Moderate Republicans Are Putting the FBI in Gravest Danger

There are the Marjorie Taylor-Greenes with their “Defund the FBI!” hysteria and Rand Pauls with the “Repeal Espionage Statute!” laugher. And then there are the most dangerous Republicans, the ones that sound imminently reasonable. The “most reasonable” are asking the most unreasonable and most dangerous questions.

As reported by the New York Times, Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota goes on Meet the Press to say:

“I’m not one of the individuals out there that says that, you know, ‘Immediately attack the F.B.I. or the Justice Department. But I think it’s very important long term for the Justice Department, now that they’ve done this, that they show that this was not just a fishing expedition.”

Another example from Sen. Rob Portman in a statement:

Never has a former president and potential political opponent to the sitting president been subject to such a search. The attorney general and the F.B.I. should now demonstrate unprecedented transparency and explain to the American people why they authorized the raid.”

When the FBI obtains a search warrant from a judge that had to know that he was evaluating the most controversial warrant in history and then signs it, resulting in a search that finds Top Secret-SCI classified files, the FBI has explained itself, and it is self-evident that it wasn’t a “fishing expedition.”

The message above carries with it an implicit expectation that the FBI release the documents to prove the seriousness of the issue, and yet these Republicans know that some of the files found cannot even be named because the name would give away critical secrets. The FBI cannot come out and say that one file contained the identities of all nine “American Assets in the Saudi Government Nuclear Program,” and the Republicans know it. (Fictitious example, obviously)

In a very real way, the most moderate Republicans are the ones that are most dangerous to the FBI. The expectation that the FBI can be “transparent” about top secret-SCI documents is a contradiction in terms. They are setting the FBI up to look like it’s in some conspiracy, that it doesn’t have the goods and the agency that cannot justify its actions. Trump defenders are far more likely to be motivated by such a defense than Marjorie Taylor Greene’s “Defund the FBI!”

The FBI has been as transparent as it can possibly be. It has been documented that it made Mar-a-Lago aware of the problem. It first asked for informal cooperation. When that didn’t work, they issued a subpoena. When the FBI doubted that Trump fully complied with the subpoena, it asked an attorney to sign off that everything had been returned. The FBI insisted that a camera be installed and more secure locks are put in place (This had to be in contemplation of a warrant, it demonstrates the FBI knew what remained). The FBI has said that it was concerned by people moving the documents. The FBI went in front of a U.S. Magistrate and convinced the magistrate that they would find evidence of a crime. And the FBI walked out of Mar-a-Lago with Top Secret-SCI files. They couldn’t possibly be more transparent sans publishing the documents themselves, and that’s never going to happen. And damn it, they know that!

What will happen is that the FBI will share the documents with members of Congress with clearance to see the information in the files. At that point, with that kind of transparency, if these “moderates” continue to shame the FBI, they will have blood on their hands when there is – almost inevitably – another domestic terrorist attack against the FBI. These are the most dangerous voices.