Former FBI general counsel James Baker wants President Donald Trump to apologize to him and the entire FBI following the release of the Department of Justice Inspector General's report that showed the bureau made "17 significant errors" in its investigation into the Trump campaign in 2016.
"I think the president should apologize to us," Baker said on CNN Monday night. "I respectfully ask him, I would ask him to apologize to me, to my colleagues, because the things he said are just wrong. And I think he should step up and do that at a minimum."
Baker, who was the FBI's top lawyer at the launch of the investigation into the Trump campaign, argued the IG report not only disproved Trump's claim that the investigation was politically motivated, but also that the FBI — and him personally — deserved an apology.
"The conclusions are quite clear that the president's statements over these past several years were all wrong — that there was no hoax, there was no conspiracy to overthrow anybody, there was no sedition, there was no treason, there was no evidence of any of that," Baker also added.
According to CNN, during the interview, Baker also said that Trump's attacks on the FBI were "traumatic" for him and his family.
One report, many responses
Inspector general Michael Horowitz's findings have generated remarkably divergent responses.
Many, including Baker, are zealously honing in on the fact that Horowitz's team did not find "documentary or testimonial evidence" of "political bias or improper motivation" in launching the investigation into the Trump campaign. This, they say, vindicates the bureau.
Others, including law professor Jonathan Turley in an op-ed for The Hill, are focusing on the report's finding that the FBI made "17 significant errors" in the Carter Page FISA application process and "many additional errors" in the procedures that guide the FISA warrant process.
Turley called the IG report's findings "damning for the FBI and unsettling for the rest of us," citing the Justice Department's failure to vet critical information and sources in the Steele dossier.
The Steele dossier errors are particularly problematic because so much of the investigation hinged on its utilization to secure FISA warrants.
He also noted that while Horowitz found the original decision to investigate to be in compliance with Justice Department and FBI policies, he noted that Horowitz's basis for the conclusion was that the standard for starting an investigation is extremely low, necessitating only "articulable facts."
To be sure, not everyone at the Justice Department is in agreement regarding Horowitz's conclusion on this point. Attorney General William Barr issued a statement Monday disagreeing with the IG report.
"The Inspector General's report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken," Barr said.
An apology from Trump is unlikely
At best, it appears the FBI turned out incredibly shoddy work on the investigation. At worst, some in the FBI purposefully lied and fabricated evidence in order to harm the president. Either way, calling for a formal apology after grossly mishandling an investigation into Trump's campaign seems like a bit of a reach.
In any event, Trump will not likely oblige Baker's request. Following the release of the report, Trump called the findings a "disgrace" and "an embarrassment for our country."