‘Rather than speculating, people should read the report for themselves next week … and draw their own conclusions…’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) Attorney General William Barr reportedly told Justice Department associates that he disagrees with Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s conclusion that the FBI did, in fact, have enough legitimate information to launch an investigation into members of the 2016 Trump campaign.
Barr testified to Congress in April that he was sure illegal spying occurred.
“I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal,” Barr told the Senate Appropriations Committee. “I think spying did occur, but the question is whether it was adequately predicated—and I’m not suggesting it wasn’t adequately predicated, but I need to explore that.”
Horowitz is scheduled to release his findings next week, but according to The Washington Post, some of his central conclusions have created discord among Trump allies who believe the president was the target of an unnecessary investigation.
It’s unclear whether Barr will dispute Horowitz’s findings in public. He could offer a written rebuttal, or he could publicly make it clear that the Justice Department has not been persuaded.
Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec didn’t deny the Post’s report, but noted that the public will soon be able to form their own opinions about Horowitz’s report.
Horowitz’s “excellent work has uncovered significant information that the American people will soon be able to read for themselves,” Kupec said. “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.”
Attorneys general have disagreed with Justice Department findings before, but usually because the inspector general has been too critical. In this case, Barr disagrees with Horowitz because he hasn’t been critical enough, the Post said.
Leaks of the report suggest that Horowitz targets lower-level FBI officials for negligence and irresponsibility, but concludes that top officials were not affected by the anti-Trump bias found among the lower ranks.
However, the leaks themselves are a substantial part of the problem. Previous IG reports have implicated since-fired officials including former FBI Director James Comey, Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and counterespionage agent Peter Strzok in part of a widespread culture of leaking that contributed to the agency’s politicization.
In addition to citing the debunked Steele dossier as a primary source for the FISA warrant applications, members of the Obama-era intelligence community allegedly leaked the salacious innuendo, commissioned by the Clinton campaign, to outlets like CNN and Buzzfeed, then used the reporting to further justify their surveillance.
President Donald Trump disputed the recent Post report. He said that the paper’s characterization of Barr’s sentiments and Horowitz’s conclusions were both false.
“I think he was quoted incorrectly,” Trump said, according to Politico. “I do believe that because I’m hearing the [inspector general’s] report is very powerful.”
However, Trump was quick to note that he had not been privy to any advance leaks like the Post had.
“I’m hearing that by reading lots of different things, not from inside information,” he said. “It’s really from outside information. I think all we have to do is wait.”
Trump said that contrary to the mainstream media’s reports, “there’s a lot of devastating things” in Horowitz’s report, adding that it “would be a little disappointing” otherwise.
If Barr does dispute Horowitz’s findings, it will likely spark conflict in Congress.
Democrats have already accused Barr of using his position to defend the president against criticism, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed last month that Barr had “gone rogue.”
Barr dismissed the criticism and said that Democrats are in the wrong for attempting to undermine Trump’s presidency at every turn.
He slammed the Democrats’ attempt to use former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report against the president, arguing that Mueller’s “witch hunt” threatened the rule of law and constitutional authority.
“In waging a scorched-earth, no-holds-barred war against this administration, it is the Left that is engaged in shredding norms and undermining the rule of law,” Barr said.
Liberty Headlines’ Ben Sellers contributed to this report.