What raises even more questions is Trump’s inclusion of the FBI on his holiday “naughty” list.
Because of this, anti-FBI language is now accepted by Trump’s supporters and a wider group of people on the right.
The congressional investigation was based on an open letter from “The Suspendables,” a group of former FBI agents who say they have a bias against conservatives that is built into the system.
There is no genuine love of civil liberty among the GOP.
Aside from the terrible things that happened during the COINTELPRO era, recent history shows that the FBI is not precisely on the side of Democrats, let alone the activist left.
Donald Trump, like many of us, likes to use special occasions as a reason to be more animated and expressive. On Christmas Eve, the former president wrote a post on Truth Social about everything he didn’t like about the past year. The remark was extravagantly baroque in its bile, even by Trumpian standards: “Merry Christmas to EVERYONE, including the radical left Marxists that are trying to destroy our country, the Federal Bureau of Instigation [sic], which is illegally coercing and paying Social and LameStream media to push for a mentally disabled Democrat over the brilliant, clairvoyant, and USA-loving Donald J. Trump, and, of course, the Department of Injustice to Everyone!
Even though he used a lot of words, it’s not surprising that Trump used a Christmas letter to criticize Joe Biden, the media, people he thinks are Marxists, and even the Department of Justice (when it was looking into the former president). These are well-known targets for practically any everyday Republican, not just Trump. What raises even more questions is Trump’s inclusion of the FBI on his holiday “naughty” list. Early in his presidency, Trump and James Comey, the FBI’s director, got into a spat, resulting in Comey’s termination. But these fights have only worsened since the FBI raided President Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago earlier this summer.
Because of this, anti-FBI language is now accepted by Trump’s supporters and a wider group of people on the right. The New York Times said that the Republican Party talks about the FBI as a rival more and more. Dinesh D’Souza, a pundit convicted of campaign finance charges in 2014 but later pardoned by Trump, tweeted, “The FBI is the largest criminal organization in the country.” “It’s the American equivalent of the KGB or the Chinese state police,” he continued. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia sells baseball caps with the words “Fund the FBI” on them. Greene is in direct competition with former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka, who sells T-shirts with the slogan “Fascist Bureau of Intimidation” on them.
The new Republican Congress will pay close attention to the FBI’s investigations into Trump and the January 6 attack on the Capitol. The congressional investigation was based on an open letter from “The Suspendables,” a group of former FBI agents who say they have a bias against conservatives that is built into the system. Representative Jim Jordan, a Republican from Ohio who will be in charge of the Judiciary Committee next month, has promised to look into whether the FBI and the Justice Department have become too political. The committee’s Republican staff published a 1,000-page study last month that said the FBI hierarchy “spied on President Trump’s campaign and insulted conservative Americans” and that the “rot within the FBI festers in and proceeds from Washington.” This was only a taste of what was to come.
According to the Times, the recent right-wing anti-FBI sentiment is a break from long-standing partisan trends: “Historically, the FBI’s most vocal critics have come from figures on the left, who have accused it of using heavy-handed tactics in investigating groups like trade unionists or civil rights activists.” Republicans and conservatives have historically backed the FBI and other law enforcement organizations.
This account needs to be considered qualified: Since at least the late 1940s, many on the left have viewed the FBI with suspicion, especially revolutionaries. But liberal politicians like Lyndon Johnson and John F. Kennedy have also used the Bureau in questionable ways. Under JFK and LBJ, as well as Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon, the COINTELPRO program, renowned for using illegal tactics to harass civil rights and anti-war demonstrators, blossomed.
And while it’s true that right-wing anti-FBI sentiment has grown since Trump took office, there are important historical reasons for this, most notably anger over the FBI’s investigations of white supremacists and anti-government militias in the 1990s.
However, it is generally true that Trump has caused the FBI to become more political. Despite having a reputation as one of the most conservative organizations in America, Democrats today favor the FBI more than Republicans do. In response to Trump’s rise as the face of anti-establishment politics and the supposed enemy of the “Deep State,” the Democrats have started calling themselves the “institutionalist” party. Democrats stress that they are the party of rules and respect for authority, partly to keep Republicans from leaving the party in disgust at Trump’s disregard for the law.
This partisan swing negatively impacts both parties. There is no genuine love of civil liberty among the GOP. Republicans who suddenly distrust the FBI because of how it handled Trump’s case haven’t shown any outrage about much more egregious civil rights abuses, including the agency’s targeting of Muslim Americans. Democrats, on the other hand, are so focused on Trump that they don’t talk about the risks of seeing the FBI as an organization that should be trusted and respected no matter what. Aside from the terrible things that happened during the COINTELPRO era, recent history shows that the FBI is not precisely on the side of Democrats, let alone the activist left. After all, James Comey’s last-minute intervention ensured Trump’s victory in the 2016 election. But that history is easy to forget now that Comey has been remade as a hero of the resistance against Trump.
The mainstream media has been surprisingly unaware of the recent discovery of leaked Twitter records, which the company’s new management has called the “Twitter Files.” My colleague Ross Barkan wrote about this recently in The Nation. These records show that both the Trump administration and the Biden campaign worked hard to control the flow of information, as did the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, which did the same for both presidents.
The dismissal of the Twitter Files is in line with a more significant trend in which institutional wrongdoing is only looked at in terms of how it affects Trump. There is a chance that, since opinions about the FBI are so different, the same standard may be used to look into claims that the FBI did something wrong. Nobody should have a better opinion of the FBI just because Trumpist extremists despise it for silly reasons. The FBI remains the enemy of my enemy in this situation.
Analysis by: Advocacy Unified Network