Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz on Wednesday said he was surprised to learn that the federal prosecutor tasked with investigating the origins of the Russia investigation released a statement contradicting his office’s report on “Crossfire Hurricane.”
The Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) report on the FBI’s “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation identified numerous troubling procedural problems, but ultimately concluded that the bureau had sufficient grounds to open a full investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, thereby debunking years of conspiracy theories that the investigation was prompted by anti-Trump political bias.
“Well, I was – surprised by the statement,” Horowitz said during his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Horowitz is asked about Durham’s statement and reveals that Durham only disagreed on whether the opening should’ve been a preliminary investigation or a full investigation pic.twitter.com/UW9A3fji5y
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) December 11, 2019
Horowitz also said that he met with both U.S. Attorney John Durham and Attorney General William Barr to discuss his office’s conclusion that the FBI was justified in its decision to open a full investigation (rather than a mere preliminary investigation) and that neither of them offered any evidence that changed inspector general’s view on the matter.
“With regard to that, we did discuss the opening issue. He said he did not necessarily agree with our conclusion about the opening of a full counterintelligence investigation, which is what this was,” Horowitz said. “[Durham] said during the meeting that the information from the friendly foreign government was in his view sufficient to support the preliminary investigation.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) then asked if “either Barr or Durham present[ed] anything” during the meetings that may have altered the OIG’s findings.
“No, we stand by our findings,” Horowitz replied.
Following the report’s release, Barr and Durham both issued statements pushing back on its findings.
“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,” Durham said in an unusually political statement Monday.
He said his investigation “is not limited to developing information from within component parts of the Justice Department” and “has included developing information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S.”
The interdepartmental conflict at the Justice Department has further incited the ire of critics of the Trump administration and AG Barr who believe the DOJ’s apolitical independence from the executive branch has eroded.
One thing that has been made clear from the Horowitz testimony: the reason Barr handpicked Durham to do his own rogue investigation is that he knew Durham could at minimum be browbeaten to do Barr's bidding. Oy.
— Norman Ornstein (@NormOrnstein) December 11, 2019
[image via Win McNamee/Getty Images]