“So it was all lies. No treason. No spying on the campaign. No tapping Trump’s wires. It was just good people trying to protect America.”
That was James Comey’s review of the 476-page report released Monday by DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz. On Tuesday, at a rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania, President Trump rendered his review.
“They spied on our campaign, okay?” Trump said. “Never happened before in the history of our country. And we’re really wise to it.” The FBI ignored and hid exculpatory evidence, Trump said, “so they could keep the hoax going for two more years.” And the FBI sent “multiple undercover human spies” to surveille people in his campaign.
“They are still great people,” the president said, “their lives have been destroyed by scum. An FBI lawyer, “forged an email used as evidence,” now the subject of a “criminal referral.”
Attorney General William Barr did not agree with the conclusions of the IG report. Neither did Republicans in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday as they confronted Michael Horowitz his own self.
“We are deeply concerned that so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate, hand-picked investigative teams, on one of the most sensitive FBI investigations, after the matter had been briefed to the highest levels within the FBI.” This happened, Horowitz testified, “even though the information sought through the use of FISA authority related so closely to an ongoing presidential campaign, and even though those involved with the investigation knew that their actions were likely to be subjected to close scrutiny.” That wasn’t good enough for Committee chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham.
“The former FBI Director James Comey said this week that your report vindicates him,” Graham told the IG. “Is that a fair assessment of your report?” Horowitz responded, “I think the activities we found here don’t vindicate anybody who touched this FISA.”
Graham also asked if surveilling Carter Page ever “became unlawful.” Horowitz said to surveille someone without legal foundation was “illegal surveillance, it’s not court authorized surveillance.”
Graham also read a December 2018 news report in which Comey told a reporter. “I have total confidence that the FISA process was followed, that the entire case was handled in a thoughtful, responsible way by DOJ and the FBI. I think the notion that FISA was abused here is nonsense.”
Horowitz cited “significant problems with FISA” and told the Committee he would not have submitted that FISA application, which “had no business going in.” The DOJ did not act fairly and Trump adviser Carter page “was on the receiving end of the FISAs.”
Sen. Ted Cruz called the IG report a “stunning indictment of the FBI and the Department of Justice, of a pattern of abusive power.” The Steele dossier used in the FISA application was “the most effective oppo research dump in history” because “the Department of Justice and the FBI were perfectly happy to be hatchet men for this oppo research dump.”
Cruz wanted to know if the Page email altered by the FBI lawyer amounted to fabricating evidence, and if that would launch a prosecution of any private citizen who did likewise. “They certainly would be considered for that if there was an intentional effort to deceive the court.” Horowitz responded.
Sen. Charles Grassley wondered if President Obama may have known about the probe and asked why the Trump campaign wasn’t briefed on the investigation. Horowitz said he did not know what Obama knew, but “the briefings were identical but the net result was that one was for investigative purposes and one was purely for the intelligence briefing.”
Sen. Mike Lee, took up the IG’s contention that political bias did not play a role in the FBI’s decision to launch the investigation. The lack of evidence, Lee contended, was not indicative that no bias occurred. Horowitz could not rule out that political bias had come into play later in the investigation.
The IG recalled the “lack of documentary and testimonial evidence about intentionality, but we noted the lack of satisfactory explanations, and in fact, leave open the possibility, for the reasons you indicated, it is unclear what the motivations were.” Amidst gross incompetence and negligence, Horowitz said, “we are not ruling it out.”
Later in his testimony, Horowitz restated the claim that he and his staff “couldn’t reach a conclusion about what motivated” the FISA abuse. That was the position of Committee Democrats, for the most part an echo chamber for Comey.
“This was not a politically-motivated investigation,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein. “There is no deep state.” The San Francisco Democrat said it was time to “move on” from claims of political bias and pivoted to the Trump impeachment in the House.
“Those who showed great interest in the question of politically motivated investigations against President Trump,” she said, “should show the same concern about politically motivated requested by the president or his attorney general.”
Meanwhile, the IG report by an appointee of Barack Hussein Obama was “great,” Trump said Tuesday, but the president looked forward to “Bull Durham’s report.” Like William Barr, U.S. Attorney John Durham disagrees with the conclusions of the IG report. On the other hand, the many disturbing findings have surely helped Durham lock and load for his ongoing criminal investigation. Maybe the FBI lawyer who forged evidence against Carter Page will be one of the first to hear from him.