Posted on

Let me tell you all the ways that Horowitz actually vindicated me

The James Comey Vindication Tour hit a speedbump yesterday morning on Fox News Sunday, but that didn’t keep the former FBI director from flogging it. After host Chris Wallace played Michael Horowitz’ riposte to Comey’s claim of vindication for him, Comey tells Wallace that he’s been vindicated of treason and spying, and that the report uncovered … “sloppiness” at the FBI:

“Well, sloppiness may be a euphemism for what he found,” Wallace replied. After playing more of Horowitz’ testimony that directly contradicted what Comey told Bret Baier about the Steele dossier being only part of a “broader mosaic” for the FISA warrant, Comey tried to argue that Horowitz wasn’t saying what Horowitz was clearly saying, and not for the last time in the interview:

Chris Wallace: Horowitz says it wasn’t part — as you told Bret Baier — it wasn’t part of a broader mosaic. He said it played an essential role in establishing probable cause. In fact, he says, if it hadn’t been for the Steele dossier, the FBI probably would haven’t even submitted a FISA application — that it had been reviewed in April of 2016 — or August, rather, of 2016 — they decided not to do it. They get the Steele dossier. They do it. It wasn’t part of a broader mosaic. That’s what you said, sir.

James Comey: I’m not sure he and I are saying different things. What his report says is that the FBI thought it was a close call until they got the Steele report, put that additional information in, and that tipped it over to be probable cause. It’s a long FISA application. It includes Steele material and lots of other material. I don’t think we’re saying different things.

Chris Wallace: Well, I think you are, sir, because he’s saying — you’re saying it’s part of a broader mosaic; it’s just one element. 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.

James Comey: Yeah. I don’t understand it to be saying that. I could be wrong about that —

Chris Wallace: Well, I’ve just — I’ve got his —

James Comey: — I understand —

Chris Wallace: — quote here. He says, “We concluded the Steele reporting played a central and essential role in the decision to seek a FISA warrant, that it pushed the FISA proposal over the line in terms of establishing probable cause.” I mean, he says —

James Comey: Yeah.

Chris Wallace: — what he says. Words mean something.

James Comey: Yeah. And I agree with his characterization. I’m just confused — I no — I don’t see the disconnect between the two of us. And I’m sorry that I’m missing it.

In fact, Comey spends much of this interview attempting to passive-aggressively rebut Horowitz and Wallace, without much success. Comey keeps insisting that Horowitz only exposed “sloppiness” and that his report is important as a learning experience, but refuses to actually cop to the misconduct that occurred on Comey’s watch. This game of dodgeball gets even more serious at the end of the interview, when Wallace brings up the criminal referral from Horowitz regarding the falsification of evidence by FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith. Comey starts off by claiming that Horowitz didn’t uncover any misconduct, which seems to stun Wallace:

Chris Wallace: All right. And then there is — best for last — the worst misconduct. In August of 2016, just two weeks into the investigation, the CIA tells the FBI that it actually has a relationship with Carter Page — that when he has these meetings with the Russians, he actually goes back and he tells the CIA about it. But you never tell the FISA court that. And in fact, in 2017, an FBI lawyer doctors a document. The CIA said, “Oh, Carter Page, he’s a source.” And he puts in the application he’s not a source.

James Comey: Yeah, I’ve got to take issue with one of the — I’ll answer the question — but one of the predications of your question. The Inspector General did not find misconduct by any FBI people. He found mistakes and negligence in oversight —

Chris Wallace: No, no, no. It is not true —

James Comey: He did not —

Chris Wallace: In the case of Kevin Clinesmith, he has referred it for criminal investigation.

James Comey: Right. But that’s not been resolved, this business with the lawyer changing some email to a partner on the team.

Chris Wallace: I mean, you make it sound like it’s not much.

James Comey: No. No. It’s very important.

Chris Wallace: It’s quite a lot.

James Comey: It’s very important.

Chris Wallace: I mean, not a source — a source to not a source is a big deal.

Finally, on the issue of bias, Comey clings to the oft-reported claim that Horowitz did not find “intentionality” for the decision to surveil Trump campaign officials. That’s true, but it’s equally true that Horowitz didn’t rule it out either. Wallace makes this point clear by playing Horowitz’ testimony in which the inspector general explicitly leaves it as one of two explanations for the FBI’s misconduct in Operation Crossfire Hurricane.

Again, Comey tries to pretend Horowitz didn’t say what everyone hears him saying:

Chris Wallace: Gross negligence or they intended to do it. They intended to lie to the FISA court. You were in charge during a lot of this, sir.

James Comey: He —

Chris Wallace: And in fact, you signed the FISA applications.

James Comey: Sure. I think I signed at least two or three of them. He doesn’t conclude that there was intentional misconduct by these career special agents.

Chris Wallace: No. He just says it’s one of two things, and he can’t decide: gross negligence or it was intentional misconduct.

James Comey: Well, I’ve read —

Chris Wallace: That’s what he said.

James Comey: I’ve read his report. He says, “I — we are not concluding that there was intentional misconduct by FBI officials.”

Chris Wallace: Did you hear what he just said here?

James Comey: I did. I don’t know the context of that. I’ve —

Chris Wallace: He was asked specifically, “How do you explain it?” And he said, “Gross negligence or intentionality.”

James Comey: Yeah. Well, I’m sorry. He doesn’t find intentionality, but that doesn’t make it any less important. As director, you are responsible for this. I was responsible for this. And if I were still there, I’d be doing what Chris Wray is doing — is figuring out, “So, how did this happen? And is it systemic?”

Right now, Comey has to be hoping it’s systemic. If it’s not and this case was the only one in which the FBI made a string of omissions and misrepresentations in a FISA warrant application, it moves the needle from “gross negligence” all the way over to “intentionality.” That would be the final body blow to Comey’s Vindication Tour.

Here’s the entire interview. It never gets any better for Comey, and one has to predict that when John Durham finishes his criminal probe of Operation Crossfire Hurricane, it might get a lot worse.