Attorney General Bill Barr’s decision to launch a formal investigation into the origins of the Russia probe has, it would appear, engendered a serendipitous side effect: Cooperation.
According to Fox News, several witnesses who were previously hesitant about speaking with Department of Justice Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz as per his investigation into potential Obama administration FISA abuses have since changed their minds.
“Sources familiar with the matter said at least one witness outside the Justice Department and FBI started cooperating — a breakthrough that came after Attorney General William Barr ordered U.S. Attorney John Durham to lead a separate investigation into the origins of the bureau’s 2016 Russia case that laid the foundation for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe,” Fox News confirmed late Friday.
This startling about-face is reportedly why Horowitz’s investigation did not conclude in either May or June, as the attorney general had testified earlier this year that it would.
“The Office of the Inspector General has a pending investigation of the FISA process in the Russia investigation, and I expect that will be complete sometime in May or June I am told,” Barr said while testifying before the House Appropriations Committee in early April. “So hopefully we will have some answers from Inspector General Horowitz on the FISA warrants.”
Obviously, it’s going to take Horowitz more time than expected.
“The wheels of inspector general investigations move very, very slowly,” Tom Dupree, the former Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the United States Department of Justice Civil Division, said to FNC’s Catherine Herridge.
“Like any investigation, you talk to one person, something that person tells you sends you back … to the first person, so it can be a very extensive, exhaustive process, because you are constantly picking up leads, interviewing former sources and navigating complex questions of classified information.”
While neither the witnesses nor the nature of their testimony has been revealed, what’s known is that this breakthrough follows a report in early June that former British spy Christopher Steele had finally agreed to sit with Horowitz with an interview.
“The British ex-spy, whose unverified dossier was used to obtain surveillance against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, has agreed to meet with U.S. officials if they come to London where he lives and runs an investigative firm called Orbis Business Intelligence,” the Washington Examiner reported at the time.
What Horowitz has reportedly been trying to determine is whether officials in former President Barack Hussein Obama’s FBI knowingly used Steele’s fraudulent, Democrat-funded dossier to obtain surveillance warrants on the president’s 2016 presidential campaign election officials.
“The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year that Horowitz has been asking witnesses about the FBI’s treatment of information provided by Steele, described as a ‘key source’ for the FBI,” the Examiner notes.
“Horowitz has been looking into potential Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act abuse since early 2018 and is reportedly ‘homing in’ on the potential misuse of Steele’s unverified dossier by the Justice Department and FBI.”
“We have profound concerns about the volume and extent of unauthorized media contacts by FBI personnel.”
-DOJ Inspector General Horowitz
The Dossier was the big lie. Never forget: the bigger the lie and the more people talking about it, the more likely people will believe it.
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) September 14, 2018
As for how much longer the American people will have to wait for the IG’s report, FNC estimates that the completion period — which will reportedly involve “classification issues and could take weeks” — should be starting right about now.
As basis for this, FNC cites “largely unrelated testimony” delivered by Horowitz last November.
“What I can say is given the volume of documents we’ve had and the number of witnesses it looks like we’ll need to interview, we are likely to be in the same sort of general range of documents and witnesses as the last report,” he said, referencing his previous investigation into the FBI’s handling of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email scandal.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if we are in that million or so plus range of documents and a hundred-ish or so interviews. The last review, as you know, took us about … 16 months or so.”
“If that same guidance holds, the window for completion would begin this month, though it remains unclear how much the DOJ/FBI review and the additional interviews could delay the process,” Fox reported.
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Dovetailing back to Steele, he initially declined to speak with Horowitz.
“He declined to be interviewed by the inspector general, citing, among other things, the potential impropriety of his involvement in an internal Justice Department investigation as a foreign national and former British intelligence agent,” Politico reported in April.
The disgraced former spy also vowed “to rebut the Inspector General’s characterizations, if necessary, in the form of a rare public statement, according to people familiar with his plans.”
One month later, he completely changed his story. This time sources close to him said he was willing to cooperate with Horowitz but NOT with Barr’s “bulldog.”
“The source close to Steele’s company said Steele would not cooperate with Durham’s probe but might cooperate with a parallel inquiry by the Justice Department’s Inspector General into how U.S. law enforcement agencies handled pre-election investigations into both Trump and Clinton,” Reuters reported at the time.
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