The Problem With Praetorian Guards

The phenomenon that some are referring to as the Deep State is the fruit of mission creep by the Federal Civil Service, who seem to have taken the wrong lesson from the Praetorian Guard.

The Praetorian Guard (Latincohortes praetoriae) was an elite unit of the Imperial Roman Army whose members served as personal bodyguards to the Roman emperors. During the era of the Roman Republic, the Praetorians served as a small escort force for high-ranking officials such as army generals or provincial governors. With the Republic’s transition into the Roman Empire, however, the first emperor Augustus founded the Guard as his personal security detail. Although they continued to serve in this capacity for roughly three centuries, the Guard became notable for its intrigue and interference in Roman politics, to the point of overthrowing emperors and proclaiming their successors. In 312 the Guard was ultimately disbanded by Constantine the Great.

Our system of Federal Civil Service was created in response to the excesses of the spoils system wherein each incomming Presidential Administration sacked all the officials (of the then much smaller) Federal Agencies and replaced them with their own appointees. The disadvantages of such a system are obvious, the less obvious danger was that they would come to think of themselves as a Praetorian Guard. That moment seems to have arrived.

The FBI’s Trump ‘Insurance’

More troubling evidence of election meddling at the bureau.

By The Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal

Democrats and the media are accusing anyone who criticizes special counsel Robert Mueller as Trumpian conspirators trying to undermine his probe. But who needs critics when Mr. Mueller’s team is doing so much to undermine its own credibility?

Wednesday’s revelations—they’re coming almost daily—include the Justice Department’s release of 2016 text messages to and from Peter Strzok, the FBI counterintelligence agent whom Mr. Mueller demoted this summer. The texts, which he exchanged with senior FBI lawyer Lisa Page, contain expletive-laced tirades against Mr. Trump. Such Trump hatred is no surprise and not by itself disqualifying. More troubling are texts that suggest that some FBI officials may have gone beyond antipathy to anti-Trump plotting.

“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office—that there’s no way [Trump] gets elected—but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,” Mr. Strzok wrote Ms. Page in an Aug. 15, 2016 text. He added: “It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”

What “policy” would that be? The “Andy” in question is Andrew McCabe, the deputy FBI director. FBI officials are allowed to have political opinions, but what kind of action were they discussing that would amount to anti-Trump “insurance”?

In another exchange that month, Ms. Page forwarded a Trump-related article and wrote: “Maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace.” He thanked her and assured: “Of course I’ll try and approach it that way.” Mr. Strzok, recall, is the man who changed the words “grossly negligent” to “extremely careless” in James Comey’s July 2016 public exoneration of Hillary Clinton’s emails.

The McCabe meeting came on the heels of the FBI’s launch of its counterintelligence probe into Trump-Russia ties. July is also when former British spook Christopher Steele briefed the FBI on his Clinton-financed dossier of salacious allegations against Mr. Trump. The texts explain why Mr. Mueller would remove Mr. Strzok, though a straight shooter wouldn’t typically resist turning those messages over to Congress for as long as Mr. Mueller did.

Meanwhile, we’re learning more about the political motives of Mr. Mueller’s lieutenant, Andrew Weissmann. Judicial Watch last week released an email in which Mr. Weissmann expressed his “awe” and praise for Sally Yates, after the then acting AG and Obama holdover refused to implement Mr. Trump’s travel ban.

This cannot be tolerated by a Republican form of government. Federal Agencies are neither super-legislatures nor star chambers. As an object lesson the FBI should be purged in whole in their headquarters and Washington DC Station. If such is not accomplished within a year, the FBI’s budget should be set to zero.

[UPDATE] It seems the same cast of FBI officials criminals were circling the wagons to suppress the revelation that former Attorney General Lynch and former (not to be confused with never will be) President Clinton’s off the books meeting on the tarmac in Phoenix.

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