Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz appeared to admit during Wednesday’s Senate Judiciary hearings that political bias could have played a role in the abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) process to surveil President Trump campaign staffer Carter Page.
Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) pressed Horowitz on the role political bias could have played in the FISA warrant on Page. Earlier in the day, and in his report, Horowitz concluded that political bias didn’t play a role in the FBI’s decision to start an investigation into potential Russian involvement in the Trump campaign.
Eventually, Horowitz replied, “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 added.
After being questioned by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), the inspector general also said he couldn’t rule out bias in later stages of the FBI’s investigation.
“Isn’t the lack of evidence on bias, evidence that we really should take as bias? But it’s ... in any event, it’s certainly not itself indicative that no bias occurred, isn’t that correct?” Lee asked him.
“As to the opening [of the probe], which is in a different place than the FISA issues that you have identified and I talked about earlier, I think it is two different situations. On the FISA side, we found, as you noted, a lack of documentary and testimonial evidence about intentionality, but we noted the lack of satisfactory explanations, and in fact, leave open the possibility, for the reasons you indicated, it is unclear what the motivations were. On the one hand, gross incompetence, negligence; on the other hand intentionality, and we’re in between—we weren’t in a position with the evidence we had, to make that conclusion, but we are not ruling it out,” Horowitz replied.
Lee then asked: “The lack of evidence here is not evidence that there is no bias.” Horowitz replied: “I am solely basing it—correct—on the actual evidence that we have.”
When he was asked by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Horowitz said that fraudulent evidence was used in the FISA warrants.
“So the men and women at home need to know what’s happening,” Cruz said. “A lawyer at the FBI creates fraudulent evidence, alters an email, that is in turn used for the basis of a sworn statement to the court that the court relies on. Am I stating that accurately? “
“That’s correct,” Horowitz answered. “That is what occurred.”
Regarding a prosecution for perjury, Horowitz stated that “they certainly would be considered for that if there was an intentional effort to deceive the court.”
Both Attorney General William Barr and U.S. Attorney John Durham, who is carrying out a criminal investigation into the FBI’s conduct, said they disagree with Horowitz’s finding of a lack of political bias when the FBI investigation was launched.