Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday confirmed that the Justice Department’s inspector general report on the origins of the government’s 2016 investigation into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russian officials is expected to be released in the very near future.
“It’s been reported and it’s my understanding that it is imminent,” Barr said during a Wednesday press conference from Memphis, Tennessee, according to the Associated Press. “A number of people who were mentioned in the report are having an opportunity right now to comment on how they were quoted in the report, and after that process is over which is very short, the report will be issued. That’s what the inspector general himself suggests.”
Inspector General Michael Horowitz did recently suggest as much.
According to the Washington Post, the Inspector General’s office has already begun scheduling times for witnesses quoted in the report to review the relevant sections pertaining to their testimony, reportedly aiming to get complete the process in the next two weeks, though witness comments could potentially cause further delays. Though some of witnesses are still negotiating over the details of their review, the Post’s source said the IG will likely want to complete the review process swiftly to reduce the chance of leaks.
With the public portion of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump commencing Wednesday, critics of the administration will doubtlessly accuse Barr of strategically releasing the report to draw attention away from wall-to-wall coverage of witness testimony that has not been kind to Trump thus far.
Barr did preemptively address concerns about Inspector General Horowitz. He endorsed Horowitz as “fiercely independent” and “professional.”
“Inspector General Horowitz is a fiercely independent investigator, a superb investigator who I think has conducted this particular investigation in the most professional way, and I think his work, when it does come out, will be a credit to the department,” Barr said.
In a letter to Congress last month, Horowitz said he wants to ensure that the public has access to as much of the report as possible.
“The goal from my standpoint is to make as much of our report public as possible,” Horowitz wrote. “I anticipate that the final report will be released publicly with few redactions.”
While Horowitz’s inquiry was limited to the FISA surveillance of former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page, earlier this year Barr also tasked U.S. Attorney John Durham with investigating the origins 2016 Russia probe.
Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd in June told Congress that Durham’s investigation would be “broad in scope and multifaceted,” adding that the goal was to “illuminate open questions regarding the activities of U.S. and foreign intelligence services as well as non-governmental organizations and individuals.”
The Durham investigation recently turned into a criminal probe.
Barr otherwise said Wednesday that he didn’t remember any such request from President Trump to hold a news conference clearing him of wrongdoing on Ukraine.
[image via Ed Zurga/Getty Images]