On Wednesday, Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael Horowitz testified about his damning report on FBI and DOJ FISA abuses before the Senate Intelligence Committee. During that testimony, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) delivered a devastating rebuke to former President Barack Obama’s FBI and DOJ. As a former associate deputy attorney general at the DOJ, Cruz insisted that the sort of shenanigans the Obama administration used to spy on the Trump campaign would not have been tolerated while he was at the DOJ.
“This is a 434-page report that lays out what I consider to be a stunning indictment of the FBI and the Department of Justice, of a pattern of abuse of power,” Cruz declared. “I will say both the Department of Justice and FBI for decades have had a great many honorable principled professionals with a fidelity to rule of law and this indictment. I’m an alumnus of the Department of Justice. This pattern of facts makes me angry. And it makes anyone who expects law enforcement to be nonpartisan and faithful to the law, it should make them angry as well.”
— The Hill (@thehill) December 11, 2019
In order to surveil foreign agents or Americans suspected of interacting with foreign agents, the FBI and DOJ must get approval from a special court under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Cruz noted that Horowitz’s report “outlines 17 major errors and misstatements that were made by the FBI or DOJ in securing FISA warrants. A number of them are deeply, deeply troubling. These are not typos, these are not small, inadvertent errors, these are grotesque abuse of power.”
The senator delved into three repeated omissions and misstatements: hiding the serious flaws in the notorious Steele dossier; omitting Carter Page’s relationship as a source for U.S. intelligence; and hiding the fact that the dossier was funded by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
Cruz noted that FBI officials already knew to doubt the accuracy of the dossier — “which we now know was a bunch of malarkey.” He cited the Horowitz report: “Steele misstated or exaggerated multiple sections of the reporting. It says that portions of it — particularly the more salacious and sexual portions — were based on ‘rumor and speculation.'”
Indeed, the report reveals that FBI Director James Comey knew that the salacious “pee tape” claims were based on barroom rumors, but he still briefed Trump on them and leaked them to the media.
Cruz also drew attention to the FBI hiding Carter Page’s former relationship as a source for U.S. intelligence. As The New York Times reported, FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith altered an email in the process of renewing a FISA wiretap on Page, concealing the fact that Page was a source for U.S. intelligence. “Mr. Clinesmith took an email from an official at another federal agency that contained several factual assertions, then added material to the bottom that looked like another assertion from the email’s author, when it was instead his own understanding,” the Times reported.
“A lawyer at the FBI creates fraudulent evidence, alters an email that is in turn used as the basis for a sworn statement for the court that the court relies on. Am I stating that accurately?” Cruz asked Horowitz. The inspector general replied, “That is correct. That is what occurred.”
Here's the video… @tedcruz: “A lawyer at the FBI creates fraudulent evidence, alters an email that is in turn used as the basis for a sworn statement for the court that the court relies on. Am I stating that accurately?"
IG HOROWITZ: “That is correct. That is what occurred.” pic.twitter.com/e1435JSqLN
— Jason Howerton (@jason_howerton) December 11, 2019
“The intelligence agency said, ‘This guy is a source,’ and he inserted, ‘This guy is not a source.’ If a private citizen did that in any law enforcement investigation, if they fabricated evidence and reversed what it said, in your experience would that private citizen be prosecuted for fabricating evidence, be prosecuted for obstruction of justice, be prosecuted for perjury?” Cruz asked.
“They certainly would be considered for that if there was an intentional effort to deceive the court,” Horowitz admitted.
Cruz then turned to what may be the most damning omission: the FBI and DOJ hiding from the FISA court the key fact that Steele dossier information was funded by the DNC and the Clinton campaign.
“At some level this is the most effective oppo research dump in history,” the senator declared. “The DOJ and the FBI did not inform the FISA court that this was being paid for by the DNC and the Clinton campaign.” They omitted this information despite the fact that “Bruce Ohr’s wife worked at Fusion GOP, the oppo research company being paid by the DNC.”
“I can tell you from my time at the Department of Justice and from my time in law enforcement, any responsible leader — when hearing that you’re talking about sending in spies and sending in a wire tap on any presidential nominee — should say, ‘What in the hell are we doing?!'” Cruz said. “I can tell you, when I was at DOJ, if someone said, ‘Let’s tap Hillary Clinton,’ or ‘Let’s tap Bill Clinton or John Kerry,’ the people there would have said, ‘What in the hell are you talking about?!'”
Ending on a comedic note, the senator quipped, “This wasn’t Jason Bourne. This was Beavis and Butt-Head.”
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.