WASHINGTON — The Justice Department’s inspector general said today that a probe has been launched into the FBI’s revelation of its renewed investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails shortly before Election Day.
At the end of October, FBI Director James Comey notified Congress that he green-lighted “appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.”
Comey stressed that “the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant, and I cannot predict how long it will take us to complete this additional work.”
The emails in question were recovered from electronic devices belonging to Huma Abedin and her estranged husband Anthony Weiner during the FBI’s probe of the former congressman sexting a 15-year-old. Comey said just days after announcing the new probe that nothing had come of the new stream of investigation.
Department of Justice Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said today that his “review of allegations regarding certain actions” by the FBI and Justice Department in the days leading up to the election comes “in response to requests from numerous Chairmen and Ranking Members of Congressional oversight committees, various organizations, and members of the public.”
The IG will review “allegations that Department or FBI policies or procedures were not followed in connection with” the announcements about the probe and “that certain underlying investigative decisions were based on improper considerations,” as well as “allegations that the FBI Deputy Director should have been recused from participating in certain investigative matters.”
He’ll also investigate “allegations that the Department’s Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs improperly disclosed non-public information to the Clinton campaign and/or should have been recused from participating in certain matters,” and “allegations that Department and FBI employees improperly disclosed non-public information” as well as “allegations that decisions regarding the timing of the FBI’s release of certain Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents on October 30 and November 1, 2016, and the use of a Twitter account to publicize same, were influenced by improper considerations.”
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said today that “this administration has assiduously protected the independence of inspectors general.”
“And so we wouldn’t weigh in, publicly or privately, on any sort of investigative decision that’s made by an inspector general,” Earnest said. “Presumably, the stakes are even higher for an inspector general who has a responsibility for conducting these kinds of investigations of independent law enforcement agencies, so I can tell you that the White House was not involved in that decision.”
“Anything the inspector general chooses to investigate is something that he will do – he or she will do based on their own view of the situation, based on their own knowledge of the facts and hopefully they will follow whatever – follow the evidence where it leads, if they find any evidence.”
Clinton’s campaign press secretary Brian Fallon told MSNBC shortly after the IG’s announcement that “it’s entirely appropriate and very necessary” to investigate the agency “but also not surprising, because the deviations from the protocols at the FBI and the Justice Department were so glaring and egregious in terms of their handling of not just the email investigation into Secretary Clinton, but just in general, the amount of leaks that were coming from the FBI throughout the election and even post election.”