November 3, 2016

Here is Bret Baier on Fox News this morning, in the light of day, explaining why he now has to walk back his breathless nighttime report about "possible indictments" connected to the Clinton Foundation.

As I explained last night, Baier's "correction" is directly related to the story's sourcing. Transcript of the key moment, via Media Matters:

MARTHA MACCALLUM (CO-HOST): The FBI sources that you spoke with suggest that an indictment is likely. That would prove -- go ahead.

BRET BAIER: I want to be clear -- I want to be clear about this, and this was -- came from a Q and A that I did with Brit Hume after my show and after we went through everything. He asked me if, after the election, if Hillary Clinton wins, will this investigation continue, and I said, “yes absolutely.” I pressed the sources again and again what would happen. I got to the end of that and said, “they have a lot of evidence that would, likely lead to an indictment.” But that’s not, that’s inartfully answered. That’s not the process. That’s not how you do it. You have to have a prosecutor. If they don't move forward with a prosecutor with the DOJ, there would be, I'm told, a very public call for an independent prosecutor to move forward. There is confidence in the evidence, but for me to phrase it like I did, of course that got picked up everywhere, but the process is different than that.

Josh Marshall picked up on this, ripping Real Clear Politics and The Hill for their reporting.

The RCP story says Fox had "FBI sources" and "two sources inside the FBI." The Hill says "two sources within the FBI" gave the story to Fox. Since The Hill and RCP have text versions of the article, those are the ones which have spread more widely.

But that is clearly not what Bret Baier, the Foxer who reported the story, said. Both times he reported this on the air he used very specific language. Once he said: "two separate sources with intimate knowledge of the FBI investigations into the Clinton emails and the Clinton Foundation." Another time he said: "two separate sources with intimate knowledge of what's going with these FBI investigations." (emphasis added)

Here's where we pick up the thread of my argument last night and in days prior, where I say that the FBI New York office is quite out of control, and the leakers are Rudy Giuliani and James Kallstrom, former assistant director of the New York division.

The Daily Beast unpacks that for us in a lengthy article about exactly who is talking to whom.

Hours after Comey’s letter about the renewed probe was leaked on Friday, Giuliani went on a radio show and attributed the director’s surprise action to “the pressure of a group of FBI agents who don’t look at it politically.”

“The other rumor that I get is that there’s a kind of revolution going on inside the FBI about the original conclusion [not to charge Clinton] being completely unjustified and almost a slap in the face to the FBI’s integrity,” said Giuliani. “I know that from former agents. I know that even from a few active agents.”

Along with Giuliani’s other connections to New York FBI agents, his former law firm, then called Bracewell Giuliani, has long been general counsel to the FBI Agents Association (FBIAA), which represents 13,000 former and current agents. The group, born in the New York office in the early ’80s, was headed until Monday by Rey Tariche, an agent still working in that office. Tariche’s resignation letter from the bureau mentioned the Clinton probe, noting that “we find our work—our integrity questioned” because of it, adding “we will not be used for political gains.”

I'm shocked. Shocked, I tell you! But wait, there's more. James Kallstrom is right at the center of the storm.

When Comey cleared Clinton this July, Kallstrom was on Fox again, declaring: “I’ve talked to about 15 different agents today—both on the job and off the job—who are basically worried about the reputation of the agency they love.” The number grew dramatically by Labor Day weekend when Comey released Clinton’s FBI interview and other documents, and Kallstrom told Kelly he was talking to “50 different people in and out of the agency, retired agents,” all of whom he said were “basically disgusted” by Comey’s latest release.

By Sept. 28, Kallstrom said he’d been contacted by hundreds of people, including “a lot of retired agents and a few on the job,” declaring the agents “involved in this thing feel like they’ve been stabbed in the back.” So, he said, “I think we’re going to see a lot more of the facts come out in the course of the next few months. That’s my prediction.”

Kallstrom, whose exchanges with active agents about particular cases are as contrary to FBI policy as Giuliani’s, formally and passionately endorsed Trump this week on Stuart Varney’s Fox Business show, adding that Clinton is a “pathological liar.”

Now here's where this all gets interesting. Also according to the Daily Beast article, Trump's largest charitable contribution ever was given to a charity which Kallstrom heads -- The Marine Corps Law Foundation.

Kallstrom, who served as a Marine before becoming an agent, didn’t mention that a charity he’d founded decades ago and that’s now called the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation, was the single biggest beneficiary of Trump’s promise to raise millions for veterans when he boycotted the Iowa primary debate. A foundation official said that Trump’s million-dollar donation this May, atop $100,000 that he’d given in March, were the biggest individual grants it had ever received. The Trump Foundation had contributed another $230,000 in prior years and Trump won the organization’s top honor at its annual Waldorf Astoria gala in 2015.

Through this foundation, he is also connected to Rush Limbaugh, who serves on the board of the foundation.

Kallstrom has made no secret of his admiration of Trump, nor has he made a secret of his communications with former FBI agents. And who better to be the perfect conduit out to TrumpWorld of what rogue FBI agents in New York are doing? Hmmm?

As the article makes clear, Kallstrom is great at plausible deniability. But if you're looking for two sources outside of the FBI to trumpet inside FBI leaks, Kallstrom and Giuliani are your guys.

One can only conclude that the FBI has indeed inserted itself into this election, in a way that is completely outside of established rules and policies, in order to give a big hand up to Donald Trump.

Can you help us out?

For 18 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.