Former FBI Director James Comey admitted he was “wrong,” noting on Fox News Sunday that the recently released Justice Department inspector general’s report on the Russia probe launch did find “significant errors” in the FISA warrant applications related to a former Trump campaign aide.
Following the release of IG Michael Horowitz’s report on Monday, Comey has been doing a bit of a victory lap, pointing to the inspector general finding there was no political bias and the FBI had sufficient evidence and predicant to launch the Russia probe. Horowitz, however, told Congress last week that his report didn’t “vindicate anybody” associated with the investigation.
Fox News anchor Chris Wallace’s grilling of Comey comes as President Donald Trump took to Twitter to complain about Fox News agreeing to interview the former FBI chief in the first place. The Comey interview on Fox News Sunday was booked shortly after Comey claimed Fox & Friends had canceled on him after the release of the IG report.
Highlighting Horowitz’s remarks during their interview on Sunday, Wallace confronted Comey on the inspector general saying he shouldn’t feel any vindication from the report.
“Maybe it turns on how we understand the word,” the ex-FBI chief replied. “What I mean is the FBI was accused of treason, of illegal spying, tapping Mr. Trump’s wires illegally, opening an investigation without justification and being a criminal conspiracy to unseat—defeat and then unseat a president. All of that was nonsense.”
Comey went on to acknowledge there was “real sloppiness” in the process, prompting Wallace to explain that the "sloppiness" Comey was admitting to was how the FBI handled the FISA application of former Trump campaign official Carter Page.
“17 significant errors in the FISA process and you say that it was handled in a thoughtful and appropriate way?” Wallace pressed.
“He’s right, I was wrong,” Comey answered. “I was overconfident as director in our procedures.”
Wallace, meanwhile, continued to hold Comey’s feet to the fire, telling the ex-FBI head that he made it “sound like you’re a bystander, an eyewitness” during the launch of the investigation, adding: “You were the director of the FBI while a lot of this was going on, sir!”
Comey would go on to again admit that Horowitz was right in his findings on the FISA process, stating that if he were still FBI director he would try to get to the bottom of this.
The Fox News anchor also took Comey to task over previously downplaying the role the infamous Steele dossier played in the FISA applications and probe, noting that Horowitz found that the document was more than just a “broader mosaic,” as Comey had previously claimed.
“I'm not sure he and I are saying different things,” Comey insisted, adding that “it’s a long FISA application that includes Steele material and lots of other material, I don’t think we are saying different things.”
“You’re saying it is part of a broader mosaic of just one element,” Wallace countered. “He’s saying it was the tipping point, it’s what brought it over. That doesn’t make it part of a broader mosaic, it makes it the centerpiece of the whole FISA application and the ability to surveil Carter Page.” “I don’t understand him to be saying that, and I could be wrong with that,” Comey shrugged.