Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz on Wednesday decried a “failure” of the FBI’s “entire chain of command” in its handling of Crossfire Hurricane counterintelligence investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign.
Horowitz testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee concerning the newly released IG report that while the FBI followed proper protocol in opening Crossfire Hurricane, FBI and DOJ officials failed in multiple instances to adhere department policy in obtaining a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant to surveil Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
“We are deeply concerned that so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate, hand-picked investigative teams; on one of the most sensitive FBI investigations; after the matter had been briefed to the highest levels within the FBI; even though the information sought through the use of FISA authority related so closely to an ongoing presidential campaign; and even though those involved with the investigation knew that their actions were likely to be subjected to close scrutiny,” Horowitz said in his opening statement.
“We believe this circumstance reflects a failure not just by those who prepared the FISA applications, but also by the managers and supervisors in the Crossfire Hurricane chain of command, including FBI senior officials who were briefed as the investigation progressed.”
Horowitz explained to lawmakers his office did not expect senior leaders to know every detail of the investigation.
“We believe that in the FBI’s most sensitive and high priority matters, and especially when seeking court permission to use an intrusive tool such as a FISA order, it is incumbent upon the entire chain of command at the organization, including senior officials, to take the necessary steps to ensure that they are sufficiently familiar with the facts and circumstances supporting and potentially undermining a FISA application in order to provide effective oversight consistent with their level of supervisory responsibility,” he said.
IG Horowitz referred the ENTIRE chain of command of Obama’s FBI for further investigation
— Elizabeth Harrington (@LizRNC) December 11, 2019
“That is why as you’ll see in the report, our final recommendation was to refer the entire chain of command that we outline here to the FBI and the Department [of Justice] for consideration of how to assess and address their performance failures,” Horowitz added.
He further related that the Crossfire Hurricane team “failed to meet the basic obligation to ensure that the Carter Page FISA applications were ‘scrupulously accurate.’”
“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,” Horowitz said.
He noted one of the major failings was not revealing to the court information the FBI had access to casting doubt on the reliability of dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele for the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign, which was used to obtain the FISA warrant.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham questioned Horowitz — who was appointed to his current post by then-President Barack Obama in 2012 — whether the IG report on FISA abuse vindicates former FBI Director James Comey.
“The activities we found here don’t vindicate anybody who touched this,” Horowitz answered.
Graham: “The former FBI director James @Comey said this week that your report vindicates him. Is that a fair assessment of your report?”
Horowitz: “The activities we found here don’t vindicate anybody who touched this.”
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) December 11, 2019
Graham then quoted Comey from a December 2018 interview, during which the former FBI head said, “I think the notion that FISA was abused here is nonsense.”
Asked if he took issue with Comey’s statement, Horowitz responded, “Certainly our findings were that there were significant problems with the FISA.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.