U.S.

Donald Trump to Fox News: Inspector General's 'Blockbuster' FISA Abuse Report Will Be ‘Bigger Than Watergate’

President Donald Trump used the word “blockbuster” to describe the Inspector General’s forthcoming report on the FBI’s use of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants to surveil Trump's 2016 campaign amd concerns of Russian interference.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz has been investigating whether the FBI abused FISA procedures in its targeted Russian-related surveillance operations, including on at least one former member of Trump’s campaign, foreign policy adviser Carter Page.

The FBI applied under FISA to conduct surveillance on Page—who has denied any wrongdoing—because it believed he had conspired with the Russian government, according to its application in October 2016. It also filed sought renewal warrants after Trump took office.

Horowitz is expected to report his findings in either May or June. Trump and his allies accused former senior members of the FBI, including ex-director James Comey, of obtaining FISA warrants by deceiving the court about the intelligence on which its applications relied.

In an interview on Thursday night with Fox News host Sean Hannity, President Trump called it “the greatest political scandal in the history of our country. Again—bigger than Watergate because it means so much.

“This was a coup. This wasn't stealing information from an office in the Watergate apartments,” he continued. “This was an attempted coup and it's inconceivable. Like a third world country.”

Trump claims the FISA warrants were obtained using faulty intelligence contained in the infamous Steele Dossier, compiled by the former British intelligence official Christopher Steele, and that the FBI was engaged in generalized and politically motivated spying on his campaign.

Horowitz's report may shed light on the extent to which the FBI’s applications to the FISA court relied on the Steele Dossier and how much the judges who signed off on the warrants were told.

Attorney General William Barr testified to Congress on April 10 that he believed there was spying on Trump’s campaign, though he cited no specific evidence and added that he was “not saying that improper surveillance occurred.  

“I am saying I am concerned about it and looking into it. I believe there is a basis for my concern,” Barr continued. “But I’m not going to discuss the basis.”

The president told Hannity that he believed Horowitz, who was appointed by Obama—and who in a previous investigation said he found no bias in the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton emails—was an honorable man.

“I will say that the IG, Inspector General Horowitz, he, other than his conclusion where he said no bias—but he meant that in a different way than you would think—he gave a great report last time,” Trump said on Fox News.

“I don't know him, he was appointed by Obama, that bothers me a little bit, but everything I can see he's really an honorable guy. And I think he knows how big this is.

“I think he knows how big this is. And if he's as honorable as he's supposed to be, the IG report coming out in three or four weeks, from what I hear, is going to be, and should be, and almost has to be a blockbuster because he has access to information that most people don't.”

On Wednesday, the British intelligence agency GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) dismissed a claim repeated by Trump on Twitter that it had assisted in spying on his campaign by the Obama administration.

“As we have previously stated, the allegations that GCHQ was asked to conduct 'wire tapping' against the then-president elect are nonsense. They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored,” a GCHQ spokesperson told Newsweek in a statement.

Donald Trump FISA FBI President Donald Trump on the south lawn of the White House April 25. Trump claimed the Inspector General's report of the use of FISA warrants to conduct surveillance on Trump's campaign would be "bigger than Watergate." Win McNamee/Getty Images

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