The Department of Justice's internal watchdog has found that James Comey defied authority several times while he was director of the FBI, according to ABC, citing sources familiar with the draft of a highly anticipated OIG report on the FBI's conduct during the Clinton email investigation.
One source told ABC News that the draft report explicitly used the word "insubordinate" to describe Comey's behavior. Another source agreed with that characterization but could not confirm the use of the term.
In the draft report, Inspector General Michael Horowitz also rebuked former Attorney General Loretta Lynch for her handling of the federal investigation into Hillary Clinton's personal email server, the sources said. -ABC
President Trump complained on Tuesday of "numerous delays" in the release of the Inspector General's report, which some have accused of being slow walked or altered to minimize its impact on the FBI and DOJ.
"What is taking so long with the Inspector General's Report on Crooked Hillary and Slippery James Comey," Trump said on Twitter. "Hope report is not being changed and made weaker!"
What is taking so long with the Inspector General’s Report on Crooked Hillary and Slippery James Comey. 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. Transparency!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2018
“It’s been almost a year and a half and it is time that Congress receives the IG report,” said Congressman Ron DeSantis (R-FL), who has been on the front lines of the battle against the DOJ and FBI’s stonewalling of lawmakers requesting documentation. “This has gone on long enough and the American people’s patience is wearing thin. We need accountability,” said DeSantis.
Another congressional official, who’s been fighting to obtain documents from the DOJ and FBI, said it is no surprise that they are putting pressure on Horowitz. According to the official, “They continue to slow roll documents, fail to adhere to congressional oversight and concern is growing that they will wait until summer and then turn over documents that are heavily redacted.”
ABC reports that there is no indication Trump has seen - or will see - the draft of the report prior to its release. Inspector General Horowitz, however, could revise the draft report now that current and former officials have offered their responses to the report's conclusions, according to the sources.
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.
Before Comey sent the letter to Congress, at least one senior Justice Department official told the FBI that publicizing the bombshell move so close to an election would violate longstanding department policy, and it would ignore federal guidelines prohibiting the disclosure of information related to an ongoing investigation, ABC News was told. -ABC
During an April interview, Comey was asked by ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos "If Attorney General Lynch had ordered you not to send the letter, would you have sent it?"
"No," replied Comey. "I believe in the chain of command."
Deputy Attorney General slammed Comey's letter to congress while recommending that Trump fire Comey last year - saying it "was wrong" for Comey "to usurp the Attorney General's authority" when he revealed in July 2016 that he would not be filing charges against Hillary Clinton or her aides (many of whom were granted immunity).
"It is not the function of the Director to make such an announcement," Rosenstein wrote in a letter recommending that Comey be fired. "At most, the Director should have said the FBI had completed its investigation and presented its findings to federal prosecutors."
The draft OIG report dings Comey for not consulting with Lynch and other senior DOJ officials before making his announcement on national TV. Furthermore, while Comey said there was no "clear evidence" that Hillary Clinton "intended to violate" the law, he also said that Hillary Clinton had been "extremely careless" in her "handling of very sensitive, highly classified information."
And as we now know, Comey's senior counterintelligence team at the FBI made extensive edits to Clinton's exoneration letter, effectively decriminalizing her behavior.
"I have not coordinated or reviewed this statement in any way with the Department of Justice or any other part of the government. They do not know what I am about to say," Comey said on live TV July 5, 2016.
By then, Lynch had taken the unusual step of publicly declaring she would accept the FBI's recommendations in the case, after an impromptu meeting with former president Bill Clinton sparked questions about her impartiality.
Comey has defended his decisions as director, insisting he was trying to protect the FBI from even further criticism and "didn't see that I had a choice." -ABC
"The honest answer is I screwed up a couple of things, but ... I think given what I knew at the time, these were the decisions that were best calculated to preserve the values of the institutions," Comey told ABC News. "I still think it was the right thing to do."
Comey is currently on a tour promoting his new book, "A Higher Loyalty."
About that delay...
As many wonder just where the OIG report is after supposedly being "finished" for a while, the Washington Examiner's Chief political correspondent, Byron York, offers some keen insight (tweeted before details of the draft were leaked):
A series of tweets on what to expect from the much-anticipated inspector general report on DOJ/FBI handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation… 1/— Byron York (@ByronYork) June 6, 2018
First, looks like it might be delayed yet again. Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled a June 5 hearing to discuss IG report. After delay, had to be rescheduled for next Monday, June 11. Now looks like might be delayed again. 2/— Byron York (@ByronYork) June 6, 2018
Why delays? Feet are clearly being dragged. There are snags over classified information. Also, and this is intriguing: appears in last several weeks IG got new information, interviewed new witnesses. Could have contributed to delay. Don't know what it's about. 3/— Byron York (@ByronYork) June 6, 2018
So, when IG report is finally released--looking like mid-June--what will it cover? Don't know its conclusions, but here are some subjects you can expect to be reading about: 4/— Byron York (@ByronYork) June 6, 2018
Expect discussion of 6/27/16 Loretta Lynch-Bill Clinton meeting on tarmac in Arizona. IG has done extensive investigation. What was said? What were the intentions of those involved? Expect it to be covered carefully. 5/— Byron York (@ByronYork) June 6, 2018
Expect discussion of James Comey's decision to begin drafting an exoneration memo for Hillary Clinton long before the FBI had even interviewed her, or at least a dozen other key figures in the case. Also: Why hand out so much immunity? 6/— Byron York (@ByronYork) June 6, 2018
Expect discussion of Comey's intentions when he announced re-opening of Clinton investigation on 10/28/16, shortly before election day. Democrats specifically asked IG to investigate that. 7/— Byron York (@ByronYork) June 6, 2018
Expect discussion of what Andrew McCabe did when he first learned about existence of Clinton emails on Anthony Weiner's laptop in early October 2016. Did he sit on information? If so, why? What did Comey know? 8/— Byron York (@ByronYork) June 6, 2018
Expect discussion on rationale for Comey's controversial 7/5/16 statement announcing no charges would be filed against Clinton. To say it was unorthodox would be an understatement. What was he doing? 9/— Byron York (@ByronYork) June 6, 2018
Expect discussion of Lynch's refusal to recuse herself from investigation or to appoint special counsel. Plus, look for discussion of why McCabe waited so long to recuse himself even after public reporting of Clinton-related political contributions to his wife. 10/— Byron York (@ByronYork) June 6, 2018
Finally, don't expect to learn much new about McCabe 'lack of candor' situation re: leaks. Not clear whether IG will reveal much beyond what has already been released in wake of McCabe firing. End/— Byron York (@ByronYork) June 6, 2018