Garland said the report detailed “serious problems” with applications for the FISA surveillance warrants and how they were “documented.”
Graham then turned his attention to former FBI Director James Comey and asked, “Based on your review of the Horowitz report, do you think Jim Comey was a good FBI director?”
“Senator, I really don’t want to get into analyzing any of the previous directors,” Garland responded.
However, the South Carolina senator retorted, “I just find it pretty stunning that you can’t say, in my view, that he was a terrible FBI director.”
Despite Garland’s refusal to weigh in on Comey’s job as the head of the FBI, Graham said he is “very inclined to support” his nomination.
Watch the exchange below:
CONFIRMATION:— Forbes (@Forbes) February 22, 2021
Sen. Graham: “Do you think Jim Comey was a good FBI director?
Merrick Garland: “Senator, I really don’t want to get into analyzing any of the previous directors.”
Graham: “…I just find it pretty stunning that you can’t say that he was a terrible FBI director.” pic.twitter.com/81vvlf9tkK
In December 2019, Horowitz released a report outlining the findings of his investigation into the FBI’s 2016 “Crossfire Hurricane” probe of alleged ties between then-candidate Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian officials.
Horowitz said he did not find evidence that political bias was involved in the investigation. However, he did reveal that he discovered there were 17 errors and omissions in the FISA surveillance warrant application for former Trump aide Carter Page.
During an interview on Fox News after Horowitz released that report, Comey said it detailed “real sloppiness” in the FBI’s handling of FISA surveillance warrant applications.
“If I were director, I’d be very concerned about it and diving into it,” he added.
Comey was also pressed on his 2018 claims that FBI agents were “responsible” in how they processed surveillance warrant applications.
“I was overconfident in the procedures that the FBI and (Department of) Justice have built over 20 year years. I thought they were robust enough,” he said.
And during a Senate hearing in September 2020, Comey was pressed on whether he was responsible for the errors laid out in Horowitz’s report as he was the FBI director at the time they occurred.
He responded, “I hope you don’t hear me to say, ‘I’m not responsible.’ I was the leader of that institution, so this reflects on me entirely, and it’s my responsibility.”
Still, he said he “took comfort in the complexity of the layers and layers of review and oversight associated with FISA” and that he “did not do enough” to ensure regulations around the surveillance warrants were being followed.