From bureau veterans to key lawmakers in Congress, the notion of an independent review is growing in urgency.
A half century ago, Americans held grave concerns that J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI and other U.S. intelligence agencies had abused civil rights, improperly targeted enemies and illegally gathered evidence, so Congress set out on a great cleansing mission. It formed a special committee chaired by Idaho Sen. Frank Church that laid bare the wrongdoing, overhauled the bureau and created new guardrails to protect civil liberties.
A growing number of influential figures in Washington are arguing it’s time for another Church Committee after a tumultuous six years in which the FBI admitted it misled the FISA court while spying on Donald Trump’s campaign, had executives who lied, doctored evidence or usurped prosecutors’ authority, and employed agents who dropped the ball on a sexual abuse scandal involving Olympians and over collected evidence in a raid of a former president’s home.
The revelation this week that the bureau secretly paid a Russian businessman as a confidential informant against Trump even though he was suspected of lying and having ties to the Kremlin’s intelligence agencies only accelerated support for a sweeping, independent probe of the FBI now under the control of Director Christopher Wray.
“I think, frankly, it would be great for the FBI,” Kevin Brock, the bureau’s first-ever intelligence chief, said of the notion of a new Church Committee. “They find themselves obviously in a very challenging situation, some of which they brought on themselves, others kind of imposed upon them.
“But they find themselves in a place right now where well over the half the country believes they’re working on behalf of one political party over another,” he said during a wide-ranging interview with the John Solomon Reports podcast this week. “And that can’t stand … the agency can’t survive if that persists.”
Brock, a former assistant director who helped write the rules the FBI currently uses for informants, is a widely respected voice inside the bureau. But many outside it echo his support for a 21st century Church Committee or something like the 9/11 Commission that investigated the worst terror attacks in American history.
By John Solomon