Justice Department Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz debunked on Wednesday former FBI Director James Comey’s suggestion this week that the IG’s report exonerated the FBI from misconduct allegations over its surveillance of the Trump campaign in 2016.
Following the release of the IG report this week, Comey wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post and tweeted a link to it, writing on Twitter: “So it was all lies. No treason. No spying on the campaign. No tapping Trumps wires. It was just good people trying to protect America.”
In the op-ed, Comey claimed that “the allegation of a criminal conspiracy was nonsense. There was no illegal wiretapping, there were no informants inserted into the campaign, there was no ‘spying’ on the Trump campaign.”
On Wednesday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham asked Horowitz: “The former FBI Director James Comey said this week that your report vindicates him. 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.”
The inspector general’s report found that the FBI identified Steele’s primary sub-source in January 2017 and arranged a meeting with the individual, whose identity has not been disclosed. The report found:
The Primary Sub-source told the FBI that he/she had not seen Steele’s reports until they became public that month, and that he/she made statements indicating that Steele misstated or exaggerated the Primary Sub-source’s statements in multiple sections of the reporting. …
The Primary Sub-source was questioned again by the FBI beginning in March 2017 about the election reporting and his/her communications with Steele. The Washington Field Office agent (WFO Agent 1) who conducted that interview and others after it told the OIG that the Primary Sub-source felt that the tenor of Steele’s reports was far more “conclusive” than was justified. The Primary Subsource also stated that he/she never expected Steele to put the Primary Subsource’s statements in reports or present them as facts. According to WFO Agent 1, the Primary Sub-source said he/she made it clear to Steele that he/she had no proof to support the statements from his/her sub-sources and that “it was just talk.”
Graham then read an exchange that Comey had with a reporter in December 2018:
Reporter: Can I ask you a question on FISA abuse? It’s a major issue for the Republicans. Do you have total confidence in the dossier when you used it to secure a surveillance warrant and also in the subsequent renewals?
Comey: 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.
Graham asked Horowitz: “Would it be fair to say that you take issue with that statement?”
Horowitz responded: “Certainly our findings were that there were significant problems with FISA.”
Horowitz later highlighted how the officials who were investigating the Trump campaign misled the FISA court by saying that the primary sub-source for the anti-Trump dossier created by former British spy Christopher Steele was credible but did not tell the court that the source refuted the claims in the Steele dossier.
“I would not have submitted the [FISA application] they put it,” Horowitz said. “No doubt about it. It had no business going in.”
“I don’t think the Department of Justice fairly treated these FISAs and [Trump campaign adviser Carter Page] was on the receiving end of the FISAs,” Horowitz continued.
HOROWITZ ON COMEY:
“The activities we found here don’t vindicate anybody who touched this” pic.twitter.com/rdfo1hcli0
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) December 11, 2019
This report has been updated to include additional information.