The U.S. Justice Department’s chief watchdog on Monday released its much anticipated report examining accusations from President Trump and his top allies that political bias tainted the Russia probe that bedeviled the White House.
Trump repeatedly referenced the Inspector General’s report in recent days, claiming that it would vindicate his repeated charge that the FBI’s probe into potential ties between his campaign and the Russian government was a “witch hunt.”
Officials at the bureau launched the Russia probe in July 2016 after receiving information from an Australian diplomat that a Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, bragged that Russia stole thousands of emails relating to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Papadopoulos made the disclosure to the top Aussie diplomat, Alexander Downer, during a meeting over drinks in London at the Kensington Wine Rooms.
Downer passed the information along to his superiors in Sydney, but the Australian government kept mum about the explosive information until July 26, days after WikiLeaks dumped its first load of Team Clinton’s emails, which Mueller determined were hacked by the Kremlin.
The Australian government then passed the information along to officials in the Obama administration.
Trump’s first Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself the investigation and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, handed it off to a special counsel, Robert Mueller, the former prosecutor and retired FBI director.
Mueller’s sprawling investigation rejected claims that Trump’s campaign aides conspired with the Kremlin to defeat Clinton, but found several instances where Trump aides and allies attempted to slow and interfere with his probe.
Monday’s report from Inspector General Michael Horowitz comes as Trump faces an impeachment inquiry in Congress probing allegations the White House pressed Ukraine to investigate a top 2020 Democratic presidential rival, Joe Biden.
It’s also not the last word on the matter.
Trump’s newest attorney general, William Barr, commissioned Connecticut’s federal prosecutor, John Durham, to also probe the matter.
That investigation is criminal in nature, and Republicans may look to it to uncover wrongdoing that the inspector general wasn’t examining.
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