Comey and other intelligence community leaders claimed for years that the FBI’s applications to spy on the aide, Carter Page, were done correctly. But Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz shredded those claims in a report released last week, revealing 17 significant errors or omissions and additional errors made in following internal guidelines.
“He’s right, I was wrong,” Comey admitted on Sunday.
“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, 17 things that either should’ve been in the applications or at least discussed and characterized differently. It was not acceptable and so he’s right. I was wrong,” he added.
Trump reacted on Twitter, writing: “So now Comey’s admitting he was wrong. Wow, but he’s only doing so because he got caught red-handed.”
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?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 15, 2019
“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?” Trump added.
Trump also took aim at Horowitz, who wrote in the report that his team didn’t find evidence of political bias among FBI officials but admitted in a Senate hearing, “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.”
“It’s unclear what the motivations were. On the one hand, gross incompetence, negligence? On the other hand, intentionality, and where in between? We weren’t in a position—with the evidence we had—to make that conclusion. But I’m not ruling it out,” he also said.
Trump said that it was obvious actions by the FBI were motivated by bias.
“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!” he said in another missive on Twitter on Sunday.
Comey said on Sunday that he was responsible for what happened but claimed he did not know that FBI agents uncovered damaging information about ex-British spy Christopher Steele, whose salacious dossier played a “central and essential role” in getting the FISA warrant to spy on Page.
“As the director, you’re not kept informed on the details of an investigation. So, no, in general, I didn’t know what they’d learned from the sub-source. I didn’t know the particulars of the investigation,” Comey said.
He also said that Horowitz didn’t find misconduct by any FBI personnel, despite Horowitz referring FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith for criminal prosecution.
“The Inspector General did not find misconduct by FBI personnel, did not find political bias, did not find illegal conduct. The Inspector General found significant mistakes, and that is not something to sneeze at; that’s really important,” Comey said. “But the American people—especially your viewers—need to realize, they were given false information about the FBI. It’s honest. It is not political. It is flawed.”
When Horowitz was asked whether his report meant Comey and other FBI staffers are exonerated as Comey had suggested on Twitter recently, he disagreed.
Last week, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham asked Horowitz: “The former FBI Director James Comey said this week that your report vindicates him. Is that a fair assessment of your report?”
Horowitz responded: “I think the activities we found here don’t vindicate anybody who touched this FISA.”