Law & the Courts

Barr Slams FBI for Surveilling Trump Campaign Based on ‘Thinnest of Suspicions’ In Response to IG Report

Attorney General William Barr speaks at an event in Washington, D.C., December 3, 2019. (Loren Elliott/Reuters)

Attorney General William Barr slammed the FBI on Monday after the release of the Inspector General report detailing the agency’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s alleged ties with Russia.

“The Inspector General’s report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken,” Barr said in a statement. “It is also clear that, from its inception, the evidence produced by the investigation was consistently exculpatory.”

The FBI began its investigation after campaign staffer George Papadopoulos allegedly told a member of Australian intelligence that the campaign had obtained dirt on rival Hillary Clinton from Russian operatives.

The agency then obtained a FISA warrant to surveil Trump campaign adviser Carter Page based largely on unverified intelligence gathered by former British operative Christopher Steele, but neglected to share with the FISA court the fact that Steele gathered the information as a contractor for the Hillary Clinton campaign.

“We concluded that the failures described above and in this report represent serious performance failures by the supervisory and non-supervisory agents with responsibility over the FISA applications,” Inspector General Michael Horowitz wrote in the report.

“While most of the misconduct identified by the Inspector General was committed in 2016 and 2017 by a small group of now-former FBI officials, the malfeasance and misfeasance detailed in the Inspector General’s report reflects a clear abuse of the FISA process,” Barr said in his statement.

Horowitz concluded that the FBI did possess the legal basis to open an investigation into the Trump campaign, although the agency subsequently mishandled the probe with its applications for FISA warrants.

However, U.S. Attorney John Durham, who is running a separate investigation under Barr’s authority into the FBI probe of the Trump campaign, said in a statement Monday that he disagreed with that finding.

“Based on the evidence collected to date…last month we advised the IG that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened,” Durham wrote.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.


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