As the White House reels, and the press swarms like angry bees around the Impeachment Inquiry of President Donald Trump, many have forgotten that the draft report on potential abuse by FISA by IG Horowitz remains in quiet review.
But not everyone has forgotten about the soon to be released IG report that has been under review by the DOJ over the past few weeks. A former top judge on the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has recently come forward to say that he expects a “very fair” report from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz on alleged FISA abuses by the DOJ and the FBI.
U.S. District Judge John Bates, who was placed on the FISA court by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and was its presiding judge from 2009 to 2013, sat down with Lawfare editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes recently to discuss all things FISA, including the recently completed investigation into the application process to obtain warrants to electronically surveil onetime Trump campaign aide Carter Page – the warrants that launched the so-called “Russia Probe.”
Bates made it clear that he did not have any insider knowledge on the contents of the report, and that he merely laid out his expectations for Wittes, based on his FISA experience and what he knows about Horowitz.
“I expect a very thorough report — a very fair report from Michael Horowitz. He’s a good inspector general. He’s careful,” Bates said. Bates added later that he expects the report to be “pretty lengthy.”
Bates’ assessment of Horowitz bolsters the watchdog’s credibility at a time when he will find himself yet again at the center of a political firestorm when the FISA report is released to the public in the coming weeks.
Horowitz Has Already Taken Fire
Bate’s compliments of Horowitz ahead of the report’s release come as the IG’s integrity has already been called into question, most notably by someone mentioned in his probe — disgraced former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. McCabe was fired last year after a report from Horowitz found that he made unauthorized disclosures to the media and misled investigators. In a legal fight against the Justice Department over his ouster, McCabe’s lawyers slammed Horowitz’s report as being “deeply flawed.”
Horowitz has been talking with U.S. Attorney John Durham, who is handling any criminal referrals from the investigation. As to what exactly the report says, Bates could not guess. Despite the rumors of a coming bombshell that could hit Democrats hard, “I don’t have a prediction for whether he is going to find fault and mistakes or worse and at what levels. Because remember that the sign-offs on these applications in the Department of Justice and the FBI were pretty high levels,” he said.