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Live coverage: IG releases watchdog report on FBI, Clinton probe

The Department of Justice's (DOJ) inspector general Michael Horowitz released a report Thursday afternoon on its investigation into the FBI and DOJ handling of a probe into former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonCarter Page files defamation lawsuit against DNC Dems fear party is headed to gutter from Avenatti’s sledgehammer approach Election Countdown: Cruz, O'Rourke fight at pivotal point | Ryan hitting the trail for vulnerable Republicans | Poll shows Biden leading Dem 2020 field | Arizona Senate debate tonight MORE's private email server and its actions during the 2016 presidential race.


McCabe’s attorney argues ‘systemic failure’ impacted investigation

2:33 p.m.

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeFBI investigated whether McCabe leaked info about Flynn and Trump to media Clinton's security clearance withdrawn at her request Rod Rosenstein must recuse himself MORE’s attorney pushed back on the inspector general report, saying that while it found “no evidence of any impropriety, political bias, or other improper considerations in any of Mr. McCabe’s actions” it also “erroneously assigns responsibility to him” for certain decisions in the investigation.

One sticking point in the report is whether bias impacted the FBI's delayed decision to pursue potentially relevant emails on former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner’s laptop in October 2016. The FBI did not move to review those emails until just days before the 2016 election, almost a month after FBI officials in New York initially found them.

McCabe’s attorney Michael R. Bromwich argued that McCabe “immediately” took action on the laptop, directing other FBI officials to lead that part of the investigation.

“Ultimately, the FBI’s delay in searching the laptop was a systemic failure, not attributable to any one person,” the statement said. 

Comey thanks inspector general's office for 'hard work' in report 

2:28 p.m.

Former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyFBI investigated whether McCabe leaked info about Flynn and Trump to media House Judiciary chairman threatens to subpoena Rosenstein Three reasons Mueller may not charge Trump with obstruction MORE tweeted a response to the report that was critical of his decisions.

Strzok attorney pushes back against 'critically flawed' IG report

2:25 p.m.

FBI special agent Peter Strzok’s attorney issued a statement highlighting the inspector general report’s findings that Strzok’s investigation was “thorough and aggressive, sometimes to the point that put him at odds with senior officials at the Department of Justice.”

But Zuckerman Spaeder LLP partner Aitan Goelman also pushed back on the report’s “bizarre conclusion” that Strzok’s political bias might have influenced some decisions in the investigation.

"The report is critically flawed in its bizarre conclusion that the IG cannot rule out ‘with confidence’ the possibility that Special Agent Strzok’s political ‘bias’ may have been a cause of the FBI’s failure, between September 29 and October 25, 2016, to seek a second search warrant for the Anthony Weiner laptop," Goelman said in a statement.

"In fact, all facts contained in the report lead to the conclusion that the delay was caused by a variety of factors and miscommunications that had nothing to do with Special Agent Strzok’s political views. The report itself provides indisputable evidence that, when informed that Weiner’s laptop contained Clinton emails, Strzok immediately had the matter pursued by two of his most qualified and aggressive investigators," he said.

Text messages in the report show that Strzok reassured his then-girlfriend, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, that President TrumpDonald John TrumpKey takeaways from the Arizona Senate debate Major Hollywood talent firm considering rejecting Saudi investment money: report Mattis says he thought 'nothing at all' about Trump saying he may leave administration MORE would not be elected in 2016.

Comey used private Gmail account for FBI business, report finds

2:11 p.m. 

Comey used a personal Gmail account to conduct official business on numerous occasions, according to the inspector general’s report.

“We identified numerous instances in which Comey used a personal email account to conduct unclassified FBI business,” the report says.

The report specifically cites five examples of Comey’s use of the private account and includes information provided by Comey and former FBI chief of staff Jim Rybicki about the Gmail account.

Gowdy blasts Comey, Strzok for conduct in Clinton probe
 
1:50 p.m. 
 
The head of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee blasted former FBI Director James Comey and FBI agent Peter Strzok for their conduct with the Clinton email probe, while calling on the head of the FBI and DOJ to “take decisive action to restore Americans’ confidence in our justice system.”
 
“The report also conclusively shows an alarming and destructive level of animus displayed by top officials at the FBI. Peter Strzok’s manifest bias trending toward animus casts a pall on this investigation,” Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said in a Thursday statement, following a briefing on the inspector general's report.
 
The former FBI chief, he alleged, is guilty of severely damaging “the credibility of the investigation” as well as “the public’s ability to rely on the results of the investigation.”
 
“This report confirms investigative decisions made by the FBI during the pendency of this investigation were unprecedented and deviated from traditional investigative procedures in favor of a much more permissive and voluntary approach. This is not the way normal investigations are run,” Gowdy’s statement continues.
 
Gowdy, who oversaw the Benghazi hearings, said the federal government treated Clinton much more kindly than investigators did with Trump campaign officials.
 
“Voluntariness and consent in the former were replaced with search warrants, subpoenas, and other compulsory processes in the latter. Many of the investigators and supervisors were the same in both investigations but the investigatory tactics were not,” he said.

IG report does not challenge decision not to prosecute Clinton

1:16 p.m. 

Horowitz’s report does not challenge the Justice Department’s decision not to pursue charges against Hillary Clinton, The New York Times reported, citing officials who were briefed on the document.

The review also did not find that political bias within the department affected the decision not to prosecute the former secretary of State.

In 2016, after wrapping up the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was serving as the nation’s top diplomat, Comey said that Clinton acted “extremely careless” in her handling of classified information, but ultimately recommended against criminal charges.

That decision drew criticism from many of Clinton’s opponents, who accused the FBI and Justice Department of political bias and letting her off the hook for wrongdoings. 

Horowitz found Comey did not speak 'directly and substantively' with Attorney General Loretta Lynch before making major Clinton probe decisions

12:15 p.m.

Horowitz said former FBI Director James Comey failed to properly communicate with Attorney General Loretta Lynch ahead of both his July 2016 press conference on Clinton’s email probe and his subsequent letter to Congress on the matter in October 2016.

“We found it extraordinary that, in advance of two such consequential decisions, the FBI director decided that the best course of conduct was to not speak directly and substantively with the attorney general about how best to navigate those decisions,” according to the report obtained by Bloomberg. 

During a July 2016 press conference, Comey made his now highly scrutinized statement that Clinton was “extremely careless” in her handling of classified materials, a step down from the potentially criminal conclusion of “grossly negligent.”

Republicans have accused the former FBI chief of trying to shield Clinton from prosecution, noting that he began drafting his statement before he had interviewed Clinton or other key witnesses.

And in his October letter to top Republicans in the House and Senate, Comey revealed that the bureau was examining new emails as part of the probe — an announcement that came shortly before the election concluded. Clinton and her allies say this severely impacted her presidential campaign just before voters went to the polls.

Lynch had come under fire for meeting with former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonCybersecurity for national defense: How many 'wake-up calls' does it take? Who's in control alters our opinion of how things are Obama adviser jabs Hillary Clinton over Monica Lewinsky comments MORE on the Phoenix tarmac during the election and amid the investigation. While she did not formally recuse herself from the probe, this scrutiny ultimately led her to say she would accept whatever conclusion the FBI chief reached with the Clinton investigation.

Both Bill Clinton and Lynch have maintained that they did not talk about the investigation during their meeting.

Top Democrats say IG report proves Comey's decisions helped Trump, hurt Clinton

12:05 p.m.

The top Democrats on the House Judiciary and the House Oversight and Government Reform committees said Horowitz’s report proves that the former FBI Director James Comey’s conduct during the campaign helped catapult President Trump into the Oval Office, while derailing Clinton’s campaign.

"The stark conclusion we draw after reviewing this report is that the FBI's actions helped Donald Trump become President,” Oversight’s Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsTrump makes new overtures to Democrats Dems eye ambitious agenda if House flips Oversight Dems call for probe into citizenship question on 2020 census MORE (D-Md.) and Judiciary’s Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said in a joint statement on Thursday.

The two lawmakers said Comey showed a “double-standard” by deciding to publicly announce details about the Clinton email investigation, while making no public mention of the counterintelligence probe into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.

"The FBI should not have spoken publicly about the case after recommending against criminal charges. They should not have revealed that they had reopened the case just days before the election,” they said, noting that these “actions violate longstanding guidelines designed to protect citizens from unfair attacks and avoid influencing elections.”

GOP lawmakers demand drafts of DOJ report on Clinton email investigation

11:14 a.m.

Three Republican lawmakers are requesting all unrevised drafts of the Department of Justice's report on the procedures it used during the investigation into Clinton's email use.

"Your team has worked to ensure that this report is thorough and accurate; however, an investigation of this magnitude and consequence deserves heightened scrutiny to ensure that the process has not been compromised in any way," GOP Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisElection Countdown: Cruz, O'Rourke fight at pivotal point | Ryan hitting the trail for vulnerable Republicans | Poll shows Biden leading Dem 2020 field | Arizona Senate debate tonight 'Hamilton' star aims to educate displaced Puerto Ricans about Florida voter ID laws De Blasio campaigns for Gillum while Florida Dem helps with Hurricane Michael recovery MORE (Fla.) and Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzHouse panels postpone meeting with Rosenstein Florida Dems attack GOP campaign as ‘racist’ after Republican labels Gillum 'Kill'em' on crime Top Trump ally in Congress says Rosenstein should be impeached even if he was joking about wearing a wire MORE (Fla.) wrote in a letter sent to Horowitz on Thursday.

"The trust of the America people depends on it. We are concerned that during this time, people may have changed the report in a way that obfuscates your findings."

DOJ watchdog says no proof FBI officials' Trump criticism impacted probes: report

10:45 a.m.

The Justice Department's ethics watchdog reportedly found no evidence that the political leanings of two FBI officials, who exchanged text messages critical of President Trump during the 2016 election, directly impacted the FBI's investigations, while noting that their conduct "cast a cloud" over the bureau's actions.

Horowitz did not find that FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page "directly affected the specific investigative actions we reviewed,” according to the report’s conclusions, which were obtained Thursday by Bloomberg.

First report: Comey departed from FBI norms

10:33 a.m.

Bloomberg is reporting that the inspector general report to be released later on Thursday will find that former FBI Director James Comey deviated from procedure in his handling of the Clinton case.

It's the first leak of the highly anticipated report.

According to Bloomberg, the report does not find that Comey acted with political bias, but that he did depart "dramatically from FBI and department norms."

It also says the that Comey's decision "negatively impacted the perception of the FBI and the department as fair administrators of justice.”

Former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta earlier on Thursday told The Hill's Rising that there was "good evidence" that Comey's actions “blew the election” for Democrats.