‘The truth is finally out’: Former FBI Director Comey cheers arrival of IG report on 2016 Russia probe
Throughout his presidency, Donald Trump has railed against the FBI’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election — describing it as a “deep state” conspiracy against his campaign. But on Monday, December 9, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released a report by DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz on that investigation — and former FBI Director James Comey, in a December 9 op-ed for the Washington Post, applauds Horowitz’ report as proof that the FBI acted honorably and ethically in 2016.
“For two years,” Comey explains, “the president of the United States and his followers have loudly declared that the FBI acted unlawfully in conducting a counterintelligence investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. They repeatedly told the American people that the FBI had done all sorts of bad things, such as tapping Donald Trump’s wires during the campaign, opening an investigation without adequate cause — with the intent to damage Trump — and inserting secret informants into the Trump campaign.”
But Horowitz’ report, Comey stresses, shows that there was no FBI conspiracy against Trump in 2016: the FBI was legitimately investigating Russian interference in the election, but there was never any anti-Trump vendetta in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
“On Monday, we learned from a report by the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, that the allegation of a criminal conspiracy was nonsense,” Comey observes. “There was no illegal wiretapping, there were no informants inserted into the campaign, there was no ‘spying’ on the Trump campaign. Although it took two years, the truth is finally out.”
In 2016, Comey notes, “The FBI opened an investigation to try to understand whether Americans, including any associated with the Trump campaign, were involved with the Russian influence effort. It would have been a dereliction of duty for the FBI not to investigate that.”
Comey also points out in his op-ed that the FBI’s investigation in 2016 did include “electronic surveillance” of one person: Carter Page, described by Comey as “a former Trump campaign adviser with a long relationship with Russia and a history of contacts with Russian intelligence.” But surveillance of Page, Comey emphasizes, didn’t amount to full-fledged FBI surveillance of the entire Trump campaign.
“Most important,” Comey writes, “Horowitz’ report found that the investigation was opened and conducted according to the rules, finding no ‘evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced (the) decision’ to start it or how to run it. Those of us who knew that truth had to remain silent while a torrent of smears and falsehoods flowed from the White House, from some congressional committee chairmen, the attorney general and Fox News personalities.”
Comey concludes his op-ed by asserting that Attorney General William Barr has been unfair to the FBI by promoting “Trump’s fiction” and “the president’s conspiracy theories.”
“As the leader of an institution that is supposed to be devoted to truth,” Comey writes, “Barr needs to stop acting like a Trump spokesperson.… The FBI fulfilled its mission: protecting the American people and upholding the U.S. Constitution. Now, those who attacked the FBI for two years should admit they were wrong.”