Trey Gowdy Hits Out at Comey After He Admitted Fault in FISA Misconduct

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
December 16, 2019 Updated: December 16, 2019

Former South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy lashed out at former FBI Director James Comey after he admitted fault following the release of Justice Department Inspector General’s report that detailed at least 17 serious errors during the launch of the agency’s investigation into Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

“Sometimes, Maria, it’s better late than never and sometimes it’s just too damn late,” Gowdy told Fox News’s Maria Bartiromo on Sunday, Dec. 15.

“Comey is about two years too late. We could have used his objectivity; we could have used him as head of the FBI helping Republicans figure out what was happening with FISA instead of thwarting us and obstructing us.”

Gowdy’s comments came after Comey, a few hours earlier, admitted his department showed “real sloppiness” in the FBI’s use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) courts during the investigation.

Comey had previously defended the FBI’s use of the FISA courts, but Inspector General Michael Horowitz found that the FBI’s investigative team made errors and omissions when applying for a warrant to surveil Carter Page, a former Trump 2016 presidential campaign aide. Horowitz, in a Senate hearing, criticized the “entire chain of command” at the FBI and Justice Department for their failures in handling the warrant. Comey was in charge of the FBI when the investigation was launched.

“He’s right, I was wrong,” Comey told “Fox News Sunday” about how the FBI used the FISA system, adding that he “was overconfident as director in our procedures.”

Horowitz said the FBI’s investigation into Russian election interference and alleged connections to the Trump campaign was properly initiated, but he said there is a “low threshold” for that to happen. In the report, the inspector general said there was no documentary or testimonial evidence implying that the investigation was started due to political bias. However, when he was prodded about the bias claim during the Senate hearing, Horowitz didn’t rule it out.

During a line of questioning, Horowitz replied to Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), “I think it’s fair for people to sit there and look at all of these 17 events and wonder how it could be purely incompetence.”

He also said that he “agrees completely” with the assertion that someone at the FBI needs to be fired. The “culture” also needs to be “changed” at the FBI, he told senators.

“He said it was a policy and procedure issue. It’s not,” Gowdy said of Comey in his Fox News interview. “[There have] always been policies against manufacturing evidence and withholding exculpatory evidence. That’s not new; those aren’t new policies. This is a personnel issue. It’s the wrong people in the wrong positions of power.”

“That’s not going to be fixed with a new policy or procedure. It‘s gonna be fixed by replacing the people who did what they did in 2016,” he added.

Jack Phillips contributed to this report.

Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.