Will it, or will it be the GOP’s equivalent of Mueller-mas? Lindsey Graham is in position to take an educated guess and do some strategic expectations-setting ahead of the inspector general’s report release next month. Instead, Graham told viewers and Fox News Channel’s Maria Bartiromo yesterday to buckle up because Michael Horowitz will issue an “ugly and damning” report about the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the entire Russiagate affair.
At least, that’s what will happen eventually, Graham promises (via RCP):
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, you’ve got three lanes here. You have what the committee will do, my committee, you’ve got Mr. Durham who’s looking at criminality — he’s the U.S. Attorney in Connecticut — And you’ve got the DOJ Inspector General report. I think it will be coming out in weeks, not days, not months. The Horowitz report will probably be ugly and damning regarding the Department of Justice handling of the Russia probe.
MARIA BARTIROMO: Tell me about that, we know that the DOJ is not prosecuting James Comey. Learned that about a month ago. We know we just got the so-called 302 out of Bruce Ohr, that’s the investigation and interviews of Ohr with the FBI. And the IG report, we were supposed to get it months ago. How come it is so late?
GRAHAM: Every time you turn around you find something new. Mr. Horowitz is doing a very in-depth dive about the FISA warrant application. The behavior regarding the counterintelligence operation. He will send his report over to the Department of Justice, they will look at for classified information. I am going to meet with the Attorney General next week, I want to declassify as much as possible. On the American public to hear the story, I want all of this information to come out, I didn’t want people to believe what I said I want them to read for themselves how bad it was.
The warrant application to the FISA court, I think quite frankly was a fraud. I want all the committee cases out, where they will notice Christopher Steele hated Trump and that he was an unreliable informant. I want this information coming out that the Steele dossier with information coming from Russia is unverified information, I want the transcripts surrounding interviews with Papadopoulos to be released where it was clear he was not working with the Russians.
I want it all out. I want people to see how this investigation got so off the rails and I want people to be held accountable and I am patient, and not in a hurry, I want to do it right.
He’s meeting with Barr next week on this subject? If Horowitz isn’t done yet, that might be premature. After all, they can’t start making disclosure decisions until they know specifically what the report contains. Horowitz is likely to write the report with public release in mind, just as Robert Mueller and his team did with their special-counsel report. Barr has already been given presidential carte blanche for declassification on these investigations in order to achieve maximum possible transparency, and it’s a cinch that Trump will want as much of Horowitz’ report to be out in the open as possible.
With that said, though, Republicans run the risk of setting expectations too high. Thus far no one’s really sure what the IG will find, not even Graham. Could this have been a political hit from the start by a corrupt Obama administration, FBI, and intelligence community? Sure, but it might be a lot less than that; it might be that a few people let their political biases cloud their judgment and then everything else rolled downhill into a disaster of incompetence more than malice. Furthermore, an IG at the DoJ may not have the scope or jurisdiction to determine much more past that possibility, not unless people suddenly decided to get very loquacious about any potential conspiracy all of a sudden after years of guarded tongues.
Democrats just experienced the impact of promising an outcome at length only to have the official findings yank the rug out from under their conspiracy theories. Republicans might want to start thinking about shaping public perception early to keep from having to explain away any potential letdown on the Right when Horowitz finally speaks.