One of the big points the left and Never Trump was harping on when the report of investigation by Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz was released was his reluctance to find bias on the part of anyone in the FBI in how the Carter Page FISA warrant applications were handled. Despite the obvious and virulent hatred for Trump evinced in private communications by counterintelligence guru Peter Strzok, who was later the lead agent on the Mueller investigation, and his main squeeze FBI lawyer Lisa Page…and what we now see in the behavior of former “pit bull” for the Mueller investigation, Andrew Weissmann. This is how Horowitz phrases it:
We concluded that Priestap’s exercise of discretion in opening the investigation was in compliance with Department and FBI policies, and we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced his decision. (Page iii)
We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions to open the four individual investigations [opened by Strzok]. (Page iv)
We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the FBI’s decision to seek FISA authority on Carter Page. (Page vi)
Finally, we also found no documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivations influenced the FBI’s decision to use CHSs or UCEs to interact with Trump campaign officials in the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. (Page xvii)
But there was also this nugget:
That so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate, hand-picked teams on one of the most sensitive FBI investigations that was briefed to the highest levels within t he FBI, and that FBI officials expected would eventually be subjected to close scrutiny, raised significant questions regarding the FBI chain of command’s management and supervision of the FISA process. (Page xiv)
Far from clearing the FBI, what Horowitz really says is that he was bound by documentary and testimonial evidence and that which was available could not conclusively point to bias in the investigation and that the actions of senior FBI leaders and the three hand-picked teams working the case can’t really be explained.
16) He straightforwardly lays out facts. Those facts produce a pattern of FBI playing the FISA Court–overstating some info, omitting other info, cherrypicking details. Americans can look at totality and make their own judgment as to "why" FBI behaved in such a manner.
— Kimberley Strassel (@KimStrassel) December 10, 2019
While testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee today, Horowitz was asked to expound on his findings in this area by Utah Senator Mike Lee. The setup is that Lee asks, “Isn’t the lack of evidence on bias evidence that we really should take as bias? But it’s in any event it’s certainly not itself indicative that no bias occurred isn’t that correct?”
He’s basically saying that the very fact that there is no evidence of any bias just as much evidence in favor of bias–the assumption being that the FBI would be bright enough not to document their intentions–as it is evidence of an absence of bias. (Video is cued to the correct place.)
On the FISA side, we found, as you noted, a lack of documented testimony evidence about intentionality, but we also noted the lack of satisfactory explanations and in fact leave open the fact that, for the reasons you indicated, it’s unclear what the motivations were. On the one hand, gross incompetence, negligence? On the other hand, intentionality? And where in between? We weren’t in a position, with the evidence we had, to make that conclusion, but I’m not ruling it out.
So what you are left with is either raging stupidity at all echelons of command…or intentional conduct. Take your choice.