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Here Are The Top Takeaways From Today’s Bombshell Inspector General Report

- June 14, 2018

In His July 5, 2016, Statement Closing The Clinton Investigation, Comey, Through "Extraordinary And Insubordinate" Actions, Broke Justice Department Protocol, Usurped The Authority Of Attorney General Loretta Lynch, And Damaged The Reputation Of The FBI

Comey Told The DOJ OIG That He Made A Conscious Decision Not To Tell Department Of Justice Leadership About His Planned Statement On The Clinton Investigation. "Comey acknowledged that he made a conscious decision not to tell Department leadership about his plans to make a separate statement because he was concerned that they would instruct him not to do it. He also acknowledged that he made this decision when he first conceived of the idea to do the statement, even as he continued to engage the Department in discussions about the 'endgame' for the investigation." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. v)

Comey Additionally Instructed His Staff To Conceal The Statement From The Department. "Comey admitted that he concealed his intentions from the Department until the morning of his press conference on July 5, and instructed his staff to do the same, to make it impracticable for Department leadership to prevent him from delivering his statement." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. v)

The OIG Called Comey's Concealment Of The Statement "Extraordinary And Insubordinate," And A Deviation From Well-Established Department Policies. "We found that it was extraordinary and insubordinate for Comey to do so, and we found none of his reasons to be a persuasive basis for deviating from well-established Department policies in a way intentionally designed to avoid supervision by Department leadership over his actions." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. v)

Moreover, The OIG Found Comey's Justifications For Issuing An Independent Statement Neither "Reasonable Or Persuasive." "We determined that Comey's decision to make this statement was the result of his belief that only he had the ability to credibly and authoritatively convey the rationale for the decision to not seek charges against Clinton, and that he needed to hold the press conference to protect the FBI and the Department from the extraordinary harm that he believed would have resulted had he failed to do so. While we found no evidence that Comey's statement was the result of bias or an effort to influence the election, we did not find his justifications for issuing the statement to be reasonable or persuasive." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. vi)

"Comey's Unilateral Announcement Was Inconsistent With Department Policy And Violated Long-Standing Department Practice And Protocol…" "We concluded that Comey's unilateral announcement was inconsistent with Department policy and violated long-standing Department practice and protocol by, among other things, criticizing Clinton's uncharged conduct." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. vi)

"Comey Usurped The Authority Of The Attorney General, And Inadequately And Incompletely Described The Legal Position Of Department Prosecutors." "We also found that Comey usurped the authority of the Attorney General, and inadequately and incompletely described the legal position of Department prosecutors." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. vi)

The OIG Found That The FBI's Justifications For Failing To Respond To The Newly Discovered Clinton Emails Were Unpersuasive And "Even Less Justifiable" Given The Focus FBI Officials Gave To The Russia Investigation During The Same Time

In September 2016, FBI Officials Discovered Emails Associated With Hillary Clinton And Top Aide Huma Abedin On The Laptop Of Former Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY). "The Weiner case agent told the OIG that he began processing Weiner's devices on September 26, and that he noticed 'within hours' that there were 'over 300,000 emails on the laptop.' He said that either that evening or the next morning, he saw at least one BlackBerry PIN message between Clinton and Abedin, as well as emails between them. He said that he recalled seeing emails associated with 'about seven domains,' such as yahoo.com, state.gov, clintonfoundation.org, clintonemail.com, and hillaryclinton.com." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. viii)

No FBI Officials Associated With The Clinton Investigation Took Action To Investigate The Weiner Laptop Until October 24, 2016. "However, after October 4, we found no evidence that anyone associated with the Midyear investigation, including the entire leadership team at FBI Headquarters, took any action on the Weiner laptop issue until the week of October 24, and then did so only after the Weiner case agent expressed concerns to SDNY, prompting SDNY to contact the Office of the Deputy Attorney General (ODAG) on October 21 to raise concerns about the lack of action." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. viii)

However, The OIG Reported That Text Messages Indicated FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok And Deputy Director Andrew McCabe Had Openly Discussed The Weiner Laptop As Early As September 28. " Text messages of FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok indicated that he, McCabe, and Priestap discussed the Weiner laptop on September 28. Strzok said that he had initially planned to send a team to New York to review the emails, but a conference call with NYO was scheduled instead." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. viii)

The OIG Found That The FBI's Justifications For Obtaining A Search Warrant In Late October Were Known By September 29. "We found that, by no later than September 29, FBI executives and the FBI Midyear team had learned virtually every fact that was cited by the FBI in late October as justification for obtaining the search warrant for the Weiner laptop, including that the laptop contained." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. viii)

The OIG Called The FBI's Explanations For Not Acting On The Emails In The Laptop Unpersuasive. "We found these explanations to be unpersuasive justifications for not acting sooner, given the FBI leadership's conclusion about the importance of the information and that the FBI Midyear team had sufficient information to take action in early October and knew at that time that it would need a new search warrant to review any Clinton-Abedin emails." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. viii)

The FBI's Failure To Act Was "Even Less Justifiable" Given The Attention And Resources It Devoted To The Other Clinton Investigation Activities During The Same Period. "The FBI's failure to act in late September or early October is even less justifiable when contrasted with the attention and resources that FBI management and some members of the Midyear team dedicated to other activities in connection with the Midyear investigation during the same period." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. ix)

The OIG Found That The Fact Strzok And Other FBI Officials Had Been Assigned To The Russia Investigation Was "Not An Excuse For Failing To Take Any Action During This Time Period On The Weiner Laptop." "Moreover, given the FBI's extensive resources, the fact that Strzok and several other FBI members of the Midyear team had been assigned to the Russia investigation, which was extremely active during this September and October time period, was not an excuse for failing to take any action during this time period on the Weiner laptop." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. ix)

The OIG Could Not Identify A "Consistent Or Persuasive Explanation For The FBI's Failure To Act For Almost A Month" After Learning Of The Potentially Related Emails On Weiner's Laptop. "However, we also did not identify a consistent or persuasive explanation for the FBI's failure to act for almost a month after learning of potential Midyear-related emails on the Weiner laptop." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. ix)

Comey's Decision To Notify Congress Of The Newly Discovered Emails On October 28, 2016 Was Based On Ad Hoc Decision Making And Contrary To Longstanding Justice Department Policy And Practices

On October 28, 2016, Comey Publicly Notified Congress Of The Discovery Of The Potential Clinton Emails On The Seized Weiner Laptop. "As a result of these discussions on October 27, Comey decided to notify Congress about the discovery of Midyear-related emails on the Weiner laptop. told us that, although he 'believe[d] very strongly that our rule should be, we don't comment on pending investigations' and that it was a 'very important norm' for the Department to avoid taking actions that could impact an imminent election, he felt he had an obligation to update Congress because the email discovery was potentially very significant and it made his prior testimony no longer true. We found no evidence that Comey's decision to send the October 28 letter was influenced by political preferences." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. x)

The OIG Found That By Publicly Notifying Congress, Comey "Engaged In Ad Hoc Decision-Making Based On His Personal Views Even If It Meant Rejecting Longstanding Department Policy Or Practice." "Much like with his July 5 announcement, we found that in making this decision, Comey engaged in ad hoc decision-making based on his personal views even if it meant rejecting longstanding Department policy or practice." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. x)

OIG: Comey's Explanations As To Why He Notified Congress Were Unpersuasive And Contrary To The Practices He Previously Followed With Regard To The Investigation Of The Clinton Foundation. "We found unpersuasive Comey's explanation as to why transparency was more important than Department policy and practice with regard to the reactivated Midyear investigation while, by contrast, Department policy and practice were more important to follow with regard to the Clinton Foundation and Russia investigations." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. x)

Through His Actions, "Comey Made A Serious Error In Judgement." "Although we acknowledge that Comey faced a difficult situation with unattractive choices, in proceeding as he did, we concluded that Comey made a serious error of judgment." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. x)

Moreover, The OIG Called It "Extraordinary" That Comey Did Not Speak With The Attorney General Concerning How Best To Navigate His Decision-making Regarding The Newly Discovered Emails. "The following day, October 28, Comey sent a letter to Congress stating, in part, that "the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the [Midyear] investigation." Comey, Lynch, and Yates faced difficult choices in late October 2016. However, we found it extraordinary that Comey assessed that it was best that the FBI Director not speak directly with the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General about how best to navigate this most important decision 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 Director. ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. xi)

The OIG Reported That Comey Reopened The Clinton Investigation Holding The View Clinton Was Destined To Win And The Belief It Was Important To Disclose The Emails In Order To Preserve Her Legitimacy

The OIG Found That Comey's Decision to Reopen The Clinton Investigation Was Based On His View That Candidate Clinton Was Going To Win And That It Would Hurt Her Legitimacy If The Public Discovered The Emails After The Election. "Instead, we found that his decision was the result of several interrelated factors that were connected to his concern that failing to send the letter would harm the FBI and his ability to lead it, and his view that candidate Clinton was going to win the presidency and that she would be perceived to be an illegitimate president if the public first learned of the information after the election." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. x)

The OIG Found That Comey On Numerous Occasions Used A Personal Email Account To Conduct Official FBI Business In Violation Of Department Of Justice Protocol

The OIG Reported That During The Course Of The Investigation Comey, Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok, And Department Of Justice Counsel Lisa Page Used Their Personal Email Accounts To Conduct FBI Business. "As we also describe in Chapter Twelve, we learned during the course of our review that Comey, Strzok, and Page used their personal email accounts to conduct FBI business." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. xii)

In Particular, The OIG Identified Numerous Instances In Which Comey Used A Personal Email Account For FBI Business, A Practice Inconsistent With Justice Department Policy. "We identified numerous instances in which Comey used a personal email account to conduct unclassified FBI business. We found that, given the absence of exigent circumstances and the frequency with which the use of personal email occurred, Comey's use of a personal email account for unclassified FBI business to be inconsistent with Department policy." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. xii)

FBI Officials Holding Critical Positions On The Clinton Investigation Team Sent Numerous Hostile Messages Concerning Then-Candidate Donald Trump

During The Course Of The Investigation, The OIG Discovered Text Messages Between BFI Employees Expressing Hostility Towards Candidate Donald Trump And In Support Of Candidate Hillary Clinton. "During the course of the review, the OIG discovered text messages and instant messages between some FBI employees on the investigative team, conducted using FBI mobile devices and computers, that expressed statements of hostility toward then candidate Donald Trump and statements of support for then candidate Clinton. We also identified messages that expressed opinions that were critical of the conduct and quality of the investigation. We included in our review an assessment of these messages and actions by the FBI employees." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. i)

The OIG Reported That Their Investigation Was Made "Significantly More Difficult" Because Of Text And Instant Messages Exchanged By FBI Employees On FBI Devices Reflecting Support For Former Secretary Clinton And Opposition To Candidate Trump. "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." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. iii)

These Text Messages Raised Concern Within The OIG That Political Bias May Have Impacted Investigative Decisions. "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." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. iii)

The OIG Said It Did Not Have Confidence FBI Deputy Assistant Director Strzok Was Free From Bias While Investigating Hillary Clinton's Email Server. "Under these circumstances, we did not have confidence that Strzok's decision to prioritize the Russia investigation over following up on the Midyear-related investigative lead discovered on the Weiner laptop was free from bias." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. ix)

The OIG Was Particularly Concerned About Text Messages Exchanged Between FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok And Lisa Page That "Potentially Indicated Or Created The Appearance That Investigative Decisions Were Impacted By Bias…" "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." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. iii)

The Messages Exchanged Between Strzok And Page "Cast A Cloud" Over The FBI's Handling Of The Clinton Email Investigation And Its Credibility." "Nonetheless, these messages cast a cloud over the FBI's handling of the Midyear investigation and the investigation's credibility." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. iii)

On August 8, 2016 Strzok Told Lisa Page "We'll Stop," Candidate Trump From Being Elected And Implied He Was Willing To Take Official Action To Impact Trump's Electoral Prospects. "Most of the text messages raising such questions pertained to the Russia investigation, and the implication in some of these text messages, particularly Strzok's August 8 text message ("we'll stop" candidate Trump from being elected), was that Strzok might be willing to take official action to impact a presidential candidate's electoral prospects." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. ix)

Strzok's Text Message Was "Not Only Indicative Of A Biased State Of Mind," But "Antithetical To The Core Values Of The FBI And The Department Of Justice." "Nonetheless, when one senior FBI official, Strzok, who was helping to lead the Russia xii Executive Summary A Review of Various Actions by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice in Advance of the 2016 Election investigation at the time, conveys in a text message to another senior FBI official, Page, "No. No he won't. We'll stop it" in response to her question "[Trump's] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!", it is not only indicative of a biased state of mind but, even more seriously, implies a willingness to take official action to impact the presidential candidate's electoral prospects. This is antithetical to the core values of the FBI and the Department of Justice." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. xii)

"The Conduct Of These Five FBI Employees Brought Discredit To Themselves, Sowed Doubt About The FBI's Handling Of The Midyear Investigation, And Impacted The Reputation Of The FBI." "We found that the conduct of these five FBI employees brought discredit to themselves, sowed doubt about the FBI's handling of the Midyear investigation, and impacted the reputation of the FBI." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. ix

OIG: "The Damage Caused By Their 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." "Moreover, the damage caused by their 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." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. ix)

"At A Minimum, We Found That The Employees' Use Of FBI Systems And Devices To Send The Identified Messages Demonstrated Extremely Poor Judgment And A Gross Lack Of Professionalism." "At a minimum, we found that the employees' use of FBI systems and devices to send the identified messages demonstrated extremely poor judgment and a gross lack of professionalism." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. xii)

The OIG Found That Numerous FBI Officials Leaked To The Press Regularly And Received Benefits Including Tickets To Sporting Events, Golfing Outings, Drinks And Meals

During This Time, Numerous FBI Officials Were Found To Be In Frequent Contact With Reporters Without Official Reason. "We identified num"erous FBI employees, at all levels of the organization and with no official reason to be in contact with the media, who were nevertheless in frequent contact with reporters." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. xii)

The OIG Has Profound Concerns About The "Volume And Extent Of Unauthorized Media Contacts By FBI Personnel That We Have Uncovered During Our Review." "We have profound concerns about the volume and extent of unauthorized media contacts by FBI personnel that we have uncovered during our review." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. xii)

The OIG Additionally Identified Instances Where The FBI Received Benefits From Reporters Including "Tickets To Sporting Events, Golfing Outings, Drinks And Meals, And Admittance To Nonpublic Social Events." "In addition, we identified instances where FBI employees improperly received benefits from reporters, including tickets to sporting events, golfing outings, drinks and meals, and admittance to nonpublic social events." ("A Review Of Various Actions By The Federal Bureau Of Investigation And Department Of Justice In Advance Of The 2016 Election," Department Of Justice Office Of Inspector General , 6/14/18, p. xii)


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