DOJ watchdog investigating how FBI handled Clinton emails before election

By Kathryn Watson, DCNF dcnf-2-1 

Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Inspector General (IG) officials are investigating whether senior executives of DOJ and FBI broke the law or established procedures during the probe of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a home-brew private email server to conduct official diplomatic business.

The IG’s investigation, prompted by numerous requests from Congress and the public, will pay special attention to FBI Director James Comey’s decisions to issue public statements and write letters about the investigation’s findings days before the election, according to an IG news release.

Comey came under fire, particularly from Democrats, for his 11th-hour letter to Congress about the discovery of more emails related to the investigation on former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s laptop. Some Democrats suggested the announcement cost Clinton the election. (Emails Related To Clinton Server Discovered During Anthony Weiner Sexting Investigation)

The DOJ’s IG, Michael Horowitz, will investigate the following:

  • Allegations that the DOJ and FBI failed to follow policies or procedures related to Comey’s July 5 public announcement that the FBI’s findings did not warrant referring Clinton for criminal prosecution, and Comey’s letters to Congress on Oct. 28 and Nov. 6. about additional Clinton-related emails.
  • Allegations that Comey should have recused himself from much of the investigation
  • Allegations that Peter Kadzik, DOJ’s assistant attorney general for legislative affairs, improperly disclosed sensitive information about the investigation to the Clinton campaign
  • Allegations that DOJ and FBI employees wrongly disclosed information that wasn’t public
  • Allegations that the FBI released certain documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) at questionable times Oct. 30 and Nov. 1.

The IG is right to question Comey, as his decisions to send letters to Congress and host a news conference discussing the investigation’s findings “were in violation of DOJ policy,” former U.S. Attorney Joe DiGenova told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

But DiGenova said Comey’s announcements are only one piece of what the IG may — and probably should — evaluate.

Any “undue influence” the DOJ or any other entity exerted over the FBI’s case may also be central to Horowitz’ investigation, DiGenova said. Kadzik’s use of a personal email account to conduct government business and FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s conflict of interest issues — top Clinton bundlers donated to his wife’s Virginia State Senate race — are also fair game, DiGenova said.

This IG investigation, at its core, is about FBI and DOJ methodology, DiGenova said.

“All of the investigative tools that were either granted or denied such as subpoenas, warrants, all that sort of stuff in the investigation, were they used properly?” DiGenova said. “Were they not used? Why weren’t they used? Was special treatment being afforded to a political figure for political reasons? All of that is fodder for an investigation by the inspector general.”

Horowitz may also examine the DOJ’s grants of immunity to five Clinton connections — Cheryl Mills, Heather Samuelson, John Bentel, Bryan Pagliano and Paul Combetta.

“Who did those immunity agreements?” DiGenova asked. “Why were they done? Were they necessary? Were they themselves a violation of DOJ policy? This entire investigation was done without regular order, as we say in the business. It was done extra-legally, with new rules, just to suit the Clintons. And the IG is doing exactly the right thing, beginning an investigation to look into the methodology that was used to investigate this case.”

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