Bill Barr's own top investigator privately says right-wing conspiracy about the Russia probe is baseless: report

Bill Barr's own top investigator privately says right-wing conspiracy about the Russia probe is baseless: report
Fox News screenshot
The Right Wing

John Durham, the U.S. attorney picked by Attorney General Bill Barr, has privately said that he has no evidence to support the right-wing conspiracy theory that the Russia investigation was an intelligence community plot to take down President Donald Trump, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

Barr, who chose Durham to oversee a review of the origins of the investigation that has become a criminal probe, has fanned the flames of the conspiracy theories about Russia probe. His public comments have suggested he gives credence to claims made by Trump and many right-wing media figures that the whole investigation was an illegitimate effort to undermine the president. This theory has always been wildly far-fetched, but it's been treated as received wisdom in some corners by Trump defenders.

Recent reports have suggested, though, that a forthcoming report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz will refute the conspiracists and say the investigation was opened appropriately (though it will reportedly find some sloppiness and minor wrongdoing on the part of FBI officials). Following these reports, the Post found that Barr is prepared to dispute this key conclusion from Horowitz, adding to the perception that Barr is a partisan hitman trying to confirm Trump's preconceived notions.

This left open the question, though, whether Durham's probe had found anything that might support Barr's theories. The new Post report indicates that he has not.

The report found:

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s office contacted U.S. Attorney John Durham, the prosecutor Barr personally tapped to lead a separate review of the 2016 probe into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, the people said. The inspector general also contacted several U.S. intelligence agencies.

Among Horowitz’s questions: whether a Maltese professor who interacted with a Trump campaign adviser was actually a U.S. intelligence asset deployed to ensnare the campaign, the people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the inspector general’s findings have not been made public.

But the intelligence agencies said the professor was not among their assets, the people said. And Durham informed Horowitz’s office that his investigation had not produced any evidence that might contradict the inspector general’s findings on that point.

It cautions, though, that Horowitz's report is not yet final and the Post has not seen the draft report.

For those not tuned in to conservative media, it's hard to overstate how large the Horowitz and Durham investigations loom in the right-wing mind. A minor event on Wednesday gave just one indication of the build-up: During the House Judiciary Committee's impeachment proceedings, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) suggested that the release of Horowitz's report could provide grounds to impeach former President Barack Obama.

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