The long-awaited report from Justice Department Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz regarding alleged abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by the FBI in obtaining warrants to spy on President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign team was released Monday, but it wasn’t quite as damning as many conservatives expected it to be.
As such, many outlets have accused the GOP of moving the goalposts amid their disappointment, as Republicans have turned their sights away from Horowitz’s narrowly focused report toward a concurrent criminal investigation into related matters by U.S. Attorney John Durham, according to The Hill.
But while the media may say that conservatives are being too quick to shrug off Horowitz’s report after it failed to find what they were hoping for, that framing isn’t entirely accurate. It was always known that Horowitz’s so-called FISA report, focused on potential wrongdoing by FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) officials, would be largely an administrative review that could, at best, contain criminal referrals that Durham and Attorney General Bill Barr could then follow up on.
Nevertheless, various outlets suggested — based on the hype that’s built over the last 20 months since Horowitz began his probe — that all hope for justice hinged on the IG’s report alone. Now, they say, Republicans’ hopes are dashed.
Horowitz’s “road map”
Republicans, meanwhile, have argued that this is only the beginning of a long road of accountability ahead.
“You should look at this investigation [as] sort of a road map of where you might go criminally,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told Fox News’ Sean Hannity before the IG report’s release, according to The Hill. “This is just the beginning.”
Moreover, Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, told Fox Business that Horowitz “only had limited sort of jurisdiction for him to look into a certain area.” Durham, on the other hand, has “unlimited” reign over “when he can go to the grand jury and other things.”
“So there’s two separate things going on here,” Collins said, according to The Hill. “The American people need to keep their eyes on both.”
“The big report to wait for”
For his part, Trump said when speaking to reporters in London recently that Horowitz’s report would prove to be “devastating” — but the president also pointed out that it was merely a prelude to the more inclusive investigation being conducted by Durham.
“I do think the big report to wait for is going to be the Durham report,” he said, according to Politico. “That’s the one that people are really waiting for.”
Trump went on to say that Durham is “highly respected” and has “worked very hard.”
“He’s worked long hours, I can tell you, and gone all over the world. So we’ll see,” Trump said. “But the Durham report is the report people are really looking forward to.”
Just getting started
Indeed, though some may have mistakenly assumed that Horowitz’s review was a standalone investigation that would expose the entirety of the alleged plot against then-candidate, now-President Trump, those who have been paying attention have always known that it would merely serve as what Graham referred to as a “road map” for Durham and Barr to follow up on.
Of course, that won’t stop Democrats and their friends in the media from trying to claim vindication over the fact that no one was frog-marched away in handcuffs on Monday. But as Graham said, this is only the beginning.