DOJ investigation shreds Trump's claims about FBI, Russia probe

A US Department of Justice seal is displayed on a podium during a news conference on Dec. 11, 2012 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Ramin Talaie/Getty)
A US Department of Justice seal is displayed on a podium during a news conference on Dec. 11, 2012 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.

Republicans were eagerly anticipating the release of a document generally known as the Horowitz Report. At issue was 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 as regular readers know, for Donald Trump and his allies, the review offered exciting possibilities.

Maybe, the president and his cohorts said, Horowitz would turn up evidence of a vast conspiracy, launched by the FBI's "deep state," to undermine Trump. Or maybe there would be proof of widespread wrongdoing from FBI leaders such as James Comey. Or maybe the evidence would 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 was in a position to finally bring the truth to light.

Yesterday afternoon, the house of cards collapsed. As NBC News reported, the IG's office, following an extensive review, found that the investigation and its origins were fully justified.

The 434-page report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz concluded that the FBI and the Justice Department launched their investigation into the 2016 campaign not for political reasons, but because of evidence the Russian government was using cutouts to reach out to the Trump campaign as part of its efforts to influence the election.The inspector general said he examined more than a million documents and interviewed more than 100 witnesses.Horowitz found that political bias did not taint the actions of former FBI leaders who have frequently been the subject of presidential attacks on Twitter, including former Director James Comey, former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and former Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok.

The full inspector general's report is online here (pdf).

It's worth noting that the Horowitz probe pointed to mistakes the FBI made in parts of its application to monitor Carter Page, the controversial Trump campaign adviser with close ties to the Kremlin, and for Republicans desperate for something useful to cling to in the inspector general's findings, these mistakes are of great interest.

But even on this point, the bottom line has no partisan value for the right: Horowitz found that the Page probe was justified and legitimate, too.

For Trump and his allies, these findings are nothing short of a disaster. After months of rhetoric about the investigation into the Russia scandal, effectively everything the president claimed -- the conspiracy theories, the accusations, the allegations about political "bias" in federal law enforcement -- has been exposed as a ridiculous fantasy.

There was no attempted "coup." There was no nefarious scheme cooked up by the "deep state." The "witch hunt" did not exist in reality. The FBI never "spied" on Team Trump. The president simply made all of this up.

If recent history is any guide, the usual next step would be for the right to go after the Justice Department's inspector general, turning Horowitz into an untrustworthy villain who should be seen as part of the anti-Trump conspiracy. Except, in this case, that won't work, in large part because the president went out of his way to defend Horowitz and praise his honor.

And so, Trump World has chosen a more exasperating course, which involves pretending the inspector general's findings are actually great news for the White House, reality be damned. We'll have more on that a little later this morning.