For weeks, it’s been speculated the long-awaited review of alleged surveillance abuses by the Department of Justice and the FBI during the investigation into Russia’s purported meddling in the 2016 presidential election could drop any day.
It’s still not here.
For more than a year and a half, Inspector General Michael Horowitz has been investigating alleged misconduct related to the FISA warrants delivered by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). The Justice Department and FBI obtained warrants in 2016 to surveil Trump adviser Carter Page. It is unclear, at this point, if Page was the only Trump official to the DOJ obtained a FISA warrant against.
That highly anticipated report will likely spark new congressional investigations and deliver critical information to other federal reviews probing allegations of abuse by the Justice Department and the FBI.
DOJ WATCHDOG SUBMITS DRAFT FISA REPORT TO BARR
“As soon as Horowitz is done with his review of the FISA warrant application, the counterintelligence investigation, the Trump campaign, we’ll have a hearing in public with Horowitz and we’ll call a bunch of witnesses,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on Fox Business’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”
Last month, Horowitz submitted a draft of his report to Attorney General Bill Barr, who was reviewing the document — fueling the belief that the public release was coming soon.
But a Justice Department official told Fox News last week that the report is still in the declassification process — one of the final steps to be completed before the report is released to the public.
“The FBI and the DOJ are working together smoothly on the declassification process,” the official told Fox News.
President Trump — who has the authority to declassify and release as much of the report as he wants — has been hyping its forthcoming release. “The IG report is going to come out soon, and we’ll see what happens,” the president told reporters last week, adding he’s “waiting for the report like everybody else.”
“But I predict you will see things that you don’t even believe, the level of corruption — whether it’s [James] Comey; whether it’s [Peter] Strzok and his lover, [Lisa] Page; whether it’s so many other people — [Andrew] McCabe; whether it’s President Obama himself,” Trump charged.
He added: “Let’s see whether or not it’s President Obama. Let’s see whether or not they put that in.”
Horowitz has been probing how the infamous and salacious anti-Trump dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele was used to secure the original FISA warrant for Page in October 2016, as well as three renewals.
Horowitz also has looked into why the FBI may have regarded Steele – funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign through law firm Perkins Coie – a credible source, and why the bureau used news reports to bolster Steele’s credibility before the FISA court.
But the inspector general’s investigation is not the only probe related to alleged misconduct at the onset of the investigation into Russian meddling and potential collusion with Trump campaign associates.
Graham has vowed to probe alleged FISA abuses at the start of the Russia investigation, saying he would look for answers on how much money the Democrats paid research firm Fusion GPS to commission the dossier compiled by Steele, or if the contents of the dossier have been verified.
As part of that investigation, Graham has said that he could call on Justice Department official Bruce Ohr and former FBI Director James Comey to appear before his panel. Graham had pushed for the appointment of a second special counsel to probe the allegations into “whether or not a counterintelligence investigation was opened as a back door to spy on the Trump campaign.”
The attorney general has also appointed U.S. Attorney from Connecticut John Durham to take on the probe to investigate possible misconduct by the intelligence community at the origins of the Russia investigation. Durham, who is known as a “hard-charging, bulldog” prosecutor, was asked to help Barr “ensure that intelligence collection activities by the U.S. government related to the Trump 2016 presidential campaign were lawful and appropriate.” Durham also is probing whether Democrats were the ones who had improperly colluded with foreign actors.
IG REPORT IN DECLASSIFICATION PROCESS
Durham was reviewing the days leading up to the 2016 election and through the inauguration. But based on his initial findings, he has expanded the probe to include a post-election timeline through spring 2017 — up to when Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel.
As part of the probe, Barr and Durham traveled to Italy to speak to law enforcement officials about their investigation, and also had conversations with officials in the U.K. and Australia about the investigation, according to multiple sources familiar with the meetings.
The attorney “is gathering information from numerous sources, including a number of foreign countries. At Attorney General Barr’s request, the president has contacted other countries to ask them to introduce the attorney general and Mr. Durham to appropriate officials,” Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said last month.
Durham’s review is separate from another probe run by U.S. Attorney John Huber from Utah. Huber was appointed in 2017 by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to review not only alleged surveillance abuses by the Justice Department and the FBI but also the handling of the probe into the Clinton Foundation and other matters. Republicans, for months, had expressed concerns about Huber’s probe saying he’s made little progress.
It is unclear at this point if Huber’s investigation is complete, or whether it could dovetail with the current review being led by Barr and Durham.
Fox News’ Jake Gibson, Gregg Re and Alex Pappas contributed to this report.