On Thursday, the office of the FBI Inspector General Michael Horowitz released its report on the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server for classified communications while she served as Secretary of State in the Obama administration. Here are some key takeaways in the 568-page report:

"No evidence" of political bias. The report found no evidence that prosecutors were affected by bias in the probe into Clinton’s email use. However, the report contends that the conduct of FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page did "cast a cloud over the entire FBI investigation and sowed doubt about the FBI’s work on, and its handling of, the Midyear investigation."

The IG found that prosecutors’ decisionmaking was "consistent" with past practice. The report said that their decisions were "consistent with the Department’s historical approach in prior cases under different leadership…”

In the matter of FBI agent Strzok, the IG report declared that it is not confident that his "decisions to prioritize the Russia investigation over following up on the midyear-related investigation lead discovered on the Weiner laptop was free from bias."

With regard to former FBI Director James Comey’s conduct in the Clinton probe, the IG report said that his surprise announcement on July 5, 2016 about the email server investigation was "extraordinary." Comey said DOJ officials did not know what he would say. The IG report indicated that Comey's actions were "extraordinary and insubordinate."

On Thursday, Comey tweeted: “I respect the DOJ IG office, which is why I urged them to do this review. The conclusions are reasonable, even though I disagree with some. People of good faith can see an unprecedented situation differently. I pray no Director faces it again. Thanks to IG’s people for hard work.”

Also on Thursday, Comey responded on the op-ed pages of the New York Times:

“The report concludes that I was wrong to announce the F.B.I.’s completion of the investigation without coordinating with the attorney general and that I was wrong to inform Congress in late October that we had reopened the investigation,” Comey wrote. “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.”

The IG report asserts that Comey showed no evidence that Comey’s statement was intended to influence the 2016 election or based on bias. 

The conduct Andrew McCabe, who was fired in May from his job as FBI deputy director, was questioned before the release of the report. In response, McCabe's attorney released a statement on Thursday claiming that the report "exonerates Mr. McCabe of any charges of bias or improper influence" even while it "erroneously" blames him for a delay in the handling emails found on the laptop of former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY).

The report revealed a text message exchange between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. In one, Strzok says "We'll stop" Donald Trump from becoming president. 

In the August 8, 2016 exchange, Page wrote: “[Trump's] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!" Strzok: "No. No he's not. We'll stop it."
When Strzok was asked about the messages, he told the OIG that "he did not specifically recall sending it, but that he believed that it was intended to reassure Page that Trump would not be elected, not to suggest that he would do something to impact the investigation," according to the report. Furthermore, Strzok told the OIG that "he did not take any steps to try to affect the outcome of the presidential election, in either the Midyear investigation or the Russia investigation." However, the report found that Strzok had shown d a “willingness to take official action" to thwart Trump's election. 

Deep state

The OIG report noted on page XII that it “identified numerous FBI employees, at all levels of the organization and with no official reason to be in contact with the media, who were nevertheless in frequent contact with reporters.” It therefore expressed “profound concerns bout the volume and extent of unauthorized media contacts by FBI personnel that we have uncovered our review.” It went on to say that FBI agents received favors from acquaintances in the media, including “improperly receiving benefits from reporters, including tickets to sporting events, golfing outings, drinks and meals, and admittance to nonpublic social events.”

President Donald Trump reportedly reviewed the report on Thursday, before its afternoon release to the public.
 

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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