U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael Horowitz released a report on Monday Dec. 9, of FBI irregularities and abuses in order to spy on the campaign of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump in 2016.
Following the presentation, Attorney General William Barr explained how the report demonstrated the “misconduct” of “a small group of now-former FBI officials” during the Obama administration to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Act (FISA) warrant to watch over a member of Trump’s campaign.
The agents’ action reflected a “clear abuse of the FISA process,” Barr said in a statement.
The FISA warrant was requested with the excuse that people linked to Trump were colluding with Russia. This fact was denied from the outset by Trump and later refuted by the extensive and costly investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller.
Fox News analyst and legal commentator Gregg Jarrett stated that Inspector Horowitz’s 476-page document revealed two things:
- How and why the FBI initiated an investigation of then-candidate Donald Trump and his campaign in July 2016
- The decision to seek a FISA warrant to surveil a Trump campaign associate.
As for the first action, Barr noted: “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.”
However, the attorney general noted that the FBI “pushed forward” with its investigation even in the face of “consistently exculpatory” evidence.
Jarrett, who is the author of the New York Times best-selling book “The Russia Hoax: The Illicit Scheme to Clear Hillary Clinton and Frame Donald Trump,” explained that Barr is indeed convinced that the FBI “was wrong to investigate Trump and his campaign, because the evidence was conspicuously deficient.”
As for the second item, Barr condemned the same FBI officials who “misled the FISA court, omitted critical exculpatory facts from their filings, and suppressed or ignored information negating the reliability of their principal source.”
The principal source, Jarrett detailed, refers to the former British spy Christopher Steele.
Steele put together his dossier on the basis of rumors from supposedly anonymous sources.
“The FBI knew Steele was unreliable, yet the bureau vouched for him as credible. Evidence was concealed and the FISA Court was deceived,” Jarrett commented in his column titled “IG report reveals FBI misconduct and abuses in anti-Trump probe of Russia collusion hoax.”
Differences between Barr and the Horowitz report
Specifically, Michael Horowitz identified at least 17 significant errors of omission in the FBI’s request to monitor Trump Carter Page’s former campaign adviser.
However, Horowitz said the warrant application was “properly predicated,” according to Jarrett, who is a lawyer and was an adjunct professor of law.
The analyst explained that Barr differs in that regard from the inspector general because, he argues, the FISA court did not have the necessary evidence to issue the warrant.
He adds that Barr’s point of view is shared by John Durham, the Connecticut prosecutor who has been specially appointed by the attorney general to investigate the origins of the FBI’s Trump-Russia plot.
Which were the abuses of the FISA warrant
In his analysis of the report, Jarret details “some stunning revelations in the report that should trouble all Americans about how easy it is for the FBI to open an investigation of anyone and convince a FISA judge to permit court-sanctioned surveillance. “
“Lies and deception were the key,” he said, detailing that the FBI relied almost exclusively on Steele’s unsubstantiated dossier.
Indeed, Horowitz’s report found numerous cases in which the court received “inaccurate, incomplete or unfounded” information. These are some facts that the FBI knew but did not report to the court, according to Jarrett:
- Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee paid for Steele to prepare the dossier.
- Steele had lied in the past; he had an anti-Trump bias and his principal source was a “boaster” (who would even later question the dossier). “Instead, the FBI assured the court that the sub-source was truthful (…) when the FBI knew it was not,” Jarrett clarifies.
- An FBI lawyer manipulated evidence to create a false and negative impression of Carter Page that was then used for a FISA warrant.
- A Yahoo News article cited as an independent source also came from Steele.
- The evidence had not been corroborated and the subsource information had not been verified.
- There was exculpatory evidence that Page had previously assisted the U.S. government.
- The facts were manipulated to mislead the court,” Jarrett notes.
In that sense, the commentator clarifies that these are not mere “performance failures,” as the inspector general describes them.
“Collectively, they constitute a deliberate and successful effort to violate Page’s civil liberties and constitutional rights. The misuse of power was knowing and purposeful,” added Jarrett.
He details that the FBI “brazenly” told a FISA Court that Page was a spy, even though they knew he was not.
“This was a rampant, unconscionable abuse of the rule of law,” he said, stating, “the FBI invented probable cause where none existed. The true target was Donald Trump,” he said.
Indeed, there was never any credible evidence that Donald Trump was a Russian asset or that his campaign had participated in a criminal conspiracy of “collusion” with the Kremlin to win the 2016 presidential election.
“It was a pernicious lie and the dirtiest political trick ever perpetrated,” Jarrett said.
After reading the inspector general’s report, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called the FBI’s actions a “criminal enterprise” that ran off the rails.
Graham will question Horowitz Wednesday at a public hearing.