FBI wiretap of Trump campaign aide was riddled with errors, but Russia probe was legally justified, IG report finds
DOJ IG Michael Horowitz's report, released Monday, debunks claims by Trump that political bias influenced FBI's decision to launch Russia probe in 2016.The voluminous report, released Monday by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, identified 17 separate inaccuracies across three surveillance applications, effectively inflating the justification for its monitoring of foreign policy adviser Carter Page.
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department's internal watchdog found that the controversial surveillance of a Trump campaign adviser was riddled with errors, raising questions about its justification.
The voluminous report, released Monday by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, identified 17 separate inaccuracies across three surveillance applications, effectively inflating the justification for its monitoring of foreign policy adviser Carter Page.
Horowitz, nevertheless, concluded that there was legal justification for the overall inquiry into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and that there was no “documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the FBI’s decision to conduct these operations.”
Highlights From the Horowitz Report on the Russia Investigation
A much-anticipated report on the early stages of the F.B.I.’s investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia heavily criticized how the F.B.I. obtained court orders to eavesdrop on a former Trump campaign aide but found no evidence of political bias or improper motivation by the F.B.I. The 434-page report by the Justice Department’s independent inspector general, Michael E.
The account of the FBI’s surveillance activities, however, was central to the report’s findings and is likely to fuel new attacks from the president and a cadre of Republican allies, with Trump swept up in a fast-moving impeachment inquiry.
Horowitz also singled out a Justice Department official for possible criminal investigation.
In a written response, FBI Director Christopher Wray characterized the report as “constructive criticism that will make us stronger as an organization.”
“We are vested with significant authorities and it is our obligation as public servants to ensure these authorities are exercised with objectivity and integrity,” Wray said. “Anything less falls short of the FBI’s duty to the American people.”
Trump claims DOJ inspector general report shows 'attempted overthrow' of the government
President Trump highlighted inaccuracies in surveillance applications, but the report found the FBI was legally justified in opening the Russia probe.WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said a Justice Department's internal watchdog report examining the origins of the Russia investigation shows an "attempted overthrow" of government, pointing to inaccuracies found in FBI surveillance applications related to his 2016 campaign.
Attorney General William Barr, however, disagreed with the inspector general’s base finding that the investigation was justified.
“The inspector general’s report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken,” Barr said.
Minutes before the report was made public, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., who had been briefed on the findings,them "disturbing."
How we got here:
The report's release comes just days after House Speaker Nancy Pelosithe House would draw up articles of impeachment against Trump.
Horowitz launched his review in March 2018 in response to requests from Republican lawmakers and then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Republicans raised questions about the FBI's surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Page and the bureau's relationship with Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer who was hired by a research firm working for the campaign of former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Steele authored a now-infamous "dossier" alleging ties between Trump and Russia.
FBI director reacts to report on Russia investigation: Exclusive
FBI Director Christopher Wray offered mixed reactions to a Justice Department watchdog report that uncovered "serious performance failures."In an exclusive broadcast interview with ABC News, Wray lamented "actions described in this report that [he] considered unacceptable and unrepresentative of who we are as an institution." But, he said it was "important that the inspector general found that, in this particular instance, the investigation was opened with appropriate predication and authorization.
The surveillance of Page has fueled Trump's allegations of spying, even treason, against former top law enforcement officials. Republicans have complained that the FBI, in seeking court permission to wiretap Page, relied on information from Steele, a longtime FBI source, and did not disclose the Democratic National Committee's role in funding his research.
But the FBI's warrant applicationsthe bureau did disclose it had gotten information from Steele. The applications also showed investigators had other reasons to suspect Page, who had longstanding ties in Russia and met with Kremlin officials while he was on the Trump campaign.
Horowitz singled out Bruce Ohr, an FBI lawyer and associate deputy attorney general for additional review and possible criminal investigation.
Ohr’s relationship with Steele, whose unverified report on Trump’s alleged activities in Russia was used in part to justify the Page surveillance, was sharply criticized by the inspector general for failing to inform his Justice supervisors of those contacts.
took over the FBI's Russia investigation in 2017 and indicted three dozen people, including six former Trump associates and campaign aides. All pleaded guilty or were convicted by a jury. Page was not indicted.
Barr is overseeing a parallel criminal investigation into the origins of the Russia probe. That investigation has fueled criticism from Democrats that the agency has become a tool for Trump's political retribution.
This story will be updated.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY:
FISA court judge rebukes FBI over handling of wiretap applications .
The judge demanded that the bureau give the court a plan by next month to ensure that the information in its surveillance applications is accurate."The frequency with which representations made by FBI personnel turned out to be unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession, and with which they withheld information detrimental to their case, calls into question whether information contained in other FBI applications is reliable," Judge Rosemary Collyer wrote in an order published Tuesday.