The particulars for each witness’s review were not immediately clear and in some cases were still being negotiated. The inspector general’s office will probably offer relatively short windows for witnesses to submit feedback and take other steps to prevent leaks, as it often does in sensitive and high-profile cases.
A spokesman for the Justice Department inspector general did not return a message seeking comment.
The Washington Post reported earlier this month that the Justice Department was trying to release the report in the coming weeks, and one person involved in the discussions said Nov. 20 was being eyed as a target date. Another person, though, indicated the report was more likely to be released after Thanksgiving because of the complicated and contentious mix of legal, classification and political issues at play.
The Associated Press first reported witnesses were being asked to review draft sections of the report.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz has been meticulously examining various aspects of the FBI’s probe, with a keen eye on the FBI and Justice Department’s applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor the communications of a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page. It is unclear precisely what Horowitz has found.
Conservatives hope the report will give them ammunition to argue the FBI was corrupt in its pursuit of Trump and his alleged ties to Russia, and Republican lawmakers have been pressing the Justice Department to make the report public next week.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) tweeted Tuesday that if it did not, “I will be very disappointed & left to wonder WHAT THE GAME IS?? Is someone at FBI or DOJ tying IGs hands??”
The report’s findings also will mark a major public test of Attorney General William P. Barr’s credibility, given he has previously suggested the FBI’s investigative decisions in the case were problematic.
The findings might also shed some light on the separate but related investigation led by U.S. Attorney John Durham, who is exploring the origins of the FBI’s probe and whether its surveillance activities were lawful. Officials have recently said that investigation is pursuing potential crimes, though it is not clear what those crimes might be.
In recent weeks, Barr and other officials have been working to declassify the report, so that more information can be released publicly. In a letter to lawmakers last month, Horowitz wrote that the declassification process was “nearing completion,” adding, “I anticipate that the final report will be released publicly with few redactions.” He gave no specific indication of when that might be.