7 Democrat Leaders Defended, Ignored, Downplayed FBI Spying on Trump Campaign

Michael Horowitz (Win McNamee / Getty)
Win McNamee / Getty

Several high-ranking Democrats in both the House and Senate either defended, ignored, or downplayed the FBI pursuing multiple efforts to gather intelligence from within the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016 and lying to the foreign surveillance court to do so.

Those same lawmakers urged Senators to convict Trump on the the two articles of impeachment approved by the Democrat-majority House along party lines, without a single Republican vote. Democrats seeking Trump’s removal, including those who have defended the FBI spying on his campaign back in 2016, accuse the president of trying to interfere with the upcoming 2020 presidential elections.

The Democrats have emphasized the conclusion of the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Inspector General (IG) audit claiming that political bias did not drive the FBI’s Russia collusion hoax investigation into Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016.

In his Decembert 9 audit of the origins of the Russia-collusion hoax probe, IG Michael Horowitz, also highlighted flaws in the FBI probe, including agents lying to obtain permission to surveil former Trump campaign staffer Carter Page.

Moreover, the FBI relied on what the bureau described as a CHS (a confidential human source, or informant) and a UCE (an undercover employee, or a secret agent) to obtain information from at least three Trump campaign staffers — Page and George Papadopoulos, and a third unnamed “high-level Trump campaign official,” the Washington Examiner pointed out.

Below are comments from Democrat leaders defending, ignoring, or downplaying the FBI spying on the Trump campaign:

1) House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA): 

Schiff, the leading Democrat manager in the Senate impeachment trial, defended the FBI spying on Trump. His defense came despite the Horowitz findings that the agency attempted to defraud the FISA courts to get what it wanted.

While acknowledging that the FBI made “serious mistakes,” Schiff, who also served as the chief inquisitor during the House impeachment inquiry, told Fox News Sunday on December 15 that the investigation into the Trump campaign was warranted.

He said the FBI would have been “negligent” not to pursue the Russia collusion hoax investigation.

In a statement issued in February 2018, before Horowitz’s audit came to light, Schiff said the Democrats’ review of the Russia collusion origin probe: “Failed to uncover any evidence of illegal, unethical, or unprofessional behavior by law enforcement and instead revealed that both the FBI and DOJ made extensive showings to justify all four requests.”

In May 2018, Schiff issued a joint statement about the origins of the Russian collusion probe with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Pelosi, and the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner from Virginia.

“Nothing we heard today has changed our view that there is no evidence to support any allegation that the FBI or any intelligence agency placed a ‘spy’ in the Trump Campaign, or otherwise failed to follow appropriate procedures and protocol,” the statement said.

That statement contradicted Horowitz’s findings that the FBI relied on secret informants and under employees to obtain information o the Trump campaign.

2) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): 

In response to Barr’s April 10, 2019, assertion that the FBI spied on the Trump campaign, Pelosi said she did not trust the U.S. attorney general, accusing him of partisanship.

“He is not the attorney general of Donald Trump. He is the attorney general of the United States,” Pelosi told the Associated Press (AP) in April. “I don’t trust Barr. I trust [Robert] Mueller,” who carried out the Russian collusion probe.

3) Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY):

Ignoring Horowitz’s finding that the FBI lied to the FISA court to obtain warrants to surveil the Trump campaign, Schumer stated on December 9, the day the IG made his audit public, “The DOJ Inspector General’s report makes clear that the predicate for the FBI’s investigation was valid and without political bias.”

In April 10 of last year, in the wake of Barr’s assertion that the Obama administration spied on the Trump campaign, Schumer accused the AG on Twitter of “perpetuating conspiracy theories.” 

4) Democrat Sen. Warner from Virginia, the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee: 

On December 9, when the DOJ IG report was published, Warner wrote on Twitter:

The IG report confirms the FBI was justified in opening an investigation that uncovered criminal activity by the President’s campaign manager, national security adviser, and other aides. It was never a witch hunt. It was the men and women of federal law enforcement doing their jobs.

5) House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD):

Ignoring mounting evidence that the FBI launched an array of efforts to gather intelligence from within the Trump campaign in 2016 and the fact that the FBI pursued warrants to surveil the now-U.S. president’s team, Hoyer pushed back against Barr’s comments that the previous administration spied on then-candidate Trump.

[Barr] “is acting as an employee of the president,” Hoyer told Fox News, claiming that the AG’s loyalties were compromised. “I believe the Attorney General believes he needs to protect the president of the United States.”

6 & 7) House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and the Chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Carolyn Maloney (D-NY):

Both committee leaders in the Democrat-controlled House issued a joint statement downplaying Horowitz’s findings that the FBI mishandled the investigation in some areas.

The chairpersons said:

The IG’s report shows that the investigation Special Counsel Mueller took over was not politically motivated and that officials acted appropriately in opening the investigation. While the IG identified some problems with the FISA applications by lower-level individuals, the IG ‘did not find documentary or testimonial evidence of intentional misconduct.’ The report affirms that DOJ and FBI had an authorized purpose to conduct temporary surveillance as part of the investigation.

In December 9 statement, Attorney General Bill Barr said he does not agree with some of the conclusions of the Horowitz investigation, indicating that perhaps political bias did play a role in the Democrats’ quest to investigate the Trump campaign.

Democrats pushed Senators currently engaged in the impeachment trial to vote to remove Trump for allegedly trying to interfere with the upcoming November 2020 presidential elections.

Ironically, some of those same Democrats defended the FBI spying on the Trump presidential campaign in 2016, an effort that likely impacted elections that year to benefit Obama’s party.

The Democrats’ partisan impeachment effort alone could also interfere in the upcoming presidential election.

Barr took issue with the DOJ IG’s assertion that the FBI properly handled the opening of the Russia collusion probe into the Trump campaign.

In late May, AG Barr defended his use of the word “spying” when describing the FBI investigation launched against the Trump campaign during a Senate panel hearing on April 10.

“I think spying did occur. The question is whether it was adequately predicated. …Spying on a political campaign is a big deal,” he testified.

“I am not saying that improper surveillance occurred; I’m saying that I am concerned about it and looking into it, that’s all,” he later explained.

Last month, he indicated that his handpicked prosecutor John Durham, the U.S. Attorney for Connecticut, who is conducting a more extensive investigation into the origins of the Russia collusion hoax probe, would have the last word. Durham’s probe is now a criminal investigation.

Durham also disagreed with some of Horowitz’s conclusions, namely the notion that there was enough justification for opening the Trump campaign investigation.

Echoing Barr, the Connecticut prosecutor also suggested the DOJ IG’s investigation will not be the last word on the matter, particularly on whether politics motivated the FBI investigation.

Horowitz’s investigation suggested then-President Obama may have known that the FBI was surveilling the Trump campaign.

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