What a whirlwind few days in Washington. Not only did House Democrats on Tuesday unveil the articles of impeachment they’ve been perpetually rewriting for the past three years, the Department of Justice on Monday released its report on the FBI’s investigation of Russian collusion and the Trump campaign.
The former is political theater grounded in partisan grievance and malice. The latter should worry Americans who cherish our constitutional principles.
Progressives and their media stenographers jumped on the Department of Justice’s conclusion that the FBI decision to open a probe into Russia and the Trump campaign was untainted by bias or political considerations. But glossed over in the Resistance’s effort to keep pounding on President Donald Trump were Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s findings that reveal serious abuses by the law enforcement agency and raise red flags about the Star Chamber justice system known as the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
Among other things, Mr. Horowitz’s report found 17 “serious performance failures” related to the FBI’s interaction with the FISA court, which operates without public scrutiny and is charged with handling cases related to foreign espionage within the United States. But the FBI’s Russia probe also involved U.S. citizens working with the Trump campaign.
“That so many basic and fundamental errors were made … raised significant questions regarding the FBI chain of command’s management and supervision of the FISA process,” the report noted.
Mr. Horowitz makes clear that the FBI — to put it charitably — misled FISA court judges in their pursuit of secret warrants to spy on Trump aide Carter Page. Information the agency had on Mr. Page was “inconsistent with, or undercut, the assertions contained in the FISA applications that were used to support probable cause and, in some instances, resulted in inaccurate information being included in the applications,” Mr. Horowitz found.
You don’t need to be a lawyer to translate: The FBI lied to obtain warrants.
The report found “significant problems that are alarming from a civil liberties perspective,” the ACLU said in a press release. “For instance, the litany of problems with the Carter Page surveillance applications demonstrates how the secrecy shrouding the government’s one-sided FISA approval process breeds abuse.”
This is a black eye for the FBI, which must ensure that its “significant authorities” are exercised with “objectivity and integrity,” its director acknowledged. Back to the drawing board in that regard. Meanwhile, Congress should re-examine the entire premise undergirding this system of dark justice with an eye on curtailing potential abuses. On that, both Trump haters and Trump defenders should agree.