House Minority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) on Monday tweeted that Department of Justice Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz’s report proved “Obama officials abused their FISA power to trigger an investigation into @realDonaldTrump’s campaign.” It didn’t take long for attorneys, law professors and legal analysts to jump in and point out the obvious: That’s not true.
If you were paying attention/read the OIG report, you would know that report highlighted numerous concerning errors and omissions in the FBI’s FISA application process. You would also know that Horowitz said the following: “We did not find any documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the FBI’s decision to conduct these operations.”
University of Texas Law Prof. Steve Vladeck noted that Scalise, the “number-two” Republican in the House, was asserting something that the report “SPECIFICALLY REJECTS,” which is why it’s important to read and comprehend.
This is where we are: The number-two House Republican is asserting that the IG’s report “proves” a conclusion that it SPECIFICALLY REJECTS.
Please, folks—read things for yourselves and reach your own conclusions. Never has critical thinking been more important to our democracy. https://t.co/EI44X34je3
— Steve Vladeck (@steve_vladeck) December 9, 2019
Never Trump conservative attorney George Conway noticed that the Chair of the Republican National Committee Ronna McDaniel, Mitt Romney’s niece, retweeted Scalise’s falsehood without scrutinizing the congressman’s words at all.
“Absolutely stunning,” McDaniel said.
A stunning lie about what the IG found. https://t.co/AXssPpN08H
— George Conway (@gtconway3d) December 9, 2019
“A stunning lie about what the IG found,” Conway answered.
Former federal prosecutor and CNN legal analyst Renato Mariotti also said Scalise lied.
This bears no resemblance whatsoever to what the IG report found.
The IG report doesn't fit their narrative, so Trump's allies lie and repeat their narrative nonetheless. https://t.co/439y7Tuooh
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) December 9, 2019
“This bears no resemblance whatsoever to what the IG report found,” Mariotti said. “The IG report doesn’t fit their narrative, so Trump’s allies lie and repeat their narrative nonetheless.”
Many others said the same.
You're a liar, @SteveScalise. The IG report says the exact opposite of that and is an embarrassment to Trump and every one of you GOP traitors in Congress. In fact, because it vindicates James Comey, FOX and Friends and in a panic and canceled on him for tomorrow morning.
— Cheri Jacobus (@CheriJacobus) December 9, 2019
Steve Scalise. Liar, and utter embarrassment. https://t.co/wptLblKLaL
— Norman Ornstein (@NormOrnstein) December 9, 2019
It doesn't prove any such thing.
"We did not find any documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the FBI's decision to conduct these operations."
— Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) December 9, 2019
It’s worth noting that FBI Director Christopher Wray, who President Trump handpicked to replace James Comey, didn’t have any problems identifying and accurately repeating the bottom line conclusions of the Horowitz report.
“I think it’s important that the inspector general found that, in this particular instance, the investigation was opened with appropriate predication and authorization,” Wray said, adding that there was no “political bias or improper motivations impacting the opening of the investigation.”
In case it is not clear what Horowitz concluded:
We concluded that [then Counterintelligence Division Assistant Director E.W. “Bill“] Priestap’s exercise of discretion in opening the investigation was in compliance with Department and FBI policies, and we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced his decision. 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, we found that Crossfire Hurricane was opened for an authorized investigative purpose and with sufficient factual predication.
We did not find any documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the FBI’s decision to conduct these operations. Additionally, we found no evidence that the FBI attempted to place any [confidential human sources (CHSs)] within the Trump campaign, recruit members of the Trump campaign as CHSs, or task CHSs to report on the Trump campaign.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr and John Durham, the U.S. Attorney who Barr tasked with investigating the origins of the Mueller probe, both released statements on Monday saying they disagreed with some of Horowitz’s conclusions.
[Image via Alex Wong/Getty Images]