DOJ Launches Inquiry into Comey’s Handling of the Clinton Investigation
The inspector general for the Department of Justice said Thursday that he will conduct an inquiry into the actions FBI Director James Comey took during his investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server. Comey’s actions, especially the letter he sent to Congress 11 days before the election, roiled Clinton and her supporters, and instantly put Comey on the hot seat. Clinton and her aides claim that the letter turned thousands of undecided voters against her, and ultimately cost her the election.
Michael Horowitz, the inspector general, will examine three actions Comey took in the months, weeks, and days leading up to Election Day: the July news conference in which Comey called Clinton “extremely careless,” but decided not to indict her; the letter Comey sent to Congress in late October, which announced the discovery of potentially relevant emails; and the letter Comey sent to Congress on November 5, which said that those emails did not include damaging information.
In a statement, Horowitz said the inquiry is “in response to requests from numerous Chairmen and Ranking Members of Congressional oversight committees, various organizations, and members of the public.” Horowitz has the power to recommend a criminal investigation into Comey’s handling of the Clinton investigation.
More likely, he will be determining whether Comey, a Republican appointed by President Barack Obama, violated Justice Department rules or demonstrated poor judgment. It is unclear what sort of punishment, if any, could be dealt if Horowitz finds that Comey acted irresponsibly. An internal memo sent to DOJ officials in 2012 directs employees, including the FBI director, to enforce laws “in a neutral and impartial manner.”
All parties involved in the matter expressed support for the watchdog’s probe. Comey, in a statement, said Horowitz is “professional and independent,” adding: “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.” Brian Fallon, Clinton’s former press secretary who was outraged by Comey’s late-October letter, echoed that support.
“This is highly encouraging and to be expected, given Director Comey’s drastic deviation from Justice Department protocol,” he said. “A probe of this sort, however long it takes to conduct, is utterly necessary in order to take the first step to restore the FBI’s reputation as a nonpartisan institution.” Trump, in a pair of tweets on Friday morning, said based on the information the FBI had regarding Clinton’s emails, she should have never been allowed to run. “She lost because she campaigned in the wrong states – no enthusiasm!” he added.