AG Barr: 'FBI Officials Misled the FISA Court ... a Clear Abuse of the FISA Process'

By Michael W. Chapman | December 9, 2019 | 3:10pm EST
Attorney General William P. Barr.  (Getty Images)
Attorney General William P. Barr. (Getty Images)

( -- Following today's release of the Inspector General's report about the FBI's spying on the 2016 Trump presidential campaign, Attorney General William Barr said the report documents that "FBI officials misled the FISA court," omitted exculpatory facts, and suppressed information that negated the "reliability of their principal source."

There was "a clear abuse of the FISA process," said Barr. 

FISA refers to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the FISA court that gives permission for federal agents to spy on people it considers are engaged in espionage against the United States or are working on behalf of a foreign power. 

(L-R), Ex-FBI Director James Comey, President Donald Trump, Ex-Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe. (Getty Images)
(L-R), Ex-FBI Director James Comey, President Donald Trump, Ex-Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe. (Getty Images)

In his statement Attorney General Barr said, "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. "

"It is also clear that, from its inception, the evidence produced by the investigation was consistently exculpatory," he said.   "Nevertheless, the investigation and surveillance was pushed forward for the duration of the campaign and deep into President Trump’s administration."

"In the rush to obtain and maintain FISA surveillance of Trump campaign associates, FBI officials misled the FISA court, omitted critical exculpatory facts from their filings, and suppressed or ignored information negating the reliability of their principal source," said the attorney general.  

"The Inspector General found the explanations given for these actions unsatisfactory," he added. " While most of the misconduct identified by the Inspector General was committed in 2016 and 2017 by a small group of now-former FBI officials, the malfeasance and misfeasance detailed in the Inspector General’s report reflects a clear abuse of the FISA process."

Barr continued, "FISA is an essential tool for the protection of the safety of the American people.  The Department of Justice and the FBI are committed to taking whatever steps are necessary to rectify the abuses that occurred and to ensure the integrity of the FISA process going forward."

"No one is more dismayed about the handling of these FISA applications than [FBI] Director Wray," said Barr.  "I have full confidence in Director Wray and his team at the FBI, as well as the thousands of dedicated line agents who work tirelessly to protect our country.  I thank the Director for the comprehensive set of proposed reforms he is announcing today, and I look forward to working with him to implement these and any other appropriate measures."

Barr concluded, "With respect to DOJ personnel discussed in the report, the Department will follow all appropriate processes and procedures, including as to any potential disciplinary action."

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