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New report raises fresh doubts about the FBI

When FBI officials launch an investigation based on a discredited anti-Clinton screed, there's a problem.
A crest of the Federal Bureau of Investi
A crest of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is seen 03 August 2007 inside the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building in Washington, DC.
After FBI Director James Comey made a surprise intervention in the presidential race last week, reports quickly emerged of a divided bureau, burdened by an "internal feud." There have been rumors about a group of aggressively anti-Clinton officials in the FBI, determined to undermine the Democratic presidential candidate.And with those rumors in mind, consider the latest reporting from the Wall Street Journal, which paints a rather alarming portrait of recent political developments at the bureau.

Secret recordings of a suspect talking about the Clinton Foundation fueled an internal battle between FBI agents who wanted to pursue the case and corruption prosecutors who viewed the statements as worthless hearsay, people familiar with the matter said.Agents, using informants and recordings from unrelated corruption investigations, thought they had found enough material to merit aggressively pursuing the investigation into the foundation that started in summer 2015 based on claims made in a book by a conservative author called "Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich," these people said.

The Journal's report explained that senior officials in the Justice Department and the FBI "didn't think much" of the allegations against the Clinton Foundation, but a group of investigators nevertheless pushed forward -- during this year's presidential campaign -- including "multiple" interviews with Peter Schweizer, a former speechwriting consultant for President George W. Bush, who authored the anti-Clinton screed, "Clinton Cash."If you weren't concerned about what's going on at the FBI before, you probably should be now.Media Matters published a helpful overview, noting Schweizer's record as a controversial Republican activist.

Schweizer has a disreputable history of reporting marked by errors and retractions, with numerous reporters excoriating him for facts that "do not check out," sources that "do not exist," and a basic failure to practice "Journalism 101." Clinton Cash is similarly a trainwreck of bogus research that included more than 20 errors, fabrications, and distortions, according to a Media Matters review. On the campaign trail, Trump has pushed conspiracy theories from the book, leading reporters to note that the book has been "discredited" and features "lies" and claims that "fell apart under scrutiny."Schweizer is also the president of the Government Accountability Institute (GAI), a right-wing group that purports to investigate "government corruption."

Schweizer's group was led in part by Steve Bannon, the chairman of Donald Trump's presidential campaign. Bannon also helped create a movie version of the book.For much of the American mainstream, "Clinton Cash" was a partisan polemic that was better left ignored. For some at the FBI, it served as an inspiration for an actual investigation.It appears the bureau has some work to do to get its house in order.