President Donald Trump lashed out Tuesday at FBI Director Chris Wray over his characterization of a Justice Department inspector general report on the early days of the Russia investigation, claiming in a tweet early Tuesday the bureau is “badly broken” and incapable of being fixed.
The Department of Justice's internal watchdog concluded in its report issued Monday that the FBI investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia was legitimate and did not act with political bias, undercutting Trump’s repeated claims that he has been the target of a “witch hunt.”
However, the report also identified problems that are “unacceptable and unrepresentative of who we are as an institution,” Wray said in detailing changes the bureau plans to make in response.
“I don't know what report current Director of the FBI Christopher Wray was reading, but it sure wasn't the one given to me," Trump wrote on Twitter. “With that kind of attitude, he will never be able to fix the FBI, which is badly broken despite having some of the greatest men & women working there!"
Wray, who Trump tapped to replace ousted FBI Director James Comey in 2017, said the FBI had cooperated fully with the inspector general and accepted all its recommendations.
Wray said the FBI would make changes to how it handles confidential informants, how it applies for warrants from the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, how it conducts briefings on foreign influence for presidential nominees and how it structures sensitive investigations like the 2016 Russia probe. He said he has also reinstated ethics training.
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“I am very committed to the FBI being agile in its tackling of foreign threats,” Wray said. “But I believe you can be agile and still scrupulously follow our rules, policies and processes.”
He said that though it was important to not lose sight of the fact that Inspector General Michael Horowitz found the investigation justified and did not find it to be tainted by political bias, “The American people rightly expect that the FBI, when it acts to protect the country, is going to do it right — each time, every time.
“And,” he added, "urgency is not an excuse for not following our procedures.”
Attorney General Willian Barr leveled blistering criticism at how the Russia investigation was conducted, telling NBC News Tuesday it was launched based on a “bogus narrative” and saying that he still believed the FBI may have operated out of "bad faith."
Barr, a vocal defender of the president, largely dismissed Horowitz's findings that political bias did not influence the decision to launch an investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, saying the final determination would come once his hand-picked prosecutor, John Durham, has completed his separate probe into the origin of the investigation.
Durham’s inquiry has been under intense political scrutiny. The investigation of the investigators has riled congressional Democrats, who say the Justice Department has lost its independence and become a vehicle for Trump’s political revenge.
While it is not clear why Durham's appointment by Barr was necessary, given that the inspector general's independent investigation, his suggestion that Durham's findings will supersede the Justice Department watchdog's finding is bound to fuel further debate about whether the attorney general is himself acting in good faith, or as a political hatchet man for Trump.
The report found that the FBI was justified in opening its investigation in the summer of 2016 into whether the Trump campaign was coordinating with Russia to tip the election in the president's favor. But it also identified “serious performance failures” up the bureau's chain of command, including 17 “significant inaccuracies or omissions” in applications for a warrant from the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor the communications of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page and subsequent warrant renewals.
The errors, the watchdog said, resulted in “applications that made it appear that the information supporting probable cause was stronger than was actually the case.”
Wray declined to say if there was one problem or criticism that he found most troubling, but noted, “As a general matter, there are a number of things in the report that in my view are unacceptable and unrepresentative of who we are as an institution."
“This is a serious report,” he added, “and we take it serious.”
In an interview with ABC News Monday, Wray also pushed back on a theory Trump and his Republican allies have promoted that in recent weeks that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election.
"We have no information that indicates that Ukraine interfered with the 2016 presidential election," he told the network.
Wray urged the American people to be "thoughtful consumers of information," by taking into account the source of the information "and to think about the support and predication for what they hear."