By Jon Dougherty
(NationalSentinel) Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz has submitted a draft of his long-awaited report to the DoJ on alleged abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court during the tenure of fired FBI Director James Comey and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe as it relates to the “Spygate” scandal aimed at ousting President Donald Trump from office.
Horowitz recently informed lawmakers that he had submitted his final report for review to Attorney General William Barr, signaling that his probe has reached its conclusion.
“We have now begun the process of finalizing our report by providing a draft of our factual findings to the department and the FBI for classification determination and marking,” Horowitz wrote in a Sept. 13 letter addressed to several House and Senate Committee leaders.
“This step is consistent with our process for reports such as this one that involve classified material.”
Horowitz noted further that once DoJ and the FBI sends back a marked-up document highlighting classified information, the IG’s office will “proceed with our usual process for preparing final draft public and classified reports, and ensuring that appropriate reviews occur for accuracy and comment purposes.”
Horowitz’s office has been looking into the FBI’s process to obtain FISA court surveillance warrants against a former member of President Trump’s 2016 campaign team, adviser Carter Page.
The FBI under Comey and McCabe first obtained a surveillance warrant during the waning weeks of President Obama’s administration, then renewed applications for surveillance at least three times after Trump defeated Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Earlier reports noted that Comey and others including former Justice Department Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein used the unverified “Russia dossier” paid for by the Clinton campaign and the DNC as justification for the FISA warrants.
If so, legal experts say, that could mean Comey and others are in legal jeopardy for purposely defrauding the FISA court in order to obtain their warrants.
In July during an appearance on Fox News, Rep. John Ratcliffe said he had met with Horowitz who said his office’s probe into alleged abuses of the FISA court by the Obama-era DoJ and FBI was complete.
In addition, Ratcliffe said, the IG’s office was currently drafting its report.
Meanwhile, “United States Attorney John Durham is looking at what happened in the late winter and spring of 2016,” said former Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who was hosting the program.
As The National Sentinel reported Sept. 2, Comey — despite not being prosecuted for leaking sensitive information to the media regarding President Trump — isn’t out of the woods yet.
He was found by the Justice Department Inspector General to have violated several policies and rules in releasing, without proper authorization, a series of memos he wrote following meetings with President Donald Trump in early 2017.
FBI Assistant Director Kevin Brock, writing in The Hill, noted that he believes Horowitz’s next report will contain some legitimate legal entanglements for Comey because he signed off on warrant applications filed before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court using ‘evidence’ — the “Russia dossier” — he himself testified was “salacious and unverified.”
Comey may try to deflect with celebratory comments that he wasn’t charged with mishandling classified information, but he remains in a precarious position — and the trend lines aren’t good.
Next up will be the IG’s findings regarding Comey’s truthfulness before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court and whether he attested to false or misleading statements in order to electronically monitor a presidential campaign.
That determination may not be as cut-and-dried as many think it is, but it hopefully, at a minimum, will explain why Comey believed he could sign off multiple times on a FISA application based largely on information that he, himself, described as “salacious and unverified.” His exposure here is potentially much more devastating than breaking FBI record retention and handling rules. (Related: Comey admitted his FBI did NOT corroborate bogus Trump dossier before getting FISA warrant)
Close behind the IG’s second report will be findings by U.S. Attorney John Durham whether Comey and his rogue team of investigators violated FBI and departmental guidelines to initiate a counterintelligence investigation into a presidential campaign. They will determine if Comey had adequate justification for launching such an unprecedented investigation.
But beyond that, Mr. Durham and his team likely will follow up on emerging indicators that Comey may have colluded with other intelligence community leaders to actually “manufacture” the justification needed for an investigation by targeting covert informants against campaign representatives in violation of established policies and procedures.
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