Former FBI Director James Comey on Sunday said he was wrong to defend the bureau's use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act process when applying for a warrant to surveil Carter Page, a foreign-policy aide on the 2016 Trump campaign.
His statements marked a reversal from last week, when he said a Justice Department inspector general's report on the origins of the Russia investigation exonerated the FBI of wrongdoing.
In fact, the report revealed that there were 17 "significant errors and omissions" in the FISA applications involving Page.
"He was right, I was wrong," Comey told the Fox News host Chris Wallace, referring to the Justice Department's inspector general, Michael Horowitz, who wrote the report. "I was overconfident, as director, in our procedures."
Former FBI Director James Comey said on "Fox News Sunday" that he was wrong to defend the bureau's use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act process when applying for a warrant to monitor Carter Page, a foreign-policy aide on the 2016 Trump campaign.
His statements marked a reversal from last week, when Comey said the report from the Justice Department's inspector general, Michael Horowitz, on the origins of the Russia investigation exonerated the FBI of wrongdoing.
"He was right, I was wrong," Comey told the Fox News host Chris Wallace. "I was overconfident, as director, in our procedures. And it's important that a leader be accountable and transparent. If I were still director, I'd be saying the same thing that [FBI Director Christopher Wray] is saying, which is that we are going to get to the bottom of this, because the most important question is, is it systemic? Are there problems in other cases?"
—FoxNewsSunday (@FoxNewsSunday) December 15, 2019
Horowitz's report found that the internal investigation into the FBI's Russia investigation found 17 "significant errors and omissions" in the bureau's FISA applications involving Page.
"These errors and omissions resulted from case agents providing wrong or incomplete information" to the Justice Department National Security Division's Office of Intelligence and "failing to flag important issues for discussion," the report said.
Horowitz also found that an FBI employee no longer working at the bureau doctored an email to make it appear as if Page wasn't a source for another government agency. Had the FISA court been aware of this, it might have been exculpatory for Page.
Testifying before Congress last week, the inspector general didn't mince words, saying there were "significant, serious failures" on the FBI's part when applying for the warrant to surveil Page.
Asked whether his report vindicated Comey, Horowitz replied, "It doesn't vindicate anyone at the FBI who touched this, including the leadership."
Comey on Sunday downplayed the role of the so-called Steele dossier in the FBI's obtaining a FISA warrant to monitor Page. The Steele dossier is an explosive collection of memos alleging collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. The information in it is still largely unverified.
Comey said the dossier was "not a huge part of the presentation to the court," though he acknowledged that "it was the one that convinced the lawyers to move forward."
His statements seem to align with what Horowitz's report detailed with respect to the dossier's relevance.
"We determined that the Crossfire Hurricane team's receipt of Steele's election reporting on September 19, 2016 played a central and essential role in the FBI's and Department's decision to seek the FISA order," the report said. Crossfire Hurricane was the FBI's code name for the Russia investigation.
Horowitz found that one portion of the first FISA application alleging possible coordination between Page the Russians on the 2016 campaign "relied entirely on" information from the Steele dossier.
Comey on Sunday said he hadn't misrepresented the relevance of the Steele dossier in the Page FISA application process, but he added that "if I was, then I'm sorry that I did that."
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