WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI was justified in opening its investigation into ties between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia and did not act with political bias, despite “serious performance failures” up the bureau’s chain of command, the Justice Department’s internal watchdog said in a highly anticipated report Monday.
The findings undercut President Donald Trump’s claim that he was the target of a “witch hunt.”
Yet its nuanced conclusions deny a clear-cut vindication for Trump’s supporters or critics. It rejects theories and criticism spread by Trump and his supporters while also finding errors and misjudgments likely to be exploited by Republican allies as the president faces a probable impeachment vote this month.
The president has also sought to downplay expectations, saying repeatedly that he was more eager for the report of John Durham, the hand-picked prosecutor selected by Attorney General William Barr to conduct a separate review of the Russia probe.
Barr rejected the inspector general’s conclusion that there was sufficient evidence to open the investigation.
“The Inspector General’s report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken,” Barr said in a statement.