A long-awaited watchdog report from the Justice Department's inspector general on the origins of the special counsel Robert Mueller's probe found no evidence of political bias despite performance failures.
Michael Horowitz's report released on Monday also found 17 “significant errors or omissions” in surveillance applications for Trump campaign aide Carter Page, but no intentional misconduct.
The FBI was justified in opening its investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia and did not act with political bias, despite “serious performance failures” up the bureau’s chain of command, the Justice Department's internal watchdog said. The findings undercut President Donald Trump’s claim that he was the target of a “witch hunt.”
The report from the Justice Department’s inspector general revealed for the first time that the FBI had also sent an informant to record a conversation with a “high-level Trump campaign official,” who was not considered a subject in the Russia probe. The official was not identified by name.
The report also found the bureau was justified in eavesdropping on a former Trump adviser and that there was not documented or testimonial evidence of any political bias.
Attorney General William Barr rejected the inspector general’s conclusion that there was sufficient evidence to open the investigation.
“The Inspector General’s report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken,” Barr said in a statement.
Barr is heading a separate investigation headed by US Attorney John Durham. That investigation is looking for criminal misdeeds in the investigation which the inspector general may have not examined.
Durham said he also disagrees with Horowitz's findings.
“Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened,” he said in a statement.
President Trump previously has said that he was awaiting Horowitz's report but that Durham's report maybe even more important.
The report comes as Trump faces an impeachment inquiry in Congress centered on his efforts to press Ukraine to investigate a political rival, Democrat Joe Biden – a probe the president also claims is politically biased.