Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz on Wednesday did not slam the door on the possibility that members of the FBI associated with the “Crossfire Hurricane” counterintelligence operation targeting the 2016 Trump campaign acted with bias.
In new testimony before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Horowitz told Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) that he did not get satisfactory explanations for a series of text messages involving former FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page.
Johnson, head of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, questioned Horowitz about his probe into the FBI’s FISA application to spy on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page for as long as a year.
Johnson noted Horowitz’s report found that Bill Priestap, the former FBI assistant director of counterintelligence, did not show any political bias when he opened the investigation.
He said Horowitz, however, found evidence of political bias during his years-long probe, The Epoch Times reported.
“We found through the text messages evidence of people’s political bias, correct,” the inspector general told the panel.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), also questioned Horowitz to get his views about political bias in the investigation, which is also known as “Spygate” in some circles.
“I think the scope here is what really alarms me,” Hawley remarked.
“The number of people involved directly involved at the FBI, the repeated decisions to mislead, outright lie to the FISA court, and the total implausibility that the explanations these people offered you, again, maybe they’re incompetent or maybe they had an agenda here,” Hawley added.
“Was it your conclusion that political bias did not affect any part of the Page investigation, any part of Crossfire Hurricane?”
“We did not reach that conclusion,” Horowitz responded.
“We have been very careful in connection with the FISA for the reasons you mentioned to not reach that conclusion, in part, as we’ve talked about earlier: the alteration of the email, the text messages associated with the individual who did that, and then our inability to explain or understand or get good explanations so we could understand why this all happened,” Horowitz said.
The Missouri Republican then offered two possibilities: Either the FBI officials involved were incompetent or they had an agenda.
“And having an agenda—I don’t care what word you put in front of it—political agenda, personal agenda, but whatever it is, it is antithetical to democracy,” Hawley said.
“Were they just all incompetent?” he asked before adding, “it doesn’t sound like they’re very stupid to me.”
“That was precisely the concern we had,” said Horowitz. “We did not credit what we lay out here were the explanations we got, although we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence of intentional misconduct, we also did not receive satisfactory explanations for the errors or the missing information and the failures that occurred.”