President Donald Trump on Tuesday lashed out at FBI Director Christopher Wray after the man he chose to lead the bureau backed the findings of an inspector general report that found the investigation into Russian election interference was properly launched.
“I think it’s important that the inspector general found that in this particular instance the investigation was opened with appropriate predication and authorization,” Wray told ABC News hours after the report was released.
Monday’s report by Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz did not find “evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions” to open investigations that initially focused on several Trump campaign advisers.
The 435-page report rebutted Trump’s claims that the FBI illegally spied on his campaign, though it does criticize FBI leaders and employees for how they handled four applications for surveillance under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act targeting campaign aide Carter Page.
Trump — who has attempted to claim victory after the report’s release, calling the Russia investigation an “attempted overthrow” and an “embarrassment” — publicly slammed the FBI director on Twitter Tuesday morning.
“I don’t know what report current Director of the FBI Christopher Wray was reading, but it sure wasn’t the one given to me. With that kind of attitude, he will never be able to fix the FBI, which is badly broken despite having some of the greatest men & women working there!” Trump wrote.
The criticism mirrors that of Attorney General William Barr, who excoriated the FBI on Monday for launching what he called an “intrusive investigation” into a presidential campaign based on the “thinnest of suspicions.”
The distance between Barr and the inspector general on one of the report’s most critical findings marked a striking contrast and helped to create space for Trump and his defenders to continue to argue that the Russia investigation and the special counsel investigation it spawned were fundamentally flawed. The move is reminiscent of Barr’s actions around the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, when the attorney general sought to frame the results of that investigation in the best light possible for Trump.
CNN has reached out to the White House to ask if Trump has asked Wray to resign.
Trump has frequently found himself at odds with his FBI director. In June, he declined to discuss his level of confidence in Wray, saying “we’ll see how it turns out,” referring to the Justice Department’s investigation into the origins of the Russia probe.
Trump also said his FBI director was “wrong” after Wray testified at a May Senate hearing that it would be “wise” for political operatives to inform his agency about attempts by foreign governments to interfere in US elections.
Trump has long had issues with the leadership of the FBI. He fired then-FBI Director James Comey in May 2017, saying in an interview that he was considering “this Russia thing” when he made the decision. He also publicly chastised Andrew McCabe, who became the acting director of the FBI after Comey was dismissed, because McCabe’s wife ran as a Democrat for a state Senate spot in Virginia with the backing of former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a friend of Hillary Clinton and her family.
The IG report released on Monday firmly concluded that there was no political conspiracy to undermine Trump’s 2016 campaign despite more than two years of conspiracy theories pushed by Trump and his allies that the investigation was designed to foil his presidency. The report accused a former FBI lawyer of altering a document related to the surveillance of Page, but Horowitz did not find that it undermined the overall validity of the surveillance.