Now that one day's worth of dust has settled following the release of the report on the actions of the FBI during the 2016 election campaign from the Office of Inspector General, we can say the truth — not surprisingly — is somewhere between the "total disaster" for the Bureau that President Trump says it is and the nothing burger Democrats and left-wing media claim it is.
Unfortunately, in these hyperpartisan days, that's about where the truth of everything lies, which makes the actual facts of an issue hard to determine.
The 18-month investigation by Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz faulted former FBI Director James Comey for being insubordinate for going over the heads of his superiors by holding a news conference to announce that the agency would not press criminal charges against then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state.
At that news conference — which followed a private meeting on a plane at an airport between then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Comey's boss, and former President Bill Clinton, the candidate's husband — the then-FBI director said Hillary Clinton's actions were "extremely careless." In the original draft of the statements, those actions had been called "grossly negligent."
The inspector general's report also detailed political bias at the FBI but concluded the bias did not keep the bureau from coming to the conclusions it did in the probe of Clinton.
Nevertheless, such bias never should have been allowed to creep into the agency and clearly has caused it a significant loss in prestige.
The bias was against Trump, a Republican, but it shouldn't matter what party holds the presidency. It is still wrong, must not be allowed to occur again and is among the facts likely to color any and all conclusions that come from the Clinton email probe, the investigation of Russian tampering in the election and Trump's role in the tampering.
The nearly 600-page report concluded that it had uncovered numerous messages that "appeared to mix political opinion with discussions about the MYE (Midyear Exam, code for the Clinton email server scandal) investigation."
In it, two agents who were lovers — both served on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russian tampering probe — exchanged text messages and instant messages in which one vowed to "stop" Trump from becoming president, one referred to Trump as a "(expletive) idiot," both referred to him as "Drumpf" and both called his supporters "retarded."
The key exchange came when Lisa Page asked her colleague and paramour Peter Strzok, "[Trump's] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!" Strzok answered, "No. No he won't. We'll stop it."
However, they were only two of at least five agents who exhibited political bias. Those employees, according to the report, have been referred for investigation into whether their communication violated the FBI's Offense Codes and Penalty Guidelines.
Given such bureaucracies, though, if found guilty, the five are probably likely to lose their gym privileges for a week, but that doesn't lessen the seriousness of the issue.
The report also found Strzok delayed immediately revealing the discovery of Clinton emails on the laptop computer of former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, then-husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin; found Lynch's airplane discussion with Bill Clinton not to be "inappropriate" but said that she failed "to recognize the appearance problem" and not "to cut the visit short was an error in judgment"; that former top FBI official Andrew McCabe should have recused himself earlier from the Clinton probe because of his family's close ties with the Democratic Party; and that former President Barack Obama used a pseudonym for his contacts with Clinton on the private email server. This was the same Obama who had lied when first asked about knowledge of the server, saying he learned about it "through news reports" at "the same time everybody else learned it."
With all of the above, the New York Times curiously said Democrats found "vindication" in the report and said in an editorial the real message of the report is "Trump Is Lying."
However, given the findings, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rightly said the option of "termination" for those who haven't already resigned, been fired or left the government, is on the table for those accused of wrongdoing.
The report, he said, "reveals a number of significant errors by the senior leadership of the Department of Justice and the FBI during the previous administration."
Trump, in his usual overblown rhetoric, not only called the report a "total disaster" for the FBI but said Comey, who he fired last year, was the "ringleader of a whole den of thieves" and concluded the report "totally exonerates me."
Of course, the report is only partially related to Mueller's probe that is looking into the president's actions, and the FBI, while rightly spanked in the report, is thankfully still at work doing law enforcement for the country.
So, we the people are left to make our own conclusions about incidents that, while not unimportant, are now two years in the rearview mirror.