DOJ Watchdog To Probe Comey's Pre-Election Actions

Pablo Martinez Monsivais

The Justice Department’s inspector general announced Thursday that he would investigate a number of FBI and Justice Department decisions leading up to the 2016 election, most prominently FBI Director James Comey’s announcement of a potential development in the dormant probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server ten days prior to Election Day.

According to a statement published Thursday, Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz would investigate allegations “leading up to or relating to” announcements from FBI Director James Comey on July 5, Oct. 28, and Nov. 6, to determine if “underlying investigative decisions were based on improper considerations, among other things.

On July 5, the FBI announced it would not recommend criminal charges against Hillary Clinton after its investigation into her use of a private email server as secretary of state. On Oct. 28, just days before the presidential election, Comey announced that the agency would look into emails discovered in an unrelated case that he said may have been related to the probe into Clinton’s email server. On Nov. 6, just two days before Election Day, he announced that those emails had been reviewed and did not change his decision not to recommend charges against Clinton.

In a statement responding to the inspector general’s announcement, Comey said he was “grateful” for the review, according to ABC News.

The inspector general, he continued, “is professional and independent and the FBI will cooperate fully with him and his office. I hope very much he is able to share his conclusions and observations with the public because everyone will benefit from thoughtful evaluation and transparency regarding this matter.”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the White House had not been involved with Horowitz's decision to pursue an investigation.

“I can tell you the White House was not involved in that decision,” Earnest said Thursday in his daily press briefing. “And anything the inspector general chooses to investigate is something he will do— he or she will do based on their own view of the situation, based on their own knowledge of the facts. Hopefully they will follow the evidence where it leads. If they find any evidence.”

The inspector general said he would investigate the release of “certain Freedom of Information Act documents on October 30 and November 1,” likely referring to documents relating to then-President Bill Clinton’s pardon of Marc Rich, a man who had supported what what was then called the William J. Clinton Foundation. The FBI caused a stir when it tweeted out a link to those documents, as well as other previously released documents, including some related to President-elect Donald Trump’s father and retired CIA director David Petraeus.

The inspector general’s statement also says he will investigate allegations that the assistant attorney general for legislative affairs “improperly disclosed non-public information to the Clinton campaign,” and whether that individual should have been recused in certain matters; allegations other FBI and Justice Department officials improperly disclosed non-public information; and whether the FBI’s deputy director should have been recused from “certain investigative matters.”

Conservative media outlets seized on the involvement of Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs Peter Kadzik’s involvement in the Clinton email case. He was listed in emails published by WikiLeaks as having attended dinners with John Podesta, who chaired Clinton’s campaign.

FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s wife, Jill McAbe, ran for state senate in Virginia in 2015 and received financial assistance from Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), leading to accusations of wrongdoing.

Read the inspector general's statement below:

This post has been updated.

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