WASHINGTON (CBS/AP) — The Justice Department’s watchdog delivered a stinging rebuke Thursday to the FBI and former Director James Comey for their handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, but the report does not conclude Comey’s actions were motivated by political bias or a preference for Clinton over Donald Trump in the 2016 election.
The inspector general’s report says Comey, who announced in the summer of 2016 that Clinton would not be charged with any crime in the email probe, was insubordinate and departed from normal protocol numerous times.
“We identified numerous instances in which Comey used a personal email account (a Gmail account) to conduct FBI business,” the report found, according to CBS News. “We cite five examples of such use in this section and include information provided by Comey and Rybicki about Comey’s use of a personal email account.”
But it also says, “We found no evidence that the conclusions by the prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations; rather, we determined that they were based on the prosecutors’ assessment of the facts, the law and past department practice.”
President Trump has looked to the report to provide a fresh line of attack against Comey and his deputy, Andrew McCabe, as he claims that a politically tainted bureau tried to undermine his campaign and, through the later Russia investigation, his presidency. Trump is certain to try to use the report to validate his firing of Comey last year.
In a New York Times op-ed, Comey said he disagrees with the watchdog’s assertions, but respects the review.
“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,” Comey said in the op-ed.
But the nuanced findings provide no conclusions to support Republicans and Democrats who want to claim total vindication.
The conclusions were contained in a 500-page report that document in painstaking detail one of the most consequential investigations in modern FBI history and reveal how the FBI, which for decades has strived to stand apart from politics, came to be entangled in the 2016 presidential election.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)