The Federal Bureau of Investigation loses the trust of the public whenever it has veered from its designated lane of investigating serious crime and fighting actual terrorism. Stubbing their wingtips on the third rail of partisan politics and being shocked should not surprise them, which is why the FBI needs to avoid falling into this trap.The agency has faced its harshest public criticism — and rightly so — when it has allowed itself to be co-opted by political parties with scores to settle or people to protect.

While the FBI sometimes engaged in questionable conduct — oftentimes while under the remarkable forty-eight year reign of John Edgar Hoover — it was usually adept at remaining above (below?) the fray of national politics. During the last several years, unfortunately, there has been a disturbing transmogrification. In order for the FBI to regain its old crime-fighting image, it needs to rededicate its allegiance to their motto of Fidelity, Bravery and Integrity. They need to do a better job of not getting drawn into politically motivated investigations where evidence is sought to support a predetermined outcome, shades of “show me the man and I’ll show you the crime”. Conversely, as in the case of Hunter Biden or Hilary Clinton, they mustn’t turn a blind eye or engage in legal gymnastics to justify their lack of investigative curiosity.

The FBI’s Achilles heel, time and again, has been when they have overstepped or understepped their boundaries. Acts of omission can be just as damning as acts of commission, and that applies to the feds as well. Americans expect their law enforcement agencies not to play favorites. We want to believe that, like a professional umpire, they do not root for the
home team and are willing to make calls with consistency and fairness. Whenever the FBI drifts from this standard, their credibility suffers. Trust is eroded, and once damaged, is difficult to regain. As Thomas Paine opined, “character is much easier kept than recovered.”

The standard the FBI should apply is not legally complex. It does not require teams of hand-wringing, Ivy league educated attorneys agonizing over constitutional nuance. Rather, it should be a simple, straightforward two-pronged test: would we apply this same investigative standard if it were the “other” political party, and will this withstand historical scrutiny? Let’s not use the FBI to target political opponents with process crimes, if those are not usually criminally prosecuted. The FBI should be savvy enough by now to not be used as political hatchet men. When the ethically compromised Attorney General Merrick Garland recently sent a memo to FBI Director Christopher Wray directing his office to investigate parents as possible domestic terrorists — for having the audacity to challenge publicly elected school board members in public hearings — Director Wray should have smelled a rat and made it clear his agency would not dilute its resources with such an obviously partisan intimidation tactic.

Similarly, the FBI should not be used to shield those in power. Depending on whose version you choose to believe, the Biden children seem to have trouble keeping track of their personal property, such as firearms, laptops and diaries. Hunter has lost more than one laptop, and Ashley is reportedly missing her diary. The FBI was able to recover one laptop and is now looking to track down the diary, which Ashley claims was stolen. Regardless of who you believe, since when does the FBI involve themselves with the theft of a diary? Again, the litmus test is “the other team test”. If the diary were that of, say, Ivanka Trump, would the FBI be executing search warrants at the homes of reporters in an attempt to retrieve it?

Like a professional referee, the FBI needs to ignore the clock, disregard the score, and be blind to team uniforms. Then make the call. If the play is illegal, throw the flag. If not, let ‘em play. The Federal Bureau of Investigation needs to be Caesar’s wife when it comes to partisan politics, because, when it comes right down to it, all politics are partisan.