Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said former FBI Director James Comey “helped create a culture at the FBI that they were accountable to no one” and “it’s going to be a long time before the reputation of the FBI regains its reputation as a law enforcement organization that has integrity and is above politics.”
The Senate’s number two Republican made the critical assessment in a wide-ranging interview with Hugh Hewitt on MSNBC Saturday after Hewitt raised the specter of Herbert Hoover’s free-wheeling (and constitutionally suspect) surveillance during the dark days of COINTELPRO.
HEWITT: All right, now it’s a time of great controversy for the FBI, which I’ve always held in the highest esteem. I worked with them when I was at DOJ. And you’ve got Director Comey, his reputation’s in tatters in the eyes of many people. You’ve got Andrew McCabe referred to the DOJ for prosecution. He’s got his admirers as well. You’ve got Page and Strzok and their texts. You’ve got Bruce Ohr over at the DOJ. You will remember, you’re my age, so you will remember just reading about the dark days of COINTELPRO and J. Edgar Hoover. Are we back in those dark days?
CORNYN: Right. Well, unfortunately, I think Director Comey helped create a culture at the FBI that they were accountable to no one. And unfortunately, that created, I believe, this situation we find ourselves with. Director Wray, I have to tell you, I think is doing an outstanding job. But it’s going to be a long time before the reputation of the FBI regains its reputation as a law enforcement organization that has integrity and is above politics.
COINTELPRO began with the best of intentions - an attempt to root out communist infiltration in America - but spiraled out of control into an unaccountable, police-state surveillance program that operated outside the constitutional oversight of congress.
The FBI’s own website describes COINTELPRO in terms that acknowledge the regrettable (if not wholly illegal) monster it had become.