Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz has submitted a draft of his report on the FBI’s use and possible abuse of the FISA court. In a letter, Horowitz outlined the steps that remain before he can issue a final draft. From ABC News:
Inspector General Michael Horowitz said in a letter to the chairmen of several House and Senate committees that his team has “reviewed over one million records and conducted over 100 interviews” as part of the review.
“We have now begun the process of finalizing our report by providing a draft of our factual findings to the Department and the FBI for classification determination and marking,” Horowitz said. “Once we receive the marked document back from the Department and the FBI, we will then proceed with our usual process for preparing final draft public and classified reports, and ensuring that appropriate reviews occur for accuracy and comment purposes.”
Horowitz has been at this particular investigation since last March. At the center of his report is the so-called dossier written by Christopher Steele. Politico reported back in April that Horowitz’ report was likely to undermine Steele’s credibility:
The inspector general’s office has concluded that Steele inflated his worth to the bureau in that case, and did little more than introduce agents to a journalist who had obtained hacked documents, according to two people who were interviewed and briefed on the matter. For the FBI to have formalized its relationship with Steele—paying him an undisclosed amount over beginning in 2013—as a result of his FIFA role may therefore have been bad judgment, the inspector general’s team has intimated. Horowitz’s probe also appears set to cast doubt on the veracity of the information Steele provided about Page that the FBI included in its application for a FISA warrant.
Again, that was in April. In June, the IG’s office sent three investigators to interview Steele for a total of 16-hours. Politico’s report made it sound as if Horowitz, on the basis of the Steele interview, had reversed himself and concluded that the FBI had done nothing wrong:
The interview was contentious at first, the sources added, but investigators ultimately found Steele’s testimony credible and even surprising. The takeaway has irked some U.S. officials interviewed as part of the probe — they argue that it shouldn’t have taken a foreign national to convince the inspector general that the FBI acted properly in 2016.
To sum up, it appeared several months ago that Horowitz was about to drop the hammer on Steele’s credibility. Then, after grilling him for 16-hours, there was a suggestion that maybe he had smoothed everything out and the FBI was in the clear. But it’s worth noting that all of these reports are based on anonymous sources who seemed to be close to Steele. So it’s very possible that this is public reputation management in advance of the report. We won’t know what Horowitz actually thinks about Steele, the dossier, and the FISA application until we see the report.