AG Barr Disagrees with IG on Whether Trump Surveillance Justified
Attorney General William Barr reportedly disagrees with a finding by the forthcoming Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General (IG) report that the FBI had sufficient reason to monitor the Trump campaign in 2016.
The FBI conducted surveillance on Trump campaign associates, including foreign policy aide Carter Page, on the basis of suspicions that the campaign might have been colluding with Russia to interfere with the 2016 election.
No evidence of collusion was ever found, though the surveillance continued well after the election, and the fact that the FBI was investigating the Trump campaign over Russia was leaked to Democrats and to the mainstream media.
The IG report is expected to criticize the FBI for the way in which it approached the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court to obtain a warrant for that surveillance. The FBI partly relied upon the so-called “dossier” prepared by former British spy Christopher Steele for Fusion GPS, an opposition research company being paid by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Republicans have claimed that the FBI failed to corroborate the unproven allegations in the dossier, and hid its political origins from the FISA court.
But there have been conflicting leaks about what the report, which is set to be released next Monday, will say about misconduct at the FBI. Several individuals have already seen drafts of the report, as they are mentioned in it.
The Washington Post reported Monday evening that IG Michael Horowitz, an Obama administration appointee, had concluded that there was, in fact, sufficient evidence to justify what Barr earlier called “spying” on the campaign.
Barr reportedly disagreed, though a spokesperson for the DOJ dismissed reports of a dispute between Barr and Horowitz: “Rather than speculating, people should read the report for themselves next week,” she said.
Horowitz was criticized for his 2018 report on how the FBI handled the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s illicit email server, in which he found that officials mishandled the investigation but that political bias was not the reason.