WaPo uses anonymous sources to claim dispute between Horowitz and Barr over justification of FBI's Russia investigation

The Deep State's game plan is now becoming clear: any indictments coming from the Durham investigation will be tarred as politically motivated and tainted by the biased Attorney General William Barr, who is out to protect a rogue president.  That is what lies behind this anonymously sourced story in the Washington Post today, alleging, "Barr doesn't accept key inspector general finding about FBI's Russia 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 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.

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.

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.

It's not yet clear how Barr plans to make his objection to Horowitz's conclusion known.


Caricature by Donkey Hotey.

It is important to keep in mind two factors in evaluating whatever Horowitz's conclusions might have been — keeping in mind that we don't even have a good idea of what, exactly, the Horowitz report will say.  The leaks so far almost certainly have been based on persons named in the report who have been offered the chance to review those sections of the report mentioning them, and allowed to submit rebuttals.  Such persons have not seen the entire report.

The three factors are these:

First, Horowitz was directly tasked not with evaluating the origins of Crossfire Hurricane, but rather with the FISA warrants.  Sundance of The Conservative Treehouse believes that this  makes his review incomplete:

Horowitz was/is focused on the DOJ and FBI compliance with legal requirements for the FISA application that was assembled for use in October 2016, and renewed throughout 2017.

So what we are seeing in the Washington Post framework is the intentional use of a narrow IG review to obfuscate, provide cover, and conflate a larger investigation undertaken by U.S. Attorney Durham. The media attempt to conflate two narratives is not accidental.

Retired FBI agent Mark Wauck (a frequent AT contributor) partially disagrees:

I get the point, but here's the problem: the two issues are related. In order to even apply for a FISA order, the FBI must first have a Full Investigation opened. It would make sense, therefore, for the IG to examine whether the FBI had followed the AG Guidelines in opening the Crossfire Hurricane investigation as a Full Investigation (as opposed to, say, a Preliminary Investigation). It could, in fact, be argued that the IG was bound to conduct such an examination.

But in the same blog post, Mark touches on the second fundamental point to keep in mind:

OTOH, it's possible that the IG — knowing that Barr had tasked John Durham with getting to the bottom of the origins of the Russia Hoax — refrained from a determinative conclusion but instead stated that based on available information he accepts that the Full Investigation was properly predicated. From that it's possible that the WaPo's sources would try to spin that Horowitz had given a blanket endorsement to the opening predication, when that might not really be the case.

We already have abundant evidence that Horowitz never draws inferences from the data he uncovers.  In other words, absent documentary or testimonial evidence directly implicating someone (such as a forged submission to the FISA court), he does not make a criminal inference or referral.  See, for example, this 2018 I.G. report:

There were clearly tensions and disagreements in a number of important areas between Midyear agents and prosecutors. However, we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that improper considerations, including political bias, directly affected the specific investigative decisions we reviewed in Chapter Five, or that the justifications offered for these decisions were pretextual.

Nobody directly says or writes, "I was biased."  So one needs to infer bias, and that is something Horowitz never does.  But prosecutors can and do ask jurors to make such inferences and sometimes win guilty verdicts.

The third factor to keep in mind that Horowitz is limited to questioning current employees of the Department of Justice (including the FBI).  Fired ex-employees cannot be questioned, nor can employees of other agencies, including the CIA.  Durham, by contrast can subpoena and question such people and others.  They would have valuable evidence unavailable to Horowitz.

But the Deep State allies will gloss over such factors, if they mention them at all.  They are trying to build a false narrative demonizing Barr and those like Durham who work for him.

The Deep State's game plan is now becoming clear: any indictments coming from the Durham investigation will be tarred as politically motivated and tainted by the biased Attorney General William Barr, who is out to protect a rogue president.  That is what lies behind this anonymously sourced story in the Washington Post today, alleging, "Barr doesn't accept key inspector general finding about FBI's Russia 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 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.

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.

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.

It's not yet clear how Barr plans to make his objection to Horowitz's conclusion known.


Caricature by Donkey Hotey.

It is important to keep in mind two factors in evaluating whatever Horowitz's conclusions might have been — keeping in mind that we don't even have a good idea of what, exactly, the Horowitz report will say.  The leaks so far almost certainly have been based on persons named in the report who have been offered the chance to review those sections of the report mentioning them, and allowed to submit rebuttals.  Such persons have not seen the entire report.

The three factors are these:

First, Horowitz was directly tasked not with evaluating the origins of Crossfire Hurricane, but rather with the FISA warrants.  Sundance of The Conservative Treehouse believes that this  makes his review incomplete:

Horowitz was/is focused on the DOJ and FBI compliance with legal requirements for the FISA application that was assembled for use in October 2016, and renewed throughout 2017.

So what we are seeing in the Washington Post framework is the intentional use of a narrow IG review to obfuscate, provide cover, and conflate a larger investigation undertaken by U.S. Attorney Durham. The media attempt to conflate two narratives is not accidental.

Retired FBI agent Mark Wauck (a frequent AT contributor) partially disagrees:

I get the point, but here's the problem: the two issues are related. In order to even apply for a FISA order, the FBI must first have a Full Investigation opened. It would make sense, therefore, for the IG to examine whether the FBI had followed the AG Guidelines in opening the Crossfire Hurricane investigation as a Full Investigation (as opposed to, say, a Preliminary Investigation). It could, in fact, be argued that the IG was bound to conduct such an examination.

But in the same blog post, Mark touches on the second fundamental point to keep in mind:

OTOH, it's possible that the IG — knowing that Barr had tasked John Durham with getting to the bottom of the origins of the Russia Hoax — refrained from a determinative conclusion but instead stated that based on available information he accepts that the Full Investigation was properly predicated. From that it's possible that the WaPo's sources would try to spin that Horowitz had given a blanket endorsement to the opening predication, when that might not really be the case.

We already have abundant evidence that Horowitz never draws inferences from the data he uncovers.  In other words, absent documentary or testimonial evidence directly implicating someone (such as a forged submission to the FISA court), he does not make a criminal inference or referral.  See, for example, this 2018 I.G. report:

There were clearly tensions and disagreements in a number of important areas between Midyear agents and prosecutors. However, we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that improper considerations, including political bias, directly affected the specific investigative decisions we reviewed in Chapter Five, or that the justifications offered for these decisions were pretextual.

Nobody directly says or writes, "I was biased."  So one needs to infer bias, and that is something Horowitz never does.  But prosecutors can and do ask jurors to make such inferences and sometimes win guilty verdicts.

The third factor to keep in mind that Horowitz is limited to questioning current employees of the Department of Justice (including the FBI).  Fired ex-employees cannot be questioned, nor can employees of other agencies, including the CIA.  Durham, by contrast can subpoena and question such people and others.  They would have valuable evidence unavailable to Horowitz.

But the Deep State allies will gloss over such factors, if they mention them at all.  They are trying to build a false narrative demonizing Barr and those like Durham who work for him.