Michael Horowitz To Testify Before Congress After Delivering Watchdog Report

Dec 10, 2019
Originally published on December 10, 2019 8:05 pm
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The Justice Department's internal watchdog will testify on Capitol Hill tomorrow. Inspector General Michael Horowitz will explain the exhaustive report he released yesterday. It's more than 400 pages. In it, he describes what the FBI did right and what it did wrong as it investigated the 2016 Trump campaign and its links to Russia. NPR national security correspondent Greg Myre looks at the fallout so far.

GREG MYRE, BYLINE: The report by Inspector General Michael Horowitz clearly means different things to different people. Lawyer Steve Harper keeps a comprehensive timeline of the Trump-Russia investigation for the online site justsecurity.org.

STEVE HARPER: There really should be only one story that comes out of this report. And that is what Trump and his defenders have been talking about in terms of a deep state conspiracy was complete nonsense.

MYRE: At the FBI, Director Christopher Wray says he accepts the sharp criticism leveled against the bureau for its handling of surveillance warrants on a Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page. But he was quick to note the report found no evidence of political bias. That's not how President Trump sees it.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: This was an overthrow of government. This was an attempted overthrow. And a lot of people were in on it, and they got caught.

MYRE: Trump attacked Wray on Twitter today. He said, quote, "with that kind of attitude, he will never be able to fix the FBI, which is badly broken."

In his seven years on the job, Horowitz has faced a number of explosive issues. Last year, he scolded former FBI Director James Comey for his handling of the Hillary Clinton email controversy in 2016. Horowitz had a lot to deal with in this report. Benjamin Wittes of the Brookings Institution and the Lawfare website rattles off the various claims Trump and his supporters have made.

BENJAMIN WITTES: It's a deep state coup. Its senior officials are engaged in treason. It was a - you know, an effort to spy on the Trump campaign.

MYRE: The report, Wittes says...

WITTES: In a pretty authoritative and conclusive fashion lays a lot of this garbage to rest.

MYRE: Still, there was no way Horowitz was going to have the last word on the Russia investigation. Attorney General William Barr made sure of that by ordering a separate investigation earlier this year. This one is being carried out by the U.S. attorney for Connecticut, John Durham, and has a broader scope that will also examine the CIA's role. Barr and Durham were both quick to criticize the findings in the Horowitz report. Again, Steve Harper.

HARPER: And Barr essentially says - but I don't agree with it. They're going to try to keep this ball in the air, and now they've pushed it to Durham to see if they can get some traction that way.

MYRE: Horowitz appears Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Republicans are certain to focus on the FBI's many missteps surrounding the surveillance warrants on the Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. He was secretly monitored for almost a year. Again, Benjamin Wittes.

WITTES: I actually think the one person in Trump world who has a bit of a claim of vindication from this report is actually Carter Page.

MYRE: Six men in Trump's orbit have been convicted or pleaded guilty to crimes during the president's time in office. Page has never been charged with a crime.

Greg Myre, NPR News, Washington.

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