In this week’s fact-checking video, CNN’s Jake Tapper looks at President Donald Trump’s claims, past and current, about the FBI’s now-concluded investigation into the Trump campaign, and how his statements compare with the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General report on that investigation.
At a Dec. 10 campaign rally in Pennsylvania, Trump said that “the FBI failed to disclose the nature of the political hit job to the FISA court,” referring to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that established secret courts to authorize surveillance warrants to intelligence agencies investigating matters involving national security. The FBI obtained approval for surveillance of one person — Carter Page, a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser — during its investigation of whether Trump campaign officials coordinated with Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
Trump is correct that the FBI failed to disclose some exculpatory material about Page in its FISA application. The IG report detailed at least 17 “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in the four FISA applications targeting Page.
However, the IG report also found no “documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation” influenced the opening of the investigation or decision-making during it.
As for past comments on the Russia investigation, Trump tweeted in March 2018 that the special counsel investigation of possible campaign coordination with Russia “was based on fraudulent activities and a Fake Dossier paid for by Crooked Hillary and the DNC.” That’s false. The IG report said it “determined that Steele’s reports played no role in the Crossfire Hurricane opening.”
The FBI investigation, the report said, was launched based on information from a “Friendly Foreign Government” about George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, claiming the Russians had damaging information on Hillary Clinton.
In four tweets on March 4, 2017, Trump alleged “that [President Barack] Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower” during the campaign. Trump called this a “fact,” and compared the alleged wiretapping to the criminal acts of “Nixon/Watergate.” That’s false. The IG report said it found no evidence of illegal surveillance of the Trump campaign — before or after the FBI opened its investigation on July 31, 2016.
During a Dec. 11 hearing, Inspector General Michael Horowitz also dismissed Trump’s claim about Obama wiretapping his phones at the Trump campaign headquarters at Trump Tower. “We didn’t find any evidence the FBI had tapped any other phones or anything else other than the FISA [application for Page] that we addressed,” he said.
For more about the IG report, please see our stories “How Old Claims Compare to IG Report” and “Trump Misleads Rallygoers on IG Report, Impeachment.”
CNN’s “State of the Union” and FactCheck.org launched a partnership in 2015 to produce online fact-checking videos. All of the videos are available on our website.