The Justice Dept.’s internal watchdog found that former FBI Director James Comey’s actions in the Hillary Clinton email investigation were “extraordinary and insubordinate” and flouted the department’s norms but that Comey was not motivated by political bias.
A key finding: Comey erred in his decision not to coordinate with his superiors at the Justice Department at critical moments. Horowitz said that Comey was “extraordinary and insubordinate,” and did not agree with any of his reasons for deviating from “well-established Department policies.” But Horowitz concluded that the prosecutorial decisions in the Clinton case were “consistent” with precedent and not affected by bias or other improper actions.
Clinton herself responded to the story in a cheeky response: “But my emails,” she tweeted in a response to a reporter’s description of the IG report. The report was also harshly critical of FBI agent Peter Strzok, who exchanged anti-Trump text messages with former FBI lawyer Lisa Page. The report found that the Strzok and Page texts “cast a cloud” over the credibility of the investigation, although they found no evidence “that these political views directly affected the specific investigative decisions that we reviewed.”
The report provides a detailed accounting of the series of events leading up to Comey’s decision in July 2016 to announce publicly — without Justice Department approval — that while he found Clinton’s actions “extremely careless,” he would not recommend charges against her. He was also advised by the Justice Department that his intent to tell Congress in October 2016 that FBI agents had recovered additional emails possibly relevant to the Clinton probe would run counter to department policy, and yet he did it anyway.
Comey told the inspector general he felt he had an obligation to inform Congress that the FBI was seeking a search warrant for Weiner’s laptop, because it made his previous testimony to Congress untrue. FBI officials also said they were concerned that the decision would leak if they did not announce it. But the inspector general said it found his arguments unpersuasive.
One of the new findings in the report was that Comey used a personal Gmail account for official government business when he was the FBI director. Asked by investigators if he had any concerns about conducting bureau business on his personal device and account, “Comey stated that he did not,” the report says.
Republicans charged that the report was an indictment of Comey and the showed how the Clinton investigation was mishandled.
“This report confirms investigative decisions made by the FBI during the pendency of this investigation were unprecedented and deviated from traditional investigative procedures in favor of a much more permissive and voluntary approach,” House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy said. “This is not the way normal investigations are run.”
Democrats pushed back, arguing that the report shows that Comey actually helped elect Trump.
“The stark conclusion we draw after reviewing this report is that the FBI’s actions helped Donald Trump become President,” said Reps. Jerry Nadler of New York and Elijah Cummings of Maryland. “As we warned before the election, Director Comey had a double-standard: he spoke publicly about the Clinton investigation while keeping secret from the American people the investigation of Donald Trump and Russia.”
For more: CNN