September 23, 2020

Report: Barr disputes key IG finding on surveillance of Trump campaign

Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s long-awaited report is expected to be released early next week. Horowitz was responsible for exploring possible abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant process during the FBI’s investigation into President Trump’s 2016 campaign.

The IG is also scheduled to present his findings to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Dec. 11, an event to which Chairman Lindsay Graham (R-SC) has said he is looking forward with great anticipation. However, it appears that Attorney General Bill Barr is disputing at least one of the report’s key findings.

According to an article published by the Washington Post, Barr isn’t convinced that there is proper justification for Horowitz to conclude that the FBI was right in launching an investigation of Trump campaign staffers in the first place.

“Barr has not been swayed”

The Post article references information from anonymous sources who indicate that “Barr has not been swayed by Horowitz’s rationale for concluding the FBI had sufficient basis to open an investigation on July 31, 2016.”

“The attorney general has privately contended that Horowitz does not have enough information to reach the conclusion the FBI had enough details in hand at the time to justify opening such a probe,” the article continues.

It is suggested in the reporting that Barr believes that there are other government agencies that may be aware of additional facts that might have had some bearing on Horowitz’s ultimate finding on the issue.

“Barr has also praised the inspector general’s overall work on the matter, according to one person familiar with the matter. The inspector general operates independently of Justice Department leadership, so Barr cannot order Horowitz to change his findings,” the Post notes.

Praise for Horowitz

In public, Barr’s office has thus far has had nothing but positive things to say about Horowitz and his work.

“The inspector general’s investigation is a credit to the Department of Justice,” USA Today quoted DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec as saying. “His excellent work has uncovered significant information that the American people will soon be able to read for themselves.”

The Post article also stresses that Horowitz’s report is separate from the investigation lead by U.S. Attorney John Durham, stating, “Even as the inspector general’s review is ending, Durham’s investigation continues.”

Durham was tapped to head an investigation of the origins of the Russia collusion probe back in May, and in October it was announced that his probe had become a criminal inquiry.

Also in October, The Hill reported that Attorney General Barr requested assistance from foreign intelligence officials in conjunction with Durham’s investigation.

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