Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Wednesday lambasted the FBI and Department of Justice, calling the Justice Department inspector general’s report on government misconduct during the Trump-Russia investigation a “deeply chilling” indictment of the two agencies.
“This pattern of facts makes me angry,” Cruz said during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with Inspector General Michael Horowitz.
“What was going on here, this wasn’t Jason Bourne. This was Beavis and Butt-Head,” Cruz said.
At the beginning of his remarks, the senator from Texas said he noticed that the press was playing up the Horowitz report’s conclusion that there was no evidence of political bias.
“That’s a judgment you have. I disagree with that judgment,” the senator said. “But I think that judgment is in many ways the least significant component of this report. I think the facts that are in this report need to be understood and they should be deeply chilling to anyone who understands the facts in this report, and then people can draw the inference as to why that pattern of abuse occurred.”
Referencing the 17 errors and misstatements cited in the report that were made by the FBI or the Justice Department to secure the FISA warrants, Cruz said, adding: “a number of those are deeply, deeply troubling. These are not typos. These are not small, inadvertent errors, these are grotesque abuses of power.”
Cruz focused his time on the three most egregious examples of wrongdoing by FBI and Justice officials: the fact that the FBI knew by January 2017 that the Steele dossier was garbage, the criminal altering of an email to obtain the FISA warrants, and the omission of key information about the dossier’s funding in the FISA applications.
First, he pointed out that after the FBI interviewed the “primary sub-source” for the Steele dossier, that individual disputed all the claims that Steele had claimed he’d made, telling the FBI that the “verified information” Steele had supplied them with was actually a collection of misstatements, remarks made in jest, and barroom rumor-mongering and speculation.
But rather than inform the FISA court that the Steele dossier had been completely repudiated by its primary source, the FBI merely advised the court in the second and third renewal applications that the source had been “truthful and cooperative with zero revisions.”
The second egregious example of misconduct cited by Cruz was the FBI’s treatment of Carter Page, whom they knew to be an informant for a U.S. intelligence agency.
That’s a pretty darn important fact. If you’re telling the FISA court, ‘Hey, the fact that this guy, Carter Page—who I don’t know, I don’t know this guy Carter Page—but the fact he’s talking to Russians, really suspicious,’ well the fact that he’s serving as a source for U.S. intelligence agents is pretty darn relevant to why he’s talking to Russians. Because we have lots of sources that are talking to bad guys, and when you don’t tell the court that, you’re deceiving the court.
Cruz added that it was worse than that because FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith deliberately altered an email from the agency from “Carter Page is a source” to “Carter Page is not a source,” and sent the forged document to the court as part of the FISA application, putting Page under a cloud of suspicion for talking to Russians as an informant.
“The men and women at home need to know what’s happening,” Cruz said. “A lawyer at the FBI creates fraudulent evidence, alters an email that is in turn used as the basis for a sworn statement to the court that the court relies on. Am I stating that accurately?”
“That is correct. That is what occurred,” Horowitz replied.
The third problem Cruz cited was the FBI and Justice Department’s decision not to inform the FISA court that the anti-Trump dossier was funded by the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign—a point that House Intelligence Committee Republicans also made in their FISA memo in February 2018.
Cruz called Democrat-funded effort “the most effective oppo research dump in history, because the Department of Justice and FBI were perfectly happy to be hatchet men for this oppo research dump.”
“Now, throughout every one of the filings, DOJ and the FBI didn’t inform the FISA court that this was being paid for by the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign, is that right?” Cruz asked Horowitz.
“That’s not in any of the FISA applications,” Horowitz agreed.
Said Cruz: “So, they didn’t tell the court that. And it’s not like DOJ didn’t know. Indeed, one of the senior Department of Justice officials, Bruce Ohr, his wife worked at Fusion GPS, the oppo research company being paid by the DNC, and he became the principal liaison with Steele without telling anyone at the Department of Justice that he was essentially working on behalf of the Clinton campaign.”
Cruz also noted that while the IG report shows that the FBI improperly spied on the Trump campaign through the use of informants, Democrats still seem to be in denial about it.
“Several senators said . . . ‘The FBI didn’t place spies in the Trump campaign.’ Senator Leahy said something similar. Well, that may be true, not spies in the Trump campaign,” Cruz said.
“But reading from your report, in particular, page four of the executive summary, your report says: ‘Thereafter the Crossfire Hurricane team used the intrusive techniques including confidential human sources to interact and consensually record multiple conversations with Page and Papadopoulos both before and after they were working for the Trump campaign as well as on one occasion with a high-level Trump campaign official who was not the subject of the investigation.’
“So, they didn’t place spies in the campaign. But they sent spies to record senior members of the campaign in the middle of a presidential campaign when that candidate was the nominee for the other major party that was the opposing party to the one in power, is that right?”
IG Horowitz: “They sent confidential human sources in to do those.”
When Cruz asked if anyone at the Justice Department or the Obama White House knew about the spying, Horowitz replied, “based on what we found, nobody had been told in advance.”
Incredulous, Cruz followed up: “But once it was happening, did they know?”
Horowitz answered: “They did not. The only evidence that somebody knew were the line attorneys in NSD, the National Security Division, when they were told very selective portions of what had occurred. Nobody knew beforehand. Nobody had been briefed. And frankly, that was one of the most concerning things here is that nobody needed to be told.”
Appalled, Cruz declared that if anything like that had happened while he was working at the Justice Department, responsible leaders would say: “What in the hell are we doing?”
“I can tell you, when I was at DOJ, if someone said let’s tap Hillary Clinton or let’s tap Bill Clinton or John Kerry, the people there would have said, ‘What in the hell are you talking about?’” he continued, adding: “What was going on here, this wasn’t Jason Bourne. This was Beavis and Butt-Head.”