Attorney General William Barr may not have gotten what he expected from a prosecutor he chose to examine how the FBI and other U.S. agencies investigated President Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia’s meddling in the election.
That prosecutor — U.S. Attorney John Durham — said he couldn’t find evidence to support some conservatives’ belief that it was all a “setup” against Trump by American intelligence, reports the Washington Post, citing “people familiar with the matter.”
“Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s office contacted [Durham], the prosecutor Barr personally tapped to lead a separate review of the 2016 probe into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, the people said. The inspector general also contacted several U.S. intelligence agencies,” the Post says.
Horowitz had previously found nothing wrong with the the FBI’s investigation of Russian meddling in the election, but sought confirmation of his findings from Durham.
One focus of Horowitz’s interest was the role of Joseph Mifsud, a shadowy professor from Malta, suspected by some of being “a U.S. intelligence asset deployed to enshare the [Trump] campaign.”
But according to the Post’s sources, “the intelligence agencies said the professor was not among their assets.”
According to a draft of Horowitz’s forthcoming report on the Russia investigation, Durham says his investigation yielded no evidence that might contradict the inspector general’s findings on that point.
The draft report concludes that the FBI did have sufficient cause to launch its Russia investigation, the Post’s sources say.
The Post says its reporters have not seen the entire draft report, adding that it’s “unclear whether Durham has shared the entirety of his findings and evidence with the inspector general or merely answered a specific question.”
Trump and his allies have branded the FBI’s Russia probe, which was later taken over by special counsel Robert Mueller, as a “witch hunt” and pushed for investigations of those who launched it.
“They have been eagerly anticipating the release of Horowitz’s report in hopes the watchdog with a nonpartisan reputation might validate their attacks,” the Post says.
But unless there’s a significant and unexpected change in the inspector general’s report, it appears they’ll be disappointed.