Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz appeared to admit Wednesday that political bias was a possible factor in the abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) process to spy on Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
Horowitz concluded in his report that political bias did not play a role in the FBI’s decision to start an investigation into possible Russian involvement in the Trump campaign.
However, under questioning by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) before the Senate Judiciary Committee Horowitz said that his investigation could not rule out bias in later stages of the FBI’s investigation.
Lee: Isn’t the lack of evidence on bias, evidence that we really should take as bias? But it’s — in any event, its certainly not itself indicative that no bias occurred, isn’t that correct?
Horowitz: As to the opening [of the investigation], which is in a different place than the FISA issues that you have identified and I talked about earlier, I think it is two different situations. On the FISA side, we found, as you noted, a lack of documentary and testimonial evidence about intentionality, but we noted the lack of satisfactory explanations, and in fact, leave open the possibility, for the reasons you indicated, it is unclear what the motivations were. On the one hand, gross incompetence, negligence; on the other hand intentionality, and we’re in between — we weren’t in a position with the evidence we had, to make that conclusion, but we are not ruling it out.
Lee: My point here — the lack of evidence here is not evidence that there is no bias.
Horowitz: I am solely basing it — correct — on the actual evidence that we have.
Lee: Okay. Thank you very much.
Both Attorney General William Barr and U.S. Attorney John Durham, who is conducing a criminal investigation of the FBI’s conduct, have said publicly that the differ with Horowitz about the lack of political bias in starting the investigation.
Later, Horowitz reiterated that he and his staff “couldn’t reach a conclusion about what motivated” the FISA abuse. He reiterated, several times, that the conduct of the investigation was a separate matter from launching it.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.