Senate GOP Fear-Mongers About ‘Spying’ Ahead Of DOJ IG Testimony

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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Prominent Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee pre-gamed Wednesday’s hearing with appearances on cable news to hype President Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr’s “spying” assessment of the Russia report.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) made an appearance on Fox Business Network Wednesday morning to peddle accusations that the FBI spied on the Trump campaign, a conspiracy thoroughly debunked by the Justice Department inspector general’s report on the launch of the probe released Monday.

“The issue here isn’t just spying on the Trump campaign, there (are) a lot of constitutional rights that were compromised to get reasons from the court to spy on the Trump campaign. And if it could happen to Trump it could happen to you, Maria (Bartiromo), or anybody else in America,” Grassley said about the FISA application process. “There are civil liberties that are potentially violated because of the FBI having political opposition, at least the leaders of the FBI having, political opposition to the President and want to go keep him from being president even after he became president finding ways to get him thrown out of office.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) appeared on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” an hour later and didn’t even attempt to spin the findings of the report, instead taking a page from Barr’s book and outright disagreeing with the conclusions — that there were no political motivations behind the decision to launch the Russia probe.

“I think the real conclusion, when you read all the facts, I disagree with his final conclusion that political motivation didn’t play a role,” he said. “I think it’s clear the senior leadership there were hard Democratic partisans. The only way you justify sending in spies to spy on the Trump campaign when he is the Republican nominee for president. He is the leading contender on the Republican side and the FBI is sending in spies to spy on his campaign.”

The spin isn’t novel coming from Republicans, but it’s particularly notable for two sitting committee members to use in the hours before a public hearing with the Justice Department’s watchdog to peddle outright fake DOJ IG report conclusions.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz is testifying before the committees that Cruz and Grassley sit on on Wednesday to lay out the findings of his extensive review of the launch of the Russia probe. Horowitz poked holes in most of Republicans’ conspiracy theories about the launch of the probe, concluding the investigation was started properly and there was no political motive that influenced the scope or direction of the probe.

Horowitz did rail against the FBI in the report, however, for errors and omissions made in the FISA warrant application process when the agents wanted to surveil Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser on Trump 2016 campaign, because they believed he was in contact with Russia. Republicans have seized on that assessment as proof that the Russia probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election was invalid and political.

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