Jim Jordan is just carrying out the anti-FBI fight that Trump started | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey

The GOP-controlled House Judiciary Committee was supposed to hold an FBI oversight hearing on Wednesday. Instead, its chairman, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and what I call his cadre of conspiracists looked more like a kangaroo court putting the entire FBI on trial. Bureau Director Christopher Wray did his best to professionally parry a barrage of unsubstantiated accusations and spurious attacks, but his inquisitors were more interested in spouting fiction than hearing facts. It’s tempting to refer to Wednesday’s debacle as mere political theatrics, but that would belie the grave threat underlying the GOP’s intentions.

The Jordan-led assault on the nation’s premier security agency appeared to be a very public extension of a broader campaign to diminish Americans’ trust in their key institutions.

The Jordan-led assault on the nation’s premier security agency appeared to be a very public extension of a broader campaign to diminish Americans’ trust in their key institutions. Their strategy seems to be working. This month, an NBC poll found that only 37% of registered voters held a positive view of the FBI, a perception that has been in steady decline since late 2018, when 52% had a favorable opinion. This erosion of trust coincides with Donald Trump spending much of his tenure as president, and now his post-presidency, promoting false theories, bashing the agency that’s investigating him and undermining other institutions he views as a threat. Notably, the poll shows 17% of Republican voters held a positive view of the FBI, compared to 58% of Democrats.

It’s essential for a healthy democracy to engage in rigorous oversight of its institutions, particularly those agencies with the power to collect intelligence on its citizens and deprive them of freedom. Yet, Wednesday’s assault served only as a means to degrade the agency on the forefront of preserving domestic security. In doing that, Republicans harmed our national interests.

The hearing also sent a less-than-subtle message to law enforcers who dare to investigate any alleged criminal conduct by members of the party in power: “Come after us and you’ll pay a price.” Under Trump, FBI employees saw Director James Comey fired for overseeing the investigation of Russian interference in the Trump campaign; Deputy Director Andrew McCabe fired and subjected to an intrusive IRS audit; and counterintelligence executive Peter Stzrok terminated. Those career-ending consequences may have already affected agency decision-making, and Wednesday’s public beat down of the agency won’t help restore the confidence of the rank and file.

The GOP’s threats against the bureau also shifted Wednesday from the aforementioned personal consequences against individual employees to broader, more ominous institutional harms. For example, Jordan issued a letter that same day asking congressional budget minders to not fund the proposed new FBI headquarters, and to consider moving it to Alabama. That would gut the agency’s effectiveness by placing it beyond the essential beltway access to DOJ, the intelligence community, the White House and Congress. The FBI has been seeking a larger campus for 10 years, having finally identified potential locations in suburban Washington. When asked to respond to GOP detractors who have suggested that the FBI be defunded and dismantled, Wray pushed back, saying:

“It would hurt the American people, neighborhoods and communities all across this country — the people we are protecting from cartels, violent criminals, gang members, predators, foreign and domestic terrorists, cyberattacks.” 

Wray is right. In his first five years as director, the bureau dismantled 790 violent gangs, located almost 9,000 child sex trafficking victims, and disrupted over 3,000 terrorism operations. Last year alone, the FBI and its partners arrested more than 20,000 violent criminals and child predators — an average of 55 per day, every day. Slashing the agency’s budget, relocating its headquarters far from the crucial sphere of D.C. influence, and launching vengeful attacks against the agents and analysts who keep us safe, would make us less secure and more vulnerable to internal and external threats we face every day. The drug-dealing gang members who take over your neighborhood playground, the corrupt City Council member demanding bribes to get business done, the child predator prowling the streets for a kid to abduct — not to mention the spies, terrorists and hackers — would all benefit from a diminished FBI.

When I was a young supervisor at FBI headquarters, I had to brief an assistant director on a big case. As I turned to walk out of his office, I noticed a small poster hanging on the back of his door. It read, “America is at peace because the FBI is at war.” Now, it seems like certain elected officials are at war with the FBI.

If you’re looking for the real winners in Wednesday’s attempt to damage the FBI, you’ll need to look far beyond our nation’s borders. Our adversaries, such as the Russian and Chinese intelligence services, would pay almost any price to see this kind of withering attack on America’s FBI. But they don’t have to spend a dime — Jim Jordan and his ilk are doing it for them, for free.

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