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Barr: Horowitz report shows FBI launched Trump campaign investigation on 'thinnest of suspicions'

Attorney General William BarrBill BarrClyburn: Biden falling short on naming Black figures to top posts Five federal inmates scheduled for execution before Inauguration Day Redeeming justice: the next attorney general MORE said that a newly released Justice Department watchdog report showed that the FBI launched an "intrusive" investigation of President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSAID administrator tests positive for COVID-19 Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year DOJ appeals ruling preventing it from replacing Trump in E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit MORE's campaign "on the thinnest of suspicions.” 

Barr also said that the report from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz showed that, in his opinion, the FBI had an “insufficient” basis to justify steps taken in the investigation into the Trump campaign in 2016, putting him at odds with Horowitz, who concluded in the report that the bureau had an “authorized purpose” to open the investigation.

“It is also clear that, from its inception, the evidence produced by the investigation was consistently exculpatory. Nevertheless, the investigation and surveillance was pushed forward for the duration of the campaign and deep into President Trump’s administration,” Barr said.

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The attorney general also said that FBI officials “misled the FISA court, omitted critical exculpatory facts from their filings, and suppressed or ignored information negating the reliability of their principal source” in a “rush” to maintain surveillance warrants on members of the Trump campaign.

“While most of the misconduct identified by the Inspector General was committed in 2016 and 2017 by a small group of now-former FBI officials, the malfeasance and misfeasance detailed in the Inspector General’s report reflects a clear abuse of the FISA process," Barr said.

Barr issued the statement shortly after Horowitz released his long-awaited report examining the FBI’s actions in the investigation into the Trump campaign and Russian interference in 2016.

Horowitz’s report is critical of the FBI’s handling of the warrant application used to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

However, the report states that FBI agents who worked on the probe were not motivated by political bias in their decisions to investigate the Trump campaign — undercutting a key talking point from Trump and his Republican allies.

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Horowitz also concluded the bureau had “an authorized purpose” to launch an investigation to “obtain information about, or to protect against, a national security threat or federal crime, even though the investigation also had the potential to impact constitutionally protected activity.”

Barr on Monday thanked Horowitz for his work on the inquiry, saying it “has provided critical transparency and accountability, and his work is a credit to the Department of Justice.”

Barr, tapped by Trump to serve as attorney general late last year, has authorized a separate investigation into the origins of the Russian interference probe, tapping the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, John DurhamJohn DurhamHaspel not in attendance at latest Trump intelligence briefing: reports Esper firing hints at broader post-election shake-up The biggest election losers: Political media and pollsters MORE, to lead the investigation.

Durham’s office also issued a statement Monday disagreeing with some of the conclusions of Horowitz’s report “as to predication and how the FBI case was opened,” though he did not elaborate further.

“Our investigation has included developing information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S.,” Durham said. “Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened.”