Inspector General’s Report Says FBI Was ‘Justified’ In Launching Trump-Russia Probe
The highly anticipated Department of Justice Inspector General’s report found “serious performance failures” when the FBI investigated people linked to President Donald Trump‘s campaign. However, it concluded that the investigation was not politically biased and was justified based on the evidence obtained.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz found “at least 17 significant errors or omissions” in the FBI’s applications to surveil ex-Trump adviser Carter Page. His findings have led him to open a new audit looking at how the FBI obtains authorizations from the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to surveil Americans.
“That so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate, hand-picked teams on one of the most sensitive FBI investigations that was briefed to the highest levels within the FBI, and that FBI officials expected would eventually be subjected to close scrutiny, raised significant questions regarding the FBI chain of command’s management,” the report said.
The report cleared the FBI of being politically motivated in their investigation, writing that the inspector found no “documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation” influenced FBI decisions to open the investigation into people associated with the Trump campaign, to use confidential sources, or to seek authority to surveil Page.
Horowitz also singled out an FBI lawyer and associate deputy attorney general, Bruce Ohr, for additional review and possible criminal investigation.
Trump and his allies have denounced the entire investigation and alleged that the FBI abused their power by spying.
Republicans have alleged that the FBI relied on Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer who worked for a research firm hired by the campaign of former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, as their source. They complain that the FBI used information from Steele when seeking court permission to wiretap Page, but failed to disclose his relation with the Democratic National Committee.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller took over the Russia investigation in 2017 and indicted three dozen people, including six former Trump associates and campaign aides. Page was not indicted.
FBI Director Christopher Wray wrote that the report provided “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.”