WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Monday that a new Justice Department report that found a solid legal basis for the original FBI investigation of his 2016 campaign had actually documented an "attempted overthrow" of the government that was "far worse than I ever thought possible."
"We're lucky we caught 'em," he said at the White House, following the release of the long-awaited report by the Justice Department's watchdog that rebutted his regular depiction of a politically biased plot against him.
The report by the Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz concluded that the FBI and the Justice Department launched their investigation into the 2016 campaign not for political reasons, but due to evidence the Russian government was using go-betweens to reach out to the Trump campaign as part of its efforts to influence the election.
The finding undercut repeated claims by Trump has his allies that the Russia investigation was a politically-motivated "witch hunt" designed to prevent him from becoming president and that his campaign was spied on by the Obama administration.
Trump sought to shift focus to the report's finding that the FBI mishandled parts of its application to monitor a former Trump campaign aide as it probed possible Russian interference in the 2016 election, rather than focusing on the conclusion that the overall investigation was justified and not politically motivated.
Just months into his presidency. Trump claimed that President Barack Obama had his phones lines tapped in Trump Tower, a claim he said earlier this year "turned out to be true," despite no evidence of any such action. Today's report said that was not the case.
Before the report was released, Trump had looked to promote it over the impeachment hearings taking place the same day.
"I.G. report out tomorrow. That will be the big story!" he tweeted Sunday.
Trump has also been seeking to shift the focus to another report being carried out by U.S. Attorney John H. Durham, who was appointed by the attorney general to look into the origins of the investigation.
In an unusual move for an investigator who has yet to conclude his work, Durham said in a Monday statement that he had "advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened.”