Former FBI Director James Comey took the virtual stand on Wednesday to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the conduct of himself and other FBI officials during the Trump/Russia probe of 2016. During the testimony, which was centered around the origins of the probe, the inspector general’s report on the investigation, and the ways in which the FBI handled Trump differently than Hillary Clinton, Sen. Ted Cruz took Comey to task for his role in the partisan witch hunt.
“This investigation of the president was corrupt,” Cruz said. “The FBI and the Department of Justice were politicized and weaponized, and, in my opinion, there are only two possibilities: that you were deliberately corrupt or woefully incompetent—and I don’t believe you were incompetent. This has done severe damage to the professionals and the honorable men and women at the FBI because law enforcement should not be used as a political weapon, and that is the legacy you’ve left.”
Cruz hammered Comey about the Inspector General’s report, which found that the FBI made as many as 17 “significant errors” in trying to secure a FISA warrant to spy on Trump campaign associate Carter Page.
“Mr. Comey, let’s go directly to lies,” Cruz said. “The inspector general report concluded that Mr. Clinesmith, an attorney who worked for you in the FBI, deliberately altered an email. He had emailed the CIA to ask if Carter Page was a source. The CIA came back and said yes, he was a source, and Mr. Clinesmith—your lawyer—altered that email to add the words ‘not a source’ to make the email say precisely the opposite of what the CIA said.”
After Comey insisted that the FBI had conducted itself in an “honest, competent, and independent way” throughout the investigation, Cruz came back with fury.
“That fraudulent document was then used as a basis for a fraudulent submission to the FISA court. You believe that is honest and competent, Mr. Comey?” Cruz asked.
“I don’t believe you’ve offered an accurate summary of Horowitz’s findings,” Comey replied.
This is, of course, absolute nonsense. If anything, Cruz soft-peddled the IG’s report, which itself did not even scratch the surface when it came to the overall scope of the FBI’s transgressions in 2016. The real problem with the investigation wasn’t an email to the FISA court here or a fudged source there – it was that there was no legitimate basis for the investigation to take place at all. That is what Comey really needs to answer for, and it is what (we hope) U.S. Attorney John Durham’s probe will bring to light in dramatic fashion.