Horowitz: ‘We didn’t credit’ the explanations we got from the FBI for multiple FISA failures


Inspector General Horowitz testified before the Senate today and was pressed by Republicans to reiterate a point he made in previous testimony. Specifically, Horowitz reaffirmed today that his investigation did not rule out political bias as an explanation for the multiple failures of the FBI regarding a FISA warrant on Carter Page. What the IG did conclude is that the explanations given by the FBI for those failures were not credible.

Senator Josh Hawley asked Horowitz, “What’s the explanation? Why over time would all of these people, four times over the space of half a year, deliberately mislead a federal court?”

“We don’t make a conclusion as to the intent here so want to be clear about that,” Horowitz replied. He then added, “But that was precisely the concern we had…is what you laid out. There are so many errors. We couldn’t reach a conclusion or make a determination on what motivated those failures other than we did not credit, what I lay out here, the explanations we got.”

“Yeah, so it certainly wasn’t the reasons that they offered to you,” Hawley said.

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“We didn’t credit that. And frankly this is one of the reasons we weren’t able to but didn’t reach a conclusion is we now have the court weighing in and the court wanting to understand what happened here as well,” Horowitz said. He was referring to a public letter released yesterday by the chief judge of the FISA court. The judge rebuked the FBI for its misleading submissions in the Carter Page case and demanded that the FBI come up with proposals to improve the process in the future.

Hawley moved on to another question: “Was it your conclusion that political bias did not effect any part of the Page investigation, any part of Crossfire Hurricane?”

“We did not reach that conclusion,” Horowitz replied.

“Because I could have sworn, in fact I know for a fact that I heard that today from this committee, but that’s not your conclusion?” Hawley asked.

“We have been very careful in connection with the FISAs for the reasons you mentioned to not reach that conclusion. In part, as we’ve talked about earlier, the alteration of the email. The text messages associated with the individual who did that. And our inability to explain or understand what—to get good explanations so that we could understand why this all happened,” Horowitz replied.

In other words, the existing explanations aren’t believable and bias is still a plausible explanation even if the IG couldn’t find a smoking gun email or testimony to prove it. Horowitz says there are so many errors. He identified seventeen over the course of the first request and the three subsequent renewals. What’s noteworthy is that all of those errors were in the same general direction. Here’s how the NY Times framed it yesterday:

Investigators highlighted facts that made Mr. Page look suspicious while failing to mention potentially exculpatory ones, and when they sought to renew the wiretap, they failed to correct earlier statements whose credibility had since come under serious question, the report found.

Bias is still a more credible explanation for that set of facts than the explanations the FBI has offered. Here’s the exchange already queued up to the discussion of bias:

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