On the day the Senate voted to acquit President Donald Trump of two impeachment charges, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before the House Judiciary Committee that the bureau’s surveillance of the 2016 Trump campaign was “illegal.”
In response to questioning by Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), Wray said “right,” when the lawmaker asked if the bureau engaged in “illegal surveillance with respect to at least several of these FISA applications because there was no probable cause or proper predication” to investigate Trump campaign figure Carter Page, CBS News’ Catherine Herridge reported.
Earlier, in an interview with ABC News following the release of a Justice Department inspector general report detailing several “errors” made by FBI agents in obtaining FISA court warrants to spy on Page, Wray said agents acted properly.
“I think it’s important for the American people to know that when the FBI opens an investigation it does so with proper predication, with proper authorization, based on the facts and nothing else,” said the FBI director.
“I think it’s important that the inspector general found that in this particular instance the investigation was opened with appropriate predication and authorization,” he continued.
“[T]he Inspector General did not find political bias or improper motivations impacting the opening of the investigation or the decision to use certain investigative tools during the investigation, including FISA,” said Wray.
“But that the Inspector general did find a number of instances where employees either failed to follow our policies, neglected to exercise appropriate diligence, or in some other way fell short of the standard of conduct and performance that we, and that I, as Director, expect of all our employees.”
That response drew a rebuke from President Trump, who declared on Twitter that the director would never be able to “fix” what’s wrong at the agency “that kind of attitude.”
“I don’t know what report current Director of the FBI Christopher Wray was reading, but it sure wasn’t the one given to me,” said Trump. “With that kind of attitude, he will never be able to fix the FBI, which is badly broken despite having some of the greatest men & women working there!”
In January, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ruled that the FBI should have discontinued its secret surveillance of Page because it had “insufficient predication to establish probable cause.”
At least two of the four FISA applications for Page, ruled FISA Judge James Boasberg on January 7, were “not valid.”