President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he would be a bit disappointed if the Justice Department inspector general's upcoming report on the origins of the Russia investigation says the FBI had enough information to launch an investigation in 2016 into members of his campaign.
The president made the remarks to reporters in London in response to a Washington Post article on Monday that said Attorney General William Barr disagrees that the FBI had enough information in July 2016 to justify beginning an investigation into Trump campaign members, a key takeaway of the soon-to-be-released review. Barr told associates about his disagreement with that assessment, the Post reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
"Perhaps he’s read the report," Trump said when asked about the Post article. "I think he’s quoted incorrectly. I do believe that because I’m hearing the report is very powerful, but I’m hearing that by reading lots of different things, not from inside information. It’s really from outside information."
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"I think we have to read it, we have to see it, but I hear there’s a lot of devastating things in that report, but we’ll see what happens," Trump continued, adding, "If what I read is correct — I read it in your newspaper — if what I read is correct, that will be a little disappointing, but it was just one aspect of the report. We’ll see what happens. It’s coming out in a few days. I hear it’s devastating."
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The Justice Department's inspector general, Michael Horowitz, is set to release the report next week. The Post reported that Horowitz's explanation for concluding the FBI had enough information at the time to open its investigation did not sway Barr, according to people familiar with the matter, who said Barr privately contended that Horowitz does not have enough information to reach that conclusion.
The FBI launched its Russia investigation after being informed of comments by George Papadopoulos then a Trump campaign aide who later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI — that Russia possessed hacked Democratic emails. The FBI investigated multiple members of the Trump campaign suspected of having ties to Russia.
"The inspector general’s investigation is a credit to the Department of Justice," Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in response to The Post article. "His excellent work has uncovered significant information that the American people will soon be able to read for themselves. Rather than speculating, people should read the report for themselves next week, watch the inspector general’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and draw their own conclusions about these important matters."
Meanwhile, a person familiar with a draft of the inspector general's report told NBC News that the report concludes that the FBI did not spy on Trump's 2016 campaign. Trump and Barr have claimed the president's campaign was spied on.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Tuesday that Barr has full confidence in the inspector general.
"I can tell you without any hesitation Attorney General Barr has every confidence in the world in Mr. Horowitz," Graham tweeted. "He believes that he has done a good job, a professional job, and he appreciates the work and the effort he has put into disclosing abuse at the Department of Justice."