The Department of Justice inspector general announced a sweeping review Thursday of Justice Department and FBI actions leading up to the November election – in response to criticism from both sides of the aisle over how the agencies handled the Hillary Clinton email scandal.
The decision breathes new life into a controversy that had been fading since Clinton lost to Donald Trump.
The IG’s office said the review will focus on allegations that procedures were not followed in connection to FBI Director James Comey’s announcement on July 5 that he would not recommend charges, even though Clinton and her staff acted “extremely carelessly” in using private email when she served as secretary of state.
The review also will look at whether appropriate policy and procedures were followed in Comey’s surprise letter to Congress on Oct. 28 – which announced he was revisiting the email probe in light of newly discovered emails – and a letter on Nov. 6, which announced there would be no further charges.
Members of the Clinton campaign and its allies have said Comey’s decision to announce the reopening of the probe damaged Clinton’s bid and helped cost her the election.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz announced the review in response “to requests from numerous Chairmen and Ranking Members of Congressional oversight committees, various organizations, and members of the public.”
The probe will also examine allegations that FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe should have been recused from the probe. Questions were raised about McCabe’s impartiality after it was revealed Clinton ally and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s donated to his wife’s 2015 Senate campaign.
Additionally, the probe will investigate allegations that DOJ and FBI employees improperly disclosed information not meant for the public. This apparently refers to assistant attorney general Peter Kadzik, whose email tipping off Clinton Campaign Chair John Podesta about a House oversight committee hearing was revealed by WikiLeaks.
The review will also probe decisions regarding the timing of the FBI’s release of certain Freedom of Information Act documents at the end of October.
The FBI’s Records Vault released a number of documents on Oct. 30 and Nov. 1, including the investigation into retired Gen. David Petraeus for compromising classified material, and the probe into President Bill Clinton’s controversial 2001 pardon of financier Marc Rich. The timing led some to believe it was an attempt to influence the election.
“The review will not substitute the OIG’s judgment for the judgments made by the FBI or the Department regarding the substantive merits of investigative or prosecutive decisions,” the release from IG said.