Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz released his report concerning allegations concerning surveillance abuses by the FBI. In his findings are 17 “significant errors or omissions” in the bureau’s FISA warrant applications to spy on Trump campaign associate Carter Page.
Attorney General William Barr declared in a lengthy statement after the report’s release that it showed the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation broke all protocol and was beneath the agency’s standards. He said, “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.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler took the opposite view in saying Horowitz’s report “debunks conspiracy theories” and “affirms that DOJ and FBI had an authorized purpose to conduct temporary surveillance as part of the investigation.”
Considering Horowitz identified at least “17 significant errors or omissions” along with “many errors” in the guidelines that direct the FBI’s FISA warrant process one has to wonder if Nadler actually read the report.
Horowitz said, “These errors and omissions resulted from case agents providing wrong or incomplete information to the National Security Division’s Office of Intelligence and failing to flag important issues for discussion.”
But, –and this is what the mainstream media has cherry picked to report on– the report fell short of confirming a political bias or improper motivation for the FBI’s actions.
This conclusion makes no sense to anyone looking at this objectively. How can Horowitz surmise that no overt political bias against Donald Trump existed when his report found 17 significant (Horowitz’ word, not mine) instances of it?
Horowitz began his investigation by looking into surveillance abuses following a four-page memo put together by committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R–CA) in which he claimed the FBI abused Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in order to spy on the Trump transition team in 2017.
In that memo Nunes said that:
- The Steele dossier formed an essential part of the initial and all three renewal FISA applications against Carter Page.
- Andrew McCabe confirmed that no FISA warrant would have been sought from the FISA Court without the Steele dossier information.
- The political origins of the Steele dossier were known to senior DOJ and FBI officials, but excluded from the FISA applications.
Following the Nunes’ memo House Intelligence Committee Democrats argued the FISA applications also contained evidence against Page found in the Steele dossier and the FBI “met the rigor, transparency, and evidentiary basis needed to meet FISA’s probable cause requirement.”
The IG’s report concluded in September following the review of over one million records and interviews of over 100 witnesses.
Among top FBI officials involved in the FISA mishandled application were former FBI Director James Comey; former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates; Dana Boente, the only signatory in active government service and currently Trump’s top lawyer at the FBI; then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe; and then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Despite the plethora of omissions and major procedural errors, Horowitz concluded that none of the principles acted with a political bias against Trump.
At the same time the IG noted that “so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate, hand-picked teams on one of the most sensitive FBI investigations” was troublesome at best.
So, either top FBI officials acted in concert to subvert the will of American voters by trying to bring down Trump or they were incredibly inept in doing their job.
Neither brings much comfort.