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“As a business person I would’ve gotten to bottom of this [matter] in a week,” Mr. Johnson, a former plastics manufacturer, said last week. “It’s been a year and a half and we still have all kinds of questions.”

Sources familiar with the subcommittee probe of Mr. Edwards said the production of a transparent, hard-hitting report is unlikely, at least any time soon.

As is the the notion that Sen. McCaskill shares Sen. Johnson’s commitment to pursuing the investigation.

Visited by The Times in August, a spokesman for Sen. McCaskill dismissed questions on its status by saying her office “has not been very involved.” When asked why a bipartisan subcommittee office would concede lack of involvement with a probe of their own party’s appointee, the spokesperson replied in an email that the staff is “working hard on the investigation, in conjunction with Senator Johnson’s subcommittee staff, and that their work is still ongoing.”

Sen. McCaskill’s office did not respond to email inquiries from The Times this week.

Sen. Johnson’s office said the investigation is ongoing.

Analysts say the work of an inspector general — in particular an acting IG — must be free of influence.

Scott Amey, general counsel of the nonpartisan Project on Government Oversight said, “[Homeland Security] isn’t working with a permanent inspector general, and there are concerns about whether acting [inspectors general] are as diligent in their investigations when they are seeking that appointment. Equally troubling are any attempts by federal officials to delay or alter federal investigations. It is difficult to remove politics from such situations, but it has to be done to ensure integrity in government activities.”