AG William Barr's Role In Protecting Trump

Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz arrives for a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Inspector

Barr, taking a stance likely to please his presidential patron, promptly disagreed with the findings, insisting the FBI began its investigation "on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken".

But Horowitz said they had a relatively technical disagreement - Durham, he said, believed the evidence was sufficient to open a preliminary investigation but not a full one. FBI Director Christopher Wray announced changes he plans to make at the bureau shortly after the report became public on December 9.

Throughout the exchange Horowitz repeatedly emphasized the law prohibiting him from investigating top Justice Department officials (inspector generals overseeing other federal departments face no such prohibition) and encouraged legislation lifting that prohibition. The inspector general didn't find evidence that bias played a role in the opening of the investigation, which the FBI code-named Crossfire Hurricane.

Even so, Horowitz also repeatedly noted under questioning from Democrats that he had not found that the FBI had targeted Trump for investigation for political reasons. He also revealed there were "fundamental errors" in the FBI's Trump-Russia probe.

The president has since repeatedly attacked the investigation as a "witch hunt", alleging the FBI tapped Trump Tower in NY and planted a spy inside his campaign as part of a conspiracy to bring him down.

"Investigators become wedded to their theories of the case and invested in the success of their investigations", she said.

FBI Director Wray has sought to support the agency in the aftermath of the report with a video message that went out to staff and a letter that was sent to former employees.

Democrats have focused on Horowitz's determination that a probe was warranted and wasn't driven by political bias.

The affidavits reviewed by IG Horowitz involved the surveillance of Carter Page, hat-wearer and foreign policy advisor for the Trump campaign.

"What happened here isn't a few 'irregularities, '" said Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

"Absolutely", Horowitz replied, adding that "it's illegal surveillance".

Another criticism of the surveillance court has been that it is viewed as a virtual rubber-stamp for Government requests.

According to Horowitz, the FBI failed to update the court as it learned new information that could have undercut some of the original assertions that the bureau made about Page.

He got some backing when US Attorney John Durham, whom he named to probe the broader question of whether US intelligence agencies acted improperly in launching the Russian Federation probe, also questioned the IG's conclusion, though the FBI director named by Trump, James Wray, accepted it. Barr reiterated in an interview Tuesday with NBC News' Pete Williams that "very flimsy" evidence was used to start the Russian Federation probe, adding that Durham's investigation would be far more inclusive than the IG's.

Former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele compiled the dossier using second- and third-hand sources with ties to the Kremlin.

"It's extraordinary that the attorney general continues to make unsupported attacks on the agency that he's responsible for leading", said Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee. During the hearing, Sasse conceded that the kind of abuses Lee has warned about for years all occurred in the FBI's surveillance of Page. "Which is why I now fear that his conduct - running political interference for an increasingly lawless president - will wreak lasting damage", Holder said.

"Long day, general", Senator Kennedy said.

"It's a disgrace what's happened with the things that were done to our country", Trump said.

'I think that leaves open the possibility that there was bad faith'. "This was an attempted overthrow, and a lot of people were in on it", Trump told reporters on Monday.

Horowitz said his investigators interviewed more than 100 people and reviewed at least 1 million records in their almost two-year investigation.

Lindsey Graham of SC, said the code name for the FBI investigation, "Crossfire Hurricane", was an apt title "because that's what we ended up with - a 'Crossfire Hurricane'".

"We are looking at, still", the issue of leaks, Horowitz said - but the issue is establishing what took place based on the evidence in hand. No tapping Trump's wires.

"Is that a fair assessment of your report?" Graham asked. "What got us here today?"



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