The Justice Department inspector general concluded Thursday that former FBI Director James Comey "deviated" from bureau protocol in his handling of the probe into Hillary Clinton's emails in 2016, but that his decisions were not ultimately the "result" of political bias. The 500-page report, a copy of which was obtained early by The Washington Post, also reveals that some bureau staff expressed a "willingness to take official action" to stop President Trump from reaching the White House.
Comey has faced condemnation over his decision to criticize Clinton's use of a private email server when announcing that the FBI found no wrongdoing, and again for publicly reopening the investigation a week before the 2016 election. "While we did not find that these decisions were the result of political bias on Comey's part, we nevertheless concluded that by departing so clearly and dramatically from FBI and department norms, the decisions negatively impacted the perception of the FBI and the department as fair administrators of justice," writes DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz.
Perhaps even more startling, the report found that Comey himself on "numerous instances" used a personal Gmail account to conduct his official FBI business. In July 2016, Comey famously summarized Clinton's use of a private email server as being "extremely careless," even as he said she was not guilty of any crime.
The Washington Post observes that the inspector general's report "aim[s] to define once and for all what the FBI and Justice Department did right and what was wrong in the Clinton probe, but partisans are likely to seize on different findings to buttress their long-held views about that investigation." Significantly, it says that the conclusions "fell significantly short in supporting the assertion by the president and his allies that the investigation was rigged in favor of Clinton." Read the full report here. Jeva Lange