Politics: Barr doesn’t accept key inspector general finding about FBI’s Russia investigation - - PressFrom - US
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Politics Barr doesn’t accept key inspector general finding about FBI’s Russia investigation

02:50  03 december  2019
02:50  03 december  2019 Source:   washingtonpost.com

Barr: Horowitz report shows FBI launched Trump campaign investigation on 'thinnest of suspicions'

  Barr: Horowitz report shows FBI launched Trump campaign investigation on 'thinnest of suspicions' Attorney General William Barr said that a newly released Justice Department watchdog report showed that the FBI launched an "intrusive" investigation of President Trump's campaign "on the thinnest of suspicions." Barr also said that the report from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz showed that, in his opinion, the FBI had an "insufficient" basis to justify steps taken in the investigation into the Trump campaign in 2016, putting him at odds with Horowitz, who concluded in the report that the bureau had an "authorized purpose" to open the investigation.

BREAKING NEWS: Barr doesn ’ t accept key IG finding about FBI ’ s Russia investigation . The Justice Department’s inspector general , Michael Horowitz, is due to release his long-awaited findings in a week, but behind the scenes at the Justice Department, disagreement has surfaced about one of

The Russia investigation was opened after the FBI was told of statements made by a then-Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos, that the Russians The inspector general operates independently of Justice Department leadership, so Barr cannot order Horowitz to change his findings .

Attorney General William P. Barr has told associates he disagrees with the Justice Department’s inspector general on one of the key findings in an upcoming report — that the FBI had enough information in July 2016 to justify launching an investigation into members of the Trump campaign, according to people familiar with the matter.

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: President Trump and Attorney General William P. Barr in September.© Erin Scott/Reuters President Trump and Attorney General William P. Barr in September.

The Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, is due to release his long-awaited findings in a week, but behind the scenes at the Justice Department, disagreement has surfaced about one of Horowitz’s central conclusions on the origins of the Russia investigation. The discord could be the prelude to a major fissure within federal law enforcement on the controversial question of investigating a presidential campaign.

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Attorney General William Barr is taking a far more expansive look at origin of the investigation into Russian interference than was previously known, according to his Senate testimony Wednesday.

The Justice Department inspector general has found evidence that an FBI employee may have The allegation is contained in a draft of Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report analyzing the FBI ’ s Russia investigation , which witnesses Separately, Attorney General William P. Barr tapped U.S

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Barr has not been swayed by Horowitz’s rationale for concluding the FBI had sufficient basis to open an investigation on July 31, 2016, these people said.

Barr’s public defenses of President Trump, including his assertion that intelligence agents spied on the Trump campaign, have led Democrats to accuse him of acting like the president’s personal attorney and eroding the independence of the Justice Department. But Trump and his Republican allies have cheered Barr’s skepticism of the Russia investigation.

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  Opinions | James Comey: The truth is finally out. The FBI fulfilled its mission. Now those who attacked the FBI for two years should admit they were wrong. Read more:Inspector general report says FBI had ‘authorized purpose’ to probe Trump campaign’s Russia tiesJames Comey: No ‘treason.’ No coup. Just lies — and dumb lies at that.Paul Waldman and Greg Sargent: The Inspector General report just blew up Trump’s lies. So Barr is rushing to the rescue.Max Boot: The FBI’s willingness to investigate Trump shows we still have the rule of lawEugene Robinson: Trump has picked a fight with the FBI. He’ll be sorry.

Attorney General William Barr said his review into the origins of the Russia investigation could result in rule changes for the FBI ' s counterintelligence investigations of political campaigns.

Past subcontroversies about the Russia investigation have involved the FBI ' s use of confidential informants to approach people in contact with Russians in 2016; questions about what briefings were made to Trump or people in his circle; and investigators ' use of surveillance powers. Barr told Sen.

It’s not yet clear how Barr plans to make his objection to Horowitz’s conclusion known. The inspector general report, currently in draft form, is being finalized after input from various witnesses and offices that were scrutinized by the inspector general. Barr or a senior Justice Department official could submit a formal letter as part of that process, which would then be included in the final report. It is standard practice for every inspector general report to include a written response from the department. Barr could forgo a written rebuttal on that specific point and just publicly state his concerns.

Spokespeople for the Justice Department, the inspector general and the FBI all declined to comment.

The Russia investigation was opened after the FBI was told of statements made by a then-Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos, that the Russians possessed hacked Hillary Clinton emails. Papodopoulos’s alleged comments were key because they were made well before any public allegation that Russian intelligence operatives had hacked the Democratic National Committee.

FBI wiretap of Trump campaign aide was riddled with errors, but Russia probe was legally justified, IG report finds

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Attorney General William Barr suggested to lawmakers Wednesday that Donald Trump's presidential campaign was spied on, saying he will be looking into the "genesis" of the FBI ' s counterintelligence investigation that began in 2016 of potential ties between the campaign and the Russian government.

“The office of the inspector general has a pending investigation of the FISA process in the Russia investigation ,” Mr. Barr said in testimony before a House appropriations subcommittee, using shorthand for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. “I expect that will be complete in probably May

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.

Barr has also praised the inspector general’s overall work on the matter, according to one person familiar with the matter. The inspector general operates independently of Justice Department leadership, so Barr cannot order Horowitz to change his findings.

But the prospect of the nation’s top law enforcement official suggesting the FBI may have wrongly opened an investigation into a presidential campaign, even after the inspector general announces they were justified in doing so, will probably generate more partisan battles over how the Justice Department and the FBI operate.

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Attorney General William Barr told senators during a hearing Wednesday that he thinks that the Federal Bureau of Investigation ( FBI ) The attorney general said that he has not yet set up a team to review the FBI ’ s actions, despite a Bloomberg report on Tuesday that alleged he has formed a team.

That investigation into the origins of the Russia probe is separate from the long-running Office of Inspector General investigation into the Justice The attorney general ' s assertion of spying, however, has been twice denied by current and former FBI officials. When asked directly about Barr ' s

It is not unusual for an attorney general or the Justice Department to disagree with some of an inspector general’s findings. However, typically those disagreements occur because senior leaders at the department believe the inspector general has been too critical. In this case, Barr has conveyed to others his belief that Horowitz has not been critical enough, or is at least reaching a conclusion prematurely.

People familiar with the draft language of Horowitz’s report said while it is critical of some FBI employees, and found some systemic problems in surveillance procedures, it overall does not agree with Trump’s charge that the investigation was a “witch hunt” or a politically motivated attack on him first as a candidate and then as president.

Instead, the draft report found that the investigation was opened on a solid legal and factual footing, these people said.

Part of Barr’s reluctance to accept that finding is related to another investigation, one being conducted by Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham, into how intelligence agencies pursued allegations of Russian election tampering in 2016. Barr has traveled abroad to personally ask foreign officials to assist Durham in that work. Even as the inspector general’s review is ending, Durham’s investigation continues.

FBI wiretap of Trump campaign aide was riddled with errors, but Russia probe was legally justified, IG report finds

  FBI wiretap of Trump campaign aide was riddled with errors, but Russia probe was legally justified, IG report finds DOJ IG Michael Horowitz's report, released Monday, debunks claims by Trump that political bias influenced FBI's decision to launch Russia probe in 2016.The voluminous report, released Monday by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, identified 17 separate inaccuracies across three surveillance applications, effectively inflating the justification for its monitoring of foreign policy adviser Carter Page.

Attorney General William Barr told Congress last month that he thought federal authorities had likely spied on the Trump presidential campaign. WASHINGTON — Two of President Donald Trump' s personal attorneys welcomed a report Monday night that Attorney General William Barr had asked a

WASHINGTON — Attorney General William P. Barr has assigned the top federal prosecutor in Connecticut to examine the origins of the Russia investigation , according to two people familiar with the matter

Barr’s disagreement with Horowitz will probably spark further criticism from Democrats, who have already accused Barr of using his position to protect the president and undermine federal law enforcement.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) charged in September that Barr had “gone rogue.”

In recent weeks, Democrats have charged that Barr’s Justice Department was too quick to decide not to investigate Trump over his efforts to convince Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to announce an investigation of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. The Ukraine controversy has led to an impeachment inquiry.

Criticism of Barr previously centered on his handling of the Russia investigation. The case that began in 2016 was taken over in May 2017 by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. After a nearly two-year investigation, Mueller filed a lengthy report of his findings to Barr, by which point he had charged 34 people with crimes, including 26 Russian nationals. Those charged and convicted included Trump’s former campaign chairman, former personal attorney, former deputy campaign chairman and former national security adviser.

After receiving the Mueller report, Barr released a short letter summing up its main points, including that there was insufficient evidence to accuse any Trump associates of conspiring with the Russians. Barr also said Mueller had made no determination about whether Trump had sought to obstruct the investigation, but Barr and his then-deputy concluded he had not.

'Concerned' Democrats fretting DOJ inspector general ahead of FISA report

  'Concerned' Democrats fretting DOJ inspector general ahead of FISA report Democrats are getting antsy with Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz. © Provided by Washington ExaminerAhead of next month's release of a report on the Russia investigation that is eagerly anticipated by Republicans, Democrats are asking why Horowitz has not taken up their requests to assess the conduct of President Trump's attorneys general over the past couple years. "Nobody is suggesting that Michael Horowitz, the independent watchdog appointed by Obama is partisan, or is unfair, or is unethical.

The closing of the final inspector general investigation into the Russia collusion investigation promises to open the flood gates for previously During that hearing on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’ s report, Barr praised FBI Director Christopher Wray and the FBI line agents, stressing that

Key Points. The inspector general found that it was "extraordinary and insubordinate" for Comey to do his July 5 news conference without telling his bosses at The Justice Department's inspector general released its long-awaited report into the FBI ' s Clinton email investigation on Thursday, releasing a

When the full report was released, Democrats protested that Barr had improperly skewed the findings to be more favorable to Trump.

Barr has dismissed such criticism, and charged it is Democrats who are abusing legal procedures and standards in their quest to drive Trump out of the White House.

“In waging a scorched-earth, no-holds-barred war against this administration, it is the left that is engaged in shredding norms and undermining the rule of law,” Barr said in a speech earlier this month.

In his first months on the job this year, Barr made clear he had serious concerns about how the FBI had conducted the investigation into possible collusion between Trump associates and Russia.

The attorney general declared in April that the Trump campaign was spied on, though aides later said he used that term not in a pejorative sense but in the more general meaning of surveillance.

“I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal,” Barr told lawmakers. “I think spying did occur, but the question is whether it was adequately predicated and I’m not suggesting it wasn’t adequately predicated, but I need to explore that.” He also criticized former leaders of the FBI, saying, “I think there was probably a failure among a group of leaders there in the upper echelon.”

Current and former law enforcement officials have said that, when presented with information about a possible plot to undermine the U.S. election, they had a duty to investigate, and it would have been wrong not to have launched an investigation.

In the months since, Barr, through Durham, has pursued information related to a onetime associate of Papodopoulos, a European academic named Joseph Mifsud.

Mifsud was publicly linked to Russian interference efforts in late 2017, when Mueller revealed Papodopoulos had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about the details of his interactions with Mifsud.

Shortly after his name surfaced publicly, Mifsud told Italian media he did not work for Russia. “I never got any money from the Russians: my conscience is clear,” Mifsud told La Repubblica. “I am not a secret agent.”

Since then, the professor has disappeared from public life, leading to a host of theories about him and his whereabouts. While court papers filed in Mueller’s investigation suggested Mifsud operated in Russia’s interests, Papadopoulos, conservatives and conspiracy theorists have suggested he was working for Western intelligence agencies.

devlin.barrett@washpost.com

karoun.demirjian@washpost.com

Justice Department praises watchdog's upcoming report on Russia inquiry amid reported criticism by Attorney General Barr .
Justice Department lauds inspector general's work in advance of anticipated report on Russia inquiry, due to be released Dec. 9."The inspector general’s investigation is a credit to the Department of Justice," said Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec of the report, which is set for release Dec. 9. "His excellent work has uncovered significant information that the American people will soon be able to read for themselves.

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