Former FBI Director James Comey, although not supposedly motivated by politics, deviated from procedure in handling the probe into Hillary Clinton, a Justice Department’s watchdog found in a report. The full text of the report has not been released yet, but Bloomberg News has obtained it.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz wrote the following.
“While we did not find that these decisions were the result of political bias on Comey’s part, we nevertheless concluded that by departing so clearly and dramatically from FBI and department norms, the decisions negatively impacted the perception of the FBI and the department as fair administrators of justice.”
Sworn in as the Inspector General of the Department of Justice on April 16, 2012, following confirmation by the U.S. Senate, Horowitz oversees a workforce of 450 attorneys, inspectors, special agents, auditors, and support staff.
President Donald Trump and his GOP allies have been eagerly anticipating Horowitz’s report, hoping the document would demonstrate the alleged anti-Trump bias with the FBI and the Justice Department. The report – which is being sent to Congress on Thursday – does not deal with the origins of the probe into Russia meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.
Launched in May 2017, when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel on the Russia election meddling probe, the investigation has since expanded to President Trump. More recently, special counsel Robert Mueller brought charges against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik, a former aide to Manafort who has been suspected of having ties to Russian intelligence, Axios noted in the timeline of the probe.
According to The Hill, anxiously anticipated among conservatives on Capitol Hill, Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report will likely not be seen by Congress until shortly before it is made public, but the probe has already exposed two incidents that Republican lawmakers claim show malfeasance at the Department of Justice. Horowitz will have to defend his conclusions before Congress and appear at a pair of back-to-back hearings early next week.
Horowitz is, according to The Hill, seen by lawmakers from both parties as nonpartisan and fair. His evaluation of former FBI Director James Comey’s decisions will be closely read. President Trump has, the same outlet noted, branded Comey as a “nut job,” a “liar,” and a “leaker.”
In July 2016, James Comey announced that no prosecutor would find grounds to pursue criminal charges against Clinton for improperly handling classified information on her private email server, angering Republicans, and informed Congress that the Clinton investigation was being re-opened, angering Democrats.
“Comey was completely deviating from department protocols and it had a fateful impact on the 2016 campaign and the long-term reputation of the FBI,” Brian Fallon, who was a spokesman for Clinton’s presidential campaign, told Bloomberg.
Top Democrats on the House Judiciary and Oversight committees, Jerrold Nadler and Elijah Cummings, reviewed the report and concluded that “the FBI’s actions helped Donald Trump become president.”