The biggest bombshell on Monday burst not in Washington, D.C., but in Connecticut, where John Durham, its U.S. attorney, rebutted Michael Horowitz’s finding that the FBI had adequate grounds to begin an investigation of the Trump campaign. No, it didn’t, said Durham:
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.
Translation: Durham has collected much more information than Horowitz, and it points toward the conclusion that the investigation was bogus from the start.
Naturally, the media is portraying Horowitz’s timid conclusion as a refutation of Trump while ignoring the import of Durham’s objection. Reporters have also scoffed at Attorney General Bill Barr’s comments buttressing Durham’s position. How outrageous, they harrumphed, that Barr would “undercut” a subordinate.
But it is not even clear if Horowitz really believes that Obama’s FBI had good reason to open an investigation on the Trump campaign. If you read his report closely, he in effect says that the FBI met the threshold for opening up the investigation, but that’s only because it is exceedingly low. That’s not much of an endorsement of the solidity of Crossfire Hurricane, the name the FBI gave the investigation.
In many parts of the report, Horowitz raises more questions than he answers. For example, he mentions in passing that the FBI considered giving the Trump campaign a head’s up on the investigation but decided against that on the grounds it would allow the suspected colluders to change their behavior. Why Horowitz accepts that as a sound explanation for not giving Trump a defensive briefing on the possibility of Russian spies in his campaign isn’t clear, especially since James Comey hair-splittingly claimed it was never an investigation of “Trump” but merely members of his campaign.
In other words, Trump was right from the beginning: a politicized CIA and FBI imagined the worst about him and were gunning for him from the start. They used foul means to obtain spying warrants against his aides that gave agents the power to intercept his communications. At the very moment Comey was denying that the Obama administration spied on Trump Tower, he had sitting on his desk FISA warrants, based on nothing more than Hillary-financed opposition research, that gave him the power to reach into the campaign’s communications, past, present, and future. Horowitz details a host of improprieties that led to those sweeping warrants.
In truth, very little of the report exonerates the FBI, contrary to the Left’s spin. If anything, the report makes the FBI look like a politically crude amateur hour. By relying so heavily on Hillary Clinton’s opposition researcher Christopher Steele, the FBI basically let her purchase FISA warrants against her opponent’s campaign.
Some of Horowitz’s findings are grimly comic, such as his discovery that at the very moment the FBI was casting Carter Page as a probable Russian agent it was hiding from the FISA court his status as a source for the CIA. So much for John Brennan’s vaunted “interagency” coordination.
It bears repeating that the FBI went 0 for 4 in its assessment of the Trump campaign, claiming falsely to the FISA court that Page, Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, and George Papadopoulos were all “probable” Russian agents. How could the FBI have been so wrong? James Comey breezily says that failure is no big deal, that “human beings make mistakes.”
Horowitz, who is a creature of official Washington, is loath to interpret such rationalizations from fellow bureaucrats in a sinister light. Durham is under no such constraints. Unlike Horowitz, he also has the power to compel testimony. (Horowitz notes that he was unable to interview such figures as Jonathan Winer, the John Kerry protégé at the State Department who helped grease the wheels for Christopher Steele at the FBI.)
Of course, the media will continue to pit Horowitz against Durham and Barr. But it is obvious to anybody who bothers to read it that Horowitz’s report lacks rigor and is more perfunctory than authoritative. Spygate’s day of reckoning still approaches.