Last week, Justice Department Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz released his long-awaited report on alleged abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) during the onset of the Trump–Russia probe. Soon after, former FBI Director James Comey went on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace to address Horowitz’s findings.
But despite acknowledging that he was “overconfident” in his oversight of the FBI’s actions, Comey went on the offense in his interview with Wallace, hitting back at Attorney General Bill Barr for claiming after the IG’s report was released that what has become known as “Russiagate” was shaped by political animus. According to the Washington Examiner, Comey’s words didn’t sit well with Trey Gowdy.
“Gross abuses” and “inexplicable behavior”
“[Barr] does not have a factual basis as the attorney general of the United States to be speculating that agents acted in bad faith,” Comey told Wallace on Sunday, according to Fox. “The facts just aren’t there. Full stop. That doesn’t make it any less consequential, any less important, but that’s an irresponsible statement.”
Comey was referring to statements that Barr made on Dec. 10, the day after Horowitz’s report was released, to NBC News‘ chief judicial analyst Pete Williams.
“I think there were gross abuses…and inexplicable behavior that is intolerable in the FBI,” Barr told Williams. “I think that leaves open the possibility that there was bad faith.”
The attorney general also condemned “an irresponsible press” for promoting “a completely bogus narrative” against the president.
Comey isn’t off the hook yet
For his part, Gowdy wasn’t impressed with Comey’s comments. During a Tuesday interview with Fox News’ Martha MacCallum, he accused the ex-FBI head of having “lost his mind.”
“How many of these ‘close calls’ went in favor of President Trump?” the former South Carolina congressman wanted to know. MacCallum replied: “None.”
“When they changed the email, was it to help Trump or hurt him?” Gowdy continued. “When they put the dossier material in, was it to help Trump or hurt him? When they put the [Democrat National Committee]-funded Fusion GPS research material, was that to help Trump or to hurt him?”
Gowdy concluded: “Everything that happened was done to hurt Donald Trump. Look, this is the same Jim Comey who thought it was nonsense that we were looking into it, now he’s had a mea culpa.”
Gowdy and Barr aren’t the only ones who see Horowitz’s report as damning. While testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, the inspector general himself told Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) that “the activities we found here don’t vindicate anybody who touched this,” according to Fox.
It looks like Comey isn’t off the hook just yet.