DOJ Watchdog Report Finds Comey 'Deviated' From FBI Procedures in Handling Clinton Probe

| JUN 14, 2018 | 5:29 PM

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images/Getty Images

Former FBI Director James Comey “deviated” from FBI and Department of Justice procedures in his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, according to a DOJ watchdog report obtained by Bloomberg News.

DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz wrote in the report that Comey did not appear to be motivated by political bias, but noted that his actions “negatively impacted” public perceptions of the FBI and DOJ.

“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,” Horowitz wrote, according to Bloomberg.

Some aspects of the report have been made public, though it is expected to be released in its entirety sometime on Thursday.

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told reporters that he could not comment on the report’s contents until it had been released in full and he had a chance to read over it.

“I’m not going to get ahead of any of that,” he said.

President Donald Trump expressed concern last week that the report could be weakened in an effort to protect Comey.

Former spokesman for the Clinton presidential campaign Brian Fallon echoed the president’s concerns regarding delays on Thursday. He told Bloomberg on Thursday that the conclusion that Comey had deviated from department protocol could have been drawn “the day of Comey’s press conference.”

“It was obvious at the time that Comey was completely deviating from department protocols and it had a fateful impact on the 2016 campaign and the long-term reputation of the FBI," Fallon said. 

Comey has been heavily criticized for his decisions during the 2016 presidential election, particularly by Democrats who believe his choice to announce, just 11 days before the election, that the FBI was examining new emails that could be relevant to its investigation of Clinton's use of a private email server as secretary of state may have cost her the election.

“We believe that we lost this election in the last week,” Navin Nayak, the director of opinion research on the Clinton campaign, said. “Comey's letter in the last 11 days of the election both helped depress our turnout and also drove away some of our critical support among college-educated white voters - particularly in the suburbs.”