Justice Department to probe of FBI’s handling of Clinton email case

The Inspector General of the Justice Department, Michael Horowitz, announced today that his office is looking into allegations that the FBI acted improperly in regards to a number of issues connected with the 2016 election, particularly its handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe.

Much criticism has been directed at the timing and manner in which the FBI, in particular its director, James Comey, investigated and reported the issue in the lead-up to the election. These concerns did not fall entirely upon deaf ears, it seems: The review of these allegations is being conducted “in response to requests from numerous Chairmen and Ranking Members of Congressional oversight committees, various organizations, and members of the public,” according to the official DOJ announcement.

The statement specifies several allegations it will be looking into.

First is the possibility that FBI policy was not followed during the investigation itself, which concluded in Comey’s July 5 announcement that no charges would be pursued. Comey’s later and some would argue incendiary decision to publicly re-open the case just days before the election will also be reviewed, as will the possibility that “certain underlying investigative decisions were based on improper considerations.”

DOJ and FBI employees are also accused of improperly disclosing non-public information, and one (the DOJ’s Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs) may have had reason to be recused.

Also among the suggestions under review is one that the FBI’s Deputy Director, Andrew McCabe, should have recused himself from the investigation on the grounds that his wife, Terry McAuliffe, had received campaign funds from people close to Clinton. (Little evidence supports conflict of interest claims, but no official judgment was made.)

Lastly the probe will look into the release just before the election of a trove of documents relating to a closed, decade-old investigation into the William J. Clinton foundation. Some have alleged this release was not, as suggested at the time, a mere coincidence.

The DOJ probe will not be reversing any of the FBI’s decisions, such as whether to press charges against Hillary Clinton, and the list of issues being reviewed may grow if more are encountered on the way. The official statement did not enter into details on potential consequences or who in the new administration might share responsibility for enforcing them.