Durham investigation could be completed by late spring, Barr says

Attorney General Bill Barr said Tuesday that U.S. Attorney John Durham could take until the spring or summer of 2020 to complete his criminal probe of the Trump–Russia hoax.

Barr also teased that his handpicked prosecutor may uncover evidence of “bad faith” by the FBI when it surveilled President Donald Trump’s campaign team in 2016, the Washington Examiner reported. His remarks come just a day after the release of Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on alleged abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by the FBI.

“You know, there’s some people who think this thing is going to drop in a few weeks. That’s not the case,” Barr said Tuesday. “I see this, perhaps, reaching an important watershed perhaps in the late spring, early summer.”

Wait for it…

Barr and Durham first made their disagreements with Michael Horowitz known Monday when it became clear that the inspector general would give the FBI little more than a slap on the wrist for illegal spying. Horowitz found that the infamously unreliable Christopher Steele dossier was “essential” in the FBI’s applications for FISA warrants to spy on Carter Page — a Trump campaign member — and that the FBI hid exculpatory evidence to repeatedly spy on him.

Despite these findings, Horowitz did not conclude that political bias tainted the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign. But in an interview with NBC on Tuesday, Barr made it clear that he does not see Horowitz’s report as the final word on whether the FBI and DOJ acted in “bad faith.”

Barr noted that Horowitz conducted an internal, administrative review that did not dig deeply or widely enough to reach a conclusion about alleged bias. “All [Horowitz] said was, people gave me an explanation and I didn’t find anything to contradict it… He hasn’t decided the issue of improper motive,” Barr said. “I think we have to wait until the full investigation is done.”

Barr also slammed the media for spreading a “bogus narrative” about Trump and Russia and excoriated “gross abuse” of the FISA process, doubling down on a Monday statement that condemned the Trump–Russia probe as having been based on the “thinnest of suspicions.”

In his own statement, Durham said that he had notified Horowitz in November that he disagreed with parts of his conclusion, Fox News reported.

The beginning of the end

In no uncertain terms, Barr affirmed his view Tuesday that the Trump campaign was “clearly spied upon,” possibly in “bad faith” — something he seems to find deeply troubling. The attorney general said he still has questions about why the FBI continued spying on Page after Trump won the 2016 election, and he indicated that former FBI Director James Comey’s refusal to reinstate his security clearance was a concern, since it allowed him to avoid certain questions about classified information from Horowitz.

In testimony before Congress on Wednesday, Horowitz more or less affirmed his bifurcated conclusion that the FBI investigation was justified, despite serious problems, according to The Hill. The inspector general also said that he was “surprised” by Durham’s Monday statement and explained that Durham felt the FBI’s investigation should have been a more-limited “preliminary” investigation, not the full-fledged spying operation it eventually became.

But the IG also deflated the victory rally staged over the past three days by Comey and members of the media with a more pointed description of the FBI’s logistical and ethical failures. According to Fox, Horowitz condemned FBI officials for “basic and fundamental errors” and said that nobody was vindicated by what he found — including Comey, who spent Monday thumping his chest on Twitter and claiming that “no spying” took place.

While Horowitz defended the overall integrity of the FBI probe, he still delivered a scathing judgment. According to Barr, it may take some months to hear the thunderclap.

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