The FBI’s background investigations into President Donald Trump’s nominees to fill various posts during his administration were biased and benefited people who were “politically opposed” to him, revealed a recent report by nonprofit advocacy America First Legal (AFL).
The report “reveals procedural infirmities that biased the FBI BI process in ways that benefited those politically opposed to former President Trump.”
During the Trump administration, the FBI provided files directly to the Senate without filtering unsubstantiated allegations or determining which information was relevant and which was not, said the report. The White House then disclosed such unedited accounts of potential nominees to the relevant Senate committees.
“After Justice Kavanaugh was confirmed with no findings of wrongdoing, Senate Democrats determined that the FBI supplemental investigation was ‘fake’ and that ‘proper oversight’ must be made into how thoroughly the FBI investigated Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing.”
The fact that the background investigation processes can be steered by either the White House or the Senate is “evidence that it is subject to significant bias,” the report said.
Biden Compromises Nominee ProtectionsThe Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Policy (OLP) coordinates with the FBI in matters related to background investigations on appointees to law enforcement and the courts. Following the Clinton administration’s “politicization of privacy to spy on its political enemies,” the OLP established rules to prevent such issues from happening again, the report said.
But under the Biden administration, “those protections have been rescinded.” The OLP revoked such regulations that were “designed to protect individuals subject to the BI process.”
The Privacy Act of 1974 establishes a code of practices governing the collection and dissemination of information of individuals by federal agencies.
AFL notes that several requirements of the Privacy Act were not enforced by the FBI to protect judicial nominees during background investigations.
For instance, new regulations by the Biden administration allowed the White House to direct the FBI’s investigation of any potential candidates as the agency was no longer required to obtain written consent of the nominees. Moreover, the White House and the FBI can now disclose such background investigations outside of the Executive Branch without any notice.
“The will of the American people is thwarted when the deep state interferes with the nominations process established in the Constitution and laws of the United States,” said Gene Hamilton, AFL vice president and general counsel.
“The President deserves to have the Senate give proper advice and consent to his nominees, but the manner in which the background investigation process has worked has deprived the President–and in turn, the American people–of that right. This report highlights the need for reform and how gamesmanship behind the scenes can interfere with our constitutional order.”
The Politicization IssueThe AFL report comes as concerns about the politicization of federal departments is a hot-button topic among lawmakers.
“Such actions should never have occurred, and it is essential that Congress codifies clear guardrails that prevent future FBI abuses and restores the public’s trust in our law enforcement institutions.”
He called the incident one of the “many examples of misconduct and politicization” during the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) criminal investigation into the president’s son.