In this Wednesday, May 3, 2017, photo, then-FBI Director James B. Comey pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) ** FILE ** Jeff Mordock
Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said Wednesday that he referred former FBI Director James B. Comey for criminal prosecution this year after concluding he leaked sensitive materials to a friend.
And the Justice Department watchdog told Congress he would “assess” Republican allegations of inconsistent statements in Mr. Comey’s testimony before the Senate.
Mr. Horowitz’s disclosure that he made the criminal referral marks his first public statement about the criticism lodged against Mr. Comey in a report released last summer. He told lawmakers it is standard practice to make a criminal referral when wrongdoing is suspected.
“We are required by the [Inspector General] Act to send information that we’ve identified that could plausibly be criminal to the Department of Justice,” Mr. Horowitz said.
The Justice Department ultimately decided not to prosecute Mr. Comey despite the conclusion by Mr. Horowitz’s team that he improperly leaked information to the news media. The documents leaked by Mr. Comey were sensitive but not classified.
Mr. Comey in May 2017 asked a law professor friend to share with The New York Times a memo detailing his conversations with President Trump to pressure the Justice Department to open an investigation of the president.
In a report released last month, Mr. Horowitz wrote that the former FBI director “set a dangerous example” when he shared the memos to push the Justice Department to act.
Testifying before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, the Justice Department watchdog said Mr. Comey’s behavior was worrisome.
“Our concern was empowering FBI directors or, frankly, any FBI employee with the authority to decide they are not going to follow established norms and procedures because, in their view, they’ve made a judgment that the individuals they are dealing with can’t be trusted,” he said.
When asked if Mr. Comey’s holding the highest position in the bureau added to his concern, Mr. Horowitz confirmed it had.
Rep. Jody Hice, Georgia Republican, called Mr. Horowitz’s revelation of the criminal referral of Mr. Comey “monumental.”
Rep. Mark Meadows, North Carolina Republican, asked Mr. Horowitz if he would look into allegations Mr. Comey was inconsistent during Senate testimony. Mr. Meadows said he believes there were “a number” of times when the ex-FBI director’s testimony did not match revelations included in the inspector general report.
For example, Mr. Meadows said the then-FBI director denied opening an obstruction of justice probe based on comments Mr. Trump made to him. But Mr. Horowitz’s team found Mr. Comey leaked memos of his conversations with the president to get a special counsel appointed.
“I’m finding just a number of irregularities,” Mr. Meadows said. “So would it be appropriate if ranking member Jordan and I were to refer those inconsistencies to the IG and if we did that, would the IG look at those inconsistencies?”
Mr. Horowitz said he would look into the matter.
“It is certainly appropriate for us to get a referral about a then-employee of the department and then we would assess it,” he said.
When asked if he knew of another FBI director referred for criminal prosecution, Mr. Horowitz said he did not.
Mr. Horowitz also fielded a few questions about his upcoming investigation into alleged Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act abuses by the Justice Department and FBI. He revealed little about his findings, which are expected to be released this month.
The FBI and Justice Department are reviewing his conclusions, Mr. Horowitz said, adding they will decide how much of his findings will be classified.
Trudeau apologized after a 2001 photo emerged in a Time magazine report showing him wearing brownface makeup to an “Arabian Nights” party at the private school where he was teaching.
"I shouldn't have done that. I should have known better, but I didn't and I'm really sorry," Trudeau told reporters. "I take responsibility for my decision to do that. I shouldn't have done that. I should've known better. It was something that I didn't think was racist at the time but now I recognize that it was something racist to do and I'm deeply sorry."
Lemon expressed his pleasant shock that a "leader" would apologize and knocked the U.S. leader in the process.
"Wow, a leader apologizing. It seems odd, doesn't it?" Lemon reacted. "Because we have one who doesn't."
The CNN panel also offered a defense for Trudeau, with commentators stressing that "context matters" and stressed that Trudeau's photo was vastly different from Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's 1986 blackface photo.
Before wrapping up the segment, however, Lemon reiterated his praise for Trudeau.
"I do have to say this before we go: think about it however you want to think about it. When someone apologizes- wow!" Lemon said to the panel. "We don't often see that here, especially in a world leader who is saying 'I should've known better and I'm sorry.' You can feel about it however you want, but that, to me, that does mean a lot."
Fox News' Morgan Phillips contributed to this report.
No slugfest is too off-topic or trivial for the president President Donald Trump points to the cheering crowd as he leaves an Independence Day celebration in front of the Lincoln Memorial, Thursday, July 4, 2019, in Washington. Trump roused a political tempest when he decided to plant himself squarely in Independence Day observances with a speech from the Lincoln Memorial. His words from that platform, though, were strikingly measured, except for some befuddlement over American military history. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) ** FILE ** Victor Davis Hanson
Donald Trump is waging a nonstop, all-encompassing war against progressive culture, in magnitude analogous to what 19th-century Germans once called a Kulturkampf.
As a result, not even former President George W. Bush has incurred the degree of hatred from the left that is now directed at President Trump. For most of his time in office, Mr. Trump, his family, his friends and his businesses have been investigated, probed, dissected and constantly attacked.
In 2016 and early 2017, Barack Obama appointees in the FBI, CIA and Department of Justice tried to subvert the Trump campaign, interfere with his transition and, ultimately, abort his presidency. Now, congressional Democrats promise impeachment before the 2020 election.
The usual reason for such hatred is said to be Mr. Trump’s unorthodox and combative take-no-prisoners style. Critics detest his crude and unfettered assertions, his lack of prior military or political experience, his attacks on the so-called bipartisan administrative state, and his intent to roll back the entire Obama-era effort of “fundamentally transforming” the country leftward.
Certainly, Mr. Trump’s agenda of closing the border, using tariffs to overturn a half-century of Chinese mercantilism and pulling back from optional overseas military interventions variously offends both Democrats and establishment Republicans.
Mr. Trump periodically and mercurially fires his top officials. He apparently does not care whether the departed write damning memoirs or join his opposition. He will soon appoint his fourth national security adviser within just three years.
To make things worse for his critics, Mr. Trump’s economy is booming as never before in the new 21st century: Near-record-low unemployment, a record number of Americans working, increases in workers’ wages and family incomes, low interest rates, low inflation, steady GDP growth and a strong stock market.
Yet, the real source of Trump derangement syndrome is his desire to wage a multifront pushback — politically, socially, economically and culturally — against what might be called the elite postmodern progressive world.
Contemporary elites increasingly see nationalism and patriotism as passe. Borders are 19th-century holdovers.
The European Union, not the U.S. Constitution, is seen as the preferable model to run a nation. Transnational and global organizations are wiser on environmental and diplomatic matters than is the U.S. government.
The media can no longer afford to be nonpartisan and impartial in its effort to rid America of a reactionary such as Mr. Trump, given his danger to the progressive future.
America’s ancient sins can never really be forgiven. In a new spirit of iconoclasm, thousands of buildings, monuments and statues dedicated to American sinners of the past must be destroyed, removed or renamed.
A new America supposedly is marching forward under the banner of ending fossil fuels, curbing the Second Amendment, redistributing income, promoting identity politics and open borders, and providing free college, free health care and abortion on demand.
An insomniac Trump fights all of the above nonstop and everywhere. In the past, Republican presidents sought to slow the progressive transformation of America but despaired of ever stopping it.
No slugfest is too off-topic or trivial for Mr. Trump. Sometimes that means calling out former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick for persuading NFL stars to kneel during the national anthem. Huge, monopolistic Silicon Valley companies are special Trump targets. Sometimes Mr. Trump enters cul-de-sac Twitter wars with Hollywood has-beens who have attacked him and his policies.
Mr. Trump variously goes after antifa, political correctness on campus, the NATO hierarchy, the radical green movement, Planned Parenthood, American universities and, above all, the media — especially CNN, The Washington Post and The New York Times.
For all the acrimony and chaos — and prognostications of Mr. Trump’s certain failure — a bloodied Trump wins more than he loses. NATO members may hate Mr. Trump, but more are finally paying their promised defense contributions.
In retrospect, many Americans concede that the Iran Deal was flawed and that the Paris climate accord mere virtue signaling. China was long due for a reckoning.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation proved fruitless and was further diminished by Mr. Mueller’s bizarrely incoherent congressional testimony.
Some of the most prominent Trump haters — Michael Avenatti, James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Anthony Scaramucci and Rep. Adam Schiff — either have been discredited or have become increasingly irrelevant.
Mr. Trump has so enraged his Democratic adversaries that the candidates to replace him have moved farther to the left than any primary field in memory. They loathe Mr. Trump, but in their abject hatred he has goaded the various Democratic candidates into revealing their support for the crazy Green New Deal, reparations for slavery, relaxed immigration policies and trillions of dollars in new free stuff.
In a way, the left-wing Democratic presidential candidates understand Mr. Trump best. If he wins his one-man crusade to stop the progressive project, they are finished, and their own party will make the necessary adjustments and then sheepishly drift back toward the center.
• Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, is the author of “The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won” (Basic Books, 2017).
Saudi oil attacks an 'act of war' by Iran, not Yemen rebels, Pompeo claims
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday doubled down on accusations Iran is responsible for the weekend bombing on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, telling reporters that the strike was “an act of war.”
Pompeo, speaking from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, added that even if the "fraudulent claims" of responsibility by the Yemen Houthi rebels were true, "it doesn't change the fingerprints of the [Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] as having put at risk the global energy supply."
His comments come hours after President Trump tweeted that he had ordered Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to “substantially increase sanctions” on Iran, amid escalating tensions between the two countries.
“Well, it’s looking that way,” the president told reporters at the White House on Monday when asked if Iran was responsible. “We’ll let you know definitively.” He added: “That’s being checked out right now.”
Iran, who has repeatedly denied involvement in the bombings, warned Wednesday that it would "immediately" retaliate against the United States if Tehran is targeted over a crippling weekend attack on Saudi oil facilities.
“Iran’s response will be prompt and strong, and it may include broader areas than the source of attacks,” Iran’s Mehr News Agency reported.
Tehran’s Fars News Agency added that any response would be “rapid and crushing.”
Meanwhile, Saudi officials alleged on Wednesday that Iranian cruise missiles and drones were behind the attack on Sunday, showing journalists remains of the weapons. However, they stopped short of directly accusing Iran of launching the assault.
Saudi military spokesman Col. Turki al-Malki said the attack "came from the north," without saying specifically where it originated. Iraq and Iran are to the north of Saudi Arabia across the Persian Gulf.
"The attack could not have originated from Yemen," he said, disputing the claim by Yemen's Iranian-backed Houthi rebels that they launched the weapons.
Remains of what was described as a misfired Iranian cruise missile used in an attack this weekend that targeted the heart of Saudi Arabia's oil industry, is displayed during a press conference by Saudi military spokesman Col. Turki al-Malki, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. Though Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed the assault, the U.S. alleges Iran was behind it. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
Saudi officials said the cruise missile, which had what appeared to be a jet engine attached to it, was a land-attack cruise missile that failed to explode.
"Almost certainly it's Iranian-backed," Prince Khalid bin Bandar, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United Kingdom, told the BBC. "We are trying not to react too quickly because the last thing we need is more conflict in the region."
Cmdr. Joshua Frey, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, declined to comment on the Saudi announcement, saying it "would be inappropriate to comment on the status of individual nations and the nature of any potential support."
Journalists film what Saudi military spokesman Col. Turki al-Malki said was evidence of Iranian weaponry used in the attack targeted Saudi Aramco's facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais, during a press conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
Iran’s state-run news agency also reported that the country’s president and the foreign minister may not be able to attend next week’s high-level meetings at the United Nations because the U.S. has yet to issue them valid visas.
As the host of the U.N.'s headquarters, the U.S. is mandated to offer world leaders and diplomats visas to attend meetings there. But as tensions have risen, the U.S. has put increasing restrictions on Iranians like Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Since becoming Iran's president in 2013, Hassan Rouhani has spoken each year at the General Assembly.
The U.N. meeting had been viewed as an opportunity for direct talks between Rouhani and Trump amid of a summer of heightened tensions and attacks in the wake of America’s unilateral withdrawal from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers a year ago.
However, the likelihood of such talks decreased dramatically following the Saudi oil attack, U.S. accusations that Iran was behind it and hardening comments from Iran. Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have claimed the attack was in response to the Saudi-led war in Yemen, which has sparked the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and killed tens of thousands of people.
Iran sent a note through Swiss diplomats in Tehran on Monday, reiterating that Tehran denies being involved in the Saudi attack, IRNA reported. The Swiss have looked after American interests in Tehran for decades.
Pompeo is traveling to Saudi Arabia for meetings after Saturday's attack, which hit a Saudi oil field and the world's largest crude oil processing plant.
The coalition aims to secure the broader Persian Gulf region. It includes surveillance of the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a fifth of the world's oil travels, and the Bab el-Mandeb, another narrow strait that connects the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden off Yemen and East Africa.
The U.S. blames Iran for the apparent limpet mine explosions on four vessels in May and another two in June sailing in the Gulf of Oman near the Strait of Hormuz, something Iran denies being behind. Iran also seized a British-flagged oil tanker and another based in the United Arab Emirates after the British seized a tanker carrying Iranian oil.
In Tehran, Rouhani told his Cabinet that Saudi Arabia should see the weekend attack as a warning to end its war in Yemen, where it has fought the Houthi rebels since 2015 and sought to restore the internationally recognized government.
Rouhani said Yemenis "did not hit hospitals, they did not hit schools or the Sanaa bazaar," referring to the Saudi-led coalition's widely criticized airstrikes on civilian targets.
He added that Iran does not want conflict in the region, but it was the Saudi-led coalition that "waged the war in the region and ruined Yemen." Saying the Houthis were responsible for the drone strikes, he said: "They attacked an industrial center to warn you. Learn the lesson from the warning."
Iran's defense minister, Gen. Amir Hatami, also denied his country launched the attack, saying the Houthis had the capability to launch the assault.
Wednesday's announcements come after Saudi Arabia's energy minister said late Tuesday that more than half of the country's daily crude oil production that was knocked out by an attack had been recovered. He said production capacity at the targeted plants would be fully restored by the end of the month, in part by drawing from Saudi reserves of crude oil.
Pompeo was due to land in the Red Sea city of Jiddah, where he was scheduled to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Pompeo will later travel to the United Arab Emirates on Thursday to meet with Abu Dhabi's powerful crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Both nations are U.S. allies and have been fighting against the Houthis in Yemen.
Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Tuesday that U.S. military experts were in Saudi Arabia working with their counterparts to "do the forensics on the attack" -- gleaning evidence that could help build a convincing case for where the weapons originated.
A Saudi military officer walks by what was described asa the remains of Iranian cruise missiles and drones used in an attack this weekend that targeted the heart of Saudi Arabia's oil industry, during a press conference by military spokesman Col. Turki al-Malki in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. Though Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed the assault, the U.S. alleges Iran was behind it. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
On Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron's office announced experts from his nation would be traveling to Saudi Arabia to help the kingdom shed light "on the origin and methods" of the attacks. France has been trying to find a diplomatic solution to the tensions between Iran and the U.S., so any conclusion they draw could be used as a third-party assessment of what happened.