Inspector General Michael Horowitz's long-awaited report into the origins of the Russia investigation and FISA abuses is expected to be released on Dec. 9. Earlier this week, Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham said Horowitz will testify before the committee on Dec. 11. So what is the media going to do for the next two weeks? It looks they've decided on preemptively downplaying the report.
On Thursday, the news was leaked that an FBI official, since identified as Kevin Clinesmith, altered a document used to obtain a FISA warrant for a wiretap on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The New York Times revealed that the "low-level lawyer" was Mr. Clinesmith, who is now under criminal investigation. For more analysis of the media spin on the reported FISA abuse, check out Matt Vespa's analysis.
The Times goes on to admit that information about the Steele Dossier used in the applications to obtain wiretaps failed to mention who funded the Dossier in the first place, the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC. That information was never disclosed on the wiretap applications long after the FBI found out that their "evidence" was nothing more than discredited opposition research commissioned by Hillary Clinton and the DNC.
After admitting they have not seen the draft of Horowitz's much-anticipated report, The Times then claims "the report debunks a series of conspiracy theories and insinuations about the F.B.I. that Mr. Trump and his allies have put forward over the past two years," according to their sources. So The Times hasn't seen the report yet, but they're already fact-checking the president about it -- the president who has likely been briefed on the report by Attorney General William Barr.
Asked on "Fox & Friends" if the report supports his claims that somebody at the FBI was out to get him, Trump responded, "Well, it certainly does."
Trump continued, "And they were spying on my campaign and it went up to the top and everybody knows it, and now we're going to find out... This was an overthrow attempt at the presidency. ... I think this is nothing compared to what you will see in the next couple of weeks. These people are sick."
Trump then characterized the inspector general report as "perhaps the biggest [political] scandal in the history of our country," and the president accurately predicted that Democrats and the media would work overtime to downplay the inspector general's findings.
On Fox News's "The Story" with Martha MacCallum on Friday evening, former Acting Attorney General Matt Whittaker agreed with the president. MacCallum asked Whittaker, "Do you believe that it will live up to that level of expectation?"
"I do," answered Whittaker. "I think it's going to be one of the more consequential inspector general reports we've seen in probably the last two decades. I think it is going to hopefully begin the process of a restoration of confidence in the Department of Justice and the FBI that I think was lost to some extent through the Mueller investigations and through this Carter Page FISA situation, and I hope they layout as many facts as possible as to how we got here because you know there are just so many open questions, there are obviously some conspiracy theories, but I know the president has certainly been briefed on it by Attorney General Barr at this point, so I would expect if the president is saying that this is going to be a big deal, it is a big deal."
If we're already learning about altered documents being used to wiretap the Trump campaign, the media really has it's work cut out in order to spin this report.