By Chuck Ross
James Comey said Sunday that he was “wrong” about the FBI’s handling of surveillance warrants against Carter Page, who the former FBI director acknowledged was “treated unfairly” by having his name leaked to the press as a suspected Russian agent.
“He is right. I was wrong,” Comey said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday” in reference to the findings of Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department’s inspector general.
“Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace pressed Comey about Horowitz’s report, which found “significant inaccuracies” in the FBI’s applications for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against Page. Horowitz found that FBI agents and officials made 17 major errors or omissions in the FISA applications.
The report stated FBI agents withheld information in the applications that undercut the theory that Page was working for Russia. They also withheld information that undermined the credibility of Christopher Steele and his dossier, which Horowitz said was a “central and essential” component of the FISA application. FBI agents failed to reveal in their FISA applications that Steele told agents that one of his sources for the dossier was a “boaster” and “embellisher.” Investigators also failed to disclose that one of Steele’s primary sources disavowed significant parts of the dossier during interviews in January 2017.
The report undercut Comey and other former FBI leaders’ defense of the FBI’s surveillance of Page, a former Naval officer.
“I have total confidence that the FISA process was followed, and that the entire case was handled in a thoughtful and responsible way by DOJ and the FBI,” Comey said Dec. 7, 2018, in a clip played by Wallace on Sunday.
Comey acknowledged Sunday that his comments at the time were false.
“I was overconfident in the procedures that the FBI and Justice had built over 20 years. I thought they were robust enough,” he told Wallace.
“I’m responsible for this.”
Comey also agreed it was “fair” to say the FBI gave the FISA court false information, especially regarding Page.
“Carter Page was treated unfairly, most significantly by his name being made public. He’s a United States citizen, and it never should have been made public, and it’s an outrage.”
But while Comey admitted the FBI made errors in the FISA process, he pushed back aggressively on Wallace’s characterization the FBI engaged in misconduct, or that agents and officials were politically motivated against Donald Trump. He also said that if he were still FBI chief, he would not quit in the wake of Horowitz’s damning report.
“If you were still there, and all of this came out, and it turned out it happened on your watch, would you resign?” Wallace asked.
“No, I don’t think so,” said Comey. “There were mistakes I consider more consequential than this during my tenure.”
Gowdy: ‘Too damn late’ for Comey to admit he was wrong about FISA abuse
Former Rep. Trey Gowdy said Sunday that it is “too damn late” for James Comey to admit he was wrong about FBI abuse of the FISA process, as the former FBI director did in an interview on Fox News earlier in the day.
“I think this morning Comey admitted he was wrong. Sometimes, Maria, it’s better late than never, and sometimes it’s just too damn late,” Gowdy said in an interview on “Sunday Morning Futures,” hosted by Maria Bartiromo.
Comey acknowledged in an interview with Chris Wallace that he was “wrong” to deny in 2018 that the FBI properly followed procedures in applications for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against former Trump aide Carter Page.
The Justice Department inspector general found otherwise in a report released Monday. Michael Horowitz, the inspector general, found “significant inaccuracies” in the FBI’s FISA applications. Investigators withheld exculpatory information regarding Carter Page, and derogatory information about the Steele dossier.
The dossier was “central and essential” to the FBI’s decision to pursue FISA warrants on Page, the report stated.
Gowdy, who investigated the FBI’s handling of the dossier while he was on the House Intelligence Committee, said Comey is “two years too late” in admitting to FBI abuses of the surveillance process.
“We could have used his objectivity, as head of the FBI helping Republicans figure out what was happening with FISA instead of thwarting us and obstructing us,” he said.
“He said it was policy and procedure issue. It’s not, Maria. There always has been policies against manufacturing evidence and withholding exculpatory evidence — that’s not new. This is a personnel issue. It’s the wrong people in the wrong positions of power. That’s not going to be fixed with a new policy or procedures. It’s going to be fixed by replacing the people who did what they did in 2016.”
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