The Justice Department’s inspector general has released his report on the FBI’s investigation of the 2016 Trump campaign, and the result is about as expected following leaks about its contents. The definitive piece of information in the report is this: The FBI launched its investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia not for partisan reasons but because it had reason to investigate.
As the report puts it, top FBI counterintelligence official Bill Priestap’s “exercise of discretion in opening the investigation was in compliance with department and F.B.I. policies, and we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced his decision.” The FBI did not place undercover agents or informants in the campaign, either, and while some FBI employees were personally opposed to Donald Trump’s candidacy, that did not influence the investigative steps they took.
The inspector general’s report is harshly critical of the FBI’s handling of applications for a wiretap on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, with many mistakes and omissions involved. One low-level FBI lawyer is being referred for prosecution, but what’s striking is that it sounds like FISA application dysfunction is standard—something that won’t surprise critics of the surveillance state. “That so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate, handpicked teams on one of the most sensitive F.B.I. investigations that was briefed to the highest levels within the F.B.I., and that F.B.I. officials expected would eventually be subjected to close scrutiny, raised significant questions regarding the F.B.I. chain of command’s management and supervision of the FISA process,” according to the report.
Trump’s pet attorney general, William Barr, continues to insist that the FBI investigation was illegitimate, and claims that the IG’s report saying it was not politically motivated “makes clear” that Barr’s insistence on the opposite is correct.