Comey "Deviated" From FBI Norms In Clinton Probe, But "No Political Bias", OIG Finds

In what is likely to disappoint many on the right, Bloomberg reports that the Justice Department's watchdog has reportedly found that while former FBI Director James Comey "chose to deviate from" the agency's norms in his investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails, he wasn't motivated by political bias.

“While we did not find that these decisions were the result of political bias on Comey’s part, we nevertheless concluded that by departing so clearly and dramatically from FBI and department norms, the decisions negatively impacted the perception of the FBI and the department as fair administrators of justice,” Inspector General Michael Horowitz said in the report’s conclusions, which were obtained Thursday by Bloomberg News.

Eight days ago, ABC reported that Comey "defied authority" several times while he was director of the FBI, citing sources familiar with the draft of a highly anticipated OIG report on the FBI's conduct during the Clinton email investigation.

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

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. 

Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch was rebuked by Horowitz over the investigation, noted in the ABC

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

That said, today's leaked conclusion says that the IG found a "troubling lack of any direct, substantive communication” between Comey and AG Lynch ahead of July press conference and Comey’s October letter to Congress. “Extraordinary that, in advance of two such consequential decisions” Comey didn’t speak directly with Lynch.

The report also concludes that despite personal bias and a "politically-charged investigation," FBI officials were not politically biased in their conduct:

“We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that improper considerations, including political bias, directly affected the specific investigative actions we reviewed,” Horowitz said in the report to be issued Thursday.

“The conduct by these employees cast a cloud over the entire FBI investigation.”

While the report set to be released at 3pmETit does not deal with the origins of the probe into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. 

President Trump has complained 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!"

“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.”

-Sara Carter

ABC also noted in their report from eight days ago that Inspector General Horowitz 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 full report is not expected to drop until 3pmET.