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Justice Department Inspector Releases Report On Clinton Email Investigation

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Hillary Clinton. [CBS News] Hillary Clinton. [CBS News]
WASHINGTON -

The long-awaited Department of Justice Inspector General report on the handling of the Clinton email investigation by the Justice Department and FBI has been released.

The report, roughly 500 pages long, focuses on former FBI chief James Comey and the decisions he made during the course of the Clinton investigation, CBS News' Paula Reid reports. It describes Comey as "insubordinate" while also criticizing then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch for weak leadership.

Conservative Republicans in particular have been calling for the report to be released, and President Trump has long blasted the Justice Department and FBI, demanding answers and information.

"What is taking so long with the Inspector General's Report on Crooked Hillary and Slippery James Comey," Mr. Trump tweeted earlier this month. "Numerous delays. Hope Report is not being changed and made weaker! There are so many horrible things to tell, the public has the right to know."

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Watchdog finds no evidence of political bias
The DOJ IG said it found no evidence of political bias in its review of how the Clinton email probe was handled.

The report says, "we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that improper considerations, including political bias, directly affected the specific investigative decisions" made by prosecutors or investigators involved in the Clinton email probe.

Report summary obtained by CBS News
Here is part of the executive summary of what the DOJ IG found, according to a copy obtained by CBS News:

"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."

Gowdy "alarmed, angered, and deeply disappointed" by findings

Rep. Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Committee, made a statement ahead of the report's release, calling the findings "deeply disappointing."

Here is the bulk of his statement:

"I am alarmed, angered, and deeply disappointed by the Inspector General's finding of numerous failures by DOJ and FBI in investigating potential Espionage Act violations by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

This report confirms investigative decisions made by the FBI during the pendency of this investigation were unprecedented and deviated from traditional investigative procedures in favor of a much more permissive and voluntary approach. This is not the way normal investigations are run.

The investigation was mishandled. The investigatory conclusions were reached before the end of the witness interviews. The July 5th press conference marked a serious violation of policy and process. And the letters to Congress in the fall of 2016 were both delayed in substance and unnecessary in form.

Moreover, the treatment afforded to former Secretary Clinton and other potential subjects and targets was starkly different from the FBI's investigation into Trump campaign officials. Voluntariness and consent in the former were replaced with search warrants, subpoenas, and other compulsory processes in the latter. Many of the investigators and supervisors were the same in both investigations but the investigatory tactics were not.

Former Director Comey violated department policy in several significant ways. The FBI's actions and those of former Director Comey severely damaged the credibility of the investigation, the public's ability to rely on the results of the investigation, and the very institutions he claims to revere."

What is the IG's investigation about?

In July 2016, Comey made the controversial decision to announce that he was recommending that no charges be filed over the investigation into her emails. Then, days before the election, Comey announced in a letter to Congress that new emails had surfaced in the case. Clinton herself has blamed Comey in part for her election loss to Mr. Trump. Then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch too has been criticized for meeting briefly with former President Bill Clinton on a tarmac while the investigation was ongoing.

In January 2017, the same month Mr. Trump took office, DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz launched a review of the DOJ's and FBI's conduct regarding the case.

Mr. Trump fired Comey in May 2017, initially pointing to an assessment of his handling of the Clinton investigation by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Rosenstein had written that Comey had badly mishandled the conclusion of the Clinton investigation, calling it a "textbook example of what federal prosecutors and agents are taught not to do."

The president asserted he fired Comey over his handling of the Clinton email investigation, although that claim has been brought into question since, as Mr. Trump casts doubt on the legitimacy of the Russia investigation. In the same NBC interview with Lester Holt in which he blamed Comey's handling of the Clinton email probe, Mr. Trump said he thought of this "Russia thing" when he decided to fire Comey.

What was the Clinton email investigation about again?

The Clinton email probe centered around Clinton's use of a private email server to conduct business while she was secretary of state. The investigation looked into whether those emails were classified, as well as Clinton's deletion of roughly 30,000 emails after she and other former secretaries of state were told in 2014 to preserve their emails.

Here's what you may have forgotten about the Clinton email investigation
The nonprofit Project on Government Oversight urged that Horowitz' findings, the first nonpartisan, full review of the FBI's conduct regarding the Clinton case, be taken seriously.

"The report represents the crucial role that Inspectors General play in conducting credible oversight to bring accountability to our government," said Danielle Brian, executive director at POGO. "Independent--and public--analysis of Hillary Clinton's actions, of James Comey's actions, and any and all other relevant parties, will go a long way toward giving the public truth and understanding about how their government, and its officials, have served them."

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