By Ronn Blitzer
Published December 15, 2019
At the conclusion of a tense interview on "Fox News Sunday," former FBI Director James Comey took a shot at Attorney General Bill Barr over his condemnation of the FBI's conduct during the Russia investigation.
Comey repeatedly defended the men and women of his former agency throughout the segment and appeared to take particular offense to Barr's comment that the inaccuracies and omissions in the FBI's applications for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants for former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page may have been committed in bad faith.
"He does not have a factual basis as the Attorney General of the United States to be speculating that agents acted in bad faith," Comey said. "The facts just aren't there, full stop."
It was during an NBC News interview that aired Tuesday where Barr said, "These irregularities, these misstatements, these omissions were not satisfactorily explained, and I think that leaves open the possibility to infer bad faith."
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said he did not have documentary or testimonial evidence that showed there was any political bias behind the opening of the Russia investigation, but he told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the issue of bias “gets murkier” when it comes to the various issues with the FISA process. These issues included the use of unverified information compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, which had been called into question by one of Steele's own sources, the failure to include exculpatory information about Page, and the altering of an email chain to hide key information about Page working with the CIA.
Despite this, Comey blasted Barr for claiming that these failures could possibly have been done in bad faith.
"That's an irresponsible statement," he said.
Comey defended the FBI even when presented with contradictory claims from Horowitz's report. He claimed that the FBI did not intentionally commit wrongdoing, but described the FBI's failures as "real sloppiness." He said the Horowitz report "did not find misconduct by any FBI people," rather just "mistakes and negligence."
Host Chris Wallace was quick to remind Comey that attorney Kevin Clinesmith was referred for criminal investigation for the doctored email. Comey said, "that's not been resolved."
He also admitted that Horowitz's report showed he was "overconfident" when he defended his former agency's FISA use. The report detailed concerns that included 17 “significant errors and omissions” by the FBI’s investigative team when applying for the FISA warrant on Page.
"He's right, I was wrong," Comey said about how the FBI used the FISA process, adding, "I was overconfident as director in our procedures," and that what happened "was not acceptable."
Fox News' Chris Wallace contributed to this report.