An upcoming DOJ report on former FBI Director James Comey will characterize him as “insubordinate” and will criticize his handling of the Hillary Clinton investigation.
ABC News, who has given Comey favorable coverage since his firing, has now flipped their opinion, it seems. ABC has seen the Department of Justice draft report on Comey’s actions as FBI director, and says it finds Comey repeatedly stepped out of line and ignored the chain of command in his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
The report also criticizes Obama Attorney General Loretta Lynch over her actions on the Clinton investigation as well.
Surprisingly, the report cites Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who recommended Comey be fired after he held a press conference announcing that Clinton would not be charged. Rosenstein pointed out that it was not Comey’s job to announce the results of the investigation, but it appears he was eager to follow Lynch’s lead in trying to end the controversy surrounding Clinton.
Rosenstein has been criticized heavily by Trump in recent months, but it appears he took the lead in recommending to the President that Comey be fired.
For months, President Trump has pushed for the Inspector General’s report to be released immediately, predicting it would find Comey’s actions out of line. It appears his prediction was correct.
The Justice Department’s internal watchdog has concluded that James Comey defied authority at times during his tenure as FBI director, according to sources familiar with a draft report on the matter.
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.
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.
On Tuesday morning, President Donald Trump complained of “numerous delays” in the release of Horowitz’s final report, which is expected to run several hundred pages long and be released in the coming days. The sources who spoke to ABC News were willing or able to address only a portion of the draft report’s complete findings.
“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!”
There is no indication the president has seen – or will see – a draft of the report before its release. Horowitz, however, could revise the draft report now that current and former officials mentioned in it have offered their responses to the inspector general’s conclusions, according to the sources.
Here is the President’s tweet from June 5 pushing for the report’s release.
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
Almost from the start, the long-awaited report was expected to chastise Comey for his handling of the Clinton-related probe. But in apparently describing Comey’s defiance of authority, the draft report was criticizing a man who prided himself on his leadership style at the FBI and has since dedicated his post-government life to promoting a new generation of effective leaders.
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.
In an interview in April, ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos asked Comey: “If Attorney General Lynch had ordered you not to send the letter, would you have sent it?”
“No,” Comey responded. “I believe in the chain of command.”
But in backing Trump’s ultimate decision to fire Comey last year, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein slammed Comey’s letter to Congress and said it “was wrong” for Comey “to usurp the Attorney General’s authority” when he announced in July 2016 that the FBI would not be filing charges against Clinton or her aides.
“It is not the function of the Director to make such an announcement,” Rosenstein said in a letter to Trump recommending Comey be fired. “At most, the Director should have said the FBI had completed its investigation and presented its findings to federal prosecutors.”
Horowitz’s draft report cited Comey for failing to consult with Lynch and other senior Justice Department officials before making his announcement on national TV. While saying there was no “clear evidence” that Clinton “intended to violate” the law, Comey insisted the former secretary of state was “extremely careless” in her “handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”
“I have not coordinated or reviewed this statement in any way with the Department of Justice or any other part of the government. They do not know what I am about to say,” Comey said before cameras on July 5, 2016.
In this recent interview to promote his new book, Comey tried to portray himself as taking a principled stand against the President. Now it appears his actions were motivated by his own hubris and willingness to provide cover for Hillary Clinton.
By then, Lynch had taken the unusual step of publicly declaring she would accept the FBI’s recommendations in the case, after an impromptu meeting with former president Bill Clinton sparked questions about her impartiality.
In April, when Comey was promoting his new book “A Higher Loyalty,” Lynch issued a statement saying that during the Clinton email investigation she “trusted” the “non-partisan career prosecutors” handling the case “to assess the facts and make a recommendation — one that I ultimately accepted because I thought the evidence and law warranted it.”
Nevertheless, ABC News has confirmed that Horowitz’s draft report went on to criticize senior FBI officials, including Comey and fired FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, for their response to the late discovery of a laptop containing evidence that may have related to the Clinton investigation.
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