From Smirking Chimp
For months, the names of Michael Horowitz and John Durham have figured in the pounding rhythms of right-wing media in which a heroically afflicted president faces down his perfidious enemies. A steady drumbeat of reports from Fox News, echoed by President Trump and Republican loyalists in Congress, proclaimed these two obscure Justice Department officials would get to the bottom of an alleged conspiracy against the Trump presidency.
They would, in Trump's words, "investigate the investigators." It was oh so promising.
"I will tell you this," Trump blustered on October 25. "I think you're going to see a lot of really bad things," he said. "I leave it all up to the attorney general and I leave it all up to the people that are working with the attorney general who I don't know. ... I think you'll see things that nobody would've believed."
Horowitz, as the DOJ inspector general, had the narrower assignment. He was tasked with investigating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants issued to intercept the communications of Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Horowitz had to answer the question: Was Page targeted for political reasons, perhaps based on the famous "Steele Dossier"?
Durham, a senior U.S. attorney in Connecticut, has a broader brief: to review the FBI's decision to open an investigation of the Trump campaign's contacts with Russians in 2015. Durham was selected for the job by Barr.
For those inclined to believe Fox News and the president, the "deep state cabal" that allegedly targeted Trump was running scared. In early October, Fox News reported that "Barr and Durham traveled to Italy recently to talk to law enforcement officials there about the probe and have also had conversations with officials in the U.K. and Australia about the investigation." From this report, the Daily Caller imaginatively extrapolated that Durham's probe had expanded to include "looking at the activities of foreign intelligence agencies." (One British official told the Independent that Barr and his minions asked, "in quite robust terms, for help in doing a hatchet job on their own intelligence services.") On October 22, the Washington Examiner said Durham was "scrutinizing four key figures"; the Spectator, a right-wing British magazine, claimed former CIA director John Brennan was in "Durham's crosshairs."
And so on.
"Things That Nobody Would've Believed"
Trump's words, ironically, are coming true. Horowitz, it is now reliably reported, found that the Trump/Fox News talking points about a "deep state" conspiracy against Trump are, in fact, "things that nobody would've believed."
Horowitz's report, says USA Today, is "expected to conclude the FBI was justified in launching its two-year inquiry into the Trump campaign and possible ties to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election."
The Washington Post reports that Durham has already disappointed Trump. In the course of Horowitz's investigation, Durham declined to endorse one key Republican talking point: that one witness, Joseph Mifsud, was actually a CIA or FBI agent deployed to undermine and defeat Trump's presidential bid.
Durham, according to the Post, has "said he could not offer evidence to the Justice Department's inspector general to support the suspicions of some conservatives that the case was a setup by American intelligence." (The Post describes its source as "people familiar with the matter.")
Those pundits expected Horowitz to side with the president could be detained by mere facts, no matter how public. Remember a couple of hundred news cycles ago -- mid-October -- when right-wing media was filibustering about the identity of the CIA whistleblower who first brought Trump's Ukraine pressure campaign to light?