Recall that disgraced former FBI Director James Comey testified to Congress that Crossfire Hurricane was "a full enterprise counterintelligence (CI) investigation." What that boils down to--plugging the specifics of the Crossfire Hurricane into the conceptual framework of the AG Guidelines--is this:
The FBI possessed specific and articulable facts that gave reason to believe that 1) "four Americans" - Carter Page, Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos, and Paul Manafort - constituted an "enterprise" or "group in fact" within the Trump campaign, and 2) that "enterprise" was engaged in activities that were a threat to the national security of the United States on behalf of Russia.
Nothing I have seen over the past three years supports that claim. Everything I have seen indicates that the FBI's sole reliance on source information that could not be verified--and in many cases was speculation of the rankest sort--fell well short of a reason for the FBI to believe that it possessed the required factual basis.
Assuming the accuracy of the WaPo's reporting, I'll surprise no one by saying that I agree with Barr. As it stands, I'd say that Horowitz's report will soon be shown to be essentially a whitewash because it will have failed to forthrightly address the clear lack of predication for the FBI's actions. As I've stated endlessly over the last three years, that is the fundamental issue--little else truly matters. By stating that the FBI's investigation had sufficient predication the door will be left wide open for a repeat of this fiasco. In a practical sense, it will mean that the FBI's decisions will not be second guessed. That will mean that no substantive reform of the FBI will occur unless John Durham's investigation lives up to its promise and the Deep State will be able to breathe more easily.
Here are excerpts from the article:
Attorney General William P. Barr has told associates he disagrees with the Justice Department’s inspector general on one of the key findings in an upcoming report — that the FBI had enough information in July 2016 to justify launching an investigation into members of the Trump campaign, according to people familiar with the matter.
The Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, is due to release his long-awaited findings in a week, but behind the scenes at the Justice Department, disagreement has surfaced about one of such aHorowitz’s central conclusions on the origins of the Russia investigation. ...
Barr has not been swayed by Horowitz’s rationale for concluding the FBI had sufficient basis to open an investigation on July 31, 2016, these people said.
It’s not yet clear how Barr plans to make his objection to Horowitz’s conclusion known. The inspector general report, currently in draft form, is being finalized after input from various witnesses and offices that were scrutinized by the inspector general. Barr or a senior Justice Department official could submit a formal letter as part of that process, which would then be included in the final report. It is standard practice for every inspector general report to include a written response from the department. Barr could forgo a written rebuttal on that specific point and just publicly state his concerns.
The attorney general has privately contended that Horowitz does not have enough information to reach the conclusion the FBI had enough details in hand at the time to justify opening such a probe. He argues that other U.S. agencies, such as the CIA, may hold significant information that could alter Horowitz’s conclusion on that point, according to the people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
People familiar with the draft language of Horowitz’s report said while it is critical of some FBI employees, and found some systemic problems in surveillance procedures, it overall does not agree with Trump’s charge that the investigation was a “witch hunt” or a politically motivated attack on him first as a candidate and then as president.
Instead, the draft report found that the investigation was opened on a solid legal and factual footing, these people said.
Part of Barr’s reluctance to accept that finding is related to another investigation, one being conducted by Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham, into how intelligence agencies pursued allegations of Russian election tampering in 2016. ...
DOJ statement on upcoming IG report: pic.twitter.com/tI0O4tV0jF— KerriKupecDOJ (@KerriKupecDOJ) December 3, 2019
UPDATE 2: I'll be happy to eat my words/opinions, as expressed above. Sundance is arguing that the WaPo story is disinformational, claiming that Horowitz's mandate did not run to the origins of the Russia Hoax, only to whether the FISA was properly obtained:
Horowitz was not tasked to go anywhere near this [i.e., predication for the Crossfire Hurricane investigation]. Horowitz is looking at whether the DOJ and FBI complied with internal DOJ/FBI rules and processes during their FISA application and use within the FISA court.
The Washington Post wants to sell a narrative that AG Bill Barr is not accepting the inspector general finding on the origin of the Russia investigation; but the inspector general did not investigate the origin of the Russia investigation. The purpose of the WaPo report is to intentionally conflate the two issues.
I get the point, but here's the problem: the two issues are related. In order to even apply for a FISA order, the FBI must first have a Full Investigation opened. It would make sense, therefore, for the IG to examine whether the FBI had followed the AG Guidelines in opening the Crossfire Hurricane investigation as a Full Investigation (as opposed to, say, a Preliminary Investigation). It could, in fact, be argued that the IG was bound to conduct such an examination.
OTOH, it's possible that the IG--knowing that Barr had tasked John Durham with getting to the bottom of the origins of the Russia Hoax--refrained from a determinative conclusion but instead stated that based on available information he accepts that the Full Investigation was properly predicated. From that it's possible that the WaPo's sources would try to spin that Horowitz had given a blanket endorsement to the opening predication, when that might not really be the case.
I would still want to disagree, however. I would maintain, and have done so, that even on the available information the Full Investigation did not have the required predication. And I would hope that Barr would agree with my assessment.
UPDATE 3: Further confirmation that OIG did examine the predication for the Crossfire Hurricane full investigation--which investigation was then used to apply for the Carter Page FISA. On February 28, 2018, Senators Graham and Grassley--both on the Senate Judiciary Committee--wrote a letter to IG Horowitz asking him to address a long laundry list of issues in his investigation. Most of the issues listed, numbering thirty one, were in fact concerned with FISA matters. However, two points relate directly to the question of predication for the Crossfire Hurricane full investigation:
18) Was Peter Strzok aware of Steele’s claims when he opened the so-called Trump/Russia counterintelligence investigation? Did Mr. Steele’s claims play any role in the decision to open this investigation, despite the stated basis of foreign intelligence regarding George Papadopoulos? Was there any discussion at the FBI about whether to cite to Steele’s information in opening the investigation?
19) To what extent did Mr. Steele’s information form any part of the basis for the FBI to expand its investigation from Mr. Papadopoulos to Mr. Page, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, and Mr. Manafort?
So, while I certainly hope that sundance will be proved to be correct in the end, you can see that the neat distinction of issues that he attempts to postulate doesn't really hold up. I assume that the two senators were pretty well briefed on the parameters of the OIG investigation.