Attorney William Barr reportedly has signaled that he’ll dispute the apparent finding in the much-anticipated Justice Department Inspector General (IG) report that in the summer of 2016 the FBI had enough evidence to pursue an investigation into Trump campaign members’ ties to and possible coordination with Russian operatives.
IG Michael Horowitz is expected to conclude that while some low-level members of the FBI committed some errors and were sloppy in their handling of a FISA application to wiretap Trump associate Carter Page, they didn’t act out of bias against the president and had a legal basis for the probe, the New York Times reported. Horowitz will turn in his report on Dec. 9 and then testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Dec. 11.
The president and his supporters have long claimed the investigation was politically motivated by “deep state” actors within the bureau and the Justice Department and that investigators misled the FISA court and relied heavily on the now infamous Steele dossier when applying for a warrant to spy on Page. But Horowitz’s report is not expected to support that account. Barr has told lawmakers and colleagues that the IG’s findings will not serve as the coda on the handling of the Russian probe, CNN said.
Barr recently appointed federal prosecutor John Durham to conduct a separate review of intelligence community (IC) actions surrounding the Russia investigation. After finding that a former “low-level” FBI lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith modified a document linked to surveillance of Page, Horowitz made a criminal referral to Durham.
A Justice Department spokesperson urged pundits to tone down speculation until Horowitz’s report is released and expressed support for the IG. Noting that Horowitz’s “excellent work has uncovered significant information that the American people will soon be able to read for themselves," Kerri Kupec said in a statement, “Rather than speculating, people should read the report for themselves next week, watch the inspector general's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and draw their own conclusions about these important matters."