Former FBI Director James Comey on Saturday admitted he was wrong to defend his former agency’s pursuit of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court warrants against a member of the 2016 Trump campaign following release last week of a critical inspector general’s report.
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz detailed at least 17 serious errors made by FBI personnel as they sought a FISA Court warrant to spy on then-Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The warrant was sought and renewed four times.
Previously, Comey defended the FBI’s use of the FISA Court during the bureau’s investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
However, Horowitz’s investigation found that the FBI made serious errors and omissions during the process to spy on Page.
In a Senate hearing Wednesday, Horowitz criticized the FBI’s “entire chain of command” as well as the Justice Department for failing to follow FISA Court procedures.
Comey led the FBI when the Russian investigation began.
“He’s right, I was wrong,” Comey told “Fox News Sunday” about how the FBI used the FISA system, adding that “I was overconfident as director in our procedures.”
Though Horowitz said he found no political bias in the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign, Republicans were skeptical.
During his Senate testimony, Horowitz also did not rule out political bias as the motivator behind the Russian investigation. Under questioning about bias from Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), Horowitz said, “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.
During his Fox News Sunday interview, Comey said that former British spy Christopher Steele’s ‘dossier’ the FBI used to justify the FISA Court warrants was “not a huge part of the presentation to the court.”
However, he noted that “it was the one that convinced the lawyers” to move forward on the warrant.
Republicans have accused Comey’s FBI of knowing ahead of time the dossier was unconfirmed and uncorroborated but used it anyway, deceiving the FISA Court.