Michael Horowitz, the DOJ Inspector General, has released his long awaited report into the origins of the DOJ’s and FBI’s investigation into the President’s 2016 campaign. The report can be found here and I’m uploading it below.
The bottom line up front: the Crossfire Hurricane investigation and the four related investigations, including those into Carter Page and George Papadapolous, were properly predicated and there was no political bias. So no bias and no corruption. No coup, no deep state conspiracy. Nothing, nada, bupkis.
Here’s the key findings from the Executive Summary (emphasis mine):
In Full Investigations such as Crossfire Hurricane, all lawful investigative methods are allowed. In Preliminary Investigations, all lawful investigative methods (including the use of CHSs and UCEs) are permitted except for mail opening, physical searches requiring a search warrant, electronic surveillance requiring a judicial order or warrant (Title III wiretap or a FISA order), or requests under Title VII of FISA. An investigation opened as a Preliminary Investigation may be converted subsequently to a Full Investigation if information becomes available that meets the predication standard. As we describe in the report, all of the investigative actions taken by the Crossfire Hurricane team, from the date the case was opened on July 31 until October 21 (the date of the first FISA order) would have been permitted whether the case was opened as a Preliminary or Full Investigation.
The AG Guidelines and the DIOG do not provide heightened predication standards for sensitive matters, or allegations potentially impacting constitutionally protected activity, such as First Amendment rights. Rather, the approval and notification requirements contained in the AG Guidelines and the DIOG are, in part, intended to provide the means by which such concerns can be considered by senior officials. However, we were concerned to find that neither the AG Guidelines nor the DIOG contain a provision requiring Department consultation before opening an investigation such as the one here involving the alleged conduct of individuals associated with a major party presidential campaign.
Crossfire Hurricane was opened as a Full Investigation and all of the senior FBI officials who participated in discussions about whether to open acase told us the information warranted opening it. For example, then Counterintelligence Division (CD) Assistant Director (AD) E.W. “Bill” Priestap, who approved the case opening, told us that the combination of the FFG information and the FBI’s ongoing cyber intrusion investigation of the July 2016 hacks of the Democratic Nat ional Committee’s (DNC) emails, created a count erintelligence concern that the FBI was “obligated” to investigate. Priestap stated that he considered whether the FBI should conduct defensive briefings for the Trump campaign but ultimately decided that providing such briefings created the risk that “if someone on the campaign was engaged with the Russians, he/she would very likely changehis/her tactics and/or otherwise seek to cover-up his/her activities, thereby preventing us from finding the truth.” We did not identify any Department or FBI policy that applied to this decision and therefore determined that the decision was a judgment call that Department and FBI policy leaves to the discretion of FBI officials. We also concluded that, under the AG Guidelines and the DIOG, the FBI had an authorized purpose when it opened Crossfire Hurricane to obtain information about, or protect against, a national security threat or federal crime, even though the investigation also had the potential to impact constitutionally protected activity.
Additionally, given the low threshold for predication in the AG Guidelines and the DIOG, we concluded that the FFG information, provided by agovernment the United States Intelligence Community (USIC) deems trustworthy, and describing a first-hand account from an FFG employee of a conversation with Papadopoulos, was sufficient to predicate the investigation.This information provided the FBI with an articulable factual basis that, if true, reasonably indicated activity constituting either a federal crime or a threat to national security, or both, may have occurred or may be occurring. For similar reasons, as we detail in Chapter Three, we concluded that the quantum of information articulated by the FBI to open the individual investigations on Papadopoulos, Page, Flynn, and Manafort in August 2016 was sufficient to satisfy the low threshold established by the Department and the FBI.
As part of our review, we also sought to determine whether there was evidence that political bias or other improper considerations affected decision making in Crossfire Hurricane,including the decision to open the investigation. We discussed the issue of political bias in a prior OIG report, Review of Various Actions in Advance of the 2016 Election, where we described text and instant messages between then Special Counsel to the Deputy Director Lisa Page and then Section Chief Peter Strzok, among others, that included statements of hostility toward then candidate Trump and statements of support for then candidate Hillary Clinton. In this review, we found that, while Lisa Page attended some of the discussions regarding the opening of the investigations, she did not play a role in the decision to open Crossfire Hurricane or the four individual cases. We further found that while Strzok was directly involved in the decisions to open Crossfire Hurricane and the four individual cases, he was not the sole, or even the highest-level, decision maker as to any of those matters. As noted above, then CD AD Priestap, Strzok’s supervisor, was the official who ultimately made the decision to open the investigation, and evidence reflected that this decision by Priestap was reached by consensus after multiple days of discussions and meetings that included Strzok and other leadership in CD, the FBI Deputy Director, the FBI General Counsel, and a FBI Deputy General Counsel. We concluded that Priestap’s exercise of discretion in opening the investigation was in compliance with Department and FBI policies, and we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced his decision. We similarly found that, while the formal documentation opening each of the four individual investigations was approved by Strzok (as required by the DIOG), the decisions to do so were reached by a consensus among the Crossfire “Hurricane agents and analysts who identified individuals associated with the Trump campaign who had recently traveled to Russia or had other alleged ties to Russia. Priestap was involved in these decisions. We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions to open the four individual investigations.
IG Horowitz did, as is the case in almost every IG investigation, found some low level wrongdoing and other minor errors. There are always decisions made or actions taken that, in hindsight, should have been made differently or not taken at all. Had IG Horowitz found nothing at all, then things would have looked as hinky as if he’d found the whole thing to be unpredicated and biased.
Attorney General Barr, however, is not happy with these conclusions. And he is once again, as he did with the Mueller Report, trying to place both hands on the scale to justify his ideologically driven priors.
Barr again in statement defending Trump: “It is also clear that, from its inception, the evidence produced by the investigation was consistently exculpatory.”
— Shimon Prokupecz (@ShimonPro) December 9, 2019
Given that AG Barr isn’t going to let this go, because it interferes in his career long mission to establish the presidency as an unelected king who is free from all constitutional and statutory constraints, despite Inspector General Horowitz’s findings, AG Barr and his surrogates, as well as the President and his, will continue to try to undermine the findings, as well as the actual reasons for the investigation into the President’s 2016 campaign. It is important to remember that during AG Barr’s first appointment as the Attorney General he created a factually dubious predicate that was used to create the inquiry that would eventually become the Whitewater investigation into the Clintons. This was done while then Governor Clinton was running for president against President Bush (41), who was Barr’s boss and shortly after he advised President Bush (41) to pardon all of the Iran-Contra conspirators, which would make it impossible to actually ascertain how much or how little President Bush (41) was involved in that criminal conspiracy to subvert American foreign and national security policy. Barr is an old hand at fixing investigations as attorney general. Either to make them go away or to create them. And both for political benefit. Despite IG Horowitz’s findings, this is not over. And it is not over because Attorney General Barr doesn’t want it to be over. And he will only want it to be over when he is able to arrange the conclusions in line with his preferences.