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|Sessions warns IG report on Clinton email case could lead to more firings|
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, on the eve of the release of a long-awaited watchdog report on the Hillary Clinton email case, pointedly warned that the findings could lead to more firings.
The Justice Department inspector general report reviewing the FBI and DOJ’s handling of that case is slated to drop Thursday.
In an exclusive interview with The Hill’s new web show “Rising” on Wednesday, Sessions said the option of “termination” is on the table for those accused of serious wrongdoing.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he was open to firing more officials in connection with Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report. (AP)
“If anyone else shows up in this report to have done something that requires termination we will do so,” Sessions told The Hill.
It’s unclear whether Sessions knows which individuals will be cited in the report, but several top FBI and DOJ officials are likely to come under criticism in the findings by IG Michael Horowitz. For more than a year, the inspector general has been reviewing those agencies’ actions related to its investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.
“I think it will be a lengthy report and a careful report,” Sessions said, adding that it he thinks it will “help us better fix any problems that we have a reassure the American people that some of the concerns that have been raised are not true.”
The report is expected to look at, among other things, whether “certain underlying investigative decisions were based on improper considerations.”
“I think it’s going to put a lot of the missing pieces in this giant puzzle together,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., predicted Wednesday on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.”
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz has been investigating whether decisions in the Clinton email probe were based on “improper considerations” for over a year. (AP)
Among the officials expected to come under scrutiny in the report are former FBI Director James Comey, then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, and FBI official Peter Strzok.
Comey and McCabe have already been fired from the department, in part over issues related to the probe.
Horowitz has investigated whether it was improper for Comey to make a public announcement about his decision to not recommend prosecution for Clinton over the private email server and mishandling of classified information. Comey, in that announcement, called Clinton and her associates “extremely careless.” A draft of Horowitz’s report reportedly called Comey “insubordinate,” while also criticizing his decision to notify Congress the probe was being reopened just days before the 2016 election.
Former FBI Director James Comey was fired in May 2017 following a recommendation to President Trump by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. (ABC)
Comey was fired in May 2017, upon recommendation by current Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. They cited his handling of the Clinton case, though President Trump later indicated the Russia probe was also a factor. Trump has continued to decry that investigation as a “witch hunt” and is likely to seize on the IG findings to further question the FBI’s integrity. At the same time, some of the IG findings may hit the bureau for actions seen as harmful to Clinton.
Sessions told The Hill that Comey’s firing was justified.
“It was the right thing to do. The facts were pretty clear on it. He made a big mistake and he testified only a few weeks before the termination that he would do it again [announce reopening the Clinton probe] if he had the opportunity,” Sessions said.
McCabe wasn’t fired until March of this year, following a separate inspector general finding that he leaked a self-serving story to the press and later lied about it to Comey and federal investigators. Horowitz’s office sent a criminal referral for McCabe to the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington.
Former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe was fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in March after the inspector general’s report revealed that he made an unauthorized leak to the media, and later lied about it to Comey and federal investigators. (AP)
In this report, though, Horowitz has investigated whether McCabe should have recused himself from the Clinton email investigation due to this family’s ties to the Democratic Party. He did not decide to do so until a week before the election. McCabe could also come under scrutiny over the timeline of his knowledge of additional Clinton-tied emails found on disgraced Rep. Anthony Weiner’s laptop. McCabe and others knew that the emails were found as early as September 2016, but the FBI did not work to obtain a warrant to review them until October.
This week, lawyers representing McCabe filed a suit against the Justice Department and the FBI alleging that they wouldn’t give up files connected to his firing.
As for Strzok — who wasn’t fired but rather re-assigned from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team to the FBI’s Human Resources Department last year — the official came under fire when Horowitz found a trove of anti-Trump text messages between him and former FBI employee Lisa Page, with whom he was romantically involved.
Lynch also is expected to come under scrutiny, yet again, over the now-infamous Arizona tarmac meeting with former President Bill Clinton, just days before the FBI announced it would not press criminal charges against Hillary Clinton. Lynch has claimed she and the former president only discussed “innocuous things,” and that the meeting was just a “chance encounter.”
Horowitz is expected to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week on the report.
Fox News’ Alex Pappas and Judson Berger contributed to this report.
Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.
|Sessions: more FBI firings are coming – Google Search|
Fox News–15 minutes ago
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he was open to firing more … the officials expected to come under scrutiny in the report are former FBI …
Jeff Sessions says IG report could prompt him to fire more FBI officials
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A hotly anticipated inspector general report about then-FBI Director James … the new report, you have to first understand the inspector general …
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International–New York Times–3 hours ago
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|Inspector general’s new report on FBI, Comey, Clinton and 2016, explained|
A hotly anticipated inspector general report about then-FBI Director James Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation is finally complete. It’s set to be released to Congress Thursday afternoon — and is guaranteed to become a lightning rod in President Trump’s clashes with his own Justice Department.
Michael Horowitz, the inspector general writing the report, is an Obama appointee, and when he first announced he was reviewing into the DOJ and FBI’s actions all the way back in January 2017, many Clinton supporters eagerly hoped he would take Comey to task for actions that they felt inappropriately affected the presidential election.
But we now live in a world where former FBI Director James Comey is a prominent critic of Trump and an important witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of whether the president obstructed justice.
Even though Horowitz’s report isn’t about the Russia investigation at all, it will be released in a political context dominated by both Mueller’s probe and Trump’s attacks on his Justice Department. Indeed, Trump has signaled that he’s eagerly anticipating the IG report, since it‘s expected to criticize Comey, and he is trying to undermine Comey’s credibility.
And yet it’s entirely possible that the IG’s criticisms of Comey and other Justice Department officials will be well-founded. Commentators on all sides of the political spectrum had — and still have — reasonable complaints about Comey’s unusual choices during the 2016 campaign.
Horowitz has spent six years in the IG job, has a good reputation, and is by all appearances nonpartisan. Furthermore, the inspector general operates with a measure of independence from government higher-ups. Now he’s about to walk into the most dangerous political maelstrom he’s faced yet. But to understand the new report, you have to first understand the inspector general role — and Horowitz himself.
What is an inspector general?
Often called the “watchdogs” for the federal government, an inspector general is supposed to investigate allegations of misconduct within his or her particular agency. Each major Cabinet department has one, and so do various other federal offices and agencies — there are 73 inspectors general (or IGs) in total. (This helpful CRS report lists them all.)
When inspector general offices were first established in the mid-1970s, their primary task was to investigate “waste, fraud, and abuse” in federal spending, and that remains an important part of their job today.
But gradually, their authority has expanded to the point where IGs have become all-purpose scandal investigators. It’s become understood that when something controversial goes down at an agency, it’s the IG — who’s outside the normal chain of command — that’s supposed to look into it. IGs can start investigations based on whistleblower complaints, referrals from their office’s leadership, or requests from Congress.
A department’s IG has the authority to examine relevant records from the department, from memos to emails. IGs have subpoena power and can arrange interviews of current employees — interviews in which it would be a crime to make false statements. So their investigations have the potential to be quite vigorous.
Yet one crucial thing to understand is that inspectors general have no authority to actually charge anyone with crimes (or indeed, to impose any disciplinary actions). Their investigations end when they assemble reports on what they found. These reports, which are generally made public, can recommendthat people be prosecuted, but actual charging decisions are left to elsewhere in the Justice Department.
The most prominent IGs are all presidential appointees who have to be confirmed by the Senate. However, the offices do have a reputation for independence. Though the president can fire them so long as he tells Congress why in advance, in recent decades that’s rarely been done. Instead, IGs are generally (though not always) left in place and get to serve until they choose to move on.
Trump has so far abided by that tradition. Nearly all of the most prominent inspectors general are still holdovers from the Obama or even George W. Bush administrations. They include the IGs for State, Treasury, Defense, Health and Human Services, the Environmental Protection Agency, Veterans Affairs — and Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz.
Who is Michael Horowitz?
By now, Trump has cleared out most of the Justice Department’s Obama-era leadership — but Inspector General Michael Horowitz remains.
Horowitz has deep roots in the department. From 1991 to 1999, he worked as an assistant US attorney in Justice’s prestigious Southern District of New York office, where he led a major investigation into police corruption. He was then promoted to higher-level roles in the main Justice Department’s criminal division — first as deputy assistant attorney general and then as the division chief of staff. In 2002, he left the government and spent the next decade as a partner at the law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft (where he was well-compensated).
When the Justice Department’s well-respected Inspector General Glenn Fine decided to resign after a decade in the post, President Obama decided to nominate Horowitz to replace him. With congressional Republicans already demanding various investigations into the Obama administration, Horowitz was likely picked because he was a nonpartisan figure who’d worked under presidents of both parties. The Senate confirmed him without objection in the spring of 2012.
Horowitz has served in the post in the six years since. In that time, he’s overseen investigations into politically charged matters like “Fast and Furious,” the mishandled operation to infiltrate a weapons-smuggling ring in which law enforcement officials allowed hundreds of weapons to be smuggled into Mexico. (Horowitz’s report criticized 14 officials for mishandling the matter.)
He’s occasionally clashed with Justice and FBI leadership, publicly criticizing them for failing to turn over records on grand jury investigations relevant to his probes. And he’s become a sort of champion for the IGs themselves, chairing a council of inspectors general and asking Congress to give IGs more investigative powers.
Overall, Horowitz is viewed as a vigorous investigator who takes his job quite seriously. He generally isn’t believed to have political motivations — his only known donation is to Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) in 2010. “Straight shooter” is one of the most common phrases used to describe him. But now he’s been tasked with his most hot-button investigation yet.
What is this IG report about?
On January 12, 2017 — after Trump had won the election but before his inauguration — Horowitz announced that he was opening “a review of allegations regarding certain actions” by the Justice Department and FBI “in advance of the 2016 election.”
By that, he meant, mainly, officials’ handling of the now-closed Hillary Clinton email probe, and not the probe of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. (The latter investigation hadn’t even been publicly confirmed to exist at the time and is still ongoing even today.)
To recap the infamous chain of events in the Clinton probe: hen it emerged in 2015 that Clinton had used a personal email account on a private server for all of her emails while she was secretary of state, the Justice Department launched an investigation into whether she had mishandled classified information. Eventually, in a decision Comey says was unanimous among his investigative team, the FBI privately concluded that it wouldn’t recommend any charges in the matter.
But by the summer of 2016, the case had become enormously politically charged, with GOP nominee-in-waiting Donald Trump repeatedly claiming the investigation would result in Clinton’s indictment. And after word leaked out that Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton had met on an airport tarmac in late June, Republicans claimed the fix was in.
So on July 5, 2016, Comey bypassed Justice Department leadership to make a highly unusual public statement in which he announced that though he believed Clinton had been “extremely careless” in her email practices, he would not recommend any charges in the case. Republicans blasted him for his conclusion that charges weren’t necessary, while some Democrats questioned why he felt compelled to pontificate publicly about a probe in which he found no criminal wrongdoing.
Comey’s public statements about the case continued, first in extensive congressional testimony, then in an October 28 letter announcing the FBI had discovered new emails that could be relevant, and then in another November 6 letter saying the new emails didn’t change the FBI’s investigative conclusion. All this was highly unusual, to say the least, and some analysts believe Comey‘s late letters helped swing the election to Trump.
Horowitz’s January 2017 announcement suggested he’d examine criticisms of Comey‘s behavior from all sides of the political spectrum — and certain other officials’ conduct too. These included then-Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe (who some conservatives said should have recused himself because Clinton ally Gov. Terry McAuliffe had earlier helped fundraise for McCabe’s wife’s failed state Senate campaign), and then-Justice official Peter Kadzik, who had contacts with Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. Finally, Horowitz also said he would look into DOJ and FBI leaks that happened during the campaign more generally.
What is this IG report expected to find?
Many believe, and advance leaks suggest, that Horowitz will criticize several of Comey’s decisions in the Clinton email case. ABC News even reported that, per one source, a draft of the report deemed Comey “insubordinate.”
That makes a good deal of sense. Horowitz seems to have a by-the-book approach to investigative policy and procedure that contrasts with Comey’s more … unorthodox (some might say, grandiose) belief that his actions should serve the higher purpose of preserving public trust in the FBI.
According to Justice Department policy and tradition, the FBI should not make grand public pronouncements and criticisms about someone who hasn’t been charged with any crime. They also shouldn’t announce investigative actions that could impact an election just days before that election.
Comey did both of these in the Clinton case. He claims he was trying to preserve the reputation of the FBI for impartiality. “The confidence of people that the system is working in a fair way, that Lady Justice has kept her blindfold on, matters,” he’s said. (Less charitably, his actions could be construed as an attempt to protect himself politically from expected criticisms from the right.) Yet Horowitz might not be so convinced that these allegedly lofty motivations justify Comey’s highly unusual behavior.
Other officials are expected to come in for criticism too, including Loretta Lynch. Plus, Horowitz has already referred Comey’s former deputy at the FBI, McCabe, for criminal prosecution, saying McCabe misled investigators about his role in a pre-election leak about an investigation into the Clinton Foundation. Horowitz broke out these criticisms into a separate IG report — read this post for more on that — but he may have more to say about McCabe and the email case here.
What does all this mean for the Russia investigation?
Horowitz’s report may well be quite reasonable in what it concludes. But inevitably, and almost regardless of the report’s specifics, President Trump will try to exploit it to try and discredit the Russia investigation (even though, again, this IG report is not actually about the Russia investigation).
It’s not the first time Trump has tried to use the Clinton email case against Comey. Back when Trump fired him as FBI director in May 2017, the White House initially put out a cover story saying he did so because Comey violated DOJ policy in the Clinton email probe.
This was self-evidently absurd, because the DOJ memo criticized Comey for actions that hurt Clinton (his critical public statement about her, and his late letter saying new emails had been found). Trump, meanwhile, had long made it unmistakably clear that he thought Comey was too easy on Clinton in 2016 — and he ended up torpedoing his aides’ story by admitting the Russia probe played a role in his decision just two days later.
But now the new IG report could prove useful to Trump for a few different reasons, as Mueller investigates whether Trump obstructed justice by firing Comey.
For one, Comey is an important witness to Mueller, and several of his key interactions with Trump occurred without anyone else present. Trump, naturally, has aimed a barrage of criticism at the fired FBI director in an attempt to impugn his credibility as a witness, calling him “a leaker and a liar.”
Trump is also searching for ways to argue that he was correct in firing Comey, and that that act did not constitute obstruction of justice. So if the IG concludes that Comey mishandled the Clinton email case, Trump will likely question how firing an FBI director who’d made such major errors could possibly be construed as obstruction. (However, many legal experts believe that if Trump fired Comey with corrupt intent, in hopes of thwarting an investigation he viewed as dangerous for either himself or his allies, it could still be obstruction.)
The IG report is also being released in the midst of a continuing effort by Trump to try to undermine the Justice Department’s independence and discredit the Mueller probe more generally as part of a “deep state” plot against him. So the more Horowitz criticizes the Obama-era Justice Department leadership, the more ammunition Trump will have against them too.
Horowitz, though, is likely trying to ignore this larger political battle, by focusing only on his particular role — to assess whether there was any Justice Department misconduct with regards to the 2016 election. Perhaps, in the end, that’s all he can be expected to do.
Under the eyes of the FBI corruption in Puerto Rico
(Published Tuesday, June 12, 2018)
|Bajo la mira del FBI la corrupción en Puerto Rico Telemundo Puerto Rico – Google Search|
|Saved Stories – FBI|
|The FBI’s Document Blackouts|
The bureau is redacting documents without credible justification.
|What Could Michael Cohen Tell Mueller about Russia Collusion? – Just Security|
|Andrew McCabe sues FBI, Justice Department and inspector general – Washington Times|
|Michael Cohen looking for new lawyers in FBI probe as key court deadline approaches, reports say – Fox News|
|Fired FBI Official Discovers Former Employer Sucks at Transparency – Gizmodo|
|What to look for in Thursday’s release of Justice Department IG report – WFXL FOX 31|
|The FBI’s Document Blackouts – Wall Street Journal|
|Pressure on Michael Cohen intensifies as Mueller stays focused on the Trump attorney – Washington Post|
|Lawsuit: Justice Dept. failed to give McCabe info on firing – WoodwardNews.net|
|Mueller unveils more proof Manafort led Ukraine lobbying in US – Politico|
|Trump Under Pressure to Do Mueller Interview After Kim Summit – Bloomberg|
|Justice Dept. Watchdog Will Be Tested in Next Chapter of Clinton Investigation Firestorm|
The inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, has navigated a tricky role in Washington while maintaining his independence.
|Justice Dept. Watchdog Will Be Tested in Next Chapter of Clinton Investigation Firestorm – New York Times|
|Mueller-friendly Republicans losing patience with probe – Politico|
|Poll shows Mueller’s public image at all-time low – Politico|
|7:34 AM 6/13/2018 – Former gangster testifies that he and Bulger paid off seven FBI agents, killed informants – The Boston Globe|
Former gangster testifies that he and Bulger paid off seven FBI agents, killed informants – The Boston Globe In Brief – Saved Stories Saved Stories – None Former gangster testifies that he and Bulger paid off seven FBI agents, killed informants – The Boston Globe mueller – Google News: A Citizen’s Letter to Robert Mueller – … Continue reading“7:34 AM 6/13/2018 – Former gangster testifies that he and Bulger paid off seven FBI agents, killed informants – The Boston Globe”
|George Conway defends Robert Mueller’s investigation – The Economist|
|Lawsuit says DOJ not providing documents to ex-FBI official – WNDU-TV|
|8:26 AM 6/13/2018 – U.S. Attorney Speaks About Using Informants – Courant Community | The Use of Informants: A Cautionary Tale. – Google Search | DailyLinks℠: 6.13 – 6.1 – 18|
“A powerful law enforcement tool is the use of confidential informants, which he described as a “dual-edged sword.” Misuse of informants can severely damage a law enforcement agency. He said prosecutors must protect the secrecy of proceedings, not so much to hide information from the public, but to protect the innocent. Prosecutors must ensure a … Continue reading“8:26 AM 6/13/2018 – U.S. Attorney Speaks About Using Informants – Courant Community | The Use of Informants: A Cautionary Tale. – Google Search | DailyLinks℠: 6.13 – 6.1 – 18”
|Nigerian scammers made billions on unbelievable schemes: FBI makes arrests – PennLive.com|
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