2019-07-10 12:55:261 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST
This may end up being a rock Donald Trump wishes he didn't turn over. He pushed Attorney General William Barr to follow up on the origins of the Russia investigation, so sure it would show that the FBI was spying on his campaign.
Instead, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz's office found that what started the investigation, the well-storied Christopher Steele dossier, to be credible.
Former British spy Steele interviewed with three attorneys with the Inspector General's office last month in Britain, according to sources with direct knowledge of the attorneys' trip to Britain. This was while Trump was in London visiting Queen Elizabeth and meeting with UK Prime Minister Theresa May.
Steele wrote a dossier that was made public early in 2017. It alleged that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that there was possible collusion with Trump's campaign. It also had some accounts of earlier Trump visits to Russia with unverified, salacious details.
Trump has been insisting that his campaign was spied on in 2016, setting up the Russia investigation. He has contended that the dossier is fake and that it was funded by Hillary Clinton's campaign. He also contends the FBI used that as a reason to secretly spy on his adviser Carter Page.
He has stated that it led to Robert Mueller being appointed special counsel to head up the Russia investigation. After Mueller turned in his final report, Barr has been reluctant to release the full report and has only released it in a redacted version.
Trump ran with this and said the report cleared him of any wrongdoing, and while House Democrats are subpoenaing to see the unredacted information, Trump had Barr start this investigation that he believes will prove the FBI spied on him, setting up a phony investigation. But it all starts with the Steele report.
One of the sources said Horowitz's investigators appear to have found Steele's information credible enough to where they extended the investigation. It was supposed to be completed by May or June, but the ending date is now unclear.
A focus of Horowitz's investigation is whether the FBI followed the rules when applying for a warrant with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) to secretly surveil Page and his apparent ties to Russia.
Declassified documents show Steele's dossier was cited when the FBI asked FISA in late 2016 for a warrant to electronically surveil Page.
Mueller's report confirmed that Russia did meddle in the election to ensure Trump was elected, although the president insists Russia was helping his opponent, Clinton. It also noted several campaign officials had multiple contacts with Russian officials. Yet, it found insufficient evidence to show a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.
In addition to that side of the Mueller report, it also described Trump's numerous attempts to stop the Russia investigation. Mueller has said as part of the Justice Department, he is not allowed to bring criminal charges against the president. However, he also said if his office thought Trump was completely innocent, they would have said so.
While 34 people, including members of Trump's campaign and administration, as well as Russian agents, were charged in the investigation, Page never was.
Steele was interviewed twice by Mueller's investigators and also gave written testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee last August.
Next week Mueller will testify before the House, although he said before agreeing to testify that if he ever did, he would not say anything more than what is in his report. What the House wants him to reveal is the redacted information that he included in his report but that the attorney general will not let anyone else see.
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