A portion of Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on the FBI’s misconduct in surveilling the Trump campaign during the 2016 election went overlooked by many in the media on Wednesday, as Horowitz was able to make a critical distinction about political bias during different phases of the FBI’s investigation.
During his testimony, Horowitz repeatedly made a clear distinction that he was able to say with certainty that he found no evidence that the opening of the investigation was motivated by political bias, but that from that point on it became “murkier” with the way the FBI handled the FISAs to the point where political bias could not be ruled out.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) asked Horowitz, “Is it correct that you found no evidence that the investigation was motivated by anti-Trump or political bias, is that correct?”
“We found no evidence that the initiation of the investigation was motivated by political bias,” Horowitz answered before quickly adding, “It gets murkier — the question gets more challenging, senator, when you get to the FISA and when you get to the attorney’s actions, for example, in connection with that FISA.”
During an exchange with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, Horowitz revealed that political bias could not be ruled out as a reason why the FBI engaged in numerous instances of misconduct against the Trump campaign.
“They have a duty to report to their supervisors and the court exculpatory information?” Graham asked.
“Absolutely,” Horowitz answered.
“They did not?” Graham asked.
“They did not,” Horowitz replied.
“Why?” Graham asked.
“That’s the question I can’t specifically answer for you,” Horowitz answered.
“Can you say it wasn’t because of political bias?” Graham asked.
“On decisions regarding those FISA matters, I do not know their state of mind at this point,” Horowitz responded.
IG Michael Horowitz testifies that political bias did not motivate the *initiation* of the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign but that “it gets murkier” after that when dealing with the FISAs, adding he can’t rule out political bias in the FBI’s misconduct during the probe pic.twitter.com/aovq8U8mJC
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) December 12, 2019
1.Omitted information from another U.S. government agency detailing its prior relationship with Page, including that Page had been approved as an operational contact for the other agency from 2008 to 2013, and that Page had provided information to the other agency concerning his prior contacts with certain Russian intelligence officers, one of which overlapped with facts asserted in the FISA application;
2.Included a source characterization statement asserting that Steele’s prior reporting had been “corroborated and used in criminal proceedings,” which overstated the significance of Steele’s past reporting and was not approved by Steele’s FBI handling agent, as required by the Woods Procedures;
3.Omitted information relevant to the reliability of Person 1, a key Steele sub-source (who, as previously noted, was attributed with providing the information in Report 95 and some of the information in Reports 80 and 102 relied upon in the application), namely that (1) Steele himself told members of the Crossfire Hurricane team that Person 1 was a “boaster” and an “egoist” and “may engage in some embellishment” and (2) [redacted]
4.Asserted that the FBI had assessed that Steele did not directly provide to the press information in the September 23 Yahoo News article, based on the premise that Steele had told the FBI that he only shared his election-related research with the FBI and [Fusion GPS Founder Glenn] Simpson; this premise was factually incorrect (Steele had provided direct information to Yahoo News) and also contradicted by documentation in the Woods File-Steele had told the FBI that he also gave his information to the State Department;
5.Omitted Papadopoulos’s statements to an FBI CHS in September 2016 denying that anyone associated with the Trump campaign was collaborating with Russia or with outside groups like WikiLeaks in the release of emails;
6.Omitted Page’s statements to an FBI CHS [Confidential Human Source] in August 2016 that Page had “literally never met” or “said one word to” Paul Manafort and that Manafort had not responded to any of Page’s emails; if true, those statements were in tension with claims in Steele’s Report 95 that Page was participating in a “conspiracy” with Russia by acting as an intermediary for Manafort on behalf of the Trump campaign; and
7.Selectively included Page’s statements to an FBI CHS in October 2016 that the FBI believed supported its theory that Page was an agent of Russia but omitted other statements Page made, including denying having met with Sechin and Divyekin, or even knowing who Divyekin was; if true, those statements contradicted the claims in Steele’s Report 94 that Page had met secretly with Sechin and Divyekin about future cooperation with Russia and shared derogatory information about candidate Clinton.
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