Jordan, Meadows call for DOJ watchdog to testify once 2016 surveillance probe ends

Two conservative House members are calling on the head of the Oversight and Reform Committee to request the public testimony of a Justice Department (DOJ) watchdog once he concludes his probe into the use of surveillance warrants during the 2016 election.

Reps. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanSunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election House passes resolution condemning anti-Asian discrimination relating to coronavirus Republicans call for Judiciary hearing into unrest in cities run by Democrats MORE (Ohio), the top Republican on the Oversight panel, and Freedom Caucus colleague Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsTrump reacts to Ginsburg's death: 'An amazing woman who led an amazing life' Trump carries on with rally, unaware of Ginsburg's death United Airlines, unions call for six-month extension of government aid MORE (R-N.C.) in a letter on Wednesday pressed the panel's chairman, Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsBlack GOP candidate accuses Behar of wearing black face in heated interview Overnight Health Care: US won't join global coronavirus vaccine initiative | Federal panel lays out initial priorities for COVID-19 vaccine distribution | NIH panel: 'Insufficient data' to show treatment touted by Trump works House Oversight Democrats to subpoena AbbVie in drug pricing probe MORE (D-Md.), to secure a date for DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz to testify sometime this spring.

"As the committee of jurisdiction for inspectors generalwe write to request that you invite MrHorowitz to publicly testify before the Committee immediately following the completion of his review," they wrote. 

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Jordan, Meadows and other Republicans have long been eager to see the probe's findings on whether federal authorities — who they claim were biased against President TrumpDonald John TrumpUS reimposes UN sanctions on Iran amid increasing tensions Jeff Flake: Republicans 'should hold the same position' on SCOTUS vacancy as 2016 Trump supporters chant 'Fill that seat' at North Carolina rally MORE during the 2016 election — misled a secretive court in order to obtain a surveillance warrant on Carter Page after he left the Trump campaign.

They allege that their anti-Trump animus influenced their actions as they conducted a counterintelligence investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Their letter comes after Attorney General William BarrBill BarrMichigan resident puts toilet on front lawn with sign 'Place mail in ballots here' Barr says Ginsburg 'leaves a towering legacy' Republicans call for DOJ to prosecute Netflix executives for releasing 'Cuties' MORE testified before the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday that Horowitz is expected to complete his review in May or June of this year. 

“The Office of the Inspector General has a pending investigation of the FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] process in the Russia investigation and I expect that will be complete in probably May or June, I am told,” Barr replied.

“So, hopefully, we will have some answers from Inspector General Horowitz on the answer of the FISA warrants. More generally, I am reviewing the conduct of the investigation and trying to get my arms around all the aspects of the counterintelligence investigation that was conducted during the summer of 2016,” Barr added.

Barr also fueled GOP claims of surveillance abuse on Wednesday by stating that he does believe there was spying during the election, though he is examining whether it is improper or not.

“I think spying did occur,” Barr said. “But the question is whether it was adequately predicated. And I’m not suggesting it wasn’t adequately predicated, but I need to explore that.”

Though Barr appeared to later change his wording to mean improper surveillance, his remarks sparked immediate outrage among Democrats while eliciting praise among Republicans who say Barr is doing his job.