FBI Director Christopher Wray agreed with the Justice Department’s inspector general report that found the Bureau’s investigation into Russian campaign interference was not motivated by political bias, prompting President Trump to rebuke him as the “current” director on Twitter.
In the 476-page report released Monday, Inspector General Michael Horowitz said the OIG conducted over 170 interviews involving more than 100 witnesses, including former FBI Director James Corney, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, former DAG Rod Rosenstein, former Acting AG and Acting DAG and current FBI General Counsel Dana Boente, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former FBI General Counsel James Baker, and Department attorney Bruce Ohr and his wife, as well as former MI6 officer Christopher Steele and current and former employees of other U.S. government agencies.
The FBI opened the Crossfire Hurricane investigation on July 31, 2016, days after Australia reported that, in a bar chat with a diplomat in May 2016, then-Trump campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos “suggested the Trump team had received some kind of suggestion from Russia that it could assist this process with the anonymous release of information during the campaign that would be damaging to Mrs. Clinton (and President Obama).” FBI officials did not become aware of Christopher Steele’s activities compiling a dossier on Trump ties — first funded by Republican challengers and then by Democrats — “until weeks later and we therefore determined that Steele’s reports played no role in the Crossfire Hurricane opening.”
The OIG also found that E.W. Priestap, the former assistant director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division who decided to open the investigation, “was in compliance with Department and FBI policies, and we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced his decision.”
In his response to the report sent to Horowitz on Dec. 6, Wray said he appreciated “the OIG’s crucial independent oversight role and the thoroughness and professionalism your office brought to this work.”
“The Report concludes that the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation and related investigations of certain individuals were opened in 2016 for an authorized purpose and with adequate factual predication,” Wray wrote. “The Report also details instances in which certain FBI personnel, at times during the 2016-2017 period reviewed by the OIG, did not comply with existing policies, neglected to exercise appropriate diligence, or otherwise failed to meet the standard of conduct that the FBI expects of its employees — and that our country expects of the FBI. We are vested with significant authorities, and it is our obligation as public servants to ensure that these authorities are exercised with objectivity and integrity. Anything less falls short of the FBI’s duty to the American people.”
The OIG found faults in FISA applications used to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in 2016, and recommended that “the Department and the FBI should ensure that adequate procedures are in place for OI to obtain all relevant and accurate information needed to prepare FISA applications and renewal applications, including CHS information.” The report also makes other recommendations regarding FBI protocol and training.
“Accordingly, the FBI accepts the Report’s findings and embraces the need for thoughtful, meaningful remedial action,” Wray continued. “I have ordered more than 40 corrective steps to address the Report’s recommendations. Because our credibility and brand are central to fulfilling our mission, we are also making improvements beyond those recommended by the OIG. And where certain individuals have been referred by the OIG for review of their conduct, the FBI will not hesitate to take appropriate disciplinary action if warranted at the completion of the required procedures for disciplinary review.”
“…Since becoming FBI Director in August 2017, I have emphasized to FBI agents, analysts, and staff the importance of doing things the right way, by the book. I am humbled to serve alongside these dedicated men and women, and I am confident that the actions we are taking will strengthen our historic institution, ensure that we continue to discharge our responsibilities objectively and free from political bias, and better position us to protect the American people against threats while upholding the Constitution.”
Wray told ABC News that while the report contained elements “unacceptable and unrepresentative of who we are as an institution,” it was “important that the inspector general found that, in this particular instance, the investigation was opened with appropriate predication and authorization.”
On Monday, Trump claimed at the White House that the FBI investigation constituted “an overthrow of government, this was an attempted overthrow and a lot of people were in on it and they got caught.”
This morning the president tweeted, “I don’t know what report current Director of the FBI Christopher Wray was reading, but it sure wasn’t the one given to me. With that kind of attitude, he will never be able to fix the FBI, which is badly broken despite having some of the greatest men & women working there!”
Attorney General Bill Barr broke with Wray, saying in a statement Monday “the FBI 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.”
Comey tweeted, “So it was all lies. No treason. No spying on the campaign. No tapping Trumps wires. It was just good people trying to protect America.”
Horowitz is expected to testify about the report Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.