Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., reacted Monday night to the highly anticipated release of the findings from Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz’ nearly two-year review concerning the origins of the Russia investigation and the issuance of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants for a Trump campaign official, saying “it is absolutely astounding” that “they thought they could get by with this and that they were not going to be called to account.”
Speaking with Fox News' Shannon Bream hours after the release of the 476-page report, Blackburn also said, “When people look at this report, they say if the swamp is so murky and muddy that you have 17 inaccuracies, 10 of them in the first FISA report, and nobody is being called to account for this. Nobody's being prosecuted. That's a problem.”
Blackburn was referring to the report’s findings that there had been at least 17 "significant inaccuracies and omissions" in the former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page FISA applications.
Still, the inspector general found no intentional misconduct or political bias surrounding either the launch of the Trump-Russia investigation or the efforts to seek the controversial FISA warrant to monitor Page in the early stages of that probe.
The report also concluded that key officials, including former FBI Director James Comey and former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, did not act with political bias. The IG report generally found that agents were justified in launching the investigation known as Crossfire Hurricane, as well as investigations into four Trump associates: Page, former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Former FBI director James Comey seized on the FISA report findings Monday to claim vindication over the bureau’s handling of the Trump-Russia probe in 2016, saying criticism of the probe “was all lies” — even though the inspector general also faulted the FBI’s handling of surveillance warrants in the report.
In response, Blackburn said Monday, “What Jim Comey doesn't understand is people look at this and they say, ‘OK, was this just a series of unfortunate coincidences, which is his claim, or is this actions by the surveillance state?'”
“And I will tell you, when you look at what has happened with them spying on Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, when you look at [House Intelligence Committee Chairman] Adam Schiff going after [House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member] Devin Nunes’ phone records and a journalist's phone records and he's sitting on all of these pages of people's phone records, people are saying, 'if they can do it to them, they can do it to me.'”
She added, “They don't think this is a series of unfortunate coincidences. They think this is the surveillance state in the swamp at work.”
Fox News’ Brooke Singman and Alex Pappas contributed to this report.