The lead federal prosecutor who is conducting a criminal investigation into the origins of why the Obama administration began an investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign said Monday he disagreed with the some of the conclusions contained in a report issued earlier by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz.
U.S. Attorney John Durham, in a statement published by DoJ, said that his investigation, unlike the one concluded Horowitz, reaches beyond “component parts of the Justice Department” and includes persons outside the United States.
“I have the utmost respect for the mission of the Office of Inspector General and the comprehensive work that went into the report prepared by Mr. Horowitz and his staff. However, our investigation is not limited to developing information from within component parts of the Justice Department,” he said.
“Our investigation has included developing information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S.” Durham continued.
“Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened,” he said.
Horowitz’s report noted that investigators found “17 significant errors” in the four warrant applications to spy on Trump campaign associate Carter Page before and after the president won the November 2016 election and was sworn into office.
“We identified at least 17 significant errors or omissions in the Carter Page FISA applications, and many additional errors in the Woods Procedures,” the report noted, referring to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court.
“These errors and omissions resulted from case agents providing wrong or incomplete information to OI and failing to flag important issues for discussion,” the report continues, referring to the Office of Intelligence and the National Security Division at the FBI.
The warrant applications included claims from a “dossier” compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele. It contained unsubstantiated claims about President Trump and his alleged dealings in Russia.
The 2016 campaign of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee ultimately paid for Steele’s work, but that detail was omitted from the FISA applications.
In his own statement, Attorney General William Barr said the continued surveillance against Page was a “clear abuse” of the FISA process.
“In the rush to obtain and maintain FISA surveillance of Trump campaign associates, FBI officials misled the FISA court, omitted critical exculpatory facts from their filings, and suppressed or ignored information negating the reliability of their principal source,” said Barr.
“The Inspector General found the explanations given for these actions unsatisfactory,” the AG continued.
“While most of the misconduct identified by the Inspector General was committed in 2016 and 2017 by a small group of now-former FBI officials, the malfeasance and misfeasance detailed in the Inspector General’s report reflects a clear abuse of the FISA process.”
Barr noted that the investigation was “intrusive” and was initiated based “on the thinnest of suspicions.”
The suspicions were “insufficient” to justify the steps the bureau went on to take, Barr said.
“Nevertheless, the investigation and surveillance was pushed forward for the duration of the campaign and deep into President Trump’s administration,” Barr said, adding that FBI Director Christopher Wray is “dismayed” by the findings and will be announcing some reforms for the FBI’s FISA court application process.