As impeachment moves forward, Trump and his defenders offer distractions. The Dec. 9 report from the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, shouldn’t work as one of them. To be sure, the report raises troubling questions about the process by which the FBI obtains foreign intelligence surveillance (FISA) warrants. But with respect to the Horowitz report, only three points matter to the current controversy surrounding Trump’s impeachment:
First, the Horowitz report has nothing to do with Trump’s shakedown of Ukraine and his cover up of those actions by stonewalling Congress. Nothing.
Second, the Horowitz report destroys the lie that Trump has been telling for years, namely, that even before his election, a “deep state” inside the FBI was out to get him and that the Russia investigation “hoax”/”witch hunt” resulted from that effort. Horowitz found no “documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions” to open the Trump-Russia investigation and then to pursue it.
Likewise Horowitz found that, despite contrary claims from Trump and his defenders, the infamous Steele dossier was not the impetus for the Russia investigation, which began on July 31, 2016. In that respect, Horowitz found that Steele’s materials played “no role.” The FBI opened the investigation after learning that George Papadopolous had told an Australian diplomat in a London bar that the Russians had a trove of damaging Hillary Clinton emails The Russians were willing to assist in the dissemination of use those emails to help Trump win.
Third, the FBI committed errors and omissions in the application and renewals for a FISA surveillance warrant on Carter Page. But it did not even seek such a warrant until October 2016 — three months after it had opened the Trump-Russia investigation and long after Page had left the Trump campaign. Here too, Horowitz found no evidence that political bias or improper motives played any role in the warrant process for Page.
As Trump’s impeachment draws nearer, ignore Trump and Republicans trying to move the conversation to the Horowitz report. It’s irrelevant to the facts proving Trump’s shakedown of Ukraine and Trump’s subsequent cover-up. The GOP has yet to mount a factual defense to those charges.
Here is a list of the latest updates to the Trump-Russia Timeline at Dan Rather’s News & Guts and Just Security:
MAR 20, 2019: Solomon Publishes False Attack on Yovanovitch; Parnas Involved
APR. 1 – 12, 2019: Solomon Smears Biden; Parnas Exchanges Calls With Giuliani and Solomon; Nunes in Contact With Giuliani; Giuliani in Contact With White House and Possibly OMB
APR. 23, 2019: Giuliani Has Calls With Parnas, White House
APR. 24-25, 2019: Giuliani Has Calls With White House and Possibly OMB; Yovanovitch Gets Evening Call in Kiev Summoning Her to Washington ‘On The Next Plane’
APR. 25, 2019: Biden Officially Announces Presidential Bid
REVISED: APRIL 28-29, 2019: State Dept. No Longer Able to ‘Protect’ Yovanovitch; Bolton Calls Giuliani a ‘Hand Grenade’
JUNE 19, 2019: Trump Promotes Russian Propaganda About Ukraine Election Interference, Raises Questions With OMB
JULY 30, 2019: Ukraine Official Concerned About US Aid
AUG. 8, 2019: Giuliani Contacts White House and Possibly OMB
AUG. 12-13, 2019: Volker Receives Zelensky’s Draft Statement on Corruption
REVISED: AUG. 13, 2019: Giuliani, Volker, and Sondland Revise Zelensky’s Statement on Corruption
DEC. 2, 2019: PoliticoReports That Senate Intelligence Committee Found No Evidence of Ukrainian Interference in the 2016 US Election
DEC. 3, 2019: House Intelligence Committee Releases Report on Impeachment
DEC. 3, 2019: House Votes Against Allowing Russia in G-7
DEC. 3, 2019: House Intelligence Committee Sends Impeachment Report to Judiciary Committee
DEC. 3-4, 2019: Giuliani Meets With Ukrainian Former Prosecutors and Politicians as Part of Effort to ‘Debunk the Impeachment Hoax’
DEC. 4, 2019: Constitutional Law Experts Testify Before House Judiciary Committee
DEC. 6, 2019: White House Reject Invitation to Participate in House Judiciary Committee Hearings on Impeachment
DEC. 7, 2019: House Judiciary Committee Issues Report on Grounds for Impeachment