No, The Main Take-Away From Horowitz Was Not Debunking A “Conspiracy Theory”

I have a column out today on the Horowitz report in the Hill newspaper. As has become a common practice, the report was immediately and grotesquely misrepresented. On CNN, the takeaway was that the Inspector General “Debunks Trump conspiracy theory.” Chris Cillizza stated “That sound you just heard is the air coming out of the Trump conspiracy balloon.” It is all perfectly bizarre as are the attacks on both Attorney General Bill Barr and U.S. Attorney John Durham for their disagreement on that one finding.

I have two initial caveats. First, I would have preferred that Durham had not gone public with his view. He has an ongoing investigation and does not belong in this public debate.

Second, what I am about to say should not be construed as elevating this threshold determination. It was not the critical finding of the report which is breathtaking in its findings of false and falsified information by the FBI. The standard for the predicate only requires an articulable basis to trigger a largely discretionary act to open an investigation. The more important issue is the FISA application since that requires sworn demonstration of proof to the standard of the statute. That was clearly not met in my view and Horowitz offers chilling evidence on that point.

That said, I understand the objection from Barr and Durham. I also understand why Horowitz reached his decision. From Horowitz’ perspective, the standard is so low that it is impossible to declare it wrong absent clear evidence of bias. The standard only requires an articulable basis to trigger a largely discretionary act to open an investigation. Nevertheless, I think that are reasons to question the opening of four investigations into the campaign of the opposing party. Indeed, if this were a Democratic campaign put under Republican investigation on these grounds, there would be calls for massive hearings today from every editorial page and Democratic office.

The Justice Department has always maintained a rule that it should use the “least intrusive means” in such investigations. Instead, the Justice Department unleashed undercover agents, confidential sources, and secret surveillance. It went straight to DefCon 1.

However, Horowitz focused on the discretionary element and concluded that at the outset no clear political bias was shown. That tenor changes later in the report as Horowitz notes the removal of exculpatory lines from the FISA application and the use of known false information, including the failure to inform the FISA court that Carter Page was actually working as an asset for the CIA.

In fact there were clearly key players who have already been found to have been biased and were fired from the FBI. Horowitz reports that they played key roles, including McCabe directly agents to the Steele Dossier after they found no probable cause for a FISA application. Horowitz found that a document was falsified to remove exculpatory information and other such lines were removed but no one — no one — would say who removed them. Horowitz also says that actions of the FBI still have not been explained in keeping the investigation going despite overwhelming exculpatory evidence that the Russian collusion allegation was untrue.

This gets back to my growing concern over the state of media analysis. This is a deeply troubling report and shows that the Russian collusion allegations were poorly founded and quickly debunked by the FBI. That is not being fully reported because it does not fit a narrative that has taken hold of the media. That is a major story in its own right.

50 thoughts on “No, The Main Take-Away From Horowitz Was Not Debunking A “Conspiracy Theory””

  1. Dr. Turley, when will someone conclude that these actions were intentional and malicious? If it’s true that Comey did not renew his security clearance in order to avoid being interviewed for this report, is that OK and he just skates? This Horowitz report is useless as he is so confined in his scope to make it a mockery. Waste of $ and time. And we expected him to conclude something to hurt his employers? I think not. Here is my summary: Horowitz: “Yeah, some bad things happened, they were simply mistakes and anyway the people that made them are gone now, so, you know, no conclusion.”

    1. The authority granted to an Inspector General is toothless, unless evil-doers simply decide to confess their evil. The IG cannot subpoena former Federal employees (like Comey, Strzok, and Page, to name a few), cannot indict anyone, cannot swear people to an oath, cannot interview foreign actors. In essence, all an IG can do is what Horowitz did: identlfy the issues, describe the arguments for and against, interview whomever he is legally allowed to interview, and report his conclusions which must, perforce, make no finding unless there is some written evidence of wrongdoing, or some verbal admission of such. Since nobody he interviews is under oath, the reason that so-called witnesses would reject any admission of wrongdoing or bias is precisely the same as the reason baloney usually rejects the grinder.
      Let’s see what John Durham has to say, after he interrogates folks under oath, with the power to indict any hand all for prevarication.

  2. It requires considering least intrusive. Not using it. You couldn’t be any more wrong if you tried.

  3. “The Report” Leftist getting slapped silly, again. News and other media outlets are doing there best Orwellian take on the matter.

  4. One person’s name who never came up thus far is Rosenstein. Wonder if anyone else thought this?

    Our justice system demands strong leadership to keep it working the way the forefathers expected..

  5. “This is a deeply troubling report and shows that the Russian collusion allegations were poorly founded and quickly debunked by the FBI.”

    I am shocked, shocked that the F.B.I. overstepped its bounds and used questionable evidence (in this case non-evidence they called evidence) in a court proceeding. Why they never do that. Right?

    In considering things Washington, never underestimate incompetence as an explanation.

      1. It is amusing to see the same people who mocked Trump when he tried to claim exoneration from the Mueller report, take the exact position regarding the IG report.
        I have no problem with what I have seen of this voluminous report so far.
        The scope of the investigation and the limitations placed on Horowitz, make this report perfectly reasonable.
        It is almost certain that this is not the final word on the matter.

    1. SteveJ – just ask Marky Mark Mark who defends people who have been arrested by the FBI. He thinks the FBI walks on water.

  6. “The standard only requires an articulable basis to trigger a largely discretionary act to open an investigation.”

    That is the standard the FBI must meet to OPEN an investigation.

    The standard that the president must meet to ASK for an investigation is LOWER.

    Can we end this stupid impeachment nonsense ?

    There is no legal bar to investigating the political opposition.

    There is a very low standard that must be met.
    Absolutely there should be heightened scrutiny.

    But whether it is Crossfire Huricane, Trump seeking an investigation of 2016 Ukraine activities, or Schiff investigating Trump, or his political rival Nunese – the legal a standard is low.

    I would further note the question of motive is a non-issue.

    We use motive as information to determine whether a questionable act was malfeasance or error.

    When the act is clearly bad, the reasons are not important.

  7. Well said. Nothing is “debunked” The fact that the FISA process was abused is a very big deal that should concern all of us.
    There will be much more to come on this.

    1. Carter Page claimed that he informed the CIA of his contact with the Russians, because he is a source for the CIA. The FBI asked this lead to be followed.

      An FBI agent received an email from the CIA confirming that this was true. That FBI agent doctored the email, reversing it, so that it said that it was not true.

      This is criminal.

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