Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz is set to testify Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee on his findings regarding alleged surveillance abuse during the 2016 election.
Horowitz’s report, released Monday, found that the FBI’s decision to open a probe into Trump campaign associates was not motivated by political bias. Still, the watchdog found “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in the FBI’s application to the secretive court created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) as part of its efforts to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
The report opened up a high-profile split within the Department of Justice (DOJ), and Horowitz’s dual findings have allowed lawmakers to cherry-pick their talking points, a dynamic that is expected to be on display during the hearing Wednesday. Democrats say the report shut down a conspiracy theory that the Trump campaign was “spied” on, while Republicans believe it backs up their assertion that the FBI abused its power.
Follow The Hill’s live coverage below.
Hearing wraps up
The Senate Judiciary Committee wrapped its hearing with Horowitz after roughly six hours.
Panel Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamInspector general testifies on FBI failures: Five takeaways Horowitz offers troubling picture of FBI’s Trump campaign probe Conservatives rip FBI over IG report: ‘scathing indictment’ MORE (R-S.C.) used his closing remarks to thank Horowitz but also to knock the FBI’s investigation into Trump campaign associates.
“After it was opened it became a nightmare. It became something that can never happen again. It became over time a criminal conspiracy to defraud the court,” he said.
— Jordain Carney
Booker skips Horowitz hearing
Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerThe Hill’s Morning Report – Sponsored by AdvaMed – House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Julián Castro jabs ICE: ‘Delete your account’ Booker campaign unveils bilingual training program for Nevada caucus MORE (D-N.J.), who is running for his party’s presidential nomination, did not attend the Judiciary Committee hearing with Horowitz.
Booker is one of two presidential candidates who serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee. The other, Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharThe Hill’s Morning Report – Sponsored by AdvaMed – House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Democrats seek leverage for trial Horowitz offers troubling picture of FBI’s Trump campaign probe MORE (D-Minn.), returned to Washington to question Horowitz, though she did not stay for the entire hearing.
Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisThe Hill’s Morning Report – Sponsored by AdvaMed – House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Julián Castro jabs ICE: ‘Delete your account’ Pelosi endorses Christy Smith in bid to replace Katie Hill MORE (D-Calif.), who ended her presidential campaign last week, also attended the hearing, questioning Horowitz on Attorney General Bill Barr and Trump’s actions toward Ukraine.
A spokesman for Booker didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
— Jordain Carney
Kennedy: ‘Someone’s got to be fired’
Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) told Horowitz that “someone’s got to be fired” within FBI leadership based on the inspector general report.
“After about 15 percent of the way through [the report] it made me want to heave, after about 25 percent of the way through I thought I’d dropped acid. It’s surreal,” Kennedy said.
Asked by Kennedy how many people involved in the investigation were still working for the FBI, Horowitz responded “the higher level people, as you know, have changed over in the last year — a lot of people at the upper levels,” but “some of the agents are still there.”
Asked for details on who was still working on the government payroll, Horowitz responded, “I would encourage you to speak to the FBI about that.”
“I think we will,” Kennedy responded, adding, “it’s easier to divorce your spouse around here than it is to get fired, at least at the FBI.”
Kennedy went on to ask Horowitz how long it had been known within the FBI “the fact that there was a major-league screwup here.”
“It evolved over time …they did not know a lot of this until we found it,” Horowitz responded.
“I hope you’ll tell your colleagues at the FBI that we appreciate their work, but this has got to be fixed. At minimum, someone’s got to be fired,” Kennedy said.
— Zack Budryk
Horowitz says he and other watchdogs have discussed Ukraine-related matters
Horowitz said that he and other department inspectors general (IGs) have had “discussions generally” about Ukraine-related matters.
Horowitz was asked specifically if he and other IGs had discussed President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill’s Morning Report – Sponsored by AdvaMed – House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Democrats worried by Jeremy Corbyn’s UK rise amid anti-Semitism Warren, Buttigieg duke it out in sprint to 2020 MORE‘s now-famous phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky, where the Trump asked him to work with Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiThe Hill’s Morning Report – Sponsored by AdvaMed – House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Horowitz offers troubling picture of FBI’s Trump campaign probe Horowitz: ‘Very concerned’ about FBI leaks to Giuliani MORE to “look into” former Vice President Biden and Hunter Biden.
“We’ve had discussions generally … about generally Ukraine related matters and discussions generally,” Horowitz said.
Pressed if they had discussions specifically about the July phone call, Horowitz said he needed to refresh his memory because he had been focused on preparing to defend his surveillance report.
Horowitz also said he is not currently investigating Ukraine-related matters but that he had also not specifically ruled out an investigation.
“As I think [was] mentioned in a recent letter, and I’ve been in touch with fellow IGs who have been asked by members to look at those issues,” he said.
Horowitz stressed that he did not know if another IG was currently running their own Ukraine investigation.
— Jordain Carney
Harris pushes Horowitz to probe Barr ‘misconduct’
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), returning to the Senate after ending her presidential campaign, pressed Horowitz to look into “misconduct” by Attorney General Bill Barr.
“You have the power and the duty to investigate misconduct committed by the attorney general of the United States who is doing the bidding of the president to undermine our intelligence community,” Harris told Horowitz.
She appeared to be referring to Barr’s decision to have the Justice Department investigate the origins of the Russia probe.
Horowitz noted that under current law the DOJ IG can’t investigate misconduct by DOJ lawyers, including the attorney general. He specifically said he would support legislation that would get rid of that carve out.
— Jordain Carney
Horowitz says none of his findings contradicted Mueller report
Under questioning by Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoHorowitz offers troubling picture of FBI’s Trump campaign probe Live coverage: DOJ inspector general testifies on Capitol Hill Democrats rip Barr over IG statement: ‘Mouthpiece’ for Trump MORE (D-Hawaii), Horowitz confirmed that nothing in his findings contradicted special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump says he’ll release financial records before election, knocks Dems’ efforts House impeachment hearings: The witch hunt continues Speier says impeachment inquiry shows ‘very strong case of bribery’ by Trump MORE’s report or public comments made by FBI Director Christopher Wray.
Citing testimony by former National Security Council official Fiona Hill that Russia was poised to interfere in the 2020 presidential election — as well as Wray saying there was no evidence Ukraine engaged in systemic election-meddling in 2016 — Hirono asked if Horowitz uncovered any contradictory evidence.
“We didn’t see any such evidence, but I emphasize that was not the purpose of our review,” Horowitz said.
“I know that Senators Leahy and Klobuchar asked you about this but I want to make it clear: Is there anything in your report that calls into question the conclusion of the Mueller report that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion?” Hirono asked.
“No,” Horowitz responded.
“And of course you all know that the Mueller investigation resulted in 37 indictments and six convictions of Trump associates. Is there anything in your report that calls into question special counsel Mueller’s conclusion that the Trump campaign not only knew about Russia’s interference but they encouraged it and they expected to benefit electorally from it?”
“No,” Horowitz replied again.
— Zack Budryk
Horowitz says no evidence anyone wiretapped besides Page
Horowitz said his inquiry found no evidence that the FBI wiretapped anyone other than Carter Page, when asked about President Trump’s past claims that former President Obama had his “wires tapped” in 2016.
“We didn’t find any evidence the FBI had tapped any other phones or anything else other than the FISA that we addressed,” Horowitz said under questioning from Sen. Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsDOJ inspector general refutes Trump claim that Obama tapped his wires Live coverage: DOJ inspector general testifies on Capitol Hill The real US patent ‘crisis’ MORE (D-Del.).
Trump tweeted in March 2017: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”
— Morgan Chalfant
Sasse says focus should shift away from 2016 election ‘that will never die’
Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseLive coverage: DOJ inspector general testifies on Capitol Hill FCC votes to bar use of its funds to purchase Huawei, ZTE equipment Senate approves stopgap bill to prevent shutdown MORE (R-Neb.) argued the fallout of the inspector general’s report should be more focused on guarding against future election interference than re-litigating the events of 2016.
Sasse expressed concerns that the FBI’s misuse of the FISA program outlined in the report could undermine faith in the bureau when investigating future interference.
He cautioned that mistrust in institutions like the FBI could be problematic as foreign interference campaigns become more complex.
“The real debate we should be having… is not fundamentally about making this month 48 or month 49 of the 2016 presidential election that will never die,” Sasse said. “We should be having an advanced conversation about 2024, 2028 and 2032 when China with deepfakes runs influence operations against us that are going to be far more sophisticated and far more dangerous than this.”
“If the bureau functions this poorly during a moment like this, when we actually have a really sophisticated attack against the U.S., we’re going to have a much, much bigger problem,” he said.
— Brett Samuels
Sasse on IG report: I’ve said for years that ‘stuff just like this couldn’t possibly happen’
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) during his questioning of Horowitz, suggested that the report had proved his GOP colleague and fellow committee member Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeThe Hill’s Morning Report – Sponsored by AdvaMed – House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Inspector general testifies on FBI failures: Five takeaways Conservatives rip FBI over IG report: ‘scathing indictment’ MORE (Utah) right in his skepticism of the federal government’s surveillance powers.
“I wish Mike Lee weren’t sitting here two people from me right now, because as a national security hawk, I’ve argued with Mike Lee in the four-and-a-half or five years that I’ve been in the Senate that stuff just like this couldn’t possibly happen at the FBI and at the Department of Justice,” Sasse said, as Lee visibly smiled in response.
“So as someone who is embarrassed on behalf of the FBI about your report… because I believe that it is critically important that we have the FISA statute. I think the FISC is an incredibly important court. The approval ratings of applications that come before the FISC are off the charts,” he added.
“Why would it be that high, people would normally say?” Sasse asked hypothetically, saying “the good answer” would be that “the assumption would be if you can’t be there to defend yourself it’s because the department’s lawyers are so super-scrupulous that if there’s any information that might exonerate you… they would say the bar is so high here we’ll always err on the side of privacy unless we believe there’s a good reason to open an investigation.”
“Mike Lee has warned me for four-and-a-half years the potential for abuse in this space is terrible and I constantly defended the integrity and the professionalism of the bureau and of the department that you couldn’t have something like this happen,” Sasse said.
— Zack Budryk
Trump claims FBI ‘spied’ on his campaign
President Trump asserted on Twitter that the FBI “spied” on his campaign as the hearing was going on.
“They spied on my campaign!” Trump wrote, sharing a tweet from Geraldo Rivera claiming there was an “informal cabal” within the FBI “dedicated to taking down” Trump.
During the hearing, Horowitz declined to use the word “spying,” instead calling it “illegal” or “unauthorized” surveillance.
Horowitz did not find that the FBI engaged in illegal or unauthorized surveillance on the Trump campaign, though his report harshly criticized the FBI for its handling of a warrant application to surveil Page.
— Morgan Chalfant
Horowitz backs Mueller conclusions
Under questioning from Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Horowitz said that his report did not take issue with any aspect of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
Horowitz was specifically asked whether his report calls into question Russia’s systemic interference in the 2016. He replied that it didn’t.
Horowitz also said that his report did not call into question Mueller’s conclusion that the Trump campaign welcomed and perceived it would benefit from Russian interference efforts.
“We don’t take issue with any part of the special counsel’s report,” Horowitz said.
Mueller did not charge anyone connected to the campaign of conspiring with Russia, a point Horowitz affirmed under later questioning from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
— Morgan Chalfant
Cruz: FBI probe ‘was Beavis and Butthead’
Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Defense: House passes compromise defense bill | Turkey sanctions advance in Senate over Trump objections | Top general says military won’t be ‘raping, burning and pillaging’ after Trump pardons Lies, damned lies and impeachable lies Conservatives rip FBI over IG report: ‘scathing indictment’ MORE (R-Texas) earned laughs from audience members when he compared the FBI’s investigation into Trump associates to “Beavis and Butthead.”
Cruz said that if someone within the FBI or Justice Department had tried to open an investigation into a rival presidential campaign when he was working for DOJ someone would have asked “what in the hell are we doing?”
“When I was at DOJ if someone said ‘Let’s tap Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats seek leverage for trial Davis: Trump vs. Clinton impeachments – the major differences Sharice Davids to vote for Trump impeachment articles: ‘The facts are uncontested’ MORE,’ or ‘Let’s tap Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonParties clash as impeachment articles move closer to House vote USA Today editorial board calls for Trump’s impeachment House’s proposed impeachment articles are serious grounds to remove the president MORE or John KerryJohn Forbes KerryConservatives rip FBI over IG report: ‘scathing indictment’ Live coverage: DOJ inspector general testifies on Capitol Hill Mellman: Looking to Iowa MORE,’ the people would have said what in the hell are you talking about? This wasn’t Jason Bourne. This was Beavis and Butthead,” Cruz continued.
— Jordain Carney
GOP rips FBI over watchdog report
GOP senators, including Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Mike Lee (Utah) and Ted Cruz (Texas) hammered the FBI over Horowitz’s findings on surveillance of Trump campaign associates during the 2016 election.
“This is report is a scathing indictment of the FBI, of the agents that were involved,” Lee said.
Lee specifically called out former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyInspector general testifies on FBI failures: Five takeaways Horowitz offers troubling picture of FBI’s Trump campaign probe GOP senator to FBI: ‘Someone’s got to be fired’ MORE, who had responded to the report in a Washington Post op-ed, saying that it disproved declarations from Trump and his allies that the FBI “spied” on the Trump campaign and engaged in wrongdoing.
“There is no planet on which I think this report indicates that things were okay within the FBI in connection within this investigation … and yet stunningly former FBI director Jim Comey took to the pages of the Washington Post to declare that this report, your report, shows that the FBI fulfilled its mission,” Lee said.
— Jordain Carney
Horowitz: Steele dossier ‘had no impact’ on opening of probe
Under questioning from Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinJulián Castro jabs ICE: ‘Delete your account’ Watchdog: Steele dossier ‘had no impact’ on opening of 2016 probe Horowitz: ‘Very concerned’ about FBI leaks to Giuliani MORE (D-Ill.), Horowitz affirmed that the dossier prepared by former British spy Christopher Steele did not prompt the original FISA warrant.
“Can we speak for a moment to the Steele dossier, the Steele file in this case? I believe you have a pretty definitive statement on what impact that had on the initiation of that investigation. What was your conclusion?” Durbin asked.
“In terms of the initiation of the investigation, it had no impact,” Horowitz responded. “It was not known to the team that opened the investigation at the time they opened it.”
“So you’ve concluded in several different ways that there’s no evidence of political influence for the opening of this Crossfire Hurricane investigation,” Durbin said, with Horowitz responding ion the affirmative.
Durbin also asked Horowitz about a bill sponsored by himself and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) that would give the inspector general’s (IG) office the authority to investigate DOJ attorneys, saying “it seems to me to be obvious” that they should have that authority.
“Do you know what the theory is behind their being separate?” he asked Horowitz.
“This is a legacy of history, back in 1988 when the IG was created at justice the compromise was that attorneys would be carved out, and we would have jurisdiction over everybody else,” Horowitz responded, noting that the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration were once similarly carved out before then-Attorney General John Ashcroft brought them under one umbrella in 2002.
“We’re the only IG that can’t review conduct of all the employees in our organization, including attorneys,” Horowitz said.
— Zack Budryk
Durbin takes a jab at Giuliani
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) took a jab at Rudy Giuliani as he questioned Horowitz, noting that the former New York mayor claims to be Trump’s personal lawyer and “occasionally the president acknowledges that.”
“Mr. Giuliani now professes to be President Trump’s lawyer and occasionally the president acknowledges that, sometimes he doesn’t,” Durbin said.
In October, Trump was asked on Fox News if Giuliani still represents him.
“There is some confusion as to whether or not you still consider him your attorney. Is he your attorney?” host Jeanine Pirro asked the president.
“Yes, and he’s a great gentleman, he was a great mayor, one of the greatest, maybe the greatest mayor in the history of New York,” Trump responded. “He was a fantastic prosecutor, I know nothing about him being under investigation…I can’t imagine it.”
Durbin also asked Horowitz if there were “any concerns” that Giuliani is continuing to “improperly obtain” information from law enforcement sources. Horowitz said that he was not investigating matters related to Ukraine, which he believed Durbin was referring to.
Horowitz reiterated to Durbin that they are “looking at that question” of leaks between the FBI’s New York office and Giuliani.
“We’re trying to follow up. We’re continuing to do that,” he said.
Horowitz stressed that the problem of investigating potential leaks is “proving who spoke to whom and when … and understanding that there is rarely going to be substantive information we will get.”
— Jordain Carney
Horowitz won’t speculate on whether court would have approved FISA application with new info
Horowitz declined to say whether he believed the FISA court would have approved the warrant to surveil Page if it knew now what the inspector general knew today.
“We are careful not to predict what federal judges would do,” Horowitz told Sen. John CornynJohn CornynLive coverage: DOJ inspector general testifies on Capitol Hill Hillicon Valley: Apple, Facebook defend encryption during Senate grilling | Tech legal shield makes it into trade deal | Impeachment controversy over phone records heats up | TikTok chief cancels Capitol Hill meetings Apple, Facebook defend encryption during Senate grilling MORE (R-Tex.). “I know that they would not sign a warrant if they were told all relevant information was not included in it.”
Horowitz also agreed a judge would not sign such a warrant if they were “lied” to.
The inspector general said that the court has been given a “follow-on” letter about the inquiry’s findings.
— Morgan Chalfant
Hearing breaks for Senate vote
Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is recessing the hearing so senators can attend a previously scheduled vote and grab lunch.
The hearing, according to Graham, will recess for roughly a half hour.
— Jordain Carney
Leahy highlights Barr decision to publicly challenge report on TV
Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyHorowitz offers troubling picture of FBI’s Trump campaign probe Horowitz: ‘We found no bias’ in decision to open probe Horowitz: ‘Very concerned’ about FBI leaks to Giuliani MORE (D-Vt.) took aim at the decision by Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrInspector general testifies on FBI failures: Five takeaways Budowsky: Would John McCain back impeachment? Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen asks judge to reduce sentence MORE to publicly contest Horowitz’s findings during his line of questioning, highlighting how Barr deviated from the process of submitting a statement of disagreement for the report and instead did a television interview.
Leahy asked Horowitz whether it is the general practice of the Justice Department to provide a written statement to publish along with the report, in the event that officials disagreed with details laid out in the watchdog’s report.
“That is correct,” said Horowitz, who noted that they would’ve tacked that onto the report prior to its release.
“How many IG reports under your name include, involved the Justice Department arguing that it in fact committed more misconduct than your investigation uncovered?” Leahy asked.
“I don’t recall that happening before,” Horowitz replied.
“I will tell you right now, none. None,” Leahy continued. “That is why I found it very unusual that Attorney General Barr didn’t send you anything to go into the report, he just went to the television cameras to talk about it.”
Leahy sought to point out how Horowitz has had relatively little pushback on his previous reports, saying he had his staff check roughly 800 IG reports that have been filed during Horowitz’s tenure and that they only found three dozen or so in which something was contested.
Barr in an interview with NBC News on Tuesday contested findings in the report on the origins of the Russia probe while repeating his claim that members of the Trump campaign in 2016 were “spied upon.”
He also issued a written statement saying that the FBI should not have opened the 2016 Russia investigation in 2016.
“The F.B.I. 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.
— Olivia Beavers
Horowitz: ‘Very concerned’ about FBI leaks to Giuliani
Horowitz said that he is “very concerned” about leaks from FBI field offices to Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, and other individuals.
Asked by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) about the appearance that Giuliani was getting “highly sensitive leaks” from the FBI’s New York field office, Horowitz noted that unauthorized leaks were under investigation.
“As we noted publicly last year in our report, we were very concerned about that,” Horowitz said.
“We are investigating those contacts. We’ve issued a couple of public summaries so far about people we’ve found violated FBI policy. We have other investigations ongoing,” Horowitz continued.
He added that, while it has been hard to prove the substance of conversations between FBI and reporters or outside individuals, “we can prove the contacts.”
“Under FBI policy you need authorization if you’re going to disclose information and have certain contacts,” he said.
Former FBI Director James Comey told a House committee last year that he was concerned the FBI’s New York field office was leaking to Giuliani.
“I was concerned that there appeared to be in the media a number of stories that might have been based on communications reporters or non-reporters like Rudy Giuliani were having with people in the New York field office,” Comey testified at the time.
— Jordain Carney
Horowitz: Question about political bias gets ‘murkier’ on warrant applications
Asked by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) if the DOJ inspector general’s office found “no evidence that the investigation was motivated by anti-Trump or political bias,” Horowitz stressed that they found no evidence of political bias in the initial decision to open the probe.
“We found no evidence that the initiation of the investigation was motivated by political bias. It gets murkier—the question gets more challenging, senator—when you get to the FISA,” Horowitz said.
“When you get to the attorney’s actions, for example, in connection with that FISA,” Horowitz added.
Horowitz appeared to be referring to Kevin Clinesmith, a front-line lawyer. Clinesmith, according to the OIG report, altered an email related to the warrant renewal application.
– Jordain Carney
Horowitz did not find evidence Obama asked for probe of Trump
Horowitz told Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSenate confirms Trump’s 50th circuit judge, despite ‘not qualified’ rating Inspector general testifies on FBI failures: Five takeaways Pelosi endorses Christy Smith in bid to replace Katie Hill MORE (D-Calif.) that he was not aware of any evidence that former President Obama asked his administration to investigate then-candidate Trump.
“We certainly didn’t see any evidence of that in the FBI’s files or the department’s files,” Horowitz said.
Trump has claimed without evidence that his predecessor wiretapped his phones in Trump Tower, and has in recent months alluded to the possibility that Obama was aware of the surveillance of his campaign.
“They were spying on my campaign and it went right to the top and everybody knows it,” Trump said in an interview last month.
Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyThe Hill’s Morning Report – Sponsored by AdvaMed – House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Horowitz did not find evidence Obama asked for probe of Trump Live coverage: DOJ inspector general testifies on Capitol Hill MORE (R-Iowa) later asked Horowitz if Obama specifically was aware of the counterintelligence investigation.
“I don’t know the answer to that definitively,” Horowitz said. “Our authority was over the FBI.”
Horowitz weighs in on whistleblower protections, political investigations
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) veered slightly from the report to ask Horowitz about matters related to impeachment proceedings taking place in the House.
Feinstein asked Horowitz for his views on whistleblowers and politically motivated investigations after a whistleblower complaint sparked the impeachment inquiry into President Trump’s conduct toward Ukraine.
Trump and several Republicans have called for the author of the anonymous whistleblower complaint to be identified. The complaint raised concerns that Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rivals to testify publicly.
“Whistleblowers have a right to expect complete, full confidentiality in all circumstances,” Horowitz said, calling it a “very important provision.”
Horowitz added that “any politically motivated investigation undermines the rule of law.”
Horowitz: ‘We found no bias’
Under questioning from ranking member Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), Horowitz affirmed that the investigation was launched with an adequate predicate and that the probe discovered no institutional bias but declined to specifically say it found no “deep state conspiracy” against Trump when prompted.
“The predicate here was the information that the FBI got at the end of July  from the friendly foreign government that reflected a meeting that the friendly foreign government had with [Trump campaign aide George] Papadopoulos in May,” Horowitz told Feinstein when asked for details of the predicate.
Asked by Feinstein which specific government was involved, Horowitz replied, “We don’t mention that in the report,” adding “that is, my understanding is, still classified… I’m only going to speak to what’s in our report.”
“Your report states you didn’t find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation played a role,” Feinstein said.
“That’s correct,” Horowitz responded.
“And you didn’t find a ‘deep state’ conspiracy against candidate or President Trump,” Feinstein continued.
“We found no bias,” Horowitz said.
“And no rationale for a deep state?” Feinstein prompted.
“We did not find any evidence of having engaged in any bias or having any bias,” Horowitz replied.
– Zack Budryk
Horowitz ‘surprised’ by Durham decision to issue a statement disagreeing with finding
Horowitz told Feinstein that he discussed his findings with John DurhamJohn DurhamInspector general testifies on FBI failures: Five takeaways DOJ watchdog: Durham said ‘preliminary’ FBI Trump probe was justified Live coverage: DOJ inspector general testifies on Capitol Hill MORE, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut leading the Justice Department’s separate Russia inquiry, and that those talks did not change their conclusions.
“None of the discussions changed our findings here,” Horowitz said.
The inspector general also said that he was “surprised” by Durham’s decision to issue a statement Monday disagreeing with his conclusion as to the predicate of the FBI investigation.
“I was surprised by the statement, I didn’t necessarily know it was going to be released on Monday,” Horowitz said.
Horowitz said that Durham told him at a meeting in November that he did not agree that the FBI was justified in launching a full counterintelligence investigation but that he believed the bureau would have been justified in opening a preliminary investigation, which is different.
“He said during the meeting that the information from the friendly foreign government was in his view sufficient to support” the opening of a preliminary investigation, Horowitz said.
– Morgan Chalfant
Horowitz avoids saying FBI was ‘spying’ on Trump campaign
Horowitz repeatedly avoided saying the FBI spied on Trump campaign associates despite several attempts by panel Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to push him on the subject.
Asked if the FBI spied on the Trump campaign during a defensive briefing, Horotiwz said the FBI was using the briefing with the campaign as a “pre-text meeting” to both brief them and gather information.
“The incident, the event, the meeting, was a briefing and the FBI considered and decided to sent that agent there to do the briefing. So the agent was actually doing the briefing, but also using it for the purpose of investigation,” Horowitz said.
Asked if at some point the Page surveillance became unlawful, Horowitz said that it would be left up to the courts to determine. Pressed if hypothetically the FBI didn’t have a legal foundation to surveil someone if it would be “bad,” Horowitz replied “absolutely.”
Asked if that was spying, Horowitz hesitated. saying it was “illegal surveillance.”
Horowitz repeated during questioning from committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that the FBI did not place a source within the Trump campaign.
— Jordain Carney
Horowitz says subsequent Page warrant applications ‘misleading to the court’
Horowitz, under questioning from Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), said he would have not submitted the follow-up FISA warrant applications as they were written by the FBI. The FBI obtained a FISA warrant on Page in October of 2016 and renewed the wiretap three subsequent times.
Asked if he would have submitted the second and third warrant applications, Horowitz said that he “would not have submitted the one they put in. No doubt about it.”
“It had no business going in,” Horowitz said.
Pressed by Graham if the FBI was lying to the FISA court during the warrant application process, Horowitz said “it was misleading to the court.”
Horowitz also appeared to indicate that he did not believe Page was treated fairly, saying he didn’t “think the Justice Department fairly treated these FISAs, and he was on the receiving end.”
— Jordain Carney
Horowitz says his report doesn’t ‘vindicate anybody’
Horowitz said that his report did not vindicate anyone, when asked by Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) about FBI Director James Comey.
“I think the activities we found don’t vindicate anybody who touched this,” Horowitz said.
Comey had responded to the report in a Washington Post op-ed, saying that it disproved declarations from Trump and his allies that the FBI “spied” on the Trump campaign and engaged in wrongdoing.
“The FBI fulfilled its mission — protecting the American people and upholding the U.S. Constitution. Now those who attacked the FBI for two years should admit they were wrong,” Comey wrote.
— Morgan Chalfant
Horowitz: ‘Basic and fundamental errors’ in FBI’s probe
Horowitz said that his review of the FBI’s investigation found “basic and fundamental errors” and made nine separate recommendations to help the DOJ and FBI avoid “similar failures in future investigations.”
“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,” Horowitz told lawmakers.
He added that while he did not find evidence of “intentional misconduct,” they also “did not receive satisfactory explanations for the errors or missing information.”
Horowitz said the DOJ inspector general’s office was also conducting an audit to examine the FBI’s compliance in FISA applications moving forward.
— Jordain Carney
Feinstein: FBI probe ‘motivated by facts, not bias’
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, began her opening remarks by highlighting findings from the inspector general’s report that have refuted talking points from President Trump and his allies.
“I assume there is no time limit,” she quipped as she began, after a lengthy opening statement from Graham. “I won’t take a long time.”
Feinstein emphasized that Horowitz “found no evidence that political or anti-Trump bias was at play,” reading directly from his report.
That conclusion was important, she said, because it “conclusively” refuted Trump’s claims about the investigation that he has used to “dismiss” the Russia probe.
“There is no ‘deep state.’ Simply put, the FBI investigation was motivated by facts, not bias,” Feinstein said.
The California Democrat also stressed that Horowitz found the investigation was adequately predicated, and that the so-called Steele dossier played no role in the decision to open the investigation.
Feinstein acknowledged that the report described “several errors” that were made by Justice Department and FBI personnel in applying for a warrant to surveil Page.
She went on to criticize Attorney General William Barr for issuing a statement disagreeing with Horowitz’s conclusion that the investigation had an adequate predicate, calling it an “attack” on the bureau.
“It’s really extraordinary that the attorney general continues to make unsupported attacks on the agency he is responsible for leading,” Feinstein said.
— Morgan Chalfant
Graham says FISA court needs to be reformed after Horowitz findings
Judiciary panel Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) warned the FISA court needs to be reformed in the wake of Horowitz’s findings, or that it could risk losing his support.
“If the court doesn’t take corrective action and do something about being manipulated and lied to, you will lose my support,” Graham said as he finished his initial comments.
Graham said that while he would “hate to lose the ability for the FISA court to operate at a time probably when we need it most. But after your report, I have serious concerns about whether the FISA court can continue unless there’s fundamental reform.”
Graham did not specify what reforms he is calling for in the wake of Horowitz’s findings but said he wanted “the rules of how you start a counterintelligence investigation” to be rewritten and more “checks and balances.”
Horowitz, in his opening statement, reported a total of 17 “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in the FBI’s FISA applications to monitor Page. That included seven in their first warrant application.
— Jordain Carney
Graham: Steele dossier ‘a bunch of crap’
Graham knocked former MI6 agent Christopher Steele, who compiled the controversial research dossier against then-Candidate Trump, calling him “biased.”
“This guy is biased. He’s got an ax to grind. He’s on the payroll of the opposing party. Take anything he says with a grain of salt,” Graham said.
Graham, at one point, held up the so-called Steele dossier, creating a frenzy of camera clicks from photographers in the hearing room.
Graham noted that if you read the Steele dossier you would initially think “got something on Donald Trump” but “it is stunning, it is damning, it is salacious and it’s a bunch of crap.”
Republicans have seized on the dossier for years. Horowitz, as part of his report, found “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in the FBI’s application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA court) to monitor Carter Page, some of them related to the FBI’s assertions or omissions regarding information they received the dossier.
— Jordain Carney
Graham tees off on FBI officials: ‘These are a few bad people’
Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tore into FBI officials linked to the Russia probe, including former agency lawyer Lisa Page and former agent Peter Strzok, as well as Kevin Clinesmith, questioning why they were involved in the FBI’s investigation.
“Folks, if these are a few irregularities, the rule of law in this country is dead. These are not a few irregularities, these are a few bad people,” Graham said.
Graham read several text messages between Page and Strzok, as well as a text messages from Clinesmith, the front-line FBI lawyer, who knocked Trump by saying “viva la resistance”
“The system in the hands of a few bad people could do a lot of damage,” he added.
Graham added that while it was fine to have personal opinions about Trump “you shouldn’t be in charge of supervising anything … if you feel that way.”
— Jordain Carney
Graham says Judiciary Committee will get a defensive briefing from FBI
Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the panel will get a “defensive briefing” from the FBI on Thursday.
“We will be receiving a defensive briefing tomorrow … to tell us all about what we should be watching for,” Graham said during his opening statement.
“I know they’re going to brief us to protect us, not to surveil us,” he added.
Republicans have questioned why the FBI didn’t give the Trump campaign a defensive briefing about specific individuals being targeted by Russia during the 2016 election.
Attorney General Bill Barr told the Judiciary panel earlier this year that the Trump campaign got a “lesser kind of briefing.”
“A security briefing that generally discusses general threats apparently was given to the campaign in August,” Barr said.
— Jordain Carney
Graham rails against FBI investigation: ‘Massive criminal conspiracy’
Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) railed against the FBI’s decision to investigate Trump campaign associates during the 2016 election, arguing it turned into a “massive criminal conspiracy.”
“[It] becomes a massive criminal conspiracy over time to defraud the FISA court, to illegally surveil an American citizen, and to keep an operation against a sitting president of the United States violating every norm known to the rule of law,” Graham said.
Graham knocked the media for arguing they were trying to summarize Horowitz’s report as a “few irregularities” but “what happened here was the system failed” and showed an “abuse of power I never believed would actually exist in 2019.”
“It was as if J. Edgar Hoover came back to life. The old FBI. The FBI that had a chip on its shoulder,” Graham continued.
— Jordain Carney
Horowitz outlines concerns with FBI probe in opening statement
Horowitz is expected to outline his concerns with the FBI’s handling of the investigation into Trump campaign associates in his opening statement.
Horowitz, according to his prepared remarks, stood by his findings that the FBI had sufficient evidence to open the investigation but said he has “identified significant concerns with how certain aspects of the investigation were conducted and supervised, particularly the FBI’s failure to adhere to its own standards of accuracy and completeness when filing applications for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) authority to surveil Carter Page.”
“We also identified what we believe is an absence of sufficient policies to ensure appropriate Department oversight of significant investigative decisions that could affect constitutionally protected activity,” Horowitz is expected to say.
He is expected to add that the DOJ IG office believes that “current Department and FBI policies are not sufficient to ensure appropriate oversight and accountability when such operations potentially implicate sensitive, constitutionally protected activity, and that requiring Department consultation, at a minimum, would be appropriate.”
Horowitz, in his opening statement, will tell lawmakers that he found “17 significant inaccuracies and omissions,” including seven in initial Page FISA application.
— Jordain Carney
Horowitz was spotted arriving in the Hart Senate Office building ahead of Wednesday’s hearing.
Horowitz, escorted by two Capitol police officers, was seen heading toward the committee room roughly 45 minutes before the Judiciary Committee is set to convene.
The hearing starts at 10 a.m.
— Jordain Carney