According to RealClearInvestigations, a soon-to-be-filed report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz alleges that former FBI Director James Comey “was secretly trying to build a conspiracy case against the president, while at times acting as an investigative agent.”

In a lengthy report published Monday, RealClearInvestigations’ Paul Sperry reveals what he says might be the answer to one of the most “enduring and consequential” of questions involving the Russia probe: Why did Comey tell Trump privately that he wasn’t the target of an investigation but then refuse to say the same publicly?

It was this refusal that was the fatal wedge between the two that ultimately resulted in the president unceremoniously firing Comey, an action that triggered accusations of “obstruction of justice” against Trump, one of the two focuses of the Robert Mueller investigation.

The reason Comey wasn’t willing to say Trump was not the subject of an investigation, Sperry suggests, might just be that he was in fact the subject of an investigation — and one spearheaded by Comey himself.

“Sources tell RealClearInvestigations that Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz will soon file a report with evidence indicating that Comey was misleading the president,” Sperry reports. “Even as he repeatedly assured Trump that he was not a target, the former director was secretly trying to build a conspiracy case against the president, while at times acting as an investigative agent.”

Sperry cites two U.S. officials briefed on the IG’s investigation into possible FBI misconduct who say the former director was effectively “running a covert operation against” Trump, which started with a “defenseive briefing” he privately gave Trump a few weeks before his inauguration. Sperry reports:

[Two U.S. officials] said Horowitz has examined high-level FBI text messages and other communications indicating Comey was actually conducting a “counterintelligence assessment” of Trump during that January 2017 meeting in New York.

In addition to adding notes of his meetings and phone calls with Trump to the official FBI case file, Comey had an agent inside the White House who reported back to FBI headquarters about Trump and his aides, according to other officials familiar with the matter.

Comey’s first private briefing with Trump on Jan. 6, 2017 — in which he famously revealed some of the allegations against him in the Democrat-funded Steele dossier — came a day after Comey met with then-President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and other key officials, including then-National Intelligence Director James Clapper. (When Trump took over, Clapper quickly landed a job with CNN, which had used the Trump briefing as an excuse to report on the salacious and unverified claims in the dossier.)

Sperry notes that in his memoir Comey denies having a counterintelligence file open against Trump, but only in the “literal” sense. Twice under oath Comey also denied investigating Trump, Sperry adds. Read Sperry’s full report here.

Related: Comey Admits Damning Fact About Anti-Trump FISA Warrant Abuse In Closed-Door Testimony

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