Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday that an inspector general’s investigation into whether the FBI abused the surveillance court process during the Russia probe will be completed by May or June.
Barr also told lawmakers during a House Appropriations Committee hearing that he is reviewing how the FBI handled the counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign that began in summer 2016.
“The office of the inspector general has a pending investigation of the process in the Russia investigation. I expect that that will be complete, probably in May or June, I am told,” said Barr.
“More generally, I am reviewing the conduct of the investigation and trying to get my arms around all of the aspects of the counterintelligence investigation that was conducted during the summer of 2016,” he added.
Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department’s inspector general, began investigating on March 28, 2018 whether the FBI mislead the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in applications for FISA warrants against Carter Page, a Trump campaign adviser.
The FBI relied heavily on the Democrat-funded Steele dossier to obtain four FISA warrants against Page. The dossier, authored by a former British spy, alleged that Page acted as a liaison between the Trump campaign and Kremlin during the 2016 campaign. Republicans have argued that the FBI should not have relied on the dossier since its allegations were unverified and because the document was opposition research funded by the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee.
There are strong indications that the dossier’s claims about Page were inaccurate. Special counsel Robert Mueller concluded there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government. Page, an energy consultant who has worked in Moscow, did not face any charges in the investigation. No Trump associates were indicted during Mueller’s 22-month investigation for conspiring with Russia.
The FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into Trump campaign advisers on July 31, 2016, purportedly based on information from the Australian government about Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos.
Alexander Downer, who then served as Australia’s top diplomat to the United Kingdom, claimed that Papadopoulos mentioned to him during a meeting in London on May 10, 2016 that Russia might release information on Hillary Clinton later in the campaign.
While the FBI has claimed its investigation did not begin until receiving the tip from Australia in late July 2016, a longtime FBI and CIA informant, Stefan Halper, made contact with Page in England earlier that month.