Barr prepared to side with Trump’s theories over Justice Dept probe

Updated

Republicans have been eagerly anticipating a document generally known as the Horowitz Report. At issue is an independent review launched by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz into the FBI’s decision to open an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections – and for Donald Trump and his allies, this review offers exciting possibilities.

Maybe, the president and his cohorts have said, Horowitz will turn up evidence of a vast conspiracy, launched by the FBI’s “deep state,” to undermine Trump. Or maybe there will be proof of widespread wrongdoing from FBI leaders such as James Comey. Or maybe the evidence will point to the bureau “spying” on Team Trump.

The president has spent much of his tenure insisting the FBI is a corrupt institution, filled with his enemies, and Michael Horowitz has been in a position to finally bring the truth to light.

At least, that was the idea.

In reality, early reporting on the Horowitz Report suggest it will discredit the theories Trump and his followers have peddled so eagerly. We learned two weeks ago, for example, that the inspector general’s probe found no evidence of political bias tainting the Russia probe. A week later, there was a related report noting that Horowitz will also knock down Trump’s claims about FBI spying.

As Rachel noted on the show last night, however, the Washington Post reports that Attorney General Bill Barr has already begun telling associates that he disagrees with at least some of the inspector general’s core findings: that the FBI “had enough information in July 2016 to justify launching an investigation into members of the Trump campaign.”

[T]he prospect of the nation’s top law enforcement official suggesting the FBI may have wrongly opened an investigation into a presidential campaign, even after the inspector general announces the agency was justified in doing so, will probably generate more partisan battles over how the Justice Department and the FBI operate.

Yeah, that seems like a safe bet.

Not to put too fine a point on this, but if the reporting is accurate, the result is a ridiculous dynamic: a sitting attorney general objecting to the results of a Justice Department investigation into the baseless conspiracy theories the attorney general prefers to believe are true.

The Post’s report added, “It is not unusual for an attorney general or the Justice Department to disagree with some of an inspector general’s findings. However, typically those disagreements occur because senior leaders at the department believe the inspector general has been too critical. In this case, Barr has conveyed to others his belief that Horowitz has not been critical enough, or is at least reaching a conclusion prematurely.”

The attorney general’s behavior regarding the Russia scandal has already been indefensible, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s reached rock bottom.

The Horowitz Report is scheduled to be released next week. Buckle up.