Internal Justice watchdog finds that Russia probe was justified, not biased against Trump

WASHINGTON — The FBI mishandled parts of its application to monitor a Trump campaign aide as it was probing possible Russian interference in the 2016 election, but the overall investigation was justified, according to a long-awaited report by the Justice Department’s watchdog that rebuts the president’s depiction of a politically biased plot against him.

In fact, the Justice Department’s watchdog found so many problems with the FBI’s applications to a national security court to conduct secret surveillance on a Trump aide that the inspector general is launching a separate inquiry into how the FBI obtains national security warrants to eavesdrop on American citizens, the report says.

The report also recommends that new guidelines be established for investigations into presidential campaigns. The report says a confidential human source had a conversation with unnamed senior Trump campaign aide who was not a subject of the investigation in September 2016, but nothing came of it.

Still, the report found no evidence that political bias influenced the decision to pursue the warrant on Page. Officials felt that they had to get to the bottom of a potentially serious threat to national security, the report says.

The Horowitz report may not be the last word, however. Attorney General William Barr has appointed a federal prosecutor, John Durham, to conduct a special investigation into the larger question of whether any of the U.S. government efforts to investigate Russian election interference involved improper surveillance of the Trump campaign.

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