•   
  •   
  •   

Politics Barr’s handpicked prosecutor tells inspector general he can’t back right-wing theory that Russia case was U.S. intelligence setup

01:45  05 december  2019
01:45  05 december  2019 Source:   washingtonpost.com

Barr doesn’t accept key inspector general finding about FBI’s Russia investigation

  Barr doesn’t accept key inspector general finding about FBI’s Russia investigation The attorney general has privately said he doesn’t think the inspector general can conclude yet that the FBI had enough information to open probe of a Trump campaign aide in 2016.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.

The prosecutor handpicked by Attorney General William P. Barr to scrutinize how U . S . agencies investigated President Trump’ s 2016 campaign said he could not offer evidence to the Justice Department’ s inspector general to support the suspicions of some conservatives that the case was

WASHINGTON — Attorney General William P. Barr has told Justice Department officials that he is skeptical of a conclusion by the department’ s Mr. Barr ’ s skepticism could place more pressure on John H. Durham — the federal prosecutor who is conducting a separate criminal inquiry into the

The prosecutor handpicked by Attorney General William P. Barr to scrutinize how U.S. agencies investigated President Trump’s 2016 campaign said he could not offer evidence to the Justice Department’s inspector general to support the suspicions of some conservatives that the case was a setup by American intelligence, people familiar with the matter said.

Opinions | New revelations about Barr and Giuliani strengthen case against Trump

  Opinions | New revelations about Barr and Giuliani strengthen case against Trump Even as Trump is getting impeached, his two accomplices are keeping the corrupt plot going.One of the strongest arguments made by experts testifying against President Trump is that he poses a present and continuing threat to our democracy. By adopting the stance that extorting a foreign leader into helping him rig the election was perfectly fine, Trump has confirmed he’ll keep using the levers of government to continue to corrupt it on his behalf.

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 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

Attorney General William P. Barr has told associates he disagrees with the Justice Department’ s inspector He argues that other U . S . agencies, such as the CIA The inspector general operates independently of Justice Department leadership, so Barr cannot order Horowitz to change his findings.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s office contacted U.S. Attorney John Durham, the prosecutor Barr personally tapped to lead a separate review of the 2016 probe into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, the people said. The inspector general also contacted several U.S. intelligence agencies.

Subscribe to the Post Most newsletter: Today’s most popular stories on The Washington Post

Among Horowitz’s questions: whether a Maltese professor who interacted with a Trump campaign adviser was actually a U.S. intelligence asset deployed to ensnare the campaign, the people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the inspector general’s findings have not been made public.

Trump’s favorite conspiracy theory deteriorates — courtesy of two men he hailed

  Trump’s favorite conspiracy theory deteriorates — courtesy of two men he hailed Trump has invested plenty in both an upcoming inspector general's report and John Durham's parallel investigation into the origins of the Russia probe. Signs are they won't endorse Trump's ideas about it.Subscribe to the Post Most newsletter: Today’s most popular stories on The Washington Post

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 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

Attorney General William P. Barr has told associates he disagrees with the Justice Department’ s He argues that other U . S . agencies, such as the CIA, may hold significant information that could The inspector general operates independently of Justice Department leadership, so Barr cannot order

But the intelligence agencies said the professor was not among their assets, the people said. And Durham informed Horowitz’s office that his investigation had not produced any evidence that might contradict the inspector general’s findings on that point.

Spokespersons for the inspector general’s office, Durham and the Justice Department all declined to comment.

The previously unreported interaction is noted in a draft of Horowitz’s forthcoming report on the Russia investigation, which concludes that the FBI had adequate cause to launch its Russia investigation, people familiar with the matter said. Its public release is set for Monday.

That could rebut conservatives’ doubts — which Barr has shared with associates in recent weeks — that Horowitz might be blessing the FBI’s Russia investigation prematurely, and that Durham could potentially find more, particularly with regard to the Maltese professor.

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.

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 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

Attorney General William P. Barr has told associates he disagrees with the Justice Department’ s inspector He argues that other U . S . agencies, such as the CIA The inspector general operates independently of Justice Department leadership, so Barr cannot order Horowitz to change his findings.

The draft, though, is not final. The inspector general has yet to release any conclusions, and The Washington Post has not reviewed Horowitz’s entire report, even in draft form. It is also unclear if Durham has shared the entirety of his findings and evidence with the inspector general, or merely answered a specific question.

Trump and his allies have relentlessly criticized the FBI probe, which was taken over by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, as a “witch hunt” and pushed for investigations of those who launched it. They have been eagerly anticipating the release of Horowitz’s report in hopes the watchdog with a nonpartisan reputation might validate their attacks.

Barr told CBS News in May that some of the facts he had learned about the Russia case “don’t hang together with the official explanations of what happened.” He declined to be more specific. In response to recent reports about Barr’s skepticism about the forthcoming inspector general report, Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement that the watchdog’s investigation “is a credit to the Department of Justice.”

Opinions | James Comey: The truth is finally out. The FBI fulfilled its mission.

  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 P. Barr has told associates he disagrees with the Justice Department’ s inspector He argues that other U . S . agencies, such as the CIA 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 He argues that other U . S . agencies, such as the CIA The inspector general operates independently of Justice Department leadership, so Barr cannot order Horowitz to change his findings.

“His excellent work has uncovered significant information that the American people will soon be able to read for themselves,” Kupec said. “Rather than speculating, people should read the report for themselves next week, watch the Inspector General’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and draw their own conclusions about these important matters.”

Horowitz’s draft report concludes that political bias did not taint how top FBI officials running the investigation handled the case, people familiar with the matter said. But it details troubling misconduct that Trump and his allies are likely to emphasize as they criticize the bureau.

In particular, Horowitz’s team found omissions in the FBI’s applications to renew warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, people familiar with the matter said.

4 takeaways from the Horowitz report on the Russia investigation

  4 takeaways from the Horowitz report on the Russia investigation The conspiracy theories about the origins of the probe take a hit, but it looks like this won't be the last word.As The Washington Post previously reported, the report finds that an FBI lawyer altered an email, and it details other significant shortcomings in the surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. But it also finds that the launching of the investigation was warranted and that its focus on four Trump campaign officials, including Page, was legitimate.

Attorney General William P. Barr has told associates he disagrees with the Justice Department’ s He argues that other U . S . agencies, such as the CIA, may hold significant information that could The inspector general operates independently of Justice Department leadership, so Barr cannot order

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

The applications relied at least in part on information provided by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer who was hired to investigate Trump by an opposition research firm working for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Relying on a network of sources and subsources, Steele claimed he had information on connections between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. He passed that information to the FBI.

Comey in op-ed after IG report: 'Barr needs to stop acting like a Trump spokesperson'

  Comey in op-ed after IG report: 'Barr needs to stop acting like a Trump spokesperson' Former FBI Director James Comey criticized Attorney General William Barr in a Washington Post op-ed on Monday, saying he "needs to stop acting like a Trump spokesperson." Comey called on Barr to provide "an acknowledgement of the truth" and admit he was wrong in the aftermath of Inspector General Michael Horowitz's released report on the FBI's investigation into connections between the Trump campaign and Russia."Well, the wait is over, andComey called on Barr to provide "an acknowledgement of the truth" and admit he was wrong in the aftermath of Inspector General Michael Horowitz's released report on the FBI's investigation into connections between the Trump campaign and Russia.

In 2017, before he became attorney general , Barr told The New York Times that he thought the Justice Department had more reason to investigate Hillary Clinton Earlier this year Barr appointed John Durham, a Connecticut federal prosecutor , to conduct what he said was a broader investigation

Attorney General William P. Barr listens to President Trump, Nov. A report from Inspector General Michael Horowitz will be released next week and is expected to punch large holes in “ He argues that other U . S . agencies, such as the CIA, may hold significant information that could alter Horowitz’ s

When FBI agents interviewed one of Steele’s subsources, they found Steele’s information — which he had said was raw intelligence in need of further investigation — was not entirely reliable, people familiar with the matter said. And Horowitz determined in the draft of his report that the FBI failed to convey as much in some of the later applications to surveil Page, the people said.

Those omissions, while significant, were apparently not so egregious as to convince Horowitz to conclude that the renewal applications should have been rejected. It would be unusual for the inspector general to sit in judgment over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s determinations, because his job is to review how the information was gathered and presented to the court, not whether the FISA court should have approved or rejected specific applications.

Horowitz also found that a low-level FBI lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, doctored an email that was used as part of the warrant application process — potentially significant misconduct that Durham is now exploring as a possible crime, people familiar with the matter said.

Inspector general to testify about FBI’s investigation of Trump campaign

  Inspector general to testify about FBI’s investigation of Trump campaign Michael Horowitz will answer senators’ questions about his finding of "serious failures" during the politically sensitive probe.

WASHINGTON — Attorney General William P. Barr has assigned the top federal prosecutor in Connecticut to examine the origins of the Russia investigation, according to The inspector general is said to be examining whether law enforcement officials intentionally misled the intelligence court

Clinesmith, who has not responded to inquiries about the inspector general’s findings, is a familiar name to Republicans critical of the FBI; in a previous report on the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, Horowitz found the lawyer sent messages suggesting a dislike of Trump, including one saying “Viva le resistance.”

When questioned by the inspector general about such messages, Clinesmith insisted that many of them were jokes and that he did not let his political views affect his work. A draft of his report criticizes as careless another low-level FBI agent who had some involvement in the Russia probe, the people said, though the exact reasons for that remain unclear.

Horowitz’s report addresses in detail the cause — referred to in law enforcement circles as “predication” — for opening the Russia investigation. The bureau did so after the Australian government passed to the U.S. a tip that George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign aide, had boasted about Russia having political dirt on Clinton.

The boasts came before it was publicly known the Kremlin had hacked Democratic emails and stolen information that might be damaging to Clinton’s campaign. Papadopoulos had been told of the possible dirt by Joseph Mifsud, the mysterious Maltese professor.

U.S. officials have long insisted that they were duty bound to follow-up on what seemed to be an alarming tip. The standard for opening an investigation is low. FBI officials need only an “articulable factual basis” to believe there has been possible criminal activity or a threat to national security. U.S. officials suspect that Mifsud has ties to Russian intelligence.

Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his interactions with Mifsud, has alleged, though, that he believes Mifsud is some type of Western intelligence asset, and that he was set up.

People familiar with the matter said Horowitz queried U.S. intelligence agencies to determine if there was any truth to that claim, and found no evidence Mifsud was a U.S. asset. He also reached out to Durham to see if the prosecutor had found anything that might contradict that assessment, and Durham said he had no such evidence, people familiar with the matter said.

Barr has seemed in recent months to take a keen interest in Mifsud, a shadowy figure who last surfaced two years ago for an interview with a reporter in Italy. The attorney general has had private meetings with foreign intelligence officials to ask for their assistance in the Durham investigation, and he has asked the Italian government, in particular, about their knowledge of the professor. Italian officials told him they had no involvement in the matter.

It was not immediately clear if Horowitz has examined possible ties between Mifsud and other Western governments outside the U.S., though people familiar with the draft of his report said it does not lend any credence to Papadopoulos’s allegation about the professor.

Barr could formally object to any of Horowitz’s assertions — though he could not order the independent watchdog to change anything — as the draft of the inspector general’s report is still being finalized. In recent weeks, witnesses have given Horowitz input on changes they feel are necessary.

The Justice Department typically offers a written response and sometimes objects to the conclusions of its inspector general — though generally that occurs when the watchdog is alleging misconduct and the department feels it has to defend itself, rather than when the inspector general plans to clear the department or the FBI of wrongdoing. Barr also could decline to formally weigh in, but publicly air his skepticism later, perhaps in a media interview.

matt.zapotosky@washpost.com

devlin.barrett@washpost.com

Inspector general to testify about FBI’s investigation of Trump campaign .
Michael Horowitz will answer senators’ questions about his finding of "serious failures" during the politically sensitive probe.

—   Share news in the SOC. Networks
usr: 16
This is interesting!