The long anticipated inspector general’s bombshell report on the Clinton email investigation is released today – and is expected to point blame at ‘insubordinate’ James Comey.
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz released the report on Thursday, just in time for the President Trump’s 72nd birthday.
Several top Justice Department and FBI officials are expected to come under scrutiny in the report, including Comey, then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and FBI official Peter Strzok.
The Justice Department said IG Horowitz will testify in a public hearing on June 18. House Judiciary Committee members will get their chance to quiz Horowitz a day later.
The result could be a flurry of written demands for public testimony – from Comey and former attorney general Loretta Lynch – and then even more explosive testimony in public from both former top-shelf Obama administration luminaries.
Horowitz’s report is widely expected to criticize Comey and other senior leaders for their handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified information while she was secretary of state.
The long anticipated inspector general’s bombshell report on the Clinton email investigation is released today – and is expected to point the blame at ‘insubordinate’ James Comey
President Donald Trump will turn 72 on June 14, and his present is the report from the Justice Department’s inspector general that is expected to excoriate his nemesis, fired FBI director James Comey
The president asked this week why Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department’s inspector general, hadn’t completed his report by the end of May as scheduled, but he’s promised members of Congress that he’ll be on Capitol Hill soon to testify about it
The Trump White House is still reeling from the months-long public relations blitz associated with Comey’s self-laudatory book, ‘A Higher Loyalty,’ which painted Trump as an integrity-compromised villain and cast Comey as the unfairlly deposed carrier of America’s moral torch.
The West Wing is holding its collective breath, hoping for a spanking heard ’round the world. ‘When will people start saying, “thank you, Mr. President, for firing James Comey?”’ the president tweeted Thursday.
‘Comey is eventually going to get what’s coming to him, so it may as well be soon,’ one White House official said Thursday.
The official said the fired FBI director ‘and his cheap halo have been wearing the holier-than-thou act pretty thin, and nobody around here is going to shed a tear if he’s brought down a peg. Or a few hundred.’
Among the report’s findings already leaked to the press: Comey was ‘insubordinate,’ Lynch jeopardized the impartiality of the DOJ by meeting secretly with former president Bill Clinton while his wife’s fate hung in the balance, and that the FBI didn’t move quickly enough to review a trove of emails found late in the 2016 campaign.
Those emails were found on a laptop belonging to disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner, the now-jailed ex-husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
Of particular interest is Comey’s bombshell announcement two weeks before the 2016 election that the agency was reopening the Clinton email probe after stumbling upon the new material. It wasn’t until two days before the election that the FBI announced, for a second time, it would not recommend criminal charges against Clinton.
Horowitz wrote to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, saying that his long-awaited report is released today and he’ll follow up with public testimony four days later
The Office of Inspector General report is also expected to criticize Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, two FBI officials who exchanged vicious text messages about Trump during the course of the Clinton investigation and the presidential campaign. Strzok was later tasked to work on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of unproven links between the Trump campaign and agents of the Kremlin.
The Trump White House is still reeling from the public relations blitz associated with Comey’s book, andsome in the West Wing are itching for revenge
In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, Horowitz wrote that ‘[p]rior to the June 18 hearing, the OIG intends to release our report publicly and to provide the report’s classified appendix to our oversight committees.’
‘We will release the report as soon as we complete the OIG’s ordinary processes for the review and classification of such reports … Most of this process is now complete, and we anticipate releasing the report on June 14, 2018.’
The report is expected to be especially brutal to Comey for telling Congress, barely a week before the 2016 election, that he was reopening a dormant probe into classified material nestled among other files on Clinton’s private email server.
ABC News reported that Horowitz will brand Comey ‘insubordinate,’ a word suggesting Lynch may have ordered him not to tell Congress that he had rebooted the investigation, a move that made voters aware of his decision and likely had political consequences.
Lynch’s transgression appears to be her declaration that she would accept the advice of the FBI – which ultimately recommended no prosecution – shortly after she convened a secret meeting with former president Bill Clinton on an airport tarmac.
Former attorney general Loretta Lynch will be under the inspector general’s microscope, reportedly for announcing just after a secret meeting with Bill Clinton that she wouldn’t intervene in deciding whether to charge Hillary with a crime
Clinton maintained a private, home-brew email server for her communications while she was secretary of state, and classified material was found on it; Comey cleared her of criminal wrongdoing in July 2016 but rebooted the probe in October, a move that she has said doomed her presidential hopes
That episode raised deep suspicions about whether she was putting her thumb on the scales of justice to help the Clintons, although both insisted they didn’t speak about the then-Democratic presidential candidate’s email scandal.
The late-October 2016 restart of the Hillary Clinton probe came after a tranche of her emails were discovered on a laptop belonging to disgraced former Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner.
Weiner was married to Huma Abedin, Clinton’s deputy campaign manager, from whose account the emails were forwarded.
Sending the letter to Congress broke with longstanding DOJ policy not to take actions that could interfere with political processes, according to ABC.
The network’s anchor George Stephanopoulos asked Comey in April: ‘If Attorney General Lynch had ordered you not to send the letter, would you have sent it?’
‘No. I believe in the chain of command,’ he replied.
Trump asked this week why it was ‘taking so long’ for the Justice Department’s IG to complete his report, details of which have begun to dribble out to the press
PRESSURE: The president said he hoped the report wasn’t being made ‘weaker’ – a possible reference to the ‘comment period’ where the Justice Department and FBI get the chance to make comments or dispute conclusions
President Donald Trump put public pressure on the inspector general this week to finish the report, and said he hoped it wasn’t being made ‘weaker.’
The IG was originally scheduled to complete its findings by the end of May. ‘What is taking so long with the Inspector General’s Report on Crooked Hillary and Slippery James Comey,’ Trump tweeted this week.
‘Numerous delays. Hope Report is not being changed and made weaker! There are so many horrible things to tell, the public has the right to know. Transparency!’
There has been no indication that Trump has seen the report ahead of its release.
Amid growing interest in the report, the Senate Judiciary Committee last week gave notice that it would hold a hearing titled: ‘Examining the Inspector General’s First Report on Justice Department Decisions Regarding the 2016 Presidential Election.’
It pushed the hearing back a week, from its original date of June 5 to June 12.
‘We are not going to hold the hearing until the report comes out,’ said a Judiciary panel spokesman on Monday.
Horowitz told a House Oversight hearing late last year his office was ‘aiming to release the report in late winter/early spring — hopefully in that March/April time period.’
One person the IG interviewed in the course of his investigation was Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who on Sunday said he provided satisfactory assurances that he did not have inside information on the FBI reopening the Clinton email investigation.
Asked if he expected to be identified in the report as getting leaked information from the FBI, Giuliani told NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’: ‘Oh no, no, absolutely not. No. Impossible. I didn’t get any leaked information from the F.B.I.’
Giuliani said he had ‘no idea that Weiner was involved in this at all. Had no idea they were going to reopen it.’
Giuliani in advance of the FBI’s surprise move had touted ‘some pretty big surprise,’ telling Fox News: ‘You’ll see.’
He told NBC he was referring to a major TV ad buy, ‘where we were going to buy a tremendous amount of time unlike anything we had ever done before.’ He says he was able to ‘show them a memo, a contemporaneous memo I have’ about it.
Asked by host Chuck Todd if he had a heads-up, Giuliani replied: ‘Right, no heads up. I had a speculation.’
HOW THE RELEASE OF THE I.G. REPORT WILL LIKELY PLAY OUT
WHAT PRESIDENT TRUMP WILL SAY
The president has depicted the former FBI director as a renegade who breaks protocol, nicknaming him “Slippery James Comey.”
That portrayal serves a keen political purpose: undercutting the ongoing Russia probe, since taken over by special counsel Robert Mueller. That probe includes a look at whether Trump himself tried to obstruct justice by firing Comey.
Any IG investigation challenging Comey’s work as FBI director could bolster Trump’s argument that he did the right thing by pushing Comey out. It also brings the debate back to Clinton’s email server.
“When will people start saying, “thank you, Mr. President, for firing James Comey?” Trump tweeted Thursday.
He’ll also likely point to an earlier inspector general report that accused Comey’s deputy, Andrew McCabe, of misleading internal investigators about a news media disclosure.
But what if the report doesn’t go far enough for Trump? He’s already floated the idea that the findings could be watered down and that’s why it hasn’t been released. Trump seemed pleased Thursday, though, following an ABC News report that the IG could use the term “insubordinate” to describe Comey.
“It is all a Democrat Excuse for LOSING the Election,” Trump tweeted Thursday of the Russia probe. “Where is the server?”
WHAT DEMOCRATS WILL SAY
Democrats already blame Comey for his handling of the Clinton investigation because they say it broke with longstanding bureau protocol not to insert itself into politics.
Robby Mook, Clinton’s former campaign manager, at one point declared “his credibility is gone” in reference to Comey after the election. But Mook and other Democrats were also in disbelief after Trump fired Comey.
“Twilight zone,” Mook tweeted at the time. “I was as disappointed and frustrated as anyone at how the email investigation was handled. But this terrifies me.”
It’s likely Democrats will search the IG report for justification that Comey’s handling of the email investigation was clumsy. But they’ll also probably argue Trump really fired Comey because of his agency’s Russia probe and Comey’s refusal to publicly say the president himself wasn’t under investigation.
WHAT JAMES COMEY WILL SAY
Comey has said he knew it would be unorthodox to alert Congress to a discovery of emails potentially connected to the Clinton case just 11 days before Americans picked a new president.
But while that option was “really bad,” concealing the new information would be “catastrophic,” considering he had testified under oath that the investigation was finished. He has said he felt compelled to advise them that was no longer the case.
It’s not clear how Comey will respond to the report, but on Tuesday, he tweeted that “facts” have a way of winning out.
“It can take a while, but decency and the rule of law inevitably win over demagogues and liars,” he said.
– Associated Press