President Trump and some Republicans have been anxiously awaiting a report from the Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz on actions by former FBI Director James Comey and others, including decisions related to Secretary Hillary Clinton, which they expected would show there was political bias against Trump.
It was released today.
The approximately 500-page document, reports CNN, finds “that Comey was not motivated by political bias, as President Donald Trump and his conservative allies have charged.”
Ironically, for the few reasons, Comey is faulted – primarily for not coordinating with President Obama’s Justice Department before announcing major decisions on Clinton’s use of a personal email server – his actions helped Trump get elected.
“When will people start saying, ‘thank you, Mr. President, for firing James Comey?'” Trump tweeted last week.
Democrats believe that is not the right thing to say.
“The stark conclusion we draw after reviewing this report is that the FBI’s actions helped Donald Trump become President,” said Reps. Jerry Nadler of New York and Elijah Cummings of Maryland, according to Bloomberg News.
“As we warned before the election,’ continued the Democratic lawmakers, “Director Comey had a double-standard: he spoke publicly about the Clinton investigation while keeping secret from the American people the investigation of Donald Trump and Russia.”
The report looks at the actions of about three dozen others in the FBI and Justice Department, some of whom were faulted for certain actions, but none of that backs up Trump’s claims that there was a “deep state” conspiracy against him.
While five agents of the FBI were found to have a bias against Trump none of what they did had any impact on him or the election, according to the IG.
“One source briefed on the report,” writes CNN, “said it found there was no evidence that the conclusions reached by prosecutors were affected by political bias in the Clinton email investigation.”
Horowitz and his team reviewed more than 1.2 million documents and interviewed over 100 people but their findings notes CNN, “didn’t challenge Comey’s fundamental decision against recommending prosecution of Clinton for mishandling classified information.”
The IG faults Comey for not coordinating his announcements about Clinton – first that he was not prosecuting her and later that he was reopening the investigation – but makes clear it would not have changed anything since Attorney General Loretta Lynch had already told him they would go along iwth whatever he decided was right to do.
A handful of the FBI agents are still being investigated by a U.S. Attorney to see if charges should be filed but Comey is not among them.
Trump’s repeated claims that he should be thanked for firing Comey are not supported in any way by the IG’s findings, and the report does not discredit the former FBI Director as a witness in the Russia probe and related charges of obstruction of justice against Trump.
Republicans will cherry pick parts of the report to try and discredit Comey and the FBI but there is nothing of substance that will be a game changer or turn the midterm election or force an end to the Special Counsel’s investigation.
If there is any reason to be angry at Comey, it is that his actions – carried out without political bias – had the effect of helping Trump get elected, for which all Americans continue to pay a terrible price.