WASHINGTON – Former FBI Director James Comey violated Bureau protocol in his handling of the Clinton email probe but his actions were not motivated by political bias, according to a Justice Department Inspector General report that was released on Thursday.
“I am alarmed, angered, and deeply disappointed by the Inspector General’s finding of numerous failures by DoJ and FBI in investigating potential Espionage Act violations by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said in a statement. “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.”
“The Inspector General report documents how time and again particular senior FBI officials, starting with Former Director Comey, made ad hoc, poorly reasoned decisions that were premised in part on an expectation that Secretary Clinton would win the election,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said in a statement.
“This report makes clear that FBI Director Comey and FBI personnel failed to follow the rules, and in doing so, hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign and helped Donald Trump’s,” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said in a statement. “In a frenzy of tweets since taking office, the President has claimed a vast conspiracy in his own government against his campaign and Administration, but this report found no evidence that political bias affected the FBI’s investigations.”
“The stark conclusion we draw after reviewing this report is that the FBI’s actions helped Donald Trump become President,” House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and House Oversight Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said in a joint statement. “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.”
In June 2016, Comey announced at a press conference that the Bureau would not recommend that Clinton be charged for having sent and received classified information on the private server.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch agreed with Comey’s recommendation and closed the investigation.
Several days before Comey’s announcement, Lynch met with former President Bill Clinton aboard a private plane on the tarmac of the Phoenix Airport. Lynch was heavily criticized for creating what appeared to be an impression of impropriety and later said that she had merely engaged in a social visit, talking about grandchildren.
Comey told Congress last year that the revelation of the meeting is what motivated him to tell the public that Clinton would not be charged. Comey told Congress that Lynch directed him to refer to the probe as a “matter” rather than an “investigation” and that that gave him a “queasy feeling.”
Eleven days before the presidential election, Comey sent a letter to several congressional committees announcing that the FBI was reopening the Clinton email investigation after having discovered more than 600,000 emails of interest in an unrelated probe.
Two days before the election, Comey announced that the second probe reaffirmed his original decision not to charge Clinton.
Members of the House Freedom Caucus have requested the unedited version of DoJ documents related to the Clinton email probe.
Comey said in a tweet that he welcomes the release of the IG report despite disagreeing with some of its conclusions.
I respect the DOJ IG office, which is why I urged them to do this review. The conclusions are reasonable, even though I disagree with some. People of good faith can see an unprecedented situation differently. I pray no Director faces it again. Thanks to IG’s people for hard work.
— James Comey (@Comey) June 14, 2018