Here it comes. The first leaks of the IG report are out, via Bloomberg.
Now, caution, it’s likely they’re are trying to spin it a bit in the best way possible.
Even so, it doesn’t sound great in terms of the evaluation of former director James Comey’s actions.
Former FBI Director James Comey “deviated” from FBI and Justice Department procedures in handling the probe into Hillary Clinton, damaging the law enforcement agencies’ image of impartiality even though he wasn’t motivated by political bias, the department’s watchdog found in a highly anticipated report.
“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,” Inspector General Michael Horowitz said in the report’s conclusions, which were obtained Thursday by Bloomberg News.
Horowitz’s report examined actions taken by top officials before the 2016 election, including the handling of the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was secretary of state. The investigation expanded to touch on an array of politically sensitive decisions by officials including Comey and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
There have been many reports already about what’s in the report, the alleged harshness of it, as well as more recent reports that there may have been an attempt to try to water it down, which President Donald Trump himself commented about.
“What is taking so long with the Inspector General’s Report on Crooked Hillary and Slippery James Comey,” Trump tweeted on June 5. “Numerous delays. Hope Report is not being changed and made weaker! There are so many horrible things to tell, the public has the right to know. Transparency!”
Among the problems that the report allegedly deals with is the improper handling by Comey of the announcement in July 2016 saying Clinton would not be prosecuted despite sending and receiving classified information. It also looks at Comey’s decision to inform Congress about the reopening of the case shortly before the election after new Clinton emails were found on the laptop of Anthony Weiner who was being investigated by the FBI for sexting with a teen.
Horowitz found a “troubling lack of any direct, substantive communication” between Comey and Attorney General Lynch ahead of the July 5 press conference and Comey’s October 28 letter to Congress.
“We found it extraordinary that, in advance of two such consequential decisions, the FBI director decided that the best course of conduct was to not speak directly and substantively with the attorney general about how best to navigate those decisions.”
Lynch had announced that she would go along with whatever Comey recommended with regard to the Clinton case, although she didn’t formally recuse herself. Lynch had come under heated criticism for agreeing to meet with former President Bill Clinton in June 2016 on her plane while it was sitting on a tarmac in Phoenix. The two sides have said they didn’t discuss anything related to the investigation.
It was the DOJ’s responsibility to make the call on whether to prosecute Clinton, not Comey. And if Lynch had been formally recused it still wouldn’t fall to Comey, it would fall to her deputy in the DOJ to make the call.
The report said that the actions of the two FBI officials who worked on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, ‘cast a cloud over the entier FBI investigation’ after they exchanged text messages sharply critical of Trump. Mueller pulled Strzok from the probe after the texts were discovered but he’s still working for the FBI, and Page has since resigned.
The inspector general also released a report in April finding that Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe lacked candor on four different occasions regarding interactions with the media, including providing information to a news reporter about the FBI’s investigation into the foundation created by Hillary and Bill Clinton. The inspector general has referred the matter to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia for further investigation.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions relied on the report to fire McCabe only hours before he was set to retire and qualify for his full government pension. McCabe and his lawyer have adamantly contested the allegations.
The inspector general also has opened a separate review into whether the Justice Department and FBI followed appropriate procedures in obtaining a secret warrant to conduct surveillance on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page in late 2016 and early 2017.
Sounds like Bloomberg had access to some conclusions but not the whole report, so that remains to be seen, but hopefully, it wasn’t watered down.
The worst thing leaked so far about it is this:
That’s really scary stuff.
Bloomberg claims that the report says they did find any “documentary or testimonial evidence that improper considerations, including political bias” directly affected the investigation.
And they never turned it over to Congress. This is just breaking now.
More to come…