Offbeat DOJ Inspector General report on FBI handling of Clinton email probe entering final stages

04:05  17 may  2018
04:05  17 may  2018 Source:   cnn.com

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The Justice Department 's inspector general is planning to release findings from its review into how the FBI handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton 's use of a private email server by next spring.

protocols were flouted when the FBI investigated Hillary Clinton 's handling of classified information, has been Inspector General Michael Horowitz informed lawmakers on Capitol Hill Wednesday that his office has House conservatives push Sessions, Rosenstein to disclose key details in probes .

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 29: The Justice Department seal is seen on the lectern during a Hate Crimes Subcommittee summit on June 29, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images) © Mark Wilson/Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 29: The Justice Department seal is seen on the lectern during a Hate Crimes Subcommittee summit on June 29, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

A draft of the much-anticipated report from the Justice Department's internal watchdog, addressing a wide-ranging set of allegations that department protocols were flouted when the FBI investigated Hillary Clinton's handling of classified information, has been completed, according to sources with knowledge of the matter.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz informed lawmakers on Capitol Hill Wednesday that his office has provided leadership at the Justice Department and FBI with a copy of the draft report and has requested that they review it for classified information.

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Horowitz, the Department of Justice ( DOJ ) inspector general , is an increasingly critical player in the controversy surrounding the FBI With little fanfare, he has been conducting a sprawling probe of the FBI ’s handling of the 2016 investigation into Hillary Clinton ’s use of a private email server.

Fox News ‘ Catherine Herridge reports today that DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz will release his long-awaited report on the FBI ’s handling of the Clinton email investigation in May.

"We will update you on the specific timing for the report's release, and I will be prepared to provide a briefing and testify publicly about our findings and conclusions as soon as the report is released," Horowitz wrote in a letter to members of various committees.

Of all the politically charged reports accusing law enforcement of misconduct since President Donald Trump took office, this one from the Inspector General's office -- now 17 months in the making -- has the potential to deliver the stiffest blow for officials who formerly occupied the highest positions within the FBI and Justice Department.

"It's not going to be good, it's just a question of how bad it's going to be," said one former Justice Department official.

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FILE PHOTO: A general view of the Federal Bureau of Investigation ( FBI ) building in Washington, U.S. May 9, 2017. “We are aiming to release the report in late winter/early spring, so hopefully in that March-April time period.”

Justice Department IG Michael Horowitz is preparing his report on the FBI 's handling of the Clinton email scandal. Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz has already spent months probing the bureau 's conduct during the 2016 elections.

The report is not yet finalized, however, as lawyers for the various individuals criticized in it have an opportunity to review it with their clients and submit rebuttal points for consideration. That process is underway with several witnesses having been notified they can review it later this week, according to sources familiar with the matter, but its precise conclusions and recommendations have largely been kept under wraps.

When Horowitz first launched the investigation in January 2017, he made clear that the report would tackle then-FBI Director James Comey's controversial move to announce, without Justice Department approval, that he was not recommending criminal charges against Clinton for her handling of classified information, as well as Comey's subsequent letters to lawmakers in the days leading up to the presidential election, essentially reopening and then closing the investigation once again.

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The Department of Justice inspector general will review broad allegations of misconduct involving the FBI ’s investigation of Hillary Clinton ’s email practices and the bureau ’s controversial decision shortly before the election to announce the probe had resumed, the Inspector General announced

The DOJ Inspector General says he will review how the FBI and Justice Department handled certain aspects of the Hillary Clinton email investigation . Get breaking news alerts and special reports . The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

One potential preview of Horowitz's findings on those decisions by Comey was already outlined in a blistering memo written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, which detailed the ways Comey broke with long-standing department protocols and customs. Rosenstein's memo, controversial in its own regard, was initially used to rationalize firing Comey, but then Trump later said he would have done it regardless of Rosenstein's memo, and has since defended his decision as a "great honor."

The political ripple effects of Horowitz's work over the last several months have already been felt by some.

His office uncovered scores of private text messages exchanged between top FBI officials who dreaded Trump would win the presidency. Given their roles at the FBI and brief stints on special counsel Robert Mueller's team, the texts have been regularly used by allies of Trump as the textbook example of political bias infecting the FBI -- but they have yet to receive a non-partisan, public assessment by the inspector general.

Horowitz's bullet-point list of topics for investigation also includes allegations that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe should have been recused from participating in certain investigation matters, but McCabe was fired in March after a scathing report by Horowitz's office concluded that he lied to investigators. McCabe has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, but is now ensnarled in a criminal investigation by the US Attorney's office in DC based on the inspector general's findings -- a searing reminder of the gravity of the office's powers.

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The Justice Department 's internal watchdog announced Thursday it has launched a probe into the department and the FBI 's handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton 's private Related Story Intel Report Says US Identifies Go-Betweens Who Gave Emails to WikiLeaks; Trump to Get Briefing.

The Justice Department inspector general will review broad allegations of misconduct involving FBI Director James B. Comey and how he handled the probe of Hillary Clinton ’s email practices, the inspector general announced Thursday.

And then there's perhaps the most nebulous subject on Horowitz's list that has received far less of a public resolution to date, "allegations that the Department and FBI employees improperly disclosed non-public information."

One source familiar with the scope of the report said that accusations that FBI agents in New York leaked information about the Clinton investigation to former Mayor Rudy Giuliani have been examined. Giuliani, then an adviser to the Trump campaign, drew attention in late October 2016 when he went on Fox News -- two days before Comey revealed he was reopening the Clinton email investigation -- to say Trump had "a surprise or two that you're going to hear about in the next two days."

Giuliani later backtracked when pressed by CNN's Wolf Blitzer to explain further, saying, "If I did say that, that was wrong. ... I have not spoken to an on-duty FBI agent about anything I guess for the last 10 months. I've actually never talked about this investigation to any current member of the Justice Department or FBI agent."

Comey has said in more recent interviews that he had commissioned an investigation into leaks from the New York field office, but told The Washington Post he had "no idea" what Giuliani was talking about.

"I still don't know to this day whether he was actually getting information from inside the FBI," Comey said.

Horowitz may shed light on that lingering question.

Why Comey’s October Surprise Was Pointless and Wrong .
He said his only choices were “speak or conceal.” But a third way would have avoided election interference.James Comey’s Oct. 28, 2016, letter to Congress — announcing the resumption of the Hillary Clinton email investigation based on newly discovered evidence — may well have cost her the presidency. In “A Higher Loyalty,” Mr. Comey explains that his decision to send the letter was made solely on the merits and based on two key assumptions presented to him the day before — on Oct. 27.

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