A pattern is emerging. When asked to provide potentially incriminating documentation, those within the United States government conveniently cannot access those records. The most recent incarnation of this pattern occurred this week when five-months of missing texts was discovered in the transcripts of text messages provided to the House Judiciary Committee between FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. Peter Strzok is a senior FBI agent who was removed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe after his extreme bias against President Trump was revealed in communications exchanged between himself and his girlfriend, Lisa Page. Some of these messages even suggest that he may have been involved in a conspiracy to undermine the legitimacy of President Trump’s election, and he may have leaked to the media information damaging to the President.
The Department of Justice blamed a technical glitch for the missing texts, saying, “Samsung 5 mobile devices did not capture or store text messages due to misconfiguration issues related to rollouts, provisioning, and software upgrades that conflicted with the FBI’s collection capabilities.” However, this explanation doesn’t hold any water. Rush Limbaugh summed things up this way, “Anybody who believes they’re missing does not understand how backups happen, how fail-safes exist, and how the inspector general claims that he’s already received those emails. The guy who does the oversight of the FBI, he’s already got them, he says. Now, either he was told that he has them and doesn’t or he does have them and the FBI forgot that he has them when they announce that they’re gone.”
This is nothing new. Let’s consider three examples:
According to the BBC:
Shortly before she was sworn in as secretary of state in 2009, Hillary Clinton set up an email server at her home in Chappaqua, New York. She then relied on this server, home to the email address firstname.lastname@example.org, for all her electronic correspondence – both work-related and personal – during her four years in office.
She also reportedly set up email addresses on the server for her long-time aide, Huma Abedin, and State Department Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills.
She did not use, or even activate, a state.gov email account, which would have been hosted on servers owned and managed by the US government.
Hillary Clinton’s arrangement was not in compliance with federal law, and it became an issue during the Congressional investigation into the 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya which resulted in the death of ambassador Christopher Stevens. The New York Times broke the story, noting that, in defiance of federal law Hillary Clinton and her lawyers decided which of her e-mails to turn over to the government for archiving. Hillary claimed the 30,000-plus e-mails not submitted for archiving were personal in nature, such as e-mails about her daughter’s wedding plans and yoga routines.
Most of what Clinton originally told the public regarding her e-mails was later proven to be false, and this fueled speculation that she may be endeavoring to hide something at a time when the FBI was investigating her involvement with the Clinton Foundation and pay-for-play allegations. Representative Trey Gowdy told Fox News that it looks like Clinton and her lawyers may have classified e-mails related to the Clinton Foundation as “personal” in an effort to prevent their content from being viewed by Congress and archived by the government. Particularly troubling was the fact that she and her lawyers went to extreme lengths to permanently delete these 30,000-plus “personal” e-mails. Representative Gowdy said, “[T]hey didn’t just push the delete button. They had them deleted to where even God can’t read them. They were using something called BleachBit. You don’t use BleachBit for yoga e-mails, or for bridesmaids e-mails. When you’re using BleachBit, it is something you really do not want the world to see.” Furthermore, Clinton aides used a hammer to destroy some of her phones used to send e-mails.
During the Obama administration, the IRS targeted organizations based upon their political ideology by intentionally delaying the processing of applications for nonprofit status by conservative organizations that supported the Tea Party. Furthermore, “top officials in the Obama IRS unlawfully harassed taxpayers just to keep them from complaining to Congress about IRS’ targeting and abuse.”
At the center of this scandal was Lois Lerner, the official responsible for the IRS division that reviewed these applications. When the House of Representatives Oversight Committee requested copies of Lois Lerner’s e-mails, the IRS reported that it could not locate all of Lerner’s e-mails between January of 2009 and May of 2011, blaming a hard drive crash. Moreover, USA Today reports, “The IRS has told the House Ways and Means Committee that six other employees who had communicated with Lerner also had hard-drive crashes. They include Nikole Flax, the chief of staff to the acting commissioner and Michelle Eldridge, an IRS spokeswoman, and four agents working on exempt organization cases.” According to Forbes, the IRS also wiped clean 422 back up tapes, despite having received a Congressional subpoena to preserve and turn over the information nine months earlier.
Trillions of Dollars Missing
Reuters reports that the United States Army cannot account for $6.5 trillion. According to the report, “The Defense Department’s Inspector General, in a June report, said the Army made $2.8 trillion in wrongful adjustments to accounting entries in one quarter alone in 2015, and $6.5 trillion for the year. Yet the Army lacked receipts and invoices to support those numbers or simply made them up.” However, the Army is not the only government department that is failing to account for its spending. Forbes reports, “The July 2016 report is not the only such report of unsubstantiated adjustments. Mark Skidmore and Catherine Austin Fitts, former Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, conducted a search of government websites and found similar reports dating back to 1998. While the documents are incomplete, original government sources indicate $21 trillion in unsupported adjustments have been reported for the Department of Defense and the Department of Housing and Urban Development for the years 1998-2015.”
In a country governed by the people, government officials are only permitted to be brazenly dishonest if the people are willing to accept their lies. When did we as a people accept that it is both okay and expected that politicians will lie to us? More importantly, when did we as a people come to believe that we are powerless to exact change within our leadership?
1. Singman, Brooke, Alex Pappas and Jake Gibson. “More than 50,000 Texts Exchanged Between FBI Officials Strzok and Page, Sessions Says.” Fox News, January 22, 2018. Accessed January 25, 2018. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/01/22/questions-grow-over-fbis-missing-strzok-page-text-messages.html.
2. Johnson, Kevin. “Peter Strzok, FBI Agent Removed from Robert Mueller’s Russia Probe, Called Trump an ‘Idiot.’” USA Today, December 12, 2017. Last Updated December 13, 2017. Accessed January 25, 2018. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/12/12/peter-strzok-fbi-agent-removed-muellers-russia-probe-called-trump/946913001/.
3. Singman, Brooke. “Republicans Turn Focus to ‘FBI’s McCabe Over Texts on ‘Insurance’ Against Trump.” Fox News, December 14, 2017. Accessed January 25, 2018. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/12/14/republicans-turn-focus-to-fbis-mccabe-over-texts-on-insurance-against-trump.html.
4. Berger, Judson. “Republicans Probe FBI Agents’ Text Messages for Evidence of Leaks.” Fox News, January 9, 2018. Accessed January 25, 2018. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/01/09/republicans-probe-fbi-agents-text-messages-for-evidence-leaks.html.
5. Singman, Brooke, Alex Pappas and Jake Gibson. “More than 50,000 Texts Exchanged Between FBI Officials Strzok and Page, Sessions Says.” Fox News, January 22, 2018. Accessed January 25, 2018. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/01/22/questions-grow-over-fbis-missing-strzok-page-text-messages.html.
6. Limbaugh, Rush. “Don’t be Naïve: Strzok-Page Texts Aren’t Missing!” The Rush Limbaugh Show, Transcript, January 22, 2018. Accessed January 25, 2018. https://www.rushlimbaugh.com/daily/2018/01/22/dont-be-naive-strzok-page-texts-arent-missing/.
7. Zurcher, Anthony. “Hillary Clinton Emails – What’s It All About?” BBC, November 6, 2016. Accessed January 25, 2018. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-31806907.
8. Schmidt, Michael. “Hillary Clinton Used Personal Email Account at State Dept., Possibly Breaking Rules.” The New York Times, March 2, 2015. Accessed January 25, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/03/us/politics/hillary-clintons-use-of-private-email-at-state-department-raises-flags.html?_r=0.
9. Biesecker, Michael. “Another 165 Pages of Clinton Emails Released, Including Some She Deleted.” PBS, News Hour, June 27, 2016. Accessed January 25, 2018. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/another-165-pages-of-clinton-emails-released-including-some-she-deleted.
10. “BleachBit?! … Gowdy Says Hillary Deleted Emails ‘So Even God Couldn’t Read Them.’” Fox News, Insider video, August 25, 2016. Accessed January 25, 2018. http://insider.foxnews.com/2016/08/25/trey-gowdy-clinton-deleted-emails-so-even-god-couldnt-read-them.
12. Darcy, Oliver. “FBI: Aid Destroyed 2 of Clinton’s Phones by ‘Breaking Them in Half or Hitting Them with a Hammer.’” Business Insider, September 2, 2016. Accessed January 25, 2018. http://www.businessinsider.com/how-hillary-clinton-aide-destroyed-phones-2016-9.
13. Dinan, Stephen. “Newly Recovered Lois Lerner Email Shows IRS Tried to Cover Up Tea Party Targeting.” The Washington Times, July 28, 2015. Accessed January 25, 2018. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jul/28/new-irs-lerner-emails-show-block-congress-scrutiny/.
15. Korte, Gregory. “How the IRS ‘Lost’ Lois Lerner’s E-mails.” USA Today, June 17, 2014. Accessed January 25, 2018. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/06/17/how-the-irs-lost-lois-lerners-e-mails/10695507/.
17. Wood, Robert. “IRS Wipes Another Hard Drive Defying Court Order…but You Must Keep Tax Records.” Forbes, January 20, 2016. Accessed January 25, 2018. https://www.forbes.com/sites/robertwood/2016/01/20/irs-wipes-another-hard-drive-defying-court-order-but-you-must-keep-tax-records/#77562d6e5b26.
18. Paltrow, Scot. “U.S. Army Fudged Its Accounts by Trillions of Dollars, Auditor Finds.” Reuters, August 19, 2016. Accessed January 25, 2018. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-audit-army/u-s-army-fudged-its-accounts-by-trillions-of-dollars-auditor-finds-idUSKCN10U1IG.
20. Kotlikoff, Laurence. “Has Our Government Spent $21 Trillion of Our Money Without Telling Us?” Forbes, December 8, 2017. Accessed January 25, 2018. https://www.forbes.com/sites/kotlikoff/2017/12/08/has-our-government-spent-21-trillion-of-our-money-without-telling-us/2/#1bcb1fbd66f0.