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Beltways battens down hatches for the Horowitz Report — and new reveal on Christopher Steele?

Is it beginning to look a lot like Horowitz-mas? And does that bear any resemblance to Fitzmas and Muellermas? The long-awaited Inspector General report on the FBI’s Operation Crossfire Hurricane will finally drop today, after weeks of speculation about its conclusions. This curtain-raiser from the Washington Post suggests that it will fall somewhere short of a bombshell but will still have a percussive effect nonetheless:

A long-awaited Justice Department inspector general’s report examining the FBI’s investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia is expected to be released Monday, clearing the bureau’s top leaders of conservatives’ most serious allegations while providing some fodder for President Trump and his allies to renew their attacks on the probe.

The report, which spans hundreds of pages, is expected to conclude that the top FBI officials running the Russia investigation were not tainted by political bias and that they had adequate cause to open a probe ahead of the 2016 election, according to people familiar with drafts of the document.

But it will also find fault with applications FBI officials prepared to surveil a former Trump campaign adviser, and it will allege that a low-level FBI lawyer doctored a document in connection with those applications, the people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the document before its public release.

That’s going to be more on point than anything out of the Mueller report, at least in terms of the primary reason for conducting the probe. Recall that the Department of Justice appointed Robert Mueller special counsel to investigate specific allegations arising from the FBI’s intelligence operation that Donald Trump and his campaign “colluded” with Russian intelligence on the DNC hack and in disseminating propaganda during the election. Despite finding no evidence of any such “collusion,” Mueller racked up a series of process crimes and unrelated charges against Trump campaign figures while making a half-baked argument over obstruction while avoiding any conclusion on them.

Horowitz, on the other hand, specifically focused on the FISA application in his probe, and apparently found enough to put at least one DoJ attorney in serious trouble. Even if Horowitz didn’t find any evidence that political bias tainted higher levels of the FBI, that in itself raises serious questions as to why no one at the higher levels of the FBI double-checked his work before submitting the application for a surveillance warrant on Carter Page in the middle of a presidential election. If the FBI’s leadership wasn’t dotting Is and checking Ts on something this potentially explosive in a FISA warrant, what else are they sloppy about on them?

There may be more about political bias than the media has hinted, however. The New York Times reports that Attorney General William Barr approved a late addition to Horowitz’ report about Christopher Steele, whose dossier prompted the FISA warrant. And it doesn’t sound as though the extra material will make Steele look more sympathetic, either:

Attorney General William P. Barr recently approved making public new details about a former F.B.I. informant at the heart of conservatives’ allegations about the Russia investigation, deciding to release information that had been blacked out in a highly anticipated inspector general’s report due out on Monday.

A representative from the office of the Justice Department inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, told the former F.B.I. informant, Christopher Steele, on Sunday that the Justice Department had decided to allow for the release of the information, two people briefed on the situation said late on Sunday.

Mr. Steele was given no details about the information itself, nor was he told how it would affect the report’s portrayal of him, the people said. Mr. Horowitz is expected to be critical of Mr. Steele, a British former spy who compiled a dossier of salacious, unverified information about President Trump. F.B.I. officials relied to some degree on the dossier to seek a court order for a wiretap of a former Trump campaign adviser, and the president’s allies have seized on the issue to make broad claims about the sprawling Russia investigation.

The notice to Mr. Steele on the eve of the report’s release was highly unusual. Like the other witnesses interviewed for the inspector general’s report, Mr. Steele had earlier reviewed the findings that are pertinent to him, and he was given a chance to comment on them. In this case, Mr. Horowitz’s office did not detail for him the additional information and gave him no opportunity to respond for the report to be released on Monday.

If this new information doesn’t turn out to be exculpatory to Steele, it will raise even more concerns about the FBI’s approach to investigating a presidential campaign in the middle of an election. It will heighten the drama surrounding the FBI and DoJ, even if the report might end up being limited by the scope of Horowitz’ jurisdiction.

Speaking of drama, however, one may not have to thumb through a dry PDF to learn what Horowitz concluded. Phelim McAleer and Ann McIlhenny, the filmmakers behing Frack Nation and Gosnell, announced this weekend that they would produce a podcast version of the report as a verbatim dramatic reading by Firefly and The Last Ship star (and longtime friend of Hot Air) Adam Baldwin:

Actor Adam Baldwin is revealing the FBI’s closed door secrets in a podcast by planning to read the upcoming Inspector General’s report in its entirety.

Baldwin, best known for his roles in movies Full Metal Jacket and Firefly and the television series Chuck and The Last Ship, will be narrating every word of the much anticipated Inspector General’s Report which will reveal the truth behind the unprecedented decision of the FBI to investigate a presidential campaign during an election.

The IG’s report, which is expected to be over 500 pages, will be released on Monday Dec 9th. It will examine the legality of the FISA warrant that kicked off the Russia investigation and the legality of other ways the Trump campaign and presidency was monitored and investigated. It is expected to be critical of some aspects of  the investigations and, according to media leaks, recommend criminal charges against some of the FBI operatives.

Baldwin’s verbatim reading of the report will be released as a multi-episode podcast under the banner of The Ann & Phelim Scoop Podcast and each episode will feature a single chapter of the report. Previous Inspector General Reports have been up to sixteen chapters and 500 pages long.

The first episode of Adam’s podcast will drop later today, we hear, and we’ll talk with Phelim McAleer on Thursday’s Ed Morrissey Show about HearTheIGReport.com. Suffice it to say that the Horowitz report won’t be complete without Adam’s dramatic reading … and that at least is a much bigger and better payoff than we ever got out of Fitzmas and Muellermas.