- Michael Horowitz, the inspector general of the Justice Department, will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday at 10 a.m.
- On Monday, he concluded that there was no political bias in the launch of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and any Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
- Download the free CBS News app to stream live coverage of the Horowitz hearing.
Washington — Although there were several procedural errors, the FBI was justified and lacked political bias when it launched its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, the Department of Justice inspector general (IG) found in a report published Monday.
Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department’s IG, will testify about his conclusions on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. The Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to question him about the FBI’s procedural errors discovered and analyzed by his team.
President Trump has accused the FBI of harboring a bias against him. Horowitz’s report was released as Mr. Trump faces the possibility of impeachment by House Democrats. On Tuesday, the House unveiled two articles of impeachment related to the president’s dealings with Ukraine.
The 434-page Horowitz report is based on more than 1 million documents from the Justice Department and the FBI as well as interviews with more than 100 witnesses.
Attorney General William Barr immediately challenged its findings.
“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,” he said in a statement.
FBI Director Christopher Wray, however, accepted the report’s findings and acknowledged that “certain FBI personnel” had failed to comply with the FBI’s policies and standards of conduct. He said he has “ordered more than 40 corrective steps to address the report’s recommendations.”
The Horowitz report isn’t the final word on the investigation. U.S. Attorney John Durham is leading a separate review of it, and Durham, too, questioned Horowitz’s conclusions.
“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,” Durham said in a statement.
Durham noted that his investigation includes information from other entities outside the Justice Department, “both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S.” Unlike the Horowitz or Mueller reports, Durham’s probe is a criminal investigation, which gives him the authority to issue subpoenas for witnesses and documents, and to call a grand jury.
Major conclusions from the IG report on Russia and Trump investigation
6:00 a.m.: The Justice Department IG’s report weighed in on several issues related to the launch of the FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia:
“We did not find any documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the FBI’s decision to conduct these operations.”
FBI employees’ political leanings
A June 2018 Justice Department inspector general report uncovered derogatory messages about Mr. Trump exchanged by FBI employees, but Horowitz also found text messages exchanged by FBI officials that reflect support for then-candidate Trump.
FBI ties to Trump campaign
Mr. Trump has accused the FBI of spying on his 2016 campaign.
While the FBI had “several” confidential sources with “either a connection to candidate Trump or a role in the Trump campaign,” Horowitz did not find evidence that the informants “ever reported any information collected from a meeting with Trump or a Trump campaign event.”
The report examined the procedures for obtaining and renewing a surveillance warrant for Carter Page, a Trump campaign aide.
Horowitz’s team found a total of 17 “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in the surveillance warrant applications and found that “the surveillance of Carter Page continued even as the FBI gathered information that weakened the assessment of probable cause and made the FISA applications less accurate.”
While Horowitz’s team “did not find documentary or testimonial evidence of intentional misconduct,” they also “did not receive satisfactory explanations for the errors or missing information.”
The report urges the FBI to “review the performance of all employees who had responsibility for the preparation, Woods review, or approval of the FISA application,” including “managers, supervisors and senior officials in the chain of command of the Carter Page investigation.”
The Steele Dossier
Horowitz probed the use of the so-called Steele dossier as justification for Page’s surveillance.
In September 2016, the FBI received reporting from former British spy Christopher Steele that FBI officials told Horowitz “‘pushed [the FISA proposal] over the line’ in terms of establishing probable cause.”
Steele was hired around June 2016 by Fusion GPS, a Washington-based investigative firm, to determine whether then-candidate Trump had any personal or business ties to Russia, as well as whether there were ties between the Russian government and the Trump campaign.
Because Fusion GPS had been retained by a law firm representing the Democratic National Committee, there were claims that his work was “opposition research” that was biased against Mr. Trump. But Steele said he initially didn’t know about Fusion’s ties to Democrats. And if he was politically biased in any direction, he said he was more likely to be “favorably disposed” toward the Trump family before beginning his research because he had “been friendly” with a member of the Trump family for several years.
Barr slams FBI and calls Russia investigation “completely baseless”
5:33 a.m.: After the release of the Justice Department watchdog’s report, which concluded that the FBI made procedural errors related to the applications for surveillance warrants, Attorney General William Barr blasted the federal agency and reiterated his criticism of the Russia investigation.
“I think that there were gross abuses of FISA [the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] and inexplicable behavior that is intolerable in the FBI,” he told NBC News Tuesday in his first interview since the report’s release.
The inspector general determined that the FBI had justified reasons for opening an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign’s ties to the foreign country. Still, Barr called the investigation, which resulted in what has been come to known as the Mueller report, “completely baseless.”
“I think our nation was turned on its head for three years based on a completely bogus narrative that was largely fanned and hyped by an irresponsible press,” he said.
Barr, however, claimed that he’s waiting for the conclusion of a criminal investigation being led by U.S. Attorney John Durham to determine whether the FBI had “improper motive” to investigate the Trump campaign.
Barr’s comments quickly drew criticism from Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“With this revisionist campaign to undermine a thorough, two-year IG investigation, the Attorney General is once again substituting partisan rhetoric for politically inconvenient facts,” Warner tweeted.
After IG report, Trump says FBI is “badly broken”
5:01 a.m.: President Trump told reporters that “the details of the [Horowitz] report are far worse than anything I would have imagined.” He said he’s looking forward to the release of Durham’s report, “which is this information plus plus plus.”
He also condemned the FBI director’s reaction to the report.
“I don’t know what report current Director of the FBI Christopher Wray was reading, but it sure wasn’t the one given to me. With that kind of attitude, he will never be able to fix the FBI, which is badly broken,” Mr. Trump tweeted on Tuesday.
He also tweeted quotes from Fox News hosts about how the report had found “serious performance failures” on the part of the FBI.
But in an interview with ABC News, Wray said that it was “important that the inspector general found that, in this particular instance, the investigation was opened with appropriate predication and authorization.”