Russiagate: Observers Wonder Whether IG Horowitz Throwing Sand Into Special Counsel Durham's Gears
A court filing submitted by Special Counsel John Durham on 25 January related to former Perkins Coie lawyer Michael Sussmann's case has prompted a debate about apparent friction between the special counsel and Michael E. Horowitz, inspector general of the US Department of Justice.
According to Special Counsel Durham's latest document, his team has learned about additional materials concerning Michael Sussmann possessed by Inspector General Michael Horowitz, which the latter appears to have withheld from investigators.
Sussmann is charged with lying to then-FBI General Counsel James Baker and concealing that he had conducted research into alleged Trump-Russia ties on behalf of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. The Perkins Coie lawyer's case is part of the special counsel's broader probe into the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation.
Mysterious Meeting Between Horowitz & Sussmann
Durham requested information and documents relevant to the origins of the Trump-Russia probe from the Office of Inspector General (OIG) in October of 2021. In December 2021, the OIG gave the special counsel a written forensic report about a "cyber-related matter" that Sussmann brought to the OIG's attention in early 2017 on behalf of an "anonymous client".
Sussmann claimed at the time that one of his clients "had observed that a specific OIG employee's computer was 'seen publicly' in 'internet traffic' and was connecting to a Virtual Private Network in a foreign country". The "anonymous client" is an individual described in Sussmann's indictment as "Tech Executive-1". According to The Federalist, "Tech Executive-1" is Rodney Joffe, an internet entrepreneur and an internet data expert.
After providing this report to the special counsel, the OIG told Durham's team that it had "no other file or other documentation" relating to this "cyber matter".
Yet, last week Sussmann's lawyers informed the special counsel that the defendant personally met with Horowitz in March 2017 to discuss the VPN issue. After the Durham team requested additional information from the inspector general, his office confirmed that the March 2017 meeting between Horowitz and Sussmann indeed took place. Furthermore, Sussmann also met with then-General Counsel Horowitz concerning the aforementioned cyber matter. Special Counsel Durham writes that this meeting has potential relevance to Sussmann's charges.
27 January 2022, 18:01 GMT
Two Forgotten FBI Cell Phones
The special counsel has also learned that the inspector general was in possession of two FBI cellphones belonging to James Baker, the FBI official Sussmann allegedly lied to. Since learning of Horowitz's possession of these phones, the Durham team "has been working diligently to review their contents for discoverable materials", according to the document.
Meanwhile, the OIG suddenly informed Durham in January 2022 that it would be "extremely burdensome, if not impossible", for the inspector general to "apply the search terms" contained in Durham's 13 October 2021 discovery request to the OIG's trove of documents concerning the Russiagate probe. While the OIG requested the Durham team's assistance in searching these materials, the special counsel's court filing notes that this is the first such issue since October 2021.
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19 September 2020, 04:00 GMT
New Discoveries Trigger Further Questions
These developments prompted many questions among conservative pundits. "It isn't known why Horowitz would have taken a personal meeting from Hillary Clinton's campaign lawyer", write Jeff Carlson and Hans Mahncke, co-hosts of the show "Truth Over News" on Epoch TV. They cite Bill Shipley, a former federal prosecutor, who tweeted that one cannot just "call the IG and get a meeting with him personally".
Mission for Twitter -- dig into the background of Horowitz and look for where he might have crossed paths at DOJ with Sussmann.— Dr. Shipwreckedcrew.substack.com (@shipwreckedcrew) January 26, 2022
You don't generally just call the IG and get a meeting with him personally.
"Why did the OIG not inform the special counsel's office that Sussmann had met with both the inspector general and his then-general counsel?", asks Margot Cleveland from The Federalist. "And why did the OIG falsely represent that there was no 'further documentation'? Sure, it could have been accidental, but given that Durham's attorneys publicly exposed this 'mistake', it suggests something more is afoot".
No less mysterious is the "cyber matter" brought to Horowitz's attention by Sussmann, according to Cleveland: "Was there really an OIG employee connecting on a foreign VPN? Who was it? Why? Did the OIG ever find out?"
At the same time, it's extremely unclear how "Tech Executive-1" could discover that the OIG employee was involved in suspicious activity, the journalist wonders. She asks whether "Tech Executive-1" was monitoring US government computers and why.
18 December 2019, 10:30 GMT
In an op-ed for The Epoch Times, Jeff Carlson and Hans Mahncke have drawn attention to Horowitz's reviews of high-profile investigations, including the FBI's inquiry into Hillary Clinton's private email server; the FBI's probe of the Trump campaign; and related FISA warrants against Trump aide Carter Page. According to the analysts, despite significant errors on the part of the FBI in each and every case, Horowitz has repeatedly fallen short of "formally declaring fundamental wrongdoing that would have invalidated the FBI probes".
2) Horowitz's response as detailed in Durham's new filing appears weak - and does not seem to be backed by much evidence.https://t.co/EZoaouIWUu— Jeff Carlson (@themarketswork) January 29, 2022
The inspector general "glossed over" potential conflicts of interest, overlooked "political bias", and eventually presented the FBI probe into Donald Trump as "well predicated" – something that US Attorney Durham objected to at the time – according Carlson and Mahncke.
"Horowitz's failure to fully cooperate with Durham might raise new questions about the conclusions the IG drew in his reviews of the Clinton email investigation, the FBI's Crossfire Hurricane inquiry, and the Carter Page FISA warrant applications", the Epoch TV co-hosts highlight.