Attorney General Bill Barr released a statement on Monday that undermined the Department of Justice Inspector General’s report that the FBI had sufficient evidence to probe the Trump campaign vis-a-vis Russian election interference.
“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 in a written statement. “It is also clear that, from its inception, the evidence produced by the investigation was consistently exculpatory.”
U.S. Attorney John Durham, whom Barr had appointed to investigate the Russia probe, boosted the attorney general’s claim, saying his office had told Barr that “we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened.”
However, Horowitz’s report found that the probe was legitimate and that political bias did not sway lead FBI investigators in the case, aka “Hurricane Crossfire.”
“We concluded that, under the AG Guidelines and the [Domestic Investigations Operations Guide], the FBI had an authorized purpose when it opened Crossfire Hurricane to obtain information about, or to protect against, a national security threat or federal crime, even though the investigation also had the potential to impact constitutionally protected activity,” the inspector general wrote.
Additionally, the report asserted that the FBI’s decision to open the investigation “was permissible under both Department and FBI policies because there was a legitimate law enforcement purpose associated with the investigation.”
Barr also misleadingly claimed the report showed the FBI had opened an “intrusive investigation,” but the report actually states that officials had adhered to the department’s guidelines requiring “least intrusive” investigative methods when they opened the probe.
Horowitz’s findings strike a major blow to President Donald Trump and his allies’ “deep state” conspiracy theory that posits the FBI was trying to take down Trump by launching the probe.
Read Barr’s statement below:
“Nothing is more important than the credibility and integrity of the FBI and the Department of Justice. That is why we must hold our investigators and prosecutors to the highest ethical and professional standards. The Inspector General’s investigation has provided critical transparency and accountability, and his work is a credit to the Department of Justice. I would like to thank the Inspector General and his team.
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. It is also clear that, from its inception, the evidence produced by the investigation was consistently exculpatory. Nevertheless, the investigation and surveillance was pushed forward for the duration of the campaign and deep into President Trump’s administration. In the rush to obtain and maintain FISA surveillance of Trump campaign associates, FBI officials misled the FISA court, omitted critical exculpatory facts from their filings, and suppressed or ignored information negating the reliability of their principal source. The Inspector General found the explanations given for these actions unsatisfactory. While most of the misconduct identified by the Inspector General was committed in 2016 and 2017 by a small group of now-former FBI officials, the malfeasance and misfeasance detailed in the Inspector General’s report reflects a clear abuse of the FISA process.
FISA is an essential tool for the protection of the safety of the American people. The Department of Justice and the FBI are committed to taking whatever steps are necessary to rectify the abuses that occurred and to ensure the integrity of the FISA process going forward.
No one is more dismayed about the handling of these FISA applications than Director Wray. I have full confidence in Director Wray and his team at the FBI, as well as the thousands of dedicated line agents who work tirelessly to protect our country. I thank the Director for the comprehensive set of proposed reforms he is announcing today, and I look forward to working with him to implement these and any other appropriate measures.
With respect to DOJ personnel discussed in the report, the Department will follow all appropriate processes and procedures, including as to any potential disciplinary action.”
Read Durham’s full statement:
“I have the utmost respect for the mission of the Office of Inspector General and the comprehensive work that went into the report prepared by Mr. Horowitz and his staff. However, our investigation is not limited to developing information from within component parts of the Justice Department. Our investigation has included developing information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S. Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened.”