Much to President Trump's delight, Inspector General Michael Horowitz is preparing to release the long-awaited report on the James Comey-era FBI and its handling of the Clinton email probe. Of course, coming two days after the historic meeting between President Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un, it's easy to see why some have accused the DOJ of "slow walking" the report to take some of the heat off Comey ( and possibly bury it during a busy news day).
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
Given that the report has already gone through several rounds of reviews, some of the juicier broad-strokes have already leaked: Namely, that Comey "defied authority" and was "insubordinate" in his handling of announcements related to the Clinton investigation. And the likelihood is that it will only get better, because Horowitz has said he will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 18 to explain the report's findings in what will probably be the most highly anticipated Congressional testimony since Comey spoke on the Hill last June. The House Judiciary and Oversight committees are expected to hold hearings of their own the next day.
Ironically the report, which has been over a year in the making, was originally commissioned by Democrats to look into Comey's decision to reopen the Clinton email probe, which Clinton says cost her the election. And while the IG has been finalizing the report, the Washington DC US Attorney's office has apparently been moving ahead with what appears to be a criminal probe into the conduct of Comey's former deputy, Andrew McCabe, following a separate IG report.
In addition to Comey and possibly McCabe, the report is also expected to criticize two FBI officials (Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page) who famously exchanged anti-Trump text messages with each other while they were also having an affair (only Page has been fired for her role in this controversy, however).
What Trump Will Say
In a piece trying to anticipate each side's response, the Associated Press speculates about how Trump will use the report's findings to bolster his case that the Russia investigation (which is focusing at least partly on Trump's firing of Comey and whether that constituted obstruction of justice) is nothing more than a political witch hunt (as he has repeatedly insisted on twitter). Trump has famously repeatedly bashed Comey as "Slippery James Comey", and as the AP readily admits, "any IG investigation challenging Comey’s work as FBI director could bolster Trump’s argument that he did the right thing by pushing Comey out. It also brings the debate back to Clinton’s email server."
When will people start saying, “thank you, Mr. President, for firing James Comey?”— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 7, 2018
Trump has already raised the idea that the report will likely be watered down. But either way, it appears that it will bring renewed attention to the DNC's server that was purportedly hacked by the Russians - though it was never turned over the FBI.
Our Justice Department must not let Awan & Debbie Wasserman Schultz off the hook. The Democrat I.T. scandal is a key to much of the corruption we see today. They want to make a “plea deal” to hide what is on their Server. Where is Server? Really bad!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 7, 2018
Given the recent Awan plea deal, this concatenation of events appears to be happening at an advantageous time...and that could be a win-win for Trump. The president appeared pleased with the notion that the IG report would use the word "insubordination" to describe Comey's behavior.
When and where will all of the many conflicts of interest be listed by the 13 Angry Democrats (plus) working on the Witch Hunt Hoax. There has never been a group of people on a case so biased or conflicted. It is all a Democrat Excuse for LOSING the Election. Where is the server?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 7, 2018
What The Dems Will Say
Once again, it appears the Democrats are prepared to leave Comey twisting in the wind if it means preserving their own political cover.
Democrats already blame Comey for his handling of the Clinton investigation because they say it broke with longstanding bureau protocol not to insert itself into politics.
Robby Mook, Clinton’s former campaign manager, at one point declared “his credibility is gone” in reference to Comey after the election. But Mook and other Democrats were also in disbelief after Trump fired Comey.
It’s likely Democrats will search the IG report for justification that Comey’s handling of the email investigation was clumsy. But they’ll also probably argue Trump really fired Comey because of his agency’s Russia probe and Comey’s refusal to publicly say the president himself wasn’t under investigation.
How Will Comey Respond?
Considering he's already laid out most of his perspective in a book published back in April, there's not much left Comey can say or do that would take the public by surprise (unless he does a complete 180-turn on his previous statements - which isn't out of the question).
Comey has repeatedly said that while he felt publicizing the reopening of the Clinton probe just days before the vote was a "really bad" option, not doing so would've been "catastrophic."
Still, as Comey tweeted earlier this week, the "facts" have a way of winning out. Case in point: Comey's own lies about the FBI agents who interviewed former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn were exposed when the unredacted version of the House Intelligence Committee's final report on Russia was released early last month. Perhaps, as he's faced with more of his own lies, memory lapses and half truths, Comey will begin to rethink this strategy.
Whatever happens, we will know for sure soon enough.