IG report shows text messages were held from Congress
A highly anticipated Justice Department review of the FBI’s investigation of matters related to the 2016 campaign has found that former FBI Director James Comey did not act with political bias in his handling of a probe into Hillary Clinton, but that he deviated significantly from standard protocol and damaged the agency’s credibility with the way he conducted himself.
“Then-Director Comey chose to deviate from the FBI’s and the Department’s established procedures and norms and instead engaged in his own subjective, ad hoc decision making,” the report written by the inspector general fo the Justice Department reads. “In so doing, we found that Comey largely based his decisions on what he believed was in the FBI’s institutional interests and would enable him to continue to effectively lead the FBI as its Director.
“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,” the report, which was sent to Congress Thursday, reads.
The report examined the way the FBI handled the investigation into Ms Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time serving as secretary of State during the Obama administration, and whether text messages sent by FBI employees during investigations related to the 2016 campaign had impacted active investigations. The report notes that the email investigation — which saw some of the heaviest coverage in the media of any campaign issue — was “one of the highest profile investigations in FBI history”.
The internal investigation into Mr Comey’s behaviour stems from at least two instances during the 2016 campaign that may have had a massive impact on the outcome of the election.
The first, on July 5, 2016, Mr Comey held a press conference to announce that he would not recommended any charges against Ms Clinton for her use of the private email server, because his investigation into the matter had not identified any criminal processing of classified information on the servers — which could have included deliberate transfer of classified information on the servers, or grossly-negligent transferring of that information.
During that press conference, Mr Comey said that they did not find evidence that would lead to criminal charges, but that they did find “evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information”.
The second occurred on October 28 of that year, when Mr Comey sent a letter to Congress notifying the legislative body that the FBI was reviewing emails obtained on a laptop belonging to Anthony Weiner, who was married to Ms Clinton’s close aide Huma Abedin, and who had been investigated related to allegations that he had sent sexually inappropriate photographs to a minor. The announcement that the email investigation was being renewed — or at least that some emails were being reviewed — sent a political shock wave through the 2016 election with less than two weeks before Election Day.