D.O.J. Inspector General Finds No Political Bias In F.B.I.’s Clinton Email Investigation

The Department of Justice's Inspector General found that former F.B.I. Director James Comey was 'insubordinate' in regard to the Clinton email investigation, but found no evidence of political bias at the Bureau.

The Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General released its final report after its investigation of the Federal Bureau Of Investigation’s inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and her handling of classified information, and while the report does find that former F.B.I. Director acted inappropriately in the extent to which he was involved in the investigation, the report found no evidence of political bias in the investigation or in the F.B.I. generally:

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.

But the report, by the department’s inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, does not challenge the decision not to prosecute Mrs. Clinton. Nor does it conclude that political bias at the F.B.I. influenced that decision, the officials said.

“We found no evidence that the conclusions by department prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations,” the report said. “Rather, we concluded that they were based on the prosecutor’s assessment of facts, the law, and past department practice.”

The report has been highly anticipated in Washington, not least by President Trump, who has argued that 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 that theory.

Nevertheless, the report paints an unflattering picture of one of the most tumultuous periods in 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 and 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 and Lisa Page, were involved in both the Clinton and Russia investigations, leading Mr. Trump’s supporters to suspect a conspiracy against him. Many of those text messages have been released, but 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 that, 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 and sowed public doubt about the investigation. But the report did not cite evidence that 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 and 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.

More from The Washington Post:

The Justice Department inspector general on Thursday castigated former FBI Director James B. 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.

Though the inspector general condemned individual FBI officials, the report fell significantly short in supporting the assertion by the president and his allies that the investigation was rigged in favor of Clinton. The inspector general found “no evidence that the conclusions by department prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations.” The report acknowledged that certain emails appeared to contain classified information, but investigators determined the FBI’s conclusion that Clinton did not intend to expose classified information was legitimate.

The report is a blistering public 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.

(…)

In a statement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the “significant errors” cited in the report had taken place during the Obama administration.

“Accordingly, this report must be seen as an opportunity for the FBI — long considered the world’s premier investigative agency — and all of us at the Department to learn from past mistakes,” Sessions said.

Sessions said that a new leadership team brought in by Comey’s replacement, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, was “one in which the American people can have confidence.”

“Mistakes were made,” the FBI said in a lengthy statement issued in response to the report. The bureau admitted 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 aimed to define once and for all what the FBI and Justice Department did right and what was wrong in the Clinton probe, but partisans are likely to seize on different findings to buttress their long-held views about that investigation.

For Trump, the report provides chapter upon chapter of fresh ammunition for his attacks on the FBI, which he has accused of political bias in investigating whether any of his campaign associates may have conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

To Clinton and her supporters, who have long argued that Comey’s decisions robbed her of an election victory, the report will likely be received as bitter vindication of her claims the FBI Director veered far beyond official policy in speaking publicly about her case, and reopening it in the final days before the election.

Partisans on both sides sought to cast the report to their advantage even before it was formally released.

“The stark conclusion we draw after reviewing this report is that the FBI’s actions helped Donald Trump become President,” Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) said in a joint statement. “As we warned before the election, Director Comey had a double-standard: he spoke publicly about the Clinton investigation while keeping secret from the American people the investigation of Donald Trump and Russia.”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) offered a very different take, calling the report “a damning indictment of former FBI director Comey and the Department of Justice’s mishandling of the investigation.”

Trump offered no immediate reaction after being briefed on the report before its formal release, but fired off a pair of tweets renewing his attack on the Russia investigation, which he called “pile of garbage.”

All of this is rooted, of course, in the Bureau’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and her handling of classified information that was improperly exchanged over that server. That investigation lasted the better part of a year and culminated in an interview that lasted several hours between Clinton and agents conducting the investigation. Several days after that investigation, James Comey held a press conference at which he announced that, while Clinton was ‘extremely careless’ in her handling of classified information, her conduct did not rise to a level that justified pursuing criminal charges against her or anyone close to her. While it was unusual for Comey to be the one making this announcement, it came in the context of Attorney General Lynch having announced she would defer to the Bureau in connection with the investigation. While Comey faced some criticism in his decision to hold the press conference, his announcement that the matter would be closed seemed to be the end of the matter. All of that changed in October 2016 when Comey sent a letter to Congress advising them that the Bureau had reopened the Clinton investigation due to the fact that it appeared that there were additional Clinton emails on a laptop shared by Clinton aide Huma Abedin and her then-husband Anthony Weiner, who was being investigated in connection with a sexually explicit conversation with an underage girl. While this letter was followed up by a subsequent letter advising Congress that no new emails had been found on the laptop, Comey came under heavy criticism for releasing these letters so close to the election, and both Clinton and some other observers continue to beleive that the release of the letters played a role in her election loss.

For his part, James Comey responded to the report on Twitter:

And also in an Op-Ed for The New York Times:

The Department of Justice’s independent watchdog, the inspector general, has released a report that is critical of my decisions as F.B.I. director during the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email account. The report concludes that I was wrong to announce the F.B.I.’s completion of the investigation without coordinating with the attorney general and that I was wrong to inform Congress in late October that we had reopened the investigation.

In both situations, the inspector general’s team concludes, I should have adhered to established norms, which they see as mandating both deference to the attorney general on the public announcement and silence about an investigation so close to an election.

I do not agree with all of the inspector general’s conclusions, but I respect the work of his office and salute its professionalism. All of our leaders need to understand that accountability and transparency are essential to the functioning of our democracy, even when it involves criticism. This is how the process is supposed to work.

As he had before, Comey explained his decision to hold the July 2016 press conference at which he announced the conclusions of the Bureau’s investigation into Clinton’s email server and handling of classified information by referring to the meeting which then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch had with former President Bill Clinton on an Arizona airport tarmac, a meeting which raised questions about her involvement in the investigation:

An announcement at that point by the attorney general, especially one without the transparency our traditions permitted, would have done corrosive damage to public faith in the investigation and the institutions of justice. As painful as the whole experience has been, I still believe that. And nothing in the inspector general’s report makes me think we did the wrong thing.

Similarly, I never imagined the F.B.I. would face a choice in late October 2016 either to tell Congress we had restarted the email investigation in a significant way or to conceal that fact. But to have concealed it would have meant to hide vital information: That what I and others had said publicly and under oath to Congress was no longer true. I chose to speak and tell the truth.

I was not certain I was right about those things at the time. That’s the nature of hard decisions; they don’t allow for certainty. With the added benefit of hindsight, the inspector general sees some things differently. My team believed the damage of concealing the reopening of our investigation would have been catastrophic to the institution. The inspector general weighs it differently, and that’s O.K., even though I respectfully disagree.

I encouraged this intensive review when I was F.B.I. director and continued to support its work after I was fired. The inspector general’s conclusions are important. But the real, historical value of the report is its collection of facts, which, as John Adams said, “are stubborn things.” If a future F.B.I. leadership team ever faces a similar situation — something I pray never happens — it will have the benefit of this important document.

In the end, the report does not appear to recommend either any further investigation or that there were any criminal or other charges that should be filed in this matter. Additionally, the report essentially confirms the conclusion that Comey announced back in July 2016 that, while there may have been negligence involved in Clinton’s use of a private email server and her handling of classified information, there was no evidence of criminal behavior on Clinton’s part. This means that the decision that Comey announced in that press conference that it would not be appropriate to pursue criminal charges in the matter was correct. Additionally, while the report does criticize Comey’s decision to publicly reveal the existence of what may have been additional emails from Clinton’s server so close to the election it does not find any evidence of wrongdoing or political motives in that decision or in the decision to release the second letter roughly a week later announcing that the Bureau had determined that the newly discovered cache of email was not relevant to the investigation.

While all of this does call Comey’s judgment into question in some respects, then, it doesn’t refute or even call into question the central conclusions that he and the Bureau had reached with regard to the investigation. More importantly, there appears to be absolutely nothing in the Inspector General’s report that implicates either the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller or of his investigation into Russian interference in the election, potential collusion between Trump campaign officials and Russian officials and potential obstruction of justice. Additionally, as noted, the report does not recommend any further investigation or any criminal charges be filed in connection with its conclusions.

To say the very least, this report falls far short of what President Trump and his supporters have been hoping for and hyping, and it’s unlikely to have any impact at all on the Mueller investigation or the investigation still being conducted by the Senate Intelligence Committee into the same matters. For weeks now, though, both the President and his supporters on Fox News and elsewhere have been building up anticipation for this report, claiming that it would rip the Mueller investigation wide open and that it would prove the existence of a widespread conspiracy inside the Bureau against the President. While the report does cite the example of the text messages exchanged by two agents who happened to be involved in both the Clinton investigation and, for a time, the Mueller investigation, this is not news since these messages were made public long ago and the agents involved have stepped aside from the Mueller investigation. No doubt this won’t stop the President and his supporters from trying to use the report to their advantage, but based on the reporting from the Times and the Post that I linked above, as well as the report in The Wall Street Journal, it seems clear that there was no wrongdoing either on their part or on the part of former Director Comey or the Bureau as a whole.

Here’s the report itself, as noted it’s over 500 pages long:

Justice Department Inspector General Report by Doug Mataconis on Scribd

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Law and the Courts, Politicians, US Politics, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Stormy Dragon says:

    The report ironically revealed that Comey was improperly using personal e-mail for official business while investigating Clinton for improperly using personal e-mail for official business.

    The problem, it seems to me, isn’t so much political bias as it is RHIP bias. That is, the idea that the “top men” are too important to be bothered following the rules the way the “little people” are expected to.

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  2. Michael Reynolds says:

    So Comey’s a bit of a tool, and FBI agents don’t think traitors should be president. Was there more that I missed?

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  3. Todd says:

    I was listening to MTP daily on the way home from work, and there seems to be some speculation that there may be another IG investigation into leaks. I’ll tell you whose texts messages I’d like to see: the anti-Clinton agents in the NY FBI field office who probably (although he denies it) caused Comey to send that October letter to Congress reopening the investigation … due to fear the warrant would be leaked if he didn’t.

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  4. Andy says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Well, there is a pretty big difference between occasionally using personal email (the IG report contains 5 examples, most involving working draft speeches and public statements), and exclusively using personal email by setting up a shadow email system and approving drone strikes with it.

    And, the IG concluded:

    “We found that, given the absence of exigent circumstances and the
    frequency with which the use of personal email occurred, Comey’s use of a personal
    email account on multiple occasions for unclassified FBI business to be inconsistent
    with the DOJ Policy Statement.”

    So, Comey’s actions were inconsistent with a policy statement – not even a violation of policy itself, much less anything that involved classified information.

    As a former federal civil servant, there were many times I had to use personal IT resources & communication channels to get some task accomplished or communicate when necessary. Yes, all those times were “inconsistent” with DoD policy, but they are the kinds of violations that virtually every government employee must occasionally engage in.

    So, the scale and scope between what Clinton did and what Comey did is enormous and a difference not only in kind but in scale.

    That said, I agree with the IG about Clinton’s activities in that they were not criminal – a position I took way back when the Comey first made his announcement.

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  5. teve tory says:

    WOW.

    Kyle Cheney

    IG found that on numerous occasions, COMEY used a personal GMail account to conduct official FBI business, according to source briefed on the report.

    10:42 AM – 14 Jun 2018

    Hillary Clinton

    More Hillary Clinton Retweeted Kyle Cheney

    But my emails.

    2:36 PM – 14 Jun 2018

    linky

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  6. Andy says:

    @Todd:

    I continue to have sympathy for Comey, at least with regard to the position he was in. When you’re in charge of potentially criminal investigations for the two major party candidates, one of whom will be your future boss, it’s a situation that’s impossible for a public servant to be in as you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

    Or, to put it another way, if the two parties didn’t nominate such flawed candidates, this wouldn’t be a problem.

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  7. gVOR08 says:

    To say the very least, this report falls far short of what President Trump and his supporters have been hoping for and hyping,

    As you note, Doug, the president* and his supporters will attack Mueller with this anyway. The report doesn’t disappoint them. It provides plenty of opportunity to say “FBI” and “bad” in the same sentence, and that’s all they need to whip up the base. They’ll omit mentioning that the really bad thing was the Oct letter that biggly HELPED Trumpsky.

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  8. Yank says:

    Comey screwed up, but there are a lot of “serious” pundits and journalist (aka NYT) who need to accept some responsibility for this entire fuck up.

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  9. steve says:

    Stormy- I think that is a good point, but I do have a bit of sympathy for those at the top. For the average grunt, it is a 40-50 hour/week job. You can go home and forget about it. Once you are in charge of a large 24/7 organization, it never really stops. Your job really is your life at times and it all blends together. Add in what I assume are the occasional difficulties with government email, like I suspect most of us have seen if you work for any large corporation, and I can see how you resort to personal email at times. That said, if this is happening on anything more than an occasional basis, then it is probably something that is engrained into the culture.

    Steve

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  10. Mikey says:

    @teve tory: Oh my. That is epic.

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  11. Mikey says:

    Apparently Comey’s use of his GMail account consisted of forwarding unclassified messages from his FBI account to his GMail account so he could work on things at home.

    https://twitter.com/sahilkapur/status/1007328511902830592

    If that’s all he did, it’s pretty tame.

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  12. JKB says:

    FBI director Wray, responding to the OIG report, said that the FBI will get better at hiding their bias in presidential elections.

    Don’t worry, no one is going to jail, some may get a letter in their file, the senior leadership of the FBI not be held to account for their bias, because as the OIG reports they couldn’t find any “official” documents showing bias, only emails and other communications.

    The question arises as to how many layers of the top FBI bureaucrats must be dug through before you get to the agents who chose to honor their oath to the Constitution and not act with partisan bias.

    Yes, there are two movies. Good luck bringing them to a common ending.

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  13. An Interested Party says:

    It’s amazing that Comey’s actions hurt Hillary’s chances of winning the election but we have right wing victims whining that somehow the Orange Toddler is the injured party…talk about fake news…

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  14. Michael Reynolds says:

    @JKB:
    Go back and read the report, don’t trot Hannity’s talking points and think that’ll move anyone. If Comey hurt anyone it was clearly Hillary. The FBI helped elect your disaster of a president. Not deliberately, but it’s true. Trump was elected by Putin’s spycraft and Comey’s arrogance.

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  15. MarkedMan says:

    @Andy:

    As a former federal civil servant, there were many times I had to use personal IT resources & communication channels to get some task accomplished or communicate when necessary.

    So here’s what we know. For years the State Department secure email system was unworkable for those State Department officials that had to travel extensively and deal with things on the fly. So unworkable that the previous Secretaries of State decided it was unusable and instead used their own personal email, along with their top staff. Including Condaleeza Rice’s top staff (Rice herself didn’t use email). Including Colin Powell and his staff. And when Clinton mentioned to Powell about how awful the system was to use he wrote back and told her the system was crap and to use her own email, “That’s what I did.” It’s important to note that no email system at all was to be used for secure emails, and Clinton did not do that. Email was, by practice and by policy, only used for non-secure communications.

    Now, there’s a trail of “buts” that can follow this, all explaining why what she did was more egregious than the devil himself, but all those buts are bogus. The only thing she did differently then Rice’s staff or Powell himself was self-host her personal email. Time moves on (even if the State Department email system does not) and that was beyond Powell’s staffs capability at the time. Instead he used an AOL account. And deleted it when he left office. So he definitely violated the record retentions laws. As you know, we have Clinton’s emails. She did not.

    But this explanation is for nought. The Republican Slime machine is too good at what they do and “everyone” knows that “serious” people agree that Clinton was uniquely reckless/corrupt/whatever. If it wasn’t about emails it would be about, say, her charity, which was never shown to have anything nefarious about it. But “serious” people know that Clinton’s charity was uniquely reckless/corrupt/whatever. And if it wasn’t about her charity…

    The most impressive piece of slime the Republicans every put out was that Al Gore was such a self-aggrandizing liar that he bragged one of the biggest book/movie combos of the ’70s (“Love Story”) was based on him. The truth? When asked if it was true he replied “I know what that reporter wrote”. And what did the reporter write? Well, he interviewed the books author, who happened to have been Al Gore’s college roommate. And the author said that the main male lead was based on Al Gore. But the slime and snark was too good to check and for years “sophisticated” people were still making snide comments about Gore’s ridiculous self aggrandizement and bringing that up as an example. Heck, I haven’t read a Maureen Dowd article in many years (due her general lack of substance and snark-itude) but I bet she still brings it up once or twice a year…

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  16. gVOR08 says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Trump was elected by Putin’s spycraft and Comey’s arrogance.

    Let’s not give a pass to the NYT for their obsessive coverage of Hillary’s emails and the Clinton Foundation, while ignoring the Trump Foundation. After the FBI IG and the NY AG releases today I hope, but do not expect, that someone at NYT is embarrassed and resolving to not be played so badly in future.

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  17. Andy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Well, Clinton wouldn’t agree with you. After all, she repeatedly maintained that the reason she used one email system instead of two was only for her own convenience, so she wouldn’t have to carry two devices (a private phone and a government phone). She has never claimed (at least that I know of) that she was forced to use personal email because the government system was unusable. It’s a particularly egregious claim considering that Clinton’s staff sent out a memo in 2011 to the Department warning against using personal email for government business.

    Next, you claim Powell violated records retention “laws.” That is also not true. And even if it were, that would make Clinton’s violation even worse since she had access to an official email system that she refused to use in an age when email was the norm – a far different circumstance than a 10 years before when email was still relatively new in government. The system that Clinton had access to was the system that was originally built during Powell’s tenure – in fact, it was one of his biggest priorities as soon as he became Secretary. At that time, the State email system couldn’t communicate with anyone outside State much less the wider internet. The system Clinton had a decade later was thanks to the steps that Powell took.

    It’s important to note that no email system at all was to be used for secure emails, and Clinton did not do that. Email was, by practice and by policy, only used for non-secure communications.

    Finally, that makes no sense at all. In my time in government, I had email systems and email addresses at the unclassified, secret and top secret level. There is a shit-ton of classified email out there on classified systems.

    What Clinton and her staff did on too many occasions is something else – put classified info onto her unsecured, private and, by definition, unclassified system. These actions were determined by the FBI to be merely negligent and not criminal, but they happened just the same.

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  18. Andy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Have you actually read the report?

    One of the ironies:

    Text messages of FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter
    Strzok indicated that he, McCabe, and Priestap
    discussed the Weiner laptop on September 28. Strzok
    said that he had initially planned to send a team to New
    York to review the emails, but a conference call with
    NYO was scheduled instead. The conference call took
    place on September 29, and five members of the FBI
    Midyear team participated. Notes from the conference
    call indicate the participants discussed the presence of a
    large volume of emails (350,000) on the Weiner laptop
    and specific domain names, including clintonemail.com
    and state.gov. The Midyear SSA said that NYO also
    mentioned seeing BlackBerry domain emails on the
    Weiner laptop.

    The FBI Midyear team briefed McCabe about the
    information from the conference call on the evening of
    October 26, 2016. McCabe told us that he felt the
    situation was “absolutely urgent” and proposed that the
    FBI Midyear team meet with Comey the following day.
    On October 27 at 5:20 a.m., McCabe emailed Comey
    stating that the Midyear team “has come across some
    additional actions they believe they need to take,” and
    recommending that they meet that day to discuss the
    implications “if you have any space on your calendar.”
    Comey stated that he did not know what this email was
    about when he received it and did not initially recall that
    he had been previously notified about the Weiner
    laptop.

    Additional discussions took place on October 3 and 4,
    2016. However, after October 4, we found no evidence
    that anyone associated with the Midyear investigation,
    including the entire leadership team at FBI
    Headquarters, took any action on the Weiner laptop
    issue until the week of October 24, and then did so only
    after the Weiner case agent expressed concerns to
    SDNY, prompting SDNY to contact the Office of the
    Deputy Attorney General (ODAG) on October 21 to raise
    concerns about the lack of action.

    We found that, by no later than September 29, FBI
    executives and the FBI Midyear team had learned
    virtually every fact that was cited by the FBI in late
    October as justification for obtaining the search warrant
    for the Weiner laptop….

    There is no real explanation given for why this happened:

    We searched for evidence that the Weiner laptop was
    deliberately placed on the back-burner by others in the
    FBI to protect Clinton, but found no evidence in emails,
    text messages, instant messages, or documents that
    suggested an improper purpose. We also took note of
    the fact that numerous other FBI executives—including
    the approximately 39 who participated in the
    September 28 SVTC—were briefed on the potential
    existence of Midyear-related emails on the Weiner
    laptop. We also noted that the Russia investigation was
    under the supervision of Priestap—for whom we found
    no evidence of bias and who himself was aware of the
    Weiner laptop issue by September 29. However, we
    also did not identify a consistent or persuasive
    explanation for the FBI’s failure to act for almost a
    month after learning of potential Midyear-related emails
    on the Weiner laptop.

    The FBI’s failure to act in late September or early
    October is even less justifiable when contrasted with
    the attention and resources that FBI management and
    some members of the Midyear team dedicated to other
    activities in connection with the Midyear investigation
    during the same period.

    Make of that what you will – the Weiner laptop should have been adjudicated by the FBI a month before the election, not days before.

    (BTW, I haven’t read the whole thing either, but am working my way through)

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  19. MBunge says:

    This blog has recently been full of “questions” and speculation about how Trump supporters can continue to stick with their guy. The answer is in this post and several of the responses, which can be summed up as “If you don’t get charged with a felony, it’s all good.”

    But…considering the willful blindness Mataconis regularly displays on pretty much anything to do with Trump, I suppose it’s enough that he acknowledged this report at all. Baby steps.

    And just so this doesn’t get completely flushed down the memory hole, Hillary Clinton’s actions were judged to be negligent and not criminal because of who she was and not what she did. “Different spanks for different ranks” and such.

    Mike

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  20. MarkedMan says:

    @Andy: Yeah, just on time, all the bogus “buts”.

    Fact – Mr. Powell used an AOL account when there was an authorized State Department System in place, and State Department policy require the use of that system and prohibited private email
    Fact – Mr. Powell deleted that AOL account without transferring relevant emails to the State Department
    Fact – Hillary Clinton complained about the difficulty of using the State Department Email
    Fact – Mr. Powell, in writing, suggested she use her private email account, as he had done.

    And yes, there were a few occasions when Clinton or her staff sent out an email about something that was later classified. An example: one of her staff telling her to read an article published in the NY Times and asking for how they should respond.

    Trivial BS that at most would get a reminder letter if it was done by a junior official.

    This was lies, slander and snark. It’s what Republicans do. They have no positive agenda. They dare not show their real accomplishments as that amounts to ripping off the poor to line the pockets of the rich, so their entire playbook consists of sliming people that actually get things done. They are a disgrace to the country.

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  21. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Andy:
    Read that too, a head scratcher.
    HST, this man’s opinion is that timing of investigations, announcements, etc by the DOJ or the FBI should be entirely divorced from the political calendar.
    I understand that procedure dictates that announcements should not be made within certain days of elections, however that procedure means that the FBI should refrain from doing their job as a function of a political cycle.

    If an announcement is appropriate, meaning that investigators/prosecutors job are carrying out the FBI’s mission, political considerations (and the political calendar) should not interfere.

    The above procedure, practice and “norms” actually interfere with what should be apolitical.

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  22. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @MBunge:

    Hillary Clinton’s actions were judged to be negligent and not criminal because of who she was and not what she did.

    On what page did you find that?

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  23. Andy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    And yes, there were a few occasions when Clinton or her staff sent out an email about something that was later classified. An example: one of her staff telling her to read an article published in the NY Times and asking for how they should respond.

    Trivial BS that at most would get a reminder letter if it was done by a junior official.

    Dude, you are living in a fantasy. The emails weren’t “classified later.” The emails weren’t just about NYT articles. The published official reports directly contradict your allegations – I’m not going to bother to quote them because they are part of the official record. It was not “trivial bs.” In my 23 years in the intelligence community and four years as a security manager for the DoD, I’ve seen people burned for much less than what Clinton and her staff did.

    Edited to note: And despite that, I still don’t think she should have been actually prosecuted – I think that was the right call, but you can’t pretend that what she did was normal or business as usual.

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  24. One American says:

    @MBunge: and we’ve only just begun.

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  25. TM01 says:

    I should have adhered to established norms,

    So it wasn’t Trump that started violating Norms. Interesting.

    Anyway..

    This is antithetical to the core values of the FBI and the Department of Justice. … [I]n assessing Strzok’s decision to prioritize the Russia investigation … these text messages led us to conclude that we did not have confidence that Strzok’s decision was free from bias.

    But there was no political bias. Ok. Got it.

    Strzok had real nice explanations for all of his “Resistance” which this report just accepts at face value, which is a huge intellectual leap. There’s no there there regarding Russia and Trump, but hey, let’s focus on that as an “insurance policy” just in case Trump wins. But that wasn’t any kind of political decision.

    And Comey reopened the email investigation because he thought she was going to win. Not political at all.

    But Doug Seizes(tm) on the “no political bias” conclusion, despite many obviously and admittedly politically tainted actions.

    Can we all at least agree that Comey is, at minimum, worthless and that he deserved to be fired.

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  26. MarkedMan says:

    @Andy: Got it. No need to cite any evidence because… well, just because. Here is factcheck.org

    State Department spokesman John Kirby, who addressed these emails at press briefings on July 6 and 7:

    Comey said three emails had “portion markings” on them indicating that they were classified, but they were not properly marked and therefore could have been missed by Clinton. He said the emails were marked as classified with the letter “C” in the body of the email.
    Kirby said the State Department believes that at least two of the emails were mistakenly marked as confidential. He could not speak to the third email, saying ​the department didn’t have​ “all of the records and documents that the FBI used in their investigation.”
    Comey told the committee he is “highly confident” that FBI investigators consulted with the State Department about the marked emails. But he said he did not know that the department believes that any of them were marked in error.
    The issue is a bit complicated, but important, because it provides Clinton with a stronger defense against claims that she sent and received material that was marked as classified o

    It’s worth reading the whole thing.

    How does this compare to, say, how Colin Powell handled his private email? We will never know, of course, because he deleted them all when he left his government position, without turning them over for required records retention.

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  27. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Andy: Or to put it another way, the FBI has long established procedures to guide officials in their decision making during such difficult investigations. And Comey chose to ignore them, thinking he was above all that.

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  28. MarkedMan says:

    @MarkedMan: TLDR version: just how classified were Clinton’s emails? They were all made public during the investigation. They were all subject to reporter’s Freedom of Information Act requests. After being cleared for release by the FBI, they have been searched by literally tens of thousands of people, including deranged Pizza-gate level conspiracy theorists. And nothing of note has turned up.

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  29. Todd says:

    I know I’m setting myself up for some down votes here, but I agree with @Andy

    There is a huge difference between occasionally sending work back and forth from home via your gmail account and setting up a private server in your basement with the intent of thwarting future FOIA requests (because let’s be honest, that’s the only logical explanation for why Clinton had her own server).

    Furthermore, Comey apparently took great care to ensure that those emails were forwarded to a work account so that they would be preserved as required. I am still of the opinion that the “personal” emails that Hillary Clinton’s lawyers deleted were problematic because once you mix all official and personal emails on the same system, they ALL at least potentially become records that need to be archived.

    That being said, I’m with most other people on the left side of the political spectrum in thinking that the media overdid their coverage of Clinton’s emails during the campaign. However where I continue to part ways with many of you is this ludicrous idea that she did nothing wrong and/or deserving of at least some scrutiny. (note: I am not in any way disputing the FBI’s conclusion that there was nothing prosecutable about her actions)

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  30. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Todd:

    I am still of the opinion that the “personal” emails that Hillary Clinton’s lawyers deleted were problematic

    On this one narrow point I am in agreement with you. They should have been previewed by relevant non-partisan staffers at state before being deleted. Not to mention setting up a separate email account for personal stuff is just a plainly obvious solution.

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  31. Hal_10000 says:

    Today in “all these things can be true”

    1) Comey’s occasional use of gmail isn’t remotely comparable to building your private unsecured server from which you can purge public records and dodge FOIA requests.
    2) Clinton’s use of a private server was shady and based heavily on her sense of political paranoia. The Clinton’s long history of dissembling made innocent explanations fall short with their political opponents and the public at large.
    3) It didn’t rise to the level of a crime, the media focus was unwarranted and “lock her up” chants were disgraceful.
    4) Clinton could have made most of the scandal go away by being more forthright from the very beginning instead of pretending it wasn’t true, pretending it wasn’t a problem and then pretending the FBI vindicated her.
    5) Trump is making Clinton look as honest as Abe Lincoln.

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  32. Todd says:

    Ditto everything @Hal_10000 just said. (thumbs up was not a strong enough show of agreement)

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  33. Todd says:

    @Hal_10000: particularly #4

    This moment from the summer of 2015 was almost certainly the beginning of the end of Clinton’s dream of becoming President of the United States: https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/aug/19/hillary-clinton-wiping-email-server-cloth-or-somet/

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  34. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    They should have been previewed by relevant non-partisan staffers at state before being deleted.

    Perhaps. But recognize that this is a huge change of precedent. Since the beginning of the republic various high level government officials have made the call as to which of their correspondence was personal and which goverment related and this continues to this day. Remember, we have only Comey’s word that he transferred all the relevant emails from his personal account. There had been no non-partisan review of his emails. Should there be? And would Republicans subpoena them and leak embarrassing ones to the press? In the Hillary case bear in mind that the Clintons of all people are aware of just how fast non-partisan investigations under the seal of law still manage to leak to the press.

    Was this a boneheaded move by Clinton? Absolutely. But it wasn’t immoral, much less criminal.

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  35. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The IG report keeps getting all the attention.
    The Dennison families fraudulent Foundation is a far bigger deal.

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  36. Todd says:

    @MarkedMan: At the time, I can see the logic by the Clinton team in thinking that a private server might be a “good idea”, especially since they had to already know she’d be running for President in the future. In hindsight, and especially given the cringe worthy way that she handled the controversy, it obviously was the opposite of a good idea.

    The irony is, if she’d just used the State Department servers, any actual “embarrassing” emails uncovered by her political enemies almost certainly would have caused her much less trouble than what those same enemies were able to insinuate might have been in the (again almost certainly innocuous) deleted emails from her personal server.

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  37. mattbernius says:

    @Hal_10000:
    This.

    Nicely put sir.

    BTW: Here’s a must read on this topic: https://www.lawfareblog.com/nine-takeaways-inspector-generals-report-clinton-email-investigation

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  38. Mikey says:

    @Hal_10000: Your saying “all these things can be true” reminded me of an interesting piece I read yesterday evening over at JustSecurity.org.

    The Complicated Truths of the DOJ IG Report

    If anything, the new report confirms — in painstaking detail — what we basically already knew. But it also forces readers to do something really difficult in the age of Trump, when there is a tempting pull on the left and the right to see everything in black and white, and that’s to hold multiple competing thoughts in your head at the same time.

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  39. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Dennison, just now on State TV, talking about KJU:

    He speaks and his people hand his people stand up in attention. I want my people to do the same.

    Well…Bunge and JKB already do…

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  40. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: Largely in agreement, but this was a self inflicted wound the political consequences of which were foreseeable, hence my 2nd point about a separate acct for personal stuff.

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  41. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I’m sure North Korea would love to have them both.

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  42. Moosebreath says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    “He speaks and his people hand his people stand up in attention. I want my people to do the same.

    Well…Bunge and JKB already do…”

    At least some part of their anatomy does…

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  43. teve tory says:

    GOP Lawmakers Ask DOJ For Unrevised Drafts Of IG Report To See If It ‘Changed’

    Key allies of President Donald Trump on the House Judiciary Committee, Reps. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) have asked the Justice Department to hand over all unrevised drafts of the inspector general report that was released Thursday, amid concerns that “people may have changed the report in a way that obfuscates your findings.”

    The letter to DOJ IG Michael Horowitz argues that lawmakers should have the opportunity to review the drafts because members of the Justice Department reviewed the report before it was made public and were allowed to respond or dispute any of the allegations made against them.

    “We are concerned that during this time, people may have changed the report in a way that obfuscates your findings,” they wrote. “Unfortunately, over the past year, the DOJ has repeatedly fought requests by Congress to produce documents related to this investigation, and when the DOJ actually provided documents, the materials have been heavily redacted. Past and present DOJ officials have asserted security concerns, even though the documents we have seen do not legitimately contain these issues.”

    (TPM)

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  44. barbintheboonies says:

    Just thought I would check in and see what you all are saying, and just like I thought SOS. I used to think most of you were very intelligent people, and I still do, somewhat. Most of you are so blinded by your biases, it is impossible for you to make intelligent dialogue. It makes me sad when people lie, especially to themselves, just for the likes. I’ll keep checking in once in a while, and hopefully some of you will stop and think, instead of look and see who said something before you react.

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  45. Michael Reynolds says:

    @barbintheboonies:
    Trump says he wants ‘his people’ to be more like North Koreans. You’re doing a good job.

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  46. Michael Reynolds says:

    @teve tory:
    This of course is an admission, albeit inadvertent, that there’s nothing of use to Trumpaloons in the report. It does not meet Trump/Fox propaganda needs at this time.

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  47. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Andy:
    I’m not arguing that the FBI is blameless. But the IG report says there was no bias in its actions. Insofar as Comey’s actions, they clearly benefited Trump, not Hillary. The FBI – inadvertently – helped elect Trump.

    The FBI behaved as the FBI has generally behaves. They conducted an investigation. Was it a perfect investigation? Of course not, they never are. Want to start releasing every guy convicted as a result of an imperfect investigation? Because that would empty federal prisons overnight.

    Now please don’t make me, of all people, defend the FBI any more. Michael Reynolds circa 1979 would beat me with a stick for defending law enforcement.

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  48. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @barbintheboonies:

    It makes me sad when people lie, especially to themselves, just for the likes.

    Please…point out the lies?

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  49. gVOR08 says:

    This is going to be bad. Here’s USA Today’s story, Watchdog rebukes ex-FBI director Comey over Clinton email case, but found no evidence of bias. The first two graphs conflate the decision to not prosecute and Comey’s actions in announcing it so as to imply the decision, not the announcement of it was the problem, when the report states the decision was proper.

    They quote Strzock’s attorney saying that his views did not impact the investigation, when they could have quoted the report saying that, then go on for several graphs about the Strzok trivia.

    The only hint of what Comey’s actually in trouble for is, “But Democrats say the report shows Comey’s actions helped elect Trump, undercutting the president’s accusations that FBI and Justice Department officials were biased against him. Clinton has blamed her election defeat on Comey’s public disclosure of a reopening of the email investigation 11 days before the election.”
    “Director Comey had a double standard: he spoke publicly about the Clinton investigation while keeping secret from the American people the investigation of Donald Trump and Russia,” said Reps. Jerrold Nadler of New York, the top Judiciary Committee Democrat, and Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Oversight Committee Democrat.

    My gawd, they can’ even manage the usual he said – she said. It’s ‘the official report says Comey did some vague bad thing and Dems say he helped Trump’. Apparently explaining just what Comey did wrong is too difficult for professional journalist. God help us.

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  50. TM01 says:

    Page 89:

    FBI analysts and Prosecutor 2 told us that former President Barack Obama was one of the
    13 individuals with whom Clinton had direct contact using her clintonemail.com account. Obama, like
    other high level government officials, used a pseudonym for his username on his official government email account.

    Right. Here.

    That’s where it was decided that Hillary would not be prosecuted. But not a political decision at all.

    So Obama know about her server. And the f-er was lying to us thru his teeth when he said he first heard about her server by watching the news.

    And fsck all your damned complaining about Trump breaking The Norms. Whatever the fsck that’s supposed to mean.

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  51. Matt says:

    @Todd:

    Furthermore, Comey apparently took great care to ensure that those emails were forwarded to a work account so that they would be preserved as required. I am still of the opinion that the “personal” emails that Hillary Clinton’s lawyers deleted were problematic because once you mix all official and personal emails on the same system, they ALL at least potentially become records that need to be archived.

    When you delete things on a computer’s hard drive it’s actually only flagged as ‘deleted’ but not actually deleted. The FBI/NSA/CIA are easily capable of recovering data from a hard drive that has been formatted multiple times. Matter fact it’s recommended that if you truly want to avoid having data recovered from a drive then you should write 0s then 1s across the entire hard drive multiple times (takes hours) before smashing the drive’s media (chips for solid state and platters for the older spinners) into tiny pieces. When the FBI received the hard drives they were surely able to recover the deleted emails. Then there’s the various copies kept on the other servers involved, cache, etc. It’s all basic IT level stuff.

    US department of commerce recommendations involving storage media and proper sanitization of data on said media.
    https://ws680.nist.gov/publication/get_pdf.cfm?pub_id=50819

    EDIT : I get the feeling people would be pretty horrified if they knew how hard it is to truly delete anything that has been sent across the internet and how easy it is to find if you have the proper resources.

    @TM01: Yes because clicking “reply” requires you to know all the details of the server that sent you the email….. Dear lord…

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