The Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General’s (IG’s) imminent report on possible abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) during the Trump–Russia probe vindicates a key claim that Republicans have made about the FBI’s spying on President Donald Trump campaign.
IG Michael Horowitz’s investigation found that the FBI was not forthright about the unreliability of the infamous Christopher Steele dossier, The Washington Post reported, citing sources familiar with a draft of the report. The finding appears to contradict rumors that Horowitz’s report will be a let down to the president and his supporters, according to the Washington Examiner.
“Significant” FBI omissions
The mainstream media has hyped up rumors that the Horowitz report, expected Dec. 9, concludes that the FBI’s spying in 2016 was justified. Such a finding would appear to undercut a core allegation driving supporters of the president — that Trump was set up by Democrats, rogue intelligence agents, and foreign actors like Christopher Steele, who compiled the infamous Russia dossier.
But a draft of the report may well vindicate one of the key claims made by Republicans, according to the Post: that the FBI made “significant” omissions when renewing warrants to spy on Carter Page, a former Trump campaign aide. The FBI relied extensively on Steele’s dossier in those applications, but they did not tell the FISA court that Steele’s information was not “entirely reliable” in some of the applications, the Post wrote.
Steele was hired by opposition research firm Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on Donald Trump on behalf of the Democratic party. His dossier made outlandish allegations that were never proven, such as the claim that Russia had blackmail on Trump in the form of a “pee tape,” and Republicans have long claimed that the FBI did not disclose either its unreliability or Democratic backing to the FISA court.
Horowitz’s report has been hyped up for months by supporters of the president, who predicted that it would yield evidence of criminal wrongdoing by Trump foes like James Comey and John Brennan. But early leaks to the media have led to speculation that it does not establish the kind of top-down “coup” Trump has alleged, although it did find misbehavior by lower-ranking FBI officials.
A lawyer named Kevin Clinesmith is said to be under criminal investigation for altering a document relevant to the FISA applications. But Horowitz is said to have concluded that the FBI probe was justified despite findings of misconduct.
War brewing over report
Although Horowitz’s report is not yet public, a war has already begun over its conclusions. The left, pointing to the early leaks, have ramped up attacks on Bill Barr after the Post claimed that he rejects Horowitz’s conclusion about the spying.
Supporters of the president such as Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have cautioned that the media is trying to spin Horowitz’s report before its actual release to downplay its findings. Graham also dismissed rumors of a conflict between Horowitz and Barr.
The attorney general has long taken the view that Trump’s campaign was “spied on” and that the beginnings of the Trump–Russia investigation are worth a second look. He has faced pushback for presiding over a criminal investigation of the Russia probe, which is being overseen by U.S. Attorney John Durham.
That investigation has led Barr to seek the input of Italy about a shadowy Maltese professor, Josef Mifsud, who played a key role in sparking the Trump-Russia probe. Republicans have alleged that he is a Western intelligence plant sent to entrap Trump campaign member George Papadopoulos and justify opening the probe, which, according to the official story, began when Papadopoulos told an Australian diplomat about “Russian dirt” on Hillary Clinton that Mifsud had mentioned.
The Post claims that Horowitz reached out to Durham about Mifsud and that Durham had “no evidence” that Mifsud was working for U.S. intelligence.