Crisis at Justice

How much more is necessary before someone in charge sounds the alarm? The Department of Justice is in shambles — including the FBI. “Shambles,” you ask? Look at senior staff departures so far from the Trump DOJ and FBI:

FBI Departures

  1. James Comey, director (fired)
  2. Andrew McCabe, deputy director (fired)
  3. Peter Strzok, counterintelligence expert (fired)
  4. Lisa Page, attorney (demoted; resigned)
  5. James Rybicki, chief of staff (resigned)
  6. James Baker, general counsel (resigned)
  7. Mike Kortan, assistant director for public affairs (resigned)
  8. Josh Campbell, special assistant to James Comey (resigned)
  9. James Turgal, executive assistant director (resigned)
  10. Greg Bower, assistant director for the office of congressional affairs (resigned)
  11. Michael Steinbach, executive assistant director (resigned)
  12. John Giacalone, executive assistant director (resigned)

Department Of Justice Departures

  1. Sally Yates, deputy attorney general (fired)
  2. Bruce Ohr, associate deputy attorney general (twice demoted)
  3. David Laufman, counterintelligence chief (resigned)
  4. Rachel Brand, deputy attorney general (resigned)
  5. Trisha Beth Anderson, the office of legal counsel for FBI (demoted or reassigned*)
  6. John P. Carlin, assistant attorney general (resigned)
  7. Peter Kadzik, assistant attorney general, congressional liaison (resigned)
  8. Mary McCord, acting assistant attorney general (resigned)
  9. Matthew Axelrod, principal assistant to deputy attorney general (resigned)
  10. Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney, SDNY (fired along with 45 other U.S. Attorneys)
  11. Sharon McGowan, civil rights division (resigned)
  12. Diana Flynn, litigation director for LGBTQ civil rights (resigned)
  13. Vanita Gupta, civil rights division (resigned)
  14. Joel McElvain, assistant branch director of the civil division (resigned)

*Status Unclear

Keep in mind, there are quite a few others who are on the “watch-list” for potential demotions, firings, and retirements in both agencies. And it’s very possible there are those not yet on this list because for security reasons they have not been announced.

What’s Going On?

It seems that almost daily new revelations about wrongdoing, insubordination, and borderline illegal activities of many at the FBI and Department of Justice find their way into the news. Americans are rapidly losing confidence in the Department of Justice and FBI. It gets more difficult by the day to believe that this Justice Department has always been the most proficient, most successful, and most important justice system of any on Earth.

What has become apparent to many is that the decline of credibility and integrity of those at the top of both agencies is nothing new. It apparently began years ago — if not during the Clinton or Bush 43 administrations, then certainly during the Obama years. And those from the Obama Administration seem to have been deeply involved in the most egregious of the instances of wrongdoing being exposed today.

That causes many questions to be asked by American of DOJ leaders:

  • How long has this been going on?
  • Who at the top was involved (and IS involved) and may be responsible for these illegal and inappropriate actions?
  • How deep does this evil go?
  • Who in the Obama Administration was involved?
  • How far up the chain of authority in Obama’s White House did involvement go?
  • Who in the Obama White House knew about it all?
  • Was U.S. National Security ever breached?
  • If so, by whom? Who was responsible and who was involved?
  • If involved, what was President Obama’s involvement?
  • Did the President authorize any/all of the illegal actions taken by the DOJ and FBI?
  • Was Obama involved in the FISA warrant process to authorize surveillance of the Trump Campaign?
  • When did the Obama Administration first get knowledge of Russia’s attempts to hack into the U.S. election system? What if anything was done about that suspected or actual election interference?
  • Are details available of contracts or agreements between the Obama DOJ and outside vendors and any compensation for anyone for “assisting” the fulfillment of those contracts?
  • Who (if anyone) in the current DOJ or FBI has personal communication with Obama or any other former Obama Administration individual?
  • Who at the DOJ or FBI authorized Clinton Campaign individuals to receive immunity from prosecution?
  • Who at the DOJ or FBI determined all interviews of Clinton Campaign individuals and Clinton herself were not be sworn testimony?
  • Why has Attorney General Jeff Sessions not been removed?
  • What investigations are underway by the DOJ regarding any/all of the wrongdoing mentioned above?
  • Who has authority besides the President to fire Robert Mueller?
  • Why has no one stepped in to assure Mueller stays within the guidelines of his appointment as Special Counsel in the Trump Campaign/Russia collustion investigation?

There are certainly hundreds of additional questions Americans have (with new ones coming daily) about the apparent corruption in the current DOJ. And Americans wonder more and more about corruption in past Departments of Justice and how it impacted the nation.

What Steps Can/Should be Taken at the DOJ?

No doubt, opinions of what should happen are all over the place — speculation and possibilities abound. Almost universally, Americans want those in the Department of Justice and the FBI who are guilty of any wrongdoing, collusion with outside sources or are involved in any way in a process to remove a duly elected president to be discovered and immediately removed from their position pending prosecution whenever prosecution is appropriate. In fact, those steps should have already been taken at the DOJ.

Some will say that the removal and/or retirement or quitting by those on the list at the top of this story prove actions ARE being taken. But for most Americans, that step simply shows the tip of an iceberg of corruption and wrongdoing.

Should the 6th floor of the Hoover Building (the Administration floor where all the top leaders of the DOJ and FBI office) be cleaned out totally? That question asked at the time of the Trump inauguration would have been laughed at. But today, asking it is certainly warranted. Should it happen?

There are those who will say that it is inevitable that those who remain from a previous administration will likely remain loyal to the policies of the past administration to the disadvantage of the “new” boss. And in many cases that is true. However, the specialization and the magnitude of the tasks that must be performed by every department of the DOJ and FBI certainly require continuity for success. Replacement of all senior management at every change of President would create a mountain of problems while the new folks figure out what to do and how to do it. That is the purpose for many of the “career” members of the agencies who remain when new administrations takeover. But that practice comes with significant potential dangers. We are seeing many of those “potential” dangers become “actual” dangers in many cases perpetrated by some holdover Obama DOJ senior staff members.

I ask again: should President Trump “clean house” at the management level of the DOJ?

Remember when fired FBI Director James Comey after his termination stated that President Trump questioned him privately about his loyalty to the President? Comey thought that the question was inappropriate and a conflict.  But let’s be honest: how can any president hope for his policies and ideas of operations in any department of government to be implemented by management if those managers and supervisors feel no sense of loyalty to their boss? That’s not an unreasonable expectation at all! In fact, Americans who elect each president expect his/her policies for which he/she was elected to be implemented wherever necessary, and rightly so. That requires cooperation and LOYALTY by those who swore an oath or made a promise to do just that!

How could Comey or anyone else expect to NOT be requested for loyalty — either literally or benignly? This is certain: Comey asked for (if not demanded) loyalty from those in management positions under him at the FBI, as did former Attorneys General Loretta Lynch and Eric Holder of DOJ managers. I am certain so did Robert Mueller when he was FBI Director before James Comey.  Obama may not have asked for it or demanded it, but if he did not expect such loyalty it was a huge mistake.

Summary: “Accountability”

Here’s the success code for senior management’s success in any business setting — private or governmental:

  1. Detail a master plan (policy plan) for all members of senior management;
  2. Require each management member to determine what piece of that master plan is their responsibility to fulfill;
  3. Make certain the resources necessary for the success of each task are provided to each manager: infrastructure, equipment, personnel, etc.;
  4. Make yourself available routinely to discuss the progress of each task, any issues, potential solutions for issues, and status of completion timeline;
  5. Coordinate completion of each task with each manager until completion;
  6. Here’s the most important component of this process: Hold EACH accountability for management of their task process AND final results.

I don’t think Lynch, Comey, or Obama used this process to run the FBI or Department of Justice. Eric Holder certainly did not. He didn’t even hold HIMSELF accountable.

Clean House?

Donald Trump is a really smart business manager. He knows this process better than I ever could. It is the Federal Government and who are their bosses — you and me — that make this process somewhat convoluted. But here’s the ONLY important piece of this process: Donald Trump was elected to fulfill each of the promises he made to voters during his campaign. He needs to do just that. AND VOTERS NEED TO (AND WILL) HOLD HIM ACCOUNTABLE!

He must hold his managers accountable for carrying out their individual tasks and making those completed tasks fit into the master plan. That may mean the termination of some. That happens in every administration and at every successful private company. But the President of the U.S. MUST make certain the operations of the most important two departments in the Executive Branch of government run smoothly, honestly, and on-track with the implementation and practices necessary to achieve their stated goals. That’s the Department of Justice and FBI.

I think there needs to be a carefully planned and coordinated house cleaning at the DOJ and FBI. There are honest and reliable managers in each department that if identified, empowered, and put in place could help make such a move seamlessly and as painless as possible.

Doing so would rid the nation of the corruption and self-dealing that seems to be running amuck at both places. It would also give rank-and-file employees confidence that this president really is committed to guaranteeing voters that every member of his administration is going to do the right thing the right way every time — or else. That’s what is missing in today’s DOJ and FBI: accountability.

Are Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray the right people to head such a cleansing? That’s something I cannot determine. But one thing is certain: President Trump has access to all the information necessary to determine if such a cleansing is necessary and justified.

If the conclusion is for a cleansing, President Trump should have instant access to whatever resources are necessary to complete it AND to guarantee that during that cleansing, no effectiveness at the FBI or DOJ is lost or watered down.

Change for change itself is seldom good. But change anytime it is warranted is not only good but imperative.

 

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