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Hawley: FBI ‘Effectively Meddled’ in 2016 Election

Sen. Josh Hawley at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing, May 23, 2019. (James Lawler Duggan/Reuters)

Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) said Wednesday that the FBI “effectively meddled” in the 2016 presidential election and did so with the backing of the Democratic National Committee.

“Which is worse? Is it worse to have a foreign government trying to meddle in our elections, or is it worse to have our own government meddling in the election?” the Missouri Republican asked Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on the inspector general’s report examining the origins of the FBI’s Russia investigation.

Horowitz’s report shows that “the FBI effectively meddled in an ongoing presidential campaign,” Hawley charged.

“You expect it from foreign governments,” Hawley said. “But when our own government does it, how can the American have confidence, and what do we do?”

The inspector general’s report, released on Monday, found no evidence of political bias in the FBI’s decision to launch the Russia probe but cited “basic and fundamental errors” and a “failure” by the whole FBI “chain of command” involved in the investigation. The report also found that the FBI omitted crucial details in its requests for warrants to surveil Trump-campaign adviser Carter Page.

Hawley expressed incredulity that the Democratic National Committee solicited and paid for the Steele dossier and that afterwards the FBI cited the questionable information in the dossier to obtain Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants to surveil Page.

“This is the untold story of the 2016 campaign,” Hawley said. “I don’t know who at the DNC hatched this, but I suppose they ought to maybe take a victory lap, but certainly they should be remembered for it. To get the FBI to launch, pursue surveillance of a rival presidential campaign and then into the newly elected president’s term I think is just extraordinary.”

“I think it is an extraordinary thing when the most powerful law enforcement agency, maybe the world, is able to effectively intervene and influence a presidential election at the behest and with the cooperation of another political party,” Hawley concluded.

Horowitz told Hawley he is not aware of any previous instance of the FBI targeting a presidential campaign during the election cycle.

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