Horowitz offers sound bites to Dems, facts to Republicans

It would be a great understatement to say that Michael Horowitz, the Department of Justice inspector general, doesn't leap to conclusions.  In fact, he does everything possible to ignore reasonable conclusions from the evidence he found and emphasizes the evidence that he didn't find justifying his lack of a conclusion.  His latest report on the handling of the FISA warrants used to spy on the Trump campaign states:

[W]e did not conclude that the decision [to pursue an investigation of the Trump campaign] was based on improper considerations in the absence of documentary or testimonial evidence to the contrary. [emphasis added]

In other words, because nobody outright testified or wrote that he was launching Crossfire Hurricane out of hatred for President Trump, Horowitz will not draw that conclusion, even with all the Trump-hatred evident in the text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.

This handed James Comey the opportunity to claim vindication (and lie) and the MSM the chance to falsely claim that the Horowitz I.G. report "exonerates" the FBI.

They had better enjoy this sugar rush while it lasts, because Horowitz will be testifying tomorrow before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he will have to make explicit all the other evidence that he disregarded in not drawing the obvious conclusion.  And as the factual information gathered sinks in, and as indictments follow, the miscreants will barely remember their initial crowing.

Attorney General Barr and U.S. attorney John Durham did not hesitate in offering counter-interpretations and conclusions.  Barr's statement was politely blunt.


Caricature by Donkey Hotey.

The key paragraph:

The Inspector General's report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken.  It is also clear that, from its inception, the evidence produced by the investigation was consistently exculpatory.  Nevertheless, the investigation and surveillance was pushed forward for the duration of the campaign and deep into President Trump's administration.  In the rush to obtain and maintain FISA surveillance of Trump campaign associates, FBI officials misled the FISA court, omitted critical exculpatory facts from their filings, and suppressed or ignored information negating the reliability of their principal source.  The Inspector General found the explanations given for these actions unsatisfactory.  While most of the misconduct identified by the Inspector General was committed in 2016 and 2017 by a small group of now-former FBI officials, the malfeasance and misfeasance detailed in the Inspector General's report reflects a clear abuse of the FISA process.

Durham's statement made clear the limitations Horowitz faced:

I have the utmost respect for the mission of the Office of Inspector General and the comprehensive work that went into the report prepared by Mr. Horowitz and his staff.  However, our investigation is not limited to developing information from within component parts of the Justice Department.  Our investigation has included developing information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S.  Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report's conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened.  [Emphasis added.]

For rundowns on all the damning evidence Horowitz did find, see summaries by Jonathan Turley in The Hill; Jeff Carlson in Epoch Times; and, most concisely, this Twitter thread by Kimberly Strassel of the Wall Street Journal:

1) Key findings of Horowitz report: --Yup, IG said FBI hit threshold for opening an investigation. But also goes out of its way to note what a "low threshold" this is. Durham's statement made clear he will provide more info for Americans to make a judgment on reasonableness.

2) The report is triumph for former House Intel Chair Devin Nunes, who first blew the whistle on FISA abuse. The report confirms all the elements of the February 2018 Nunes memo, which said dossier was as an "essential" part of applications, and FBI withheld info from FISA court

3)Conversely, report is an excoriation of Adam Schiff and his "memo" of Feb 2018. That doc stated that "FBI and DOJ officials did NOT abuse the [FISA] process" or "omit material information." Also claimed FBI didn't much rely on dossier.

4)In fact, IG report says dossier played "central and essential role" in getting FISA warrants. Schiff had access to same documents as Nunes, yet chose to misinform the public. This is the guy who just ran impeachment proceedings.

5) Report is a devastating indictment of Steele, Fusion GPS and the "dossier." Report finds that about the only thing FBI ever corroborated in that doc were publicly available times, places, title names. Ouch.

6)IG finds 17 separate problems with FISA court submissions, including FBI's overstatement of Steele's credentials. Also the failure to provide court with exculpatory evidence and issues with Steele's sources and additional info it got about Steele's credibility.

7) Every one of these "issues" is a story all on its own. Example: The FBI had tapes of Page and Papadopoulos making statements that were inconsistent with FBI's own collusion theories. They did not provide these to the FISA court.

8) Another example: FBI later got info from professional contacts with Steele who said he suffered from "lack of self awareness, poor judgement" and "pursued people" with "no intelligence value." FBI also did not tell the court about these credibility concerns.

9)And this: FBI failed to tell Court that Page was approved as an "operational contact" for another U.S. agency, and "candidly" reported his interactions with a Russian intel officer. FBI instead used that Russian interaction against Page, with no exculpatory detail.

10)Overall, IG was so concerned by these "extensive compliance failures" that is has now initiated additional "oversight" to assess how FBI in general complies with "policies that seek to protect the civil liberties of U.S. persons."

11) Report also expressed concerns about FBI's failure to present any of these issues to DOJ higher ups; its ongoing contacts with Steele after he was fired for talking to media; and its use of spies against the campaign without any DOJ input.

12) Remember Comey telling us it was no big deal who paid for dossier? Turns out it was a big deal in FBI/DOJ, where one lawyer (Stuart Evans) expressed "concerns" it had been funded by Clinton/DNC. Because of his "consistent inquiries" we go that convoluted footnote.

13) IG also slaps FBI for using what was supposed to be a baseline briefing for the Trump campaign of foreign intelligence threats as a surreptitious opportunity to investigate Flynn.

14) Finally, intriguing just how many people at the FBI don't remember anything about anything. Highly convenient.

15)Last point. When IG says he found no "documentary" evidence of bias, he means just that: He didn't find smoking gun email that says "let's take out Trump." And it isn't his job to guess at the motivations of FBI employees. Instead...

16) He straightforwardly lays out facts. Those facts produce a pattern of FBI playing the FISA Court--overstating some info, omitting other info, cherrypicking details. Americans can look at totality and make their own judgment as to "why" FBI behaved in such a manner.

The judges on the FISA Court and the chief justice who appointed them and supervises their work have a lot of explaining to do, specifically over what disciplinary actions they intend to follow in light of the frauds perpetrated upon them.  Some elements of the FSA law are sunsetting in less than a week.  Let's hope the judges and chief justice will be called to testify, if not in the next few days, well before any possible Senate impeachment trial.

It would be a great understatement to say that Michael Horowitz, the Department of Justice inspector general, doesn't leap to conclusions.  In fact, he does everything possible to ignore reasonable conclusions from the evidence he found and emphasizes the evidence that he didn't find justifying his lack of a conclusion.  His latest report on the handling of the FISA warrants used to spy on the Trump campaign states:

[W]e did not conclude that the decision [to pursue an investigation of the Trump campaign] was based on improper considerations in the absence of documentary or testimonial evidence to the contrary. [emphasis added]

In other words, because nobody outright testified or wrote that he was launching Crossfire Hurricane out of hatred for President Trump, Horowitz will not draw that conclusion, even with all the Trump-hatred evident in the text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.

This handed James Comey the opportunity to claim vindication (and lie) and the MSM the chance to falsely claim that the Horowitz I.G. report "exonerates" the FBI.

They had better enjoy this sugar rush while it lasts, because Horowitz will be testifying tomorrow before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he will have to make explicit all the other evidence that he disregarded in not drawing the obvious conclusion.  And as the factual information gathered sinks in, and as indictments follow, the miscreants will barely remember their initial crowing.

Attorney General Barr and U.S. attorney John Durham did not hesitate in offering counter-interpretations and conclusions.  Barr's statement was politely blunt.


Caricature by Donkey Hotey.

The key paragraph:

The Inspector General's report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken.  It is also clear that, from its inception, the evidence produced by the investigation was consistently exculpatory.  Nevertheless, the investigation and surveillance was pushed forward for the duration of the campaign and deep into President Trump's administration.  In the rush to obtain and maintain FISA surveillance of Trump campaign associates, FBI officials misled the FISA court, omitted critical exculpatory facts from their filings, and suppressed or ignored information negating the reliability of their principal source.  The Inspector General found the explanations given for these actions unsatisfactory.  While most of the misconduct identified by the Inspector General was committed in 2016 and 2017 by a small group of now-former FBI officials, the malfeasance and misfeasance detailed in the Inspector General's report reflects a clear abuse of the FISA process.

Durham's statement made clear the limitations Horowitz faced:

I have the utmost respect for the mission of the Office of Inspector General and the comprehensive work that went into the report prepared by Mr. Horowitz and his staff.  However, our investigation is not limited to developing information from within component parts of the Justice Department.  Our investigation has included developing information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S.  Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report's conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened.  [Emphasis added.]

For rundowns on all the damning evidence Horowitz did find, see summaries by Jonathan Turley in The Hill; Jeff Carlson in Epoch Times; and, most concisely, this Twitter thread by Kimberly Strassel of the Wall Street Journal:

1) Key findings of Horowitz report: --Yup, IG said FBI hit threshold for opening an investigation. But also goes out of its way to note what a "low threshold" this is. Durham's statement made clear he will provide more info for Americans to make a judgment on reasonableness.

2) The report is triumph for former House Intel Chair Devin Nunes, who first blew the whistle on FISA abuse. The report confirms all the elements of the February 2018 Nunes memo, which said dossier was as an "essential" part of applications, and FBI withheld info from FISA court

3)Conversely, report is an excoriation of Adam Schiff and his "memo" of Feb 2018. That doc stated that "FBI and DOJ officials did NOT abuse the [FISA] process" or "omit material information." Also claimed FBI didn't much rely on dossier.

4)In fact, IG report says dossier played "central and essential role" in getting FISA warrants. Schiff had access to same documents as Nunes, yet chose to misinform the public. This is the guy who just ran impeachment proceedings.

5) Report is a devastating indictment of Steele, Fusion GPS and the "dossier." Report finds that about the only thing FBI ever corroborated in that doc were publicly available times, places, title names. Ouch.

6)IG finds 17 separate problems with FISA court submissions, including FBI's overstatement of Steele's credentials. Also the failure to provide court with exculpatory evidence and issues with Steele's sources and additional info it got about Steele's credibility.

7) Every one of these "issues" is a story all on its own. Example: The FBI had tapes of Page and Papadopoulos making statements that were inconsistent with FBI's own collusion theories. They did not provide these to the FISA court.

8) Another example: FBI later got info from professional contacts with Steele who said he suffered from "lack of self awareness, poor judgement" and "pursued people" with "no intelligence value." FBI also did not tell the court about these credibility concerns.

9)And this: FBI failed to tell Court that Page was approved as an "operational contact" for another U.S. agency, and "candidly" reported his interactions with a Russian intel officer. FBI instead used that Russian interaction against Page, with no exculpatory detail.

10)Overall, IG was so concerned by these "extensive compliance failures" that is has now initiated additional "oversight" to assess how FBI in general complies with "policies that seek to protect the civil liberties of U.S. persons."

11) Report also expressed concerns about FBI's failure to present any of these issues to DOJ higher ups; its ongoing contacts with Steele after he was fired for talking to media; and its use of spies against the campaign without any DOJ input.

12) Remember Comey telling us it was no big deal who paid for dossier? Turns out it was a big deal in FBI/DOJ, where one lawyer (Stuart Evans) expressed "concerns" it had been funded by Clinton/DNC. Because of his "consistent inquiries" we go that convoluted footnote.

13) IG also slaps FBI for using what was supposed to be a baseline briefing for the Trump campaign of foreign intelligence threats as a surreptitious opportunity to investigate Flynn.

14) Finally, intriguing just how many people at the FBI don't remember anything about anything. Highly convenient.

15)Last point. When IG says he found no "documentary" evidence of bias, he means just that: He didn't find smoking gun email that says "let's take out Trump." And it isn't his job to guess at the motivations of FBI employees. Instead...

16) He straightforwardly lays out facts. Those facts produce a pattern of FBI playing the FISA Court--overstating some info, omitting other info, cherrypicking details. Americans can look at totality and make their own judgment as to "why" FBI behaved in such a manner.

The judges on the FISA Court and the chief justice who appointed them and supervises their work have a lot of explaining to do, specifically over what disciplinary actions they intend to follow in light of the frauds perpetrated upon them.  Some elements of the FSA law are sunsetting in less than a week.  Let's hope the judges and chief justice will be called to testify, if not in the next few days, well before any possible Senate impeachment trial.