Wednesday we learned that DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz had submitted his report to witnesses for their review, a final step before the report is released. Last night, the Washington Post published a story claiming that the IG’s office had told those witnesses they were not allowed to submit written feedback on the report. Instead, they would need to give feedback orally. But a few hours later, the IG’s office appeared to reverse itself, saying that wasn’t the case:

The Post’s report, first published early Thursday evening, detailed a series of parameters that some feared could make the final document less accurate. At the time, the Justice Department inspector general’s office declined to comment. But late Thursday night, Stephanie Logan, a spokeswoman, said the office would clarify to witnesses that they could submit written feedback “consistent with rules to protect classified information.”

“As part of our factual accuracy review, and consistent with our usual practice, we are providing witnesses with the opportunity to review portions of the report that relate to them,” Logan said. “Also consistent with our practice, we undertake every effort to ensure witnesses can provide their comments and we are clarifying to witnesses that they will be able to provide written comments, consistent with rules to protect classified information.”

So it sounds as if there was some change here though the Post admits it has no idea what the initial restriction was about. Was it limited to an individual? Was their some specific purpose for it? We don’t know.

The Post story notes that “people familiar with the process said that the entire draft document is marked ‘Top Secret.'” The majority of the report is going to be released to the public in a couple of weeks, so marking it “Top Secret” now looks like an effort to control leaks. Obviously the existence of the Post’s report confirms there are already witnesses talking to the media. And that created an opportunity for some observers on the left to begin attacking the report in advance:

Chuck Ross from the Daily Caller saw these tweets as an attempt to discredit the report prior to publication:

Hennessey responded:

Again, she doesn’t know the reasons, she’s just leaping to the conclusion that the entire report may be compromised.

She didn’t seem to be withholding judgment a few tweets ago. She seemed to be laying groundwork for discrediting it.

So what happened here? Some witness, who presumably isn’t happy with the contents of the report, saw an opportunity to discredit it and ran to the Post with the only accusation he (or she) could level without potentially going to jail. The Post ran with it and the progressive left jumped on it (note the number of retweets and likes Hennessy got), but before the train could really get up to speed the IG’s office either reversed course or clarified that written responses would be allowed. So this is much ado about nothing at this point, except that it reveals there are people who’ve received the report and people on the professional left who seem eager to discredit it in advance on even a thin premise. That’s not terribly surprising and may be one reason the IG’s office appears to be doing its best to prevent leaks.