I was worried that the upcoming IG report might finally settle the public debate over the DOJ’s Russia investigation. Glad to see that this clusterfark looks like it’ll not only continue but possibly intensify, with top lawyers at the Department at each other’s throats over whether to side with inspector general Michael Horowitz or prosecutor John Durham.
Let’s back up. WaPo published a bombshell story last night claiming that Bill Barr has reviewed the draft of Horowitz’s report on how the FBI conducted the Russiagate probe and disagrees with a key conclusion — specifically, Horowitz’s belief that the FBI had a sufficient factual and legal basis to open the investigation three years ago. Sources told both the Post and the New York Times last month that the most recent draft finds that the FBI engaged in sloppy and unprofessional work at certain points of the process but that none of the president’s worst fears are substantiated by the evidence. There’s no reason to think anti-Trump bias influenced top officials; there’s no reason to think Joseph Mifsud was an FBI informant; and most importantly, there’s no reason to think the investigation was opened based on insufficient evidence, like the dossier, that normally wouldn’t justify a FISA warrant. Barr disagrees with that last point, if you believe WaPo, and has made it known to colleagues.
Which sure sounds like the Attorney General is about to knife his own IG and shake public faith (again) in the conclusions of his own agency, possibly for no better reason than that doing so will please his boss, the president. If the initial accounts of what Horowitz’s report will say are accurate, Trump is destined to be disappointed. Maybe this is just Barr signaling to him that he’s on Trump’s side and shouldn’t receive the Jeff Sessions treatment on Twitter. Meanwhile, though, the DOJ’s reputation has already sustained damage from Emailgate and Russiagate and the Strzok/Page fiasco and James Comey’s irrepressible Comey-ness. Imagine if Barr now turns around and declares that the DOJ’s equivalent of Internal Affairs also can’t be trusted to properly police how the FBI conducts itself.