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Watchdog faults Comey over 2016 Clinton probe, but says no bias

The long-awaited report found no fault in the decision announced by James Comey in July 2016 that Hillary Clinton should not face prosecution for mishandling of classified emails
Brendan Smialowski (AFP/File)
Florida Rep. DeSantis tells i24NEWS of 'appalling example of bias' in investigation of Trump-Russia collusion

A Justice Department report gave US President Donald Trump new ammunition Thursday in his fight against investigators when it called former FBI director James Comey "insubordinate" in his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton in 2016.

The department's internal watchdog found no evidence of political bias in the Clinton email probe, which shook the election campaign's dynamics and may have influenced her defeat.

But Comey and the FBI were heavily faulted, with Comey, a strong critic of Trump, seen as repeatedly skirting agency rules and procedures, and two FBI agents under him showing in personal messages a "willingness to take official action to impact" Trump's chances in the election.

"Although we acknowledge that Comey faced a difficult situation with unattractive choices, in proceeding as he did, we concluded that Comey made a serious error of judgment," the report said of one key moment in the Clinton probe.

Even so, the Justice Department's Inspector General found no fault in the ultimate decision announced by Comey on July 5, 2016 that Clinton should not face prosecution for placing classified materials on her personal email server while she was secretary of state.

"We found no evidence that the conclusions by the prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations," it said."Rather, we determined that they were based on the prosecutors' assessment of the facts, the law, and past department practice."

However, US Congressman Ron DeSantis told i24NEWS in an exclusive interview, that he was more concerned with what he saw as an “appalling example of bias” in the investigation on collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, which he said was withheld from Congress.

In a text message exchange, FBI counsel Lisa Page asked her beau counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok whether Trump would actually become president, to which he responded, “We won’t let that happen. We’ll stop him.”

"It damages the FBI’s reputation to no end,” DeSantis told i24NEWS.

Adding that Comey made a lot of mistakes, he said that despite Hilary's "grossly negligent handling of classified information", whatever Comey did to hurt Hilary’s campaign was far outweighed by his decision to unilaterally exonerate her.

In the middle of the presidential campaign, Comey announced Clinton would not be prosecuted -- an announcement that would have normally been handled by the attorney general and drew heavy criticism of Comey.

Then, 12 days before the November 8 election, Comey reopened the investigation, after new evidence surfaced. And he closed it again after the evidence proved to be inconsequential.

Trump has repeatedly said a biased Justice Department and FBI let Clinton off easily, and he made "lock her up" a chant in his election rallies.

After becoming president, Trump fired Comey in March 2017.

Since then he has sought to tarnish Comey's reputation, in the expectation that Comey could be a witness against Trump in a possible obstruction of justice probe by the Russia case Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

In a column Comey published in the New York Times just after the report's release, Comey said he did not agree with all of the conclusions but praised its "professionalism".

"The inspector general's team went through the FBI's work with a microscope and found no evidence that bias or improper motivation affected the investigation," he said.

"The report also resoundingly demonstrates that there was no prosecutable case against Mrs. Clinton, as we had concluded," Comey wrote.

"Although that probably will not stop some from continuing to claim the opposite is true, this independent assessment will be useful to thoughtful people and an important contribution to the historical record."

(Staff with AFP.)

Comments

(4)

C Ray & Rosenstein need both to bed impeached. Part of the SWAMP.

Is this country on the same path as Venezuela?

Will Sessions have the fortitude to do what is right.

Very unlikely.

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