Schumer Remarks: DOJ IG Report Should Serve As A Wake-Up Call To Senate Republicans’ “Conspiracy Caucus”

December 9, 2019

Washington, D.C. – Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer today spoke at a press conference about the Department of Justice Inspector General’s report on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Russia inquiry. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

For years, President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress and the media have speculated wildly about “deep state” conspiracies against his presidency. They are based on the claim that the FBI opened an investigation into the president’s campaign with political motives. Today, we just got a report from the Department of Justice Inspector General that puts these conspiracy theories to rest once and for all. This report conclusively debunks the baseless conspiracy that the investigation into Mr. Trump’s campaign and its ties to Russia originated with political bias.

Let me repeat so that all of those conspiracy theorists out there hear it: this report confirms that the predicate for the FBI’s investigation was valid and without political bias. In fact, the report quotes the FBI Deputy General Counsel as saying “[the FBI] would have been derelict in our responsibility had we not opened the case.”

I’m sure my Republican friends will do their level best to reject the report’s conclusion. But FBI Director Wray appointed by President Trump, has already embraced the central finding of the report. Asked whether he thought the FBI unfairly targeted the Trump campaign, Director Wray said “I do not.”

Given their M.O., I’m sure some of my Republican friends will question the integrity of the report’s author, Inspector General Horowitz. But it’s ironic that the same very same people who question the IG report today, like Attorney General Barr, Chairman Graham, have praised the Inspector General in the past. AG Barr said, last week, Horowitz is “a fiercely independent and superb investigator” and Attorney General Barr ought to accept this fiercely independent and superb investigator’s conclusions.

Chairman Graham earlier this year wrote that “he has the utmost confidence in his integrity, fairness, and impartiality.” Senator Graham, because the IG issued a report whose conclusions he doesn’t like, ought to not question what he upheld last week: the integrity, fairness and impartiality of Inspector General Horowitz.

The bottom line is clear: the IG report — written by someone who Republicans repeatedly praised, embraced by the Trump-appointed FBI Director — shows there is no basis for the president’s absurd claim that the investigation into his campaign was a hoax or a conspiracy against him.

Now, this report comes at an important time. Republicans on both sides of the Capitol have engaged in a new defense of the president, this time developed by Vladimir Putin, that Ukraine, not Putin, interfered in the 2016 elections. It doesn’t matter that it’s been debunked over and over again by independent fact checkers in the media, by the Mueller report, by testimony under oath including by senior officials currently serving in the Trump Administration, and again by the IG report today. The president’s defenders have repeated this conspiracy anyway, including, shamefully, several of my colleagues in the Senate.

In an effort to protect the president at all costs, the Grand Old Party in Senate has become the “conspiracy caucus”. One conspiracy theory after another, none of them with basis in fact. It’s no laughing matter. These conspiracies are not harmless. They are sinister, they are insidious, they damage our democracy.

The president has spent three years undermining the credibility and faith in our law enforcement and in our intelligence community and he has forced the DOJ to use resources on those conspiracies. Instead of fighting the opioid epidemic, countering Chinese intellectual property theft and cyber operations, or countering Russian aggression, the DOJ, at the behest of Attorney General Barr, was sent on this wild goose chase.

When Republicans in the Senate repeat the falsehood, invented by Putin’s intelligence services, that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 elections, it helps deflect blame from Putin and drives a wedge between the United States and Ukraine — one of Putin’s top goals. The fact that Senate Republicans are willing to put wild wind into the sails of these baseless conspiracy theories is beyond alarming. It hurts our country. It hurts our country. The IG report today, which roundly debunks one of the president’s wild theories, should serve as a wakeup call to the Republican members of the conspiracy caucus.