If former Vice President Mike Pence isn’t delusional for thinking he has a shot at the next GOP presidential nomination, he’s certainly delusional for his recent comments defending our most rotten and corrupt federal agency.
While trying to pump life into his potential presidential campaign in New Hampshire last week, Pence criticized efforts led by a minority of Republicans to reform the FBI:
“The Republican Party is the party of law and order. Our party stands with the men and women who serve on the thin blue line at the federal, state and local level. And these attacks on the FBI must stop…
Calls to defund the FBI are just as wrong as calls to defund the police. And the truth of the matter is, we need to get to the bottom of what happened. We need to let the facts play out.”
Similar comments were made by Rep. Dan Crenshaw on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday show. These messages likely reflect the stance of most Washington D.C. Republicans, and given the similarity between Pence and Crenshaw’s remarks, they may be internally circulated talking points.
Maybe Pence grew up watching Jack Webb playing Sgt. Joe Friday on “Dragnet,” or Jimmy Cagney in “G-Men.” I have news for him. The FBI is not like that these days, and it never was. Harry Truman showed more Midwestern common sense than Mike Pence ever has when he wrote in his diary on May 12, 1945: “We want no Gestapo or Secret Police … FBI is tending in that direction. … This must stop.”
In a sad attempt to triangulate his way to the GOP nomination, Pence got two big things very wrong.
First, there simply is no comparison between left-wing calls to defund local police and Republican calls to reform the FBI. Thoughtful writers and commentators like Victor Davis Hanson, Tucker Carlson, Charles Lipson, Kyle Shideler, John Daniel Davidson, Tristan Justice, and Adam Mill have recognized that there is something radically wrong with the FBI and have urged significant reforms – some of them arguing that the Bureau be abolished.
I have even offered a suggestion that involves breaking up the FBI into various more-focused components. There is a need for some form of federal law enforcement. But it is simply not necessary to centralize so much enforcement power in the FBI, as now constituted. Some of the FBI’s powers could be taken away and reassigned to other federal agencies, like the U.S. Marshals or local U.S. Attorneys’ Offices. Or they could be given, with federal funding, to the states and localities.
The FBI could be restructured so that its counter-intelligence activities were spun out of it, and it was confined to criminal law enforcement. Or after the November midterms, a GOP-controlled House could use its budgetary powers to prevent the FBI from investigating parents objecting to their local school board’s policies, and similar threats of “domestic terrorism.”
Pence, Crenshaw, and the majority of elected Republicans seem utterly unaware of – or uninterested in – these types of reforms. If they wanted to offer some constructive policy proposals instead of mouthing platitudes, they might have picked up on what conservative commentators have been saying.
Pence’s second big mistake was to suggest that it’s unfair to criticize the FBI rank-and-file. This is again standard GOP thinking. They’re just Sgt. Joe Fridays, seasoned professionals trying hard to do their job. Pence and Merrick Garland must have the same speechwriter.
What on earth is Pence talking about? Does he think that Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is just making stuff up when he warned FBI Director Chris Wray that the FBI is suffering from a “deeply rooted political infection”? If there are so many good guys in the FBI rank-and-file, how come only fourteen agents (according to Grassley) have come forward as whistleblowers after years of lawlessness? Could it be that the FBI rank-and-file cares more about promotion and pensions than about honor and country?
Maybe Pence was not thinking of FBI career civil servants like Andrew McCabe (who oversaw the disgraceful email investigation that exonerated Hillary Clinton, even while his wife’s run for office in Virginia was being funded by a Clinton-linked PAC), or Peter Strozk (of the infamous “insurance policy” against Trump’s election). But what about the FBI careerists who quashed a 2020 investigation into Hunter Biden’s laptop despite evidence the laptop provided on the Biden family’s involvement in corrupt dealings with foreign governments and jeopardizing national security in the process?
Or take the FBI careerists who were apparently behind the “plot” to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, which broke just in time for the 2020 elections? Like FBI agents Jayson Chambers and Henrik Impola, working out of the FBI’s Detroit field office, who directed the efforts of their well-paid informant Dan Chappel, enabling him to offer one of their targets $5,000 to buy firearms, ammunition, and supplies for use in “kidnapping” Whitmer – an offer that the target declined? Or the undercover FBI agent who brought along a video, produced by the FBI, on how to build a bomb that would blow up a large car?
The entire kidnapping plot appears to be an FBI confection, supervised by Steven D’Antuono, the head of the Detroit field office, who has since been promoted to run the FBI’s Washington D.C. field office, from which he is directing the criminal investigation into Jan. 6.
And then there are the members of Peter Strozk’s “Crossfire Hurricane” team who remain on the job in the FBI’s counterintelligence division and who are currently under investigation themselves by Special Counsel John Durham and the FBI’s own Office of Professional Responsibility. FBI Supervisory Intelligence Analyst Brian Auten, who was a key member of Strozk’s Crossfire team, is still working on sensitive political cases, despite the fact that FBI whistleblowers have said that he was responsible for characterizing information on one of Hunter Biden’s laptops during the 2020 election as “Russian disinformation.” Even before then, in 2019, Justice Department Inspector General referred Auten for disciplinary review for his role in the FBI’s spying on former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page.
These are now your guys, Mr. Pence and your fellow elected Republicans. You are their mouthpiece and their apologist, and you own them.