Attorney General William Barr reportedly has taken issue with a key claim made by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz in his soon-to-be released report on possible FBI misconduct toward the Trump campaign in 2016.
Barr has told associates that he disagrees with the conclusion that “the FBI had enough information in July 2016 to justify launching an investigation into members of the Trump campaign,” The Washington Post reported, citing numerous sources that were familiar with the matter.
“Barr has not been swayed by Horowitz’s rationale for concluding the FBI had sufficient basis to open an investigation on July 31, 2016,” The Post continued. “The attorney general has privately contended that Horowitz does not have enough information to reach the conclusion the FBI had enough details in hand at the time to justify opening such a probe. He argues that other U.S. agencies, such as the CIA, may hold significant information that could alter Horowitz’s conclusion on that point, according to the people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.”
The Post notes that the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign was launched after then-Trump campaign volunteer George Papadopoulos made statements to Clinton-connected Australian diplomat Alexander Downer about Clinton’s emails.
Papadopoulos responded to the Post’s report by writing on Twitter: “It’s not difficult to understand why the Attorney General is objecting to Australia’s version. Truth is Australia was spying on me in London to set up Trump. Durham has been interviewing both Israeli and Australian officials who know EXACTLY who Alexander Downer’s handlers were!”
It’s not difficult to understand why the Attorney General is objecting to Australia’s version. Truth is Australia was spying on me in London to set up Trump. Durham has been interviewing both Israeli and Australian officials who know EXACTLY who Alexander Downer’s handlers were!
— George Papadopoulos (@GeorgePapa19) December 3, 2019
In late November, CNN reported that an FBI official is under criminal investigation for allegedly altering a document that was key to the FBI’s surveillance of the Trump campaign.
“The finding is expected to be part of Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s review of the FBI’s effort to obtain warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act on Carter Page, a former Trump campaign aide,” CNN reported. “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 is important to note that the IG report from Horowitz — who will testify in front of Congress next week — is separate from the criminal investigation that U.S. Attorney John Durham is conducting on the origins of the Russia investigation.
At the end of October, The New York Times reported that Durham’s probe had shifted from an administrative review into a full fledged criminal investigation due to the amount of evidence that was being uncovered.
“Mr. Durham has indicated he wants to interview former officials who ran the C.I.A. in 2016 but has yet to question either Mr. Brennan or James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence,” the Times reported. “Some C.I.A. officials have retained criminal lawyers in anticipation of being interviewed.”
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