ABC News has gotten an early look at the upcoming report on the inspector general’s look into FBI actions around the Hillary Clinton email investigation. It appears that report is going to indicate exactly what everyone already knew: former FBI Director James Comey overstepped the bounds in his public statements and in publicly re-opening the investigation into Clinton’s emails only days before the election.
The draft of Horowitz’s wide-ranging report specifically called out Comey for ignoring objections from the Justice Department when he disclosed in a letter to Congress just days before the 2016 presidential election that FBI agents had reopened the Clinton probe, according to sources. Clinton has said that letter doomed her campaign.
Donald Trump has been tweeting his demand that Department of Justice’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz hop-to in releasing his report on the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton. Trump has clearly stated that he expects that report to hand him buckets of political ammunition that he can use to discredit Comey and re-ignite the lock ‘er up chants at his next rally.
But what Horowitz has uncovered is what was already clear from the beginning: Comey violated department rules in making public pronouncements about an investigation that did not lead to indictments, and massively mishandled re-opening the investigation in the last days of the campaign. The report does show that Comey was “insubordinate” to his supervisors—the supervisors appointed by President Obama, not by Trump.
Trump may be relieved that the report appears to back up the statement that Rod Rosenstein issued in providing a cover story for Comey’s firing. But the problem with the Rosenstein letter was never that it overstated the case against Comey. It was that it was completely at odds with the reasoning that Trump and Stephen Miller argued in an earlier, angry letter which admitted that Comey was being fired for his failure to interfere in the Russia investigation.
ABC News has confirmed that Horowitz’s draft report went on to criticize senior FBI officials, including Comey and fired FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, for their response to the late discovery of a laptop containing evidence that may have related to the Clinton investigation.
The criticism here isn’t that they didn’t go hard enough, and there seems to be nothing in the report that even hints that evidence of wrongdoing was suppressed. Instead, the complaints are that both Comey and McCabe acted rashly and improperly in forcing the issue into the public a week ahead of the election—an action that polling has indicated was more than sufficient to account for Trump’s margin of victory.
So Donald Trump appears to be about to get his inspector general’s report. And he may even be able to select sentences and partial sentences he can use to attack the integrity of Comey and McCabe. What he’s not getting is any evidence of some grand Clinton conspiracy. And, just as with the Rosenstein letter, Trump is left in the position of attacking Comey, for something Comey did which helped Trump.
Trump’s vocal concern that the report is being “softened” could still lead to revisions. But for now, the conclusions of the inspector general seem to match what some people were saying months before the election.
From his ludicrous, finger-wagging press gaggle in announcing Clinton’s innocence, to his ham-fisted intrusion into the final act of the election, Comey has felt compelled to insert Jim Comey, straight-shooter, into every moment.
As a result he’s caused serious harm to the FBI, to the election, and to the nation. And, just incidentally, he’s ruined his reputation in the process.
Trump can feel free to quote that report.