***Live Updates*** Senate Judiciary Committee Holds FISA Abuse Hearing

Michael Horowitz

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday will hold a hearing on the Department of Justice’s Inspector General’s report on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuse investigation.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz will testify before the committee.

Stay tuned to Breitbart News for live updates.

All times eastern.

4:10 PM: Graham, after saying he may have violated the Geneva Convention by not giving Horowitz a bathroom break, says after the investigation was opened with a legal predicate, it became a “nightmare” and a “criminal conspiracy to defraud the court.” He says it became an “conscious effort to deny the court exculpatory information about an American citizen.” Graham says it is clear that this was “not a counterintelligence investigation to protect Donald Trump.” He says it was opened as a counterintelligence investigation and kept going because the last thing they wanted to do was protect Trump. Graham says what worries him is bureaucrats who did not like the 2016 results had a lot of power, adding that they may not like how the American people vote but they should respect it. Graham says this is the beginning and not the end of the Judiciary Committee’s involvement–“much more to follow”–before adjourning the hearing.

3:59 PM: Blackburn says the report makes it look like the FBI acted deliberately and maliciously. She asks Horowitz about Steele’s payments as a “trusted source.” She says Steele’s association with Fusion GPS should have raised serious alarm bells. She says people at the FBI knew Steele was “untrustworthy” and exercised “very poor judgment” by continuing to use him as a source. Blackburn asks how often his office finds mistakes in a FISA application. Horowitz says he has found various issues at a higher level but this is the first time his office has done a “deep dive” into a particular application. She says it is “infuriating to the American people” that those who were involved in what she says should have been called “Operation Take Down Trump” are still getting government paychecks and benefits. She says people in her home state of Tennessee cannot believe the “maliciousness” of the “surveillance state.”

3:48 PM: Kennedy says Horowitz has “sturdy kidneys” because it’s been a long day. Kennedy said he wanted to “heave” 15 percent of the way through the report and after 25%, he thought he was “dropping acid.”

3:39 PM: Crapo establishing that there are “tons of evidence” of bias, and Horowitz admits to “significant failures” in the FISA process. But he again says he can’t say what the motivations were because he does not have enough evidence. Crapo pushing him on “intentional” versus “grossly negligent.” Crapo says it’s mind-boggling that all of these “failures” were “accidental.” Horowitz says so much of the conduct was “inexplicable” and the answers he got were “not satisfactory.” Crapo says he thinks it is explicable.

3:27 PM: Harris allowing Horowitz to establish the case that the FBI had “sufficient prediction” to investigate Trump administration officials. Harris says Barr has been “highly critical” of Horowitz’s findings and met with foreign officials in foreign lands to cast doubt that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. She accuses Barr of trying to “intimidate” the U.S. intelligence committee. Harris says Horowitz has the “power and duty” to investigate Barr. She said it happened with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Harris now hitting Giuliani and his associates for their involvement with Ukrainian officials–connecting Ukrainian officials with DOJ officials for dirt on Trump’s opponents. Harris asks if Horowitz has decided not to investigate these incidents, and Horowitz says he will “look accordingly” at any action he has the “jurisdiction to review.” Harris asks if Giuliani’s actions are “alarming” and Horowitz says they are “concerning.”

3:17 PM: Ernst says she remembers watching TV shows growing up thinking the FBI were the good guys and the agency, with its bad actors, has squandered that good will. She says Americans are justified to wonder what the FBI could do to them if they could do this to a presidential candidate.

3:08 PM: Hirono somehow is trying to establish that other FISA applications have had plenty of errors so there may not have been anything unusual here. She is now asking him about Barr’s handling of the Mueller Report.

3:05 PM: Tillis asks Horowitz if he did a report on the Russia Collusion investigation and points out Horowitz has gotten a lot of questions unrelated to the Horowitz’s during the hearing.

2:45 PM: Blumenthal is trying to make the case that Barr has been attacking Horowitz and his team. He then talks about the FISA reforms that he has been proposing this decade.

2:35 PM: Hawley says it is “extraordinary” what the DNC was able to accomplish with the garbage dossier it commissioned and says the real 2016 collusion was between the DNC and the FBI.

2:30 PM: Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) says it is unacceptable that the FBI agent (Clinesmith) doctored emails. Coons uses his time to emphasize there were no irregularities with the Mueller Report and calls for FISA reforms to safeguard civil liberties. He says he’s more in Lee’s camp than Sasse’s.

2:12 PM: Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) asks about Bruce Ohr. Horowitz says at the timing of these events he was working out of the Deputy Attorney General’s office dealing organized crime and drug trafficking. Sasse asks: “What the hell was he doing here?” Horowitz says that was precisely concern. Horowitz says Ohr’s wife had been a former independent contractor for Fusion GPS. Sasse says he’s embarrassed, as a hawk, that he is sitting two chairs from Sen. Lee because he has been arguing for the last five years with him that things like this could not happen.

Sasse now points out that Russia ran a “clunky” operation and the DOJ/FBI aren’t ready for China’s more sophisticated interference attempts deep fakes in future elections.

2:11 PM: Graham again gets Horowitz to concede nobody who worked on the Trump campaign has been convicted of colluding with the Russians on anything.

2:00 PM: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) says she wants to “tone things down a bit.” She asks Horowitz if he thinks interference by a foreign government constitutes a national security threat. He answers that it does, and Klobuchar asks if anything in the report calls into question that Russia interfered in the 2016 election and is ongoing. Horowitz says nothing calls all of that into question.

1:45 PM: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) says the report lays out a “stunning indictment of the FBI and the Department of Justice” and shows a “pattern of an abuse of power.” He says “this pattern of facts” makes him angry and the facts in the report need to be understood. He says they will be “deeply chilling” to everyone who understands the facts. Horowitz says the purpose of the report is to lay out the facts to the public. Cruz hammering the 17 major errors the report found. He says these weren’t typos but were “grotesque abuses of power.” He points out the FBI knew the subsource was not reliable but told the FISA court that the source was truthful. Cruz says this was the most effective opposition research in history and the FBI were the hatchet men.

1:25 PM: Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) says it’s crazy to think that the IG report “exonerates” the FBI. He says there is no planet on which this report indicates that things were okay within the FBI. Lee says Comey “stunningly” declared that the report found that the FBI fulfilled its mission and upheld the Constitution. Lee says it is “stunning” that Comey reached such a conclusion. Lee says the report is a “scathing indictment” of the FBI and the agents involved. Lee says the report calls into question the “legitimacy of the entire FISA program.” Lee says the report concludes, “way too generously” in his view, that there was no intentional misconduct on the part of the agents. He notes that the report also talks about the agents’ “serious performance failures” and Horowitz did not receive “satisfactory explanations” for them. Lee says this is the failure that Comey irresponsibly considers a fulfilled mission. “I think not,” Lee says. He says every American should be “terrified” by the IG report.

1:15 PM: Durbin rips Graham’s “flowery” and “heated” opening remarks. Durbin trying to establish that Strzok and Page weren’t in charge. Horowitz says FBI agents can’t tie their “personal views to their individual acts.” Durbin, like other Democrats, trying to make the hearing about Giuliani. Durbin wants to know if Giuliani was bluffing with his remarks in 2016 or if he had moles in the NY FBI office.

1:05 PM: Hearing resumes, and Cornyn says it is important to “root out illegality, mendacity, deception” in the FBI. He says he can’t think of anything more damaging to the intelligence community than what Horowitz and his team have uncovered in their IG report. Cornyn asks if the court knew what Horowitz knew now if it would have issued a warrant… Horowitz says they would not sign a warrant if they knew that not all of the relevant information was included but says he does not want to comment on what judges would have done, etc. Cornyn asks what’s the difference between “surveillance” and “spying”–Cornyn thinks there is no difference while Horowitz refers to the law. Cornyn also mentions that there is a higher standard to surveil a U.S. citizen than a foreign agent because of rights granted to the citizen under the Bill of Rights.

12:15 PM: Committee in recess until 1 PM.

12:05 PM: Leahy, based on a couple of pro-Trump messages, trying to establish the FBI also had pro-Trump biases. Leahy using his time to slam Giuliani and asks if Horowitz is concerned about Giuliani “running around in Europe”…

11:56 AM: Grassley asks if anyone has been prosecuted and Horowitz says nobody that he is aware of. Grassley wants to know if anybody in the FBI was concerned that their agents were providing FISA courts with inaccurate information. Grassley asks if the Trump campaign was treated differently than other campaigns, and Horowitz gives a roundabout answer, saying they were treated differently because of the “net result.” Grassley asks how can the FBI repair trust after the botched briefings during the 2016 election cycle. Horowitz says there “needs to be clear guidance and rules.”

11:36 AM: Feinstein says  Horowitz’s report says the FBI had an “adequate predicate” to open its investigation. Horowitz points to information the FBI got from a “friendly foreign government.” Feinstein continuing to go after Barr and now using her time to ask if the whistleblower in the Ukraine investigation should be identified. Horowitz says the whistleblower should get “complete confidentiality” under the “very important provision” in the law. Feinstein says Trump has “relentlessly attacked” Strzok and Page and tries to rehabilitate them.

11:30 AM: Graham asks, if this is a counterintelligence investigation, who should they be trying to investigate? Horowitz answers the “election process,” including the “candidate” and the “American people.” Horowitz says the FBI never briefed the Trump campaign like they did the Clinton campaign. Graham asks if the investigation was legitimate if they never briefed the Trump campaign…

Graham says if what the FBI did “doesn’t bother you, you hate Trump way too much.”

Graham emphasizes the FBI knew Page was not a Russian agent but continued to surveil him and the Trump campaign.

11:15 AM: Graham asks if the report vindicates Comey, and Horowitz punts and says the report doesn’t vindicate anybody. Horowitz says Steele’s bias needed to be disclosed to the court. When Graham asks if this is the “best and the brightest,” Horowitz says he hopes others aren’t following their leads. Horowitz won’t talk about Clinesmith because he is not in the report and says he does not know what motivated him to alter the emails.

10:56 AM: Horowitz now giving his opening statement. Horowitz says they went through one million documents and commends his team for conducting “independent oversight.” He says after the FBI opened its investigation, it conducted “consensually monitored” meetings between sources and individuals associated with the Trump campaign. He says the they found that the operation received the “necessary approvals” under FBI policy. He says he didn’t find evidence that “political evidence” or “improper motivation” influenced the investigation. Horowitz now talking about the numerous violations by the FBI that made it seem the probable cause was stronger than it seemed when applying for FISA warrants. Horowitz says the courts should have been given more complete and accurate information, and “that did not occur.” He says Page’s surveillance continued even thought the FBI was gathering information that made its probable cause case weaker. He points to the failures of the supervisors in the chain of command and says “it’s incumbent on the entire chain of command” to “take the necessary steps” for proper oversight and talks about their “performance failures.”

10:48 AM: Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) praises the inspector general who “tells it as they see it.” Calls it a “saving grace.” Feinstein said Horowitz pledged to Congress last year to investigate whether political bias played a role in the FBI’s investigation and “kept his promise.” Feinstein says on the question of bias, Horowitz found “no evidence” of anti-Trump bias. Feinstein claims, citing the report, there is “no deep state” and the investigation wasn’t motivated by politics. She believes it is time to move on from the “false claims of political bias.” Feinstein now turning the tables and saying Republicans should be concerned about politically-motivated investigations by Trump and his attorney general.

10:26 AM: Graham rips Kevin Clinesmith and points out he was referred for prosecution for falsification of evidence. He marvels at how he was caught altering CIA emails about Carter Page. Graham says Clinesmith falsified the evidence because he did not want the investigation to stop. Graham points out Clinesmith texted “Viva La Resistance” after Trump got elected because of all of the “smelly people.” Graham says if you have met Carter Page the one thing you will not accuse him of is being James Bond. Graham says when they first applied for a FISA warrant, internal lawyers said they didn’t have enough evidence and McCabe suggested that they look at the Steele Dossier to get them “over the hump.” Graham says they then introduced the Dossier into the warrant application process and “it worked.” “Without this dossier, they go nowhere. With it, they are off to the races,” Graham says. Graham says the FBI didn’t tell the court that Steele was being paid by a company being paid by the Democrats to find dirt on Trump. Trump says Steele “was on a mission to get Donald Trump.” Graham notes Bruce Ohr mentioned that Steele was worried that his network could get disrupted if Trump got elected because Trump could appoint different people and take action against his “source network.” Graham mentions the “golden shower” in the Steele Dossier.  Graham says if you read the document the first thing you think of is that “they got something on Donald Trump” but “it’s a bunch of a crap.” Graham says after the source of the report disavowed everything in the report, the FBI didn’t slow down and used the “garbage” for two more warrants. Graham says they were “on a mission” to protect all the “smelly people from Trump.” Graham says this could happen the next time because there are plenty of passionate people on his side that he would never want investigating the other side. Graham says if they can do this to a presidential candidate, imagine what they can do to you. He says “we can’t write this off as just being about one man or one event.” Graham says the system in the hands of a few bad people can do a lot of damage. He says he is hawkish but if corrections aren’t made, his support will be lost.

10:22 AM:  Graham describes Peter Strzok and Lisa Page as two “central characters in this debacle.” Graham says people in newsrooms agree with what Strzok and Page’s texts about Trump. Graham reading Strzok’s and Page’s greatest hits, including the “insurance policy” and “Walmart” texts.

10:08 AM: Graham says he may take longer than 20 minutes for his opening remarks. Graham says if a Democrat were president, the headlines would be different and would blame the FBI for taking the law into its own hands. Graham says the people who were in charge of this investigation were handpicked by Andrew McCabe. Graham shreds McCabe as notes he is now at CNN. Graham wants to know are these people the best of the best, and hopes the answer to that is “no” or he will be “incredibly depressed.” Graham emphasizes he FBI never made an effort to brief Trump. He wonders why and hopes he can get an answer. He says a “counterintelligence investigation is a good thing until it becomes a bad thing.”

 

 

Graham says the “few irregularities” become a massive criminal conspiracy to defraud the FISA court and keep an operation open against a sitting U.S. president violating nearly every law. Graham says Trump’s time will come and go but what happened here can never happen again because the “system failed” and people at the highest level of the government took the law into their own hands. Graham says Horowitz’s team actually discovered abuses of power that he didn’t know could exist in 2019. He says it’s as if J. Edgar Hoover came back to life along with an FBI that had a chip on its shoulder and wanted to find out what was going on in everybody’s lives.

 

10:01 AM: Hearing is about to get started as Judiciary Committee Chairman Graham (R-SC) arrives.

House GOP always wants a hearing:

9:45 AM: Horowitz arrives and is making his way to the Hart Senate Office Building for the hearing.

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