Dec 15, 2019

Trump casts doubt on Horowitz's credibility, despite celebrating his findings

Photo: Michael Brochstein/Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

President Trump questioned Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz's credibility in a tweet on Sunday, labeling Horowitz an Obama appointee in response to a report that found that the FBI's Russia investigation was not politically motivated:

"As bad as the I.G. Report is for the FBI and others, and it is really bad, remember that I.G. Horowitz was appointed by Obama. There was tremendous bias and guilt exposed, so obvious, but Horowitz couldn’t get himself to say it. Big credibility loss. Obama knew everything!"

Why it matters: Trump is attacking Horowitz for his conclusions that the probe was not fueled by bias, while simultaneously celebrating the inspector general's findings of serious wrongdoing in the FBI's surveillance of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

  • The tweet underscores the unique way in which Horowitz's report has played out in today's polarized politics — both Democrats and Republicans have latched onto certain findings to promote their partisan narrative while dismissing the other side's.

Context: In his testimony before Congress last week, Horowitz said the FBI was justified in opening the investigation and that there was "no testimonial or documentary evidence" of a "deep state conspiracy" within the FBI to take down candidate or President Trump.

The big picture: Comey on Sunday admitted that he was "wrong" about the failures the IG uncovered in the FBI's surveillance process, but argued that Horowitz's report debunked the conspiracy that the investigation was a "treasonous" attempt by the FBI to overthrow the president.

  • Trump, in another tweet on Sunday, gloated about Comey's admission and questioned what "the consequences for his unlawful conduct" will be, suggesting that the former FBI director could spend "years in jail."
"So now Comey’s admitting he was wrong. Wow, but he’s only doing so because he got caught red handed. He was actually caught a long time ago. So what are the consequences for his unlawful conduct. Could it be years in jail? Where are the apologies to me and others, Jim?"
— President Trump

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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.

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FBI director under Carter and Reagan slams Trump and Barr

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William Webster, a former federal judge and the former director of both the FBI and the CIA, said in a New York Times op-ed that President Trump and Attorney General William Barr's attacks on the FBI are "troubling in the extreme."

"Calling FBI professionals 'scum,' as the president did, is a slur against people who risk their lives to keep us safe. Mr. Barr’s charges of bias within the FBI, made without providing any evidence and in direct dispute of the findings of the nonpartisan inspector general, risk inflicting enduring damage on this critically important institution."
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Secretive FISA court orders FBI to fix surveillance standards in wake of IG report

Inspector General Horowitz. Photo: Michael Brochstein/Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court accused the FBI Tuesday of misleading it in its applications for the surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, and ordered the bureau to explain by Jan. 10 what it plans to do to ensure such abuses do not take place again.

Why it matters: It's a rare public rebuke by a court that has traditionally been veiled in secrecy, underscoring the seriousness of the misconduct uncovered by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz.

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