Michael Horowitz the Inspector General for the Department of Justice has kept the possibility of political bias in the FBI investigation into the campaign of President Donald Trump alive.
Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, who heads the Senate Homeland Security Committee, asked Horowitz about his investigation into the FBI’s FISA applications to surveil President Trump’s aid Carter Page.
The senator said that Horowitz did not find political bias from former FBI assistant director of counterintelligence Bill Priestap when he opened the investigation.
But, he said, Horowitz did find political bias in his yearlong investigation of what the FBI and its leadership and agents did.
“We found through the text messages evidence of people’s political bias, correct,” Horowitz said to the panel of Senators.
“I think the scope here is what really alarms me,” Sen. Josh Hawley said. “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.”
“Was it your conclusion that political bias did not affect any part of the Page investigation, any part of Crossfire Hurricane?” he said.
“We did not reach that conclusion,” the inspector general said. “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,” he said.
And then Sen. Rand Paul took it to Horowitz and got him to admit what we had suspected the entire time.
PAUL: “I would say that when we look at bias, I guess the first question would be a short question just to reiterate and make sure it’s very clear, you did find evidence of biased individuals who were involved with the — involved with the investigation?”
HOROWITZ: “That’s correct.”
PAUL: “OK. I think that’s very clear. And is it difficult to determine what people’s motives are or whether they’re biased or not biased.”
HOROWITZ: “It’s very difficult.”
PAUL: “All right. And so just by saying you didn’t find it, it doesn’t mean it didn’t exist, it doesn’t mean you couldn’t have had 15 people very biased who influenced every one of their decisions, you just can’t prove it.”
HOROWITZ: “We — we couldn’t prove it, we lay out here what we can prove.”
PAUL: “OK. One specific instance I’d like to ask you about though. The OGC attorney is the one I think you’ve referred for criminal evaluation, correct?”
HOROWITZ: “I’ll just say we’ve referred to the attorney general and the FBI.”
PAUL: “OK. Right, for possible — and that’s the — possible criminal evaluation. He also had text messages that said viva la resistance. Did you interpreted those to be — or what was your opinion? Does that show that he might have had some bias against the Trump administration?”
HOROWITZ: “Well, he was one of the individuals last — in last year’s report precisely for those text messages that we were referred to the FBI, precisely for that concern.”
PAUL: “But you interpreted that as an evidence of bias. But I guess my question would be if you saw that he was biased, he’s obviously made errors that you think actually may have been intentional. Why in that instance would you not be free to say that there’s documentary evidence of not only bias but then malfeasance?”
HOROWITZ: “That’s precisely why we don’t say that, as to the errors and the failures in the FISA process.”
PAUL: “Right. But could you then specifically say the opposite, that actually in this instant there actually was evidence of political bias and evidence of record changing that looks like malfeasance?”
HOROWITZ: “There is evidence of both, I agree with you.”
HOROWITZ: “But we will do — let — I want to make sure there’s a fair process.” [crosstalk]
PAUL: “That’s fine. And I — and I think the chairman is very correct that the media has misinterpreted what you’ve said and drawn conclusions that I don’t think are accurate as to what you’re saying and people should read the report. And the report is very damning as to the process, whether it’s bias or not there are problems.”