WATCH­DOG RE­PORT RE­BUKES COMEY

Lists nu­mer­ous mis­steps by ex-FBI di­rec­tor

National Post (Latest Edition) - - NEWS - DEVLIN BAR­RETT, KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, JOHN WAG­NER AND MATT ZAPO­TO­SKY

WASH­ING­TON •The Jus­tice Depart­ment in­spec­tor gen­eral has cas­ti­gated for­mer FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey for his ac­tions dur­ing the Hil­lary Clin­ton email in­ves­ti­ga­tion and found that other se­nior bureau of­fi­cials showed a “will­ing­ness to take of­fi­cial ac­tion” to pre­vent Don­ald Trump from be­com­ing pres­i­dent.

The 500-page re­port, doc­u­ment­ing ma­jor mis­steps in one of the most po­lit­i­cally charged cases in the FBI’s his­tory, pro­vides the most ex­haus­tive ac­count to date of bureau and Jus­tice Depart­ment de­ci­sion-mak­ing through­out the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Clin­ton’s use of a pri­vate email server, par­tic­u­larly in the months just be­fore she would lose the pres­i­dency to Trump.

The re­port cited nu­mer­ous in­stances of un­pro­fes­sion­al­ism, bias and mis­judg­ment that hurt the bureau’s cred­i­bil­ity. In par­tic­u­lar, the re­port sin­gled out lead agent Peter Str­zok as show­ing anti-Trump bias that could have af­fected his think­ing on the case dur­ing the im­me­di­ate run up to the 2016 elec­tion.

The re­port is a blis­ter­ing re­buke of Comey, who has spent re­cent months on a book tour pro­mot­ing his brand of eth­i­cal lead­er­ship. In­spec­tor gen­eral Michael Horowitz ac­cused Comey of in­sub­or­di­na­tion, say­ing he flouted Jus­tice Depart­ment prac­tices when he de­cided only he had the au­thor­ity and cred­i­bil­ity to make key de­ci­sions and speak for the Jus­tice Depart­ment. Horowitz called Comey’s July 2016 pub­lic an­nounce­ment that Clin­ton not be charged an “ex­tra­or­di­nary and in­sub­or­di­nate” move, be­cause Comey did not even tell then-At­tor­ney Gen­eral Loretta Lynch what he was about to do.

Comey also made a “se­ri­ous er­ror of judg­ment” in send­ing a let­ter to Congress on Oct. 28 an­nounc­ing he was re­open­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Clin­ton’s use of the server while sec­re­tary of state, the re­port found, and called it “ex­tra­or­di­nary that Comey as­sessed that it was best” for him not to speak di­rectly with ei­ther the at­tor­ney gen­eral or the deputy at­tor­ney gen­eral about his de­ci­sion be­fore­hand.

Horowitz con­cluded there was no ev­i­dence that po­lit­i­cal bias in­fected Comey’s think­ing, even as he crit­i­cized in­di­vid­ual steps Comey took.

Some se­nior bureau of­fi­cials, the re­port found, ex­hib­ited a dis­turb­ing “will­ing­ness to take of­fi­cial ac­tion” to hurt Trump’s chances to be­come pres­i­dent.

Per­haps the most dam­ag­ing new rev­e­la­tion in the re­port is a pre­vi­ously-un­re­ported text mes­sage in which Str­zok, a key in­ves­ti­ga­tor on both the Clin­ton email case and the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Rus­sia and the Trump cam­paign, as­sured an FBI lawyer in Au­gust 2016 that “we’ll stop” Trump from mak­ing it to the White House.

“[Trump’s] not ever go­ing to be­come pres­i­dent, right? Right?!” the lawyer, Lisa Page, wrote to Str­zok.

“No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it,” Str­zok re­sponded. Page and Str­zok were ro­man­ti­cally in­volved and used their work phones to en­gage in long-run­ning text dis­cus­sions of var­i­ous work and per­sonal top­ics, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the case.

The in­spec­tor gen­eral con­cluded that Str­zok’s text, along with oth­ers dis­parag­ing Trump, “is not only in­dica­tive of a bi­ased state of mind but, even more se­ri­ously, im­plies a will­ing­ness to take of­fi­cial ac­tion to im­pact the pres­i­den­tial can­di­date’s elec­toral prospects.”

In a mes­sage posted to Twit­ter on Thursday af­ter­noon, Comey wrote: “I re­spect the DOJ IG of­fice, which is why I urged them to do this re­view. The con­clu­sions are rea­son­able, even though I dis­agree with some. Peo­ple of good faith can see an un­prece­dented sit­u­a­tion dif­fer­ently. I pray no Di­rec­tor faces it again. Thanks to IG’s peo­ple for hard work.”

White House spokes­woman Sarah Huck­abee San­ders said the re­port “reaf­firmed the pres­i­dent’s sus­pi­cions about Comey’s con­duct and the po­lit­i­cal bias among some of the mem­bers of the FBI.”

Str­zok’s lawyer, Ai­tan Goel­man, called the re­port “crit­i­cally flawed” for sug­gest­ing his client’s po­lit­i­cal views might have in­flu­enced the FBI’s week­s­long de­lay in re-open­ing the Clin­ton case in Oc­to­ber 2016.

“Mis­takes were made,” the FBI said in a state­ment, ad­mit­ting to “er­rors of judg­ment, vi­o­la­tions of or dis­re­gard for pol­icy, or, when viewed with the ben­e­fit of hind­sight, sim­ply not the best cour­ses of ac­tion. They were not, in any re­spect, the re­sult of bias or im­proper con­sid­er­a­tions.”

The re­port de­ter­mined that sev­eral FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tors - in­clud­ing Comey - also broke bureau pro­to­col by us­ing “per­sonal email ac­counts for of­fi­cial gov­ern­ment busi­ness.”

Comments

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.