Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz released his long-anticipated report this week on the origins of the infamous Trump-Russia investigation. In the report, Horrowitz determined that the FBI investigation, known internally as Crossfire Hurricane, began based on information from an Australian diplomat. But Fox News is continuing to lie about the origins of the investigation, falsely claiming that it was based on abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
Though the report does document incidents of FBI officials mishandling FISA applications, it is clear that misconduct involving the FISA application for Trump campaign official Carter Page did not trigger the investigation, counter to right-wing media claims.
In reality, the investigation was triggered after Australian diplomat Alexander Downer said Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos told him that Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton. The report clearly states that “this information provided the FBI with an articulable factual basis that, if true, reasonably indicated activity constituting either a federal crime or a threat to national security, or both, may have occurred or may be occurring.” The report also claims that investigators “did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced this decision” to open the probe.
However, Fox & Friends is still insisting that Page’s FISA warrant triggered the investigation, falsely concluding that there would be no Russia investigation without it. This fits with Fox News’ broader strategy when faced with the Horowitz report, which debunks many long-standing right-wing media talking points: lie and pretend that it doesn’t.
Fox & Friends’ guest later in the December 12 episode, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), claimed that Democrats “bought themselves an FBI investigation" using a dossier about Trump compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele and then “fed it to the FBI, and the FBI used it to get surveillance of the Trump campaign.” Though the Steele dossier was used to obtain the FISA warrant for Page, the Horowitz report is clear that the investigation was then already underway based on the allegations against Papadopoulos, who later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.