The US Justice Department’s inspector general said Thursday former FBI director James Comey’s actions prior to the 2016 presidential election violated norms of the department but were not motivated by political bias.
The inspector general’s report is the first non-partisan look into the events just prior to the election that sent Donald Trump to the White House, including Comey’s announcement that federal investigators were reopening a probe into Hillary
Clinton’s email. Some Democrats believe that move cost Clinton the election even though a few days later Comey announced there was nothing criminal in her use of a private email server while she served as secretary of state.
The “norms” referred to in the report include the department’s practices of declining to comment regarding ongoing criminal investigative activity and avoiding actions that could impact an imminent election.
The report says Comey’s actions prior to the election departed from those guidelines. In particular it says Comey was “insubordinate” when he failed to inform his boss, the attorney general, about his decision to publicly announce in July 2016 he was recommending no charges against Clinton.
But the report said the inspector general found no evidence that the conclusions of Comey and other prosecutors were affected by bias.
“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,” the report said.
While the report dealt a black eye to the agency for injecting itself into presidential politics, FBI Director Christopher Wray said nothing in it “impugns the integrity” of the FBI.
Jun 15 2018