Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that he could not rule out political bias as the cause of the numerous errors in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant application to authorize surveillance of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
Horowitz's report identified "at least 17 significant errors or omissions in the Carter Page FISA applications." Horowitz was asked directly if he could definitively say the errors were not the result of political bias.
"I do not know," Horowitz replied.
The IG report made it clear the numerous errors resulted in warrant applications that exaggerated the probable cause justification for surveilling Page. From NBC News:
"We concluded that the failures… represent serious performance failures by the supervisory and non-supervisory agents with responsibility over the FISA applications," the report says. "These failures prevented (the Justice Department) from fully performing its gatekeeper function and deprived the decision makers the opportunity to make fully informed decisions. Although some of the factual misstatements and omissions we found in this review were arguably more significant than others, we believe that all of them taken together resulted in FISA applications that made it appear that the information supporting probable cause was stronger than was actually the case."
In the most serious case, a low-level FBI lawyer altered an email to make it seem as if Page was not a CIA source, when in fact he was — something he confirmed to NBC News in an email Monday. That key fact might have cast his contacts with Russians in a different light, the IG found.
Also, the FISA warrant applications relied heavily on British intelligence agent Christopher Steele's dossier, but it did not disclose to the FISA court that Steele's credibility as a source was questionable.
Horowitz's testimony about the report undermines a mainstream media narrative that there was no political bias in the Russia investigation.
After the release of the report, headlines from major websites such as the "Today Show" ("IG report on Russia probe finds errors but no bias"), and US News & World Report ("IG Report on Russia Probe Finds No Anti-Trump Bias but Identifies Other Errors") acknowledge the errors in the process without acknowledging the possibility that those errors may have been the result of anti-Trump bias.