The highly anticipated Justice Department watchdog report on the handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe is expected to become public on June 14, which is also President Donald Trump’s birthday.
The president said that the report may be “a nice birthday present” and suggested that the document would be highly critical of former FBI Director James Comey.
For over a year, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz has been investigating the FBI’s handling of the probe into Clinton’s use of a private email server to conduct government business. The final report on the investigation is expected to be extremely long, thorough, and critical of at least two Obama-administration officials.
Horowitz completed the report last month and submitted a draft to the Justice Department so that information that should not be made public is redacted. In a letter to Sen. Chuck Grassley sent last week, Horowitz revealed that the report would be released on June 14.
The Senate judiciary committee will interview Horowitz about the report on June 18 and hold a hearing about the report the day after.
Selective leaks to liberal media suggest that the report will be critical of at least two former Obama administration officials: Comey and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Considering that selective leaks are staged to help the media construct a narrative and control the damage, the actual ramifications of the report will only become clear once it is released.
The report will allegedly criticize Comey for defying authority, according to anonymous sources who spoke to ABC News. The document will specifically use the word “insubordinate” to describe Comey. The motivations of the anonymous sources are unclear. The leak may have been executed to shield Comey’s superiors at the time of the email probe: Obama and Lynch.
The watchdog’s investigation will also allegedly be critical of Lynch, though no details have yet surfaced as to the content of the criticism. In the heat of the email investigation and the 2016 presidential campaign, Lynch met former President Bill Clinton on an airport tarmac. That meeting took place days before Hillary Clinton would be interviewed by the FBI about her emails.
As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton sent thousands of classified emails using an unsecured personal email server stored in the basement of her New York home. One of Clinton’s employees deleted her email archives using a specialty software weeks after Congress issued a subpoena for the files.
Questionable steps like these led to calls to investigate Clinton’s use of a private email server, forcing Obama’s FBI, led by Comey, to open an investigation. But Comey’s handling of that probe would itself come under fire from both Democrats and Republicans after he breached protocol, publicly exonerated Clinton, and then, months later, reopened the investigation days before the 2016 presidential election.
Clinton blamed her election loss on Comey’s announcement, but the report may find another issue with the timing. Comey reopened the investigation one month after FBI agents in New York reported that they had stumbled upon a trove of 650,000 Clinton emails on the laptop of Anthony Weiner. Horowitz is likely to reveal why it took so long to take action on the finding.
The subsequent handling of the newly discovered emails also raised eyebrows. A small team of FBI agents reviewed the mass of emails in a matter of days. Comey told Congress that the agents used technological “wizardry” to breeze through the review.
Comey’s actions led to bipartisan calls to look into the FBI’s handling of the email probe, and Horowitz officially started his investigation in January last year. Among the most questionable of Comey’s actions is his choice to draft an exoneration statement for Clinton before interviewing key witnesses, including Clinton herself.
Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani suggested that Comey could be prosecuted based on the findings of the report.
“I think the report of Horowitz, the IG, and the Justice Department will confirm that Comey acted improperly with regard to the Hillary Clinton investigation,” Giuliani told New York’s AM 970 on June 10.
“The first thing we are going to get is a report from Inspector General Horowitz on Comey’s handling of Hillary, which I think is going to be very, very critical of Comey, as it should be,” Giuliani continued. “Comey, really, has a chance of being prosecuted as a result, but we’ll see.”
The investigation has already led to a separate report highly critical of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Horowitz found that McCabe authorized a self-serving leak to the media and lied about it on several occasions. Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired McCabe earlier this year, one day before McCabe was set to retire with benefits.
Trump fired Comey in May last year, citing his handling of the Clinton email probe. When asked whether the inspector general’s report would be a birthday present, the president again pointed to Comey’s handling of the investigation.
“Well, it seems that it’s coming out on my birthday. Maybe that’s appropriate. Let’s see if it is. Look, [Comey’s] a very dishonest man; I’ve been saying it for a long time,” Trump said on June 8.
“I think I did our country a really great favor when I fired him. And we’ll see what happens. We’ll see what the report says,” he added. “But I guess it just got announced that it’s coming out on June 14, so that’ll be maybe a nice birthday present. Who knows.”
The president has described the contents of the report as “horrible” and questioned the delays in its release. Horowitz had originally planned to release the document in May.
“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!” Trump wrote on June 5. “There are so many horrible things to tell, the public has the right to know. Transparency!”
Two other names guaranteed to appear in the report are Lisa Page and Peter Strzok. These two former top FBI officials discussed the Clinton email investigation in text messages obtained by the inspector general.
Strzok was the lead agent in the email investigation, which received the name “mid-year exam” at the FBI. Strzok was one of the agents to interview Clinton, but he did not make her take an oath to tell the truth, nor did he record the interrogation.
Strzok and Page also discussed going easy on Clinton because she may become the next president. Those messages are potentially problematic since the pair also exchanged texts indicating their hatred for Trump. Strzok was also the lead investigator in the FBI’s counterintelligence probe of the Trump campaign before and after Election Day 2016.
Page resigned from the FBI in May this year.
Since taking on the email probe, Horowitz was tasked with additional investigations.
In March, Horowitz announced that his office, which hires hundreds of auditors, investigators, inspectors, and attorneys, will investigate alleged abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Members of Congress have already referred several Obama administration officials for criminal investigation for their involvement in securing a warrant to spy on Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page. The core evidence used for that warrant application was an unverified, Clinton-campaign financed dossier compiled using Kremlin-linked sources.
In May, based on a demand from Trump, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein instructed Horowitz to look into whether anyone in the Obama administration had improper motivations for allegedly using spies to infiltrate Trump’s campaign.