Fact check: Inspector general debunked Kevin McCarthy's claim that the FBI 'broke into' Trump's campaign

Article Image

CNN's Chris Cuomo debunks House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's claim that the FBI "broke into" the Trump campaign.

Posted: Dec 24, 2019 8:50 AM
Updated: Dec 24, 2019 8:50 AM

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on Fox News on Sunday: "If you pause for one moment and you read this IG (inspector general) report by Horowitz. Here's the FBI; they broke into President Trump -- at the time candidate Trump's -- campaign, spied on him, and then they covered it up. It is a modern-day Watergate." He added, "They broke into his campaign by bringing people into it. They have been trying to cover it up for the whole time."

McCarthy, a Republican congressman from California, used similar language when he tweeted out the video clip: "The FBI broke into President Trump's campaign, spied on him, then tried to cover it up. This is a modern-day Watergate." The tweet went viral, generating more than 32,000 retweets by Monday morning.

But the very inspector general report McCarthy urged people to read as proof of his "broke into" allegation specifically debunks that allegation.

Facts First: Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz found no evidence the FBI "broke into" the Trump campaign while investigating the campaign's relationship with Russia. In addition to finding no physical break-in like the one that occurred at the Democratic National Committee office at the Watergate complex in 1972, Horowitz found no evidence that any member of the FBI investigation ever even suggested inserting informants into the Trump campaign.

Horowitz's report said that "all" of the witnesses his team interviewed said "that the FBI did not try to recruit members of the Trump campaign as CHSs (confidential human sources), did not send CHSs to collect information in Trump campaign headquarters or Trump campaign spaces, and did not ask CHSs to join the Trump campaign or otherwise attend campaign related events as part of the investigation."

Horowitz added that "we found no information indicating otherwise."

"Spied"

The word "spied" is more subjective than the phrase "broke into," since "spied" can be used to describe both illegal and legal secret collection of information.

The inspector general found that the FBI opened individual investigative cases into four people affiliated with Trump's campaign -- campaign chairman Paul Manafort and foreign policy advisers George Papadopoulos, Carter Page and Michael Flynn -- and used confidential human sources and undercover employees to interact with Page, Papadopoulos, and with "a high-level Trump campaign official who was not a subject of the investigation."

The FBI also obtained authorization under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to conduct electronic surveillance of Page -- though the first of the four FISA applications, in October 2016, came more than three weeks after Page told The Washington Post he was taking a leave of absence from the campaign. The inspector general found "at least 17 significant errors or omissions" in the four FISA applications related to Page.

Page has not been charged with a crime. Papadopoulos and Flynn, who became Trump's first White House national security adviser, pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI. Manafort was convicted at trial of financial crimes and pleaded guilty to additional crimes.

Attorney General William Barr said in an interview with NBC earlier this month that the campaign was "clearly spied upon," arguing that "wiring people up to go in and talk to people and make recordings of their conversations," and going through people's emails, "is spying." He told the Senate Judiciary Committee in May that he doesn't think the word spying is "pejorative," calling it "a good English word that in fact doesn't have synonyms because it is the broadest word incorporating really all forms of covert intelligence collection."

Speaking to Congress and to journalists, FBI Director Christopher Wray has pushed back on Barr's choice of words. He told ABC in an interview earlier this month that "different people have different colloquial terms, but we use terms like 'investigation' and 'surveillance.'"

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 34830

Reported Deaths: 2143
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9900581
Lake3639190
Allen166269
Cass15877
Elkhart132228
St. Joseph128634
Hendricks117171
Hamilton116293
Johnson1115109
Madison59359
Porter54328
Bartholomew51535
Clark50541
LaPorte43824
Howard41528
Tippecanoe4143
Jackson3921
Delaware38539
Shelby37322
Hancock34027
Floyd31839
Boone31535
Vanderburgh2822
Morgan28024
Montgomery24517
Noble23721
White2378
Clinton2331
Decatur22431
Grant21323
Dubois1993
Harrison19422
Henry18411
Greene16925
Vigo1698
Dearborn16821
Warrick16628
Monroe16612
Lawrence16524
Kosciusko1501
Miami1401
Putnam1377
Jennings1304
Orange13022
Scott1203
Marshall1112
Franklin1108
Ripley1096
Carroll932
Daviess9216
Wayne855
LaGrange842
Steuben842
Wabash792
Fayette787
Newton7810
Jasper681
Jay530
Washington521
Clay511
Fulton491
Randolph483
Rush472
Pulaski460
Jefferson451
Whitley433
Starke393
DeKalb371
Sullivan361
Owen351
Perry330
Brown331
Wells320
Benton310
Huntington282
Knox280
Blackford262
Tipton251
Crawford240
Fountain212
Switzerland200
Spencer201
Parke180
Gibson172
Adams171
Posey160
Ohio130
Warren121
Martin110
Vermillion100
Union90
Pike60
Unassigned0167

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 121234

Reported Deaths: 5412
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook784953658
Lake8408292
DuPage7765374
Kane6404178
Will5613277
Winnebago229055
McHenry158572
St. Clair115282
Kankakee91548
Kendall80419
Rock Island66124
Champaign6457
Madison59460
Boone46317
DeKalb4184
Sangamon35029
Jackson28910
Randolph2694
Peoria2389
McLean22013
Ogle2113
Stephenson2092
Macon19419
Clinton18617
Union15511
LaSalle15313
Whiteside14213
Iroquois1324
Coles12715
Out of IL1181
Warren1170
Jefferson10116
Knox1010
Grundy992
Monroe9612
Unassigned930
McDonough8911
Lee811
Cass730
Tazewell735
Henry690
Williamson672
Pulaski560
Marion500
Jasper457
Macoupin452
Adams441
Perry410
Vermilion401
Montgomery391
Morgan361
Christian354
Livingston342
Jo Daviess320
Douglas280
Jersey241
Fayette213
Woodford212
Ford201
Menard200
Mason180
Washington180
Hancock170
Mercer170
Shelby161
Bureau151
Carroll152
Schuyler130
Bond121
Franklin120
Clark110
Crawford110
Fulton110
Logan110
Moultrie110
Piatt110
Brown100
Cumberland100
Johnson90
Wayne91
Alexander80
Henderson80
Effingham71
Massac70
Saline70
Greene50
Marshall50
Wabash50
De Witt40
Lawrence40
Richland30
Stark30
Clay20
Edwards20
Gallatin20
Hamilton20
White20
Calhoun10
Edgar10
Hardin10
Pike10
Pope10
Putnam10
Terre Haute
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 72°
Robinson
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 73°
Indianapolis
Scattered Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 70°
Rockville
Clear
69° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 69°
Casey
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 72°
Brazil
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 72°
Marshall
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 72°
Sunny and Hot!
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events