Barr, Durham have problems with OIG report

My initial take away from the Office of Inspector General’s report on FISAgate was that Michael Horowitz found abuses within the DOJ and FBI on American citizens and their right not to be spied upon by the government.

While Horowitz had no right to charge anyone with a crime, he could have made criminal referrals in his report. The fact that he chose not to brought an immediate backlash from his boss Attorney General Bill Barr and federal prosecutor John Durham, who is criminally investigating the Obama administration’s involvement in Spygate and FISA court abuses.

Barr was first out of the shoot with his rebuttal. While thanking Horowitz for his report, the AG goes much further in his assessment of a “soft coup” being operated out of the Justice Department.

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.

US Attorney Durham had a stronger point with the Horowitz report. Durham in a brief statement pointed out there was disagreement between the two men over the instigation and continuation of the illegal spying on President Trump’s campaign aides.

One caveat is that Durham has a much wider scope than Horowitz’s report. Durham is looking into the Obama intelligence agencies and its role in SpyGate and FISAgate as well as foreign operatives working with our spy agencies.

Here is Durham’s statement in full:

“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.”

One point I have say in the OIG report is with the testimony of the Obama administration’s Attorney General at the time Loretta Lynch. She told Horowitz that her office was not aware of any official dealings with Trump aide Carter Page and FISA surveillance.

I find that incredulous. The FBI was seeking a secret warrant to spy on an American and FBI Director James Comey did not got to his boss to get approval?

Perhaps that is one of the big problems Durham has with the report. Time will tell.

 

Attorney General Barr’s full statement is down below.

“Nothing is more important than the credibility and integrity of the FBI and the Department of Justice.  That is why we must hold our investigators and prosecutors to the highest ethical and professional standards.  The Inspector General’s investigation has provided critical transparency and accountability, and his work is a credit to the Department of Justice.  I would like to thank the Inspector General and his team.

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.

FISA is an essential tool for the protection of the safety of the American people.  The Department of Justice and the FBI are committed to taking whatever steps are necessary to rectify the abuses that occurred and to ensure the integrity of the FISA process going forward.

No one is more dismayed about the handling of these FISA applications than Director Wray.  I have full confidence in Director Wray and his team at the FBI, as well as the thousands of dedicated line agents who work tirelessly to protect our country.  I thank the Director for the comprehensive set of proposed reforms he is announcing today, and I look forward to working with him to implement these and any other appropriate measures.

With respect to DOJ personnel discussed in the report, the Department will follow all appropriate processes and procedures, including as to any potential disciplinary action.”