DOJ watchdog Michael Horowitz is a career straight shooter, colleagues
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[December 09, 2019]
By Sarah N. Lynch
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Michael Horowitz,
the Justice Department's inspector general, will be in the spotlight on
Monday when he releases his long-awaited report into the FBI's probe
into whether U.S. President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign colluded with
The report is expected to be a political lightning rod for Trump critics
and his supporters alike, because it criticizes the FBI's process, but
supports the agency's legal basis for launching the investigation,
according to sources familiar with the findings.
Last week talk radio host Rush Limbaugh dubbed Horowitz a "deep stater,"
a term some conservatives use to criticize federal employees whom they
believe are disloyal to Trump.
Horowitz has spent much of his career trying to rise above politics, say
former colleagues who describe him as a "straight shooter" who avoids
ever talking about politics around the water cooler.
He cannot even pick favorites when it comes to baseball teams, several
pointed out -- he is an equal fan of the New York Yankees, one of his
home state's Major League teams, and his current hometown team, the
"I couldn't even tell you what his politics are. He is completely fair,
right down the middle," said Rob Storch, the National Security Agency
inspector general, who previously served as deputy inspector general at
the Justice Department, and says he worked closely with Horowitz for
more than five years.
Horowitz, 57, has handled deeply polarizing issues before becoming an
inspector general, or IG. These officials are tasked with rooting out
waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government. He declined a request
for an interview.
Horowitz cut his teeth as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's
Office for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, where he
investigated police corruption cases in the 1990s, said Lorin Reisner,
who has known Horowitz more than 30 years. The two attended the same
universities and were prosecutors in Manhattan together.
"Police investigations ... are politically challenging investigations
because, first of all, you are investigating one of your own law
enforcement partners," said Reisner, now a partner with law firm Paul
Weiss. "Michael was able to navigate it with gracefulness and respect."
Like many top intelligence and law enforcement officials, Horowitz has
incurred Trump's wrath on Twitter.
In early 2018, Trump complained that then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions
had directed Horowitz to probe the FBI's process for obtaining a
surveillance warrant of campaign adviser Carter Page, writing, "Isn't
the IG an Obama guy?"
Horowitz's first presidential appointment came from Republican President
George W. Bush, who tapped him in 2003 to serve a six-year term as a
commissioner on the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which is responsible for
crafting guidelines used to determine the length of prison terms.
He was appointed by Trump's predecessor, Democratic President Barack
Obama in 2012 to serve as inspector general of the Justice Department, a
position that does not have any term limits.
Horowitz is not registered under any political party, according to a
public records search.
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U.S. Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz testifies
before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on
Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. September 18, 2019.
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo
He has donated on one occasion to a political candidate, a fellow
former Justice Department colleague, Democratic Senator Michael
Bennet of Colorado.
A graduate of Brandeis University and Harvard Law School, Horowitz
has also held several positions in the Justice Department's Criminal
Division, and was a partner with the law firm of Cadwalader,
Wickersham & Taft.
His wife is an independent television writer and producer who worked
with anchor Lou Dobbs, now a conservative commentator, when Dobbs
was with CNN in the 1990s. She left the network in 2002, according
to her LinkedIn profile.
A HISTORY OF TOUGH FBI REPORTS
Horowitz's report on the FBI's investigation into Russian meddling
isn't the first controversial topic he has handled during the Trump
In 2018, Horowitz sharply criticized https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-congress-fbi/report-rebukes-comey-but-says-no-bias-in-clinton-email-case-idUSKBN1JA0D4
former FBI Director James Comey, saying in a 500-page report that
Comey made a "serious error of judgment" when he decided to announce
shortly before the 2016 presidential election that he was reopening
an investigation into then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary
Clinton's use of a private email server.
At the same time, his report also cleared Comey of accusations by
Trump and his critics that political bias allowed Clinton to escape
criminal charges, and pushed the FBI to set its sights on the Trump
During the Obama administration, Horowitz released another
high-profile report on an anti-gun trafficking effort known as
"Operation Fast and Furious," after congressional Republicans
accused then-Attorney General Eric Holder of covering up wrongdoing.
The report found screwups of "systemic" scope that risked public
safety, prompting two senior officials to leave the government, but
He is currently the head of the Council of the Inspectors General on
Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE), an independent entity that
essentially serves as a watchdog and advocate for the federal
government's dozens of inspector general offices.
"My honest view is he is the gold standard for (inspectors
general)," added Storch. "He really does have a tremendous ability
to be very balanced and fair."
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; additional reporting by Mark Hosenball;
editing by Heather Timmons and Jonathan Oatis)
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