Big Clash Looms Over Upcoming Report

Attorney general disagrees with finding that FBI probe of Trump campaign was justified
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 3, 2019 7:36 AM CST
Big Clash Looms Over Upcoming Report
Attorney General William Barr listens as President Trump speaks in the Oval Office Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019.   (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

It looks like Attorney General William Barr is going to disagree with a fundamental finding of his department's inspector general on a hot-button issue. Next week, the inspector general is expected to release a report in which he'll state that the FBI had enough information to justify opening an investigation into the Trump campaign during the 2016 election, report the Washington Post and the New York Times. However, both newspapers say Barr disagrees with that finding. The inspector general, Michael Horowitz, operates independently, meaning Barr cannot order him to change his conclusion. But the attorney general could express his disagreement in a few different ways, ranging from public remarks to a formal letter of disagreement amended to the report.

The FBI's investigation into whether members of the Trump campaign conspired with Russia eventually morphed into the Robert Mueller investigation, which the president has repeatedly decried as a "witch hunt." The inspector general's report, however, may undercut the president's criticism. This will not be the final say on the matter, however. Barr has a separate criminal investigation underway being conducted by John Durham, the US attorney in Connecticut. Barr has sway over that report. Both newspapers predict that Barr's disagreement with the inspector general's conclusion will lead to renewed criticism from Democrats that he is acting more like the president's personal attorney than an attorney general. Barr, on the other hand, says Democrats are the one abusing the legal system to try to remove Trump from office. (Read more William Barr stories.)

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