Upon his graduation from Cardozo Law School in NYC, my son’s first public policy job gave him invitations to Giuliani’s second inauguration. He asked me if I wanted to go…knowing his mom was a policy wonk.
Needless to say I went for the experience not for the person getting sworn in to a 2nd term. That was in the winter of 1998. I moved to Georgia a few weeks later and never looked back. I do not like the man…at all. There’s a long sordid history that can be researched online about his racism. inept handling of major police cases and the awful publicized affair he had before divorcing his wife.
Since the passing of Mike Royko and with the possible exception of Kevin Cullen at The Boston Globe, there is no reporter who knows an individual city as well as Wayne Barrett knows New York. Years ago, when he was writing for The Village Voice and I was starting out at The Boston Phoenix, Barrett was one of the people I read to learn the difference between the alternative press and everything else. He is steeped in the political history of modern New York, particularly the history of the last quarter of the 20th Century and the various ambulatory relics who are still wandering through our politics here in the first quarter of the 21st.
On Thursday, in The Daily Beast, Barrett came as close as anyone has in explaining the Byzantine internal politics of the FBI as regards the presidential campaign. It involves Rudy Giuliani, his pals in the FBI from his days as a U.S. Attorney, and his current role as security jefe for El Caudillo del Mar-A-Lago.
Hours after Comey’s letter about the renewed probe was leaked on Friday, Giuliani went on a radio show and attributed the director’s surprise action to “the pressure of a group of FBI agents who don’t look at it politically.” “The other rumor that I get is that there’s a kind of revolution going on inside the FBI about the original conclusion [not to charge Clinton] being completely unjustified and almost a slap in the face to the FBI’s integrity,” said Giuliani. “I know that from former agents. I know that even from a few active agents.” Along with Giuliani’s other connections to New York FBI agents, his former law firm, then called Bracewell Giuliani, has long been general counsel to the FBI Agents Association (FBIAA), which represents 13,000 former and current agents. The group, born in the New York office in the early ’80s, was headed until Monday by Rey Tariche, an agent still working in that office. Tariche’s resignation letter from the bureau mentioned the Clinton probe, noting that “we find our work—our integrity questioned” because of it, adding “we will not be used for political gains.”
Of course not.
Barrett further identified James Kallstrom, who ran the FBI New York office under former director Louis Freeh, a running buddy of Giuliani. As Barrett demonstrates, Kallstrom has been more than vocal in his dissatisfaction with the fact that no Clinton has yet been clapped in irons.
Kallstrom has, like Giuliani, been on an anti-Comey romp for months, most often on Fox, where he’s called the Clintons as a “crime family.” He has been invoking unnamed FBI agents who contact him to complain about Comey’s exoneration of Clinton in one interview after another, positioning himself as an apolitical champion of FBI values. Last October, after President Obama told 60 Minutes that the Clinton emails weren’t a national security issue, Megyn Kelly interviewed Kallstrom on Fox. “You know a lot of the agents involved in this investigation,” she said. “How angry must they be tonight?” “I know some of the agents,” said Kallstrom. “I know some of the supervisors and I know the senior staff. And they’re P.O.’d, I mean no question. This is like someone driving another nail in the coffin of the criminal justice system.” Kallstrom declared that “if it’s pushed under the rug,” the agents “won’t take that sitting down.” Kelly confirmed: “That’s going to get leaked.”
Apparently, ever since news of the Comey letter broke last Friday, Kallstrom has been on a kind of victory lap around the various platforms of the Fox News empire. Meanwhile, Barrett got him on the phone and prompted an energetic tap dance.
Kallstrom adamantly denied he’d ever said he was in contact with agents “involved” in the Clinton case, insisting that he didn’t even know “the agents’ names.” He asked if this story was “a hit piece,” and contended that it was “offensive” to even suggest that he’d communicated with those agents. When I emailed him two quotes where he made that claim, he responded: “I know agents in the building who used to work for me. I don’t know any agents in the Washington field office involved directly in the investigation.” Later, though he acknowledged that “the bulk” of the agents on the Weiner case are “in the New York office,” even as he insisted that the “locals” he told Pirro would’ve leaked the renewed probe had not Comey revealed it were not necessarily agents. He declined to explain why Megyn Kelly stated as a fact that he was in contact with agents “involved” in the case. Asked in a follow up email if he suggested or encouraged any particular actions in his exchanges with active agents, Kallstrom replied: “No.”
Politics be damned, it’s time for the White House and/or the Attorney General, the nominal superiors of everyone who works for the FBI, to come off the bench and break this scam once and for all. This is now for more than just this election. This is law enforcement trying to force its will of the civil authorities, no different from some backwater sheriff who has compromising photos of the mayor.
And, as far as the immediate future goes, this is going to be a stunning chapter when Dante comes back from the dead and writes the definitive history of this campaign.