The Justice Department’s watchdog delivered a stinging rebuke Thursday to the FBI and former Director James Comey for their handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, but the report does not conclude Comey’s actions were motivated by political bias or a preference for Clinton over Donald Trump in the 2016 election.
The inspector general’s report says Comey, who announced in the summer of 2016 that Clinton would not be charged with any crime in the email probe, was insubordinate and departed from normal protocol numerous times.
But it also says, “We found no evidence that the conclusions by the prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations; rather, we determined that they were based on the prosecutors’ assessment of the facts, the law and past department practice.”
President Trump has looked to the report to provide a fresh line of attack against Comey and his deputy, Andrew McCabe, as he claims that a politically tainted bureau tried to undermine his campaign and, through the later Russia investigation, his presidency. Trump is certain to try to use the report to validate his firing of Comey last year.
But the nuanced findings provide no conclusions to support Republicans and Democrats who want to claim total vindication.
The conclusions were contained in a 500-page report that documents in painstaking detail one of the most consequential investigations in modern FBI history and reveals how the FBI, which for decades has strived to stand apart from politics, came to be entangled in the 2016 presidential election.