Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz told the Senate Wednesday that he was “surprised” by a statement issued by a federal prosecutor investigating the 2016 Russia probe that critiqued Horowitz’s own review of that probe.
“I was surprised by the statement,” Horowitz said of the press release issued from U.S. Attorney John Durham — the prosecutor hand picked by Attorney General Bill Barr to investigate the launch of the Russia probe. Horowitz added that he didn’t know that such a statement was going to released on Monday, the day the inspector general’s report was released.
Horowitz said he met with Durham in November to discuss the inspector general’s findings in his review of the Russia probe.
According to Horowitz’ account of the discussion, Durham disagreed with the Horowitz finding that there was an adequate basis to open a full investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia’s election interference. However, according to Horowitz, Durham conceded that there was an adequate predicate to open a preliminary investigation into the matter.
The early actions the FBI took to probe the Trump-Russia links could have been taken under just a preliminary investigation. However, according to Horowitz’ report, the October 2016 move to seek a surveillance warrant against ex-Trump campaign advisor Carter Page was a step the FBI could only take under a full investigation.
Durham’s statement Monday was ambiguous about where he disagreed with Horowitz.
“Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened,” Durham said.
Barr was also critical of Horowitz’ finding defending the launch of the 2016 probe.
In his testimony Wednesday, Horowitz said that there nothing that Barr and Durham offered him in their discussions before the report was released that led him to alter his findings.