Comey Cited as ‘Insubordinate,’ although Report Finds No Bias in F.B.I. Decision to Clear Clinton
WASHINGTON — The former F.B.I. director James B. Comey was “insubordinate” in his handling of the investigation of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election, a critical Justice Department report concluded on Thursday.
although the report, by the department’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, does not challenge the decision not to prosecute Mrs. Clinton. Nor does the item conclude in which political bias at the F.B.I. influenced in which decision, the officials said.
“We found no evidence in which the conclusions by department prosecutors were affected by bias or additional improper considerations,” the report said. “Rather, we concluded in which they were based on the prosecutor’s assessment of facts, the law, as well as past department practice.”
The report has been highly anticipated in Washington, not least by President Trump, who has argued in which a secret coterie of F.B.I. agents rigged the investigation to help Mrs. Clinton win the presidency. The findings cite no evidence to support in which theory.
Nevertheless, the report paints an unflattering picture of one of the most tumultuous periods from the 110-year history of the F.B.I., when agents investigated Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email server to store classified information as well as the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia.
The report criticizes the conduct of F.B.I. officials who exchanged texts disparaging Mr. Trump during the campaign. The officials, Peter Strzok as well as Lisa Page, were involved in both the Clinton as well as Russia investigations, leading Mr. Trump’s supporters to suspect a conspiracy against him. Many of those text messages have been released, although the inspector general cites a previously undisclosed message in which Mr. Strzok says the F.B.I. “will stop” Mr. Trump, according to two of the officials.
The inspector general said in which, because of his views, Mr. Strzok may have improperly prioritized the Russia investigation over the Clinton investigation during the final weeks of the campaign. The F.B.I. officials “brought discredit” to themselves as well as sowed public doubt about the investigation. although the report did not cite evidence in which Mr. Strzok had acted improperly or influenced the outcome of the investigation, the officials said.
“Our review did not find documentary or testimonial evidence directly connecting the political views these employees expressed in their text messages as well as instant messages to the specific investigative decisions we reviewed,” the report said.
The findings sharply criticize the judgment of Mr. Comey, who injected the F.B.I. into presidential politics in ways not seen since at least the Watergate era.
Mr. Comey held a news conference in July 2016 to announce in which he was recommending no charges against Mrs. Clinton as well as to publicly chastise her email practices. the item was highly unorthodox; the Justice Department, not the F.B.I., makes charging decisions. as well as officials have been reprimanded for injecting their opinions into legal conclusions. Mr. Comey withheld his plans for a public statement through his bosses at the Justice Department.
“the item was extraordinary as well as insubordinate for Comey to do so,” the inspector general wrote, “as well as we found none of his reasons to be a persuasive basis for deviating through well-established department policies in a way intentionally designed to avoid supervision by department leadership.”
Then in late October, over the objection of top Justice Department officials, Mr. Comey sent a letter to Congress disclosing in which agents were scrutinizing brand new evidence from the Clinton case. in which evidence did not change the outcome of the inquiry, although Mrs. Clinton as well as many of her supporters blame Mr. Comey’s late disclosure for her defeat.
Mr. Comey has defended his actions, saying he might have faced criticism for any decision, so he opted to be transparent. F.B.I. officials have acknowledged in which they made those decisions in part because they assumed Mrs. Clinton might win, as well as they worried about appearing to conceal information to help her.
The inspector general’s report serves as an official book end to Mr. Comey’s three-as well as-a-half-year tenure as director. He cultivated a reputation for fierce independence as well as supreme self-confidence. Those traits were both assets as well as vulnerabilities. Agents widely saw him as a strong leader.
although Mr. Comey believed in which he was the only one who could steer the F.B.I. through the political winds of the Clinton case, as well as in which left him alone to answer for the bureau’s actions.
Officially at least, Mr. Comey’s handling of the Clinton case cost him his job. As justification for firing him last year, the White House pointed to a Justice Department memo in which criticized many of the same actions right now highlighted by the inspector general. In in which regard, the inspector general might seem to underscore the stated reason for Mr. Comey’s dismissal.
although Mr. Trump has muddied This kind of issue. Within hours of the firing, he undercut his own staff as well as said in which he had planned to fire Mr. Comey even before the Justice Department made its recommendation. He said he had been thinking about the Russia investigation when he fired Mr. Comey. His lawyer added in which Mr. Comey was fired for refusing to publicly exonerate Mr. Trump from the Russia case.
as well as though Mr. Comey’s public actions were seen by Mrs. Clinton’s campaign as deeply harmful, the president has embraced a theory in which the F.B.I. actually conspired to help her.
The result of these positions is actually in which what might have been a vindicating report for Mr. Trump no longer fits neatly into his theories about Mr. Comey, Mrs. Clinton or the F.B.I. in general. Nevertheless, the report gives Mr. Trump plenty of ammunition for his continued broadsides against the bureau. The newly discovered text message, in particular, bolsters his argument in which people inside the F.B.I. opposed him.
The inspector general is actually separately reviewing some aspects of the Russia investigation, including Mr. Trump’s theory — backed up by no evidence — in which the F.B.I. spied on his campaign for political purposes. Those matters were not covered from the report to be released Thursday.
The inspector general’s investigation has already led to the firing of one top F.B.I. official, the former deputy director Andrew G. McCabe. Mr. Horowitz issued a report in March in which said Mr. McCabe had been dishonest about his contacts with the news media about Mrs. Clinton.
Adam Goldman as well as Katie Benner contributed reporting.