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Washington – Sen. Richard Blumenthal on Wednesday pressed Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz about whether the FBI tried to entrap or wiretap the Trump campaign or spy on its operations.

Horowitz, the sole witness at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on his investigation into the FBI’s conduct in its probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, answered “no” to Blumenthal’s questions or referred the senator to the findings of his report.

“Is there any evidence that you found that the FBI tried to overthrow the presidency?” Blumenthal asked.

Horowitz responded “No. We found the issues…”

“The answer is ‘no,’” Blumenthal said.

President Donald Trump and his Republican allies have slammed the FBI over its investigation into the Trump campaign, a probe named “Crossfire Hurricane,” saying it was a shoddy, politically motivated affair.

On Wednesday, Trump repeated the accusation – echoed by Attorney General William Barr.

“They spied on my campaign!,” Trump tweeted.

In his report and during his congressional testimony on Wednesday, Horowitz said that while he found significant errors and omissions by the FBI during the course of its investigation, he uncovered no evidence of spying.

Still, GOP attacks on the FBI are escalating.

“The FBI also sent multiple undercover human spies to surveil and record people associated with our campaign,” Trump said at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania Tuesday. “They’ve destroyed the lives of people that were great people, that are still great people. Their lives have been destroyed by scum, okay, by scum.”

Blumenthal asked Horowitz if “the FBI put spies in the Trump campaign.”

“I’m going to speak to the terminology used at the department that we oversee, which is ‘confidential human sources,’” Horowitz answered. “We did not find evidence that the FBI sought to place confidential human sources in the campaign or plant them inside the campaign.”

Blumenthal asked Horowitz if he agreed with the president’s statements.

“I assume you would not agree with the characterization that the agents involved in this work on the investigation of the Russian attack on our democracy were ‘scum’ would you?”

“I would not call people names like that,” Horowitz replied.

Under questioning by Blumenthal, the inspector general also said that he showed Barr a copy of the report before it was released, but the attorney general made no changes to it. Horowitz said, however, that Barr “found a few typos and other things that he suggested we might want to think about.”

“I’ll say this,” Horowitz said. “My defense of our team and our work is we stand by the report. Nothing I’ve heard changes our view. The department, the attorney general, the deputy attorney general, the FBI director, whomever is free to disagree with my conclusions.”

Horowitz also said “I didn’t take the IG job to be popular and not to have my feelings hurt.”

However, during questioning by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Horowitz suggested it was improper for Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham to issue a statement Monday disagreeing with him about the basis of the Russia probe. Durham was selected by Barr to conduct his own investigation of the origins of the Russia investigation.

U.S. Attorney General John Durham

Both Durham and Barr indicated they disagree with Horowitz’s main finding: that the Russia investigation was legitimate based upon the known information.

“I was surprised by (Durham’s) statement,” Horowitz said.

He said, however, that Durham’s disagreement might be a narrow one. Horowitz said Durham told him in November that the evidence actually did support a preliminary investigation — but not the broader one the FBI launched.

“He said during the meeting that the information from the friendly foreign government was in his view sufficient to support the preliminary investigation,” Horowitz said.

But Horowitz also found evidence of FBI errors in applying for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests from federal courts that handle those applications.

“We found that members of the Crossfire Hurricane team failed to meet the basic obligation to ensure that the (Trump campaign aide) Carter Page FISA applications were ‘scrupulously accurate,’” Horowitz said. “We identified significant inaccuracies and omissions in each of the four applications: seven in the first FISA application and a total of 17 by the final renewal application.”

Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

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11 Comments

  1. Horowitz has been called to task by Attorney Durham & Attorney General Bill Barr. regarding his “assessments” It should be no surprise that Horowitz and Blumenthal are in “agreement.”

    1. The media latched onto certain snippets of ‘wordsmithing’ from the first day the report was released. Yesterday, we learned that much of what they were ‘claiming’ really wasn’t as they made it sound. We will likely learn more when IG Horowitz appears before another Senate Committee.

      I never expected too much from this IG. He has so little real investigative power and he strained to deflect attention from the top FBI people in the Sharyl Attkisson case as well as the Comey leak case. Some of the stuff is difficult to find from both but it is out there in actual news reports.

      Our Country’s hopes lie with AG BArr and Atty Durham, as well as the Senate (assuming the impeachment articles receive enough Democrat support). Let’s hope the Senate doesn’t simply dismiss the case and exposes all those involved from Day One of the all-out attempt to stop DJT.

      1. Incorrect. The majority, (remember, trump did not win the popular vote), of American’s hopes are not for a morally bankrupt administration to continue to embarrass this great nation on a global scale. The GOP has become the party of trump and will take years to gain back respectability and return to the party that gave us Reagan. The turn away from the right began in 2018 and will continue in 2020. We’ll re-visit this in a year.

      2. President Trump won the Presidency. Although the left started impeachment proceedings on the day we elected him and has for 3 years now refused to allow the peaceful and orderly transfer of power to occur. We won and a look at some reliable polling will NOT support your claims. The Obama, Bush Boys, Clinton etc. etc. clan have darn near destroyed this country and it has been a miracle we were granted a President willing and able to clean up the mess left and improve the lives of millions of Americans so quickly despite the rabid mob biting at his heels daily. Statistics done’t lie and the fact that the media lies, and withholds the truths, does not make them any less real. The embarrassment is the clan that places more importance on their “wants” than the “needs” & improvements in the lives of their countrymen.

  2. Horowitz has no subpoena power. He cannot force people to even come in and answer questions. He has no authority over those no longer under his jurisdiction. Unless someone actually says ‘we spied on him’ or ‘our bias led us to do this,” he can state he found no evidence, not that he concludes there was none.

    Beyond that, while IG Horowitz said he wouldn’t use the term ‘spying,’ he did call it ‘illegal surveillance.” He also stated he “could not reach a conclusion about what motivated the extensive FBI “errors” that all happened to enable unprecedented surveillance of a presidential campaign,’ not that he concluded there was no bias.He also stated he “understands why people are skeptical political bias “didn’t play” a role in FBI going after the Trump campaign”

    1. Either there is evidence or there isn’t. In a court of law, evidence is the deciding factor. You are speculating about something that just isn’t true. I understand that these “alternative facts” are becoming more and more prevalent within the GOP and the media beholden to trump but most Americans just don’t believe this fantasy. Facts do matter.

  3. When all the facts come out on this case, they will show more information because Horowitz is limited to people that are currently working for the government. AG Barr also put out information that refutes some of the facts in this report. I watched this whole hearing and many “facts” were clarified by many other senators questions and clarifications.

    1. Barr is acting as trump’s personal attorney, putting out statements that are not based on facts. Remember, just because these “facts” you refer to are parroted by the GOP and fox doesn’t make them true, no matter how many times they are repeated.

      1. Ella, you may put out all the democrat talking points you wish and your opinion is your opinion, not fact. This hearing was about the FISA warrants, not the impeachment debacle. If you listened to the whole hearing, you will hear the AG Horowitz did not say there was not bias, but he clearly stated he did not have testimony that backed his version of bias. Also, the AG also stated that they don’t call is spying, because he relates to a lawyer term of surveillance. If I listen to your conversations without you knowing, that is spying and you may call it whatever you want.

  4. I watched parts of the hearing and Horowitz had to correct Senator Blumenthal – Blumenthal corrected on FISA: ‘I’m not sure that’s entirely correct’ when he asked that the FISA warrants were producing useful information – implication is that they were not useful information. Can’t wait for Attorney Durham’s report – especially the subpoenas that he will issuing.

    1. Even if there are subpoenas issued, which I highly doubt, they will be ignored, just as the GOP has ignored the many subpoenas issued to compel them to testify during the impeachment inquiry. Turnabout is fair play, no?

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