Former FBI Director James Comey “deviated” from bureau and Justice Department procedures in handling the probe into Hillary Clinton, damaging the agencies’ image of impartiality even though he wasn’t motivated by politics, 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 by Bloomberg News.
Although the report being sent to Congress on Thursday doesn’t deal with the origins of the probe into Russia meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and possible collusion with those around President Donald Trump, the president and his Republican allies in Congress were primed to seize on it as evidence of poor judgment and anti-Trump bias within the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department.
Horowitz 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 inquiry expanded to touch on an array of politically sensitive decisions by officials including Comey and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
Some of what Horowitz discovered has already been made public, and Trump and Republican lawmakers have pounced on those findings in an effort to discredit Comey and, by extension, the investigation now being run by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.