On Monday, the FBI executed a warrant and tossed former President Donald Trump’s house in Florida under the very thin premise of a potential Presidential Records Act violation. This act was correctly viewed as the latest in a long series of political hit jobs on Mr. Trump and drew immediate condemnation from all corners of the political right — with the notable exception of the Senate Republican “leadership.”
The raid, which is the culmination of six years of FBI and other federal law enforcement efforts to run Mr. Trump from the public square, leads to the inescapable conclusion that we need a new Church Committee.
In 1975, Sen. Frank Church, a Democrat from Idaho, gaveled in a new committee that examined illegal and unauthorized activities by the FBI, the Department of Justice and the CIA. After 15 months of hearings, the committee concluded that the FBI and others had often acted illegally, imprudently and without sufficient authorization from their superiors or from elected officials.
We need a new Church Committee.
The pattern of lawbreaking and indifference to political, social, legal and governmental norms among the bureaucracies of the FBI and the Department of Justice has now become so obvious and so egregious that Congress must examine the activities of those charged with safeguarding the United States and her citizens.
The lengthy and troubling list of criminal and pathological behavior on the part of the federal law enforcement bureaucracies — spying on political campaigns, constructing false flag operations (the Steele dossier), lying to Congress, surveilling reporters and ignoring illegality propagated by one side of the political spectrum (ranging from firebombing pregnancy centers to being compromised by the human dumpster fire that is Hunter Biden) — is so substantial that it precludes reliance on any specific committee in Congress.
This newspaper has recently reported that FBI agents have recently violated the bureau’s own rules almost 750 times while conducting sensitive investigations involving individuals engaged in politics, government, the news media and religious groups.
These are just the things we know.
Many of the committees that have jurisdiction over these agencies have already failed to conduct or in most cases even initiate meaningful oversight. Some congressional committee members and staff with jurisdiction are themselves part of the problem.
Citizens require and should demand a special commission or committee be empaneled, preferably led by a serious senator or House member. This is not a moment for members who are concerned primarily about their social media accounts. This is a matter of the gravest urgency and will require an equally sober, deliberate, nonpartisan and bicameral assessment of the depth of the crisis and the changes that need to be made.
Those involved in such an examination should be clear about the stakes. Despite all the nonsense on both sides about insurrection (still, no one charged with that), elections being stolen and votes being suppressed, and democracy dying in the darkness, the real and immediate risk to the republic is that some of those charged with safeguarding it have, in fact, become its enemies.
Almost 2,000 years ago, the Roman poet Juvenal wrote: “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” — who watches the watchmen themselves? Five hundred years before that, Plato grappled with the same question: How does society protect itself from the tyranny of those who wield the legitimacy of law enforcement like a weapon against the citizenry?
No one likes to think of their own watchmen as part of the problem. But at a certain point, facts become inescapable. The only right answer — and the one we face now — is to be fearless and resolute in examining the conduct of those federal watchmen who need to be watched. If we don’t have a system-wide, open, transparent and meaningful examination of the problem now — when the scope and scale of the problem have become obvious to everyone — when will we?