Watchdog sees errors, not bias, in Comey’s Clinton probe


WASHINGTON — The Justice Department’s watchdog faults former FBI Director James Comey for breaking with protocol in his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, but it says his decisions were not driven by political bias ahead of the 2016 election, according to two people familiar with the findings.

The report from the inspector general also criticizes Comey for not keeping his superiors at the Justice Department, including then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch, properly informed about his handling of the investigation, said the people, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the report was not yet public.

The report’s findings are to be made public later Thursday. They represent the culmination of an 18-month review into one of the most consequential FBI investigations in recent history. Overall, the inspector general found problematic political discussions among FBI personnel but found none of the decisions in the Clinton email case were politically motivated.

“We found no evidence that the conclusions by department prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations, rather we concluded that they were based on the prosecutors’ assessment of facts, the law and past department practice,” the report said, according the people.

The report has long been expected to criticize the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email probe, stepping into a political minefield while examining how a nonpartisan law enforcement agency became entangled in the 2016 presidential race. The IG’s criticism of Comey’s actions was first reported by Bloomberg.

President Donald Trump is looking to the report to provide a fresh line of attack against Comey and his deputy, Andrew McCabe, as he claims that a politically tainted bureau tried to undermine his campaign and, through the later Russia investigation, his presidency. Trump is certain to try to use the report to validate his firing of Comey last year.

But the report could do more to back Democratic claims that the FBI actually contributed to Trump’s victory, most notably by reopening in the final days of the race its investigation into whether Clinton mishandled classified information. That development unfolded as Trump’s own campaign — unbeknownst at the time to the American public — also came under FBI investigation for possible coordination with Russia.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz, a former federal prosecutor appointed by President Barack Obama, prepared the report. Supporters from both parties regard him as apolitical. His most significant report before this was the 2012 study of the botched Obama-era gun …read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News


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