Comey: 'Real sloppiness' in Russia probe but no misconduct

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former FBI Director James Comey acknowledged Sunday that a Justice Department inspector general report identified “real sloppiness" in the surveillance of a former Trump campaign aide and said he was wrong to have been “overconfident" about how the Russia investigation was handled.

But Comey also insisted he was right to feel some measure of vindication because the report did not find evidence for the most sensational of President Donald Trump's claims, including that he had been wiretapped and illegally spied on and that the FBI had committed treason in investigating ties between Russia and his 2016 campaign.

“Remember how we got here," Comey said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” “The FBI was accused of criminal misconduct. Remember, I was going to jail, and lots of other people were going to jail."

The inspector general, he added, “did not find misconduct by FBI personnel, did not find political bias, did not find illegal conduct." The significant mistakes the inspector general identified are “not something to sneeze at” but also not evidence of intentional misconduct, Comey said.

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Former FBI Director James Comey is sworn in prior to testifying before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 8: People watch a ticker tape display showing headlines of the days news that former FBI Director James Comey will testify at a Senate hearingon Russia and U.S. President Donald Trump on June 8, 2017 in New York City. Comey said that President Donald Trump pressured him to drop the FBI's investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and demanded Comey's loyalty during the one-on-one meetings he had with president. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
The witness table where former FBI Director James Comey will face the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee and testify on June 8 about his meetings with President Trump sits at the ready in Washington, U.S., June 7, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Senator Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina and chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, center delivers opening remarks before the start of a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing with James Comey, former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), not pictured, in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, June 8, 2017. Comey in prepared remarks to the committee said U.S. President Donald Trump sought his loyalty and urged him to drop the investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
TOPSHOT - Former FBI Director James Comey arrives to testify during a US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington,DC, June 8, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
People wait in line hours aheads of time for the start of former FBI Director James Comey's testimony before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 08: Former United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara attends the Senate Intelligence Committee where FBI Director James Comey is sent to testify in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill June 8, 2017 in Washington, DC. Comey said that President Donald Trump pressured him to drop the FBI's investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and demanded Comey's loyalty during the one-on-one meetings he had with president. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Former FBI Director James Comey prepares to testify before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on "Russian Federation Efforts to Interfere in the 2016 U.S. Elections" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
People wait in line hours aheads of time for the start of former FBI Director James Comey's testimony before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Preparations are made before former FBI Director James Comey testifies during a US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington,DC, June 8, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
James Comey, former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), is sworn in to a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, June 8, 2017. Comey in prepared remarks to the committee said U.S. President Donald Trump sought his loyalty and urged him to drop the investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The gavel and placard for Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina, sit on a table in the hearing room ahead of testimony by former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, June 8, 2017. Comey in prepared remarks to the committee said U.S. President Donald Trump sought his loyalty and urged him to drop the investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Former FBI Director James Comey testifies during a US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, June 8, 2017. Fired FBI director James Comey took the stand Thursday in a crucial Senate hearing, repeating explosive allegations that President Donald Trump badgered him over the highly sensitive investigation Russia's meddling in the 2016 election. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. Capitol police officers stand outside the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing room ahead of testimony by former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, June 8, 2017. Comey in prepared remarks to the committee said U.S. President Donald Trump sought his loyalty and urged him to drop the investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Former FBI Director James Comey arrives to testify during a US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington,DC, June 8, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Senator Mark Warner(C)D-VA and Vice Chairman, Intelligence Committee and Senator Richard Burr(R), Chairman, Intelligence Committee greet former FBI Director James Comey as he arrives to testify during a US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington,DC, June 8, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Former FBI Director James Comey takes the oath before he testifies during a US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington,DC, June 8, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Former FBI Director James Comey takes the oath before he testifies during a US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington,DC, June 8, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
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The report by Inspector General Michael Horowitz concluded that the FBI opened the Russia investigation for a legitimate reason and was not motivated by partisan bias when it did so. But Horowitz also found major errors and omissions in applications the FBI submitted to eavesdrop on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page. Those problems include the omission of key information about the reliability of a source whose information had been relied on for the warrant, and the altering of an email by an FBI lawyer.

Comey said in retrospect that he was wrong when he told an interviewer last year that the applications to the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court were handled in a “thoughtful, responsible way."

“I was overconfident in the procedures that the FBI and Justice had built over 20 years. I thought they were robust enough. It's incredibly hard to get a FISA. I was overconfident in those," Comey said Sunday.

“Because he's right," Comey added, referring to Horowitz. “There was real sloppiness, 17 things that either should've been in the applications or at least discussed and characterized differently. It was not acceptable and so he's right. I was wrong."

Current FBI Director Christopher Wray told The Associated Press last week that the report identified problems that the report found problems that are “unacceptable and unrepresentative of who we are as an institution." The FBI is taking more than 40 steps to fix those problems, he said.

Horowitz told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that no one who was involved in the warrant application process should feel vindicated, rejecting claims of vindication that Comey had made in an opinion piece earlier in the week. Comey said Sunday that he simply meant that the report had debunked some of the gravest allegations that Trump and his supporters had made.

“All of that was nonsense. I think it's really important that the inspector general looked at that and that the American people, your viewers and all viewers, understand that's true," Comey said.

He also criticized Attorney General William Barr for saying in a separate interview last week that the many errors by the FBI left open the possibility that agents may have acted in bad faith.

“The facts just aren’t there, full stop," Comey said, when asked whether Barr has a valid point. “That doesn’t make it any less consequential, any less important, but that’s an irresponsible statement."

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Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP

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