A crest of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is seen 03 August 2007 inside the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building in Washington, DC.
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty

Allegations mount against FBI, possible campaign intervention

For much of 2016, the fear was that Russian President Vladimir Putin and officials from his government would interfere in the American presidential election, taking wildly improper steps to boost Donald Trump. More recently, however, related concerns came to the fore – about domestic officials doing the same thing.

A week ago, FBI Director James Comey intervened in the presidential campaign in a highly provocative way, releasing a vague letter to Congress about Hillary Clinton emails that seemed almost designed to generate innuendo. Reuters reported yesterday Comey “was driven in part by a fear of leaks from within his agency” when he decided to release the document.

The same Reuters report added that “a faction of investigators” based in the FBI’s New York Field Office is “known to be hostile to Hillary Clinton.”

The Rachel Maddow Show, 11/3/16, 10:34 PM ET

Possibility of FBI leaks to Trump campaign raises alarm

Spencer Ackerman, national security editor for The Guardian, talks with Rachel Maddow about concerns about connections between the Donald Trump campaign and the FBI, particularly the New York field office, and the apparent willingness of some in the FBI
Spencer Ackerman, national security editor for The Guardian, talks with Rachel Maddow about concerns about connections between the Donald Trump campaign and the FBI, particularly the New York field office, and the apparent willingness of some in the FBI
As Rachel reported last night, the effects of such anti-Clinton hostility within the bureau are raising the kind of questions the FBI hoped to leave behind in the J. Edgar Hoover era. Consider the report from the Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman, who discussed his reporting on the show.
Deep antipathy to Hillary Clinton exists within the FBI, multiple bureau sources have told the Guardian, spurring a rapid series of leaks damaging to her campaign just days before the election.

Current and former FBI officials, none of whom were willing or cleared to speak on the record, have described a chaotic internal climate that resulted from outrage over director James Comey’s July decision not to recommend an indictment over Clinton’s maintenance of a private email server on which classified information transited.

“The FBI is Trumpland,” said one current agent.
The scope of these concerns helps to reinforce impressions that the FBI has its thumb on the scale when it comes to this year’s presidential election. Comey’s letter to Congress is a problem. Anti-Clinton officials at the bureau taking “Clinton Cash” seriously is a problem. The FBI’s Twitter feed is a problem. Allegations that pro-Trump officials at the FBI are leaking to Rudy Giuliani are a problem.

The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer had a very compelling piece this week, arguing that the presidential race should be guided “by voters, not federal agents.” It’s hard not to get the impression that some in the FBI have a very different opinion.

And what about the Fox News report this week, which generated all kinds of excitement from Republicans and Donald Trump’s campaign, that the FBI is moving towards a “likely” indictment as part of an investigation into the Clinton Foundation? That report has been discredited – by NBC News and ABC News – and even Fox itself has walked back its original claims.