Former FBI Director James B. Comey on Wednesday took responsibility for what he described as “embarrassing” errors the bureau made in the course of its investigation into President Trump’s 2016 campaign aide Carter Page.
“It’s embarrassing. It’s sloppy. I’m running out of words…,” Mr. Comey said in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. “There is no indication — and the inspector general would say it if he found it — that people were doing bad things on purpose, but that doesn’t make it any less concerning or embarrassing.”
A report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz last year concluded the FBI’s application to surveil Mr. Page was riddled with errors, mistakes and omissions.
The report also found that an FBI lawyer doctored evidence to support the bureau’s theory that Mr. Page was working for Russia and agents also withheld information that undermined the credibility of an unverified anti-Trump dossier, which was a part of the wiretap application.
Mr. Comey insisted he was unaware of the bungling, drawing scoffs from Republicans.
“It was your culture. You were the leaders,” said Sen. Ben Sasse, Nebraska Republican.
“I hope you don’t hear me saying I’m not responsible,” Mr. Comey responded. “I was the leader of that institution so this reflects on me entirely. And it is my responsibility.”
But Mr. Comey also pointed a finger at the FBI’s internal controls, saying they weren’t strong enough to catch the mistakes before the faulty application was submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
“I think all of us, me in particular, took comfort in the complexity of the layers and layers of review and oversight associated with FISA, and I actually think, given that they found problems in every FISA application, what we thought was a good thing was actually a bad thing,” he said.