Justice Department's watchdog's highly anticipated report on the Russia probe throws a wrench into Trump's conspiracy theories

Trump

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

President Donald Trump.

  • The Justice Department's inspector general released a highly anticipated report Monday of his findings in an investigation into the origins of the FBI's Russia probe.
  • The FBI had an "authorized purpose" to launch the Russia investigation, the report said.
  • Inspector General Michael Horowitz found no evidence to support President Donald Trump's claim that the FBI "spied" on his 2016 campaign.
  • The report also found that there is no "documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the FBI's decision to seek FISA authority on Carter Page."
  • Scroll down to read more of Horowitz's key findings and what they mean for the president.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

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The Justice Department's inspector general, Michael Horowitz, released a report Monday of his investigation into the origins of the FBI's Russia probe.

Here are its main findings:

  • The FBI had an "authorized purpose" to launch the Russia investigation.
  • The bureau's use of confidential informants complied with the rules.
  • There is no "documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions to open the four individual investigations" into Trump campaign aides George Papadopoulos and Carter Page, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
  • There were "significant inaccuracies and omissions" in the Page FISA application, and FBI agents "failed to meet the basic obligation" to make sure the applications were "scrupulously accurate."
    • "We do not speculate whether the correction of any particular misstatement or omissions, or some combination thereof, would have resulted in a different outcome," the report said. "Nevertheless, the department's decision makers and the court should have been given complete and accurate information so that they could meaningfully evaluate probable cause before authorizing the surveillance of a US person associated with a presidential campaign."
  • There is no "documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the FBI's decision to seek FISA authority on Carter Page."

The report's release was highly anticipated by both Democrats and Republicans, and both sides seized on different findings to bolster their talking points.

The investigation, spearheaded first by former FBI director James Comey and later by the special counsel Robert Mueller, found that President Donald Trump's campaign enthusiastically welcomed Russian interference in the 2016 election, but there was not sufficient evidence to bring a conspiracy charge against anyone on the campaign.

It also found over 10 instances in which Trump tried to obstruct justice in the investigation, but that he was largely unsuccessful because his own staff refused to carry out his orders. Mueller declined to make a "traditional prosecutorial judgment" on whether to charge Trump, citing a 1973 Office of Legal Counsel memo that said a sitting president cannot be indicted.

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed Horowitz to launch an internal investigation into the origins of the Russia probe after Trump and his allies accused the FBI of acting improperly when it sought a warrant to surveil the former Trump campaign aide Carter Page during and after the election. The president also alleged that the FBI "spied" on his campaign, dubbing the purported scandal, "Spygate."

Attorney General William Barr has told associates he disagrees with one of Horowitz's main findings: that the FBI had sufficient evidence in July 2016 to justify launching the Russia investigation, according to the Washington Post. He reportedly hasn't been convinced by Horowitz's findings.

Barr has drawn sharp backlash from Democrats and legal experts who have said he functions more as the president's personal defense attorney than as the nation's chief law enforcement officer. Indeed, he claimed months before Horowitz's report was released that the FBI improperly spied on Trump's campaign, a claim that led to discord and a drop in morale within the rank and file at the bureau.

He also overruled Mueller with respect to his obstruction findings and cleared the president of wrongdoing before the public or Congress had a chance to see the special counsel's full report.

But the president and his allies have cheered Barr on, particularly as he embarks on a separate, broader internal investigation with US attorney John Durham into the roots of the Russia inquiry.

There's no sign so far that they've uncovered any incriminating evidence. The Washington Post reported that Durham also asked Horowitz if he'd obtained evidence that Joseph Mifsud, a shadowy Maltese professor who told the former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos that Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton's campaign, was secretly a Western intelligence asset.

Horowitz said he had no information to support that theory, which has been widely popular in right-wing circles.

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