Washington—Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today spoke on the committee’s examination of Crossfire Hurricane, the FBI investigation into Russian election interference and ties to the Trump campaign,.
Video of the remarks is available here.
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As you have made abundantly clear, we are here at your request to examine “Crossfire Hurricane” – that’s the FBI investigation into Russian election interference and ties to the Trump campaign.
Let me begin with a bit of history. The president has long claimed that the investigation of his campaign was a “witch hunt” and a “hoax” and has demanded that his allies “investigate the investigators” and other Obama-era officials, including Joe Biden.
As support for this claim, the president and his allies point to errors identified by DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz in FISA surveillance on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
Inspector General Horowitz did, in fact, identify serious errors in the handling of the Carter Page FISA applications. A broader FISA audit revealed that many of these problems are unfortunately widespread. This needs to be fixed, and efforts to do so are already underway in the FBI, Congress and the FISA court itself.
But contrary to the president’s claims that his campaign was unfairly targeted, Inspector General Horowitz found no evidence of political or anti-Trump bias in the “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation.
I’ve watched this IG carefully now since 2012 – that’s eight years – and find him to be independent and believable. And Inspector General Horowitz also confirmed that the opening of the investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia was, in fact, justified.
As Horowitz’s report explains, Australian officials informed the FBI in late July 2016 that Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos was told in April that Russia was willing to “assist the campaign” – meaning assist the Trump campaign – by anonymously releasing “dirt” on Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.”
The FBI learned this one week after WikiLeaks had released 20,000 emails that Russia had hacked from the computers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
The hacks by Russia and the possibility that the Trump campaign knew of Russia’s plans to use the stolen emails to interfere in the 2016 election created a counterintelligence concern that the FBI was obligated to investigate. I think everybody recognizes that.
That counterintelligence investigation eventually became the “Mueller investigation” when – in May 2017 – Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Bob Mueller as special counsel after the President fired FBI Director James Comey.
Mueller’s investigation revealed “sweeping and systematic” interference by Russia in the 2016 election that should cause everyone who is American some deep concern.
Significantly, the special counsel investigation determined that the Russian government “perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome.” That’s from the Mueller Report, volume one, page one.
The investigation uncovered more than 120 contacts between the Trump campaign and individuals linked to Russia, revealing that the Trump campaign knew about, welcomed and “expected it would benefit electorally” from Russia’s interference.
And the investigation established that individuals associated with the Trump campaign lied to Congress, the special counsel and the American people about their contacts with Russia.
IG Horowitz confirmed that none of the FISA errors his investigation uncovered call into question “any part of the special counsel’s report.” And today’s witness, Mr. Rosenstein, has said the special counsel investigation was “justified” and “an important investigation.”
Unfortunately, the president and his allies have been trying to rewrite the special counsel’s findings since the day they were released.
But ignoring or excusing what happened in 2016 is really very dangerous. It puts American democracy and national security at risk.
FBI Director Wray has confirmed that Russia continues to interfere and that its attempts to influence the 2020 election are a “significant counterintelligence threat.” Special Counsel Mueller also warned that Russian interference was happening “as we sit here.”
Yet instead of denouncing foreign interference, President Trump has encouraged – even demanded – it.
In a televised interview following the Mueller Report, President Trump said that there was “nothing wrong” with foreign governments offering political dirt on an opponent, and that he would “take it” – likely without informing the FBI.
The president publicly called on China to investigate Joe Biden, his rival in the 2020 election. That’s in 10/13/19 remarks of the president.
And the president abused presidential authority by withholding critical U.S. military aid and an oval office meeting in an effort to pressure Ukraine’s president into announcing an investigation of Joe Biden.
Unfortunately, it appears that Senate Republicans now plan to spend the next several months bolstering the president’s attack on the Russia investigation and Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
Congress should not conduct politically motivated investigations designed to attack or help any presidential candidate, Mr. Chairman, period.
This would be true at any time – but even more so now, as our nation confronts the brutal police killing of George Floyd and its aftermath and remains in the middle of a public health and economic crisis.”