For several months, President Donald Trump and many of his allies have pushed a conspiracy theory alleging that a wiretap surveillance against a member of his campaign staff in 2016 was essentially an effort by the FBI to spy on him.
The claims, which have coalesced into a theory described by those on the right as “Spygate,” according to CNN, included the notion that the FBI wrongly altered documents in order to obtain a FISA warrant against Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, in order to determine if he had been having improper communications with Russian government agents.
However, on Monday afternoon, the findings of an inspector general’s report revealed that, while problems within the investigation were found, the surveillance was not without justification.
The FBI application for a FISA warrant had “significant inaccuracies and omissions,” the report from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz found. But ultimately, Horowitz’s team concluded that the FBI had “authorized purpose” to investigate Page’s communications, the Washington Post reported. The report also found that there wasn’t any political bias against Trump that led to the actions the FBI took.
It appears that Trump, who had peddled the “Spygate” conspiracy theory for months, expected the report to have produced different findings more to his liking. On Sunday, among 102 other tweets and retweets he made, the president wrote, “IG report out tomorrow. That will be the big story!”
BREAKING: A DOJ review of the origins of the federal investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia found no direct evidence of political bias in the launching of the probehttps://t.co/1I5dcDlFP4
— POLITICO (@politico) December 9, 2019
For his own part, Attorney General William Barr, who voiced skepticism last week about the report’s findings after media began saying that the inspector general would find the work of the FBI justifiable, gave praise, but also misgivings, to Horowitz’s conclusions.
“The inspector general’s investigation has provided critical transparency and accountability, and his work is a credit to the Department of Justice. I would like to thank the inspector general and his team,” Barr stated, per reporting from the New York Times.
But Barr also appeared to mischaracterize Horowitz’s findings that the FBI had justifications for surveilling Page.
“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, according to journalist Shimon Prokupecz.
Though the inspector general’s report is concluded, Barr’s statements make clear that different conclusions will be drawn and political spins given, with those believing the “Spygate” conspiracy theory likely holding onto those beliefs in spite of Horowitz’s actual findings.