Count Trey Gowdy among the unimpressed with James Comey’s claim of vindication from Michael Horowitz’ report on Operation Crossfire Hurricane. “I don’t know what report Comey read,” the former House Oversight chair told Fox’s Martha MacCallum last night, echoing Horowitz himself. “This is the third IG report that has found his conduct to be substandard. The only reason Comey should celebrate after reading his report is “because he is not indicted.”
And perhaps the same applies to John Brennan, Gowdy suggests (via Katie Pavlich):
“I don’t know what report Comey read. This is the third IG report that has found his conduct to be substandard … if he wants to take a victory lap because he not indicted, more power to him,” Gowdy said before addressing Comey directly: “Don’t write any more books on ethics… Don’t tell me what the ethical standard is if you think this report vindicates you.”
Gowdy says he respects Horowitz’ position on political bias, but disagrees that it can’t be inferred:
“I mean, keep in mind, a counterintelligence investigation is because you think Carter Page is working on behalf of Russia. The reality is Carter Page, who is working on behalf of the United States of America and you changed it from … he is a [CIA] source [to] he’s not a source, which is a manifestly unfair thing to do to Carter Page,” Gowdy said. “So, when Horowitz says there was no bias in the inception … There was a lot of bias from every point thereafter, including an FBI lawyer manufacturing evidence to get a surveillance warrant against an American citizen.”
“If you’re changing e-mails, manufacturing, altering evidence — which is a crime — because you want to get it … ,” Gowdy said. “Not only do you not have any business being an FBI agent or law enforcement, you probably ought to be wearing an orange jumpsuit.”
Comey and the FBI aren’t the only people who need to be held accountable for the way in which Carter Page was targeted, Gowdy argued as well. Why didn’t the intelligence community stick up for its source? It’s because CIA director John Brennan was too politically compromised to act appropriately, Gowdy concludes:
“He’s had ample opportunity when these all these interviews he gives about [how] ‘Trump ought to be in the dustbin of history’ and how treasonous he is,” Gowdy said. “It would have been nice for him to stick up and say, ‘Hey, you all are doing surveillance right now, reading the e-mails, intercepting the phone calls of someone that actually is working for the country as opposed to against the country.'”
That question never came up in the hearings, and it doesn’t come up in Horowitz’ report either. That’s because Brennan’s actions, if any, fall outside of the scope and jurisdiction of the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General. It’s still a question worth asking, and perhaps one that should be taken up by the Senate Intelligence Committee at some point — if John Durham isn’t already working on it.
As for Comey, Horowitz’ report only vindicates the decision to fire him, I argue today in my column for The Week:
Anyone who read the report in detail would have wondered what Comey had read in its place. Where Comey referred blithely to 17 “mistakes” in the Page warrant application and renewals, Horowitz identifies matters much graver than typos. There were “multiple instances in which factual assertions relied upon in the first FISA application were inaccurate, incomplete, or unsupported by appropriate documentation, based upon information the FBI had in its possession at the time the application was filed.”
One particularly galling omission was a failure to notify the FISA court of information the FBI received from “another agency” that Page was in fact their intelligence asset on Russia, and considered to be reliable. Not only was this known to FBI investigators and managers, they relied on Page’s work for the other agency as part of their cause to seek surveillance of Page. At the same time, the FBI had already determined the Christopher Steele “dossier” on Trump not only couldn’t be corroborated but in fact conflicted with information developed in the investigation. And yet the FBI never bothered to inform the court of these issues, essentially cooking up a case for surveilling Page.
Horowitz concluded that the FBI’s senior management had enough knowledge of the situation that it “should have resulted in questions being raised regarding the reliability of the Steele reporting and the probable cause supporting the FISA applications, but did not.” That failure did not only reflect incompetence or worse by the investigators, but “of the managers and supervisors, including senior officials, in the chain of command.” That followed on the heels of Horowitz’ systematic criticism of Comey’s leadership in the Hillary Clinton investigation published 17 months earlier.
I’ll have more later on the FISA angle, but Gowdy’s right about Comey. Perhaps the media outlets that hailed him as a paragon of ethics might want to reconsider their hagiographic treatment of the former FBI director.