The FBI’s controversial actions during the 2016 presidential campaign will be investigated by the Justice Department’s internal watchdog agency, officials revealed Thursday.
In the latest twist to a melodramatic political yarn, the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General said it would review “allegations regarding certain actions” of department and FBI officials “in advance of the 2016 election.” Notably, these actions included FBI Director James Comey’s unusual pre-election announcements concerning Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s emails.
The investigation will delve into “allegations that department or FBI policies or procedures were not followed” in connection with a Comey news conference on July 5 and letters he sent to Congress on Oct. 28 and Nov. 6, the Office of Inspector General said.
The policies include a general rule that officials avoid making politically tinged law enforcement announcements prior to an election, in order to avoid influencing voters.
After the election, Clinton blamed the two Comey letters in particular for stopping her campaign momentum and contributing to her defeat by Republican Donald Trump. In the October letter, issued just 11 days before voters went to the polls, Comey said the FBI would be investigating newly discovered emails to determine whether they contained “classified information as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.”
The emails were discovered as part of an unrelated investigation into disgraced former New York City Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner, who was married to one of Clinton’s top aides. The Nov. 6 letter advised lawmakers that additional review had determined the newly discovered emails contained nothing to change the FBI’s prior assessment that Clinton should not be prosecuted.
Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said the investigation came in response to “requests from numerous” leading lawmakers, organizations and members of the public. The investigation will include an examination of actions by other officials, including “allegations that the department’s assistant attorney general for legislative affairs improperly disclosed nonpublic information to the Clinton campaign.”