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Horowitz Faults FBI Chain of Command for Lacking ‘Effective Oversight’ in Crossfire Hurricane Investigation

Michael Horowitz testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 11, 2019. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

During his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz faulted FBI senior officials for failing to properly oversee FISA applications filed to surveil Trump-campaign adviser Carter Page.

“The circumstances reflect a failure, as we outline in the report, not just by those who prepared the applications, but also by the managers and supervisors in the Crossfire Hurricane chain of command, including FBI senior officials who were briefed as the investigation progressed,” Horowitz said in his statement.

Following the release of the report, which found that the Russia probe was properly predicated, former FBI officials claimed the IG report acquitted them of wrongdoing.

In an op-ed for the Washington Post, former FBI director James Comey claimed the FBI was “smeared” by President Trump and Attorney General William Barr. Former FBI general counsel James Baker, appearing with former FBI former deputy director Andrew McCabe on CNN said that Trump should apologize to him and his colleagues for falsely claiming there was a “deep state” conspiracy to overthrow him.

While acknowledging no documentary bias, Horowitz criticized the FBI leadership for its actions during the investigation. Much of the IG report details how Comey, Baker, McCabe, and others relied heavily on the dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele to obtain the FISA warrant without informing the court of the dossier’s origins or verifying its information.

“It is incumbent upon the entire chain of command at the organization, including senior officials, to take the necessary steps to ensure that they are sufficiently familiar with the facts and circumstances supporting and potentially undermining a FISA application in order to provide effective oversight consistent with their level of supervisory responsibility,” the inspector general said Wednesday.

Horowitz also said his team was “deeply concerned” over the “many basic and fundamental” mistakes made during the investigation.

“Errors were made by three separate, hand-picked investigative teams; on one of the most sensitive FBI investigations; after the matter had been briefed to the highest levels within the FBI; even though the information sought through the use of FISA authority related so closely to an ongoing presidential campaign; and even though those involved with the investigation knew that their actions were likely to be subjected to close scrutiny,” Horowitz said.

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