RAY McGOVERN: Barr Blasts Inspector General For Whitewashing FBI

Barr took unusually strong public issue with Horowitz’s conclusion that there was adequate reason to mount an FBI investigation of the Trump campaign and suspected ties to Russia.

By Ray McGovern
Special to Consortium News

Attorney General William Barr on Monday disparaged the long-awaited findings of the Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz into FBI conduct in the investigation of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. Barr, in effect, accused Horowitz of whitewashing a litany of proven misfeasance and malfeasance that created the “predicate,” or legal justification, for investigating candidate-and-then-president Donald Trump on suspicion of being in cahoots with the Russians.

In grammatical terms, there can be no sentence, so to speak, without a predicate. Trump was clearly the object of the sentence, and the sleuths led by then-FBI Director James Comey were the subjects in desperate search of a predicate. Horowitz candidly depicted the predicate the FBI requires for a counter-intelligence investigation as having to meet a very low bar. The public criticism from his boss was unusual. For the tenacious attorney general, doing a serious investigation of how the FBI handled the Trump-Russia inquiry has become a case of no-holds-Barr-ed, one might say.

Lindsey Smacking His Lips

Particularly damning in Horowitz’s report was the revelation that the FBI kept the “Russia investigation” going well after countervailing and exculpatory evidence clearly showed that, in the unforgettable words of one senior FBI official, Peter Strzok, there was “no there there.”


As Sen. Lindsey Graham put it yesterday, FBI investigators kept running through STOP signs in hot pursuit of a needed, but ever elusive, credible predicate. At a press conference, Graham pointed to page 186 of the Horowitz report to call attention to one of the most obvious STOP signs FBI sleuths should have heeded; namely, the fact that the FBI learned in January 2017 that the primary sub-source for Christopher Steele’s “dossier” disavowed it as misstated and exaggerated — basically rumor and speculation. No problem: the FBI investigation continued.

Mincing no words, Graham called the FBI investigation into alleged Trump campaign ties with Russia a “criminal enterprise” that got off the rails. (Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of such a conspiracy.) Sparks will fly on Wednesday as Graham, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, pursues the matter in more depth when Horowitz testifies before the committee. Graham emphasized yesterday that the general goal is to ensure that such a “criminal enterprise” does not happen again.

He added that one of the ways to prevent a recurrence is to make sure “those who took the law into their own hands need to pay a price.” Uh-oh. I cannot remember the last time leaders of the “national-security state” had to pay a price.

Barr: ‘Thinnest of Suspicions’

Barr took unusually strong public issue with Horowitz’s conclusion that there was adequate reason to mount an FBI investigation of the Trump campaign and suspected ties to Russia. Barr issued a formal statement asserting that the Horowitz report “now makes it clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken.”

U.S. Attorney John Durham, whom Barr picked to lead what has now become a criminal investigation regarding how that FBI’s “intrusive investigation” was launched, issued his own formal statement of criticism, expressing disagreement with the IG’s findings as to the predication of the investigation and “how the FBI case opened.” Durham added that he had told the IG last month of this disagreement. In his statement yesterday, Durham spoke not of suspicions, but of evidence his ongoing investigation has already gathered “from other persons and entities both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S.”

Evidence, Not Just Suspicions

Both Barr and Durham chose their words carefully, and so did former CIA Director John Brennan in his May 2017 congressional testimony about his suspicions that Trump’s campaign might have been colluding with the Russians. Soon the spotlight is likely to turn onto Brennan and his carefully parsed testimony, which fell considerably short of qualifying as a predicate for investigation (but played a key role anyway).

On May 23, 2017, Brennan told Congress:

“I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and US persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals. It raised questions in my mind about whether Russia was able to gain the cooperation of those individuals.”

CNN’s coverage of Brennan’s testimony is even more revealing (of CNN’s bias) in retrospect.


Moreover, Brennan famously told Congress, he doesn’t deal with evidence. That was what Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy was wondering about, when he grilled the former CIA director, also on May 23, 2017, on what evidence he had provided to the FBI to catalyze its investigation of the alleged Trump-Russia collusion.

Brennan replied: “I don’t do evidence.”

The best Brennan could do was start out by repeating his well-rehearsed statement, later contradicted by Mueller’s report: “I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign,” adding that “that required further investigation by the Bureau to determine whether or not U.S. persons were actively conspiring, colluding with Russian officials.”

Media Treatment

Referring to the Horowitz report yesterday, Law Professor John Turley noted:

“Despite this shockingly damning report, much of the media is reporting only that Horowitz did not find it unreasonable to start the investigation, and ignoring a litany of false representations and falsifications of evidence to keep the secret investigation going. Nothing was found to support any of those allegations, and special counsel Robert Mueller also confirmed there was no support for collusion and conspiracy allegations repeated continuously for two years by many experts and members of Congress.”

And yet “debunking” is the name of the game. A New York Times headline this morning read, “Report on F.B.I. Russia Inquiry Finds Serious Errors but Debunks Anti-Trump Plot.” And an “analysis” article by Mark Mazzetti was titled: “Another Inquiry Doesn’t Back Up Trump’s Charges. So, on to the Next.”

Mazzetti writes:

“Engage in a choreographed campaign of presidential tweets, Fox News appearances and fiery congressional testimony to create expectations about finding proof of a “deep state” campaign against Mr. Trump. And then, when the proof does not emerge, skew the results and prepare for the next opportunity to execute the playbook.

“That opportunity has arrived in the form of an investigation by a Connecticut prosecutor [Durham] ordered this year by Attorney General William P. Barr — and the president and his allies are now predicting it will be the one to deliver damning evidence that the F.B.I., C.I.A. and even close American allies conspired against Mr. Trump in the 2016 election.”

Horowitz Report an ‘Appetizer?’

Mazzetti goes on to express doubt “that Mr. Durham will exhume any information that will fundamentally change the understanding of what happened in 2016.” Maybe, maybe not. It is a safe bet, though, that President Trump has better insight into this. According to Mazzetti, Trump recently had been playing down expectations about the Horowitz inquiry — indicating it was only an appetizer for what’s to come. “I do think the big report to wait for is going to be the Durham report,” he said. “That’s the one that people are really waiting for.”

The president may be expecting Mueller-inquiry-type vindication once Durham’s investigation is complete. It that proves to be the case and Trump receives post-impeachment acquittal from the Senate, as expected, he may be able to parlay that into four more years, a sobering thought.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an Army Infantry/Intelligence officer, then a CIA analyst for 27 years. He prepared and briefed the President’s Daily Brief for Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Reagan, and in retirement co-founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

26 comments for “RAY McGOVERN: Barr Blasts Inspector General For Whitewashing FBI

  1. Bill Jones
    December 12, 2019 at 17:36

    “A sobering thought”

    Sobering to whom?

    Only those drunken sots who would prefer the perverted corrupt loons of the hard left,

  2. Ant.
    December 12, 2019 at 11:48

    I used to have hope for Michael Horowitz as a decent person, more interested in cleaning up the system and getting rid of the rotten fruit rather than protecting it.

    Turns out he was just another Mueller, anxious to protect the reputation if the Intelligence Community more than anything else.

    Let’s see what Barr and Durham have to say, both of whom have wider-ranging prerogatives, but I can’t say that I’m supremely confident there either.

    Unfortunately, it seems the concept of National Security extends to covering up the gob-smacking amount of corruption that exists in US politics. Can’t have the populace losing faith in the system!

    Isn’t it against US law to ‘over-classify’ documents, keep them from public view? Has anyone ever been charged with that, or found guilty?

  3. Gregory Kruse
    December 12, 2019 at 11:10

    I get a feeling like vertigo when I put together “The Beat with Ari Melber”, the farewell message from Paul Volker, and this article by Ray McGovern. Any defense of the Trump Organization, the Trump family, William Barr, or Lindsey Graham, is abhorrent to me on its face, because it is the face of organized crime with a fake mask of democratic governance on it. A real investigation of the Trump family business would turn up more criminality and corruption than any of us could stomach, so we despise the weak attempts of the FBI to poke the garbage bag intending to let out just a little whiff of decomposition. If the Trump Organization is able to reseal the bag and come out of the impeachment process smelling like roses, he will have a good chance to win the 2020 election, and then the bag will be dumped in the ocean by Bill Barr personally, not to surface for decades. Consequently, we will be treated to the familiar stench of a filthy emperor and a rotten senate, along with the smoke of many fires.

    December 12, 2019 at 10:13


    • Tim Jones
      December 12, 2019 at 20:03

      If what you say is accurate then we’re screwed again. Charade is a good word. Do tigers change their stripes? Barr’s legacy will be our money in his bank, writing a book, and paid speaking engagements and consulting…and the plebians fate….I hope I’m wrong.

  5. JR
    December 12, 2019 at 03:25

    Waiting for a “Durham report”? Guess there will be real indictments.
    Prosecutor is not in the business of writing reports like an internal compliance officer like IG Horowitz.
    Durham has a much wider scope and also much more authority to perform an investigation.

  6. JWalters
    December 11, 2019 at 20:51

    Worth reviewing – “The Israel-gate Side of Russia-gate”
    consortiumnews. * com/2017/12/23/the-israel-gate-side-of-russia-gate/

    Note: To use the above link, copy it to your browser’s address field and remove the asterisk.

  7. Rob
    December 11, 2019 at 17:36

    Is it possible that there are people who are not Republican diehards yet are inclined to view Richard Barr as a model of fairness and integrity? Whatever the facts of the case may be, Barr is and always has been a loyal servant of the Republican Party elite. .

  8. December 11, 2019 at 14:28

    Ray, given your usual great points about the findings and future findings, I fear for the health of the nation.
    As bad as the findings are about the FBI and other feds I have not trust in Trump, Barr, Pompeo, Miller, Mulvaney and their tribal lackey’s.

    • Tim Jones
      December 12, 2019 at 09:24

      Ray, VIPS, and a number of others have always focused on the culpability of the Deep State players while at once acknowledging Trump’s lack of acuity but want only legal ways to remove him. The views are not mutually exclusive.

  9. DH Fabian
    December 11, 2019 at 14:12

    “Suspected ties to Russia…” Russia was a solid ally of the US until Democrats gravely damaged relations with the (still undefined) allegations of “Russian influence” over the 2016 election. This also gravely damaged years of work toward nuclear weapons reductions. What is so discouraging is that we see Democrats already setting the stage to blame Russia again, for an expected 2020 defeat. Party loyalists maintain their resistance against acknowledging how deeply they split apart their own voting base, mainly by class.

  10. Jeff Harrison
    December 11, 2019 at 12:42

    Put your finger right on it, Ray. Forgive me if I say that I don’t think that the people in Washington possess the requisite courage or honesty to sort their way through this and make reasonable recommendations. The only real answer I see is to eliminate these organizations and replace them in the future with smaller organizations with less power and none of the current staff.

  11. Queenvictrola
    December 11, 2019 at 11:43

    They will keep telling the same lie until everyone believes it.

  12. Merwin
    December 11, 2019 at 10:25

    Ray .. I have been a big fan of yours for a little while now .. since the interview between you and one of the USS LIBERTY survivors.

    We seem to be watching Rome burn .. the slow burn of Rust and Corrosion (corruption).

    We seem to be changing as a World .. toward a global reality of a “NWO” .. but how do we engage the average person who is lost in the world of make-believe .. the world of Superstition, an unreasonable belief? How do we clean the lens so that everyone can see clearly what is before us?

    You are doing a great job .. and I applaud your efforts .. even taking a stand to the point of arrest. Thank you for your sense of integrity .. it is not going unnoticed.

    I’m a Conscientious Objector drafted Veteran of the Vietnam War period. I served as a Medic with specialty in Orthopedics (bones). I remember the day we heard on the playground of the Elementary Church School in NC where I was raised .. that JFK had been assassinated! When will we ever learn? When will we give “peace” a chance?

    This impeachment process is calculated to further divide the nation .. make people more angry and frustrated .. trying to stamp out the flames licking at the straw in the livery stable .. while the thieves are breaking the bank.

    Thank you for speaking your mind .. your intelligent mind!

    • DH Fabian
      December 11, 2019 at 14:18

      What I see is a long-declining world power, in every respect. We’re only one on a list of nuclear-armed countries today, and have fallen behind the modern nations in nearly every respect. In this “land of the free,” we now have a massive prison system that makes the old Soviet gulag look puny in comparison. At the least, we saw this “richest country ob Earth” plunge from a rating of #1 in “overall quality of life” when Reagan was first elected, down to #13 by the time Obama was elected. We see the “masses” so focused on campaigns (which now rarely take a break) that they don’t even bother much with the policies and ideology. They just root-root-root for the home team.

  13. AnneR
    December 11, 2019 at 07:42

    Thank you, Mr McGovern, for this to-the-point and important piece about this ongoing farrago “Russiagate.”

    As you indicate with your reference to the NYT, the MSM will not let go of the “Russia did it” (i.e. Putin and the Kremlin “did it”) meme. Certainly not the MSM as met with in this household, NPR (and the BBC World Service radio). Throughout the impeachment hearings and especially yesterday, NPR has, in true Doublespeak form, made sure to repeat the untruth, and to suggest, indirectly, that that was what Mueller “found.”

    Meanwhile – and interestingly (but completely unlisten-ably) on the Beeb this a.m. (early) first on the so-called “Hard Talk” program (only really needling, “hard” questioning, constant interruptions by the interviewer, usually Stephen Sacker, when the interviewee is not aligned with the hegemonic world order) when that execrable liar Eliot Higgins, of Bellingcat infamy, was allowed to propagandize for the “Russians did it” to the Skripals, that the “Russians did” the revealing of the highly secret dox of the US-UK trade deal that would, among other things, destroy forever the NHS (and by implication that Corbyn is merely a tool of Putin’s), that “Syria did it” with those “chemical weapons” – that the OPCW is honest, open, truthful and there is no there – probably Higgins also said that Russia was behind the whistleblowing, and that the MH17 crash investigation by Holland and including Ukraine but not Russia came to the right conclusions (Russia did it via its stooges in the Donbass), that all the “conspiracy theories” are untrue and derive from those deceitful Russians…

    Then later a whole program devoted to “The Secret History of GCHQ” – and how it has been working only for the national security of the British people. It works hard to prevent the Russians, Chinese et al from destroying British “democracy.” This organization, the listeners are supposed believe, is only working for the “good,” it never does anything to meddle in, interfere with, destroy other countries’ societies, communications networks, weapons systems (*their* national security from the illegal marauding western nations) and so on. I couldn’t listen to it…. Enough to make one want to vomit.

    Clearly, though, the Brit govt is recognizing that it needs to increase the propaganda, the Doublespeak, Newspeak. That its fairy stories about “who” (and what) was responsible for the Skripals, the chemical weapons in Syria (thus the White Helmets), the US and UK elections, the brexit vote result, about which dastardly, untrustworthy government and its apparatchiks are behind all of the “disinformation” is “Russia” remain believed and thus hatred, mistrust, fear of Russia be strong enough for whatever the hegemonic empire wants to do.

    Thus there must be an onslaught of (real) misinformation via the MSM to reassure a growing loss of confidence in such international bodies as the OPCW, WADA, the UN, NATO as all having “our” interests at heart, as being totally apolitical, unbiased, working to reveal only the truth. That these organizations have no allegiances except to the truth and transparency…

    It is to be sincerely hoped that such state and corporate funded and controlled mouthpieces as NPR and the BBC do NOT win this battle for the truth, for genuine transparency and open objectivity.

  14. Skip Scott
    December 11, 2019 at 07:09

    It is very strange indeed that I find myself agreeing with Lindsey Graham. I can’t help but wonder if little Chuckie Schumer’s “six ways from Sunday” influenced the Horowitz whitewash. If Barr and Durham succeed in bringing charges against the likes of Brennan and Comey, I will be utterly amazed. Barr is a bit on the hefty side, I wonder if he may suffer a convenient “sudden cardiac arrest” in the not-so-distant future.

    I am no fan of Trump, but until we bring these rogue “intelligence” agencies and their paymasters to heel there is no hope for peace, and it will not matter one whit who occupies the White House or the Congress.

  15. michael
    December 11, 2019 at 06:15

    While the Inspector General of any government agency is supposedly stand alone, none will attack THEIR agency, no matter how obvious the “misfeasance”, the repercussions are too big, funding would be affected, and (gasp!) people might be held accountable for their actions. When the FBI “lost” all the text messages between Strzok and Page, this same IG supposedly produced “all” the ones his office had. Imagine that blowback. It won’t happen again.
    Government is in perpetual CYA mode; essentially they are above the Law (as the non-prosecution of so many of our intelligence Agency heads for lying under oath shows). Compare to Michael Flynn’s treatment, and that of the many whistleblowers (Binney, Drake, Kiriakou, etc) who would dare to speak truth and embarrass our “National Security” (ie, Brennan, Hayden, Clapper, etc). These bureaucrats are not elected and cannot be easily removed from office. Even after firing Brennan, Trump could not even remove his security clearances! These career bureaucrats rule America by “consensus” “community” foreign policies agendas, not subject to change by Elections or Presidential decree. They are the State (like Louis XIV), the obvious end result of Pournelle’s iron law of bureaucracy.

    • Deniz
      December 11, 2019 at 11:59

      I agree, there is a sufficient amount of doublespeak in Horowitz’s findings to conclude this is simply more theatrics and obfuscation; Russiagate for the Sean Hannity crowd.

      Barr’s handling of the Epstein case leaves no doubt that he is with us to cover up crimes, not prosecute them.

  16. Pet Cobra Bear attacks
    December 11, 2019 at 04:20

    You’re doing Robert Parry proud.

  17. Nathan Mulcahy
    December 10, 2019 at 21:26

    Thanks Ray, for the summary and for the links. Should I get a big bucket of popcorn ready yet?

  18. jaycee
    December 10, 2019 at 20:24

    The low threshold opened the door to invasive surveillance of an entire presidential campaign team, exactly the nightmare scenario Snowden’s revelations envisioned.

  19. caseyf5
    December 10, 2019 at 19:32

    Hello Ray McGovern,
    I expect the low Bar(R) in the house will lead to a successful impeachment! From there the senate becomes a horse of a different color. I don’t see monkey McConnell allowing the process to continue but if it does happen then I see no removal from office by the senators! I see this as the outcome in the senate. “Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing. These words are uttered by Macbeth after he hears of Lady Macbeth’s death, in Act 5, scene 5, lines 16–27”. The abject failure will be enough to keep the occupier of the oval orifice to stay at least 4 more years if not longer! When that occurs I feel that this could be appropriate. “any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” Thus writing finis to what was left of our tattered and threadbare thing that was once a thriving democracy!

  20. Cortes
    December 10, 2019 at 18:38

    Hi Ray,

    Thanks for your article.

    The Larry Johnson piece on Horowitz at Colonel Lang’s Turcopolier blog includes a quote

    “we concluded that the quantum of information articulated by the FBI to open the individual investigations on Papadopoulos, Page, Flynn, and Manafort in August 2016 was sufficient to satisfy the low threshold established by the Department and the FBI”

    which to this untutored observer looks like the low bar set by the FBI and the DoJ may not actually meet the requirements of US law. Why are the MSM going out on a limb here?

    • Coleen Rowley
      December 10, 2019 at 22:28

      See my comment below re how the Attorney General Guidelines got successively modified and watered down after 9-11 to basically allow opening investigations on the “thinnest of suspicions.” The details of this are carefully and accurately set out in former FBI Agent Mike German’s recent book: “Disrupt, Discredit and Divide: How the new FBI damages democracy.” See: amazon.com/Disrupt-Discredit-Divide-Damages-Democracy/

      So we need to blame Ashcroft, Mueller and the rest for that too. Washington DC politicians were nearly all fine with their post 9-11 rescinding of AG Guidelines enacted after COINTELPRO was outed by the Church Committee because they thought the FBI would only use its greater powers upon “terrorist” and Muslim suspects and not upon themselves. Of course this factor is something Barr is not explaining.

  21. robert e williamson jr
    December 10, 2019 at 18:34

    Now I have to e-mail Dick Durbin about this recent additional funding congress approved for our misused and abused military.

    Have a nice evening.

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