Reuters has some interesting new information related to the infamous Steele Dossier. In March 2018, Michael Horowitz, the Inspector General of the Justice Department, launched a probe into whether the FBI improperly used Christopher Steele’s Clinton-financed opposition research to secure a FISA warrant on Carter Page. In Mid-April 2019 when the Mueller Report came out, Attorney General William Barr told Congress that Horowitz’s conclusions would be ready by the end of May or possibly in June. Yet, reporters for Reuters have sources telling them Horowitz’s office used June to interview Christopher Steele in person.
Three attorneys from the Inspector General’s office of the U.S. Department of Justice met in person in early June with dossier author Christopher Steele in Britain, said two sources with direct knowledge of the lawyers’ travels.
The interview with Steele, a former top spy on Russia for Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6, took place while Trump was in London for a formal state visit with Queen Elizabeth and a meeting with UK Prime Minister Theresa May.
After those conversations with Steele, the timeline for issuing the I.G. report was pushed back.
One of the two sources said Horowitz’s investigators appear to have found Steele’s information sufficiently credible to have to extend the investigation. Its completion date is now unclear.
If this reporting is correct, it casts a new light on the story Fox News was telling over the Fourth of July weekend.
Key witnesses sought for questioning by Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz early in his investigation into alleged government surveillance abuse have come forward at the 11th hour, Fox News has learned.
Sources familiar with the matter said at least one witness outside the Justice Department and FBI started cooperating — a breakthrough that came after Attorney General William Barr ordered U.S. Attorney John Durham to lead a separate investigation into the origins of the bureau’s 2016 Russia case that laid the foundation for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.
If the one key witness referred to here is actually Christopher Steele, and Steele was found “sufficiently credible” such that the investigation needed to be extended, that’s not exactly what the president and his supporters were hoping to hear.
Horowitz began his career at the DOJ in 1991 and moved up the ladder there during the Clinton administration. He was assigned as the Inspector General in 2012, during the Obama administration. There is no particular reason to think that he’s a hatchet man for Donald Trump or a lackey for William Barr. If Trump were truly comfortable that Horowitz would back up his Deep State conspiracy claims, it’s doubtful he would have had Barr assign John Durham to begin a second investigation that will come at the question from a slightly different angle.
It’s also interesting that the sources for Fox News say that it was the onset of the Durham investigation that led to the “breakthrough” of previously reluctant witnesses agreeing to talk to Horowitz’s investigators. If this includes Christopher Steele, is seems that he may have chosen to speak with the people he thought would give him a fairer hearing.
There are clearly some things in Steele’s dossier that are wrong, and the administration has really been trying to exploit that in recent months. They’ve been acting almost giddy about getting Horowitz’s report in anticipation of using it as a way to discredit Robert Mueller’s scheduled testimony before Congress. Now it looks like the timing is going to be off on that, and there’s reason for the administration to be concerned that Horowitz will be helpful at all.