An internal watchdog review by the Justice Department of the FBI’s actions in the early stages of the Trump-Russia investigation is expected to clear the agency’s top-level officials of any wrongdoing, an outcome that will surely miff Trump.
Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz reportedly found some errors made by lower-level FBI officials at the outset of the investigation. But according to The New York Times, Horowitz found no political bias in the conduct of the big fish Trump has repeatedly maligned: former FBI director James Comey, former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, and former top counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok. None of the three men are still employed by the agency.
In the process of seeking to wiretap former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, an agency lawyer did, however, alter an email used on the application to obtain surveillance approval from a FISA court. The lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, was among a handful of FBI officials who had aired their distaste for Trump, and he resigned his post several months ago following his interview for the internal review.
Horowitz reportedly criticized the process of seeking the original wiretap and its subsequent renewals as “sloppy and unprofessional.” But on the whole, the report is expected to debunk a number of baseless smears Trump and his allies have leveled against the FBI over the investigation. Still, people familiar with the review expect it will offer both sides of the debate with at least some fodder to justify their arguments.
One word of caution: The report isn’t fully completed yet, but it looks as though it will not offer Trump any of the devastating material he craves to discredit the probe. Nonetheless, Trump can still look to the efforts of Attorney General William Barr and the U.S. attorney he appointed to review the matter, John Durham, to produce the bombshells he has been seeking all along.