WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former FBI Director James Comey deviated from the bureau’s norms in dealing with a probe into former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, however there isn’t any proof his actions earlier than the 2016 election have been motivated by political bias, a Justice Department watchdog report concludes, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday.
“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 mentioned in the report’s conclusions, which have been obtained by Bloomberg.
The report by Horowitz on the FBI’s dealing with of a probe into Clinton’s emails is because of be launched publicly at 2 p.m. (1800 GMT). It arose from a assessment he launched a few week earlier than President Donald Trump took workplace in January 2017.
The inquiry has targeted on whether or not public statements made by Comey about Democrat Clinton’s use of a personal email server whereas she was secretary of state have been based mostly on “improper considerations.”
A protracted-serving legislation enforcement official, Comey turned a controversial determine in the 2016 election, drawing accusations from each Republicans and Democrats that his dealing with of the Clinton investigation influenced the marketing campaign.
He later headed a separate probe into the Trump marketing campaign’s alleged ties to Russia. Trump fired him as head of the FBI in 2017.
In July 2016, Comey held an uncommon news convention to elucidate why the FBI wouldn’t be recommending prison costs towards Clinton over her use of the non-public server, as an alternative of a State Department server, for some official enterprise.
He chastised Clinton for being “extremely careless” however mentioned there was inadequate proof to cost her with a federal crime. That upset Republicans who mentioned Comey’s assertion might have helped Clinton’s election marketing campaign.
But in October 2016, lower than two weeks earlier than Election Day, Comey despatched members of Congress a letter disclosing that the probe was being reopened after new emails have been discovered on the pc of the husband of high Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
Clinton has since mentioned that Comey’s letter contributed to her sudden defeat by Trump. Two days earlier than the Nov. eight election, Comey mentioned the FBI had discovered no extra proof in the brand new emails.
John Podesta, who ran the Clinton marketing campaign, mentioned “the report demonstrates beyond doubt” that Comey was unfair to Clinton by saying particulars of the email investigation through the marketing campaign whereas not revealing the presence of the separate probe starting in July 2016 into the Trump marketing campaign and Russia.
“This report confirms what we have known for a long time – that the FBI inappropriately applied a double standard to the Clinton and Trump investigations which hurt her and helped elect him,” Podesta informed Reuters.
Trump’s allies have signaled they may use the Horowitz report to press their argument that Comey didn’t act correctly whereas overseeing the Russia probe.
The Inspector General additionally examined whether or not FBI staff leaked details about investigations of the Clinton Foundation charitable group and emails in a bid to assist Trump’s marketing campaign.
Law enforcement officers beforehand informed Reuters the knowledge was leaked to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, an adviser to the Trump marketing campaign. He now represents Trump in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into whether or not Russia interfered in the 2016 election.
The report can even focus on Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, two FBI staffers whom Republicans accused of bias towards Trump after 1000’s of textual content messages despatched through their work-issued cellphones have been made public.
While a few of their messages have been anti-Trump, others took intention at lawmakers similar to U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, whom Clinton defeated for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Page and Strzok have been concerned in each the Clinton and Russia probes. Mueller eliminated Strzok from his staff after Horowitz disclosed the texts to him.
Comey was fired by Trump in May 2017 whereas main the investigation into whether or not the Trump marketing campaign colluded with Russia, an allegation the president has denied.
Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Mark Hosenball; Editing by John Walcott and Alistair Bell