The fame of FBI “Attorney 2” grows, as Americans get a load of the text message exchanges he had with other FBI employees in the days after the November 2016 election. (Attorney 2 is referred to as a male in the DOJ IG report, so we know that much about him.)
The screen caps of the exchanges included in the report are below, if you need a refresher. Attorney 2 is the fellow who proclaimed himself “numb” after the election results came in; alluded cryptically to the FBI “breaking the momentum” of something in the election campaign (Hillary’s momentum heading to the finish line? Trump’s?); and – later in November – said of the prospect of working for the Trump administration: “Vive le [sic] resistance.” The latter text is what got him fired from the Mueller team in 2018.
Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) has already posted the question on many minds:
FBI Attorney #2
-On the Clinton investigation
-Primary attorney on the Russian investigation
-On Mueller‘s team
-Removed from Mueller’s team in 2018.
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) June 14, 2018
But there’s more to the Attorney 2 saga, and it hasn’t gotten as much attention as some of the other text/message comments from FBI employees cited in the IG report.
Howard Portnoy’s post Friday morning previews this point for us. Was the IG report thorough and conclusive?
The question has to be asked, because it’s not just the media overlooking a pulsating-neon pair of messages from Attorney 2. Apparently, the IG ignored them too.
We start on page 417 (see link to PDF at top), with text exchanges most readers have probably seen by now.
The exchanges continue into page 418, and that’s where we see two arresting messages from FBI Attorney 2.
Attorney 2 is worried that his name is prominent in the Bureau’s documents about the investigation of the Trump campaign staff.
11:15:23, FBI Attorney 2: “Plus, my god damned name is all over the legal documents investigating his staff.”
11:15:33, FBI Attorney 2: “So, who knows if that breaks to him what he is going to do.”
Gosh. If you were the FBI investigating someone else, you’d key on that like a drug-sniffing dog as potential motive. Motive for what? Motive for whatever the text-messager did that had implications for a possible Trump administration – or whatever his organization did if he was involved in it – on or after the date when that motive could have arisen.
Keep something important in mind here. The potential motive implied in Attorney 2’s pair of messages didn’t arise the night of 8 November 2016. It arose in May 2016, when it became clear that Trump would be the Republican candidate.
Once that was clear, there were two possible outcomes in November. Either Hillary Clinton would win, or Trump would. If Attorney 2 was worried about his name being all over legal documents related to investigating Trump’s campaign, the possibility that Trump would be the next president, and that that might “break to him [Trump],” was ever-present starting the second week of May 2016.
So this potential evidence of motive did not just affect the period after the general election in November. It affected the entire period from early May to at least the first months of the Trump administration. At the very latest, it had to date to late July 2016, when the FBI formally opened the Russia investigation. A number of analysts have demonstrated that the investigation had to start earlier than that, even if it hadn’t been formally designated (i.e., as “Crossfire Hurricane”).
Either way, the potential for personal motive on the part of Attorney 2 is germane to the Hillary Clinton investigation; i.e., the subject of the IG report. In the IG’s pursuit of the biases and motives of FBI personnel in that investigation, it very much had to matter whether the FBI personnel thought they had reason to personally fear a Trump win in November.
And note: it was equally clear by the second week of May that Hillary was the Democrats’ hope of keeping Trump out of the Oval Office. In any case, she and Trump had both been formally nominated by 31 July, when the FBI investigation of Russia is supposed to have been officially opened. The progress of her campaign, as well as Trump’s, would have mattered to anyone who feared the prospect of Trump learning who was involved in the investigation of his staff.
Notice what’s missing? There is no question recorded about Attorney 2’s pair of messages.
Maybe it was addressed in the IG report’s introductory passage on Attorney 2? That started on page 415. Let’s have a look. (The third screen cap below brings us up to the passage immediately preceding screen cap 1, at the top.)
Not there either.
That’s an extraordinary omission, however it came about. The motive implied in those Attorney 2 messages was as applicable to the conduct of the Hillary investigation as to anything done about the Russia investigation. Yet the IG makes no reference to asking about the potential motive, much less receiving an answer. The only thing the IG probed about was partisan political bias, as if the messages suggesting personal motive for Attorney 2 weren’t even there.
It’s no wonder Jim Jordan wants to know who Attorney 2 is. But I also want to know why the IG, in his investigation, didn’t raise the motive issue clearly implied by Attorney 2’s messages on 9 November 2016.