- Former FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday as part of the committee’s probe into the FBI’s Russian investigation.
- A report by the inspector general for the Justice Department found 17 significant inaccuracies and omissions in Comey’s Russia investigation.
- This is Comey’s first congressional testimony since the Justice Department’s inspector general revealed problems.
Former FBI Director James Comey testified Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee as part of the committee’s probe into the FBI’s Russian investigation that may have illegally used controversial surveillance tactics against a former Trump campaign adviser.
Comey told the committee that the FBI had a legitimate reason to launch its investigation into the Trump campaign but added that he wouldn’t have approved of the controversial surveillance tactic if he had known facts that have since emerged.
“In the main, it was done by the book, it was appropriate and it was essential that it be done,” he said. “Overall, I am proud of the work, but there are parts of it we will talk about that are concerning.”
A report by the inspector general for the Justice Department stated there were inaccuracies and omissions in applications for a warrant to conduct surveillance on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved the warrants, but investigators failed to disclose that Page had done work for the CIA, which may have explained why he had contact with certain Russians.
“I’m saying this to my Democratic friends: If it happened to us, it could happen to you. Every American should be worried about this,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the committee’s chairman. “This is not just an abuse of power against Mr. Page and the Trump campaign. This is a system failure, and you could be next.”
Graham is a fierce defender of President Trump and has criticized the FBI for launching the investigation.
Comey repeatedly told the committee that he was unaware of the major application problems the FBI submitted to surveil Page. He said he had been overly confident that the surveillance process was working as it should.
Comey also noted that Page accounted for just “a slice” of the investigation but that he wouldn’t have signed off on the surveillance had he known of the problems.
Comey also acknowledged “concerning” and “embarrassing” problems in the handling of surveillance applications.
“I’m not looking to shirk responsibility,” Comey said. “I was the director.”
This is Comey’s first congressional testimony since the Justice Department’s inspector general revealed problems.
In the 2017 book “Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win,” author Luke Harding detailed how Page built a relationship with Russian oil and gas company Gazprom while he lived in Moscow and worked as an energy consultant for Merrill Lynch.
Page had written in a blog that Putin wasn’t to blame for the Ukraine conflict that resulted in sanctions. He also went as far as to draw comparisons for the reasons to impose Russian sanctions with a U.S. publication from 1850 that guided slaveholders on how to produce “the ideal slave.” The link to the blog no longer exists.