Yet the details show that at every procedural step of the way Hillary and her team were treated leniently and given the procedural benefit of the doubt by people, many of whom were pro-Hillary and anti-Trump.
The Department of Justice Inspector General has issued his report (pdf.) into the FBI/DOJ investigation of Hillary’s email server and decision not to prosecute.
Bottom line: Democrats got the narrative they wanted, that the FBI was not motivated by politics in exonerating Hillary, and that Comey made serious errors of judgment in his October 2016 disclosure to Congress. Yet the details show strong anti-Trump bias pervaded the FBI people involved.
The details also show that at every procedural step of the way Hillary and her team were treated leniently and given the procedural benefit of the doubt. While individually the IG does not attribute this leniency to bad motive, collectively it shows that Hillary received unusually favorable treatment. The IG report fails to see the forest for the trees.
I’ll add more details later, as updates. Here is the portion of the Executive Summary devoted to the issue of political bias:
In undertaking our analysis, our task was made significantly more difficult because of text and instant messages exchanged on FBI devices and systems by five FBI employees involved in the Midyear investigation. These messages reflected political opinions in support of former Secretary Clinton and against her then political opponent, Donald Trump. Some of these text messages and instant messages mixed political commentary with discussions about the Midyear investigation, and raised concerns that political bias may have impacted investigative decisions.
In particular, we were concerned about text messages exchanged by FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, Special Counsel to the Deputy Director, that potentially indicated or created the appearance that investigative decisions were impacted by bias or improper considerations. As we describe in Chapter Twelve of our report, most of the text messages raising such questions pertained to the Russia investigation, which was not a part of this review. Nonetheless, the suggestion in certain Russia related text messages in August 2016 that Strzok might be willing to take official action to impact presidential candidate Trump’s electoral prospects caused us to question the earlier Midyear investigative decisions in which Strzok was involved, and whether he took specific actions in the Midyear investigation based on his political views. As we describe Chapter Five of our report, we found that Strzok was not the sole decisionmaker for any of the specific Midyear investigative decisions we examined in that chapter. We further found evidence that in some instances Strzok and Page advocated for more aggressive investigative measures in the Midyear investigation, such as the use of grand jury subpoenas and search warrants to obtain evidence.
There were clearly tensions and disagreements in a number of important areas between Midyear agents and prosecutors. However, we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that improper considerations, including political bias, directly affected the specific investigative decisions we reviewed in Chapter Five, or that the justifications offered for these decisions were pretextual.
Nonetheless, these messages cast a cloud over the FBI’s handling of the Midyear investigation and the investigation’s credibility. But our review did not find evidence to connect the political views expressed in these messages to the specific investigative decisions that we reviewed; rather, consistent with the analytic approach described above, we found that these specific decisions were the result of discretionary judgments made during the course of an investigation by the Midyear agents and prosecutors and that these judgment calls were not unreasonable. The broader impact of these text and instant messages, including on such matters as the public perception of the FBI and the Midyear investigation, are discussed in Chapter Twelve of our report.
MORE TO FOLLOW
Here are some of the key conclusions, which mostly skewer Comey (emphasis added):
First, we found that several FBI employees who played critical roles in the investigation sent political messages—some of which related directly to the Midyear investigation—that created the appearance of bias and thereby raised questions about the objectivity and thoroughness of the Midyear investigation. Even more seriously, text messages between Strzok and Page pertaining to the Russia investigation, particularly a text message from Strzok on August 8 stating “No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it.” in response to a Page text “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!,” are not only indicative of a biased state of mind but imply a willingness to take official action to impact a presidential candidate’s electoral prospects. This is antithetical to the core values of the FBI and the Department of Justice. While we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that improper considerations, including political bias, directly affected the specific investigative actions we reviewed in Chapter Five, the conduct by these employees cast a cloud over the entire FBI investigation and sowed doubt about the FBI’s work on, and its handling of, the Midyear investigation. It also called into question Strzok’s failure in October 2016 to follow up on the Midyear-related investigative lead discovered on the Weiner laptop. The damage caused by these employees’ actions extends far beyond the scope of the Midyear investigation and goes to the heart of the FBI’s reputation for neutral factfinding and political independence.
Second, in key moments, then Director Comey chose to deviate from the FBI’s and the Department’s established procedures and norms and instead engaged in his own subjective, ad hoc decisionmaking. In so doing, we found that Comey largely based his decisions on what he believed was in the FBI’s institutional interests and would enable him to continue to effectively lead the FBI as its Director. 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.
* * *
Moreover, these decisions usurped the authority of the Attorney General and upset the well-established separation between investigative and prosecutorial functions and the accountability principles that guide law enforcement decisions in the United States.
As we further outline in this report, there was a troubling lack of any direct, substantive communication between Comey and then Attorney General Lynch in advance of both Comey’s July 5 press conference and his October 28 letter to Congress. With regard to the July 5 events, Comey affirmatively concealed his intentions from Lynch…. 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 these decisions and mitigate the resulting harms, and that Comey’s decision resulted in the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General concluding that it would be counterproductive to speak directly with the FBI
Lisa Page text to Peter Strzok: “(Trump’s) not ever going to become president, right? Right?!”
Strzok reply: “No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it.”
This Peter Strzok text about "stopping" Donald Trump was hidden from Congressional investigators. We never had it. Absolutely unreal.
— Mark Meadows (@MarkMeadows) June 14, 2018
IG found that Comey was interested in "protecting the legitimacy of a Clinton presidency" pic.twitter.com/OLlnJOp1Ab
— Techno Fog (@Techno_Fog) June 14, 2018
IG FALLOUT: Clearest sign that Trump allies didn't get what they wanted out of the IG report: his top GOP allies are arguing that the report may have been watered down during the review process –> pic.twitter.com/gFL9k7kjf2
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) June 14, 2018
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