BREAKING: AG Barr Says FISA Report Release "Imminent"
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William Barr says FISA report release is 'imminent'
Attorney General William Barr said a release is "imminent" for the Justice Department inspector general's report on alleged Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act abuses.
The product of a year-and-a-half-long investigation, Inspector General Michael Horowitz's findings are poised to create a new rift between Republicans and Democrats in their clash over the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
"It's been reported and it's my understanding that it is imminent," Barr told reporters Wednesday in Memphis, Tennessee. "A number of people who were mentioned in the report are having an opportunity right now to comment on how they're quoted in the report. And after that process is over, which should be very short, the report will be issued. That’s what the inspector general himself suggests."
President Trump's GOP allies assert Horowitz's report will show top Justice Department and FBI officials misled the FISA court by using an unverified dossier compiled by British ex-spy Christopher Steele to obtain warrants to electronically monitor onetime Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Democrats, as well as current and former FBI officials, dismissed allegations of wrongdoing and have raised concerns that information about U.S. intelligence gathering could be weaponized to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller.
Touting Horowitz as a "fiercely independent" and "superb" investigator who "conducted this particular investigation in the most professional way," Barr said he expects his report to be "a credit to the department."
Some Republicans and conservative media figures have vented their frustration in recent months at what appeared to be repeated delays in the investigation that Barr initially predicted could be completed by May or June. It was reported last week that a public copy was expected to be released by about Thanksgiving or later.
The actual investigation was completed in September, and Horowitz provided an update to Congress on Oct. 24, saying a classification review by the Justice Department and the FBI was "nearing completion."
In what should be a final step, Horowitz has invited people interviewed in his investigation and their lawyers to review a draft of the report. This process, which will allow the individuals one final chance to offer input, will take place over the next two weeks. Page claims to be one of them, saying he got "constructive feedback" from Horowitz's team.
In response to requests by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and members of Congress, Horowitz announced the investigation in March 2018, writing that his review would "examine the Justice Department’s and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) compliance with legal requirements, and with applicable DOJ and FBI policies and procedures, in applications filed with the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) relating to a certain U.S. person. As part of this examination, the OIG also will review information that was known to the DOJ and the FBI at the time the applications were filed from or about an alleged FBI confidential source."
In addition, Horowitz said he would "review the DOJ’s and FBI’s relationship and communications with the alleged source as they relate to the FISC applications" and "if circumstances warrant, the OIG will consider including other issues that may arise during the course of the review."
His announcement followed the February 2018 release of a memo from the House Intelligence Committee, which at the time was led by Republicans, outlining allegations that DOJ and FBI officials misled the FISA court. Democrats put together a rebuttal memo that defended the actions of the DOJ and FBI.
Horowitz's findings could be useful for U.S. Attorney John Durham, who is scrutinizing the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation, examining the conduct of the Justice Department, FBI, and the intelligence community. Last month, Durham shifted his administrative review to a criminal inquiry that gives his team the power to impanel a grand jury and hand down indictments.