‘Wow!’: FBI Official Stuns Hawley When He Claims The Bureau ‘Unintentionally’ Spied On ‘278,000’ Americans

[Screenshot Senate Judiciary Committee]

Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate visibly stunned Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley on Tuesday with his estimate of how many Americans the Bureau has “unintentionally” spied on.

Abbate testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Hawley grilled him as to why the FBI would not commit to publicly releasing the 1023 form relating to President Joe Biden and his alleged foreign business dealings. Abbate said doing so would endanger the life of the document’s source, prompting Hawley to argue the source’s name could be redacted.

Abbate then said Hawley should take the source’s safety “seriously.”

“I also take seriously the fact that your institution has repeatedly abused its authority, has repeatedly targeted political opponents … Your institution is the one that, according to the court, the FISA court, ran 278,000 unwarranted — probably illegal — queries on Americans, right? That was your institution, correct?” Hawley asked.

“With respect to the compliance incident, yes,” Abbate said.

“Compliance. You characterized the unlawful querying, 278,000 times, of American citizens as ‘compliance issues’?” Hawley pressed.

“We’ve said before, I’ve said, that [it’s] totally unacceptable,” Abbate said.

“Who’s been fired for it?” Hawley asked.

“Individuals involved are handled through the disciplinary process.”

“Who’s been fired for it?” Hawley asked again.

“In the case of the unintentional instance, where something similar happened, we have fired people in the past.”

“Wait, I’m sorry, what does that word salad mean? The ‘unintentional instance’? What does that mean? Who’s been fired for the 278,000 times that you improperly or illegally queried the database for American citizens?” Hawley pressed.

“When we find intentional incidents–” Abbate said before Hawley cut him off.

“Wait, you’re saying that the 278,000 queries were unintentional?” Hawley asked.

“I believe that’s correct.”

“Wow,” Hawley said, visibly shocked. “278,000 times, American citizens’ information was queried by your agency unintentionally? That’s your testimony?”

“I would want to go back and check that, Senator, but yes, my understanding is that the vast majority of the–”

“Wait, but that’s different. You just said it was, you just said it was unintentional, now it’s the vast majority?” Hawley asked. “Which is it? Do you know?”

“I would want to go back and check it,” Abbate said. (RELATED: ‘Don’t Make Me Do This’: Biden Nominee Utterly Speechless After Hawley Goes Nuclear On Her)

“So you don’t know?” Hawley asked.

“My understanding is that likely all are — were unintentional.”

“‘Likely all.’ So first it was ‘all of them,’ then it was ‘vast majority,’ now it’s ‘likely all,’ so ‘you don’t know’ is the answer to the question?”

“I don’t know the answer as we sit here today but I will find–”

Hawley then cut him off before switching gears to find out who was fired for the Carter Page warrant.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court found the FBI improperly searched for information in a database nearly 300,000 times between 2020 and early 2021, including on Americans suspected of crime. The searches occurred as investigations into the Jan. 6 riots and the George Floyd protests unfolded.