Wow! FBI official being investigated for altering Russia probe document

CNN has an exclusive this afternoon which appears to be connected to the forthcoming DOJ Inspector General’s report. The site reports that an FBI official is being investigated for altering a document connected to the Russia probe [emphasis added]:

An FBI official is under criminal investigation after allegedly altering a document related to 2016 surveillance of a Trump campaign adviser, several people briefed on the matter told CNN…
Horowitz turned over evidence on the allegedly altered document to John Durham, the federal prosecutor appointed early this year by Attorney General William Barr to conduct a broad investigation of intelligence gathered for the Russia probe by the CIA and other agencies, including the FBI. The altered document is also at least one focus of Durham’s criminal probe.

It’s unknown how significant a role the altered document played in the FBI’s investigation of Page and whether the FISA warrant would have been approved without the document. The alterations were significant enough to have shifted the document’s meaning and came up during a part of Horowitz’s FISA review where details were classified, according to the sources…

Horowitz’s investigators conducted more than 100 witness interviews in their review. During one of interviews this year, they confronted the witness about the document. The witness admitted to the change, the sources said.

So if this is accurate there’s no doubt about the existence of the change or the person responsible. Their identity isn’t given in the story. The big question that remains is how significant this document was, i.e. would the FISA court have granted the surveillance warrant anyway.

Also not known at this point is what motivated the agent or official who made the change. Perhaps some junior agent got carried away with his desire to pursue an investigation because it would look good in his file. That would be bad enough. But if the person involved turns out to be a high ranking figure with a partisan agenda, say Peter Strzok, then this will be explosive news. CNN sounds a bit nervous about that possibility:

A finding of alleged wrongdoing from Horowitz could further fuel Republican criticism and conspiracies about previous investigators’ targeting of Trump associates. It could also provide them a political boost at a moment where Democrats’ impeachment investigation into Trump’s political quid pro quo with Ukraine has battered the President.

If the report finds wrongdoing, then criticism would be appropriate. Also if documents were intentionally manipulated, as seems to be the case, then the claim that this was a manipulated investigation isn’t a conspiracy. Why is CNN recoiling from the possibility? I guess that’s not much of a mystery at this point.

We won’t have to wait much longer to find out what Horowitz found. The report will be released on December 9 and Horowitz will testify before Congress about his findings on December 11. As this CNN exclusive demonstrates, more details could leak before then.