Press Release

Four Checks & Balances Members Respond to OIG Report, AG Barr’s Statement

December 10, 2019

In response to the recent OIG Report and Attorney General Bill Barr’s statement, four members of Checks & Balances released statements.

Former Assistant and Acting Attorney General Stuart M. Gerson:

Notwithstanding the Inspector General’s findings that certain agents of the FBI misconducted themselves with respect to FISA processes, several significantly more important conclusions stand out. First there was no evidence, testimonial or documentary, that political bias improperly motivated the FBI’s decision to continue a counterintelligence investigation focused on Russian attempts to subvert the American political process and, most importantly, that there was sufficient probable cause from the outset to undertake that investigation. Subsequent events and revelations through the Mueller Report, congressional testimony, and even the actions with respect to indictments by the Trump Justice Department, have validated the necessity of this undertaking. No amount of attention paid to FBI deficiencies should blunt the unrebuttable conclusion that Russia, with whom we are engaged in what fundamentally is a cyber war, has attempted, and in some cases succeeded, in subverting American elections, communications and policy.

Former Deputy Attorney General, Former Deputy Solicitor General, and Former U.S. Attorney Donald B. Ayer:

Once again, as he did with the Mueller investigation report earlier this year, Bill Barr has grossly mischaracterized and subverted the findings of the IG investigation report addressing the FBI investigation into Russian interference in our 2016 election. The report’s headline findings are that the investigation was properly initiated based on a sound factual basis, and that the allegations of “witch hunt” and bias on the part of those overseeing it are without foundation.

Rather than focus on those critical findings which should reassure all Americans, Barr dwells entirely on the report’s further findings that some agents (who he describes as a “small group of now-former” FBI employees) were guilty of misconduct in the manner in which they put forward evidence in some submissions to the FISA court.

Even worse, he expresses his own view, directly at odds with the IG report, that the investigation proceeded on “the thinnest of suspicions,” which in Barr’s view were insufficient to support it. So much for respecting the authority of an independent and impartial investigator, where the outcome he reaches is not the one desired by Barr’s client, Donald Trump.

Former Associate Deputy Attorney General and Former Special Assistant to President Nixon Jonathan C. Rose:

The Attorney General has returned to his playbook of distortion and obfuscation in a transparent effort to undermine the IG’s meticulous fact-based conclusions.

The IG report rebuts in detail the AG’s charge that the FBI’s investigation of the 2016 Trump campaign was unjustified, overly intrusive, or systematically suppressed exculpatory evidence. Had the FBI been truly biased against Trump, it could have prevented his narrow victory simply by leaking before the election that his campaign was under a national security investigation.

This is the first Attorney General in the history of presidential impeachment proceedings to enlist as a partisan warrior on behalf of a President. It is a sad day for those of us who revere the historic commitment of the FBI and the Department of Justice to even-handed law enforcement based on truth and verifiable facts.

Former Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for National Security Carrie F. Cordero:

Yesterday the DOJ Inspector General released a report that found process problems, but not evidence of political bias or systematic abuse of surveillance authorities on the part of the FBI. The FBI Director issued a thoughtful, professional statement committing to rectifying the issues identified by the IG.

President Trump’s tweet attacking FBI Director Wray this morning betrays his own bias: one in favor of personal loyalty and blind partisanship instead of dedication to mission and country. We should not accept as normal or acceptable a political leader who routinely seeks to damage the credibility of the leadership and institutions dedicated to keeping Americans safe.