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Report finds FBI probe of Trump 2016 campaign legitimate

Credit: Reuters - Politics
Published on December 9, 2019 - Duration: 03:03s

Report finds FBI probe of Trump 2016 campaign legitimate

The Department of Justice's watchdog on Monday (December 9) announced that FBI agents were 'properly authorized' to launch an investigation into then-candidate Donald Trump's political campaign, undercutting claims by Trump and Republicans that the president was the target of an unethical and politically motivated probe.

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Report finds FBI probe of Trump 2016 campaign legitimate

A long-awaited report by the Department of Justice found that an FBI investigation into Donald Trump's 2016 campaign - dubbed "Crossfire Hurricane" - was legitimate and "properly authorized." The findings by DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz undermine claims by the president and his Republican allies that the probe was an unethical and politically-motivated investigation.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING (JUNE 15, 2018) "Take a look at it.

Take a look at the investigation, take a look at how it started." Such allegations fueled fringe conspiracy theories about a "deep state" cabal aligned against Trump, notions which were repeated by the president and found their way into the halls of Congress.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. REPUBLICAN SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM, SAYING (JUNE 21, 2018): "These people hated Trump, and this investigation was anything but-by-the-book [flash] and I can't believe that this happened to my FBI." Horowitz's report runs more than 400 pages.

The table of contents alone is nine pages long.

And it concludes that the FBI had a legal "authorized purpose" to ask for court approval to begin surveillance of Carter Page, a Trump campaign adviser.

Democratic lawmakers seized on the findings, saying they show Republican attacks on the FBI over its conduct were purely partisan.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC SENATOR CHARLES SCHUMER, SAYING: "The report quotes the FBI Deputy General Counsel as saying, quote, the FBI would have been derelict in our responsibility had we not opened the case." But the report did find fault with how how-level federal agents applied for warrants to surveil Page, and that an FBI lawyer altered a document in connection with those applications.

Specifically, Horowitz found a total of 17 "basic and fundamental" errors and omissions in the original application, and all subsequent renewals to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE MARK MEADOWS, SAYING: "This is not a good day for the FBI." Those criticisms became immediate fodder for Republicans to repeat their claims about an anti-Trump conspiracy.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "Thank you very much.

The IG report just came out." And a significant gulf quickly emerged between what the report says, and what Trump said it says.

Here's how he characterized it at a cabinet meeting on Monday: (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "This was an overthrow of government.

This was an attempted overthrow.

And a lot of people were in on it.

And they got caught." In a sign of how closely the president's allies rallied around him, U.S. Attorney General William Barr seemed to take a different view than his own department's inspector general.

In a statement, he 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." The FBI probe ultimately led to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.

That investigation found Russia tried to tilt the election toward Trump, and that the Trump campaign welcomed the efforts.

It charged numerous Russians and Trump campaign officials with felonies, but did not charge anyone with a criminal conspiracy.

The Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold public hearing on Horowitz's latest report on Wednesday.

U.S. Attorney John Durham is separately conducting a criminal investigation whether the Russia probe was conducted properly.

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