The Justice Department’s inspector general is reportedly expected to absolve the FBI’s top ranks of being biased against President Donald Trump in its probe of Russia’s election meddling — while criticizing the bureau for failures in handling surveillance applications.
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The eagerly awaited report by Inspector General Michael Horowitz is due Dec. 9 will allege a low-level FBI lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, inappropriately altered a document used during the process to renew a controversial warrant for electronic surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, The New York Times reported.
The finding has been referred to U.S. Attorney John Durham, and the lawyer is being investigated criminally for possibly making a false statement, the Times reported.
But Horowitz will conclude the application still had a proper legal and factual basis, and that FBI officials didn’t act improperly in opening the probe of possible cooperation between Russia and the Trump campaign, The Washington Post reported.
The wiretap of Page became a political flash point in early 2018, though it was just one aspect of the inquiry that found Moscow sought to help Trump win the 2016 election and that his campaign expected to benefit, but found insufficient evidence to charge any conspiracy, the Times reported.
The report in general refutes accusations of a political conspiracy among senior law enforcement officials against the Trump campaign to favor Democrat Hillary Clinton — while also slamming the FBI for procedural shortcomings, the Post reported.
“You can see how the warring factions will seize on the various parts of this to advance their respective narratives,” an unnamed source told the Post.
According to the Times, while Horowitz criticizes FBI leadership for its handling of the highly fraught Russia investigation in some ways, he made no finding of politically biased actions by top officials Trump has vilified like former FBI director James Comey, Andrew McCabe, the former deputy who temporarily ran the bureau after the president fired Comey in May 2017; and Peter Strzok, a former top counterintelligence agent.
The early accounts of the report suggest it’s likely to stoke the debate over the investigation without definitively resolving it, by offering both sides different conclusions they can point to as vindication, the Times reported.