NEW YORK - It sounds like a cross between John Le Carre and the Pink Panther’s Inspector Clouseau, but the conspiracy theory about rogue FBI agents trying to interfere with U.S. elections in order to defeat Hillary Clinton is gaining ground and new adherents. The main protagonist in the alleged plot against America isn’t, as you might expect, FBI Director James Comey, whose letter last week to Congress on emails supposedly found on the computer of disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner shook up the Presidential race, but Rudy Giuliani, rogue FBI agents in New York, the alt-right mouthpiece Breitbart and the mysterious hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer.
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Giuliani surprisingly confirmed on Friday that the FBI agents had informed the Trump campaign of the suspicious emails before Comey's letter was made public. The former New York mayor confirmed Democratic suspicions of improper collusion between some elements in the FBI and the anti-Clinton camp and poured fuel on the simmering suspicions of an unprecedented plot to undermine the political process.
The theories took off after Fox News reported this week that the FBI has been investigating the Clinton Foundation for over a year - and that indictments were sure to come. The report shocked the Presidential campaign and was immediately adopted by Donald Trump in his efforts to paint Clinton as an arch-criminal of historic proportions. Within less than a day it turned out there was no investigation, no indictments and no there there, but the damage was already done.
According to a spate of new reports on Reuters, Daily Beast, Esquire, the Guardian and MSNBC, the real story behind the Fox News story, as well as the Comey letter, is a group of rogue FBI agents, mainly in the New York branch, who view Clinton as “the antichrist”, according to the Guardian, and who are hell-bent on making sure she doesn’t become President. The FBI, one agent told the Guardian, is “Trumpland.”
This alleged renegade group of agents includes those who were charged with investigating the new charges against Weiner, the now-estranged husband of Clinton adviser Huma Abedin, who is suspected of sexting a 15-year-old girl. According to these reports, it was these agents who pressured Comey to investigate whether the emails on Weiner’s computer were possibly linked to the investigation of the emails that had been stored on Clinton’s unauthorized private server. The timing of Comey’s letter, according to this theory, wasn’t linked to any wish of his to influence the elections but stemmed from fear that the rogue agents would leak the story of Weiner’s computer to the press anyway. Democrats believe that Comey’s letter is at least part of the reason for Clinton’s fall in the polls over the past week.
The rogue agents on active duty in New York are supposedly in contact with the former head of the FBI’s New York Office, Jim Kallstrom, who once described the Clintons as a “crime family,”’ as in the Mafia. Kallstrom and many other former and current FBI agents are in touch with former New York Mayor and prosecutor Giuliani, one of Trump’s main supporters and the man who presided over the loudest “Lock Her Up” chorus at the GOP Convention this summer. Last Wednesday, in an interview with Fox News, Giuliani promised “big surprises that will change the race” and presto, two days later, Comey sent his letter. Giuliani promised, and Giuliani delivered.
According to the New York Times, among the evidence cited by the New York office to buttress their demand to investigate the Clinton Foundation was the book Clinton Cash, published by conservative investigative reporter Peter Schweizer, who also works for Breitbart. The site, which is periodically accused of anti-Semitism, is widely considered to represent the alt-right anti-establishment fringe and is definitely one of Trump’s strongest supporters among conservative media. Breitbart sponsored, promoted and distributed the movie version of Schweizer’s book.
Everything then comes together under the wings of billionaire Mercer, who funded the making of the movie, is the main investor in Breitbart, has put his financial weight behind Trump and has supplied him with the people who now manage his campaign. A reclusive New York billionaire who started as a computer programmer and ended up as one of Wall Street’s most successful hedge fund managers, Mercer had invested heavily in the primary campaign of conservative Texas Senator Ted Cruz, but switched his support to Trump after the Republican Convention in July. Kellyanne Conway, who had run the Super Pac set up by Mercer to support Cruz, was then appointed as Trump’s campaign manager while Breitbart CEO Steve Bannon became the campaign’s CEO. The two are credited with having instilled enough discipline in Trump’s campaign to bring him as close as possible to closing the gap with Clinton.
So this is the way it allegedly worked: Breitbart provided the supposed facts that were then cited by anti-Clinton agents at the FBI to launch an investigation. When the agency and the Justice Department refused, citing flimsy grounds, the agents disseminated a distorted version of events to people outside the agency who gave them to Fox. From there the story made its way into Trump’s efforts to convince the public that where there’s smoke there’s fire.
If the conspiracy theory is even partially true, it’s nothing less than a sinister effort by rogue agents to undermine the elections process. Comey, in this scenario, isn’t out to sway the elections but is trying to maneuver between the politics outside the Bureau and the rebellious agents inside. If it’s even partially true, it is an unprecedented assault by an actual law enforcement agency against American democracy, which immediately brings to mind the dirty tricks and manipulations conducted against political enemies by the late FBI Director J Edgar Hoover. But even Hoover will seem like small fry if the plot succeeds, and Trump is elected. America, in that case, will never be the same.