Ex-FBI chief James Comey “deviated” from standard FBI and Justice Department procedures in his handling of the probe into Hillary Clinton’s email controversy — but he was not motivated by political bias, according to the department’s internal watchdog.
But his actions damaged the bureau’s reputation for impartiality, Inspector General Michael Horowitz said in the report’s conclusions, which
were obtained Thursday by Bloomberg News.
“While we did not find that these decisions were the result of political bias on Comey’s part, we nevertheless concluded that by departing so clearly and dramatically from FBI and department norms, the decisions negatively impacted the perception of the FBI and the department as fair administrators of justice,” the report said.
Horowitz’s report examined actions taken by top officials before the 2016 election, including the handling of the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was secretary of state.
The investigation expanded to touch on an array of politically sensitive decisions by officials including Comey and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
While the report being sent to Congress on Thursday doesn’t deal with the origins of the probe into Russia meddling in the 2016 US election and possible collusion with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, the president and his GOP supporters in Congress are primed to use it as evidence of poor judgment and anti-Trump bias within the FBI and Justice Department.
Trump has repeatedly attacked Comey on Twitter and in comments to others, calling him dishonest, in the tank for the Clintons and a “nutjob.”
Clinton and her supporters blame Comey for her loss because of his decision to announce shortly before the election that he was reopening the investigation into her only to say days later that it was closed again and that there was no evidence of wrongdoing.