Two top Republican senators on Tuesday alleged that claims made in a report from Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz mischaracterized evidence about the government’s secret surveillance of the Trump campaign during and after the 2016 presidential election. Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., wrote to Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday demanding that the Justice Department declassify four footnotes in the inspector general’s report on FISA abuses released last December.
The senators sent two letters to the attorney general, one classified and one unclassified, identifying four footnotes they are requesting be made public. The unclassified letter was made available online.
In their letter to Barr, the two Republican senators insinuate that the footnotes in question were classified in the IG report only because they contradict certain claims made in the public version of the inspector general’s report on FISA warrants documenting misconduct in the FBI’s spying operation of the Trump campaign.
“We are concerned that certain sections of the public version of the report are misleading because they are contradicted by relevant and probative classified information redacted in four footnotes,” Grassley and Johnson wrote. “This classified information is significant not only because it contradicts key statements in a section of the report, but also because it provides insight essential for an accurate evaluation of the entire investigation.”
It is unclear which claims in the report are allegedly contradicted by the footnotes or which footnotes are specifically at issue. The senators also do not specify whether the alleged mischaracterizations were made by Horowitz or subjects of his investigation whose claims are cited in the report. The unprecedented letter from Grassley and John raises questions about whether the FBI or other U.S. intelligence or agencies deliberately classified certain evidence that could potentially show that the Comey-led investigation against the Trump campaign was based on false premises known to the FBI and was therefore legally invalid and not properly predicated.
In early December, the Justice Department inspector general released a highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of FISA warrants used in its Crossfire Hurricane investigation where federal law enforcement officers abused their power to spy on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. The more than 400-page report further exposed the FBI’s investigation as a deep-state operation revealing 17 glaring omissions of bias and fact from the FBI FISA warrants used to obtain permission to spy on American citizens.
While the primary conclusion of the report found the FBI’s surveillance of the Trump campaign was not rooted in political bias, its own findings fail to support that claim. The inspector general’s report notes that without the widely discredited Steele Dossier, which itself was a DNC-funded document, there would have been no surveillance on Trump campaign advisor Carter Page.
According to Sens. Grassley and Johnson, the reveal of the four footnotes in the report might further debunk the report’s own primary conclusion that there was no political bias motivating the FBI’s deep-state surveillance operation.
“The American people have a right to know what is contained within these four footnotes and, without that knowledge, they will not have a full picture as to what happened during the Crossfire Hurricane investigation,” the senators wrote.
Following the release of the inspector general’s report on FISA abuses, a judge for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), which handles FISA warrant applications slammed the FBI in a court order to reform its FISA process, declaring that the agency’s misconduct has called into question every other warrant the FBI has ever asked for.
Earlier this month, a secret court ruling made public on Thursday found that at least two of the four FISA warrants to spy on Page were “not valid.” The two warrants found invalid were dated on April 7 and June 29 of 2017. The April 7 warrant application was signed by former FBI Director James Comey and the application dated for June was signed off by the bureau’s former deputy director Andrew McCabe.
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz made clear before lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee in December that the conclusions of the department’s report “don’t vindicate anyone,” involved with Crossfire Hurricane.