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With Horowitz’s report expected soon, Barr doubles down on efforts to ‘investigate the investigators’
James Comey, Andrew McCabe, and John Brennan are all in the spotlight as Attorney General William Barr’s efforts to “investigate the investigators” behind the Trump-Russia probe ramp up.
Bill Barr may already have Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on the FBI’s spying of the Trump campaign in 2016, according to Sean Hannity, who said last week that “sources” told him the investigation was “done and it’s devastating.” Meanwhile, the attorney general’s own investigation into the origins of the Russia probe is intensifying as cries for President Donald Trump’s impeachment mount.
Pressure building on Comey, McCabe
On Monday, the Justice Department told Congress in a letter that Barr’s review is “broad in scope,” “multifaceted,” and “intended to illuminate open questions” about the counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign. Meanwhile, Hannity says Horowitz’s probe — which began in March of 2018 and sought answers about alleged abuses by top officials in the FBI, DOJ, and other agencies who conducted the counter-intelligence investigation into the Trump campaign — is nearing an end.
Republicans have alleged that top intelligence officials including former FBI Director Comey, former Deputy FBI Director McCabe, and former CIA chief Brennan could be in legal jeopardy with Barr and Horowitz over their reliance on the infamous Christopher Steele dossier as evidence to obtain warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to spy on one-time Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
Now, with Horowitz’s report expected soon, Barr has redoubled his own efforts to “investigate the investigators,” and even appointed U.S. attorney John Durham for that purpose. Durham is reportedly “dialed in” as he begins his investigation.
For his part, Barr revealed in a recent CBS interview that he has more questions than answers after starting his review, and that a third investigation of the Russia probe by U.S. attorney John Huber is “on standby” until Horowitz is done. Meanwhile, President Trump granted Barr broad authority last month to declassify documents related to the origins of the Russia probe, particularly the FBI’s spying on the Trump campaign.
Deep State in defensive panic
As the screws tighten, Democrats have been at pains to paint their conduct as perfectly “normal,” while blasting Barr’s investigation as an extraordinary break from precedent. But the more information that comes to light about the “intelligence community” and its conduct in the Trump-Russia investigation, the more it becomes apparent that the shoe is on the other foot.
Still, that hasn’t stopped top intel officials like Brennan from responding to Barr’s review with defensive panic, even blasting Trump’s order to declassify intelligence on the FISA applications as “outrageous.” Brennan has also said that he hopes CIA chief Gina Haspel and National Intelligence Director Dan Coats will “stand up” to Barr.
Meanwhile, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who has claimed that Brennan was the key player in certifying the Steele dossier, called for the “partisan hack” Brennan’s security clearance to be permanently revoked last week after reports that the intelligence community protected his clearance.
Comey has also come under increasing scrutiny for the FBI’s spying on the Trump campaign, which the former FBI director has characterized as by-the-book while lashing out at Trump, Barr, and virtually everyone in Trump’s orbit as corrupt. In a recent op-ed, Comey argued that the FBI’s spying was justified and said that anyone who questions this claim is indulging Trump’s “dumb lies.”
The former FBI director has also come under intense scrutiny over the FBI’s use of an undercover agent and informants to spy on the Trump campaign. A judge last week ordered more information from Comey’s notably leaked memos on his private conversations with Trump to be released, not long after an interagency dispute between the FBI and CIA opened up last month over whether Comey or Brennan pushed the Steele dossier.
Barr has also said that Comey’s briefing of Trump on the dossier, which intelligence agents worried might be seen as an attempt at blackmail, is being reviewed. Meanwhile, Steele, who agreed to meet with DOJ investigators, is reportedly nervous about being “thrown under the bus.”
Dems seek Mueller diversion
With scrutiny building, the Democrats are trying to deflect from Barr’s review by smearing the attorney general and keeping the spotlight on Mueller’s investigation. Although Mueller closed his office and declined to testify to Congress last month, Democrats are intent on keeping the Mueller mania alive with continued threats of impeachment, warnings of contempt charges against Trump officials, and a series of hearings on the Mueller report beginning Monday.
Democrats won a small victory this week when the DOJ agreed to hand over evidence to House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) dealing with alleged obstruction of justice by Trump. After voting to hold Barr in contempt of Congress last month, Nadler will now put Barr’s contempt citation on hold, pending the DOJ’s cooperation with his demands.
However, House Democrats are still planning to bring another contempt vote for Barr and former White House counsel Don McGahn to the floor as soon as Tuesday.
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