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In a wide-ranging interview on "Fox News Sunday," former FBI director James Comey argued that the bureau was "vindicated" by the Justice Department inspector general's findings on the origins of the Russia investigation, but admitted that he was "wrong" about serious failures the watchdog found in the FBI's surveillance process.

The exchange:

WALLACE: "Seventeen significant errors in the FISA process, and you say that it was handled in a thoughtful and appropriate way."
COMEY: "He's right, I was wrong. I was overconfident in the procedures that the FBI and Justice had built over 20 years. I thought they were robust enough. It's incredibly hard to get a FISA. I was overconfident in those because he's right, there was real sloppiness. Seventeen things that either should have been in the applications or at least discussed and characterized differently. It was not acceptable, so he's right, I was wrong."

Why it matters: Inspector General Michael Horowitz determined that there were 17 errors and omissions in the FBI's applications for the surveillance of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, including the altering of an email by an FBI lawyer to exclude potentially exculpatory information.

  • Horowitz said at a hearing on Capitol Hill last week that no one who "touched" the surveillance process should feel "vindicated."

The big picture: Comey argued, however, that the central conspiracy that President Trump and his allies have pushed about the Russia investigation — that it was a "treasonous" attempt by the FBI to overthrow the president — was "nonsense." Horowitz concluded that there was no evidence of political bias in the FBI's opening of the investigation.

  • This finding has been disputed, however, by Attorney General Bill Barr, whom Comey criticized for suggesting that the FBI's errors were "intentional" and politically motivated.
  • "He does not have a factual basis as the attorney general of the United States to be speculating that agents acted in bad faith," Comey said. "The facts just aren't there. Full stop. That doesn't make it any less consequential, any less important, but that's an irresponsible statement."

Comey also addressed claims Trump made at a rally this week that the Russia investigation "destroyed" the lives of many people, admitting that Page was treated unfairly and that his name never should have become public. He countered, however, that Trump's "lies" about the FBI were also deeply harmful:

"The FBI is an honest, apolitical organization. Remember the treason, remember the spying, remember all of us going to jail. That was false information that your viewers and millions of others were given. ... Now I'm saying on behalf of the FBI: It was all made up. And I hope people will stare at that and learn about what the FBI is like — human and flawed, but deeply committed to trying to do the right thing."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Trump grants flurry of last-minute pardons

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty

President Trump issued 73 pardons and commuted the sentences of 70 individuals early Wednesday, 11 hours from leaving office.

Why it matters: It's a last-minute gift to some of the president's loyalists and an evident use of executive power with only hours left of his presidency. Axios reported in December that Trump planned to grant pardons to "every person who ever talked to me."

Trump revokes ethics order barring former aides from lobbying

Photo: Spencer Platt via Getty

Shortly after pardoning members of Congress and lobbyists convicted on corruption charges, President Trump revoked an executive order barring former officials from lobbying for five years after leaving his administration.

Why it matters: The order, which was signed eight days after he took office, was an attempt to fulfill his campaign promise to "drain the swamp."

  • But with less than 12 hours left in office, Trump has now removed those limitations on his own aides.

Trump pardons former GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy

President Trump has pardoned Elliott Broidy, a former top Republican fundraiser who pleaded guilty late last year to conspiring to violate foreign lobbying laws as part of a campaign to sway the administration on behalf of Chinese and Malaysian interests.

Why it matters: Broidy was a deputy finance chair for the Republican National Committee early in Trump’s presidency, and attempted to leverage his influence in the Trump administration on behalf of his clients. The president's decision to pardon Broidy represents one last favor for a prominent political ally.