A recent report published by America First Legal (AFL) details how the FBI weaponized the federal background investigation process to deny Republican presidents — specifically Donald Trump — the ability to make political appointments in an “institution-wide” violation of the Privacy Act, the Paperwork Reduction Act, and other federal statutes. Institutional disregard for the FBI Manual of Investigative Operations and Guidelines (MIOG) further contributed to this.
It alleges that during the Trump administration, the FBI illegally conducted politically biased background checks to sabotage potential appointees with selectively “unsubstantiated” and “derogatory” information.
The report, along with a letter detailing its findings, was sent to Republican Reps. Jim Jordan, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and James Comer, Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability and Democrat Sens. Dick Durbin of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Gary Peters of the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee.
Recall the nomination process of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Throughout Kavanaugh’s confirmation process, due to unsubstantiated concerns of sexual impropriety, the Senate Judiciary Committee sought a supplemental FBI investigation — supported by the White House — into the allegations.
However, AFL argues that if, at the outset, the confirmation process was conducted fairly and objectively, then a supplemental investigation would never have been necessary. Further, the FBI’s Washington, D.C. field office is notorious for its political bias and is a hub of institutionalized political weaponization. How could any of this supplemental investigation be conducted in good faith?
Obviously, it wasn’t.
As AFL details, because of “procedural infirmities that biased the FBI [background investigation] process in ways that benefited those politically opposed to former President Trump,” several federal laws were broken.
Litigation conducted by AFL, leading to this report, shows that the FBI failed to guarantee Kavanaugh various legal protections.
Because during the process of the background investigation, the FBI “collect[ed] information from the public and third parties concerning nominees without using a form with a valid OMB-approved control number,” the FBI violated the Paperwork Reduction Act’s requirements at 44 U.S.C. § 3512(a).
“By no longer enforcing the MIOG standards, which requires the FBI to seek to offset derogatory information,” the report reads, “the FBI does not ‘make reasonable efforts to assure that [nominee] records are accurate, complete, timely, and relevant, for agency purposes.” As such, AFL contends the FBI violated federal law — 5 U.S.C. § 552a(e)(6).
The report also argues that the FBI’s disregard for the MIOG caused it to further violate federal law — 5 U.S.C. §§ 552a(e)(1), (e)(2), (e)(3), and (e)(5) — because “the FI or DOJ maintain[ed] in its records information about applicants that [are] likely irrelevant to their qualifications to daily and completely adjudicate cases arising under the Constitution and [relevant] statutes.”
These are just a few of the findings detailed in AFL’s report. And whereas it may sound like legalistic jargon, it is illustrative of a glaring issue in our political system and government: the federal government and federal bureaucracy are thoroughly weaponized against the ideological enemies of permanent Washington.
If someone presents a threat to the regime’s agenda, its allies will mobilize to violate protections legally guaranteed to that person. There can no longer be illusions of political neutrality or fair play.
During Biden’s time in office, the Office of Legal Policy at the Department of Justice rescinded regulations designed to protect political nominees subjected to background investigations of this nature. The deep state subterfuge that plagued Kavanaugh’s confirmation will become the norm unless Congressional Republicans amplify this misconduct and exercise whatever power they have over these rogue agencies.