Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by ERIC TUCKER and CHAD DAY / The Associated Press.
WASHINGTON—The Justice Department’s watchdog faults former FBI Director James Comey for breaking with established protocol in his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, but it says his decisions before the 2016 elections were not driven by political bias, according to a person familiar with the findings.
The report from the inspector general also criticizes Comey for not keeping his superiors at the Justice Department, including former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, properly informed about his handling of the investigation, said the person, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the report is not yet public.
The report’s findings are to be made public later Thursday. It represents the culmination of an 18-month review into one of the most consequential FBI investigations in recent history.
The report has long been expected to criticize the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email probe, stepping into a political minefield while examining how a nonpartisan law enforcement agency came to be entangled in the 2016 presidential race.
President Donald Trump is looking to the report to provide a fresh line of attack against two former top FBI officials, 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 report could do more to back Democratic claims that the FBI actually contributed to Trump’s victory, most notably by reopening in the final days of the race its investigation into whether Clinton mishandled classified information. That development unfolded as Trump’s own campaign — unbeknownst at the time to the American public — also came under FBI investigation for possible coordination with Russia.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz, a former federal prosecutor appointed by President Barack Obama, prepared the report. Supporters from both parties regard him as apolitical. His most significant report before this was the 2012 study of the botched Obama-era gun operation known as Fast and Furious.
The Clinton report will examine key actions by FBI leaders, including Comey’s decision to publicly announce in July 2016 his recommendation against criminal charges for Clinton, and his disclosure to Congress days before the election that the investigation was being revived because of newly discovered emails.
An earlier inspector general report criticized McCabe and led to his firing on allegations that he misled internal investigators about his role in a news media disclosure. He denies those charges.
Thursday’s IG findings were first reported by Bloomberg
Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.