For anyone pinning their hopes on the possibility that Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz was going to blow the lid off the FBI/DOJ’s misconduct during the Trump/Russia investigation, leaked info about that report signals that a lot of air is about to be let out of a lot of balloons. While headlines have trumpeted the fact that Horowitz has referred an FBI lawyer for criminal investigation based on his editing of a FISA-related document, the rest of what we’ve heard does not bode well for anyone hoping to see some real justice.
“Investigators for the inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, uncovered errors and omissions in documents related to the wiretapping of a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page — including that a low-level lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, altered an email that officials used to prepare to seek court approval to renew the wiretap, the people said,” reports the New York Times.
“Mr. Horowitz referred his findings about Mr. Clinesmith to prosecutors for a potential criminal charge,” the report continues. “Mr. Clinesmith left the Russia investigation in February 2018 after the inspector general identified him as one of a handful of F.B.I. officials who expressed animus toward Mr. Trump in text messages and resigned about two months ago, after the inspector general’s team interviewed him.”
That sounds like it could be the tip of a very large iceberg, but from every news article that has come out about Horowitz’s report, it doesn’t seem as though it will be treated that way. Indeed, the report is said to clear the FBI of any wrongdoing related to the multiple FISA warrants on Carter Page. Whatever Clinesmith did, it is said to have had little effect on the integrity of the FBI’s FISA applications. And if Horowitz’s big “get” in all this is a low-level FBI lawyer who had no material effect on the investigation, that is a pretty big disappointment.
Now, there are reasons to remain optimistic. One, we’re talking about newspapers like The New York Times and the Washington Post, and we wouldn’t put it past either of them to downplay what they’ve learned about the report in an attempt to poison the well. Two, it could be that there are hidden surprises in the Horowitz report that haven’t yet leaked to the press.
Unfortunately, the other possibility is that the deep state actors who perpetrated this hoax found themselves a low-level, already-out-of-the-FBI dude to throw under the bus in the hopes that the big fish – the Comeys, the Brennans, the Strzoks, etc. – would escape unscathed. And if that strategy worked, it’s a real tragedy for American justice.