Dec 11, 2019
Inspector General Report Hearing Transcript: Michael Horowitz Testifies on FBI’s Findings
Michael Horowitz testified before Congress on the key findings in the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Michael Horowitz is the inspector general of the United States Justice Department. Read the transcript of the December 11, 2019 hearing right here on Rev.com.
Lindsey Graham Opening Statement
Lindsey Graham: (00:04)
For the country, and Mr. Horowitz, I’m dying to hear from you, but I bet I haven’t made 20 minutes of opening statements in a year. I’m going to take a little bit longer to try to lay out what I think is before us as a nation. Crossfire Hurricane was probably the best name ever given to an investigation in the history of investigations, because I think that’s what we wound up with, a crossfire and a hurricane. There’s been a lot of media reports about your report before it was issued, and I remember reading all these headlines, lawful investigation with a few irregularities. Everything okay, low-level people kind of got off track.
Lindsey Graham: (00:54)
If that’s what you get out of this report, you clearly didn’t read it. If that’s your takeaway that this thing was lawfully predicated and that’s the main point, you missed the entire report. How do you get a headline like that? That’s what you want it to be. You want it to be that and nothing more. And I can assure you if this had been a Democratic president going through what President Trump had gone through, that would not have been the headline. The headline would be, the FBI takes law into his own hands, biased agents cut corners, lie to court, ignore exoneration. So the first thing I want you to know is how the cake is baked here. And my goal is to make sure that people, when this is over, whether you like Trump, hate Trump, don’t care about Trump, you look at this as more than a few irregularities, because if this becomes a few irregularities in America, then God help us all.
Lindsey Graham: (02:08)
Now, the people that were in charge in this investigation were handpicked by Mr. McCabe, who’s now a CNN analyst high up in the FBI, the number two guy. The first question I will ask in a bit, is this the best of the best? Are these people normal representatives of their Department of Justice and the FBI? I hope you will say no, because I believe it to be no. And if I believed otherwise, I would be incredibly depressed. So ladies and gentlemen, I’m going to assume something for the sake of argument, that there was a lawful predicate to open up a counterintelligence investigation. And I want you to know, the standard to open one up as about like that. And I also want you to know a counterintelligence investigation is not a criminal investigation. They’re not trying to solve a crime. They’re trying to stop foreign powers from interfering in America. That a counter intelligence investigation is designed to protect Americans from foreign influence. I want the American people to know there was an effort to affect Hillary Clinton’s campaign by foreign actors.
Lindsey Graham: (03:41)
The FBI picked up that effort, they briefed her about it, and they were able to stop it. We will be receiving a defensive briefing tomorrow as a committee from the FBI to tell us all about what we should be watching for. And they may be some specific threats against us. I don’t know. But I know they’re going to brief us to protect us, not to surveil us. And here’s what I want every American to know. From the time they opened up Crossfire Hurricane til this debacle was over, they never made any effort to brief Donald Trump about suspected problems within his campaign. They had one briefing talking about, you know, the Russians are out there. You never, you better beware. Nothing about Carter Page. Nothing about Papadopoulos. Nothing about the other people that they thought might be working with the Russians. Why did they not tell him that? I hope you can give us an answer.
Lindsey Graham: (04:51)
Bottom line, ladies and gentlemen, a counterintelligence investigation is a good thing until it becomes a bad thing, because it doesn’t take much to open one, and the worst thing can happen is for people to open one up whose real purpose is not to protect an American but to surveil them. Senator Feinstein found herself in a situation all of us may one day find ourselves in. A long-time employee was suspected of having ties to a foreign government. They informed her and she took appropriate action. How easy would it be for somebody to come in our campaigns as a volunteer? We really don’t know who they are. You just appreciate any help you can get. How easy would it be for all of us to get caught up in this scenario? I hope all of us would appreciate, if you really believe there’s somebody in my campaign working with a foreign power, please tell me so I can do something about it. Why didn’t they tell Trump? We’ll figure that out later, but I think it’s a question that needs to be asked. So for a moment, let’s assume that there was a law for predicate to open up a counterintelligence investigation. What has been described as a few irregularities becomes a massive criminal conspiracy over time to defraud the FISA court, to illegally surveil an American citizen, and to keep an operation open against a sitting president of the United States, violating every norm known to the rule of law. Many of you are prosecutors. Many of you have been U.S. attorneys. Many of you been defense attorneys. Trump’s time will come and go, but I hope we understand that what happened here can never happen again, because what happened here is not a few irregularities. What happened here is the system failed. People at the highest level of our government took the law in their own hands. And when I say defraud the FISA court, I mean it. To your team, you are able to uncover and discover abuse of power I never believe would actually exist in 2019. How bad is it? It was as if J. Edgar Hoover came back to life. The old FBI, the FBI that had a chip on his shoulder and wanted to intimidate people and find out what was going on in your life and the law be damned. Martin Luther King, and just fill in the names. So who ran this thing?
Lindsey Graham: (07:50)
The people were handpicked by McCabe, the number two guy at the FBI. The supervisory agent, the Deputy Assistant Director for counter intelligence, is Peter Strzok. he’s a big player in all things Crossfire Hurricane. Lisa Page. You may have heard of her. Who was she? She was an FBI lawyer working for McCabe. These are two central characters in this debacle. Let me tell you a little bit about who these people are and where they’re coming from.
Lindsey Graham: (08:38)
Thanks to a lot of hard work by people… from Mr. Horowitz, the FBI, and others, here’s what we know. Strzok, the front line supervisor. February the 12th, 2016. “Oh, he’s, Trump, abysmal. I keep hoping the charade will end and people will just dump him. The problem then is that Rubio will likely lose to Cruz. I never quite made it and I can understand why they would not consider me a serious candidate. The Republican party is utter shambles. When was the last competitive ticket they offered?” March 3rd, 2016. Page. “God, Trump is a loathsome human.” Strzok. ” Oh my God, he’s an idiot.” And you know what? Newsrooms all over the country, people are nodding. This represents the attitude of a lot of people in America, and you can have that attitude, but you shouldn’t be in the journalism business. You shouldn’t be at the FBI. If you were in the military and you said anything like this about a commander in chief, you’d be charged with a crime.
Lindsey Graham: (09:54)
Remember the McChrystal debacle where they had a barroom discussion with a reporter from the Rolling Stone? What’s the takeaway? Don’t go to a bar with a Rolling Stone reporter.They started talking about how they didn’t like Joe Biden, and I was one of the first people to say, that is out of bounds. You can have all the political opinions you want, but if you’re an officer in the United States military, you will part those opinions and you will not speak ill of the commander in chief. But that obviously is not a rule at the FBI Department of Justice.
Lindsey Graham: (10:28)
March 16th, 2016. ” I Cannot believe Donald Trump is likely to be actual serious candidate for president.” July 16th. We’re getting closer to when this thing opens. “And wow, Donald Trump is an enormous douche.” Again, a lot of people agree with that. “Trump barely spoke, but the first thing out of his mouth was, ‘We’re going to win so big.’ The whole thing is like living in a bad dream.” July the 19th, 2016. “Trump is a disaster. I have no idea how destabilizing his presidency would be.” And a lot of people believe that. You’re entitled to believe that, but you should not be an investigator. July the 30th. “The investigations open, and damn, this feels momentous about the investigation, because this matters. The other one did too, but that was to ensure we didn’t F something up. This matters because this matters. So super glad to be on this voyage with you. I hope you understand what this voyage was about.” August 8, 2016. Three days before Strzok was named the frontline supervisor. “He’s not ever going to become president, right?” Page to Strzok. Strzok, “No. No, he won’t. We’ll stop it.” These are the people in charge.
Lindsey Graham: (11:55)
August 15th, 2016. “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office, that there’s no way he gets elected, but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,” that the American people will pick their presidents, what they’re saying. “It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.” August 26, 2016. “Just went to a southern Virginia Walmart. I could smell the Trump support.” People in charge. October 11th, 2016. “Currently fighting was Stu for the FISA.” Stu was a lawyer who thought this thing was not on the up and up, stood his ground until he couldn’t stand it anymore. Eventually got run over.
Lindsey Graham: (12:52)
October the 19th. “I’m all riled up. Trump is an effing idiot, is unable to provide a coherent answer. The New York Times’ probability numbers are dropping every day. I’m scared for our organization.” November the third 2016. “Oh my God, this is effing terrifying,” referencing an article entitled, A Victory by Trump Remains Possible. November the ninth, 2016. “Are you ever going to give out your calendars? Some kind of depressing. Maybe it should be the first meeting of the secret society.” November the 13th. “I bought All the President’s Men. I figure I needed to brush up on Watergate.” November the 13th, 2016. “Finally two pages away from finishing All the President’s Men.” Page to Strzok. “Did you know the president resigns at the end?” Strzok. “What? God. That would be so lucky.”
Lindsey Graham: (14:01)
… would be so lucky.” May 18th, 2017, the date Page accepted a position on the special counsel’s team, “For me, in this case, I personally have a sense of unfinished business. Unleashed with MYE,” whatever that means, “Now I need to fix it and finish it.” Struck: ” Who gives a F, one more assistant director or whoever, an investigation leading to impeachment.”
Lindsey Graham: (14:43)
May, 2017, “You and I both know the odds are nothing. If I thought it was likely, I’d be there, no question. I hesitate in part just because of my gut sense and concern, there’s no big there, there,” talking about impeachment. May 22nd, 2017, “I’m torn. I think, know, I’m more replaceable than you are in this. I’m the best for it, but there are others who can do it okay.”
Lindsey Graham: (15:18)
“You’re different and more unique. This is yours,” talking to Page. All right, that’s the front line supervisor and the lawyer to McCabe. There’s a guy named Clinesmith who eventually alters an email from the CIA through the Department of Justice and FBI. And Mr. Horowitz and team found this out and how they did it, I’ll never know. I’m jumping ahead here.
Lindsey Graham: (15:58)
But when you read this report, what they find is that a lawyer supervising the FISA process at the FBI, according to Mr. Horowitz, doctored an email from the CIA to the FBI. And he’s going to be referred for criminal prosecution. Why is that important? Carter Page, who’s been on the receiving end of all this, the foundation to believe he was a foreign agent comes from a dossier that we’ll talk about in a minute.
Lindsey Graham: (16:35)
In that dossier provided by Christopher Steele, and we’ll talk about him in a minute, they claim that Carter page meets with three people known to be Russians, Russian agents, people associated with Russia. Carter Page, while being wiretapped by his government says, “I don’t know two of these people.” And to this day, there is no proof that he ever met two of those three.
Lindsey Graham: (17:04)
The third person, he says, “Yeah, I met him. I told the CIA about my meeting because I was a source for the CIA.” So they would have you believe that Carter Page is working against our government, not with our government. So Carter Page, in the summer of 2017, is trying to tell anybody and everybody, ” I was working with the CIA, I reported my contact with this person,” and nobody believed him.
Lindsey Graham: (17:40)
The CIA had told the FBI it was true earlier, but it never made it through the system. Somebody got so rattled at the FBI they asked Mr. Clinesmith to check it out. He checks it out. He communicates with the CIA, ” Is Carter Page a source for you?” And in email exchange, they say, “Yes, he is.” What does Mr. Clinesmith do? He alters the email to say, “No, he’s not,” and you caught him.
Lindsey Graham: (18:18)
I don’t know how you caught him because you got to dig into this email chain. It would be like getting a lab report from the FBI, the fingerprints don’t match and the agent says they do. That’s how bad this is. So now let me tell you a little bit about Mr. Clinesmith if I can find it. Will you get me the Clinesmith stuff? All right, this is the lawyer supervising the FISA warrant process.
Lindsey Graham: (18:51)
The guy that altered this CIA email because he didn’t want the court to know that Carter Page actually was a source. And why does that matter? Because if the court had known, then there’s a lawful reason for Mr. Page to be talking to the Russian guy. He wasn’t working against his country, he was working with his country which undercuts the idea he’s a foreign agent. That’s why Clinesmith lied because he didn’t want to stop this investigation.
Lindsey Graham: (19:20)
All right, this is after the election. “I am so stressed about what I could have done differently,” the day after the election. “I’m just devastated. I can’t wait until I can leave today and just shut off the world for the next four days.” I’m sure a lot of people felt that way after Trump got elected, maybe still feel that way, but you shouldn’t be in charge of supervising anything about Donald Trump if you feel that way.
Lindsey Graham: (19:47)
“I just can’t imagine the systematic disassembly of the progress we’ve made over the last eight years,” the Obama administration. “The crazies won finally.” This is the lawyer that they put in put in charge of supervising the warrant process. This is the Tea Party on steroids. And I’m sure there are newsrooms all over America saying, “That’s absolutely right. What is wrong with that?”
Lindsey Graham: (20:20)
“Oh, also Pence is stupid,” whatever. This is what the guy’s saying right after the election. “And it’s just hard not to feel like the FBI caused some of this. It was razor thin in some States. Plus my goddamn name is all over the legal documents investigating Trump’s staff.” And this is the one that gets me the most. November the 22nd, shortly after the election of Donald J. Trump.
Lindsey Graham: (21:01)
The FBI lawyer in charge of supervising the FISA process tweets out to friends, “Viva la resistance.” What are the odds that this guy might do something wrong? Would you have to be part of a right wing conspiracy to predict in the future maybe this guy will get off script? Folks, if these are a few irregularities, the rule of law in this country is dead.
Lindsey Graham: (21:35)
And here’s the good news. These are not a few irregularities, these are a few bad people that couldn’t believe Trump won, didn’t want him to believe or didn’t want him to win. And when he won, couldn’t tolerate the fact that he won. And all these smelly people elected him. This is bad stuff. So if you get out of this report, ” Lawful investigation with a few irregularities,” it says more about you than Mr. Horowitz.
Lindsey Graham: (22:06)
Now, how the hell did this whole thing start? What got us here today? They open up a counterintelligence investigation in July. We know the Russians are messing in our election. And it was the Russians, ladies and gentlemen, who stole the Democratic National Committee emails, Podesta’s emails, and screwed around with Hillary Clinton. It wasn’t the Ukrainians, it was the Russians.
Lindsey Graham: (22:36)
And they’re coming after us again. So to be concerned that the Russians are messing with presidential campaigns was a legitimate concern. So they looked around at the Trump campaign and they said, “Well, let’s see if we can protect the Trump campaign.” Carter Page went to Moscow a lot, made speeches. If you’ve ever met Carter Page, one thing you will not accuse him of his being James Bond.
Lindsey Graham: (23:08)
This poor guy, Papadopoulos, picked by Sam Clovis to be part of Trump’s National Security team. This National Security team was literally picked up off the street. If you’ve had a photo with Donald Trump, you spent more time with Donald Trump than Papadopoulos and Page. They’re not paid, they’re volunteers. But the FBI thinks we need to watch these guys or Manafort as well as … who’s the other one? Flynn, General Flynn.
Lindsey Graham: (23:40)
So they open up a counterintelligence investigation. Let’s assume for a moment that the small predicate you need has been met. What the hell happened after they opened it up? What did they find? Were their suspicions validated? Or did they find at every turn it’s really not true and they ignored it? So one of the first things they tried to do was to get a warrant under the foreign intelligence surveillance act to follow Carter Page, a volunteer for the campaign and American citizen.
Lindsey Graham: (24:17)
They applied for the warrant internally in August of 2016 and the lawyers say, “You don’t have enough.” Why? Because they had nothing. Maybe this reasonable articulation is this small, but to get a warrant from a court, you got to have probable cause. So the lawyers are saying, “You don’t have it.” Everybody is now frustrated, folks, that’s not the right answer. So McCabe suggests, the number two guy at the FBI, “Well, let’s go look at this Steele dossier.”
Lindsey Graham: (24:55)
“Maybe that will get us over the hump.” Just stay tuned, we’ll talk about that in a minute. So on September the 19th, for the first time, they introduced the Steele dossier into the warrant application process. It worked. September the 21st, they get a sign off, “Let’s go get a warrant.” The dossier got them to where they wanted to go. As you say, Mr. Horowitz, it was central and basically outcome determinative.
Lindsey Graham: (25:29)
Without this dossier, they go nowhere. With it, they’re off to the races. Who is Christopher Steele? You thought these other people were bad, wait til you hear about this guy. Christopher Steele was a former MI6, is that right? Six, five, whatever it is. He was a British agent. Retired, he had a new line of business. He was hired by a company called Fusion GPS to investigate Donald Trump.
Lindsey Graham: (26:11)
Okay. You want to look at foreign influence? You’re about to find it. Fusion GPS is on the payroll of the Democratic National Party. Christopher Steele is working for a company to find dirt on Trump and the money comes from the Democratic party. Did they tell the court this? No. Is that a bit unnerving? Would be to me. So Christopher Steele is on the payroll of a company funded by the Democratic party. Here’s what Bruce Ohr tells the FBI about Christopher Steele.
Lindsey Graham: (26:48)
“He was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being the US president.” This is the guy that gave them the word product to get the warrant. Steele told Ohr that if Trump won the elections, Steele’s source network may be in jeopardy by a new FBI director and new agency heads appointed by Trump who would have a higher degree of loyalty to the new president and could decide to take action against Steele in his source network.
Lindsey Graham: (27:21)
Let me tell you about Christopher Steele. Ohr was right, he was on a mission to get Donald Trump. Not only did he provide the dossier that made the difference in getting a warrant, his biases were well known, he was shopping the dossier … do we have it? To anybody in everybody in the media and in politics to see if they would print it. The reason the FBI cut him loose it was because they found out he was shopping this thing around to media outlets rather than being a valid so-
Lindsey Graham: (28:03)
… around to media outlets, rather than being a valid source. But after they knew he was shopping it around, they kept him around anyway because Ohr kept talking to him. And you think that’s weird? Bruce Ohr’s wife worked with Christopher Steele! She was employed by Fusion GPS, the wife of the number four guy at the FBI!
Lindsey Graham: (28:26)
Christopher Steele went all over the United States trying to get media outlets to publish this garbage. The first thing is about the golden shower. About the sexual encounter that President Trump supposedly had in a Ritz Carlton hotel in Russia. Let me tell you how I come to find out about Christopher Steele’s work product. In December of 2016, John McCain goes to a National Security Conference in Canada, and somebody tells him about the Steele dossier, and “It’s bad and you need to know about it.” And it gets to John McCain. John McCain puts it in his safe, he gives it to me, and I read it. And the first thing I thought of was, “Oh my God. One of two things: this could be Russian disinformation, or they may have something on Trump.” If you read this document, the first thing you would think of is, “They got something on Donald Trump.” It is stunning; it is damning; it is salacious. And it’s a bunch of crap.
Lindsey Graham: (29:43)
They finally find the guy that prepared all the information. But a little bit about Steele: in 2015, the British Intelligence Service said, “You need to watch this guy. He’s not reliable.” They take time to go to London to check Steele out, and they’re told he demonstrates lack of self awareness, poor judgment, keen to help but underpinned by poor judgment, judgment pursuing people at political risk but no end tail value. If you spend 30 minutes looking at Christopher Steele, you would understand this guy is biased; he’s got an ax to grind; he’s on the payroll of the opposing party. Take anything he says with a grain of salt.
Lindsey Graham: (30:37)
In January 2017, the FBI figures out who the sub source of the Steele dossier is. What you need to know: this is not what Steele found himself… This is what he gathered from one person. They finally found out who this one person is. They go talk to him in January 2017. Where’s that summary? Five people interview the primary sub source, the guy who provided Steele with everything. And they showed him the dossier. Read pages 186 to 190. What does the Russian guy tell the FBI about the dossier? That Steele misstated or exaggerated the prime sub source’s statements, that Trump’s alleged sexual activities at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Moscow was rumor and speculation. He went on to say he heard it at a bar, and in the report it suggests that a western employee of the Ritz Carlton confirmed this escapade by then private citizen Trump. When he read that, he said, “That’s not true. I never told Steele that somebody working for the Ritz Carlton confirmed this. I heard it at a bar.”
Lindsey Graham: (32:13)
Primary sub source stated that he never expected Steele to put the primary sub source’s statements in reports to present them as facts. They were word of mouth and hearsay, conversations had with friends over beers, or statements made in jest that should be taken with a grain of salt. So in January 2017, the person who did all the assembling of the information for the now-famous Steele dossier tells the FBI, “I disavow everything in there.”
Lindsey Graham: (32:49)
Now, what should happen? Time out. Let’s reassess. Maybe we got this wrong. What would you hope to happen? That the FBI would slow down, because this is the outcome determined in the document that’s just had a hole blown through it. They don’t slow down. They use the document that now know to be a bunch of garbage, twice more, to get a warrant against Carter Page. I hope Carter Page gets a lawyer and sues the hell out of the Department of Justice and the FBI. Two more warrants were obtained by the Department of Justice and the FBI after being told in January by the Russian guy it’s all a bunch of bull. But it gets worse.
Lindsey Graham: (33:39)
Here’s how they describe the interview to the court. The FBI found that the Russian base sub source to be truthful and cooperative. Nothing about “and oh, by the way, he said everything in there is a bunch of bull.” You knew in January 2017 that there was no doubt before. You know by the guy who prepared it that he disavowed everything. It’s not true. It’s a grain of salt. I didn’t say all of these things. Instead of stopping, they keep going, and instead of telling the court the truth, what they’re required to do, they lie to the court. A few irregularities. How would you like this to happen in your life? How would you like to be on the receiving end of this? To our people in the news business, what would you like? How would you like this to be your news organization?
Lindsey Graham: (34:42)
In January 2017, there is no benefit of the doubt to be given. These five people from the Department of Justice and the FBI have been told by the one guy who did all the work that it’s a bunch of garbage. And the question is, how far up to the system did it go? Why did they apply for warrants twice more? Why didn’t they stop? Everybody wants to know, was there any bias here? What motivated these people? Why do you think they kept going? Maybe because they were on a mission. Not to protect Trump, but to protect us from Trump. That’s what they were trying. Protect all of us smelly people from Donald Trump. That’s what this is about. Whether you believe it or not, I believe it. And you know what? It could happen to y’all next time. There’s some pretty passionate people on our side that I wouldn’t want to be investigating any of you.
Lindsey Graham: (35:43)
So what happens next? They get a warrant twice more when they know it’s a bunch of garbage, they lie to the court about the actual interview. I don’t know what McCabe and Comey knew, but I’m dying to find out. And should they have known?
Lindsey Graham: (35:57)
June 2016. 2017. This is the next time they take the law in their own hands. Mr. Clinesmith. Six months after being told the dossier is a bunch of garbage, Clinesmith alters an email from the CIA to change it from “he is” to “he’s not.” Because if they had told the court that Page was working for the CIA, it explains the contact in the dossier. Mr. Clinesmith had a chance, in his mind, to make things right, and he took it. Why did he take the law in his own hands? Why did he doctor the email? Did it have anything to do with the way he sees Donald Trump’s presidency? You know what? It really doesn’t matter what he was thinking. It matters what he did. And I’m glad you found out what he did. I’m glad you told the country what he did, because I’m hoping that nobody will ever do it again.
Lindsey Graham: (37:14)
So Mr. Horowitz, the 17 irregularities that you found… Some of them are earth-shattering. Some of them should scare the hell out of all of us. I just want to end sort of where I began. This is not normal. Don’t judge the FBI and the Department of Justice by these characters. We’re better than this. Like many of you, I’ve worked with the FBI a lot of my time in government. I have a great respect for it. Director Wray, you’ve got a problem. And for this hearing to mean anything, we’ve got to fix it. And the way we fix it is listen to Mr. Horowitz and get the director of the FBI in here to try to find out a way to make sure this never happens again to any politician in this country. It’s Trump today. It could be you or me tomorrow. And imagine, ladies and gentlemen: if they can do this to the candidate for the president of the United States, what could they do to you? So the Trump presidency will end in a year or five years. I don’t know when. I hope he gets reelected. But we can’t write this off as being just about one man or one event. We’ve got to understand how off the rails the system got. And I will leave with some optimism here. I think Democrats and Republicans are willing to make sure this never happens again, that if you open up a counterintelligence investigation on a presidential campaign in the future, there needs to be more checks and balances.
Lindsey Graham: (39:12)
I want you to audit the FISA process. Mike Lee and Senator Leahy are probably the standard bearers for civil liberties. Cruz, a lot of people, we all care, but these are the two that constantly want to make sure that’s somebody’s watching those who watch us. They’re worried about meta data. While I may not agree with all of your concerns or all of your solutions, I respect the fact that you care. I hope you won’t treat this report as finding a lawful investigation with a few irregularities.
Lindsey Graham: (39:52)
I’m a pretty hawkish guy. But if the court doesn’t take corrective action and do something about being manipulated and lied to, you will lose my support. I know a lot about what’s going on out there to hurt us, and they’re real threats, and they’re real agent. And they’re really bad actors out there. I’d hate to lose the ability of the FISA court to operate at a time, probably, when we need it the most. But after your report, I have serious concerns about whether the FISA court can continue unless there is fundamental reform. After your report, I think we need to rewrite the rules of how you start a counterintelligence investigation and the checks and balances that we need.
Lindsey Graham: (40:46)
Mr. Horowitz, for us to do justice to your report, we have to do more than try to shade this report one way or the other. We have to address the underlying problem: the system in the hands of a few bad people can do a lot of damage. Thank you very much.
Michael Horowitz Opening Statement
Michael Horowitz: (00:02)
Chairman Grahams, Senator Feinstein, members of the committee. Thank you for inviting me to testify today. The report that my office released this week is the product of a comprehensive and exhaustive review conducted over the past 19 months by an OIG team that examined more than 1 million documents in the departments in the FBI’s possession, including documents other U.S. and foreign government agencies had provided to the FBI.
Michael Horowitz: (00:31)
Our team conducted over 170 interviews involving more than 100 witnesses, and we documented all of our findings in the 434 page report that we issued this week. I would encourage everybody to read the report, although I understand 400 plus page reports can be hard to get through. We do have a pithy, I’ll call it, 19 page executive summary with it, which I’d encourage people to read at a minimum. I want to commend also the tireless efforts of our outstanding review team for conducting such rigorous and effective independent oversight. It’s exactly what we are supposed to do as inspectors general.
Michael Horowitz: (01:17)
The FBI investigation, that’s the subject of this report. Crossfire hurricane was opened on July 31, 2016. Days after the FBI received reporting from a friendly foreign government. The reporting stated that in a May, 2016 meeting with the friendly foreign government, Trump campaign, foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos, quote, suggested the Trump team had received some kind of a suggestion, close quote from Russia that it could assist in the election process with the anonymous release of information during the campaign that would be damaging to candidate Clinton and then president Obama. Following receipt of that information, the FBI opened Crossfire Hurricane. Given the nature and sensitivity of such an investigation, we would have expected FBI personnel to faithfully adhere to the FBI’s detailed policies, practices, and norms. The FBI has developed and earned a reputation as one of the world’s premiere law enforcement agencies. In significant part, because of its adherence to those policies and its tradition of professionalism, impartiality, and nonpolitical enforcement of the law.
Michael Horowitz: (02:33)
However, our review identified significant concerns with how certain aspects of the investigation were conducted and supervised. Particularly, the FBI’s failure to adhere to its own standards of accuracy and completeness when filing applications for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act authority, known as FISA, to surveil Carter Page, a U.S. person that was connected to the Trump4President campaign.
Michael Horowitz: (03:02)
We determined that the decision to open Crossfire Hurricane was made by the then FBI counterintelligence divisions Assistant Director, Bill Priestap, and that his decision reflected a consensus reached after multiple days of discussions and meetings among senior FBI officials. We reviewed department and FBI policies and concluded that Assistant Director Priestap’s exercise of discretion in opening the investigation was in compliance with those policies. We also reviewed, as we detail in the report, the emails, text messages and other documents of those involved in that decision and particularly Mr. Priestap’s, and we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that indicated political bias or improper motivation influencing his decision to open the investigation.
Michael Horowitz: (03:55)
While the information in the FBI’s possession at the time was limited, in light of the low threshold established by department and FBI predication policy, which by the way is not a legal requirement but rather a prudential one in the FBI and department policies. We found that Crossfire Hurricane was open for an authorized investigative purpose and with sufficient factual predication. This decision to open Crossfire Hurricane, which involved the activities of individuals associated with a national major party campaign for president, was under department and FBI policy, a discretionary judgment left to the FBI. As we point out in our report, there was no requirement that department officials be consulted or even notified of that decision prior to the FBI making that decision.
Michael Horowitz: (04:47)
Consistent with this policy, the FBI advised supervisors in the department’s National Security division of the investigation days after it had been opened. As we detail in our report, high level department notice and approval is required in other circumstances where investigative activity could substantially impact certain civil liberties and that notice allows senior department officials to consider the potential constitutional and prudential implications in advance of those activities.
Michael Horowitz: (05:19)
We concluded that similar notice should be required in circumstances such as those present here. Shortly after the FBI opened the Crossfire Hurricane investigation and the FBI conducted several consensually monitored recorded meetings between FBI, confidential human sources, which refer to as CHS’s, and individuals affiliated with the Trump campaign including a high level campaign official who was not a subject of the investigation. We found that the CHS operations, we see the necessary approvals under FBI policy, that an FBI assistant director, Mr. Priestap, knew about and approved of each operation even in circumstances where what was only required was first level supervisory agent approval, and that the operations were permitted under department and FBI policy because their use was not for the sole purpose of monitoring activities protected by the First Amendment, or the lawful exercise of other rights secured by the constitution or laws of the United States.
Michael Horowitz: (06:30)
We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the FBI’s decision to conduct those CHS operations. Additionally, we found no evidence that the FBI attempted to play CHS’s within or report on the Trump campaign or recruit members of the Trump campaign as CHS’s. However, we were concerned that under applicable department and FBI policy, it would have been sufficient for a first level FBI supervisor to authorize the sensitive domestic CHS operations undertaken in Crossfire Hurricane, and that there is no applicable department or FBI policy requiring the FBI to notify department officials of a decision to task a confidential human source to consensually monitor, in other words, record conversations with members of a political campaign.
Michael Horowitz: (07:28)
In terms of that, it’s worth noting that had in the midyear investigation, which was the Clinton email investigation or in this investigation, the FBI could have, at the supervisory agent level, so one level removed from a line agent, authorized a confidential human source to have a consensually monitored conversation with either of the presidential candidates, with no notice to the department of justice or any lawyer in the department of justice.
Michael Horowitz: (07:57)
In Crossfire Hurricane, where each of the operations had the potential to gather sensitive campaign information protected by the First Amendment, we found no evidence that the FBI consulted with department officials before conducting those operations, and no policy, as I just noted, requiring them to do so. We concluded the current department and FBI policies are not sufficient to ensure appropriate oversight and accountability when such operations potentially implicate sensitive, constitutionally protected activity, and that requiring department consultation at a minimum would be appropriate, and we make a recommendation to that effect.
Michael Horowitz: (08:37)
One investigative tool which the department and the FBI policy does expressly require advanced approval by a senior department official is the seeking of a court order under FISA. When the Crossfire Hurricane team first proposed seeking a FISA order targeting Carter Page in mid August, 2016, FBI attorneys assisting the investigation considered at a quote, close call, close quote, and the FISA order was not requested at the time.
Michael Horowitz: (09:09)
However, in September 2016, immediately after the Crossfire Hurricane team received reporting from Christopher Steele concerning Page’s alleged recent activities with Russian officials, FBI attorneys advised the department that it was ready to move forward with a request to obtain FISA authority to surveil page. FBI and department officials told us the Steele reporting, quote, pushed the Pfizer proposal over the line close quote, in terms of establishing probable cause, and we concluded that the Steele reporting played a central and essential role in the decision to seek a FISA order.
Michael Horowitz: (09:48)
FBI leadership supported relying on Steele’s reporting to seek a FISA order after being advised of concerns expressed by a department attorney that Steele may have been hired by someone associated with a rival candidate or campaign. Surveillance authority under FISA can significantly assist the government’s efforts to combat terrorism, clandestine intelligence activity, and other threats to the national security.
Michael Horowitz: (10:15)
At the same time, the use of this authority unavoidably raises civil liberties concerns. FISA orders can be used to surveil U.S. persons and in some cases the surveillance will foreseeably collect information about the individuals constitutionally protected activities, such as Carter Page’s legitimate activities on behalf of a presidential campaign.
Michael Horowitz: (10:40)
Moreover, proceedings before the foreign intelligence surveillance court, which is responsible for ruling on applications for FISA orders are ex parte, meaning that unlike most court proceedings, the government is the only party present for the proceedings, and FISA orders have not been subject to scrutiny through subsequent adversarial proceedings like court authorized search warrants, and wiretap applications all are potentially through the criminal process.
Michael Horowitz: (11:12)
In light of these concerns. The FISA statute and department and FBI policies and procedures have established important safeguards to protect the FISA application process from irregularities and abuse. Among the most important are the requirements and FBI policy that every FISA application must contain a, quote, full and accurate, close quote, presentation of the facts and that agents must ensure that all factual statements in FISA applications are quote, scrupulously accurate, close quote. These are the standards for all FISA applications regardless of the investigation and it is incumbent upon the FBI to meet them in every application.
Michael Horowitz: (12:01)
Nevertheless, we found that investigators failed to meet their basic obligations of ensuring that the FISA applications were scrupulously accurate. We identified significant inaccuracies and omissions in each of the four applications, seven in the first application and a total of 17 by the final renewal application. For example, the Crossfire Hurricane team obtained information from Steele’s primary sub source in January 2017 that raised significant questions about the reliability of the Steele reporting.
Michael Horowitz: (12:34)
This was particularly noteworthy because the FISA applications relied entirely on information from the primary sub sources reporting to support the allegation that Page was coordinating with the Russian government on 2016 U.S. presidential election activities. However, the FBI did not share this information with department lawyers and it was therefore omitted from the last two renewal applications. All the applications also omitted information that the FBI had obtained in August 2016 from another U.S. government agency detailing its prior relationship with Carter page, including that Carter Page had been approved as an operational contact for that other agency from 2008 to 2013, that Page had provided information to the other agency concerning his prior contacts with certain Russian intelligence officers, and that an employee of that other agency assessed that Carter Page had been candid with them.
Michael Horowitz: (13:44)
The FBI never followed up on that information. As a result of these seven significant inaccuracies and omissions, relevant information was not shared with and consequently considered by department lawyers and the FISA court. The FISA applications made it appear as though the evidence supporting probable cause was stronger than was actually the case. We also found basic fundamental and serious errors during the completion of the FBI’s factual accuracy reviews known as the Wood’s procedures, which are designed to ensure that FISA applications contain a full and accurate presentation of the facts.
Michael Horowitz: (14:26)
Department lawyers and the court should have been given complete and accurate information so they could have meaningfully evaluated probable cause before authorizing the surveillance of a U.S. person associated with a presidential campaign. That did not occur. As a result, the surveillance of Carter Page continued even as the FBI gathered information that weakened the assessment of probable cause and made the FISA applications less accurate.
Michael Horowitz: (14:57)
We concluded that investigators did not give appropriate consideration or attention to facts that cut against probable cause, and that as the investigation progressed and more information tended to undermine or weaken the assertions in the FISA applications, investigators did not reassess the information supporting probable cause.
Michael Horowitz: (15:19)
Further, the agents and supervisory agents did not follow, or even appear to know, certain basic requirements in the Wood’s procedures. Although we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence of intentional misconduct, we also did not receive satisfactory explanations for any of the errors or emissions we identified. We found, and, as we outlined here, are deeply concerned that so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate handpicked 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 would likely be subjected to close scrutiny. The circumstances reflect a failure, as we outlined 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.
Michael Horowitz: (16:36)
We believe that in the FBI’s most sensitive and high priority matters, and especially when seeking court permission to use an intrusive tool such as a FISA order, it’s 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.
Michael Horowitz: (17:11)
Such oversight requires greater familiarity with the facts than we saw in this review, where time and again during our OIG interviews, FBI managers, supervisors, and senior officials displayed a lack of understanding or awareness of important information concerning many of the problems that we identified. That is why, as you will see in the report, our final recommendation was to refer the entire chain of command, that we outlined here, to the FBI and the department for consideration of how to assess and address their performance failures.
Michael Horowitz: (17:49)
Additionally, in light of the significant concerns we identified, the OIG announced this week that we were initiating an audit that will further examine the FBI’s compliance with the Wood’s procedures in FISA applications that target U.S. persons, not only in counter-intelligence investigations, but also importantly in counter-terrorism investigations.
Michael Horowitz: (18:10)
The OIG report made a number of other recommendations to the department and the FBI. We believe that implementation of those recommendations, including those that seek individual accountability for the failures identified in our report, will improve the FBI’s ability to more carefully and effectively utilize its important national security authorities like FISA, while also striving to safeguard the civil liberties and privacy of impacted U.S. persons.
Michael Horowitz: (18:39)
The OIG will continue to conduct rigorous oversight of these matters and the months and years ahead, including the recommendations that we made in this week’s report. That concludes my statement and I’d be pleased to answer any questions the Committee may have.
Lindsey Graham: (18:55)
Thank you very much and again to your team. Thank you for the service you’ve done to the country here.
Dianne Feinstein Opening Statement
Mrs. Feinstein: (00:00)
Thank you Mr. Chairman. I assume there is no time limit.
Speaker 2: (00:06)
Take all the time you need.
Mrs. Feinstein: (00:07)
Well, I won’t take a long time but I’ve been reading these reports, ladies and gentlemen now for 25 years. And I have great appreciation for this inspector general, and I just want to make those personal remarks. This is a tough arena. And as you can see, there are very tough people part of that arena. But to have an inspector general who tells it as they see it, and does this year after year, is a saving grace. And I hope people will get this report. If I have a grievance, it’s that the print is too small.
Speaker 2: (00:48)
I agree with that.
Mrs. Feinstein: (00:50)
Thank you very much. And it is heavy to carry around. But last year, this inspector general pledged to Congress that he would examine whether political bias played a role in the FBI’s decision to investigate ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. The Inspector General kept his promise. His office conducted a 19 months investigation. They interviewed more than a hundred witnesses, reviewed more than a million documents, and issued this 434 page report that contained several important findings.
Mrs. Feinstein: (01:35)
First, on a question of bias, Inspector General Horowitz found no evidence that political or anti-Trump bias was at play. According to the IG’s report, the FBI complied with existing department and FBI policies in opening the investigation. And the IG, “Did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced this decision.” Or any specific investigative steps taken by the FBI. That’s the finding.
Mrs. Feinstein: (02:17)
And this is important, why? In public statements beginning last spring, the Attorney General expressed his belief that senior government officials may have, “Put a thumb on the scale.” Because of political bias against Trump. His comments echoed the president who has repeatedly alleged that there is a deep state within the government against him.
Mrs. Feinstein: (02:46)
He has used this to dismiss the entire Russia investigation as a witch hunt and a hoax. The IG’s report conclusively refutes these claims. This was not a politically motivated investigation. There is no deep state. Simply put, the FBI investigation was motivated by facts, not bias. Secondly, the Inspector General confirmed that there was an adequate predicate, meaning a legitimate, factual and legal basis to investigate.
Mrs. Feinstein: (03:26)
The basis was not as some have claimed, the so-called Steele dossier. In fact, reporting from Mr. Steele played no role in opening the investigation. Instead, this report confirms that the FBI opened the investigation after being told by Australia, a trusted foreign ally, that Trump adviser, George Papadopoulos had learned in 2016, the month of April, that Russia had, and was willing to release, “Information during the campaign that would be damaging to candidate Clinton.” The IG report found that, “This information provided the FBI with the factual basis that if true, “Indicated activity constituting either a federal crime or a threat to national security or both may have occurred or may be occurring.””
Mrs. Feinstein: (04:34)
The IG also found that when the FBI learned that in late July, 2016, the Bureau was aware of Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 elections, including Russian hacking of democratic campaign computers, materials stolen by Russia had been released online, including by WikiLeaks. And the US intelligence community assessed in August of 2016, that, “Russia was considering further intelligence operations to impact and disrupt elections.”
Mrs. Feinstein: (05:17)
Against this backdrop, the FBI was obligated to investigate possible ties to the Trump campaign. According to Bill Priestap, the FBI assistant director who authorized opening the investigation. Other officials conveyed a similar obligation and sense of urgency to investigate.
Mrs. Feinstein: (05:44)
David Laufman, a national security division chief, said it would have been, “A dereliction of duty and responsibility of the highest order not to commit the appropriate resources as urgently as possible to run these facts to the ground and find out what was going on.” The decision to open the investigation was unanimous, not a single official disagreed.
Mrs. Feinstein: (06:14)
As a result, America ultimately learned extensive details about Russia’s sweeping and systemic attack on the 2016 election, including that the Trump campaign knew about, welcomed and, “Expected it would benefit electorally.” From Russia’s efforts.
Mrs. Feinstein: (06:41)
The Inspector General’s report also identifies several errors made by FBI and justice department line personnel when seeking warrants for surveillance on Carter Page from the FISA Court. FBI director Wray submitted a written response accepting the IG’s findings, including the key finding that the FBI had sufficient cause to investigate the Trump’s campaign ties to Russia.
Mrs. Feinstein: (07:15)
Director Wray also said that the IG’s findings of FISA errors are, “Constructive criticism that will make us stronger as an organization.” And that he has already taken action to address the IG’s recommendations. By contrast, Attorney General Barr issued a press release that continues to criticize the FBI for investigating the Trump campaign.
Mrs. Feinstein: (07:45)
It’s really extraordinary that the Attorney General continues to make unsupported attacks on the agency that he is responsible for leading. I believe strongly that it’s time to move on from the false claims of political bias. And those who showed great interest in the question of politically motivated investigations against President Trump should show the same concern about politically motivated investigations requested by the President or his attorney general. Inspector General Horowitz, I want to thank you on behalf of this side and your staff for the hard work. We look forward to hearing from you.
Speaker 2: (08:30)
Thank you, Mr. Horowitz.
Lindsey Graham Questions Horowitz
Lindsey Graham: (00:01)
The former FBI director James Comey said this week that your report vindicates him. Is that a fair assessment of your report?
M. Horowitz: (00:11)
I think the activities we found here don’t vindicate anybody who touched this.
Lindsey Graham: (00:15)
Okay. Let’s run a clip here. This is what Comey said in 2018. It would be nice to have sound. Do we have sound? Never mind. I’ll read it.
Lindsey Graham: (00:36)
“Director Comey,” the reporter’s asking him, “can I ask you a question on FISA abuse? It’s a major issue for the Republicans. Do you have a total confidence in the dossier when you used it to secure a surveillance warrant and also in the subsequent renewals?” This was asked in December of 2018, about a year ago.
Lindsey Graham: (00:56)
Comey. “I have total confidence that the FISA process was followed, that the entire case was handled in a thoughtful, responsible way by DOJ and the FBI, and I think the notion that FISA was abused here is nonsense.”
Lindsey Graham: (01:15)
Would it be fair to say that you take issue with that statement?
M. Horowitz: (01:19)
Certainly our findings were that there were significant problems.
Lindsey Graham: (01:22)
Yeah, so when Comey speaks about FISA, you shouldn’t listen. You should listen to Mr. Horowitz. He’s not vindicated, and to be concerned about the FISA warrant process is not nonsense. Christopher Steele, is it fair to say that he had a political bias against Donald Trump?
M. Horowitz: (01:42)
Given who he was paid for, there was a bias that needed to be disclosed to the court.
Lindsey Graham: (01:46)
Does it seem that he at all personally had a bias? Not just cause he’s on the payroll of the Democratic Party, but he…
M. Horowitz: (01:52)
Well, we found in the course of this and heard from Mr. Ohr about his comment to him that he was desperate to prevent Mr. Trump’s election.
Lindsey Graham: (02:00)
Again, this is the guy that provides the dossier that gets the warrant over the top against Carter Page. He’s paid for by the Democratic Party, and he personally believes it’s bad for Donald Trump to win. He’s marketing the dossier, which is a bunch of garbage, to anybody and everybody. To me, that’s important. Is that important to you?
M. Horowitz: (02:25)
Any evidence of bias is supposed to be disclosed to the court and to the department lawyers.
Lindsey Graham: (02:30)
Okay, so let’s play this out. In January 2017 when they’d figured out the primary sub source and they talked to the Russian guy that provided Steele all the information, what should the FBI have done at that moment?
M. Horowitz: (02:48)
Two things. Reconsidered internally where things stood, and most importantly, told the lawyers at the Justice Department who they were asking to help them get a FISA.
Lindsey Graham: (02:57)
And there are five people in that interview, right?
M. Horowitz: (03:01)
Lindsey Graham: (03:01)
Okay. Are you going to make sure those five people are known to the higher ups?
M. Horowitz: (03:06)
They are all part of the referral that I mentioned earlier.
Lindsey Graham: (03:08)
Okay. Did they have a duty to report to their supervisors and eventually to the court exculpatory information?
M. Horowitz: (03:16)
Lindsey Graham: (03:17)
They did not.
M. Horowitz: (03:18)
They did not.
Lindsey Graham: (03:19)
M. Horowitz: (03:21)
That’s the question I can’t specifically answer for you.
Lindsey Graham: (03:25)
Can you say it wasn’t because of political bias?
M. Horowitz: (03:28)
On decisions regarding those FISA matters, I do not know their state of mind at this point.
Lindsey Graham: (03:33)
Okay. Fair enough. So we’re talking about actions now and trying to figure out what would motivate people. Do you think Comey and McCabe should have known?
M. Horowitz: (03:44)
That’s a challenging question. As we explained in the report, there were multiple briefings up the chain, including to the director and the deputy director. We don’t have a clear record of what precisely they were told. And as you know, as information flows upstream-
Lindsey Graham: (03:58)
Would you be surprised if it didn’t make it up the system? [inaudible 00:04:02] this earth shattering?
M. Horowitz: (04:04)
I’m not going to speculate as to what-
Lindsey Graham: (04:05)
Okay, fair enough.
M. Horowitz: (04:06)
Might or might not-
Lindsey Graham: (04:06)
Did Strzok know?
M. Horowitz: (04:11)
There are three iterations of the team. Mr. Strzok actually transitions off on this matter in January of 2017, so it’s not… I might have to go back and look precisely what time of year it was.
Lindsey Graham: (04:23)
Well, in February he mentions that Steele can’t verify.
M. Horowitz: (04:26)
Lindsey Graham: (04:27)
So pretty clear to me that it got up. So the court should have been told. They were not.
M. Horowitz: (04:32)
Lindsey Graham: (04:33)
How did they describe this meeting to the court in the warrant application?
M. Horowitz: (04:38)
So in the second and third renewals, the last two applications, they told the court that they had interviewed Steele’s primary sub source upon whom Steele relied in writing the reporting, and that they found the primary sub source to be credible. They did not tell the court or the department lawyers any of the information which would have allowed them to know that if you found the primary sub source credible, you couldn’t have also found the Steele reporting credible.
Lindsey Graham: (05:11)
Did they mislead the court?
M. Horowitz: (05:13)
That was misleading to the court and to the department to not include things.
Lindsey Graham: (05:18)
So they did two things in January 2017. They failed to report obviously exculpatory information, and when they did report to the court about the interview, they lied about it.
M. Horowitz: (05:30)
But let me add also that a year later in June of 2018 when the department sent a rule 13 letter to the court informing them of other information that had not been provided to the court, the department still didn’t know about the primary sub source information, and so when the department in its letter said that it still stood behind the FISA applications-
Lindsey Graham: (05:58)
Very interesting. Very interesting.
M. Horowitz: (05:59)
They referenced the primary sub source again, and the fact that the FBI found that person credible.
Lindsey Graham: (06:05)
So are these the best and brightest we have?
M. Horowitz: (06:09)
Well, certainly the actions of the FBI agents on this were not up to the standards of the FBI.
Lindsey Graham: (06:13)
So McCabe handpicks these people. Are they representative of the department as a whole in your view?
M. Horowitz: (06:20)
I certainly hope that that is not the way others are following these practices.
Lindsey Graham: (06:25)
Yeah, me too. Okay. So let’s fast forward now to June of 2016. Mr. Clinesmith, who’s he?
M. Horowitz: (06:38)
I’m going to defer on speaking about people who we don’t name specifically in the report.
Lindsey Graham: (06:45)
Tell me about the guy that altered the email from the CIA.
M. Horowitz: (06:48)
So there was a lawyer in the Office of General Counsel at the FBI who was the line attorney working with the agents and counterparts at the national security division on the FISA, and that individual in June of 2017 as the last application was being prepared and immediately following Mr. Page, Carter Page going to news outlets after word of the FISAs hit the news media, and said to the news media, “I was someone who worked with US intelligence agencies, not someone who worked against them.” Lawyers and agents went and said, “We’ve got to figure out what’s the story. Is that what happened?”
M. Horowitz: (07:41)
The OGC attorney for the FBI reached out to a liaison at the other government agency that was at issue, asked the question, was Mr. Page a source or a contact of some sort for your organization? The report back in the email referenced the August 2016 memorandum that that agency had provided to the FBI that I mentioned in my opening statement the FBI did no follow up on, and said what that liaison’s general recollection was that Mr. Page was or is someone who had a relationship with the entity, with the other government agency, but that the lawyer should go look at the report for confirmation. The lawyer then had a conversation with the FBI agent who was going to be the affiant, he person who swore out that final FISA application.
M. Horowitz: (08:49)
The agent told us, and as detailed in here was concerned about what he learned about what Page said publicly and wanted a definitive answer, as he put it, as to whether Page was-
Lindsey Graham: (09:01)
Because if Carter Page was actually telling the truth, that changes one of the predicates to consider him before an agent.
M. Horowitz: (09:09)
That was the concern of the agent, and it was the agent who was going to be swearing out [inaudible 00:09:14]
Lindsey Graham: (09:14)
If true it would be helpful to Mr. Page.
M. Horowitz: (09:16)
If true, it certainly could have and may well have been very helpful to Mr. Page, but it’s at a minimum without any doubt, it should have been known, it should have been followed up on, and it should have been told to people at the FBI.
Lindsey Graham: (09:28)
So what did this lawyer do?
M. Horowitz: (09:31)
When the lawyer had the discussion with the agent and the agent said, “I want to see it. Do you have it in writing?” the lawyer said he did, and he forwarded the liaison’s email but altered it to insert the words and not a source into the email.
Lindsey Graham: (09:51)
So he doctored it.
M. Horowitz: (09:54)
He doctored the original email from the liaison.
Lindsey Graham: (09:55)
It made it look like the CIA denied knowing Mr. Page.
M. Horowitz: (10:00)
It flatly stated that he was not a source.
Lindsey Graham: (10:02)
Now just imagine, folks, you’re representing somebody as a defense attorney and they do this to one of your clients. I hope somebody pays a price for this whether you like Trump or not. So why did Mr. Clinesmith, that’s who we’re talking about. You don’t have to say it. I’ll say it. What motivated him to do that?
M. Horowitz: (10:22)
It is unknown as to precisely why he did it, but we cite-
Lindsey Graham: (10:27)
This is the viva la resistance guy.
M. Horowitz: (10:30)
Right. I was going to mention, but we reference in here the text messages you mentioned, and we have not made a determination, but rather as we note in here when we learned this, we notified the attorney general and the FBI director, and referred it to them.
Lindsey Graham: (10:46)
You did a great job. The old adage is if you wake up and the lawn is wet, you can assume it rained. If you’ve got a guy who hates Trump’s guts from day one, thinks Pence is stupid and everybody who voted for Trump’s a idiot, and you give him power over Trump, maybe you’re making a mistake. Or again, maybe all these people who had these biases did nothing about it. Maybe, maybe not. It doesn’t really matter. We know what they did.
Lindsey Graham: (11:13)
Is it fair to say that after January 2017 when the guy who gave Steele all the information disavows the dossier, that not only they should have told the court, they should have slowed down, do you think the second and third warrants had a legal basis after that point?
M. Horowitz: (11:31)
We don’t reach that conclusion and I’m not going to here.
Lindsey Graham: (11:33)
Would you have submitted a warrant application as a lawyer?
M. Horowitz: (11:38)
Let me put it this way. I would not have submitted the one they put in, no doubt about it. It had no business going in with that [crosstalk 00:11:46]
Lindsey Graham: (11:46)
What I want you to know is in January 2017 the whole foundation for surveilling Carter Page collapses. Exculpatory information is ignored. They lie to the court about what the interview was all about. Is that a fair summary so far about the January 2017-
M. Horowitz: (12:05)
It was misleading to the court [inaudible 00:12:13]
Lindsey Graham: (12:12)
Okay, fair enough. Then in January, about six months later when they find more information that could be helpful to Mr. Page, they lie about it. Do you feel like Mr. Page was treated fairly by the Department of Justice and the FBI?
M. Horowitz: (12:27)
I don’t think the Department of Justice fairly treated these FISAs and he was on the receiving end of the FISAs.
Lindsey Graham: (12:32)
You would not want to be on the receiving end of this, would you?
M. Horowitz: (12:35)
I would not want agents or anybody failing to put forward all the information they’re obligated to tell the court on. I was in AUSA. I’ve seen what can [crosstalk 00:12:44]
Lindsey Graham: (12:44)
I would be very comfortable with you investigating anybody, because I think you know the difference between getting somebody and trying to find the truth. That’s what this is all about. The counterintelligence investigations. What’s the purpose of a counterintelligence investigation?
M. Horowitz: (13:04)
It’s to identify potential threats to the nation.
Lindsey Graham: (13:08)
Okay. This was opened up as a counterintelligence investigation, right?
M. Horowitz: (13:12)
Lindsey Graham: (13:13)
And we know the Russians were screwing around with the Democrats, right?
M. Horowitz: (13:18)
Lindsey Graham: (13:19)
That’s one of the concerns. It was the Russians who act in the DNC.
M. Horowitz: (13:23)
Lindsey Graham: (13:23)
Got their emails.
M. Horowitz: (13:24)
Lindsey Graham: (13:24)
So it’s okay for everybody to be concerned what are the Russians up to? I get that. It’s okay to look at… What’s the standard to start one of these things?
M. Horowitz: (13:37)
There are two types of investigations. Both of them have relatively low thresholds, as we point out here, for predication.
Lindsey Graham: (13:44)
Okay, so let’s assume for a moment that relatively low threshold was met. Would it be fair to say that if you stop there in looking at your report, you’re making a mistake?
M. Horowitz: (13:57)
You would be making a mistake. There is 400 pages here for a reason.
Lindsey Graham: (14:01)
There’s a mountain of misconduct. Please don’t ignore it. So my point is, if this is a counterintelligence investigation, who are they trying to protect? Who should they be trying to protect?
M. Horowitz: (14:16)
Well, if it’s the threat outlined in the friendly foreign government information, you would be looking to protect the election process, which would include-
Lindsey Graham: (14:27)
M. Horowitz: (14:28)
The campaign, the candidate, and the American people.
Lindsey Graham: (14:30)
Okay. So did they ever brief Hillary Clinton about efforts to foreign influences involving her campaign? Do you know?
M. Horowitz: (14:39)
I’ve heard that, but I don’t know for a fact.
Lindsey Graham: (14:41)
They did. Good for them, and they stopped it. Was there ever a defensive briefing given by the FBI or the Department of Justice to Donald Trump about the concerns?
M. Horowitz: (14:54)
There was not.
Lindsey Graham: (14:57)
What would you call a counterintelligence investigation that never had a protective element?
M. Horowitz: (15:07)
I’m not sure. Sorry. Mr. Chairman.
Lindsey Graham: (15:09)
Okay. If without eventually trying to protect the entity being influenced, is it legitimate?
M. Horowitz: (15:22)
It would depend on each fact and circumstance.
Lindsey Graham: (15:25)
Here’s what I’m trying to tell you. If you’re opening up a counterintelligence investigation to protect somebody, you should do it. Did they ever try to protect Donald Trump from foreign influence?
M. Horowitz: (15:34)
They did not brief him, and we lay out on page 55 [crosstalk 00:15:38].
Lindsey Graham: (15:37)
As a matter of fact, when they went in and gave a vanilla briefing, the Russians are out there, you better beware, didn’t they have an FBI agent do a 302 on the defensive briefing itself?
M. Horowitz: (15:48)
They sent one of the supervisory agents from the Crossfire Hurricane team to the briefing, and that agent prepared a report to the file of the briefing.
Lindsey Graham: (16:00)
About what Trump said?
M. Horowitz: (16:01)
About what Mr. Trump said and what Mr. Flynn said.
Lindsey Graham: (16:04)
Okay. So when we get defensively briefed tomorrow, would it be okay for FBI agents to open up 302s on what we said?
M. Horowitz: (16:15)
We have very significant concerns about that, and I would note that in Director Wray’s response, he underlined that that would not occur going forward.
Lindsey Graham: (16:22)
To those who can set aside how I feel about Trump for a minute, under the guise of protecting the campaign from Russian influence, they never lift a finger to protect the campaign. Every time they had information that the people they suspected were working for the Russians, it went the other way and they kept going. When they did generically brief candidate Trump, they sent an FBI agent in to do a 302. If this doesn’t bother you, you hate Trump way too much. Was that FBI agent spying on Donald Trump when he went in there?
M. Horowitz: (17:06)
It was a pretext meeting that I’m not going to… The process by which they have to do these meetings [crosstalk 00:17:16]
Lindsey Graham: (17:15)
If you don’t have a foundation for a warrant and you can take-
Speaker 3: (17:19)
[inaudible 00:17:19] question.
Lindsey Graham: (17:19)
I’m sorry, go ahead. Do you need to say anything else?
M. Horowitz: (17:24)
Lindsey Graham: (17:25)
M. Horowitz: (17:28)
The incident, the event, the meeting was a briefing, and the FBI considered and decided to send that agent there to do the briefing. So the agent was actually doing the briefing but also using it for the purpose of investigation.
Lindsey Graham: (17:44)
Okay, and I hope that doesn’t happen to us tomorrow. I’ll be really pissed if does. Okay, so let’s play this out. They never told Trump about the concerns. Is it fair to say there came a point that where surveilling Carter Page became unlawful?
M. Horowitz: (18:06)
I will let the court decide that. The court has this report and will make that decision.
Lindsey Graham: (18:10)
Let’s put it this way. If you don’t have a legal foundation to surveil somebody and you keep doing it, is that bad?
M. Horowitz: (18:17)
Lindsey Graham: (18:19)
Is that spying?
M. Horowitz: (18:22)
It’s illegal surveillance. It’s not court authorized surveillance under FISA.
Lindsey Graham: (18:26)
Whatever illegal surveillance means, they did it. So all this stuff that they did, illegally surveilled Trump’s campaign, they did because they had no legal basis after the January 2017 data dump by the Russian guy to believe that the dossier was reliable. They alter exculpatory information in June of 2017 that would have further proven that Carter Page is not a Russian agent and he was actually working with the CIA. Let me ask you very directly, do you believe Carter Page is or ever was an agent of the Russian government trying to do harm to his country?
M. Horowitz: (19:08)
I’m going to refer to the evidence we found here, which is that at the end of this-
Lindsey Graham: (19:11)
I’m going to read… Thank you.
M. Horowitz: (19:13)
The FBI, at the end of these FISAs, told us that they had found no evidence to corroborate the allegations in the Steele dossier related to him.
Lindsey Graham: (19:23)
It’s not that clean, folks. They knew and they ignored it and they continued to surveil and why? why did they doctor the email? The people who continued getting warrants after they knew it wasn’t legitimate had a bias that reeked. How this thing was opened, I don’t know, but I can tell you Mr. Durham has a different view. I respect your view that they may have been a lawful predicate, giving them every benefit of the doubt, but one of the people pushing this was Peter Strzok from day one.
Lindsey Graham: (19:54)
So ladies and gentlemen, we have a task at hand here to make sure this never happens again, to hold people accountable, change our laws, save the FISA court if we can. And I hope this chapter in American history is never repeated. And finally, if you report that this 434 page report says lawful investigation with a few irregularities, you’re doing a great disservice to the American people. Thank you very much.
Feinstein & Leahy Question Horowitz
D. Feinstein: (00:01)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As we spoke, Inspector General, you pointed out your office spent 19 months and interviewed a hundred witnesses, and your report concluded that the FBI had an adequate predicate reason to open the investigation on the Trump campaign ties with Russia. Could you quickly define that predicate?
M. Horowitz: (00:27)
Yeah. So, the predicate here was the information that the FBI got at the end of July from the friendly foreign government that reflected a meeting that the friendly foreign government had with Mr. Papadopoulos in May.
D. Feinstein: (00:43)
Who was the friendly government?
M. Horowitz: (00:46)
We don’t mention that in the report, so I’m going to stick to what we have.
D. Feinstein: (00:48)
Is that classified?
M. Horowitz: (00:50)
My understanding is still classified, but it-
D. Feinstein: (00:53)
M. Horowitz: (00:54)
As I sit here, I am only going to speak to what’s in our report.
D. Feinstein: (00:58)
Okay. Go ahead.
M. Horowitz: (01:00)
And as I mentioned in my statement, the comment was that Mr. Papadopoulos had made a suggestion that there had been a suggestion to the Trump campaign that the Russian government could provide information that would be damaging to candidate Clinton and then-President Obama.
D. Feinstein: (01:25)
So, your report states that you didn’t find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation played a role?
M. Horowitz: (01:35)
D. Feinstein: (01:36)
Thank you. And you didn’t find a deep state conspiracy against Candidate or President Trump?
M. Horowitz: (01:44)
As to the opening, we found no bias, no testimony or documentary evidence on that.
D. Feinstein: (01:50)
And no rationale for a deep state that-
M. Horowitz: (01:54)
We looked at Mr. Preistap, as I noted, was the decision maker, and we did not find any evidence in his emails or texts of having engaged in any bias or having any bias.
D. Feinstein: (02:07)
FBI Director Wray provided a written response to your report accepting all of your findings. And these include the key finding that there was “An authorized purpose and actual factual predication for the investigation.” By contrast, Attorney General Barr expressed his doubt about the legitimacy of the FBI’s investigation in press statements. Did Attorney General Barr provide any evidence that caused you to alter this key finding that the FBI investigation had an adequate predicate?
M. Horowitz: (02:44)
No. We stand by our finding.
D. Feinstein: (02:47)
Thank you. During your investigation, Attorney General Barr stated his belief that “spying on the Trump campaign did occur” and, as you said, your investigation found no evidence that the FBI placed any confidential source within the Trump campaign or tasked any confidential source to report on the Trump campaign. That’s correct, right?
M. Horowitz: (03:10)
D. Feinstein: (03:11)
And further, no evidence that political bias or improper motivations influenced the decision to use confidential sources as part of the investigation?
M. Horowitz: (03:22)
D. Feinstein: (03:23)
Did your office ask Attorney General Barr and U.S. Attorney, John Durham, to share whatever evidence they had that might be relevant to your investment?
M. Horowitz: (03:37)
We asked Mr. Durham to do that.
D. Feinstein: (03:40)
And what about Attorney General Barr?
M. Horowitz: (03:43)
And Attorney General Barr.
D. Feinstein: (03:44)
D. Feinstein: (03:45)
So, nothing they could provide altered your office’s conclusion that the FBI did not place spies in the Trump campaign?
M. Horowitz: (03:54)
None of the discussions changed our findings here.
D. Feinstein: (03:56)
Thank you. In a press statement issued Monday U.S. Attorney John Durham, tasked by Attorney General Barr to also investigate the origins of the Russia investigation, stated and I quote “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.” What’s your reaction to that?
M. Horowitz: (04:25)
Well, I was surprised by the statement. I didn’t necessarily know it was going to be released on Monday. We did meet with Mr. Durham, as I mentioned. We provided him with a copy of the report as we did others through our factual accuracy review process. We met with him in November. With regard to that, we did discuss the opening issue. He said he did not necessarily agree with our conclusion about the opening of a full counter-intelligence investigation, which is what this was, but there is also an investigative means by which the FBI can move forward with an investigation. It’s called a preliminary investigation. So, there are two types of investigations, full and preliminary. They opened a full here. He said during the meeting that the information from the friendly foreign government was in his view sufficient to support the preliminary investigation. And as we note in the report, investigative steps such as confidential human source activity that occurred here are allowed under a preliminary investigation or under a full investigation.
D. Feinstein: (05:39)
Did either Barr or Durham present anything that altered your findings?
M. Horowitz: (05:46)
D. Feinstein: (05:50)
I wanted to ask you, since we have the author of the whistleblower legislation very proudly sitting here, you previously told this committee that whistleblower rights and protections have been one of your highest priorities since becoming IG. As you know, there have been calls for the Ukraine whistleblower to be identified publicly, even though that person was not a direct witness to the events. So, what is your view? Should the Ukraine whistleblower’s confidentiality be breached and that person identified publicly and why not?
M. Horowitz: (06:27)
So, whistleblower protections have been one of my highest priorities. I’ve appreciated working with all the members of the committee, obviously, particularly Senator Grassley. We wrote a letter recently as the IG community quoting his statement on the issues and the importance of whistleblowers and whistleblowers have a right to expect complete full confidentiality in all circumstances. It’s in the law, in the IG Act that Congress wrote, and it’s a very important provision.
D. Feinstein: (06:58)
Thank you. In a public hearing before the house intelligence committee, Deputy Secretary of State George Kent testified that politically associated investigations or prosecutions against opponents of those in power undermine the rule of law. Do you agree with that? Do politically motivated investigations undermine the rule of law?
M. Horowitz: (07:22)
I agree. Any politically motivated investigation undermines the rule of law.
D. Feinstein: (07:26)
Thank you very much. Did you find any evidence that President Obama or anyone else in the White House asked the United States government to investigate then-Candidate Trump or his campaign?
M. Horowitz: (07:39)
We certainly didn’t see any evidence of that in the FBI’s files or the department’s files, which was our mandate here and our authorized jurisdiction.
D. Feinstein: (07:46)
You have a policy recommendation regarding the use of confidential human sources. I’d like to ask a few questions about it. Your investigation found that the use of confidential human sources was consistent with existing rules, correct?
M. Horowitz: (08:03)
D. Feinstein: (08:04)
The use of confidential human sources here was not solely to gather First Amendment protected information?
M. Horowitz: (08:11)
Correct. And that is the standard currently in the rules.
D. Feinstein: (08:14)
And you found no evidence that the decision to use confidential human sources was motivated by political bias? Is that correct?
M. Horowitz: (08:22)
D. Feinstein: (08:24)
With regard to your policy recommendation, what, if anything, do you believe should be changed and why?
M. Horowitz: (08:32)
So, as I mentioned in my opening statement, I think we were surprised to learn and concerned to learn that in an investigation of any national party political campaign, the confidential human source usage could be approved by only a first level supervisor. In this instance, as we note here, some of them were approved at the assistant director level, but they could have been approved at just the line supervisor level. For an investigation of a major party presidential campaign of either side, with any side, that was concerning to us, particularly since there was not a requirement that any department lawyer, whether at the national security division, the criminal division, the Deputy Attorney General’s office, the Attorney General’s office needed to be notified at any point in time.
D. Feinstein: (09:22)
Did you give interviews about your investigation while it was ongoing?
M. Horowitz: (09:27)
I’m sorry, did I-
D. Feinstein: (09:27)
Did you give interviews?
M. Horowitz: (09:30)
D. Feinstein: (09:30)
During the investigation?
M. Horowitz: (09:32)
No. I do not do that.
D. Feinstein: (09:33)
Did anybody on the IG team?
M. Horowitz: (09:36)
No, and it would have been entirely inappropriate for them to do so.
D. Feinstein: (09:39)
So, I’d just like to clear this up, what are the dangers of discussing an investigation that’s ongoing?
M. Horowitz: (09:48)
So, I actually wrote and we wrote a 500-page report about that that we issued last year on the midyear investigation and among other things criticized what occurred last year with regard to the handling of that investigation.
M. Horowitz: (10:01)
Ongoing investigations, you don’t know as an investigator or you shouldn’t conclude as an investigator, until you are done with the investigation. You shouldn’t be reaching your conclusions until that point. And so giving preliminary ideas, advice, guidance statements, can be misleading and you should not be reaching final conclusions until you get to the end of the investigation.
D. Feinstein: (10:24)
There is a lot of misimpression about two people: Strzok and Page. So, I want to ask this question. For the last two years, President Trump has relentlessly attacked former FBI officials as a way to undermine the investigation. For example, the President tweeted that, and I quote, “How can the rigged witch witch hunt proceed when it was started, influenced, and worked on by Peter Strzok and Lisa Page” who exchanged text messages critical of Candidate Trump. Your investigation found that while Lisa Page attended some of the discussions regarding the opening of the investigations, she did not play a role in the decision to open Crossfire Hurricane.
D. Feinstein: (11:15)
You also found that while Strzok was directly involved in the decisions to open Crossfire Hurricane, he was not the sole or even the highest level decision maker to any of those matters. That decision, as I understand it, was made by FBI Assistant Director Priestap, as you have indicated, and by consensus after multiple days of discussions of meetings. Most importantly, you found that the decision had a proper factual basis and that there is no evidence that “political bias or improper motivation influenced it.” So, based on your investigation, personal political views expressed in text messages did not motivate the opening of the investigation of ties between Trump campaign advisors and Russia. Is that correct?
M. Horowitz: (12:14)
That’s correct. Ultimately, we concluded that those text messages, which we found last year, were entirely inappropriate, didn’t ultimately play the role in Mr. Priestap’s decision to open the investigation.
D. Feinstein: (12:26)
Thank you. So, your investigation also uncovered text messages between other FBI employees expressing support for Candidate and President Trump, correct?
M. Horowitz: (12:37)
D. Feinstein: (12:39)
So, FBI employees held personal political views that were both favorable and unfavorable toward the candidate at that time?
M. Horowitz: (12:50)
That’s correct. And, as we note here, and we noted in last year’s report, we did not find the text messages were inappropriate solely because people expressed a view as to which candidate they support or didn’t support in an election. What concerned us with the text messages we outlined last year and reference again in this year’s report as to certain individuals is the connection between their views and their work on the investigation.
D. Feinstein: (13:20)
To conclude my questioning, what do you believe with your long experience are the most important points that this 400-plus-page report brings forward?
M. Horowitz: (13:34)
Well, I think there are several, as you might expect in a 400 plus page report.
D. Feinstein: (13:39)
That’s why I still have time.
M. Horowitz: (13:43)
I think as we outline in the executive summary, first, it was opened with the proper predicate, sufficient predication by a person, Mr. Priestap, Who was not one of the text message persons and senior to those people. Third that the confidential human source operations, while permitted by FBI policy, should cause everybody to give pause as to whether that policy is sufficient to provide accountability over decisions. And finally that the FISA process here was not used appropriately, properly, and the rules were not followed.
D. Feinstein: (14:23)
Well, that concludes my questioning. I just want to say thank you and thank you to your staff. I’m very grateful to the Inspector General’s office year in, year out. Thank you.
Sen. Graham: (14:36)
D. Feinstein: (14:37)
Oh, I would yield the balance of my time to Senator Leahy.
Sen. Graham: (14:40)
Yes ma’am. We’re going to have a vote at 12 and we will try to get through Senator Grassley and maybe Senator Lee and take a break for lunch and come back about 30 minutes after that.
Sen. Leahy: (14:55)
I think I’m going to take her remaining five minutes now.
Sen. Graham: (14:58)
Sen. Leahy: (15:01)
I know what you’re saying about FISA, as Senator Graham pointed out earlier, Senator Lee and I have worked on trying to put in some protections in FISA, the USA Freedom Act, and so on, but the FBI accepted all of your findings, is that correct?
M. Horowitz: (15:31)
Sen. Leahy: (15:32)
And that includes where you have raised questions about the use of FYSA?
M. Horowitz: (15:37)
Sen. Leahy: (15:37)
Of the five investigations you reviewed, the only application for a FISA warrant was with respect to Carter Page is that correct?
M. Horowitz: (15:49)
Sen. Leahy: (15:51)
Out of the five, the 17 errors affecting the Carter Page FISA application came after and thus did not impact a launch to the broader Russia investigation, which became the special counsel’s investigation. Am I correct in that?
M. Horowitz: (16:09)
That’s correct. Those occurred in October and later,.
Sen. Leahy: (16:12)
So it was not-
M. Horowitz: (16:14)
Not in August when the matter was opened. July.
Sen. Leahy: (16:18)
So, that investigation came after. In the Mueller report, how many pages did the Mueller report refer to Carter Page?
M. Horowitz: (16:34)
I don’t recall the exact number, but it wasn’t a large number.
Sen. Leahy: (16:36)
I do know. I read it. It was seven pages. That was out of 448 pages, so barely mentioned. I’m not trying to minimize FBI’s mistakes here, but keep it in context. The FBI’s errors in Carter Page’s case do not undermine, the unanimous assessment, that Russia and not Ukraine interfered in our election? Is that correct?
M. Horowitz: (17:10)
Yeah, we described in the report the information about the conclusions about Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.
Sen. Leahy: (17:20)
I remember one of the political events Mr. Trump was having, he said, “Russia, if you’re listening, take a look at this.” The Trump campaign seemed to welcome and exploit it.
Sen. Leahy: (17:32)
Now, none of these errors, and correct me if I’m wrong, minimize the legitimacy of the dozens of indictments and convictions that resulted from the special counsel’s Russia investigation. Is that correct?
M. Horowitz: (17:51)
We make very clear here that the errors and serious problems we identify are concerning the Carter Page FISA and the people in that chain of command, we don’t make any fine exist to any other parts of Crossfire Hurricane, which was a far broader investigation.
Sen. Leahy: (18:06)
The reason I mention that, I don’t want to undermine because of these errors undermining the smaller investigation. I believe they did not undermine the Mueller investigation. Am I correct?
M. Horowitz: (18:16)
Our review was not of the Mueller investigation. Our review was of the FISAs that were obtained as we outlined here and of the opening of the investigation and then the additional question we got about Mr. Ohr’s activities and the confidential human source use.
Sen. Leahy: (18:29)
You did 19 month interview, is it correct that you found no evidence that the investigation was motivated by anti-Trump or political bias? Is that correct?
M. Horowitz: (18:46)
We found no evidence that the initiation of the investigation was motivated by political bias. It gets murkier. The question gets more challenging, Senator, when you get to the FISA and when you get to the attorney’s actions, for example, in connection with that FISA.
Sen. Leahy: (19:02)
Why I raised that … did you conclude that there was a legitimate basis to investigate ties between Trump campaign advisors and Russia?
M. Horowitz: (19:18)
We concluded that the FBI had the predication to open it on July 31 and the subsequent sub files that they opened about 10 days later or so.
Sen. Leahy: (19:29)
And some of that came from naming the trust and foreign ally?
M. Horowitz: (19:34)
Correct. The information came from the friendly foreign government.
Sen. Leahy: (19:37)
Yeah. And did you find that, in that, the FBI complied with and even exceeded current department rules on who can authorize an investigation? Who has to be notified?
M. Horowitz: (19:52)
They followed all the rules with regard to that.
Sen. Leahy: (19:57)
Does it a refute the claims made by some that there’s a deep state involved?
M. Horowitz: (20:05)
It finds that it was a properly predicated investigation based on the rules at the FBI.
Sen. Leahy: (20:11)
And did you find anything where the FBI planted spies in Mr. Trump’s campaign?
M. Horowitz: (20:21)
We found no use of confidential human sources and placing them in the campaign or trying to put them in the campaign.
Sen. Leahy: (20:28)
Okay. Well I’ve used up five minutes that are left and-
Sen. Graham: (20:31)
You’ll get your 10 minutes.
Sen. Leahy: (20:34)
I know. I had taken her remaining five minutes.
Chuck Grassley, Patrick Leahy question Michael Horowitz
Chuck Grassley: (00:00)
Has anybody been prosecuted or charged with any of this Russian investigation?
M. Horowitz: (00:09)
I’m sorry, on this matter that I’m handling?
Chuck Grassley: (00:12)
M. Horowitz: (00:12)
No one that I’m aware of.
Chuck Grassley: (00:13)
Okay. Following up on a question that Senator Feinstein asked, did the Obama Administration or President Obama himself, is the one I’m interested in, know about the counterintelligence investigation?
M. Horowitz: (00:30)
I don’t know the answer that definitively. Our authority was over the FBI, and to look at the FBI and the department activities.
Chuck Grassley: (00:38)
In January 2018, Chairman Graham and I wrote to the FBI, and the department, referring Christopher Steele for investigation of potentially lying to the FBI. We told the FBI and the department, that what the FBI told the court about Steele’s media contacts, didn’t match what he told the British court. Four questions in regard to that. Did the FBI ever asked Steele whether he was a source for the September 2016 Yahoo news article that cited Western intelligence sources, quote unquote? If not, why not?
M. Horowitz: (01:22)
They did not ask that question, despite having the opportunity to do so, and we got a variety of explanations, including that, as to some of these issues that they didn’t want to offend him or jeopardize their relationship with him.
Chuck Grassley: (01:39)
Question two, on October the 11th draft of the FISA application stating FBI believed Steele was the source for the Yahoo news article, but it was taken out in the October 14th draft. Why did the FBI originally say Steele was the source, and what factual basis did the FBI have to change that and tell the court that Steele was not a source?
M. Horowitz: (02:07)
This is what was so disturbing about that event, which is the initial application said, as you noted, that the FBI assessed that Steele was a direct source, and on October 14th the drafts changed to the exact opposite. What we found is the FBI had no basis for the first statement, no evidence in their file. It turned out the first statement was, in fact, the accurate statement. The point, though, was they had no evidence to support that. And when they flipped it, they had no evidence to support that either. That’s the kind of issue that, under the basic Woods Procedures, the factual accuracy procedures, had someone been doing their job and following up, they would have seen that and found that. And of course, had they bothered to ask Mr. Steele, they might’ve found out which of the two versions was true.
Chuck Grassley: (02:58)
Maybe they weren’t interested in doing their job. Question three, Chairman Graham and I sent our referral to the FBI and the DOJ on January the 4th, 2018, and according to your report, although the FBI already knew that the British intelligence and the FBI officials discussed the litigation with Director Comey, the FBI never got Steele’s statement in that litigation until we provided them. The FBI also never considered updating the court on these statements. When did the court learn about these contradictory statements about whether Steele did or didn’t have contact with the media? And did anyone in the FBI seem concerned at all that it was not updating the FISC, the court, it was knowingly providing a court with the incorrect and misleading information?
M. Horowitz: (04:00)
So the FISA court first learned of it, at least as I understand it, in a letter sent in June 2018, a year after the last FISA authorization, when the Justice Department lawyers sent a letter informing them of new information that they had learned, including from the litigation that Mr. Steele had acknowledged he was a direct contact for Yahoo news in that story. That was the first time the court was told about it.
Chuck Grassley: (04:31)
Okay. Would you look at footnote 461 for me?
M. Horowitz: (04:36)
Chuck Grassley: (04:37)
That footnote states that a former FBI confidential human source contacted an FBI agent in an FBI field office in late July 2016, to report information from, quote, a colleague who runs an investigating firm hired by two entities, the Democratic National Committee as well as another individual who was not named, to explore Donald Trump’s longstanding ties to Russian entities, end quote. Was that investigative firm Fusion GPS or did the DNC hire another firm to pedal anti-Trump information to Obama’s FBI?
M. Horowitz: (05:20)
I don’t know definitively which it is, but I can certainly follow up and get back to you on that.
Chuck Grassley: (05:25)
But it is a question you can answer for.
M. Horowitz: (05:27)
I don’t know. I have to double check on it with our folks on that.
Chuck Grassley: (05:30)
And if you couldn’t, would that be a case of privacy or something?
M. Horowitz: (05:34)
No, I just don’t know if we’ve, ultimately, figured out the answer to that question because it was in a different field office, with different people to have to interview, and that sort of thing. I’m not sure how much we went down that road, frankly.
Chuck Grassley: (05:47)
Okay, thank you. I’ve been asking questions since September 2017, about what kind of defensive briefings the FBI provided to the Trump campaign. The FBI told me it’s briefings to both campaigns were similar and that it wasn’t aware of action that it took as a result. Chairman Johnson and I wrote again to the FBI two months ago. We noted that text messages between Strzok and Page indicated that the FBI may have used defensive briefings not to warn the Trump campaign, but to investigate it. Four questions along this line. Question number one, would you agree that with respect to the defensive briefings, the Trump campaign’s briefings were treated differently than those provided to the Clinton campaign?
M. Horowitz: (06:41)
If I could, it was not an FBI briefing. If it went to a office of the director of national intelligence briefing, it was a strategic counter-intelligence briefing. And I mentioned that because it precisely wasn’t a defensive briefing. It was an intelligence briefing, and they were treated differently in that the agent wrote it up to the file and put the information in the file. The briefings were identical, but the net result was one was for investigative purposes, and one was purely for the intelligence briefing.
Chuck Grassley: (07:15)
I think what you said touches on question two, but I’m going to ask it anyway. In this case, the agency at the Trump campaign briefing, documented statements and interactions of Michael Flynn and candidate Trump for the FBI’s investigating files. Is it normal for the counter intelligence briefers to document statements and interactions of individuals that they’re briefing for investigative purposes?
M. Horowitz: (07:44)
It was documented in one and not documented and the other, as you said, Senator, and based on what we saw, there’s actually no policy on it. But based on the reaction of the current leadership and director Wray’s response where he underlined the word, “This will not happen going forward,” I think it’s pretty clear what his state of mind is on that, that this should not have occurred.
Chuck Grassley: (08:07)
Question number three, did the FBI make any investigative use of the information garnered in the defense briefing, for example, to inform its later interview with Michael Flynn?
M. Horowitz: (08:21)
I don’t know definitively whether that did occur, but that was certainly the stated purpose for the agent being present.
Chuck Grassley: (08:29)
Okay. Lastly, campaigns place trust in the FBI to provide an environment of cooperation and honest assessments about the risk of foreign threats. How can the FBI repair that trust after abusing the briefing process?
M. Horowitz: (08:46)
Well, that’s where we make the recommendation. We think the FBI has to clearly state what its policy is. It does these kind of strategic briefings as the chairman mentioned, for members of Congress, for private citizens, companies when they get attacked on their computer systems, for example, for transition purposes, as was the case here. And there needs to be clear guidance and rules so that those getting the briefings understand.
Chuck Grassley: (09:15)
Okay. On another point, according to your report, Bruce Ohr told the FBI that Steele’s reporting had gone to the Clinton campaign November 2016. By January 11th, 2017, key investigators knew the dossier was prepared in part, for the DNC. And by February and March 2017, quote unquote, it was broadly known in the FBI, and by senior Justice Department officials, that then Simpson was working for the Democrat party. How many people in the FBI and DOJ knew that the Steele Dossier was a political opposition research funded by the Democrats, and who were they, and did any of them approve information in the FISA or any of its renewals while knowing who was paying for it?
M. Horowitz: (10:10)
So on the FBI side, as we lay out in the report, it’s page 258 forward, there were a number of people who knew. It’s challenging getting back to the chairman’s question to know precisely what was known at the very highest levels of the FBI, and when, the director deputy director levels, because of the lack of any direct record of entire briefings. But there certainly was much information, as we lay out here, known at the FBI. At the Justice Department, much of that information was not known. In fact, one of the concerns we note in the information about what Mr. Ohr did is, Mr. Ohr was passing along this information from Mr. Steele to the FBI. That information was not then being given back by the FBI to the Justice Department. So the people, the colleagues of Mr. Ohr’s at the Justice Department were approving and reviewing these FISAs didn’t know that their colleague had passed along that information to the FBI.
Patrick Leahy: (11:08)
Speaker 4: (11:11)
We’ll go with Senator Leahy, then we’ll break for lunch and come back at 1:00, and we’ll go vote.
Patrick Leahy: (11:16)
Thank you. Mr. Horowitz, it’s good to see you again, and I’ve read an awful lot of IG reports in my years here. Am I correct that when the Justice Department or a component disagrees with or has comments about a finding in an IG report, a general practice is to provide you with a written response to publish along with your report. Is that correct?
M. Horowitz: (11:46)
That’s correct, and we would always include that in our appendix to our reports.
Patrick Leahy: (11:51)
And my staff looked, and there’s 797 inspector general reports filed since your tenure began. They found three dozen reports where the Justice Department or component contested one or more. How many IG reports under your name involve the Justice Department arguing that, in fact, it committed more misconduct than your investigation uncovered?
M. Horowitz: (12:23)
I don’t recall that happening before.
Patrick Leahy: (12:26)
I’ll tell you right now, none. None. And that’s why I found it very unusual that Attorney General Barr didn’t send you anything to go in the report. He just went to the television cameras to talk about it. There is a lot about the personal text messages involved in your 2018 report involving FBI lawyers and the agents involved in these investigation, personal animus toward President Trump. You also, didn’t you, in your investigation find pro-Trump, favorable Trump text messages from agents who worked on the Russia investigation, including one that was an expletive written exchange where the agents were enthusiastically talking about Trump’s election and their desire to investigate the Clinton foundation under President Trump? You found that too, didn’t you?
M. Horowitz: (13:26)
That’s correct. That’s in the report.
Patrick Leahy: (13:33)
While I think it’s potentially problematic whether they’re pro-Trump or pro-Clinton in their things, I assume that FBI investigators can have strong views on politics, but the question is does it impact their work?
M. Horowitz: (13:49)
Exactly right. I think it’s very important to keep in mind that while they, frankly, should never be using their government devices to have political discussions, whether they’re working on a sensitive matter or not. In our view, and we took the view last year, we laid it out. We were not holding or referring people for performance failures simply because they expressed support or lack of support for a candidate. It was precisely as you indicated, connecting it to their activity-
Patrick Leahy: (14:17)
Both those that were pro-Trump or pro-Clinton. Thank you. Now there was one occasion where I think bias did impact one or more Russian works. The FBI appropriately kept quiet about the Trump-Russia investigation during the 2016 election. The same can’t be said about the Clinton administration. Rudy Giuliani and others appeared to receive highly sensitive leaks from the New York FBI field office, leaks that likely contributed to Director Comey’s public announcement that he was reopening the Clinton investigation just days before the election. I asked, then Director Comey, about these leaks, he said he was investigating. Now, we know that a number of these leaks to Mr. Giuliani, which he then ran to the cameras and actually bragged about talking about, what can you tell us about the New York field officers leaks due to Giuliani and others?
M. Horowitz: (15:25)
So as we noted publicly last year in our report, we were very concerned about that. We put in the appendix charts showing all the different contacts, and subsequent to that, in a report, and this continues to this day, we are investigating those contacts. We’ve issued a couple of public summaries so far about people we found violated FBI policy. We have other investigations ongoing that when we conclude it, we will also post summaries of. What’s proving to be very hard is to prove the actual substance of the communications between the agents and the reporters, or the individuals, as you might guess. But we can prove the contacts, and under FBI policy you need authorization if you’re going to disclose information and have certain contacts.
Patrick Leahy: (16:16)
Thank you. One of your central findings is that the FBI’s investigation to Russian ties to the Trump campaign was not influenced by political bias. Is that correct?
M. Horowitz: (16:31)
The opening of the investigation, we found, was not connected to any of the biased texts that we identified.
Patrick Leahy: (16:39)
Well, now there’s an elephant in the room, maybe a heard of them. At the president’s direction, the attorney general has been combing Europe to find support for fringe theories to cast doubts on the Russia investigation. I’m not clear what legitimate law enforcement purpose it serves. How do we know that politics is not driving the Barr-Durham investigation?
M. Horowitz: (17:12)
I’m not sure how anybody knows what you don’t know, unless you do an investigation, or you review it, or somebody looks through, as we did, for example, here, a million records in an exhaustive effort.
Patrick Leahy: (17:29)
But you would agree that Justice Department investigations have to be free of improper political motivation?
M. Horowitz: (17:36)
Absolutely. 1000%. I did public corruption investigations. I ran the public corruption unit in the Southern District of New York. You had to be straight down the yellow line, in the middle of the road, on anything you touched.
Patrick Leahy: (17:50)
does it concern you the attorney general is running around Europe to find any kind of theories that might cast doubt on the Russian investigation?
M. Horowitz: (18:01)
I think you have to ask the attorney general about those meetings. I don’t know what those meetings were about, and obviously, I haven’t done any investigating.
Patrick Leahy: (18:10)
I am concerned because it did not follow the procedure, normally, if they have a question or a disagreement with the inspector general’s report by letting you know before the report comes out, so you can include and would include any disagreement, instead of just went to the press with it. And I think about when Glenn Fine investigated the politically motivated firing of nine U.S. attorneys in the Bush Administration. He said that prominent leaders abdicated their responsibility to ensure that prosecutorial decisions would be based on the law, the evidence, and the department policy, not political pressure. In this case, for the first time, [inaudible 00:18:59] are not sent to you by the attorney general, but instead given to the press. Is that correct? In your experience.
M. Horowitz: (19:10)
I don’t know of another situation where we would even get those attached in our appendix to our report.
Patrick Leahy: (19:16)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Speaker 4: (19:19)
Thank you, Senator Leahy.
Patrick Leahy: (19:20)
And thank you for your comments about Senator Lee and myself.
Senators Question Michael Horowitz
John Cornyn: (00:07)
Watch dog and hold government agencies as important as the Department of Justice and FBI accountable. And I just want you to know how much we appreciate your work and your team’s work. Likewise, I think it’s important even though we’re critical of the leadership of the FBI during the last administration and the way they mishandled this counter-intelligence investigation, I think the rank and [inaudible 00:00:34] agents in the FBI and their colleagues in the intelligence community need to know that we are there for them and support them in the faithful discharge of their responsibilities.
John Cornyn: (00:45)
I happen to have the privilege of serving on the Intelligence Committee and the Judiciary Committee and I like to think that there is no more ardent supporter of our law enforcement agencies or our intelligence community than I am.
John Cornyn: (00:59)
And I believe that General Hayden, when he wrote his book about his experience at the CIA had it right. Its called playing to the edge, playing to the edge of your authorities, not over the line, but up to the edge in the interest of our national security. But I think that also makes it important for us to root out illegality, mendacity, deception in the exercise of the authorities that are given to our intelligence community.
John Cornyn: (01:33)
And so let me ask you a little bit about that, because I can’t think of anything more damaging to the intelligence community, the FBI, and the DOJ than what you have uncovered in this 400 page report. And what we’ve seen here. It really is very troubling. Can I ask you, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, as you have pointed out, considers the application of a foreign intelligence surveillance for a warrant by the FBI working with the National Security Division at the Department of Justice.
John Cornyn: (02:11)
Do you believe if the court knew what you know now, that it would have ever issued the Pfizer warrant in the first place?
M. Horowitz: (02:21)
You know, we’re careful not to predict what federal judges would do presented with the evidence and whether there would be sufficient basis to find probable cause. I know that they would not sign a warrant if they were told not all relevant information was included in it-
John Cornyn: (02:36)
Or if there were lied to.
M. Horowitz: (02:37)
And certainly if they were lied to.
John Cornyn: (02:38)
And do you know whether the court is currently considering this matter?
M. Horowitz: (02:43)
Well, I know the court based on discussions with folks at NSD at the National Security Division that they have the report and that they have a follow on letter from the department about this matter.
John Cornyn: (02:56)
Well, I hope they will not let this pass because this misbehavior, this illegality, this deception, becomes a routine. I agree with Senator Graham that it will be the end of the authorities that Congress has granted under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which I think would be very damaging to our national security.
John Cornyn: (03:26)
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act includes the word surveillance, obviously, and you can’t surveil an American citizen for intelligence purposes except under very specialized and exacting circumstances. Would you agree with that?
M. Horowitz: (03:41)
John Cornyn: (03:42)
Because the rights given to an American citizen under the US Constitution are laid out in the Bill of Rights among other places and there is a more, a higher standard with regard to getting a warrant, let’s say to wire tap or to investigate an American citizen, than there would be a foreign agent, correct?
M. Horowitz: (04:02)
That’s correct. There is particularly sensitive circumstances around surveilling a US person.
John Cornyn: (04:07)
So the whole exception here which the court authorized the surveillance of Mr. Page was based on some proof or some indication, some suspicion he was an agent of a foreign power, correct?
M. Horowitz: (04:23)
Correct. They had to show probable cause to believe he was an agent of a foreign power.
John Cornyn: (04:27)
But as you pointed out, they got incomplete and misleading information in that process. Agree?
M. Horowitz: (04:32)
The court got inaccurate, incomplete information. Agreed.
John Cornyn: (04:35)
So what’s the difference between surveillance and spying?
M. Horowitz: (04:40)
Well, surveillance and the term I’m going to use and we use in the report is what’s in the law. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
John Cornyn: (04:47)
You don’t like vernacular.
M. Horowitz: (04:50)
I’m going to stick to what we do as IGs, which is look at the law and stick to what the language is in the law.
John Cornyn: (04:56)
Well, to my mind, there’s really no difference, although it’s legally authorized according to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, it’s an active covert intelligence gathering against here, a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power. Let me ask you about the defensive briefing and you’ve explained in response to Senator Graham’s questions, the difference between a counterintelligence investigation and a criminal investigation. And I believe at some point during the last few years, I remember Loretta Lynch, the former attorney general, say that defensive briefings were routine in counterintelligence investigations. Would you agree with that?
M. Horowitz: (05:47)
You know, I frankly don’t have enough experience with them on the national security side to tell you one way or the other.
John Cornyn: (05:52)
You don’t have-
M. Horowitz: (05:52)
I’ve heard that be said, but I don’t know of specifically.
John Cornyn: (05:55)
You don’t have any reason to disagree with-
M. Horowitz: (05:57)
No reason to disagree.
John Cornyn: (05:58)
Okay. So if they are routine, if Attorney General Lynch is correct, the decision by Mr. Priestap, The head of the Counterintelligence Division of the FBI, not to provide an extensive defensive briefing to candidate Trump and his campaign would be unusual.
M. Horowitz: (06:18)
If it’s usual than not doing it, yes, I agree. It would be unusual.
John Cornyn: (06:23)
What was even more unusual is the fact that when the director of national intelligence went to provide, what turned out to be a perfunctory briefing to the Trump campaign, lasted about 13 minutes, I think you indicated in your report. That they had implanted into that group an agent, a FBI agent that was part of the investigative team for a cross fire hurricane. Is that correct?
M. Horowitz: (06:50)
That’s correct. The agent, there was one FBI agent there and they chose the agent from the counterintelligence investigation.
John Cornyn: (06:55)
So instead of their mission being to provide candidate Trump and his campaign to arm them with information so that they could prevent the Russians from infiltrating their campaign, this briefing such as it was, had a dual purpose. The agent, it says on page 342 of your report, actually prepared himself going through mock briefings headed by Stroke, lisa Page, the Intel Section Chief and possibly the General Counsel Unit Chief, correct?
M. Horowitz: (07:31)
John Cornyn: (07:32)
So this was not just an incidental sort of thing. Obviously there were plans made for the agent to go in as part of this defensive briefing and perhaps get General Flynn to inadvertently offer information that might be helpful to the FBI in their investigation.
M. Horowitz: (07:54)
And as explained to us, it was dual purpose, one to see if anything was said during the briefing in response to the briefing that would be useful for cross fire hurricane purposes immediately, but also as the agents told us for purposes of a future interview of Mr. Flynn, which did in fact occur later.
John Cornyn: (08:11)
And so Mr. Flynn was clearly the target.
M. Horowitz: (08:15)
He was certainly of the three people there for the Trump campaign, the only one of the three about who was a subject of an FBI investigation at the time.
John Cornyn: (08:25)
And he wasn’t told that he was under investigation or that the agent was there hoping to bait him into providing incriminatory information, and the agent didn’t provide him any declaration or admonishment of his Miranda Rights. Correct?
M. Horowitz: (08:44)
He certainly wasn’t told there was a dual purpose to the briefing.
John Cornyn: (08:47)
Well, it looks to me like Director Ray was so concerned about this that he’s, as you pointed out, said that this will never happen again.
M. Horowitz: (08:57)
John Cornyn: (08:57)
Is that what you said?
M. Horowitz: (08:58)
John Cornyn: (08:59)
So let me ask you, Mr. Horowitz, are you familiar with the fact that Director Comey had a meeting with President Trump in January of 2017 to talk to him about the Steele dossier?
M. Horowitz: (09:15)
I am, and we actually referenced that in our report about his preparation, handling of the memos that came out of that meeting.
John Cornyn: (09:22)
Why should we believe that a Director Comeys so-called defensive briefing, if you want to call it that, of the President in January 2017 was anything more than an attempt to try to bait the President into providing incriminatory information, which would be useful to the FBI and it’s a counterintelligence investigation or potentially some future criminal investigation?
M. Horowitz: (09:47)
I have no information one way or the other to make a judgment on that. But as mentioned earlier, one of the concerns with doing that here is that it leaves open the possibility that people might ask, did it happen elsewhere?
John Cornyn: (10:00)
Well, it strikes me as fraught with danger just like it was for General Flynn, for the director to go into the White House, the Oval Office in the White House, not to tell the President that anything he says could be used against him in an ongoing investigation, potentially including criminal charges.
John Cornyn: (10:19)
And the final thing I would say is I agree with the chairman, if this is going to happen to a presidential candidate or the President of the United States, what kind of protection the average American citizens have, that their government won’t array this vast power against them and essentially ruin their lives. To me, that’s a profound concern as a result of your investigation.
Dick Durbin: (10:45)
Thanks Mr chairman. And picking up on that editorial comment, I’ve been joining Senator Leahy and Senator Lee for years talking about this Pfizer Court.
M. Horowitz: (10:54)
Dick Durbin: (10:54)
And we now have an ample record here in this case, and in a lot of others, 2002 the Pfizer Court identified more than 75 cases in which it was misled by the FBI. Internal FBI reviewed in 2006, dozens of inaccuracies provided with in the Pfizer Court. The list goes on and on. So let’s have a fulsome conversation after this about the future of the Pfizer Court and the representations that are made to it. Let me try if I can. Mr Horowitz, thank you and your team for being here to go through a few points. The chairman gave an uncharacteristic flowery, heated opening, went on for some 40 minutes and produced a lengthy record of emails from Lisa Page and Peter Strock, which repeatedly demonstrated statements of hostility toward candidate Donald Trump.
Dick Durbin: (11:44)
He went on to say these were the people in charge. When I read your summary of your findings, you didn’t find of them to be in charge, did you?
M. Horowitz: (11:55)
On this investigation, we did not.
Dick Durbin: (11:57)
Okay. When it comes to expletives, you also on page 339 in your report found some agents at the FBI who had an exactly opposite political viewpoint and were very positive toward candidate Trump in very open in their use of expletives to demonstrate that.
M. Horowitz: (12:19)
And those individuals, to be clear, we’re not part of the cross fire hurricane team, but we’re in a different field office interacting with the cross fire hurricane team.
Dick Durbin: (12:26)
And I hope we can all concede the point, we don’t believe anyone in this capacity, this delicate capacity with life changing decision making every single day should be so politically biased as to call into question their values and their character.
M. Horowitz: (12:42)
That’s correct. And I made this point last year when this issue came up. Individuals at the Justice Department and the FBI are allowed to have their political views. They’re allowed to be voters, they’re allowed to be engaged citizens. They should be, they can’t though tie their personal views to their investigative acts.
Dick Durbin: (12:58)
And I’m sure that’s one of the things you’ve shared with Director Ray.
M. Horowitz: (13:02)
Dick Durbin: (13:03)
All right. Also, chairman made a point early on if talking about the fact that the Trump campaign was not notified of this ongoing investigation until a much later date after it had been initiated. And I would just say be careful what you wish for because there are those of us who look at the James Comey October 28th public declaration about the Hillary Clinton investigation as being deadly in terms of the outcome of this election. So this notion of the FBI publicizing investigations, making them known to many people can cut both ways.
Dick Durbin: (13:41)
It’s good to know, I’m sure, but you run the risk that as more people come to know it, it becomes public knowledge. Is that an issue?
M. Horowitz: (13:49)
Yeah. Look, we wrote last year’s report about that concern of what Director Comey did in that regard, and you obviously want to control information and make sure only the people actually need to know it.
Dick Durbin: (14:00)
So the point I’m trying to get to is the chairman’s opening suggested a bias, at least in this instance, that the FBI and others against Donald Trump that he believes was manifest in many of the things that followed. I can argue from our side of the table, we can find bias that includes Comey statements, public statements, right before the election, it really had in many of our points of view, determinative outcome. Let me go back to the irrepressible ever-present Rudolph Giuliani because, here’s something.
Dick Durbin: (14:32)
During the 2016 campaign, Rudy Giuliani, who was then a Trump campaign surrogate, bragged about having access to information about the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails. He teased in October 2016 that a surprise was coming and on November 4th after Director Comey, sent his letter, reopening the investigation, Giuliani said, and I quote, “I had expected this, did I hear about it? You’re darn right I heard about it.” The mayor said. So how can we be dealing with those kinds of statements that long ago and still not have some resolution as to whether or not he was just bluffing, or in fact he had moles in that New York office, if I remember right, one of Comey’s rationales for his public announcement was I couldn’t do it through the New York office because it leaks like a sieve. Is there no investigation or has there been no investigation of this?
M. Horowitz: (15:21)
So as I mentioned last year when we released our report on the Clinton email investigation we are looking at still that question and the challenge of that investigation, as I mentioned back then, I’ll mention again is proving who spoke to whom and when, based on records at the FBI and understanding that there’s rarely going to be substantive information, we will get for example from toll records or others, but we will find out context and we’re trying to follow up. We’re continuing to do that. We’ve issued two reports so far about findings we had of leaks and misconduct and we have investigations ongoing.
Dick Durbin: (16:10)
Mr. Giuliani now professes to be President Trump’s lawyer and occasionally the President acknowledges that sometimes he doesn’t. Are there any concerns that Mr. Giuliani may be continuing to improperly obtain information from sources and law enforcement not authorized to provide it?
M. Horowitz: (16:26)
I’m not going to speak to what we’ve learned or what we know about what are ongoing investigations and I’m not investigating matters related to the ongoing Ukraine issues that I think you’re referencing.
Dick Durbin: (16:41)
Let me ask if I can on this question of the problems within this case, particularly as they relate to the treatment of individuals who were engaged in it. And I’m thinking particularly of the ongoing questions about whether or not one particular individual was treated fairly here. Is it your conclusion that Mr. Page was not a Russian agent? Or I should say, did not have important context that were not in the best interests of the United States with the Russian leadership?
M. Horowitz: (17:25)
I’m not in a position to assess that. What I can assess is looking at the evidence that the FBI put forward to the Pfizer Court. A significant number of pieces of that evidence do not support their theory of the case, and that was never told to Justice Department Lawyers who are the ones who are the gatekeepers and have to be able to know that information to make that decision. They’re the experts, not me.
Dick Durbin: (17:49)
Could we speak for a moment to the Steele dossiers, Steele files file in this case? I believe you have a pretty definitive statement about what impact that Steele file had on the initiation of this investigation. What was your conclusion?
M. Horowitz: (18:04)
In terms of the initiation of the investigation, it had no impact.
Dick Durbin: (18:09)
M. Horowitz: (18:09)
No impact. It was not known to the team that opened the investigation at the time they opened it.
Dick Durbin: (18:15)
So you’ve concluded in several different ways that they’ve no evidence of political influence for the opening of this cross fire hurricane investigation. Is that correct?
M. Horowitz: (18:25)
Dick Durbin: (18:25)
All right. On this Pfizer reform issue, I’ll get back to that later, but one thing that’s interesting here, Senator Lee is not with us at this moment. He’s introduced a bill which I’m cosponsoring, which would give the Inspector General’s Office in this circumstance, the authority to investigate attorneys-
M. Horowitz: (18:47)
Dick Durbin: (18:47)
In the department. Right now that’s not allowed under the law, is it?
M. Horowitz: (18:51)
That’s correct. It is not. And thank you for co-sponsoring the bill as have several other members of the committee.
Dick Durbin: (18:56)
It seems to me to be obvious. Do you know what the theory is behind there being separate and not subject to this investigation?
M. Horowitz: (19:03)
This is a legacy of history. Back in 1988 when the IG was created at justice, the compromise was that attorneys would be carved out… By the way, so was the FBI and DEA, at the time and that we would have jurisdiction over everybody else. After the Audra James spy scandal, Attorney General Ashcroft actually changed that and gave us the authority over DEA and FBI. Congress codified it in 2002 but attorneys still carve out where the only IG that can’t review conduct of all the employees in our organization, including attorneys.
Dick Durbin: (19:35)
And Attorney General Ashcroft was authorized to give you that kind of option?
M. Horowitz: (19:41)
Under the statute, as it then existed.
Dick Durbin: (19:43)
As it existed.
M. Horowitz: (19:44)
He had the authority to do that. The statute changed, took that away.
Dick Durbin: (19:48)
Mr chairman, hope you’ll consider that when we’re putting together an agenda. Thank you for your service.
M. Horowitz: (19:51)
Mr. Graham: (19:53)
Thank you. And I will go to, I think Senator Sasse but just 30 seconds here. Has anybody been charged with working with the Russians, illegally working with the Russians that were part of the Trump campaign that you know of?
M. Horowitz: (20:11)
Not that I know of.
Mr. Graham: (20:12)
Okay. Senator Lee.
Michael Lee: (20:17)
Thank you very much mr chairman. I find the conclusion that some have raised at your report, Mr. Horowitz somehow exonerates the FBI in this matter, to be crazy. Absolutely crazy. To the point that it almost makes me wonder whether those who are making this argument have read the same report that we’re talking about today. Perhaps talking about a different report. The there is no planet on which I think this report indicates that things were okay within the FBI in connection with this investigation. They most certainly were not.
Michael Lee: (21:00)
And yet stunningly former FBI Director Jim Comey took to the pages of the Washington Post to declare that this report, your report, shows that quote, “The FBI fulfilled its mission protecting the American people and upholding the US constitution.” I don’t understand that. I find it absolutely stunning that he would reach that conclusion. This is nonsense. They don’t care where you fit on the political spectrum, if you are a politician or if you are a non politician, if you are a liberal or a conservative or Republican, a Democrat regardless of your age, your views, you should be deeply concerned about what’s in your report, Mr. Horowitz. This report is a scathing indictment of the FBI of the agents that were involved.
Michael Lee: (21:59)
And I want to be clear about that because you know, the FBI is an institution that has a long history of respect in this country. And as a federal prosecutor, I worked with the FBI. I found many of its agents to be people of utmost integrity and thoroughness. And that’s part of why I’m so concerned by your report and its findings. The facts stated therein because I think this really damages that. There is a lot of good in this country that comes not just from the FBI being good, but also being understood to be good.
Michael Lee: (22:34)
The behavior outlined in your report is at a minimum, so negligent. I actually would say so reckless that it calls into question the legitimacy of the entire Pfizer program. And I don’t say that lightly. I say this, of course, as someone who has long questioned the Pfizer program and how-
Michael Lee: (23:03)
… questioned the FISA program and how it could be abused, but this really pushes us over the edge. I’ll get back to that in a minute. The report concludes, way too generously in my view, that the report “did not find documentary or testimonial evidence of intentional misconduct on the part of the case agents who were involved in investigating the Trump campaign.” But the report goes on to call the conduct of the agents and the supervisors involved to be “serious performance failures,” which you noted were failures for which you did not receive a satisfactory explanation. Is that right?
M. Horowitz: (23:52)
Michael Lee: (23:53)
Serious performance failures, failures without any type of satisfactory explanation. This is the failure that Jim Comey astoundingly, stunningly, irresponsibly considers a fulfilled mission, a mission that includes among other things, protecting the constitutional rights of the American people? I think not. This is what the former head of the FBI considers protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution. I just can’t understand it. It’s simply not good enough. It may be good enough for Mr. Comey. It’s not good enough for the American people. Every American really should be terrified by this report. The FBI team that investigated the Trump campaign was, as has been pointed out, handpicked. After all, it couldn’t and wouldn’t and wasn’t the case that they would just pick any ordinary investigators to investigate a presidential campaign, especially the presidential campaign of one of the two major party nominees, for what was acknowledged in the report to have been one of the most sensitive FBI investigations.
Michael Lee: (25:08)
These agents were supposed to have been the best of the best, and we wouldn’t expect anything less than that circumstance. They were supposed to be of the highest character and professionalism. Committed to protecting the civil liberties of all Americans. You see, our privacy is not at odds with our security. Our privacy is inextricably intertwined with and indeed an inseparable part of our security. We cannot be secure unless our privacy is also guaranteed. We certainly can’t be secure in our republican form of government if, after all, our republican form of government is imperiled by people who choose to politicize the intelligence gathering and law enforcement apparatus that our federal government has. So we’re faced with two possibilities; either, one, these FBI agents purposely used the power of the federal government to wage a political war against a presidential candidate they despised, or, two, these agents were so incompetent that they allowed a paid foreign political operative to weaponize the FISA program into a spying operation on a rival presidential political campaign.
Michael Lee: (26:27)
I’m not sure about you, but I’m not sure which one is worse. I am sure that neither conclusion is acceptable. They’re both horrifying for slightly different reasons. I’m not sure there is a substantive distinction between the two of them. I’m not sure one can conclude. I’m not sure it’s possible to conclude that the bias evident in communications between some of these investigators wasn’t at least a part of … Now, the fact that you say that there wasn’t a causal connection between them, that there wasn’t a [inaudible 00:26:59] but for causal chain between those communications in the opening of the investigation itself is beside the point. The fact is these were agents who made their bias clear, and they went after someone in part because they did not like his candidacy, and that’s inexcusable.
Michael Lee: (27:20)
The report in the FBI’s abuse, I believe it’s longstanding abuse. I believe it’s inevitable abuse of FISA and the FISA court to surveil American citizens, should in a sense not be of tremendous surprise to us. James Madison warned us against this very kind of thing in Federalist 51 when he said, “If men were angels, they wouldn’t need a government.” If we had access to angels to govern us, we wouldn’t need rules about government, but alas, we are not angels. We don’t have access to angels to govern us, and so we have to have auxiliary precautions. We have to have checks and balances to make sure that no one person or no one entity gets too much power, and added to those checks and balances, we also have substantive limitations like the Fourth Amendment. We have things that are there to protect us.
Michael Lee: (28:15)
I believe for some time, as has been noted earlier in this hearing, and I’ve teamed up with people at the opposite end of the political ideological spectrum that FISA carries with it an unacceptable risk of abuse. It’s why I’ve teamed up with Senator Pat Leahy over the last nine years that I’ve served in the Senate and on the Senate Judiciary Committee, because I believe these programs are subject to abuse. I’ve been warning for years that inevitably these would result in abuse. It’s not a question of if, but it’s when and how soon will government officials get caught doing it. It actually surprises me in some ways that it took us this long to find an instance where you get caught, but then again, that is what happens. When you take a standard that is malleable, that requires virtually no public accountability, you render all but a small handful of intelligence committee, lawmakers in the House and in the Senate. You render all other citizens other than them and other than the intel community itself ineligible to review their work. Then you make it possible for them to gather information. This kind of thing is of course going to happen. It’s never not going to happen, and that scares me to death. Now, Inspector General Horowitz, you’ve stated several times today, both in your opening statement and in response to questions that you did not find documentary testimonial evidence of bias that influenced the FBI’s decision to conduct these operations. But Mr. Horowitz, is not the lack of evidence that you’re talking about itself evidence of bias? Isn’t the lack of evidence on bias evidence that we really should take as bias? But in any event, it’s certainly not itself indicative that no bias occurred. Isn’t that correct?
M. Horowitz: (30:24)
As to the opening, which is in a different place than the FISA issues that you’ve identified and I talked about earlier, I think it’s two very different situations. On the FISA side, we found, as you noted, a lack of documentary testimony evidence about intentionality, but we also noted the lack of satisfactory explanations, and in fact leave open the possibility that, for the reasons you indicated, it’s unclear what the motivations were. On the one hand, gross incompetence, negligence. On the other hand, intentionality, and where in between, we weren’t in a position, with the evidence we had, to make that conclusion. I’m not ruling it out.
Michael Lee: (31:05)
My point is your lack of evidence here is not evidence that there was no bias.
M. Horowitz: (31:12)
I’m solely basing it, correct, on the actual evidence that we have.
Michael Lee: (31:16)
Okay. Thank you very much.
Sen. Whitehouse: (31:21)
But Mr. Horowitz, you actually did make a finding on that very question, did you not? I direct you to page 14 of the executive summary, where you ascribe this to management and supervisory failures that were not specific to this case, but that were potentially endemic. Is that not correct?
M. Horowitz: (31:49)
I’m sorry. On the FISA side?
Sen. Whitehouse: (31:52)
Yep. You say that, “So many basic and fundamental errors were made three separate handpicked teams for the most sensitive FBI investigations raises significant questions regarding the FBI chain of command’s management and supervision of the FISA process.”
M. Horowitz: (32:05)
Sen. Whitehouse: (32:06)
You then go on to describe it as a failure of managers and supervisors, and you go on to say that your remedy is an OIG audit, not only of this case, but of other cases that have nothing to do with the Trump Campaign. Nothing to do with politics.
M. Horowitz: (32:21)
Sen. Whitehouse: (32:21)
So you actually do make a finding about this, and that is that you attribute the failure here to a failure of management and supervision that could well go beyond this particular case.
M. Horowitz: (32:31)
Correct, although not just managers and supervisors, obviously. All the line people who had responsibility for the prosecutors, they made very serious errors.
Sen. Whitehouse: (32:38)
But you make no finding that this was attributable to a deep state conspiracy or a political conspiracy or any such type of motivation?
M. Horowitz: (32:49)
We make no finding. We explain in there that we did not have documentary or testimonial evidence that it was intentional. We also point out the lack of satisfactory explanations, and from there I can’t draw any further conclusions.
Sen. Whitehouse: (33:05)
Correct. Other than you do … What you go with is that there was a failure of management and supervision over this complicated process that needs to be repaired.
M. Horowitz: (33:14)
From top to bottom.
Sen. Whitehouse: (33:15)
Correct. Now, what’s the timeline on the attorney general getting notice of this report? How long did it take, between when he first saw this and when he credited this. He said that your investigation is a credit to the Department of Justice?
M. Horowitz: (33:30)
Well, we first provided the draft report for classification marking purposes right at the beginning of September. End of August, beginning of September.
Sen. Whitehouse: (33:38)
So he and his team have done it for over a month? Well over a month?
M. Horowitz: (33:41)
Yeah. And then we got it back from them with the markings. We did the normal process in a classified review. We then incorporated the markings, then produced it back in November for the factual accuracy.
Sen. Whitehouse: (33:52)
The director of the FBI would have had access to it during that timeframe?
M. Horowitz: (33:56)
Same exact timeframe.
Sen. Whitehouse: (33:57)
Same exact timeframe. And he complimented you on its thoroughness and professionalism and says that he accepts the report’s findings, correct?
M. Horowitz: (34:03)
Sen. Whitehouse: (34:05)
With plenty of time to review it.
M. Horowitz: (34:06)
Sen. Whitehouse: (34:07)
Now, then we get to Mr. Durham. Did Mr. Durham have access to this report during that same period of time?
M. Horowitz: (34:16)
No, we did not give it to him in the end of August and September, precisely because it was for classification purposes. He had no reason to see it. [crosstalk 00:34:26]. We were very careful as to who could see it and who couldn’t. We had the department keep lists of who could see it and who couldn’t see it to keep.
Sen. Whitehouse: (34:33)
He was not on the list.
M. Horowitz: (34:34)
He was not on the list. We provided to him in November as part of our factual accuracy of review.
Sen. Whitehouse: (34:39)
November when? Do you remember?
M. Horowitz: (34:41)
I could check, but it was probably roughly mid-November.
Sen. Whitehouse: (34:46)
So are you familiar with what he is undertaking at all?
M. Horowitz: (34:52)
I’m somewhat, but I wouldn’t pretend to be completely familiar with it.
Sen. Whitehouse: (34:57)
He notes that he does not agree with some of your report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened. What information do you think he has access to that you did not have access to?
M. Horowitz: (35:11)
I have no idea.
Sen. Whitehouse: (35:13)
When you look at Director Wray’s letter, he says that his organization, the FBI, provided broad and timely access to all information requested by the OIG, including highly classified and sensitive material, and he accepts that the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation was done for an authorized purpose and with adequate factual predication. I’m trying to figure out where the world of evidence exists about predication that you didn’t have access to, and that FBI Director Wray would not have access to. Where could John Durham be going for information that is outside of the scope of what you have access to, or what FBI Director Wray has access to?
M. Horowitz: (36:04)
I don’t know, and you’d have to ask the attorney general or Mr. Durham.
Sen. Whitehouse: (36:07)
I mean hypothetically, is there some area of evidence that you’re aware of that you didn’t get access to?
M. Horowitz: (36:14)
We are not. We got a million records. We asked the FBI for all of the materials in their possession, including from other agencies [crosstalk 00:00:36:23].
Sen. Whitehouse: (36:24)
Was the grand jury operating, do you know?
M. Horowitz: (36:25)
I have no idea, and I couldn’t say if I knew.
Sen. Whitehouse: (36:27)
Is he going overseas to debrief foreign agents and interests?
M. Horowitz: (36:32)
I have no idea. You’d have to talk with him.
Sen. Whitehouse: (36:35)
Okay. Predication involves a threshold, does it not?
M. Horowitz: (36:41)
Correct, for opening an investigation.
Sen. Whitehouse: (36:44)
And when you’ve hit your predication threshold, more evidence doesn’t, as long as the evidence is adequate, more evidence doesn’t take it away, correct?
M. Horowitz: (36:57)
Sen. Whitehouse: (36:59)
So I’m also trying to figure out how it is that, even if he had more evidence that you did not have, that takes away from your conclusion that predication was adequate.
M. Horowitz: (37:10)
Again, I think you’d have to ask him or the attorney general that.
Sen. Whitehouse: (37:13)
You can think of a way to get there, can you?
M. Horowitz: (37:15)
I don’t know … as I said earlier, we stand by our findings.
Sen. Whitehouse: (37:20)
So you describe serious performance failures in the FISA process. Those are likely to lead to either disciplinary actions or to sanctions by the court, or at least be considered for those things, correct?
M. Horowitz: (37:37)
Those are certainly two of the options, yes.
Sen. Whitehouse: (37:39)
Yes. And in that process, those individuals will have a chance to defend themselves? There’s due process involved.
M. Horowitz: (37:44)
We are not the adjudicators. That goes to the department, the court or any other entities that might.
Sen. Whitehouse: (37:50)
So we may out more as those processes go forward in that context?
M. Horowitz: (37:55)
Sen. Whitehouse: (37:56)
Okay. Now let’s look at the intelligence briefing. At the time of that intelligence briefing, what did the FBI know about how far Russian interests had penetrated into the Trump Campaign?
M. Horowitz: (38:13)
I don’t know, as I sit here, the level and extent of the FBI’s knowledge. We were looking at the origins of the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation and in these four cases.
Sen. Whitehouse: (38:23)
But the FBI clearly knew that there was an investigation going on, because it was their investigation?
M. Horowitz: (38:29)
Yes. And we lay out here some of what they knew. I just can’t sit here and tell you whether they-
Sen. Whitehouse: (38:33)
They knew the concerns about Carter Page, correct?
M. Horowitz: (38:34)
Sen. Whitehouse: (38:34)
They knew the concerns about Carter Page, and he was associated with the Trump Campaign.
M. Horowitz: (38:37)
Sen. Whitehouse: (38:38)
They knew they had an investigation going on into Michael Flynn at the time?
M. Horowitz: (38:42)
Sen. Whitehouse: (38:42)
Do you know if they knew about the Trump Tower meeting two months before the intelligence briefing with the Russian agents?
M. Horowitz: (38:49)
I don’t know one way or the other.
Sen. Whitehouse: (38:50)
Okay. Going into it, it would be reasonable, wouldn’t it, to expect that the FBI did not then know how far Russian penetration into the Trump Campaign went?
M. Horowitz: (39:05)
I have no idea what at what stage their investigation was at at that point in time. I have no reason to doubt what you’re saying, but I don’t know independently.
Sen. Whitehouse: (39:13)
So there was no way that they could rule out that people present at the intelligence briefing on behalf of the Trump Campaign might have actually been involved in the Russian operation?
M. Horowitz: (39:24)
I have no knowledge of that. All I know as to that is they had the open investigation of Mr. Flynn.
Sen. Whitehouse: (39:29)
Yeah. So they certainly couldn’t rule out when he was actually in that briefing as a potential participant in the matter that they were looking into?
M. Horowitz: (39:39)
Yeah. And as I said, Senator, Crossfire Hurricane was bigger than just the pieces we were looking at, so I can’t sit here and tell you what else the FBI may or may not have known at the time.
Sen. Whitehouse: (39:48)
So while we can agree that putting Crossfire Hurricane agent into the intelligence briefing of the Trump Campaign might’ve been over aggressive. For the FBI to be in that intelligence briefing would be perfectly appropriate, correct?
M. Horowitz: (40:12)
In fact, absolutely appropriate for them to be there. That was the debate that went on internally at the FBI, which is what to do, which they did not discuss either with anyone at the department the appropriateness of it or at the ODNI. It was the DNI’s-
Sen. Whitehouse: (40:28)
But there was no reason the FBI shouldn’t have been at that briefing.
M. Horowitz: (40:31)
The FBI should have been at that brief for intelligence purposes.
Sen. Whitehouse: (40:33)
Precisely. For intelligence purposes.
M. Horowitz: (40:35)
To given an intelligence briefing.
Sen. Whitehouse: (40:36)
And it also would have been perfectly appropriate for a Crossfire Hurricane agent to have debriefed the FBI agent present at the intelligence briefing to see if Michael Flynn had said anything relevant to the investigation, or anybody else for that matter. It was information potentially relevant to the investigation, was it not?
M. Horowitz: (40:59)
Depending on what occurred there, you could foresee a hypothetical where that occurred. I think it raises serious policy questions that frankly the FBI director needs to sort through and understand with leadership at the department, because that briefing and those briefings are for purposes of protecting campaigns and to allow transitions to occur.
Sen. Whitehouse: (41:20)
And it was an unusual circumstance. A participant in that briefing on the part of the Trump Campaign was the subject of an FBI investigation.
M. Horowitz: (41:31)
That is correct, but it raises significant policy questions.
Sen. Whitehouse: (41:37)
I agree with you, but we should not draw the conclusion that there’s no way the FBI should ever be given access to evidence that arises in the context of an intelligence briefing related to counter-intelligence.
M. Horowitz: (41:51)
And that’ll be up to Director Wray in responding to our recommendation to sort through that policy question.
Sen. Whitehouse: (41:57)
Right. Time is expired, and thank you.
Sen. Graham: (41:59)
Thank you. Senator Cruz, just 30 seconds here. In the January meeting with the primary sub-source, the Russian guy who provided Steele with all the information, wasn’t there Department of Justice official present at that meeting?
M. Horowitz: (42:14)
Yes. Let me clarify on that. The people present were the primary sub-source, his lawyer, two FBI Crossfire Hurricane people, and for parts of the interview, lawyers from the National Security Division. They were there not knowing the background necessarily. They were there because the primary sub-source had a lawyer, and so the FBI wanted a lawyer there in case there were lawyer issues.
Sen. Graham: (42:42)
So we’re beating up on the FBI, I think appropriately so to some point, but the Department of Justice, they were in the room too.
M. Horowitz: (42:48)
They were in the room, but the reason we …
Sen. Graham: (42:51)
No, I got you.
M. Horowitz: (42:51)
We note this here is there’s a number of instances here where people get drive-bys.
Sen. Graham: (42:59)
No, I got you.
M. Horowitz: (43:00)
Right? In government, you get a drive-by, and someone tries to tag you with something that’s not fair. That was our concern.
Sen. Graham: (43:05)
Fair enough. Senator Cruz.
Sen. Whitehouse: (43:06)
Chairman, can I just close?
Sen. Graham: (43:08)
Sen. Whitehouse: (43:08)
One point from page 341, the FBI’s Mr. Baker holds the IJ and is quoted in his report as saying that the agent in that investigative briefing “was not there to induce anybody to say anything. He was not there to do an undercover operation or elicit some type of statement or testimony.”
Sen. Graham: (43:38)
Thank you. That’s very good.
Sen. Whitehouse: (43:39)
Sen. Cruz: (43:42)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Horowitz, thank you for being here, and I want to start by taking the opportunity to thank not only you but the men and women of your team that are gathered here. I think the work that you’ve done in the Inspector General’s office is incredibly important. Reading this report, this is a 434- page report that lays out what I consider to be a stunning indictment of the FBI and the Department of Justice of a pattern of abuse of power. I will say both the Department of Justice and FBI for decades have had a great many honorable, principled professionals with a fidelity to rule of law. This indictment, I’m an alumnus to the Department of Justice. This pattern of facts makes me angry, and it makes anyone who expects law enforcement to be nonpartisan and faithful to the law, it should make them angry as well.
Sen. Cruz: (44:43)
Now, the press has focused on your specific conclusion that you did not find evidence of political bias. That’s a judgment you have. I disagree with that judgment, but I think that judgment is, in many ways, the least significant component of this report. I think the facts that are in this report need to be understood, and they should be deeply chilling to anyone who understands the facts in this report. Then people can draw the inference as to why that pattern of abuse occurred.
Sen. Graham: (45:13)
Do you agree with that?
M. Horowitz: (45:16)
Sen. Graham: (45:17)
Do you agree with what he just said?
M. Horowitz: (45:17)
I think everybody can … The purpose of this report is to lay out the facts for the public, and everybody can debate and decide what they think of this information. I absolutely agree.
Sen. Cruz: (45:30)
So this 434-page report outlines 17 major errors and misstatements that were made by the FBI or DOJ in securing FISA warrants. A number of them are deeply, deeply troubling. These are not typos. These are not small inadvertent errors. These are grotesque abuse of power. Let’s focus on a couple of them. The primary sub-source. The primary sub-source, and indeed the first error you note …
Sen. Cruz: (46:03)
Primary sub source, and indeed the first error you note in the second, third and fourth application for the FISA a warrant, is that the primary sub source reporting raised serious questions about the accuracy of the Steele dossier, which we now know was a bunch of malarkey, to use a term that’s been in the news lately, and that the FISA court was not informed of that.
Sen. Cruz: (46:25)
Now, let’s get specifically, so the basis of this Steele report was, what’s referred to in your report, as the primary sub source. That was the principal basis and the FBI interviewed that primary sub source not once, not twice but three times in January, March and May of 2017. That’s the basis of this dossier. What did the primary sub source say, as the OIG report says, the interviews with the primary sub source raised, quote, significant questions about the reliability of the steel reporting. What did the sub source say specifically as your report goes on to say, it says Steele misstated or exaggerated multiple sections of the reporting. It says that portions of it, particularly the more salacious and sexual portions were based on quote, rumor and speculation. It says that some basis of that came from conversations with, quote, friends over beers and statements that were made in, quote, just. The primary sub source also says to take the other sub sources, quote, with a grain of salt. Now, the FBI had that information, knew that the basis of this dossier was saying it’s unreliable. What are the FBI and DOJ do? In renewal application number two and number three, the FBI advise the court, quote, the FBI found the Russian based sub source to be truthful and cooperative with zero revisions. You note that as the most significant misstatement and that is going in front of a court of law, relying on facts that you know are unreliable without any basis. That was the number one.
M. Horowitz: (48:16)
Sen. Cruz: (48:18)
The number two major error in the applications was omitting Carter Page’s prior relationship. Now, we now have evidence that Carter Page functioned as a source for a United States intelligence agents. That’s a pretty darn important fact. If you’re telling the FISA court, “Hey, the fact that this guy Carter Page, who, I don’t know this guy Carter Page, but the fact that he’s talking to Russians really suspicious.” Well, the fact that he’s serving as a source for U.S. intelligence agents, it’s pretty darn relevant to why he’s talking to Russians because we have lots of sources that are talking to bad guys. When you don’t tell the court that, you’re deceiving the court. But it’s worse than just deceiving the court, because, as the OIG report details, an assistant general counsel in the FBI, altered an e-mail, fabricated evidence, reading from the OIG reports, specifically the words and not a source had been inserted into the email. That email then was sent on to the officials responsible for making the decision to go forward.
Sen. Cruz: (49:39)
As the report said… Let me read on page 256 of the OIG report, the final paragraph consistent with the inspector General Act of 1978 and following OIGs discovery, that the OGC attorney had altered the email that he sent to the supervising agent who thereafter relied on it to swear out the final FISA application.
Sen. Cruz: (50:09)
The men and women at home need to know what’s happening. A lawyer at the FBI creates fraudulent evidence, alters an email, that is in turn used as the basis for a sworn statement to the court that the court relies on. Am I stating that accurately?
M. Horowitz: (50:28)
That’s correct. That is what occurred.
Sen. Cruz: (50:28)
Now, you have worked in law enforcement a long time. Is the pattern of a Department of Justice employee altering evidence and submitting fraudulent evidence that ultimately gets submitted to a court, is that commonplace? Is that typical?
M. Horowitz: (50:43)
I have not seen an alteration of an email end up impacting a court document like this.
Sen. Cruz: (50:52)
In any ordinary circumstance, if a private citizen did this, fabricated evidence. By the way, what he inserted was not just slightly wrong, it was 180 degrees opposite what the evidence said. The intelligence agency said this guy is a source and he inserted this guy is not a source. If a private citizen did that in any law enforcement investigation, if they fabricated evidence and reversed what it said, in your experience with that private citizen be prosecuted for fabricating evidence, be prosecuted for obstruction of justice, be prosecuted for perjury?
M. Horowitz: (51:29)
They certainly would be considered for that, if there was an intentional effort to deceive the court. On this one, I’m going to defer because as we noted here in the sentence you indicated, we referred that over to the attorney general and the FBI director for handling.
Sen. Cruz: (51:45)
Third major omission that the Department of Justice and the FBI did not tell the court is that this entire operation was funded by the DNC, was funded by the Hillary Clinton Campaign and by Democrats. It was an APO research. At some level this is the most effective APO research dump in history because the department of justice and FBI were perfectly happy to be hatchet man for this APO research dump.
Sen. Cruz: (52:15)
Now, throughout every one of the filings, DOJ and the FBI didn’t inform the FISA court that this was being paid for by the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign. Is that right?
M. Horowitz: (52:27)
That’s not in any of the FISA application.
Sen. Cruz: (52:29)
So they didn’t tell the court that, and it’s not like DOJ didn’t know. Indeed, one of the senior Department of Justice officials, Bruce Ohr, his wife worked at Fusion GPS, the APO research company being paid by the DNC, and he became the principal liaison with Steele without telling anyone at the Department of Justice that he was essentially working on behalf of the Clinton Campaign. Who at the Department of Justice was, and by the way, several Democrats… It’s interesting seeing Democratic senators wanting to defend this abuse of power. Several Senators, Senator Feinstein said, I wrote this down, “the FBI didn’t play spies in the Trump campaign,” Senator Leahy said something similar. Well, that may be true, not spies in the Trump campaign, but reading from your report, in particular, page for the executive summary, your report says, “thereafter, the Crossfire Hurricane team use the intrusive techniques including confidential human sources to interact and consensually record multiple conversations with Page and Papadopoulos, both before and after they were working for the Trump campaign, as well as on one occasion with a high level Trump campaign official who was not the subject of the investigation.” They didn’t place spies in the campaign, but they sent spies to record senior members of the campaign in the middle of a presidential campaign when that candidate was the nominee for the other major party that was the opposing party to the one in power. Is that right?
M. Horowitz: (54:06)
They send confidential human sources in to do those.
Sen. Cruz: (54:12)
Who at DOJ knew about this? Did the Attorney General know about this? Did the White House know about this?
Speaker 2: (54:20)
Based on what we found, nobody had been told in advance-
Sen. Cruz: (54:24)
But once it was happening, did they know?
Speaker 2: (54:25)
They did not. The only evidence that somebody knew were the line attorneys in NSD, National Security Division, when they were told very selective portions of what had occurred. Nobody knew beforehand, nobody had been briefed and frankly that was one of the most concerning things here, is that nobody would needed to be told.
Sen. Cruz: (54:46)
I can tell you from my time at the Department of Justice and from my time in law enforcement, any responsible leader, when hearing that you’re about sending in spies and sending in a wiretap on any presidential nominee, should say, “what in the hell are we doing?” By the way, the people up the chain who are saying, “we didn’t know,” if you had responsible leadership, there’s no more important decision than you make. I can tell you what I was at DOJ, if someone says, “let’s tap Hillary Clinton, or let’s tap Bill Clinton or John Kerry,” the people there would have said, “what in the hell are you talking about?” What was going on here, this wasn’t Jason Borne. This was Beavis and Butthead.
Speaker 2: (55:28)
Amy Klobuchar: (55:31)
All right, I want to tone things down a little here. First one to express my gratitude for the thousands of men and women who work every day on the front line with the FBI. I come from a background as a prosecutor, and our local law enforcement work with the FBI every day. In our local office in Minnesota and then in the Senate I’ve had the privilege to work with many people in the FBI. I think the Inspector General’s job is incredibly important. He keeps everyone honest, but I do think it’s important for those agents and for those in law enforcement that are watching today, that people understand there are people up here that understand that you’re simply doing your jobs, which I think is basically with some suggestions and recommendations for change, what the inspector general found in this report.
Amy Klobuchar: (56:27)
Before I start my questions, I think it’s important to put this discussion in context with what happened in the 2016 election, which is why we are here today. It is now undisputed by our intelligence agencies that Russia invaded our democracy, not with bombs or jets or tanks, but with a sophisticated cyber mission to undermine the underpinnings of our very democracy. A democracy that hundreds of thousands of men and women have lost their lives on the battlefield, defending both our democracy and democracies abroad. A democracy that for a little girl’s innocence, the height of the civil rights movement, lost their lives in a church in Birmingham, Alabama, because people were trying to hold on to that democracy and make sure that it was extended to people in this country. Let’s remember why we’re here today.
Amy Klobuchar: (57:26)
Let’s remember the words of Dan Coats, the former director of the National Intelligence Agency who served in the Senate, well-respected by colleagues on both sides of the aisle. He said that in fact, Russia has been emboldened to do this again. I did appreciate Senator Graham’s words that he made clear that it was not Ukraine that invaded this election, it was Russia. It was the words of Fiona Hill and the impeachment hearings over in the House that I thought were important to remember. She said, “anyone that is repeating this lie is basically pedaling in Russian propaganda.” Let’s remember that this is not about one election or one party, it is about our democracy.
Amy Klobuchar: (58:14)
What can we do? Well, we can be honest and we can stop making political hay out of this and we can actually take some actions that would protect our election in 2020, and that includes finishing the work that Senator Langford and I have started to pass not only the money, which I appreciate to help states to secure our elections, but to also get in place requirements to push those states that don’t have backup paper ballots fully, 11 of them, to get those backup paper ballots and to make sure we have audits and to make sure we have better communication between federal and state authorities, to do something about the propaganda by actually moving forward on the bill that Senator McCain and I had and that Senator Graham and I now have, the Honest Ads act, which requires those social media companies. I have actually no idea why we don’t do that, to play by the same rules of the road for paid political ads, which would greatly help us, but not completely, but greatly help us with this propaganda problem.
Amy Klobuchar: (59:14)
Here we go. You wrote this report, Inspector Horowitz after interviewing more than 100 witnesses and reviewing over 1 million documents. Is that right?
M. Horowitz: (59:25)
Amy Klobuchar: (59:26)
Under department guidelines and investigation as an authorized purpose if it is open to detect, obtain information about or prevent or protect against federal crimes or threats to the national security or to collect foreign intelligence. You found that the investigation, at issue today, was open to determine whether people associated with the Trump campaign were coordinating with the Russian government. Is that right?
M. Horowitz: (59:53)
That is the reason the FBI provided.
Amy Klobuchar: (59:57)
Again, to be clear, you did not find that the FBI acted improperly when it opened the counter intelligence investigation that you reviewed and writing in this report. Is that right?
M. Horowitz: (01:00:10)
Amy Klobuchar: (01:00:10)
The department’s guidelines also require that a decision to open investigation is supported by, as you describe in your report, allegations, reports, facts, or circumstances that indicate the possibility of criminal activity or a national security threat, you found that the FBI’s investigation was predicated on a report from a friendly foreign government that heard that the Trump campaign had received some suggestion that Russia could help them by releasing information that was damaging to Hillary Clinton. Is that right?
M. Horowitz: (01:00:43)
Amy Klobuchar: (01:00:45)
As a former prosecutor, I know that it is critical that the FBI is able to take an action like it did adhere investigate threats to our national security. Do you think that interference in our elections by a foreign government constitutes a national security threat?
M. Horowitz: (01:01:04)
Yes, I do.
Amy Klobuchar: (01:01:05)
Okay. Does anything in your report call into question the finding in the special counsel’s report that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in a sweeping and systematic fashion?
M. Horowitz: (01:01:20)
No, it doesn’t. In fact, we cite the special counsel’s report here in a footnote, laying out all the different reports that have been released on that issue.
Amy Klobuchar: (01:01:28)
Does anything in your report call into question the Republican Chairman Burr’s statement that, quote, Russia is waging an information warfare campaign against the U.S. that didn’t start and didn’t end with the 2016 election.
M. Horowitz: (01:01:43)
No, it doesn’t.
Amy Klobuchar: (01:01:44)
Does anything in your report call into question the assessment by FBI Director Ray, that Russia’s interference in our elections is ongoing and that it’s interference in the 2018 midterms were a, quote, dress rehearsal, end quote, for the 2020 elections.
M. Horowitz: (01:01:59)
No, it doesn’t.
Amy Klobuchar: (01:02:00)
Does anything in your report call into question the finding in the special counsel’s report that, quote, the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and work to secure that outcome?
M. Horowitz: (01:02:12)
We don’t take issue with any part of the special counselors report, no.
Amy Klobuchar: (01:02:15)
Okay. Did you find any evidence that political bias or other improper consideration affected the FBI’s decision to open the investigation into George Papadopoulos?
M. Horowitz: (01:02:31)
No, we don’t.
Amy Klobuchar: (01:02:32)
Did you find any evidence that political bias or other improper considerations affected the decision to open the investigation into Paul Manafort?
M. Horowitz: (01:02:40)
No, we don’t.
Amy Klobuchar: (01:02:41)
Did you find any evidence of political bias or other improper considerations affected the decision to open the investigation into Michael Flynn?
M. Horowitz: (01:02:50)
We did not.
Amy Klobuchar: (01:02:51)
Did you find any investigation that political bias or other improper considerations affected the decision to open the investigation into Carter Page?
M. Horowitz: (01:03:01)
No. No documentary or testimonial evidence or other evidence.
Amy Klobuchar: (01:03:04)
So we are clear, did your report uncover systematic political bias at the FBI?
M. Horowitz: (01:03:12)
As to what we looked at in the openings we did not find documentary testimonial evidence to support a finding of bias.
Amy Klobuchar: (01:03:19)
Can you comment on why it is critical that the American people have confidence in the rule of law and the independence of the justice department?
M. Horowitz: (01:03:28)
Absolutely. I also was a former prosecutor and federal prosecutor previously. I did public corruption cases in Southern district in New York. The whole foundation of the justice department and law enforcement on the federal level, and at the state local level, is apolitical non-political decision making made by prosecutors and agents working together to protect communities.
Amy Klobuchar: (01:03:50)
Very good. I want to follow up on your discussion on the issue you briefly discussed whistle blowers with Senator Feinstein because it’s so important and I know that Senator Grassley also cares a lot about this issue. Can you speak, generally, to how often in your career information provided to whistle blowers has proved important and led to uncover wrongdoing?
M. Horowitz: (01:04:16)
Well, I’ll speak to certainly my experience in the seven years as IG. In the first instance from the get go fast and furious critical that the agents came forward there. We’ve found numerous instances in our audits and our reviews with whistle blowers coming forward and reporting evidence, and I’ll like going back 30 years to my career as a prosecutor in New York doing police corruption cases, we had an incredibly brave and courageous police officer who saw corruption in his midst and came forward and reported it and allowed us to make a very substantial police corruption case that would’ve continued, but for that courageous officer.
Amy Klobuchar: (01:04:58)
Thank you very much, that’s really helpful. Last, after your report was released on Monday, Attorney General Barr stated his opinion that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions. When the FBI decided to open its investigations, the U.S. Intelligence Committee was already aware of Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 election. Is that correct?
M. Horowitz: (01:05:27)
I’m actually not sure what the Intelligence Committee knew at the time.
Amy Klobuchar: (01:05:31)
It was in that context that the FBI received information… Let’s move forward and understand your answer. That the FBI received information from a foreign government, which we know from reports came from an Australian diplomat. Other reported that a Trump campaign official suggested that the Trump campaign had received some kind of suggestion from Russia that would assist the campaign by releasing information that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Is that correct?
M. Horowitz: (01:06:00)
Amy Klobuchar: (01:06:01)
Your report also quoted then chief of the national security division, David Lockman, who said that it would have been a, quote, dereliction of duty and responsibility of the highest order not to commit the appropriate resources as urgently as possible to run these facts to the ground and find out what’s going on. Is that correct?
M. Horowitz: (01:06:21)
Amy Klobuchar: (01:06:22)
In light of all of that was occurring at that time, and it’s always easy in hindsight to look back at things, but at that time, do you agree with Attorney General Barr that the investigation was predicated on the thinnest of suspicions?
M. Horowitz: (01:06:35)
Well, I’m not going to get into a comparison in what his view, he’s free to have his opinion. We have our finding and as I said earlier, I stand by our conclusion.
Amy Klobuchar: (01:06:44)
Your conclusion, again, is?
M. Horowitz: (01:06:45)
That it was sufficient predication to open the investigation based on the low threshold required by department and FBI policy.
Amy Klobuchar: (01:06:52)
Thank you very much.
Lindsey Graham: (00:00)
Thank you. Just we’ve talked a lot about pay, just briefly about Papadopoulos. I don’t want anybody to believe that anybody named in the initial investigation has been convicted of being a agent of the Russians, says, “Anybody associated with the Trump campaign been charged with a crime of colluding with the Russians?”
M. Horowitz: (00:19)
Not that I know of as I sit here.
Lindsey Graham: (00:21)
I think we would know by now. Mr. Papadopoulos, he was actually being surveilled by the FBI. Is that correct?
M. Horowitz: (00:30)
If you’re talking about the confidential human source?
Lindsey Graham: (00:32)
M. Horowitz: (00:32)
Under operations, yes. They did CHS operations with him. They considered but did not proceed to seek a FISA application.
Lindsey Graham: (00:41)
But he was being wire tapped and he didn’t know it.
M. Horowitz: (00:44)
Well, he was being, an undercover operation and being, having a wire with a confidential [crosstalk 00:00:53].
Lindsey Graham: (00:52)
He’s talking to somebody that’s got a wire.
M. Horowitz: (00:54)
[crosstalk 00:00:53]. Right. I just want to be careful because you do a wire, you think of a court order [crosstalk 00:01:00].
Lindsey Graham: (00:59)
No, trust me, [crosstalk 00:01:01] with a court order.
M. Horowitz: (01:01)
I just want to be careful how I say that.
Lindsey Graham: (01:04)
This is done because they can do it.
M. Horowitz: (01:06)
Lindsey Graham: (01:06)
They can do it. They don’t have to get anybody’s permission.
M. Horowitz: (01:08)
Well, they need the supervisory approval within the bureau. That’s it.
Lindsey Graham: (01:10)
On page 331, I just want you to know what Papadopoulos said when he didn’t know he was being wiretapped. No, we don’t want to work with the Russians. Basically I’m summarizing here. That’d be treason.
Lindsey Graham: (01:25)
Senator Sasse: (01:27)
Thank you Mr. Chairman. Mr. Horowitz, thank you for being here and to all of your team. You’ve done important work, so thank you to all of you in the rows one and two as well.
Senator Sasse: (01:36)
There are a number of things that are really troubling, but some of them have been unpacked pretty fully so far. So I’m going to pick up some loose ends. Bruce Orr, who is he and what’s his role at the department? And then let’s ask some questions about the bizarre pathway by which he became involved in this investigation.
M. Horowitz: (01:54)
So at the time of these events, he was an associate deputy attorney general and the head of the organized crime drug enforcement task force working out of the deputy attorney general’s office.
Senator Sasse: (02:04)
The Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force. And that’s connected to election interference by the Russians how?
M. Horowitz: (02:10)
It is not.
Senator Sasse: (02:12)
What the hell’s he doing here?
M. Horowitz: (02:14)
That was precisely the concern that we lay out here. He had no role in any of the election interference matters.
Senator Sasse: (02:25)
We have a bunch of people in the media who wanted to read this as a war shock test and they wanted to have a predetermined answer for exactly how to interpret each piece of this. And so as the chairman began today, he said, “A predicate of investigation appropriate but some minor mistakes and errors were made.” You’ve outlined in this 478 or 434 depending on whether we count all the Roman numerals page report, 17 significant errors in this investigation.
Senator Sasse: (02:53)
Bruce Orr, who has a very significant senior role, ODA, for those who don’t know, the office of the deputy attorney general, has primary oversight of all law enforcement agencies in America. So if you’re in the FBI and you might make a mistake in your investigation, the people you’d be in trouble with normally are in the deputy attorney general’s office.
Senator Sasse: (03:13)
And here’s the guy in the deputy attorney general’s office who ultimately gets involved, inserts himself into this investigation. And I think it’s pretty important to recognize we’ve got a massive cultural systemic failure. If a guy from ODAG who should be doing oversight of this case, if he weren’t off on another assignment about organized crime and drug trafficking, if he were going to get involved in this he should be checking the work of the people who were doing the work. And there are a whole bunch of department protocols and provisions that were violated throughout this.
Senator Sasse: (03:41)
But Bruce Orr, he ultimately decides to get extra information out of Christopher Steele after Christopher Steele or his employer, Fusion GPS, had been cut off by the FBI. Why did the FBI decide to no longer listen to Christopher Steele?
M. Horowitz: (03:58)
So he was closed in November of 2016 after the FBI learned of his disclosure to Mother Jones magazine that he had been working with the FBI previously.
Senator Sasse: (04:10)
And we know from the evidence that Senator Cruz went through, there were a whole bunch of sub sources that Christopher Steele was summarizing and the FBI at that point was believing he might be a credible guy and they ultimately realized that this is a bunch of BS and his sub sources are saying, “I said some of this in jest and some of it stuff that I overheard in a bar, none of it is information that I had firsthand knowledge of.” And so the FBI decides reasonably that Mr. Steele’s information isn’t credible. Right. So they cut him off.
M. Horowitz: (04:39)
Actually, let me just be clear then. That isn’t what caused him to cut them off. What caused him to cut him off is they learned he had talked to the press and Mother Jones magazine. They actually had that other information and didn’t tell anybody about it at the justice department.
Senator Sasse: (04:49)
So you’re disagreeing with me only to say the problems with Mr. Steele are twice as bad as I summarized?
M. Horowitz: (04:56)
I’m just saying it’s, that isn’t why they cut him off. That’s the concern is that they kept doing it.
Senator Sasse: (05:00)
Bruce Orr, who doesn’t have any responsibilities in this area, decides he’ll insert himself into the investigation and go get additional information from or about Christopher Steele and the people who are funding Christopher Steele. Can you just remind us who’s Bruce Orr married to?
M. Horowitz: (05:16)
Bruce Orr’s spouse, Nellie Orr, had formerly been in at the time he started interacting in November, 2016 with Steele had been a former independent contractor for Fusion GPS.
Senator Sasse: (05:30)
So in other words, Bruce Orr decides to insert himself into an investigation after the professional agents involved in this investigation said, “Mr. Steele isn’t reputable, isn’t credible, and has been talking to the media. So we’re now not going to talk to Christopher Steele anymore.” Bruce Orr says, “Actually I should.” And he meets with these people who are funding or who are the employers of Christopher Steele or own his dossier who’s also Bruce Orr’s wife’s source of compensation?
M. Horowitz: (05:58)
Senator Sasse: (05:59)
M. Horowitz: (05:59)
As of I think September, 2016, she had no longer been an independent contractor. I want to also, I think it’s important to be clear because this is relevant again to the significance of some of the inappropriate actions here. The FBI was not a reluctant participant in this relationship that was the conduit from Bruce Orr through Bruce Orr to Steele as we lay out here. I just want to be clear. They’re not saying we don’t want to deal with him. They’re saying, “Oh yeah, call.” Essentially if you have something we would love to hear from you.
Senator Sasse: (06:33)
I want to just say that I wish Mike Lee weren’t sitting here two people away from me right now because as a national security hawk I have argued with Mike Lee and the four and a half or five years that I’ve been in the Senate, that stuff just like this couldn’t possibly happen at the FBI and at the Department of Justice. So as somebody who is embarrassed on behalf of the FBI about your report because I believe that it is critically important that we have the FISA statute. I think the FISC is an incredibly important court. The approval rating of applications that come before the FISC are off the charts. I don’t know the current numbers but a couple of years ago when I saw him, I think it was 97.9%. is that a fair …
M. Horowitz: (07:13)
I think it’s was the last number I saw was the roughly 98%.
Senator Sasse: (07:16)
Okay, so 98% approval rating of applications that come before the FISC. Why would it be that high, people would normally say, and I’m not asking you to answer that. I’m saying that the good answer is in an ex parte, I’m not an attorney, but an ex parte proceeding before the court when you the American citizen who might be being surveilled or be suspected of something that would open a surveillance warrant against you, the assumption would be if you can’t be there to defend yourself, it’s because the department’s lawyers are so super scrupulous that if there’s any information that might exonerate you or that might counteract the view that led them to first pursue a theory of the case that had them wanting to surveil you, they would say the bar is so high here we’ll always err on the side of privacy unless we believe there’s a good reason to pursue this investigation.
Senator Sasse: (08:04)
And so Mike Lee has warned me for four and a half years, the potential for abuse in this space is terrible and I constantly defended the integrity and the professionalism of the bureau and of the department that you couldn’t have something like this happen.
Senator Sasse: (08:17)
Let’s move on from Bruce Orr and move to the renewals. The renewals, the first one we can have a debate about. That’s been the headline about whether or not there was political bias that led to the opening the investigation. The second, the third and the fourth warrant against or FISA proceeding against Carter Page are based on an assumption the court has that, hey, we got a bunch of information the first time we heard this case and if we thought it was legitimate to open a case into this guy, the bureau is going to have so much integrity and the department’s lawyers are going to have so much integrity, if there’s ever a reason for them to doubt information that led to the opening application they made to us, they’ll bring us that information. So when renewals two, three and four, they bring none of this information, right?
M. Horowitz: (09:02)
That’s correct. They’re not telling the department so the lawyers at the department can decide what to include for the court.
Senator Sasse: (09:09)
I think we face a massive crisis of public trust and American life in general, partly because an open society is going to be susceptible to the kinds of influence operations that Russia runs against us on a daily basis in a clunky way, but that China is eventually going to run against us in a very sophisticated way.
Senator Sasse: (09:26)
The real debate we should be having on TV and in the Brent journalist community about moments like this is not fundamentally about making this month 48 or month 49 of the 2016 presidential election that will never die. We should be having an advanced conversation about 2024, 2028 and 2032 when China with deep fakes, runs influence operations against us that are going to be far more sophisticated and far more dangerous than this. And so if the bureau functions this poorly during a moment like this, when we actually have a really sophisticated attack against the US, we’re going to have a much, much bigger problem if the American people don’t think they can trust this.
Senator Sasse: (10:02)
And so whether or not people are going to agree with your opening headline on whether or not political bias was irrelevant factor in the opening in the investigation, there is no doubt that there’s a massive cultural failing inside DOJ and at the FBI that would allow renewals to come in the second, third and the fourth case without anybody ever thinking that their work is going to be scrutinized again. If this is what happens and this is arguably the second, third or fourth most important investigation in the history of the FBI, if this can happen in an investigation where they would expect there’s going to be a lot of subsequent scrutiny, what is your suspicion about what happens in a regular FISA application or renewal process? If the American people hear this and they say, this can happen against a campaign for the presidency of the United States, what happens in an ordinary FISA case?
M. Horowitz: (10:48)
That was exactly our concern and why we started this week a new review and audit to look at others not only on the intel side, counter intelligence side, but on the counter terrorism side and on US persons. What else is going on there? We want to be fair. We don’t want to do it just on this, but for the reasons you indicated. If it’s happening here, what’s going on elsewhere?
Senator Sasse: (11:09)
I want to summarize something that you say on page 14 which is to this point, because so many people are just reading this hearing or listening to this hearing through the lenses of who their favorite red or blue jersey team was in the 2016 election. But you’re saying something really fundamental about a culture that director Ray needs to rebelled. “There’s so many basic and fundamental errors that so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate handpicked teams on one of the most sensitive FBI investigations that was briefed to the highest levels within the FBI and that the FBI officials expected would eventually be subjected to close scrutiny, raise significant questions regarding the FBI chain of command’s management and supervision of the FISA process.”
Senator Sasse: (11:50)
Jumping ahead, “In our view, this was a failure of not only the operational team but also of the managers and the supervisors, including the senior officials in the chain of command. For these reasons we recommend that the FBI review of the performance of these employees and who had the responsibility for the preparation, the woods review,” which is essentially where you check your work and you say, do we have any footnotes and could we corroborate this if we had to if asked by the FISA court or other supervisors, or picking up your quote again, “Approval of the FISA applications as well as the managers and supervisors in the chain of command of the Carter Page investigation including senior officials and take appropriate action, take action deemed appropriate,” this means potential discipline and firing, I assume. “In addition, given the extensive compliance failures we identified in this review, we believe that additional OIG oversight work is required to assess the FBI’s compliance with the department and FBI FISA related policies that seek to protect the civil liberties of the US persons,” also known as the whole fourth amendment.
Senator Sasse: (12:49)
“Accordingly, we have today initiated,” is a big headline folks, “And accordingly today we have initiated an OIG audit that will further examine the FBI’s compliance with the woods procedures in FISA applications that target US persons in both counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism investigations.”
Senator Sasse: (13:07)
That’s a big headline. You’re saying there is a systematic cultural failure of accountability at the bureau related to the FISA process. Mike Lee doesn’t drink, but I’d buy him whiskey right now if he did because there are a whole bunch of things we’ve argued about for a long time and he’s right about things that I think ought not be right, and if we had another 10 minute round, Lindsay’s round was 94 minutes, so I’m going to go over by at least 25 seconds, if we had time for another round, I think we should ask some really fundamental questions about the defensive briefing as well.
Senator Sasse: (13:39)
In the American system when the people get to pick politicians to represent them, for a time the politicians aren’t better people than the bureaucrats, but they’re the ones who hold certificates of election. When the people are elected, those politicians incoming don’t know as much as the bureaucrats at the top levels of the agencies because the agency experts had been there for a long time. That’s what the defensive briefings should be about, not an investigatory Trojan horse.
Lindsey Graham: (14:03)
Thank you Senator [inaudible 00:14:04].
Senator Coons: (14:05)
And thank you Mr. Chairman, ranking member, Inspector General Horowitz. I’m impressed by the thoroughness of your team’s work. You reviewed a million documents and conducted interviews of more than 100 witnesses, including several on multiple occasions. I think it was 170 interviews. Would you agree with me broadly that this is a testament to the rule of law and the transparency of our system that your office can produce such a searching and thorough report that contains some criticism of the most powerful federal law enforcement agency in our nation?
M. Horowitz: (14:35)
Absolutely. I couldn’t agree with you more and it’s a Testament to the congress for creating the inspector general, the community.
Senator Coons: (14:40)
This is why we have your office and inspector general to provide an independent assessment of the facts that’s not beholden to any particular partisan agenda. FBI Director, Chris Ray, said in his response to your report that the FBI and I quote, “Accepts the report’s findings and embraces the need for thoughtful, meaningful remedial action.”
Senator Coons: (14:59)
Let me just begin by expressing my appreciation to you and to Director Ray for being guided by the facts rather than some of the more breathless conspiracy theories that have been spread recently.
Senator Coons: (15:10)
President Trump has called the entire Russia investigation a witch hunt and a hoax. But your report found that the FBI had an authorized purpose when it opened its investigation into whether individuals associated with that campaign were coordinating with the Russian government’s broad efforts to interfere in our 2016 presidential election, which was grounded in protecting our national security. Do you stand by that conclusion?
M. Horowitz: (15:33)
We stand by our conclusion.
Senator Coons: (15:35)
Let’s talk about what we all know was happening in 2016 when this investigation began. Russian intelligence hacked the democratic national committee and the Clinton campaign. Does your report disprove that finding of the Russia investigation?
M. Horowitz: (15:48)
No, we don’t disprove any of the findings in the Russia investigation.
Senator Coons: (15:51)
We also know Russian intelligence was strategically acting to release stolen emails through WikiLeaks, through DC leaks, with an intention to try and help Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. And you don’t disagree with that?
M. Horowitz: (16:03)
We don’t disagree with and it we don’t [crosstalk 00:16:04].
Senator Coons: (16:04)
The Russian internet research agency conducted a coordinated influence campaign on social media to try and tear apart American society to sow discord. And your report doesn’t disagree with that conclusion?
M. Horowitz: (16:16)
Senator Coons: (16:16)
Let me just in summary, when the FBI opened this investigation known as crossfire hurricane, Russia was at that time engaging in an unprecedented and broad scale attack on our election and our democracy, then candidate Trump’s response wasn’t to denounce Russia’s actions. It was to say, and I quote, “As a candidate, Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find Hillary’s emails. It was to praise WikiLeaks for leaking stolen emails. It was even to suggest that Russia was not responsible. It might be someone weighing 400 pounds sitting on their bed in their mother’s home.”
Senator Coons: (16:50)
So all this was happening while the FBI was trying to protect our elections and our democracy. I would have preferred to see our president criticized then the Russians who were attacking our elections.
Senator Coons: (17:03)
But to your report, if I might. Bill Priestap, who was assistant director of the FBI’s counterintelligence division, approved the opening of the FBI investigation into possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russian interference. He told your office there was a counterintelligence concern that the FBI was obligated to investigate. Did you find any evidence at all to suggest Mr. Priestap’s actions were motivated by bias, by his political views, by partisanship rather than his sense of obligation to protect the country?
M. Horowitz: (17:34)
We did not.
Senator Coons: (17:36)
On March 4th, 2017 President Trump tweeted, “Terrible. Just found out Obama had my wires tapped in Trump Tower before my victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism.” Did your investigation identify any evidence President Obama ordered the FBI to tap Donald Trump’s phone?
M. Horowitz: (17:53)
We didn’t find any evidence the FBI had tapped any other phones or anything else other than the FISA that we addressed.
Senator Coons: (18:02)
But you did find that an FBI employee doctored an email in order to support the Carter Page FISA application, correct?
M. Horowitz: (18:09)
Senator Coons: (18:10)
Well as your report concludes and as many have said, I’m here to restate that that’s inexcusable and we must hold federal law enforcement to the highest standards, even those of us who support federal law enforcement.
Senator Coons: (18:22)
Let me ask a question about the response of the agency. Who appointed FBI Director, Chris Wray?
M. Horowitz: (18:28)
Senator Coons: (18:29)
Did Director Wray accept all of the findings of your investigation?
M. Horowitz: (18:32)
Senator Coons: (18:33)
And that includes your finding that the investigation and related investigations were opened for an authorized purpose with adequate predication. Did he agree with that?
M. Horowitz: (18:42)
Senator Coons: (18:43)
Your report identified errors the FBI made in conjunction with the page FISA applications. We shouldn’t minimize those errors, but I think it’s critical to put them in context. Your report doesn’t speculate as to whether a FISA warrant would have been authorized for Mr. Page if officials had considered all the relevant information in a timely way. Is that correct?
M. Horowitz: (19:02)
That’s correct. We don’t speculate on [crosstalk 00:19:04].
Senator Coons: (19:04)
And Mr. Page wasn’t indicted in the Russia investigation?
M. Horowitz: (19:07)
He was not charged as far as I understand.
Senator Coons: (19:09)
But the president’s campaign manager, deputy campaign manager, national security advisor, foreign policy advisor, personal attorney and long-time strategist were all either convicted of crimes or pled guilty in federal courts. Is that correct?
M. Horowitz: (19:24)
I think I followed the list, but I understand what you’re saying. I won’t disagree with you.
Senator Coons: (19:28)
Did you identify FISA errors with regards to any other Trump campaign official who’d been under investigation?
M. Horowitz: (19:35)
the only FISA we found existed was the one we’ve written about here as to Carter Page.
Senator Coons: (19:40)
So within the broader context of the Trump campaign and the investigation and the outcome, I just thought it was worth repeating that the Mueller investigation produced 37 indictments, guilty pleas and convictions, and none of those are called into question by your report. Is that correct?
M. Horowitz: (19:57)
We don’t address those at all.
Senator Coons: (19:59)
One point with some bipartisan agreement today, one of the only points I’ve heard with bipartisan agreement today is a renewed interest in reforming the FISA process. And while we continue to consider as a Senate reauthorizing sections of the Patriot Act, I’d welcome suggestions from FBI Director Ray as to statutory reforms to ensure the errors we saw here in the Page process don’t happen again, while ensuring the FBI has the authorities it needs to protect our nation.
Senator Coons: (20:26)
I’m encouraged director, I fully accept your specific recommendations, but I think Congress should also consider reforms to safeguard civil liberties. In this regard I’m more in Senator Lee’s camp than Senator Sasse’s.
Senator Coons: (20:39)
IG Horowitz, do you believe some of the problems you report uncovered your report uncovered would benefit from congressional action to reform the FISA process?
M. Horowitz: (20:48)
We haven’t talked about it, but that’s a very important point, Senator. As you know, we make recommendations to the department. We don’t make recommendations to Congress. Congress though has I think important issues to think about in this report as to how this process can be improved and ensure that these kinds of errors are addressed going forward.
Senator Coons: (21:08)
Well, Inspector General, I’m grateful for your service and for your work. Let me just conclude with one last question.
Senator Coons: (21:14)
President Trump has repeatedly claimed that FBI agents and officials were biased against him and worked to favor the campaign of his opponent, Hillary Clinton. In your investigation, did you find that the FBI took any investigative step based on political bias against now President Trump?
M. Horowitz: (21:33)
I’m going to be careful on that because of the referral we made per the IG Act on the altered email and some of the other issues we found on the FISA.
Senator Coons: (21:42)
Did you find any substantive investigative step that was influenced by political bias?
M. Horowitz: (21:47)
Again, I’m going to be careful because we have a situation where we have the altered email by the individual who, as we know in the footnotes, had text messages that were concerning who we identified last year. So I’m going to defer on what that …
M. Horowitz: (22:03)
I’m going to defer on what the rationale might have been.
Senator Sasse: (22:05)
What that one step rationale might’ve been. But overarching your conclusion was that the initiation of this investigation was well predicated and was for a lawful purpose.
M. Horowitz: (22:15)
Correct. In terms of the opening, going back to the opening, correct.
Senator Sasse: (22:18)
Thank you very much, Mr. Inspector General, for your report.
M. Horowitz: (22:21)
Lindsey Graham: (22:21)
But as to everything that followed the opening, there’s a lot of concern?
M. Horowitz: (22:25)
I have a lot of concerns about the FISA process and how that occurred. To be clear, the confidential informant issue raises significant policy questions, but we found they complied with the policies there.
Lindsey Graham: (22:37)
Peter Strzok worked for who?
M. Horowitz: (22:40)
Well, over time he moved up the chain. But at some of the key times here, Mr. Priestap.
Lindsey Graham: (22:49)
Okay. Senator Hawley.
Senator Sasse: (22:53)
Let me just start where Senator Coons left off. So you have said that you had significant concerns about the authorization or the application for the FISA warrants, right? You said earlier when it came to political bias, when you moved to the FISA warrants, things get murky, or I believe that was the word you used. Is that correct?
M. Horowitz: (23:08)
Senator Sasse: (23:09)
Because you can open an investigation, I say this as a former law enforcement official myself, you can open an investigation pretty easily. You’ve testified today that it can be done quite easily, but when you actually start taking action, start taking steps, start gathering evidence, start surveilling Americans, that’s when actually real questions arise. And your testimony today has been, and in this report, is that when that happened, there’s potential concerns here about political bias. Is that correct?
M. Horowitz: (23:36)
We have actions taken here that were not consistent with the rules, the practices, the policies, and what we couldn’t reach a conclusion on is what motivated that.
Senator Sasse: (23:44)
Yeah. I think that’s very significant. I mean, let me just be honest with you. So here’s the question that I’m struggling with. 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? Because that’s, I think, exactly what this report shows. It shows that our government, the most powerful law enforcement agency in the nation, the FBI, effectively meddled in an ongoing presidential campaign.
Senator Sasse: (24:12)
And the thing that gets me is you expect it from foreign governments. I’m not saying it’s good, but I’m saying that you expect it. They’d been doing it for years. Russia has been doing it for years. We know they tried to do it this last cycle. China has been doing it. Others have been doing it. And we know what steps to take. We’ve got to take them more effectively. But when our own government does it, how can the American people have confidence? And what do we do? I mean, what do we do?
Senator Sasse: (24:32)
And there’s one actor here, I think, who has not gotten the credit that they collectively deserve. And that’s the Democratic National Committee. I’ve heard my friends on the other side of the aisle complain about Hillary Clinton’s campaign and how ineffective it was and how the DNC didn’t do a good job in 2016. I beg to differ. This is the most incredible… The DNC pays for the Steele dossier, solicits the Steele dossier, and then gets the Federal Bureau of Investigation to go get FISA warrants, surveil an American citizen, surveil a presidential campaign, all on the basis of this manufactured garbage that they paid for. I mean, that’s extraordinary. That has got to be a first time in history. In fact, let me just ask you, Mr. Horowitz, are you aware ever of another presidential campaign being targeted by the FBI during the campaign like the Trump one was? To your knowledge, has this ever happened before?
M. Horowitz: (25:27)
To my knowledge, but I wouldn’t suggest I’m an expert on that.
Senator Sasse: (25:30)
But to your knowledge, no. You’re not aware of anything like this.
M. Horowitz: (25:34)
As I sit here, I don’t know.
Senator Sasse: (25:34)
And I’m correct in thinking that the Steele dossier, the Fusion GPS dossier was solicited by and paid for the DNC. I mean, that’s correct based on what we know, isn’t it?
M. Horowitz: (25:42)
The Clinton campaign, or the DNC, was ultimately learned by the FBI that that was the case, or that came to be their belief and understanding.
Senator Sasse: (25:49)
So we get the Steele dossier. It’s fed to the FBI. The FBI goes in and asks for these FISA warrants, which have all of the problems that you have articulated and that my colleagues have drawn out, including sometimes outright fabrication of evidence in these FISA applications. And then, not only does the FBI get a surveillance program ongoing effectively of a presidential campaign during cycle, but the DNC also gets news stories written during the campaign about the surveillance program. In September of 2016, there’s a story about possible counter-intelligence investigation of the Trump campaign. In October of 2016, there’s a story about the FBI investigating Trump campaign and we know on that last one that Steele, himself, was involved. Is that correct in October of 2016?
M. Horowitz: (26:40)
That’s correct. The FBI actually ultimately knew that he was involved in the September one as well, that you’re referencing, I believe.
Senator Sasse: (26:46)
And yet what action did the FBI take when they knew these two facts?
M. Horowitz: (26:49)
Well, in November they closed him, but then met with [crosstalk 00:26:53].
Senator Sasse: (26:53)
What did the Crossfire Hurricane teams take? What steps did they take when they knew this about Steele, is what I should ask.
M. Horowitz: (26:59)
I’m sorry. Well, what happened is they closed him as a source in November, but that’s when the meetings with Mr. Ohr started where he was conduit between the two.
Senator Sasse: (27:09)
Right. So the FBI still takes the information just via a DOJ condo, which is its own separate, unbelievable problem. But yet still, they’re taking all this information on board from Steele even after they know that he’s totally incredible. To me, this is the untold story of the 2016 campaign. And 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. It is absolutely extraordinary.
Senator Sasse: (27:49)
So let me ask you this. Are these individuals whose misdeeds that you have documented here in this report, the members I’m thinking of, the case agents, other members on the Crossfire Hurricane team, are they still, to your knowledge, working at the FBI?
M. Horowitz: (28:04)
To my understanding, some are, some aren’t.
Senator Sasse: (28:07)
And why? Those who are, why are they still there? What’s your understanding?
M. Horowitz: (28:10)
I think you’d have to ask Director Wray.
Senator Sasse: (28:13)
And indeed I think we should. What about the case agent who directly misled the DOJ intelligence attorney, office of intelligence attorney, about Carter Page’s relationship with other intelligence agencies in our government, who directly misled the OI about that? Is that person, to your knowledge, still at the FBI?
M. Horowitz: (28:30)
To my knowledge, that person is still there.
Senator Sasse: (28:32)
And is still actively working? Maybe is still acting as a case [crosstalk 00:28:35].
M. Horowitz: (28:34)
That, I think, again, you’d have to ask-
Senator Sasse: (28:35)
What about procedures at the FBI? To your knowledge, what procedures have been changed at the FBI to date to prevent something like this from happening?
M. Horowitz: (28:44)
All that I’m aware of is what’s in Director Wray’s letter that’s attached here, but certainly there are far more reforms and changes that are needed to address all of our recommendations. That’s a good beginning, but there’s a lot more to be done.
Senator Sasse: (28:58)
I will just say, in closing, Mr. Chairman, that I think it is an extraordinary thing when the most powerful law enforcement agency in the country, maybe the world, is able to effectively intervene and influence a presidential election at the behest and with the cooperation of a another political party. I mean, I’ve been saying for a long time that there’s no collusion in the 2016 campaign. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think the collusion was between the DNC and the FBI and if we don’t change something here… I mean, to see FBI Director Wray go out and say in the face of all of this that he doesn’t think that this vindicates the FBI and he doesn’t think there are any problems, I, for one, don’t know how any American can have confidence in that institution and in the integrity of our elections if things like this can happen. So thank you, Mr. Horowitz, for work you’ve done. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Lindsey Graham: (29:51)
Sen. Blumenthal: (29:53)
Thanks, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for being here, Mr. Horowitz, and again, thank you to you and your team for your work. Do you agree that the FBI meddled in the 2016 election?
M. Horowitz: (30:06)
What I found is what’s in this report. I’m not going to beyond the report.
Sen. Blumenthal: (30:09)
Did you find any evidence that the FBI purposefully intervened to effect the outcome of the 2016 election?
M. Horowitz: (30:19)
We’ve written about what they did here and in last year’s report, and I’ll stand on those findings and those findings alone.
Sen. Blumenthal: (30:26)
I didn’t find any conclusion that the FBI meddled or interfered in the election to effect the outcome.
M. Horowitz: (30:33)
We did not reach that conclusion.
Sen. Blumenthal: (30:36)
You didn’t reach a conclusion about the FBI intervening in the election, or acting out of political bias, correct?
M. Horowitz: (30:47)
I’m going to stick by this report and last year’s mid-year election report on what it did because there are specific findings as to specific individuals.
Sen. Blumenthal: (30:57)
Let me ask you about some of those findings. But let me just say at the very outset, I know you’re a career official, and I want to pay tribute to all of the law enforcement officials, particularly in the FBI because I can see how some of what’s been said about them might be severely and unfairly demoralizing. We have your back. We have your back. When you’re out there enforcing the law with weapons pointed at you, and sometimes they are firearms, and sometimes they are political weapons, we should have your back. So some of what’s been said here, but also in the larger realm of public comment, I think has been severely a disservice to our law enforcement and to the United States because we are discouraging able and dedicated young people from joining your ranks. And we need them. And I say that as a former United States attorney and a state attorney general who has worked with some of the best and some of the less best.
Sen. Blumenthal: (32:16)
So let me ask you a few questions about those findings. President Trump has said repeatedly that the FBI quote, “Tried to overthrow the presidency.” Did you find any evidence that the FBI tried to overthrow the presidency?
M. Horowitz: (32:34)
No. What we found is, again, laid out here in this report.
Sen. Blumenthal: (32:37)
Well, is there any evidence that you found that the FBI tried to overthrow the presidency?
M. Horowitz: (32:43)
No, we found the issues we identified here-
Sen. Blumenthal: (32:46)
The answer is no, correct?
M. Horowitz: (32:46)
… That’s what we found.
Sen. Blumenthal: (32:47)
Did you find any evidence that the FBI tried to entrap anyone?
M. Horowitz: (32:56)
As a legal matter, since we don’t see any actual cases come out of this, I think the answer is no.
Sen. Blumenthal: (33:02)
There was no entrapment, correct?
M. Horowitz: (33:03)
Sen. Blumenthal: (33:04)
Did you find any evidence that the FBI tapped the phones at Trump Tower?
M. Horowitz: (33:11)
No. The only wire tapping or the only surveillance we found was what’s laid out here.
Sen. Blumenthal: (33:16)
Did you find any evidence that the FBI planted informants in the Trump campaign?
M. Horowitz: (33:25)
Sen. Blumenthal: (33:26)
Did you find any evidence that the FBI tried specifically to entrap any of the individuals who were the focus of their investigation, namely Manafort, Flynn, Papadopoulos, or Page?
M. Horowitz: (33:42)
Entrapment’s a legal term when you’re moving forward on a criminal case. We didn’t see that in this case.
Sen. Blumenthal: (33:48)
Correct. There’s no evidence here of entrapment, but the president has claimed that there was entrapment, that his phones were tapped, that Carter Page may have been used as a spy. Did you find evidence that the FBI put spies in the Trump campaign?
M. Horowitz: (34:11)
I’m going to speak to the terminology used at the department that we oversee, which is confidential human sources, and we did not find evidence that the FBI sought to place confidential human sources inside the campaign or plant them inside the campaign.
Sen. Blumenthal: (34:28)
Would you agree with the contention that the Russia investigation, including the Mueller investigation, was a quote unquote bogus narrative?
M. Horowitz: (34:43)
We don’t address the Russia investigation or take issue with its handling at all in this report.
Sen. Blumenthal: (34:48)
Well, in fact, you found or agreed with Mueller that the Russian government attacked our democracy in a sweeping and systematic way. Correct?
M. Horowitz: (35:01)
We had a couple of pages in here as background to reference, not only the Mueller report, but other reports as well, including congressional reports on that issue.
Sen. Blumenthal: (35:09)
Did you show this report to Attorney General Barr before it was released?
M. Horowitz: (35:13)
Yeah, as standard process we provide this to the attorney general and to the FBI director.
Sen. Blumenthal: (35:19)
Did he suggest any changes?
M. Horowitz: (35:22)
He didn’t suggest any changes and we got-
Sen. Blumenthal: (35:25)
He didn’t suggest any corrections?
M. Horowitz: (35:27)
Well, he found a few typos and other things that he suggested we might want to think about.
Sen. Blumenthal: (35:32)
So you must have been surprised by his attack on you and your team.
M. Horowitz: (35:37)
No, I had some idea he wasn’t completely supportive of that.
Sen. Blumenthal: (35:41)
Do you think he was fair?
M. Horowitz: (35:44)
He’s attorney general of the United States. I’ve had cases where it’s situations where there had been disagreements between myself and leadership of the components and [crosstalk 00:35:55].
Sen. Blumenthal: (35:52)
Well, I want to give you a chance to defend yourself and your team who have done a highly professional job here. 19 months, hundreds of witnesses, hard work, do you think this attack on you and your team is fair?
M. Horowitz: (36:12)
I’ll say this. My defense of our team and our work is we stand by the report. Nothing I’ve heard changes our view. The department, the attorney general, the deputy attorney general, the FBI director, whomever, is free to disagree with my conclusions. I didn’t take the IG job to be popular and to not have my feelings hurt. I wouldn’t be the IG if that was the case.
Sen. Blumenthal: (36:32)
By the way, I assume you would not agree with the characterization that the agents involved in this work on the investigation of the Russian attack on our democracy were quote unquote scum, would you?
M. Horowitz: (36:48)
I would not call people names like that.
Sen. Blumenthal: (36:51)
I welcome my colleagues’ apparently newfound indignation about the potential reform of the FISA Court and the process. And you well know, I’m sure, that reforms have been suggested. In fact, I authored the FISA Court Reform Act in 2013 with 18 co-sponsors, all Democrats. That legislation would have created a special advocate. It would have created other checks because the FISA process is secret because ordinarily, we don’t want our adversaries to know we’re investigating them, correct?
M. Horowitz: (37:41)
Sen. Blumenthal: (37:42)
But there still needs to be checks and balances, scrutiny, to make sure that accurate information is presented to the FISA judges who work in secret. Unfortunately, a great many of those proposed reforms did not become lost. Some did in the USA Freedom Act in 2015. I know it’s not your job to make recommendations about FISA Court reforms, but do you think that your report indicates the need for the kinds of reforms that I proposed in the FISA Court Reform Act of 2013?
M. Horowitz: (38:20)
I think that it’s very important to have consideration of reforms like that. And we don’t make the recommendations, but we are always available to help with legislation, drafting, or other support.
Sen. Blumenthal: (38:30)
I hope that we can make use of your expertise in this area, and I hope my Republican colleagues, who have been so vocal and vehement about the dangers of potential FISA abuses, will join me in looking forward and reform of that court. Did you show this report to a United States Attorney Durham?
M. Horowitz: (38:55)
In November he received a copy of the report during our factual accuracy review process according to our usual practice.
Sen. Blumenthal: (39:02)
There have been public reports that there were references, at least one, to the United States Attorney Durham in this report. Is that correct? In one of the early drafts.
M. Horowitz: (39:14)
I’m not going to get into what was in an earlier draft or comments. The pull reason we do this with the drafts is to allow for us to engage with individuals, the department, the FBI. We make changes when we get things wrong. We make changes if we think we need to clarify, so I’d rather not get into what our draft reports might or might not have said.
Sen. Blumenthal: (39:35)
Did he make request for changes?
M. Horowitz: (39:38)
He didn’t. He told us what he disagreed with, and we considered his comments, and again, what you see here is is our final report that we stand by. He disagreed on the predication question I mentioned earlier, the nature of our conversation.
Sen. Blumenthal: (39:58)
Did you remove any reference to him at his request?
M. Horowitz: (40:02)
Again, I don’t believe I can get into or should get into what our drafts did or didn’t say. There are edits made through the review process and there are many people who ask us to make edits. We don’t make many, but I think if we start talking about what various people gave us comments on, it would be a challenge to do these reports. Which is why in partly, I was surprised by the press release.
Sen. Blumenthal: (40:33)
Did you conclude in this report that your findings showed a grotesque abuse of power?
M. Horowitz: (40:43)
We did not say that in the report.
Sen. Blumenthal: (40:46)
And would you agree with that characterization?
M. Horowitz: (40:50)
We did not reach a conclusion like that, so I wouldn’t agree with that at this point. From my standpoint, people can have that viewpoint, but that wasn’t our conclusion.
Sen. Blumenthal: (41:00)
And just one last question. Those FISA warrants, they were renewed a number of times, correct?
M. Horowitz: (41:08)
Sen. Blumenthal: (41:10)
Based on your experience and maybe your report, there’s a reason why warrants are renewed. They’re renewed because they are producing useful information, correct?
M. Horowitz: (41:21)
Or they should be producing useful information is how I’ll phrase it.
Sen. Blumenthal: (41:24)
And your review of those warrants would indicate that they were producing useful information, correct?
M. Horowitz: (41:32)
Not sure that’s entirely correct. And I don’t know how much I can say about that in this setting.
Sen. Blumenthal: (41:37)
Well, they were producing information.
M. Horowitz: (41:40)
They were producing information. I’m not sure how I would characterize whether they were helpful or not.
Sen. Blumenthal: (41:44)
Well, one way or the other, far from being a bogus narrative, the Russia investigation produced 37 individual indictments, seven convictions, five prison terms and hopefully will send a message to adversaries, the Russians and other nations that Mr. Mueller warned about, that there will be action taken against them. And I hope that we can come together on a bipartisan basis to reform the FISA process, but just as importantly, forestall the ongoing attack on our democracy. I think that’s maybe the most important point here that your report in every possible way ought to alarm Americans about the ongoing attack on our nation by the Russians and other nations. Thank you.
M. Horowitz: (42:42)
Lindsey Graham: (42:45)
Thank you. Senator Tillis, very quickly. I think Senator Blumenthal makes a good point. How would you describe the behavior here of knowing that the sub-source disavows the dossier that was the primary reason you got a warrant? Finding out a lawyer doctored an email to keep the investigation going in a way unfair to Mr. Page. This is not routine. Do you agree with that?
M. Horowitz: (43:12)
It is definitely not… It certainly better not be routine, and I don’t know any reason to think it is routine.
Lindsey Graham: (43:18)
Is it kind of off the charts bad?
M. Horowitz: (43:20)
It’s pretty bad.
Lindsey Graham: (43:22)
Thank you. Senator Tillis.
Senator Tillis: (43:24)
That’s a good prelude to where I wanted to add, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Horowitz, thank you for being here. You guys do great work. I have a lot of confidence in the IGs across the whole of government, and I commend your staff for the top notch effort here. I don’t think anybody’s questioning the quality of your work. I am. I’m not an attorney. I’ve never argued a case before the Supreme Court. I’m not a prosecutor, solicitor, general. I’m a business person, so I’ve been trying to figure out how the average citizen would look at this hearing and try and understand what we’re trying to get to here. You’ve mentioned once or twice that it gets a bit more… When people ask-
Senator Tillis: (44:03)
You’ve mentioned once or twice that it gets a bit… When people ask you about political motivation when it has to do with the renewal request for the FISA warrant, you’ve said it gets a bit murky. I just decided, you know, being somebody who used to do a lot of organization charts that I’d try and explained to the American people why this gets a little bit murky.
Senator Tillis: (44:20)
I’m going to focus mainly on the DOJ chart. This is roughly the organization’s structure that was in place with the DOJ. Before I do, let’s get some of the characters who were not on the DOJ org chart, although very actively involved with those who were. So I want to get this right. This started with a dossier that was paid for, to be prepared by Fusion GPS by the DNC and Steele was a part of that process, is that correct?
M. Horowitz: (44:46)
Senator Tillis: (44:48)
Okay. And then his primary sub source was someone who… When he was finally questioned, said they misstated or exaggerate our statements. That they alleged sexual activities were rumors, speculation. That the conversations were had with friends over beers and so on and so forth. So that was something after the dossier was used as a basis for moving forward with that. This is information that came afterwards that was known to people in this organization chart before they attest it to a FISA court that the FBI found the Russian based sub source to be truthful and cooperative.
Senator Tillis: (45:27)
That’s an accurate statement. But if they had included all the truthful and cooperative comments that he made, it would seem to me that that may have had a different effect on the renewal it seems to me. The omission of something as profound as this, to not infer from that that there was a political motivation or let’s take politics out and say an agenda. This is something we want to get renewed. We want to continue the investigation. I don’t understand as a non-attorney how that doesn’t carry a fair amount of weight.
Senator Tillis: (45:57)
Now, I want to get to this organization chart. So here you can’t see it, but it’s on record with the DOJ. So I have Horowitz up here who reports in to the office of the Doug, when Steele was no longer allowed to speak with the FBI because he was shopping the dossier, I guess, to make money through the media or for whatever reason. Then the FBI just conveniently accepted Horowitz as feedback from Steele. Steele is somebody who worked for Fusion GPS on behalf of the DNC to get the dossier, which has now been largely proven false.
Senator Tillis: (46:33)
His wife actually worked for GPS, not necessarily when the investigation was going on, but you could reasonably assume that she had relationships there. But when they cut off Steele as a source of information for the FBI, did I hear you right that multiple times the FBI seemed to warmly received feedback from Steele through Horowitz.
M. Horowitz: (46:52)
We identify 13 occasions.
Senator Tillis: (46:54)
So this guy on the org chart that’s up here working for the deputy attorney general never communicated with any of his staff or any of his superiors that he was doing this?
M. Horowitz: (47:03)
Senator Tillis: (47:04)
Probably because if he asked for approval he wouldn’t have gotten.
M. Horowitz: (47:07)
That’s essentially what he said.
Senator Tillis: (47:08)
So he wanted to apologize instead of ask for approval. Now, I want to go to this part of the org where the American people need to know is these are people that aren’t walking down the hallway and in the meeting with the director of the FBI, I mean Lisa Page right here is on this org chart. She’s a special counsel to Andy McCade. As a matter of fact, it looks like Strzok and Page were in the office in roughly the timeframe. This is something that’s very important. This is somebody here on the org chart, so works for the director of the FBI who says he’s not ever going to be president, right?
Senator Tillis: (47:44)
There’s another guy on the org chart who you’ll see in a future text message, talks about a meeting with McCabe says, “No, he won’t. We will stop him.” And then he goes on to say, “I want to believe the path that you threw out for consideration, and Andy dot, dot, dot McCabe’s office that there’s no way he gets elected, but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event that you die before you’re 40.”
Senator Tillis: (48:12)
These are all people that are walking the hallway, involved in this investigation, having those sorts of discussions about the president of the United States or the candidate and then the president of the United States. Is that one of the reasons why you’re being fair minded and saying it’s murky as to whether or not there was a political motivation behind some of these behaviors and the false premise for the renewals of the FISA warrants.
M. Horowitz: (48:35)
The concern grows out of the fact that all of the failures and the information that should have been given and wasn’t given and the question being what was the intent? What was their intention, their motivation there? Then what we determined was we couldn’t definitively say what the motivation was.
Senator Tillis: (48:56)
Are these pretty smart people, fairly well educated? Bill is well-educated. I don’t know if there’s more.
M. Horowitz: (49:02)
I assume so. I’d hesitant-
Senator Tillis: (49:03)
I think they were very smart, to be honest with you.
M. Horowitz: (49:04)
I was going to say…
Senator Tillis: (49:06)
They have law degrees, right? So you think-
M. Horowitz: (49:08)
At least some of them do.
Senator Tillis: (49:09)
So you think the Woods review for people at this level of the organization would-
M. Horowitz: (49:14)
To be clear, the stuff that didn’t happen on the Woods review was basic stuff. You didn’t need to be a deeply experienced FBI agent to be able to do it the right way.
Senator Tillis: (49:25)
Well, that’s my point. So when you think that that would almost be muscle memory for people who are going through this process to know that they had an obligation to go through that.
M. Horowitz: (49:33)
They clearly should have.
Senator Tillis: (49:34)
So wouldn’t it also seem reasonable that if they didn’t it. You can’t answer this question, but to me it seems if something is as standard as that process before you go to a FISA court to not do it, was something that they intended not to do. They didn’t want to go through it. I mean it seems to be a logical conclusion. And then you ask yourself why? Well, because we don’t ever want this guy to get elected president and if he does, it sounds like they want to impeach him. I mean, I can’t understand anybody working in this organization understanding the scrutiny that we’ve placed under the FISA courts.
Senator Tillis: (50:10)
And by the way, Mike Lee count me in, because we’ve now seen the abuse as you’ve warned us about, you can smirk again because you were right. But I mean, it just seems to me that this closely held organization of highly educated, highly experienced people, I have to believe that they were handpicked for this process. They were picked because they had some of the best reputations in there.
Senator Tillis: (50:35)
They had to know that this it was going to come to this, that it was going to be scrutinized regardless of who the subject investigation was. If the names were changed and the parties were changed, we’d still be here. It looks like they were trying to skate along the edges and get away with something to me. I can’t imagine that they did it for any other reason than a political motivation and I don’t expect you to respond to that because you’re doing a great job of holding to the scope of your report.
Senator Tillis: (51:03)
But nobody can tell me what people of this caliber, with the record of partisan, vitriolic profanity about this president to say, “Whoops, we just forgot to do a standard procedural review.” That you would probably expect one of their staff two or three levels down to know that you need to do it. It doesn’t make sense to me.
Senator Tillis: (51:26)
Now, I want to ask you another question. You’ve gotten a lot of questions today that had nothing to do with your report and I think you’ve done a very good job of saying, “I’m here to talk about my report.” You didn’t do a Russia collusion investigation did you?
M. Horowitz: (51:38)
We did not.
Senator Tillis: (51:39)
You didn’t re-prosecute the special counsel report, did you?
M. Horowitz: (51:41)
We did not.
Senator Tillis: (51:42)
Would you agree that you got a lot of questions today that had nothing to do with what you were here to talk about today?
M. Horowitz: (51:47)
I certainly had several.
Senator Tillis: (51:48)
Yeah, so I also wonder whether or not that was politically motivated. Let’s focus on this. What I found interesting was that we do have people who are using this as a platform on the other side of the aisle that says, “Well, now we need to revise the… We need to look at the FISA process.” I don’t know why you use this as a platform to do that unless you thought that this is a clear case where the FISA process was abused.
Senator Tillis: (52:13)
And then if you look at this information, this ecosystem of smart people who I think turned a blind eye to damning evidence to serve as a basis for renewal, the FISA report, it’s just beyond my comprehension. The weight of this evidence in your report I think is pretty strong. I hope that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, we take up impeachment next month, have that same standard for the weight of evidence that we’re going to be asked to look at. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Speaker 1: (52:45)
Mazie Hirono: (52:47)
Thank you. You identify significant issues with the FISA application process for conducting surveillance on Carter page. And before this investigation, were you aware of problems with FBI’s use of the FISA process?
M. Horowitz: (53:02)
I was not personally, although I will say we have done reports, Senator since 911 my office-
Mazie Hirono: (53:08)
Well, you can’t sit here and tell us that these errors only occurred with regard to this FISA application process.
M. Horowitz: (53:17)
We’ve identified problems in the past. I will say we’ve never done a dive into one as deep as this.
Mazie Hirono: (53:23)
Let’s have a number of us by the way, Senator Lee and others of us. So we understand that there are issues relating to the FISA process. In fact after you pointed out to the errors, et cetera. The director acknowledged your findings and in fact he is moving ahead to make improvements to the FISA process and as he put it, to make the FBI a much stronger institution.
M. Horowitz: (53:47)
Mazie Hirono: (53:50)
Would you agree that it is a major decision to seek authority from a FISA court to conduct surveillance on an American?
M. Horowitz: (53:56)
Mazie Hirono: (53:58)
If FBI officials were politically motivated in wanting to conduct surveillance on a particular American, wouldn’t the decision to seek FISA approval be a point where a political bias could affect the process?
M. Horowitz: (54:12)
Mazie Hirono: (54:14)
M. Horowitz: (54:14)
Mazie Hirono: (54:15)
Actually, that would be a pretty good time for any kind of political bias to manifest itself. But here you found no evidence of political bias in deciding to seek FISA approval.
M. Horowitz: (54:29)
We did not find such evidence.
Mazie Hirono: (54:29)
When you release your report on Monday, both the attorney general and Mr. Durham immediately issued public statements that challenged the findings in your report. Attorney general Barr stated quote, “The inspector general’s report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a US presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that in my view were insufficient to justify the steps taken.” End quote. Can you point to the page or pages in your report that found that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation on the thinnest of suspicions that were insufficient to justify the FBI’s actions?
M. Horowitz: (55:07)
We concluded that there was sufficient predication.
Mazie Hirono: (55:11)
Would you consider words like the thinnest of suspicions, intrusive investigation, neutral words to describe the work?
M. Horowitz: (55:23)
I’m going to let others answer for their own comments and stick to what we [crosstalk 00:00:55:27].
Mazie Hirono: (55:27)
Yes. You’ve said that everybody’s entitled to characterize your investigation, but do you know what? I think we all know what constitutes a fair characterization. I would say those are not fair. Yesterday, attorney general Barr went on TV to challenge the validity of the findings of your report and suggested that his own FBI agents may have acted in “bad faith” or with improper motives and that it was premature to conclude otherwise.
Mazie Hirono: (55:54)
These insinuations are inconsistent with your report and one justification that he gave for disregarding the key finding in your report was that unlike the investigator, he handpicked Mr. Durham. You could not compel testimony. You interviewed more than a hundred witnesses for your investigation. In your report, you note you were unable to compel testimony from two people, Glenn Simpson and Jonathan Weiner. Were these the only two people for whom you couldn’t compel their testimony or who wouldn’t testify or talk to you?
M. Horowitz: (56:25)
Those were the only two people that we asked to interview that turned us down.
Mazie Hirono: (56:31)
Do you think that the fact that you did not interview these two witnesses undermine the conclusions in your report that you found no documentary or testimony, evidence of political bias and opening the investigation or seeking FISA authority for Carter Page?
M. Horowitz: (56:45)
I don’t believe they undermined any of our conclusions. It would’ve been good to have their evidence like it is normally.
Mazie Hirono: (56:51)
Do you think that the findings in your report are inaccurate because you lacked the authority to compel witnesses?
M. Horowitz: (57:00)
Not in this instance. No.
Mazie Hirono: (57:03)
In April, 2019 the attorney general Barr told Congress quote, “I think spying did occur in,” end quote. Talking about the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s ties with the Russian government in the 2016 election. And yesterday, attorney general Barr reiterated that the Trump campaign was clearly, I’m quoting him now, clearly spite upon. He claimed the FBI’s investigative actions, which you discussed in your report constitute spying. The word spying carries, I would say negative connotations. Don’t you think?
M. Horowitz: (57:38)
Mazie Hirono: (57:40)
I mean it sounds like law enforcement is doing something they’re not authorized to do. That they would spy on us.
M. Horowitz: (57:47)
That’s why we use and only rely on the word that’s in the law, which is surveillance.
Mazie Hirono: (57:52)
And yet we have the highest law enforcement person in our entire country using a word, not just once, but twice using the word spying. So clearly your report found that the FBI’s investigation was for an authorized and with an adequate predicate and you would not characterize that as spying, in fact you will not use such a word in your report.
M. Horowitz: (58:16)
We don’t use that in the report.
Mazie Hirono: (58:17)
You did not. Do you think questioning the motives of your staff as possibly involving bad faith or accusing them of spying would be demoralizing to your people?
M. Horowitz: (58:32)
Let me put this… I would not speak to my folks about them acting in that manner.
Mazie Hirono: (58:38)
Do you think that’s a real [crosstalk 00:00:58:39]-
M. Horowitz: (58:39)
I haven’t seen that either.
Mazie Hirono: (58:40)
… characterize what your you all do in your professional capacity? I think that’s a rhetorical question.
M. Horowitz: (58:46)
Point taken though.
Mazie Hirono: (58:47)
So describing your law enforcement staff investigation as intrusive and based on the thinness of suspicions also cast this version on the professionalism of your people and I think that is probably also not terribly edifying or supportive. Did the attorney general provide you with any evidence to support his claim that the FBI agents were spying?
M. Horowitz: (59:18)
In terms of evidence, we didn’t get any evidence from the attorney general. We did meet with Mr. Durham, had a discussion with him, but we as I said, are standing by our conclusions.
Mazie Hirono: (59:33)
Does it bother you that you have their attorney general using words like spying to characterize what the FBI did under an authorized process?
M. Horowitz: (59:44)
As inspector general, I’m going to stick to what we do and what we’ve said and not try and guess the motives or ideas or thoughts of anyone else out there [crosstalk 00:59:53]-
Mazie Hirono: (59:53)
I don’t see you jumping up and down in glee with use of such words. Let me go on. On November 21st Dr. Fiona Hill, the former National Security Council, senior director for Europe and Russia warn that Russia has “geared up” to repeat their interference in the 2020 election, even as we speak, that’s what Russia is doing. She also warn Congress against promoting the fictional narrative that Ukraine rather than Russia interfered in the 2016 US election.
Mazie Hirono: (01:00:23)
These conspiracy theories, she said clearly advanced Russian interests. FBI director Wray stated on Monday that the FBI has no information that would indicate that Ukraine tried to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. When we talk about interfere, we are talking about the kind of systemic government sanctioned interference with our election process that Russia engaged in and there was no way that Ukraine engaged in that kind of systematic interference. So in all of the documents that you reviewed, 100 witnesses, did you find any evidence that contradicts FBI director Wray’s statement that the FBI has no information that indicates Ukraine tried to interfere in the 2016 election?
M. Horowitz: (01:01:13)
We didn’t see any such evidence, but I emphasize that wasn’t-
Mazie Hirono: (01:01:16)
Yes, I know.
M. Horowitz: (01:01:17)
… the purpose of our [crosstalk 01:01:17].
Mazie Hirono: (01:01:18)
But you know what? You would think that you’re looking through a million documents and yet [crosstalk 00:17:23]-
M. Horowitz: (01:01:22)
Fortunately, not me but the team.
Mazie Hirono: (01:01:25)
They might have been something there that reference that maybe Ukraine was engaging in the kind of systematic interference that Russia did. I know that senators Leahy and Klobuchar asked you about this, but I want to make it clear. Is there anything in your report that calls into question the conclusion of the Mueller report that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election in a sweeping and systematic fashion?
M. Horowitz: (01:01:50)
Mazie Hirono: (01:01:51)
And of course we all know that the Mueller investigation resulted in 37 indictments and six convictions of Trump associates. Is there anything in your report that calls into question special counsel Mueller’s conclusion that the Trump campaign not only knew about Russia’s election interference, but they encouraged it and expected to benefit electorally from it?
M. Horowitz: (01:02:13)
Mazie Hirono: (01:02:16)
I know you receive a lot of requests from Republican and Democratic members of Congress to do certain investigations and I’ve been among those. I realize you have to take certain factors into consideration because you only have so many resources to conduct all these investigations. One of the requests that I, my colleagues asked you to investigate was whether attorney general Barr’s handling of the Mueller report was misleading and whether he demonstrate a bias in dealing with the Mueller investigation. In light of the factors that I’m sure you consider. Will you take another look at the requests that I and my colleague sent you to see whether you’re able to investigate any of them.
M. Horowitz: (01:03:01)
So on that center… First of all, I’d be happy to come up and meet with you and talk about it with you in person. Let me say, I’ve had conversations with some of the members of the committee about this issue. It’s the letters asking us to look at the conduct of senior lawyers at the department, directly implicate section 80 of the inspector general act, which prohibits me from looking at conduct of lawyers in their capacity as lawyers. Senator Lee has sponsored a bill that passed the house unanimously, bipartisan, full support pending here. Several members of the committee have co-sponsored it. That provision prevents me from undertaking investigations of misconduct by senior department lawyers, or actually any department lawyers just to be clear.
Mazie Hirono: (01:03:50)
Well, this is one time when I actually, I think agree with Senator Lee in that needing to make that kind of change to enable you to make the kind of investigation that we were asking you to make. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
M. Horowitz: (01:04:01)
And again, I’d be happy to come up and talk with you about it further.
Mazie Hirono: (01:04:03)
Lindsey Graham Closing Statement
Lindsey Graham: (00:00)
Thank you. I probably violated the Geneva Convention today. I mean, you sit there for hours and not give you a bathroom break. I really appreciate what all of you did. This is a well documented report. There’s sort of a blue team, red team view to some extent, but I’m sort of glad to see it. All of us come together that this should never happen again.
Lindsey Graham: (00:20)
The FISA system to survive, has to be reformed to the FISA Court. We’re looking to you to take corrective action. If you take corrective action, that will give us some confidence that you should stick around. If you don’t, it’s going to be hurtful to the future of the court. I think all of us are now thinking differently about checks and balances in that regard, the country would be stronger.
Lindsey Graham: (00:43)
Let me just end with where I began. Rather than debating whether or not there was a legal predicate, reasonable articulation, which is a very low standard to open up a preliminary investigation, [Durham 00:00:59] will have his view of what really happened. He may know more than you, I don’t know. I trust him to be fair. I trust you to be fair. The fact that three lawyers disagree is okay.
Lindsey Graham: (01:11)
No one’s ever suggested you all did a bad job. You’ve done a great job. You can reach your conclusion about the legal predicate and you have, and I respect it. And I’m going to assume for a moment that’s the right conclusion. That doesn’t matter at all to me because after it was opened, it became a nightmare. It became something that can never happen again. It became over time, a criminal conspiracy to defraud the court. It became an effort by lawyers to doctor evidence. It became a conscious effort to deny the court [inaudible 00:01:53] information about an American citizen.
Lindsey Graham: (01:58)
They should have stopped at least in January, 2017, when the Russian sub-source said, everything in the dossier, I disavow. Poor Carter Page. Two more warrant renewals after they all noticed the dossier was unreliable. All I can say is that why they did it, you can make your own decision. But it’s pretty clear to me that this was a lot of things, but it was not a counterintelligence investigation to protect Donald Trump. This was opened as a counterintelligence investigation and it kept going and going and going after it should have stopped, because the last thing on their mind was to protect Donald Trump.
Lindsey Graham: (02:54)
A lot of the key players here were upset with the outcome of the 2016 election, and man, that had a lot of power. And that’s what worries me the most. You may not like what the American people do, but you should honor their decision. And the reason the investigation survived and kept going after so many stop signs is because people wanted it to keep going.
Lindsey Graham: (03:24)
The reason nobody briefed Donald Trump about you may have people working for you connected to Russia, is they could give a damn about protecting him. This is just my view. It’s kind of odd that in a counter intelligence investigation, you never briefed the person who’s the subject of the foreign influence like they did Dianne Feinstein, and like they did Hillary Clinton.
Lindsey Graham: (03:47)
So the bottom line here is, I hope we never have a defensive briefing or intelligence briefing where you send an FBI agent to do a 302 on the people you’re briefing. This is some really scary stuff. I think I know what their motivation was, but it doesn’t matter. They did it. Hope somebody holds them accountable. And I hope it never ever happens again. To my democratic friends, this could happen to you one day. Mr. Horowitz, do you agree that every politician in America should be concerned about what happened here?
Mr. Horowitz: (04:27)
I’ll go further. Every American should want to make sure this FISA process works the right way.
Lindsey Graham: (04:32)
Finally, to those of us in politics, how easy it is for somebody to come in our lives and our campaigns as volunteers? And I would hope the FBI would tell me if they’ve got a reasonable suspicion if somebody in my campaign is a bad actor so I can do something about it.
Lindsey Graham: (04:51)
What scares me the most is that the power to open up a counterintelligence investigation is almost unlimited. The power to abuse it is exactly what your report tells us about. Thank you. The hearing’s adjourned. And finally, this is the beginning, not the end of this committee’s involvement in this matter. Much more to follow. Thank you.
The rest of the hearing is currently being transcribed, thank you for your patience