Watchdog report: FBI’s Russia probe justified, no bias found

National/World

FILE – In this June 19, 2018, file photo, Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz testifies before a joint House Committee on the Judiciary and House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI was justified in opening its investigation into ties between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia and did not act with political bias, despite “serious performance failures” up the bureau’s chain of command, the Justice Department’s internal watchdog said in a highly anticipated report Monday. The findings undercut President Donald Trump’s claim that he was the target of a “witch hunt.”

The report from the Justice Department’s inspector general revealed for the first time that the FBI had also sent an informant to record a conversation with a “high-level Trump campaign official,” who was not considered a subject in the Russia probe. The official was not identified by name.

The report also found the bureau was justified in eavesdropping on a former Trump adviser and that there was not documented or testimonial evidence of any political bias.

Yet its nuanced conclusions deny a clear-cut vindication for either side, on the one hand repudiating theories and criticism spread by Trump and his supporters while also finding errors and misjudgments likely to be exploited by Republican allies as the president faces a probable impeachment vote this month.

The president has also sought to downplay expectations, saying repeatedly that he was more eager for the report of John Durham, the hand-picked prosecutor selected by Attorney General William Barr to conduct a separate review of the Russia probe.

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