Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz was caught in a political tug of war Wednesday as Republican and Democratic senators used his report on the origins of the Russia investigation involving Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign to support their views that it was a legitimate probe or a badly bungled farce, the Associated Press reports. Michael Horowitz testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about his findings that while the FBI had a legitimate basis to launch the investigation and was not motivated by political bias, there were major flaws in how the investigation was conducted.
Horowitz tried to strike a balance. Under questioning from Democrats, he acknowledged the absence of evidence for some sensational claims by Trump and his supporters: that the investigation had been opened for political reasons, that agents had infiltrated his election bid or that former President Barack Obama had directed a wiretap of Trump. Horowitz’ opening statement was overwhelmingly critical of the investigation, and he returned time and again to serious problems that he said underscored the need for policy changes. He made clear that the FBI should not be comforted by his findings. The most serious problems, he said, concerned FBI applications for court approval to eavesdrop on a former Trump campaign aide. “It doesn’t vindicate anybody at the FBI who touched this, including the leadership,” Horowitz said. That was a rejection of the views of former FBI Director James Comey, who claimed vindication for the bureau based on Horowitz’s conclusions. In a blistering opening statement, chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said the code name for the investigation, “Crossfire Hurricane,” was apt “because that’s what we ended up with — a ‘Crossfire Hurricane.’ ”