Does this really mean anything? Byron York isn’t sure either, although his scoop on James Comey getting his own report from Inspector General Michael Horowitz seems to mean something. Horowitz has been investigating Operation Crossfire Hurricane for months and is expected to report on that soon, but apparently Comey’s actions require its own analysis:
The Justice Department inspector general is preparing to release a report on the conduct of fired FBI director James Comey in the Trump-Russia investigation, according to a number of sources with knowledge of the situation. The specific timing of the report’s release is not clear.
The Comey report is separate from a larger inspector general report on the Justice Department’s handling of the Trump-Russia probe. That report, sometimes referred to by Republicans as an investigation into “FISA abuse,” is expected to be released later.
At the end, York offers more specifics on the scope of Horowitz’ report:
Sources say the Comey report will deal just with Comey’s memos, and not his broader role in the Trump-Russia investigation. As for Horowitz’s main report, it is still unclear precisely what it will cover and when it will be made public.
This makes some sense, although combining the two might have worked as well. Horowitz referred Comey to criminal prosecutors over the leak of memos he wrote about Trump, although the Department of Justice declined to prosecute the former FBI director. Part of the reasoning for that decision was the retroactive classification of the memos, which would have made it tough to convict Comey but doesn’t necessarily mean he didn’t break the law. It’s the information itself that is protected by federal criminal statutes, and high-ranking senior officers with classification authority are expected to know what needs to be protected, or at the very least err on the side of caution.
Why not just include this episode in the larger review of Operation Crossfire Hurricane? The simplest explanation might be that it’s really not part of that investigation. It’s related to it, but the issues with the memos stand on their own. Horowitz might have decided not to distract from the core mission by including the Comey matter, regardless of his thoughts on it. Two investigations, Horowitz might have decided, require two separate reports. Fair enough!
Another possibility: The DoJ’s decision not to prosecute might have angered Horowitz enough to separate it out and argue his case publicly. That’s not exactly Horowitz’ style, and doing that might color the reception his main report will get, a risk that Horowitz should easily grasp in the current political climate. If Horowitz sees the DoJ decision as a departure from the norm that requires more scrutiny, though, he’d need to write a separate report in order to keep that issue from getting buried. The only problem with that theory is that non-prosecution for leaks isn’t all that uncommon.
Until we know more, the first scenario seems the likeliest, although the practical difference between the two is minimal. For whatever reason, Horowitz felt he needed a separate report to explain his referral on Comey. No matter what his intent, some will seize on that to attack the DoJ and others to attack Horowitz.
He shouldn’t worry much about that tangent in either case. All that might be a tempest in a teapot if Joseph DiGenova’s sources are accurate about what Horowitz’ other report will say about the FISA warrants on Carter Page. While speaking on WMAL on Monday, DiGenova says he knows Horowitz has determined they were all illegal:
“For the record, I can report categorically that the Inspector General has found that all four FISA warrants were illegal — they were based on false information supplied to the FISA Court,” diGenova said. “And that [IG] Michael Horowitz has concluded that all four FISA warrants were illegal from the get-go.”
He didn’t say how he came to know this to be true, other than to say that Horowitz’s report is done and being circulated, and “bit and pieces” are getting out.
“Which means that [fired FBI director James] Comey lied on the first one,” diGenova added. “Whoever signed the other three, including [former Deputy attorney General] Rob Rosenstein, the masterful savant who ran the department like the fool that he was for two and a half years, they were all false.
“And if they didn’t know they were false, they were so incompetent and stupid.”
That will matter a lot more than Comey’s leak of his own memos. If DiGenova turns out to be correct, of course.