Watchdog attacks former FBI chief’s handling of Clinton email probe

Former FBI director James Comey (Justin Tang/PA)
Former FBI director James Comey (Justin Tang/PA)

The Justice Department’s watchdog has criticised the FBI and former director James Comey for their handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation but concluded his actions were not motivated by political bias.

The inspector general’s report said Mr Comey, who announced in the summer of 2016 that Mrs Clinton would not be charged with any crime, was insubordinate and departed from normal protocol numerous times.

But it said: “We found no evidence that the conclusions by the prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations; rather, we determined that they were based on the prosecutors’ assessment of the facts, the law and past department practice.”

President Donald Trump has looked to the report to provide a fresh line of attack against Mr Comey and his deputy, Andrew McCabe, as he claims that a politically tainted bureau tried to undermine his campaign and, through the later Russia investigation, his presidency.

Mr Trump is certain to try to use the report to validate his firing of Mr Comey last year.

But the nuanced findings provide no conclusions to support Republicans and Democrats who want to claim total vindication.

The conclusions were contained in a 500-page report that documents in painstaking detail one of the most controversial investigations in modern FBI history.

It reveals how the FBI, which for decades has strived to stand apart from politics, came to be entangled in the 2016 presidential election.

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