Former FBI Director James Comey lost his job last year. On Thursday, he lost what was left of his reputation after being ripped to shreds by an Inspector General’s report.
The stunning report contained proof of what President Donald Trump’s supporters have been arguing for months – the FBI chief and his cronies were “corrupt” and their investigation into Trumps’ campaign was politically biased.
That’s according to Trump’s personal lawyer, former New York City mayor Rudi Giuliani. He told Fox News on Friday that the report casts doubt on whether Trump will ever agree to an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team because “why would he get interviewed by a corrupt investigation?”
Trump also said Friday he did the nation “a great service” by firing James Comey as FBI director and he cited the Justice Department report that found Comey was “insubordinate” in his handling of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email investigation.
Trump’s comments came in his first tweets since the department’s inspector general released its 500-page report that also rebuked FBI officials for exchanging anti-Trump text messages during the 2016 campaign.
Trump’s supporters have argued that the findings are proof of political bias at the FBI’s highest levels that then tainted the Russia investigation, first led by the FBI and now by Mueller. Mueller’s probe includes a look into whether Trump himself tried to obstruct justice by firing Comey.
The IG Report is a total disaster for Comey, his minions and sadly, the FBI. Comey will now officially go down as the worst leader, by far, in the history of the FBI. I did a great service to the people in firing him. Good Instincts. Christopher Wray will bring it proudly back!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2018
The report does not conclude that the FBI was corrupt from the top-down, but it does paint Comey’s and other investigators actions in a very poor light.
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Thursday’s report documents in painstaking detail one of the most consequential investigations in modern FBI history and reveals how the bureau, which for decades has endeavored to stand apart from politics, came to be entangled in the 2016 presidential election.
It underscores efforts by FBI and Justice Department leaders to juggle developments in the Hillary investigation — she had used an illegal email for government business while secretary of state — with a secret probe into the Trump campaign that was then unknown to the American public.
Comey, whom Trump fired shortly after taking office, bore the brunt of the report’s criticism.
The IG found the FBI director erred when he announced in July 2016 that Hillary had been “extremely careless” with classified material but would not be charged with any crime, and again months later when he told Congress just days before the election that the investigation into Hillary’s emails had been reopened. Comey concealed from the Justice Department his plans to make a public announcement until the morning he did so, even though such statements are normally handled by the Justice Department, if at all, the report says.
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“We found that it was extraordinary and insubordinate for Comey to do so, and we found none of his reasons to be a persuasive basis for deviating from well-established Department policies in a way intentionally designed to avoid supervision by department leadership over his actions,” the report says.
Trump supporters seized on the report’s description of Comey as “insubordinate.” And they quickly focused on the report’s recounting of anti-Trump text messages from two FBI officials who worked the Clinton probe and later the Russia case, including one in which an agent says, “We’ll stop it,” with regard to a possible Trump victory.
The report suggests that text from Peter Strzok, who was later dropped from Mueller’s team, “implies a willingness to take official action to impact the presidential candidate’s electoral prospects.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the report “reaffirmed the president’s suspicions about Comey’s conduct and the political bias amongst some of the members of the FBI.”
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FBI Director Chris Wray told reporters the FBI accepted the report’s findings and was making changes, including requiring further training for FBI employees and re-emphasizing the importance of objectivity. In a New York Times opinion piece released after the report, Comey said he disagreed with some conclusions but respected the watchdog’s work.
Also criticized was Comey’s decision, despite the discouragement of the Justice Department, to reveal to Congress that the FBI was reopening the investigation following the discovery of new emails.
The FBI obtained a warrant nine days before the presidential election to review those emails, found on the laptop of former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner, a Democrat and the husband of top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
The report faulted the FBI for failing to act with more urgency in reviewing emails from Weiner’s laptop, saying the inaction had “potentially far-reaching consequences.”
The Weiner laptop was discovered as the FBI was upgrading the nascent Russia investigation. Critics said the device was put on the back-burner to protect Clinton, and the watchdog confirmed it wasn’t certain that Strzok’s decision to prioritize the Russia probe over examining the Weiner laptop was “free from bias,” especially because Strzok was exchanging anti-Trump text messages at the time.
The report lambastes Strzok and a now-retired FBI lawyer, Lisa Page, for text exchanges that it says were “deeply troubling” and it appeared “that investigative decisions were impacted by bias or improper considerations.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article