'I Was Wrong': Former FBI Director James Comey Admits FISA Overstep, Doubles Down on Steele Dossier

Former FBI Director James Comey conceded he was "overconfident" in his defense of his former agency's use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to investigate members of the Trump campaign for Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Comey's Sunday comments followed Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz concluding in his report that three separate teams made errors in the FISA application process that started the investigation into four members of the Trump campaign. "He's right, I was wrong," Comey said of the FBI's use of the FISA process.

But Comey rebuked Fox News anchor Chris Wallace's insistence that Horowitz's report accused him of gross negligence or intending to lie to the FISA court. The IG report found "significant inaccuracies and omissions" in the FISA applications.

"That's why I'm telling you I was wrong, I was overconfident as director in our procedures ... which was not acceptable," Comey said on Fox News Sunday.

Comey, however, repeatedly insisted the FBI's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential Trump campaign ties was initiated in the proper way. But he noted that such a probe has a "low threshold."

The former FBI director used his Fox News appearance to once again rebuke the Trump administration for accusing himself and the FBI of "treason, illegal spying, and of tapping Mr. Trump's wires illegally." Last week, Comey wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post and appeared on CNN to lay out how he believes the Horowitz report vindicated himself and his former agency from the "torrent of smears and falsehoods" directed against them by Trump and his supporters.

Comey said previous comments he made in 2018 regarding the Carter Page FISA warrant being handled appropriately were out of line--"there was real sloppiness," he admitted--before accepting personal responsibility for many of the errors found in the IG report. "As director you are responsible for this, I was responsible for this."

But Comey went on to double-down on the use of ex-British intelligence officer Christopher Steele's dossier, which was a factor in kickstarting the Trump-Russian collusion investigation. Comey and Wallace disagreed on the semantics of the IG report conclusions, with Comey saying, "Steele's reporting was not bunk," based on the findings. He also reiterated previous public claims that downplayed the role of Steele's dossier in the warrant applications, saying the findings were "not a huge part of the presentation to the court."

Comey repeatedly stated on Sunday that the FBI did not intentionally commit wrongdoing, but said members of the agency could be accused of "real sloppiness." He insisted that Horowitz's report found only "mistakes and negligence" rather than misconduct.

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Former FBI Director James Comey conceded he was "overconfident" in his defense of the FBI's use of the FISA court to investigate members of the Trump campaign for Russian interference in the 2016 election. Screenshot: Fox News Sunday
'I Was Wrong': Former FBI Director James Comey Admits FISA Overstep, Doubles Down on Steele Dossier | U.S.