming importance—and in the case of Strzok and Page, who seemed to think Trump’s election threatened the very foundations of the republic, it’s hard to believe that they would place the principle of objectivity above that. Objectivity in the face of such strong bias would also require intense self-examination, because people are often unaware of how much their expectations and leanings affect the judgments they make.

In other words, how can an extremely partisan person be objective? Can people with the degree of partisanship that the Strzok and Page texts reveal ever be objective? Haven’t they passed a point of obvious no-return that invalidates their participation in any investigation of those about whom they’re so very partisan?

Strzok and Page were removed to avoid the appearance of impropriety, and it was the right thing to do. But that only prevented future impropriety; it did not change what had already occurred at their hands. How can we ever know how much damage was already done? For example, we’ve recently learned that there were multiple edits that softened the statements implicating Clinton in the speech in which Comey gave his reasons for declining to prosecute her. But although one of the edits has been ascribed to Strzok, we don’t know if he was responsible for the rest of them.

And how many unknown others with roles in the investigations of these public figures were (and still are) every bit as partisan as Strzok and Page? In order for the public to have trust in the integrity of investigations of possible impropriety by those in public office, we need to believe that the investigators themselves either have no biases or that they are able to successfully put aside the biases they have. But at this point, it’s hard to know why we should believe either of those things.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]


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The language was pretty clear – they were planning to take action both before and (if necessary) after the election.

Before = a federal crime for illegally affecting an election.

After = treason. Taking illegal acts to overthrow the US government.

And I am certain they have already lied to federal authorities several times which = several indictments like Flynn’s.

Unless any of the above are pursued, there can be no faith in the system.

The democrats are going nuts that this was revealed. Why should the public know what civil servants said over government phones? It appears that the IG knew the FBI would stonewall the release to Congress of these text messages and he would have to do it himself.

    Tom Servo in reply to Jackie. | December 16, 2017 at 9:48 am

    Democrats like Andy Schiff have been certain that they could use their control of the system to leak anything concerning Trump or his people to the press, while at the same time using that system to block release of anything that might let the public know what they had been up to behind the scenes.

    Now their entire scheme is blowing up around them, and they are lashing out at everyone, saying “PAY NO ATTENTION TO THAT MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN!!!”

And yet the public’s trust in the integrity of such investigators rests on the idea that they can, and will, put aside such feelings entirely because most investigators are going to have political opinions and biases.

No. We can expect nothing reasonable or honest from the likes of Strzok or Page.

The public’s trust rests on the idle hope that the entire team isn’t made up of such malevolent homunculi.

Mueller won’t be able to show that.

Strzok and Page were removed to avoid the appearance of impropriety, and it was the right thing to do.

No, it wasn’t the right thing to do, because it was too little, and far, far too late. They should never have been hired in the first place. The fact that they were hired tells us, clear as day, exactly what kind of operation Mueller planned to conduct. He removed them when it because too obvious that their corrosive influence was so blatant that it would difficult to cover up, and they were going to torpedo the whole thing.

The only people Mueller wants on his dream nightmare team are those who can do a halfway decent job of masking their Trump-phobia until it’s too late for honest people to do anything about it.

    Tom Servo in reply to tom_swift. | December 16, 2017 at 9:50 am

    “No. We can expect nothing reasonable or honest from the likes of Strzok or Page.”

    It goes far beyond that – we can expect nothing reasonable or honest from the likes of Comey, Mueller, McCabe, Schumer, Schiff, Cummings, and all the rest of that cabal.

    Trump was absolutely right to fire Comey – if he hadn’t, the Dirtiest Cop in America would still be quarterbacking the entire coup attempt.

The root question neoneocon proposes is a real poser…

“In order for the public to have trust in the integrity of investigations of possible impropriety by those in public office, we need to believe that the investigators themselves either have no biases or that they are able to successfully put aside the biases they have.”

I’d suggest that the first condition is impossible; humans will have biases. Even if you postulated a population of political eunuchs who could not participate in any way in politics, they could and would still have “biases”.

The second question is the one that deserves some exploration. The answers…and there are several…break down this way; we can require that people act with integrity, first. This is generally a successful approach, despite the cynicism of many.
We all can name judges, journalists, and various LEOs, for instance, who deal with matters in a fair way, despite they own inclinations.

The second way we deal with it is via organizations, and the story here…the one greatly overlooked…is that this, too, works. The FBI found a problem and it acted to correct it.

A third way is via what I’ll call “social pressure” for lack of a better term. When individuals and/or the organizations they represent fail, there is rightfully a loss in public confidence and support. There are demands for reform in many cases, or a simple market decision by individuals to cease their use of the product of that individual or organization.

Others here may well name still other means, since I never attempt to write exhaustively here.

Lastly, I’ll name law in the extreme case of a failure to firewall ones biases.

    You are correct. No human being will ever be totlly objctive about anything. This why we have investigators, prosecutors and judges within the criminal justice system. They are designed to act as checks and balances upon each other, in order to secure a reasonably impartial judgement against a person. This is not always the case. But it works pretty well most of the time.

    However, in this case, the FBI did NOT find a problem and correct it. Even if the ethical members of the agency knew about these practices and abhorred them, they were powerless to do anything while the Obama cadre held sway. And, apparently, the organization did nothing substantial even after the Trump administration took over in 2017. All of the information on this is coming from the DOJ IG’s investigation, which was started by the Obama administration just prior to the Trump inauguration to identify if Comey’s Servergate revelation was motivated to torpedo HRC’s campaign. Fortunately, the IG is apparently objective and is doing his job properly. And, of course, this is another example of the Law of Unintended Consequences. This all came to like by accident.

    This is why we need independent, outside oversight of such organizations. In the past, this was done by the media. However, with the mainstream media squarely in the tank for the lib/prog/Dem interests, especially with regard to the Obama administration, this oversight no longer exists. We now have to rely upon the alternative media. And hope they remain objective.

    Typical rags load of horsepuckey.

    It is clear to anyone that bothers to read what is happening that the government institutions are corrupt.

    Mueller appointed these people precisely because of their corruption. He didn’t believe they would be exposed.

    If the result of the election were the one you worked for, it would remain forever buried.

    alaskabob in reply to Ragspierre. | December 16, 2017 at 11:57 am

    The scale of “group think” is immense. It would be a better term if “culture think” could apply to a world construct the Left has created …not to deal with reality, but to alter reality…..Huxley without Soma. Hence “safe spaces” to create a comfortable alternative reality rather than help adapt to reality. Why is the nation /world so split? When culture thinks collide. The Left defends their world’s borders shutting out the “illegal immigrants”. They are building eutopia and can’t be bothered with some other reality. Thus, it is obvious that these invetigators can see “the obvious” of collusion….all the investigation needs is find the dots for the i’s and cross the t’s… nothing to weigh…it is a forgone conclusion!

    Tom Servo in reply to Ragspierre. | December 16, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    It is a good piece – one point over which I would differ with Goldberg is that I consider a writer who allows his biases to color his coverage of every event, even AFTER he has been told of this multiple times by multiple sources, to be morally equivalent to the most shameless intentional liar. He may be even worse, since he excuses everything he does with a thick layer of sanctimonious self-righteousness; I’d much prefer to deal with liars who at least admit to themselves what they truly are.

    An interesting test of all of those who pushed the “Russian Collusion” story is about to take place – this story is going to end, and it is highly likely that there will be NO evidence of any collusion ever found. (I say that because I surmise that if there was such evidence, it already would have been printed on the front pages of the WaPo and the NYT) So, when this comes to an end, the honest writers will admit that this was a witch hunt driven by political hatred. The dedicated hard core liars will just keep on trying to keep the scam going. (Like Schiff)

We can only hope,that the outrageous demeanor of Obama hold-overs in the Trump administration have a positive effect on the elections next November and in 2020.
This should be, and is, the just rewards for the Dims and their Never Trump companions.

This goes far beyond whether Strzok and Page might have some bias in the abstract. These two are unethical and dishonest to their cores:

1. Both cheating on their spouses.
2. Both using government cell phones for private business–to conduct their affair.
3. You wanna bet how many of these texts were sent during business hours (i.e. stealing money from the government by texting about their affair instead of, you know, working)
4. You wanna bet in addition to merely using the government phones, they were ducking out of the office and using other government resources to conduct their affair? Not just canoodling on government time.
5. Strzok is the BEST the FBI’s got???? You gotta be kiddin me. Or maybe you aren’t kiddin me.

McCabe, 2 man in fbi and hands on boss of the investigation participants and Mrs Miller(wifey) getting $700k from ever honest Terry McAuliffe to run for office in VA. Such a deal.

Also, check out pic of McCabe, the cool designer retro glasses he wears prob to look like a 1950’s incorruptible Gman. Kind of like Jim Harbaugh now trying to look like bo or woody.

some enterprising congress person should ask him if he stole the glasses like ucla b-ball players or tapped mrs millers $700k.

that is if anyone actually wants to get to the bottom of all this.

We’re familiar with this and Lois Lerner at the IRS. Imagine hat’s going on that we aren’t aware of.

To the question can partisans be objective, the answer is no. A partisan, by definition, is a person committed to a particular point of view or goal. So, being committed to a party which is at odds with the entity which one is investigating would make it almost, if not totally, impossible for that investigator to be impartial or objective.

Now, no one is totally impartial or objective. However, if one is going to conduct an impartial investigation, one must attempt to be impartial and appear both impartial and professional. Joe Friday from Dragnet comes to mind.

What did Obama know and when did he see it on TV?