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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 112)

Horowitz Hearing Highlights: Watchdog Warns Against Exonerating F.B.I. in Russia Inquiry, Pointing to Flaws

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transcript

‘The Activities We Found Here Don’t Vindicate Anybody,’ Horowitz Says

Michael E. Horowitz, the Justice Department inspector general, told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that his report was not a vindication of F.B.I. officials involved in the parts of the Russia investigation that he reviewed.

“James Comey said this week that your report vindicates him. Is that a fair assessment of your report?” “You know, I think the activities we found here don’t vindicate anybody who touched this. Although we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence of intentional misconduct, we also did not receive satisfactory explanations for any of the errors or omissions we identified. We found, and as we outlined here, are deeply concerned that so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate, handpicked investigative teams on one of the most sensitive F.B.I. investigations after the matter had been briefed to the highest levels within the F.B.I., even though the information sought through the use of FISA authority related so closely to an ongoing presidential campaign. And even though those involved with the investigation knew that their actions would likely be subjected to close scrutiny.”

Westlake Legal Group 11vid-horowitz-clip-videoSixteenByNine3000 Horowitz Hearing Highlights: Watchdog Warns Against Exonerating F.B.I. in Russia Inquiry, Pointing to Flaws Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Committee on the Judiciary Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Page, Carter Justice Department Inspectors General Horowitz, Michael E Graham, Lindsey Federal Bureau of Investigation Barr, William P

Michael E. Horowitz, the Justice Department inspector general, told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that his report was not a vindication of F.B.I. officials involved in the parts of the Russia investigation that he reviewed.CreditCredit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Senate Judiciary Committee members of both parties praised the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, during a hearing on Wednesday for unearthing a litany of serious problems with one aspect of the Russia investigation: the F.B.I.’s pursuit of a court order to wiretap a former Trump foreign policy adviser, Carter Page.

At a hearing to discuss his new long-awaited report, Mr. Horowitz underscored longstanding serious issues with how the F.B.I. wields its surveillance tools, and he portrayed the bureau during the time of the Russia investigation as dysfunctional. Though he said he found no evidence the mistakes were the result of political bias, as President Trump and his allies have long claimed, he cautioned that no one should view his report as a vindication of officials involved in the investigation. “The activities we found here don’t vindicate anybody who touched this,” he said.

Many of the problems that Mr. Horowitz uncovered centered on investigators’ use of a dossier of opposition research about Mr. Trump compiled by a British former spy, Christopher Steele, as part of the materials submitted to the court to show they had probable cause to suspect that Mr. Page was an agent of a foreign power.

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee and a close ally of President Trump, slammed the F.B.I. for using the dossier in the Page wiretap applications — and for continuing to use it to seek renewals even after they interviewed Mr. Steele’s primary source and he contradicted what the dossier said.

Republicans also repeatedly expressed concerns that the F.B.I. took actions that amounted to spying on the campaign. In particular, officials used at least one informant who wore a concealed recording device and an undercover agent to interact with two Trump campaign aides.

The inspector general said that the F.B.I. needed little approval to use such intrusive techniques, even in such sensitive investigations, and that F.B.I. officials did not notify Justice Department leaders, which he described as concerning. “Nobody knew beforehand,” Mr. Horowitz said. “And that was one of the most concerning things here, was that nobody needed to be told.”

One of Mr. Horowitz’s biggest findings concluded that Justice Department and F.B.I. officials did not let their political views affect the opening of the case, called Crossfire Hurricane, or investigative steps.

Republicans immediately attacked this conclusion. Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana labeled investigators the “Misfire Hurricane” team. Mr. Graham pointed to texts among F.B.I. officials involved in the investigation — uncovered by the inspector general — that indicated anti-Trump sentiments as evidence that the officials acted with bias.

“There is no planet on which I think this report indicates that things were O.K. within the F.B.I.,” added Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah.

Mr. Horowitz said that while he found no evidence that the errors and omissions in the surveillance materials were intentional — as opposed to merely stemming from “gross incompetence and negligence” — he was also unsatisfied with the explanations offered for why they happened. He said he could not read people’s minds to learn their motivations.

Westlake Legal Group fbi-ig-report-document-1575915185139-articleLarge Horowitz Hearing Highlights: Watchdog Warns Against Exonerating F.B.I. in Russia Inquiry, Pointing to Flaws Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Committee on the Judiciary Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Page, Carter Justice Department Inspectors General Horowitz, Michael E Graham, Lindsey Federal Bureau of Investigation Barr, William P

Read the Inspector General’s Report on the Russia Investigation

The Justice Department’s inspector general released this report into the early stages of the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation.

Mr. Horowitz revealed that a prosecutor conducting his own review of the Russia investigation disputed the inspector general’s findings about the scope of the inquiry when investigators first opened it.

The F.B.I. opened it as a “full” counterintelligence inquiry, and John H. Durham, a United States attorney investigating the Russia inquiry at the behest of Attorney General William P. Barr, believed it should have been a “preliminary” one, Mr. Horowitz said.

Under F.B.I. standards, agents can open a preliminary investigation on “any allegation or information” that indicates possible criminal activity or threats to national security. Opening a full investigation requires “an articulable factual basis” that “reasonably indicates” that a crime or security threat exists.

Mr. Horowitz concluded that the F.B.I. had sufficient facts to open a full investigation, and he said neither Mr. Durham nor Mr. Barr presented any information that changed his mind.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 11dc-fbibriefing-barr-articleLarge Horowitz Hearing Highlights: Watchdog Warns Against Exonerating F.B.I. in Russia Inquiry, Pointing to Flaws Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Committee on the Judiciary Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Page, Carter Justice Department Inspectors General Horowitz, Michael E Graham, Lindsey Federal Bureau of Investigation Barr, William P

Mr. Horowitz concluded that the F.B.I. had sufficient facts to open a full investigation, and he said neither Attorney General William P. Barr nor John H. Durham presented information that changed his mind.Credit…Samuel Corum for The New York Times

Republican senators expressed alarm that an F.B.I. agent collected information about Mr. Trump and Michael T. Flynn, a top adviser at the time, while briefing them on counterintelligence risks to the Trump campaign in August 2016.

The agent thought the briefing would be a good opportunity to make himself familiar with Mr. Flynn, who was one of the four Trump associates under investigation and might need to be interviewed later. In the days afterward, the F.B.I. agent wrote a memo based on his observations of Mr. Trump and Mr. Flynn and added it to the Russia investigation file.

The episode highlighted a key complaint by Trump allies about the Russia inquiry: that investigators improperly intruded on the campaign. Though Mr. Horowitz did not uncover any instances of agents flouting policy in the investigative steps they took, critics have called for the F.B.I. to reconsider its lack of restrictions on opening investigations that involve scrutiny of constitutionally protected activities, such as political campaigns.

Asked whether the move was typical, Mr. Horowitz said there was no policy forbidding it, then mentioned that the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, had insisted that it would “not happen going forward.

“I think it’s pretty clear what his state of mind is on that: This should not have occurred,” Mr. Horowitz said.

F.B.I. officials could have avoided many of their troubling mistakes and omissions, Mr. Horowitz concluded in his report, offering nine recommendations for changes in the bureau to prevent similar failures.

The F.B.I. opened the Russia investigation without the approval of the Justice Department and did notify national security lawyers at the department after the investigation was opened. Though that is allowed under existing policies, the inspector general said officials should evaluate whether certain sensitive investigations should require informing the deputy attorney general.

The inspector general also said that top officials at the F.B.I. needed to a better job running investigations from headquarters.

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Trump Signs Order That Widens Definition of Judaism, Aids Crackdown on Colleges

Westlake Legal Group 11dc-antisemitism1-facebookJumbo Trump Signs Order That Widens Definition of Judaism, Aids Crackdown on Colleges United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Marcus, Kenneth L Jews and Judaism Freedom of Speech and Expression Executive Orders and Memorandums discrimination Colleges and Universities Civil Rights and Liberties Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) anti-semitism

WASHINGTON — An executive order signed Wednesday that extends civil rights protection to Jews is likely to strengthen the hand of President Trump’s Education Department, where the department’s civil rights chief has been investigating some of the nation’s most elite universities for anti-Jewish bias.

Mr. Trump, at a Hanukkah celebration at the White House, opened the door on a case-by-case basis to essentially defining Judaism as a race or national origin, not just a religion, under the Civil Rights Act. His order also expanded the definition of anti-Semitism to include some anti-Israel sentiments. Both moves had been pushed by Kenneth L. Marcus, the head of the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, for years.

“This is our message to universities: if you want to accept the tremendous amount of federal dollars that you get every year, you must reject anti-Semitism, it’s very simple,” Mr. Trump said at the signing ceremony.

Even before the order, Mr. Marcus was already deeming Judaism a “national origin,” like Italian or Polish, to strengthen a campaign against what he sees as rampant anti-Semitism in higher education. At both the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford, Mr. Marcus has opened “national origin” investigations to determine whether qualified applicants were rejected because of their Judaism.

In the University of Pennsylvania case, the rejected applicant claimed he had the “full support of the vice provost in addition to having multiple-generation legacy status,” yet was passed over for a student of a different gender, race and religion.

In separate cases against New York University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Mr. Marcus has investigated whether administrators have allowed their campuses to become hostile environments for Jewish students by coddling anti-Israel sentiment. Last year, he reopened a long-closed case brought by a Zionist group against Rutgers University, saying the Obama administration had ignored evidence that the school allowed a hostile environment for Jewish students.

The administration’s efforts come at a time of rising anti-Semitic attacks. An assailant involved in a deadly shooting on Tuesday at a Jersey City, N.J., kosher supermarket was found to have published anti-Semitic posts online, a law enforcement official familiar with the case said on Wednesday. But Mr. Marcus’s approach has prompted criticisms that he is infringing on free speech and the rights of other minority groups while extending civil rights law well beyond its intent.

Those charges will grow louder with Mr. Trump’s executive order and its embrace of an expansive definition of anti-Semitism, one already used by the State Department, that labels as anti-Semitic “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination,” by, for example, “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

“Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism,” wrote Jared Kushner, a senior White House adviser and the president’s son-in-law, in an op-ed article for The New York Times. “The inclusion of this language with contemporary examples gives critical guidance to agencies” enforcing civil rights law.

Jewish groups were largely supportive, with some liberal organizations opposing it. Palestinian rights groups were incensed.

Last month, in a resolution agreement responding to an anti-Semitism complaint, the Education Department required the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to revise its anti-discrimination policy to include “anti-Semitic harassment.” It was also required to describe in its policy how such anti-Semitism could manifest itself on campus. The changes have to be approved by Mr. Marcus’s office.

“The Department of Education is effectively strong-arming universities into adopting policies that would chill criticism of the Israeli government’s consistent and well-documented violations of Palestinian rights by falsely conflating it with anti-Semitism,” said Yousef Munayyer, the executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights.

Also last month, the Office for Civil Rights opened a national-origin discrimination case against New York University that stemmed from an episode last year when pro-Palestinian groups were accused of disrupting a pro-Israel dance party.

“The department is deeply concerned about the rampant rise of anti-Semitism on campuses across this country,” the agency said in a statement on Tuesday.

The new executive order targets schools’ federal funding, mirroring the threat made by Mr. Trump in March when he signed an order protecting the right of conservative speakers to challenge “rigid, far-left ideology” on campuses.

Terry W. Hartle, a senior vice president at the American Council on Education, said the dueling orders concurrently limit and protect certain speech and would cause “enormous confusion” on college campuses.

“It’s hard to imagine how you can do both of these things successfully,” Mr. Hartle said. “Most colleges will air on the side of free speech, and the notion that the Department of Education could come after you for that is sobering.”

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which has been generally supportive of Trump’s education policies, vowed to “defend students and faculty subjected to censorship as a result of the implementation of the Executive Order.” The group called on lawmakers to come up with “constitutional alternatives to combat unlawful harassment.”

The issue arises as campuses have become hotbeds of racial and cultural strife. In a 2018 report, the Anti-Defamation League found an 89 percent increase in reported episodes of anti-Semitism on college campuses in one year, as well as a steady rise in white-supremacist propaganda.

The North Carolina case stemmed from an event hosted by U.N.C. and Duke University, titled, “Conflict Over Gaza: People, Politics, and Possibilities,” this past spring that featured a Palestinian rapper, Tamer Nafar, who was accused of spouting anti-Semitic lyrics.

A video of the performance prompted a Republican lawmaker to ask the department to investigate.

“I knew it was going to be anti-Israel, I didn’t know it was going to devolve into anti-Semitism,” said Ami Horowitz, a documentary filmmaker who shot the video.

A report from the Middle East Studies program that hosted the event called comments the rapper made before his performance “inappropriate,” but protected by free speech laws.

The department opened civil rights investigations against both universities.

Duke’s inquiry is still pending, but U.N.C. resolved its portion last month. In its agreement with the Office for Civil Rights, the university said it would hold a series of community meetings, conduct anti-Semitism training and make clear in its anti-discrimination policy that Jewish students shared a national origin “on the basis of their actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics.”

The Zionist Organization of America, a group that Mr. Marcus has worked with for years, said the agreement sent “a powerful message to universities and colleges throughout the country that the U.S. government will hold them accountable for allowing campus anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, and/or the physical or emotional harassment of Jewish students.”

For years, as the head of a Jewish civil rights organization, Mr. Marcus lobbied the department to extend national-origin protections to Jewish students because it does not have jurisdiction over religious discrimination. He unsuccessfully filed several civil rights complaints with the office, and in 2017, he complained that the department was ill equipped to manage anti-Semitism cases. “It has found countless civil rights violations against women and against African-Americans,” he wrote. “But when it comes to anti-Semitism on campus, the agency has been paralyzed.”

Now on the inside, Mr. Marcus has divided the Education Department. Last fall, the department had to walk back Mr. Marcus’s assertion that it was using the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism to re-examine a seven-year-old case against Rutgers University.

But behind Mr. Marcus’s agenda is the weight of the White House. The anti-Semitism executive order repeatedly refers to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which extends protections on the basis of race, color or national origin, then states, “Discrimination against Jews may give rise to a Title VI violation when the discrimination is based on an individual’s race, color, or national origin.”

Last weekend, Mr. Trump touted the N.Y.U. investigation as proof of his administration’s pro-Israel bona fides. In remarks to the Israeli-American Council National Summit that included a series of anti-Semitic tropes, Mr. Trump invited Adela Cojab, who filed the complaint against N.Y.U., to speak.

“My university failed to protect its Jewish community from ongoing harassment, from attacks on social media, to resolutions on student government, to boycotts, flag burnings, and physical assault,” Ms. Cojab said.

The Office for Civil Rights is investigating an event from last year when pro-Palestinian student groups at N.Y.U. were accused of disrupting a pro-Israel event. The university, whose student population is 13 percent Jewish, condemned the actions and disciplined students responsible.

But the university drew the ire of pro-Israel groups when Students for Justice in Palestine, a student group involved in the disruption described by Ms. Cojab as “an anti-Israel hate group,” was recognized with a President’s Service Award.

The university’s president said he would not have bestowed the honor, which was awarded by a volunteer committee to 150 groups and individuals. The university has publicly repudiated B.D.S. proposals, condemned attacks on pro-Israel groups and rejected calls to close its 10-year-old Tel Aviv campus.

A spokesman for N.Y.U., John Beckman, said the university “disputes any suggestion that it is or has been anything less than highly supportive of or deeply concerned about its Jewish community.”

Aisha Jitan, a senior at U.N.C. at Chapel Hill, said her school’s “spineless” agreement with the department was a “slap in the face” for Palestinian students, like herself, and other minorities. Ms. Jitan serves as a president of the university’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine and has taken classes at the Duke-U.N.C. Consortium for Middle East Studies — which the department also investigated this year.

“The exact things that I’m learning to resist — Orientalist and Islamophobic narratives surrounding the Middle East — are the exact narratives that the Department of Education is perpetuating,” Ms. Jitan said.

Mr. Marcus’s “national origin” inquiries have also received sharp pushbacks at Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania.

“We take allegations of discrimination extremely seriously. We have closely reviewed the facts in this matter and found no evidence of discrimination,” said Brad Hayward, a Stanford University spokesman.

Stephen MacCarthy, a spokesman for the University of Pennsylvania, said he would not comment on a specific accusation but said, “We believe our highly selective admissions policies are rigorous and nondiscriminatory.”

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House Panel to Debate Impeachment Articles, Finalizing Charges Against Trump

Westlake Legal Group 11dc-impeach1-facebookJumbo House Panel to Debate Impeachment Articles, Finalizing Charges Against Trump United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Raskin, Jamie (1962- ) Nadler, Jerrold impeachment Constitution (US)

WASHINGTON — A key House panel was set to begin the formal debate Wednesday evening over two articles of impeachment against President Trump, taking the Democratic-led House’s first steps toward formally charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The House Judiciary Committee planned to convene at 7 p.m. Eastern to start what will probably be a two-day meeting that is expected to culminate on Thursday with approval of the articles, along party lines, which will send them to the full House. The rare evening session will give each of the 41 members of the committee a chance to argue for or against Mr. Trump’s impeachment. It could go late into the night.

Leaning with equal weight on the Constitution and the findings of their two-and-a-half-month inquiry, Democrats plan to make an impassioned case that Mr. Trump put the 2020 election and the nation’s security at risk by using his office to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, and then trampled on the Constitution and the separation of powers by seeking to conceal his actions from Congress.

“We will see an articulation of the values driving both impeachment and the opposition to it,” said Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and a member of the Judiciary Committee.

Republicans will argue that the case is overstated, insufficiently proven and the product of a desperate attempt by Democrats to remove a president they do not like. No lawmaker on the notoriously partisan and raucous panel is expected to cross party lines.

“A pointless oratory contest,” Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, a member of the committee, said before the gathering.

The dueling statements are likely to stretch into the night before Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the committee, is expected to call a recess. Then on Thursday morning, Mr. Nadler plans to reconvene the panel to begin the protracted process of proposing edits and amendments to the two articles themselves. By that afternoon, the panel is expected to vote along party lines to approve the articles and recommend them to the full House, which is likely to take swift action.

House Democratic leaders are eyeing a final vote as early as Tuesday to impeach Mr. Trump.

Republicans may use the meeting on Wednesday — called a “markup” because it is a chance for lawmakers to edit the impeachment articles — as a chance to try to water down the charges with amendments. Progressive Democrats could try to insert tougher language or even add additional charges. But any changes are subject to a vote of the committee, which is skewed heavily in favor of Democrats, and Mr. Nadler expects few, if any, of his own members to try to change what were carefully worded texts.

With the outcome in the Judiciary Committee all but certain, Democratic leaders were also looking ahead on Wednesday to the final debate and impeachment vote on the House floor next week. Mr. Nadler met with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Representative Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts and the chairman of the Rules Committee, and others on Wednesday afternoon to try to pin down a date for the final vote.

Earlier, Ms. Pelosi also assembled a group of Democrats from across her caucus to discuss impeachment messaging. And individually, lawmakers have begun privately appealing to the speaker to win appointments as impeachment managers, essentially prosecutors of the case against the president, when the charges are put before the Senate for trial.

Democrats are confident they have the votes to pass both articles. Some moderate Democratic lawmakers, uneasy with the prospect of a partisan impeachment, have held private discussions this week about trying to build bipartisan support to censure Mr. Trump instead. But time is running short, Republicans have shown no sign they would be willing to break with the president, and the Democrats concede an 11th hour change is unrealistic.

In the Senate, where the parties’ respective leaders ticked through their year-end to-do list on Wednesday, the prospect of hosting an impeachment trial when they return from the year-end break was weighing heavily on their thinking.

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, chastised the House for what he called “the least thorough and most unfair impeachment inquiry in modern history.”

“The House Democrats’ denigration of their solemn duty will not cause the Senate to denigrate ours,” Mr. McConnell said on the Senate floor. “If the House continues down this destructive road and sends us articles of impeachment, the Senate will take them up in the new year and proceed to a fair trial.”

His Democratic counterpart, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, had a different warning. He urged the president to provide evidence he withheld from House investigators and make government officials who could shed further light on the events in question available for questioning.

“The House has made an extremely strong case,” Mr. Schumer said. “The burden now lies on the president to rebut it if he can.”

Over lunch, Republican senators invited Representative Jim Jordan, the Ohio Republican who has played a leading role in Mr. Trump’s defense in the House, and his lawyer, Stephen R. Castor, to privately offer their theory of the case for Mr. Trump’s defense.

The articles of impeachment include two counts against Mr. Trump and run for nine pages that were carefully crafted by lawyers for the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees in recent days.

Thursday’s session will begin with a committee clerk reading the articles aloud.

The first article, abuse of power, accused Mr. Trump of “using the powers of his high office” to solicit foreign assistance from Ukraine in the 2020 election. Specifically, it asserts that Mr. Trump withheld $391 million in military aid and a coveted White House meeting for Ukraine’s president as leverage for extracting public announcements of investigations into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son, as well as an unsubstantiated theory that Ukraine conspired with Democrats to swing the 2016 election against Mr. Trump.

The second article, obstruction of Congress, charges that by systematically blocking administration officials from speaking to House investigators and refusing to comply with any subpoena for relevant records, Mr. Trump demonstrated unprecedented “defiance of an impeachment inquiry” and sought to cover up his own wrongdoing.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

House Panel to Debate Impeachment Articles, Finalizing Charges Against Trump

Westlake Legal Group 11dc-impeach1-facebookJumbo House Panel to Debate Impeachment Articles, Finalizing Charges Against Trump United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Raskin, Jamie (1962- ) Nadler, Jerrold impeachment Constitution (US)

WASHINGTON — A key House panel was set to begin the formal debate Wednesday evening over two articles of impeachment against President Trump, taking the Democratic-led House’s first steps toward formally charging him with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The House Judiciary Committee planned to convene at 7 p.m. Eastern to start what will probably be a two-day meeting that is expected to culminate on Thursday with approval of the articles, along party lines, which will send them to the full House. The rare evening session will give each of the 41 members of the committee a chance to argue for or against Mr. Trump’s impeachment. It could go late into the night.

Leaning with equal weight on the Constitution and the findings of their two-and-a-half-month inquiry, Democrats plan to make an impassioned case that Mr. Trump put the 2020 election and the nation’s security at risk by using his office to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, and then trampled on the Constitution and the separation of powers by seeking to conceal his actions from Congress.

“We will see an articulation of the values driving both impeachment and the opposition to it,” said Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and a member of the Judiciary Committee.

Republicans will argue that the case is overstated, insufficiently proven and the product of a desperate attempt by Democrats to remove a president they do not like. No lawmaker on the notoriously partisan and raucous panel is expected to cross party lines.

“A pointless oratory contest,” Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, a member of the committee, said before the gathering.

The dueling statements are likely to stretch into the night before Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the committee, is expected to call a recess. Then on Thursday morning, Mr. Nadler plans to reconvene the panel to begin the protracted process of proposing edits and amendments to the two articles themselves. By that afternoon, the panel is expected to vote along party lines to approve the articles and recommend them to the full House, which is likely to take swift action.

House Democratic leaders are eyeing a final vote as early as Tuesday to impeach Mr. Trump.

Republicans may use the meeting on Wednesday — called a “markup” because it is a chance for lawmakers to edit the impeachment articles — as a chance to try to water down the charges with amendments. Progressive Democrats could try to insert tougher language or even add additional charges. But any changes are subject to a vote of the committee, which is skewed heavily in favor of Democrats, and Mr. Nadler expects few, if any, of his own members to try to change what were carefully worded texts.

With the outcome in the Judiciary Committee all but certain, Democratic leaders were also looking ahead on Wednesday to the final debate and impeachment vote on the House floor next week. Mr. Nadler met with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Representative Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts and the chairman of the Rules Committee, and others on Wednesday afternoon to try to pin down a date for the final vote.

Earlier, Ms. Pelosi also assembled a group of Democrats from across her caucus to discuss impeachment messaging. And individually, lawmakers have begun privately appealing to the speaker to win appointments as impeachment managers, essentially prosecutors of the case against the president, when the charges are put before the Senate for trial.

Democrats are confident they have the votes to pass both articles. Some moderate Democratic lawmakers, uneasy with the prospect of a partisan impeachment, have held private discussions this week about trying to build bipartisan support to censure Mr. Trump instead. But time is running short, Republicans have shown no sign they would be willing to break with the president, and the Democrats concede an 11th hour change is unrealistic.

In the Senate, where the parties’ respective leaders ticked through their year-end to-do list on Wednesday, the prospect of hosting an impeachment trial when they return from the year-end break was weighing heavily on their thinking.

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, chastised the House for what he called “the least thorough and most unfair impeachment inquiry in modern history.”

“The House Democrats’ denigration of their solemn duty will not cause the Senate to denigrate ours,” Mr. McConnell said on the Senate floor. “If the House continues down this destructive road and sends us articles of impeachment, the Senate will take them up in the new year and proceed to a fair trial.”

His Democratic counterpart, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, had a different warning. He urged the president to provide evidence he withheld from House investigators and make government officials who could shed further light on the events in question available for questioning.

“The House has made an extremely strong case,” Mr. Schumer said. “The burden now lies on the president to rebut it if he can.”

Over lunch, Republican senators invited Representative Jim Jordan, the Ohio Republican who has played a leading role in Mr. Trump’s defense in the House, and his lawyer, Stephen R. Castor, to privately offer their theory of the case for Mr. Trump’s defense.

The articles of impeachment include two counts against Mr. Trump and run for nine pages that were carefully crafted by lawyers for the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees in recent days.

Thursday’s session will begin with a committee clerk reading the articles aloud.

The first article, abuse of power, accused Mr. Trump of “using the powers of his high office” to solicit foreign assistance from Ukraine in the 2020 election. Specifically, it asserts that Mr. Trump withheld $391 million in military aid and a coveted White House meeting for Ukraine’s president as leverage for extracting public announcements of investigations into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son, as well as an unsubstantiated theory that Ukraine conspired with Democrats to swing the 2016 election against Mr. Trump.

The second article, obstruction of Congress, charges that by systematically blocking administration officials from speaking to House investigators and refusing to comply with any subpoena for relevant records, Mr. Trump demonstrated unprecedented “defiance of an impeachment inquiry” and sought to cover up his own wrongdoing.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Horowitz Hearing Live Updates: Watchdog Warns Against Exonerating F.B.I. in Russia Inquiry, Pointing to Flaws

Video

Westlake Legal Group merlin_165797340_09e8e6d8-e29f-4943-bc5d-fea9d0c5bde6-videoSixteenByNine3000 Horowitz Hearing Live Updates: Watchdog Warns Against Exonerating F.B.I. in Russia Inquiry, Pointing to Flaws Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Committee on the Judiciary Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Page, Carter Justice Department Inspectors General Horowitz, Michael E Graham, Lindsey Federal Bureau of Investigation Barr, William P

Michael Horowitz, the inspector general of the Justice Department, is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee.CreditCredit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

Here’s what you need to know:

The inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, cautioned that no one should view his report as a vindication of F.B.I. officials involved in the aspects of the Russia investigation that he examined.

“The activities we found here don’t vindicate anybody who touched this,” he said in the middle of an exchange with Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee and a close ally of President Trump.

Mr. Horowitz was responding to Mr. Graham’s mention of an Op-Ed by the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey published in The Washington Post after Mr. Horowitz’s report became public.

While Mr. Comey acknowledged that the inspector general found “mistakes” in the administrative process associated with the wiretap applications targeting the former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page — the focus of the report — Mr. Comey wrote that Mr. Horowitz’s “most important” finding was his debunking of the insinuations by Mr. Trump and his allies that F.B.I. officials, driven by political bias, conspired to sabotage Mr. Trump.

“Those who smeared the F.B.I. are due for an accounting,” Mr. Comey wrote.

Mr. Graham had been marching through a lengthy series of errors, omissions and misleading statements submitted to the court for the surveillance of Mr. Page. The senator portrayed Mr. Comey as writing that Mr. Horowitz’s report “vindicates him,” and asked whether that was a fair assessment, prompting Mr. Horowitz’s remark.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_165797343_d1ab58ee-8bbd-4dd1-bdfd-fb0f9efbf1cb-articleLarge Horowitz Hearing Live Updates: Watchdog Warns Against Exonerating F.B.I. in Russia Inquiry, Pointing to Flaws Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Committee on the Judiciary Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Page, Carter Justice Department Inspectors General Horowitz, Michael E Graham, Lindsey Federal Bureau of Investigation Barr, William P

Senator Lindsey Graham, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said the bureau was acting like “the old F.B.I.” of its former director, J. Edgar Hoover, which “had a chip on its shoulder and wanted to intimidate people and find out what was going on in your life and the law be damned.”Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

Mr. Horowitz clarified why a prosecutor conducting his own review of the Russia investigation had disputed the inspector general’s findings.

John H. Durham, a United States attorney investigating the Russia inquiry at the behest of Attorney General William P. Barr, said on Monday that he had “advised the inspector general that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the F.B.I. case was opened.” But Mr. Durham did not explain the disagreement.

Mr. Horowitz said Mr. Durham disputed one aspect of his conclusion that the F.B.I. had a lawful basis to open the Russia inquiry in July 2016. The F.B.I. opened it as a “full” counterintelligence inquiry, and Mr. Durham thought it should have been a “preliminary” one.

Under F.B.I. standards, agents can open a preliminary investigation on “any allegation or information” that indicates possible criminal activity or threats to national security. Opening a full investigation requires “an articulable factual basis” that “reasonably indicates” that a crime or security threat exists.

Mr. Priestap opened the investigation after WikiLeaks began publishing stolen Democratic emails believed to have been hacked by Russia, and after the bureau learned that a Trump campaign aide suggested that the Russians wanted to coordinate the release of information that could damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

While Mr. Horowitz concluded that those facts were sufficient for Mr. Priestap to open a full investigation, Mr. Durham, he said, told him he did not necessarily agree. But Mr. Durham also said during the meeting “that the information from the friendly foreign government was in his view sufficient to support the preliminary investigation,” Mr. Horowitz said.

Neither Mr. Durham nor Mr. Barr presented any information that changed his mind, Mr. Horowitz added.

Either type of investigation permits the F.B.I. to use confidential human sources to approach and secretly record potential witnesses or targets of the inquiry — the main step the bureau took in the month after opening the inquiry, Mr. Horowitz noted.

But wiretapping, the step investigators took in October, can only be undertaken as part of a full investigation.

Mr. Barr has downplayed Mr. Horowitz’s conclusions, while noting that Mr. Durham has greater ability to investigate people who are outside or no longer in the Justice Department. Still, the Horowitz investigation included 170 interviews of more than 100 witnesses, and he said only two people declined to talk him.

Mr. Horowitz told Senator Mazie Hirono, Democrat of Hawaii, that he did not think the fact he lacked the ability to subpoena testimony from those two witnesses undermined his conclusions.

One of Mr. Horowitz’s biggest findings dealt with whether any Justice Department or F.B.I. official let their political views affect the opening of the case, called Crossfire Hurricane, or any investigative steps they took. The inspector general found no “documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions” to open the investigation.

Republicans immediately attacked this conclusion. Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana labeled investigators the “Misfire Hurricane” team. Mr. Graham and other Republican senators pointed to texts among F.B.I. officials involved in the investigation — uncovered by the inspector general — that indicated anti-Trump sentiments as evidence that the officials acted with bias.

“There is no planet on which I think this report indicates that things were O.K. within the F.B.I.,” said Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah.

Mr. Horowitz said that while he found no evidence that the errors and omissions in the surveillance materials were intentional — as opposed to merely stemming from “gross incompetence and negligence” — he was also not satisfied with the explanations offered for why they happened. He said he could not read people’s minds to learn their motivations.

Westlake Legal Group fbi-ig-report-document-1575915185139-articleLarge Horowitz Hearing Live Updates: Watchdog Warns Against Exonerating F.B.I. in Russia Inquiry, Pointing to Flaws Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Committee on the Judiciary Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Page, Carter Justice Department Inspectors General Horowitz, Michael E Graham, Lindsey Federal Bureau of Investigation Barr, William P

Read the Inspector General’s Report on the Russia Investigation

The Justice Department’s inspector general released this report into the early stages of the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation.

Both sides praised Mr. Horowitz for unearthing a litany of serious problems with the F.B.I.’s pursuit of a court order to wiretap a former Trump foreign policy adviser, Carter Page. Mr. Horowitz found 17 significant errors or omissions in their application for the court order and three renewals of it, according to his voluminous report.

Mr. Graham slammed the F.B.I. for using a dossier of opposition research about Mr. Trump compiled by a British former spy, Christopher Steele, for Democrats in the Page wiretap applications — and for continuing to use it to seek renewals even after they interviewed Mr. Steele’s primary source and he contradicted what the dossier said.

Many of the problems that Mr. Horowitz uncovered centered on investigators’ use of the dossier as part of the materials submitted to the court to show they had probable cause to suspect that Mr. Page was an agent of a foreign power.

Mr. Horowitz found that the initial application relied on four claims from the dossier and that their credibility eroded over time, but that law enforcement officials failed to update the court as they sought renewals of the wiretap. Mr. Graham pressed him on whether a judge would have approved the renewal applications had investigators been clearer about the status of that material. Mr. Horowitz said he made no determination, but he acknowledged in his report that investigators appeared to overstate the strength of their applications.

Mr. Graham also focused on Mr. Horowitz’s finding that a lower-level F.B.I. lawyer had doctored an email from the C.I.A. used in preparing to seek a renewal of a wiretap order targeting Mr. Page in a way that kept the court from learning potentially exculpatory information about him.

“It is definitely not routine,” Mr. Horowitz said of his findings about the F.B.I.’s pursuit of the Page wiretap application and renewals. “I don’t know any reason to think it is routine.”

Republican senators expressed alarm that an F.B.I. agent collected information about Mr. Trump and Michael T. Flynn, a top adviser at the time, while briefing them on counterintelligence risks to the Trump campaign in August 2016.

The agent thought the briefing would be a good opportunity to make himself familiar with Mr. Flynn, who was one of the four Trump associates under investigation and might need to be interviewed later. In the days afterward, the F.B.I. agent wrote a memo based on his observations of Mr. Trump and Mr. Flynn and added it to the Russia investigation file.

The episode highlighted a key complaint by Trump allies about the Russia inquiry: that investigators improperly intruded on the campaign. Though Mr. Horowitz did not uncover any instances of agents flouting policy in the investigative steps they took, critics have called for the F.B.I. to reconsider its lack of restrictions on opening investigations that involve scrutiny of constitutionally protected activities, such as political campaigns.

Asked whether the move was typical, Mr. Horowitz said there was no policy forbidding it, then mentioned that the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, had insisted that it would “not happen going forward.

“I think it’s pretty clear what his state of mind is on that: This should not have occurred,” Mr. Horowitz said.

Republicans repeatedly expressed concerns that the F.B.I. took actions that amounted to spying on the campaign. In particular, officials used at least one informant who wore a concealed recording device and an undercover agent to interact with two Trump campaign aides.

The inspector general said the F.B.I. needed little approval to use such intrusive techniques, even in such sensitive investigations, and that F.B.I. officials did not notify Justice Department leaders, which he described as concerning. “Nobody knew beforehand,” Mr. Horowitz said. “And that was one of the most concerning things here, was that nobody needed to be told.”

In March 2017, Mr. Trump accused the F.B.I. and Obama administration officials illegally wiretapping Trump Tower during the campaign. But Mr. Horowitz said he found no indication that the F.B.I. had conducted such electronic surveillance.

F.B.I. officials could have avoided many of their troubling mistakes and omissions, Mr. Horowitz concluded in his report, offering nine recommendations for changes within the bureau to prevent similar failures.

The F.B.I. opened the Russia investigation without the approval of the Justice Department and did notify national security lawyers at the department after the investigation was opened. Though that is allowed under existing policies, the inspector general said officials should evaluate whether certain sensitive investigations should require informing the deputy attorney general.

The inspector general also said that top officials at the F.B.I. need to a better job running investigations out of headquarters.

Republicans have also criticized the F.B.I. for not briefing Mr. Trump about a possible threat to his campaign after the F.B.I. opened the Russia investigation in July 2016. Mr. Horowitz said the F.B.I. should develop a better job figuring out when to do such briefings.

Mr. Horowitz also said that the F.B.I. should review the performance of all the officials involved in assembling the wiretap applications, including those overseeing the investigation into Mr. Page. and ordered 40 corrective steps to address them.

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Horowitz Hearing Live Updates: No Vindication for F.B.I. in Russia Inquiry, Watchdog Says

Video

Westlake Legal Group merlin_165797340_09e8e6d8-e29f-4943-bc5d-fea9d0c5bde6-videoSixteenByNine3000 Horowitz Hearing Live Updates: No Vindication for F.B.I. in Russia Inquiry, Watchdog Says Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Committee on the Judiciary Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Page, Carter Justice Department Inspectors General Horowitz, Michael E Graham, Lindsey Federal Bureau of Investigation Barr, William P

Michael Horowitz, the inspector general of the Justice Department, is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee.CreditCredit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

Here’s what you need to know:

The inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, cautioned that no one should view his report as a vindication of F.B.I. officials involved in the aspects of the Russia investigation that he examined.

“The activities we found here don’t vindicate anybody who touched this,” he said in the middle of an exchange with Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee and a close ally of President Trump.

Mr. Horowitz was responding to Mr. Graham’s mention of an Op-Ed by the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey published in The Washington Post after Mr. Horowitz’s report became public.

While Mr. Comey acknowledged that the inspector general found “mistakes” in the administrative process associated with the wiretap applications targeting the former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page — the focus of the report — Mr. Comey wrote that Mr. Horowitz’s “most important” finding was his debunking of the insinuations by Mr. Trump and his allies that F.B.I. officials, driven by political bias, conspired to sabotage Mr. Trump.

“Those who smeared the F.B.I. are due for an accounting,” Mr. Comey wrote.

Mr. Graham had been marching through a lengthy series of errors, omissions and misleading statements submitted to the court for the surveillance of Mr. Page. The senator portrayed Mr. Comey as writing that Mr. Horowitz’s report “vindicates him,” and asked whether that was a fair assessment, prompting Mr. Horowitz’s remark.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_165797343_d1ab58ee-8bbd-4dd1-bdfd-fb0f9efbf1cb-articleLarge Horowitz Hearing Live Updates: No Vindication for F.B.I. in Russia Inquiry, Watchdog Says Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Committee on the Judiciary Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Page, Carter Justice Department Inspectors General Horowitz, Michael E Graham, Lindsey Federal Bureau of Investigation Barr, William P

Senator Lindsey Graham, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said the bureau was acting like “the old F.B.I.” of its former director, J. Edgar Hoover, which “had a chip on its shoulder and wanted to intimidate people and find out what was going on in your life and the law be damned.”Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

Mr. Horowitz clarified why a prosecutor conducting his own review of the Russia investigation had disputed the inspector general’s findings.

John H. Durham, a United States attorney investigating the Russia inquiry at the behest of Attorney General William P. Barr, said on Monday that he had “advised the inspector general that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the F.B.I. case was opened.” But Mr. Durham did not explain the disagreement.

Mr. Horowitz said Mr. Durham disputed one aspect of his conclusion that the F.B.I. had a lawful basis to open the Russia inquiry in July 2016. The F.B.I. opened it as a “full” counterintelligence inquiry, and Mr. Durham thought it should have been a “preliminary” one.

Under F.B.I. standards, agents can open a preliminary investigation on “any allegation or information” that indicates possible criminal activity or threats to national security. Opening a full investigation requires “an articulable factual basis” that “reasonably indicates” that a crime or security threat exists.

Mr. Priestap opened the investigation after WikiLeaks began publishing stolen Democratic emails believed to have been hacked by Russia, and after the bureau learned that a Trump campaign aide suggested that the Russians wanted to coordinate the release of information that could damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

While Mr. Horowitz concluded that those facts were sufficient for Mr. Priestap to open a full investigation, Mr. Durham, he said, told him he did not necessarily agree. But Mr. Durham also said during the meeting “that the information from the friendly foreign government was in his view sufficient to support the preliminary investigation,” Mr. Horowitz said.

Neither Mr. Durham nor Mr. Barr presented any information that changed his mind, Mr. Horowitz added.

Either type of investigation permits the F.B.I. to use confidential human sources to approach and secretly record potential witnesses or targets of the inquiry — the main step the bureau took in the month after opening the inquiry, Mr. Horowitz noted.

But wiretapping, the step investigators took in October, can only be undertaken as part of a full investigation.

One of Mr. Horowitz’s biggest findings dealt with whether any Justice Department or F.B.I. official let their political views affect the opening of Crossfire Hurricane or any investigative steps they took. The inspector general found no “documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions” to open the investigation.

Republicans immediately attacked this conclusion. Mr. Graham and other Republican senators pointed to texts among F.B.I. officials involved in the investigation — uncovered by the inspector general — that indicated anti-Trump sentiments as evidence that the officials acted with bias.

“There is no planet on which I think this report indicates that things were O.K. within the F.B.I.,” said Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah.

Mr. Horowitz said that while he found no evidence that the errors and omissions in the surveillance materials were intentional — as opposed to merely stemming from “gross incompetence and negligence” — he was also not satisfied with the explanations offered for why they happened. He said he could not read people’s minds to learn their motivations.

Westlake Legal Group fbi-ig-report-document-1575915185139-articleLarge Horowitz Hearing Live Updates: No Vindication for F.B.I. in Russia Inquiry, Watchdog Says Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Committee on the Judiciary Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Page, Carter Justice Department Inspectors General Horowitz, Michael E Graham, Lindsey Federal Bureau of Investigation Barr, William P

Read the Inspector General’s Report on the Russia Investigation

The Justice Department’s inspector general released this report into the early stages of the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation.

Both sides praised Mr. Horowitz for unearthing a litany of serious problems with the F.B.I.’s pursuit of a court order to wiretap a former Trump foreign policy adviser, Carter Page. Mr. Horowitz found 17 significant errors or omissions in their application for the court order and three renewals of it, according to his voluminous report.

Mr. Graham slammed the F.B.I. for using a dossier of opposition research about Mr. Trump compiled by a British former spy, Christopher Steele, for Democrats in the Page wiretap applications — and for continuing to use it to seek renewals even after they interviewed Mr. Steele’s primary source and he contradicted what the dossier said.

Many of the problems that Mr. Horowitz uncovered centered on investigators’ use of the dossier as part of the materials submitted to the court to show they had probable cause to suspect that Mr. Page was an agent of a foreign power.

Mr. Horowitz found that the initial application relied on four claims from the dossier and that their credibility eroded over time, but that law enforcement officials failed to update the court as they sought renewals of the wiretap. Mr. Graham pressed him on whether a judge would have approved the renewal applications had investigators been clearer about the status of that material. Mr. Horowitz said he made no determination, but he acknowledged in his report that investigators appeared to overstate the strength of their applications.

Mr. Graham also focused on Mr. Horowitz’s finding that a lower-level F.B.I. lawyer had doctored an email from the C.I.A. used in preparing to seek a renewal of a wiretap order targeting Mr. Page in a way that kept the court from learning potentially exculpatory information about him.

“It is definitely not routine,” Mr. Horowitz said of his findings about the Page wiretap applications. “I don’t know any reason to think it is routine.”

Republican senators expressed alarm that an F.B.I. agent collected information about Mr. Trump and Michael T. Flynn, a top adviser at the time, while briefing them on counterintelligence risks to the Trump campaign in August 2016.

The agent thought the briefing would be a good opportunity to make himself familiar with Mr. Flynn, who was one of the four Trump associates under investigation and might need to be interviewed later. In the days afterward, the F.B.I. agent wrote a memo based on his observations of Mr. Trump and Mr. Flynn and added it to the Russia investigation file.

The episode highlighted a key complaint by Trump allies about the Russia inquiry: that investigators improperly intruded on the campaign. Though Mr. Horowitz did not uncover any instances of agents flouting policy in the investigative steps they took, critics have called for the F.B.I. to reconsider its lack of restrictions on opening investigations that involve scrutiny of constitutionally protected activities, such as political campaigns.

Asked whether the move was typical, Mr. Horowitz said there was no policy forbidding it, then mentioned that the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, had insisted that it would “not happen going forward.

“I think it’s pretty clear what his state of mind is on that: This should not have occurred,” Mr. Horowitz said.

Republicans repeatedly expressed concerns that the F.B.I. took actions that amounted to spying on the campaign. In particular, officials used at least one informant who wore a concealed recording device and an undercover agent to interact with two Trump campaign aides.

The inspector general said the F.B.I. needed little approval to use such intrusive techniques, even in such sensitive investigations, and that F.B.I. officials did not notify Justice Department leaders, which he described as concerning. “Nobody knew beforehand,” Mr. Horowitz said. “And that was one of the most concerning things here, was that nobody needed to be told.”

In March 2017, Mr. Trump accused the F.B.I. and Obama administration officials illegally wiretapping Trump Tower during the campaign. But Mr. Horowitz said he found no indication that the F.B.I. had conducted such electronic surveillance.

F.B.I. officials could have avoided many of their troubling mistakes and omissions, Mr. Horowitz concluded in his report, offering nine recommendations for changes within the bureau to prevent similar failures.

The F.B.I. opened the Russia investigation without the approval of the Justice Department and did notify national security lawyers at the department after the investigation was opened. Though that is allowed under existing policies, the inspector general said officials should evaluate whether certain sensitive investigations should require informing the deputy attorney general.

The inspector general also said that top officials at the F.B.I. need to a better job running investigations out of headquarters.

Republicans have also criticized the F.B.I. for not briefing Mr. Trump about a possible threat to his campaign after the F.B.I. opened the Russia investigation in July 2016. Mr. Horowitz said the F.B.I. should develop a better job figuring out when to do such briefings.

Mr. Horowitz also said that the F.B.I. should review the performance of all the officials involved in assembling the wiretap applications, including those overseeing the investigation into Mr. Page. The F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, said he has accepted the inspector general’s conclusions and his recommendations.

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We Just Got a Rare Look at National Security Surveillance. It Was Ugly.

Westlake Legal Group 10dc-surveillance-facebookJumbo We Just Got a Rare Look at National Security Surveillance. It Was Ugly. Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Surveillance of Citizens by Government Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Privacy Page, Carter Justice Department Inspectors General Informers Horowitz, Michael E Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Federal Bureau of Investigation Espionage and Intelligence Services Civil Rights and Liberties

WASHINGTON — When a long-awaited inspector general report about the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation became public this week, partisans across the political spectrum mined it to argue about whether President Trump falsely smeared the F.B.I. or was its victim. But the report was also important for reasons that had nothing to do with Mr. Trump.

At more than 400 pages, the study amounted to the most searching look ever at the government’s secretive system for carrying out national-security surveillance on American soil. And what the report showed was not pretty.

While clearing the F.B.I. of acting out of political bias, the Justice Department’s independent inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, and his team uncovered a staggeringly dysfunctional and error-ridden process in how the F.B.I. went about obtaining and renewing court permission under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, to wiretap Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser.

“The litany of problems with the Carter Page surveillance applications demonstrates how the secrecy shrouding the government’s one-sided FISA approval process breeds abuse,” said Hina Shamsi, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project. “The concerns the inspector general identifies apply to intrusive investigations of others, including especially Muslims, and far better safeguards against abuse are necessary.”

Congress enacted FISA in 1978 to regulate domestic surveillance for national-security investigations — monitoring suspected spies and terrorists, as opposed to ordinary criminals. Investigators must persuade a judge on a special court that a target is probably an agent of a foreign power. In 2018, there were 1,833 targets of such orders, including 232 Americans.

Most of those targets never learn that their privacy has been invaded, but some are sent to prison on the basis of evidence derived from the surveillance. And unlike in ordinary criminal wiretap cases, defendants are not permitted to see what investigators told the court about them to obtain permission to eavesdrop on their calls and emails.

Civil libertarians for years have called the surveillance court a rubber stamp because it only rarely rejects wiretap applications. Out of 1,080 requests by the government in 2018, for example, government records showed that the court fully denied only one.

Defenders of the system have argued that the low rejection rate stems in part from how well the Justice Department self-polices and avoids presenting the court with requests that fall short of the legal standard. They have also stressed that officials obey a heightened duty to be candid and provide any mitigating evidence that might undercut their request.

But the inspector general found major errors, material omissions and unsupported statements about Mr. Page in the materials that went to the court. F.B.I. agents cherry-picked the evidence, telling the Justice Department information that made Mr. Carter look suspicious and omitting material that cut the other way, and the department passed that misleading portrait onto the court.

To give just three examples:

First, when agents initially sought permission for the wiretap, F.B.I. officials scoured information from confidential informants and selectively presented portions that supported their suspicions that Mr. Page might be a conduit between Russia and the Trump campaign’s onetime chairman, Paul Manafort.

But officials did not disclose information that undercut that allegation — such as the fact that Mr. Page had told an informant in August 2016 that he “never met” or “said one word” to Mr. Manafort, who had never returned Mr. Page’s emails. Even if the investigators did not necessarily believe Mr. Page, the court should have been told what he had said.

Second, as the initial court order was nearing its expiration and law-enforcement officials prepared to ask the surveillance court to renew it, the F.B.I. had uncovered information that cast doubt on some of its original assertions. But law enforcement officials never reported that new information to the court.

Specifically, the application included allegations about Mr. Page contained in a dossier compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent whose research was funded by Democrats. In January 2017, the F.B.I. interviewed Mr. Steele’s own primary source, and he contradicted what Mr. Steele had written in the dossier.

The source for Mr. Steele may, of course, have been lying. But either way, officials should have flagged the disconnect for the court. Instead, the F.B.I. reported that its agents had met with the source to “further corroborate” the dossier and found him to be “truthful and cooperative,” leaving a misleading impression in renewal applications.

Finally, the report stressed Mr. Page’s long history of meeting with Russian intelligence officials. But he had also said that he had a relationship with the C.I.A., and it turns out that he had for years told the agency about those meetings — including one that was cited in the wiretap application as a reason to be suspicious of him.

That relationship could have mitigated some suspicions about his history. But the F.B.I. never got to the bottom of it, and the court filings said nothing about Mr. Page’s dealings with the C.I.A.

The inspector general’s report contains many more examples of errors and omissions. Mr. Horowitz largely blamed lower-level F.B.I. agents charged with preparing the evidence, rejecting as “unsatisfactory” the defense that they were busy on the larger Russian investigation and the Page wiretap order was only a small part of their responsibilities.

Still, it is undeniable that the agents and supervisors compiling materials for the Page wiretap application were under far more pressure than in routine counterintelligence investigations. Both in terms of the stakes and the tempo, the early Russia investigation may have had more in common with a counterterrorism investigation.

But that factor also raises the question of what goes into applications for wiretaps in lower-profile cases. Indeed, everyone involved in the Page wiretap knew that what they were working on was likely to come under close scrutiny, yet they still repeatedly failed to follow policies.

Mr. Horowitz also said senior-level supervisors bore responsibility for permitting systemic failures to fester, and his office has begun a broader audit of unrelated FISA applications.

His exposé left some former officials who generally defend government surveillance practices aghast.

“These errors are bad,” said David Kris, an expert in FISA who oversaw the Justice Department’s National Security Division in the Obama administration. “If the broader audit of FISA applications reveals a systematic pattern of errors of this sort that plagued this one, then I would expect very serious consequences and reforms.”

On rare occasions, the public has caught glimpses of problems with the information that goes into FISA applications.

In 2000, the Justice Department confessed to errors in F.B.I. affidavits submitted in 75 surveillance and search applications related to major terrorist attacks, a FISA court opinion disclosed.

The court met “to consider the troubling number of inaccurate F.B.I. affidavits” and barred an unnamed F.B.I. agent from making affidavits before the court. In response, the F.B.I. came up with far more rigorous internal procedures, pledging to ensure the accuracy of FISA affidavits by more carefully reviewing them.

But when Mr. Horowitz’s investigators looked at the underlying files for the Page applications, they found errors and omissions that showed that the F.B.I. had not scrupulously followed those procedures.

The government has fought hard to keep outsiders from seeing what goes into its FISA applications. In 2014, a federal judge in Illinois ordered the government to show a defense lawyer classified materials about the national security surveillance of his client, which would have been the first time a defense lawyer had been given such materials since Congress enacted FISA in 1978.

But the Obama administration appealed, and an appeals court overturned the order, agreeing that letting the defense counsel see the application would create an intolerable risk of disclosing sensitive government secrets.

That stands in contrast to how wiretapping works in ordinary criminal law. Targets are usually told when the surveillance ends. If they are prosecuted based on evidence gathered from the wiretap, they get to see what was in the application so their defense lawyers can argue that the government made a mistake and the evidence should be suppressed.

The prospect of that adversarial second-guessing gives criminal investigators a reason to be scrupulous about what they put into their requests for wiretaps. In the absence of that disciplining factor, the government has developed heightened internal oversight about what goes into FISA applications.

But that system demonstrably failed in the Page wiretap.

The report should call into question the legitimacy of the FISA system “whether you like Trump, hate Trump, don’t care about Trump,” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said at a hearing on Wednesday.

“I’d hate to lose the ability of the FISA court to operate at a time probably when we need it the most,” Mr. Graham told Mr. Horowitz. “But after your report, I have serious concerns about whether the FISA court can continue unless there’s fundamental reform.”

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Horowitz Hearing Live Updates: No Vindication for F.B.I. in Russia Inquiry Report, Watchdog Says

Video

Westlake Legal Group 11dc-fbibriefing-sub2-videoSixteenByNine3000 Horowitz Hearing Live Updates: No Vindication for F.B.I. in Russia Inquiry Report, Watchdog Says Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Committee on the Judiciary Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Page, Carter Justice Department Inspectors General Horowitz, Michael E Graham, Lindsey Federal Bureau of Investigation Barr, William P

Michael Horowitz, the inspector general of the Justice Department, is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee.CreditCredit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

Here’s what you need to know:

The inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, cautioned that no one should view his report as a vindication of F.B.I. officials involved in the aspects of the Russia investigation that he examined.

“The activities we found here don’t vindicate anybody who touched this,” he said in the middle of an exchange with Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee and a close ally of President Trump.

Mr. Horowitz was responding to Mr. Graham’s mention of an Op-Ed by the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey published in The Washington Post after Mr. Horowitz’s report became public.

While Mr. Comey acknowledged that the inspector general found “mistakes” in the administrative process associated with the wiretap applications targeting the former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page — the focus of the report — Mr. Comey wrote that Mr. Horowitz’s “most important” finding was his debunking of the insinuations by Mr. Trump and his allies that F.B.I. officials, driven by political bias, conspired to sabotage Mr. Trump.

“Those who smeared the F.B.I. are due for an accounting,” Mr. Comey wrote.

Mr. Graham had been marching through a lengthy series of errors, omissions and misleading statements submitted to the court for the surveillance of Mr. Page. The senator portrayed Mr. Comey as writing that Mr. Horowitz’s report “vindicates him,” and asked whether that was a fair assessment, prompting Mr. Horowitz’s remark.

In a lengthy opening statement, Mr. Graham did not quarrel with the finding by the inspector general that the F.B.I.’s basis for opening the Russia investigation met the standard. But Mr. Graham slammed the F.B.I. for how that inquiry unfolded.

“Let’s assume that there was a lawful predicate to open up a counterintelligence investigation,” Mr. Graham said. “What’s been described as a few irregularities becomes a massive criminal conspiracy over time to defraud the FISA court, to illegally surveil an American citizen and to keep an operation open against a sitting president of the United States, violating every norm known to the rule of law.”

As the independent watchdog for the Justice Department and the F.B.I., Mr. Horowitz is charged with examining allegations of waste, fraud and abuse at the agencies.

Mr. Graham said the bureau was acting like “the old F.B.I.” of its former director, J. Edgar Hoover, which “had a chip on its shoulder and wanted to intimidate people and find out what was going on in your life and the law be damned.”

He focused on Mr. Horowitz’s finding that a lower-level F.B.I. lawyer had doctored an email from the C.I.A. used in preparing to seek a renewal of a wiretap order targeting Carter Page, a former Trump campaign aide, in a way that kept the court from learning potentially exculpatory information about Mr. Page.

He also slammed the F.B.I. for using a dossier of opposition research about Mr. Trump compiled by a British former spy, Christopher Steele, for Democrats in the Page wiretap applications — and for continuing to use it to seek renewals even after they interviewed Mr. Steele’s primary source and he contradicted what the dossier said.

And Mr. Graham read at length text messages between F.B.I. officials involved in the investigation who expressed personal views in opposition to Mr. Trump’s election, saying that people with such views should never have been in charge of investigating the Trump campaign. Mr. Horowitz, whose investigators had brought those messages to light, also concluded that there was no documentary evidence or testimonial evidence that officials took any steps in the investigation based on their personal bias.

Westlake Legal Group fbi-ig-report-document-1575915185139-articleLarge Horowitz Hearing Live Updates: No Vindication for F.B.I. in Russia Inquiry Report, Watchdog Says Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Committee on the Judiciary Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Page, Carter Justice Department Inspectors General Horowitz, Michael E Graham, Lindsey Federal Bureau of Investigation Barr, William P

Read the Inspector General’s Report on the Russia Investigation

The Justice Department’s inspector general released this report into the early stages of the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation.

One of Mr. Horowitz’s biggest findings dealt with whether any Justice Department or F.B.I. official let their political views affect the opening of Crossfire Hurricane or any investigative steps they took. The inspector general found no “documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions” to open the investigation.

Republicans immediately attacked this conclusion. In his opening statement, Mr. Graham pointed to texts among F.B.I. officials involved in the investigation — uncovered by the inspector general — that indicated anti-Trump sentiments as evidence that the officials acted with bias. Though Mr. Horowitz disagreed, he has said the texts demonstrated bad judgment and cast a cloud over the F.B.I.

Mr. Graham vilified Peter Strzok, a former F.B.I. top counterintelligence agent, and Lisa Page, a former bureau lawyer, the officials who assailed Mr. Trump in text messages. In his report, Mr. Horowitz noted that the decision to start the Russia investigation did not rest with Mr. Strzok. Mr. Horowitz also reaffirmed those texts did not influence the decision by Bill Priestap, head of F.B.I. counterintelligence, to open the Russia investigation. The report said that Ms. Page played no role in opening the Russia investigation or the F.B.I.’s scrutiny of four Trump campaign associates, including Mr. Page.

Both sides praised Mr. Horowitz for unearthing a litany of serious problems with the F.B.I.’s pursuit of a court order to wiretap a former Trump foreign policy adviser, Carter Page. Mr. Horowitz found 17 significant errors or omissions in their application for the court order and three renewals of it, according to his voluminous report.

Republican took up a theme of Mr. Graham’s opening statement and question Mr. Horowitz about materials that investigators relied on to apply for the court order, namely the dossier of unverified, salacious information about Mr. Trump compiled by Mr. Steele. Many of the problems that Mr. Horowitz uncovered centered on investigators’ use of the dossier as part of the materials submitted to the court to show they had probable cause to suspect that Mr. Page was an agent of a foreign power.

Mr. Horowitz found that the initial application relied on four claims from the dossier and that their credibility eroded over time, but that law enforcement officials failed to update the court as they sought renewals of the wiretap. Mr. Graham pressed him on whether a judge would have approved the renewal applications had investigators been clearer about the status of that material. Mr. Horowitz said he made no determination, but he acknowledged in his report that investigators appeared to overstate the strength of their applications.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_165791835_cd49128d-a39c-4513-a7b4-0ad77f655cfc-articleLarge Horowitz Hearing Live Updates: No Vindication for F.B.I. in Russia Inquiry Report, Watchdog Says Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Committee on the Judiciary Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Page, Carter Justice Department Inspectors General Horowitz, Michael E Graham, Lindsey Federal Bureau of Investigation Barr, William P

Senator Lindsey Graham, left, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, spoke with Senator Patrick Leahy ahead of the hearing.Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

F.B.I. officials could have avoided many of their troubling mistakes and omissions, Mr. Horowitz concluded in his report, offering nine recommendations for changes within the bureau to prevent similar failures.

The F.B.I. opened the Russia investigation without the approval of the Justice Department and did notify national security lawyers at the department after the investigation was opened. Though that is allowed under existing policies, the inspector general said officials should evaluate whether certain sensitive investigations should require informing the deputy attorney general.

The inspector general also said that top officials at the F.B.I. need to a better job running investigations out of headquarters.

Republicans have also criticized the F.B.I. for not briefing Mr. Trump about a possible threat to his campaign after the F.B.I. opened the Russia investigation in July 2016. Mr. Horowitz said the F.B.I. should develop a better job figuring out when to do such briefings.

Mr. Horowitz also said that the F.B.I. should review the performance of all the officials involved in assembling the wiretap applications, including those overseeing the investigation into Mr. Page. The F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, said he has accepted the inspector general’s conclusions and his recommendations.

Mr. Horowitz’s report harshly criticized F.B.I. investigators over serious errors in the Russia investigation but concluded that they acted without political bias. Attorney General William P. Barr immediately challenged Mr. Horowitz’s finding that F.B.I. officials had adequate reason to open the case, guaranteeing a politically charged atmosphere at Wednesday’s hearing.

In his opening statement, Mr. Horowitz focused on surveillance problems, not politics. Still, Democrats will likely try to get him to say explicitly that no F.B.I. plot to sabotage President Trump’s campaign existed. Echoing Mr. Barr’s deep skepticism about the opening of the Russia investigation, Republicans are likely to attack some of the report’s other key findings, including that F.B.I. officials acted without political bias.

Mr. Horowitz confirmed that the F.B.I. opened the inquiry in July 2016 as stolen Democratic emails spilled out and investigators learned that a Trump campaign aide bragged that he had been told that Russia had information that could damage Hillary Clinton. Shortly after opening the investigation, known as Crossfire Hurricane, the F.B.I. began looking at four Trump campaign associates to try to determine whether any of them were conspiring with Russia to interfere in the election.

Mr. Barr has played down the inspector general’s findings about what prompted the opening of the Russia investigation, citing limitations like Mr. Horowitz’s power to talk only to current and former law enforcement officials and inability to compel people to answer questions.

Mr. Barr said he was relying on John H. Durham, a veteran prosecutor whom he appointed to re-examine the Russia inquiry, to determine whether F.B.I. officials or anyone else in the intelligence community worked against Mr. Trump.

After the inspector general released his report, Mr. Durham issued an extraordinary statement, saying that he “advised the inspector general that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the F.B.I. case was opened.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Horowitz Hearing Live Updates: Republicans Challenge Report Debunking Anti-Trump Bias at F.B.I.

Video

Westlake Legal Group 11dc-fbibriefing-sub2-videoSixteenByNine3000 Horowitz Hearing Live Updates: Republicans Challenge Report Debunking Anti-Trump Bias at F.B.I. Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Committee on the Judiciary Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Page, Carter Justice Department Inspectors General Horowitz, Michael E Graham, Lindsey Federal Bureau of Investigation Barr, William P

Michael Horowitz, the inspector general of the Justice Department, is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee.CreditCredit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

Here’s what you need to know:

In a lengthy opening statement, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee and a close ally of President Trump, did not quarrel with the finding by the inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, that the F.B.I.’s basis for opening the Russia investigation met the standard. But Mr. Graham slammed the F.B.I. for how that inquiry unfolded.

“Let’s assume that there was a lawful predicate to open up a counterintelligence investigation,” Mr. Graham said. “What’s been described as a few irregularities becomes a massive criminal conspiracy over time to defraud the FISA court, to illegally surveil an American citizen and to keep an operation open against a sitting president of the United States, violating every norm known to the rule of law.”

As the independent watchdog for the Justice Department and the F.B.I., Mr. Horowitz is charged with examining allegations of waste, fraud and abuse at the agencies.

Mr. Graham said the bureau was acting like “the old F.B.I.” of its former director, J. Edgar Hoover, which “had a chip on its shoulder and wanted to intimidate people and find out what was going on in your life and the law be damned.”

He focused on Mr. Horowitz’s finding that a lower-level F.B.I. lawyer had doctored an email from the C.I.A. used in preparing to seek a renewal of a wiretap order targeting Carter Page, a former Trump campaign aide, in a way that kept the court from learning potentially exculpatory information about Mr. Page.

He also slammed the F.B.I. for using a dossier of opposition research about Mr. Trump compiled by a British former spy, Christopher Steele, for Democrats in the Page wiretap applications — and for continuing to use it to seek renewals even after they interviewed Mr. Steele’s primary source and he contradicted what the dossier said.

And Mr. Graham read at length text messages between F.B.I. officials involved in the investigation who expressed personal views in opposition to Mr. Trump’s election, saying that people with such views should never have been in charge of investigating the Trump campaign. Mr. Horowitz, whose investigators had brought those messages to light, also concluded that there was no documentary evidence or testimonial evidence that officials took any steps in the investigation based on their personal bias.

Westlake Legal Group fbi-ig-report-document-1575915185139-articleLarge Horowitz Hearing Live Updates: Republicans Challenge Report Debunking Anti-Trump Bias at F.B.I. Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Committee on the Judiciary Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Page, Carter Justice Department Inspectors General Horowitz, Michael E Graham, Lindsey Federal Bureau of Investigation Barr, William P

Read the Inspector General’s Report on the Russia Investigation

The Justice Department’s inspector general released this report into the early stages of the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation.

One of Mr. Horowitz’s biggest findings dealt with whether any Justice Department or F.B.I. official let their political views affect the opening of Crossfire Hurricane or any investigative steps they took. The inspector general found no “documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions” to open the investigation.

Republicans immediately attacked this conclusion. In his opening statement, Mr. Graham pointed to texts among F.B.I. officials involved in the investigation — uncovered by the inspector general — that indicated anti-Trump sentiments as evidence that the officials acted with bias. Though Mr. Horowitz disagreed, he has said the texts demonstrated bad judgment and cast a cloud over the F.B.I.

Both sides praised Mr. Horowitz for unearthing a litany of serious problems with the F.B.I.’s pursuit of a court order to wiretap a former Trump foreign policy adviser, Carter Page. Mr. Horowitz found 17 significant errors or omissions in their application for the court order and three renewals of it, according to his voluminous report.

Republican lawmakers will almost certainly take up a theme of Mr. Graham’s opening statement and question Mr. Horowitz about materials that investigators relied on to apply for the court order, namely the dossier of unverified, salacious information about Mr. Trump compiled by Mr. Steele. Many of the problems that Mr. Horowitz uncovered centered on investigators’ use of the dossier as part of the materials submitted to the court to show they had probable cause to suspect that Mr. Page was an agent of a foreign power.

Mr. Horowitz found that the initial application relied on four claims from the dossier and that their credibility eroded over time, but that law enforcement officials failed to update the court as they sought renewals of the wiretap. Mr. Graham pressed him on whether a judge would have approved the renewal applications had investigators been clearer about the status of that material. Mr. Horowitz said he made no determination, but he acknowledged in his report that investigators appeared to overstate the strength of their applications.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_165791835_cd49128d-a39c-4513-a7b4-0ad77f655cfc-articleLarge Horowitz Hearing Live Updates: Republicans Challenge Report Debunking Anti-Trump Bias at F.B.I. Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Committee on the Judiciary Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Page, Carter Justice Department Inspectors General Horowitz, Michael E Graham, Lindsey Federal Bureau of Investigation Barr, William P

Senator Lindsey Graham, left, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, spoke with Senator Patrick Leahy ahead of the hearing.Credit…Pete Marovich for The New York Times

F.B.I. officials could have avoided many of their troubling mistakes and omissions, Mr. Horowitz concluded, offering nine recommendations for changes within the bureau to prevent similar failures.

The F.B.I. opened the Russia investigation without the approval of the Justice Department and did notify national security lawyers at the department after the investigation was opened. Though that is allowed under existing policies, the inspector general said officials should evaluate whether certain sensitive investigations should require informing the deputy attorney general.

The inspector general also said that top officials at the F.B.I. need to a better job running investigations out of headquarters.

Republicans have also criticized the F.B.I. for not briefing Mr. Trump about a possible threat to his campaign after the F.B.I. opened the Russia investigation in July 2016. Mr. Horowitz said the F.B.I. should develop a better job figuring out when to do such briefings.

Mr. Horowitz also said that the F.B.I. should review the performance of all the officials involved in assembling the wiretap applications, including those overseeing the investigation into Mr. Page. The F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray, said he has accepted the inspector general’s conclusions and his recommendations.

Mr. Horowitz’s report harshly criticized F.B.I. investigators over serious errors in the Russia investigation but concluded that they acted without political bias. Attorney General William P. Barr immediately challenged Mr. Horowitz’s finding that F.B.I. officials had adequate reason to open the case, guaranteeing a politically charged atmosphere at Wednesday’s hearing.

In his opening statement, Mr. Horowitz focused on surveillance problems, not politics. Still, Democrats will likely try to get him to say explicitly that no F.B.I. plot to sabotage President Trump’s campaign existed. Echoing Mr. Barr’s deep skepticism about the opening of the Russia investigation, Republicans are likely to attack some of the report’s other key findings, including that F.B.I. officials acted without political bias.

Mr. Horowitz confirmed that the F.B.I. opened the inquiry in July 2016 as stolen Democratic emails spilled out and investigators learned that a Trump campaign aide bragged that he had been told that Russia had information that could damage Hillary Clinton. Shortly after opening the investigation, known as Crossfire Hurricane, the F.B.I. began looking at four Trump campaign associates to try to determine whether any of them were conspiring with Russia’s election interference.

Mr. Barr has played down the inspector general’s findings about what prompted the opening of the Russia investigation, citing limitations like Mr. Horowitz’s power to talk only to current and former law enforcement officials and inability to compel people to answer questions.

Mr. Barr said he was relying on John H. Durham, a veteran prosecutor whom he appointed to re-examine the Russia inquiry, to determine whether F.B.I. officials or anyone else in the intelligence community worked against Mr. Trump.

Mr. Horowitz will probably field questions about Mr. Durham’s investigation, which is a criminal inquiry. This could be the most intriguing part of the hearing. After the inspector general released his report, Mr. Durham issued an extraordinary statement, saying that he “advised the inspector general that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the F.B.I. case was opened.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Horowitz Hearing Live Updates: Senate Examines Origins of the F.B.I.’s Russia Inquiry

Video

Westlake Legal Group merlin_139815930_84dde9af-84eb-4678-bc6e-365fcca139c0-superJumbo Horowitz Hearing Live Updates: Senate Examines Origins of the F.B.I.’s Russia Inquiry Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Committee on the Judiciary Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Page, Carter Justice Department Inspectors General Horowitz, Michael E Graham, Lindsey Federal Bureau of Investigation Barr, William P

Michael Horowitz, the inspector general of the Justice Department, will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. On Monday, he concluded that there was no political bias in the opening of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.CreditCredit…Erin Schaff for The New York Times

Here’s what you need to know:

The Justice Department inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss his new report, which harshly criticized F.B.I. investigators over serious errors in the Russia investigation but concluded that they acted without political bias. Attorney General William P. Barr immediately challenged Mr. Horowitz’s finding that F.B.I. officials had adequate reason to open the case, guaranteeing a politically charged atmosphere at Wednesday’s hearing where Mr. Horowitz is likely to face a barrage of tough questions from senators.

Expect Mr. Horowitz to try to focus on surveillance problems, not politics. Still, Democrats will likely try to get him to say explicitly that no F.B.I. plot to sabotage President Trump’s campaign existed. Republicans are likely to attack some of his other key findings, including that F.B.I. officials acted without political bias.

Mr. Horowitz will probably be forced to defend his conclusions and face tough questioning from Republicans echoing Mr. Barr’s deep skepticism about the opening of the Russia investigation.

Mr. Horowitz confirmed that the F.B.I. opened the inquiry in July 2016 as stolen Democratic emails spilled out and investigators learned that a Trump campaign aide bragged that he had been told that Russia had information that could damage Hillary Clinton. Shortly after opening the investigation, known as Crossfire Hurricane, the F.B.I. began looking at four Trump campaign associates to try to determine whether any of them were conspiring with Russia’s election interference.

Westlake Legal Group fbi-ig-report-document-1575915185139-articleLarge Horowitz Hearing Live Updates: Senate Examines Origins of the F.B.I.’s Russia Inquiry Wiretapping and Other Eavesdropping Devices and Methods United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Committee on the Judiciary Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Page, Carter Justice Department Inspectors General Horowitz, Michael E Graham, Lindsey Federal Bureau of Investigation Barr, William P

Read the Inspector General’s Report on the Russia Investigation

The Justice Department’s inspector general released this report into the early stages of the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation.

One of Mr. Horowitz’s biggest findings dealt with whether any Justice Department or F.B.I. official let their political views affect the opening of Crossfire Hurricane or any investigative steps they took. The inspector general found no “documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions” to open the investigation.

Republicans will probably attack this conclusion. They have long pointed to texts among F.B.I. officials involved in the investigation — uncovered by the inspector general — that indicated anti-Trump sentiments as evidence that the officials acted with bias. Though Mr. Horowitz disagreed, he has said the texts demonstrated bad judgment and cast a cloud over the F.B.I.

Both sides are likely to praise Mr. Horowitz for unearthing a litany of serious problems with the F.B.I.’s pursuit of a court order to wiretap a former Trump foreign policy adviser, Carter Page. Mr. Horowitz found 17 significant errors or omissions in their application for the court order and three renewals of it, according to his voluminous report.

Republican lawmakers will almost certainly question Mr. Horowitz about materials that investigators relied on to apply for the court order, namely a dossier of unverified, salacious information about Mr. Trump compiled by a British former spy, Christopher Steele, whose research was funded by Democrats. Many of the problems that Mr. Horowitz uncovered centered on investigators’ use of the dossier as part of the materials submitted to the court to show they had probable cause to suspect that Mr. Page was an agent of a foreign power.

Mr. Horowitz found that the initial application relied on four claims from the dossier and that their credibility eroded over time, but that law enforcement officials failed to update the court as they sought renewals of the wiretap. Republicans will want to know whether a judge would have approved the renewal applications had investigators been clearer about the status of that material. Investigators appeared to overstate the strength of their applications, Mr. Horowitz said.

Look for Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the Republican chairman of the committee and one of Mr. Trump’s most ardent supporters, to pose tough questions about the use the dossier.

Mr. Barr has played down the inspector general’s findings about what prompted the opening of the Russia investigation, citing limitations like Mr. Horowitz’s power to talk only to current and former law enforcement officials and inability to compel people to answer questions.

Mr. Barr said he was relying on John H. Durham, a veteran prosecutor whom he appointed to re-examine the Russia inquiry, to determine whether F.B.I. officials or anyone else in the intelligence community worked against Mr. Trump.

Mr. Horowitz will probably field questions about Mr. Durham’s investigation, which is a criminal inquiry. This could be the most intriguing part of the hearing. After the inspector general released his report, Mr. Durham issued an extraordinary statement, saying that he “advised the inspector general that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the F.B.I. case was opened.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com