Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz will testify before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Wednesday, in the aftermath of his report examining the origins of the FBI’s Russia probe and problems with the process used to obtain a warrant to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Horowitz previously testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, but Wednesday’s hearing comes a day after the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) rebuked the FBI in a rare public order that referenced his report. Horowitz had revealed that there were 17 inaccuracies and omissions in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant applications for Page, which included a doctored email and the failure to include exculpatory information about Page that may have impacted the FISC’s decision to grant the warrants.
“The FBI’s handling of the Carter Page applications, as portrayed in the [Office of Inspector General] report, was antithetical to the heightened duty of candor described above,” Judge Rosemary Collyer wrote in her four-page order. “The frequency with which representations made by FBI personnel turned out to be unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession, and with which they withheld information detrimental to their case, calls into question whether information contained in other FBI applications is reliable.”
Horowitz’s report also described how the FBI relied on information gathered by former British spy Christopher Steele as part of opposition research for Fusion GPS on behalf of the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee. Steele’s information helped lead officials to approve seeking a FISA warrant for Page, even though the information had not been vetted as required by FBI policy.
The report said that while there were clear problems with the FBI’s FISA process, Horowitz did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that the Russia probe itself was launched due to political bias, although he noted that the threshold to start the probe was low. Additionally, when asked by the Senate Judiciary Committee, the inspector general made it clear that the question of possible bias “gets murkier” when discussing the FISA process.
Former FBI Director James Comey, who led the bureau at the time, insisted he was unaware of any impropriety at the time, but told “Fox News Sunday” he “was wrong” when he defended the FBI’s FISA process in the past. Still, he defended his former subordinates by claiming that no one committed any intentional misconduct, despite Horowitz calling for accountability and making referrals for further investigation. At the same time, Comey admitted that there was “real sloppiness,” and that as director, he was ultimately responsible.
Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly and Bill Mears contributed to this report.