Trump talks Russia probe audit with AG, White House counsel
President Donald Trump met with Attorney General William Barr and White House counsel Pat Cipollone in an Oval Office meeting Thursday afternoon in which the so-called Horowitz report came up in conversation, two sources told CNN.
The animated discussions were captured by TV crews outside the Oval Office on the South Lawn of the White House awaiting the President’s departure for Louisiana. Trump held a campaign rally in Louisiana ahead of Saturday’s gubernatorial election in that state.
The Horowitz report refers to a probe by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz on the opening of the Russia investigation. Horowitz’s office is expected to wrap up its investigation soon.
Horowitz began his investigation in early 2018, centered on the applications submitted by the FBI in 2016 and 2017 to a secretive surveillance court seeking permission to eavesdrop on Carter Page, the Trump campaign foreign policy adviser.
The surveillance warrants, which cite a dossier of unverified intelligence on the Trump campaign collected by former British spy Christopher Steele, have since been released and used by Trump and his allies to stand up allegations that the early investigation into the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the election was driven by politics.
Barr said Wednesday that the report is “imminent,” and confirmed CNN’s reporting that witnesses mentioned in the draft are now being given an opportunity to offer comments.
“It’s been reported and it’s my understanding that it’s imminent,” Barr said at an unrelated law enforcement event in Memphis, Tennessee. “A number of people who are mentioned in the report are having an opportunity right now to comment on how they’re quoted in the report and after that process is over, which should be very short, the report will be issued. That’s what the inspector general himself has suggested.”
CNN reported on Tuesday that multiple witnesses who interviewed with the inspector general’s office have been asked in recent days to come in and review portions of the draft report. Witnesses have set up times for the reviews over the next two weeks, people familiar with the situation said, meaning that the report could be released in the days before or after the Thanksgiving holiday.
On Wednesday, Barr also offered high praise for Horowitz, saying his report would be a “credit to the department.”
“The Inspector General Horowitz is a fiercely independent investigator, a superb investigator, who I think has conducted this particular investigation in the most professional way and I think his work when it does come out will be a credit to the department,” Barr said.
CNN’s David Shortell, Katelyn Polantz, Evan Perez and LaRell Reynolds contributed to this report.