Watchdog to probe FBI’s actions before election
WASHINGTON — In yet another aftershock from the chaotic presidential campaign, the Justice Department inspector general opened an investigation Thursday into department and FBI actions before the election, including whether FBI Director James Comey followed established policies in the email investigation of Hillary Clinton.
Democrats have blamed Comey’s handling of the inquiry into Clinton’s use of a private email server, and his late-October public letter about the case, in part for her loss to Republican Donald Trump.
Workers are now putting final touches on preparations for next week’s Inauguration Day festivities, and the new probe will not change the election results. But it revives questions of whether the FBI took actions that might have influenced the outcome.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz, the department’s internal watchdog, will direct the investigation, which comes in response to requests from members of Congress and the public.
Comey said he would cooperate fully with the inspector general.
“I hope very much he is able to share his conclusions and observations with the public because everyone will benefit from thoughtful evaluation and transparency regarding this matter,” he said in a statement.
Robby Mook, who served as Clinton’s campaign manager, said it had raised concerns when Comey commented on the investigation and said the release of his letters in the days before the election was “extremely destructive and ended up amounting to nothing whatsoever.”
“It’s a troubling pattern that the FBI seems to have chosen a horse in this election, and we welcome this investigation so this doesn’t happen again,” Mook said.
During a Senate Intelligence Committee briefing on Russian hacking, Comey was pressed by lawmakers of his handling of the investigation. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said Comey “defended it very well … he put the facts out there, and hindsight being 20/20, he said these are the facts I had to deal with, and these are the decisions I made, I’m sorry if someone takes offense.”
“He explained to us that he was faced with two decisions — one with very bad consequences and the other with disastrous consequences,” said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del.
FBI Director James Comey testifies Tuesday in Washington.