Promising to hold FBI officials accountable for any misconduct related to the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails during her time as Secretary of State, the FBI Director on Thursday said that while a new internal report made clear there were errors in judgment linked to that investigation, it did not show the FBI wrongly dealt with that politically sensitive investigation.
“This report did not find any evidence of political bias or improper considerations actually impacting the investigation that was under review,” the FBI chief said, referring to the Clinton email probe, though he made clear, the actions of certain officials would be under further review.
“We’re going to adhere to the appropriate disciplinary process, and once that process is complete, we won’t hesitate to hold people responsible for their actions,” FBI Director Wray told reporters, though he refused to name which FBI officials or agents might be under further review.
Asked to describe his reaction to the report in one word, Wray chose “disappointed.”
Wray refused to identify which officials have been referred for possible disciplinary action.
The 568 page report on how the feds handled the Clinton email probe sternly rebuked former FBI Director James Comey, blasting his decision to violate Justice Department protocols, in going public several times about the Clinton email probe.
“We found that it was extraordinary and insubordinate for Comey to do so,” as Inspector General Michael Horowitz rejected Comey’s argument that questions about bias within the Justice Department forced him to go against FBI norms, and hold a July 5, 2016 news conference, where he detailed why no charges were filed against Clinton.
“We concluded that Comey's unilateral announcement was inconsistent with Department policy and violated long-standing Department practice and protocol by, among other things, criticizing Clinton's uncharged conduct,” the report read.
But when it came to the question of whether Clinton should have been charged with any crimes, over her handling of classified information through her private email server while Secretary of State, the IG report found no evidence that political bias was behind that decision.
“We found no evidence that the conclusions by the prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations,” the report stated, saying the decisions were based on “the facts, the law, and past Department practice.”
One area of concern for the IG was why the FBI did not act more quickly to check out the possibility of new leads in the email case, when a laptop belonging to ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) – who was married to top Clinton aide Huma Abedin – was found to contain thousands of emails involving Mrs. Clinton.
For a variety of reasons – delays in the New York Field Office, questions about how significant the find really way, a lack of a new search warrant, and the fact that some investigators were now working on the Russia investigation – it took a full month for the FBI to finally act on the matter.
“We found these explanations to be unpersuasive justifications for not acting sooner,” the IG report stated, as he raised questions about bias involving FBI official Peter Strzok.
On Capitol Hill, the two parties had two very different reactions to the details of the IG probe. For Democrats it proved one thing – that Comey had wrongly gone public about Hillary Clinton’s email investigation several times, while saying nothing about the Trump-Russia probe.
“Director Comey’s mishandling of the publicity around the Clinton email campaign all accrued to the benefit Trump – not the other way around,” said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer.
“The decisions described in the report all helped Donald Trump win the election,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY). “All the errors were in Trump’s favor.”
Democrats also said they were told by the Inspector General that more information would be forthcoming at a later date about leaks from the New York Field Office of the FBI to President Trump’s attorney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
“The report does not answer how he got those leaks, and Democrats are demanding answers,” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.
For Republicans, the IG report fell far short of expectations; several GOP lawmakers quickly fired off a letter demanding to see the early draft of the report.
“We are concerned that during this time, people may have changed the report in a way that obfuscates your findings,” said a letter spearheaded by Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), as Republicans zeroed in on new details about text messages between certain agents.
“A different FBI agent responded to the prospect of a Trump presidency by proclaiming, ‘We'll stop it,’ said Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA). “For the sake of the Republic, thank God they failed.”
A key Republican, House Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), announced that would have his panel subpoena Peter Strzok, accusing the Justice Department of withholding evidence.
“The Deputy Attorney General learned of these texts days before the IG report was made public while others at the DOJ or FBI learned of these texts in May of 2018,” Goodlatte wrote in a letter.
For more on what’s in the 568 page report, review this Twitter thread by @jamiedupree at https://twitter.com/jamiedupree/status/1007326627016134657