Administration

Barr rejects key finding in report on Russia probe: report

Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrFive things to watch in Russia probe review Trump, GOP shift focus from alleged surveillance abuse to Durham Russia probe Trump: Giuliani to deliver report on Ukraine trip to Congress, Barr MORE is rejecting a key finding in the Justice Department inspector general’s report on the Russia probe, The Washington Post reported Monday. 

People familiar with the matter told The Post that Barr said he does not agree with the report’s finding that the FBI had enough intelligence to initiate an investigation into the Trump campaign in July 2016. 

The long-awaited report from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz is expected to be made public in a week. But a draft is being discussed behind the scenes, and the attorney general reportedly is not persuaded that the FBI investigation was justified.

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The draft report is now being finalized and shown to the witnesses and offices investigated by Horowitz.

People familiar with the matter told the newspaper that Barr believes information from other agencies such as the CIA could change Horowitz’s finding that the investigation was warranted. 

The Post noted it was unclear how Barr will voice his disagreement with the report's finding. The department typically includes a formal letter response in inspector general reports, but Barr could also speak out publicly.

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Trump has said the inspector general report would prove that intelligence officers under former President Obama were "spying" on his campaign and abusing their power to prevent him from being president.

Democrats have criticized Barr for what they see as him operating as the president's personal attorney. Barr could not order Horowitz to alter his report because the inspector general operates independently from the department.

The Justice Department released a statement on Twitter describing the investigation as a "credit" to the department and Horowitz's work as "excellent."

"Rather than speculating, people should read the report for themselves next week, watch the Inspector General's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and draw their own conclusions about these important matters," spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said. 

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The Hill reached out to the FBI, which declined to comment.

Horowitz reportedly criticizes some FBI employees and surveillance tactics in his report but does not agree with the president’s depiction of the investigation as a witch hunt.

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The Justice Department is running its own criminal investigation, led by U.S. Attorney John DurhamJohn DurhamHorowitz investigation expected to find Russia probe valid, but flawed: report Five things to watch in Russia probe review Trump, GOP shift focus from alleged surveillance abuse to Durham Russia probe MORE, into the FBI probe. Barr has been involved in that investigation by traveling to other countries and asking for assistance.

--This report was updated on Dec. 3 at 1:40 p.m.