There isn’t any love lost between Inspector General Michael Horowitz and former President Barack Obama. Since 1978, inspector generals had virtually unlimited legal access to any and all records. Their whole function is to keep government departments legally between the lines.
In 2010, Obama tied their hands. “For the first time since the I.G. Act was passed in 1978, the word ‘all’ in Section 6(a) of the I.G. Act no longer means all,” Horowitz complained. Soon he will have a chance to even the score.
President Donald Trump would have preferred the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuse probe to be supervised personally by the Attorney General himself, rather than the DOJ’s Inspector General.
This is now the second time that AG Jeff Sessions took a step back from a hot-button issue for the White House. He also recused himself from the Russia collusion probe.
AG Sessions insists there really is a method to his madness. The office of the Inspector General was created just to deal with the kind of abuses we are seeing now. Not only that, the man in charge has an ax to grind with Obama’s DOJ.
The Inspector General watching over the Department of Justice, Michael Horowitz, has been hard on the trail of the elusive Hildebeast for a solid year now, digging into “improper considerations” that Hillary was “especially” given, just before the hotly contested 2016 election.
The FBI branch of the Hillary Clinton fan club was supposed to be investigating her secret email server. They declined to press charges, despite evidence of crimes.
Now, Horowitz is straining at the leash to go after “all the president’s men” in Obama’s cabinet. Just like Nixon’s plumbers, they used the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a political weapon against the opposing party during an election campaign.
After the Watergate scandal rocked the nation and caused President Nixon to step down, the office of inspector general was created in 1978. Each separate government agency has its own “independent investigators” charged with ferreting out abuse.
The system worked great until Obama came along. Despite a long history of treating “sensitive information” with care and discretion, in full compliance with all the laws that limit where the information goes and who gets to see it, suddenly there was a lid on the box.
“There has not been a single occasion in our 27-year history where we have been accused of mishandling such information,” Inspector General Horowitz testified to Congress.
Inspectors general were given free access to “grand jury wiretap and credit information without legal objection” and they didn’t have to go to court to get it.
“Indeed,” Horowitz points out, “it would be hard to imagine how we could conduct effective oversight of the FBI, the DEA, and other law enforcement components if we were prohibited from reviewing information like grand jury and wiretap information that those agencies frequently use.”
“However, in 2010, FBI lawyers concluded that our office could not have legal access to such information, despite its past practice and despite the fact that no laws had changed.”
By the time Horowitz got to tell his story to the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2015, his team had become frustrated by “numerous challenges to our access to department records, seriously impacting our ability to conduct oversight.”
Lawyers for Obama’s FBI identified at least 10 “categories of records where they believed we might not be entitled to access.”
In August of 2014, a full year before Horowitz testified to the committee, 47 separate inspectors general “signed a letter to Congress complaining that several agencies, including the Justice Department, were withholding information on the questionable basis that it was “privileged.”
He told the committee in 2014 that Obama’s “Office of Legal Counsel” decided, on their own, that “the Inspector General Act of 1978 does not entitle the IG to access grand jury, wiretap or credit information.”
“The legal underpinning of the OLC opinion represents a serious threat to not only my independence but to that of all inspectors general.”
IG Horowitz can’t wait for a chance to get people like Eric Holder on the stand and finally expose what they were trying to cover up and keep away from him since 2010.