Michael Horowitz, the Inspector General (IG) for the Department of Justice, just finished conducting an investigation into the opening of the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation, and the FISA warrants the FBI obtained on former Trump campaign official Carter Page. Separate from that, Attorney General Bill Barr has tasked John Durham, US Attorney for the District of Connecticut, with conducting another investigation into the opening of the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation. But it appears that the two investigations have interacted; here is what the Washington Post reported a few days ago:

The prosecutor handpicked by Attorney General William P. Barr to scrutinize how U.S. agencies investigated President Trump’s 2016 campaign said he could not offer evidence to the Justice Department’s inspector general to support the suspicions of some conservatives that the case was a setup by American intelligence, people familiar with the matter said. Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s office contacted U.S. Attorney John 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. Among Horowitz’s questions: whether a Maltese professor who interacted with a Trump campaign adviser was actually a U.S. intelligence asset deployed to ensnare the campaign, the people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the inspector general’s findings have not been made public.

But the intelligence agencies said the professor was not among their assets, the people said. And Durham informed Horowitz’s office that his investigation had not produced any evidence that might contradict the inspector general’s findings on that point.... The previously unreported interaction with Durham is noted in a draft of Horowitz’s forthcoming report on the Russia investigation, which concludes that the FBI had adequate cause to launch its Russia investigation, people familiar with the matter said. Its public release is set for Monday.

For those who don’t know, the FBI opened its Trump-Russia investigation after it learned that Trump Campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos met with Joseph Mifsud, a Kremlin-connected professor working in London who told him that the Russian government had dirt on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails. Now some Republicans have been peddling conspiracy theories about Mifsud being a US intelligence asset who was trying entrap Papadopoulos as part of a “Deep State” plot to take down Donald Trump. So what the Washington Post reported is that the IG asked Durham if there was any truth to this, and Durham responded that there’s no evidence to support these allegations.

But my question is, does the IG report, which was just released today, mention Horowitz’s communications with Durham? I couldn’t find it in a brief skim at least; the closest thing I could find was this passage on page 312:

We also investigated an allegation, raised by Papadopoulos, that the FBI used Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese citizen who was living in London and serving as a university professor, to pass information to Papadopoulos in April 2016 as a set up, so that the FBI could predicate the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. Papadopoulos raised this possibility during his October 25, 2018 testimony before the House Judiciary Committee and House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, by stating that Mifsud might have been "working with the FBI and this was some sort of operation" to entrap Papadopoulos. The FBI's Delta files contain no evidence that Mifsud has ever acted as an FBI CHS [confidential human source], and none of the witnesses we interviewed or documents we reviewed had any information to support such an allegation.

But does anyone know if the communication with Durham is mentioned somewhere in the IG report?

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – yannis
    Dec 13 '19 at 22:37

The answer to the question if the communication with Durham is mentioned somewhere in the IG report is no. The IG report makes no mention of Mr. Durham, or of the office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut. Mr. Durham has publicly said that his investigation is ongoing, and it seems unlikely there will be any other answer until he deems the investigation complete.

Statement of U.S. Attorney John H. Durham

“I have the utmost respect for the mission of the Office of Inspector General and the comprehensive work that went into the report prepared by Mr. Horowitz and his staff. However, our investigation is not limited to developing information from within component parts of the Justice Department. Our investigation has included developing information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S. Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened.”

Other than the press release, I can find nothing confirming any communications between the two investigations. It would be unusual for any U. S. Attorney to either confirm or deny someone is an intelligence asset, particularly in the middle of an investigation.

Furthermore, as Mr. Durham is now leading in a criminal investigation, any information he has regarding evidence outside of Mr. Horowitz's scope would likely be protected under federal grand jury secrecy rules.

  • No, that press release is not what I'm looking for. That press release was about Durham's disagreement with the IG about whether the Russia investigation was properly predicated. What my question about is the notion that Durham told the IG that there's no evidence that Mifsud is a US intelligence asset. Dec 18 '19 at 4:03
  • I see no reason to believe that it’s a hoax. Neither Durham nor Horowitz have denied the reporting, and the Washington Post has not made any correction or retraction. Dec 23 '19 at 4:38
  • Hoax may be too strong, but it is uncorroborated reporting based on an anonymous source. I have no reason to assume it is true. Dec 31 '19 at 1:06
  • 1
    @KeshavSrinivasan "outlets like the New York Times and the Washington Post do tremendous amounts of due diligence in their reporting before publishing a story" Janet Cooke, Jayson Blair, and Walter Duranty? The Times' current fantasy "1619 Project" has been ripped by actual historians across the entire political spectrum. So no, neither the Washington Post nor the New York Times deserve deference just because they reported something. Especially if it's political.
    – Just Me
    Dec 31 '19 at 14:37
  • 1
    On the topic of ananonymous single-source reporting, let's compare with Bloomberg News quoting an anonymous former intelligence official who denied that the salacious Steele dossier could have been used to justify surveillance. mercurynews.com/2017/10/27/…. The now-public FISA warrants pretty much blow that out of the water. Dec 31 '19 at 23:14

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .