White House labelled report ‘shocking’ and claimed that Democrats drove the probe
Report came with Trump battling an impeachment inquiry in Congress
A US Justice Department report concluded Monday that political bias did not drive an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election -- rebutting President Donald Trump’s claims that the FBI illegally spied on his campaign.
The DOJ inspector general found numerous procedural errors in the handling of the probe, which placed members of Trump’s election team under surveillance over their Russian contacts.
But it said the overall investigation, launched in July 2016 -- and probes of Trump campaign aides George Papadopoulos, Carter Page, Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn -- were justified.
“We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions to open the four individual investigations,” the report said.
The White House latched onto the FBI’s errors and use of a British expert’s private report on Russian activities to label the report “shocking” and claim that Democrats drove the probe.
“The American people should be outraged and terrified by this abuse of power,” said White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham.
But DOJ inspector general Michael Horowitz’s report ruled out political partisanship and said the Russia investigation was opened “in compliance with (Justice) Department and FBI policies.”
Trump repeatedly blasted the probe as “attempted coup” and “witch hunt”.
But Horowitz said FBI officials who opened the politically sensitive investigation, dubbed “Crossfire Hurricane,” had “reason to believe” Russia was interfering.
“The FBI had an authorized purpose when it opened Crossfire Hurricane to obtain information about, or protect against, a national security threat or federal crime,” Horowitz said.
Democrats said the long-awaited report showed the hollowness of Trump’s attacks on the FBI as well as on former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling and the Trump campaign.