President Donald Trump may be in the midst of his 2020 re-election campaign by the time he gets answers on whether biased federal law enforcement agents took improper steps in investigating members of his 2016 campaign.
The Department of Justice’s internal watchdog, Inspector General Michael Horowitz, in March announced a probe into potential FISA abuses in the FBI’s surveillance of Carter Page, as well as the FBI’s use of a confidential source and potential “other issues that may arise during the course of the review.”
Horowitz on Thursday released his report into the FBI’s handling the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state. The IG first launched that investigation in October 2016, following requests from several congressional Democrats.
If Horowitz takes as long on the Russia report as he did on the Clinton email report — 18 months — he won’t release his findings until September 2019, at which point Trump’s re-election campaign will be well underway.
If Horowitz’s investigation takes longer than his last one, it could conclude sometime in 2020.
DOJ spokesman John Lavinsky declined to estimate when Horowitz would conclude his review of the Russia investigation, noting that the only public information about the review is a reference on page three of Thursday’s report — a reminder that the Russia review and Clinton reviews were distinct — and the initial announcement in March.
What is indisputable is that multiple FBI agents and attorneys on the Russia investigation were biased against Trump at the same time they were investigating members of his campaign.
What remains an open question is whether those agents’ biases affected actions taken during the Russia investigation.
There’s a real chance it did. (RELATED: ‘Willingness’ To Impact The Election: IG’s Clinton Report Is Loaded With Bombshells)
Peter Strzok was a top FBI investigator who played a key role in both the Clinton and Russia investigations. He was also determined to keep Trump from becoming president and admitted as much in texts to his mistress, FBI lawyer Lisa Page.
“[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” Page asked Strzok in a text.
“No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it,” Strzok replied.
Strzok’s text “is not only indicative of a biased state of mind but, even more seriously, implies a willingness to take official action to impact the presidential candidate’s electoral prospects,” Horowitz’s report said.
Strzok also played a key role in a crucial FBI action — or inaction — just months before the 2016 election.
The FBI waited almost a month to investigate additional Clinton emails that New York FBI agents discovered on a laptop belonging to disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner, husband to top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
The New York agents came across the emails while conducting a separate investigation into Weiner for sending sexually explicit text messages and a picture to an underage girl he met online.
But back at FBI headquarters in D.C., top agents overseeing the Clinton investigation declined to immediately investigate the newly discovered emails on Weiner’s laptop.
The FBI’s inaction is particularly striking, considering that former deputy director Andrew McCabe admitted he thought the newly discovered emails were a “big deal,” Horowitz noted.
But the agency declined to get a warrant to search the emails until the agents in New York began asking questions, Horowitz’s report shows.
The FBI had no good reason for the inaction, Horowitz’s report concluded.
At the same time that the FBI was sitting on a new lead in the Clinton investigation, the agency prioritized the Russia investigation into members of Trump’s campaign. Strzok was personally involved in that decision.
Noting Strzok’s “willingness” to use the FBI to stop Trump, Thursday’s report said, “we did not have confidence that Strzok’s decision to prioritize the Russia investigation over following up on the [Clinton]-related investigative lead discovered on the Weiner laptop was free from bias.”
Mueller removed Strzok from the Russia probe in July 2017 after Horowitz discovered some of the official’s text messages during his review of the Clinton investigation.
A top FBI lawyer on the Russia probe, whose name is not known, was similarly all-in against Trump and admitted as much in text messages on his taxpayer-funded work phone.
The lawyer, described in Thursday’s report as “Attorney 2,” praised the anti-Trump “resistance” and pledged to take to the streets if Trump won the 2016 election. (RELATED: ‘Viva Le Resistance’: Mueller Team Attorney Sent Anti-Trump Texts)
The lawyer left Mueller’s investigation in February.
Some Republicans in Congress have said they want a second special counsel to investigate the Russia probe instead of Horowitz, although Attorney General Jeff Sessions has so far rejected that idea.
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